Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Gift of the Marcher Lord

Yesterday I tried to end with the best possible cliff-hanger: GREED. As our blog tour continues to discuss the new independent publisher for Christian speculative fiction, Marcher Lord Press, there is more in it for you than just a good read.

How about prizes?

There are numerous prizes collected for the launch date of October 1st. The grand prize is a trip for two to ComicCON San Diego 2009. If that isn't worth going to the prize list and signing up, I don't know what is.

(Shameless Self-Promotion Disclaimer: If you list me as your referred, I get another entry into the contest. Just so you know...)

There are oodles of other prizes available, so it is quite worth your while to check it out.

But what are the initial offerings from MLP, other than a really generous guy in Jeff Gerke, making a splash?

I'm glad you asked! There are three books in the launch for Marcher Lord Press. And I mentioned Oct. 1st before. If you make an order on that day, there are bonus FREE goodies awaiting you. (It just gets better and better)

The first offering is Hero, Second Class. This book turns fantasy convention on its head. All the great points are skewed: Heroes, Villians, Kings, Magic, and So On.

If you like fantasy but are a little weary of the standard plot points that flow in the story like a checklist, then this witty skewing will bring a refreshing perspective as Cyrus, the wannabe Hero, embarks through the Hero Guild on his Grand Quest.

The next book is The Personifid Invasion. This is a stand-alone sequel to a previously released novel, The Personifid Project. In the future, bodies are able to be cloned in order to allow people to live forever by having their consciousness transfered into new bodies.

Death may no longer be an issue, but what about the soul? Are these altered creations more succeptible to outside influence, such as interterrestrials? A brother and sister race to find another sibling, trying to navigate the dangers between them.

Finally, the last introductory book is Summa Elvetica. This fantasy book is set in a world of human and non-human races: orcs, trolls, and elves as examples. The Church sends a priest to determine if these non-human races have souls, and as such, deserve a focus for evagelization.

Of course, how could such a story take place without romance and war? What will the cleric discover, and what will the ecclesiastia decide?

As you can see, MLP has a few intriguing options covering science fiction, fantasy, and a fantasy spoof. Even if these books are not to your liking, you ought to register to win a chance at the bounty of prizes, and you may well find a later title catching your interest.

I plan on an order on October 1st, and I will watch Marcher Lord Press with anticipation. If you are a fan of Christian speculative fiction, you would do well to support MLP to show that there is a demand for quality spec fic wiith a Christian world view.

If you have any interaction w/MLP, I would be interested in your comments next week!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Stand of the Marcher Lord

The Marcher Lords of England were knights given land at the edge of the kingdom. These brave, devoted warriors were set as the first line of defense against menace from raiding tribes in Scotland and Wales. They were placed in the frontier, without an easy life of a regular noble, charged with clearing the way and establishing their hold on new land.

This is according to Jeff Gerke's website, Marcher Lord Press, a new Christian publisher for speculative fiction. This is the stand that Jeff is taking in his love for exciting stories that aren't your typical Christian worldview title.

From the site:
What is Christian speculative fiction, you ask? It's the "weird" stuff: fantasy, science fiction, time travel, spiritual warfare, alternate history, chillers, superhero fiction, near-future technothrillers, and supernatural thrillers. All the Christian stories that are off the edge of the map.
This is a unique, daring venture his part. Marcher Lord Press is purposely smaller in order to have a lower overhead to be able to support the speculative fiction genre that is often short-changed in Christian book stores. It is a print on demand publisher, meaning that it will be printed when you order it. It is not a vanity press (the type of publisher that an author PAYS in order to see their book in print). The authors are truly solicited and paid.

Jeff Gerke is a visionary and a risk-taker. He sees the great potential in well-crafted stories that dare to go into realms that don't include prairie and Amish romances. I am hopeful to see more speculative fiction (such as Robin Parrish, Jeff Overstreet, and George Bryan Polivka) picked up in the regular CBA/Christian fiction market. However, I am very excited to see someone like Jeff stand up and make a way for some intriguing tales to find readers who like something a little outside of the ordinary. I am convinced that the realms of sci-fi and fantasy offer great opportunity to share powerful spiritual truth in a way that flows from the story, not forced upon it. I hope you will take some time to check out Marcher Lord.

Tomorrow, I'll share about the launch books for Marcher Lord Press, why you need to mark October 1st on your calendar, and the joy of PRIZES!!! Don't miss out!

Also, see my fellow tourmates for more.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Marcher Lord Approaches

In the 2+ years I've been blogging, I've read a lot of fiction. A good chunk of that has been speculative (an encompassing term for science fiction and fantasy). I didn't realize how much I enjoyed this genre, and I've become a real fan. Unfortunately, the CBA market of Christian fiction doesn't yet supply a lot of choice in this area. Sure, there's more than 15 years ago. But if you look at a section of Christian fiction, it is still dominated by romance and historical fiction.

Becky Miller continues to argue for a larger potential audience for Christian speculative fiction based on properties such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Narnia. On the other side, publishers cite low sales for speculative titles. In a free market system, demand will drive supply. So where does that leave fans of spec fic?

Somtimes an enterprising person sees an opportunity and runs with it, meeting a niche that is currently under-supported. That person, the focus of this month's CSFF tour, is Jeff Gerke.

Marcher Lord Press is an independent publisher for Christian speculative fiction. Jeff's goal is to provide an outlet for authors and readers of this genre. He has the credentials to pull it off. He is a published author, under the name Jefferson Scott. He has also been a fiction acquisition editor (meaning he has an eye for what works). He also founded the site WheretheMapEnds, a good creative resource for aspiring writers.

I encourage you to look into Marcher Lord Press today, and check back over the next two days for more about this new outlet. Also check out my fellow tourmates, listed below.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Kameron M. Franklin
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise
Tina Kulesa
Jason Waguespac

Friday, September 19, 2008

This Here Be a Pirate Blog!

ARRRR! This year's Talk Like a Pirate Day is brought to you today by Black-Eye Nate. If ye be darin' the edge o'his cutlass, then enter.

Black-Eye Nate commandeered our backyard playhouse, and I barely survived walkin' the plank. All be well now. All kinds of booty ere accepted, but plastic pirate men be exceptional treasure!

Yer pirate resources for 2008:

Gráinne Ní Mháille, better known as Grace O'Malley, a famous female pirate in the time of Queen Elizabeth I.

This be an excellent pirate game fer the Xbox!

Shiver yer timbers with this pirate radio show.

A reason to plunder an iPhone, finally. Yarr!

Lego Relient K, starring in the video for The Pirates who Don't Do Anything.

Piracy in the Bible? The evidence be here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CFBA Review - Isolation

Don't turn the lights off with this one...

This week's featured book for the CFBA tour is Isolation by Travis Thrasher.

The Millers need a retreat after being burnt out by bad experiences as missionaries in Papau New Guinea. Jim struggles with doubts about his faith. Stephanie is sleepwalking and having visions of blood and death.

Jim takes Steph and their kids Zachary and Ashley to an isolated house up on a beautiful hill in North Carolina as a getaway to reconnect with God and each other. The mysterious mansion, built by an eccentric millionaire, strikes them all as eerie as soon as they arrive and meet up with Stephanie's brother Paul.

Before they can leave, a winter storm traps them in the house, as it slowly reveals its dark secrets. Will they survive with their faith, or will they survive at all?

The idea of a Christian horror novel may seem counter-intuitive, but it really is a genre that is ripe for the exploration of good and evil. The concept of spiritual warfare lends itself well to a very suspenseful book.

Thrasher's novel keeps the suspense level high from the start, with an attention-grabbing opening chapter to the deadly finale. He notes Stephen King as an influence, and though I've only managed to read one of King's books, Isolation does cause white knuckles and short, gasping breaths in abundance.

The main characters are fleshed out rather well, but secondary characters don't come across as interesting or more than placeholders. There's some backstory that isn't explored enough for my taste, leaving me wondering too much.

It is an easy read, and the tension is intense. I didn't want to be interrupted during the last quarter of the book. He makes good use of the characters' thoughts to add to the mystery and creates a strong feel of turmoil and confusion.

The book is not for the faint of heart (or big honkin' chickens either). I found it a little disturbing, only in that kids are threatened, and I'm not a fan of that. Still, the spiritual themes are powerfully presented throughout the book.

Overall it was a good read and should be considered by fans of intense suspense or horror. The squeamish would want to give it to their non-squeamish friends!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Isolation, go HERE

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Upcoming Events

It's been hard to get to the ol' Blogger for a few days, but I have some things coming up this week, so keep your eyes peeled:

- A review of the new thriller Isolation by Travis Thrasher

- Some links and hopefully a discussion of creating culture by Christians

- And ye have been warned, the favorite silly holiday of Spoiled for the Ordinary is approaching on Friday

- Finally, I'm really excited for the next Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy Tour in a little while featuring Marcher Lord Press.

Check back for a little of everything!

Friday, September 12, 2008

CFBA Tour - In the Shadow of Lions

This week the book from the CFBA tour that I am reviewing is In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett.

It is a familiar tale, or is it?

In the 1500's, history was exploding in unexpected ways in Europe. King Henry VIII sat on the throne in England, desperate for a male heir from his wife, Queen Catherine. The religious climate of the continent was in turmoil due to the works of Martin Luther and other so-called "reformers", and in the Isles Sir Thomas More put his considerable strength into protecting England from such devilish influences.

Into this background, we meet Anne Boleyn.

Is Anne the seductress history has portrayed, a woman who beguiled the king and stole the throne? Or could she be a key player in the Reformation, helping to introduce the English Bible to the people, and her religious motivations being the real reason to abstain from Henry's advances until she was made queen?

These are the questions raised in Garrett's new book. It is actually an intriguing premise focusing on three women - a modern day editor on her death bed, visited by the Scribe, an angel with a story to tell; Anne Boleyn and her journey to the throne and the guillotine, and another woman named Rose who is a street girl brought into Thomas More's household as an act of charity.

I was interested in reading this book because her previous books, Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, and Dark Hour, had premises that had me quite curious to read. I also recently did some study on William Tyndale, the English reformer and Bible translator who figures prominently in Ginger's new book.

The book has strengths and weaknesses. The set-up is an original one in my mind. She does a good job showing the setting and putting the reader into 16th century England. Unfortunately, the plot suffers quite a bit throughout the book. I felt the book was too mysterious in how it set up situations - trying to be suspenseful and having the reader wonder what was happening next, but not fully explaining what was occurring or giving enough information. I was often left confused, unsure of what happened. Many times a character did something with little motivation or cause introduced to make it believable. I mainly enjoyed the brief parts with the modern editor and the angel, although I got confused in those sections as well.

Overall this is a book that has potential as a suspenseful historical novel, but falls short in its execution of plot cohesion and character motivation. It is a wonderful time frame that has lots of drama, and it still is an insightful story in ways as far as introducing a new theory on Anne Boleyn, but I was generally disappointed in reading it. This is supposed to be a series of books - hopefully subsequent books will be weaved together in a tighter pattern.

If you would like to read an excerpt from In The Shadow Of Lions, go HERE

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

CFBA Tour - Back to Life

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Back To Life

Avon Inspire (September 16, 2008)


Kristin Billerbeck

Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and gained a bachelor's degree in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then, she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing.

She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit. She is a CBA bestselling author and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year for What A Girl Wants in 2004, and again in 2006 for With this Ring. Featured in the New York Times, USA Today, World Magazine, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Kristin has appeared on the Today Show. She is credited with jump-starting the inspirational chick-lit phenomenon. Most recently she has been names as a finalist for the Christy Award in the Lits category for The Trophy Wives Club.

Her other recent books include: She's All That.


Lindsey realized when she married Ron, a man 17 years her senior, that the odds were he’d see heaven before her, but she never expected to be a widow at 35. There’s too much of life left for her to just sit around in mourning. But she can’t seem to kick start the rest of her life.

That is until she gets some help from Ron’s first wife, Jane, who shows up unexpectedly at her door one day as the executor of her husband’s estate. Jane is everything Lindsey’s not… independent, stubborn… and a lot older. Plus she has one surprise after another… including a son named Ron Jr. (she insists he’s not “really” Ron’s son). But an unlikely friendship develops as each woman begins to reevaluate what is really important, and owns up to the mistakes they’ve made in the past.

Told in the alternating voices of Jane and Lindsey, and with the return of many of the witty characters of The Trophy Wives Club, this book is a lighthearted, relatable read for when life goes in a direction you never planned. With faith and friends, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

If you would like to read an excerpt of chapter 1 of Back To Life, go HERE

Monday, September 01, 2008

Parenting Tip #27

"Put us to bed Daddy!" my four year old gleefully announced prior to their bedtime.

You may be asking, "How in the world can I get MY kids to accept bedtime so eagerly?" I will share my experience with you, absolutely free. Nowhere else, but this blog, will you get such amazing advice.

Get bunk beds.

Since we're expecting Baby in October, we needed to compress space. My wife is an avid garage sale shopper, and she found a perfect solution for us, a bunk bed with a twin on top and a full on bottom, thus allowing for three boys in one room. My two older boys already shared a room and a full bed, but the youngest was very excited to join his brothers, and the novelty of the bunk beds fueled the older ones' interest. Tonight was the first night they get to experience this, and I about fell over when the above statement was shared with us!

Of course, I have no delusions about this blissful state lasting. And note, I didn't offer this excitement for bedtime as a permanent solution. But it should make bedtime for a few nights an anticipation, rather than trepidation...