The Blog/Diary of Novelist Sam Batterman

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back in the "Writing Saddle"

It has been a while since I posted here. This is mostly because of my commitments to a number of other things in my life. Back in January I was asked to help our youth group at church as a youth leader.

“How hard could that be?” I thought. Silly rabbit…

I made a choice that outside of my work as a programmer for Microsoft during the “day hours” I would use my talents for the Lord and build something for our youth group on the web. This turned out to be one of the most amazing and most rewarding things I have ever done and it’s like a cross between a digital bible and a social network. While it’s a closed environment (on purpose) it’s my hope that someday all Christians will have access to a tool like this. This project essentially consumed every moment outside of work, family events and finishing the editing for my next book.

During the summer I managed to get Maximal Reserve, my next work, edited with Rachel Starr Thomson and ready to go for a February 1, 2011 release. I just saw the typeset version and I must say that it looks great. I am so excited about sharing this story with you all. It’s very different than Wayback – a different premise, a different set of heroes and villains and more contemporary in its approach.

This morning, after dropping my daughter off for a drama practice at school I headed to a local college library to continue writing on the long awaited sequel to Wayback. It’s a quiet environment that gives me the concentration that I need to write.

I have struggled with the working title for this book and it’s lurched from various titles such as The Pact of the Fallen to Mid-Cycle (it is the second book a three book series) and finally have arrived at the title that I am happy with: Insurrection. It’s a single word, like Wayback, not a lot of books with this title exist and it has dual meaning, much like Wayback did (going Wayback and finding a Way Back).

I am now referring to Insurrection as “The Big Scary.” This is a term that I saw Tosca Lee (the author of Havah and Demon: a Memoir) use for her upcoming story of Judas Iscariot, which is coming in 2012. “The Big Scary” is a good way to describe a book that you know will challenge yourself—not just the mechanics, but in the big ideas that it challenges in both yourself and your readers.

Why call it “The Big Scary?” Well, this is the third time I am rewriting this story. I really thought I would bring this sequel to market before Maximal Reserve, but some early readers were disturbed by the content. After more than a year of research into the concept, I was blown back to the drawing board. As you know, research is a key part of my books and I like to educate on the way to entertainment. I shelved the idea and kept researching coming to the same conclusions that I had early on, but with new ideas for the approach to take to get the idea across.

This idea will be controversial and in the months ahead I will share my raw research with you and we can talk about the conclusions that I have come to in the two and half years since I started this manuscript.

Until that point, think about what your feelings are regarding the following:

• How advanced was man before the Flood?
• How advanced was their technology?
• Was any ruin left that might give us a hint of how advanced man was before the Flood changed the face of the planet?
• Did man get help from another source with this technology? If so, what was the payment for the exchange of this information?
• Why did God have to destroy the entire human population of the planet, including animals that breathe through their nostrils?
• What did God mean by the phrase that “Noah was pure in his generations?”
• What does the mysterious set of versus that frame the reason for the flood in the early part of Genesis 6 mean?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Blahs and an update on Maximal Reserve

Well, it's hot--I mean "out of control hot" here in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Corridor. The lawns all look like the moon and I haven't had to mow the lawn in a few weeks now.

I am in the midst of the final edits on Maximal Reserve with Rachel Starr Thomson, the same wonderful editor that worked with me on Wayback. We've already made some big changes and reordered some chapters to make the story read better and get to the action as soon as possible.

I'm also finishing up getting endorsements for the book. I'm so happy with the list of authors who have agreed to write a blurb about the book even after reading early manuscripts that don't have all the polish to them.

I was interviewed on PID/BlogTalkRadio last week and you can listen to the interview here.

I also got a great review from Kerry Neitz, a fellow Christian Sci-Fi author and fellow Microsoft Alumnus. I reposted his review here with his permission. Grab one of his books - A Star Curiously Singing has received huge accolades and is doing very well in the marketplace. When I get a review like this from a fellow author it makes me happy :) Oh, and you can pre-order Maximal Reserve on Amazon now.

Wayback is a fun novel that I enjoyed from beginning to end. I love the way it reads--like a Michael Crichton thriller, both educating the reader and challenging him to think outside the box. In fact, I would say it has a more wide-open worldview than most Crichton novels, since it allows for both the secular approach and that of a reasoned faith.
Nazi experiments? Time travel to the time of Noah? Why not! Wayback has a cool premise, and the story itself is executed nearly flawlessly--again reminiscent of Crichton at his best. I was so tickled with the idea as I read, I kept wondering why I hadn't thought of it! Big kudos to Sam for bringing it all together.
Really, I can find little to criticize here. The only thing I wonder about is whether the secondary time travel plot--while thoroughly entertaining and well written--was even necessary for this story. There were so many fun elements in the main story; the secondary plot could've almost been saved for a second novel. (Which I'm sure I would've enjoyed too.)
Wayback is an awesome first effort by Mr. Batterman. I'm excited to see what he has in store for us next.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Covers for Maximal Reserve

As soon as I got back from The Gathering last week, I got an email with possible cover concepts for Maximal Reserve from my publisher.

I polled dozens of people and even the youth group at our church that I'm involved with. The runaway favorite was #3 with the barrels at the bottom. The first one, while more accurate with the elements of the book, would likely be troublesome as so many people don't know what Israel looks like geographically. To them, the abstract shape might look like a rusty knife with a droplet at the bottom (blood? oil?) - too many design concerns to deal with. #2 seems like more of a non-fiction book and while it's a super clean look and feel I don't think it conveys the suspense and intrigue of the book.

Hope you enjoy these!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Club, Signing & The Gathering 2010

Late last summer I made an important connection. As it turns out, it was providential. Sara Peters, the Bookstore manager of Southeast Christian Church, got a hold of a copy of Wayback that I was sending across the country trying to stimulate sales and the market for Christian techno-thrillers and quickly became my biggest cheerleader. The book flashed through the staff and is a good seller in their amazing bookstore.

I met Sara last year in Denver at ICRS and after she invited me to attend the Gathering, I knew I wanted to be here. The Gathering is just that--a collection of the owners and operators of Chrisitan bookstores from around the country (there were even proprietors here from Hawaii). Sara did an amazing job of organizing this mega event and it went very well.

While I had heard of "Mega-Churches" before, I had never really experienced one. Having gone to Bob Jones University, one of the largest Christian universities in the country, I thought I understood what big was.

I was wrong.

Southeast is enormous -- multiple sanctuaries (even one for weddings), multiple fellowship halls, a building for the youth called "The Block" and even a fitness and ministry building. You need a Segway to get around the campus. I'm not kidding!

While Southeast has hundreds of ministries and thousands of volunteers their compassion and friendliness are unmistakable.

The bookclub had me in for a presentation and discussion. There were at least 120 people there and we had a great time. The topic of my presentation was Christianity and Science Fiction - should we be involved with this stuff? The presentation went well and I had great conversations and questions about many of the subjects in Wayback.

It's so encouranging as an author to meet fans and put faces with the people that are "friending" you on Facebook and commenting on your blog site and sending you reader's email. The booksigning for the retail owners went very well - over 100 books were signed and I met some other authors who have had experiences similar to mine. One was a writing couple: Dave and Diane Munson. Now retired, Dave worked as an undercover FBI agent and Diane was a federal prosecutor. They write suspense novels such as: Hero's Ransom. It was interesting comparing notes about their writing journey and their impressions of the industry.

One thing that happened during this trip was the encouragement of fans for me to get the sequel to Wayback completed. I'm about 60% of the way done and this trip really lights a fire under me to get it done.

Here are some pics of the book club as the room is still filling up. Sorry I couldn't get one with everyone in it. Since I was speaking I was concentrating more on my discussion than being a photographer.

Gratuitous picture of me in front of a display stand of Wayback in the Southeast bookstore.

At the Author Autograph party for the Gathering. Met some great authors.



Monday, March 29, 2010

Maximal Reserve was picked up by Deep River Books!

Maximal Reserve, my second novel, was picked up last week by Deep River Books. VMI, one of the imprints of Deep River, published my first book Wayback last year.

Timelines are still a bit sketchy and it looks like I'll miss the all important Christmas holiday season (unfortunately). Right now it looks like Maximal Reserve (MR for short from here on out) will be published in early Winter or Spring (January-April 2011).

I'm working on endorsements and getting loose ends cleaned up on the manuscript.

Stay tuned for more info!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Review from Book Reviews by Buuklvr81 (Molly Edwards)

Molly Edwards has written up a nice review of Wayback on her site. By permission, I include it below:

My Review:
This is not a book that I would normally read, but I am so glad that I did read it! Wow! When you read about the book, you think, oh man...a science fiction styled book. But it's so much more than that. The author blends Christians and their beliefs with non christian's and their beliefs in such a way that you would think you were sitting in on an actual conversation.

As I sat reading this book, I realized there are many aspects to this novel: it's thrilling, it's realistic, it's full of Godly happenings, and full of great characters. It is a book that will have you thinking about things. It is a bit of the sci-fy type thriller, but not in a way that will turn you away from reading it. When you open the book you are immediately pulled straight in, learning of the Flood and technoligies. Batterman mixes that sci-fy thriller type, with God and Scripture, and uses thoses things to make the characters even more realistic and get your mind to thinking.

I give high recommendations to this book. I think everyone will benefit from this book in one way or another. It is perfect for book clubs, or discussion books. It is a truly great book with a thought provoking plot, and characters that you won't forget. Batterman's writing style will not disappoint! So, if you like Christian novels, thrilling, page turning events, and thought provoking situations, please grab a copy of this five star worthy book!

Thanks for the nice words, Molly!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How's Wayback doing?

One of the questions I get asked a lot is "how is the book doing?" This is a question that's hard to answer. Do you mean "Have I made a million dollars yet?" or do you mean "Is it selling enough so that you can write another one and get it published because of Wayback's track record?"

Well, I haven't made a million dollars, but I do think that the Lord has blessed my efforts (and lets face it - it happens only because of Him in the first place). I got some news a few weeks ago that made me smile.

And here it is: after nearly nine months of chasing Logic's End in the Futuristic Bestseller's list on STL Distribution's site (STL is Wayback's Distributor across the USA), Wayback is finally on the top. For the broad, general fiction spot for my publisher I keep horse-racing with Ahriman Gate by Tom Horn for the first slot.

Here's a map of where the readers live in the world (or at least where they hit the web. It's amazing to think that someone in South Africa is reading or has read Wayback.

Reviews continue to come in and I continue to get email from readers. That's why I do this. This week I'm heading to Denver for Jerry Jenkin's Writing Conference. I'm armed with proposals for my next book and looking for an agent and/or a publisher for Maximal Reserve.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mike Dellosso Reviews Wayback

Mike Dellosso, the author of Scream, The Hunted and the forthcoming Darlington Woods reviewed Wayback on Amazon:
Intellectually Stimulating Thriller
Batterman's WAYBACK is more than a thriller . . . it's an education. Meticulously researched, this book is an intelligently written, thought-provoking, yet action-packed ride. It gave me much food for thought without taking from the entertainment value.
I've often wondered what it would be like to go back to the time of the Great Flood. To see Noah's ark. To experience life as it was lived before the deluge. This book satisfied my curiosity. Time and time again I found myself sharing insights and ideas from the book with my wife.
If you're looking for a story that will satisfy on a number of levels, stimulate you intellectually, hold your imagination captive, and keep you turning pages, WAYBACK needs to be at the top of your list.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2 New Reviews

Greetings! Hope your new year is going well.

Alisa Wagner has posted a review of Wayback and an interview of yours truly on her fabulous blog: Faith Imagined. Alisa has poured countless hours into her blog site and the number of people following her on Twitter and as Google followers shows she's having an impact. Check out her site.

Andy Anglea posted a review on his site as well after reading Wayback over Christmas break.

If you're a writer and are planning on attending the Christian Writer's Guild in Denver, Colorado make sure you look me up for coffee. I'll be there trying to find a publisher and agent for my next novel, Maximal Reserve. I'm just finishing the 5th draft and it's 90,000 words - that's around 350 pages. Some early readers that have read it have even said they think it's better than Wayback.

I guess I should be getting better over time. That's the whole idea, right? :)

Please pray for the poor souls in Haiti struggling to survive amidst the devastation of the earthquake that hit there two days ago. Also, consider making your faith and prayer more concrete by sending money to a respectable humanitarian aid organization like the Red Cross.

Blessings to you,


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Another good review of Wayback

Mark Buzard of Thoughts of a Sojourner has posted a review of Wayback. You can visit his site and register for a signed copy of the book over the next 10 days. Here's the review (with Mark's permission to repost):

Sam Batterman, the author of Wayback, emailed me recently and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his book. I read about it - it sounded pretty good, but it is not from a big Christian publisher, so I was a bit dubious, but I went for it, and am glad I did.

This is a time travel book, but is the best one I have ever read - and I have read a few. I found it entertaining, fascinating, and even educational. A team of experts in their fields is sent back in time to just prior the Flood. Though the book is the author's idea, based on the Bible and help from Answers In Genesis, I still was intrigued by the description of how things might have been.

The author uses a fictional story to show how intelligent design and Creationism have to be right. Through discussions with the characters in the book, he presents the proof for Creationism. Some on the team are Christians who believe completely in God and Creationism, while others are not Christians and embrace the theory of evolution, until they take the trip of a lifetime.

I really, honestly enjoyed this book. It came in the mail today (Saturday), and I took it, climbed in the recliner, pulled a blanket up over me, and quickly got pulled into the story. This was one of my "one sitting reads" - when a book is so good that I read it in one sitting, except for bathroom breaks or an email check. I learned that a book doesn't have to be from a big publishing company to be quality fiction.

Bookmark his site - he's got a lot of great reviews up there.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010...and no flying cars (yet)

Wow, can it really be 2010? It seems like just yesterday everyone was worried (needlessly) about the Y2K bug and its civilization damaging effects, and now, ten years later we hardly remember what all the fuss was about.

2009 will always have a special memory for me. The year my first book, Wayback, was published, the year my daughter started playing sports competitively on JV teams, the list could go on and on. New Friends made, friends that have gone on to Heaven, friends moving away. It's a swirl of happiness and sadness all melded into one.

Maximal Reserve is now going through its third revision - the spelling and grammar errors that pockmarked the first draft are now gone and the story has been cut here and elaborated more there. It's gone from a meandering walk in a park to a sprint down a city street.

It's definitely better.

In February I'm going to the Christian Writer's Guild (a writer's conference that was started by Jerry Jenkins) and I plan on talking with publishers and agents about the manuscript then. I will also be posting it on Christian Manuscript Network to see if it gets any action beforehand.

One of the neat people that I became acquainted with in 2009 was Mike Dellosso. Mike also lives in Pennsylvania and he writes Christian Fiction that has a hint of horror and suspense. Can such a genre really exist in the world of Christian Fiction (you might ask)? The answer is wholeheartedly "Yes!!!" I read Scream and ripped through it in a day and a half. He's an honest writer and a master storyteller.

Finally, thank you to all my readers that took time out of their busy, hectic schedules and read Wayback. I much much appreciate each and everyone of you.

Blessings to you and yours in 2010,