Day Moon

Inside the Book

Title: DAY MOON (Tomorrow’s Edge Book 1)
Author: Brett Armstrong
Publisher: Clean Reads
Pages: 389
Genre: Christian/Scifi/Dystopian
In A.D. 2039, a prodigious seventeen year old, Elliott, is assigned to work on a global software initiative his deceased grandfather helped found. Project Alexandria is intended to provide the entire world secure and equal access to all accumulated human knowledge. All forms of print are destroyed in good faith, to ensure everyone has equal footing, and Elliott knows he must soon part with his final treasure: a book of Shakespeare’s complete works gifted him by his grandfather. Before it is destroyed, Elliott notices something is amiss with the book, or rather Project Alexandria. The two do not match, including an extra sonnet titled “Day Moon”. When Elliott investigates, he uncovers far more than he bargained for. There are sinister forces backing Project Alexandria who have no intention of using it for its public purpose. Elliott soon finds himself on the run from federal authorities and facing betrayals and deceit from those closest to him. Following clues left by his grandfather, with agents close at hand, Elliott desperately hopes to find a way to stop Project Alexandria. All of history past and yet to be depend on it.
My Review

The concept of the story was interesting. Thus the reason I wanted to read this book. This book started out fine. The author did a good job of laying out the premise for the story. The book that Elliott's grandpa left him had me intrigued. I wanted to know more about Project Alexandria. Who won't be intrigued by the idea of a book of Shakespeare's work that was ever changing.

Ok, so here is the deal. While, I did want to like this book more than I ended up doing so; it turned out that I really struggled with this book. This is because it felt like the story was taking a long time to pick up any speed. Additionally, Elliott was alright but there was nothing too captivating about him that kept me grounded into the story. In fact, I skipped ahead to the middle of the story and proceeded to start reading again. It still felt as if the story hadn't really begun. I won't be proceeding with the next book in this series. Although, I might try reading something else from this author in the future.


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Meet the Author

Brett Armstrong
Brett Armstrong, author of the award-winning novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio, started writing stories at age nine, penning a tale of revenge and ambition set in the last days of the Aztec Empire.  Twenty years later, he is still telling stories though admittedly his philosophy has deepened with his Christian faith and a master’s degree in creative writing.  His goal with every work is to be like a brush in the Master artist’s hand and his hope is the finished composition always reflects the design God had in mind.  He feels writing should be engaging, immersive, entertaining, and always purposeful.  Continually busy at work with one or more new novels to come, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and playing with his beautiful wife and son.
His latest book is Day Moon (Tomorrow’s Edge Book 1).



Book Excerpt:

Prologue: Inheritance

The drizzle tapped on the coffin with an increasing intensity. A steady rain soon began, its great droplets gently touching the mourners with icy insistence. None of it seemed real to Elliott. He looked at the mounded soil, the great wound in the earth where the coffin was positioned, ready to be lowered at any time. Rain was sliding off its slick grey surface, as though nature wished to wash all of this away.

Arranged in a semi-circle around the casket were all those who cared enough about Elliott’s grandfather to make the trip out to this relatively obscure plot of land. No one gave it much attention throughout the year. Buried deep in the woods atop a steep, Appalachian hill, the cemetery had no road. Even the paths were overgrown. Every one of the attendees had been forced to make the trek in their uncomfortable finery. Like shadows dancing from a flame, they had made the journey, full of complaints.

Elliott glanced at those gathered: aunts and uncles, cousins, and a variety of other relatives whom he couldn’t identify. His parents were somewhere, speaking with the attendees, trying to hold the family together in light of the sudden affair. No one had expected the accident. There wasn’t even an opportunity to look at the body; so charred and mangled had his grandfather’s body become as his vehicle careened off the road.

Everything about the accident felt so impossible. Nothing more so than this moment. With the rain’s persistence, they were already beginning to lower his grandfather into the gaping, muddy maw.

Soon the arguments over who got what would begin. His grandfather had a will, but no one cared what it said, so long as they got their fair share. Elliott had already overheard grumbles that he was getting a rare item, one of the few enduring volumes of Shakespeare’s works. It had been a favorite of his grandfather. Even for its rarity, it wasn’t worth anything. The global initiative his grandfather had been working on, Project Alexandria, required all print materials to be recycled as soon as their contents were added to the system. A single repository of human knowledge, from the beginning of recorded history to the present. Whoever had the book would simply have to part with it sooner or later. It didn’t matter.

A tear tried to fight its way through Elliott’s rigid guard. Clenching his hands into fists, he took a shallow breath, and blinked it back. There was only one other person who could have felt close to what he did. Shortly, all of the others wandered away, seeking cover. In their absence, Elliott could clearly see his cousin stood by the hole, planted like the many stone fixtures around them. John was twenty-seven, almost ten years older than Elliott, and had already lost his father, Elliott’s uncle, some years earlier. John’s attention was fully on the descending form of their grandfather’s casket. The thought of this forced Elliott’s head round, briefly, to look in the direction of his uncle’s tombstone. It was in danger of being overtaken by honeysuckle vines. Even in the strengthening shower, the scent of the buttery hued blooms filled the air.

Elliott was tempted to walk over to the small granite block and push away the encroaching plant. Try as he might, he couldn’t bring his legs to move in that direction. If no one acted soon, the messages on the stone would be obscured:


“Pursued Greatness.”

“Born: September 30, 1982.”

“Died: June 18, 2035.”

Uncle Al had died four years ago, to the day, of some exotic respiratory disease that had spread from central or southeast Asia; a mini-pandemic. If he hadn’t been overseas on business, he might never have contracted it. Now, all that would be remembered of him was that in his fifty-two years of life, he pursued greatness, to say nothing of ever laying hold of it.

Rubbing his arms, to bring warmth to them, Elliott turned back around and finished his journey to John’s side. The brawny man was still looking down into the hole to where the casket had finished its descent. John’s blue eyes never wavered from their hold on the burial pit. Slowly, John reached out his large, work-worn hand, gripped a handful of the dirt in the mound beside him, and stared at it a few seconds, before gently lofting it into the grave.

What Matters Most, Characters or Plot?

What is essential to making a great story? Traditionally there are two answers to this, plot and characters. It’s quite often asked of students passing through creative writing courses, which of the two is most important. When I was asked to answer that some time ago, I came upon a rationale that has guided my writing ever since.

The fact of the matter is there are occasions in which characters appear most important, such as in biopics and single character narratives. Was what happened to Tom Hanks on that island in Cast Away nearly as important as who Chuck Noland (Hanks’s character) was at his core? Likewise, some instances in literature and storytelling of other mediums seem to favor the plot heavily, like blockbuster action movies, roleplaying games, and choose-your-adventure books. In these examples it’s not who but what is going on that matters most.  So which camp is right? Team Character or Team Plot?  I vote neither.

Like most things in writing, the best choice is to strike a balance. For me, a story worth telling has a plot that is much bigger than the characters at the onset. It’s a series of events which pick up and carry away the characters for a time. They simply aren’t ready for the plot at the outset.  Over time, however, the characters, being shaped by the events around them, grow and develop. It’s like finally finding your footing after a wave knocks you down. Once standing, the waves break around you, affected by your presence. It’s like that with characters and plot too. Now that the characters are coming into their own, they begin to shape the plot in turn, which is part of what makes writing a novel so fun. As an author I quite often find that the characters have developed in such a way as to seriously redirect the course of immediate events.

This is the happy balance I alluded to before. Characters are shaped by the plot and the plot becomes shaped by the characters. Over my time writing seriously I’ve found this process to be the most natural and evocative of real life. Events around us shape us to an extent, but we also play our free-will part in which direction things go.

Striking that balance and knowing when the characters are ready to start that process of not simply being passive members of the story but actively shaping it is a unique exercise in every work of writing. I think finding that moment is simply being aware of when your characters have come of age in the narrative, so to speak. When they seem no longer to be naïve about what is happening or to be actively making decisions instead of just reacting, that’s when a character has started the feedback loop and is now playing a role in where the story is headed. Another key sign is when characters start doing things that surprise you as a writer. For me that moment in Day Moon came when someone close to Elliott chose to betray him (sorry no spoilers). From there on things began to develop for me more than be plotted out.

Occasionally it also may be necessary for a writer to take a break from the manuscript to get a fresh perspective. That way eventually the characters can better assert themselves without the baggage of something past or planned weighing in on the writer’s mind.  That’s been true of a work in progress I have that’s been with me in varying forms for almost ten years now. It’s only now that the characters are really beginning to stand out from the events around them and shape the storyline.

So which matters most? They both matter equally. Without vibrant, engaging characters the plot will seem hollow and without a striking story of events readers won’t be totally captivated. I liken a novelist to an explorer. Writers and novelists simply experience the story ahead of a reader. As a writer, when you have that feeling of discovery, you know your balance of plot and characters is just right and chances are the novel will be as enjoyable for subsequent visitors to the literary landscape, readers, as it was for you.



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