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. 😉 (It’s possible!)

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.

The End of Fall (into Reading)


Callapidder DaysAutumn came to a quiet close last week amid the flurry of pre-Christmas activity. I often like to take note of those singular events—the shortest day of the year, a blue moon, February 29, the Ides of March. But my interest in the end of autumn has to do with the close of the reading period set out for those of us participating in Katrina’s (Callapidder Days) Fall Into Reading event.

For the past three months, those of us participating have been reading books on our wish list. I came much closer to completing my selections than I did during a similar springtime activity. Here’s my final report:

Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook).
Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead.
Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins (Zondervan).
The Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin.
DragonFire by Donita Paul (WaterBrook).
Landon Snow and the Volucer Dragon by R. K. Mortenson (Barbour).
Restorer’s Journey by Sharon Hinck (NavPress).
Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by J. K. Rowling.
A check mark indicates a completed read.

As you can see, I have two books on the list that I did not finish. The one, The Restorer’s Journey, doesn’t come out until February or so, but I have been receiving advance copies months ahead of the release date, so I put this one down hoping. It wasn’t to be.

The Dun Cow is unfinished for a very different reason. It’s a tiny book, and I’ve been reading it in bits and pieces for some months. Finally I decided a week or so ago that I should take some free time and finish it so I can check it off the list. I read twenty or so pages more, putting me at the half way point, and I just had to stop. People rave about this book, and I will do my best, since it is so short, to finish it, but I’m finding it hard.

I see some things that I’m guessing make people think this is such a good book, but frankly, so far, a hundred pages in, I find it depressing. Yes, there are small acts of kindness and some redemptive imagery, but animals (yes, a la Animal Farm, or Watership Down, the characters are all animals) die and mourn and conjure evil and steal and fear and brag and … love. Yes, there is some love, just not enough to make the other stuff worth dealing with, at least in anything but thimble-sized doses.

But what I really wanted to report on was the final book I did complete—Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by J. K. Rowling. I see no reason to give a full review. Many have done so before me and undoubtedly have done a much better job than I am capable of. I will say that I thought the book was so good, I proceeded to get book seven the next day and devoured Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in less than a week, a real feat for a slow reader like me.

By book five of the Harry Potter series, I was immersed in the story world and relishing the experience. That continued on throughout the final two books. It was fun to read like that again.

The story was unpredictable (though I’d heard much about it already), suspenseful, intriguing, heart-warming, moving, and important. Yes, there was a strong redemptive theme running through it. That in and of itself makes the story important. But it’s also important because of what it means to reading and what it says about readers.

My guess is, the books will be studied for a long, long time. Look at the spate of non-fiction books that have already cropped up to challenge or explain or justify the series.

And if publishers were paying attention, it should also change how we perceive younger readers. No more is the little book a requirement for tweeners. Nor is a big book anathema for young adults.

Ideally the series will also serve as a model for Christians, since it is a great example of how to write redemptive themes for Anyone (not just for those who already believe in redemption).

I could say more, but this post is long enough as it is. Suffice it to say, Fall into Reading was a wonderful adventure that put me into books I enjoy, and I’m hoping there will be another similar Spring Thing in 2008.

Published in: on December 27, 2007 at 3:30 pm  Comments (1)  

Fantasy Friday – The Challenge II Update


I’m putting together news items for the next issue of Latest In Spec Classifieds. If you are a fantasy—or speculative fiction of any stripe—fan and haven’t subscribed yet, I strongly encourage you to. This is the place that informs you of what others working in the genre are up to. It tells you where you can find reviews, interviews, podcasts, chats; it lets you know where and when authors will be appearing, what books are releasing, and … there’s a “Favorite Book Store” listing.

Here’s a great opportunity for those of you who would like to participate in the Fantasy Challenge II. By Monday, email the name and address of your favorite book store, Christian or other (not Amazon or Wal-Mart. Book store! 😀 ) to me at rluellam at earthlink dot net. I’ll list the store with the other favorites. When LIS comes out later in the week (PDF for those who subscribe, or you can find it at the LIS site), you can print it off and take it to the store you mentioned and give it to a manager. Last step. Come back here to A Christian Worldview of Fiction–Fantasy Challenge II and leave a comment, telling us what the manager did or said.

Of course there is another way to participate in the challenge, but I can tell you from personal experience, nothing gets the manager’s attention more than pointing to their store name in the “Favorites” section of the LIS Classifieds.

I mentioned I would also unveil the prizes for The Challenge. Here’s what I have so far: four copies of Raising Dragons by Bryan Davis (AMG Publishing), a copy of DragonFire by Donita Paul (WaterBrook), a copy of The Isle of Swords by Wayne Thomas Batson (Thomas Nelson). That’s six prizes, and there might be more! I’m holding off because … well, too long a story. Just to let you know, there might be something from Kathryn Mackel or Karen Hancock, but I’ll be able to let you know definitely after Thanksgiving.

Which reminds me. You do know the Fantasy Challenge II ends December 1, right?

Remember, participating in the challenge is easy this time of year because you’ll be out and about doing your Christmas shopping anyway, so stopping off at a book store and inquiring about Christian fantasy titles should be a simple add. And if you win, you’ve won yourself a pre-Christmas present. Or a possible Christmas present for the fantasy-lover in your midst. 😉

Published in: on November 9, 2007 at 2:32 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – The Challenge II Update  

Thoughts on Christian Fiction … and Fantasy


The discussion continues. Mark Bertrand posted a wrap up of my conversation with him, which in turn generated an outstanding post by author Athol Dickson. I hope you take the time to read both.

So I’ll try to keep this short (try being the operative word 😉 )

Over at the Fantasy Challenge—the first contest I ran to encourage interaction with bookstore personnel regarding Christian fantasy—an anonymous visitor left a comment I thought worth attention:

I work in a chain bookstore. I just want to let you guys know that there are more books in the world than we can fit on our shelves, so what we sell is dictated to some degree (about 30-40%) by the national market. The remainder of what we carry is dictated by local market and what people in your area buy. (We all know profit is king.) So if you want your local bookstore to stock the things you’re looking for, convince your like-minded friends to shop there and ask for many of the same things you do. Stores pay attention to what’s selling each week/month, and if a title picks up, they will stock it. Otherwise, yes, you will have to order it. We do what we can. There are just so many books, so little shelf space.

I found it particularly informative that a bookstore insider is saying pretty much the same thing that the acquisition editors say: if you want to see more of a certain type of book, buy that type. Tell your friends about the book and where they can find it or how they can request it. Buy the books for gifts. Think ahead to Christmas. Who on your list might enjoy a good Christian fantasy?

Oh, and don’t forget, this can serve a double purpose—leave a comment here or at Fantasy Challenge II to be eligible for the prizes. Prizes? Yes, I do need to make that list public. Soon. Veeerry soon! 😀

Published in: on October 12, 2007 at 11:25 am  Comments (1)  

Fantasy Challenge II


It’s official. Donita Paul did, in fact, win the ACFW Book of the Year first place award in the General Fiction category for DragonKnight. As in the Christy Awards, there evidently were not enough books entered in the SFF category to have it stand alone. Interestingly, Susan Page Davis won third place for Feather a juvenile fantasy that would probably have been placed in the YA category if there had been enough of those entrants. Congratulations to both authors.

Speaking of contests, all the Harvest House Talk Like a Pirate winning “essays” have been posted at Cap’s Pub. I can’t help mentioning that the entry posted on the twentieth was written by a former member of my critique group. She is a talented, talented humor writer, and if she can keep writing, I’m confident you’ll hear lots more about her.

Now, to the real subject for today’s post: Fantasy Challenge II.

This is a two-month-long contest designed to encourage you all to talk up Christian fantasy at your local book stores. If Christian fantasy is to succeed, people must buy the books. For people to buy the books, they need to be on book store shelves.

Of course, I do know that many of you buy your books at Amazon or Christianbooks.com or the like. You are the computer savvy folks. But I recently read that something like 30 percent of books are being sold on line. So the bulk of sales still come from book stores. And I can guarantee you, unless a person has a specific title in mind when they go into the store, they will buy what’s before them, often never knowing something else they might enjoy more even exists.

So here’s the challenge.

Go to a local book store, Christian or ABA, chain or independent, and do one of three things:

    1. Buy a book. This is especially a good thing to do, and since Christmas is just behind this two-month challenge, you might start thinking who you know that would enjoy a Christian fantasy.

    2. Talk to a clerk or manager about a specific Christian fantasy title, either asking if they’ve heard of it or why they don’t stock it, or commending them for having it on their shelves. You might even put in a plug, saying you hope they carry many more titles like it.

    3. This one has several parts. Click over to Latest In Spec (or when the call for news goes out, email the information to me) and leave information on your Favorite Book Store—name and address. When the issue with your book store releases, print out the entire copy and take it to the book store to give to your store manager. It really does work.

Here’s a list of suggested titles (sorry, sci fi’ers. This really is a fantasy challenge).

By Sharon Hinck

    The Restorer
    *The Restorer’s Son

By Wayne Thomas Batson

    The Door Within
    The Rise of the Wyrm Lord
    The Final Storm
    *Isle of Swords

By Kathryn Mackel

    Outriders
    Trackers
    *Vanished

By George Bryan Polivka

    Legend of the Firefish
    The Hand That Bears the Sword
    *The Battle for Vast Dominion

By Donita Paul

    DragonSpell
    DragonQuest
    +DragonKnight
    *DragonFire

By Karen Handcock

    Light of Eidon
    Shadow Within
    Shadow of Kiriath
    *Return of the Guardian-King

By R. K. Mortenson

    Landon Snow and the Auctor’s Riddle
    Landon Snow and the Shadows of Malus Quidam
    Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum
    Landon Snow and the Volcer Dragon
    *Landon Snow and the Auctor’s Kingdom

By Bryan Davis

    Dragons in Our Midst
    The Candlestone
    Circles of Seven
    Tears of a Dragon

By Jeffrey Overstreet

    *Auralia’s Colors

By Gregory Spenser

    *Guardian of the Veil

By Christopher Hooper

    Rise of the Dibor: The White Lion Chronicles
    *The Lion Vrie: Book II of The White Lion Chronicles

By Stephen Lawhead

    The Paradise War: Book One in The Song of Albion
    The Silver Hand: Book Two in The Song of Albion Trilogy
    Hood (The King Raven Trilogy, Book 1)
    *Scarlet (The King Raven Trilogy, Book 2)

By Jonathan Rogers

    Bark of the Bog Owl
    The Secret of the Swamp King
    *The Way of the Wilderking

By Robin Parrish

    Relentless
    *Fearless

This list, of course, is not exhaustive, and you can see I’ve mixed in adult, YA, and juvenile into one list, in no special order.

+ACFW Genesis Award Winner
*Latest release

Here’s how you become eligible for one of the various prizes several of our authors are donating. After you visit your book store, come back here to A Christian Worldview of Fiction and leave a comment with this information.

1. Who you talked to (clerk, manager)
2. When you visited the store.
3. What book you purchased, ordered, discussed. Or which issue of LIS you gave them.
4. What response you got.

That’s it.

You may enter as many times as you wish. The more the merrier, I always say! 😀

Have fun.

Published in: on September 25, 2007 at 12:17 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Challenge II  

Fall Into Reading


I’ve spent more time this weekend scouring the web to find out who won the ACFW Genesis and Book of the Year contests—the first because I have friends who finaled and the last because I was a judge.

So far, only partial results have been posted—ANYWHERE. It’s curious.

Since I’m a fantasy writer I will happily share results I found that include writers in my genre.

GENESIS

Sci Fi/Fantasy
First Place – Sally Apokedak
Second Place – Chris Mikesell
Third Place – Rebecca Grabill

YA
Third Place – Sally Apokedak

BOOK OF THE YEAR
General Fiction
First Place – Donita Paul (I’m pretty sure, but not a hundred precent)

Congratulations to all, y’all! 😀

– – –

I was planning on introducing Fantasy Challenge II today, but there is a more pressing something I need to draw to your attention.

As you might realize, Sunday marked the beginning of autumn, better known as fall. 😉

This fall’s events include Fall into Reading hosted by Katrina over at Calapidder Days. If you want to jump in and be eligible for the $10.00 Amazon gift certificate drawing, you’ll need to post no later than Wednesday.

Post what? you say. Why, your list of books you hope to read this fall.

So here are mine, in no particular order:

  • Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook). This is a fantasy I’m reading to see if we may wish to feature it on the CSFF Blog Tour. So far the reviews I’ve seen make it look like a viable candidate.
  • Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead. This is the November CSFF selection. I probably should read Hood first and will try if I get time.
  • Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins (Zondervan). I’m reading this one for the CFBA tour, but I also respect Brandilyn as a writer and want to learn from her.
  • The Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin. I started this a looong time ago and got stalled. It’s a good book, so I do want to finish.
  • Then on my wish list—these are the books I want to read just because I think they’ll be fun to read. There are many, many more I would love to read. Practically though, it looks like fall will be tied up with editing and writing, so this is a short list:

  • DragonFire by Donita Paul (WaterBrook). The bookstore called me Saturday to let me know the copy I ordered is in. I hope to pick it up today.
  • Landon Snow and the Volucer Dragon by R. K. Mortenson (Barbour). Still some of the best covers for juvenile fiction.
  • Restorer’s Journey by Sharon Hinck (NavPress). This depends on whether or not I can get my hands on an ARC. I hope so because I can hardly wait to read the third book.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by J. K. Rowling.
  • Your turn. Make your list, then link to Fall into Reading and let’s get it on! 😉

    Published in: on September 24, 2007 at 12:17 pm  Comments (9)  

    Latest In Spec Classifieds


    It works! 😀

    I mentioned recently I made a stop at my local Christian bookstore. One thing I didn’t tell you was that I went in armed. My weapon of choice was a copy of Latest In Spec which I’d printed out. This wasn’t any old copy, mind you. This was the copy in which this particular bookstore was named.

    For those of you who are scratching your heads, wondering what in the world Latest In Spec Classifieds is, you can read the earlier short posts describing it here and here.

    One section in this newsletter/classifieds (the latter term is really more accurate)—a relatively new section—is “Favorite Bookstores.” I turned in three or so in my area that I frequent from time to time.

    On this latest visit to the nearest store, before I even bought anything, I went to the counter and asked for the manager. “Moi,” the woman said (though I put it in French just to make the story sound more interesting—hey, I’m a fiction writer! 😉 )

    I told her what LIS is and turned to page two, pointing to her store name under Favorite Bookstores. Her eyes lit up at once and she picked up the paper to look more closely. That’s when I told her she could keep that copy.

    And in that copy? New speculative book releases, lists of reviews, author appearances, AND how to subscribe to LIS. Lots more, too. Now she has that paper in her hands, to look over, to pass along, to subscribe. Has she? I don’t know.

    What I DO know is, because that manager saw her store listed in the publication, she took a copy of LIS Classifieds. And because it is in her hands, the likelihood of her reading the other content is greater.

    I mention this because next week I’ll be introducing Fantasy Challenge II, and one of the easiest ways of connecting with a store manager is to give them something, especially if it includes a listing of their store.

    Definitely Fantasy Challenge II will include things like turning in favorite bookstores to LIS and taking a copy of the issue to the manager of said store. I know first hand now, not just in theory, that this little marketing ploy works!

    We Gotta Ask


    I mentioned in my news tidbit that I made a bookstore run the other day. To be honest, I was a little shocked at how FEW books I saw on the shelves.

    I already mentioned, I specifically went to pick up DragonFire by Donita Paul (WaterBrook). While copies of DragonSpell, DragonQuest, and DragonKnight were there, they had no copies of the most recent release. We are not talking about some obscure title by an unknown author, here. This is a well-know author and series, and the books sell like hot cakes.

    Yesterday as I was writing my post, I visited a number of blogs and Web sites, among them Jeffrey Overstreet’s Auralia’s Journal. There in one of his posts was a picture of Auralia’s Colors in a Barnes and Noble, shelved with other fantasy titles, and even face out. So my question is, Why didn’t I see it at my local Christian book store?

    Happily I did find a copy of Robin Parrish’s Fearless, and even more copies of Relentless (Bethany). There were also copies of Gregory Spencer’s Guardian of the Veil (Howard), and one remaining copy of Sharon Hinck’s The Restorer (NavPress), but none of her women’s fiction from Bethany.

    There was also no Austin Boyd, the Mars Hill Classified series (NavPress); Chris Wally’s The Shadow and Night (Tyndale); Kathryn Mackel’s Vanished (Realms); Wayne Thomas Batson’s Isle of the Sword; Jonathan Rogers’ The Wilderking Series (B&H); or Bryan Davis’s Oracles of Fire (AMG).

    To be honest, the missing titles and authors extend beyond fantasy. For example, there was only one title of Brandilyn Collins on the shelf, and it wasn’t the latest release, Crimson Eve.

    What books did they have? The shelves were dominated by a few authors—Ted Dekker, Beverly Lewis, Jerry Jenkins, Karen Kingsbury. Yes, there were smatterings of others, but is it any wonder the same few authors continually make the CBA best-seller lists?

    I know some people are decrying the book-selling changes taking place—the availability of Christian fiction in ABA stores and in discount outlets, not to mention the on-line avenues. One of the fears I heard repeated regarding this trend was the possibility that fewer and fewer titles would actually make it to the shelves because the ABA and the discount stores would only be interested in the biggest sellers.

    Uh, am I missing something? Isn’t that exactly what this particular CBA store (part of a national chain) is doing?

    I don’t pretend to know all that goes into getting books on real shelves. I’ve read some interesting accounts, to be sure, and they usually describe a process that has little to do with content or quality. But one thing I do know: When a customer ASKS about a book, and especially if they order a book, the store managers respond.

    All that to say, I’m thinking it is time to have another fantasy challenge. You up for it?

    Published in: on September 14, 2007 at 11:58 am  Comments (14)  

    The End of a Challenge, the Beginning of a Tour


    And the winners are … But first an explanation. When I said I would be posting the results of The Fantasy Challenge drawing on July 1, I had not looked at a calendar and did not realize the date fell on a Sunday. Since I don’t post on Sunday, that made it rather impossible to announce the winners.

    So here we are today, July 2, giving the much awaited part 2 results of The Fantasy Challenge.

    Thanks so much to all you who participated. It was great fun to read the stories—of what books you went hunting for, what conversations you generated with different clerks or managers. And in some cases, it was wonderful to see that your efforts paid off by prompting your book store to carry additional Christian fantasy titles or at least to order the ones you asked for.

    Valerie mentioned that she discovered a book store much closer than the one she initially visited—the one where the manager prayed about what fiction titles to order the day Valerie came into the store. Any surprise she didn’t discover the closer store sooner? Not me either.

    So have I dragged it out long enough, built the suspense even a little?

    Well, for those who didn’t enter, the stakes aren’t high enough to experience genuine suspense, I guess, so I’ll move this along.

    The first name I drew is the winner of Sharon Hinck’s The Restorer (NavPress). This outstanding book, first in The Sword of Lyric series goes to … Sally Apokedak. Congratulations, Sally.

    And the grand prize, the four YA books in the best-selling Dragons in Our Midst series (AMG Publishing) by Bryan Davis—autographed editions. The winner is … Valerie Comer. Congratulations, Valerie.

    Now, on to the tour!

    Actually the two fit nicely together because Sharon Hinck and Bryan Davis are half of the Fantastic 4 Fantasy Fiction Tour which the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring this week.

    Yes, a special tour, highlighting another tour—a real one—and lasting an entire week. These are all firsts.

    For my posts, I plan to spend a day focusing on each of the four authors. Not today, since this is the intro of the tour, but starting tomorrow. First up will be Bryan Davis. I’ll see what juicy tidbits I can come up with. 😉

    Meanwhile, stop by the Fantastic 4 Fantasy Fiction Tour website for information about a very fun contest you can participate in this week and next. (I love contests! 😀 )

    Published in: on July 2, 2007 at 9:58 am  Comments (8)