Icebreaker #11 | What’s your ideal vacation?

This is the eleventh installment of my Icebreaker series. Pack your bags.

What’s your ideal vacation?

This is actually a very timely post. My wife and I are trying to decide what we’re going to do for our 10 year anniversary. Will we travel? Should we wait and save up some money first? Do we want a relaxing seaside experience or a historically or geographically significant trip? Here are a few options that all sound pretty good.

Option 1 – Museum Central

My wife and I genuinely enjoy learning. I know what you are thinking. What nerds! Well, think whatever you want. We like learning.

To that end, we like going to museums and historical sites and places with little plaques full of writing. There are a number of places that could fit this description. We could go to the Guggenheim, the Smithsonian, the Field Museum or the Museum of Science and Industry. There’s the whole city of Boston or Philadelphia or Washington D.C. But if I’m going to choose the ideal vacation, I’m probably going to be thinking further afield.

eagle-and-child2As a huge fantasy nerd, I would love to have a pint at the Eagle and Child where the Inklings met, where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Roger Lancelyn Green and all the rest of them read their work aloud. And as it happens, I just made a friend who lives in Oxford where the Eagle and Child (and a bunch of other historical highlights) happen to be.

Option 2 – Relaxation and Geological Features

palm_treeWind and waves and sun and volcanoes (the friendly kind, not the kind that cover villages). Yes, I’m talking about Hawaii. I wouldn’t need a passport, just a bucket of cash and a suitcase full of sunscreen. Oh, and a good book (or maybe a good used bookstore full of good books). I think my wife and I would want to divide our time between soaking in some vitamin D and exploring the unique features that volcanic islands offer.

I’m sure that I’d be happy with either of these options. And even happier if someone else wanted to bankroll them for us. Any takers?

What is your ideal vacation like?

The Other Inklings | Nevill Coghill

Last week, I started introducing you to the Inklings of Oxford. Why? Because the Inklings was a legendary writer’s group that gave birth to such masterpieces as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.

But there were more people in the Inklings than just C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Let’s take some time and meet a few of the lesser-known Inklings.

* * * * * * * * * * *

When I think of the Inklings, I think of stalwart men who express themselves through high fantasy or high academic interests. I do not think of someone who worked with stars of the stage and screen, and yet Nevill Coghill was just such an Inkling.

Coghill was born in 1899, saw action in World War I as a second lieutenant in the trench mortar division of the Royal Artillery, then went on to an education at Exeter College in Oxford, earning a first-class degree in English in 1923.

It was during his time at Exeter that Coghill befriended C. S. Lewis. Lewis, an atheist at the time, viewed Coghill’s Christian faith as an archaic value system.

Coghill became a fellow of Exeter in 1925, demonstrating his talents as a dramatic producer in his leadership of the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Among the actors whom Coghill directed in those years was the young Richard Jenkins, who later earned worldwide fame under the name of Richard Burton. In 1957, Coghill was elected the Merton Professor of English Literature.

Nevill Coghill is best known for modern translation of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canturbury Tales, which was originally translated for BBC radio production, though now is a standard text for students of English Literature.His translation took on a second life by being transformed into a West-End and Broadway musical with Martin Starkie. This production earned one Tony Award for Best Costume Design in 1969, and was nominated in four other categories as well.

Coghill was married, fathered a daughter, and divorced. According to a memoir by Reynolds Price, Neville “lived a quietly homosexual life thereafter.”

He was Merton Professor of English Literature of the University of Oxford from 1957 to 1966. He died in November 1980.

The Other Inklings | Warren Lewis

Hang around any bookstore or writer’s group for more than a few minutes and you are bound to hear something about the Inklings of Oxford. Why? Because the Inklings was a legendary writer’s group that gave birth to such masterpieces as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.

But there were more people in the Inklings than just C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Let’s take some time and meet a few of the lesser-known Inklings.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Warren_LewisWarren Lewis is best known for being the elder brother of C. S. Lewis, but he was also one of the founders of the Inklings of Oxford, a writer of French history, and secretary for his brother later in life.

Born in Ireland in 1895, Warren blazed a trail that his little brother would follow. When their mother died while the boys were still young, they clung to each other as their father grieved. Together, they imagined, wrote, and illustrated books on the fantasy world of Boxen.

Warren attended an English boarding school outside London, where his brother would join him, under the regime of a harsh headmaster.

After school, Warren joined the military and served for eighteen years, seeing service as a supply officer in WWI and traveling the globe. He retired as a captain in 1932, only to be called up again for service in WWII in 1939 where he served as a major.

At the end WWII, Warren took up residence with C. S. Lewis near Oxford, where they lived together until his younger brother’s death in 1963.

Warren renewed his Christianity in 1931 and was one of the major influences in bringing about his brother’s conversion. He enjoyed walking tours, writing French history (a lifelong passion of his), and quaffing ale at Inklings meetings.

C. S. Lewis described him as “my dearest and closest friend.” But Warren was more than just a friend. Ironically, though most people only know Warren Lewis as the brother of C. S. Lewis, the world would not know C. S. Lewis at all but for Warren, his life, and his influence.

C.S. Lewis Made Human

I’m a fan of C.S. Lewis.

Somehow, in all of the media’s attention on the fiftieth anniversary of JFK’s assassination, many people have overlooked that this is also the fiftieth anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis, who died on the same day.

My love for Lewis was late-coming. I first picked up one of his books in college. Though my family owned The Chronicles of Narnia while I was a child, I didn’t read the series until I was nearly twenty years old. After Narnia, I picked up the Space Trilogy. Then I discovered his non-fiction works.

Mere Christianity was so simple yet so deep that I literally had to read every paragraph twice. His defense of the Christian faith came at a time when my faith was being broken and rebuilt. His thoughts helped me sort fact from fiction on what it means to be a follower of Christ.

And since his writing played so large a role in my faith, I became guilty of the same sin as the majority of evangelical Americans: proclaiming the saint-hood of C.S. Lewis. After all, what evils could lie within the author of such seminal works as The Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity?

If this recent article about Lewis on CNN’s website is true, there was more to Lewis than met the eye. According to writer, John Blake, C.S. Lewis had rather a seedy past filled with ladies, booze, and self-doubt. He struggled with his role as spokesman for Christianity and suffered financial harm, and personal shame, for his Christian books.

But even if everything in the article is true, from his inappropriate relationship with his mate’s mother to his kinks in the bedroom to his alcoholic tendencies, it doesn’t change the fact that I am a fan of C.S. Lewis. He simply comes down from the pedestal on which I unfairly placed him, and joins me as a sinner working out his faith, albeit one with a higher IQ than I.

To say that Lewis wasn’t a saint isn’t blasphemy for me. It is encouragement that men with such flaws can still be so useful.

10 Fantasy Series and Their Rules for Magic

When I started writing, I expressed to a well-read friend of mine that I was a fan of the fantasy genre. She told me that if I ever hoped to write fantasy, one of the most important things to do was to develop the rules for my world and then stick to them. She cited Terry Pratchett’s prolific Discworld series, saying that while the series follows a wide cast, Pratchett follows a consistent set of rules.

“The world is flat and rests on the back of four elephants standing on a giant turtle floating through space,” she said. “It may be strange, but it is part of Pratchett’s rules.”

Today, we’ll take a look at 10 Fantasy Series and Their Rules for Magic.

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

“I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”
J.K. Rowling

In the magical world of Harry Potter, people are either magical or Muggles (non-magical). They are born this way. One cannot become a witch or wizard any more than one could become a cat. Of course, Animagi, or witches and wizards who have an aptitude to transfiguration, may be able to become cats. Magic is performed by spoken word (in most cases) and requires a wand (in most cases).

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

“I have not used ‘magic’ consistently, and indeed the Elven-queen Galadriel is obliged to remonstrate with the Hobbits on their confused use of the word both for the devices and operations of the Enemy, and for those of the Elves. I have not, because there is not a word for the latter (since all human stories have suffered the same confusion). Their ‘magic’ is Art, delivered from many of its human limitations: more effortless, more quick, more complete (product, and vision in unflawed correspondence). And its object is Art not Power, sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of Creation. The ‘Elves’ are ‘immortal’, at least as far as this world goes: and hence are concerned rather with the griefs and burdens of deathlessness in time and change, than with death. The Enemy in successive forms is always ‘naturally’ concerned with sheer Domination, and so the Lord of magic and machines; but the problem: that this frightful evil can and does arise from an apparently good root, the desire to benefit the world and others*—speedily and according to the benefactor’s own plans—is a recurrent motive.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

There are precious few wizards in the Lord of the Rings series and you have to read The Silmarillion in order to understand the rules of magic in Middle Earth. The world was created through song by Eru (the One), also called Ilúvatar (Father of All), who first created the Ainur, similar in power and function to the Greek pantheon, with specific Ainur in control of the air, water, earth, and afterlife. The greater Ainur were called the Valar, the lesser were called the Maiar. Together, they helped create (and re-create) the world before the coming of elves (the first folk), dwarves, and men. The wizards of Middle Earth are members of the Maiar, as are Balrogs (makes the fight scene where Gandalf falls through fire and death a little more meaningful, doesn’t it?), and in fact, so is Sauron. Magic, then, is performed by beings that are closer to gods than men.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

“‘But what does it all mean?’ asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.
“It means,’ said Aslan, ‘that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.'”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Evil is loosed upon Narnia when a pair of hapless children bring a witch from Charn through Earth and to the dawn of Narnia’s time. The magic that happens here seems to be of a mostly innocuous kind, and there are few who seem able to work it. The witch has the power to turn living creatures into stone. Aslan, the lion/creator of Narnia, can bring stone creatures back to life. And there is a wizard along the voyage of the Dawn Treader who has a book of magic and is able to render creatures invisible. Oh, and a magical bracelet transforms a boy into a dragon. The magic of Narnia is used sparingly and is not the main plot driver of the series, as it seems that only a few with an inherent ability use it.

The Books of Beginning by John Stephens

“It’s well known in Hollywood that if you want someone to write a conniving, back-biting seventeen-year-old, you get John Stephens on the phone. The only thing that set the Countess apart from others I’ve written was that she had magical powers.”
John Stephens

In The Emerald Atlas, three children are thrust into an adventure through time by the aid of one of three books of magic. Each child is somehow connected to one of these three books, and by them, the children wield a specific type of magic, though they were not born as magical beings. Led by a wizard, and battling against witches and those who would use magic to subjugate normal humans, the main theme of the series is more about equal rights for different people than is about how cool having power is. The magic in the Books of Beginning series is regarded as a power that must be held in check to ensure the safety and happiness of all people.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

“Believe me, I know all about bottle acoustics. I spent much of the sixth century in an old sesame oil jar, corked with wax, bobbing about in the Red Sea. No one heard my hollers. In the end an old fisherman set me free, by which time I was desperate enough to grant him several wishes. I erupted in the form of a smoking giant, did a few lightning bolts, and bent to ask him his desire. Poor old boy had dropped dead of a heart attack. There should be a moral there, but for the life of me I can’t see one.”
Jonathan Stroud

Nathaniel is a magician’s apprentice in a world where magicians rule supreme. This dark series focuses on Nathaniel’s adventures with the djinn, Bartimaeus, his servant from the underworld, enemy, and friend. Magic is not performed by wand, but is achieved by summoning greater or lesser demons to do your bidding. If a magician is not careful though, he might find himself at the demon’s mercy (and demons aren’t known for their mercy).

Tiffany Aching: A Story of Discworld by Terry Pratchett

“It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done.”
Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

On the Discworld, there are two main approaches to magic. There are the wizards of Unseen University who use magic, largely, as a replacement for technology. And there are the witches, who use magic sparingly (because magic is dangerous, what with the things from the other side always trying to break through the rift). In the Tiffany Aching series, set on Discworld and meant for a younger reader, the main character is a witch coming into her witchhood with help from her mentor Miss Tick (get it?) and the Nac Mac Feegle, tiny blue skinned fighters/drinkers/kilt-wearers. Magic for Tiffany is a means to defend normal people against magical enemies, and is performed by sheer force of will.

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson

“There’s just something about the way he sings. It makes me think of when it snows outside, and the fire is warm, and Podo is telling us a story while you’re cooking, and there’s no place I’d rather be–but for some reason I still feel… homesick.”
Andrew Peterson, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

In his first children’s fantasy series, musician, Andrew Peterson, writes with equal parts humor and suspense. His series focuses on the three children of the Igiby family and the secrets that make them targets for the evil Fangs of Dang. Magic is a minor part of this series, but the few appearances that it does make are momentous. The most common form of magic usage, appropriately enough, given Peterson’s more famous creative outlet, is through music.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

“You would be amazed how many magicians have died after being bitten by mad rabbits. It’s far more common than you might think.
-Angela the Herbalist”
Christopher Paolini, Brisingr

When Eragon unwittingly hatches a dragon egg, he is swept into a world a danger, dragons, and magic. There are a few different races in the world of Alagaësia, but aside from a relative few humans, the knowledge of magic resides with the elves. Its use is conducted through an ancient language and exacts a physical toll on the user, thus anything you do by magic would feel as though you had done it without magic. If a user were to cast a spell that required more energy than the user possessed, he would die. Fortunately, dragon riders and others can tap into the life force of those around them to share the burden of using magic. Of course, this also opens the possibility of expending their life force, but magic is a dangerous game.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

“I was vanquished by a deer!’
A giant magical flying deer with fangs,’ Seth said, parroting a description Gavin had shared earlier.
That sounds a little better,’ Warren conceded. ‘Seth is in charge of my tombstone.”
Brandon Mull, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

Meet Seth and Kendra Sorenson, children pulled into a world of magic sanctuaries. In this series, magical creatures have been confined to reserves spread across the continents. Along the way, Kendra develops a special relationship with the fairies of the world, while her brother Seth develops his own relationship with demons. Magic here is woven into the nature of each creature, and in rare circumstances, certain attributes can be transferred to normal humans.

The Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix

“‎”It always seemed somehow less real here… a really detailed dream, but sort of washed out, like a thin watercolor. Softer, somehow, even with their electric light and engines and everything. I guess it was because there was hardly any magic.”
Garth Nix, Lirael

In the world that Nix creates, the line between magic and non-magic follows the boundary between the Old Kingdom and the New. In the Old Kingdom, there are three main families of magic, the Abhorsens, the Clayr, and the Wallmakers. Sabriel follows the title character in her journey to become the Abhorsen, a person who crosses over into Death to perform her magic. In Lirael, the title character shows the world of the Clayr, largest of the magical families whose job it is to look into the future. And in the final book, Abhorsen, we learn more about the Wallmakers, as well as the royal family, which is where the “kingdom” part comes in. In his trilogy, Nix has his characters perform magic with the aide of bells and pipes, but there are some free magic creatures as well, to whom the normal rules of magic do not necessarily apply.

Hopefully, this has been some help in showing you the different types of magic one can find across the fantasy genre. Certainly, there are more options than just these for how magic might work, but these are the ones that I one or have read.

What is your favorite series with magic? How is the magic controlled?

The Importance of Re-reading

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”
C.S. Lewis

“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”
C.S. Lewis

I love the library. I love that there are places filled with books that are free for the taking. I love browsing shelves, discovering books and authors that I might never have tried had I had to pay for the book.

“But Josh,” says Johnny Everyman, “you work at a bookstore. Your job depends on people buying books, not getting them for free from the library.”

Hear me. Libraries are like drug dealers giving true book lovers the first hit for free. Addicts like me will come back, money in hand, ready to pay what it takes for the next high.

And here’s the thing. When I read a free book from the library, if I really love the book, I will want to own the book. I will put that book on my wish list until I have the money to go out and buy it. I don’t just want to read it once. I want to re-read it, again and again.

Sure, reading a book for the first time is exciting. You don’t know what is going to happen. Your impressions of the characters are visceral, the plot twists leave your mind reeling, the mystery of whodunnit keeps you up much too late. But what if the book isn’t good? The excitement is replaced by the feeling of being cheated, of having your time wasted.

With a good book that you are re-reading, sure you know the characters, but now they are old friends that have a sweetness all their own. Sure, you know the plot and you know how the book is going to end, but it is the journey of getting to the end that is the fun part. Besides, you are going to notice things with each reading that you will have missed the first, second, and third times. You will discover aspects of the characters that you somehow missed, favorite scenes will take on new life with each reading. And best of all, you don’t have to worry that the book is going to be a waste of your time, because it has already passed the test.

DSC00965For me, re-reading is the best part of any book experience. There are so many books that I have re-read over the years, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee to name a few. All of these (and more) are great books and deserve another trip through.

I believe that C.S. Lewis had something with his rule about reading an old favorite between each new book, if for no other reason than to refresh your mental palette and remind yourself what good reading tastes like.

What books do you re-read regularly?

Turning Around | A Novel Perspective

We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic. When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start again, the fast I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pig headed and refusing to admit a mistake.

– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I recently deleted a good portion of the novel that I have been working on. It was sad to see my word count drop, as that is one of the things that helps me feel like a writer. But as Lewis says, sometimes progress means going back and trying again.

So I went back. The scene I thought was needed was a scene that must wait. I feel that I am on the right track again. And that is a refreshing feeling.

How often it seems that I need to turn around in order to get closer to the place that I really want to be…

Mere Christianity | My Bible Study So Far…

I mentioned earlier this week that my men’s Bible study is going through Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. We just finished reading the first section of the book, “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.” As I always enjoy the discussions that arise from our readings, I thought I would share a bit with you.

I find if difficult (near impossible, really) to synopsize (new word I just made up) Lewis’ thoughts without trying to simply re-write the book word for word. He does such a good job of leading readers through the logical progression of a moral basis for the belief in a higher power that I suggest you just read the full version. However, since I set out to provide a bite-size version for my blog readers, I’ll have a go at it.

Chapter 1: The Law of Human Nature | Humans believe that some morality is universally shared (like broken promises are not good), but we don’t always adhere to these universally shared morals (people still break promises).

Chapter 2: Some Objections | Isn’t what we are talking about really just our herd instinct, something that evolution put there? No, we are talking about the abandonment of self-preservation (an evolutionary idea) in favor or doing something good for a higher reason.

Chapter 3: The Reality of the Law | Stones follow the Law of Gravity when they fall; they have no choice in the matter. Humans live according to the Law of Human Nature when they interact with each other; they choose whether to do good or not. Some people say that decent conduct is determined not on an individual basis, but by the human race as a whole, as in the example that it is better for everyone if everyone is unselfish. But this breaks down when the individual is concerned. If you ask “Why should I care what is good for society except when it happens to pay me personally?” then you will have to say, “Because you ought to be unselfish”, which is circular logic. Just like if a person asks, “Why should I play football?” and a person responds, “In order to score the most points.” That isn’t why at all, it is simply part of the game. The fact that the game exists is because someone came up with it. Accordingly, the concept of morality exists because something came up with it, and it cannot be ourselves because it existed before we were born, and it cannot be an evolutionary trait, because then we would always act as we ought to act (which we don’t).

Chapter 4: What Lies Behind the Law | The question is this: Is the universe the way it is for no particular reason or is there a power that designed it to be what it is? If it exists, the power cannot be part of what is observable any more than an architect of the house can be a wall or a fireplace in the house. So how can we find this higher power? If we observe nature scientifically, we can see the truth of how things happen, but not why things happen. The only evidence that we have about why humans behave as humans do is because we are humans. Is it a coincidence then that in the only place where we can observe whether a higher power created a system of ethics, we find that one exists? We aren’t yet to the point of believing in a Christian God yet, simply that some power has determined a system of morality for us to either abide by or feel bad when we do not.

Chapter 5: We Have Cause to be Uneasy | If you feel like I am tricking you into believing in the Christian God, that was not my intention. I am simply pointing out the way things seem to be. If you think that we have tried the religious thing before and we can’t turn the clock back, consider that when you are going the wrong direction, the most sensible thing to do is turn around. Secondly, all we have so far is that something like a mind that is outside of our universe has designed things in a way that proves morality by showing our immorality, nowhere near the Christian God yet. Thirdly, my reason for the roundabout way was to show the existence of depravity in order to show the need for forgiveness. You do not go to the doctor until you realize that you are sick. The Christian religion responds to the facts that we have been presented with, but they are not always the comfort that people imagine them to be. We still have to face the fact that the world is a dangerous place, that people both love goodness (when they experience it) and hate goodness (when they choose to be mean), and that if there is a higher power that provided us with a sense of morality, then we have bungled it up completely and we’ll have to answer to that in some way.

So, there’s what we’ve gone through so far. Mere Christianity is one of the few non-fiction books that I genuinely enjoy. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. If you want to join our Bible study in an online way, comment below and we’ll include you in emails and such.

Do you have thoughts that you want to share based on my poor synopses above? Please do. Let’s start a discussion!

And if you find this sort of thing interesting, here are some links that you might like as well:

An Atheist Converts to Catholicism – Why? The Moral Argument

The God Debates: Genuinely Intelligent Discussion on Theological Questions

Mere Inkling: A place where faith, history & writing converge.

The C. S. Lewis Institute

Thanks for reading!

P. S.  I’m still looking for guest posts.

Axe Cop in Narnia

My men’s Bible study group is reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

My co-worker Louis just did a post on the voice of C. S. Lewis.

C. S. Lewis is everywhere, it seems. But have you seen his most popular fiction series through the eyes of a child who writes webcomics for his 30 year old brother?

Probably not… until now. (Click the images for full-awesomeness)

Click for full size

Click for full size

I’ve mentioned Axe Cop before, but it is such a great web-comic, I thought I’d mention it again, especially with all the C. S. Lewis in the air.

Why I Sold Half my Facebook Friends to Mere Inklings in the Waiting Room – or – Links

This is Frigg, the reason Friday is called Friday, as in "I'm so friggin glad it's Friday!"

Friday is named for the Norse goddess, Frigg, wife of Odin, step-mother of Thor. Now you’ve learned something you can share with your friends tonight when you go see the  Avengers movie. Just point to Thor and say, “His step-mom is why today is called Friday.”

I like the format of listing interesting links on Fridays for two reasons. One, the internet is a vast and potentially frightening place and it helps to have a guide. Two, it doesn’t require as much time, so I have more time for working on my novel.

That said, here are four links that I think you should click:

Why I Sold Half of my Comic Book Collection by Andrew Rogers | First, the disclaimer, Andrew is in my writers’ group and he’s a good friend of mine. Second, the pitch, this is a good post the helps us evaluate whether we are hoarding things that would be better sold in order to gain things that would be better applied. Be sure to leave him a comment if you visit.

Mere Inkling | This is a site dedicated to the writers’ group, The Inklings, of which C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were members. The blogger, Rob Stroud, does a wonderful job in looking at life through the works of The Inklings. If you enjoy Narnia or Lord of the Rings, check out Rob’s blog.

The (Writer’s) Waiting Room | I stumbled across this blog this week and think it is a must-read for anyone with hopes of getting published. The blog is hosted by Hannah Karena Jones, an assistant editor at Transaction Publishers. She is insightful and encouraging as she guides would-be authors through the publishing process. I particularly enjoyed her post on query letters.

My Facebook Profile | Are we friends on Facebook? If not, we probably should be. Here are a couple reasons why you might want to befriend me: if you are a writer hoping to be published, publishers like to see a big friend list because it says that you aren’t afraid to self-promote and you have a built-in network of people who might buy your book; if you are not a writer, it is still good to have friends; I’m quite nice. All potential stalkers please ignore the above reasons and stop being so weird and stalker-y.

But Josh, how did you do with your writing goals this week?

How I did this week. Also, fun links!Good question, faceless stranger! I did pretty well. Twice in the last week, I set aside a few hours at a time to work on my novel. I feel like the story is coming along nicely (probably about 1/3 of the way there) and my characters even gave me a plot surprise that was pretty good. After posting this week’s book review, I wrote to the author of the book and she wrote back, which was a lovely surprise. And last, but certainly not least, I posted something every weekday, which is my goal. I’m going to give myself and A- for the week.

Thanks for reading this week. If you’ve made it this far into the post, you are probably either related to me or genuinely interested in my blog. Either way, your thoughts matter to me. I would appreciate any feedback or post ideas that you would care to share in the comments below!