What If You Were Cloned?

15 01 2012

Replication by Jill WilliamsonWhoot!! So excited! Got a copy of Jill Williamson‘s latest book from Zondervan. It came when I had stacks of work to do, including major writing deadlines, so my plan was to read the first page or two, then save it for later. OK, so I read the first chapter, and the second, and… I’m sure you get the picture. Several hours later I’d read the whole book and still can’t get it out of my mind.

I’ve included a synopsis below, but that doesn’t do the book justice. So much of the heart-pounding excitement is left out. And it doesn’t capture the humor or the poignancy. I don’t want to include any spoilers here, but suppose you were a clone who had been isolated in an underground facility and had never experienced life? And what if you escaped for a brief time? Wouldn’t you have a lot of questions? So does Martyr (or J:3:3). And his naïveté leads to many humorous situations.

So often Martyr’s innocent questions leave you torn between wanting to laugh and cry. Williamson is a master at defusing sadness with deft touches of humor. But the humor never detracted from the more serious message: Do clones have souls?

Kudos to Zondervan for being willing to tackle the cloning issue from a totally different point of view. Not whether cloning is right or wrong, but what would happen in the future if cloning humans becomes a reality. Williamson has dealt with this topic in a fun-to-read thriller that raises many thought-provoking questions. Questions that are sure to haunt you–the same way her carefully drawn characters will–long after the book covers are closed.

If you aren’t already a Williamson fan, after reading Replication, dip into her award-winning Blood of Kings trilogy (Marcher Lord Press), which has been compared to Tolkien. She also has stories in the anthologies, Spirited (Leap Books) and Ether Ore (MLP). All well worth reading!

BOOK BLURB

Martyr—otherwise known as Jason 3:3—is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to ‘expire’ in less than a month. To see the sky. Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars. As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures—the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he’s ever known.

LINK TO SAMPLE CHAPTER

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jill Williamson is a novelist, dreamer, and believer. Growing up in Alaska led to a love of books, and in 2010 her first novel, By Darkness Hid, won the Christy Award. She loves working with teenagers and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children. Visit Jill online at www.jillwilliamson.com.

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Why Do Artists Live Longer than Politicians?

30 11 2010

Recently, I’ve been working on an assignment that requires a series of bios of famous and semi-famous people from around the world throughout history, and I discovered something interesting. Almost invariably, the artists, composers, moviemakers, and writers lived well into their 90s; an amazing number even made it past 100. Many politicians, kings, and government leaders died young.  Of course, coups and assassinations cut some of their lives short, but even those who died of natural causes lived a much shorter time than those who were involved in the arts. Even during eras when living to 40 was considered normal, artists generally outlived their contemporaries by 20-30 years. When artists died young, it was often because they took their own lives, so it’s hard to know how long they would have lived, if they’d given themselves a chance.

So what it is about the arts that leads to longeviety? I’ve pondered this and wonder if it’s because artists approach life differently. Politicians often have driving needs to compete, to be first, to get to the top of the heap. Once there, they have additional stresses heaped on them. Artists spend their time creating more often than competing. That’s not to say there isn’t competition in the arts, but given a choice between winning or creating, most artists choose the latter.

I suspect, too, that artists’ angst and stress often get expressed through creative work, so although many artists struggle to make a living, they transform their problems into something outside themselves. When they lose themselves in their work, many of those stresses disappear, even if only temporarily.

Creativity may also give artists an edge in solving problems; they’re usually willing to think outside the box. And the act of creation is life-giving and energetic, so perhaps artists benefit internally as they share their gifts.  Art renews the mind and the spirit. So every day artists may be renewing themselves as they work.

But I think the real secret is the childlike wonder and unique approach to life that many artists have. Most keep their youthful and innocent eye as they age, so their internal age is much younger and more vibrant than their external age. Have you ever noticed that many artists have an aliveness and a sparkle to their eyes, their features? They think and speak excitedly about their next projects. Perhaps they’re less likely to give up on life because they have another project they’re just dying  to do. (or maybe not…perhaps it’s a project they’re just living to do.)





Killer Nashville

13 08 2010

Well, I’ll soon be off to Killer Nashville, the great crime writing conference. Looking for tips on how to bump off pesky characters, pull off a heist, or escape a jail sentence? You’ve come to the right place. Where else could you sit down to dinner with tablemates who are all interested in discussing the best way to poison people so it’s undectable. Sort of makes me a bit paranoid. I find myself curling my arm around my plate to protect my food, but who knows if that would help. One of these would-be writers might have experimented with their poisons in the kitchen.

So what turns people crazy enough to write about sneaky ways to kill other human beings, or to read these books by the dozens? Not sure I want to delve into the psychology behind it, but I once heard that crime writers are often perfectionists who love to solve puzzles. Perfectionists do tend to get themselves all worked up over small details & threaten to kill people who mess up their orderly lives. So I’d suggest you steer clear of perfectionists when you’re choosing a spouse or a friend. You never know when they might knife you in the back.

Here’s a schedule if you’re interested in attending. Keynote speaker is Jeffery Deaver; find out more about him on his website. Agent and editor pitch sessions are included in the registration price. Conference runs from Thursday evening, August 19, to Sunday afternoon, August 22, 2010. Hope to see you there.





Pirate Party

4 08 2010

One of the dangers of researching a book is that you stumble across fascinating information that has nothing to do with your topic. Or it’s connected to your topic, but can’t be used. I have a bad habit of getting sidetracked, and here’s one of my recent forays into the world of pirates.

I was fascinated to discover that there’s a new political party that’s taken off in many countries. Ever heard of the Pirate Party? Yep, they actually have candidates, some of whom have won elections. It started in Sweden, but it’s spread to Germany and about 14 other European countries. And Canada now has one too.

Led by young tech-savvy voters,  PPI (Pirate Parties International) members support free sharing of intellectual property. As the Canadian Pirate Party leader, Jake Daynes, a 19-year-old video-game-design student, says, “We think that for the dissemination of culture — music, books, movies, you name it — that should be [considered] fair use.” They also want more government transparency as well as no patents on pharmaceuticals or software.

Interesting concepts… It would certainly reduce Internet piracy if all the copyrighted material were available free. It seems many of the younger generation are ready to embrace it, even those who design video games and create software. Then all countries and individuals would have equal access. Maybe the next step would be to compensate those who design intellectual property–including artists, musicians, writers, and inventors–the way we compensate our sports figures.

It seems the Pirate Party is gaining a foothold around the world. Here’s a list of places that either have or are starting a Pirate Party:

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
China
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Ireland
Italy
Kazakhstan
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Peru
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
Ukraine
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay

Quote from: Barber, Mike. “Pirate Party of Canada Calls for Canadian Copyright Reform,” National Post, May 1, 2010.




Have You Heard of Prezi?

21 06 2010

I love discovering new things to enhance my presentations, so I was intrigued when I read an article in School Library Journal about it and was intrigued enough to trek on over to the Prezi site. It’s advertised as intuitive and easy to use. And supposedly it beats PowerPoint hands down.

I see that it could be fun to jot down ideas and play with them. Make them larger, draw paths, make sense out of random jottings, but I think right brain and left brain functions are two different things. I wonder if all the creative people end up with fabulous ideas that are messy and disorganized as they bounce from idea to idea with no clear path for others to follow.

My guess is that the super-organized will be so busy lining their jottings up in outline form or alphabetically or some other linear format that they’ll miss the fun of brainstorming, and the scattershot approach will totally pass them by.

So who is Prezi for? Probably those people who don’t mind making an initial mess, then have the ability to edit, organize, classify, and categorize random thoughts. Writers, perhaps? Isn’t that we’re expected to do? Throw creative ideas down on paper without censoring them, then go back and turn them into coherent stories?

Believe me, I wondered about writing a novel on Prezi. Think it would work?

Lesson 1: Prezi in 3 minutes





Big News…

23 05 2010

We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast of BEA happenenings to cover some fabulously exciting news. My friend Jill Williamson is up for a Christy!!

Christy Award

How cool is that? So I just have to do a happy dance, and then plug this terrific book that’s been garnering all kinds of praise and winning multiple honors and awards. But now she’s up for one of the biggest awards in the Christian book world.

If you aren’t familiar with the Christy, it started in 1999, and from the website:

“The Christy Award is designed to:

  • Nurture and encourage creativity and quality in the writing and publishing of fiction written from a Christian worldview.
  • Bring a new awareness of the breadth and depth of fiction choices available, helping to broaden the readership.
  • Provide opportunity to recognize novelists whose work may not have reached bestseller status.”

And Jill’s book certainly qualifies for the “quality and creativity” part. So what’s the fab book that’s snagging so much attention? It’s By Darkness Hid, the first book in The Blood of Kings trilogy.

Book Two, To Darkness Fled, is out now. And I’m eagerly awaiting Book Three.





Are You a Fence-sitter?

7 05 2010

Photo by Simon Howden

I learned recently that I’m a 9. If you’re not familiar with Enneagrams, this won’t mean anything to you, but what it means to me is that I now have an excuse for why I can see all sides in an argument and agree with all of them. This trait used to frustrate my family, who always wanted to know what I really believed about an issue.

Whether it’s pro-choice/pro-life advocates, Republicans/Democrats/Independents, religious fanatics/atheists, or debaters on any other volatile topics, I nod my agreement to their arguments. And it’s not just lip-service (or, should I say, head-service?). I do support their views. And I totally get where they’re coming from.

So does that make me a fence-sitter? Not really. I have strong opinions of my own, but I also value the ability to get inside everyone else’s skin and see issues from a different POV (point of view, for any non-writers) or even from multiple POVs. I guess that’s one of the perks of being a writer. I can look at life from many angles.

Which leads to a question: Do I do this because I was born a 9 or did being a writer turn me into a 9?