Posts made in March, 2014

Addiction Relapse, Pirate Monk, Action Figure Collecting, and More…

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Addiction Recovery, Offsite Content

In lieu of a post this morning, here are links to a few more of my articles elsewhere:

Finally, I was recently interviewed on Pirate Monk Podcast, the audio program of the Samson Society.

Starting in April, I’ll be linking to my work on other sites when the articles go live!

And as a bonus, I included this. Not mine but it’s pretty good: A Review of Kre-O City Invasion!

 
 
 
 

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Review: The Dragon’s Fury

Posted by on Mar 28, 2014 in Reviews & Recommendations

The Dragon’s Fury
by D.C. Mickelson

PLEASE NOTE: I received a hardcopy of this book to review for the publisher.

Reviewing another’s art can be a tricky thing. The sensibilities of artists and audience members are different. Sometimes a book and a reader simply fail to connect; to no fault of either party, the chemistry is not there. This is a stark reality for me, given that beta readers recently finished engaging my 2nd novel. Writing works for some people but not others, and that’s okay.

The trouble comes when those people become your sounding board for revisions or your reviewers after the fact.

I bring this up because I volunteered to review The Dragon’s Fury (Relics of Power Trilogy), and I did not connect with it as I had hoped or wanted. I found the heroes unlikable, their quest uneven, and the ultimate outcome less than satisfying.

But I don’t think that’s the entirely author’s fault. On the contrary, I think that D.C. Mickelson has written a fine book for a first novel in The Dragon’s Fury (Relics of Power Trilogy), and he has considered the above referenced aspects of his book far more than I have. He has developed characters about whom he cares; he has crafted a story in which he has takes pleasure, and ultimately, he made the choices he felt appropriate and right for his story (and perhaps they are).

Regardless of my personal misgivings he does all these things relatively well. I say “relatively” because I think there is room for improvement, which will likely come to fruition in later installments. In this initial installment, the characters survive the outing unchanged. The beats were slightly uneven though they also felt plotted–I knew they were coming but at the different points than I would have liked. The world is very detailed but at times politically confusing. However, many of the elements Mickelson employs–whether they be magical or situational–are well designed. He includes tropes of the genre in new exciting ways (his use of minotaurs being particularly good), and he does structural things that good writers do–setting up something that seems innocuous or forgotten in the first 100 pages yet ensuring they are paid in full by the last 100.

For this reason I think the book is well composed even if I do not like it, and I don’t simply say that because I’m a nice guy. As an author I felt that the book was put together with confidence and skill, so much so that it requires me to applaud its well-written moments despite my misgivings in others. The Dragon’s Fury is a serviceable fantasy work, but I don’t think I’ll be going to seek the books that follow it–not because I don’t think they’ll be well-written, but this quest is not for me. And that’s okay.

Fantasy fan? You may find the book worth your time and energy, and if you do, you can return here and convince me of what I missed.

 
 
 
 

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Are You Praising Him?

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in RandoMusings

I’m that type of Christian that asks questions that are useful but arguably ill-timed (and off putting). I’m learning that I get this from my mother.

My mother is a dear woman. I see a great deal of her in myself, and I am grateful for it. A certain forwardness about faith is one things we share. My mom is ever-willing to put God into the conversation, whether speaking about church or finances or whatever else. She sees God in things and wants to give him attention.  She share these views with others unabashedly, hoping they might seem him as well. I love this about her, and I tend to be the same way.

But most people (myself included) don’t always want God acknowledged, not only in general conversation but especially when we are in a foul mood or ill temper. We don’t want to be reminded of God when we are wallowing in our failure, not getting the results we want, or receiving our just desserts for our waywardness.

Of course, people like my mom always insert him into these very moments. It’s a way of recalibrating the view of the hearer to acknowledge God as Lord of all–even when we’re unhappy with him.

I write this after a weekend of being bed-ridden with a flu-like cold, having chased sleep from Thursday through much of Saturday, only to come downstairs on Sunday morning to my mother’s asking, “How are you doing?”
To which I replied, “I’m just praying for sleep.”
“But are you giving God praise?” She asked. “Are you praising him? Are you praising him in your sickness?”

Of course I wasn’t. If anything I was feeling sorry for myself and angry at him for my weekend’s ruin at the hand of this virus. And make no mistake, I was being a complete jerk about it. I was thinking, “why couldn’t this have happened during the workweek, when I could’ve called out sick?” Yes, I am not proud of it, but I thought it. I had grand plans for the weekend. I was going to spend a wonderful vacation day on Friday with my beautiful wife; I was going to get ahead of my current extra-vocational workload. I was going to rest how and when I wanted.

But my body just crashed. I had the type of headcold that feels like your brain is pulsing against your skull while every ounce of fluid you have in your body is flowing out your face, and just when you begin to settle into sleep, you sneeze or cough or hack or just plain twitch. It’s first-world problems, for certain. And I was a baby about it–a “brat” even.

And I am grateful that my mother spoke truth when and how she did. It’s hard to rally against God for your weekend’s discomfort when you’ve failed to praise him for the health he has given you to not only fight your present illness but enjoy countless other weekends as well.

Yeah, I didn’t want her to ask me what she did. I didn’t expect it, and it haunted me. But some haunting thoughts are not ghouls tormenting you; rather they are the whisper of the Spirit, calling you back to the heart of Christ, the heart that says, “not my will but yours be done.”

I’d be lying if I said I am glad I got sick, but I am glad for the little lesson that accompanied it. Here’s to remembering it next time I’m stripped of the full health I take for granted, so that rather than wallowing in frustration, I can praise him–and endure that interrupted sleep and those sinus headaches to his glory (rather than my shame), however that looks.

Only time will tell, but I do hope it’s some time from now.

Thanks for reading,
C

 

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Joy

Posted by on Mar 15, 2014 in STRONGHOLD, Writer's Diary

I’m not in a position the world would find joyful. In 2011, I set myself and wife on a journey based on what I felt the Lord leading us to do: first, to move ourselves from our comfortable middle-class existences in Southern California back to the State of Delaware where I was raised; second, to write a novel. We traveled cross-country in Summer 2012 with thoughts of getting work and our own home within nine months of our arrival to the East Coast. All the while, I was hard at work on my debut novel, Stronghold, which I released in May of 2013.

Though it took two years to accomplish, I thought we had done exactly as the Lord had asked and that he had “big plans” for us here.

But God’s ways are not our ways, and our expectations do not always align with reality. We had trouble finding work, and car repairs ate into our savings. We still have not found a church to which we’d like to anchor, and our social dynamics are complicated. To top things, we are still living with my parents in the home in which I was raised (a hard pill to swallow for any man when he awakens in the morning). Our lives here have not materialized as we had hoped.

And yet, in all of this I’ve received something else that I had forgotten to expect (or expected as an afterthought). The hard nights of budgeting, discussing next steps, and simply existing with disappointments have brought me low—lower than I tend to communicate. But I’ve also experienced a joy I cannot wholly describe—a certain satisfaction that only comes in the darkness.

I have come to know God himself, to see his character as I cling to His Word for hope, to see his wisdom in answering prayers as he chooses. I have come to value God alone as my portion, because some days, I feel that I have nothing else—nothing left to give and no ability to obtain more. I simply exist before him as vulnerable as I ever have, and in that, I have tasted joy immeasurably.

And I’ve learned the place from where contentment truly comes, not in success or wealth or location, but in being welcome before God’s throne and knowing he sits high and lifted on it, doing as he pleases. Doubts, fears, and insecurities flee from your heart before that throne. They have no business there, and they know you will not tolerate their presence in that place.

So I have learned to live there, daily. And my anxieties stay at a distance, and I am filled with not only contentment but joy—and coupled with that joy is hope–an earnest hope–that God is working in ways we do not see and accomplishing things we cannot imagine. We may never be a part of “big plans” as the world sees them, but we are securely standing on a grand stage of eternal significance. God gives us that knowledge in himself when we look to him for all and consider everything else a bonus.

If someone were to ask me today if God led us to do what we did, I would tell them the truth: at the time, I thought he did; I still want to believe he did. If he did, he is doing things we cannot see even as struggle day by day—in fact, our perseverance itself may be his working. But if he did not, then he has mercifully drawn us closer to himself despite our actions. Either way, he is still God, and he is still good.

And I take great joy in that reality.

 
 
 

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Random Thoughts of a Disorganized Writer

Posted by on Mar 8, 2014 in Writer's Diary

Life has a way of escaping from us. One moment we have our paths outlined. We have our goals, our 5-year plans, and our action steps and priority items for the coming week. The next seeming moment–or at least the next moment we think on these things–we are behind in nearly every area, we’ve become lost on this tangent or that sidebar, and we have to reassess everything. We need to reset our priorities, recalibrate our goals, and redefine our boundaries and expectations.

Funny how much the process of achieving anything is dependent on constant vigilance of the process itself, rather than the act in question. If someone had told me a central aspect of writing was taking time each week to organize and plan before sitting to actually put words to the page, I never would have believed them. Now that I am “in the thick of it”; I don’t know how successful writers achieve anything without this facet of their workload.

Or maybe I’m just disorganized.

I write this because I find myself pulled in different direction constantly these days. Inasmuch as I want to be a novelist, my time is more dedicated to journalism. Inasmuch as I want to run my own successful blog through producing articles, my work is more often used elsewhere. So, I return to my to-do lists for the week, the month, the year, and I see where I need to make course corrections to reach my long term goals, even at the expense of my short term ones. You’d think I was running some kind of business, and this is a part of making the gears turn.

Not sure what’s leading to this post beyond my desire to maintain some level of regular content here at 3LC, despite my efforts seemingly going to the other sites to which I happily contribute. Seems like a strange reason to write a post, I know. I’ve considered not posting it all, which would be the very type of counterproductive decision that is causing me not post here less and less. Oh the neurosis of being a writer.

Or maybe it’s just being me. =)

Thanks for reading, everyone. I know this one was a doozy. Keep living life loving Christ; I know I am.
C

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