I am Josh, creator of worlds.

josh_creator_of_worlds

In the last month or so, the members of my writer’s group have been challenging each other to write more short stories to submit for publication. The idea is that if we are writing and getting published, then we might have some credibility on the subject. And that is important since we want to do some speaking engagements at writers’ conferences about short stories.

I love short stories. I love all stories in general, but short ones are nice for me because I don’t always have the staying power that long ones require. That doesn’t mean that I don’t dream about long-form fiction. But dreaming isn’t writing any more than wishing to be skinny is exercising.

The problem I have with short stories is that I get the seed of an idea and then it keeps growing. When it grows big enough, by all rights it should become a novel. But I have three unfinished novels currently moldering under a pile of good intentions to finish them and no plans to do so. So keeping my vision for short stories small is important.

But…

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about fantasy stories. There’s a flash fiction contest coming up from Splickety Publishing Group that focuses on fantasy and sci-fi, and I intend to make an entry. As a result, I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite fantasy stories: Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Discworld, Fablehaven, Harry Potter, etc.

Want to take a guess as to how many of these are representative of flash fiction? I’ll save you the trouble. None of them.

Fantasy stories are made to be long, because half the fun of having a fantasy story is in creating the world in which the story is set. And a good world need rules. If there is magic, how does it work? What are the fantastic creatures like? Are there gods or deities meddling in the affairs of men? How did the world come to be in the first place?

Once you make the playground for your characters to run around in, it is nice to take to your time with a long page count and let them run free. Restricting them to a 500 word count is hard.

And yet, that’s my plan. My seed of an idea is growing, but I think I can break it up in flash fiction tidbits. Essentially, I’m going to create a series of related stories set in the fantasy world I’m designing. Will it work? I don’t know. But that’s not going to stop me from trying.

Would you read a series of flash fiction posts set in the same fantasy world? Do you like world-building? What is your favorite fantasy series and why?

In Praise of the Creativity of the Reader

Reading, I had learned, was as creative a process as writing, sometimes more so. When we read of the dying rays of the setting sun or the boom and swish of the incoming tide, we should reserve as much praise for ourselves as for the author. After all, the reader is doing all the work–the writer might have died long ago.

– Jasper Fforde, Thursday Next: First Among Sequels

reading_as_adventureWhen I think about the worlds of fantasy that I’ve visited through literature, I am awed by the fact that simple words on a page can induce such hallucinatory visions.

Sure, the reader has to have the words to read, so the writer is necessary, but only in the same way that a car’s engine is necessary for speeding along an interstate, weaving between cars, while evading the flashing red and blue lights of reality. No one thinks about the engine unless something breaks down.

Indeed, it is the reader who must supply the faces of characters, the tonal qualities of their voices, the gaits of their walks. The reader is the one who paints the canvas of a book’s outline with brushes of past experience and imagination.

This can, of course, lead to difficulty when the reading experience is shared with other people. For one thing, the pronunciation of names can vary greatly. I remember when I finally discussed the Harry Potter novels with my wife, I mentioned something about Herm-ee-own, to which she responded, “Her-my-owe-knee?”

But this variation of experience between readers gives us more than embarrassment; it gives us insight. When we read, we discover ourselves at least as much as we discover the characters in the book. After all, we are supplying the never-mentioned details. And when we discuss our reactions to books with others, we reveal the things that we felt to be important or noteworthy.

Reading is so much more than letters assembled into words. It is our key to a world within.

I am sweaty.

These are my smelly work out sneakers. You can tell that I'm serious about working out because I spend the big bucks on name brands like Pro Spirit.

These are my smelly work out sneakers. You can tell that I’m serious about working out because I spend the big bucks on name brands like Pro Spirit.

That’s probably the least attractive title I’ve ever given a post, so I’m sure my readership will be down today. Oh well.

I want to talk for a moment about perseverance.

The elliptical exercise machine that my wife and I bought a few weeks ago has been seeing regular use. Sure, we are still in the honeymoon phase of working out, but I believe that we are going to stick with it. Why am I so sure?

Because we’ve already been faced with not wanting to work out, but doing it anyway.

A couple of nights ago, my wife and I had a conversation that went something like this:

DeAnne – “I know I got my work out shoes on, but now I’m not sure I really want to work out.”

Me – “You already have your shoes on, you should do it.”

DeAnne – “How much longer are you going to write. Because if it’s going to be a long time, and I work out, then you work out after me, it’ll be really late when we get to bed after showers and stuff.”

Me – “Do it. I’m almost done with my post.”

DeAnne – “Fine.”

And then the night after, the situation was reversed.

Me – “Are you sure we should work out? I don’t want you to push yourself too hard if you think you are coming down with a cold or something.

DeAnne – “I’m fine. I’m going to work out. You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Me – “No, if you are going to, I’m going to too. But if you don’t feel well…”

DeAnne – “I feel fine. I’m going to work out.”

Me – “Fine. I will too, I guess.”

And so we both worked out, both nights, even though at least one of us didn’t want to on a given night. We persevered.

Perseverance is always easier when done in groups. There’s accountability there. When you are alone in your commitment, you have only your resolve to fall back on, but when you have committed to someone else in addition to yourself, you have twice the resolve. This is as true in working out as it is in writing or any other activity that requires commitment.

If you have trouble with following through on your goals, considering adding someone else to your team. I think you’ll find your goals much more attainable when you are working another person to achieve them.

PS – Harry Potter fans, did you know that the word “perseverance” has its Latin roots in “per” which means very and “severus” which means strict. Does that remind you of any Hogwarts teachers?

Well played J. K. Rowling.

Well played.

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?

I am a wizard (also, a book snob).

First, the wizard part.

wizard_browsLook at these eyebrows and tell me that they don’t look like wizard eyebrows. I wake up to these crazy things every morning. I like to think that they give me character.

Speaking of wizards, I am reminded of the first time that I read the Harry Potter series. DeAnne and I had been dating for maybe a month when she asked if I had ever read Harry Potter. I told her that I had not, that I had no interest in doing so. I was reading books by Kurt Vonnegut, J. R. R. Tolkien, and high-brow (not eyebrow) stuff like that.

“Oh,” said DeAnne. “I’ve read them all multiple times. I really enjoy them.”

“Oh,” I said.

“I think you’d like them if you gave them a chance.”

“Well,” I said, thinking how pretty she was and how stupid I would be if I made her stop liking me because I was unwilling to read the books that she enjoyed simply because I thought that they were below me, “okay.”

And so I read them. And I loved them. And I had to admit to DeAnne that she was right and that I was wrong (the first of many times).

You see, I am a book snob. If a book is popular, I have a tendency to believe that it is probably popular for bad reasons. Either it is poorly-written but pulls at some teenage emotional need (ahem, Twilight), or the media has created a frenzy (ahem, Fifty Shades of Grey), or I simply think it is below me. But there are times when my reflex to discount certain successes in the book world leads me astray. Such was the case with Harry Potter.

I am so glad that my wife introduced me to the world of Hogwarts if for no other reason than it started me on the path of recovery for my book-snobbish ways. (Though I am still not going to read Twilight.)

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?

Book Review | Spirit Fighter by Jerel Law

Spirit Fighter by Jerel LawSpirit Fighter, the initial installment of the Son of Angels: Jonah Stone series, is the first book published by Jerel Law. According to the “About the Author” section of the book, Law is a pastor with seventeen years of full-time ministry experience who “began writing fiction as a way to encourage his children’s faith to come alive.”

I decided to review this book because the content and characters have some striking similarities to the novel I’ve been working on for a couple years now. The main characters are part angel. They have special superhuman abilities. They are on a quest to rescue a parent from the clutches of fallen angels.

The book is published by Thomas Nelson and is classified as Juvenile Fiction/Religious/Christian/Fantasy. The cover shows a scene from the book showing the main characters, Jonah and Eliza Stone, fighting the ancient biblical creature known as Leviathan, aided by their family’s guardian angel, Henry, in front of a New York skyline. I mentioned last week that it is usually safe to judge a book by its cover. This cover tells me that the book is an exciting biblical fantasy aimed at middle-school readers familiar with Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. After reading the book, I can say that the cover fits it well.

The plot goes like this: Jonah Stone is a thirteen year old boy who isn’t very good at sports (he fails the tryout for the basketball team) or school (his genius little sister consistently outshines him). Discouraged, Jonah does what his dad, a pastor, tells him to do, pray. The prayer activates his angelic heritage and Jonah gains super-strength. His parents explain that Jonah and his siblings are one quarter angel, or quarterlings, and that their mother is one half angel, or a Nephilim. Jonah uses his new-found strength the next day to take care of the bully subplot, only to come home to discover that his mother has been kidnapped by fallen angels and that he and his sister are the only ones who can help. Thus they set out on the journey, aided by the family’s guardian angel and a fancy watch that gives heavenly instruction. The pair relies on their abilities, supplemented by the Armor of God to find and save their mom.

In the end, I didn’t care for this book. I had really high hopes, because if Spirit Fighter does well, publishers will see the need for books in this niche genre and my own book will stand a better chance of being published.

Here are a few of the reasons why I felt this way about the book:
The author writes with an agenda. I believe in writing a story for the sake of the story. If it happens to teach something along the way, all the better. But writing a story that sets out to teach something is not fair to the narrative. This may be a good way to write an exciting sermon, but a poor way to tell a story.
The characters are one-dimensional. They don’t undergo any great change as a result of their journey. In spite of being endowed with incredible powers, the main characters relate to situations the same way throughout the novel. They don’t grow. In reference to writing with an agenda, the characters seem to exist solely as a device to tell the reader how he or she should be living.
The story made leaps in logic. There is a scene where Jonah and Eliza come upon a castle in Central Park that they need to break into. The castle is heavily fortified and guarded by evil spirits. How do they get in? Obviously, they need to to reenact the scene from Joshua and the battle of Jericho. Why do they assume this will work? It’s a hunch. That’s it.
There was very little depth to the story. The only minor subplot that the main character had to deal with was resolved by the fourth chapter. This left the entire rest of the book to read without anything to make the story or characters richer.
It was very preachy. I don’t have a problem with any of the content philosophically, but when a large percentage of the dialogue is taken verbatim from the text of the Bible, the author is going to lose me as a reader. Copying is lazy writing. And by including so much scripture, the book will only appeal to parents and kids who are greatly opposed to mainstream/secular books.

It isn’t my goal to tear down the book, and certainly not the author. As his first published work, Law takes on an ambitious tale and gives flesh to an invisible world. The novel is imaginitive and fast-paced. It is well-suited to a young audience and portrays a large amount of scriptural ideas in a way that younger minds might understand.

What I’m afraid of is that well-intentioned people will buy this book as a gift for kids who like Rick Riordan’s novels or the Harry Potter series. Those kids won’t like Spirit Fighter.

I hope the next book in this series is better. I really do.

I’d still like to prove that there’s a place for Nephilim in YA books.

** Tomorrow is the big book giveway. Come back to see how you can win!

Meet the Cast Tuesday | Daniel O’Ryan

Daniel O'Ryan | Orphan, Freshman, NephilimAs I mentioned in last week’s post, this week I’ll be introducing the main character from my current WIP (work in progress). The project began as a 3-day novel contest entry. I had just finished another trip through the Harry Potter series, right on the heels of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance series, and I had the magical orphan genre on the brain. My goal was to write a book in the genre that actually had a chance of being published.

The thing is… I work in a Christian bookstore, which is owned by one of the top five Christian publishing houses in the country. Also, I have good friends with connections to two other top-tier Christian publishers. Up to this point, none of my writing had any sort of religious tint to it. I’d done humorous flash fiction, and dystopian thriller, and that was it. Writing something for young adults that would be able to find a home with a Christian publisher was going to be a challenge.

Of course, I wouldn’t be able to use magic outright. I’d run into enough protective parents that would be shocked and disgusted to know that I loved Harry Potter to know that magic is not acceptable to the core audience I was hoping for. So I would have to replace the magic with miracles of some kind. Or, as I finally decided on, choose a character that has built in extra-human abilities. So I decided on the human/angel half-breeds that the Bible mentions a couple times, the Nephilim.

Nephilim are a popular subject for writers. Because the Bible mentions that they were the product of the “sons of god and daughters of men,” and that they were mighty warriors, they are already pretty cool. But given that the Bible doesn’t say a whole lot else about them, there’s a lot of wiggle room where authors can fill in the gaps.

I decided to do some research on the topic, which brought me to the apocryphal Book of Enoch, which goes into some creative details about the fallen angels that helped spawn the original, pre-flood Nephilim. It has a very interesting take on things and provided me with a list of character names and abilities, places, and motivations. That information and inspiration led me to create my main character and his storyline.

But enough back story. Who is my main character?

His name is Daniel O’Ryan. At fourteen years old, he’s one of the oldest boys at Stockton’s Home for Disadvantaged Boys.

He was dropped off as a baby at the orphanage by his father, a fallen angel. His mother was killed in an attack by the angel Gabriel, who sought to fulfill his ancient charge to kill the Nephilim. After dropping him off at Stockton’s, Daniel’s father disappears.

Now, fourteen years later, strange things are happening to Daniel. First, there’s his new school, the prestigious Blackwood Academy. Mysterious forces are at work in bringing Daniel and his best friend, roommate and fellow orphan, Ian Langston, to Blackwood.

Freshman year is hard enough, but at the new school, Daniel and Ian make few friends.

When Daniel accidentally throws the star of the rugby team, Hunter Garrison, across the locker room just days before the homecoming match, things look very dim. And when Daniel is completely unharmed after Hunter drops him from the roof of the school, he starts to question his own sanity.

Fortunately, Daniel receives guidance from teacher and angel, Abdiel, who explains the truth about who Daniel is and what he can do. And what’s more, Daniel has a chance to rescue his father from a fate worse than death and restore the family that he’s wanted for so long.

But before he can save anyone, Daniel has a lot to learn about himself and his abilities (360 degree visibility, lightening speed, sonic attacks, heightened strength, and built-in shadow armor). With the help of his friends, the Undesirables, and his teacher, Abdiel, Daniel begins the quest to find and recover the fruit of the tree of life from the long-lost Garden of Eden, the only thing that may help his father.

That’s the plot of book one. Daniel’s story will span three books, and I sincerely hope that you’ll see the whole series on bookstore shelves soon.

P.S. – Stay tuned for this week’s book giveaway.