Contest Time


Caption_for_Burma_Shave A week ago on my editing blog I introduced a contest I’m running. It dawned on me today that I should post about it here at A Christian Worldview Of Fiction as well. I’ve received over twenty-five entries already and plan to run the contest until next Monday. I’ll then choose a winner and four or so runners-up. Those participating may submit more than one entry.

But what are these entries?

Glad you asked. πŸ˜‰

As part of my promotion for the new Power Elements Of Fiction volume, Power Elements Of Character Development, I’ve decided to use the old ad idea put out by the shaving cream company called Burma-Shave. Their ads are actually a bit of Americana, some preserved in the Smithsonian Institute, sort of like Norman Rockwell paintings, only in poetry.

The ads first appeared on small signs along the highway in Minnesota back in 1925 and continued until 1963. The son of the owner of a mom-pop kind of company producing, among other things, shaving cream that could be applied without a brush, came up with the idea. He spent $200 to put up signs that first year. Sales shot up, so the next year, his dad authorized more signs, and the ad campaign expanded. Eventually Burma-Shave signs cropped up in 44 of the lower 48 states, all positioned along the highway, so that roadtrippers could read them.

Instead of traditional marketing content, the ads were actually jingles—short lines of poetry, often with a twist at the end, and often with a bit of humor, though not always—toward the later years, they often gave driving safety tips.

They consisted of four or five lines, usually no more than four syllables in length, with either the second or the third line rhyming with the fifth, and were followed by their famous Burma-Shave signature. Here are some samples:

800px-BurmaShaveSigns_Route66

She eyed
His beard
And said no dice
The wedding’s off–
I’ll cook the rice
Burma-Shave

A beard
That’s rough
And overgrown
is better than
A chaperone
Burma-Shave

Relief
For faces
Chapped and sore
Keeps ’em comin’
Back for more
Burma-Shave

We’re widely read
And often quoted
But it’s shaves
Not signs
For which we’re noted
Burma-Shave

The bearded lady
Tried a jar
She’s now
A famous movie star
Burma-Shave

Shaving brushes
You’ll soon see ’em
On a shelf
In some museum
Burma-Shave

(Ironically, the last one is among those preserved in the Smithsonian. To read more jingles go the Burma Shave site)

My idea is to use the Burma-Shave ad concept to help promote Power Elements Of Character Development. So I sat down to write some jingles. Except, what I have to admit is, I’m not very good at it.

Consequently I thought, there have to be writers out there better than I am. What if I hold a contest, offering a copy of the book as a prize for the winner? So that’s what this post is all about.

For any and all who would like to try their hand at writing Burma-Shave type jingles about Power Elements Of Character Development, put your efforts in the comments section below, or if you’d rather keep your entry private, post it at Rewrite, Reword, Rework where moderation is on, and I alone will receive your entries.

Let me show you my efforts, so you can see you don’t have to do much to make yours better than mine. *Sad truth!

Ban PEOCD

If heroes
Struggle toward
Their goal
Readers won’t
Get bored.
Power Elements Of Character Development

If heroes
Make a plan
Readers won’t
Put their book
Under a ban.
Power Elements Of Character Development

Now envision your jingle in the little roadside signs.

I know this may seem hard to do if you haven’t read the book, but you can see the table of contents by using Amazon’s look inside feature to get some ideas that will reflect the content.

I’m looking forward to whatever you submit. This is fun. I’ll just add that by submitting, you’re giving me permission to use your entry as part of the promotion for Power Elements Of Character Development.

Thanks in advance for your entries and for sharing this post with your social network and with anyone you think might be interested in entrying.

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Cover Reveal – Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


ShadowHand_completeI’m posting an anomalous Saturday article–a sort of Fantasy Saturday (as opposed to Fantasy Friday) post–as part of Anne Elisabeth Stengl‘s cover reveal for Shadow Hand, the next book in her Tales of Goldstone Wood series (due out in February 2014). Ta-da!

Here’s the description of the book:

“She Will Take
Your Own Two Hands
To Save Your Ancient,
Sorrowing Lands.”

    By her father’s wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. Unable to bear the future she sees as her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.
    But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal fey parasite . . .
    A world that is hauntingly familiar.

And now, you have a chance to win a cool prize in conjunction with this cover reveal–a Tales of Goldstone Wood mug with this banner on it.

BannerwithSixBooks

All you need to do is click on the link below and sign up with Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to check out the cool new Shadow Hand blog site where you can find some added fun!

Contests And Awards


Spec-Faith-Winter-Writing-Challenge-300x150I love to highlight good books, especially Christian speculative fiction, but I also enjoy the opportunity to point blog readers to other bloggers who share a like passion. Thus the CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award.

In case you missed it, there are four eligible bloggers who participated in the December tour for Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Each of these is deserving of recognition, but the nature of awards is that we pick the best of the best. And who else can do that but those who peruse the posts? Any and all who take a few minutes over the next few days will discover interesting, honest, balanced writing about a book in one of the hottest genres going: fairytale fantasy.

There’s also another opportunity you might want to participat in and/or help with. Over at Spec Faith we’re running the Winter Writing Challenge. Entries are coming in, but there are still four more days for you to submit your own piece–a one-hundred to two-hundred word continuation of this sentence prompt:

    If the reports were true, Galen had reached the right spot.

We need readers, too–people to give feedback on the entries by hitting the thumbs-up button for the selections they think are best. There is no limit on the number of entries for which you can give a positive endorsement at this stage of the challenge.

So have at it–you might be voting for a piece of writing that will turn into a blockbuster. πŸ˜‰ (It’s possible!)

Fantasy Friday – The Fall Writers’ Challenge



Technically this Fall Writers’ Challenge isn’t strictly for fantasy. In fact, we’ve already had some entries that would best be described as science fiction or post-apocalyptic. Very creative. But let me back up.

The Challenge I’m referring to is over at Spec Faith. And before those of you who are not writers or who do not favor speculative literature stop reading, let me mention that we especially need readers. But first things first.

We have just two more days for writers to enter a 100-200 word piece into the Fall Challenge. I wrote a first line as a prompt, then your job, should you choose to accept it, is to write what comes next.

Already readers have weighed in, either with comments or the plus side vote–the thumbs up. But starting Monday the Challenge will be all about readers. Then the following week we’ll take the top three and put the challenge to a vote, letting readers pick the best entry and thus the winner of the Spec Faith Fall Challenge.

So, you see why we need both writers and readers. Both are welcome for two more days, then writers will be forced to the sidelines (well, as readers, of course, they can still play. πŸ˜‰ )

Just to pique your interest a tad more, here’s the first line prompt:

    If dragon hopping was safe, then I wouldn’t have any interest in it, but of course it’s not, so guess where I’m heading.

Now it’s your turn. Why don’t you hop (dragon or otherwise) on over to Spec Faith and join in the fun. πŸ˜€

Published in: on September 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – The Fall Writers’ Challenge  
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Since You’re Already Buying A Present …


No surprise — families buy each other Christmas presents. And often neighbors do too, and friends, and sometimes even co-workers. Since a present is in the works already, why not make it a book! And if you’re buying a book, why not make it a fantasy?

Happily, you have a one-stop source where you can find books you might like to give as Christmas gifts. I’m referring to the Speculative Faith Library (which might better be named, the Spec Faith Book Browser, since we aren’t actually able to lend books out).

The cool thing about the Spec Faith Library is that you can find the newest releases listed first on the Home page, or you can sort the books by the age of the person you would like to gift, or you can search for a book by a specific author by going to the author index or you can click on a tag and find other books tagged with the same term (for example, if you’re looking for fantasies, locate a book such as C. S. Lakin’s The Land of Darkness, and click on the word “fantasy” in the tags box. That link will take you to a page of books in the library with the same tag).

Not yet in the library is the new release by Wayne Thomas Batson that came out just last week: The Errant King, Book 2 of The Dark Sea Annals series (AMG Publishing). I might also mention that Sir Batson has started another one of his crazy fantabulous contests, known as the Seek The Stars Contest. πŸ˜‰ Here’s the description:

WHAT IS IT?
The Seek the Stars Contest is an opportunity for my readers to have EPIC fun, exercising their God-given talents to form communities of readers and spread the word about books they know and love.

To learn more, check out Sir Batson’s informative blog where you can find all the guidelines and prizes.

Bryan Davis also has a fairly new book out, though I have to admit to my confusion about his similarly named series — one released by Zondervan and for young adults, the other put out by AMG and designated for adults. Here are the books as listed on his web site:

    Tales of Starlight
    Masters & Slayers
    Third Starlighter
    Dragons of Starlight
    Starlighter
    Warrior
    Diviner

The newest is Third Starlighter, which sounds like one part science fantasy and one part Christian horror:

In this second book of the Tales of Starlight series, Adrian Masters journeys into the wilderness of the dragon planet of Starlight in search of his brother Frederick. Carrying the comatose body of Marcelle, he has to find medical help for her, but the slave master dragons will kill him on sight if he comes out of hiding.

Adrian believes Frederick has set up a wilderness refuge for escaped slaves, so he hopes to join Frederick and devise a plan to rescue the humans enslaved on Starlight. Since Adrian cannot leave Marcelle alone, her nearly lifeless body becomes an anchor, both physically and emotionally, as he has to decide to care for her or attempt to rescue the slaves.

Adrian has no idea that Marcelle’s spirit has left her body and has traveled to their home planet in search of military help to rescue the slaves. She is able to materialize there in a temporary body that looks corpselike and feels icy cold. Because of her appearance, Governor Orion persecutes her as a sorceress and sentences her to burn at the stake.

If I were to give my suggestions of books I haven’t read yet (with links to their Spec Faith library post), I’d have to include
Matt Mikalatos’s Night of the Living Dead Christian
Athol Dickson’s The Opposite of Art
R. J. Anderson’s Ultraviolet
Austin Boyd’s Nobody’s Child
Ross Lawhead’s The Realm’s Thereunder

For books I have read, I suggest you take a look at my most recent reviews.

Happy book buying for those readers on your Christmas list. πŸ˜€

Writing Contests – What Are Your Thoughts?


I love contests. For years I entered the Writer’s Digest monthly writing challenges — things like, Write a new end to a favorite fairy tale in 75 words or less. These were good for one thing — to exercise your writing muscles. The winners did get their names in an upcoming issue of the magazine, but that was the extent of it. Still, I entered dutifully because it was fun.

When I started writing full time, I graduated to a contest I learned about from a friend in my critique group. Each year in her local newspaper there was a challenge to write a story using a certain prompt and a select number of words.

Later I moved on to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis contest. Open to members who are unpublished, this contest judges the first ten pages of a novel.

I’ve also entered a good number of short story contests, from ones offered by Writer’s Digest to those held by the now defunct online e-zine Swords Review.

Then there are the quirky contests offering things like cash, Amazon gift cards, or editorial reviews as prizes. I’ve entered a three line pitch contest, a 24-hour story contest, a first page contest, a first 100-words contest. In fact I originally started this blog so I could enter a contest that paid money for ranting (mine was about bookstores πŸ˜‰ ).

Some of my favorite contests have been ones I’ve come across on agents’ blogs. Once there was a picture and contestants had to write a story to match. Others require the incorporation of certain words. Some involve poetry.

I’ve even held a couple contests here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, which I called Fantasy Challenges. The prizes were books donated by particular fantasy authors.

All this to say, I’m thinking about holding another contest and have even lined up another judge to help. But recently there’s been some conversation about frustration with contests.

I’ve had my share of those too. Sometimes the judging seems arbitrary. On a few occasions the entry fee seemed exorbitant especially in light of the (almost non-existent) prize. Once I waited months for results only to find out my entry was never actually a part of the contest due to a technological failing.

Other times, however, when bloggers could comment or judges gave feedback, I’ve found the contest extremely helpful.

So what do you think about contests? What kind do you like to enter (or do you)? When it comes to the prize (sorry, cash is out of the question πŸ˜† ), if you had the choice between a new novel donated by an author or a free 10-page critique by yours truly (or perhaps another freelance editor if I can get someone else on board), which would you opt for?

Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 6:42 pm  Comments (10)  
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Contests, Contests, Contests


The voting for the first ever Readers’ Choice – Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction is over. All that’s left is the counting. Meanwhile, two other contests are still underway. One is the November CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award I’ve mentioned already.

The other is a contest run by Jeff Gerke and Marcher Lord Press to select a book that will be published in the Spring 2010 Marcher Lord Press line.

I received a press release announcing this contest and calling for entries some time ago. The problem is, I never got word that the actual voting had started. Come to find out, the first two phases of the contest are over. Happily, however, anyone can still participate in phases three and four.

The contest was structured to be a kind of American Idol of Christian speculative fiction, with the winner receiving a publishing contract from Marcher Lord Press. Well, actually there are two contests. It is the “Main Contest” that will bring the winner a contract. The other, the “Premise Contest,” will earn the winner an invitation to submit a complete manuscript to Marcher Lord Press.

In Phase One of the Main Contest, voters were presented with the title, subgenre, word count, premise, backcover blurb, and synopsis of 36 entries. Each voter was required to vote for at least three entries. After the votes were in, 18 entries advanced to Phase Two.

At this juncture, potential voters could download the first 500 words of each novel. Voters were instructed to choose between 3 and 6 entries based primarily on whether or not they would want to keep reading the book or perhaps buy it. In many respects this reminds me of the Miss Snark’s First Victim’s Secret Agent contest except the entries receiving the most votes were the ones to advance (rather than a Secret Agent making the determination).

Voting in Phase Two ended Monday. The entries that are advancing to Phase Three, in alphabetical order, are

  • Altar
  • Chase the Shadows
  • H2O
  • The Last Apostle
  • The Sending
  • The Sword of the Patron
  • This Side of Eden
  • Vinnie’s Diner

Apparently there will be a poll once Phase Three goes live. I couldn’t find the information just now, but I read that this phase will be based on a number of pages (found itβ€”first thirty pages) with three finalists being chosen. Phase Four will be sixty pages, I believe, with the winner being the selection with the most votes.

Sounds like fun. I wish I would have known when the contest part actually started. I also wish the instructions were clearer. I found it hard to uncover the information I needed to become a participant. At the Marcher Lord Press site, there’s only a small announcement about the contest, with a link, in the upper right hand corner of the home page, under Latest News.

First, it’s helpful to know that the contest is called Marcher Lord Select. Second, the contest is being conducted at the WhereTheMapEnds forums, called The Anomaly , which is where the link in the announcement takes you. This is the part I found off-putting. I expected to go to a site telling me about the contest but found myself at a forum with threads that did not refer to “Contest.” Third, participation requires registration in the forum, a simple, five minute procedure.

I still haven’t found the polls, but I’m guessing the phase one and two polls were taken down once the deadline passed. In the next few days I’ll look for a Sub-Board called Phase 3β€”Main Contest (I don’t have time to participate in that and in the Premise Contest).

At any rate, Jeff is trying to decide if there will be a two or three week period before the next vote. I’m guessing he soon will post the link to the download that allows access to the Phase Three entries. I went ahead and downloaded the Phase Two selections and will read the winning entries so I’ll be ready when Phase Three goes live.

Why not jump in and participate? Contests are fun!

CSFF Blog Tour – Curse


The title of this post sounds dramatic, which is fitting for the book the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring this month – Curse of the Spider King by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, first in the Berinfell Prophecies. For a variety of reasons, I’d like to skip the preliminaries and get right to the review of the book, but I’ll restrain myself.

Rather, let me mention The Biggest Contest in the History of Men and Elves. The prize is truly one of a kind, and the contest itself promises to be a fun ride, though I recommend it most for younger young adults.

The actual name of the contest is “Tribe Building Quest: An adventure based on Curse of the Spider King.” The goal is to build tribes of twenty-one people or more.

For someone looking to be a part of an existing tribe, there’s information in the Underground – a discussion forum connected with the Berinfell Prophecies.

The other option, of course, is to start your own tribe. By the way, the larger the tribe, the better the chance of winning.

After a tribe has been formed and a name chosen, then there needs to be a home (such as a Facebook page) and a leader (someone with Internet access – and communication skills, it would seem πŸ˜€ ).

Each tribe member then earns points by doing such things as joining the Underground, posting about one of Christopher or Wayne’s books, mentioning them on Facebook or Twitter, even doing homework well without being told (note from parent required to verify this. πŸ˜‰ )

I don’t know about anyone else, but the whole thing makes me wish I was back in junior high. What fun. What a great chance to interact with others who also love fantasy. What an excellent way to reach readers in the target age group.

But there’s more to the adventureβ€”a clue at the end of Curse of the Spider King that can lead to solving the Alternate Reality Game, videos, store visits, and of course book buying.

Sound enticing? Just think of all the points a tribe could tally by participating in the blog tour!

See what other participating bloggers are discussing. Oh, before you do, have you voted yet for Readers’ Choice Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction? You have until November 30.

Covers and Contest – CSFF Blog Tour, The Vanishing Sculptor, Day 2


The CSFF Blog tour for Donita Paul‘s The Vanishing Sculptor has me thinking about book covers, but I also want to tell you about a contest, so here we go.

Cover Design/Illustration: Mark D. Ford

Cover Design/Illustration: Mark D. Ford

I am about the worst person in the world when it comes to noticing book covers. I don’t understand this because I consider myself more strongly a visual learner, so why don’t the visuals of a book immediately attract me? They don’t. Neither do titles.

Case in point, our current feature, The Vanishing Sculptor. Do you have any idea how long it took me just to remember the title? I kept thinking The Vanishing Sepulcher for some reason. Not until I started typing the title out did it really stick.

And then there’s the cover. Todayβ€”yes, TODAYβ€”I read a comment over at Rachel Starr Thomson’s blog that mentioned the dragon on the cover, and I thought, Huh? What dragon? If you’d asked me what was on the cover, I’d have said something in greens and burgundy. 😳

But now, as I look at the cover, really look, I see how cute and completely right it is for the story. There’s a promise of fun and adventure and imaginationβ€”just what the book delivers.

So my question. How important are covers to you when you’re considering a book to read or buy? And are we going to lose the enticement of covers as books move to the electronic media, or will the enticement of video trailers replace what covers once did (for some people πŸ˜› )?

On to the contest (and there is no connection between covers and contest except for the alliteration and cool sound of the two said together πŸ˜€ ).

Now as I look at the details, I’m wondering if the contest has ended. I’m referring to Donita Paul’s The Vanishing Sculptor’s Library Proofs Contest, Summer 2009.

It’s a great marketing idea. Those wishing to participate simply had to provide proof that their local library has a copy of The Vanishing Sculptor or that the participant made a request for the library to acquire the book.

I was going to suggest fans take this challenge to heart … except, today is the official beginning of autumn, so I’m wondering if the contest is over.

Even if it is, I think it’s a worthy endeavor to suggest books to librarians. And I don’t think we should stop at public libraries. Talk to school librarians and church librarians.

OK, to wrap up today’s tour post, let me suggest a few others you may want to check out.

Karina Fabian has an interview with Donita Paul
Jill Williamson has a DragonKeeper Chronicles quiz you can take.
Emmalyn Edwards takes a close look at the characters.
Fred Warren posted a great review, dealing especially with a principal theme of the book.
Wayne Thomas Batson posts Donita’s testimony and gives a personal anecdote from the West Coast Fantasy Tour a year ago.

You can see all the participants listed with links to their articles in the Day 1 post.

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 11:06 am  Comments (7)  
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Free Books and Such


If you’ve thought The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice sounds like the perfect book for your daughter or niece or granddaughter or for a prize for the Sunday school class you teach or for the classroom of your teacher friend, I have good news. You can win a free copy. A number of bloggers in the recent Children’s Book Blog Tour are holding drawings and the links are available at Kidz Book Buzz.

And if you’ve followed the tour, you might consider voting for the Best Blogger of the tour (see the poll in the left sidebar).

Speaking of polls, today is the last day for you to vote for the CSFF February Top Blogger Award because it’s scheduled to close Saturday at 8:00 AM (Pacific time? I’m not sure, so to be safe, don’t wait). The one exception would be another tie as we had last month.

starfireBack to free books, by participating in Stuart Vaughn Stockton’s contest introducing his upcoming release, Starfire, you’ll be eligible to win a set of Brandilyn Collins books, a copy of Stuart’s book, a copy of By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson (see my review at Speculative Faith), and more.

By the way, Volume 3, Issue 2 of Latest In Spec is now available. If you would rather not wait or would rather receive a copy sent to you via email, subscribe by leaving a comment here or at the LIS site.

Back to contests. I’m thinking we’re overdue for another version of The Fantasy Challenge. I’ll need to contact a few authors and see what prizes might be offered. The challenge is going to center on you telling others about the 2008 or 2009 Christian fantasies you think are worthy of some buzz, so let me know what books you’d like to have on the list.