Archives for: May 2008
It's Memorial Day weekend, so all over the country people are stocking up on food for the grill - though here in St. Louis its been hopelessly rainy all spring and any plans for a barbecue are an act of sheer optimism. In any case, a three day weekend is always cause to celebrate, especially when that three day weekend is actually more like a seventy-nine day weekend.
79 day weekend? Yes, this might be perplexing, but what I refer to is a rough approximation of my summer break. I report back to work at the school where I teach on something like August 11th (I was a bit too lazy to actually look it up before writing this post - it is summer break after all), so that means my holiday weekend which began Friday at about 12:30, really lasts for about 79 days. I know, I know - it's a hard life.
I wouldn't go so far as to suggest the long summer break is why one should become a teacher, but I will say that the rhythm of the school year was always one that I enjoyed as a student, and as I've been either a student or a teacher my whole life, at least for as much of it as I can remember, it is hard for me to envision living any other way.
I was one of those weird kids who really enjoyed school. Now, to be sure, when I got old enough to catch the social cues that it wasn't cool to admit to this, I probably grumbled as much as the next kid about it. And, there were certainly subjects and teachers that I didn't enjoy as much. Even so, reading and learning have always been things that really excited me, so the start of the new year was always welcome, especially when you added the social factor of catching up with friends you hadn't seen all summer.
Liking school, though, didn't stop me from embracing summer with open arms. The warm weather, the time to sleep more and read more freely things I'd choose to read, not to mention to play outside or conquer a new video game - I enjoyed all those things. Plus, as I got older, church youth group activities always kicked into high gear, and trips to camp, to the beach, to amusement parks and the like were always a big draw. So summer, even for a kid who liked school, was a welcome change of pace.
Even so, the American summer break is pretty long, so when fall rolled around, gearing up for school wasn't all bad, despite all protests to the contrary. And as I've already expressed my enjoyment of the school year, I won't repeat myself here. The point is that the cycle was an enjoyable one, and I quite liked the way the year progressed and just as I was growing weary of school, summer came, and just as I was growing weary of summer, school would come.
Now every year hasn't worked so well. Sometimes I'm ready for summer earlier than other years, and sometimes I'm not quite ready for school and it is upon me whether I like it or not. But, all in all, I have to say the thought of trading in the school-oriented-life for a standard American work year with only 2 weeks vacation & holidays feels pretty bleak. I'm not sure how others do it. Of course, there is financial incentive to do so, as many business jobs pay better than teaching, but I like not only the schedule of what I do but the actual work that I do, so I don't envy the higher paid business folks at all. I'll keep my teaching gig, thanks.
Add to that the writing, and I feel pretty lucky. To tell the truth, I haven't done much writing in the summers before. All 5 books of BOTB were written more or less during the school year, and the unpublished mystery novel I wrote was during the '06-'07 school year. However, due to a number of factors, I didn't write a book this past school year, but I plan to work seriously on one (or two, actually), this summer. I plan to dive back into both projects tomorrow morning, and I'm really excited to do so.
So, even though I have a 79 day weekend, don't think I'll be slacking off. While the rest of you are sleeping in on Memorial Day tomorrow, I plan to be up and at 'em about six, so I can get a good four hours in by 10:00 am.
Enjoy your holiday.
Gone to Press
Just found out this morning that All My Holy Mountain went to press yesterday. That means that it should be on track to be released as scheduled on June 1st. So, hang in there, it's coming...
Why I'm Excited About My New Series
OK, so this title is a little misleading. Until my new series is under contract, I don't really want to be too specific, but I thought I'd follow up on my earlier post, "A New Start," with a brief update on where things are and with some further thoughts about the new series and why I'm eager to forge ahead.
First of all, the update. Proposals are starting to go out from my agent to various publishers, so those of you who are hopeful that more books will be coming from me, this would be a good time to pray that my new series finds a home. While being published and having an agent both help when looking for a publisher, there are no guarantees and I don't want to presume that getting a contract will be "automatic."
Now, as for my excitement, there are a few things I want to say. One I mentioned already in the post referenced above, namely, the sheer scale of the world I'm developing. Since I'm going global rather than continental, I'm even a little overwelmed at the magnitude of it all. The southern hemisphere of my world is beginning to take better shape, because the story starts on a continent there, but above the equator - which has a special name & function in this world - lie many lands that remain somewhat shadowy in my imagination. Still, I am excited to discover and fully explore them as the later books take more definite shape.
Also, perhaps the most exciting thing about this new series, is the promising blend of fantasy and science fiction. In my mind, fantasy revolves mostly around stories displaced in time that use "magic" or powers like magic to do things not ordinarily possible in reality. Science fiction, however, refers more to stories displaced in space, using technology to do things not ordinarily possible in reality. Often, both types of story are really commentaries on the real world, just in imaginative ways.
As I was developing my story, I kept thinking about blending these conceptions. Why couldn't a world displaced in time with "magical" or "fantastic" elements also have its own technology continuum? Do all fantasy stories need to have medieval castles, oil lamps, scrolls & parchment and so on? (Obviously not, as many fantasy stories don't, but hopefully you get my point even if its a bit exaggerated.) So, I set out to build a world with an alternative technological basis that could approximate some aspects of a more modern world, even if fantastical powers were being also wielded and fantastical creatures were roaming the land and sea.
I think what I came up with - with the much appreciated help of some of my friends and confidants - will prove interesting to fans of both genres. It probably isn't cool of me to say I think the idea is really cool, but I can't help it - I think its really cool. That's a big reason why I'm excited to write this new series, and as I hope to knock out most of the rest of the first book this summer, if not the rest of it, I can't wait for my summer break to get going.
Another reason why I'm excited, is that the thematic center of this series is different than that of BOTB. That series was about restoration - a world approaching the time when some things that were broken will be remade, and some things that never should have been made will be destroyed. This series revolves around a different central concept, though I'll be vague about it here. It is perhaps a less pleasant central theme, but I think it nonetheless a true and relevant one, and I'm excited to explore it. I hope that this series, like the previous one, will be both a fully actualized alternative reality that is an exciting place in which to tarry while you read the books, but I also hope it offers insight into who we are as a people & a culture as well as who we should be.
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