CSFF Tour – Storm

Hey there fiction fans. Did you know the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy tour was in full swing?

Yes it is. The CSFF is featuring Storm by Evan Angler. It is the third book in the Swipe series, a middle grade dystopian, apocalyptic story (think along the lines of Hunger Games). Here’s the Amazon blurb:

In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care—without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.

Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute. Ever since, he’s been on the run from government agents and on a quest to find his sister Lily, who disappeared when she went to get her Mark five years earlier. His journey leads him to befriend the Dust, a vast network of Markless individuals who dissent against the iron-grip rule of the government. Along the way to the capital to find Lily, the Dust receive some startling information from the Markless community, opening their eyes to the message of Christianity and warning that humanity is now entering the End of Days.

In Storm, Logan and his friends are the leaders of the Markless revolution. But while some Markless are fighting Chancellor Cylis’ army, the Dust is busy trying to find a cure for a horrible epidemic sweeping through the Marked. And it’s difficult for them to know who to trust, especially when they aren’t sure if Logan’s sister Lily, one of the commanders in Cylis’ army, is on their side or not. And all across the nation—and the world—the weather has become less stable and a storm is brewing that bigger than any of them could have ever imagined.

I didn’t read this book, but I wanted to share my tourmates’ links for your perusal. Also, Becky Miller keeps the definitive list of links for this book tour here. Check them out.

Julie Bihn Beckie Burnham Keanan Brand Pauline Creeden Emma or Audrey Engel Sarah Faulkner Victor Gentile Ryan Heart Jason Joyner Carol Keen Shannon McDermott Meagan @ Blooming with Books Rebecca LuElla Miller Joan Nienhuis Writer Rani Chawna Schroeder Jacque Stengl Jojo Sutis Jessica Thomas Steve Trower Phyllis Wheeler Rachel Wyant

CSFF Blog Tour – Broken Wings Day 2

Onto the review.

The CSFF Tour is featuring Shannon Dittemore and her latest book,  Broken Wings, the second book in the Angel Eyes trilogy. I did a synopsis of the book yesterday.

Shannon nailed her debut novel Angel Eyes with a strong voice for her protagonist Brielle, an intriguing premise, and a different take on the idea of spiritual warfare and dealing with angels and demons. The sophomore slump is always a concern for writers.

Thankfully, Shannon kept up the strong work in Broken Wings. A bold choice was the initial setting: hell. An angel especially designed for reconnaissance is peeking into a demonic conference when the adversary from the first novel, Damien, is allowed to return to Stratus, Oregon, to see if he can corrupt Brielle and her boyfriend Jake.

From there the intrigue continued. Brielle has grown from when we first met her, but more obstacles are making life harder than before. The progression of Brielle is nicely handled. Her doubts and fears are realistic and deftly shown. She has experienced faith, but is still new in it and learning how to walk in faith.

YA novels are their own genre, with the sub-categories of fantasy, romance, or since the Twilight novels took off, paranormal or supernatural romance. I read a lot of YA having boys that read a lot, and Shannon does a great job of capturing a younger voice. Now, my boys don’t read romance, but I have really enjoyed Jenny B. Jones in the past, a writer that has a wonderful voice with sass and a real touch for the romantic. I think Shannon is right there with that type of romance that will appeal to the young women looking for quality reads.

The book was a very enjoyable read for anyone who enjoys a look at the supernatural or a YA romance. I’ve said it before: good writing is good writing. That’s what Shannon delivers, and I don’t mind saying that I really like her books. Heck, I handed over my man card the last time we featured her.

There’s another major aspect to the book I’d like to address apart from this review, but I think that can wait for tomorrow. If you’re looking for more, Becky Miller always keeps the latest and greatest from the tour on her blog. And no CSFF Tour is complete without Steve Trower’s post of songs that match the book. Theme: Broken Wings. Check that out, and I’ll be back with final thoughts…

The Definition Of Christian Fiction

Now this is interesting…

There was a very interesting confluence of circumstances in the world of Christian or CBA fiction this week. First of all, I am a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and I subscribe to the main email loop for discussion of issues in Christian fiction. I haven’t been following it for a while, but this week I happened to open up my digest and there was an interesting (if not new) discussion.

How “Christian” should our stories be?

Larry Timm started the discussion with this question on his blog and he threw it out to the ACFW loop as well. Both the comments on Larry’s post and the answers on the email loop were enlightening.

The answers varied, for sure. Some thought that Christian novels should explicitly glorify Jesus in some way. Being a sweet romance without profanity or sex wasn’t enough. Some answers thought there should be some lesson or purpose in the story. Others wondered if their stories could be considered Christian if there wasn’t a path to redemption/salvation shown clearly in the text. There was concern that the message may be watered down in the current climate to appeal to wider audiences.

Is it enough if the worldview Christian, if the characters are Christians and live, make mistakes, and learn from their sin, without preaching it to the reader? Is there a place for good, clean fun, or do they all have to change our lives somehow? I liked what Randy Ingermanson said, something to the effect that we’re called to be salt, but people like different levels of saltiness in their soup.

The consensus seemed to move toward different stories for different folks. Authors may be called to tell stories with the themes veiled or more subtle, while others may want to specifically deal with a theological/moral topic. People were respectful. It is an old debate in the CBA world, and it will continue to recycle as long as we continue to write.

What made the timing interesting to me was the introduction  this week of…The Hinterlands.
Marcher Lord Press has developed a significant niche in the CBA world as the go-to place for Christian speculative fiction. Other publishers will produce some science fiction or fantasy, but no one sells out for it like MLP.

Now they are ready to push the boundaries – figuratively and literally, it seems.

Hinterlands is the new MLP imprint for mature fantasy and sci-fi. It is designed to reach out to people who love secular fantasy/sci-fi but wouldn’t pick up a typical Christian novel. The first book is called A Throne Of Bones by Vox Day, and it is specifically targeted to be for fans of epic fantasy such as George R. R. Martin and his Game Of Thrones series.

According to an article in Christian Retailing, Hinterlands will feature books with content that does not always mesh with traditional CBA fare.

“Just as some Christians have the ability to watch R-rated movies without stumbling and others do not, so it will be with A Throne of Bones and other titles to come in the Hinterlands line,” [Jeff Gerke] said.

MLP’s owner and publisher Jeff Gerke went on to say,

“It’s not going to be erotica, and the characters aren’t going to be dropping f-bombs left and right,” he said. “But these books will still have more mature content than other Christian novels. Having these books in their own imprint will allow our fans to find the Marcher Lord Press books they’re interested in and avoid the ones they would rather avoid.”

“Hinterlands books may contain vulgarity, profanity, nudity and/or sexual content, but never for gratuitous purposes. Hinterlands allows us to pursue crossover publishing that will put the word of the gospel before people who would never otherwise pick up a Christian novel. It also allows us to examine mature themes in a realistic manner that some Christians will appreciate. We know that not everyone will want to read these books, so we have set them apart into the Hinterlands imprint.”

So we have two separate streams in the CBA realm that may be flowing in parallel, or depending on your viewpoint, moving far away from each other.

One side sees Christian fiction as standing apart from the world. Generally this group sees Christian fiction through the lens of Philippians 4:8, wants to see a clear story of redemption or salvation, and hews to an evangelical Christian framework.

Hinterlands is new ground that is trying to engage the world in realistic ways. This imprint could be the publishing home for stories from the Bible like Judges, Genesis 34 or 38, or be a realistic portrayal of life of King David. It sounds like they will take great care to avoid gratiutous use of profanity, violence, or sexual situations, but they won’t avoid it wholesale if the story seems to require it.

I am very interested in seeing how this plays out. Can MLP succeed in this bold initiative with Hinterlands? Is there room for Christians producing this type of literature? At least, is there room in the CBA world? With the new world of the internet and social media, perhaps the old forms of marketing and distribution aren’t needed anymore, and a niche like Hinterlands can succeed and reach people.

Can we reach people with gritty stories? This question has been debated in the CBA for a while now. I guess we’ll be finding out with Hinterlands.

What do you think? I’ve got my opinions for a later post, but I want to hear from authors and readers of Christian fiction and speculative fiction. What is Christian fiction, and is there room for Hinterlands-type books in it?

The Continuing Saga in Christian Fiction

I haven’t read it, but My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade is causing a stir in Christian fiction circles. The reason? It mentions poker, has words like “crap” and “boob”, and other such nefarious deeds.

It points out the side of CBA fiction that can be considered puritanical or judgmental. I don’t have a lot of input on this debate today. I’ve been working lately on missional stuff, so I haven’t gotten fully into the writing world again.

I have internet buddies who have discussed this in thoughtful ways. Mike Duran tackles it today in his usual way – challenging the status quo.

Also, my friend Nicole Petrino-Salter reviewed it. She predicted negative reviews at Amazon, and discusses the self-appointed judges of Christian fiction and the idea of *gasp* having fun.

I hope the reading linked here is stimulating. If you know of other posts regarding this issue, please share in the comments below.

The Continuing Saga in Christian Fiction

I haven’t read it, but My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade is causing a stir in Christian fiction circles. The reason? It mentions poker, has words like “crap” and “boob”, and other such nefarious deeds.

It points out the side of CBA fiction that can be considered puritanical or judgmental. I don’t have a lot of input on this debate today. I’ve been working lately on missional stuff, so I haven’t gotten fully into the writing world again.

I have internet buddies who have discussed this in thoughtful ways. Mike Duran tackles it today in his usual way – challenging the status quo.

Also, my friend Nicole Petrino-Salter reviewed it. She predicted negative reviews at Amazon, and discusses the self-appointed judges of Christian fiction and the idea of *gasp* having fun.

I hope the reading linked here is stimulating. If you know of other posts regarding this issue, please share in the comments below.

On Violence

Sometimes Writing Wednesday can tip into…Tipped Thursday? Hmm, I’ll have to work on that one.

Anyhoo.

The massive success of the book and movie version of The Hunger Games has brought up the subject of violence in literature again. Some people look at the deeper meaning of the story, and some people can’t get past the teen on teen violence.

They must not remember high school.

Kidding! However, the world of Christian fiction has an interesting dichotomy. Sex and naughty words are a no go, but violence is tolerated/accepted much more. Mike Duran has a good post on this conundrum that I recommend.

I’ve talked about it at length here. My most recent post linked to a couple of articles that took opposite viewpoints.

I also participate in blog tours for books regularly. In 2007 there was a book featured that had some scenes that stimulated my thoughts on the topic of violence.

It ended up spurring six days of posts, with some great discussion on all of the posts. Since it seems relevant with the Hunger Games discussion, as well as catching me up quickly to my blogging delay, I present links to each of the posts.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

The take home points were that the Bible is not sanitized when it comes to violence, but it is also not written to entertain but to narrate events that happened and to show consequences. If a Christian author uses violence, it should fit the story and not be done in a gratuitous manner, and they should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in how to show it. We can’t be afraid of the professional weaker brother, but discernment is always a good thing to exercise.

What say you? Have you noticed excessive or gratuitous violence in a CBA book before? Is there a level for “too much?”

On Violence

Sometimes Writing Wednesday can tip into…Tipped Thursday? Hmm, I’ll have to work on that one.

Anyhoo.

The massive success of the book and movie version of The Hunger Games has brought up the subject of violence in literature again. Some people look at the deeper meaning of the story, and some people can’t get past the teen on teen violence.

They must not remember high school.

Kidding! However, the world of Christian fiction has an interesting dichotomy. Sex and naughty words are a no go, but violence is tolerated/accepted much more. Mike Duran has a good post on this conundrum that I recommend.

I’ve talked about it at length here. My most recent post linked to a couple of articles that took opposite viewpoints.

I also participate in blog tours for books regularly. In 2007 there was a book featured that had some scenes that stimulated my thoughts on the topic of violence.

It ended up spurring six days of posts, with some great discussion on all of the posts. Since it seems relevant with the Hunger Games discussion, as well as catching me up quickly to my blogging delay, I present links to each of the posts.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

The take home points were that the Bible is not sanitized when it comes to violence, but it is also not written to entertain but to narrate events that happened and to show consequences. If a Christian author uses violence, it should fit the story and not be done in a gratuitous manner, and they should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in how to show it. We can’t be afraid of the professional weaker brother, but discernment is always a good thing to exercise.

What say you? Have you noticed excessive or gratuitous violence in a CBA book before? Is there a level for “too much?”

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love on the Line
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
by
Deeanne Gist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm–all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a “corporate executive” was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, three RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her latest releases, Beguiled, Maid To Match, and Love on the Line are now available.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-eight years and their border collie. They have four grown children. Click here to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man’s world … which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He’s a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love on the Line, go HERE.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love on the Line
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
by
Deeanne Gist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm–all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a “corporate executive” was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, three RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her latest releases, Beguiled, Maid To Match, and Love on the Line are now available.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-eight years and their border collie. They have four grown children. Click here to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man’s world … which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He’s a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love on the Line, go HERE.

CFBA Tour – Vicious Cycle

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Vicious Cycle by Terri Blackstock

ABOUT THE BOOK

When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she’s the newborn daughter of a meth addict he’s been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan—the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Vicious Cycle, go HERE.