Fantasy Friday – Introducing Lisa T. Bergren


Lisa T. Bergren is the author of over thirty books, so you may wonder how it is that she needs an introduction. As it happens, Lisa is somewhat of an eclectic writer — she has books in a variety of genres: non-fiction, romance, historical, suspense, YA.

I first became aware of Lisa’s work when the CSFF Blog Tour featured the first title, Begotten, in her supernatural suspense series, The Gifted, back in April 2008. The epic trilogy is set in medieval times.

More recently, however, Lisa has written a time-travel young adult series, The River of Time: Waterfall, Cascade, Torrent, with a fourth book to be released later this year. Rather than falling into the science fiction category, however, these stories relate more nearly to fantasy because they take the protagonists back in time to medieval Italy. The first in the series, by the way, has been nominated in the fantasy category in a reader’s choice contest.

In that respect, then, Lisa is fairly new to speculative fiction and thus my thought that an introduction would be appropriate.

Lisa was born in Kalispell, Montana, on March 28 and raised in Southern California (there must be a story behind that transition!) Growing up she wanted to be “A nurse. An astronaut. Indiana Jones. A teacher. A journalist. One of the Three Musketeers.” Writing, apparently, has made it possible for her to become any of these through her characters.

After high school she went on to get a degree in English literature from the University of California at Irvine. Post graduation she became, among other things, a “ski bum” in Park City, Utah, but it was there she renewed her faith in Jesus Christ. Now she describes herself as “a disciple of Christ, desiring to walk close enough to him to be covered in the dust from his sandals.”

Currently she lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband Tim and their three children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.

Her daughters were the big motivation for her decision to write a YA series. For, oh so long, these girls were reluctant readers — and then the Twilight books came out. The oldest in particular took to them, full force. Lisa stayed involved, discussing the books with her daughter as she read them and taking her to the first movie. It was there, seeing all those young girls longing for suspense and romance, that Lisa first thought of writing for that audience.

Besides me, Lisa is the only writer I know who starts with setting. She does her best research by traveling to the location of her story, and there she comes up with interesting characters and plot ideas. Her travels have taken her to Egypt, England, France, Italy. She’s gone scuba diving in the Red Sea, ridden a camel for a photo op at the Great Pyramids, and taken a ride on a gondola in Venice.

In addition to writing and travel, Lisa is a “mompreneur,” caring for her home and family, a business consultant, a freelance editor, and an occasional speaker. Formerly she worked as a publishing executive.

You can connect with Lisa (and she enjoys getting to know readers) at her web site, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Published in: on January 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm  Comments (6)  
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The Problem With Broad Brushes


A tempest broke out in the kidlitosphere this week because a writer at the Wall Street Journal took a number of authors to task for their “depraved” works. The response was instantaneous and loud, centering most on the horror of “censorship.”

I find that interesting because there are similarities to the waves stirred by author and friend Mike Duran in his recent post about Christian fiction and his idea of two camps of Christians.

In both discussions, I see a liberal application of a broad brush, from all quarters, and it is against the broad brush I stand.

Broad brushes handle a big job in the shortest amount of time (apart from rollers or spray guns 😉 ), but they have an accompanying drawback — they can easily spread paint where it does not belong.

From my point of view, this was the case in Mike’s article. In holding to his “two camp view,” he made this comment about those he characterizes as in the camp where “law is the driving principle” — those writing Christian fiction:

As long as we Christians define our witness primarily in terms of Law — no cussing, smoking, drinking, dancing, or sex — and see our fiction as a tool to perpetuate those values, we are destined for tension.

Of course the problem is that a good many novels coming out of Christian publishing houses have no such agenda. They actually have higher goals, aim for and accomplish something greater than propping up incidental cultural mores.

The furor about the WSJ article was similar. The author, Meghan Cox Gurdon, made some broad brush claims. Here’s one:

Grim though these novels are, they seem positively tame in comparison with what’s on shelves now.

The implication, of course, is that there are no books that are less grim than the ones she named that came out in the ’70s. That statement splatters paint on a good number of novels that are not grim and do not deal with “damage, brutality and losses.”

Those issuing a rebuttal take up the same broad brush. From one comment:

I find it ridiculous that anyone might think it a good idea to censor literature

Or how about this one:

You are supposed to be telling those gatekeepers to DROP DEAD. Because they ARE censoring things and that’s SICK. A journalist who thinks that censoring is OK should NOT be a journalist. [So apparently, the commenter has a right to censor journalists, but journalists haven’t the right to censor anyone else. 😉 ]

Broad brushes. They hurt individuals. Christian novelists who are not driven by law, who are not remotely interested in promoting a set of superficial values are lumped in with those who may believe Christianity is primarily about meeting a prescribed list of do‘s and don’t‘s. In the end, readers will steer clear of Christian bookstores and the aisles where Christian books are shelved because they expect all those books to be the same.

In the same way, YA writers who are not dabbling in depravity (not used here as a theological term) may come away stigmatized and vilified by some, while parents and librarians and teachers who wish to steer children away from morally questionable books end up wearing the censorship tag.

So what does the broad brush earn us? Does the conversation become less entrenched? Are people on different sides of the issues more inclined to listen to one another?

As I see it, publishers will continue to produce books that sell. The writer who is making an effort to buck the trend is the one who gets hurt. All YA books are trash or all Christian fiction is law driven splatters paint on the worthwhile YA books and the Christian fiction that is not law driven. Those books do exist and they should be celebrated, not buried under someone else’s layer of paint.

CBBT – Wayfarer by R. J. Anderson, Day 2


Shortly after the CSFF Blog Tour for R. J. Anderson‘s first novel, Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter, I lent my copy to a friend who writes YA fantasy. She’s even written a faery story though it hasn’t found a publishing home. I knew she’d be interested in reading a story about Knife and the faeries without magic.

When our next writer get-together drew near, I asked for the book back because a couple other people were in line to read it. Lo and behold, my friend had started it, but her target-audience daughter snatched it up and devoured it instead. In fact, my friend reported how on pins and needles said daughter was, waiting for Wayfarer.

Thinking that I’d be through with the Children’s Book Blog Tour (I got my dates wrong), I’d said I would pass along my ARC in exchange for the first book. Oh, woe! I feel like I’ve disappointed this eager reader!

But here’s the point. Too often when I’m doing reviews, I lose sight of the target audience. I formulate my opinion based on my likes and dislikes, my expectations and interests, my writing style preferences. I try not to, but it happens. Then I encounter the raw enthusiasm of a reader in love with a new world she’s discovered, and I realize, as much as I may have liked Wayfarer (and I DID), it pales in comparison to the joy a target-audience reader will experience.

Stories like the ones the talented R. J. Anderson has written spark something in young readers, I think. They stretch the world and make all things seem possible. They create mystery but also throw down the gauntlet of becoming to those moving toward adulthood.

A young person can grow to be selfish, using others and protecting self, or he can grow to be sacrificial, helping others and giving himself away. Anderson paints the contrasts clearly and even paints the risks of sacrifice accurately. Good choices aren’t necessarily happy choices. They usually cost.

But when a character a reader loves makes the good choice, somehow that reader, especially that young reader, is ennobled. Suddenly, the idea that sacrifice and selflessness can be achieved and will make a difference seems like an idea for today, for now, for the young as much as for the old.

That’s when stories take on power. That’s when they become much more than entertainment, much more than enjoyable.

That’s the kind of book I believe Wayfarer is.

See what others on the CBBT circuit think:

Special thanks to HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, for supplying me with a review copy of Wayfarer.

Recommended Christian Fiction – From Middle Grade to Adult


From time to time I get requests for a list of recommended Christian fiction. A couple years ago, I put together a Best of … [insert year] List, and I may again some time, but I found myself having to qualify the list, primarily because my reading is far from exhaustive. There are some genres I rarely touch, for instance. So it seems wiser to me to go with books I can recommend because I’ve read them. Some of these, if not all, I’ve reviewed, so I’ve linked to that post (either here or at Spec Faith) in case you’d like to read more.

Middle Grade
Chuck Black – Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione
R. K. Mortenson – the Landon Snow series (Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum, … the Volucer’s Dragon)
Jonathan Rogers – The Wilderking Trilogy (The Bark of the Bog Owl)
Andrew Peterson – The Wingfeather Saga (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness)

Young Adult
Wayne Thomas Batson – The Door Within Trilogy; Isle of Swords
Bryan Davis – the Dragons in Our Midst series
Donita K. Paul – the DragonKeeper Chronicles (DragonKnight, DragonFire, DragonLight)

Adult
Fantasy
Karen Hancock – The Guardian King series (Return of the Guardian King)
Sharon Hinck – The Sword of Lyric series (The Restorer, The Restorer’s Son)
Stephen Lawhead – The King Raven series (Scarlet)
Tosca Lee – Demon: a Memoir
Kathryn Mackel – The Birthrighter series (Trackers)
Jeffrey Overstreet – Auralia’s Thread (Auralia’s Colors)
George Bryan Polivka – The Trophy Chase Trilogy (The Legend of the Firefish, The Hand That Bears the Sword, The Battle for Vast Dominion)

Science Fiction
Austin Boyd – The Mars Hills Classified trilogy (The Evidence, The Proof, The Return)
Sigmund Brouwer – Broken Angel
Chris Walley – The Lamb among the Stars series

Contemporary
Julie Carobini – Chocolate Beach
Kathryn Cushman – A Promise to Remember
Sharon Hinck – The Secret Life of Becky Miller; Renovating Becky Miller
Kathleen Popa – To Dance in the Desert
Sharon Souza – Every Good and Perfect Gift

Suspense
Brandilyn Collins – the Kanner Lake series (Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, Crimson Eve, Amber Morn)
Athol Dickson – Winter Haven
T. L. Hines – Waking Lazaras

Feel free to add your recommendations in the comments. 😀

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