CSFF Blog Tour – The Enclave by Karen Hancock

When I think of Karen Hancock (pictured here, circa 1960), author of this month’s CSFF Blog Tour feature, The Enclave, I think of “groundbreaking” … and envy.

Yeah, OK, for whatever reason, I’ve been doing a lot of True Confessions of late. Here’s the story. As far back as 1991 I finished book one of a fantasy series. Though it caught the attention of the director of a local writers’ institute and ended up at the pub board of a noted Christian publisher, they rejected it.

So years passed. I picked up a hobby—painting in watercolors—and continued to dabble in writing. Until the day God opened an opportunity for me to approach my writing seriously.

As part of that endeavor, I attended a different, smaller, local writers’ conference where an enthusiastic conferee pulled out a copy of a book entitled Light of Eidon, a Christian fantasy by an author and watercolor artist named Karen Hancock.

And here’s the confession. She’s living the life I want, I thought. Publishing books, selling paintings! I want to do that. YIKES! That’s hard to put out there for public consumption. That’s pretty much the definition of envy, I think.

So here’s one of the important things I’ve learned, and I have Karen to thank in part, though of course she has no way of knowing it: God uses the process of writing fiction and the way the book business works to refine my character. Big news flash, right? 😀

I’ve had to learn the envy lesson and many others along this writing journey (patience, trust, humility, kindness, any number of things). God is faithful. He uses the very things He calls us to, to teach us more of Himself.

But what’s the “groundbreaking” part? Karen has stepped out time and again to do something risky as far as the Christian publishing industry is concerned. Her first published work, Arena, was a fairly straightforward science-fantasy allegory of the Christian life … something that hadn’t been done since, oh, I don’t know, Pilgrim’s Progress?

I had no idea at the time what an anomaly it was for a Christian publisher to do such a risky thing as dip into fantasy. 😉 But there was more ground to break.

Karen began a true fantasy, the epic Legends of the Guardian King series. The story had a male protagonist, too, which supposedly Christian publishers frown upon. And after book one, which worked well as a stand-alone, the series morphed into one epic tale (much as the Harry Potter series did). Wonderfully, Karen’s work has been well received. In fact, as far as I know, she is the only person who has won four Christy Awards.

But back to “groundbreaking.” In this day when authors are expected to get out and plug their books, Karen maintains a blog and website, but does no speaking or book signings (that I know of) on principle. She wants to invest her time on the job God has given her—writing fiction.

Here’s another one. While any number of writers are turning out books every six months, Karen takes a year or two with her writing. Her care with craft shows.

Needless to say, I’m happy the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring The Enclave. As it happens the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance will also be touring it starting on Thursday. A whole week of book buzz!

By the way, a number of CSFF bloggers will be giving away copies of The Enclave, so you’ll want to visit the other participants on the tour:

This list was updated Thursday morning, July 23. Click on a check mark to go directly to the post.

And check out what Karen Hancock is saying in connection with the tour.

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Published in: on July 20, 2009 at 11:24 am  Comments (16)  
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16 Comments

  1. Wow, Becky, I had no idea we shared so many big similarities: writing Christian spec fic, watercolor… struggling with jealousy or self-pity when the Lord brings in someone else who’s doing everything you wished to do while you have to sit on the bench and wait.

    Happened to me too. In fact, twice. The first time, in 1983. I’d been writing Christian fantasy for about eight years by then, had the first book done, was looking for an agent, and was leading the Science Fiction Fantasy Worshop novel critiquing mail group. One day I got a letter from Kathy Tyers. She’d written a novel in the last year that she hoped to sell, had aleady sent it to Atheneum and gotten positive feedback, wondered if I’d be willing to look at it. I did, and it was great…

    long story short, within something like two years she’d sold the original version of Firebird. Then Fusion Fire. Crystal Witness… then four more books including her best-selling Star Wars book. Then she sold Firebird and Fusion Fire AGAIN to Bethany House, but of course that ended up being the means the Lord used for getting them to buy Arena, so I can’t complain. Still it was a long road to travel.

    I set this down to illustrate something we all probably know, but also probably tend to forget and that’s that even people who seem to be living our dreams may have struggled with the same issues. Also, the dream lived usually doesn’t turn out to be nearly as dreamy as it was when you were just dreaming… if that makes any sense. But you’re absolutely right, Becky — the struggles are brought in for our own blessing and benefit and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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  2. I’m always interested in the stories behind the stories. Thanks, Becky and Karen, for sharing yours. They encourage the rest of us!

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  3. Christopher Paolini is the object of my writer envy … we both were homeschooled, started out by self-publishing, wrote our first novels as teenagers — but he’s really successful and I’m still, er, working on that ;). Still, every story of success is encouraging.

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  4. Ah, Becky, fabulous post! Way to open up! RoFL. I think the bests posts are those that reveal so much. Thanks for all you to do keep CSFF going. . .

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  5. […] up the interview I did for him on his blog Spoiled for the Ordinary.  Becky Miller did an opening post on similarities we share that I had no idea about. In addition there were quite a few reviews or […]

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  6. An awesome review of the artist behind the art.

    And Becky, I didn’t know you liked to paint watercolor!

    That was what I used to love to do, too. Back when I could paint and do all things artistic.

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  7. Hey, Karen, thanks for stopping by. I guess we have more in common than even I knew. 😉

    Actually as I read your comment, I remember that your friendship with Kathy Tyers was another brick in my envy edifice. They have that cool Inklings thing going, I thought. I want that too!

    These were things I did not know about myself—how envious I could be. It’s embarrassing to admit them now, but I think it’s a reflection of God’s grace that He knows what I don’t, gives me what I need, will persistently work to make me into the image of His Son. To Him be the glory.

    Ah, Rachel, how interesting that you’ve been through this same refining fire. 😀 Yes, I can see why you viewed Paolini as you did.

    Becky

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  8. Keanan and Beth, thanks for your feedback. I’ve actually learned from other CSFF members that personal “behind the scene” stories are sometimes the best. Besides, if I didn’t tell this, no one would know the work that God did in my life using Karen as a catalyst. And if I didn’t tell about the groundbreaking part, we speculative writers would perhaps forget who it is that went before and opened the doors for the rest of us.

    Becky

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  9. Merrie, I don’t usually mention my watercolor efforts. I’m not an artist. I picked it up because an artist I met in Idyllwild one year at a Bible study said I should. I told him that if there was one ability I envied (YIKES! is there no end to this!?!) it was painting. I love nature, and there are places I’ve been that I’d just like to bottle and take with me. I though, if I could paint the scene, then in a way I would be doing just that.

    This artist said, If you want it so much, just start painting. So I did. I used to watch those PBS painting shows, even bought some of the videos and books. I had an aunt who painted and she gave me some critique. Slowly I got to be … a serviceable painter. Sort of like the pianist who knows the music and the notes but not the art of the piano.

    The thing is, nothing I’ve ever done relaxes me the way painting does. I just don’t do it enough.

    Becky

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  10. […] CSFF Blog Tour – The Enclave, Day 2 Filed under: CSFF Blog Tour, Christian fiction — by Rebecca LuElla Miller @ 11:02 am Tags: Christian fiction, CSFF Blog Tour, faith, Karen Hancock, The Enclave Have I mentioned recently how much I love CSFF blog tours? We really do have a wonderful group of bloggers writing about some of the newest and best Christian speculative literature. This month the tour is featuring The Enclave by Karen Hancock, and we’ve already had a good number of articles. (For a list, with links to specific articles, see CSFF Blog Tour–The Enclave by Karen Hancock.) […]

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  11. The only problem I see with the check marks is that people are going to my post from yesterday when they click on my one mark, rather than seeing what I’ve posted today. 🙂 I’m sure there’s no easy solution to that.

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  12. Hi, Beth, it’s true that I don’t go to all 46 sites every day. I rely heavily on search engines, including Technorati. If for some reason your blog isn’t getting placement on these sites (there are some that never make it, but I’ve learned to go to their site anyway), you might want to look into how you can change that.

    Also, I may have checked before your post went up, so it will appear the next day.

    Becky

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  13. […] Already a number of CSFF’ers have put up thoughtful commentary. I suggest you check out the posts by Elizabeth Williams, specifically her overall reactions and her closer look at the science aspect of this speculative story. I also recommend Fred Warren’s posts (start with this first one). Don’t let his humor and light tone fool you into discounting his insightful views. And be sure to read Karen’s latest commentary about The Enclave. You can find a complete list of the CSFF’ers participating in the tour here. […]

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  14. […] take time to check your status. The current list of participants appears at the end of this post: https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/csff-blog-tour-%e2%80%93-the-enclave-by-karen-ha… OPT OUT of the tour if you participated last month but will not participate this […]

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  15. […] More. Read an excerpt Read CSFF Blog Tour articles – see complete list of links Read a review at Christian Romance Novels and Relz Reviewz Read […]

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  16. […] More. Read an excerpt Read CSFF Blog Tour articles – see complete list of links Read a review at Christian Romance Novels and Relz Reviewz Read […]

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