The Blog/Diary of Novelist Sam Batterman

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Monday, August 17, 2009

A Nice Review from Beth Murschell on Facebook

I just finished Sam Batterman's debut novel, *Wayback*, a futuristic Christian novel published by VMI which hits the finish line at 315 pages.

The plot: Indiana Jones meets Stargate Atlantis meets Jurassic Park meets Noah's Ark meets the Time Machine. Seriously. An evolution/intelligent design/creation debate is framed by a plot-driven time travel device.

The gist: A team of specialists travels back in time to witness key moments in the earth's history. What they find changes everything.

What I liked: unique plot, memorable moments/visuals, and concrete detail (seemingly authentic--either an impressive amount of research or a fertile mind, probably both).

The early chapters were a bit text-heavy in part because of the debate material, but by the last several chapters, the pace had quickened.

Characterization was a bit sketchy in favor of plot. Understandable, as there's a LOT of plot. :-)

In the main, he resists the impulse to over-spiritualize the way many Christian authors do. I may quibble with the occasional premise, but there's a lot of food for thought here. John Morris of the Creation Research Institute gives him props for authenticity.

On the whole, I'd say Sam has a good first outing, and I look forward to reading his next book, whatever it may be. Go get a copy of Wayback and see what you think.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happenings in August - Reviews (Good and Bad)

Well, this summer has flown by. Wayback seems to be doing pretty well. It's bouncing around on Amazon like a ping pong ball, but when I look at the other titles that are adjacent to it, I feel like something is going right.

I'm also starting to get emails from people finding the book on chain bookstore shelves like B&N, Borders and others. That's a good thing.

Three more reviews came in recently. Dave Mincy wrote a nice review here.
Sam’s excellent background research, plausible plot, and well-developed characters make for a time-travel adventure I found to be both exciting and thought-provoking. While entertaining, this book also strongly confirms the biblical record and magnifies God’s Plan for the universe. The idea of being able to go back in time and see Noah building the ark, real dinosaurs, and the wickedness of an unexpectedly advanced civilization…what an amazing journey that would be! If you’d like to know more, I highly recommend reading Wayback.

Congratulations, Sam! I’ll be waiting for the next one.

Dave is a muscian (and married to an artist - so imagine the art program in that household!). Here's a link to his newest CD. We have his first work and can't wait to hear this new one.
Another review came in over at the Near-sighted Bookworm:

This new author contacted me to see if I would be interested in reading and reviewing his first release. It was not a disappointment. From first page to last page, I was kept wondering about what was going to happen next. The research that went into this book is amazing, which makes me excited to see what he writes next! If you are looking for a book that will make you think and keep your attention, this is it!
Those are the easy ones to share. Sharing bad reviews...not so much. I struggled about whether I should share this. In the end I decided that baring my soul would be a bit cathartic.

One of the things about being an author that's most difficult is taking criticism. When you first start writing (or painting or driving or anything), you get feedback. This feedback can be jolting and even just plain rude, but your attitude is the all important player here when you get that kind of feedback. No one has arrived. There is not a single person doing any kind of activity, be it business, school, athletics, or otherwise that can't attempt to do these tasks better with more refinement and better skill. If you look at the sports world (an area I'm not an expert in) people like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and others all talk about pursuing excellence-getting to the next level. It takes hard work.

The hard part of the journey is that some people, even with all the hard work you put in, won't like your stuff. Early on I wanted people - all people - to enjoy my storytelling. I wanted everyone to be excited about Wayback, the way I was. In the end I learned you can't please everyone and in the end you have to write to the population you hope will enjoy your story and wait for your next work with baited breath.

So that brings me to the review at This was an important place for me as an new author to get a review. I was confident in my product; having had hundreds of readers to this point and good reviews to this point.

I wasn't prepared for the review and it blew me back quite a bit.

In the end, I'm convinced God allowed this happen to keep my pride in check - to make me small again and to allow me to receive criticism in a way that I can apply it to my craft and get better where I can and not worry about a group of people that may disagree with the messages of the books I write.

The message underlying the book is important, in my opinion. I know there's a debate in the Christian writer's community as to how overt to make faith and the message of the gospel in the books we write. We don't want to come across as "bible-thumbers" or lunatics or crazy people, but in the end, in a Christian fiction novel, the reader needs to have something to connect to the words of hope we find in the Bible, otherwise you should publish the book to the secular market and widen your reading audience.

I believe that your worldviewpoint will be imprinted on your work whether that work is a "normal" 9-5 (does anyone just work from 9A to 5P any more?) job and doing that job excellently as to the Lord, or writing a novel or even a facebook status. What we are and who we are comes through.

Let's change subjects. I'll be at a booksigning at the Gifts from Above Bookstore in Scranton, PA on September 17th from 6-8PM with 16 other authors. I don't know who the other authors are yet, but when I know, you'll know.

A read a book while on a business trip the other day and literally raced through it in about 24 hours. The book is Havah, the story of Eve by Tosca Lee. I had to read this book. It deals with the story of the first woman in a first person form - through her eyes. Since Wayback has some dealings with the Garden of Eden 1600 years later I was interested in what she would explore in this novel. I was not disappointed. As a male reader I was not expecting to get drawn into the emotional side of the book like I did. I never really thought about what enmity (Gen. 3:14-15) really meant in Genesis until I read this book. Again, going back up this blog post. A good Christian fiction book makes you think and review and go back to the Bible to think about the subject being written about.

Havah does that.

For the record, Tosca does take some "artistic license" that may be controversial to some. For example, she uses a storm in the Garden and rain to create a very dramatic flight out of the Garden. The Bible is rather clear that the water cycle was quite different before the Flood. The storm does heighten the the situation in a very dramatic way, it was a calculated risk to do it (and I'm sure she knew that going in). Based on my experience above, I suspect she'll get some mail about that choice. It's still a great book.

This book is not for the younger set (17 and younger in my opinion). It contains sexuality in terms of a husband and wife - nothing graphic mind you - but you do have a naked man and naked woman in a pefect garden setting. Hello! Things will happen in that situation. If you read this book, I'd be interested in your feedback...

MidCycle, the tentative title for the sequel to Wayback, continues to plod along. The first draft is almost complete - around 75,000 words right now (Wayback was 94,000) and I still have a ways to go. It will definately be bigger (word count wise) than Wayback. After that, the rewrite begins to get everything accurate and tied together and then an initial edit. So, there's still a ways to go. I'm also working on another novel that's unrelated. I'll talk a bit about that in a few weeks.

Thanks for your time.