Thursday, August 30, 2007

CFBA - The Dead Whisper On

I've posted some teasers about this book previously (Join the Shadows...). I goofed when it came time to request this book for this blog tour, so I haven't read it yet. This is a "Must Read" on my list, and I encourage you to check it out if you like suspense or Dean Koontz type of books. When I read it I'll post my personal review. Now for the CFBA promo:

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing THE DEAD WHISPER ON (Bethany House July 1, 2007) by T. L. Hines


Tony is the author of the acclaimed Waking Lazarus. He has been an advertising agency owner/principal, a trade amgazine editor, and now a novelist.

He has been a professional writer for more than 15 years with articles appearing in publications as varied as Log Homes, Conservative Theological Journal, and Travel & Leisure. He is also Creative Director at Montana's largest advertising agency.

His long list of past odd jobs includes trimming Christmas trees, sorting seed potatoes, working the graveyard shift at a convenience store, and cleaning cadaver storage rooms.

As a teen he was undefeated in air guitar competitions in which he performed songs by ZZ Top.

He lives in Montana with his wife and daughter,


Would You Run Into A Burning Building?

Candace "Canada Mac" MacHugh lives a ghost of her former life.

Once a proud Butte, Montana, miner who daily risked her life setting explosives, she's now a garbage collector in her dying hometown.

Her beloves father is dead and she doesn't speak to her mom. More than anything, Candace Mac misses her father. He promised to contact her from the "other side" if he could...but it's been eleven long years. And now even her beloved city of Butte, Montana, seems to be dying off.

Candace Mac is alone. Longing for the past. Dreaming of making a difference.

Until one night when her father's voice speaks to her from the shadows. Bud MacHugh's trademark growl. The dead, it seems, have messages they hunger to share with the world...warnings of impending disasters and grave danger. Of cities doomed to burn.

But they need Canada's help.

T.L. Hines' first novel, Waking Lazarus was named one of the Library Journal's Top 25 Genre novels of 2006. Now he's back with a gripping suspense that brings to light our fears and asks us if we still have the courage to fight for those around us. if we have the guts to be one of those who run into burning buildings.

"Chilling!" Publishers Weekly

"...a well-paced suspense populated by dynamic characters." Kirkus Discoveries

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Christian Heroes and Miscellany

Gah. Sometimes I am not inspired with a brilliant thought for this here place. Like...oh say the last two days. Like Dory from Finding Nemo's trailer - "Nope, nothin' in my noggin'". Bleh. Yet here I am, attempting to say something intelligent (this would be a perfect place to link to something regarding Miss Teen South Carolina's now famous "map answer" and drive traffic to my site...yeah, I'm shameless - here's a link to the YouTube posting).

Now for something completely different:
Becky Miller is again having an interesting discussion regarding what should make up a Christian hero. It is related to last week's blog tour over The Legend of the Firefish. Bryan Polivka blogged about the repeated comments that viewed Packer as a potentially weak hero. Several times in the book he steps back and lets things happen according to God's will, whether it ends up in his death, disaster for all around him, or deliverance. Bryan has a great point to make, and Becky gives her take on it. Make sure to check the comments of Becky's post for more of the discussion.

My thoughts: I didn't have a problem with what Packer did, because it is truly a great Christian response - one that I would have a problem duplicating in real life. I would suggest that perhaps the way it was written is more of the contention (which I admitted in my post last week was a minor contention).

The discussion made me think of the book Germ, which is quite a different book than Firefish. In it, the Christian character has regret for past violence, and sacrifices himself in the end to allow others to survive - a very Christian act and imagery for the book. The points being made in Becky's discussion are very valid, but I think that examples like this are in other places in CBA fiction right now as well.

There's a lot that could be said, and I don't have the inspiration to work it out at the moment. I've got a heaping plate ahead of me for the next 6 weeks. Mainly my wife and I are in charge of bringing in and promoting Noel Richards for a worship seminar and concert at our church on September 22. Then I have to take a major recertification test for my physican assistant license on October 5, so I have to be studying through this time. Of course, it doesn't help that I sign up for things like fantasy football.

Don't worry, I'll be around. Hopefully I'll have more to offer in a day or two.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Doing Something Different

Phew. I'm back in the saddle after a couple of days on the couch. Being in the medical field, I could always see that back pain/spasms weren't fun. Now I can testify to the fact. Thanks to all those who said a prayer on my behalf - it is working!

In other news, my little church did something a little different yesterday. We had been talking for a while, wondering what would happen if instead of going to church we tried to get out and be the church. We've got a good core group that tries to shine light in our every day lives, but what if we did something different and a little bit radical as a body?

So, instead of having a church service, we went out to the local park next to the lake. Despite a "rather blustery day" as Pooh might call it, we set up in the central gazebo. After doing some prayer walking around different parts of the park, we put up signs advertising "Free BBQ" and started cooking for any who would come.

The day turned out really well. We had a steady trickle of folks from 12-4. Nothing overwhelming at one time, but we ran out of food at the end! We had cops, bike riders, families, a guy w/the cardboard sign looking for work, and skaters all stop by for a burger, hot dog, or glass of lemonade. We got to visit with several people. At least two families said they wanted to check out our church after this.

It seemed like a simple thing - go bless people. I have to believe it was more profound than that, both in our hearts and the people who witnessed it. We'll see what comes of it, but the main thing to us was the idea that "obedience is better than sacrifice." God is good, and we didn't get blown north.

Anyone else have stories like this? How did it go?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Firefish Finish

I had wanted to post one last time on Legend of the Firefish last night. Back spasms have kept me from the computer last night and most of today so far (ugh). Just two quick points to wrap up this blog tour.

First, the sequel, The Hand That Bears the Sword, is in the stores already. Becky has a review of it here. Sounds like more swashbuckling action!

Second, the author has a cool contest where you write up a little ditty in pirate speak. Seeing that Talk Like a Pirate Day is just about this blog's national holiday, how could I not promote that? So get to your keyboards mateys!! Arrrrr!

Now I'll limp back to my couch...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Legend of the Firefish - The Debate

Yesterday I tried to leave my post on the CSFF Blog Tour book Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka as a cliffhanger to pique interest. I discussed the strengths that I saw in the book and what made it an enjoyable read. Today I'm going to touch three points that dragged the book down for me a little that kept it from being one of my top books of the year (so far).

The first and second points are interrelated. As I mentioned yesterday, the book's two major characters are unapologetically Christian, and they live consistently in this and it fits the story well. However, some of the story suffers slightly because of one of the character's reliance on God's sovereignty and will. This is tricky to discuss, because I believe in the message the author is saying behind it. The problem is that it sometimes hinders the action of the protaganist as he stops and contemplates what he does. There are several instances where Packer wrestles with High Ideals - nothing wrong with that. The trick is when he does it with chaos raging around him. I might use this aspect once or twice, but it happens a few times and slows down several action sequences.

Also, the use of this plot point somtimes stops Packer from acting, since "all is God's will and he is leaving it in His hands". It has some important consequences at the end, but again it happens enough that it bumps the flow of the story and the believability of the scene.

These two points aren't terribly significant, but they were "hiccups" in the story for me. The final point is significant, but is also an interesting point of topic.

A little background: an author has to chose a point-of-view (POV) when writing. Typically the author picks either first or third-person. First person usually sticks with one character throughout the book. Third person can stay with one person, or move around to different characters. However, usually a change of character POV happens at a chapter or a definite point in a chapter.

Polivka just doesn't "break" this rule, he demolishes it. He takes an omniscient viewpoint, meaning he switches POV whenever he wants, sometimes from paragraph to paragraph.

For me, I did not enjoy this. It has the effect of confusing who is doing the talking/thinking - especially when Packer is with guys or Panna with any ladies. It comes across as "head-hopping." It really took me a while to get the hang of it, so I read the first part of the book slowly, not really getting into it until later on.

Now, when I approached the tour I knew I would blog about this, but I was just going to chalk it up to something Polivka would have to work on. However, over the last week I've read a few things that gave me a different slant on it.

1. From Mike Duran at Decompose:

From Day 1: When one lives under the notion that success means strict adherence to a set of rules — as this published author clearly implies — a type of literary legalism follows. Am I suggesting there aren’t things that tighten a story, make it more readable, more cohesive? Heck no. What I’m wondering is if this idea of “rules” is over-emphasized to new authors. The result is — as it was for me — that a lot of new authors live under the burden of legalism...

From Day 3: The writing rules have their place, but they can also blind one to the destination. After all, the ultimate goal of the storyteller is not to obey all the rules, but to get her readers safely across the street.

2. Then there was Becky Miller's interview with Nick Harrison, Polivka's editor from Harvest House:

Bryan’s ability to handle the point of view shifts necessary to pull off this feat [using so many POV's] is awesome—and unique. Not many authors handle point of view as well as Bryan does. I consider Bryan’s use of point of view a huge asset to the book—even though I know that all the writing books warn against such shifts. I think they do this because few authors can handle those shifts well. Bryan is a master at it, in my opinion.

3. Finally, there's Bryan Polivka's own comments in an interview with Valerie Comer:

As for the omniscient point of view, I find that other writers and publishers are very interested in that whole discussion, but I've never yet had a pure reader (who is not also a writer) even ask me about it. It seems odd to me that this should be out of style, or out of favor, particularly in a world where movies and television are having great success with omniscience. Lost, Friends, Rent, Oceans Eleven, even Survivor and Real World--I would argue that any ensemble-cast product gets its appeal from going deep into multiple points of view. Fiction writers are, I think, well behind the times in that regard if they hew to a single viewpoint thinking it is somehow better for the audience. I may not have done it well, but I hope that doesn't put anyone off the approach itself.

And the Christian viewpoint factors in here also. Historically, I believe the omniscient viewpoint went out of favor as secular existentialism took over the mainstream, based on a philosophy that we really can't know anything outside our own single point of reference. And I think that's just incorrect. The reason we have imagination, I believe, is for the apprehension of the infinite. God gave His creation this gift that we might know Him. And if we can know God, surely we can know others.

Now, armed with all of this information and opinion, I made an adjustment to my opinion. The thing that especially struck me was Bryan's contention that basically he's using an older style and we're conditioned to accept a status quo that this "shouldn't be done". Especially with the discussion Mike Duran has been having at his blog.

I've argued before that authors need the freedom to create as they feel called and are inspired. I applaud Polivka for making a challenging artistic stand and sticking with it. Since it was intentional, I can't fault it.

Nick Harrison thought that Bryan pulled this off well. There I might disagree some. I've seen other books that switch through a lot of POV's and I didn't get lost. My favorite book of the year so far, Abiding Darkness by John Aubrey Anderson, has some occasional POV hops and doesn't suffer from it. Interestingly enough, I would say that Anderson's hops were likely more accidental, while Polivka's were intentional, and that it is apparent in reading. Again, it didn't work for me 100%. this a big deal? It might not be a big deal at all. I've also discussed how trying to write can ruin an easy-to-please reader. If you read this and think it is much ado about nothing, then ignore it and go buy an enjoyable book. Don't forget that I liked the book overall and recommend it. The POV issue was something that had come up during the tour, and this is my extremely long-winded response to it (best value for 2 cents ever).

I have one more little tidbit about Legend of the Firefish, but it will come a little later. Enjoy the rest of the blog tour!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Interior - "Experimental TV?"

I had to check this out when I first saw it on Christianity Today. The Interior is a movie being released segmentally on its website. The result is a TV show like feeling of episodes, but it will be brought together at the end to be available on DVD.

It has an extremely interesting premise: a young missionary couple deals with their initial deployment into the field in the rainforest of Brazil. They are linked with an older missionary couple who are a little... different. As the interview says, this is a premise that has a lot of potential and has been untapped for the most part.

The filmmakers have been very bold - taking a second mortgage to fund the project, doing auditions via YouTube, yet the project seems to be succeeding and building a community.

The writer says that it is not necessarily a movie exclusively for Christians. He intends to show real struggles. The first four episodes are available online, and I can say that there is plenty of God talk and some surprising challenges presented. One scene in a church really tickled me - you'll have to check it out. I haven't really watched Lost, but the influence is there in the cinematography (at least to my untrained eye).

I don't know where this is going, but it looks very intriguing and is bold in its vision. Check it out!

Legend of the Firefish - The Goods

Again, this month's CSFF blog tour is for Legend of the Firefish. If you are looking for a unique book in Christian fiction, if you are looking for a adventurous tale to end the summer with, or if you are wondering whether to name your next child Jack Sparrow (the last one I hope is a little too out there...), then this is a book you should check out.

George Bryan Polivka has begun an ambitious and admirable tale with The Trophy Chase Trilogy, of which LotF is the first book. He has several strengths as a writer which made the book quite enjoyable.

The first thing I noticed about the book is the great description that he uses. He has a way with words that sets the atmosphere and tone for the situations in the book. Whether it is a poor village tavern, a ship fighting a gale, or a character wrestling with heart issues, Polivka has a gift for word craft and painting a visual picture with the language he chooses.

The mythology of the story's world is strong as well. He skillfully builds the setting of sea craft. His characterization of the titular Firefish is a masterful touch, making the wily prey more than just a prize for a fisherman's net. I really enjoyed these sections in the book.

The heroes of the story, Packer and Panna, have faith yet are flawed. They do not have all the answers, and they end up in some desperate situations. Their faith does not come across as a tack-on just for the CBA, but it is a real part of their character, and their responses are mostly very much in line with this.

The antagonist Talon is a delicious literary creation. Her palpable evil makes her a very strong opponent, one that seems impossible for the heroes to overcome. This always makes for a good obstacle for the protagonists, but there is a depth to her that is revealed throughout the story that makes her character all the richer. The pirate captain Scat Wilkins is also a very well thought out character in the story. He doesn't become one dimensional (like Cap'n Sparrow in the last 2 Pirates movies), but confounds the reader through the book.

One final thought is that this is a very strong Christian novel. In that I mean that God and faith features very prominently. A lot of the conflict is internal conflict of God vs. man - trying to live to the ideals of a faith and not always succeeding. It seems that the world of Christian fiction is shifting. It used to be a critique that Christian fiction was "preachy," and that this stigma kept people from enjoying these novels. I've noticed a backlash, in that books have been published lately without a lot of overt mention of God or the type of spiritual wrestling that is shown in Firefish. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The last CSFF book, Fearless, has no overt Christianity, and the author Robin Parrish admits that he is not writing to the standard CBA reader and has different goals with his writing. Polivka obviously has his own goals, and I applaud him. He does not hold back - he writes it as he sees it and I think it is in service to the story, not tacked on as preaching (for the most part). I was encouraged by his bold declarations of faith, and found it totally appropriate for this story.

Again, my opinion is that this is an enjoyable read, an unique book in the CBA currently, and well worth the time and investment. Yet there were a couple of things in the book that I wrestled with, and I want to discuss tomorrow. These issues play into some writing blog conversations from the last week, so come back tomorrow and I'll tie these together and we can work out together whether these "weaknesses" of LotF really are such.

Trish Anderson Brandon Barr Wayne Thomas Batson Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton Frank Creed Lisa Cromwell CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis D. G. D. Davidson Merrie Destefano Jeff Draper April Erwin Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Russell Griffith Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Christopher Hopper Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Lost Genre Guild Terri Main Rachel Marks Karen McSpadden Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Lyn Perry Deena Peterson Rachelle Cheryl Russel Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz James Somers Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver

Monday, August 20, 2007

Interview with Zondervan Editor

Over at Brandilyn Collins' blog she has an interview with Andy Meisenheimer, an acquisitions editor at Zondervan. Of note for the sci-fi and fantasy folks for the blog tour, she notes that he is a big fan of these genres. If you haven't read it already, shame on you (Brandilyn's blog is required reading for fans of Christian fiction of any kind, didn't you know?)

Here is part one, and watch for part two tomorrow.

CSFF Tour - Legend of the Firefish Overview

Ah, that time of month again, when the bloggers of the Christian Sci-fi/Fantasy Tour set sail to bring you a new highlight from the world of Christian speculative fiction.


This month we are featuring Legend of the Firefish, book one of The Trophy Chase series (Harvest House), by George Bryan Polivka. There's a lot of great people posting on this book below - make sure to check them out.

I will be doing an overview of the book today. Tomorrow I'll discuss the good features of the book I enjoyed, and to be fair I'll talk about the writing weaknesses I picked up on, and if they are truly "weaknesses".

The Legend of the Firefish sets the reader in a new world, starting in the kingdom of Nearing Vast with young Packer Throme. He has a mysterious past as the son of a local fisherman who started off in seminary and has returned to his village with a talent for swordplay. He is in love with the beautiful, if sheltered Panna Seline, daughter of the local priest.

His motivation is twofold- to restore the fortunes of the declining fishing villages of his home region and to be worthy of the love of Panna. His plan entails hooking up with Scat Wilkins, notorious pirate captain of the Trophy Case, and tracking the elusive, legendary Firefish. This beast is a true sea serpent that is dangerous to all who dare hunt it, but its meat confers healing and power to the person who eats it.

Getting near Scat won't be easy with his security officer, the mysterious Drammune woman Talon, whose infamy with the sword is only equaled by her cruelty and her mysterious powers.

This is a book that is unique in Christian fiction right now (as far as I know). It has the feel of a historical novel with the fantastical elements of the sea creatures and mystery of Talon to place it in a different category. There is action aplenty- swordfights, storms, disguises, subterfuge. It also presents questions of faith, and challenges the bonds of the Spirit and of love.

Again, check out the other blogs below over the next couple of days for more on this book, and I'll have more tomorrow.

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Merrie Destefano
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Terri Main
Rachel Marks
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver

Sunday, August 19, 2007

CFBA Tour - Off the Record

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Zondervan August 15, 2007)


Beth White is the author of Fireworks and Fair Game, as well as the critically acclaimed Texas Gatekeepers serie from Love Inspired Suspense.

In her own words, she appreciate her most valued roles as wife and mom. Beth is also a second-grade Sunday school teacher, church orchestra member (She plays flute), and artist. She loves to read, crochet, sew, go on mission trips and avoid housework.

Beth lives in Mobile with her minister husband, and is currently on staff at First Baptist Church of North Mobile (fondly known as NoMo), in Saraland, Alabama.

Ambition is on a collision course with a secret from the past.

Judge Laurel Kincade, a rising political star, is announcing her candidacy for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Her aristocratic Old South family, led by her judge grandfather, beams as she takes the podium. Then her eyes light on a reporter in the crowd…and suddenly her past becomes a threat to her future.

Journalist Cole McGaughan, religion reporter for the New York Daily Journal, has received an intriguing call from an old friend. Private investigator Matt Hogan has come across a tip…that Laurel's impeccable reputation might be a facade. Matt suggests that Cole dig up the dirt on the lovely judge in order to snag his dream job as one of the Journal's elite political reporters.

There's just one problem: Cole's history is entangles with Laurel's and he must decide if the story that could make his career is worth the price he'd have to pay.

A sensational scoop becomes a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Can Laurel and Cole find forgiveness and turn their hidden past into a hopeful future...while keeping their feelings off the record?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Follow the Conversations

Sometimes it is great to blog when other people are having the great discussions, and all I have to do is link to them! Instant content. It is good stuff today though, so I highly suggest following the links and checking them out.

Mike Duran at Decompose is having an interesting discussion on the rules of writing and how that can help or hinder new writers. Here's Day 1. For a counterpoint, make sure to read this comment from an editor. And it continues in Day 2, with more pending, so keep an eye out.

Mike refers to a great discussion that Becky is having over at A Christian Worldview of Fiction regarding "The Place of Art in Fiction." There are some very good thoughts and discussion coming out of the comment section, so take a minute to check those out as well. She started this series on August 7, so I'll just link to her August archives and you can follow from there (as of today, we're on day 8 - how high will it go?).

I hope the community of believers and writers we have can continue to have these good discussions to stir us all up to greater strength in our art. I have to believe that this will bring greater glory to our ultimate Source of creativity. Thank you Jesus!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


So I sit at my keyboard and pretend I'm an author. I sometimes have time to write, and even then I don't always get a lot of writing done. It is so much easier to visit blogs (see last post) than to be pounding out meaningful words.

However, in my thought life I have a whole story bandying about, working itself over and over through the details. I think Randy Ingermanson is the one who called this composting. In my mind I see my main character in her journeys, struggling to cope with all the conflict that I'm (hopefully) throwing at her to make life interesting for her. I really do have a lot, if not most of the book in my head ready to make the leap to paper, if only my brain wasn't so clumsy at getting my words right.

When you've spent a lot of time with someone, and you think you know them, you want to stick up for them. Well, what happens if someone doesn't see things the way you do?

I recently had a friend read a few chapters of my work in progress. She very thoughtfully gave some feedback, and it was greatly appreciated. I asked her about characterization, and she gave her opinion.

She had a different viewpoint of my protagonist than what was bouncing around in my head.

How did that happen? That's not supposed to happen, right? The author is in full control of the process, and the end result should be predictable.

The answer to the last statement is no, for two reasons.

I'm not going to go into #1, which is the characters need to speak for themselves. I'll just share, like many other writers will tell you, that sometimes the characters will rebel over what you as the author had planned, and demand their own way. Y'all can chuckle about my psychiatric health if you want, but it's true.

Number 2 would be that everyone is going to see things in their own way. I don't fully agree with Obi-Wan Kenobi's statement to Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi that things depend on "a certain point of view". That smacks of relativism. But when it comes to reading, all the author can do is prevent their vision of a story, a character, or whatever. That is only half of the story.

The other half is how the reader interprets things. I can't be in control of that. Not unless I want to write a very boring story that spells out every little nuance I want for the tale.

It makes you feel vulnerable as a writer, almost exposed when you put yourself out there like that. I had Jenna Dawson wrapped up in my comfortable little mental movie, but in real life she may play differently.

Some of this does come from my skill as a writer. I know that I can do a better job in bringing out what is in my head. Thus the blogging and reading so much: to grow as a writer in understanding and ability. Hopefully when I have the time to put fingers to keyboard I'll be farther along.

It's just interesting having something like this exposed.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Friends in the Blogosphere

My 15 year old nephew gave me a funny look on Saturday when I showed him how many people visit my blog via MapStats.

"I don't get why people blog. That's something I'll never do."

I didn't smack him because he is 15 and has a big mouth, (actually, I don't know what came over me - I usually take any or even no excuse to smack him) instead I shook my head at his lack of understanding.

It is pretty amazing how the blogosphere can create friendships. I guess I shouldn't be amazed. I'm a computer geek and have done chatting, forums, etc. Anyway, I wanted to highlight a few new blogs that I've come to enjoy so we can all be one big happy family. Or drive each other nuts. Wait, isn't that the same thing...

OK, on with the introductions:

Marcus Goodyear at Goodwordediting has good writing and business tips along with spiritual insight. He is a professional editor, so he knows his stuff and is worth checking out.

Mark Harbeson at Utter Drivel seems like he could be my twin - except that he likes the Philadelphia Eagles, so that would make him my evil twin (Go Cowboys!). He's got a cute family and blogs about life and such.

Nicole Petrino-Salter over at Into the Fire. This is totally complimentary: she is like a prophetic voice to the world of Christian fiction, sometimes pointing out inconsistencies with the way CBA business is run and Kingdom living. Her posts are passionate and challenging.

Heather Goodman at L'Chaim (with a brand new look - way cool Heather!). Her writing is like a refreshing breeze to me. She describes herself as loving to twirl and dance on her smooth concrete floor. Her blog captures that joyful abandon IMO.

D. G. D. Davidson at SciFi Catholic. I don't always agree with him (who said you always had to agree?). However, he always has intelligent posts and is great read. Guest posts by Snuffles the Dragon are worth the price of admission.

Hanna Sandvig at Hanna's Life Is Cool. She's another artistic type with interesting viewpoints. Make a point to check out her gallery of original art. Very nice work (I wish I could draw...).

These are some new folks I'm making a point to check out. Don't forget about the "classics" - the folks in the sidebar on the right (Becky, you're a "classic" now). When I get time these new friends will join the sidebar, but I wanted to showcase them today. Good stuff all around.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Update on the Shadow

I have an IMPORTANT update regarding the Shadow Operatives that I blogged about here. Last night I caught this shocking event on my trusty camera. Yes, that is a Shadow Operative trying to infiltrate my backyard.

If there is any doubt, I used image enhancement to show the front of his T-shirt:

The cowardly operative quickly fled the scene:

However, I again was able to use imaging enhancement to discern what was written on the back of his uniform:

There seems to be a internet site (The Dead Whisper On ) dedicated to this new book by TL Hines. You can find more about it here.

Please, keep a careful eye out. I thought this phenomenon was limited to Butte, Montana, but as this highly convincing photographic evidence shows, the infiltration has reached AT LEAST southeast Idaho.

Who knows what may be planned next?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

CFBA Tour - And If I Die

I highly encourage you to check out the following book for the book tour. I read the first book in this series in January, and it remains my favorite book of the year so far. I goofed up somewhere when it came time to request this book, or I would've already read it. Look for my personal review later on, because I am literally on my way to Amazon RIGHT NOW to by it. Without further ado:

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Faithwords August 2007)
John Aubrey Anderson

John grew up in Mississippi cotton country. After graduating from Mississippi State, he received an Air Force commission and has recently retired after flying twenty-eight years for a major airline. He lives in Texas with his wife, Nan.

ABOUT THE BOOK:AND IF I DIE is the third book in the Black and White Chronicles. The first was Abiding Darkness (August, 2006), the second was Wedgewood Grey (February, 2007).

In 1945, a spirit voice told Mr. A. J. Mason to “Be ready.”

In 1960, the spirit drew near and said the same words to the same man. “Be ready.”

On both occasions Mason ended up in bloody battles with the forces of evil. On both occasions, he saved the life of a young girl named Missy Parker. And on both occasions good people died.

It’s 1968.Missy Parker has been married to Dr. Patrick Patterson for nine years; they live in Denton, Texas. Missy plays tennis and golf; Pat is chairman of the philosophy department at North Texas State University.

Mose Washington, a black man Missy refers to as her almost-daddy, is hiding behind a new name—Mose Mann. Mose and the young black man who poses as his grandson have spent eight years successfully evading the FBI, a murderous congresswoman, and creatures from the demonic realm. They now live in Pilot Hill, Texas—fifteen miles from Pat and Missy. Mose is committing the autumn of his life to the pursuit of the knowledge of God and the protection of his “grandson”. His “grandson” is interested in honing his skills as a bull rider.

Close friends see portents of danger in events of the early summer and converge on Pilot Hill to warn the two black men that yet another confrontation with malevolent beings may be looming.

In the pre-dawn hours, on the second day of the North Texas Rodeo, the voice of an invisible being speaks to Missy Parker Patterson. The voice warns her that it is now she, not A. J. Mason, who has been chosen as the person who needs to “Be ready” . . . and Missy doesn’t want the job.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Authentic Parenting

This was a different type of tour than I am used to. I'll stick to reviewing fiction, but I did enjoy this book, and again recommend it heartily. I wouldn't do this lightly either - not with a subject like this.

The book we've been discussing, Authentic Parenting in a Post-Modern Culture, by Mary DeMuth is available now. You can purchase your autographed copy directly from Mary at the link above. I encourage you pick it up today!

Thoughts on Authentic Parenting

Yesterday I introduced Mary DeMuth's new book, Authentic Parenting for a Postmodern Culture. It was an easy book to read quickly, but it deserves a deeper wrestling with the issues that Mary raises. It deals a lot with heart attitudes, both with our kids and our relationship with God.

She brings out several areas or themes that are important areas to consider in our parenting:

1. Conversation. She encourages parents to keep the doors open in communication with our kids, because it will lead to unexpected opportunities for blessings (both for our kids and us!). She also discusses the power of the tongue, which can be a terrible thing used by impatient, harried parents (read: all of us) at times that hurts our kids instead of building them up. This is an issue I am just developing into since my kids are all younger than Mary's. Initially kids need more directives - they need to be taught to listen and given concrete direction in what to do. However, this conversational parenting becomes a blessing as they grow older, because it keeps the relationship avenues open and flowing both ways.

2. Haven. We need to protect our children's innocence and provide safety and security for them. Again, when they are young they need more protection. The ideal I get from Authentic is building a haven that gives them peace and security, without keeping them locked in a fortress. The world seems to be getting worse with debauchery and cruelty all the time. It is tempting to hide our children in a Christian safe house, avoiding any taint of culture. Now, I don't want my kids to sin, but they are going to have to face the world and walk out in it someday. In a haven we can train our kids in how to understand and walk in wisdom and purity without being fully sequestered.

Mary's family lived this out when they went to France to help pioneer a church. They could have cloistered their family from the secular education system in France (actively hostile to faith). By God's leading they did put their kids in public school. They had several trials, but it led to opportunities for character growth.

3. Art/Creativity. She placed a premium on encouraging kids in their creativity as an avenue of worship to the Lord. Some of this chapter could sound a little weird to some people I suppose, but as a creative individual myself I thought it was a wonderful reminder of using everything we've been given to help our kids experience God. (This from the boy who got in trouble in 1st grade for coloring George Washington's hair purple - Mom stood up for me though. Go Mom!) Our Lord is amazingly creative, and whether you like art, music, outdoors, or whatever, may it all be used to show our kids the glory of Jesus.

4. Authenticity. This can be a "buzz-word" in a postmodern discussion, but it is an important topic that is more than a tag-line. Mary speaks of being real in our faith, as opposed to Christians who put on a good outward show. She related families she's seen who do the right things on the outside, but at home scream, belittle, and live a superficial life. We know the words Jesus had for the Pharisees that only lived religiously without having a proper heart. I've learned some of the things Mary discusses in this section. Like her husband, I have a temper, and I've had to go back to my kids after blowing my top and confess that Daddy just sinned and should not have acted that way. I don't think my kids are my equals and require a justification for everything I do, but if I model humility when I've made a mistake, then hopefully they learn a lesson in how to walk out things when they make their own errors.

There's a lot more I could draw out of this book, but I don't want to re-write it here. Again, it is a book that helps us see heart issues in parenting. There are a lot of examples that are suggested, but it is not a "this is how you do it point-by-point" book. Authentic Parenting is a well-crafted resource for parents in considering their parenting skills and how to raise our kids to deal with the new world that is still in process of developing. Like any book, there are going to be points you may not fully agree with Mary on - so eat the meat and spit out the bones. Don't choke on them, because you'll miss good nourishment for your parenting life.

Thank you Mary, for your heart to share this. It was a valuable investment of time, and I hope it can be a blessing to many, many parents out there.

If you'd like to read an excerpt from the book, click here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Blog Tour - Authentic Parenting for a Postmodern Culture

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture
by Mary E. DeMuth
Harvest House, July 1, 2007

This blog has specialized in fiction, and it will remain that way overall. However, when I heard that Mary was having a blog tour to support her new parenting book, Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, I had no hesitation in signing up. I've frequented places on the web where I've had the privilege of witnessing the real faith of Mary DeMuth. For someone to move their family to France in order to help pioneer a church, it takes a lot of faith and guts.

There are plenty of parenting books out there. You may wonder if another one is needed, but this book definitely has a fresh perspective that helps us apply God's grace with our children. I've already had the book in mind while dealing with my boys in different circumstances this last week.

The title may throw a few people. It seems that the word "postmodern" has taken on some baggage, which is unfortunate. Let me state up front that Mary stresses that her book is not about making your child a postmodern. It is parenting in a postmodern culture, which like it or not, we are living this culture currently. Please don't overlook a good book over a word.

Mary's book is very readable, with lots of stories from personal struggle in working these principles out in her own family. She is not afraid to share negative examples where they haven't done things perfectly.

No parenting book can be exhaustive, and Authentic doesn't pretend to be THE book. You won't find tips or strategies in dealing with disobedience, discipline, etc. The focus on the book is advice in walking out the parenting life as examples. There are other books to deal with discipline issues, but if that's what you're looking for, this may not be the book for you. If you are seeking some inspiration on how to be a better parent, then this should be a book you explore.

I could get into a long post here, but I think I'll wrap up this as a "highlight" and give some specifics next post. In the meantime, meet Mary and read her crazy blog here. Or visit Mary's helpful and fun website here. Finally, you could read an excerpt from the book, click here.

Is It Happening?

This article from the Washington Post, "Evangelicals Start Push in the Arts," is encouraging. If they can notice, it must mean something is going on.

Hat tip to Mir, via Mick Silva.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

CFBA Tour - Return to Me

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Robin Lee Hatcher


Robin is the author of over fifty novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by Library Journal.

Winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Robin, who is also one of our CFBA members, lives in Boise, Idaho.


Discouraged and destitute, her dreams shattered, Roxy Burke is going home. But what lies beyond the front door?

Rejection...or a bright future?

A lot has changed since Roxy Burke escaped small town life to become a Nashville star. Her former boyfriend Wyatt has found Christ and plans to become a minister. Her sister Elena, who comforted Wyatt when Roxy ran away, is now his fiancee. Her father Jonathan, a successful businessman, is heartbroken over the estrangement of Roxy from the family.

Now Roxy...her inheritance from her grandmother squandered, her hopes of stardom dashed...finds her way home...not by choice but because it's her only option. Her father's love and forgiveness surprise her, but her very presence throws the contented Burke family into turmoil, filling Roxy with guilt and shame.

Elena is shocked to discover doubt and resentment in her heart after her father's easy acceptance of Roxy into the family circle. Wyatt wrestles with doubts about marrying Elena. And Roxy struggles to accept forgiveness. Isn't she more deserving of rejection? As the story of the prodigal plays out, each member of the Burke family must search for and accept God's grace.

Join the Shadows


Don't tell ANYONE.

I am now a Shadow Operative. It is highly secretive. I wasn't planning on becoming a clandestine agent, but as I was researching on the web, I came upon this conspiracy. Shocked, I followed the truth, and became convinced of this righteous cause.

If you would like to know more, follow the clues I have left for you in this coded message. If you are found worthy, you too could join the Shadows...

But don't tell anyone!

Pray for the Korean Hostages

We simply must pray for the Korean Christians held hostage by the Taliban. As missionaries participating in humanitarian efforts, they are trying to bring some healing to such a war-torn land. I pray that no other martyrs are made out of this selfless group.

Like others, I wonder where the international outrage is over this event. (hat tip to The Point)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Free Stuff?

Big flat screen TV contest. Post a comment and thank Best Buy and blog about it.

I think I can do that.

Hat tip to Chris.

Is Fiction False?

My wife homeschools our two older boys. Of course this means mailing lists! How these people find out about you, I don't know, but in no time we were receiving catalogs and whatnot related to homeschooling and curriculum.

I just got one catalog from Memoria Press called The Classical Teacher. It pushes classical education like Latin and rhetoric. What was interesting was a little article inside by Martin Cothran called "Is Fiction False?"

He discusses the idea that we can't take all of our information in by just rational/logical means. He argues that fiction not only can speak to the head, but to the heart. A story can put a truth in a context and see how it works out.

A good quote from the article:

I have a friend who regularly asks me to recommend books for him to read. And among the books I recommend are a good dose of fiction, mostly novels. His response is always the same: a grimace, followed by the declaration, "Is that fiction? I just don't read much fiction." My rebuttal has become equally predictable: "Yes, I understand," I say. "In fact, I'm thinking of only breathing out of one lung from now on." Or: "I'm wondering why I need two eyes: I'm thinking of just putting one out." He gets the message: you only limit your understanding if you limit yourself to expository or argumentative writing.

Good thoughts. We can know information, but we don't necessarily know something. ""...By merely assenting to a proposition about something, we have understood it." When fiction places a concept into a situation and sees how it works outside in an experiential realm, we can be more fully impacted by the concept.

So go read some good fiction before the summer days slip away.

Currently reading: (3 non-fiction and 3 fiction)
Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture
Intercessory Prayer
It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian

The Legend of the Firefish
Return of the Guardian King
Shivering World

His Handiwork

I work in the middle of a high desert. We have to ride on a bus for almost an hour to get to work. This morning as I walked from the bus depot to my building, the sunrise was beautiful and awe-inspiring. The top of the dome of the sky was blue, but all along the rim of the sky were muted purples and pinks. As a side effect of Western fires, the eastern horizon blazed with orange and pink as the sun peeked out over the Teton Mountains and bathed the desert in early morning light.

There were a smattering of clouds to reflect some of the vivid colors of the dawn. It was just at the time when separate rays of sunshine could be discerned, flashing out to declare the coming of something powerful.

The sights this morning were beautiful enough. Coupled with the fresh clear air filling my lungs, peace radiated out from this.

Ah, God's glory is evident in his creation. I was struck by the fact that the sunrise was so beautiful to look at, but I could only gaze so long before averting my eyes to prevent damage from our star. Just now I am starting to blink away the phantom image from daring to look just a little longer at the sight. So is God in His majesty. We look for Him, to Him. We hold on as hard as we can, yet we cannot fully know His splendor because it is too much for us. Still, we dare a peek, we try to grasp something of the transcendent to hold with us in our earth-bound lives.

Thank you Lord for the way You speak silently, in just the beauty and stillness of a desert morning.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
Psalm 19:1-6

(Post best read while listening to contemplative music like Mark Heard)