Monday, December 18, 2006

Without Scouts

If you've visited the CSFF blogs (links in the post below), you may have caught the buzz about the third book in the Birthright Project, Scouts, being cancelled by the publisher. While the author, Kathryn Mackel, was incredibly gracious about the whole thing, my initial and current reaction was/is:

That stinks.

Forget about the whole business angle and the books not selling as well as expected, blah blah blah. I'm a reader (even more than I'm a writer, which is saying a lot), and I'm reacting to this as a reader.

(And readers are the ones publishers should be paying attention to, since they buy the books.)

When I read an excellent novel, my emotions get wrapped up with the characters. I care about their lives. It seems cruel for the rest of their stories to be cut off without warning. Sure, Niki's story stopped at a good note, but Timothy's?

Think about other trilogies, and imagine them without the last installment. Lord of the Rings? Dekker's Circle trilogy? A few may be written for each title to stand on its own, but the Birthright Project isn't one of them. Imagine if Pirates of the Caribbean 3 was cancelled. Or Spider-Man 3. Mackel's books fall somewhere between those two with unresolved plot threads.

Look at the flip side. What if an author decided not to write book 3 of an interwoven trilogy? Wouldn't fans be upset? They would understand if a family crisis delayed the work, but if the author only quit because they could get more money elsewhere? Yeah. I'd be ticked.

Then why, when a publisher does the same thing, do people excuse it as a business decision? If anything, it makes me more leery of buying books from that publisher until the entire series is out. And if other readers had the same reaction, it would create a downward spiral, as lower sales for the earlier books might prevent later books from being published anyhow.

Granted, most reader don't follow publishers, but authors. So it's a double slap in the face for an author - not only do they not get revenue from the book, but they start to build a reputation of unfinished series. And sales of the previous books continue to plummet as readers find out they may never get "the rest of the story." An unpublished series finale unravels publicity efforts for the earlier books (like the one Mackel has on her site for creating a mog for Scouts). And in the midst of all this, the author has to be gracious so he/she doesn't ruin future publishing opportunities - no one wants to be an author publishers find difficult. (Note: I'm not saying Mackel's response was only gracious to help her future endeavors. She went far above being tactful and kind with her reaction. Editors should be banging down doors to work with someone like that.)

So, WestBow/Nelson, the manuscript's on your table. Will you reconsider your decision and publish Scouts? Or will you break trust with your readers by not giving us the full story of the Birthrighters?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Trackers by Kathryn Mackel

Taking a break from cookie baking and present making to tell you about Kathryn Mackel's latest novel, Trackers. The Birthrighter camp of Horesh is in disarray after the events of Outriders. Timothy longs to rescue Dawnray, a village girl held captive by Baron Alrod. Niki is keeping back an important letter from the camp leader, Brady. Ajoba is still in disgrace after being deceived and betraying the camp.

Meanwhile, Baron Alrod begins rebuilding his army with the help of his new head sorcerer and the now-demoted Ghedo makes his own plans for revenge.

Mackel delivers another heart-pounding adventure with a bit more palace intrigue. The interesting blend of futuristic science fiction/fantasy works as a perfect backdrop for the deep characters and plot events.

I wish I had more time to tell you about this great book, but I need to get back to Christmas preparations. But the blogs below offer much more info:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Gene Curtis
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Mark Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Karen and at Karen's myspace
Oliver King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Terri Main
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
John Otte
Cheryl Russel
Hannah Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Chris Walley
Daniel I. Weaver

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Eye of the Oracle

It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

Today's post was a little late, sorry! 9 1/2 hours out of the house, 2+ hours of power out, and several hours of forgetfulness added up to a December 2nd post!


This month's feature author is:



BRYAN DAVIS

and his latest book:

Eye of the Oracle


Bryan Davis is the author of the four book Dragons in Our Midst series, a contemporary/fantasy blend for young people. The first book, Raising Dragons, was released in July of 2004. The second book, The Candlestone, followed in October. Circles of Seven debuted in April of 2005, followed in November by Tears of a Dragon.

Bryan is the author of several other works including The Image of a Father (AMG) and Spit and Polish for Husbands (AMG), and four books in the Arch Books series: The Story of Jesus' Baptism and Temptation, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb (over 100,000 sold), and Jacob's Dream. Bryan lives in Winter Park, Florida with his wife, Susie, and their children. Bryan and Susie have homeschooled their four girls and three boys.

To read more about Bryan and his books, visit the
Dragons in our Midst Website or visit Bryan's blog.

Eye of the Oracle

by Bryan Davis

Dragons in our Midst - Prequel
Oracles of Fire - Volume 1

≈1≈

The Seeds of Eden

Angling into a plunging dive, the dragon blasted a fireball at Lilith and Naamah. The two women dropped to the ground just as the flaming sphere sizzled over their heads. Naamah swatted her hair, whipping away stinging sparks that rained down from the fireball's tail.

With a flurry of wings and a gust of wind, the dragon swooped low. As razor sharp claws jabbed at the women, Naamah lunged to the side, and Lilith rolled through the grass. A single claw caught Lilith's long black dress, ripping it as the dragon lifted toward the sky.

Naamah jumped to her feet and helped Lilith up. The dragon made a sharp turn in the air, and, with its jagged-toothed maw stretching open, charged back toward them.

Lilith pushed a trembling hand into the pocket of her dress. "Only one hope left," she said, panting. Pulling out a handful of black powder, she tossed it over her head. "Give me darkness!" she cried.

The powder spread out into a cloud and surrounded the women. Naamah coughed and spat. The noxious fumes blinded her and coated her throat with an acrid film. A hand grabbed her wrist and jerked her down to her knees just as another flaming cannon ball passed over their heads.

"Crawl!" Lilith ordered.
For the rest of this chapter, click the FIRST link above.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Look at the Snow - Landon That Is

Here's another quick post on Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum by R. K. Mortenson. (Another quick post? When is she going to stop fooling around and post something lengthy? Well, probably January. With finishing up reviews, articles, and a critique - just about done, Valerie! - plus the holiday rush of cookies and gifts I've not even started, and a job where I can be called at any moment and asked to send out 100+ emails or something, plus starting Waterfall Books, church, rearranging the house, and about a dozen other things, blogging is taking a backseat. But at least it's not in the trunk or lying dead by the side of the road.)

Anyhow, though I haven't read Island, three specific things make me want to. First, I've read the first title in the series, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle. Second, Randy was a Navy chaplain for many years, and the book is dedicated to the men and women serving in the Navy and Marine Corps (one of which is a friend of mine). Third, this novel is an ode to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - also written by a guy who uses initials in his pen name. If you're not aware how much I love the Narnia books, you haven't been reading this blog for long. Even my email reflects this - The Lone Islands at yahoo.com.

(Side note on using initials - it's classy, though the initials K.L. look a little too much like "kill" for my comfort. But it drives me crazy if I can't figure out the gender of the initialed writer from the context. CJ - I couldn't find anything that indicated one or the other until you started Title Trakk!)

By the way, Randy has a short story about Landon Snow published in the December issue of the well-known Clubhouse magazine. Read it online here!

Hey - you got your wish! This is actually somewhat long, if only because I like to ramble.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An Amazing Influencer


Like the graphic above? It's not mine. Rachelle Arlin Credo created it for a website to help promote Waterfall Books. I didn't ask her to. She simply came up with the idea and did it. And that's only one of the many innovative methods she has used to earn influencer points.

Wow. You rock, Rachelle. Thanks so much!

Monday, November 27, 2006

We Have a Winner!

I'm pleased to announce the winner of the book Straight Up by Lisa Samson:

Deborah Khuanghlawn!

Please stop by and visit her blog to congratulate her! And don't forget, I'll be giving away another book every 20 subscribers, and will draw names from the entire list of subscribers, so the more people you get to sign up for Waterfall Books, the more chances you have to win (that is - if you're a subscriber yourself!). Plus there's the influencer prize packs and the grand prize to be won as well. So spread the word!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Calm, Cool & Adjusted

Happy Thanksgiving! Due to the busyness of this week (yeah, it's busy for everyone, but most people aren't taking half the meal to Mom's side of the family on Thursday, having Dad's side of the family over on Friday, plus helping their "adopted" family get stuff ready for their Thanksgiving on Wednesday), I haven't posted yet about Calm, Cool & Adjusted, the newest release by Christian chick-lit queen Kristin Billerbeck.

This book delves into the life of the third of a trio of friends, Poppy. Now that things seem to be going smoothly for Lilly and Morgan, chiropractor and natural health freak Poppy begins to wonder if her own life isn't out of whack.

Be prepared for another great laugh-out-loud novel from Kristin Billerbeck, this time with an organic flair. I'd recommend you read the first two Spa Girls books before you read this one, as it contains many spoilers about the lives of Lilly and Morgan. Of course, if you plan to only read Calm, Cool & Adjusted, it's a complete story in itself. But trust me, if you're female and you like witty fiction at all, after finishing this novel you'll want to read the whole set.

I give this novel a Waterfall Books rating of Eddy/Splash. Yes, I know, a split rating. Not sure if I'll try to incorporate or avoid those in the future. But it's Thanksgiving morning and my brain never works quite right in the morning. Stop by the other CFBA blogs (on the sidebar) for more about this book.

There are still a few (very few) slots left to subscribe to the Waterfall Books newsletter and have a chance to win Straight Up. But don't worry that you'll miss the boat - I have lots of other books to give away, including the huge prize pack (the contents of which will be revealed next month!). And be sure to tell others about Waterfall Books to earn an influencer pack.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Scoop by Rene Gutteridge

Rene Gutteridge, author of the lovable Boo series, begins her new Occupational Hazards series with Scoop. After their parents' death, the seven homeschooled Hazard siblings decided to sell their clown business and get jobs in the "real world." Five years later, Hayden Hazard is the new assistant to Channel 7 News productor Hugo Talley, who struggles to handle the stress in his job. An aging anchor with a Botox treatment gone bad. A weatherman so wrapped up in his job he's predicting sun while it's hailing. A reporter with an awakened conscience and a crush on Hayden. And Hugo rarely has time to even see his wife. A normal day is all he can handle - but with the news business, anything can happen. And everything is about to.

I came to Scoop with high expectations as the oldest of nine homeschooled siblings. The caricatured portrayal of the Hazard family rankled a bit. I realized exaggeration was one of Rene's trademarks, but it still annoyed me slightly. I don't know if that was the reason I didn't get into the book until after the first nine chapters or so. Only the opening and closing chapters were from Hayden's point of view, and it took a while for me to connect with the other characters. But after the sewage plant disaster (you'll have to read the book to find out!), I was pulled into the story and much enjoyed the ride. Scoop is a sweet humorous story with a touch of mystery. If you want insight into the running of a news station, or simply a funny read, be sure to pick up Scoop. And if you want to know more about the novel and its author, check out the Christian Fiction Blogging Alliance links on the sidebar.

I give Scoop a Waterfall Books rating of Splash. And there's still time to subscribe to the Waterfall Books enewsletter and have a chance to win Straight Up! (See review below.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Waterfall Books presents Straight Up

They are living lives they were never meant to live.

Bits of story collide like shards of broken glass in the latest novel from Lisa Samson, Straight Up. I'm almost afraid to share too much about this wonderful novel for fear of ruining it for you.

It's not for the faint of heart. It's not for those who like figuring out where the author is going. I'd read two of Lisa's books before - usually by then I'm starting to get a feel for how an author likes to unweave their stories. About a third of the way through Straight Up, I suddenly realized I had no idea where Lisa was going with the lives of Georgia and Fairly and the host of minor characters: Uncle Geoffrey, Sean, Hort, Solo, Mary-Margaret, Clarissa, and others. I felt lost for a second. Then I realized I was in for an adventure - and Lisa Samson hadn't let me down yet.

And she didn't. And those shards of broken glass? Their deep and colorful shades came together in a far different picture than I expected, one that pierced with a strange unearthly joy - and pain. I will forever think differently about the choices I make.

Highly recommended. I give this novel the rating of Cascade.

I received two copies of Straight Up, so I am giving one away to the first subscribers to Waterfall Books. I still have about ten spots open before the cut-off for this giveaway. To subscribe to this newsletter featuring reviews like the one above, send an email here. If you've already subscribed, you're automatically entered!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum


Nope, this isn't the book I mentioned yesterday. I should post about that tomorrow. Actually, I haven't read Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum yet. It's book three in the Landon Snow series by R. K. Mortenson and I haven't read book two yet. But I am interested in reading it, as I've heard there are some Voyage of the Dawn Treader-ish elements included.

I just lent out my copy of the first Landon Snow book (Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle) to a fantasy-hungry 9-year-old.

For more about this book and series, visit the blogs below:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Gene Curtis
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Karen and at Karen's myspace
Oliver King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
John Otte
Cheryl Russel
Hannah Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Chris Walley
Daniel I. Weaver

Saturday, November 11, 2006

An Uh-Oh

I've wanted a laptop for years. But as a (mostly unpaid) freelance writer who picks up odd jobs online when she can, I haven't been able to afford one. Instead I hog the family computer and struggle to focus on my writing in the midst of life with eight siblings. Well, one moved out in January and just got engaged this week (congrats, Stephen and Sarah!) so he doesn't really count.

Anyhow, a Dell catalog arrived in the mail Wednesday, taunting me with sleek laptops with steep price tags. That evening I went to look up lyrics to a Superchic[k] song and one of those little annoying ads came up. One that said, "Win a Free Laptop."

I took the bait. I clicked. They gave me three options to choose from - one had a 100GB hard drive. I remembered our old youth pastor's wife had mentioned something about actually getting a laptop from one of these ad things. You just had to be sure to cancel everything you signed up for.

Okay. I could do that. Write 'em all down, make a bunch of phone calls, mail a few things back. No problem. Much easier than earning $1000 at $10 or less per hour. Minus taxes.

I began going through the survey stuff at the beginning, then got to the first offer page. It offered a bonus. Sign up for this particular offer and get Microsoft Office. Home Sweet Word. If I still wasn't sure at this point, that clinched it.

I signed up for two silver offers. Two gold offers. And SIX platinum offers. I signed up for things I'd never use and others I'd been wanting to do for a while, like a DVD club (after all, the new computer was coming with a DVD player!). One even said they'd give me a $25 Walmart gift card, which would pay for everything but the DVD club.

And then, bleary-eyed (I'd started after midnight and it now approached three), I clicked the link to check my gift status. All the offers I'd signed up for were still pending, which I expected. But there was something else. I needed to refer two friends. They would need to click my link and also sign up for the ten offers, within the next 60 days.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Thanks for telling me about this up front.

But hey, I have friends, don't I? And I still need a laptop. And they could get a laptop too - they'd just also need two referrals.

So please. If this interests you at all (either getting a laptop or being really nice and helping me out), click on the link and check it out. I'd really appreciate it.

In other news, check back early next week for a quick preview of what's to come in the Waterfall Books newsletter, including a review of an awesome novel. There will also be details on how to win the novel by subscribing to the newsletter. But don't wait! Subscribing now could actually improve your chances of winning the book!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Cubicle Next Door

Your nice office has been divided into two cubicles since the Air Force Academy hired one too many instructors. You're now sharing space with a charming ex-pilot who expects you to be his new best friend. Not only will he not take no for an answer, he doesn't even ask! Even your grandmother is rooting for him. What's a geekish girl to do? Vent online, of course.

Jackie Harrison created her anonymous blog, The Cubicle Next Door, to share about office life and the environmental issues she cares about. And it's the only place where she can freely share her feelings about the guy on the other side of the partition wall, Joe, who she dubs "John Smith." As those feelings become more confused, a news station runs a segment on blogging and features The Cubicle Next Door. Now everyone is reading her blog, including Joe.

The Cubicle Next Door had jumped onto my favorite novels list by the time I'd finished the first chapter. Siri Mitchell has crafted an immensely humorous and heartwarming tale. The novel is chock-full of funny and memorable scenes - Jackie's grandmother and her friends switching from bridge to poker, the Emma Crawford coffin race, skiing lessons.

The beginning was so wonderful, I wondered how the end would meet my expectations, but it did. And threw in a few twists along the way. Jackie's blog posts are included, complete with comments. A novel about a blogger - how can you get better than that? Here's a bit from chapter one to whet your appetite:

“So what do you think, Jackie?”

What do I think? Funny Joe should ask me that. He's just finished reading my blog. He's just quoted me to myself. Or is it myself to me? Do I sound surreal, as if I’m living in parallel universes?

I am!

The blog—my blog—is all about Joe. And other topics that make me want to scream. But the clever thing is, I'm anonymous. When I’m blogging.

I'm Jackie, Joe's cubicle-mate, when I'm not.

And that's the problem.

Joe is asking Jackie (me) what I think about the Mystery Blogger (also me). And since I don’t want Joe to know the blog is all about me and what I think of him, I can't tell him what I think about me.

My brain is starting to short circuit.

So if I can't tell him what I think about me, I certainly can't tell him what I think about him, so I'm going to have to pretend not to be me. Not me myself and not me The Cubicle Next Door Blogger—TCND to my fans.

I have fans!

If I were clever I'd say something like, “Look!” and point behind him and then duck out of the room when he turned around to look.

But there’s so much computer equipment stacked around my desk and so many cables snaking around the floor that I’d break my neck if I tried to run away. So that option is out.

I could try pretending I didn't hear him. “What?”

“SUVs. So what do you think about them?”

But then we'd basically end up back where we started.

So how did I get myself into this mess?

It was all Joe's fault.


I'm giving away a copy of The Cubicle Next Door as part of the promotion for my upcoming review newsletter, Waterfall Books. Go here for info on how you can win it, as well as other great books!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Coldwater Revival - FIRST Day

It is November 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

This blog is featuring a contest to win a copy of Nancy's new book, Coldwater Revival. Just leave a comment and you may be the winner!

Just three weeks before her wedding, Emma Grace Falin has returned to her hometown of Coldwater, Texas, consumed by a single, burning desire. She must confront the guilt and shame of a devastating event that has haunted her since childhood.

"...What a stunning debut novel."
--Wendy Lawton, Literary Agent, author of Impressions in Clay

"An astonishing debut! Coldwater Revival is a hauntingly beautiful story made doubly so by Nancy Jo Jenkins stunning, lyrical writing. I was mesmerized from cover to cover."
--Deborah Raney, author of A Nest of Sparrows and A Vow to Cherish

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Meet Nancy Jo...

Q. How long did it take you to write Coldwater Revival?

A. I perceived the idea for Coldwater Revival in June, 2003, and completed the manuscript in March, 2005.

Q. Tell us about your journey from writer to published novelist.

A. During my teaching career, I dreamed of the day when I could write the stories that continually swam around in my head. I didn't know at the time that it would take me four or five years of attending workshops, conferences, retreats, lectures, and of studying tapes, books and other materials before I was ready to put my newly-acquired knowledge to use, and begin writing the stories that God had prompted me to write. In March, 2004, at the Mount Hermon Christian Writing Conference, I submitted a book proposal to Steve Laube (Literary agent), and Jeff Dunn, (Acquisitions Editor) for RiverOak. Both gentlemen asked me to send them all I had written on Coldwater Revival, which at the time was 109 pages. During the summer of 2004, both men offered me a contract. My book was published by RiverOak and released in May, 2006.

Q. The agony and healing Emma Grace went through are so real. What personal experiences did you draw from to portray Emma Grace's feelings so well?

A. There was a time in my life when I suffered with depression, though it was not due to a death in the family, as Emma Grace's was. At the time, it seemed that I was in a daily knock-down, drag-out fistfight with sadness. I was truly blessed in that I was never prescribed any kind of medication to treat my depression, which proved to be relatively short-lived. But I did receive counseling, which was just what I needed to win the battle with this debilitating condition. During that time of depression I endured many of the symptoms that Emma Grace suffered through. Excessive sleeping was about the only symptom we did not share. There were times when I couldn't swallow my food, and times when I could almost touch the face of that same blackness that almost overwhelmed Emma Grace. Her sorrow and guilt were difficult scenes for me to write, and I found myself crying each time I wrote about Emma Grace's sadness and the continual ache in her heart.

Q. Emma Grace loses all desire for life when her brother dies - not eating or talking, just living in the blissful cocoon of sleep. Do you have any advice for folks who are in that dark place right now?

A. Communication was the key that unlocked the door of depression for me. Communicate with God, even if the only words you can utter are the words, "Help me." But I also benefited greatly from talking to a certified counselor; one who was trained in helping people express their pain, their needs, their fears. I hope that anyone who feels sad and lonely for an extended length of time, will contact their pastor, or someone who can direct them to a Christian counselor.

Q. Emma Grace's grandmother lives in the city while the rest of the family lives in the country. Why do you think she didn't move out to the country with the rest of the family long ago?

A. Granny Falin immigrated from Ireland to America with her husband and son when Emma Grace's papa was just a lad. This family shared a dream about their new country. It would be a place where they could find work and prosperity, raise their family, and put down roots. Even the Great Hurricane of 1900 couldn't wash those dreams from Granny's heart. Though her only remaining child lived a hundred miles away in the rural township of Coldwater, Texas, Granny could never leave Galveston. The island and the sea that surrounded the island were her home now. It was where the ashes of her husband and three children were buried. It was the home she and her husband had dreamed of during their desperate years together in Ireland. If she left Galveston and moved to Roan's home, she would be giving up the dream she had shared with her husband.

Q. Papa and Elo have a tough time showing their emotions. Elo, especially, is so hard to read in the book. Why do you think some people hole up inside themselves rather than sharing their emotions?

A. I believe we are born with a portion of our personality already deeply embedded within us. Some people are reticent to express their feelings and emotions, while others have no problem whatsoever in expressing what they feel or think. I have known many individuals who are like Elo; people we sometimes refer to as "the strong, silent type". Papa and Elo are powerful protectors and providers who waste little time and effort on words. Both of these men feel that "actions speak louder than words". Added to that is the fact that Elo feels extreme discomfort when his mother and sisters are emotionally distraught, therefore, he maintains a rigid demeanor, in part, to provide a stable link in the chain that makes up his family - The Falins.

Q. Do you have other books coming out soon?

A. Thank you for asking about my upcoming books. I'm about to submit my proposal for a novel entitileld, "Whisper Mountain". This story takes place in the early 1900's in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is the story about lost love, and a desperate woman's journey to fill the void that deprivation and loss have left in her heart. The story has elements of mystery, intrigue, murder, and of course, romance. I'm very excited about this story. I've also begun writing a sequel to "Coldwater Revival" which will parallel both Emma Grace's life after 1933, and the adventurous trek Elo begins when he falls in love.

THE FIRST CHAPTER of
Coldwater Revival

One

Coldwater, Texas

Three weeks before I was to marry Gavin O'Donnell, I set my feet upon the beaten path leading to Two-Toe Creek. What I had to offer Gavin in marriage—my whole heart, or just a part—depended on the decision I would make today.

As my feet tracked the dusty pathway they stirred loose soil to the air. My heart stirred as well, for the guilt I had buried in its depths smoldered as though my brother had just died, and not five years earlier. In the shadowed days following the tragedy, my disgrace had glared like a packet of shiny new buttons. I'd not thought to hide it at the time. In truth, I'd thought of little, other than how to survive. But at some point during that time of sorrowful existence, when my days and nights strung together like endless telegraph wires, I dug a trench around my heart and buried my shame.

From that day until this, I deeded myself the actor's role, closing the curtain on my stain of bitter memories, hiding my sorrow behind a veil of pretense. But that old deceiver, Time, had neither softened my guilt nor put it to rest; only allowed it ample pause to fester like deadly gangrene. Now, as the day of my wedding drew near, my heart cried out for healing. It was, you see, far wiser than my head. My heart understood its need for restoration—before I exchanged wedding vows with Gavin. For this reason, I now walked the trail to Two-Toe Creek. To revisit my failures of yesteryear and reclaim the peace that had slipped past the portals of my childhood. Perhaps then I could give Gavin the entirety of my heart.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dragons, Knights, and Angels

Dragons, Knights, and Angels Magazine showcases short fiction and poetry with a supernatural bent - fantasy and science fiction - from a Christian worldview. I usually prefer novels to short stories, but I've loved every story I've read on the site. And the poems were awesome. As Johne Cook (former managing editor of DKA) explains:

"Writing stories with a moral core is a tricky line. We are not at all interested in stories that preach. Stories submitted to DKA for publication will be examined first on their merit as works of sci–fi / fantasy / poetry. Writing is a privilege and an honor, and it is as much art as craft. As God is the Great Creator, we expect great stories as He fills your cup to overflowing."

This level of excellence is reflected throughout the site. Unlike many online publications, DKA pays their writers, and they don't fill the site with annoying ads to compensate. Instead they have top-notch contests (the winners of their 2006 poetry contest were announced today) and rely on donations from those looking for more high-quality fantasy/science fiction writings.

One excellent story is Damage. If you visit nothing else on the site, at least stop by and read this one.

What are you waiting for? Click over to Dragons, Knights, and Angels now. But if you're still not convinced, visit the blogs below for more opinions on this great site.

Jim Black

Jackie Castle

Valerie Comer

Frank Creed

Christina Deanne

Kameron M. Franklin

Beth Goddard

Todd Michael Greene

Leathel Grody

Karen Hancock

Elliot Hanowski

Katie Hart

Sherrie Hibbs

Joleen Howell

Jason Joyner

Karen and at Karen's myspace

Oliver King

Tina Kulesa

Lost Genre Guild

Kevin Lucia

Rachel Marks

Shannon McNear

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Caleb Newell

John Otte

Cheryl Russel

Mirtika Schultz

Stuart Stockton

Steve Trower

Speculative Faith

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stolen Lives

You are driving home behind your wife and daughter after meeting up at a grocery store. You watch as an eighteen-wheeler swerves purposely into their lane. You stare in horror as your family's car spins and collides with the tractor trailer.

Your life will never be the same.

And you vow that the trucker's life will never be the same, either.

When crooked justice determines the tragedy of his family's death was an accident, Robert Whitney turns his grief to revenge at those who wronged him. The witness selling his lies to the highest bidder. The state trooper willing to buy the tainted story. The trucking company manager willing to pay them off. And the murderer himself.

With skills honed by his computer programming business, Robert hatches a plan to steal the lives of those who stole his. He will let them suffer, then end it all.

Brian Reaves' tightly woven thriller, Stolen Lives, has been called a modern Count of Monte Cristo, and the comparison is apt. Fleshing out vivid characters with deep motivations, Reaves makes the twisting plot matter intensely to all of them. I didn't want to put this book down. Highly recommended.

Go here for a flash trailer for the book, and visit Brian's awesome website for more about his novels.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Violette Between

I began Violette Between with a healthy dose of skepticism. I'd never read any books by the author, Alison Strobel (though I do read her blog). The cover screamed "women's fiction" and I'd been bored by that genre before. The last book I'd read with a coma/dream sequence had been a self-published monstrosity. And characters named Violette, Alexine, and Xavier - I love odd names, but it seemed a little much.

I got through the first chapters - introspective beginning . . . okay, anticlimactic fall, seemingly rushed diagnosis. And then the love stories began, and I was caught up in their telling.

Christian, who gave up on God six years ago when he lost his wife, can't bear to imagine what losing Violette would do to him. Though their relationship had a difficult start and still is rocky, he loves her. His scenes mix his current pain with memories of getting to know Violette.

Violette, trapped in a coma, finds herself reliving her past with Saul, the man she loved and married. As the scenes continue, she knows she doesn't want to lose him again. But can she stay in this in-between place forever?

I ended up falling in love with this novel, and I'm sure you will too. Recommended.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Win Free Books!

Besides the chance to win a copy of Dark Hour (scroll down - contest open through October 16th), here are some other ways to win books - a lot of them.

In case you haven't heard about it yet - I'm launching a review enewsletter this January called Waterfall Books. Once a month, I'll send out a newsletters chock full of reviews of the best Christian fiction - including genres as diverse as science fiction and romance, and historical and suspense. All you need to do to subscribe is send a blank email here.

But why should you subscribe at all? Can't you just stop by Amazon and get a bunch of reviews on any book you want? Sure, sometimes. But Christian novels are often scarce on reviews, and many reviewers are unfamiliar with Christian fiction, don't know much about the craft of writing, or give away major plot twists in their reviews.

I've reviewed 200 Christian novels for magazines, websites, and this blog, and I've read hundreds more. I've written two novels and am working on a third, and continue to study the craft of writing fiction through books, articles, writer's blogs, and courses. And I abhor reviews which give away the end - or even the middle.

But the focus of the reviews in Waterfall Books won't be critical analysis. Yes, I'll evaluate the books carefully. But I'm writing the reviews as if a good friend comes up to me and asks, "Know of any good books to read?" The answer is "Yes, and here's why." I developed a rating system to give an accurate picture beyond, "Yeah, that's good," "Yeah, that's really good," "Yeah, that's excellent," and "You have to read this book!"

And like a good friend doesn't recommend 50 books at once - this newsletter narrows the focus of the widening shelves of Christian fiction at your local CBA bookstore and the 10,000 titles to choose from on Amazon without falling back on only the "top picks" culled by Wal-Mart. At the same time, diversity in the reviews will allow you to find excellent books in the genres you love.

Another reason to subscribe - free books! Through January, I'm drawing a name and mailing out a novel for every 20 subscribers who join, then adding another novel to the grand prize pack every time I mail one. If 500 people sign up, I'll have awarded free books to 25 lucky people, and the grand prize pack will include at least 25 novels!

And there's another way to get free books - telling others about Waterfall Books. Instead of a random drawing, the people who do the most to promote the newsletter will receive these influencer prize packs:

Top Influencer will receive:

A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist
The Cubicle Next Door by Siri Mitchell
Shivering World by Kathy Tyers
All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin
Beyond the Blue by Leslie Gould
CD - My Other Band - Volume One
Four selections from my ARC/galley pile

Second Top Influencer will receive:

Comes a Horseman (hardcover) by Robert Liparulo
River Rising (hardcover) by Athol Dickson
Mark of the Cross by Judith Pella
Three selections from my ARC/galley pile

Third Top Influencer will receive:

A Garden to Keep (hardcover) by Jamie Langston Turner
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught by Neta Jackson
Paper Moon by Linda Windsor
Three selections from my ARC/galley pile

How do you win one of these packs? By telling others about Waterfall Books! Email friends, post about it on your blog, send out a myspace bulletin, whatever. Be creative! Whenever you've done something to promote Waterfall Books, email me (theloneislands@yahoo.com) to let me know. I'll give you one point for each promotion - two points or more for creative or extra influential ways of spreading the word.

I'll tally up the points in January and award the prize packs!

Links ideal to include:
http://reviewingchristiannovels.blogspot.com
mailto:christiannovels-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Thanks so much!

Note: All books will be either new or gently used. A few may have slight publishing defects.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Catching Up

I finally caught up with my Bloglines reading. That service is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it helps me keep with all sorts of blogs and other feeds, and a quick response (like with my Yahoo email notification) has allowed me to even win free stuff. A signed copy of Kristin Billerbeck's latest Calm, Cool, and Adjusted is on its way to me right now. I don't have to stop by rarely updating blogs every week or month - it'll let me know when my friends finally get back to it. And I don't have to worry about missing anything.

The curse part? How much time I spend on the thing. I am currently subscribed to 81 feeds. Probably 60 post 3 times a week or more. The 4 comic strips don't take long, but some of the others . . . And if I fall behind during the weekend, it can get overwhelming. Plus, I miss most blogs that can't be subscribed to on Bloglines - unless they're xangas or myspace blogs I can subscribe to through their services.

A few days passed without me reading all the feeds, but today I had some free time since the family wasn't running errands as planned. So I got caught up. And afterwards didn't feel like doing anything, and couldn't figure out why. I finally started this blog entry and realized my brain was overloaded with information and needed to dump somewhere before I could do anything else.

And as far as anything else goes - I have a huge amount of stuff I've committed to and need to do. I just wrote up a list last night. Things like my next review for Keepin' On (go to the site to read my latest review on Authentic Relationships), a CD review for Title Trakk, an article on the awesome Christian rock band Strive, a critique for a fellow writer, and reading the next book for the CFBA tour. Speaking of blog tours - though I enjoy them, it seems like they've overtaken this blog. It's nice to have steady content as I focus on launching my review newsletter, but I do want to make this blog more than just a blour stop. Maybe when I've caught up on other stuff.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dark Hour - Ginger Garrett

Bit late on this blog tour as well. I just stayed up past 4AM last night finishing Dark Hour. Cramming, you might say. But I didn't intend to. I planned to read a chapter or two more before bed and finish the rest in the morning. Ha. Well, I did finish the book in the morning, but not exactly how I'd anticipated. Since I already knew the rudiments of Athaliah and Jehoshebeth's story from Scripture, I kept reading to discover how Ginger Garrett brought their tale to life in a new and engaging way. As I finished each chapter, I thought, "I should get to bed, but I just want to see how she handles this next bit," and I kept reading.

Dark Hour is an epic tale of Judah's bleakest days prior to the reign of Joash. The characters gain new dimensions and the fast-paced plot has several twists. The POV changes were a bit confusing - not that they weren't clear, but the story would cut away to another character before important scenes and it grew a little frustrating for me (who cares what Elisha's doing at the moment? I want to see what's happening with Jehoshebeth!). Also, many of the "blood and destruction" scenes seemed to have a cinematic feel of pain and confusion - good for conveying the tone, but hard to understand exactly what was happening. Of course, I also was reading the book very late at night, too.

Visit others on the CFBA tour (see sidebar) for more info about this great book, click the FIRST button in the post below for the first chapter, and also see below for information on how to win your own copy of Dark Hour! Leave a comment on either post telling me which you prefer - first chapter or review - when you decide what book to buy/read, and I'll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of Dark Hour!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dark Hour - FIRST Day


It is October 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

GINGER
GARRETT

Guess what? The publicists for Ginger have agreed to a book contest for each FIRST member's blog post on Dark Hour! For this blog, I want to know which is more helpful to you with deciding to buy a novel - a review or the novels first chapter. I'll randomly pick a name to win the free book from every commenter who gives their opinion on this topic - so, comment and you might become a winner!

About the author:

Ginger Garrett is an acclaimed novelist and expert in ancient women's history.

Her first novel, Chosen, was recognized as one of the best five novels of the year by the Christian publishing industry. Ginger enjoys a diverse reader base and creates conversation between cultures.

In addition to her 2006 and 2007 novels about the most evil women in biblical history, she will release Beauty Secrets of the Bible (published by Thomas Nelson) in Summer
2007.

Ginger Garrett's Dark Hour delves into the biblical account of Jezebel's daughter and her attempt to end the line of David.

And now, a special Q&A with Ginger Garrett:

1.) First, tell us a bit about Dark Hour.

I was praying about what book to write after Chosen, and accidentally left my open Bible on the kitchen table. (A dangerous thing, since in my house, small children and large dogs routinely scavenge with dirty hands and noses for snacks!) As I walked past it, I saw a caption about someone named Athaliah and a mass murder. I stopped cold. I knew it was my story.

Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel--a real woman in history--who tried to destroy all the descendents of King David in a massacre. God made a promise that a descendent of King David would always sit on the throne, and one day a Messiah would come from this line. If Athaliah succeeded, she would break the promise between God and the people, and destroy all hope for a Messiah.

One woman, her step-daughter, Jehoshebeth, defied her. She stole a baby during the massacre and hid him. Between them, the two women literally fought for the fate of the world.

2.) What drew you to write biblical fiction?

The similarities between the lives of ancient women and our lives. We get distracted by their "packaging," the way they dressed and lived, but at heart, our stories are parallel.

3.) How much time is spent researching the novel versus writing the novel?

Equal amounts, and I don't stop researching while I write. I have a historical expert, probably the best in the world in his field, review the manuscript and point out errors. The tough part is deciding when to ignore his advice. He pointed out that most everyone rode donkeys if they weren't in the military, but a key scene in the novel involves riding a horse to the rescue. It would have been anti-climatic to charge in on a donkey! :) So I ignored his advice on that one.

4.) Dark Hour takes its reader deep into the heart of palace intrigue and betrayals. Were parts of this book difficult to write?

I left out much of the darkest material I uncovered in research. It was important to show how violent and treacherous these times and this woman (Athaliah) could be, but I tried to be cautious about how to do it. The story was so powerful and hopeful--how one woman's courage in the face of evil saved the world--but the evil was depressing. I tried to move quickly past it. I wanted balance. Our heroine suffers and some wounds are not completely healed in her lifetime. That's true for us, too.

5.) What would modern readers find surprising about ancient women?
They had a powerful sense of the community of women. They also wore make-up: blush, glitter eyeshadow, lipstick, powder, and perfume! They drank beer with straws, and enjoyed "Fritos": ground grains, fried and salted. Many of our foods are the same today, but they loved to serve pate made from dried locusts, finely ground. Ugh!

Click the FIRST button to read the first chapter of Dark Hour!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Violet Dawn

I'm a bit late on this post about the incredibly well-written Violet Dawn, by Brandilyn Collins.

Plagued by insomnia, Paige Williams steps into her hot tub one night and finds a corpse. She can’t tell the police, and so must make an unthinkable choice – one that will affect the entire small town of Kanner Lake.

The town has a cast of eccentric and lovable characters – Bailey Truitt, owner of the Java Joint, a local hangout. Vince Edwards, the police chief still grieving the son killed in Iraq. Leslie Brymes, a young journalist wanting to make it big. Wilbur Hucks, an ornery coot who insist on showing everyone he meets his triple-bypass scar.

Brandlyn Collins gives her signature seatbelt suspense a different twist in this new series. She spreads her depth of characterization over a town full of people. To tie-in with her new series, Brandilyn created a blog which features posts from the novel’s supporting cast, where readers can go to learn more about the characters. Readers of her regular blog auditioned for roles in the Scene and Beans blog.

Pick up this great book today!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Something That Lasts

I didn't get a copy of Something That Lasts by James David Jordan for the blog tour this month, but I figured I'd give it a plug. It looks interesting. I mean, how many books have a man walking forward in a megachurch, accusing the pastor of adultery with his wife, and then shooting himself. Nah. Not your everyday read. But others on the blog tour have more informed opinions than I do, so scroll down to the links under Christian Fiction Blog Alliance on the sidebar to read what they have to say.

Things are progressing well with Waterfall Books. I'm still deciding a lot of things and could use your input. One choice: would you prefer sneak previews of the first issue posted here as we count down the weeks, or would you prefer all new material in the newsletter? And I still need your vote (unless you're Becky Miller, my sister Anna, or one of the other two people who already voted) in the URL poll two posts down.

And above all these, please subscribe and tell others to subscribe to Waterfall Books. I promise not to spam you or share your email with anyone. You'll only get important updates (like chances to win free books) and the monthly newsletter.

Edenstar

I've been too busy to give Edenstar Books and Games more than a cursory glance for this CSFF blog tour, so be sure to visit the blogs below for better opinions. The site boasts more than 600 products relating to Christian fantasy and science fiction. The page format seems very kid and parent friendly. I found the game section rather sparse and LOTR-dominated (where's Narnia Stratego, guys? I love that game), and was a bit puzzled by the Bible games which seemed to have no tie-in to the site's subject matter. Also, the inclusion of books such as T. L. Hines' Waking Lazarus pushed the site's range to quite a broad interpretation of CSFF (I'd call it speculative, maybe, but definitely not fantasy or science fiction).

The "hard-to-find" page within the kids' section was the most intriguing, giving the titles of additional Exitorn adventures (had reviewed the first two from BJU Press) and several books by Thomas Locke (aka T. Davis Bunn).


Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Bryan Davis
Beth Goddard
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Kevin Lucia
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Cheryl Russel
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith

Friday, September 15, 2006

Blog Unveilings

My blogs have a new look! Not this one (obviously); I'm content with its template and loath to transfer all the links.

First, Christian Music switched from a classical look with rock icons to a bold green/hot pink/black template, which I created by tweaking the results of a template generator (story of the tweaking here). Take a look and let me know what you think!

Then, there's the recently started Waterfall Books. This is the online presence for my review enewsletter which will launch in January (to subscribe, send a blank email here). I'll gradually post reviews on the site after they release in the newsletter - so if you want them first, you need to subscribe.

I also have a quandry. When I began to develop the Reviewing Christian Novels site, I didn't know I'd make the name Waterfall Books, my online moniker. But, since it's my online moniker, I saved waterfallbooks.blogspot.com several months back. Should I switch to the waterfallbooks URL, or keep my current one? Vote below!

Benefits of reviewingchristiannovels:
  • Tells what the site's about
  • Similar to this blog address
  • Already set up

Benefits of waterfallbooks:
  • Title of newsletter
  • Shorter URL

Which do you prefer? Let me know:


Which URL should I use?
reviewingchristiannovels
waterfallbooks
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Squat - CFBA

"We live in a squat. We don’t know squat. We don’t have squat. We don’t do squat. We don’t give a squat. People say we’re not worth squat."

Squat, the story of a homeless young man in New York City, is quite different from most of the books I read. The whole story takes place in 24 hours, while the obsessive-compulsive and childlike Squid tries to avoid getting caught by Saw, who he cheated out of $100.

Taylor Field knows his subject matter well, having worked in inner city New York for twenty years. All of his proceeds from this book go to the service arm of the church he pastors there.

None of the characters captured my sympathy right away, and I only felt a few connections to some of them throughout the book. It was well-written; just not my type of book. To read the first chapter, click on the FIRST button on the sidebar or a few entries down. Be sure to visit other CBFA blogs (links on the sidebar under the CBFA button) for more opinions about this novel.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering . . .


Photo courtesy of Time.com

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Reviewing Christian Novels

I've hinted at an upcoming project. While I don't plan to officially launch until January, I'll give you a tidbit for now.

Waterfall Books - Fall In

I've thought of developing an email newsletter many times in the past. It's great for building connections for later on, when I get a book published. The problem was content. How was I going to fill the newsletter with enough worthwhile words so that people would read it? I tried writing a serial - it went nowhere. And I have enough books to review as it is.

Then something clicked. I was on Yahoo Groups requesting quotes, and the "Start your own group" button looked way too attractive. Then a package arrived from Harvest House, with a book to review for an author friend plus three other novels. Titles the publisher sent with no obligation on my part. Books that if they turn out to be incredible (why not?) I'll want to tell the world.

And I wondered why I was reading books to review when I could just review the books I read. No forcing myself through boring books. No agonizing about making each review more eloquent than the last. Just short, snappy reviews delivered straight to your inbox. Posted on a blog. Linked to here.

You can get the back cover copy at any online seller. You can get the first chapter on Christian Book Previews, email lists, and publisher websites. You can get author interviews on half a dozen blogs. You can get academic reviews in journals and uninformed reviews on Amazon. But nothing beats having a friend who loves to read telling you, "This is good. Here's why . . ."

And so Waterfall Books was born.

It'll likely be monthly. It'll include reviews of fantasy and suspense and chick-lit and historical and romance and mystery and more - because if it's a good book, genre doesn't matter to me. It'll launch sometime in January. And it'll likely include contests and drawings, because everyone loves free books.

Stay tuned for more! But you don't need to keep checking back here. Subscribe to my Yahoo Groups mailing list! When I begin a subscriber drive later this fall, I'll draw a name from everyone on the list for a special prize pack. Perhaps more than one.

Please, subscribe and let others know about Waterfall Books! The more subscribers it gets the bigger the prize pack will be!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Flyleaf and Title Trakk

My review of Flyleaf is up at Keepin' On! Check it out for info on this great hard rock debut album.

And speaking of music and reviews, Title Trakk, a new book and music review site, launches this month. More than just reviews, this site has interviews, weekly surveys, first chapters, and a huge prize pack giveaway to celebrate the launch (CDs by Superchic[k], Tree63, Paul Coleman, and others, plus 15 novels). Mention my name when you sign up for the giveaway!

Other news: I'm 3,500 words into my fantasy novel and loving it. It's neat to see how my writing methods have changed since my last rough draft and how I'm adapting them for the different genre. I tend to zoom through the story without describing much in the way of setting, but I've found a way to counteract that. I write until a good stopping point, then come back the next day or so and edit the scene, adding more details. The little bit of distance lets me see errors of flow and timing, choose better words, and balance thoughts with action.

While this means the book will take longer to write, the first draft will be more like a second or third draft. I've already gotten positive feedback on the first scene, which I plan to post online once I'm a little further into the writing.

Friday, September 01, 2006

FIRST Day - Squat by Taylor Field

It is September 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:
Taylor Field

"We live in a squat. We don’t know squat. We don’t have squat. We don’t do squat. We don’t give a squat. People say we’re not worth squat."

Taylor Field has worked since 1986 in the inner city of New York where he is pastor of East Seventh Baptist Church/Graffiti Community Ministries. He holds a M.Div. from Princeton and Ph.D. from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Among his previous books is the award-winning Mercy Streets. Field and his family live in New York, New York.

If you want to know more, please visit The SQUAT Website! To order Squat, click HERE.

Author interview contact is Andrea Irwin at Broadman &
Holman.


Please Note:

All author proceeds from Squat will go to Graffiti Community
Ministries, Inc., a service arm of the East Seventh Street Baptist
Church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Field preaches.

Back Cover Copy:

In the shadow of Wall Street’s wealth, homeless citizens with names like Squid, Saw, and Bonehead live in abandoned buildings known as "squats" where life is hand to mouth, where fear and violence fester. The light in lovable Squid’s obsessive-compulsive mind’s eye is Rachel, a loving soup kitchen missionary who tells him about faith and unfaith, hypocrisy and justice, the character of God and finding identity in Him.

But among the squats and so many other abandoned lives, will such talk be enough to make Squid believe that his life may actually amount to something?

Click the FIRST button to read the first chapter of Squat.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Kathy Tyers

Love Christian fiction? Love Star Wars? The best of both worlds collide in Kathy Tyers' Firebird Trilogy.

I first remember seeing these books in the CBD fiction catalog, and their covers and summary intrigued me. A little while later, they were out of print, so I hunted them down on Amazon, where the rare Crown of Fire (book #3) soared to thrice the original price and beyond. By constant checking, I was able to snap it up for under $15.

I zoomed through the pages, delighted to find a Star Wars-like adventure with more romance, complexity, and moral dilemmas. I don't remember which I read first, the Firebird trilogy or Arena by Kathy's friend Karen Hancock, but these books instilled a deep love for Christian science fiction.

Later, I read Kathy's Shivering World, and included it in a round up of the best CBA fantasy and science fiction (Firebird was unfortunately out of print at the time). And just this month, I found a copy of her Star Wars novel The Truce at Bakura at a used book store. (Now, to find the time to read it!)

Visit Kathy's site and the blogs below for more!

On a more personal (and fantasy) note, this past week I began the rough draft of my first fantasy novel. I hope to finish the draft by mid-March.

The full roster of CSFF blog tour participants is here:

Jim Black
John J. Boyer
Valerie Comer
Bryan Davis
Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Pamela James
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Cheryl Russel
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bits to Read

Robin Lee Hatcher has a great post on creativity at her blog. I especially enjoyed this:

Just as a reader reads a book in order to learn what happens to the characters, I write my books to see what happens to the characters.

That's exactly what I do! I have a glimpse of the climax and happily-ever-after as I write, but don't most readers? And the surprises along the way can be the best part.

The Cubicle Next Door by Siri Mitchell arrived at my house yesterday. I finished it today. I would have finished it yesterday if the day hadn't been so crazy. As it was, I stayed up late finishing "just one more chapter" and got only four hours of sleep. Combining blogging, office life, and a meddling grandmother with one of the most laugh-out-loud love stories I've ever read, The Cubicle Next Door is a must-read.

Read an excerpt on the publishers' website if you don't believe me. I'll be sure to blog more about this wonderful book in the weeks to come.

I'm also formulating something new - stay tuned!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Multimedia

I've started a new blog! I often find myself wanting to blog about great music I've listened to lately, but as this blog focuses on novels, it doesn't seem an appropriate place. Christian Music is still in the development stages and I could use some imput. Mostly template-wise. I have a bunch of links I want to put in, but I want to wait until I find the right template. Does anyone know of any good blogger templates which would be a good fit for Christian rock? I'd prefer not having a specific band, but I might use one of the following: Thousand Foot Krutch, Lifehouse, Kutless, Switchfoot, Relient K, Everyday Sunday, or Chevelle.

No, I'm not thinking this will be some great nationally-read must-see blog on Christian music. It's merely intended to be another creative outlet. But I plan to have a mean list of links.

My first movie review has been published! Visit Keepin' On for a review of Valiant!

Chris Well is extending his birthday party! Buy Deliver Us From Evelyn from Amazon anytime from now until August 14th, and you'll get a ton of free stuff, including being mentioned by name in Chris's next book. For more details, click here. Don't forget to email Chris your confirmation code! Mention my name (Katie Hart) and we'll both be entered for a chance to win $144 worth of books!

Update: Deliver Us From Evelyn reached #1 on Technorati's Popular Books! See below (and yes, that is this blog entry on the page!):


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Christmas in July Winner!

The winner of the Christmas in July/Evergreen Secrets contest is Paula! She gets her choice out of these four novels:

Comes a Horseman by Robert Liparulo
Shivering World by Kathy Tyers
The Way of Women by Lauraine Snelling
A Nest of Sparrows by Deborah Raney

Paula, email me with your choice, your mailing address, and the site you'd like featured under "Winning Sites."

Thanks so much to everyone who entered! A special thank you to Elliot - your tip will be very helpful for my next editing session of Evergreen Secrets.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Full Tilt - Creston Mapes

It is August 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour!

This month's feature author is:
Creston Mapes

Creston Mapes' first book, Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol, has been selected by the Romance Writers of America (RWA) as a finalist for its 2006 Inspirational Readers Choice awards in the category of long, contemporary novel. Awards will presented this summer in Atlanta at the Marriott Marquis hotel.

Full Tilt, the second book in the Rock Star Chronicles, is racking up a number of fine reviews, many stating that its story/writing has surpassed the quality of that in Dark Star. His third novel, a psychological thriller based in Las Vegas, is due out in 2007.

To read the first chapter of Full Tilt, click on the FIRST button above or on the sidebar.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Last Day

Today's the last day to enter the contest on my website! Go to the site, read the first chapter of my novel Evergreen Secrets, leave a comment on the page, and you could win a free book! For more details, including the books the winner will choose from, visit this post. I'll announce the winner Wednesday or Thurday (after tomorrow's FIRST post).

Additional note: the first person to leave a comment on the site didn't include their name. I can't enter you in the contest if I don't know who you are! Leave another comment under the chapter and let me know your name. And for those of you still to enter - don't forget to include your name! Remember, those who leave extra helpful or insightful comments get two chances to win!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Promotion - Science or Fiction?

Romance Writers of America, currently holding their annual conference, lists a few statistics on their website. One is particularly noteworthy: fantasy and science fiction make up 6.4% of popular fiction sales (this figure seems to be from 2004). If we consolidate all the fantasy/SF titles in the latest CBD fiction catalog with the space presently given to them, it would be a two-page spread in an 80-page catalog, or 2.5%. To adequately represent the percentage sold, science fiction and fantasy need 5 pages (I am aware, however, that the percentages reflect the ABA, not CBA).

I did a book roundup for Church Libraries magazine on fantasy and science fiction a few years back - three pages of brief reviews (that was when I read White's books - didn't include them in the article). My editor passed one comment onto me from a librarian who had no idea what was good in the genre, but now knew what to order for her patrons. I believe we need more efforts like this - presenting books we love to those who will influence others.

The internet is a great resource, but many readers don't use it to determine what books to purchase. Print and word-of-mouth avenues are needed. I wish I could print up a full-color brochure, with covers and brief reviews of the fantasy and science fiction books I loved, and distribute it to bookstores. No one CBA publisher has emerged as a leader in these genres (though the Realms imprint could have had a chance to), and I believe this fragmenting has aided these novels getting lost among the big sellers: romance, historical, suspense, and women's fiction. I would love to see publishers getting together to promote their niche novels.

But wishing things were different doesn't change anything. If word of mouth is the best promotion, how are you promoting fantasy and science fiction to your friends and family this month? Today?

Stuart made an excellent point about instilling a love of fantasy in kids. I read the Chronicles of Narnia to my younger sister many years ago. I lent the DragonKeeper Chronicles to other siblings. I let a young friend borrow Tahn. And I convinced a peer to read one of my favorite books of all time, Arena. Will she pick up Karen Hancock's other titles? I can only hope.

Thanks, everyone, for all the comments. Stuart, I don't know how placement is made in the CBD catalogs. I know they've consistently had that one page for fantasy, sometimes mixed with classics, with Narnia and Anthropos holding center stage for years. Becky, I'm glad to hear a writer is including fantasy in her newsletter - your comment came in as I was writing this post.

Any more ideas for getting the word out?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Good Promotion a Fantasy?

The latest post on Speculative Faith addresses some common (cliched) story elements in CBA fantasy:

- A king or prince who is an obvious Christ figure.
- Miracles and demonic influence replacing magic.
- An idealized physical kingdom made up almost completely of believers (of varying strengths)
- Immediately recognizable evil. Immediately recognizable good. Very little grey.
- Points of direct and obvious divine intervention (usually very spectacular) and often reserved for the climax.
- Plentiful points of crisis in faith, to keep the heroes from being too powerful.
- Big neon sign pointing out “THIS IS WHAT IS TRUE” (or at least to me)


I breathed a sigh of relief as I compared the list to my own work in progress. No Christlike kings or miracles. I'd pulled one country from idealology to a more secularized country with religious roots. I'm revelling in my characters' shades of gray. And the other points I can steer clear of as I write.

I've read books like these, and don't want to fall into the same trap of ineffective allegory. Thoughts of these books brought to mind the recent CBD fiction catalog. I paged through it, soaking in all the summarizes of the books I don't have time to read. Past the new releases, the mass market romances, the bargin books, and kid's novels, I finally reached the page categorized as fantasy.

Notice the singular form of the word page.

One half of the page was devoted to Narnia. The audio dramas, the DVD, and the novels. Don't get me wrong, I love Narnia. It deserves a whole page, even. The other half highlighted three series - books by G. P. Taylor (Shadowmancer, etc.), the Kingdom series by Chuck Black, and The Archives of Anthropos by John White - plus had several line entries.

I've read White's books. Stuart's elements listed above could have been written with only this series in mind. I hated the books. Granted, they were written several decades ago with children in mind, and I read them in my early twenties. But why are they so distinguished in this catalog while Karen Hancock's Christy Award-winning Legends of the Guardian-King get only two lines? (And it would have been one if the series title was shorter.) Graham's Binding of the Blade series, L. A. Kelly's Tahn and Return to Alastair, and Kathleen Morgan's Giver of Roses all got similar treatment.

Five other fantasy/speculative series (or single titles) - beyond Ted Dekker's works - were sprinkled throughout the catalog, all without fanfare. Douglas Hirt's Cradleland Chronicles, Donita K. Paul's DragonKeeper Chronicles (incorrectly printed as Dragon Keepers Chronicles) Robin Parrish's Relentless, Kathryn Mackel's The Hidden (Outriders nowhere to be seen), and Jonathan Rogers' Wilderking series. (I may have missed a few speculative ones - more and more thrillers seem to be including speculative elements.)

Is it any wonder CBA fantasy isn't selling well? Mediocre titles are pushed to the front while excellent ones get lost in the crowd. Is a two-page spread so much to ask for?

Any thoughts?

Don't forget to check out Christian Fandom this week. And time is running out for you to leave comments on my website for your chance to win a free novel! The contest ends July 31st, so enter soon!