A Commercial Break


PowerElementsCharacterDevelopment[1000][1]I personally hate commercials, so I won’t feel offended if anyone who stops by A Christian Worldview Of Fiction or receives these posts by email chooses to do a little channel surfing instead of reading the rest of this post.

The thing is, I don’t mind doing commercials if I think whatever I’m talking about really could be a benefit. So with this commercial.

The benefit would be for writers (and another half of the visitors charge for the exits. I understand, and still, no hard feelings! 😉 Really!)

Amazon, which I chose when I decided to publish my fiction writing instruction ebooks, has a promotion program which they call the Kindle Countdown Deal. For much of this week the second book of my Power Elements Of Fiction series, Power Elements Of Character Development, is available at a discount.

Today gives anyone interested in purchasing the book the best price: $.99. Yep. You read that right—ninety-nine cents. The discount is a whopping seventy-five percent off the regular price of $3.99.

But sadly, that savings lasts only for the day. Tomorrow the price bumps up to $1.99—still a fifty percent discount.

On Thursday the price creeps up another twenty-five percent, to $2.99. Anyone buying on Thursday will only save a dollar, but I figure a dollar off is better than no discount at all. However, anyone who wants to take full advantage of this Countdown Deal has time today to purchase the book at its lowest price.

Be aware that on Friday the price will revert to its normal $3.99 cost.

One last thing—and this is more me asking for help than it is commercial—if you have purchased the book in the past and read it, or if you do so now during this promotional program, would you consider writing a review and posting it on Amazon?

Reviews are like gold to writers. They influence other people who might be considering the book, and they affect the way Amazon positions the book so that others take notice. I don’t know how the whole thing works, but I do know that reviews matter.

Here’s an excerpt from one of those that has been posted already:

I loved [Rebecca LuElla Miller’s] last [writing instruction book] and this one is, I think, even better. Love that she gets me thinking and makes me want to dive in to my own work and get to know my characters better and understand what motivates them.

OK, that’s it for the commercial. Back to our regularly scheduled programing. Thanks for your patience. And if you’re so inclined, please share this discount opportunity with all your fiction-writer friends. Thanks! 😉

Power Elements jingle winner #1

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Published in: on August 22, 2016 at 6:36 pm  Comments Off on A Commercial Break  
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April Fools . . . But Not Really


WordpressreblogFor my online April Fools Day joke, I thought I’d announce that after ten years of blogging, I’ve decided to hang it up. But I thought the joke might backfire. What if everyone agreed, that yes, it was time I moved on to some other endeavor. After all, I’ve been repeating myself with some frequency and actually have not said anything new in years.

That would be a problem, because, you see, I actually like to blog. I know some writers struggle to know what to say or where to find the time to write. Some agonize over every post and all their creative energy seeps from them as they write.

I’m a different breed. I really like spouting off voicing my thoughts. 😀

In reality, writing helps me think. Sometimes I know what I want to write about, but I don’t always know what I think about what I want to write about. I realize this might be confusing to others, but writing forces me to say something, to formulate a position, and to express it so others will know what I mean. When I’ve written, then I know what I think.

Honestly, there are times when I’m writing that I think I’m wandering around a topic, that I feel as if I’ve lost direction. I’m the most surprised when I re-read what I wrote and it says something I actually believe. Then I kind of sit back and say, Ah, that’s what I think—I just didn’t know it until now.

So, yes, I love to blog. I learn. Sometimes I have to do research. Sometimes I read other articles to which I respond. Sometimes I write about things I’m learning in Scripture or ways Scripture speaks to the problems in our culture. Sometimes I write about a topic that’s right in front of me . . . like blogging!

No matter the prompt, I come away from blogging with a better understanding, a deeper conviction, a greater appreciation. Blogging, you might say, nourishes my writing soul. And maybe my soul soul, too.

So, no April Fools joke from me today. I wouldn’t want you to think I’m serious about no longer blogging. Because if I stopped blogging, I’d be impoverished in a way I hadn’t realized until I started writing about blogging. 😉

Published in: on April 1, 2016 at 4:56 pm  Comments (4)  
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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. 😉

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.

Introducing Golden Daughter


It’s my privilege to be part of the cover reveal for Golden Daughter, next in the Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.

GoldenDaughtercover

BEYOND THE REALM OF DREAMS

IS A WORLD SHE NEVER IMAGINED

Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.

But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams.

With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?

For the Dragon is building an army of fire. And soon the heavens will burn.

Excerpt from Chapter 3

GOLDEN DAUGHTER

Sairu made her way from Princess Safiya’s chambers out to the walkways of the encircling gardens. The Masayi, abode of the Golden Daughters, was an intricate complex of buildings linked by blossom-shrouded walkways, calm with fountains and clear, lotus-filled pools where herons strutted and spotted fish swam.

Here she had lived all the life she could remember.
The Masayi was but a small part of Manusbau Palace, which comprised the whole of Sairu’s existence. She had never stepped beyond the palace walls. To do so would be to step into a world of corruption, corruption to which a Golden Daughter would not be impervious until she was safely chartered to a master and her life’s work was affixed in her heart and mind. Meanwhile, she must live securely embalmed in this tomb, waiting for life to begin.

Sairu’s mouth curved gently at the corners, and she took small steps as she had been trained—slow, dainty steps that disguised the swiftness with which she could move at need. Even in private she must maintain the illusion, even here within the Masayi.

A cat sat on the doorstep of her own building, grooming itself in the sunlight. She stepped around it and proceeded into the red-hung halls of the Daughter’s quarters and on to her private chambers. There she must gather what few things she would take with her—fewer things even than Jen-ling would take on her journey to Aja. For Jen-ling would be the wife of a prince, and she must give every impression of a bride on her wedding journey.

I wonder who my master will be? Sairu thought as she slid back the rattan door to her chamber and entered the quiet simplicity within. She removed her elaborate costume and exchanged it for a robe of simple red without embellishments. She washed the serving girl cosmetics from her face and painted on the daily mask she and her sisters wore—white with black spots beneath each eye and a red stripe down her chin. It was elegant and simple, and to the common eye it made her indistinguishable from her sisters.

The curtain moved behind her. She did not startle but turned quietly to see the same cat slipping into her room. Cats abounded throughout Manusbau Palace, kept on purpose near the storehouses to manage the vermin. But they did not often enter private chambers.

Sairu, kneeling near her window with her paint pots around her, watched the cat as it moved silkily across the room, stepped onto her sleeping cushions, and began kneading the soft fabric, purring all the while. Its claws pulled at the delicate threads. But it was a cat. As far as it was concerned, it had every right to enjoy or destroy what it willed.

At last it seemed to notice Sairu watching it. It turned sleepy eyes to her and blinked.

Sairu smiled. In a voice as sweet as honey, she asked, “Who are you?”

The cat twitched its tail softly and went on purring.

The next moment, Sairu was across the room, her hand latched onto the cat’s scruff. She pushed it down into the cushions and held it there as it yowled and snarled, trying to catch at her with its claws.

“Who are you?” she demanded, her voice fierce this time. “What are you? Are you an evil spirit sent to haunt me?”

“No, dragons eat it! I mean, rrrraww! Mreeeow! Yeeeowrl!”

The cat twisted and managed to lash out at her with its back feet, its claws catching in the fabric of her sleeve. One claw scratched her wrist, startling her just enough that she loosened her hold. The cat took advantage of the opportunity and, hissing like a fire demon, leapt free. It sprang across the room, knocking over several of her paint pots, and spun about, back-arched and snarling. Every hair stood on end, and its ears lay flat to its skull.

Sairu drew a dagger from her sleeve and crouched, prepared for anything. The smile lingered on her mouth, but her eyes flashed. “Who sent you?” she demanded. “Why have you come to me now? You know of my assignment, don’t you.”

Meeeeowrl,” the cat said stubbornly and showed its fangs in another hiss.

“I see it in your face,” Sairu said, moving carefully to shift her weight and prepare to spring. “You are no animal. Who is your master, devil?”

– – – – –
AUTHOR BIO:
Anne Elisabeth StenglAnne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series, adventure fantasies told in the classic Fairy Tale style. Her books include Christy Award-winning Heartless and Veiled Rose, and Clive Staples Award-winning Starflower. She makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, 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 and English literature at Grace College and Campbell University.

BOOK COVER: The [stunning!] cover illustration was done by Julia Popova. Visit her website to learn more about her and her fantastic work!

GIVEAWAY: Anne Elisabeth is offering any two of the first six Goldstone Wood novels as a giveaway prize! Winner’s choice of: Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, Dragonwitch, or Shadow Hand. [Editor’s note: I’d go for Starflower and Dragonwitch, if I were you, though I haven’t read Shadow Hand yet, so I reserve the right to change my mind. 😉 ] Go to her site and enter using the rafflecopter form.

Published in: on February 24, 2014 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Introducing Golden Daughter  
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Cover Reveal – My Writing Instruction E-book


For some time now I’ve been working to put together a short e-book about writing fiction, based on my blog posts at this site and at my editing site: Rewrite, Reword, Rework. This is the first in a series of books I’ve entitled Power Elements Of Fiction.

I’m planning to release Power Elements Of Story Structure this week, but wanted to let you see the wonderful cover now which artist and author Rachel Marks designed for it.

PowerElementsOfStoryStructure1000

Watch here for details about when and where the book will be available.

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!

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!

Blog Tours In The Age Of Social Media


csffbannerWhen a group of us speculative writers started the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr and the like did not exist. Blogging itself was fairly new. The concept of a blog tour seemed like the perfect way to create a community of like-minded people willing to talk about the books we wanted to see in bookstores.

When we first approached Donita Paul, *our first author, about touring one of her books, she asked, What is a blog tour? For some time we answered that question fairly regularly, but before long, the concept caught on. Now there are sites dedicated to setting up and running blog tours.

As late as three years ago, however, I had an industry insider note the lack of immediate book sales from a particular tour, then say, “It seems that the main body of people reading the blog tour reviews consisted of other reviewers on the tour.”

At the time I thought that comment was short-sighted. No one other than the blogger knows the traffic his or her site receives unless there’s a visible stats counter. No one else knows how many subscribers are receiving the blog in their email in-box or in a reader. The fact that people who had read the book in question were carrying on an intelligent discussion about it should have been appealing to other visitors. And why would those who had not read the book jump into the conversation? That they were silent doesn’t mean they weren’t listening.

Add to that the marketing idea that a buyer needs to hear about a product X number of times (I think it’s 7) before buying. Here CSFF voluntarily puts the name of these various books out over the Internet for any number of people to get their first nudge, or third, or sixth.

Clearly, I believe blog tours, from the beginning, have helped books sell though their impact may not be immediately felt.

But today we have another whole layer to our blog tours–social media. In the past, if someone wrote a particularly good review, the author might link to it or excerpt it for his blog or website. That may or may not have attracted more readers.

With the growth of social media, however, authors can link to posts on their author Facebook page or Tweet to their followers. In turn, those fans can read and share posts to their social media contacts. So, not only are visitors to my site finding out about the tour reviews and the books we’re featuring, but in essence, the author’s loyal followers are now sharing the reviews with their friends and followers as well. People I don’t know and can’t reach are getting the word.

But the author could do that without the tour, some say. Not really. The author can’t say, Go look at this post, if there is no post to go look at. The tour, operating independently of the author, gives him something to point to.

Interestingly, the tour works best when there is either controversy or positive accord. The books that garner tepid posts won’t stir up a great deal of conversation or receive outside notice. Those that create some passion in the tour participants, however, end up having memorable posts, discussions, and reviews to which the author can point.

In short, blog tours seem to me to be more effective than ever, as long as they do more than regurgitate the back cover copy of the book they are featuring and as long as the book is well written. Somehow, it still comes down to that point, doesn’t it.

– – – – –

* For the record, CSFF opened in May 2006 by featuring a Christian fiction reviewer’s website, specifically a page he called “Focus on Christian Fantasy.” We highlighted Donita Paul the next month as our first author. If you check out that inaugural post, you’ll see a few names you may recognize as current active tour participants.

Published in: on April 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm  Comments Off on Blog Tours In The Age Of Social Media  
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Promoting And Platforms


empty_stageI’ve been thinking about loving your neighbor, mostly because I was reading Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis, but in the writing world, I’ve come across more and more talk about getting noticed. Somehow a book needs to stand out in the crowd. And believe me, with the ease of self-publishing, the crowd is growing.

These two concepts seem antithetical. I mean, with people in so much need around the world, I’m supposed to concern myself with … ME?

Not to mention that a couple situations of what I’ll call overly zealous advertisement–which is the euphemistic way of saying “spam”–I suggested in a Facebook update that unfriending/unfollowing the perpetrator might be the only answer. I was gratified to see that a good number of others agreed–not so much about severing ties as the solution, but about spamming others in the name of promotion being a problem.

Yet I understand where these aggressive promoters are coming from. They read articles that say they need a platform, the publishers are no longer looking at number of blog followers or even Facebook friends, but at Klout scores. They read other articles that say having a platform isn’t enough on its own. You have to hold contests and bring people together into teams, do book give-aways and participate in blog tours. Promotion. It’s part of the book business, whether a person is self- or traditionally-published.

But in the back of my mind, I hear a quiet voice whispering, But I want you to love your neighbor.

There really are only so many hours in the day to do all we need to do. How’s someone with a day job, a writing career, a family, and church responsibilities supposed to add in promotion . . . and loving that needy neighbor?

I don’t have an answer on the promotion part yet. I figured I didn’t need to face that one until I actually have a book that needs to be promoted. But the loving my neighbor seems to be the larger, more pressing, and urgent task.

And yet, it also seems as if I may be overlooking the obvious. It came to me today as I listened to a tribute on the radio program Family Life Today for Dr. Howard Hendricks, former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, who passed away this week.

He taught for sixty years and continued to mentor seminary students even after his retirement. But what difference was he making in the lives of widows and orphans and strangers? How was he reaching the unreached with the good news of God’s good and free gift of His Son? In short, how was he delivering the cup of cold water or feeding the hungry or visiting the sick or imprisoned–the things Jesus said would be like doing those needful things for Him?

I have to believe that all the students–thousands and thousands, many of them in positions of leadership–who Dr. Hendricks taught may have learned from him the importance of loving their neighbor. His role, then was to love them by giving them not just a cup of cold water, but the whole well–or more accurately, the means by with they could go out and dig the well themselves.

And what about the rest of us who aren’t seminary professors? What about writers who are jammed up with edits and dirty dishes and stacks of laundry and grocery shopping and taxes and birthday parties? And promotion?

I think we’re simply to love the person in front of us. Whoever that might be. Whatever he might need.

Loving our neighbor isn’t going to look the same to each person. We’re not all going to travel half-way around the world to find a needy someone to love.

And the needy God puts in our path may not need medical care or bus fare or escape from an abuser. They might. But they might need someone to listen. Someone to cry with. Or even someone to sit beside. They might simply need us to stop talking about our book long enough for them to be noticed.