Monday, September 30, 2013

H: Holly Reginald

Holly Reginald is a scientist, and one of the main villains in The Experiment. I struggled to find a name for her for a while. I looked through our baby name book, possibly one of the most tattered books in our house, in search of a name. I decided her last name would be Reginald, and I thought at first that her first name would be Anatola. However, thinking about that name, I decided I wanted to use it for an orphan girl in a story inspired by L. M. Montgomery's books instead (and no, I haven't written it yet). The first name I thought of after making the decision not to call Miss Reginald 'Anatola' was Holly, and so that became her name. Most of the time I just call her Miss Reginald, though.

One of Miss Reginald's lines has been in my mind since long before I began to write The Experiment. I thought of it then, and still do, as the sort of line that would be played in all the trailers if it was a movie: ". . . he is my pet project. To see what kind of a monster I can create." I was determined to work it in somehow, and I did.

Miss Reginald's character underwent some last minute changes about two months ago. One of my test readers pointed out how she unrealistically rambled on and on to no one about her evil schemes. I admittedly have great difficulty writing villains, so I was glad that this reader pointed out ways to make her more realistic. It was difficult for me to figure her out, to learn her motivation, and so I wrote an interview with her to learn more about her. You can read that interview here. Miss Reginald is an interesting character, and you can read all about her in The Experiment available tomorrow (though if you want to stalk Amazon and Createspace, you may be able to find it later today:) ).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Radialloy Review

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The year is 2320. Andi Lloyd is content with her life as the assistant to her adoptive father, a starship doctor, but her secure world turns upside down when she begins uncovering secrets from her past. When her father mysteriously starts losing his mind, she finds that she can no longer count on him to guide or help her. With mutiny breaking out on the ship, and two factions desperate for a valuable secret she holds, she must race to save her father and herself before time runs out.--From J. Grace Pennington's Website

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I have read a lot of books by homeschooled authors in the last few months, and though I love them all dearly and was terribly sad to say goodbye to all the characters I had come to know and love, Firmament: Radialloy has been the only one to leave me thinking, "Wow, I wish I could write like that." Radialloy is clean and well written, and is a complex, Christian mystery adventure set in outer space. The setting is similar to that of Star Trek, though without any aliens (Doctor Lloyd is very vocal about his disbelief in aliens), yet, even though Star Trek bores me, I absolutely loved Radialloy.

I have to be careful in this review not to give anything away, since part of what makes this story so intriguing is discovering things for one's self. I loved Andi. She's not much of a morning person, like me, so I was able to relate to her in that. The secrets about her past and the secret she holds are revealed well, as Andi herself discovers them. I was both entertained and a bit irritated by Eagle Crash, due to his cocky personality, but I like him anyway. I do like August quite a bit, and was pleased by what was revealed in regards to him, but I still like Andi better. It was difficult to figure out who the true villain was, and I must say, the villain(s) was well crafted. I struggle with creating a convincing bad guy, but Grace did an amazing job with hers.

The plot gets more and more complex as the story goes on. The tension even mounted to the point that I read Radialloy while eating breakfast, so determined was I to discover if they could accomplish what they had set out to do. The only thing I can think of that I don't like is that the second book in the Firmament Series hasn't been released yet. I'm really looking forward to Firmament: In His Image. Oh, and I really like the cover of Radialloy, too.

Monday, September 23, 2013

G: Georgie

Georgie is one of the dream characters, in other words, she was in one of the dreams that inspired The Experiment. In the dream, I'm not sure whether or not she was really old, or if, like in the story, it was only Miss Reginald's experiments that made her appear old (though Miss Reginald wasn't in the dream). Georgie is twenty-five years old and sister to Linus Prescott. She isn't actually in the book much, but she is there.

She has few lines to say, but mostly Georgie is one of the reasons they are determined to fight. Anne meets her when Linus takes her to Georgie's room, the only place they can talk without being overheard. Linus is desperate to reverse the experiments on Georgie, but, not being a scientist, he doesn't know how. Whether or not the experiment can be reversed you will have to find out from The Experiment itself, available October 1st. And, starting October 1st, you will have an opportunity to win a free copy of The Experiment!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

F: Fremont Farm

I have been rather neglecting my A-Z posts of late. It's been two weeks since my last one. So now you finally can find out what "F" is . . . something that wasn't even in the original draft of The Experiment. How can something that wasn't important enough for the original draft be important enough for a blog post? It has to do with rewrites.

At a certain point in The Experiment, the children on the Raingolds' side of the story all meet up together. In the final version, this is at Fremont Farm, but it wasn't there originally. Originally they met up at a local park, one that is rather out in the open. Did the park have to be out in the open? Well, actually, it did. Many of the characters and places in the Raingolds' side of the story are based on or inspired by real people or places. For instance, Abby Raingold is closely based on my sister Addy, and the floor plan of the Raingolds' home is the same as mine. The park the children meet up at in the original draft is one close to my home, and it's not very secluded. That was one of the things my mom pointed out that was a problem in the original. She suggested I have them meet up at a different place, at a farm we have been to, the fictional version of which I named Fremont Farm.

All the things mentioned about Fremont Farm, except the clearing the children had found, are real. There really is a dog that is mixed with a wolf, the hayride does go around in circles, and my friend's dad really did read us a story once about a giant purple gorilla that played tag. There are other real events mentioned in the book as well. Normally I don't use very much real life stuff in my stories, but for The Experiment I did. Not that the actual events of the story are real, but the background of the characters on the Raingolds' side of the story are based in reality. It gives the story a realism that wouldn't be there if it was completely fictional. It also served to make the story matter more to me than Across the Stars.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Interview and Excerpt

I have several announcements to make today. First of all, I was interviewed on the Homeschool Authors blog this morning. You can find the interview here. I'm giving away a copy of Across the Stars along with the interview, so be sure to enter while you're over at Homeschool Authors.

Second, I have made available an excerpt from The Experiment. You can now read the first four chapters for free . . . before the book even comes out. Here's the PDF of the first four chapters:

the_experiment_first_four_chapters.pdf
Download File

Finally, I have decided to have a giveaway contest to celebrate the release of The Experiment. It will start October 1st, and so I won't provide all the details until then. However, the basic idea for the contest is this: I will post questions about The Experiment, the answers to which can be found in various places on my website, and those who desire to enter will email me their answers for a chance to win a copy of The Experiment. More details will come later, but for now, I would really appreciate it if you would spread the word to your friends.

Look for The Experiment at the beginning of October!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Destiny Trilogy Review

Since I read the whole Destiny Trilogy by Sarah Holman in about a week, it seemed appropriate to review them all at once. Here are all the reviews.
The Destiny of One
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Destiny – it's a word that plagues Maria Morris. What does God want her to do with her life? Should she go to college or does God have other plans for her? When her parents go missing during a business trip, Maria embarks on a quest that will change her life forever. Trying to fight against an overbearing Milky Way Government, Maria travels to earth in search of a lost prince and some crown jewels. Her faith is tested, however, when a new law is passed. Will Maria be able to find her parents and the crown jewels before it's too late? Is she strong enough to stand up for her faith even if it means never seeing her family again? Most of all, will Maria discover her true Destiny?
--All book descriptions from Amazon.com

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It took me a while to decide to actually buy The Destiny of One, but I don't regret doing it. It's not perfect, but I still really enjoyed it. It is obvious that Sarah got her inspiration from Star Wars, however, it didn't bother me. I liked how she was able to create a world with space travel and living on other planets that worked with a Christian worldview. There are no aliens, just people from earth who have moved to other planets, and even the plants on Corateda are from earth. I also liked how she was able to give people the ability to use a lightsaber without relying on "the Force."

My favorite character was definitely Quint. I wish he had been introduced into the story sooner. In fact, it wasn't until Maria met Quint that I really started being able to relate to Maria. The story is a bit slow getting going, it has to set up the situation and setting first, but the other books don't really have this problem. There are quite a few things in the beginning of the book that seem trivial, but turn out to have great significance. And I really wish I could have seen more of Quint. By the time I reached the end, I was anxious to know what happened next.

The Destiny of a Few
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On her quest to find the crown prince, Maria Morris faces an abundance of obstacles. Now a marked Christian, it will be difficult and dangerous for her to travel. The USF follows her every move. (as the vibrating chip in her arm irritatingly reminds her.) Yet knowing all of this, Maria puts her trust in God and, with the help of a few new friends, refuses to give up her  mission. She must find the crown prince. The Destiny Of A Few depends on it.
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There are a lot of typos in this book, however, I enjoyed the story enough to easily forgive this. My biggest complaint about The Destiny of a Few is that Quint is absent from the middle of the book. I liked Maria a lot more in this book, and felt like the danger element had increased. The cast of characters is larger, and introduces Winter De Wimple. She kind of annoyed me at first, as she did Maria, but I came to like her by the end. She also made me aware of how often I insert "like" into my speech where it doesn't belong, and helped me to see just how annoying it is. Then there's James. I can't say much about who he is, but I will say that I hated him at first, and now I love him. The story line of The Destiny of a Few is a lot more exciting and intriguing than The Destiny of One, and I liked it better. A wonderful continuation of the series.

The Destiny of a Galaxy
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Time Has Passed…
In the three years since Maria Morris found the farmer-boy-prince, the Followers have multiplied. As Wyndemere’s empire cracks and unrest rises, the Legatee orchestrates the Rebellion.

Danger Has Not Disappeared...But Neither Has Hope.

Though the overthrow of the tyrannical regime is imminent, Maria’s role as the “woman who started it all” is not widely known. So why the foreboding of danger? Promise floats in the air. Many around her find happiness, even as the tension spirals toward a breaking point. But Maria flounders. What does Maria Morris want to do with her life? What is her destiny…now?

Rendered Powerless, Maria Must Make A Painful Choice…One That Will Alter the Future of the Galaxy

Forever

When James invites her to headquarters where Maria assumes a new role among The Followers, tragedy strikes. The enemies she had thought long gone are capable of far more than she imagined. Will she have the courage to stand for what she believes, no matter the cost? Will she have the strength to surrender her dreams when all seems lost and she can do nothing at all?

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Best part: Quint is in almost the entire book. Worst part: the end is the end of the  story. The Destiny of a Galaxy is an epic ending with plenty of action, suspense, danger, and the prospect of weddings to finish it off. All the old characters are back, and though at the beginning Maria is again struggling with the old question, "What does Maria Morris want to do with her life?" I'm pretty sure she has figured it out by the end. Though at first I wanted the ending to be different (if I said in what way it would be a spoiler), I wouldn't have it any other way.

The Destiny of a Galaxy is the only one that is not told as a flashback, and I think  it is better that way. There are times when the author tries to make you think something terrible has happened, but I didn't believe for a moment it had. I didn't think she had the heart to actually do it. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Some really bad stuff happens to Maria, but I'm glad to say it is still a happy ending. All in all, I really enjoyed the Destiny Trilogy, and would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

E: Edmund and Anne Rubin

Edmund and Anne Rubin, probably my favorite characters in The Experiment. After all, Edmund is one of my favorite names for boys. And they have special abilities I really wish I had.

Anne is the youngest Rubin, being eleven years old at the time of the story. She is the only girl, and this causes her chivalrous brothers to be very protective of her. She has an amazing memory, she is able to memorize things at a glance and she doesn't forget. I wish I had a memory like that, though it's not always a good thing. Anyway, Anne is the character I sympathize most with (despite the fact that Audrey, not Anne, is based on me). Her emotional struggles throughout the story are quite intense, she has a temper, and is very determined to save Edmund from Miss Reginald's experiments.

Edmund is twelve years old, and the third oldest of the four Rubins. He is very close to Anne; as she said, they are like twins even though she is a full year younger. Edmund has extraordinarily good senses, which means he has really good hearing, sight, etc. Being extremely nearsighted, I really wish I had eyesight as good as Edmund's. Edmund probably has the worst stuff happen to him of all the characters. Let's just say Miss Reginald's experiments are quite ruthless. I really like Edmund, and so it was just as hard for me as it was for Anne to see miss Reginald experiment on him.

Anne and Edmund's side of the story was it's own story originally, and the final version of it is a lot more like the original than the Raingolds' is. In fact, a little scene at the very end of the book with Anne and Edmund has been in my mind for an incredibly long time, possibly even from the beginning, as have a certain line, and the experiments on Edmund. I can't say much more for fear of giving away spoilers, but their story is one I love.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Experiment Cover and Book Trailer

Here it is at last! The long awaited (by me, at any rate) cover and book trailer for The Experiment.
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Here's the cover. I originally created it with Microsoft Publisher, which actually did a fairly decent job, but then we bought Photoshop Elements, and, after much tears and frustration, I managed to recreate it in said program. Here's the back cover text:

One hundred years in the future…

America as we know it today no longer exists. Scientist Holly Reginald and President Malcolm Crowdler have hatched an evil plot to control the minds and lives of the American people. Only a few are still able to fight back.  And those few are children.

Mystery and intrigue abound in this heart-stopping adventure as the last remnant of Americans strives to stop The Experiment…before it’s too late.

Sound familiar? Well, it's the description that's been on my website since I started it, so nothing new, but now it has a cover image to go alongside it.

And now the book trailer. It was a lot of fun to make, though worrywart me had bad dreams about it turning out all wrong. However, it didn't, so enjoy!