Blog Tour—Violet Dawn Review

First, our contest info. You have two opportunities to win a copy of Violet Dawn. Either leave a comment and wait to see if your name is drawn. Since I will be unable to conduct the drawing until Monday, the deadline for eligible comments is extended until Sunday midnight PDT. The second way to win is to correctly answer the Brandilyn question of the week. If more than one person gives the correct answer, I’ll hold a drawing from those names.

And the question is:

What house published Brandilyn’s first book?

If you are a regular at Brandilyn Collins’s blogsite and have read her NES (Never Ending Saga) about her road to publishing, you know she once upon a time wrote women’s fiction instead of suspense.

    violet dawn

Violet Dawn, the first book in Brandilyn’s Kanner Lake series, has a hint of lace showing from her women’s-lit slip, and quite frankly, I like it.

Paige Williams (as I recall, at one time Brandilyn had named her Paige Turner. I do not lie! 😀 ) is a girl with a secret, such an important one she is willing to cover up a murder just to keep herself out of the public’s prying eyes. And of course, in a small town like Kanner Lake, there is no such thing as keeping out of the public eye, especially when the local reporter, with aspirations for the big time, gets wind of a story.

Faithful to her “Seatbelt Suspense” trademark, Collins constructed a fast-paced novel with numerous “what will happen next” moments. But along with danger, the protagonist must face her inner turmoil, which gives the character that added depth that makes Violet Dawn a bit more than the average suspense novel.

Some of the things I found especially endearing in this book: a touch of humor; a fully developed heroine; a believable antagonist but one that does not overshadow the protagonist; the development of place such that it almost becomes one of the characters; the hint of hope without any unrealistic, overnight spiritual change; a satisfying ending, wrapped up so perfectly by the final scene with the crew that makes up the Scenes and Beans bloggers.

Some things, in my opinion, would make this book stronger. Of course, you have to remember, this is not my genre of choice. I love mystery, but am not crazy about the dire jeopardy the protagonist gets in time and again in a suspense. Mayhap those readers who love the adrenaline rush would have a different view.

I thought the beginning was “too suspenseful.” For one thing, I didn’t know enough about Paige at that point to care like I did later. For another, I thought it—specifically the scene to retrieve the anchor from the garage—seemed more dramatic than it needed to be.

Also at the beginning, with a cast of characters to become familiar with, I felt a little disconnected, but that soon changed, and knowing that Collins was launching a series centered on the people in this town, I was willing to wait. I was certainly not disappointed.

This, in my opinion, is Collins’s best novel to date. Highly recommend.

Published in: on September 29, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (6)  

Blog Tour—Violet Dawn; Brandilyn Collins Interview, Part 2

Today, our interview with Christian suspense author Brandilyn Collins continues. However, before I forget, as I nearly did yesterday, I have two copies of Violet Dawn to award as prizes. One will be a drawing from those who leave a comment this week.

The other will be offered to the person who answers correctly some question … about Brandilyn or Violet Dawn or Scenes and Beans. If more than one correct answer comes in, I’ll do a drawing to decide on the winner.

Back to the interview:

RLM: On your blog, you’ve elicited feedback on covers and first lines, suggestions for characters, promotional ideas, writers for Scenes and Beans, title ideas, etc. How important would you say your blog has become to your writing and to your promotional efforts?

BC: Very important. I have to admit, when my editors suggested during a marketing meeting in January 2005 that I start a blog, I groaned. “Like I need more to write.” Marketing-minded as I am, I knew if I did it, it would have to be done up right. Within a few weeks I took the plunge and created Forensics and Faith. The site has a look similar to my Web site, incorporating my “Seatbelt Suspense” logo. Almost right away, I started telling the story of my journey toward publication in fiction. Which took awhile. The journey, I mean. Which means the story took awhile. It came to affectionately be called the Never Ending Saga, or NES. I kinda laid it out there for all the world to see—how hard it was for me to get published. When that story finally ended around the beginning of June, I started posting about all kinds of things. Fiction-writing techniques. Publishing industry news. Humorous stories from my own life. Spiritual thoughts sometimes. Over time it’s become quite the eclectic mix.

RLM: You’re posting regularly, with few exceptions. That must become quite a chore.

BC: Yes, there are times I groan about having to write another post. I post Monday through Friday, so it’s like having a daily newspaper column. But, as your question intimates, look at all it’s done for me. It’s become a place where people visit every day. It’s given me a daily voice in front of these folks (called the BGs, or Bloggees). Not all of the BGs read my fiction. In fact, a great many don’t. Either they’re a member of the BHCC (Big Honkin’ Chickens’ Club) or they simply prefer not to read suspense. But that’s OK. In fact, I think it’s great. Forensics and Faith allows me to have my voice heard by these folks, when I normally wouldn’t. So when they think of Christian suspense, whether they read me or not, they’re likely to think of my name. And they’ll recommend my work to friends and family members who do read suspense.

But this doesn’t just happen—that is, attracting regular readers to a blog. As with Scenes and Beans, the whole idea has to be focused outward. Not “What’s in it for me?” but “What’s in it for them?” That’s the question behind good marketing. People have to benefit somehow. It can be the simple benefit of enjoying entertainment, the benefit of learning something about craft or the business, or the benefit of being urged to think about some issue. I try to give the BGs a little of each.

Plus, they speak back to me, as you mentioned. So when I need suggestions for a book title, a character quirk, etc.—there’s my audience. Or when I wanted to elicit auditioners for Scenes and Beans—there’s my audience. BTW, the acknowledgments in Violet Dawn list the BGs who suggested character quirks for the Java Joint folks. Probably the most known quirk—curmudgeon Wilbur Hucks’ constant showing to the world of his heart surgery scar—came from a BG. (I can’t remember who, or I’d tell you. Hey, Scar BG, if you’re out there, speak up.)

RLM: Recently you posted on your blog about the launch party you held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Are launch parties just for fun, or do they really generate publicity and excitement for a new release?

BC: Sure it’s fun, but a launch party is a major signing event. It takes lots of planning, and somebody’s gotta pay for the thing. (Fortunately, that was my publisher, Zondervan.) Like any booksigning, the event isn’t an end unto itself. It’s the publicity around the event that counts just as much. The releases in the paper, the three-by-four-foot poster of my book cover in the store window, the flyer in the Chamber of Commerce publication, the mention of the party on many blogs—all of this goes to promote Violet Dawn. It was also great to have the party at Simple Pleasures. The real store in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is so beautiful, and the owners, Marilyn and Terri Cooper, really had the place spiffed out. Simple Pleasures was able to reap the proceeds of sales and enjoy publicity (including national publicity it never would normally have), and I was able to have a great venue for the party. The attendance of two Zondervan editors and my agent made it all look official.

RLM: How different is it writing a series set in a town based so closely on the one with which you are so familiar, and what reactions have you received from your neighbors?

BC: Bottom line, it’s a lot of fun. Although Kanner Lake, Idaho, and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, are quite different. I guess you could say Kanner Lake is a scaled-down version of Cd’A. Coeur d’Alene is up to probably 40,000+ now (last census showed 35,000), while Kanner Lake is only 1700. That’s quite a smaller venue.

I consider this the best of both worlds. I can borrow what I like from Coeur d’Alene—the tourists, the town built at the north end of the lake of the same name, the tourist shops on Main Street (although it’s Sherman Avenue in Cd’A), and I can make up whatever I want. It’s just easier killing off people in a fictional town, know what I mean? A real town may not appreciate it too much.

RLM: Special thanks, Brandilyn, for taking the time for these questions. You rock, lady—as a writer, as a teacher. (Plus, you make me laugh. A lot!) 😉
– – –

Next time, my review of Violet Dawn.

Published in: on September 28, 2006 at 9:01 am  Comments (10)  

Blog Tour—Violet Dawn: Brandily Collins Interview, Part 1

Suspense author Brandilyn Collins has made a name for herself because of her hold-your-breath writing style and for her mentoring of other writers. What people may not know is that her background is in marketing, and she understands that side of writing better than the average novelist.

Recently she initiated her new Kanner Lake series with the novel Violet Dawn, and a unique promotional concept. I had the opportunity of interviewing her to learn more.

RLM: I understand Violet Dawn launches your Kanner Lake series and with it some interesting new promotional activities. What can you tell me about those?

BC: My main marketing idea behind the series (to support everything that Zondervan is doing) is the Scenes and Beans character blog , which blends fiction and reality. In the books, the locals of Kanner Lake hang out at Java Joint, the coffee shop on Main Street. Twelve of these supporting characters are taking turns posting on Scenes and Beans. They are telling entertaining stories about life in Kanner Lake and their own lives. They’re an eclectic bunch, ranging from the seasoned newspaperman to Wilbur, the old curmudgeon; to a couple of retired school teachers who are best friends but constantly fight; to Bailey Truitt, owner of Java Joint; to S-Man, who sits in the Java Joint corner all day typing on his science fiction novel, Starfire. The posts are written in real time according to events in the Kanner Lake novels. For example, on Saturday, July 22, 2006 when Paige Williams slipped into her hot tub and discovers a corpse—and the town is thrown into chaos (not to mention on national TV), the post on the following Monday reflected that tragedy. However, Bailey soon decided that the bloggers can’t talk about the tragedy other than indirectly (after all, the whole nation’s heard it all on the news). Bailey wants to show the nation what a nice town Kanner Lake is, and she wants to continue attracting tourists. Scenes and Beans is not the place for readers to come to gain more inside scoop on all the trauma, she declares. Therefore, the posts, while reflecting the upheaval the town’s going through, do not give away plot points in the Kanner Lake books.

The novels contain some scenes of the bloggers writing their posts for Scenes and Beans. And the blog itself (in the real world) looks totally real. You wouldn’t know just from reading it that it’s all fictional. It even links to Simple Pleasures, a real store (in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) that I’m featuring in the Kanner Lake books. (Paige Williams works at Simple Pleasures, and its owner [the fictional one] is a poster on Scenes and Beans [in the real world].)

If you’re not too confused, I think by now you’re gettin’ the idea—Scenes and Beans blends fiction and reality. This will continue happening through all the Kanner Lake books, culminating in book #4, in which the posters and the Scenes and Beans blog will be central to the trauma of the story. And all resulting posts from that book will be posted for real on Scenes and Beans.

RLM: OK, you’ve got me intrigued. Who’s writing all these real-life posts for the blog?

BC: Not I. The marketing idea behind Scenes and Beans was to plunge readers of the Kanner Lake series into the lives of my characters, and to make that plunge beneficial to them as well as to me. The posts are written by readers. This is happening in two phases.

RLM: Two phases?

BC: Phase One: Last spring, months before Violet Dawn’s release, I announced on my own blog, Forensics and Faith, that interested writers could audition for roles on Scenes and Beans. My publisher sent ARCs [RLM: advanced release copies] to dozens of writers who wanted to audition. (First benefit to all the auditioners—a free read of Violet Dawn, and way early.) The writers read the novel, chose a Java Joint character whom they’d like to portray, and sent in an auditioning post. I received a lot of good posts! In the end, about 30 of the auditioners were assigned roles. (Some characters have up to three people writing their posts.)

RLM: You’re hinting that there are other benefits these Scenes and Beans writers gained. Tell us what other advantages they gain because of their participation.

BC: These SBGs, as they’re called, or Scenes and Beans Bloggers, are receiving publicity as a result of winning their roles. Their names and Web sites are listed on the Kanner Lake Web site. They’re also listed as “friends” on Scenes and Beans. Some SBGs have seen spikes in visitors to their own blogs/Web sites as a result. Also for their own web sites/blogs, they each received a special logo my graphic designer created that defines them as original Scenes and Beans bloggers. And I sent them all a press release to forward to their local newspapers about their winning a role in the international blog. (SBGs are from across the U.S., from Canada and one from New Zealand.) These press releases were written to feature the SBG as a local writer, using the Scenes and Beans hook to make the release newsworthy. So far three SBGs have seen articles published in their local paper about them and their writing. Now that Violet Dawn has released, we may be seeing more media hits as a result.

RLM: Will these writers continue posting indefinitely?

BC: The SBGs’ posts will continue to be on Scenes and Beans through December of this year. After that time, the posts will be written by readers of the series. Any reader can send in a post for consideration. If that post is used, the person will receive recognition on the Kanner Lake Web site and a free signed copy of Violet Dawn. Reader auditions opened in September. You can check out the Scenes and Beans page on the Kanner Lake Web site for more details.

Throughout the four books in the Kanner Lake series, my personal marketing efforts will revolve around Scenes and Beans—gaining readership and doing whatever I can to benefit those who write posts. In this way, I get people talking about my series, and they benefit as well. The more readers Scenes and Beans has, the better for the Kanner Lake series, and the more that writers of the posts will benefit through the publicity.

I ALMOST FORGOT: I have two copies of Violet Dawn to award as prizes. One will be a drawing from those who leave a comment this week.

The other will be some question … about Brandilyn or Violet Dawn or Scenes and Beans. If more than one correct answer comes in, I’ll do a drawing to decide on the winner. Stay tuned! 😉

Tomorrow, part 2.

Published in: on September 27, 2006 at 7:10 am  Comments (4)  

More Bits and Pieces—the Conference, the Books

Yesterday tiredness muddled my brain. I knew there were notable things about the ACFW Conference I wanted to mention, but after I posted at Speculative Faith I couldn’t concentrate on any of them long enough to report in any meaningful way.

I have to say, one of the most delightful aspects of the conference was meeting so many people with whom I’ve dialogued in cyberspace. Riding to the hotel from the airport, I discovered I was sharing the shuttle with Dee Stewart from Faith in Fiction.

When I arrived, the first familiar face I saw belonged to Bryan Davis, the mind behind the Dragons in Our Midst YA fantasy series. This was right after I registered and Suzan Robertson, my ACFW mentor and the organizer of the FIF dinner, greeted me.

Mark Bertrand posted a very nice reflection on his blog and mentioned a number of other people I met who I’ve discussed writerly topics with over at FIF.

Later that evening at the Meet and Greet, I met the brain-trust of Spec Faith, Stuart Stockton, and several other contributors— Shannon McNear and Beth Goddard. Then during our SFF get-together, I met John Olson, author of Adrenaline, CSFF Blog Tour participant Jackie Castle, and a host of other writers who are either actively writing speculative fiction or who are interested in doing so.

People aside (and it is really impossible to put the people aside when you talk about the conference), the best thing for me was my continuing workshop, but I’ll save that for another post.

– – –

Book tidbit. If you only had money for one Christian science fiction or fantasy book, I think I would recommend Karen Hancock’s Light of Eidon. Of course, if you buy that book, I tend to think you’ll find the money to buy the next three in The Legends of the Guardian-King series.

For one thing, there is a reason Hancock is a four-time Christy Award winner. She is a wonderful writer and a vibrant storyteller. Yes, I think the two things are separate skills.

Some authors have what people in writing call “the high concept”—a fresh idea or unique spin and lots of conflict, both internal and external, that propels the story forward so that a reader wants to find out what happened next.

Other writers have beautiful description, development of complete characters, and a “way with words” that allows a reader to feel along with the protagonist, to be a fly on the wall during private conversations.

Real talent brings the two together, and in my opinion Karen Hancock does this. That’s a keeper, in my opinion, and I encourage anyone wanting good CSFF to start here by buying Light of Eidon at their local Christian bookstore.

In fact, I’ll make it a “two-fer.” I acquired a number of books at the conference, and I’ll send the first person who writes a comment about purchasing Karen’s book—not on line but in a bookstore—a second book of your choice from a list I’ll send you.

More on good CSFF books next week.

Published in: on September 26, 2006 at 1:04 pm  Comments (8)  

Bits and Pieces—Blog Tour, Writer’s Conference

First, congratulations to Mirtika Schultz on her first place award in the Genesis Contest. I’ve read some of her short fiction and know she is a strong writer, so this award was not a surprise.

In my post over at Speculative Faith I’ve made other comments about the state of CSFF based on some of the happenings at the ACFW Conference. Mind you, I focused on the positive, but we SFF writers heard more than our share of no‘s. Nevertheless, I see some signs pointed in the right direction and think it’s important to build on those.

– – –
In October the CSFF Blog Tour will be six months old. I am happy with the increasing interest in the tour—from published authors, editors, CSFF fans, and friends. It is operating the way I hoped, but I’d like to do a little evaluation.

First, I think we do several things well. One is the selection of authors or web sites to feature. Rather than drawing only from those who have signed up to participate, we select what to focus on based on what will raise the profile of fantasy. Keeping that goal in mind, we look for authors who have paid their dues—and ours too—by pioneering the field. We also look for quality writing and staying power.

In other words, we are not an “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” organization as some folks may think. Many of our participants, like me, have nothing more to gain from supporting these other writers or web site creators other than the increase in popularity of our genre.

Which maybe explains another strength. Our participants have the freedom to like or not like our chosen feature. We have no stipulation about holding off criticism. Instead we want to build a reputation for trustworthiness. When we endorse something, we want our readers to know that stamp of approval means something and isn’t automatic just because the particular object bears the SF or fantasy name.

At the same time, by participants linking to one another, we create a true tour, in which a reader can surf around the web and read the various bloggers’ opinions and, from that composite, formulate an educated conclusion that might encourage them to act.

But that leads us to a few things I’d like to see us improve. To start off, I’d like to see us bringing in more readers. We might need to do a better job of advertising our tours or maybe we need to hold more contests to encourage readers to drop by. We’ve had several writers mention the tour in their newsletter. We would benefit from more of that kind of publicity.

Another way we can spread the word is by linking to the CSFF Blog Tour site set up and maintained by one of our participants, Tina Kulesa, Christian Fandom’s new fantasy editor.

Along with that, I think we need to challenge our readers to do something about our recommendations—i.e., buy books, the good ones that we can highly recommend. The thing that editors and marketers will notice the most is sales. It’s not enough for us to create a buzz on the web and elevate our featured item on the Technorati list. We need our readers to buy and tell at least two friends to buy while they in turn each pick two friends to tell to buy.

In that vein, our web site tours are important because they are resources for readers who might ask, “What do I buy after I finish book X that I loved?”

Recommendations. That’s another something that we should keep in front of readers. Hardly a week goes by without someone doing a search for “best books.” We need to offer our opinion. So maybe that’s what I’ll do this week: make some reading recommendations for the remainder of 2006.

Published in: on September 25, 2006 at 4:47 pm  Comments (6)  

A Look at Postmodernism—Part 10b

If all goes according to plan, this will be my last post on this subject—at least for a while.

Last time I mentioned that Crystal Downing in How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith has some questionable ideas about the Canon of Scripture.

Thus after a great deal of prayer—as well as argument—a council in 397 finally determined which books should be considered sacred Scripture. Our Bible canon, then, is a product of the situatedness of both Christian and Jewish traditions. Indeed, there is no historical or biblical evidence that God wrote on a wall revealing which books to include and which to leave out.
– p. 222

First, the notion that the Bible came from human tradition leaves out the work of the Holy Spirit, which God makes plain. Second, she herself said prayer was involved. Can we not assume that God answered prayer? And directed those men to choose the books He inspired? Think about it. Would He inspire Scripture (and He said He did) and forget to inspire the men who compiled it?

Downing then identifies the word canon as derived from the Greek, meaning “measuring rod” or “ruler.” She explains that a ruler has no meaning except that which men confer upon it. Because someone decided an inch would always mean a certain length, an inch then became a measurement to be relied upon.

Amazingly, this word origin has more to do with Downing’s understanding of the Canon than anything else:

Rulers are absolutely necessary, and hence become necessary absolutes.

The same, then, can be said of the biblical canon, which is the “rod” or “ruler” by which we take measure of God’s revelation in history. Having been established by humans as the absolute guide for following Christ, the canon should not be altered by addition or subtraction. (Emphasis mine)

Clearly, to say that the Bible has been established by humans is to negate the inspiration of God. Downing’s sole reason for keeping the Bible “as is” has a basis on pragmatism alone.

Downing again, quoting from another source:

“An unlimited canon is no measure, any more than a foot ruler can gain inches and still be a foot ruler. Because it is closed, the canon can perform the function of mediating a specific identity through successive ages of the church.”
– p. 223

Perform the function, as if it is nothing but a tool to use, not surprising since Downing’s metaphor is a ruler. But, friends, Scripture is more than a tool. It is the method God chose to disclose Himself.

Whenever two people first meet, there’s some amount of taking each other’s measure. Once both parties decide there’s something worth cultivating—a friendship, a business partnership, a romance—the people get to know each other better. They find out what the other person likes and what he is like.

The Bible does that for us concerning God. To add or detract would be like having someone who doesn’t really know us call our new friend and tell some story that wasn’t true.

Later, Downing says “Unfortunately, the history of Christianity is filled with examples of people who turn their ruler into an idol, making it so inflexible that it can’t measure new things.”

This completely misses what the Bible is. No person who reads the Bible, who loves the Bible, because it is God’s Word would make it an idol. People who USE Scripture as I mentioned last time may be prone to all kinds of error. Whole cults have developed claiming some part of the Bible as proof of their views. Such error does not change the truth about the Bible. Neither should it cause us to change what we believe about the Bible.

The Bible is God’s writing—His revelation of His personhood, His plan, His work. To believe in the Bible is to believe in a God who is powerful enough to write through men, wise and knowledgeable enough to include what people centuries later would believe, caring enough to include what we need to know to learn of His salvation, intimate enough to prick the hearts of individuals over their own personal sins.

Simply put, the Bible shows us the heart of God.

Published in: on September 22, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (6)  

A Look at Postmodernism—Part 10a

OK, I confess—I want things to come out nice and neatly. 😀 Twenty-five of this. Fifteen of that. Ten is good, but eleven? Naaa, I just can’t bring myself to do it, and yet I can’t wrap up on a THURSDAY and start a new topic on Friday. So you see my dilemma. (And you just learned more about me than you probably care to know. What a paranoid, regimented soul. I feel so sorry for her. If some such a thought crossed your mind, just remember that I write fantasy—the stuff of imagination. Go figure. 😉 ) So here we are with Part 10a! A decent solution, in my opinion.

The final point to discuss is the postmodern attitude toward the Bible. Of course, the majority of postmodernists are not Christians and probably have no specific opinion about the Bible. They would probably see it as the language that Christians have constructed and which molds the community.

Of course, Christians, like Crystal Downing, author of How Postmodernism Serves (My) Faith (IVP, 2006) unfortunately take very similar views of the Bible.

We need to be humble in our use of the Bible as an arbiter of universal truth, for many times the truths we find are those we have been trained to see. After all, the Bible is not self-interpreting; it does not indicate which are its most important passages. Human beings are the interpreters, and all interpret according to the pane of glass [referring to a multi-paned window analogy] before which they are positioned. The truth of Scripture is therefore as pluralistic as the multipaned window before which Christin communities throughout the ages and around the globe have positioned themselves.
– p.220

The most glaring error in this quote is the false statement that the Bible is not self-interpreting. It most certainly IS self-interpreting. Why else do New Testament authors quote the Old? Why does the Old Testament contain prophecies fulfilled in the New? Even within each Testament, overlapping portions explain each other. And of course, Jesus explained much of the Old Testament with His life and death and resurrection as well as with His words.

Here is one small example. When asked which was the most important commandment, Jesus didn’t hesitate. He identified as most important the command to love God, but a close second, To love our neighbor as ourselves. Then He said, “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets”—pretty much the whole Old Testament.

As to the idea that no one passage is more important, I think that verse from Matthew might be, but even then, Jesus ties it with other Scripture. The point is, what matters is the whole Bible, not isolated verses that might even contradict the central thrust. That’s a bit risky because on the surface, it seems to undermine using Scripture to prove a point.

The only problem with using verses as support exists if the verses are separated from their context. Anyone using a verse to prove a point should see that the passage that contains the verse requires the same meaning.

An example I think I’ve used here before is the verse that says “There is no God.” It’s in the Bible and if someone is yanking proof texts out of passages to make a point, they will find this phrase in Scripture, but the entire sentence says virtually the opposite: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” In summary, verses can be used to back up a position as long as the position is true to the Bible in its intended point.

I see a third problem in the Downing quote. The truth of Scripture is not pluralistic. Ultimately, the Bible is not about people but about God. Yes, there are lots of stories about people which show that God didn’t deal with each individual the same. Downing points to the way Jesus treated Niccodemus, the adulterous woman, and so on as some kind of evidence of a pluralistic message. I see, instead, God who loves us and who knows each one of us so completely He understands just how to approach us. But He consistently teaches about Himself and His work. There isn’t one message for women, another for Jews, another for Greeks, another for slaves. His message is consistent.

As if this wasn’t enough, Downing has some … questionable things to say about the Canon of Scripture too. We’ll take a look at that next time.

Published in: on September 21, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (1)  

CSFF Blog Tour—Edenstar, Day 3

Be sure to click on over to Speculative Faith and read guest blogger Karen Hancock‘s post today.
– – –
In case you didn’t catch it, Bill Bader, co-creator of the CSFF Blog Tour September focus, Edenstar Books and Games, participated in an interview posted on Monday at Speculative Faith.

One of the questions centered on what Bill sees for the future of Christian science fiction and fantasy:

RLM: What do you hope or believe is possible for Christian SFF and where do you see the genre now?

BB: I hope it can continue to grow as more Christian publishers take the risks of producing something that believers might find controversial. Sci fi has always been relegated to a small niche, and CSFF is a niche within a niche. But it can express truth in ways that mainstream Christian fiction can’t. That’s one of its greatest strengths, IMHO.

Much CSFF is published by smaller houses and never reaches bookstores. Fortunately, the Internet (which sci fi never predicted) has allowed us to learn of, list, and read some amazingly good books we never would have heard of otherwise. The numbers of reviews displayed for these books show that others are finding them as well. So there’s hope for growth and influence.

Bill’s remarks made me think more about this “small press approach” which Jeff Gerke also talked about. Jeff, of course, even hopes to establish a small press, print-on-demand, if I understood him correctly.

So my question: is that the way CSFF should go? Should we accept this characterization as a smaller niche within a small niche and look no higher than small slices of the publishing pie?

And then there was Narnia. And Lord of the Rings. And Harry Potter, to burst the idea that secular fantasy is a small niche.

Granted, not every SFF book hits those astronomical proportions, but I guess what I’m wondering is, If we never look to the possibility of writing for the populace at large, will we ever sell widely?

Not that we control sales, any more than we control which author gets published and when. But it seems to me, without shooting for the stars, we’ll never make it to the moon. (That’s the best I could do for a science metaphor! :-P)

If you haven’t already spent time at Edenstar, set aside some time today—or this weekend—and peruse to your heart’s content. Also check out what the other tourers are saying about this great CSFF resource:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Bryan Davis
Beth Goddard
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Joleen Howell (New Participant)
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Christian Fiction Bloggers or Writer’s (replacement links for Kevin Lucia because of site maintenance)
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Cheryl Russel
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith

Published in: on September 20, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (4)  

CSFF Blog Tour—the Edenstar Challenge

The answers to the following questions may be found at Edenstar Books and Games, the featured CSFF Blog Tour web site for September. But here’s the challenge. Go to the site, spend some time looking around, then come back and take the Rebecca LuElla Miller quiz to see how much detail you absorbed.

1. The founders of Edenstar are

a. Adam and Eve Eden
b. Sharon Hinck and Karen Hancock
c. Mona Star and her sister Betsy
d. Bill and Cheryl Bader

2. Edenstar has been in existence since

a. February, 2003
b. June, 2004
c. September, 2005
d. December, 2006

3. The founders of Edenstar started the site because

a. The wanted to see their names on the Internet.
b. They believed there were many others like them, who would love to read more Christian-themed science fiction and fantasy, if they just knew where to find it.
c. They thought they could make a quick buck.
d. They wanted to build a database for the SFF magazine they hope to start later this year.

4. Edenstar includes which sections?

a. books, games, for kids
b. books, videos, on-line magazines
c. books, poems, games
d. books, videos, puzzles

5. Author interviews posted on Edenstar include

a. Karen Hancock, Bryan Davis, Randall Ingermanson, and R. K. Mortenson
b. Wayne Thomas Batson, R. K. Mortenson, Rebecca LuElla Miller, and Laura Lond
c. Theodore Beale, Karen Hancock, Brian Reeves, and Laura Lond
d. Michael Warden, Randall Ingermanson, Karen Hancock, Bryan Davis

6. Authors whose works appear in the section for kids include

a. John White, Madeleine L’Engle, J. K. Rowlings, C. S. Lewis
b. J. R. R. Tolkien, Gilbert Morris, Sigmund Brouwer, George MacDonald
c. R. K. Mortenson, Bryan Davis, Wayne Thomas Batson, Robin Parrish
d. C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gilbert Morris, Old MacDonald

7. New items include the following titles

a. Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum, The Final Storm, The Door Within, Return to Efrathah
b. Relentless, Waking Lazarus, Landon Snow and the Auctor’s Riddle, The Final Storm
c. Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum, The Eye of the Oracle, The Secrets of Serised
d. Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum, The Final Storm, Relentless, Waking Lazarus

8. The games featured at Edenstar would best be categorized as

a. board games
b. computer games
c. card games
d. a mixture of types

9. Edenstar’s listing of books include

a. both non-fiction and fiction
b. fiction, including manga
c. fantasy fiction only
d. Narnia publications only

10. In the video section, Edenstar includes listings of

a. there is no video section
b. fiction and non-fiction DVDs
c. current books that should be converted into movies
d. biographies only

Answers posted at the end. Be sure to let me know in a comment how you did.

After which, take a few moments more and make the rounds of the other CSFF bloggers involved in the Edenstar tour:

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

1. d; 2. a; 3. b; 4. a; 5. c; 6. b; 7. d; 8. d; 9. a; 10. b

Published in: on September 19, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (8)  

CSFF Blog Tour—Edenstar, Day 1

Just last week, to illustrate that fantasy continues to be a strong draw in the culture at large, Mirtika Schultz posted information on a CSFF writers’ forum about three new ABA fantasy series with 2007 release dates.

Setting aside the fact that I wish Christians were leading the way instead of following, I think it’s crucial we’re not left on the side of the road altogether, collecting the settling dust from the hoards that passed on ahead.

I’m not alone. A number of other writers with a passion for speculative fiction continue to labor in the field and in the fields. Bill and Cheryl Bader, creators of Edenstar Books and Games, the featured CSFF Blog Tour web site for September, are among those who strive to get the word out to Christian science fiction and fantasy readers regarding the books they desire. (Be sure to read the interview with Bill Bader posted at Speculative Faith).

Edenstar, in existence since 2003, is a web site that catalogues over 600 CSFF books and games as well as providing or pointing to a number of reviews of the products. It is a fantasy reader’s gold mine.

Interestingly, Cheryl Bader is herself a fantasy writer, seeking a publisher for The Maker’s Pool. I read the opening chapter of the novel probably two years ago and still remember details leading up to the entrance into the fantasy world.

Authors like Karen Hancock and Sharon Hinck are doing their part to promote fantasy by including information about the Edenstar CSFF Blog Tour in their monthly newsletters. The more folks who know about a resource like Edenstar, the more can tell their friends, find books to buy, and increase the demand for CSFF literature.

Take time to read what these other fine bloggers on the September CSFF Tour have to say about Edenstar:

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

Published in: on September 18, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (4)  
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