Friday, March 30, 2007

Blog Tour - Reclaiming Nick

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
( Tyndale Fiction, 2007)
Susan May Warren
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award winning author SUSAN MAY WARREN recently returned home to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods. Visit her Web site at

ABOUT THE BOOK: RECLAIMING NICK is the first of The Noble Legacy series. Book Two, Taming Rafe, will be available January 2008.

A Modern Day Prodigal Comes Home...
But when his father dies and leaves half of Silver Buckle--the Noble family ranch--to Nick’s former best friend, he must return home to face his mistakes, and guarantee that the Silver Buckle stays in the Noble family.
Award-winning journalist Piper Sullivan believes Nick framed her brother for murder, and she’s determined to find justice. But following Nick to the Silver Buckle and posing as a ranch cook proves more challenging than she thinks. So does resisting his charming smile.
As Nick seeks to overturn his father’s will--and Piper digs for answers--family secrets surface that send Nick’s life into a tailspin. But there’s someone who’s out to take the Silver Buckle from the Noble family, and he’ll stop at nothing--even murder--to make it happen.

If you would like to hear more about Nick, he has his own blog. Also, the first chapter is there...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My Love, My Life

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Today is my 9th anniversary. That day the greatest woman I have ever (or will ever) known said, "I do". I am forever grateful to our loving Father that He saw fit to bless me with such a wondrous gift.

It has been an amazing 9 years!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Writing Resources - Day 6

(For anybody keeping track, day 4 of this discussion is called "Double Duty")

As I've been talked about writing resources, I've been focusing on books on writing. Of course there are numerous other helps available, and I'd like to point out some free resources on the web today. Many of these are listed in my right sidebar, but I'll discuss them today.

1. Forensics and Faith. Brandilyn Collins is Christian fiction's suspense specialist. She is also a wonderful woman who really gives of herself. Her blog has gone through many discussions of fiction techniques. She's covered action sequences, POV, voice. One special feature was when a reader submitted an action scene where BC walked us through an edit of it. Check out the left sidebar for links to the particular subjects.

2. Faith*in*Fiction. Dave Long is a fiction acquistion editor at Bethany House. He started the blog to draw in people who might have work that fit the company, but he also put out some helpful discussions on the craft of fiction, as well as discussions on the business of publishing. He hasn't been too active lately (shame Mr. Long...), but check out the right sidebar for links. Also see the f*i*f discussion board, with many helpful writers who discuss topics.

3. Novel Journey. This wonderful site interviews numerous authors, discussing writing highs and lows. Lately the ladies of NJ have had some intrepid readers submit chapters to be critiqued for all to see. Helpful to see a constructive critique, which to me keys me in to blind spots I may have.

4. Notes on Craft. This is a work of J. Mark Bertrand, a writer and thinker. This blog discusses aspects of the craft of fiction. He always posts thoughtful insights into the process.

5. The Writing Life. Terry Whalin is an agent who has worked as an editor and writer as well. His site is part marketing, but he has a lot of helpful advice, and I check here regularly. His companion site is Right Writing.

6. A Christian Worldview of Fiction. Becky Miller is behind this site, and she has been a big encouragement to me. She writes about the craft of fiction, but also challenges Christian writers about the HEART of what Christian fiction should be about. There are always thoughtful discussions here. She is also the head cheerleader for the sub-genre of Christian science fiction and fantasy, organizer of the CSFF blog tour, and all around busy person. She also contributes to Speculative Faith, a blog dedicated to CSFF.

7. Charis Connection. This is a blog of a group of Christian fiction writers, who share insight from their own experience in the publishing world. There is great encouragement here, as well as challenges in the craft.

This is a VERY small sample of the resources out there for writers. I wanted to highlight some that I enjoy and use. If you know of other links that would go well here, please share them in the comments. I have a little more to share on writing resources in the next day or two, then I'll have to come up with another idea for posts! Aieee!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Books on Writing - Day 5

There are a few authors who always seem to be at the top of lists for books related to the "how-to" of fiction. One of those is usually James N. Frey. If nothing else, he has a catchy name for his series of books!

First came "How to Write a Damn Good Novel". Of course it was followed by "How to Write a Damn Good Novel II: Advanced Techniques for Dramatic Storytelling". Somewhere in there he wrote about how to write a damn good mystery (seeing any pattern yet?).

I read the first two listed, but the best Frey book in my opinion is "The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth." This book is basically a discussion of the concept of the "hero's journey," popularized by Joseph Cambell. My friend Athena referred me to Frey's take on it as she felt it was more accessible as a book.

The idea of the hero's journey suggests that there are archtypes that we are almost hard-wired to enjoy, and by consciously weaving these elements into our fiction, we can tie into something that gives our works a resonance or power that enhances everything we've done. Frey gives plenty of examples from literature and movies (as the Star Wars saga is famously based off the hero's journey). It exists in Homer, classic novels, and numerous modern examples.

Frey goes on to discuss the various aspects of the mythic novel: the hero that is powerful yet has a flaw or need to grow, a powerful evil one to oppose the hero, a journey of transformation, sidekicks, femme fatales, threshold guardians. Even better, he begins to craft a novel within this book that follows all the guidelines he is discussing. This is one of the best practical examples of writing that I have seen in a "how-to" book.

This is one book that I have read again to glean more from it. One of the draws was the fact that my work in process matched so much of what Frey was teaching - unintentionally! Unknowingly, I had used many of these elements in my very basic attempt at putting together a compelling story. Wow.

This is one book I would highly recommend. The ideas do seem to be timeless. Obviously one would not want to be transparent in using this method as a framework for a novel, but the principles work well as a foundation when used skillfully.

I have a little more to share on writing resources still. Stay tuned.


Monday morning. Post number 200. Wow.

I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I started this here widget. Now I've done 200 posts with this widget.

Unfortunately, it is Monday morning, so I have no idea how to celebrate...


Oh, and thanks for checking this particular widget out! More actually revelant content coming soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Double Duty

It's always nice when you can kill two birds with one stone. Or two topics with one blog post. So today I give you the Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy blog tour/Books on Writing smash up post!

The CSFF is featuring writer Randy Ingermanson and his book Double Vision. Randy is a Christy award winning novelist who can provide you with many fulfilling experiences. Like stories on time travel? Ingermanson. Outer space/trips to Mars? He's your man. Romance suspense with a scientific twist? RAN-DY!

How about a plethora of writing advice, for FREE?

Look no further than Randall Ingermanson.

Now I was a little deficient for this tour. I had books swirling around my desk, mocking me that I had not made time for them. With all the distraction, I did not get an oppportunity to read Double Vision. For reviews of this book, see fellow tour participants Janey DeMeo, John W. Otte, and Karri Compton for starters. April Erwin is having a contest to win a free copy of the book!

My main experience, like many others, is through Randy's teachings on fiction writing. This is why today's post does double duty, cover both the CSFF tour and writing resources. He doesn't have a book per se. However, he has a lot of free resources on his site Advanced Fiction Writing. He is famous for his Snowflake Method, an excellent way of organizing your work to bring it to manageable levels. On the top of that link he has numerous other links that discuss helpful aspects of fiction craft. I heartily encourage you to take advantage of these resources. He also has a free e-zine on writing and marketing that continues to give helpful examples and teaching. You can't go wrong by taking advantage of the free stuff!

For more on Randy Ingersmanson, see my tourmates below.

Nissa Annakindt
Jim Black
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Tessa Edwards
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Christopher Hopper
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Tsaba House Authors
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Daniel I. Weaver

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Books on Writing - Day 3

I wanted to highlight the book I first read when getting back into writing fiction. I must admit I haven't really seen it discussed online before - I don't know if it isn't in favor, or if it is just because it is an older book. If anyone has any experience with it, let me know, will ya?

Oh. I guess I should mention the name: How to Write (And Sell) a Christian Novel by Gilbert Morris.

Morris is a prolific Christian fiction author (his production is actually pretty staggering, according to Wikipedia). He definitely has the experience to share in his book. It is an older book. The copy I read was from 1994, the one referenced to above on Amazon is from 2000.

I think his book was quite helpful for me as a brand new writer staring at a blank page with a basic premise and a catchy opening to a story, but not much else to back it up! He sticks to the basics of fiction: plot, setting, POV, character development, and dialogue, with a final chapter on marketing your writing.

I appreciated the organized way to writing that he described, especially in regards to plot construction. He suggests starting by identifying the genre you want to write in, stating the overall theme of the work, and breaking it down from there. What is the plot, in a single sentence? Set up sections and label them. Write single sentence chapter headings, and finally turn these into paragraph summaries. Obviously this method works really well for the plotters of the world, and would drive those writing by the seat of their pants absolutely crazy.

He manages to squeeze a lot of material into less than 200 pages. Most of his examples come from his own writing. Since he's written so much this works, but it can get a bit thin on variety. I view this book as a good introduction to the craft, but it may not be for those with more experience.

For those with some practice, my next books on writing post will be for you. the meantime tune in tomorrow for the Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy blog tour!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Books on Writing - Day 2

On my first day of talking about books on writing, the Cubicle Reverend suggested that a lot of books on writing fiction are written by people who haven't been published otherwise. This can be a good point - it is important to know an author's qualifications for giving advice. OTOH, one must use this point with discretion. The authors of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers are editors, so their take is obviously from a different side of things (I couldn't find where they had published other books/fiction - if someone knows a book, let me know).

Ultimately there is no good way to know if a book will work for you. Reviews on Amazon tell you one thing. Personal recommendations can be good, but this doesn't always work out either.

I had heard good things about The First Five Pages from Noah Lukeman, so I got it. I thought he was very sparse in explaining his examples, and I really didn't get much from it at all. See? Even referrals from people you know can be misleading. That isn't stopping me from throwing out some books for discussion. My hope is that someone will find a book listed here is a helpful resource and grow in their craft from it.

I started with the latest fiction craft book I had read. Tomorrow I plan on highlighting the first book I read on the subject!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

CFBA Tour - The Reliance

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

( Barbour, January 1, 2007)


M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she's only give her heart to Him completely.


A YOUNG BRIDE separated from her husband just as a child has been conceived...

A GRIEVING HUSBAND tempted to take his anger out through the vices of his past...

A MARRIAGE AND A SHIP threatenend to be split apart by villainous Caribbean pirates...

, Edmund Merrick tormented by the apparent demise of his pregnant wife Charlisse, sails away to drown his sorrows. He turns his back on God and reverts to a life of villainy, joining forces with the demented French pirate Collier. When his mind clears from its rum-induced haze, will Edmund find the will to escape?

Seemingly abandoned by her new husband, Charlisse battles her own insecurities as she is thrown into the clutches of the vengeful pirate Kent, who holds her and Lady Isabel captive.

Will she be swept away by the undertow of treachery and despair? Can Edmund and Charlisse battle the tempests that threaten to tear them apart and steer their way to the faith-filled haven they so desperately seek? Or will they ultimately lose their love and lives to the whirlpool of treachery and deceit?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Books on Writing - Day 1

There are many places where lists of books on writing can be found. However, it is nice to have books recommended by people, even apart from Amazon reviews. I've benefited from different perspectives, and I've read books that didn't really help me in growth as a writer.

I know I'm really new at this game, but I think a little dialogue on good writing books never hurts.


The most recent book I've read on the subject of writing is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This book had been mentioned a lot as far as "must-read" books on the subject. I think seeing it featured at the site Where the Map Ends by editor Jeff Gerke sealed it for me as far as buying it.

It was a very good purchase. The book focuses on 12 different aspects of fiction, from the perennial writing advise to "show, not tell" to POV, dialogue, and voice. It came across as easily understood, yet I found myself reading a chapter and waiting a day or two to read more, so I could digest what was shared.

After reading several books on a subject, you start to glean less and less as material is repeated (unless repeated in a good way). Self-Editing does bring out aspects of these topics that are fresh or a good reminder of how to do things right. There were also concepts I hadn't come across before. For example, with POV I understood first person, third person close, and third person omniscient. However, they describe a technique of starting omniscient at the beginning of a scene but moving into a close perspective at the end. It sounds like a powerful tool that could be used to bring a scene more life - I'm just not sure if I'm ready to pull it off well yet!

There are exercises that one can take advantage of (reading on a bus doesn't always lend itself to using them). Overall, this is a very helpful book that I think helped a lot with understanding the whole process of editing a work myself, sharpening it as best I can. It definitely is for someone who understands the basics of characterization, plot, etc.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Amazing Movie

This weekend I saw the movie Amazing Grace, dealing with the story of William Wilberforce and his fight to end the slave trade in the British Parliment. Because England was the world power, especially on the seas, it could single-handedly end the slave trade from Africa by virtue of its naval might.

It was not a popular cause, because of the economic impact it would have on the country (sugar prices would go up - how would they enjoy tea!). Wilberforce was called a firebrand and even had it insinuated that he was a trator to the throne, due to the political turbulence of the American and French revolutions that affected England's affairs at the time. His health was not good, and he battled his body as well as powerful lords in Parliment.

The story of William Wilberforce is underappreciated in our modern world. Here was a man who lived to the highest Christian standards as well as fighting against the greatest human injustice of his day. His life truly deserves to be told to be an example for us today.

Thankfully, the movie is a highly entertaining vehicle for this! It starts out a little discombobulated, as we catch Wilberforce mid-life, fighting sickness and despair for not prevailing in the battle already. Soon the flashback/modern settings are clear, and it is exciting to see the development of events that lead to the ultimate victory.

Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower, Reed Richards in Fantastic Four) does a masterful job both in Wilberforce's youthful exuberance and his measured responses as he matures and wises to the nature of the battle he is in. He brings a strength to the character, and he is a very admirable hero. Albert Finney gives an emotional performance as John Newton, the former slave ship captain who turned away from that evil and penned the immortal hymn, Amazing Grace (hence the title). I was near tears at one point when Newton and Wilberforce interact.

So? GO and see the movie! It won't be at theatres long, so catch it while you can. I had to wait a few weeks before it even came to my area. Then, check out The Amazing Change site. This is a great movie that is worth seeing on its cinematic value alone. However, the people behind it have a greater goal: to inspire people to take action themselves. The Amazing Change is one opportunity to follow through in Wilberforce's legacy.

Enjoy the show. Impact the world.

(Those leaving a comment through Friday are eligible to win a copy of the book The Watchers!)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Blog Tour - The Watchers

This week's blog tour focus is The Watchers, by Mark Andrew Olsen. I have a copy of this book that I would like to give away as a contest! Just leave a comment sometime between now and 3/16/07, and I will randomly draw a name for someone to win this book.

From the CFBA:

MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.

Just below the surface among the family of God lives another family tree--one traced in spirit, invisible and ageless, known as the Watchers. For two thousand years they've seen beyond the veil separating this world from the next, passing on their gift through a lineage mostly overlooked. Throughout history they've scouted the borders of the supernatural frontier, but now their survival hangs by a thread. And their fate lies in the hands of a young woman, her would-be killer, and a mystery they must solve....

"Congratulations. You just reached my own little corner of cyberspace.
Who am I?
Abby Sherman, that's who.
Who are you? And why are you checking me out?
Drop me a few pixels, and let's find out!"

With that innocent invitation, Abby Sherman unwittingly steps in the crosshairs of history, and thus begins her harrowing tale--taking her from ocean-front Malibu to the streets of London, the jungles in West Africa, the Temple Mount, Jerusalem, and to the very gates of heaven itself!

A sneak preview of eternity becomes her one-way ticket to danger--and discovery….

Two lives collide in a globe-circling adventure involving both peril and discovery: Abby, a young woman whose visions of heaven turn her into a Web-celebrity; and Dylan, a troubled young man sent by an ancient foe to silence her. From California beachfronts to Nigerian rain forests to Jerusalem and back again, THE WATCHERS is high-octane blends of action, mystery, and spiritual battle spanning centuries.

A woman's awe-inspiring vision launches her on a quest through distant lands and ancient history, face-to-face with eternity and into the arms of a family line on the brink of annihilation...A man who is hired to exterminate her discovers the folly of blind loyalty, then learns how to wage war in a realm he never believed had existed...An extraordinary saga of the unseen war against evil, the reality of the supernatural, and the transforming power of forgiveness.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I need discipline in my life. It is one of my biggest downfalls - sticking to something. I've battled doing exercise, having regular quiet times and Bible study, and now writing regularly. It's not easy, and I'd appreciate your prayers for this area.

That's not what this post is about.

I'm talking about discipline, as in I was out of line. As in, I needed a spanking. I got one from the Lord today.

Suffice it to say that I was getting a little high and mighty, puffed up over a situation. Someone today that had no idea brought me down to earth real fast.


I realized it right away. "Duly noted, Lord. I'm sorry!"

Hopefully the attitude of running right to the Father for forgiveness was the appropriate response - of course I'd rather that I didn't need a 2x4 to the back of the head in the first place. The passage from Hebrews comes to mind: "the Lord disciplines those He loves" (see 12:5-11 for the context).

Maybe my experience today can be an encouragement to somebody. Walk in righteousness, but if you need the discipline, embrace it. He loves us, and it shows He is working on us.


I'm reading the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers right now. I think I'll talk about it and some other fiction writing books I've read once I'm done with the current reading. Keep an eye out.

Monday, March 05, 2007

An Inconvenient Evil

I had the privilege to attend a lecture last week from Laura Lederer, the Senior Advisor on Human Trafficking for the U.S. State Department. She spoke on the problem of human trafficking in regards to the forum's theme of Women and Children: Second-Class Citizens of the World.

In one sense it was a discouraging subject, as some of the statistics and stories told were horrendous. It is estimated that 800,000 - 1,200,000 people are trafficked each year, and 80% of these are women and children. She told personal stories of women who were tricked into coming to the U.S. and treated horribly as sexual slaves. Children are preferred for industries like brick factories, cocoa plantations, and rug weaving, as their small bodies are better able to perform the required duties.

As Ms. Lederer discussed factors related to this terror, aspects like globalism opening borders and new technologies allowing cartels to organize were noted. However, one of the most interesting causes was the idea of materialism. Human beings are seen as mere commodities to be bought and sold.

People don't like this idea, but it does become the logical end of the philosophy of naturalism, that all we are is a mix of proteins that radomly became more complex over lots of time. If all we are consists of only material, then what makes humans any more special to be utilized over a rock or domestic animals?

The good news from this talk is that the United States has seen the horrors going on around the whole world (not one country or area is to blame or immune) and has committed to be a leader in this field. The government is working on passing laws here, using diplomacy to work with other countries worldwide, and giving money to support efforts to help with prevention, prosecution, and protection.

It is not only the government that works on behalf of these powerless victims. There are numerous groups that work in this field. One such group is International Justice Mission. They are one of the most comprehensive groups in this arena. They identify cases of abuse and slavery in different areas, they investigate, and they bring the information to the local authorities and remind them of what local law says regarding such activity. They have programs to help victims cope after such trauma, as well as working toward prevention of the abuse to begin with. This page shows quotes from such varied people as Rick Warren, Chuck Colson, and Senator Hillary Clinton. You can read the truth of such atrocities in the book Terrify No More, by the founder of IJM.

Finally, I encourage any reading this to consider giving to such groups as IJM, World Vision, or other organizations known to be helping victims of trafficking. You can give to IJM by going here.

I mentioned human trafficking being the natural outworking of a naturalistic philosophy. I don't mean that all who hold to this idea support human trafficking - it is just a logical conclusion from such a worldview. Conversely, it is people from a Biblical worldview, who value life because of the Creator and Giver of life, who are in the forefront of the new abolitionist movement to defeat this evil and bring justice and peace to the most vunerable.

Micah 6:8 says, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." I invite those who love Jesus to follow through with His heart of mercy in reaching the least of these!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Blog Tour - A Valley of Betrayal

This week's blog tour features A Valley of Betrayal by Tricia Goyer. And this week at "Spoiled" the write-up for the book is by my lovely wife Beccy!

Sophie ventures to Spain on a quest of love. She longs to be with her fiance Michael, a news photographer. She gets to Spain in the midst of civil war. Her innocence is destroyed by the conflict. Michael is away and Sophie must navigate the fog of war on her own. She survives and finds the truth of life.

Sophie is an intrigue protaganist who has a tenacious spirit, which makes her adventure an inspiring story. The novel draws you in by allowing you to relate to the characters' lives.

A Valley of Betrayal is a good read because you live the lives of the people. You imagine their hurts. You see the devastation of war and the power of survival.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The New Sci-Fi Literary Movement: Space Princesses!

The esteemable John C. Wright, is founding a new literary movement for science fiction. One that should be enjoined by any serious sci-fi author: The New Space Princess Movement. The guiding principles of this movement are:
The literary movement will follow two basic principles: first, science fiction stories should have space-princesses in them who are absurdly good looking. Second, the space princesses must be half-clad (if you are a pessimist. The optimist sees the space princess as half-naked). Third, dinosaurs are also way cool, as are ninjas. Dinosaur ninjas are best of all.
Now, how can a book go wrong with space princesses and dinosaur ninjas? To read more on this manifesto, you can find the genesis here. Next the movement gains ground. Finally, the movement receives criticism for not including the logical step of space pirates. (Note: obligatory warning regarding bare midriffs)