50 Words, 1 Character | 4 Examples

The other day, I announced a new Flash Fiction Challenge, but I didn’t give you any examples. Consider this post the remedy for that wrong. Below you will find my 50 word character introductions to the main characters of my last three 3-Day Novel entries plus one that I will be writing soon.

If you haven’t done so already, check out the challenge and enter your own 50 word character description!

Daniel O’Ryan – Fathered by a demon, raised in an orphanage, and more powerful than he knows, Daniel O’Ryan is about to start his freshman year at a new school, the prestigious Blackwood Academy. But when his powers begin to manifest, Daniel must decide who he truly is, man, demon, or something more?

Ezra Stone – Ezra Stone blames the Union for his wife’s death in the birthing center. If only he could have been with her, he might have done something. But laws in the silent society dictated that she go alone to sound-proof facility. Soon, Ezra’s grief will make itself heard around the world.

Quentin Roosevelt – Youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt, Quentin is eager to get into the Great War. But when his bi-plane is downed over France, Roosevelt is given the chance to fight an even greater war. Faking his death, Quentin sets out for the mysterious artifacts that grant mastery over time itself.

Connover Swofford – It seems that everything Connover Swofford wants, someone else gets. But when his depression hits a new low, and his successful co-worker commits suicide, Connover realizes that it isn’t just the good things that happen to those around him. Can he use his new-found powers to improve his own lot?

Work In Progress Challenge

I was just tagged by both Bob Evenhouse and Roger Colby in a book interview of sorts. Thanks to both of you and to everyone who is taking an interest in me and my writing!

1. What is the title of your book/WIP?

The working title is Daniel O’Ryan and the Tree of Life. It is a direct formula title inspired by the Harry Potter series. Some would call this a rip off. I call it an homage.

2. Where did the idea for the WIP come from?

This was my second submission to the 3-day Novel Contest. For those unfamiliar with the contest, it is held over Labor Day weekend and participants have only three days to write their novels. Most entries average around 100 pages (novellas, really), but at the least, it is a good start to a first draft.

My first year, I wrote a dystopian piece about a world where sound was illegal. It was a wonderful idea, but at the time, no one was into dystopian lit (my, how the times have changed!). I decided for my second time through the contest to go in the opposite direction and write in the most popular genre of the day, “magical orphan stories.” I have the most connections within the CBA market, so I decided that rather than outright magic, I would write something with angels, specifically, half-angels (or Nephilim)

At first, I approached the project tongue-in-cheek, but after I started into some serious research, I grew to like my characters and the story more and more. One book turned into the first in a trilogy and now I can’t wait to finish the book if only to read it myself.

3. What genre would your WIP fall under?

It definitely falls into YA fantasy. Most likely in the CBA market, but I honestly believe that it could make it in the ABA market just fine too.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Daniel O’Ryan – Josh Hutcherson (Peeta from Hunger Games)

Ian Langston – A young Jack Black, only heavier

Abdiel the Angel – Daniel Craig (James Bond)

Mr. Stockton – Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid from Harry Potter)

Hunter Garrison – Taylor Lautner (Twilight)

Audrey Fairfax – AnnaSophia Robb (Soul Surfer)

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your WIP?

After a peculiar set of events place Daniel O’Ryan and his best friend and fellow orphan Ian Langston at the prestigious Blackwood Academy, Daniel has just discovered that he’s half-angel and that the father who he though was dead is now depending on him for salvation.

6. Is your WIP published or represented?

Nope, no such luck yet. Anyone want to change that?

7. How long did it take you to write?

I’ve been working on it on and off for 4 years, but most recently it has been my focus for the last year.

8. What other WIPs within your genre would you compare it to?

Jerel Law, a first time author, just had a half-angel story published by Thomas Nelson, but his audience is a bit younger than mine (see my review of it here). Zondervan also recently published some half-angel novels (the Halflings series), but they are aimed more at the Twilight crowd than the Harry Potter fans.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this WIP?

Definitely J. K. Rowling. I’ve also been influenced by the Steampunk movement.

10. Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in this project.

I’ve done a lot of research on the extra-biblical sources on the Nephilim and came across a whole new reason why God had to destroy his creation in the flood. Much of my plot and the characters are inspired by these new perspectives on the Biblical account. I also had a lot of fun developing the abilities of a modern-day Nephilim, but you’ll have to read the book to see them in action.

One last thing…

Tag, You’re It:

As a final step of this Work In Progress blog post, I’m supposed to tag other writers who are then “it” to make a blog post of their own.

Here’s my list:

Andrew Rogers

Matthew Landrum

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.