The Healer and the Pirate

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Review

I've read the Narnia series probably literally 10 times, so you can consider me a book fan. I'm not nearly such a fan of the movies, though I own them on DVD.

Most people will argue that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was quite faithful to the books, even though they added numerous scenes. I know a movie is not likely to be a word-for-word adaptation, but even for LWW, I was disappointed at Aslan, who to me, lacked the "wildness" and strength of the Lion in the book. Still, despite the fact that the director reportedly remembered the book as one big battle (and adapted it as such), I thought it was pretty good.

Prince Caspian was reportedly a challenge, just because so much of the book itself was told in flashback. Fair enough. IMO that wasn't any reason to add a very lengthy (and traumatic!) castle raid. Never mind that "Companion to Narnia" by Paul Ford states that Prince Caspian was 13 (Ben Barnes is, er, not). Unlike LWW, I felt like Prince Caspian lacked the wonder and joy of the first film. I did buy it on DVD, but I didn't really care for it so much.

So how's Voyage of the Dawn Treader? I'm actually not sure if it was truer to the books than Prince Caspian, but to me it felt truer to the SPIRIT. It was a pretty good film.

The writers/producers/director worked very hard to add in an overarching plot, which I didn't think was a bad idea, actually, and it was kind of interesting. Unfortunately, I don't think the writers were anywhere up to C.S. Lewis' standards, writing a kind of weird enemy for them to pursue, and not doing a great job of it. They not only changed the order of the book's events, but substantially rewrote the events themselves, added new scenes, a couple new characters, at least one removed, new motivations...and yes, the writers rewrote or removed much of Aslan's dialogue. Not only that, but they glossed over so many events, that I'm honestly not sure if someone who hadn't read the books would be able to follow (and would be very curious to see!). I think it would be much, much more accurate to say that the movie was "inspired by" the book, than that it was an adaptation.

Now, if you've read the book, you can probably remember some of the reasons why Hollywood would not have allowed a book-accurate version of "Dawn Treader" to be made (the last few chapters are not movie-exciting)--but I think it would have been really interesting to see how it went, to portray the wonder and magic the way it was shown in the books. I know C.S. Lewis wrote in a non-cinematic manner, but it would just be interesting.

There were a lot of good things, regardless of the deviations. I read a review or two complaining about Eustace, but I found him a true delight. Granted, I might feel differently if I had (bratty) children of my own, but I thought he acted just perfectly. :) Reepicheep was also great, and he and Eustace had some great interactions. The world itself was nice visually, and there were a few nice male wardrobe pieces, though some of Prince Caspian's outfits weren't so flattering on his tiny waist.... (Nothing really interesting at all for female costumes, sadly.) I thought the sea serpent was scarier and grosser than the Kraken from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

The end credits were a surprising concession to book fans; stay until the names start rolling, at least!

Theologically, I'm no expert, but I'd almost have to say the Dawn Treader film is more "harmless" than "beneficial." Not to say God can't work through anything, mind you, but I don't think the film itself brings much to the table of Christianity. In fact, parts are kind of against Christianity...Lucy does call on Aslan in the darkness, but once it's overcome, she says "We did it!"

The good news is, IF they actually make Silver Chair, they COULD stay truer to the book, since it's pretty much an adventure story, complete with a climax and everything! Now, as to if they WOULD stick to the book, I have no idea.

And as to if the film will even be made at all? Fox would like to make Narnia into a franchise, but they have these ideas that it needs to be a franchise like Harry Potter and Twilight, where the same characters are present from book to book. (Why do you think the White Witch keeps showing up?) Whereas ultimately, the next three stories (in publication order) could pretty much stand alone. I can see them making "The Silver Chair" but I don't see how they'd do the other three books. Since Jill Pole is my favorite Narnian "kid" and Puddleglum is one of my favorite characters, I'd love for them to make that film.

Or then again, if they DID make another film, they might do "The Magician's Nephew," since then at least they'd have the White Witch for continuity. :/

It is kind of neat how by far the most successful of the films ($291,710,957 domestic/$453,300,315 foreign) not only stayed truest to the source material--but it literally had a Christ figure dying for sins!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Progress Report

So I figured I'd at least write progress reports on Wednesday. The last seven days weren't great--I got some writing done on "Flight from Endwood," but not as much as I wanted. I also critiqued a co-worker's short story. (It's amazing how some people you'd never have expected at first have amazing creativity and talent!)

I also got something printed on so that's pretty cool. Hopefully it will arrive soon!

I would love to have Endwood finished by the end of the year, but if I manage that, it will definitely be a God thing. It's a very, very complicated novel (it will need a total rewrite which I won't tackle until I'm a much better writer). I've also got several chapters to critique from one author, and several other chapters from another.

I'd better get to work!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (New International Version, ©2010)

9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.

So overall I'm a big fan of collaboration for writing, though it can be challenging, and it doesn't always work well.

You could argue that almost all great books are a collaboration of some sort, as pretty much every writer needs an editor. And if you're writing to be published, your best bet very well may be to find at least one or two people to critique it--or at the VERY least, to have a couple people look it over and point out your glaring inconsistencies and errors. In the old days, editors used to do all those kind of things for you (in fact, at the Tucson Festival of Books this year, I heard an "old-school" editor from I believe what used to be Tor Books say he did substantial work for his authors). But nowadays, I've heard most publishers expect books to be polished when they receive them.

As to how many critique partners you need, where to find them, etc., that's a matter of debate, so we'll avoid that for now.

The point is, when you work with someone else, the end product should be stronger (or if not, then it should be done faster, at least). If it's not, you shouldn't be working with that person.

But when most people think of collaboration when it comes to writing, I think they imagine writing with a partner.

I wrote a novel with a writing partner, Maggie Phillippi (tentative title The Kinyn Chronicles: The Healer and the Pirate). There are some challenges, but collaberating was overall a great thing. We wrote together, primarily in real-time using a free online word processor. The only truly painful part there is trying to bring it back into Word format, and acceptable manuscript format, now that we're done with it--ugh!

Some people have one partner write one character's point of view and the other write the other character's point of view. (In most novels, each scene should be filtered through a specific character's viewpoint. The exception is omniscient POV, which frankly I can't pull off.) I'd say you'd need an outline to pull that off. (Outlines are probably always useful in writing, but so far I haven't been terribly successful using them.)

How we wrote, I tended to write one character's dialogue/reactions more, and Maggie tended to write another character a little more--but we each wrote as we went, and that worked for us. We wrote a whole draft from a story we already had more or less in mind. Then we did substantial edits (arguably a rewrite), and now we're going through getting it critiqued.

Some common challenges I've heard are common to collaboration:
*How is the work split?
*How is the money split?
*Whose name comes first?
*Who gets the last "edit" (the last word when the story goes to the editor)?
*If one of you tires of the project, what happens?

I've read that it's best to get SOME sort of contract signed between the two of you, just in case the worst should happen and you have a falling-out (or God forbid, one of you dies!). Ideally some sort of contract, of course; that little piece of paper probably won't do much good if you have a serious falling-out.

For more ideas, see

I've been to a couple different panels with authors on collaboration, so I should have some more notes from them next Monday. EDIT: Here's the link!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

See Christmas through the eyes of Simeon

So at church this morning, Pastor Steve mentioned that this Christmas we should see through the eyes of Simeon:

Luke 2:25-35

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

New International Version, ©2010 (NIV)

There are certainly a lot of people who get irate about any mention of Christmas (never mind that the Wal-Mart Christmas allegations I heard about earlier today were apparently untrue).

But I think Christmas is the one time of year when the vast majority of people are relatively open to hearing the Gospel message. How many people who don't have any interest in Christ sing songs like "Joy to the World?" And for goodness' sake, have you even seen "A Charlie Brown Christmas"?

A lot of people like to package up the entire Gospel message as a sweet little baby in a manger, but Simeon appears to have seen the whole picture.

Speaking of Christmas! As of this moment, has a Veggie Tales Christmas album for free! It does have some pretty strict DRM restrictions, I found out (when trying to play it in my car's ghetto MP3 player--you know, the kind that you get when your CD changer dies, incidentally, holding 5 CDs hostage? The kind that plugs into your lighter and takes an SD card and transmits via radio and gets staticky when you're under high-voltage wires?). It would only play the first 5 or 10 seconds, then skip to the next song. I am all for copyright holders controlling their content (within reason), but I wish I could play that "free" album in my car! Anyway, it's cute for an adult with a healthy inner-child, probably excellent for kids, and certainly worth the price at "free." It even has a few songs that are serious and better than any of the free Christmas songs I downloaded last year.

Last year I purchased Relient K's "Let it Snow, Baby, Let it Reindeer" for something around the current price ($5.99): I think it's a great value and has a lot of really good and/or fun songs. Some of my favorites are the ones that they wrote themselves, or wrote interludes for, like "I Celebrate the Day" (think "Mary Did You Know" sung to Baby Jesus instead), "Silver Bells," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Definitely worth it!

Both albums have a nice mix of real Christmas songs and secular ones. Enjoy! I'll try not to ramble so much next time.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Scheduling and Facebook Causes

So I haven't decided for sure on a publishing schedule, but I'm leaning toward Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I might even specify topics for each day, but that may be getting too far ahead of myself? I am fixing to post my weekly writing progress every Wednesday. I've got a ton of notes I got from published authors' panels at various conventions/etc. so I will probably bring those in at some point.

I find it so interesting how statuses/etc. can evolve on Facebook. One of my friends passed this cute little status on back on November 19, 2010:

Change your profile picture to your favorite cartoon character from when you were a kid. The goal of this game is to not see a human picture on Facebook but an invasion of childhood memories until Monday. PLAY AND PASS ALONG!

Then yesterday, December 2, 2010, this one went around, making what was a fun little request suddenly serious:

Change your facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on facebook until Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse and copy and paste to your status to invite your friends to do the same.

This morning, December 3, 2010, I see this:

Change your facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until monday, there should be no human faces on facebook, but a stash of memories. This is for eliminating violence against children. Support the walk against child abuse.--A child should be protected not because he deserves it but because he is loved.

EDIT: This afternoon, I saw two more variations!

Change your facebook profile photo to a cartoon from YOUR childhood & invite your friends to do the same. Until Monday, there should be no human faces on FB, but an invasion of memories. This is to raise awareness for violence against children.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it. Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood.The goal? To not see a human face on FB till Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse, copy & paste to your status to invite your friends to do the same.

Anyone have any more? Given that some versions remove all references to a specific date (aside from "Monday") it is fairly likely that type of post will last well past Sunday, making next week a defacto "post cartoon profile pictures to end child abuse" week too....

I won't say much else on the matter, but I find the evolution interesting. From a Christian standpoint, I kind of wonder why none of these statuses ever say to pray to help end something negative (let alone donate money to a cause!). I don't think changing your profile picture will keep people from abusing children...but prayer might. So no, even though I like cartoons more than the next person, I'm not changing my avatar...but I did just say a prayer.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I did NaNoWriMo this year, hoping it would help me either rediscover my enjoyment of writing, and/or give me a good dose of "just shut up and get it done"--either of which I could use for my novel "Flight from Endwood" (which, itself, was my NaNoWriMo, circa 2006). I was also looking forward to just WRITING for a change.

The basic concept itself was something I believe God gave me in Disneyland in June--though the execution did not go as expected. I had no idea my favorite character would be a human-looking robot! The entire thing will need rewritten from the ground up, and will probably need to be given a coherent plot. It's a pretty good candidate for if I ever try outlining.

Some people are impressed that I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days, but honestly, some of those same people could probably do the same thing if they just pushed aside all notions of quality and let the characters run wild. Such as...

“Erie sent me here to help,” Harris said.

“But you’re not...” Antonio trailed off. “Señor Papa--what do I do?” His face lit up in a slow grin, and Harris worried. He handed Harris an earpiece radio. “If you see anything amiss, I need you to tell me. This is set to broad to me, top priority.”

He smiled. “Did you want to arm me?”

“Not at this time.” Antonio looked around the vast hangar, now empty, almost as if scanning. He touched a panel and a closet door slid open. Antonio entered and rummaged for a few moments. “Yes. This will do. You must wear this.”

He handed him a black helmet, half the size of his torso, and furry with dust. No--furry with fur. “What’s this?”

“Your uniform,” Antonio said. He pulled out a huge black jumpsuit, made of fur, with a violet skirt around the waist and--no--a tail.

“I can’t wear that!”

“It’s climate-controled, with three views through the cameras. Señor Papa is sure a pilot such as yourself will have no difficulty navigating.”

He shook his head. “Did you have to pick a lady cat?”

“It is a good size for you,” Antonio replied with a smirk, looking down at him--he was a good foot taller than Harris. “And there are precious few of these suits left, for obvious reasons.”

“Because they’re horrible?”

Antonio frowned. “Because technology has greatly improved. Will you wear it?”

Oh yes. I don't know how it happened, but I went there.

Didn't get much of anything done today, except for a tiny amount of cleaning, and making some oven-baked potatoes which were quite good.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


My lovely and multi-talented friend Maggie is making a website for me and would like me to have a blog with it. Which I need to do anyway. I'm thinking we might track the exciting life of a writer here...but right now I'm busy with the holidays and, oh, yeah, finishing my NaNo. (Disneyland in space during a war!)

So hopefully I'll have more here in weeks to come. Pleased to meet you, random strangers, acquaintances, and friends!