Merrie DeStefano’s “Afterlife”

Merrie DeStefano is a buddy of Spoiled for the Ordinary, and she has a debut novel coming out later this year: Afterlife. It is urban fantasy, and it looks intriguing. Check out the blog Supernatural Underground for more info from Merrie, as well as her blog.

I’ll be looking forward to this one.

Merrie DeStefano’s “Afterlife”

Merrie DeStefano is a buddy of Spoiled for the Ordinary, and she has a debut novel coming out later this year: Afterlife. It is urban fantasy, and it looks intriguing. Check out the blog Supernatural Underground for more info from Merrie, as well as her blog.

I’ll be looking forward to this one.

Stephen Lawhead on Writing

Stephen Lawhead is one of the best speculative fiction authors out there currently, and even though he is a Christian who writes, he has had success crossing over into the general market. 

He recently did an interview with C.J. Darlington over at TitleTrakk.com (a great resource on fiction, movies, and music that I too often overlook) that had an excellent discussion on his approach to writing. Below is the extended quote, but I encourage you to check out the whole interview, buy Stephen’s new book, and bookmark TitleTrakk for frequent viewing! The highlighted areas are by me:

“CJ: You are a Christian, but you don’t necessarily write what people call “Christian fiction”. The Skin Map touches on some greater themes without the bad language and violence. Is that purposeful on your part?

SL: I write for the widest possible readership, and I always have, even at Campus Life magazine. This whole thing about earning the right to be heard is important. I always enjoyed the classic, golden age of the novel, back in the 1880’s and 1890’s. It’s amazing how many men of faith were involved in that, and yet the books they produced are not labeled Christian fiction; they just wrote books for people like themselves who liked to read. That’s what I’ve tried to do. Sometimes I would like to have a little freer hand with the language, but I know that can also be a barrier. I’ve learned that most people in books when they use off color language, that is usually a failure of imagination, if nothing else. It’s also a moral failure. It’s so easy to put a graphic word or a swear word for shock value. But when I use a word I want it to mean what it means and have the value that I put on it. There are rare times when an artist needs to even have black on his pallette. You have to draw the line somewhere, and where I choose to draw it may be over the line for some people and others sail right by it. I don’t willfully try to offend, but sometimes you reach for a word and there are only one or two that will do. In The Skin Map we use the word “bastard” a couple times in the way it is intended to be used, but I’m sure some people will not appreciate that.

A fiction story is meant to present a dream, a sort of waking dream for the reader. You want to create a world where they can enter in and participate. You try everything you can to keep that dream alive in a continuous, seamless, whole. Any jolts that wake the reader up from the dream have to go, whether it’s a clunky scene or a sentence that isn’t quite right. You try to minimize shocks that will wake up the reader that you are trying to lull into a dream. Language can do that. Sex scenes are quite overdone these days, so I try to write scenes that aren’t dependent on that. I got in trouble with that with Patrick, because he’s a 17 year old young guy whose attracted to all the young ladies. To make it true to his life as a saint who has to battle these demons there was a scene or two that was illustrative of this point. Some people don’t understand why that has to be there, especially for good ol’ Saint Patrick, but even the best saints struggle. That is part of the human condition.”

Stephen Lawhead on Writing

Stephen Lawhead is one of the best speculative fiction authors out there currently, and even though he is a Christian who writes, he has had success crossing over into the general market. 

He recently did an interview with C.J. Darlington over at TitleTrakk.com (a great resource on fiction, movies, and music that I too often overlook) that had an excellent discussion on his approach to writing. Below is the extended quote, but I encourage you to check out the whole interview, buy Stephen’s new book, and bookmark TitleTrakk for frequent viewing! The highlighted areas are by me:

“CJ: You are a Christian, but you don’t necessarily write what people call “Christian fiction”. The Skin Map touches on some greater themes without the bad language and violence. Is that purposeful on your part?

SL: I write for the widest possible readership, and I always have, even at Campus Life magazine. This whole thing about earning the right to be heard is important. I always enjoyed the classic, golden age of the novel, back in the 1880’s and 1890’s. It’s amazing how many men of faith were involved in that, and yet the books they produced are not labeled Christian fiction; they just wrote books for people like themselves who liked to read. That’s what I’ve tried to do. Sometimes I would like to have a little freer hand with the language, but I know that can also be a barrier. I’ve learned that most people in books when they use off color language, that is usually a failure of imagination, if nothing else. It’s also a moral failure. It’s so easy to put a graphic word or a swear word for shock value. But when I use a word I want it to mean what it means and have the value that I put on it. There are rare times when an artist needs to even have black on his pallette. You have to draw the line somewhere, and where I choose to draw it may be over the line for some people and others sail right by it. I don’t willfully try to offend, but sometimes you reach for a word and there are only one or two that will do. In The Skin Map we use the word “bastard” a couple times in the way it is intended to be used, but I’m sure some people will not appreciate that.

A fiction story is meant to present a dream, a sort of waking dream for the reader. You want to create a world where they can enter in and participate. You try everything you can to keep that dream alive in a continuous, seamless, whole. Any jolts that wake the reader up from the dream have to go, whether it’s a clunky scene or a sentence that isn’t quite right. You try to minimize shocks that will wake up the reader that you are trying to lull into a dream. Language can do that. Sex scenes are quite overdone these days, so I try to write scenes that aren’t dependent on that. I got in trouble with that with Patrick, because he’s a 17 year old young guy whose attracted to all the young ladies. To make it true to his life as a saint who has to battle these demons there was a scene or two that was illustrative of this point. Some people don’t understand why that has to be there, especially for good ol’ Saint Patrick, but even the best saints struggle. That is part of the human condition.”

The CSFF Greatest Hits – Number 1

What??

Ah, this is it!

The CSFF Tour for August has the loose theme of “favorites.” Some bloggers have talked about their all-time favorite books. My take was to go over all the tours I’ve been a part of and pull out my favorite books and tours. Which books inspired me?

Honorable mention goes to Robin Parrish and his book Fearless. A wildly suspenseful read, and it inspired my most-visited post, “Why Do We Need Heroes?”

BUT…out of over 40 Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog Tours, the book (and tour) that came out on top..

I give you number
Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka.

This book is special.
Bryan writes with a descriptive touch that “sets the reader on the high seas feeling the salt air, or ducking the musket balls and choking on the gunpowder.” He writes characters that each leap off the page, with individual voices that make them seem real (sometimes too real).
This book was written after his Trophy Chase trilogy of pirate books, but is actually a prequel. It sets up the trilogy in a marvelous way, but stands on its own with a heartfelt tale of revenge, love, and loss.
Make it so, number one
The book has a unique structure, with pirate Smith Delaney waiting for a certain, gruesome death recalling a story told by master pirate storyteller Ham Drumbone. The back and forth between two different storytellers and the story is a little confusing at first, but is well worth the effort.
The book follows pirate king Conch Imbry, pirate hunter Damrick Fellows and mysterious lady Jenta Smithmiller as intrigue, battle, and death weaves throughout. The reader is left guessing how this all ties together, which it does very nicely at the end. Will Damrick succeed in clearing piracy from the waters, or will the wily Conch outwit the determined vigilante? And how does beautiful Jenta affect both men’s plans?
That’s right! #1!
I have to say that I had fun with the tour as well because I had a special visitor for this blog tour. One of the scurvy scoundrels from the book, Spinner Sleeve, stopped by to, uh, “oversee” what I had to say. Having a pirate at your back and a cutlass at your throat makes for an interesting blogging experience.
For the rest of my posts on Blaggard’s Moon and the rest of Polivka’s Trophy Chase trilogy, see these posts.

This tour has a lot of interesting posts featuring a variety of speculative fiction. Get the updated list here.

The CSFF Greatest Hits – Number 1

What??

Ah, this is it!

The CSFF Tour for August has the loose theme of “favorites.” Some bloggers have talked about their all-time favorite books. My take was to go over all the tours I’ve been a part of and pull out my favorite books and tours. Which books inspired me?

Honorable mention goes to Robin Parrish and his book Fearless. A wildly suspenseful read, and it inspired my most-visited post, “Why Do We Need Heroes?”

BUT…out of over 40 Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog Tours, the book (and tour) that came out on top..

I give you number
Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka.

This book is special.
Bryan writes with a descriptive touch that “sets the reader on the high seas feeling the salt air, or ducking the musket balls and choking on the gunpowder.” He writes characters that each leap off the page, with individual voices that make them seem real (sometimes too real).
This book was written after his Trophy Chase trilogy of pirate books, but is actually a prequel. It sets up the trilogy in a marvelous way, but stands on its own with a heartfelt tale of revenge, love, and loss.
Make it so, number one
The book has a unique structure, with pirate Smith Delaney waiting for a certain, gruesome death recalling a story told by master pirate storyteller Ham Drumbone. The back and forth between two different storytellers and the story is a little confusing at first, but is well worth the effort.
The book follows pirate king Conch Imbry, pirate hunter Damrick Fellows and mysterious lady Jenta Smithmiller as intrigue, battle, and death weaves throughout. The reader is left guessing how this all ties together, which it does very nicely at the end. Will Damrick succeed in clearing piracy from the waters, or will the wily Conch outwit the determined vigilante? And how does beautiful Jenta affect both men’s plans?
That’s right! #1!
I have to say that I had fun with the tour as well because I had a special visitor for this blog tour. One of the scurvy scoundrels from the book, Spinner Sleeve, stopped by to, uh, “oversee” what I had to say. Having a pirate at your back and a cutlass at your throat makes for an interesting blogging experience.
For the rest of my posts on Blaggard’s Moon and the rest of Polivka’s Trophy Chase trilogy, see these posts.

This tour has a lot of interesting posts featuring a variety of speculative fiction. Get the updated list here.

The CSFF Greatest Hits – Number 2

Greetings, wayward travelers. You have come upon the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Tour for August. This month you are treated to a “free-for-all”, as we had no specific book or website to promote. Instead, you will find a wide variety of books discussed, from all-time favorites such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, to newer books by contemporary authors.

Here at Spoiled for the Ordinary, I am focusing on books from the 4 years I’ve been doing the tour (o_O). My how time flies…

Coming in at number
The two books of the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and North! Or Be Eaten.
I can’t think of a better series (other than Narnia) to recommend for kids other than the Wingfeather Saga. Andrew Peterson has created a fun fantasy series with peril, adventures, and toothy cows. Who can ask for more than that?
Peterson is an accomplished singer/songwriter, so his prose, as I’ve mentioned before, has a lyrical quality to it. He keeps a great pace, leaving my kids dying whenever we hit a cliffhanger as I read to them (which is pretty much every chapter!) It is probably most reminscent of The Princess Bride, with whimsy and suspense. I mean, how great is it to have a bad guy who is a Nameless Evil, (named Gnag the Nameless, natch). This leader of the Fangs of Dang (dang Fangs!) is after the Lost Jewels of Anniera. He thinks the Igiby children have them in the first book, only to find out (spoilers) that the three kids ARE the lost jewels.
The world Peterson has created is a magical place, with a great literary history (Peterson often quotes from these imaginary works, the footnotes are worth reading in this book). There is a thoughfulness about this work, and the deep themes within it, that continue to resonate in me after several readings.
I have to also give a personal story. For a homeschool English assignment, I thought it would be a good exercise for my two older boys to write a letter to Peterson. They asked their own questions and offered their favorite parts of the book, as well as offering their artistic interpretations of key scenes (they each drew him a picture). My boys called me a couple weeks later at work so excited, because Andrew had written them each a personal handwritten letter, refering to their letters specifically, and commenting on their art. What a class act!
So for number 2 in CSFF Tours, I have to give a shout out to a good man, a great musician, and a thoughtful writer, Andrew Peterson! If you have missed these books, you have missed a treat. And bomnubbles. Don’t forget the bomnubbles.

See what else is going on for the CSFF Tour this month with the latest at Becky’s blog (the mother ship as we like to say…)

Oh, and a note from Becky: “Before I forget, we have just a little over a week left in the voting for the Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction – Readers’ Choice. I hope you’re planning to vote.”

I voted for North! Or Be Eaten. What’s your vote?
 

The CSFF Greatest Hits – Number 2

Greetings, wayward travelers. You have come upon the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Tour for August. This month you are treated to a “free-for-all”, as we had no specific book or website to promote. Instead, you will find a wide variety of books discussed, from all-time favorites such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, to newer books by contemporary authors.

Here at Spoiled for the Ordinary, I am focusing on books from the 4 years I’ve been doing the tour (o_O). My how time flies…

Coming in at number
The two books of the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and North! Or Be Eaten.
I can’t think of a better series (other than Narnia) to recommend for kids other than the Wingfeather Saga. Andrew Peterson has created a fun fantasy series with peril, adventures, and toothy cows. Who can ask for more than that?
Peterson is an accomplished singer/songwriter, so his prose, as I’ve mentioned before, has a lyrical quality to it. He keeps a great pace, leaving my kids dying whenever we hit a cliffhanger as I read to them (which is pretty much every chapter!) It is probably most reminscent of The Princess Bride, with whimsy and suspense. I mean, how great is it to have a bad guy who is a Nameless Evil, (named Gnag the Nameless, natch). This leader of the Fangs of Dang (dang Fangs!) is after the Lost Jewels of Anniera. He thinks the Igiby children have them in the first book, only to find out (spoilers) that the three kids ARE the lost jewels.
The world Peterson has created is a magical place, with a great literary history (Peterson often quotes from these imaginary works, the footnotes are worth reading in this book). There is a thoughfulness about this work, and the deep themes within it, that continue to resonate in me after several readings.
I have to also give a personal story. For a homeschool English assignment, I thought it would be a good exercise for my two older boys to write a letter to Peterson. They asked their own questions and offered their favorite parts of the book, as well as offering their artistic interpretations of key scenes (they each drew him a picture). My boys called me a couple weeks later at work so excited, because Andrew had written them each a personal handwritten letter, refering to their letters specifically, and commenting on their art. What a class act!
So for number 2 in CSFF Tours, I have to give a shout out to a good man, a great musician, and a thoughtful writer, Andrew Peterson! If you have missed these books, you have missed a treat. And bomnubbles. Don’t forget the bomnubbles.

See what else is going on for the CSFF Tour this month with the latest at Becky’s blog (the mother ship as we like to say…)

Oh, and a note from Becky: “Before I forget, we have just a little over a week left in the voting for the Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction – Readers’ Choice. I hope you’re planning to vote.”

I voted for North! Or Be Eaten. What’s your vote?