Friday, February 26, 2016

Guest Post: Victoria Jackson

Hey, everyone! I'm off on a little adventure of my own today, so give a nice, warm welcome to Victoria Jackson from The Endless Oceans of my Mind.  She blogs about reading, writing, movies, and her two home countries, Canada and Australia. (In other words, she's totally awesome, so go check out her blog). 

Sharing your work

Sharing your work takes a lot of bravery. When you give your words to someone, you are pretty much literally giving them your hopes, your aspirations, the thing you dream about at night. I believe that every piece of writing someone does (or art, or design, or math equation, or whatever) has a piece of themselves in it. Giving that to someone puts you in a raw, vulnerable position and that's scary. That's terrifying, actually, especially if you give it to someone to critique because even though we always say that it's not personal, it really is. This is your child you are giving to someone, hoping they will tell you how you've raised them wrong. 

That takes courage. 

It's also a very beautiful thing, though. As writers, we recognise our words are powerful. We all know the power of propaganda or a movie or a novel. Words can lift someone up or tear them down, it all depends on how you use them. 

I always find it beautiful when someone shares their work with someone else, though. That writer is finding their courage and saying, you know what? My words are powerful on their own, and it's terrifying to give them to someone else. What if they don't like it? What if they don't understand it? But my words are so much more powerful in our hands as opposed to just mine. 

Isn't that just beautiful?
Ok, I usually avoid editing my pictures but I liked this one too
much to not post it. So in other words, this is not actually what the
beach looks like (but I like it anyways, so... :) )

Well, that was deeper than usual. Does it scare you to give your writing to someone else? 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

We Write Books: The (Evil?) Plan is Working

Fractures is back on the shelf for the time being, so I've started on Crossfire, my chosen book for the We Write Books Challenge.

I'm a pantster trying to reform my ways and become a plotter, mainly because I've decided that I don't care to edit ten months out of the year. Granted, I'll still have to edit my work, but hopefully I won't have to overhaul my novels three times before I'm ready to send them out for the first critique. At least, that's the plan.

And so far, the evil plan is working. Why evil? Well, to have a good story, you have to give your characters some challenges. In a sense, the author is an antagonist to the protagonists in his own right. Also, I've been working on my villain laugh.
We should really have more cat villains. They always
look like they're plotting something.
From here.
As of this weekend, I have finished steps one and two of the snowflake method, giving me a good sense of my plot. I've also started thinking about my characters, which is a little more challenging than the action side of the story.

Characters are one of the areas I tend to struggle with. My protagonists have a tendency to be goody-two-shoes, even though flawed characters are some of my favorites to read. One of my goals with this book is to give my characters a bit more depth. 

Is it easier for you to brainstorm your characters or your plot? 

The lovely Victoria Jackson will be guest posting this Friday, so be sure to stop by and check out her post! Normal posting schedule and Friday Fiction Fix will resume next week. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Fiction Fix: "One Realm Beyond"

The Short:

One Realm Beyond
Realm Walkers, Book 1

By: Donita K. Paul

4/5 Stars

What: A young man finally achieves his dream of being able to travel between the planes, but nothing seems to go as planned.

Recommended to those who like: Teen/Middle Grade, Christian, Fantasy, Dragons, Humor

The Long:

Every year, my family indulges my book addiction at Christmastime and provides me with enough reading material to keep me occupied for a few months. My mom has gotten pretty good at picking out books I like, and this one is no exception. 

Cantor has been training to be a Realm Walker his whole life. Just as much as he wants to protect the realms, he thirsts for adventure. But his adventure turns out nothing like he thought it would—a bumbling dragon, a corrupt ruling council, and a strange girl with mysterious powers turn his dream on its head.

Fans of the Dragonspell series will likely enjoy this book quite a bit. The tone is the same, the vocabulary is extensive, and the recipe for a lighthearted read is completed with a nice dash of humor.

The book gets off to a bit of a slow start and I thought the ending felt a bit rushed, but I enjoyed it otherwise. Ms. Paul always brings a nice sense of humor to her work, combined with some more serious spiritual themes.

Any thoughts? Have you read anything by this author? 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I'm still looking for a guest poster for Tuesday, March 1st if anyone is interested. I accept posts on "clean" sci-fi/fantasy books and movies as well as posts about writing. Please use the contact form in the left-hand column if you're interested. 

This past week has been interesting. School's been time consuming and my new found social life likes to take large chunks of time for itself without sharing nicely with other parts that need a little TLC. One aspect of time that's been bullied of late is my writing time. It's been difficult to sit myself down at the computer and write.

From here.

This quote has been a source of inspiration for me. Fractures, my fantasy novel, has been...misbehaving. I'm right around the climax and my characters haven't changed. The action isn't snappy. And I'm not quite sure if I preserved the real "reason" behind the story or if it just became a meaningless blob of words.

It can be difficult to settle in and write when a work feels like that.

However, I've dutifully sat myself down and worked on it. Granted, it's been easier some days than others. (All of your work for the day being deleted right before you save it is not fun. Stupid computers. I'm tempted to invest in a typewriter.)

I'm also dreading reopening Crossfire, though I know I'll feel better once I do. It's supposed to be my "reward" for finishing Fractures, but it isn't feeling very much like a reward right now.

Anyhow, if Frodo can get the ring to Mount Doom, I can write a novel. At least, that's what I tell myself.

Do you ever have trouble convincing yourself to write? 
Next week, I'll be turning my focus back to Fractures and the "We Write Books" Challenge. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sequel Review: "The Invaders"

Spoilers may lurk for those who haven't read The Outcasts. You might be able to get away with hopping into the series starting with this book, but I think you'll have a deeper appreciation for the book if you read The Outcasts first. 

The Short:

The Invaders
Brotherband Chronicles, Book 2

By: John Flanagan

5/5 Stars (for intended age group)

What: Following the loss of the Andomal, Hal and the Herons set out on a quest to find Zavac and retrieve the treasure.

Recommended to those who like: Fantasy, Clean, Sailing, Middle Grade/ Teen, and have read Book One 

The Long:

If you’re ever looking for books for a boy who doesn’t like reading, I’d highly recommend John Flanagan as an author. His books feature young men, are easy, quick reads, and have a ton of adventure and action in them.

Hal and the Herons have set out to retrieve the Andomal and escape Hallasholm. However, storms, pirates, and infighting oppose their progress. Can they overcome their differences to complete their quest and regain their honor?

For adult readers, this book might be a four-star work. It’s not written at a very high reading level. However, for teens and middle grade readers the language and style are perfect. (There is an instance of foul language in the book, so take that into consideration when recommending it to anyone). 

The book’s a bit slow to start, but once the action gets going, it’s quite enjoyable. All of our favorite characters from book one have returned and they show some real character growth between the two books. Themes of the novel include teamwork and leadership.

You might be able to get away with not reading Book 1 prior to starting The Invaders; however, I think you’ll have a much greater appreciation for the characters if you read the books in chronological order. Readers of the Ranger’s Apprentice series will likely appreciate the connections between the two series.

Do you enjoy reading books for younger readers? 

I may be slow to respond to comments this weekend. Happy Valentine's Day/Singles Awareness Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Getting to Know Me Tag

Thanks to Liz over at Out of Coffee, Out of Mind, for the tag!

Vital Stats:

Name: R.M. Lutz (And you thought I was going to reveal my secret identity! I think not ;)

Nicknames: Ray, Pumpkin, Taterhead

Birthday: The first day of Spring

Place of Birth: (Gee whiz, is this going to ask for my SSN next?) Ohio

Star Sign: I'm going to go non-traditional here and say the Big Dipper, because I'm obsessed with all things northern and snow and it points to the North Star. 

Occupation: Full-time student, intermittent freelance editor, and unpublished author. 


Hair Color: Brown with the occasional blond streak in the front. Gotta love acne medication that bleaches your hair out. (On the bright side, free highlights!)

Hair Length: Collar bone? I only recently started cutting it this short. I'm still adjusting. 

Eye Color: Oh gosh, this question. I always put down hazel because I don't think gold-brown with green and gray would fit on my license.

Best Feature: My eyes. Which refuse to be put into any category. 

Braces: Thank goodness, no. I'll take my mediocre vision with lack of depth perception over braces any day. 

Piercings: Nope. I've considered getting my ears pierced, but I don't think I'd wear earrings frequently enough to justify it. 

Tattoos: Nope. 

Righty or lefty?: Righty


First best friend: Tatiana. I actually got to see her again after several years of no contact. It was really fun catching up and seeing where we're both going. 

Award: My ribbon from my first set of swim lessons when I was three. It's hanging up with the ribbons/medals I won as a competitive swimmer and I like it just as much. (If not more, only because it's purple). 

Sport: Swimming/soccer. 

Real holiday: ? Not sure what to answer here. 

Concert: Lost and Found. It's a shame that they just finished up their Farewell Tour. Then again, it might have been Trans-Siberian Orchestra. That would probably be my first "real" concert. 


Movie: This question is not fair. To list a few: Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and The Princess Bride. 

TV Show: Right now, Arrow. However, I also like Scooby-Doo (the originals) and Merlin. You can also catch me watching The Flash, Agent Carter, and I just got hooked on The Man in the High Castle. Ooh, and Castle. But I'm really behind. 

Color: Purple, like the lid on Crayola markers. 

Song: It greatly varies by mood. 

Stressed?--"Flood" by Jars of Clay or "Whispers in the Dark" by Skillet.
Happy? "50 Ways to Say Goodbye" by Train and a whole slew of other songs. 
Nostalgic? "Lights" by Journey. 
Need to get some work done? "Taking Care of Business" by Automotive, "Working for a Living" by Huey Lewis and the News, or "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights, Impossible odds) by Styx. 
Bad mood/mad? "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood, or pretty much anything by Pat Benatar
Sappy? The newest addition is "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by the Proclaimers. "I Don't Dance" by Lee Brice. Also, Michael Buble, Billy Joel, and Train. 
Hymns? "God of Grace and God of Glory", "The Church's One Foundation", "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name", "Battle Hymn of the Republic"(If that counts), and "The Lamb" to name a few. 
Other? "Wheel in the Sky" by Journey, "The Iditarod Trail Song" by Hobo Jim, "If Today Was Your Last Day" by Nickelback, "The Piano Man" by Billy Joel, "Word Crimes" by Weird Al, "The Hockey Song", by the Ice Warriors, "All Star" by Smash Mouth, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band, "Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down, and "Breath of Life" by Florence + The Machine. 

In short, don't ask me what my favorite song is. Also, I just gave you the weirdest playlist known to man. 

Restaurant: Anything that involves pasta. Also, Cheesecake Factory.
Shop: Depends on what I'm looking for, but Books-A-Million or Yankee Candle. I go into Yankee Candle if I want to come out with money. 

Book: Do you want a list longer than the song list? I thought not. 

Magazine: I don't read these as much as I would like, but National Geographic and The Lutheran Witness are probably the two I'd be inclined to one day get a subscription for. 

Shoes: the pair of fleece-lined ankle boots I picked up at a second hand store. In lieu of that, sneakers. 


Feeling: Like my eyes hurt after finding all the songs I like. This tag is very long.

Single or Taken: Been on the single train my whole life. (Reminder, Single's Appreciation Day is February 15--all the candy goes half off, just for us). 

Listening to: "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel. Now, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band. (What did I say about asking me about music?)

Thinking about: I wonder what the cafeteria has for lunch? And is there time to take a nap this afternoon? Because if not, I have to load up on coffee. Also, maybe I should have split this post into two? 

Watching: At the moment, nothing. And I probably won't have time for TV for the next week. 

Wearing: My favorite hoodie, fuzzy socks, and warm-up pants. 


Children: Yes. But, marriage first (Oh, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by the Georgia Satellites is also good).And before that, the single status needs fixed. Which requires a guy asking me out first. Which, despite me dropping hints, has not happened. :/

Married: See above conundrum. 

Careers: Vet Tech, writer, editor, and, if all else fails, musher. 

Where do you want to live? In a cozy cabin in the woods.

Do You Believe In...

God? Yes!

Miracles? I believe in the greatest miracle of all time--God sending His Son in human flesh to take my failures so that I can be with Him. I also believe He performed miracles while here. I don't go looking for miracles today, but I don't rule out the possibility of them happening. 

Love at first sight? Love is the act of choosing someone consistently above yourself and putting their needs first. Could this happen at first sight? Maybe? I doubt it. 

Ghosts? Spirits (demons, angels), yes. Ghosts, as in deceased persons? Not really, no. 

Aliens? Not really. Possible? Maybe. Probable? No. 

Soul mates? Please define the term. If you mean that every person has one person they're meant to be with, no. Because then one person choosing the wrong person would screw everything up. And humans are really good at screwing things up. 

Heaven? Yes. 

Hell? Yes.

Kissing on the first date? Again, I refer you to the Georgia Satellites. I think you should get to know the person really well before you make any sort of physical connection with them, including kissing. I think kissing is appropriate for engaged couples. Not sure on the dating couples. Again, I'm on the single train. 

Yourself? I would hope so, or else this post is problematic. 

Thanks for sticking around for a really long article about me rambling about my various interests. If you want this tag, by all means, please steal it. 

Also, if anyone is interested, I am looking for a guest poster (or two) for the dates of Friday, February 26th and Tuesday, March 1st. Please use the contact form in the left-hand column. I accept posts on "clean" sci-fi/fantasy books and movies, as well as posts on writing. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We Write Books Introduction Post

You might have noticed that I had a poll set up asking about interest in a writing challenge. (Thank you to the person who voted!) I was originally planning on doing a daily writing goal type challenge, but a different opportunity presented itself and I thought that it would be awesome to participate.

If you've followed the blog for very long, you know that I'm a bit obsessed with "Go Teen Writers". I credit that blog and my 8th grade English teacher for convincing me to keep writing.

The We Write Books (I don't do hashtags.) challenge is a way of walking through brainstorming, writing, and editing an entire novel with a group of other young writers. At the end, Ms. Williamson and the others over at GTW are going to have a contest for writers up to age 21. It's a bit slower pace than NaNoWriMo.

I'm currently finishing up writing my rough draft of Fractures and my focus is starting to shift to what project I want to tackle next. As much as I really want to write the cool sci-fi idea I have floating around in my head, I really need to return to my dystopian novels. They've been sitting on the shelf for a few months.

Yes, it's time to dust off Crossfire and re-write it. I'm not going to lie--I'm a little terrified. I love this story and I want to make sure it's told well. I've decided that I'm going to plot using the Snowflake Method all the way through and not skimp out on plotting time, even though it might be tempting.

I'd like to invite all of you to join me in this endeavor. My writing process posts will include updates on the challenge. As always, I'd love to hear how your writing is going!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Fiction Fix: "Dreamtreaders"

The Short:

Dreamtreaders, Book 1

By: Wayne Thomas Batson.

5/5 Stars

What: A boy has the remarkable ability to control a dream world, but with it comes the responsibility to protect it from evil.

Recommended to those who like: Fantasy, Christian, Middle Grade/Teen

The Long:

There are some great cover designers out there! This design
sucked me right in. And while it’s good advice not to judge a book by its cover, I’d say that this book lived up to the cover artwork.

Archer Keaton is a dreamtreader—someone who has the ability and responsibility to guard and protect the dream world. Just a teenager, some of that responsibility is exhausting and it’s easy to overestimate his powers. Whether he’s occupied trying to defeat the Nightmare Lord or sew up breaches in the dream world to keep it from mingling with the Waking World, his nights are more than a little busy.

This book is certainly unique and the imagery is fascinating and vivid. The theme of good vs. evil is strong and the spiritual warfare aspect won’t be lost on most readers, but the Christian element isn’t overwhelming. People who enjoy books for middle grade/teen readers will likely enjoy this the most, but many young adults will enjoy the book as well. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Any thoughts?

Like pirates? Check out this other pair of books by Mr. Batson here and here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Writer's Mind: Carving out Writing Time

Well, life happened this week, so this is going to be a shorter post than I had originally planned. (Writing tip number 17: don't develop a social life or pick up hobbies. They take too much time).

From here.
This semester was supposed to be "easy" compared to the last one.

A conference, tournament, and two projects later, I'm starting to have my doubts. I've been running like a chicken with my head cut off for a couple weeks now and there doesn't seem to be an end coming any time soon. 

As often happens, something ended up on the back burner. This time around, it was writing. A month ago, I set out to write 5,000 words a week. 

That's about what I wrote last month


So, I've been trying to focus on what I can do to improve my word count--and I realized that, unlike most other activities, I don't have a time of day set aside to write. It's been lumped in with homework and studying. 

As most college students would tell you, there isn't such a thing as being done with homework or studying, at least not during the middle of a semester. There's always one more project, one more reading assignment, and one more test for which to study. It's not easy. 

But very little that's good comes easily. 

Hence,why my alarm is now going to be going off a half hour earlier during the week. I need some serious writing time at a point of day when I'm not going to be as tempted to do homework or get sucked into Facebook. I typically write better at night, but right now it's between doing some not-so-inspired writing regularly in the morning or not writing very much at all. 

Editing can fix one of those problems, but not the other. 

So, here's to fighting for dreams. To balancing the five hundred things we decide to be involved in at any one point in time. Here's to the writing life.