Fantasy Friday – The State Of The Genre

Author friend Mike Duran recently interviewed his agent Rachelle Gardner, discussing, of all things, Christian speculative fiction. I say “of all things” because Rachelle chooses not to represent fantasy or science fiction, though she will occasionally take a talent (like Mike) who writes supernatural suspense.

The odd thing to me about the interview is the “gloom and doom” tone regarding the future of speculative fiction in the market known as “CBA.” The abbreviation stands for Christian Booksellers Association, and does indicate who the heavy-weights calling the shots were some ten years ago.

But a couple things changed. One was “Left Behind.” With the huge sales of those Jerry Jenkins/Tim LaHaye books, suddenly big box stores wanted a piece of the Christian-fiction pie. Now books by Christians with Christian themes were finding their way into Walmart, Borders, and Target. CBA members no longer had an exclusive say on what books would get in front of the public.

Another thing that made a huge difference was the Internet. Now Amazon joined the party, and readers could voice their opinion about books and their quality in open, public forums.

Along with these two events was a cultural shift. Call it the Harry Potter factor. I tend to think the receptive nature of our society to a series about wizards fits with postmodern thinking and the awareness of the supernatural. In other words, Harry Potter didn’t “cause” it, but it came along when our culture was ready (as did the Lord of the Rings movies).

As far as Christian fiction is concerned, there wasn’t much interest in the speculative genre. The Christy Awards committee couldn’t even settle on a name for their award category that would encompass “those books.” (They finally settled on “Visionary”).

Winner of the first of four Christy Awards Hancock garnered

Karen Hancock came out of the starting blocks in 2002 with her first title, Arena (Bethany House), a science fantasy. She followed that the next year with The Light of Eidon, the first in her strictly fantasy Guardian-King series.

Since then, a good number of authors writing Christian fantasy have come and gone. Some have switched publishers, some are publishing independently, and some are continuing to publish with traditional houses.

Here are the ones I know:

      With AMG/Living Ink
      Scott Appleton
      Wayne Thomas Batson
      D. Barkley Briggs
      Bryan Davis
      C. S. Lakin

      With Bethany
      Karen Hancock

      With Crossway
      Bryan Litfin

      With Multnomah Books
      Chuck Black

      With Strang
      Eric Reinhold

      With Thomas Nelson
      Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper

      With Warner Press
      Christopher and Allan Miller

      With WaterBrook
      David Gregory
      Jeffrey Overstreet
      Donita K. Paul
      Andrew Peterson
      Jonathan Rogers

Mind you, these are just fantasy, not supernatural suspense or horror (such as Ted Dekker, Robert Liparulo, Tom Pawlik, or even John Olson, Eric Wilson, Mike Dellosso, or Mike Duran) though Gregory and Litfin might best be called dystopian fantasy.

What’s the point?

If “fantasy doesn’t sell” why are so many fantasy writers still getting contracts from traditional Christian publishing houses? Why has the number increased so sharply in less than ten years?

Granted, some books evidently had disappointing sales because there are authors who are no longer under contract. But I know authors writing women’s fiction who are in the same situation. Are we to conclude then that women’s fiction doesn’t sell in the “CBA market”?

As far as I can see, these are the facts:

1. Our culture is still fantasy hungry, though dystopian and urban are dominating rather than epic or medieval.

2. Mormon speculative fiction is doing especially well (see Orson Scott Card, Stephenie Meyers, Shannon Hale, et. al.)

3. Traditional Christian publishing houses continue to increase their number of fantasy authors.

From these facts, I conclude that there is no reason to believe Christian fantasy will not continue to grow. Sadly, Christian fantasy writers don’t have the support from our faith community like Mormons obviously do (for a variety of reasons). But that doesn’t mean there is NO support or that it isn’t growing.

Till now I haven’t even mentioned small presses like Marcher Lord Press or Splashdown Books that are focused exclusively on Christian speculative fiction.

Clearly there is a desire from readers for more than what the traditional houses are producing, but that doesn’t mean the traditional houses are not buying fantasy at all. They are. Cautiously, perhaps, especially in the wild, Wild West of publishing and the slowly recovering economy.

One of the commenters to Mike Duran’s interview suggested we pray for the publishing professionals. What a great idea! If a genre like fantasy can tell powerful stories that can touch people’s lives and glorify God, why would He not be pleased to see more of those stories come to light?

If we can’t support speculative fiction with our dollars or with our word-of-mouth promotion, perhaps we can pray. That’s the best kind of support anyway.

Are Stories Getting Shorter?

In this day of the Tweet and the Facebook status update, of texting and email, are we programming ourselves for “short”?

On one hand there seems to be some evidence that this might be the case. Short Youtube videos are as popular as TV shows. In the written media, I’ve seen more novellas in the last five years than perhaps the previous ten combined.

These intermediate stories — either a very long short story, or a very short novel — once were the stuff of collections. Now they have begun to appear as digital offerings, a way, perhaps, for an author to test the water of self-publishing without risking a more time-consuming project.

Is this a trend or an anomaly?

Perhaps it’s a replacement.

None have been seen since 1959

Short stories seem to be going the way of the Pallid beach mouse. Once populating Florida, the little creature hasn’t been seen in more than half a century.

Certainly short story collections have a hard time finding a publishing home. And magazines that carry short stories are a dying breed.

Yes, there is hope for short stories on the Internet. Online webzines continue to crop up from time to time, but fewer of these are paying markets, which means writers may as well publish their short stories on their own site, as I have from time to time, where their regular readers are more apt to find them.

Could it be, however, that short stories, rather than disappearing, are expanding? That the novella trend is not a replacement of the novel at all but a void filler for the absent short stories?

Publishing, the new Wild West

I suppose there’s no way to know. As one industry professional recently describe publishing, it’s currently the wild, Wild West.

Self-reliance was the most important ingredient for survivors in the days of land-grabs and cattle rustlers.

Or was it?

When there was no lawman in town, no doctor, and often no preacher or teacher, people learned to rely on themselves or to bond together and rely on their community. Guess which ones thrived the most.

So in the structural vacuum of publishing, with its fenceless expanses and ever increasing numbers of charlatans offering a helping hand to the wannabe writer hoping for a bargain price on choice publishing real estate, who’s to say if short will win out or die out?

Some believe the reader will finally get the say. So, what do you like to read — short stories, novellas, or novels? (Is it time for another poll, before the previous one is not even half way to completion? πŸ™„ )

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm  Comments (6)  
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Basketball And Publishing Fiction

Before I get started, I want to remind you I have two polls I’d love to have you take part in. The first is for the CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award (you’ll find links to the articles in the post), and the second is the What Do You Read poll. With this latter, I’d really appreciate it if you shared the link on Facebook, Twitter, or email. The larger the sampling, the more credible the results, so I want as many people beyond A Christian Worldview Of Fiction’s regular visitors as possible to be a part.

Basketball and fiction?

I’m a huge sports fan, but most of my teams haven’t done all that well recently. Except the Lakers who pretty much have owned the century up to this point. πŸ˜‰

But in the current playoffs they’re having trouble with the number seven seed New Orleans Hornets, a team they swept during the regular season. Many people are stunned that a team which lost its leading scorer weeks before the play-offs, a team with the youngest coach in the league, a team that is clearly undersized could stay close to the two-time defending champs. It’s David and Goliath all over again.

But why should we be surprised? The Hornets are talented, prepared, disciplined, determined, and relaxed. Nobody expects them to do well, so they have no fear of letting anyone down. Consequently, every positive thing they accomplish — winning game one on the Lakers’ home court, tying the series at two apiece — is met with praise and wild excitement whereas every downturn is met with nonchalance.

And this relates to fiction, how?

Publishing is in a turmoil. In some respects you can divide publishing endeavors into the Lakers (traditional publishing) and the Hornets (independent ebook publishing). Oh, there are others in the game — the San Antonia Spurs, Memphis Grizzles, Dallas Mavericks and the like — but in this particular contest, we’re looking at two players.

Traditional publishing has history on their side. And size. And money. Ebooks are the young upstarts with no expectations. Along comes a phenomenal success like Amanda Hocking, and people begin to believe.

The champs can be dethroned. A new player is about to take over. Which means size and experience doesn’t matter.

Oh really?

In the article I linked to above, Amanda herself makes a sports analogy. She says that to claim traditional publishing is dead is like saying in the sixth inning of a baseball game in which you’re behind 8-2, that you’re the winner. Actually, no, the “winner” has yet to be determined, and just because you scored most recently is no reason to assume the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

In all of this publishing chaos, there’s really only one thing the writer can do — write well.

I’m a firm believer that God will take care of bringing audience and story together. Yes, the writer has responsibilities in the promotion of his work, but the best promotion can’t overcome so-so stories.

I might convince my ten best friends to buy my book, and they will because they care about me. But when each of them tells their ten best friends, will they buy my book?

That second level in the network isn’t going to spend money for my sake. They will do it, though, if they’re convinced by their friends that they’ll get a good product.

And when that second group tell their ten best friends, all they’re talking about is whether or not the book is good. The author, unless he’s an established writer with a recognizable name, will no longer have any sway over whether or not the third tier of friends buys the book. Purchases will be decided on the merits of the story.

Interestingly, that process is the same whether a writer publishes with a traditional press or whether he chooses the self-publishing ebook route. It all starts with story. And we writers would do well to put our primary emphasis there (she said to herself. πŸ˜‰ )

Promotion – What Makes A Work Go Viral?

I suppose every author and musician, maybe every dancer or videographer, movie producer, or TV exec wants to know the same thing — what makes a work go viral?

In other words, why did Harry Potter become such a success? Why Eragon? The Passion of the Christ? Twilight? Hunger Games? Left Behind? Shadowmancer? The Da Vinci Code? The Shack? Is there something these books have in common that brought them so much attention?

The first thing I notice is that all except perhaps Hunger Games made the national news for one reason or the other. In most cases the reason was controversy. Harry Potter received criticism from Christians as did The Da Vinci Code. Christians debated the merits of The Shack. Shadowmancer supposedly angered a faction of Christians and came to the US under a cloud of criticism. And Jews objected to The Passion.

Some of the works received national attention because of a human interest aspect. Christopher Paolini began writing Eragon when he was fifteen, self-published, and traveled the country with his parents hand selling the book until it was picked up by a traditional publisher, and made national news.

The Left Behind books found their way in front of network viewers because of their success in the Christian market. (In the same way, Amish stories are now coming out of the ABA — because they continue to sell and sell and sell.) Twilight was a phenom because, of all things, the teenage lovers didn’t have sex.

But the question remains. How did these books garner enough sales to catch the public’s attention?

It seems something first captivated an initial group who started talking. Left Behind had a well-known non-fiction writer as one of the co-authors, and I expect that pulled in a number of initial readers. But I also believe it tapped into a fascination about future events.

The Shack took a different path. The book creators solicited promotion from its readers within its covers. At the end, there were specific action points that were designed to get satisfied readers talking about the book and buying more copies to give away.

Twilight caught the attention of a group of romance lovers with a strict moral code. Perhaps Mormons banded together to support the book initially (pure conjecture on my part).

Shadowmancer, besides claiming religious controversy, also took on the mantle of the “Christian” Harry Potter, possibly earning itself a niche following.

In contrast, The Da Vinci Code may have picked up fans from the new atheist crowd or from any anti-Catholic, and of course once the Pope spoke out against it, the controversy was on.

It appears that the first thing, though, was something within the work itself. The Passion of the Christ had so many unique aspects — a famous actor seeing the project through in the face of rejection from traditional sources (human interest), opposition from a religious group (controversy) which garnered national attention, a non-traditional approach to the subject matter, a highly religious film using Biblical material as its primary source, a select group of unknown actors. In other words, there was lots to talk about.

I already mentioned the content of the Left Behind books. Harry Potter had a unique story world. Hunger Games had a timely, intriguing dystopian concept that tapped into a current cultural phenomenon — reality games.

In other words, either the author or the subject seemed to set the work apart from others, which caused first readers/viewers to pay attention.

In each case, a big budget marketing plan didn’t seem to be responsible for the work’s success. People were. But the people who talked about what they read or viewed first had to have something to talk about, something unique enough that they wanted to pass it along to others.

And viral happened.

What Do You Read – A Poll

Over on Facebook, I’ve been discussing super agent Rachelle Gardner’s recent blog post, “Book Genres And Book Stats,” in which she discusses the results of a recent poll she ran.

Part of her findings and musings have to do with speculative fiction. Here are two significant quotes from her post:

When the numbers first started coming in, I immediately noticed the large percentage who checked fantasy/sci-fi, and I wondered whether there might be a disproportionate number of writers in that genre vs. readers.

Then the conclusion:

While 26% of those voting report writing fantasy or sci-fi, sampling from two recent months suggests only 6% of book deals were done in those genres. That’s not a minor discrepancy…it’s a significant difference.

What do you make of this?

So I thought it might be interesting to run a readers’ poll here. I don’t expect to get as large a sampling as Rachelle received, but still, it might be interesting.

With one exception, I’ll use the same categories she used (which oddly separates supernatural from science fiction and fantasy — I’m under the impression this is the way book deals are reported to Publishers’ Weekly). The exception is the last choice which I’ve added – None of these.

      Fantasy or sci-fi
      General/other (non-genre fiction)
      Historical (romance or not)
      Supernatural or paranormal
      Women’s fiction
      None of these – I prefer non-fiction

Never fear, these choices will be randomized in the poll (here they appear in alphabetical order, except for the last one). The question is, Of these genres, which do you prefer as a reader?

I personally like to read in a variety of genres, though I’ve concentrated a lot more on speculative fiction since becoming a writer. But if I were to answer this question, I’d think of having someone hand me two books by authors I’ve never heard of, one in genre A and the other in genre X. Which, then, would I be most apt to read first? That’s what I’d consider my “preferred genre.”

If you’re so inclined, please share this link/poll with your friends (Facebook or other πŸ˜‰ ) The greater the sampling, the clearer the picture about reading preferences, I think. Thanks for participating. I’ll post the results in the middle of May.

I’m Not A Big Fan Of Easter

I know, I know. That’s a terrible admission for a Christian, but it’s true.

I grew up in the “new Easter dress” era. Money was tight in our household, so a new dress was somewhat of an ordeal. Sometimes Mom made each of us girls a dress, but she, not loving the seamstress role, required what seemed like an inordinate number of disruptions to my play time for measurements and fittings.

Then there were the Easter egg hunts, some with little kids, making me feel like a big kid out of water. And honestly, the whole thing of hiding an egg just to see people search for it seemed a little silly. I’d have tolerated it better if I actually liked cold hard-boiled eggs.

The few times we decorated eggs was fun, but then we were left with a whole basket of those cold hard-boiled eggs. As if colored shells and stickers all over could make them taste any better!

When I grew up and became a teacher, I shucked Easter eggs and the new-dress tradition, but the holiday was still more of a trial than a joy. For one thing, all too often Easter marked the end of Easter break and a return to school.

For another, church was packed with a lot of people who didn’t usually attend, and the sermon was almost always geared toward them. That was fine, important, even, but it didn’t leave me feeling like Easter was really for me.

In the end the day simply did not typify what I believed it was supposed to — liberation, restoration, animation.

Liberation — the grave clothes and the grave itself could not contain Christ. So too, guilt and sin, the law and death can no longer enslave the believer.

Jesus left the tomb empty

Restoration — on that first Easter after dying, after lying in the tomb, Christ rejoined His disciples. Imagine! And because He walked from the grave, He made it possible for me to join His family, united with Him, reconciled to God.

Animation — Christ’s lifeless body by a miraculous transformation became a glorious new body, more fully alive than ever. In the same way we believers who were dead in our sins are now alive to God.

I’ve discovered lots of great music celebrating Easter. Keith Green’s “Easter Song” is one piece that captures triumph and joy. I mean really, nothing should temper the hilarity of Resurrection Day.

Christ’s resurrection is proof that we believers will one day be raised incorruptible just as He was. Christ’s resurrection is the verification that death is a defeated enemy. Christ’s resurrection is the evidence that Jesus isn’t just another little god establishing a religious system.

Rather, He is the Lord God Almighty, the great I Am, the Living Water, the Bread of Life. None of those could be true unless He actually walked out of the tomb.

I think Paul encapsulates the significance of the resurrection:

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
– Phil. 3:8-11 [emphasis mine]

But the truth of these verses isn’t really a one-day sort of truth, so I’m kind of back where I started. I’m not really a big fan of Easter — unless Easter is something we celebrate a lot more often than one day a year.

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm  Comments (9)  
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The Strange Man Tour Wrap

I survived reading a horror novel! Greg Mitchell’s The Strange Man proved to be much more than I expected, in a good way, and I’m glad I didn’t shirk behind my horror of horror. πŸ˜‰

We had a modest tour this month — 23 bloggers posting 41 articles which included reviews, interviews, discussions of salvation, the bogeyman, and the horror genre.

As always there are the three-post bloggers who then become eligible for the coveted CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award. Those individuals and the links to their articles are as follows:

Take time this week to read over the articles, then please add your voice to the rest and vote for who you think should receive the April CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award. You have until May 4.

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm  Comments (4)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – The Strange Man, Day 3

Last month I wrote an article for Speculative Faith about the horror genre entitled “What Gives You Nightmares?” It was a bit of a reversal for me, as I admitted that I now understand books classified as horror can be explorations of the spiritual. Sure, there are some that exist primarily to incite an adrenaline rush, but the more serious novels do more.

We have more in this month’s CSFF Blog Tour feature, The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell. Granted, there are still plenty of adrenalin-rush-inducing scenes in the book — horror is front and center in the story.

Accompanying the horror was a good deal of violence, and yet the story doesn’t exist for the primary purpose of igniting fright. Rather it uses fear as a prime mover toward God. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Story. Dras Weldon, like all the other young adults in his dying town, was raised on tales of the bogeyman. Of course he didn’t believe them. Who would?

But then Dras didn’t believe in much else either despite the fact that his father, before his illness, was the pastor of the local church, and despite his own religious experience as a nine year old.

Instead Dras seemed stuck in adolescence. He partied hard, lived for himself, sponged off his parents, let his home become a pig sty. Oh, wait, that rings a bell.

Yes, like the other more famous prodigal, Dras had an older brother, Jeff, the good one who took over the pastoral duties from their father. And like the protagonist of the parable, Dras came to his senses. How that happened and the ramifications for his best friend Rosalyn and, in fact, for the whole town, made up the better part of the story.

And you know I wouldn’t think to spoil your reading experience by telling you more, right? πŸ˜‰

Strengths. For those who have been looking for a book of Christian fiction that fits into the horror genre, this is it. Others have danced on the edge, but this one puts a demon and gremlins front and center.

A strength? Certainly, since that’s what author Greg Mitchell was aiming for. He established a credible town with believable characters and brought monsters into their midst. From the horror side of things, I think he succeeded in what he intended to do.

I think he also succeeded in bringing the issue of salvation front and center. Is a person saved because he prayed a prayer at youth camp one summer, even though he’s been a hell-raiser ever since? How does a person convince others that his life is new when he comes to his senses?

On a writerly note, I think Greg did a wonderful job making the ne’er-do-well protagonist into a likable, sympathetic character. From the beginning I pulled for Dras to change, to do better, to stand up, to become a man of integrity.

Weaknesses. Some people thought there was too much violence in this book. For me, because it’s horror, I was not surprised by the level of inhumane treatment or the raw descriptions. Consequently, I am NOT listing the violence as a weakness.

Rather, the things I saw are issues of craft — things readers probably won’t notice, though they might be pulled from the story by them and not know why.

First was the point of view. In reality this story was more nearly written in the omniscient view, a camera-lens perspective — which makes sense because it was first written as a screen play. However, as a novel it was forced into the view of multiple individuals. Unfortunately there were many point of view characters and unintended shifts, so the story had an uneven feel.

Perhaps a larger issue was some inconsistence in the story world. For example, at a certain point the sheriff mandated a curfew for the town. In one scene, the fact that people were to be off the streets by nine fueled the action. In the very next scene, however, the principle character seemed oblivious to the existence of a curfew. As did all the drivers whose cars Dras dodged during two critical parts of the story.

      * * * SPOILER ALERT * * *

Another example is how the evil forces treated Dras. Since he was marked by God, the Strange Man said he couldn’t touch him. However in a later scene, the forces that seemed to follow the Strange Man’s orders nearly squeezed the life from him.

Dras also was able to out run, or nearly so, the gremlins chasing him, but in an earlier scene one of the characters in a car couldn’t stay ahead of them.

      * * * END SPOILER ALERT * * *

These inconsistencies didn’t ruin the story for me, but they certainly did pull me from the fictive dream. And since I don’t take to horror, I guess I really didn’t mind so much. πŸ˜‰ Others, however, might.

Recommendation. I applaud Greg Mitchell for writing a horror story for the Christian market. I applaud Realms, the publisher of The Strange Man for taking the risk to put horror into Christian bookstores. Certainly, the story will appeal to those drawn to the dark — a significant number of young adults, I believe. And perhaps this is a book Christians can give to their unsaved friends steeped in the genre. I recommend it to all those readers.

Published in: on April 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm  Comments (1)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – The Strange Man, Day 2

Some things can't be ignored

It just won’t do.

Try as we might, there’s no way to miss the elephant, so we might as well give him prime time.

Rather than discussing genre as I hinted at in my Day 1 post about Greg Mitchell’s The Strange Man, I want to look at a bit of theology — the slam-dunking elephant tromping across the pages.

The story hinges on the main character (always a good thing for a novel). Here’s what Jason Joyner has to say about the protagonist (who, for those of you unfamiliar with the book, is NOT the strange man):

Dras Weldon is your typical adult adolescent, not willing to grow up and out of his world of comic books, action figures, and B horror movies. The fact that his childhood best friend Rosalyn is looking to actually move on from Greensboro isn’t helping. He is tired of hearing criticism from his older brother, the pastor, as well.

When The Strange Man decides the time is ripe for Greensboro’s harvest, Dras is an unlikely combatant. He doesn’t have anything to fight with, unless he can reconnect with his withered faith in time.

Let me elaborate a little. Dras is a hard-drinking, disrespectful, user. Not of drugs. Of people. Rosalyn is his best friend, and he’s even in love with her, though he won’t admit it. But night after night she puts up with his drunken stupors, seeing him safely home no matter what condition he’s in.

And his family? His father is dying, but Dras can’t remember to be at family dinners. His mom is so programed by his past behavior that when he drops by she automatically reaches for her purse, thinking he’s come to ask for more money. His brother is convinced of the same thing.

And yet, Dras considers himself a Christian. After all, he prayed a prayer at camp one year when he was nine.

Never mind that he admits all he knows about the Bible is that the first book is Genesis and he thinks the last one is Revelation. Never mind that he has no interest in spiritual things, demonstrated by the fact that he only goes to church to appease his family — and then arrives late, with a hangover, and nods off periodically.

Trust me when I tell you, in spite of all this, author Greg Mitchell admirably makes Dras a sympathetic character. Consequently, the reader is hoping for change and cheering Dras on when he confronts, not only his own demons, but those of the entire town.

But back to the theology. The strange man, a demon set on devouring the shriveling community of Greensboro, sees Dras as standing in his way. But apparently God has marked the boy, and the strange man can’t take him out directly.

So apparently Dras thinks he’s a Christian and God thinks he’s a Christian (maybe), but everyone else in town believes he’s a messed up screw-up capable of doing anything.

Dras himself says his life was the single most influential thing in keeping Rosalyn from coming to God.

So there’s the question. Is it really possible for a person to be a Christian, yet have no evidence of Christ in his life?

I’ll be honest. I’ve heard about people who supposedly believe you can pray a “sinner’s prayer” and then live however you want without fear of eternal judgment, but I’ve never met anyone like that (at least that I know of).

The people I know who prayed to ask Christ into their lives either walk away and don’t claim to be Christians any more, or they struggle at different levels to understand what being in God’s family means on a practical level. This “I’m a Christian but no one would guess it” is new to me.

What’s more, I’m pretty convinced it’s not Biblical.

Mind you, I’m aware that Christians still sin (though there is a segment of professing Christians who claim they don’t — very Job-like in their insistence that they do no wrong). What I’m wondering is this: will a Christian show no interest in God?

After all, Christians pretty much agree that our faith is about relationship — ours with God, which makes us then care about the other people in our lives. So if a person doesn’t read Scripture, pray, listen for God’s voice in the preaching of the Word, if he only treats people in his life with selfishness or anger or disrespect, how is it possible for him to be a Christian?

If it were true that a person has become a new creature in Christ, ought there not be some small bit of evidence?

CSFF Blog Tour – The Strange Man, Day 1

This week the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell. This supernatural suspense is the second of three books published by Realms, an imprint of Charisma House/Strang Book Group, that we are featuring during this first half of 2011.

Interesting fact. The Realms imprint came into being under the watchful eye of Jeff Gerke (also an author, writing under the name Jefferson Scott), now the head of his own publishing company, Marcher Lord Press.

Years before bringing MLP into being, Jeff envisioned an imprint dedicated to the publication of Christian speculative fiction. Realms was his first effort to bring that about.

While Jeff moved on after launching the first set of books, Realms continued with some modification. Now this fiction arm of Charisma House focuses on inspirational stories, specifically an unlikely pair: supernatural thrillers and prairie romances.

It’s an interesting marriage.

As I’m sure most people expect, the CSFF tour is featuring only the supernatural thriller half of the couple.

Supernatural thriller, of course, is a euphemism for Christian horror — a genre author Greg Mitchell is familiar with. He first conceived of the idea for the story that became the first book in the Coming of Evil Trilogy more than ten years ago.

At the time, he wrote the story, inspired by an episode of the Twilight Zone, as a screen play. When the script didn’t find a home, he eventually undertook the job of rewriting it as a novel. He decided first to self-publish The Strange Man in 2007. Later he revised the story yet again and sought publication with a traditional house. Realms acquired it along with the next two books in the trilogy.

Greg admits he has a love for monster movies and comic books, but he also wants to communicate his faith. Consequently, he was the perfect author to write a faith-based story with a Strange Man and accompanying gremlins.

How do the two fit together? That’s a topic that may need some exploration. (I’m guessing that the people who thought Mike Duran’s The Resurrection didn’t have enough suspense won’t have the same to say about this one). In the meantime, watch this video trailer, then see what others on the blog tour have to say about The Strange Man (the book, not the author! πŸ˜‰ )

Published in: on April 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm  Comments (5)  
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