The New Timebenders Series is HERE!

Book 1: BATTLE BEFORE TIME — Kindle Edition at Amazon.com, $3.99.
Book 1: BATTLE BEFORE TIME — Nook Edition at BarnesAndNoble.com, $3.99.

Book 2: DOORWAY TO DOOM — Kindle Edition at Amazon.com, $3.99.
Book 2: DOORWAY TO DOOM — Nook Edition at BarnesAndNoble.com, $3.99.

Book 3: INVASION OF THE TIME TROOPERS — Kindle Edition, $3.99.
Book 3: INVASION OF THE TIME TROOPERS — Nook Edition, $3.99.

Book 4: LOST IN CYDONIA — Kindle Edition, $3.99.
Book 4: LOST IN CYDONIA — Nook Edition, $3.99.

The NEW revised and updated Timebenders series has arrived!

Thanks to the excellent work of my new publisher, Greenbrier Book Company, the Timebenders science-fiction adventure series is back and better than ever, and the first two books are available in all popular ebook formats.

The Timebenders series presents the adventures of Max McCrane, a young inventor who just wants to fit in with his fellow students at Victor Appleton Middle School. Trouble is, Max isn’t your run-of-the-mill middle schooler. He’s a boy genius who has invented his own time machine—Timebender!

That rusty orange Volkswagen Beetle may look like it belongs in a junkyard, but under the hood, Max has installed a photon-powered, Einstein-defying, time-warping power plant that jaunts across the centuries with ease. Don’t believe me? Well, climb aboard Timebender and plunge into Book 1: Battle Before Time!

Journey through time with Max and his friends—Allie O’Dell, Grady Stubblefield, and Toby Brubaker—as they confront mankind’s most ancient enemy in a place before time began. Follow them into the fourth dimension as they face otherworldly dangers armed with nothing but courage, loyalty, and the power of belief! Join Max and his friends on a fantastic voyage that sends them hurtling from primeval Earth … to a long-lost Planet Mars … to the Garden of Eden.

Along the way, these young heroes encounter rampaging dinosaurs, unearthly beings of golden light, and the most deadly opponent of all—the fiendish Silver Dragon! Battle Before Time is a wild roller-coaster ride through time and space, a page-turning adventure rooted in timeless truth.

In Book 2: Doorway to Doom, Max, Allie, Grady, and Toby tumble into a perilous new adventure when they enter a doorway to an ancient, evil kingdom, ruled by the shadowy figure of the Silver Dragon. Within the dark, forbidding walls of Castle Serpenfane, they meet evil King Wyvern, his wizardly alchemist Doctor Delyrius, and the strange and mysterious Lady Galatea. The ruthless king confronts Max with a seemingly impossible choice: either help him in his mad pursuit of weapons of mass destruction—or watch his friends suffer a horrible fate.

Meanwhile, Allie must discover the secret that is hidden among the slithering worms and silent crypts of the midnight maze. Worst of all, Max, Allie, Grady, and Toby are stranded in the past without Max’s Volkswagen time machine, Timebender. They have no hope of ever returning home!

timebenders-book-3So open the Doorway to Doom—if you dare! Then take a thrill ride through an age of castles and kings, knights and fair ladies, chivalry and superstition. This action-packed tale sweeps you along to one of the most unexpected endings you’ll ever read.

Young readers love Timebenders: “The Timebenders books are so awesome! They really encourage me,” writes Chloe. And Ben writes, “I’ve read all the Timebenders books! My mom reads them to me at bedtime and I take them for independent reading at school.” And Elliott says, “The Timebenders books are great! Now I’m writing my own book about time travel!”

And parents love Timebenders: “My son has devoured the Timebenders books,” one dad writes. “They really entertain him. We hear him laughing out loud as he reads.” A mom writes, “Thank you for books that are both exciting and appropriate for young readers. As a mother of three and a lover of books, I’m thrilled with Timebenders!” Another mom writes, “My son spent most of his vacation reading Timebenders—the first time he’s read an entire book without skipping pages! His video games are all but forgotten.”

timebenders-book-4The next two books in the series, Timebenders Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers and Timebenders Book 4: Lost in Cydonia, were released on Christmas Day 2012. And after that, who knows? I have a lot of ideas for future Timebenders books on the drawing board.

Please help me spread the news through word of mouth, Facebook, and Twitter. Tell other readers and parents about the thrilling new Timebenders books from Greenbrier Book Company.

And please write to me. Post your comments here at my Timebenders blog. Post your reviews on the Timebenders pages at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Kobo. Visit my Author Page at Amazon.com. Let’s get acquainted.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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Writers on Reading: Interview with Timebenders author Jim Denney

Battle Before Time by Jim Denney

Battle Before Time

Over a thirty-year career, Jim Denney has written more than a hundred books for various publishers—fiction and nonfiction, for young readers and adult readers, as both a sole author and a co-writer. He has worked with leaders and celebrities in many fields, including Orlando Magic cofounder Pat Williams, political communicator Michael Reagan, Super Bowl champion Reggie White, supermodel Kim Alexis, actress Grace Lee Whitney, and many others.

Jim is the author of the four-book Timebenders science fantasy series for young readers. The Timebenders books were first published in 2002, and Jim has recently revised and updated the Timebenders series for reissue by Greenbrier Books.

Here, Jim talks about his reading choices and what inspires him to write. Read the entire interview at Writers on Reading.

The Blog Hop Tour

Ten Questions for “The Next Big Thing”

A lot of my author friends have been doing the “Blog Hop” tour, in which we all answer the same set of questions about our newest (or future) releases. My thanks to award-winning suspense novelist James L. Rubart, author of Rooms, The Chair, and Soul’s Gate for pointing the way to my blog.

Thanks, also, to Dorothy Love, author of fine Southern historical fiction, for linking to this page. Dorothy is the author of the Hickory Ridge series, including Beauty for Ashes and Every Perfect Gift.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Actually, I want to talk about a series, not just one book. My Timebenders series, first published in 2002, has just been completely revised and updated, with Books 3 and 4 debuting on Christmas Day 2012. Plus, I am currently writing a brand-new book in the series with the working title War of the Electronic Brain.

The first four books in the series are Book 1: Battle before Time, Book 2: Doorway to Doom, Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers, and Book 4: Lost in Cydonia. These books are for middle grade readers, ages 9 to 14.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for the Timebenders series came from my son, who was a kindergartner at the time (he’s now working on his master’s degree!). One day, he came to me and said, “Daddy, would you write a book with me?” I said, “Sure. What kind of book should we write?” He said, “I want to write a book about a time machine and dinosaurs.”

So we started working and we wrote a little each day for a week or two, then we forgot about it for a while. A few years later, I took a fresh look at the pages we had written, and I decided to finish the book. That first book was Battle Before Time, and the publisher asked me to write three more. Last year, I got the rights back from the original publisher, and I updated and rewrote the books, and Greenbrier Books has reissued them with stunning new covers.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

The Timebenders series is science fantasy for young readers. I deliberately chose titles that would have a campy, pulp-science-fiction feel.

I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a science fiction fan. When I was five years old, my favorite TV show was a space opera called Space Patrol. It had spacemen in space suits with fishbowl helmets spouting dialogue like “Smoking rockets! A cosmic storm!” And my favorite cartoon at that age was Popeye, the Ace of Space, in which Popeye battles space aliens on Mars.

In elementary school, I searched for science fiction books in the school library, and was ecstatic when I discovered A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle on the “new arrivals” shelf. I was only nine, but the scientific concepts and appealing characters captured my imagination. (I wrote about the impact of that book on my life in a recent op-ed piece.)

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My protagonists in the Timbenders series are in their early teens. To play Max McCrane, I’d cast Zach Mills of Super 8 fame (with round-lensed eyeglasses, Zach is Max). The perfect Allie O’Dell would be another Super 8 alum, Elle Fanning (with the addition of red hair and braces). C. J. Sanders, who played a young Ray Charles in Ray, would be well cast as Grady Stubblefield. For villainy, either Max von Sydow or Christopher Plummer would make an excellent Dr. Delyrius, the evil alchemist in Doorway to Doom.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Here’s Book 1: Battle Before Time in one sentence:

“Boy inventor Max McCrane turns a rusty orange Volkswagen into a time machine and takes three friends across time and space to battle a deadly dragon in a place before time began.”

Here’s Book 2: Doorway to Doom:

“Max and friends go back in time to an ancient kingdom ruled by evil King Wyvern and Max must either serve the king or doom his friends to a horrible fate.”

Here’s Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers:

“Max McCrane is hijacked into the past by scheming Luna Skyes, and his friends are chased through time by robot warriors of the fourth dimension, the Time Troopers.”

Here’s Book 4: Lost in Cydonia:

“A frightening miscalculation sends Max and friends to Mars, where they encounter an ancient secret guarded by strange blue-skinned creatures, the Timelings.”

Here’s Book 5: (working title of work-in-progress) War of the Electronic Brain

“Max and friends go back in time to Los Angeles in 1942, and must foil a plot to attack America and change the outcome of World War II.”

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Agency.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

My first four Timebenders books were each first-drafted in about six to eight weeks (each is about 45,000 words long). Once the first draft is written, there’s a lot more work to do—additional drafts, substantive editing, copyediting, first proofs, and second proofs.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I set out to write the kind of books I enjoyed when I was a boy—a wild roller coaster ride through time and space. I wanted my readers to have the same experience I had when I was a boy reading A Wrinkle in Time, The Martian Chronicles, and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.

As time travel fiction, the Timebenders tales are part of a literary tradition going back to Washington Irving, H. G. Wells, and Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. There’s even an echo of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Lost in Cydonia.

And, of course, there’s a great tradition of adult time travel literature that I’ve enjoyed over the years—classic short stories such as Robert Heinlein’s “All You Zombies—” and “By His Bootstraps,” Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder,” C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner’s “Vintage Season,” and Harlan Ellison’s “Soldier,” to name a few. Great time travel novels include Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol series, Gordon R. Dickson’s Time Storm, Terry Pratchett’s Thief of Time, David Gerrold’s The Man Who Folded Himself, and Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My son, who was in kindergarten at the time, inspired the Timebenders series. That’s why the first book in the series is dedicated to him.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I vividly recall the writing process of the first four Timebenders books, especially Book 2: Doorway to Doom. I was a couple of chapters into the second book when we were attacked on 9/11. At first, the horror of that event disrupted my creative flow. At that time, some of my writer friends actually stopped writing for a few weeks. I had a tight deadline, so I had to keep writing. I wrote with the cable TV news blaring in the background, so I could keep an ear open for news developments.

As I wrote, I kept coming up with new ideas, including a new ending for the book. Later, I realized that most of those new ideas had to do with darkness. My mood was dark, and it showed in the writing. I added a scene where Max, my protagonist, was tossed into a dungeon by the villain, Dr. Delyrius. I added another scene involving Max’s friend, Allie, threading her way through an underground maze by torchlight.

Even though the scenes dealt with darkness, they demonstrated the light of faith, hope, and courage. A number of readers have written to say that those scenes are their favorite passages in the whole series.

I recently gave an extensive interview that provides more background on the writing of the Timebenders series. You can read it at Random Writing Rants.

Thanks for stopping by on the Blog Hop Tour. Check out the Blog Hop interviews by these fine authors:

Southern historical writer Dorothy Love (author of Beauty for Ashes)

Fantasy novelist Jill Williamson (author of By Darkness Hid)

Science fiction writer Steve Rzasa (author of The Word Reclaimed)

The New, Revised and Updated Timebenders Series is HERE!

Book 1: BATTLE BEFORE TIME — Kindle Edition at Amazon.com, $3.99.
Book 1: BATTLE BEFORE TIME — Nook Edition at BarnesAndNoble.com, $3.99.

Book 2: DOORWAY TO DOOM — Kindle Edition at Amazon.com, $3.99.
Book 2: DOORWAY TO DOOM — Nook Edition at BarnesAndNoble.com, $3.99.

Book 3: INVASION OF THE TIME TROOPERS — Kindle Edition, $3.99.
Book 3: INVASION OF THE TIME TROOPERS — Nook Edition, $3.99.

Book 4: LOST IN CYDONIA — Kindle Edition, $3.99.
Book 4: LOST IN CYDONIA — Nook Edition, $3.99.

The NEW revised and updated Timebenders series has arrived!

Thanks to the excellent work of my new publisher, Greenbrier Book Company, the Timebenders science-fiction adventure series is back and better than ever, and the first two books are available in all popular ebook formats.

The Timebenders series presents the adventures of Max McCrane, a young inventor who just wants to fit in with his fellow students at Victor Appleton Middle School. Trouble is, Max isn’t your run-of-the-mill middle schooler. He’s a boy genius who has invented his own time machine—Timebender!

That rusty orange Volkswagen Beetle may look like it belongs in a junkyard, but under the hood, Max has installed a photon-powered, Einstein-defying, time-warping power plant that jaunts across the centuries with ease. Don’t believe me? Well, climb aboard Timebender and plunge into Book 1: Battle Before Time!

Journey through time with Max and his friends—Allie O’Dell, Grady Stubblefield, and Toby Brubaker—as they confront mankind’s most ancient enemy in a place before time began. Follow them into the fourth dimension as they face otherworldly dangers armed with nothing but courage, loyalty, and the power of belief! Join Max and his friends on a fantastic voyage that sends them hurtling from primeval Earth … to a long-lost Planet Mars … to the Garden of Eden.

Along the way, these young heroes encounter rampaging dinosaurs, unearthly beings of golden light, and the most deadly opponent of all—the fiendish Silver Dragon! Battle Before Time is a wild roller-coaster ride through time and space, a page-turning adventure rooted in timeless truth.

In Book 2: Doorway to Doom, Max, Allie, Grady, and Toby tumble into a perilous new adventure when they enter a doorway to an ancient, evil kingdom, ruled by the shadowy figure of the Silver Dragon. Within the dark, forbidding walls of Castle Serpenfane, they meet evil King Wyvern, his wizardly alchemist Doctor Delyrius, and the strange and mysterious Lady Galatea. The ruthless king confronts Max with a seemingly impossible choice: either help him in his mad pursuit of weapons of mass destruction—or watch his friends suffer a horrible fate.

Meanwhile, Allie must discover the secret that is hidden among the slithering worms and silent crypts of the midnight maze. Worst of all, Max, Allie, Grady, and Toby are stranded in the past without Max’s Volkswagen time machine, Timebender. They have no hope of ever returning home!

timebenders-book-3So open the Doorway to Doom—if you dare! Then take a thrill ride through an age of castles and kings, knights and fair ladies, chivalry and superstition. This action-packed tale sweeps you along to one of the most unexpected endings you’ll ever read.

Young readers love Timebenders: “The Timebenders books are so awesome! They really encourage me,” writes Chloe. And Ben writes, “I’ve read all the Timebenders books! My mom reads them to me at bedtime and I take them for independent reading at school.” And Elliott says, “The Timebenders books are great! Now I’m writing my own book about time travel!”

And parents love Timebenders: “My son has devoured the Timebenders books,” one dad writes. “They really entertain him. We hear him laughing out loud as he reads.” A mom writes, “Thank you for books that are both exciting and appropriate for young readers. As a mother of three and a lover of books, I’m thrilled with Timebenders!” Another mom writes, “My son spent most of his vacation reading Timebenders—the first time he’s read an entire book without skipping pages! His video games are all but forgotten.”

timebenders-book-4The next two books in the series, Timebenders Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers and Timebenders Book 4: Lost in Cydonia, were released on Christmas Day 2012. And after that, who knows? I have a lot of ideas for future Timebenders books on the drawing board.

Please help me spread the news through word of mouth, Facebook, and Twitter. Tell other readers and parents about the thrilling new Timebenders books from Greenbrier Book Company.

And please write to me. Post your comments here at my Timebenders blog. Post your reviews on the Timebenders pages at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Kobo. Visit my Author Page at Amazon.com. Let’s get acquainted.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Timebenders Mailbag

“I love letters from little kids. Adults never proclaim themselves ‘Your Number One Fan!'”
Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of The Sisters Eight series

Doorway to Doom

One of the best things about being a “kid lit” writer is getting mail from Timebenders readers and their parents. I write these tales in the solitary confinement of my little office, and sometimes it amazes me that people, young and old, in all parts of the world, are actually reading and enjoying my stories!

The Timebenders books, beginning with Battle Before Time, are about the adventures of Max McCrane. I tried to make his invention—a time machine called Timebender—seem plausible and believable. Apparently, I succeeded. One young reader wrote me and said, “I liked the first two books a lot. Have you ever built a time machine like Max did?” A question like that reminds me of my responsibility as a children’s author, because kids take these stories very seriously.

I wrote back to this young reader and said, “Thank you for writing to me. I’m glad you liked the books! I have never built a time machine like Max did. I don’t think anyone knows how to build a real time machine, not even our smartest scientists. I think it would be fun to hop into a machine that could take me anywhere in time, and that’s why I wrote the Timebenders stories–because time travel is so much fun to imagine. I think if I could build a real time machine, I’d probably get into all kinds of trouble, just like Max and his friends! The other day, I went to a museum and saw the bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and those bones were huge! I’d hate to meet a real dinosaur face to face.”

A young lady, age twelve, living in Malaysia, wrote to me for advice about writing. “If I wanted to write a book,” she said, “how long are the chapters supposed to be?” In my reply, I told her that her chapters should be as long as needed for the story she’s telling—just don’t make them too long, because readers like to feel they are making progress through the story. I imagine that, within a few years, we may be seeing this young author’s books in print.

One of my favorite emails was a single sentence from a boy in Minnesota. The subject line read: “Toby,” which is the name of a selfish, surly, irresponsible boy in the Timebenders series. My young correspondent wrote: “Thank you for writing such exciting books, but why did you put in such a jerk like Toby?” I wrote back and explained that while Toby is, indeed, rather unlikeable, his bad behavior always helped to launch our heroes off on an exciting new adventure.

I was surprised how much mail I received from readers who are outside the “target demographic” of the series, which is roughly ages eight to fourteen.

A father in Australia wrote to me, saying, “My six year old son has devoured your first three books and is now into number four.” Six years old? A first grader—and he’s reading chapter books on his own? I was impressed. The dad continued. “It’s hard getting him to shut off his reading light because your books really entertain him. I often hear his laughter from upstairs—and every so often he comes out of his room and reads to a passage to us that cracked him up. And he has given your books to me as a reading assignment!”

At the other end of the age spectrum, I received an email from a software designer in Missouri. He wrote, “I was in the bookstore looking for some grownup reading fare when I spotted the cover of your Timebenders book, Doorway to Doom. I picked it up on a whim, started reading, and loved the story line. I forgot about all the other books I had picked up and I just grabbed up the rest of the Timebenders series. I’m 28 years old and married, and probably not a typical Timebenders reader. But now I’ve got my wife reading the series, and I wanted you to know how much we are enjoying them.”

As you can see, I enjoy getting mail from readers and parents. So, please write soon. Post a comment or use the form below to email me with questions, comments, or (sure, why not?) complaints. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Timebenders 3 and 4 are Coming Soon!

Timebenders 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers

Timebenders 4: Lost in Cydonia

Very soon, I’ll announce the release of two more revised and updated ebook editions in the Timebenders series—Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers and Book 4: Lost in Cydonia. To be notified when they are released, find the “Follow This Blog By Email” box in the sidebar to your right and click “Follow.”

 

The NEW Timebenders Books are coming!

Battle Before Time

For the past few weeks, I have been working closely with my new publisher, Greenbrier Book Company of North Carolina, to bring back my Timebenders science-fiction adventure series for young readers. I am revising and updating each book, and my friends at Greenbrier are repackaging these tales as ebooks with stunning new covers. They will be available in all popular ebook formats.

After more than a decade, I finally feel these books are exactly as I want them. I am extremely grateful to my Greenbrier publishers, Ron and Janet Benrey, for producing these new and improved editions of my Timebenders series. Very soon, I’ll be announcing the release of the first two books in the series, Timebenders Book 1: Battle before Time and Timebenders Book 2: Doorway to Doom. And just look at these incredible covers!

Doorway to Doom

Within a few weeks, I’ll also be announcing the release of the next two books in the series, Timebenders Book 3: Invasion of the Time Troopers and Timebenders Book 4: Lost in Cydonia. And after that, who knows? I have a lot of ideas for future Timebenders books on the drawing board.

Please help me spread the word through word of mouth, Facebook, and Twitter. Tell other young readers and parents about the thrilling new Timebenders books from Greenbrier Book Company.

And please write to me. Post your comments right here at my Timebenders blog. Tell me what you think of the Timebenders books. If you’re interested in writing books and stories, send me your questions. Let’s get acquainted.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

On Writing for Children

Here are a few of my favorite quotations about reading and writing literature for children:

“You must write the book that wants to be written. If the book will be too difficult for grownups, you write it for children.”
—Madeleine L’Engle

“When I was young I longed to write a great novel that should win me fame. Now that I am getting old my first book is written to amuse children. For aside from my evident inability to do anything ‘great,’ I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp which, when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one’s heart and brings its own reward.”
—L. Frank Baum

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
Walt Disney

“It is usual to speak in a playfully apologetic tone about one’s adult enjoyment of what are called ‘children’s books.’ I think the convention a silly one. No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty—except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all. A mature palate will probably not much care for crème de menthe: but it ought still to enjoy bread and butter and honey.”
—C. S. Lewis

“I love letters from little kids. Adults never proclaim themselves ‘your number one fan!'”
Lauren Baratz-Logsted

“The only lastingly important form of writing is writing for children. It is writing that is carried in the reader’s heart for a lifetime; it is writing that speaks to the future.”
Sonya Hartnett

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
G. K. Chesterton

“The tale is often wiser than the teller.”
Susan Fletcher

“We must meet children as equals in that area of our nature where we are their equals. . . . The child as reader is neither to be patronized nor idolized: we talk to him as man to man.”
C. S. Lewis

“You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better.”
Maxim Gorky

“I believe that good questions are more important than answers, and the best children’s books ask questions, and make the readers ask questions. And every new question is going to disturb someone’s universe.”
Madeleine L’Engle

“It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations-something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.”
Katherine Patterson

“In our time, when the literature for adults is deteriorating, good books for children are the only hope, the only refuge.”
Isaac Bashevis Singer

“Children’s literature must build a bridge between the colorful dream world full of fantasy and illusion, and a tougher real world full of twists and turns. The child armed with the torch of knowledge, awareness and guidance must cross this bridge and set foot to the intense harshness of the bigger world.”
Samad Behrangi

“Most children won’t remember an author’s name, but they remember a good story.”
Amy Timberlake

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”
Ursula K. LeGuin

“First rule of writing: When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.”
Zadie Smith

“Imagination has brought mankind through the Dark Ages to its present state of civilization. . . . Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that dreams—daydreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing—are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to invent, and therefore to foster, civilization.”
L. Frank Baum

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”
Jacqueline Kennedy

“Good writing is difficult no matter what the reader’s age—and children deserve the best.”
Aaron Shepard

“Some people argue that life is not always pleasant and that children’s books should reflect reality. Others feel that young people should be protected from the disagreeable side of life, and have their innocence left unsullied for as long as possible. Both of these views are to some degree didactic and neither takes into account young readers’ right to make their own decisions about what they read, to make choices about what interests them, and to seek out books that will help them make sense of their worlds.”
Prue Goodwin

“Don’t you think it’s rather nice to think that we’re in a book that God’s writing? If I were writing the book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right—in the way that’s best for us.”
E. Nesbit

“Edgar Rice Burroughs never would have looked upon himself as a social mover and shaker with social obligations. But as it turns out—and I love to say it because it upsets everyone terribly—Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world. By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special. That’s what we have to do for everyone, give the gift of life with our books. Say to a girl or boy at age ten, ‘Hey, life is fun! Grow tall!’ I’ve talked to more biochemists and more astronomers and technologists in various fields, who, when they were ten years old, fell in love with John Carter and Tarzan and decided to become something romantic. Burroughs put us on the moon. . . . The need for romance is constant, and again, it’s pooh-poohed by intellectuals. As a result they’re going to stunt their kids. You can’t kill a dream. Social obligation has to come from living with some sense of style, high adventure, and romance.”
Ray Bradbury

“I’ve never written for kids. I’m just trying to tap into the kid in myself and just go with my taste.”
Andrew Stanton, screenwriter, Finding Nemo and WALL-E

Mars in a Minute: How Do You Land on Mars?

In two of my four Timebenders books, Book 1: Battle Before Time and Book 4: Lost in Cydonia, our heroes—Max, Allie, Grady, and Toby—journey to Mars. Each time they get there in a wildly improbable but exciting way.

When real-life astronauts eventually go to Mars, they will have to solve problems of motion, gravity, air friction, heat, and so forth in order to land safely on the Red Planet. Click the image below to watch a 60-second video from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It explains three ways to land safely on the surface of Mars.

Fifty Years of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’

Original 1962 edition of
A Wrinkle in Time

Half a century ago this year, my nine-year-old soul was impacted by a brand-new book called A Wrinkle in Time. At that tender age, I was already a devoted science-fiction fan, starved for books to read. (I got hooked on SF at age five while watching black-and-white TV space operas like Space Patrol and Tom Corbett—Space Cadet.)

I still remember seeing A Wrinkle in Time standing upright on the “new arrivals” shelf at my elementary school library. The cover illustration—three silhouetted children inside of radiating concentric circles—attracted my attention and the intriguing title pinned my imagination to the wall.

I checked the book out, took it home, and got lost in it. I’ve re-read the book many times since. I remember being impressed by the way L’Engle seamlessly wove science and religious themes throughout the story.

A Wrinkle in Time contains many biblical quotations and allusions. For example, the beings of the planet Uriel sing lines that echo passages from Isaiah and the Psalms, and the character Aunt Beast quotes from Paul’s Roman epistle. The angelic Mrs. Who quotes Paul the Apostle’s words from his first letter to the Corinthians—words I adopted many years later as a central theme of my Timebenders series:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are (1 Corinthians 1:27-28 NIV).

The spiritual warfare theme of good versus evil, light versus darkness, in A Wrinkle in Time is more than just a matter of dramatic conflict. It mirrors the spiritual struggle that all believers understand—a struggle against hidden authorities, not flesh and blood. The book calls the reader to reject neutrality and join the cosmic conflict in the real world.

A Wrinkle in Time also introduced my young mind to the concept of paradoxes, which are commonly found in both the world of physics and the world of faith. I would define a paradox as a statement or condition that contradicts logic and reason but which is true nonetheless. For example, experimental physics shows that light is both a particle and a wave, even though logically this cannot be true. Rationally, light must be either a particle or a wave, not both. Yet it is both. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment.)

Animation of a tesseract.

One of the paradoxical concepts Madeleine L’Engle wrote about in A Wrinkle in Time is the five-dimensional tesseract—also known as a hypercube, a geometric construct that exists in four dimensions of space and one dimension of time. L’Engle uses the tesseract as a device for “warping” space and allowing travel across the universe without being restricted by the speed of light.

L’Engle paid a price for including such advanced concepts of both faith and physics in A Wrinkle in Time. The manuscript was rejected twenty-six times before she found a publisher, and one of the criticisms she heard again and again from editors was that young readers would be turned off by these advanced scientific concepts. But she persevered, found a publisher—and was vindicated by her readers.

Ideas like the tesseract were heady concepts for my nine-year-old mind, and I eagerly absorbed them, thought about them, and wondered how much of it was true. Concepts many editors condemned as “too advanced” for young readers were, for me, the essence of its appeal. And when I began writing my Timebenders series in 2001, I was encouraged by L’Engle’s bold ideas to include some challenging concepts of my own. And my editors, to their credit, didn’t raise an objection and tell me I had to “talk down” to young readers.  

I believe one of the many reasons I embrace both science and the Christian faith today is because of the influence, fifty years ago, of A Wrinkle in Time. If you’ve never experienced A Wrinkle in Time, now would be a good time to discover it. If you enjoy the book as I do, maybe it’s time to read it again.