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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

50,000 Books Sold and Counting!

It's so nice to get such great community support. Roanoke Times ran another great article about me and I found out that my debut Crossing Oceans, sold more than I thought. Wow!

http://blogs.roanoke.com/dancasey/2011/09/thursdays-column-50000-books-sold-and-counting/comment-page-1/#comment-135747

And Nothing But the Truth ~ Ann Tatlock


Ann Tatlock is the author of eight novels. Her newest release, Promises to Keep, was chosen by Booklist Magazine as one of the top ten historical novels of 2011. Writing to a Post-Christian World is her first non-fiction release, based on a class she teaches at writers conferences. Her passion is helping writers better understand our culture so they can be fully equipped to reach others for Christ. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband Bob and their daughter, Laura. Her website is www.anntatlock.com.



My best friend’s brother sits in jail, awaiting trial for the murder of his wife. Having known my best friend and her family for 35 years, I’m inclined to believe Scott isn’t guilty. Much as I love this family, though, I couldn’t stake my life on Scott’s innocence.  My heart tells me Scott didn’t do it but my reason reminds me that I wasn’t there in the house when Karen was bludgeoned to death. While I know what I want to believe, I don’t know with absolute certainty who murdered Scott’s wife.
For the sake of argument, though, let’s say Scott is telling the truth. According to his testimony, he was mountain biking—alone—the evening an intruder killed Karen. No alibi. Just his story and a declaration of his innocence.
The prosecutor isn’t buying it, of course. Examining the evidence, he and his team have drawn their own conclusions and come up with a scenario (read: story) they hope will convince the jury of Scott’s guilt.
The public defender doesn’t know with certainty whether his client did it or not and he probably doesn’t care. That’s not his job. His job is to present a case (read: story) that convinces the jury of Scott’s innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.
So which story is true? Which story aligns with what really happened? Maybe none of the above but one thing we do know: Scott cannot be both innocent and guilty at the same time. One and only one series of events led up to Karen’s death. Someone planned it and carried it through, step by step. All the conjecture, argument and second-guessing doesn’t change the reality of that moment.
The problem is, the only person who really knows the story is the murderer himself. The one who was in the home. Whoever the killer is—presuming Scott is innocent—you can bet he (or she) is as far away from the courtroom as possible.
While it may be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Scott is innocent (and that’s all that needs to be accomplished in this trial), there are those who will always believe he killed Karen. They will always doubt Scott’s creditability unless someone comes forward and confesses to the murder. For us to know the truth, the one who knows the truth must come forward.
So here we are, in a court of law, where everyone involved has sworn (on a Bible, no less) to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But without the one who knows what the truth is, any attempt to uncover the truth seems pretty much an exercise in futility, doesn’t it?
Welcome to the postmodern world.
Picture humanity sitting around in the big courtroom of life, trying to uncover the mystery behind the big questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? We’re looking for answers while, ironically, in our highly spiritual but anti-Christian culture, we’ve dismissed the one Witness who was there from before the beginning and who has not only seen all of human history unfold but who planned it and orchestrated it by his own hand. The God of the Bible is not in the room.
For the postmodern thinker, we’re all on our own to come up with a story, one that will make sense of our lives, one that will save us from meaninglessness and death. In a very real sense, we become self-appointed lawyers trying to create the best scenario to save ourselves. But not to worry. Since truth is relative (relativism being at the heart of postmodernism), all paths lead to God, truth, and salvation. What’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me. It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.
As Christians, though, we still believe it matters in what we believe, because what we believe has eternal consequences.
We also believe that God (whom Christians haven’t dismissed as irrelevant, intolerant, outdated, or simply unlikable) is the one who knows exactly what the truth is when it comes to all matters of life, and that he has revealed all we need to know in his inspired Word, the Bible. The Bible tells the One Grand Story in which we all have a part.
God is not only still in the room with us, he’s speaking loud and clear. His message is the message we present as Christian writers. As novelists, we’re simply retelling the story that was told by the original Author, the story about creation, sin, Jesus, salvation, redemption, hope.
The one who knows the truth has told us what it is. From there, we weave reflections of His Story into every plot the Holy Spirit inspires us to write. That’s what our ungrounded, free-floating, reality-twisting, thoroughly confused postmodern culture needs to hear: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Take the sword of the Spirit—His Word—and journey forth.


Is our nation on a downward spiral? Can the corrosion of our culture be reversed? Or are we experiencing the end of God's blessing due to our depravity? For the past 50 years our culture has undergone a monumental shift as the media has pulled people into a whole new way of thinking. Gone is the idea that absolutes exist. Instead our leaders and educators preach a belief that everything is relative....including truth. How do we respond to such muddled thinking? How do we present the one true Truth to a culture that worships diversity of thought and morals? In this concise, easy-to-read book, Ann Tatlock answers these questions and more. What is a biblical worldview? What is The Great Literary Conversation? How has relativism affected our culture? How has revisionism affected the Church? What is postmodern literature? What is our greatest task as Christian writers?

Take a stand for truth. Take a pen and write.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You Don’t Have The Money? Sorry, I Don’t Believe You

For years I told myself I was willing to do whatever it took to be an author.

Like go to a conference.

Not a half day workshop or a gathering of writers at the local library. A full-out writer’s conference with editors and agents. Where I’d have to pitch. Show my work. Risk rejection. Try to make the dream become more than a dream.

I had a specific conference in mind, but every spring when the time to register smacked into my calendar I started dancing the rumba.

You know, the conference fence dance where I wasn’t sure if I was going or not.

And every spring I landed on the wrong side and promised I’d go next year. (For seven years.)

Deep down I didn’t think I was ready to go, wasn’t good enough to go, and I was scared. But I didn’t admit it to myself then. The excuse I used was money; that I didn’t have enough.

You’re not using that one are you? Because that’s all it is. An excuse. Before you lambast me, listen to my logic. By the time the final cha ching fades on the cost of a major writing conference you could shell out anywhere from $500 - $1,200. (Conference cost, hotel, airfare, CDs, etc.)

Yes, that’s some serious coin of the realm, but you have the money. Really.

• Three lattes per week: $5 each x 4 = $60 x 12 = $600
• Monthly cable bill: $50+ x 12 = $600
• Monthly dinners out: $50 x 2 = $100 x 12 = $1,000

“But I gotta have my lattes, Jim!” Uh huh. “I gotta have my cable!” Really? Okay, then have it. But don’t say you don’t have the money to go to a conference.

Say, “Cable TV and lattes and dinners out and new clothes (and whatever else you spend non-essential money on) are more important to me than going to a conference and taking this writing thing seriously.”

My friend Roy Williams says, “The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” I realize I’ve risked insulting some people with the above. That’s not my intent and I am fully cognizant of writers who want desperately to go to a writing conference and have already cut their budgets deep into the bone.

My intent is to reach the people who are like I was. Scared. Feeling unworthy to come. Allowing the dream to stay only a dream. Using the excuse of money to hold them back.

I want to tell them all published authors were once where they are. I want to tell them if they’re serious about writing they’ll make sacrifices to be able to take action. And without question, if you’re intent on being a writer, going to a major writing conference will take your aspirations beyond the next level.

Yes, it costs a lot to go to the Super Bowl, but there’s a vast difference between watching the game on TV and being in the stands.

Yes, it costs a lot to go to a conference, but there’s a vast difference between reading about the publishing industry in a book or magazine and being there live.

So if you can skip a latte or two, laser in on a conference you’ve wanted to go to and commit. If we wind up at the same one, the first Starbucks run is on me.


James L. Rubart is the bestselling and award winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, and THE CHAIR. He’s the owner of Barefoot Marketing and lives in the Pacific Northwest with his amazing wife and two outstanding teenage sons. More at: jameslrubart.com FB- James L. Rubart Twitter @jimrubart



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why is Christian Spec-Fic Mostly YA?

I suppose I should be glad that young adults are reading Christian speculative fiction. But the truth is, I’m disheartened. Why? It’s not translating into more adult Christian speculative fiction.

My friend Becky Miller sponsors The Clive Staples Award (CSA), a readers choice award recognizing the best in Christian Speculative Fiction. When she unveiled The 2010 Clive Staples Award Winner, I’ll be honest, I was a little disappointed. Why? According to this readers choice award, apparently the best Christian speculative fiction is for kids. Not only was the CSA top vote getter a Young Adult novel, four of the top five winners were YA!

Before I proceed, let me clarify: I am not suggesting that Young Adult fiction is inferior to adult fiction. Nor am I ignoring the fact that small presses (like Marcher Lord Press, Splashdown Books, Port Yonder Press, etc.) are starting to publish more adult Christian spec titles. I also recognize that much YA is consumed by adults.

Nevertheless, I think The Clive Staples Award is representative of a very important trend. In the same way that women’s fiction comprises 80% of the Christian fiction market, YA comprises the bulk of the Christian speculative market. But what does it say about the state of Christian speculative fiction that the best, most popular stuff, is YA?

Some may find encouragement in this. Indeed, the fact that kids are reading is a good thing. After all, “teen” readers will eventually become “adult” readers. But if the CSA is any indication, this “transition” from “teen reader” to “adult reader” — at least as it relates to Christian speculative fiction — is not happening very quickly. If it’s happening at all.

So where’s the “adult” Christian spec-fic? And why is Christian spec-fic constituted so heavily by YA?

I have two theories: First, YA speculative fiction is simply more compatible with the Christian market's "family friendly" image than is adult spec-fic. In fact, "adult" themes often don't fit well in the Christian market. (Don't believe me? Follow the discussion thread in THIS RECENT NR POST where writers debate whether adultery is viable as a "Christian" subject.) Contemporary “adult” spec-fic not only must be free to "speculate," it must be "adult." But neither of those things come easy in today's overly-sanitized religious market. In this way, YA speculative fiction is much better suited for CBA / ECPA readers because it doesn’t need to have the “bite” that adult spec-fic does, and can more easily skirt taboos of sex, language, and questionable theology. Which is why much Christian YA spec-fic tends to involve lots of dragons, elves, and swordsmiths.

Second, parents are deeply motivated to get something “Christian” into the hands of their teenagers, alternatives to the Harry Potters and Twilights of the world. In this sense, adults may actually be behind the Christian YA movement. However, this may say as much about the type of Christian teens we want to raise, as it does about the types of fiction we want them to read.

Anyway, that’s my going theory. While I should be excited that young adults are reading, I can’t help but ask, Where’s the “adult” Christian spec-fic?

Discovering C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy and Till We Have Faces, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, George MacDonald, Charles Williams, and G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, were some of the most exciting times of my life as a Christian reader. Discovering that those books were 50+ years old and still have no contemporary equals, was depressing. Perhaps we just can’t write like that anymore.

It’s bad enough that speculative fiction is under-represented in Christian bookstores. What’s worse is that the stuff that IS there, is mostly for kids.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you agree that adult spec-fic is under-represented in the CBA? Is there any validity to my suggestions that YA does well in the Christian market because "adult" themes don't always fit, and that Christian parents are anxious to find alternatives for their Twilight, Harry Potter-loving kids?

Mike is a monthly contributor to Novel Journey. He is represented by the rockin' Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. Mike's debut novel, "The Resurrection," is in stores now. You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com.

Love’s Covering By Anita Mellott

Love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

I ran my fingers over the crisp pages of my Mother’s Day gift—a new Bible to replace my tattered twenty-year-old one. I’m going to take better care of this Bible, I determined. Maybe it’ll last longer than the other one.

A few weeks later, I placed it on my nightstand after my devotions. As I stood up, my hand brushed against a glass of water. I watched in horror as the pages turned into a soggy mess. I grabbed a towel from the bathroom, wrapped the dripping Bible in it, and ran downstairs.

You’re so careless. You’ve ruined a new Bible. So much for it lasting a long time. My thoughts accused me as I opened the door to the sunroom. I lay the Bible on a wicker chair and dragged it to the spot that got the most sun.

Throughout the day I checked on my Bible, my heart sinking every time I saw its drooping, wet pages.
That night I stood in the sunroom looking at the warped water-wrinkled pages of my Bible. Go buy a new Bible. This one’s no good. It’s a reminder of your carelessness. Perfectionism battled with relief that my Bible was still usable. It’s fine. It’s not that damaged. I can still use it. I picked it up and turned it over, feeling the bumpiness of the pages. “Child, I love you just the way you are,” a whisper floated into my heart.

Over the years, I’ve come to treasure that Bible. It has become a cherished reminder that God’s love covers the multitude of my imperfections.

Digging deeper: What does God’s perfect love mean to you? Reflect on Psalm 136.

Excerpted from School Is Where the Home Is: 180 Devotions for Parents by Anita Mellott, copyright © 2011 by Anita Mellott. Used by permission of Judson Press, www.judsonpress.com.

Author, and homeschooling mom, Anita Mellott has post-graduate degrees in Communications and Journalism. She worked as an editor with Habitat for Humanity International, and headed the Department of Journalism at her alma mater in India. She blogs at From the Mango Tree.


Friday, August 26, 2011

September Sale!

We are now accepting ads for Sept.

Sidebar ads on sale now, buy Sept, get October FREE. $50.00

Book trailer display: $75.00 (buy sept placement, get Oct FREE!)

Rocket Pages Listings (A Craig's List for writing related services):
$100 for an ENTIRE year. September Sale: receive graphic placement FREE ($50 value!)

For more information or to place an order, click on the "advertise" tab above.



Reality Slip ~ Jennifer Slattery


Jennifer Slattery is the marketing manager for the literary website, Clash of the Titles. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse, Reflections in Hindsight and Samie Sisters. Find out more about her and her writing here. Then, hop on over to Clash of the Titles to join the fun and help determine Clash’s next literary champion.



Losing Touch With Reality

by: Jennifer Slattery

A few months ago, I stomped out of my office and down the stairs, scowling. My poor, unsuspecting husband looked up at me with his rather innocent baby blues and asked, “What’s wrong.” Standing in front of him, hovering between story-world and reality, I didn’t have an answer. It took a moment for reality to win as I remembered my husband wasn’t Trent, the not-so-heroic hero of my women’s fiction, Breaking Free. Apparently, my slip from reality isn’t unique. As I talked with Clash of the Titles’ authors and staff, I realized we writers have one thing in common—a very loose grip on the real world.

One evening as clash conqueror, Lena Nelson Dooley, ate dinner with her real life hero, she turned to her husband and said, "Jeremiah's going to have a fit when he hears what Maddy's doing."

Her husband gave her a blank stare. "Who's Jeremiah? Do I know him?"

She had an authentic laugh out loud moment. "No, he's the hero of the book I'm writing."

Like so many poor writers’ spouses, he shook his head and muttered, "Writers really think weird."

Now that’s quite likely the understatement of the year. Or am I the only one who holds animated conversations with myself, sends myself emails, and stalks family members, neighbors, and strangers with pen and pad in hand?

It gets really bad when our mental slips occur in public. One day after writing a chapter about a tooth extraction for her historical fiction, The Road to Deer Run, COTT (Clash of the Titles) conqueror, Elaine Cooper, took her mother to the dentist. Upon learning that one of her mother’s teeth needed to be removed, she called the oral surgeon and spoke with the receptionist. When the clerk asked Elaine what her mom needed, Elaine replied, "She needs her tooth drawn."

Dead air ensued.

"She needs what?"

Elaine bit back a chuckle. "She needs her tooth...pulled!"

So what does it take to launch writers into story world? Most often, food.

Having lived in Louisiana for a spell, I feel for COTT staff member, Lisa Lickel’s family. “I’m about to jump into the world of Cajun country, Louisiana, in both 1875 and then 1955, for a kind of family saga,” Lickel says. “So I have to build my later family on the traditions and template of the earlier generation. As I look up recipes, I might cook some of their dishes. I imagine interactions.” Here’s hoping she hasn’t found the recipe for fried armadillo yet.

COTT conqueror, Christine Lindsey’s research sounds a bit a more palatable. “For Shadowed in Silk, my husband and I would often dine in Indian restaurants.”

For Michelle Massaro, COTT Assistant Editor, falling into fantasy world is as easy as closing her eyes. “I've always had a good imagination and strong emphathy for people, so it isn't difficult to do with most characters,” Massaro says. “To switch characters usually just takes me another moment to pause and close my eyes and become them.”

That certainly explains a few odd emails conversations she and I have shared. But hey, I understand. I’ve sent myself similar messages.

For COTT Scheduling manager, Amanda Flower, it takes a bit of blood flow to get her muse flowing. “My muse strikes me most when I'm doing something active like walking or swimming,” Flower says. “My best ideas hit me when I'm not thinking about my story or characters. The timing's not convenient, so I carry pen and paper with me most of the time to jot down notes. While walking, I've also been known to repeat a scene to myself over and over again until I return home. Thank goodness for Bluetooth. People think I'm talking on a cell phone when I'm really talking to myself."

For others, like COTT staff member, Gail Pallotta, unexpected images take over. "Sometimes the muse hits me when I'm least expecting it, and I see a character in my head.”

For COTT Senior Editor, April Gardner, switching gears doesn’t come as easily. “I have to live, eat, and breathe my characters and setting,” Gardner says. “If I take even a day to focus my brain on something else, I’ll surely regret it.”

What about you? Do you find yourself hovering between life and fantasy or does it take some hip-extending, highly-peppered cuisine to trigger your imagination? And I suppose the real question is, how do you return to the real world once you set your keyboard aside?

Or…do you?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Looking for Love




Don't forget, all you romantics out there -- until September 10, we're still taking submissions for the Contemporary Romance category of our contest.

To enter, download an entry form here, fill it out, and email it, along with the
synopsis and first chapter (or 3 - 4000 words) of your novel, to NovelJourneyContest@gmail.com.

In addition, we're accepting submissions for our final category, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, through October 10. So if you write speculative fiction, there's still room for you too.

There's no fee for entering, plus, this year the judges are providing useful (we hope) feedback on every submission. So you can't lose, even if you're not the winner! Or, to rephrase Tennyson, better to have entered and lost thannot toentered at all.

So join us, won't you? We're waiting with outstretched arms.





What's Your Point? by Jerry B. Jenkins

I like movies that are not afraid to be quiet. The film adaptation of John Irving’s The Cider House Rules was a masterpiece, which I confess despite the fact that it was a pro-abortion bromide and my personal philosophy is diametrically opposed to its message. Why? Because as opposed as I am to abortion, Irving deserved his Academy Award, and I applauded his acceptance speech, wherein he made clear his worldview. He didn’t pretend he didn’t have a message.

And neither should Christian writers. Ours is a message of hope, of reconciliation, of forgiveness. True art will communicate that without preaching. Give the reader credit. Tell a story and assume he gets it.

If the Left Behind books, The Prayer of Jabez, The Purpose-Driven Life, and others have awakened the general market to the vast potential of inspirational titles, the horizon has been broadened for us all.

The toughest challenge for any artist, any creator, is to resist the urge to show off. Our name will be on the cover, after all, and we’d love to remind the reader with a turn of phrase or a choice word that yes, I’m the one fashioning this message.

Art trumps self
But the best writers, like the best composers and painters, know that it is not about them. It is about the art, the content—and anything that interferes with the connection between that and the viewer, listener, or reader is an interruption.

If your reader is aware of your technique, he may miss your message. If the pianist dazzles his audience with technique, the purpose of the composer may be compromised. If the appreciator of art becomes aware of the brushstrokes, the artist may lose his ability to reach the soul through the meat of his message.

A true classic transports you. You’re unaware of the performance and the performer, the author and his technique. As creators, that should be our goal. Not to write classics. That’s not up to us. The market will decide that. But to get out of the way so the heart of the message reaches the soul of the reader.

Accomplish this by writing clearly and concisely, enticing your readers and guiding them to the core of your work. Use words they will understand rather than ones that will make them wonder. Get out of the way of your art.

Jerry B. Jenkins is author of more than 175 books, with sales of more than 70 million copies, including the best-selling Left Behind series.
Twenty of his books have reached the
New York Times best-seller list (seven in the number-one spot). In 2011 he released the first in a trilogy of police novels set in Chicago, The Brotherhood. The second in the series, The Betrayal, released this month. Jerry also owns the Christian Writers Guild, which trains writers through courses, conferences, contests, critiques, and community. Visit him online.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Heroes and Slugs by Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery is the marketing rep for the literary website, Clash of the Titles. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse, Samie Sisters, and Reflections in Hindsight and has written for numerous others including Afictionado and the Christian Fiction Online Review. In 2009 she placed first in the HACWN writing contest and in 2010 she was a CWG Operation First Novel finalist, placed second in the Dixie Kane and fourth in the Golden Pen. Find out more about her and her writing at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com and find out more about Clash of the Titles, the fun literary site where authors compete and readers judge at www.clashofthetitles.com

Heroes Versus Slugs—How Different Are They?

Last February at the Christian Writers Guild “Writing for the Soul” conference in Denver, Abingdon Press Editor Ramona Richards and I shared an interesting conversation on slugs. You know, those losers that slime through every novel, leaving a nasty trail in their wake. There’s nothing more satisfying than creating a truly evil antagonist who makes your teeth grind and your stomach convulse. Except, perhaps, creating a love-hate relationship between your antagonist and your reader.

According to Ramona, effective antagonists are those that blind side you or leave you conflicted. They’re the ones that believe they’re doing good in doing bad and evoke feelings of empathy in the reader…only to unleash the slime once the reader’s defenses are down. This is a fine line writers must tiptoe. If you make your antagonist too evil, your novel becomes predictable. Yet, if you give your slug too many admirable traits, you risk reader revolt. Walking the love-hate tight-rope may be dicey, but it’s not impossible. Read on to find out how Clash of the Titles competitors do it.

Ann Gaylia O’Barr, author of Singing in Babylon, digs deep into her antagonist’s psyche, showing the reader why he turned into a slug in the first place. “The antagonist often has been twisted by a hurt in his own life,” O’Barr says. “He has chosen to react by causing more hurt. Some antagonists regret their choice to hurt once they see what they have done. Others feel quite justified. They see the world as mostly competitive, a Darwinian survival of the fittest. They must survive no matter who they hurt.”

Naomi Musch, author of the Green Veil, loves uncovering her antagonist’s baggage. “Getting into the skin of a dark, nefarious mind and still revealing his sympathetic side is terrific fun!” Musch says. “My favorite bad guys always have some human, likeable side. They can be charming, helpful, witty, and attractive. They don't have to be entirely bad, just misguided.”

Although Erin Rainwater, author of the Arrow that Flieth by Day, disagrees. “I know that the ‘rule’ is to make even the slugs have some element of virtue, like the serial killer who adopts and cares for an abandoned puppy,” Rainwater says. “Personally, I like the villain to be pure evil. The ultimate villain, Darth Vader, is a prime example. True, Vader turned out to have a soft heart for his suffering son, and found redemption at the end of his life, but it took three entire movies before we discovered this was even possible.”

And what about those heroes? Are they always heroic? A regular Ken Doll meets GI-Joe? Not quite. Cardboard characters weigh heavy on the page and lull readers to sleep. We want our heroes to be heroic, not saintly. We want to see their struggles, their moments of defeat, and their ultimate triumph.

According to Christine Lindsay, author of Shadowed in Silk, the most endearing heroes have a dash of vulnerability. “I love to see the interplay of vulnerability and strength in a man taking place simultaneously,” Lindsay says. “A number of years ago I saw this hand tremor in my husband when he was being mistreated in a horrible way… I gave [my hero in Shadowed Silk] the same trembling hand, as well as my husband’s steady gaze that never wavers from what is right or his commitment to getting the job done.”

According to aspiring author, Joanne Sher, “A great hero conquers his fears, gets his (or her) strength from those around him, and isn't afraid to fail.”
Clash of the Titles’ Senior Editor and author of Wounded Spirits, April Gardner, says a hero needs flaws. Big ones. “The bigger the character flaws, the harder they have to work to overcome all those obstacles we, as authors, throw in their paths,” Gardner says. “Hard work creates tension, and the more tension the better the read. We all have massive flaws, so why not put them in our characters too?

In fact, often it is through our hero’s failings we can best see his strength and the deep recesses of his heart.

What about you? Think of some of the novels you’ve read this past year. Any heroes stand out? If so, why? And what about those villains? Do you like your slugs to be slimier than snot or do you prefer to see a bit of sugar sprinkled in?



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Exposed by Ashley Weis



Ashley Weis
Exposed, a novel
Buy HERE. 



Allyson Graham, marriage counselor and lover of love, lived a life of romance few could imagine. Until her husband's secret addiction stared at her from the computer screen. Will she be able to forgive the man who lied to her all of those precious years?

Follow her painful story alongside the heartbreaking story of Taylor Adams, a young girl searching for her worth in the world. As Allyson struggles to forgive her husband for lying about his addiction, Taylor naively falls into the same self-destructive industry and discovers that the attention and fun is nothing like she thought it would be.

Discover the hearts of these two women as they search for beauty after the rain.

Gina's Review:


There is something so powerful about a book told by someone who has lived through the devastation of a marriage upheaved by a spouse's porn addiction. In trying to understand the sin, Ashley does a wonderful job at getting inside the skin of the victims on both side of this troubling but very real fence. Ashley Weis takes us where few in Christian fiction dare to tread. She addresses every woman's nightmare with frankness, truth and love. Her style is clean and efficient, her story line, powerful. Weis shows that hope can shine just as brilliantly among the neon of the sex industry as it does through a stained glass church window. Anyone who claims that Christian fiction is pat and irrelevant hasn't read this novel.

I recommend this book to men and women who struggle with porn addiction or love someone who has. In no way does this novel glorify or accept the sin. It simply offers grace, compassion and the hope of restoration and redemption.

When Loathsome Characters Say Despicable Things

Tess Gerritsen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University. Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, and was awarded her M.D. in 1979. After completing her internal medicine residency, she worked as a physician in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1987, Tess's first novel was published. CALL AFTER MIDNIGHT, a romantic thriller, was soon followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, "Adrift," which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson. Her thriller, Harvest was released in 1996, and marked Tess's debut on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list. Film rights were sold to Paramount/Dreamworks, and the book was translated into twenty foreign languages. Now retired from medicine, Tess writes full time and lives in Maine


is the author also despicable?

I’ve recently been taken to task by a reader for a piece of dialogue in THE SILENT GIRL in which a nasty character says in frustration to Jane, “Are you a retard?” The reader wrote to tell me that she has a mentally challenged child and she was furious at me for using such a word. She felt I was insensitive and should never have used it. And the truth is, I myself would never use it. Just as I would never call anyone a chink, a whore, a gook, and any number of things.

But over the years, my characters have used such words. And they were not nice characters. Their choice of words, in fact, helped define the type of people they are, and evoked an emotional response in the reader. Many times, writers get slammed by readers because those words turn up in our books. We are supposed to clean up the language of our characters, however nasty they may be. Our characters — even the murderers, the crime lords, the gang bangers — are supposed to speak in antiseptically sensitive language. They must never speak the way they’d actually speak on the street.

Writers face tough choices with every word we pick. Do we write dialogue that’s realistic, or dialogue that doesn’t offend? Do we sanitize every line of dialogue so that it’s lifeless, stilted, and completely unbelievable?

Instead of saying “Are you a retard?” should that nasty character, a mobster, have said instead “Are you mentally challenged?”

It just doesn’t sound right. Does it?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bryan Davis on Book Tours

Bryan Davis is the author of several fantasy series.  His book, Eye of the Oracle, hit number one on the January 2007, Young Adult CBA best-seller list, and his book The Bones of Makaidos won the Clive Staples Award for the best Christian speculative fiction in 2009. Bryan lives in western Tennessee with his wife, Susie, and their children. Bryan and Susie have homeschooled their four girls and three boys. 



Tell us a little about how you came first to write novels, second to write in your chosen genre. 


I became interested in writing through homeschooling our children. Teaching them how to write was an important part of the curriculum, but, at that time, we couldn’t find a curriculum that met our needs. So I decided to start writing a story that would help our children see how to craft stories and understand the building blocks within them. Every Friday night my wife would read what I had written that week, and the story grew into a novel.


My first attempt wasn’t fantasy, but that changed one night when I had a dream about a boy who could breathe fire.  I told my eldest son about it, and he suggested that I write a fantasy novel based on the dream. He said that if I wanted to speak to children in our culture, fantasy was the way to go. After brainstorming with him for a couple of hours, we came up with the fantasy concept of how a boy could breathe fire, and that became the starting point for my Dragons in our Midst series.


You're getting ready to start a book tour, tell us about the novel you're currently promoting. 

I have four novels coming out this year, so I will be promoting them all as well as my daughter's new novel, which is coming out soon. Two of mine are continuations in the Dragons of Starlight series, Warrior and Diviner. Another book is a continuation in an adult companion series, Tales of Starlight, and it's called Third Starlighter. The fourth is Song of the Ovulum, the first book in the new Children of the Bard series, which continues the story world established in two previous series, Dragons in our Midst and Oracles of Fire. My daughter is Amanda L. Davis, and her book is Precisely Terminated, the first in the Cantral Chronicles. It is a futuristic dystopian story.



It seems you're always on a book tour, what got you started with doing these and what keeps you coming back for more? 

Since my first novel was with a small publisher that had never published fiction before, and since my book was a new genre and category for the Christian publishing market, I knew I had to work hard to get the word out. I began by sending a free copy of Raising Dragons to every middle school librarian in my three-country area along with a note that I would come and speak to students for free as long as I had an opportunity to sell books. That led to quite a few invitations, and I became well known in the school districts. From that point, I began contacting schools and homeschool groups all over the country and setting up tours with the same offer. To me, it was far more important to get my books into the hands of readers than to get a check for speaking. This way, I became friends and partners with librarians, not a paid speaker.
This kind of tour has worked very well. My books became well known from coast to coast, so it makes sense to continue what has been successful.

I've heard it said many times that with the ability to reach so many readers via the web, that in-person book tours are no longer recommended. What are your thoughts on that? 



I wonder if people who say that have ever done in-person book tours. Maybe they have done the bookstore circuit, which I don't recommend, but probably not schools. Reaching readers via the web can be effective, but with so many people doing it, the results can be greatly dilluted. With thousands of authors on the web vying for a reader's attention, it seems to me that an author will likely attract interest from people who have already read that author's works but not nearly as likely from people who have never heard of him. When I go to school groups, I get to speak to potential readers who have never heard of me or my books, and I have a captive audience to whom I can speak face to face. I get many new readers at every speaking event, and they spread the word for me.

How do you connect with schools, libraries, etc to set up stops on your book tours? 

I decide what cities or regions I am going to pass through on a tour, and I look up the organizations on the web. I collect email addresses of school librarians and homeschool leaders and send out an introductory email with an offer to speak for free. If I don't get much response, I will start calling schools and ask to speak to someone who might be interested. This is a time-consuming process and can be frustrating, because people often agree to have me come, but the confirmation process can take a long time, which can lead to last-minute cancellations and then scrambling on my part to fill the time holes. Sometimes they don't respond at all, and I have to go back and contact them again, which means another waiting process.
What about media attention, do you do your own PR? If so, have you found anything particularly effective (ie radio spots, etc.) 

I have had PR people, but they haven't helped much at all. I see little to no benefit from radio spots or newspaper articles. They might help without my knowledge, but they are minimal when compared to the effect of meeting people face to face. 

I'm assuming you're a full-time writer since you have the time to tour the country selling books. How much time does one of these tours take out of your life? 

I am a full-time writer. My touring seasons change from year to year. Some years I have been on tour for four months out of the year and done more than 200 speaking engagements. This year I have toured only a few weeks, but that will change in the fall when I begin a three-month tour.

Share with us the biggest pros and cons of book tours as you see it.
The biggest pro is the face-to-face contact and the ability to sell my story to potential readers who would never have known about me otherwise. The biggest con is the exhausting schedule and the frustrations involved in setting it up. I have spoken as many as twelve times in one day, once from 7:30 am to 11:15 pm. Not everyone can do what I do. It is grueling, but it works.

Parting advice for those of us hoping to follow in your footsteps?  

First, don't imagine that touring is fun, easy, or glamorous. The kind of touring I do is hard work, period. When you speak at four schools in one day with barely a thank you and then collapse in a cheap motel bed only to get up and do it again the next day, and repeat that process for weeks, you learn that this is not for the faint of heart. I always take a family member with me, usually my daughter Amanda and often my wife or another daughter. They help me make sure I eat and that I don't lose anything. Their company helps me keep my sanity. My touring schedules are significantly lighter now than in the past, because I have an established reader base. But I wouldn't have that base if not for the first two or three years of heavy scheduling. The few years of extra hard work have provided me with the opportunity to coast a bit and enjoy the tours.

I know some fine authors who have not enjoyed the success I have. I ask them about touring, and they simply don't want to do it. They know it's hard work, and they don't want to put in the effort. They want to rely on Internet shopping for readers.

The question to ask yourself is what is the best way to put your book into the hands of readers. I think it's to go out and speak to them face to face. They are inundated with Internet traffic. You will not stand out there. You will be just another advertisement that hopes to shake them from their video games. I prefer to shake their hands.



It has been fifteen years since Billy and Bonnie Bannister helped repel the demonic assault on Heaven. Now they and Ashley Foley sit in a maximum security prison where the authorities conduct experiments on them to learn the secrets of long life.

Walter Foley finds the Bannisters’ son and hopes to use his dragon traits to help him rescue the prisoners. In the meantime, an ancient demon locates the Bannisters’ daughter and plans to use her to help him discover the hiding place of the most powerful ovulum in the world and squelch its protective song. With that ovulum in his possession, he will be able to conquer and control both Earth and Second Eden.

The fate of two worlds now rests on the Bannisters’ two teenagers who must use their dragon traits and their innate courage to battle demons, a sorceress, and soldiers in a military compound in order to rescue parents they don’t even know.