Fantasy Friday: The Realm Makers Conference


Today the second annual Realm Makers Conference got underway, a symposium specifically for people of faith who are interested in speculative fiction. I wish I were there. Starting with the talented author Tosca Lee as the Keynote Speaker, the lineup of presenters is impressive and the courses they’re offering, intriguing.

Here’s a look at the schedule:

Thursday, May 29
3:00 pm-On Campus housing check in available
8:30 pm-10:30 pm – (Early Bird Event) Flash Critique Party sponsored by Splickety Magazine

Friday, May 30
8:00 am – Conference Check-In
9:00 am – Opening Keynote with Tosca Lee
10:00 am-12:00 noon – Class Sessions
12:00 noon-1:30 pm – Lunch
1:30 pm-5:00 pm – Class sessions
7:00 pm-9:30 pm – Awards Dinner

Saturday, May 31
9:00 am-12:00 noon – Class Sessions
12:00 noon to 1:30 – Lunch
1:30 pm-4:00 pm – Class Sessions
4:00 pm – Closing Keynote with Tosca Lee
5:30 pm – Dinner
7:00 pm-9:00 pm – Multi-Author Book Signing Featuring Tosca Lee (open to the public)

2014CSA_Small copyDid I mention that at the awards dinner, Realm Maker founder Becky Minor will present the winner of the 2014 Clive Staples Award. Should be very cool.

Wish I could be there. *Or did I already say that? 😉

Here is the information about the presenters:

Tosca Lee
Keynote speaker

Tosca is NY Times Bestselling author of Demon: A Memoir; Havah: The Story of Eve; Iscariot; and The Book of Mortals series with NY Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. She’s best known for her exploration of maligned characters.

Steve Laube

Mr. Laube, president and founder of The Steve Laube Agency as well as the new owner of Marcher Lord Press, is a 33 year veteran of the bookselling industry. After running an award-winning bookstore in Phoenix, he spent 11 years with Bethany House Publishers, rising to the position of editorial director. in 2002, he was named the AWSA Golden Scroll Editor of the Year. The next year he become a literary agent and formed The Steve Laube Agency. In 2009, he was named the ACFW Agent of the Year.

Steve is a long-time advocate of Christian Speculative Fiction. He’ll be teaching two sessions as well as taking manuscript pitches at the conference. I hope you are as excited as we are to have him lend his amazing expertise to our attendees.

LB Graham

Mr. Graham joins us for a second year at Realm Makers, offering an encore presentation of his powerful class on Worldview in Speculative Fiction as well as a second course the characters we love to hate: Villians. LB will unravel the mystery of when it’s actually OK to have a two-dimensional villain vs. when they need to be more fully-realized, explain why we (and our heroes) need bad guys, and discuss why evil is attractive, even though that attractiveness is a lie. He’ll also delve into how to keep our portrayals of evil age-appropriate and how to avoid glorifying evil while admitting it’s sometimes fun to write.

LB has published eight novels with a ninth on the way, and had eighteen years of teaching experience. According to Realm Makers:2013 attendees, LB “owns the classroom,” and you will be challenged and encouraged by the content he presents.

Torry Martin

Mr. Martin teaches at conferences across the country, and his personality and presentations are both hilarious and packed with take-away. He’ll be presenting content on the ins and outs of networking, including a spiritual perspective on effective network-building. Torry’s second class will offer attendees wisdom, drawn from Torry’s own career, on how to swim with industry sharks without becoming one yourself. Too valuable to miss for writers at any stage of their career!

Jeff Gerke

Mr. Gerke served as our keynote speaker for Realm Makers: 2013, and we’re excited to have him back in attendance, this year in his preferred role as session teacher. Jeff will be presenting content on the craft of fiction writing, though his exact presentation content is still coming into focus. For anyone who’s ever sat in one of Jeff’s classes, you know he teaches at warp speed, and his takeaway is at once challenging and brimming with encouragement. Jeff has written novels under the pen name Jefferson Scott, worked all over the publishing industry in an editorial capacity, edits on a freelance basis, and has written multiple books on the craft of writing. He is the founder of Marcher Lord Press, and continues to advocate for, teach, and build up Christian writers of speculative fiction with his constant contributions to the geek community.

Jeff’s classes:

Class 1: The So-Called Rules of So-Called Fiction and What to So-Called Do with Them–Jeff’s newest book for Writer’s Digest covers the conflicting “rules” of fiction put out by teachers of craft, rules that can leave writers feeling paralyzed and frustrated. Come hear his solution.

Class 2: The One Rule: Engaging Your Reader–Jeff debunks the so-called rules of fiction and swaps them all out for One Rule to Ring The All (er, or something.) Come here Jeff explain what the one rule is, and how to make it happen.

Kat Heckenbach

Ms. Heckenbach participated as a loved panelist at Realm Makers: 2013, and is back this year to teach one solo session and to team-teach another. Her solo session, “Writing in YA mode” will explore how writing for young adults is not the same as simplifying fiction for adults. The major point of the session will emphasize that meeting teens where they are does not mean dumbing down a stories language or content. She’ll also explain the difference between writing “teen fiction” and writing adult fiction that is safe for teens. Kat Heckenbach is the author of Finding Angel and Seeking Unseen, YA fantasy that incorporates satisfying scientific principles. She has published countless short works as well, in anthologies ranging anywhere from Chicken Soup for the Soul to horror. Attendees will benefit from Kat’s dry wit and extraordinary literary range.

Andrew Winch

Mr. Winch joins us once again to offer an encore presentation of his 2013 class on writing flash fiction that sells, a class that will offer attendees the opportunity to enter into a Splickety Magazine-sponsored flash fiction contest. He will also be team-teaching with Kat Heckenbach a session that explores ways to connect scientific reality with fantasy to build believable and consistent story worlds. This team session promises to offer an excellent toolkit to either get you started or bolster any writer in their world building. Andrew is the senior editor of Splickety Magazine, Splickety Love, and Havok. His training as a physical therapist gives him expert knowledge in the science of the human body, and he finds no shortage of ways to utilize that knowledge in his own writing endeavors.

Randy Streu

Mr. Streu, a member of the very popular horror panel at Realm Makers: 2013, joins us once again, this time to teach a full, solo session on “the Ins and Outs of Christian Horror.” The class will feature an examination and critique of modern secular and “sacred” horror in literature and film against classic horror. We will explore the question of what makes horror, horror, while critiquing modern expectations of the genre, such as sex and gore. Finally, the class will look at Christian horror from a publishing perspective, specifically writing well within the genre without breaking trust with Christian readers–or with God. Randy is the administrator and lead writer for A Flame in the Dark, the premier Christian horror blog on the web. He’s also is the co-founder, director, and developmental editor for Diminished Media Group.

Travis Perry

Mr. Perry joined us in 2013 as a contributor to the discussion of Splashdown Books’s Avenir Eclectia, and this year will draw upon his experience as an Army Reserve Officer to teach about the real toll of mortal danger in fiction. Travis deployed five times into combat zones, once as a medical specialist and served over ten years as a combat medic. His real-world experience with warfare and his established body of work in speculative fiction make him an ideal candidate to keep the rest of us straight when we write about the physiology or psychology of wounding and danger.

Kristen Stieffel

Ms. Stieffel is also a returning presenter at Realm Makers:2013. This year, she’ll explore how the work of Mark Okrand and JRR Tolkien can help us give distinct languages to the people groups in our storyworlds. She’ll unpack how studying real languages other than English can provide inspiration for our fiction. Kristen is a writer and writing coach, helping writers polish and non-writers write. Kristen is a member of Christian Editor Network and the Editorial Freelancers Association. Her fantasy novel Alara’s Call is under contract with OakTara, along with three additional books in the Prophet’s Chronicle series.

Gary Kwapisz

Mr. Kwapisz joins us as a new faculty member in 2014 to discuss the detailed process of taking a graphic novel from idea to print. His session will cover the current realities of the marketplace and the differences writers and artists encounter if they traditionally publish vs. taking the self-publishing route. Gary has a passion to encourage Christians to re-engage the popular culture and help infuse the general market with values-based content. Gary offers a wealth of industry experience, having worked as a professional artist for virtually every publisher in the comics industry, from 1980 to the mid 90’s. (Just Google him—you’ll be amazed.) He’s drawn characters as diverse as Conan, Batman and Harvey Pekar. Even if you don’t necessarily intend to delve into the world of graphic novels, Gary’s breadth of skills and depth of experience will offer Realm Makers attendees encouragement, wisdom, and a dose of reality not to be missed.

Avily Jerome

Ms. Jerome joined us in 2013, primarily as a “Splicketeer,” but has much to offer in her own right. This year, she will present content of supernatural elements in real-world settings. As an author of books that incorporate fantasy and supernatural elements into a real world setting and as the editor of Havok, a speculative fiction magazine, Avily’s perspective is unique and will be beneficial to writers who are also interested in this type of world.

Lisa Walker England

Ms England is an author of far-flung steampunk and fantasy adventures as well as a branding expert, and we are thrilled to have her joining us at this year’s Realm Makers conference. Lisa will bring her expertise gleaned from writing anything from serial fiction to sequential stories (think graphic novels and films) and share them with us in her session, which will explore the ins and outs of the steampunk genre.

So it’s too late for this year, but why not make plans to attend Realm Makers next year? I’m hoping I can!

Published in: on May 30, 2014 at 7:08 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday: The Realm Makers Conference  
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Fantasy Friday – New Books On The Horizon

It’s always fun to get a sneak peak at books that have just release or that will come out shortly. Here are the newest Christian speculative novels I know of.

a hero's throne cover

A Hero’s Throne by Ross Lawhead, Thomas Nelson (January 2013)
YA fantasy
Ancient Earth Trilogy, Book 2

Deep beneath the streets of England lies another realm . . . one few in our modern world know exists. Daniel and Freya, however, know it all too well. Eight years ago, these friends first journeyed through portals into the hidden land of Niðergeard—discovering a city filled with stones, secrets, and sleeping knights that serve to protect the world they call home.

But Niðergeard has fallen to dark forces, overrun by its enemies. Gates are being opened between the worlds that should have been kept closed. The battle lines for the war at the end of time have been drawn, and opposing forces are starting to gather.

Having served for centuries as the first and last outpost at the borders to other worlds, Niðergeard must be reclaimed and the mystery of its fall discovered. Daniel and Freya, along with an ancient knight and a Scottish police officer, must return to the legendary city, rally the surviving citizens, and awaken the sleeping knights—knights who are being killed, one by one, as they sleep.

But time is running out faster than they know.

the crystal scepter coverThe Crystal Scepter by C. S. Lakin, Living Ink Books/AMG (Jan 2013)
Fifth in the Gates of Heaven series
YA Fairytale

When Pythius, the wicked young king of Paladya, learns of the hidden realm of Elysiel and the crystal scepter that protects that northern land, he journeys to kill the Keeper and steal the scepter. But his defiant act unleashes a terrible curse, and the Seer foretells his death one day at the hand of his son, now a newborn babe. To thwart the prophecy, he attempts to murder his child, but the queen escapes and sends the babe off in a trunk across the sea, where he is found and raised by a humble fisherman.

Years later, Perthin, the cast-off babe now grown, hears his call of destiny, and is visited by a specter who tells him of the land of Elysiel and of the Gorgon—the evil creature fomenting war in the Northern Wastes. Perthin’s village of Tolpuddle is being ravaged by a monstrous sea beast sent by this enemy, and Perthin accepts the challenge to kill the creature by cutting off its head—although anyone who looks upon it turns to stone. Armed with magical shoes and a legendary sword, Perthin arrives in Elysiel, where the trolls lead him to the ice cavern where the sacred site made of crystal slabs awaits him to show him his future. Perthin feels a strange connection to this land, unaware that he is the heir to Elysiel’s throne.

With the help of heaven’s army, Perthin bests the enemy and returns to stop the sea monster as the beast is ravaging the kingdom of Paladya. He rescues the princess, who has been set out in the harbor as a sacrifice for the beast, and then stops the sea monster by exposing it to the Gorgon’s head, yet through his heroic efforts he unknowingly fulfills the prophecy foretold by the Seer. He returns to Tolpuddle a hero, where many surprising revelations await him as to his heritage and legacy, for he learns he is not truly a fisherman’s son but a king foretold.

the darker road coverThe Darker Road by L. B. Graham, Living Ink/AMG (February 2013)
Wandering Series
YA fantasy

The empire of Eirmon Omiir, king of Barra-Dohn, couldn’t be stronger. He rules all Aralyn with an iron hand. Meridium, the metal alloy that is both the source and currency of power throughout the world was discovered in Barra-Dohn and Barra-Dohn remains dominant because of it.

The family of Eirmon Omiir couldn’t be more fractured. Eirmon cares for little beyond the power of his throne and his own personal pleasure, and the sins of the father have had generational consequences. Eirmon’s son, Kaden, has reaped their bitter harvest. His marriage is in shambles, a deep divide separating him from both his wife and his son.

A series of mysterious visitors begin to converge on Barra-Dohn, each with their own secrets and motives. There is the elderly Devoted, with his impossible prophesy that the mighty Barra-Dohn will fall within 40 days, the pair of Amhuru, legendary wanderers, who have come to take back what was stolen, and the Jin Dara, who brings an army and an ancient thirst for vengeance.

The events that follow and the crisis that emerges offer both Eirmon and Kaden a chance at restoration, to rise above their past failures, even as the world around them falls apart. Kaden seizes this chance, a small mercy in the midst of a greater judgement. Eirmon does not, and his fate is sealed. And so is the fate of the world, for the end of Barra-Dohn is the beginning of The Wandering, and everything hangs in the balance.

broken-wings-coverBroken Wings by Shannon Dittemore, Thomas Nelson (February 2013)
YA supernatural
Book Two of the Angel Eyes Trilogy

Angels with wings of blade. Demons with renewed sight. And a girl who has never been more broken.

Brielle has begun to see the world as it really is, a place where angels intermingle with humans. But just when she thinks she’s got things under control, the life she’s pieced together begins to crumble.

Her boyfriend, Jake, is keeping something from her. Something important.
And her overprotective father has turned downright hostile toward Jake. Brielle fears she’ll have to choose between the man who’s always loved her and the one who’s captured her heart.
Then she unearths the truth about her mother’s death and the nightmare starts. Brielle begins seeing visions of mysterious and horrible things.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s been targeted. The Prince of Darkness himself has heard of the boy with healing in his hands and of the girl who saw through the Terrestrial veil. When he pulls the demon Damien from the fiery chasm and sends him back to Earth with new eyes, the stage is set for the ultimate battle of good versus evil.

Brielle has no choice. She must master the weapons she’s been given. She must fight.
But can she fly with broken wings?

A-Cast-of-StonesA Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr, Bethany House (February 2013)
Adult epic fantasy
The Staff and the Sword, Book 1

The Fate of the Kingdom Awaits the Cast of Stones

In the backwater village of Callowford, roustabout Errol Stone is enlisted by a church messenger arriving with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Eager for coin, Errol agrees to what he thinks will be an easy task, but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty nears its end and the selection of the new king begins–but in secret and shadow. As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones.

the ravaged realm coverThe Ravaged Realm by D. Barkley Briggs, AMG/Living Ink (February 2013)
YA fantasy
The Legends of Karac Tor, Book 4

With the Nine Worlds facing a judgment of fire, Karac Tor stands on the brink of civil war and despair. A true prophet must be found, but he’s lost…somewhere in North America.

Determined to fight for the land, Arthur and Corus take their case all the way to the White Abbey, hoping to receive a blessing for their efforts. But time is of the essence, and Cassock, having delivered the deceptive gift of the Lost Oracle to the High Synod, has cleverly begun sowing the Devourer’s lies and confusion into the fabric of the Three Holy Orders. Has the sacred Book of Law really been expanded, or annulled? And if the Nine Gifts are to be abandoned, does the White Abbey finally reign supreme above all others?

Gabe, dramatically increasing his power to communicate with animals, ventures into the forbidding Highlands to find and rescue Flogg from the dreaded Stone Moot. Little does he understand the series of events this will unleash. Meanwhile, Arthur, refusing to play politics, discover that a small army has been secretly waiting for him to finally take charge. Setting out to make trouble for Kr’Nunos, Arthur and Corus finally confront the strange, beastly Ravers that are wreaking havoc across the land. Driven by enemies within and without, the Royal Kingdom of Karac Tor is swiftly unravelling, standing on the brink of civil war.

Meanwhile, back on earth, Reggie, Odessa and her children find themselves thrown across the Nine Worlds on a desperate quest to find and rescue the mysterious Lost Prophet, a great bird whose legendary power is woven into the history of our own world. Forced into hiding among the Native tribes of pre-Columbian America, Rianor is the last messenger and signal-bearer, whose final cry will usher in the War of Swords, and hopefully, summon Aion to return and save his people. But first they must find him and free him, before the Devourer brings ruin to all.

CaptivesSafeLandscoverCaptives by Jill Williamson, Zondervan (April 2013)
YA Dystopian Science fiction
The Safe Lands, Book 1

One choice could destroy them all. When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he’d find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed by enforcers, and many—including his fiancee, Jem–taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Land, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away to Denver City, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land like nomads and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Land has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams. Meanwhile, Jem is locked in a cell, awaiting the Safe Landers’ plan to protect their future by seizing her own. Can Levi uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Land’s facade before it’s too late?

Fantasy Fiction Tour, the Third Part

Here is a picture of Sharon Hinck and me at the Calvary Church Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour event in Huntington Beach last Friday, thanks to Bryan Davis who sent it.

I have just a few more thoughts about the recent West Coast tour these authors just finished, and I think this actually relates to writing, maybe to life, in general. Actually it came to me first as I was posting on the tour last week. Here’s the line:

But promoting the genre with feet on the ground are our heroic eight authors—Wayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Christopher Hopper, L.B. Graham, Donita Paul, Eric Reinhold, and Jonathan Rogers.

Every endeavor needs its pioneers—people willing to step into the unknown and make a dream work. The United States is largely a result of pioneers. Space exploration is still in it’s pioneering infancy. The personal computer needed pioneers who envisioned something others pooh-poohed.

And Christian fantasy, once thought to be unsaleable in Christian bookstores and unwanted in the general market, has begun to catch on because pioneers in the book publishing industry forged the way.

Including Christian fantasy writers in with those who explored the Northwest Territory or landed on the moon or invented the Apple may seem like I’m stretching the value of fantasy, but I don’t think so. Fantasy, remember, relates a good versus evil story—the eternal story, really—and nothing has more significance.

From where I sit, the key Christian fantasy pioneer is Karen Hancock. Undoubtedly others would suggest that Frank Peretti or even Ted Dekker holds that place. I consider their works to be supernatural suspense and not precisely fantasy. Speculative, certainly, but not other-world fantasy. Of course there were earlier writers. Stephen Lawhead wrote fantasy, as did a few others. But this was pre-resurgance.

After Karen Hancock, who then? L. B. Graham was next, I think. I remember reading a Christianity Today review of Beyond Summerland, first in the Binding of the Blade series, in which the reviewer said all manner of positives, including the statement that the work was Tolkienesque. I can’t tell you how happy that made me.

Following close behind was Donita Paul and Bryan Davis. Their first fantasies came out the same year and maybe even the same month, both dragon series, but very different from each other. Donita’s books come close to classic fantasy whereas Bryan’s might be some mix between fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural suspense—not classic, but innovative.

A cluster of other authors followed, but the industry has yet to embrace Christian fantasy wholeheartedly. Hence, the authors who had stepped out into this lonely, unmapped world did so again, this time with the intent to promote their own work at their own expense.

Last year that turned into the Fantasy Four Fiction Tour up the East Coast, and this year it grew to become the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour down the West Coast.

The point is this. These authors spent time away from their families, their homes, their writing, some entirely at their own expense. They traveled hundreds and hundreds of miles in less than first class conditions, slept in less than first class accommodations, ate fast food and on the move, got up at hours far earlier than a body should be required, for what? A fan here, a sale there, and lots of free bookmarks and posters.

Seeds. For the most part, the Motiv8 authors sowed seeds that may or may not take root and turn into increased book sales. That’s what pioneers do. There are no guarantees given to pioneers. They may or may not find what they expect. (No, Mr. Columbus, this is not India. 😉 )

But one thing I learned by listening to these Motiv8 authors—they love stories and they love God. For each of them, those two loves come together in the Christian fantasy they write. That makes me want to cheer. They are my feet-on-the-ground heroes.

Fantasy Fiction Tour, continued

Bryan Davis sent me this picture today of us talking at the close of the Calvary Chapel Huntington Beach Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour event hosted by Merrie Destefano. In the background you can see Jonathan Rogers,, one of the writers I had not met in real life before. In the reflection of the door, you can just make out Eric Reinhold if you know to look.

Honestly, in spite of how tired I felt sure the Motiv8 writers must be, I thought they did an outstanding job. This was not your typical book signing. Rather it was a cross between the events they put on for schools and what you might expect them to share in a testimony time in church.

One thing that turned out kinda unplanned cool was that people started arriving as the authors were getting set up and organized just off the sanctuary. But Merrie had all the books set up and displayed on tables out in the front, so people had time to look at the books and even to make some purchases before the program.

Christopher Hopper and his wife Jennifer started things off by singing several worship songs. I thought the music put a different spin on the event from the beginning. This was not just a sales pitch, not just promotion. This was ministry, too.

Sharon Hinck spoke next about God using cracked clay pots, about how He is the real hero in our stories. Eric Reinhold followed her with a segment about God’s timing. He shared how he started writing his first Ryann Watters tale but had serious health issues that led to open heart surgery. Seven years later he returned to the story and finished it, even as God brought into his life a publisher who ended up printing the book.

Next was L.B. Graham. He talked a little about fantasy and his Binding of the Blade series. Wayne Thomas Batson followed with a reading from The Door Within, and Bryan Davis closed this segment with an impassioned defense of fantasy as a means to communicate spiritual reality.

Already the evening was well worth while, but my favorite part was yet to come. For a half hour or more, all eight authors fielded questions from the audience. A lot of credit has to go to the people asking the questions. They were thoughtful, probing questions—no fluff. Many of the times, all the authors gave an answer, passing the mic from person to person. Sometimes several answered and the rest seemed to agree. For the Q&A session alone, this event would be worth your time watching from the archives over at the Motiv8 site.

The thing was, hearing the authors side-by-side like that was really, really interesting for another writer, especially one who has read their work. Which one is an outliner, who writes as a seat-of-the-pantser? Who sold right away, who suffered the greatest pile of rejections? Who focuses on plot more, who on character? Who writes full time, who still maintains a day job? What prompted different ones to start writing in the first place? It was just a lot of fun and I was sorry when they had to cut the questions off.

But after all, there was still the signing part of the event. Lots of people bought new books. Some brought the ones they had from home. They got pictures of the authors, talked about the books, and of course had the personalized signatures included. I saw Jonathan Rogers more than once add a sketch of an alligator beneath his John Hancock. What better way for the author of The Bark of the Bog Owl to finish off an autograph! 😀

Well, I’m far over my word count and didn’t yet say what I most wanted to say about the event/tour. Just maybe, I’ll have to address this one more time.

Fantasy Fiction Tour

This is one of those posts where I just have too much to say.

I attended two events, one an elementary school and one a church event promoted in part as a fantasy writing event. Right off, my camera failed to work—low batteries, it said, though I’d put in new batteries before I left home. Thankfully Christopher Hopper snagged a picture of the two of us and emailed it to me on the spot.

He served as the moderator of the school event and did a wonderful job keeping a room of 200 or more kids attentive. He introduced other members of the tour for their parts, then engaged in a sword fight with Sir Wayne Thomas Batson. All very entertaining.

After the presentation, kids flocked to the stage or to the book tables where they had the authors sign posters or bookmarks and where they bought books they then had autographed. A few children brought in their parents, which I was happy to see.

Afterward, I asked the people from Barnes and Noble, who partnered with the school and sold the books, if they did many of these kinds of events and how this one did in comparison to others. It turns out, they do so many, one of the women I was talking to was in charge of community outreach. And they said they thought this event did better than most. Said they sold 25 percent of the inventory they brought. If they hadn’t already said this was better than most, I wouldn’t have thought that was so good, but of course, I also didn’t know how much inventory they brought. They also said they would keep it in the store until Christmas (that sounded good), and that most likely it would sell (that sounded even better). That made sense to me, since a lot of the kids didn’t have money themselves to buy the books, but they had those autographed bookmarks and posters to show their parents exactly what they wanted. Interestingly, Jonathan Rogers did a reading from The Bark of the Bog Owl, and his book sold out.

This school, by the way, hosted Bryan Davis two or three years ago when he came out west. One of the teachers read his book to her class, and when he came, he sold a hundred copies. I bring that up to make this point—readers need, more than anything, an introduction to these books. The stories, the writing, the characters can then take over.

I’ve got much more to say about the second event and already I’m pushing my self-imposted word count limit. Rather than hurry, I’ll save my remarks for tomorrow. In the meantime, you can read more and see many more pictures at Merrie Destefano‘s site (she hosted the second event and did a terrific job) and Eric Reinhold‘s blog. In fact, Eric has blogged about the entire tour, and it’s great reading.

One more thing. I should give the answers to my Wednesday contest. We have five winners, two with perfect six for six answers. I’ll be contacting our winners to make arrangements to send them their autographed books.

The authors of the excerpts I posted are as follows:
#1 Jonathan Rogers (The Bark of the Bog Owl)

#2 Donita Paul (DragonLight)

#3 Wayne Thomas Batson (The Isle of Swords)

#4 Sharon Hinck (The Restorer’s Journey)

#5 Bryan Davis (Beyond the Reflection’s Edge)

#6 Eric Reinhold (Ryann Watters and the King’s Sword)

You See It Here, You See It There—Christian Fantasy Everywhere

With all the attention on the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour, I don’t want to neglect the other ground breaking fantasy event that took place last week. Marcher Lord Press released its first books.

In one forum, I learned that there was a midnight lineup of fans trying to be the first to order. It turns out that over a hundred people had the same idea. I wonder if there’s ever been an online rush to buy books before.

Without a doubt, MLP has focused the spotlight roundly on fantasy and other speculative genres written from a Christian worldview. One bit of evidence is the fact that oft-declared non-fantasy reader Nicole Petrino-Salter conducted an interview with MLP founder, Jeff Gerke, which she posted last Tuesday.

Earlier this year Jeff taught on speculative fiction at the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference. Here’s a man who has seized an opportunity. Not only does he recognize the ongoing popularity of speculative fiction, he’s paying attention to the development of new technology. The Marcher Lord Press model of publishing just might revolutionize the industry.

But promoting the genre with feet on the ground are our heroic eight authors—Wayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Christopher Hopper, L.B. Graham, Donita Paul, Eric Reinhold, and Jonathan Rogers. Their tour is quickly coming to an end, and I can’t wait to hear in person their stories of the many encounters with fans, new and old.

Report after report mentions the fun, the crowds, the enthusiasm. The video journal has clips of happy readers walking out with stacks of books. One comment begged the writers to tour the heartland next. Others suggested the entire US. 😀 Personally, I’d like to see them return to the West Coast and stay right here in SoCal. I know of a dozen places that would love to have them.

Regardless, there are two days remaining, and you can enjoy the events live or by rerun simply by clicking over to the Motiv8 Web site.

By the way, did you discover who the mystery guests were at the beginning of the tour? Authors of the brand new, very eye-catching middle grade fantasies—the Hunter Brown series—brothers, Christopher and Allan Miller.

Who knows? The fantasy tour might grow by half next year and there will be a group of twelve. Sounds very biblical! 😉

Motiv8ing for Fun

How many books have you read? For some, you might not even be able to guess at the number. But if we narrow it down to fiction, or even further, to fantasy, how many books have you read? How about Christian fantasy? Or most specifically, Christian fantasy written by one of the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour authors?

We’ve featured a number of them on the CSFF Blog Tour. In fact, in October we’re highlighting Bryan Davis’s Beyond the Reflection’s Edge (Zondervan). So I’m guessing a number of you just might feel like you know Christian fantasy pretty well. Here’s your chance to win an autographed book of your choice—as long as you email me by Friday with four out of six correct answers.

Answers to what, you say? I will quote opening lines from six of the authors participating in the tour (I wish I could include all 8, but don’t have easy access to some of the books). You answer correctly who authored four of the six, and you will win an autographed copy of a book from the Motiv8 author of your choice. Here’s a hint—with a little internet surfing, I think you can probably figure out most of these, even if you haven’t read the books.

Here again are the authors: Wayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Christopher Hopper, L.B. Graham, Donita Paul, Eric Reinhold, and Jonathan Rogers.

And now the excerpts:


His Majesty, King Darrow of Corenwald,
Protector of the People,
Defender of the Faith,
Keeper of the Island
Tambluff Castle
West Bank of the River Tam
Tambluff, Corenwald

My Dearest King–

You will be glad to learn that I am still available for any quest, adventure, or dangerous mission for which you might need a champion or knight-errant. I specialize in dragon-slaying, but would be happy to fight pirates or invading barbarians if circumstances require. I would even be willing to rescue a fair maiden imprisoned by evil relatives.


Kale wrinkled her nose at the dank air drifting up from the stone staircase. Below, utter darkness created a formidable barrier.

Toopka stood close to her knee. Sparks skittered across the doneel child’s furry hand where she clasped the flowing, soft material of Kale’s wizard robe. Kale frowned down at her ward. The little doneel spent too much time attached to her skirts to be captivated by the light show.


“Papa, I’m scared!” the little girl cried out as she slid awkwardly across the deck. Before she could regain her balance, she crashed into her father’s arms.

“Oh, Dolphin!” he said, shielding her from sheets of rain and sea spray. “What are you doing up here?”

She looked up at him. “I heard a monster out in the sea!”


My mom was freaking out.

She stared out the dining room window as if major-league monsters were hiding in the darkness beyond the glass. Give me a break. Our neighborhood was as boring as they come. Ridgeview Drive’s square lawns and generic houses held nothing more menacing than basketball hoops and tire swings. Still, Mom’s back was tight, and in the shadowed reflection on the pane, I could see her biting her lip.


Nathan watched his tutor peer out the window. She was being paranoid again. That guy following them in the Mustang had really spooked her. “Chill out, Clara. He doesn’t know what room we’re in.”

She slid the curtains together, casting a blanket of darkness across the motel room. “He parked near the lobby entrance. Wed better pack up and leave anothe way.” She clicked on a corner table lamp. The pale light seemed to deepen the wrinkles on her face and hands. “how much more time do you need?”


It first appeared as a gentle glow, almost like a child’s night-light. Heavy shadows filled the room as the boy lay face up, covers tucked neatly under his arms. A slight smile on his face hinted that he was in the midst of a pleasant dream.

Ryann Watters, who had just celebrated his twelfth birthday, rolled lazily onto his side, his blong hair matted into the pillow, unaware of the glow as it began to intensify. Shadows searched for hiding places throughout the room as the glow transformed from a pale yellow hue to brilliant white.

So there you have it. A mere four out of six. Email your answers to me at rluellam at yahoo dot com . Be sure to include which author you would like me to get an autographed book from. I’m seeing them on Friday, so I must have your answers no later than 9:00 am (Pacific time) Friday.

Christian Fantasy and Writers in Community

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis had the Inklings. Today we fantasy writers have the internet. Not quite as powerful perhaps, but it does mean we don’t all have to live in Oxford.

But then, along comes a group of writers like those participating in the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction TourWayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Christopher Hopper, L.B. Graham, Donita Paul, Eric Reinhold, and Jonathan Rogers—and the power of a community of writers takes on a new meaning. While these authors haven’t fed into each other’s writing, they are feeding into each other’s promotion. What a great concept!

I suspect these days on the road just may spark more stories too. How could that many writers spend concentrated time together and not talk writing—craft, characters, process, plot, marketing and magic. Wouldn’t you love to be a moth flitting about from conversation to conversation?

Well, that brings me back to the power of the internet. As I mentioned on Saturday, this actual tour is set up to allow for live participation by those who aren’t able to be at the events. How cool!

Evidently the weather problems and the lack of internet access hindered the tour from going live over the weekend, but all that should change. The bad weather is gone and they’re in California already—no longer in the boonies. ( 😀 Just kidding. I happen to love the west, partly because even in the city you can get away from the city pretty easily.)

But the thought has hit me … is the internet enough, or do writers need actual groups? A writer friend sent me the link to an interesting article on the subject, written as a response to a book by Diana Pavlac Glyer—The Company They Keep: CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien as Writers in Community (Kent State University Press, 2007).

As it turns out, I met Glyer last February at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. . What’s more, she’s a professor at a nearby (forty-five minutes from here) university. But did I meet Glyer on our home turf? No. Instead, we both traveled some six hours north to connect.

Maybe crowded freeways and high gas prices and a society that relocates frequently make internet writing communities the only way to go. But now I’m wondering …

I’ll also add, I’m pretty excited about this coming Friday when I get to hang out with writers for real—even for a short time. But maybe that’s just me. 😉

Fantasy Friday – It’s Time to Motiv8

MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour 2008 - 8 Christian Fantasy Authors, 8 West Coast Cities, 8 Days

Yes, I do realize it’s Saturday, but isn’t it cool how we fantasy writers can ignore constraints, such as time and place? 😉

I have been working hard on fiction these last few weeks, my own and an editing client’s, so I’ve been tardy with my posts here on occasion. I’m still working to figure out how to keep all my priorities in the top slot. 😀

As some of you may know, a group of eight Christian fantasy writers started an actual tour, known as the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour, of the West Coast yesterday. Of course, as you might guess, the weather turned cold and rainy—yep, yesterday. Aside from that, this trip is a great opportunity to familiarize a lot of receptive readers with the existence of Christian fantasy.

Last year, four authors toured the East Coast. Those same writers—Wayne Thomas Batson, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, and Christopher Hopper—are now joined by L.B. Graham, Donita Paul, Eric Reinhold, and Jonathan Rogers.

One of the cool, cool features is that these events will be broadcast live at the Motiv8 Web site—and archived for those who want to see the re-runs. Here’s the explanation:

Watch each event on the West Coast Tour live right here! When we’re not on the air, you can catch re-runs from the daily video journals. Chat with us and send your comments and questions; be sure to include where you’re watching from!
Broadcasting Live from Salt Shaker Book Store in Seattle!

So there you have it—an actual tour that all of us can enjoy virtually. Now that is too cool! Hope you take advantage of the opportunity some time this week.

And for those of you in Southern California, there are two events open to the public—one on the west side of LA and one on the east:

    Thursday Oct. 9th
    Valley Book & Bible
    5:00pm – 7:00pm
    6502 Van Nuys Blvd.
    Van Nuys, CA 91401
    Toll Free: 800-421-8906

    Friday Oct. 10th
    Calvary Chapel Church
    7:00pm – 9:00pm
    7800 Edinger Ave.
    Huntington Beach, CA 92647
    (714) 891-9495

One more thing. The Motiv8 home page has been including prayer requests for the last several months. If you haven’t stopped by the site before, it’s not too late. These authors are going to need as much prayer during the tour as in preparation for the tour. In that way, everyone interested can be a part.

Did I mention that you can also read bios and interviews with the authors at the Motiv8 site, so you can get to know the people you’re praying for. Quite an eclectic bunch! 8)

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