Now It’s Available


PowerElementsOfStoryStructure1000I’ve been having a lot of fun seeing the beautiful cover Rachel Marks designed for Power Elements Of Story Structure floating around on the Internet. Now at last I can tell you it is available for purchase. It’s an 89-page ebook for Kindle priced at $2.99. Here’s the descriptive blurb on Amazon:

Power Elements Of Story Structure, first in the series Power Elements Of Fiction, provides practical help for beginning writers as well as reminders for seasoned novelists. This informative writing manual addresses important elements such as where to start a novel, openings that hook readers, backstory, creating tension, foreshadowing, and much more. Together with intermittent writing exercises, the instruction serves as a concise guide for writing a novel.

“Anyone dreaming of writing a novel needs this book as a guide.” – Sally E. Stuart, founder of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide

“In Power Elements of Story Structure, Rebecca LuElla Miller has distilled the wide variety of instruction and opinions about plot and structure into one pithy and focused volume.” – Carrie Padgett, freelance editor and author of Short, Sweet & Sassy

Power Elements of Story Structure by Rebecca LuElla Miller is a reassuring overview of the main techniques necessary to write a strong and page-turning novel. With clear examples, exercise prompts and focused chapters, Miller provides a fine resource for both the beginning writer and the experienced author.” – Michelle Ule, NYTimes best selling author of three historic novellas and one contemporary novel.

“In Power Elements of Story Structure, Rebecca LuElla Miller has written an excellent resource for writers. Beginning writers will learn basics, from planning a novel to story structure to strong, satisfying endings—all tools to help hone their skills. Veteran authors will receive a refresher course that will help maintain excellence in the writing craft. I look forward to the next installments in this Power Elements of Fiction series.” – Sharon K. Souza, author of Unraveled

“I love books for writers, and I’ve just discovered another valuable resource in Rebecca LuElla Miller’s new book Power Elements of Story Structure. Add it to your library!” – Nick Harrison, senior editor, Harvest House Publishers and author of Power in the Promises and Magnificent Prayer

Now I’m looking forward to receiving some reviews on Amazon. At least I think I am. 😉

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Books You’d Like To See In Print One Day


woman using computerMost writers beyond the beginning stage understand the value of feedback, especially informed feedback. That’s why they join critique groups and snag writing partners and look for beta readers.

Occasionally there are contests such as the one Spec Faith held some time ago in which writers could post their first 250 words and receive feedback from visitors. All these methods of receiving feedback are valuable, but what all writers crave is constructive criticism from an industry professional–a published author or better still, an agent or an editor.

Once upon a time there was a secret industry insider who called herself Miss Snark who gave selected writers a beatdown helpful insights about their work. She was pretty blunt and yet incredibly helpful.

When she hung up her snark hat, the writer who first received her biting assessment took up the mantle and began a site called Miss Snark’s First Victim. She’s expanded the purpose of the site to include contests that can put winners in touch with agents and editors.

Starting today she is running her 2013 Bakers Dozen Agent Auction. She held a submissions period during which she selected 60 entries, 35 YA or middle grade stories and 25 adult. For the next few days anyone can read the blurbs and openings of these stories and offer their critique, but two published authors and two agents or editors are guaranteed to critique. As many others as wish to join in may do so.

Then Tuesday, December 3 the actual auction begins. The cool thing is, the agents’ bids are the number of pages they would like to read, up to the entire manuscript (which is obviously the highest bid–and I’m assuming the first agent to make that bid “wins” that manuscript).

Anyway, I thought that would be a fun thing for readers to take part in. I’ve already looked over a handful of the entries and I’m impressed with the quality. One or two, I wish I could read more.

Here’s the link if you’d like to join in the fun: WELCOME TO THE 2013 BAKER’S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION! By the way, you might consider starting with the entry #1 which appears last since it seems most people start at the top with #60. And of course you get to pick and choose which you want to read and which, if any, you want to critique.

Just for fun, make note of the number of fantasy entries. It’s still the hottest genre going, it would seem. 😉

Published in: on November 29, 2013 at 6:53 pm  Comments Off on Books You’d Like To See In Print One Day  
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Cover Reveal – Goddess Tithe


GoddessTithecoverAnne Elisabeth Stengl, winner of this year’s Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction, will release her first illustrated novella, Goddess Tithe, November 12. Today is the day when she lets the cat out of the bag (though I don’t think the much-loved cat-man Eanrin from previous Tales of Goldstone Wood actually makes an appearance in this story) by revealing at various sites scattered throughout the web her cover and some specifics about the story.

The Story Tease

The Vengeful Goddess Demands Her Tithe

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya‘s only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown’s garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?

Cover Design Facts From The Author

I had the fun of designing this cover—finding reference photos, inventing the composition, applying the text, etc.—but the actual artistic work was done by talented cover artist Phatpuppy (www.phatpuppyart.com), whose work I have admired for many years. It was such a thrill for me to contact and commission this artist to create a look for Goddess Tithe that is reminiscent of the original novels but has a style and drama all its own.

The boy on the front was quite a find. I hunted high and low for an image of a boy the right age, the right look, with the right expression on his face. Phatpuppy and I worked with a different model through most of the cover development stage. But then I happened upon this image, and both she and I were delighted with his blend of youth, stubbornness, and strength of character! It wasn’t difficult to switch the original boy for this young man. He simply is Munny, and this cover is a perfect window into the world of my story.

You can’t see it here, but the wrap-around back cover for the print copy contains some of the prettiest work . . . including quite a scary sea monster! Possibly my favorite detail is the inclusion of the ghostly white flowers framing the outer edge. These are an important symbol in the story itself, and when Phatpuppy sent me the first mock-up cover with these included, I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement!

About The Illustrations

Mummy and Tu PichThere are eight full-page illustrations in Goddess Tithe featuring various characters and events from the story. This is the first one in the book. Anne Elisabeth decided to share it with all of you since it depicts her young hero, Munny the cabin boy, under the watchful eye of his mentor, the old sailor Tu Pich.

Munny is on his first voyage, and he is determined to learn all there is to know about a life at sea as quickly as possible. Thus we see him utterly intent upon the knot he is learning to tie. Tu Pich is old enough to know that no sailor will ever learn all there is to know about the sea. Thus he looks on, grave, caring, and perhaps a little sad. He might be looking upon his own younger self of many years ago, fumbling through the hundreds of difficult knots his fingers must learn to tie with unconscious ease.

Anne Elisabeth says she enjoyed creating all the illustrations for Goddess Tithe, but this one was her favorite. She loves the contrasts of light and dark, the contrasts of young and old . . . youthful intensity versus the perspective of age.

Excerpt From The Story

In this scene from the middle of the story, Munny has been ordered to Captain Sunan’s cabin to clear away his breakfast . . . an unexpected task, for a lowly cabin boy would not ordinarily dare enter his captain’s private quarters! Munny hopes to slip in and out quietly without attracting the captain’s notice. But his hopes are dashed when Sunan addresses him, asking how their strange, foreign stowaway is faring.

__________

“And what do you make of him yourself?”

Munny dared glance his captain’s way and was relieved when his eyes met only a stern and rigid back. “I’m not sure, Captain,” he said. “I think he’s afraid. But not of . . .”

“Not of the goddess?” the Captain finished for him. And with these words he turned upon Munny, his eyes so full of secrets it was nearly overwhelming. Munny froze, his fingers just touching but not daring to take up a small teapot of fragile work.

The Captain looked at him, studying his small frame up and down. “No,” he said, “I believe you are right. Leonard the Clown does not fear Risafeth. I believe he is unaware of his near peril at her will, suffering as he does under a peril nearer still.”

Munny made neither answer nor any move.

“We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly, won’t we, Munny?” the Captain said. But he did not speak as though he expected an answer, so again Munny offered none. “We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly and there let him choose his own dark future.”

“I hope—” Munny began.

But he was interrupted by a sudden commotion on deck. First a rising murmur of voices, then many shouts, inarticulate in cacophony. But a pounding at the cabin door accompanied Sur Agung’s voice bellowing, “Captain, you’d best come see this!”

The Captain’s eyes widened a moment and still did not break gaze with Munny’s. “We’ll keep him safe,” he repeated. Then he turned and was gone, leaving the door open.

Munny put down the pot he held and scurried after. The deck was alive with hands, even those who were off watch, crawling up from the hatches and crowding the rails on the port side. They parted way for the Captain to pass through, but when Munny tried to follow, they closed in again, blocking him as solidly as a brick wall.

“Look! Look!” Munny heard voices crying.

“It’s a sign!”

“She’s warning us!”

“It’s a sign, I tell you!”

Fearing he knew not what, Munny ran for the center mast and climbed partway up, using the handholds and footholds with unconscious confidence. Soon he was high enough to see over the heads of the gathered crew, out into the blue waters of the ocean. And he saw them.

They were water birds. Big white albatrosses, smaller seagulls, heavy cormorants, even deep-throated pelicans and sleek, black-faced terns. These and many more, hundreds of them, none of which should be seen this far out to sea.

They were all dead. Floating in a great mass.

Munny clung to the mast, pressing his cheek against its wood. The shouts of the frightened sailors below faded away, drowned out by the desolation of that sight. Death, reeking death, a sad flotilla upon the waves.

“I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Munny looked down to where Leonard clung to the mast just beneath him, staring wide-eyed out at the waves. “How could this have happened? Were they sick? Caught in a sudden gale? Are they tangled in fishing nets?”GoddessTitheBlogButton

There was no fear in his voice. Not like in the voices of the sailors. He did not understand. He did not realize. It wasn’t his fault, Munny told himself.

But it was.

____________

Author Bio

Anne Elisabeth StenglAnne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.

Giveaway

Anne Elisabeth is offering two proof copies of Goddess Tithe as prizes in a drawing! Sadly, only U.S. and Canadian residents are eligible. Click on the link below to sign up for a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chasing Hope Sweepstakes


katiecushman

Yesterday I reviewed Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman, pictured above. As a reminder, here’s a quick summary of the story (no spoilers).

ChasingHopeSMBook Summary:

A talented runner fully committed to Olympic dreams, Sabrina Rice’s future was shattered. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she has new goals and dreams that have nothing to do with running–something that’s become far too painful to think on.

Until the day she sees troubled Brandy Philip running across the community college campus. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed.

When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina becomes Brandy’s best hope for staying out of juvenile hall. Soon, Sabrina begins to feel an uncomfortable nudge that her new life is just about to be toppled–that God may be calling her to minister to this talented but troubled girl.

Intrigued? You can download a PDF of the prologue and first three chapters and find out for yourself how good the story is.

After my review, I promised to elaborate on the fantabulous (I’m sure it’s a word! 😉 ) sweepstakes author Katie Cushman and her publisher Bethany House are holding in conjunction with the book release.

Here’s the deal: the sweepstakes is already underway, but you still have time to get your name in the hat. In fact, you have until October 3 to enter.

And why would you want to? PRIZES, my friend. Six hundred dollars worth of PRIZES!! And all are related to Chasing Hope.

Check these out.

GRAND PRIZE:

CHAMPION’S CHOICE PACKAGE

grandprizeNike’s motto is: Just Do It, and Sabrina Rice of Chasing Hope lives out this attitude despite tremendous obstacles. But chasing dreams is hard work, and every champion needs fuel for their journey.

To celebrate everyday champions like Sabrina, we’re offering our Grand Prize winner the chance to fuel up, and have some fun as they chase their dreams.

The winner of this package will receive a $200 shopping spree to the Nike Online Store, and a 1-Year subscription to Runner’s World Magazine.

SECOND PRIZE:

secondprizeNEW STRIDE PACKAGE

In Chasing Hope, Brandy Philip has world-class talent, but she needs a fresh start, and a little extra help to get her on the right path. Just like Brandy, we all need a boost now and then, especially when it comes to our health and fitness goals!

While we can’t all have a personal trainer like Sabrina to help us meet those goals, our Second Prize winner will receive the next best thing: This prize includes a $175 value Nike + FuelBand accelerometer, which tracks each step taken and calories burned (and tells the time of day), and The Courage To Start running book, written by popular life coach and former self-proclaimed “couch potato”, John Bingham.

thirdprizeTHIRD PRIZE:

REST & RECHARGE PACKAGE

In Chasing Hope, Sabrina and Brandy find that even the strongest runners also need time to rest.

Whether you run marathons, a carpool, or just weekly trips to the grocery store, you can always use time to recharge!

Our third prize winner will get that chance with a $50 gift card to Spafinder.com, plus an inside look at the life of Eric Liddell, (Sabrina’s hero and inspiration), through the Complete Surrender biography, and the Chariots of Fire DVD, featuring Ben Cross.

So now all you need to know is how to enter. Easy.

Topbanner

How to Enter:

Go to the sweepstakes page and complete the entry box, anytime between now and October 3.

Winners will be selected on Friday, October 4, 2013, and announced on Katie Cushman’s web site.

Might I also suggest you buy the book. This one is a keeper!

Fantasy Friday – News You Can Use


SpecFaith announcement 2There are a few tidbits pertaining to Christian speculative fiction that visitors here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction might be interested in.

First, the opening round of the CSA concluded, with the top five books moving on to the finals. The voting was razor-thin close. In fact we had to resort to second and third choices to break a tie. Here are the books that made the cut (listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name):

    Liberator by Bryan Davis
    A Throne of Bones by Vox Day
    Mortal by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
    Prophet by R. J. Larson
    Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Voting started yesterday and will last until midnight, July 28.

In conjunction with the award, I’m happy to announce that author Robert Treskillard agreed to design the CSA e-medallion which the winning author may display. I’ll need to check with the other sponsors about when we’ll have the unveiling of it.

Second, the team site featuring a discussion of speculative fiction from a Christian viewpoint, Speculative Faith, has been experiencing constant problems. Some weeks ago a hacker successfully shut the site down and ever since there have been problems. After trying one thing and then another, our patient and persistent webmaster, Stephen Burnett, decided it was time to move. Consequently, as part of the process of changing servers, Spec Faith has a new address. It’s actually in keeping with the nickname we use most often. So tell your friends to change their bookmarks from http://www.speculativefaith to http://www.specfaith.com

I wish I had good news for the CSFF Blog Tour. BOTH books we were planning to tour in July are snagged somewhere. None of us have received one and only half of us have received the other. And reading is such fun during the summer months! Here’s hoping.

At least I got a fantasy in the mail today–Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. The cover is beautiful, and I met the title character in the last book I read in the Tales of Goldstone Woods series, so I’m eager to dive into this one.

Dark Halo RT ReviewGood news from author Shannon Dittemore about the third book in her Angel Eyes trilogy. The highly regarded Romantic Times Book Review journal gave Dark Halo a 4-star review. Most authors would agree this is much-desired recognition from an influential publication.

Speaking of review periodicals, Facebook friend and fellow author Carole McDonnell reported that three of her short fiction works have been recognized by the noteworthy online review magazine, Tangent. They made the Tangent 2012 recommended reading list.

And finally, I learned of yet another Christian speculative author: Krista McGee. Her latest, Anomaly, which released July 9, has been touted as science fiction, but it could just as easily be categorized as post-apocalyptic fantasy. Here’s the teaser–see what you think.

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.

But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.

She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.

As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.

Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out…

There you have it, friends–voting, blog visiting, book buying. It’s a busy summer in the Christian speculative fiction world. 😀

Published in: on July 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – News You Can Use  
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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. 😉 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. 😀

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.

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)
      Mystery/suspense
      Romance
      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 😉 ) 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.

Enter With Care


Contests! I love them. I enter as often as possible. Some have taught me helpful things about writing. Some have given me new things to include on my writing resume.

There are a few short and sweet contests held by agents that I’ve entered in the hope of drawing attention to my writing. One gave me feedback from a professional and from other entrants.

Sadly, I stopped entering one contest because the fee was higher than most and the prize wasn’t commensurate.

Today I checked into two other contests. One, I’d love to enter, but I’d be in over my head. The other, I learned about because an agent, Janet Reid, warned against it.

Turns out it is a novel contest — for some reason, when I was reading the agent’s post, I thought it was for a short story, maybe because that’s the kind of contest I’ve entered lately.

As Ms. Reid warned, there is an entry fee, this one considerably higher than any I’ve seen for any other contest — $149.00. But that’s not why she was warning writers away. In the final Contest Rules point called “LEGAL Information” this:

By submitting an entry, all entrants grant Sponsor the absolute and unconditional right and authority to copy, edit, publish, promote, broadcast, or otherwise use, in whole or in part, their entries, in perpetuity, in any manner without further permission, notice or compensation.

You read that correctly. ALL entrants. If you send them your work, they own it. You might not win a thing, but they win your novel. Now, remember, entrants PAY to submit their work, so essentially, if someone enters this contest, he is PAYING someone else to take ownership of his novel.

That, my friends, is a ROYAL rip-off. Most troubling is that people are clicking the “like” button, which makes it appear as if this scam will turn out to be lucrative. I hope not.

Some of the commenters at Ms. Reid’s site pointed out that beginning writers, who seem to be the target of this scam, are least able to absorb the cost and least informed about what these rights issues mean.

Honestly, this reminds me of Superman. If I remember the story correctly (and I just looked it up on Wikipedia for verification), the creators of the character — the writer, Jerry Siegel, and his collaborative artist, Joe Shuster — sold Superman to Detective Comics, Inc. which later became DC Comics. As the popularity of the series grew, Siegel tried to regain his rights to the character. He lost.

In 1975, with the Superman movies on the horizon, he turned to the public (which is how I heard about the story) to protest the fact that he had received no royalties for the lucrative (and soon to become more so) franchise.

A settlement was reached, but after Mr. Siegel passed away, his estate again took the matter to court.

In other words, at best, losing your rights to your work will tie you up in the courts for the rest of your life, and possibly beyond!

The bottom line: no matter how boring, when it comes to contest rules, read every last word and be sure you understand what they are saying. And stay away from contests that take money and take rights. The money alone should be a red flag, but the rights is a giant stop sign.

Published in: on January 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm  Comments (3)  
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Fantasy Friday – Speculative Faith


Some of you who have been visiting here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction for a while know about the team blog Speculative Faith—a site set up by Stuart Stockton to discuss speculative fiction from the perspective of our Christian faith.

A number of writers participated. For a time Karen Hancock wrote regularly. Bryan Davis did a short series. We had interviews with editors like Nick Harrison (Harvest House) and with writers like Robert Liparulo. We did reviews and had lengthy discussions about books and movies alike. In short, it was a wonderful success.

But gradually, one writer after the other began to pull back. We were a loose organization and no one filled those gaps or took the lead to insure that each day had content.

I was the last of the regulars, and then my computer crashed. When I was back up and running, I had so many things to catch up on, and Spec Faith was low on the priority list. Then the spam set in. When our core group still wanting to see Spec Faith work took a look at the site, the clean-up alone seemed daunting.

In the end, we agreed to start afresh at WordPress. This time Stephen Burnett took the lead and began transferring posts and designing the new site. We began posting a couple weeks ago, with Stephen doing most of the writing. The next step was to secure regular writers, but we also wanted to include a good selection of guests.

I’m happy to report that the schedule is coming together. I’ll once again be writing on Mondays. Stuart will post on Tuesdays. New to the team is Rachel Starr Thomson, writing on Wednesdays (though she may share the slot—this detail is still being worked out). Then Steven will post on Thursdays. Fridays are the designated Guest Blogger Days.

We have invitations (and some acceptances) out to a number of writers. It should be an exciting lineup. All this to say, you are hereby invited to stop on over at Speculative Faith (affectionately known as Spec Faith 😉 ) and join in the discussions. We also are on Facebook and Twitter, so we’d love to have you follow us or friend us on those sites as well.

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