The Shreveport Times Article
I met author Judy Christie a few years back at our “Author! Author!” event here in Shreveport. Judy writes excellent novels with a “Louisiana flair” and her books are delightful. Check them out. Well, not too long ago, Judy and I reconnected and she has written an article for the Shreveport Times about little old me! I am humbled and honored by her article you can read at this link.
Now, for an update to the fourth book in the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel. I am finishing up the final edit this week. After being released from a very restrictive book contract and whittling down the story from 120000 words to 75000 words it is a pleasure to completely redo the novel. I was forced to cut so much of the story in order to meet these word count restrictions. Now, I have written the book I want to read. And, hopefully, my writing has improved thanks to editorial input from fiction editors I worked with while at Charisma.
My plan now is to publish the book under my own imprint and I am shooting for August or September so I will keep you posted.
Thanks again to Judy for a wonderful article.
Can Fiction be Christian?
This past week the Christian publishing world was shaken by the announcement from Broadman & Holman (B&H) Publishing regarding their new Christian fiction strategy. Steve Laube, a major voice in the Christian publishing industry, commented on these changes at this link. This may seem like some mundane industry-babble but it has grave implications for the reader of Christian fiction. The bottom line is this: a major Christian publisher has decided to back off of fiction unless it ties in with some other media initiative (such as a movie). In fact, all contracts for future fiction that would have been released beyond April 2014 are now null and void. Kaput! Gone! And, I know that feeling!
Why? In September 2012 just a few weeks before the release of my second book, “The 12th Demon: The Mark of the Wolf Dragon” by Charisma, I received a notification that I was being released from my five book contract after the second book. This didn’t catch me totally by surprise. I had already heard from a couple of my fellow authors at the Realms imprint (an imprint is a division of a publishing “house” focused on a particular “genre”) who had suffered the same fate. As of September there were two of us left, myself and Mike Dellosso easily Realms bestselling author. Mike has now moved on also. At least I was in good company! I know this was a business decision made because of the downturn in the economy but it had a lasting impact on my personally as well as many Christian authors.
What does all of this mean for you, the reader of Christian fiction?
It will mean a much smaller selection of books and a much narrower range of genres. Major publishers will not be taking as many chances with new authors and will not be looking to branch out into “strange waters” such as Christian speculative fiction. Frankly, this frightens me. I am already a victim of the troubled economic times coupled with the sea change in traditional publishing trying to adapt to newer digital technology. However, I followed the advice of Michael Hyatt, once CEO of Thomas Nelson (which has been swallowed up by the larger HarperCollins publishing behemoth along with Zondervan). He suggested I self publish. The good news for authors like myself is there are many reputable self publishing ventures available. The bad news is I have to fund the book and all of the prep work myself. Let’s just say it makes for a tremendous tax right off! But, I am hoping the momentum of two previous books will help “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” sell enough copies to keep the series going.
Down, But Not Out!
I am frustrated.
I haven’t been posting this summer because of family issues with my daughter’s health. But, she is doing very, very well and it is time for me to re-engage the creative side of my brain.
I haven’t been negligent of my writing. I am finishing up the final edit for “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” and it will be available hopefully by late October. It will not be available in the usual traditional sense but you will be able to purchase it through bookstores, Amazone, B&N, etc. Now that I am no longer beholden to my previous publisher, I have much more freedom to tell the story the way I want to.
For instance, my previous two books suffered from the word limit demon (pardon the pun). I had to constrain my story to fit 75000 words. That required cutting major story elements and, in some cases, entire characters to fit the required word limit. While I don’t plan on going all Harry Potter on my readers and make the next books 700+ words, I have extended the upcoming book from 75000 to 90000 words.
I am back in the world of self-publishing and it is much different from the first time I self-published back in 2006. Self-publishing has gained in reputation since then. To give you an example, I ran my dilemma by Michael Hyatt back in February. If you don’t know who Michael Hyatt is, go to his website. He was former CEO of Thomas Nelson and has launched his own brand teaching authors how to communicate and how to build a platform for their work. I met him at the first annual Platform conference. Michael took one look at my previous two books in the Jonathan Steel Chronicles and quickly, confidently without hesitation told me to self-publish. This came from a man who was once the CEO of one of the largest Christian publishers in the world!
For a while, I pursued traditional publishing for the third book and met with half-hearted response. I don’t want to disparage my previous traditional publisher, but I think today’s tp’s don’t know how to effectively market Christian speculative fiction. Michael Hyatt made the comment this is the fastest growing sub-genre in Christian publishing. I have discussed problems with this genre in previous posts, the least being that bookstores don’t know where to put these books — Christian publishing or secular publishing areas.
So, it is up to those of us who write such books to decide if we cave in to the poor sales and poor marketing and little recognition or do we press on and continue to write the books God has placed on our hearts and minds. Authors such as Greg Mitchell, Mike Duran, Mike Dellosso, Marc Schooley, Linda Rios Brook, and Conlan Brown write speculative fiction and their works are fantastic, awe inspiring, moving, and wildly imaginative. Their books should be flying off the shelves. Instead, like me, they are struggling with balancing day jobs and writing supernatural thrilling stories that are trying to break their way out of our brains onto the written page.
Here is my plea. Check out the Christian speculative fiction market. But some books. Buy lots of books. Support your favorite Christian speculative fiction author and I’m not just talking about the giants such as Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti or Tosca Lee. Look for us little guys and gals who are struggling and promise to give you a good story — a great read that is wildly imaginative, thrilling, and yet, ultimately redemptive.
Give us a chance!
Buy one of our books as summer comes to a close and then post a review on Amazon or on your blog or your website. Help us flood American readers with the kind of thrilling supernatural stories the world is craving but with a different twist — a Christian worldview. Do that, and we will go a long way to changing the world’s attitudes — changing the world’s perception of reality — and showing the world the light and love of Christ!
“The Telling” a Book Review Day 3
There is something that Mike Duran is very, very good at. Like in his “The Resurrection” Mike Duran has the ability to take the “Christian point of view” and tweak it ever so slightly to make it, well, slightly oblique. In “The Resurrection” Mike Duran chose to push the boundaries of our Biblical understanding of spirits and ghosts and create the “Cellophane Man”, a frightening ghostly figure that haunted the life of the main character. Mike even included an additional addendum at the end of the book discussing the theological underpinnings of such a possible creature as a ghost.
In “The Telling”, Mike Duran goes one better. He turns the concept of the fallen angels on its head, bringing in “dark angels” with decidedly un-Biblical powers in addition to those every Christian would anticipate. And here lies a challenge that is at the heart of all Christian Speculative Fiction. How far does an author go to present a story that appeals to the secular audience and yet conveys the “truth” of Christianity I mentioned on Day 1? Or, should a Christian author write a story that can ONLY be enjoyed by Christians? Mike has talked about this challenge on his blog at length and the reader can visit his blog for more information on this “controversy” in Christian fiction.
In “The Telling”, Mike Duran pushes the accepted abilities and identities of the fallen angels slightly beyond the literal scriptural description. Some Christians may find this troublesome. In “The Telling” we hardly ever hear the name of Jesus or mention of God and these “dark angels” seem to be able to possess anyone, regardless of their walk with God. I say “seem to be able”. For, if you pay very close attention, Mike never crosses the line. There are moments when the reader believes that the darkness will triumph only to fall to the presence of Good.
What I like most about this book is its ability to appeal to unbelievers. I suggest any reader purchase a copy and pass it off to their skeptical friends and family. It reads like a fast paced supernatural thriller that is not connected to Christianity. In fact, there is a North American Indian character that one could suspect represents the worldview of animism as we see in ancient North American Indian religions. But, the overarching reality of this story is that God is present. Good triumphs over evil. Satan’s minions will flee when confronted with a Christ follower. In the end, the story is one of redemption and love. And that, my friends, is what all of us should celebrate.
I highly recommend “The Telling”. Powerful, creepy, scary, edgy, and filled with wonderful characters and fascinating locales.
Once again, I want to remind everyone that I am giving away a limited number of my book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” in anticipation of the launch of my second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” on October 16, 2012. If you would like to receive a FREE copy with NO obligation, just fill out the form below.
“The Telling” — A Book Review Day 2
I like little maps. I like little hand drawn maps. When I think of Middle Earth, I can see Tolkien’s hand drawn map of that far country. Mike Duran has a little hand drawn map in the front of his book, “The Telling”. I find it intriguing because I now want to see what is about to happen at each of these places. If something wasn’t going to happen in these places, then why put them there? Here are some of the most important places:
Marvale Manor — an old hotel that has been converted into as assisted living center. This is where Annie, the grandmother to Tamra, has noticed that people are NOT what they used to be. Something is up in Marvale Manor. And, that something started down in the maintenance area where a young man with a really bad headache has opened his mind and his heart to the darkness around him and is searching for his lost notebook.
Lanrel House — Not far from Marvale Manor, this is where the nursing home residents live. It is here that this young man goes to see his father. Which young man? Read the book to find out. For, his father is the key to everything that is transpiring in the town of Endurance.
Silverton — The town that once thrived after the discovery of silver in the mine overlying “Otto’s Rift”. Over a century ago, a terrible tragedy befell the entire population of region. It was the Madness of Endurance!
The Book Swap — a house open to anyone who wants to trade one used book for another. It is here that Annie hopes her granddaughter, Tamra, can persuade Zeph to lend her a certain book containing information that may be the key to the “madness” of Endurance.
The Vermont — once a theater that thrived, it is now shuttered and closed. But, inside this building is a secret that will prove to be the beginning of the salvation of Endurance.
Shiloh — A small church where as a young boy, Zeph practiced his “telling” to a willing and unsuspecting audience, often with surprising outcomes both good and bad.
The Black Pass — Tall black pillars on either side of the road that leads into Endurance and nearby is Dawson’s Rut, home of a roadside souvenir shop. Zeph Walker will see an ancient artifact that will seal his fate and reveal his destiny!
All of these interesting names reside inside the town of Endurance. But, the one place that is the most important to this story is Otto’s Rift. Here, forces of darkness are gathering, seeping out into the world of light and goodness, gathering their strength and increasing their numbers for a terrible onslaught on the world of man.
I will not reveal more of the plot for to do so is to ruin the story. Mike Duran has created a fascinating and very real landscape for his tale of impending doom. I highly recommend the book, “The Telling”. Follow the map to a suspenseful and frightening story.
Tomorrow, I’ll conclude with my thoughts on the spiritual side of Mike Duran’s story.
Remember, if you would like to receive a FREE copy of my first book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” fill out the form below. I still have a few books left and there is no obligation!
CSI Golgotha Available in Faith & Family And Upcoming Conference!
My wife wanted pizza. I’m dieting and can’t eat pizza. She called our favorite pizza joint, Smitty’s and ordered two pizzas and sent ME to pick them up. All the way over I was debating whether of not to get off of my diet for one night and eat some hot, luscious, cheesy pizza. My diet prevailed. I walked into Smitty’s and there in front of me on the counter was this magazine:
I picked it up and waved it in the air before the tired eyes of the two harried women behind the counter. “Hey, I wrote this! Right here! This article! I wrote this!” They looked at me like I had quoted John 3:16 in Klingon. I nodded meekly and paid for my salad and two pizzas and grabbed a handful of the FREE magazines as I headed out the door. You can find this magazine for FREE in most stores in the Shreveport and Bossier City area.
Check out my article on a forensic analysis of the death of Jesus Christ. It is based on a presentation I’ve given about two dozen times in the past year. In fact, if you can’t find the magazine or don’t live anywhere near northwest Louisiana, you can see my presentation for FREE.
That’s right, for FREE. Go to the website of Athanatos Ministry’s Online Apologetic Conference (link) and register for the FREE day and you can sit back and relax and watch my presentation in the comfort of your favorite computer, laptop, or tablet. And, if you like what you see and hear, then I will be speaking again on Saturday on Christian Speculative Fiction and Apologetics. I’ll be talking about Christian horror, fantasy, and science fiction books that illustrate the Christian worldview. That’s right. Horror. Fantasy. Science Fiction. Didn’t think such a thing existed with a Christian worldview. Guess again and sign up for this most excellent conference and find out all about the literary legacy of a defense of the Christian Faith. Anthony Horvath, the founder of Athanatos Ministry has put together a fascinating look at the intersection of these two ideas. Check it out. I hope to see you there. Well, I won’t see you, but you can see, or more importantly, just HEAR me.
Apologetics, Fiction, Drama, Speaking, and I’m Tired, Oh My!!!!
January and February are usually quiet months for me as an author. With one notable exception. Last year, my editor sent me the first editorial suggestions for “The 13th Demon” in February and I spent the month working on a major rewrite for the book that came out in October of 2011. This year, I was prepared to spend mid February to March on the book. I was thinking that January would be quiet. Dead. Nothing would happen.
Here it is the end of February and I am SOOOOO busy and I love it! Already, I’m out of breath and the year has just begun. And, according to my stalwart editor, Andy, the second book “The 12th Demon” out this coming October is MUCH better than book one. I’m getting stoked for a good year.
Bottom Line so far: God is so good. And, as I look forward to 2012 and look back to where God has brought me from, I realize I’m riding the wave of His plan for my life, not mine. And, that is just where I need to be.
Item #1 — Drama. I never wanted to be involved in drama. And yet, God positioned me to be in charge of a drama ministry at Brookwood Baptist Church for 15 years!!! Because of my experience with drama, I am requested often to speak on a multitude of topics relating to drama in the church. This past weekend, I spoke at the annual Louisiana Music and Drama Festival on my work with kids in our church’s Kidstuf program. That work involves writing and rewriting and adapting scripts for weekly drama and directing adults to act like kids. The weird things is, Kidstuf is oddly about apologetics. You know, the defense of the Christian faith; the establishment of the fact that our worldview is based on sound, rational thinking. So, how does Kidstuf work? Each month, we teach the kids a “virture” or value, like honesty, self-control, honor, generosity, sacrifice, etc. And those virtues are rooted in sound scripture. And how do we convey this to the kids? Through edgy sketches and drama that makes them THINK! That’s right! We’re making our kids think critically about the world around them. Imagine that! Which leads me toL
Item #2 — Apologetics. I never imagined I would be in this field. For one thing, I never knew it existed until I was challenged by my scientific colleagues on why I was a Christian. This story I’ve shared many times before. But, I never imagined I would become a trained apologist and then use that apologetics to defend my faith and help out with kids who are being twisted and deformed by our postmodern culture. In fact, since the first of the year I have spoken four times at major venues on apologetics! That is in addition to the speaking engagement at the drama festival. I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to our state Evangelism Conference. And then, I was invited to come and speak to Mark Sutton Ministries’ seminary class on apologetics. And then, I was invited to speak at two different “LifeGroup” sessions here in my home city. Tomorrow night, my best friend Mark Riser and I will be speaking at the launch of a new church series on the Life of Christ.
I mean, this is just too weird!!! How did I get into this? But, you know what else happened? Somehow apologetics made me want to write fiction that used those facts as the basis for stories and that led to . . .
Item #3 — Published Christian Author in Speculative Fiction. I started out at the age of 13 writing science fiction. For years I tried to get published and put my writing career on the shelf to conquer college and medical school. When I came back to it, God say “Write Drama” and that is what I did. In 1995 a series of children’s plays was published by Contemporary Drama. Wait! It’s supposed to be science fiction! And then, I got depressed. Bad depressed and worked through it in two years and my pastor said “Let’s write a book on depression.” And we did and in 2001 came “Conquering Depression” published by Broadman & Holman. But, where was the science fiction? I brooded over my multiple manuscripts of science fiction all in various stages of development and nothing happened. I told God I would write whatever he wanted me to write. After all, I hadn’t been too successful with the science fiction stuff, but God had used me to touch lives with other kinds of writing. Maybe the big Dude Upstairs knows what He’s doing!
I woke up one Saturday morning with this weird, scary, horror type story in my head that used, wait for it, apologetics as a center piece and the results, 30 days later, was “The 13 Demon”. I didn’t want to do what I now know is “speculative fiction”. I wanted to stick to good old hard science fiction. But, God had other plans. And now I’m writing, published, apologizing, kidstuffing and . . .
Item #4 — Speaking Career. Back in 2008 when I was taking a course in apologetics I was required to go to this Dynamic Communication Workshop and learn how to, uh, communicate. Get out of here! I already KNOW how to communicate! I write. I speak. I direct. I act. I chase little monkeys around the kid’s area. But, I had no choice. If I wanted to get my Certified Apologetic Instructor certification, I would head out at once to DCW. Guess what? Life. Changing. Experience! Bada bing! I was Co Mun Icating! And, now, I am getting all kinds of request to come and speak on everything from “How Can I Know God Exists?” to “Writing and Adapting Scripts for Children” to “Should I Self Publish or Not?”
Here I am smack dab in the middle of a plan I never imagined. I wanted to be the next Michael Crichton. Well, in a way, my speculative fiction is similar to the style he used. So, did God allow me to have the desires of my heart. You bet you He did! Man, what a year so far!
So, I’m contemplating a new endeavor. I’m considering starting a website dedicated to “apologetic fiction”. What does this mean? Simply, my goal would be to equip Christian fiction and non fiction writers with ways to use their writing to show the truth of the Christian worldview. I plan on talking about LEGACY — the mean and women of the past who used their writing to advance Truth. People such as C. S. Lewis and Tolkien and Chesterton. I plan on touching on BASICS, the basic tenets of apologetics — philosophy, history, science and how we can think again as Christians. How to use those elements in your writing. I plan on REVIEWS, covering books both fiction and non fiction about Christian apologetics so that you, the author, will know which book is best for your research. I plan on exposing FORBIDDEN topics, what my LifeGroup pastor, Weston, calls “speculative theology”. These are topics we Christians LOVE to argue over but that can become a stumbling block to non believers and skeptics we are trying to reach with our writing. And, I want to invite other authors to submit PARABLES, stories, poems, essays, blog posts illustrating the need for Truth in today’s postmodern culture. And finally, a little game in “NAME THAT WORLDVIEW” where I review a novel, a television show, a movie, etc. and see if you can figure what worldview is being portrayed.
So there it is. Look soon for the site intitled PARABOLE, the Greek word for parable. Is it more work? Yes! But, it is no more work than I am involved in right now preparing for these teaching and speaking engagements.
So, if you might be interested in exploring such a site, send me a comment. Make a suggestion. Let’s see if we can proclaim TRUTH to the world through our FICTION and our WRITING.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a nap!!!!!
ResAliens — A Website Review Day 1
It was September, 1966 and I was sitting in front of our new color television set, a short, stocky kid on the soft side of puberty waiting breathlessly for this new show that promised to deliver what Lost in Space had so squandered: real, hard edged science fiction. The opening scene came and left me breathless. The stars filled the screen and a swooshing space ship flew past to the words: “Space, the final frontier . . .” By the end of that episode, the one about Doctor McCoy and the salt vampire, I was thrilled beyond words. Here was a real, honest to God science fiction television show that was gritty, adult oriented and had some pretty scary, but believable monsters.
I was reminded of that day and the feelings evoked in my young mind and heart when I began to read some of the stories on the website, Residential Aliens. Good, old fashioned science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. A combination of Star Trek, Twilight Zone, and Outer Limits with a good portion of Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man thrown in.
Where does the name, ResAliens, come from. Here from the website is the explanation:
ResAliens is short for Residential Aliens. A resident alien is, of course, a foreigner who is residing temporarily in a country not her own – an expatriate of sorts. Believers in heaven (or a “coming new age”) often consider themselves to be simply passing through this world on their way to a better land. The idea is that, although we’re currently inhabitants of earth, we’re really citizens of heaven and thus pilgrims, or aliens, on this planet.
The editor of ResAliens, Lyn Perry, defines his scope of publishing in his guidelines:
“In that I am a believer and follower of Christ, yes. The authors and audience, however, may or may not come from a position of faith. But what I think you’ll find here is a collection of quality stories with a moral or spiritual thread that appeals to the broad and varied interests of fans of speculative fiction.
In fact, we accept stories from people of all walks of faith or from none. From my submission guidelines: “I’m looking for quality speculative fiction with a spiritual foundation. Submissions need not be religious in nature. However, we are looking for engaging stories that are truthful to the human experience while offering the reader something of the eternal.”
I downloaded the Collection Issue 5.5 and spot read some of the stories. I also read “Some Assembly Required” and “Snow Angels” to get a taste of the type of fiction you can find on this site.
Today, on day one, I want to discuss the website content. Then, for the next two days, I’ll review the stories I read listed in the paragraph above.
ResAliens is not just another pretty site. It publishes short stories and the author gets PAID for the story! That ‘s right! You can actually get published and get some cold hard cash. Here are the guidelines and payment options:
+ Flash Fiction (900 to 1500 words)
+ Short Stories (1500 to 6000 words, firm; 7k to 9k stories are too long)
+ Query First: Serials (2 to 4 episodic installments; up to 20k words)
+ Query First: Poetry/Verse (Limited! Note: This is a very hard sell.)
+ Query First: Artwork/Artist Interview. Email: lyn at resaliens dot com.
We offer a one-time payment of $5 per story or artist interview upon acceptance via PayPal (or $4 via USPS), with the option to waive this payment. We’ll also provide a link to your website and/or project page in your Author or Artist Bio. Upon acceptance, your story will appear in an electronic issue, including but not limited to this online venue.
I counted 86 authors and there are short biographies of each author. If you lie one of the archived stories, you can find out what other works these authors have available. There are also some free downloadable anthologies and a store front for buying more of the site’s work.
Here is ResAliens’ Facebook page:
There is also a discussion forum, a Facebook page, a Storefront, and a Twitter feed.
What kind of fiction can you expect? Here is Lyn Perry’s own words:
Combining spec fic and spirituality, and wanting to contribute to faith-informed genre fiction, ResAliens Press offers fans of science fiction, fantasy, and spiritual & supernatural thriller a quality venue in which to share their passion.
After sampling some of the stories, this idea excites me to no end. Here, in one place are dozens of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative stories with a spiritual center. These are stories that push the edge of inspirational fiction and yet, provide the reassurance that there will be a spiritual focus somewhere in the story. Check out the site! Read some of the free stories.
Tomorrow, I will review the story “Some Assembly Required” by T. M. Hunter.
Web site link – http://www.resaliens.com/
Editor’s blog – http://residentialaliens.blogspot.com/
Editor Lyn Perry’s personal blog – http://blogginoutloud.blogspot.com/
CSFF Participants’ links
Thomas Clayton Booher
CSFF Blog Tour
Carol Bruce Collett
D. G. D. Davidson
Rebecca LuElla Miller
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