Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordcount Wednesday

And things were going so well, too.

This week, things kind of slowed to a crawl. I was able to write 4,865 words, bringing the grand total of Failstate #2 to 78,739 words. Wow. Not good.

But I do have some excuses. Want to hear them?

Too bad, I'm going to give them anyway.

Part of it was the long weekend. I was out of town with family and that didn't give me a whole lot of time to write.

But more importantly, I wound up hitting a wall last Wednesday. I'd gotten up to the point where I'd figured everything out and then said, "Well, now what?" And I had no idea. So I had to take a little bit of a break to figure out what needed to happen in the last several thousand words. I wrote out a list and that seems to have cleared the logjam.

So clearly, I won't be meeting my self-imposed deadline. But that's okay. Because I think the end is in sight.

Of course, that's what I said almost two years ago when I was writing the first Failstate. Hopefully I won't half-life it this time also.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


This is the end, my friends. The incredible journey that started with Firebird wraps up in Kathy Tyers' latest epic, Daystar. It's been a wild ride, so let's review:

The Firebird universe is one in which God's people were exiled from their home planet because of their illicit genetic engineering. They tried to make themselves gods by giving themselves telepathic and telekinetic abilities, to name a few. In the cataclysm that drove them from their world, the Eternal Speaker commanded them to protect the non-altered humans they found. And He also promised them that He would eventually send them a Savior through one particular family. Up until the last book, we've followed different members of that family as they try to struggle with the prophecies surrounding them.

But now the time has come. The long-promised Boh-Dabar has come. And he's come to a galaxy that desperately needs him. Non-altered humanity is turning against the Sentinels (the genetically altered people) and are threatening to wipe them out. Caught in the middle of this is Meris Cariole, a normal human who finds herself trapped on the Sentinel Sanctuary planet. She finds herself on stage for one of the greatest dramas ever. But will she see the truth that's speaking to her? Or will she hold on to her own selfish teachings.

This was a great read. I'll admit, I was a bit intimidated by the heft of the story. The book clocks in at a little over 600 pages, which had me worried. But once I got into the story, I was hooked. I had to find out what was going to happen next as evil forces conspired to destroy the Sentinels. I was particularly delighted to see the return of Firebird and Brennan. They were conspicuously absent from the previous book, Wind and Shadow, and I didn't realize how much I missed them until I saw them in this book.

I also loved the way that Tyers tied in so many little details from the previous four books, especially Wind and Shadow. That one didn't sit so well with me for some reason, but seeing how it tied into this one makes me want to go back and read it again.

I have two minor quibbles with the story, and they are minor. First of all, there were a few problems with predictability. This is basically a retelling of Jesus' story but on a galactic scale. As a result, I saw a few things coming. That's not necessarily a bad thing per se, but there you go.

The other was the odd way that the book ended. I mean, I get it, but I was surprised at how . . . compressed? . . . everything turned out to be. I get the reason why, it just struck me as odd.

But this is a great book. I know I'll have to pull out the Firebird books again and reread them all in the future. In some ways, though, it's sad that the journey is over. It would have been fun to keep traveling in this fabulous universe.

Failstate Blog Tour!

Yesterday, Team Novel Teen did a blog tour for Failstate. You know how people show you pictures of their kid? Well, I'm posting links to the blogs that participated. Because I'm egocentric like that. :D

ADDLibrarian said,"Robin, aka Failstate,  is a Fantastic character, and Otte really nails the male teen psyche in a way that can be rare in Christian fiction."

Bookworm said, "Holy Cow, what a book! Okay, there have only been a few books that pull me in as this one did to the point of ignoring those around me."

Jessica at my story shelf said, "Failstate is a great start to a series that both guys and girls will enjoy. Now, bring on the movie!"

Jill Williamson did a two-parter. She interviewed me and did a review today, in which she said, "Now, this is what has been missing from bookstore shelves! John Otte’s Failstate combines mystery, action, humor, romance, and faith all in one rip-roaring superhero tale."

 And over at Virtuous Girlhood, Miss RJ had this suggestion: "And to any moms reading this? If you have teenage children then you need to buy this book for them. I promise you that they will love it."

This was a blast! Thanks, Team Novel Teen! Thanks for all of your kind words and I'm glad you enjoyed Failstate.

Have you enjoyed it recently? ;)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordcount Wednesday

So here we are, ladies and gentlemen, with a little over a week left in the month, I've made it to 73,874 words, meaning that I was able to write 13,227 words this week. That's getting better, but I'm still unsure that I'll make it by the end of the month, especially with Memorial Day Weekend coming up. But that's okay. I'll make it eventually.

Provided I can find my way out of the corner I'm in now. I seem to keep finding them in this manuscript.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Daughter of Light

I almost feel silly writing a review for Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse. I feel like a latecomer to the party because USA Today did a review earlier this month. But hey, I've never been one to back down from a bad idea, so here goes:

Rowen Mar is a young lady in a small village in the Ryland Plains. She was left on the doorstep of a villager when she was a child and because of that, she's never fit in. But then, after a bout of sickness, Rowen finds a strange mark on her hand. Even more bizarre, when she touches the village blacksmith, she sees visions of the darkness inside him. This gets her branded as a witch and she has to leave the only home she's ever known.

Rowen soon finds herself in the White City, her country's capital, and thrust into the middle of an adventure. Her kingdom's enemies are on the march, both the armies of their southern neighbor and a restless evil as well. What will happen when Rowen learns of her destiny? How will that affect the many people around her, people she's come to love?

This was a pretty good book overall. Morgan created a sympathetic character in Rowen, strong and capable and yet messed up because of her past (a tough trick to pull off well, which she did). It's obvious that she's spent some time building her world and the characters and people are fascinating to read about. I wish she had spent a little more time setting up some of the concepts. For example, the Avonains' connection to the sea seemed to come out of nowhere and it's so fascinating, I wish she had spent a little more time examining it.

My one complaint about this book is that in many ways, this one felt like a prologue to the true story yet to come. While there is a complete story in Daughter of Light, many of the subplots were left unresolved for future books. I'm not sure what could have been done differently and maybe I'm the only one who felt that way, but there you go.

But I am looking forward to future additions to this series. It should be a fun ride.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordcount Wednesday

You ever experience an epiphany? I needed one, and boy, did I get one earlier this week.

As I've said, I've been working on the sequel to Failstate. It is, as of yet, untitled. I'm working on it. Well, not really. That's not important. What is important is this: I was feeling a bit stuck, a little bit blocked. I was writing a few thousand words here, a few thousand words there, but it felt very much like I was spinning my wheels and not going anywhere. I knew what the story was supposed to be. I knew what needed to happen. But for some reason, something that I couldn't put my finger on, I knew something wasn't right. I was missing something.

The maddening thing was this: I had no idea what I was missing. I had no idea if I had taken a wrong turn somewhere in the plot. I had no idea if I had made a major mistake somewhere along the line. Just this persistent feeling of "wrongness."

But then I had an epiphany. And it's thanks to, in large part, sleep deprivation.

This past Friday, our church had a youth lock-in. I didn't stay for the whole thing. Instead, I went in late, played a game called Underground Church with the kids, learned a game from them called "Ninja" (apparently quite popular in our local high school), and played another game with them called The Werewolves of Millers Hollow. I didn't get home until 2:30. My mind didn't shut off until 3:30.

Needless to say, when I got up at 7:00 the next morning, I was tired.

In that state of sleep deprivation, I tried writing. Didn't go so well at first. But then, with half of my brain shut off and desperately craving sleep, I had the epiphany. I realized what was wrong.

I was missing a bridge.

I don't want to go too much into the plot right now because, hey, I'm in the middle of my first draft and things are in flux. But for a long time, the plot of the story was feeling a bit disconnected. There are two distinct . . . well, phases to the plot. And while I thought I had found a way to link them together, I really hadn't.

On Saturday, I realized what the bridge had to be. It was right there in front of me the whole time. I just hadn't spotted it.

And that's all it took. My "muse" is humming along. I'm feeling the desperate need to write. And my wordcount shows it.

Right now, Failstate #2 is at 60,647 words, meaning that I've been able to add 11,957 words this week. Holy cow! I'm almost tempted to keep writing right now to break the 12k mark.

In spite of that, though, I'm still a little worried. My self-imposed deadline of May 31st is looming large and I have a lot of ground to cover yet. And I'm also a bit worried about different details of the plot. I'm not sure I'm doing them all justice. Oh well. Time will tell.

Maybe I'll have another epiphany along the way.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sons of Thunder

It's been a while since I've read a book for just simple pleasure. Long story, don't ask. And to be completely honest, I didn't go into reading this book with entirely pure motives. See, every month, I review a book for our church's newsletter. But due to my tastes, a lot of the fiction I read tends to be . . . well, weird. And that's not the only kind of fiction that my parishioners want to read.

Then, a few months back, I noticed that Susan May Warren's book Sons of Thunder was free for the Kindle. I snagged it since it wasn't spec fic and also because it had just won the Carol Award for Long Historical. Well, I just realized I have to write a review of a book for this next newsletter and I figured, Well, no time like the present. I got out my Kindle and I started reading. I'm glad I did. It's easy to see why this book won the Carol. It is excellent.

The book follows the story of two Greek brothers, Markos and Dino Stavros from the island of Zante. Due to a scandal, Markos and Dino must flee their home with a young woman named Sophie. They head for America and try to start a new life in safety. But problems follow them as they try to make that life in Chicago during the time of Prohibition and then in Minneapolis at the start of World War II. It seems as though trouble will continue to follow them no matter where they go. Ultimately, they realize their need for God and the healing that only He can bring.

Like I said, this was an excellent book. Warren wove in a great deal of historical details, including references to two famous figures in the early part of the book. And while there was definite "preaching" in the book, it never got to the point of overwhelming or where it felt tacked on. It flowed naturally from what the characters were doing and experiencing. On top of that, Warren expertly created mood pieces using words, augmenting the story with her descriptions.

In short, if you want a great historical novel set in World War II, this is a good one for you.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Wordcount Wednesday

So I'm starting to make good progress. Failstate #2 (great working title, huh?) is now at 48,690 words. That's an additional 7,801 words. I'm almost at the halfway point. And I'm even feeling a bit better about the story.

But I'm also running out of time, I think. I need to get this done by the end of May. Will I? At this point, I have no idea. Keep watching, true believers. The next few weeks are going to be interesting.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Wordcount Wednesday

So here we are, a week later, and Failstate #2 is weighing in at 40,889 words, meaning that in the past week, I've added 6,513 words. That's good. I've managed to eke out a little more. Not quite as many as I had hoped, but it's a step in the right direction.

My problem is this: I'm not feeling great about what's happening in the story. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something feels off right now. I don't know if I'm suffering from a tiny bit of writers' block or if my subconscious is trying to tell me something. Hard to say. I guess the only thing I can do is keep working and hope that I'll break through it soon.

Until next week, then!