From the Earth to the Moon

My wife bought me the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon for Christmas. I’ve wanted to see it since it was first broadcast on HBO. From the Earth to the Moon is a dramatization of the story of the Apollo missions to the moon. I’ve been fascinated by the Apollo program, by these extraordinary men who traveled into space, by the space race, by the culture of NASA — all of it — since I was a child.

The gift was great timing on my wife’s part, because right now I’m smack in the middle of editing my second draft of Offworld, which as you should know by now, features a group of astronauts as its core cast of characters. Even though the main story is set on Earth, the earliest part of the book is framed by NASA and manned spaceflight.

I just finished watching the miniseries’ first episode, “Can We Do This?”, and I’m not ashamed to admit I was darn near moved to tears by it. I expect I’m in the minority on that; I can see why the miniseries wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea. It’s steeped in technobabble and plays at times almost like an educational documentary, explaining in detail how the Apollo astronauts did what they did.

But it’s also a deeply moving, at times magical portrait of a group of men on something akin to a holy mission. There’s something about watching these guys striving to achieve this monumentally huge thing… under tremendous pressure from political forces… risking their lives in fragile spacecraft that could so easily go wrong in so many ways… yet willing to do it anyway while filled with awe and childlike glee. And succeeding! I can’t explain what that feeling or quality is, but every astronaut in the early days of the space program knew exactly what it was like. And that sensation has got me completely dazzled, roped in by the wonder of this group of people doing what, at that time, should have been impossible.

I can’t wait to watch the rest of the series, but for now, you’ll have to excuse me while I get back to work. I’m feeling inspired…


My New Job: Getting LOST

Sometime in the next week or so, I will be taking over as the one-and-only blogger for B5media’s, a news blog about the TV show Lost. The contract was signed and delivered today, so it’s a done deal.

As someone utterly obsessed with Lost (how awesome was Season 4?), I’m pretty doggone thrilled about this. It’s great timing, too, as the hype machine is just starting to build for Season 5. I’ve been looking for some kind of regular paying gig slash writing outlet all year. And I know this show well enough to write about it with my eyes closed! So I couldn’t be more excited to get started! Bring it!

FYI, if you go to now, you’ll find some mildly tabloidy stuff on there from the fill-in editor who’s been posting stuff while they’ve searched for a new blogger. I won’t be doing that sort of thing; I’ll be focusing entirely on the story, the characters, the writers, the trivia, merch tie-ins, episode summaries, mysteries, unanswered questions, etc. Basically, all the cool, geeky stuff that us Lost fans salivate over. :)

If it’s happening in the world of Lost, you can bet will cover it.

Be there or be a uniformly-sided rectangle.



How awesome is this?

It hits every single note that I asked for, and then some. As I mentioned a few months ago, I got to meet with Paul Higdon, the amazingly talented graphic designer behind Bethany House Publishers’ book covers, for a personal pow-wow on what the cover to this book should look like. I gave Paul a complete rundown on the plot of the book, the characters, the themes, and the tone of the book. He took all of my suggestions and ran with them, adding his own artistic ideas and really creating something spectacular.

I mean, I loved the Trilogy covers, but come on… This is next-level.

Aside from the plot stuff, here’s what I asked Paul for:

  1. I asked that it look like a movie poster. Mission accomplished. If a movie version of Offworld were ever made, and this actually was the movie poster, I’d be thrilled!
  2. I asked that it be photo-realistic. This is not easy to achieve, especially when you consider that Bethany House does not possess the kind of budget that bigger publishers have at their disposal. But you’d never know it! I mean, look at that thing. But anyway, the photo realism is important to me because if you venture too far into a “painting” kind of look, or an over-stylized look, it can detract from how real it looks.
  3. I asked for a title treatment that looks like a logo. Man, I love what they did with the title. I’m a little surprised at how big my name is (I wouldn’t care if if it was as small as “a novel”), but I’m in love with that title logo.
  4. I asked that tonally, it have a sense of foreboding and dread, but without losing the cool factor. Wow did they nail this. The tone the cover projects is just perfect for the story. I love the sleek, shininess of it with the wet pavement… It reminds me of how James Cameron lights a lot of his nighttime, silvery-hued scenes, like the scene in T2 when Sarah Connor escapes from prison.

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It exceeds my hopes by leaps and bounds!

One last bit of trivia: The bicycle mistified me a bit, because there’s no bike or bike riding anywhere in the book. I asked why they didn’t go with abandoned cars, because there are plenty of those in the book. They told me they experimented with cars but found the look to be “too nuclear annihilation/disaster movie,” whereas the overturned bicycle had a quality of strangeness and loneliness that they felt would grab people. In the end, I think they made the right call.


Harsh and Wonderful

2008 has been profoundly unlike any other year in my life.

It’s been the most difficult year I’ve ever experienced, professionally. My books continue to sell (thank you, Lord), but the termination of INFUZE back in January led to a loss of income that has never been recovered. After fourteen years as a journalist, I suddenly found myself… well, not one. After so long working full time on non-stop, daily deadlines… now there was no reporting to be done. After finding purpose and fulfillment in my work for so many years… my purpose became unclear. And as the year dragged on, and I continued searching for regularly-paying work, it became increasingly clear that the country’s economic downturn was affecting the field of journalism by drastically reducing the number of available jobs. I’ve pursued ideas, opportunities, leads… and pretty much gotten nowhere.

I won’t lie to you: I floundered. Bigtime.

For months, I didn’t know what to do with myself. There was depression. Frustration. Confusion. Fear. Lots of uncertainty. And even a little panic. Most importantly, there was a real loss of confidence. For the first time in my professional life, no one wanted to offer me a job.

There was also the release of Merciless, the big, exciting culmination of the Dominion Trilogy… only it turned out to be big and exciting mostly just to me and the hardcore fans. Oh, it’s been selling as well as the first two books, and personally, I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out, quality-wise, but I kind of had this idea in my head that finishing the trilogy would be a big deal within the industry. Quite the contrary. There was precious little fanfare — not nearly as much as the first two books achieved, which was especially frustrating to me, as I truly believe Book 3 is (by far!) the best one of the bunch.

Of course Karen and I turned everything over to God about our finances and my career, and we pray daily for direction and miracles and all that stuff. But I’ve been thrown by all this. I just didn’t see it coming. Not like this. So it’s been a terribly harsh year, and it’s worn me down mentally, spiritually, and physically.

It’s also been a wonderful year! Because it’s been the first year of my son’s life, and I take care of him by myself most days of the week. Evan is the most incredible thing Karen and I have ever experienced, and watching him grow and learn and explore, and watching his delightful personality come into bloom, and laughing and playing with him, and crying and comforting him when he hurts, and holding him as he sleeps… These have been incredibly powerful moments that I would never take back one second of. I absolutely adore my little boy, and I’m grateful and humbled that God saw fit to give him to us.

Now, don’t get me wrong — he doesn’t make getting my book writing done very easy. I’m a night owl by nature, so I write late at night after he and Karen have gone to bed, but many a night I’ve had to get up with him and work and work to get him back to sleep. There’s been more than one night when I’ve wondered what he’s got against Daddy meeting a deadline, because it started to feel like the little guy had a vendetta against that very thing!

But the journey of being a husband and a father has been filled with wonder and joy and I am so, so grateful for it every day.

So that’s where I’ve been this year. That’s why I’ve been largely silent and why this blog hasn’t been updated very much. It’s been a harsh year, but also a wonderful year. It’s a strange mixture of dichotomies, and many a day, I’ve wondered if I’ve lost myself and my identity to the changes 2008 has brought. It’s left me feeling broken much of the time.

But I am still here. I’m still walking the path, still pressing towards the mark. I do feel like a part of me has been lost. But maybe that’s okay. Maybe 2008 was exactly what it needed to be, to prepare me for whatever is to come next. I have no idea what that is, but I know who does.

And I know I’m going to keep writing my books. I’ve still got three more novels I’m currently contracted for (and hopefully there will many more beyond that). The first one is almost in the can and I’m researching for the second now, and both of them have me super excited because they’re so fun and different and are stretching me as a writer.

And then there are my nonfiction ideas. I’ve got quite a few of them. Writing nonfiction was not something I thought I’d ever want to do, but when presented with no other possibilities, I began to contemplate what I could come up with if I got the chance. So with no other major work happening, I’m pursuing several of these projects as we speak. I think what I have in mind will really surprise you.

The new is almost done (for real, I promise!) and I’ve really gone all out, content-wise. Fans and newcomers alike will find plenty of groovy stuff to occupy their time.

Please continue to keep Karen, Evan, and I in your prayers. And if there’s any way we can be praying for you, drop me an email and let me know.

I promise to blog more often once the new site is done!