Thursday, September 25, 2008


I thought I'd share some of the research I've done today. Yes, there are sailing ships in Tempest!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Day 3 Marcher Lord Press

So I promised you a peek at the three books that are being released by Marcher Lord Press on Launch Day, October first. So here goes:

Hero, Second Class sounds like a book after my own heart. It is "a delightful roast of all the fantasy fiction elements we hold dear. It is said that only someone who loves something can truly lampoon it. So it is in this case. Bonds' novel is a riot.

Quest with Cyrus, our young protagonist who aspires to be a Hero. But Heroes have a guild, you see, and lots of rules. One has to pay one's dues, apprentice to a Hero in good standing, and comport oneself as befits a member of the Heroes Guild.

Cyrus is fortunate to be serving his apprenticeship during a True Crisis, during which an Arch Villain is on the loose. An ambitious hero-in-training could make quite a name for himself during such times.

Cyrus's progress toward achieving his next level in the Heroes Guild is complicated by a wise-cracking dragon, a self-narrating knight, a droll zombie, and an attractive young woman who also happens to kind of be a cat."

Here's the opening:

The Prologue
Which, Unlike Other Chapters, Has No
Pithy Subheading in Italics

Dawn poked her rosy fingers across the sky.

And promptly tore two small holes in it.

Vertis the sky god repaired the holes and scolded Dawn, sending her off to get a manicure. He took over from there, and cast the sun’s early rays into the stone-paved courtyard of Bryath Castle, the hub of Centra Mundi’s government. Blue and silver pennants flapped merrily in the gentle breeze, and the cold stones of the ancient fortress began warming in the sunlight.

You can read the entire first chapter here.

Hero, Second Class, Mitchell Bonds, Marcher Lord Press, October 2008, 620 pages, $14.99


"The Personifid Invasion is a standalone sequel (to a previously published book) that continues to explore life in a far-future society in which death is no longer an issue, at least to those who can afford personifid bodies.

In this novel, an adult brother and sister seek their other sibling, a sister from whom they have been separated since childhood. They find her location, but despair. She lives inside a domed city that is all but overrun by interterrestrials.

Interterrestrials are beings that ancient Earthlings called demons. These "inters," as they are called, have discovered it is much easier to possess the souls of humans who have transferred into personifid bodies."

The opener:


The life ebbed from her body and she found herself drifting.

For an instant, she was touched by the warmth and heard it calling to her. But that passed and she was wrenched from the warmth by an all-pervading chill. She twisted and turned to evade the coldness, but it did no good.

Sharp stabbing needles pierced her being, freezing fingers that trapped her and held her down. She tried to scream, but her voice was silent. Unable to see, she was thrust into a dark space and felt herself slowly unfurling, a heaviness coming over her limbs. Her eyes opened and she was blinded by white light.

“Transference complete,” said a voice, sharp and new to her ears. “Please remain as still as possible while ascertaining security of placement.”

You can read the entire first chapter here.

The Personifid Invasion, R. E. Bartlett, Marcher Lord Press, October 2008, 350 pages, $12.99


Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy is described this way: "What if the Catholic Church (or something very like it) existed in a fantasy world in which dwelt non-human intelligent races like orcs, trolls, and elves?

At some point in such a world the leading ecclesiastics would have to wrestle with the question of whether or not these demi-humans have souls and therefore ought to be the subject of evangelization by the Church.

Summa Elvetica is the story of the young priest whom the Church assigns to investigate the matter. Along the way toward his conclusion, he falls in love with an Elven princess and finds himself in the middle of a racially motivated war."

Here's the opener:

Chapter 1

Marcus Valerius looked up from the faded Numidican manuscript in irritation. The light from the study window was growing dim. Already he’d been forced to light a candle in order to make out the obscure scratchings of the historian Quintus the Elder, whose colorful accounts of his encounters with the pagan desert tribes were as dubious as they were vivid. The imperative knocking at the door threatened a lengthy interruption, one that might cost Marcus what little daylight remained.

“Come in,” he called, resigned.

The latch creaked, and a familiar, sun-bronzed face peered around the corner of the door. It belonged to his cousin Sextus, whose brown eyes were dancing with mischief.

“This better be good,” Marcus warned him. “I was just getting to the part where the tribal chief is about to sacrifice the centurion to his devil-gods.”

You can read the entire first chapter here.

Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy, Theodore Beale, Marcher Lord Press, October 2008, 320 pages, $12.99


So, which of these stories sound the most interesting to you? I'm undecided about the second two, but I know I must get Hero, Second Class!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tempest progression

The past couple of days I have been trying to wrestle Tempest's outline into some sort of form that I can actually keep writing from. I had a squooshy kind of outline that was more like water-logged at the other end, but I think I've added some fiber to it and found the story's path. Or something like it, anyway. In the previous books I've written, I rarely keep to the outline, but I need it to find the general direction and to know the ONE path the story will NOT go. Like that makes sense. :p

I think it's back to that position, now, and I'll be able to take the writing life back off hold. I needed to do this before I could work on the Thinking Sideways class novel outline...or get involved in the novel crit I just agreed to do. It'll be good to get things moving again.

Day 2 Marcher Lord Press

First off, Marcher Lord Press head dude, Jeff Gerke, emailed me with a correction to my post yesterday. There are two *free* downloads for purchasing ebooks on opening day, October first. Let me quote:

The first bonus book is Into the Breach: The Marcher Lord in History and Legend. It is written by castles expert Lise Hull, author of The Great Castles of Britain and Ireland and Britain's Medieval Castles.

This wonderfully illustrated book will introduce you to the real marcher lords of history who inspired Marcher Lord Press. In its pages you learn who these men were who stood alone In the Breach against all manner of chaotic forces. What were their lives like? Why did they do it? What mark have they left on modern society?

Filled with photos and maps and compelling text, Into the Breach: The Marcher Lord in History and Legend is the perfect primer on this fascinating chapter of medieval history.

That sounds extremely interesting to me, being as I write fantasy and the concept of castles and the frontier has crossed my brain on more than one occasion. So, you purchase ONE novel, you get the above download for free. As for the book my daughter Hanna is in, here's the scoop on it:

The second bonus book is A Marcher Lord Gallery: Speculative Art by Christian Artists. And you're not going to want to miss it.

Marcher Lord Press searched far and wide for the finest professional and amateur Christian artists working in the field of speculative art. The pieces they have contributed to this book will send your imagination soaring.

There is a section featuring original pieces commissioned specifically for this book. Each artist took his or her inspiration from one of the launch list novels or from the idea of the marcher lord itself. This original work is breathtaking, and these pieces will be available only through this book for a limited time.

This section of A Marcher Lord Gallery is followed by two-page spreads featuring other speculative pieces done by each of the contributing artists. You'll discover many new artists to stoke the fires of your speculative dreaming, and you'll meet the artists themselves through short bios, photos, and links to their online galleries.

A Marcher Lord Gallery: Speculative Art by Christian Artists is available for free download on launch day with the purchase of two or more Marcher Lord Press novels.

So--I guess I'm doing this backwards, listing the prizes first! What do you have to do to qualify these downloads? Buy a book from Marcher Lord Press on launch day to get Into the Breach: The Marcher Lord in History and Legend. Buy two books and get both downloads. (You know you want the download with my kid's art in it. YOU KNOW YOU DO!!!! So stick October first in your calendar and go buy two novels that day!)

Tomorrow I'll show you the one (of the three launch novels) I'm most interested in, but for today, I want to mention the concept of the POD (print-on-demand) press.

It's had a bad rap, being linked with vanity publishing (where the writer pays the publisher to publish a book). However, POD is merely a method of printing that prevents books from being over-published, and then returned to the publisher when the books don't sell (at a net loss for everyone involved). Books are printed as they are ordered.

This publishing model may be best used for just what Marcher Lord Press is doing--a niche market that is internet savvy. I know I won't be the only one watching to see how this new small press will fare. If you're curious about the ins and outs of how this press is structured, read this.

Check out the bloggers from yesterday's post to see what folks are saying about the books, the POD model, the downloads, and about Jeff Gerke.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Website Tour -- Marcher Lord Press

If you've hung around My Little World for very long, you probably have noticed that Christian speculative fiction--in particular, fantasy--is dear to my heart. And while the market for it is growing, it's still a hard sell, both for the authors and the stores that may eventually carry the books.

It's kind of frustrating, actually. And so it is very cool that I've found a bunch of like-minded folk on the internet (many of their blog links are below) and the awareness of this niche market is growing. Without this gang of folks, I'd have missed out on a lot of great reading over the past few years.

Once upon a time a man named Jeff Gerke wrote a series of novels under the pen name of Jefferson Scott. After these were published, Jeff became an editor for a major Christian publishing house. He later switched houses to help spearhead an imprint, Realms, devoted to Christian spec fic. This didn't take off as well as hoped, so Jeff tried again with another publisher.

By this time Jeff was well known as a champion of Christian novels that were a little off the beaten path (no Amish romances for this guy!). He had also begun to believe that traditional publishing was not likely to ever meet the demand for the kind of novels he believed in. Too many variables, not the least of which is just trying to get the books all the way to the consumer who would buy it if they only knew it existed!

In 2006, Jeff began Where the Map Ends as a way to begin to consolidate information in this genre.

And on October 1, 2008, he will launch Marcher Lord Press, a POD press specifically for Christian speculative fiction. Over the next couple of days I'll be talking about the upcoming launch, but feel free to pop on over and sign up. He's giving away some great prizes!

AND last but not least, one of the featured artists in the Virtual Coffee Table Art Book is my daughter Hanna. This ebook is free with the purchase of one of the novels on launch day.

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

Looks like we have all hands on deck for this blog tour!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Third place in Genesis!

Some of you may recall that The Girl Who Cried Squid (aka Krin, or Off Beat) became a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest back in spring. The results of the contest were announced Saturday at the annual conference, and my novel placed third in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Allegory category.

The finalists are:
1st: Chawna Schroeder, Metamorphosis
2nd: Lynda K. Arndt, The Song of Blood and Stone
3rd: Valerie Comer, The Girl Who Cried Squid

Last year, Marks of Repentance went to the final level but did not place, so the improvement makes me happy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Color Me Amused

Today I'm wearing a cute burgundy short-sleeved knitted top that I paid something like three bucks for at Value Village. I hardly ever wear it, sadly, because it is one of *those* that needs hand washing and laying flat to dry. That rarely happens, so it usually lives at the bottom of my laundry hamper.

So this lady on the street corner says to me, "I love your sweater. Did you knit it?"

I laughed and said, "No, I wouldn't have the patience for something like that."

As I walked away, I wondered what she'd say if I told her I write novels? Probably something to the effect of: "I wouldn't have the patience for something like that."

I guess we pick what we want patience for!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tempest ReOutlining

Based on what I'm learning in the Think Sideways class, I've stopped writing Tempest. Why, you may ask... Well, I can see that the outline needs some help, and there doesn't seem to be any point in waiting until I revise this novel to address the issues I'm starting to see. I'm about a third into the first draft, and I'd rather write the second two-thirds having applied all the principles I can.

I've started outlining the new novel (for the TS class), tentatively known as Jiya after the main character. About 14 scene summaries landed on the page in little more than an hour, and I'm beginning to see the shape of the story. But where a few weeks ago I felt like Tempest was suffering from the split attention, I've changed my mind.

The pendulum is starting to swing back to Tempest. At the moment she is in the best position to benefit from the class, though I'll keep doing the lessons on Jiya as well, at least at a basic level. The class will, in theory, be starting to write the new novel soon, but I don't want to set Tempest aside in order to do that. I may try splitting the time, but if that doesn't work, then Tempest comes first.

After all, she grabbed my mind quite firmly back in June and demanded her tale be told. And there's a fair bit of it left to tell.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thinking Sideways--plotting

Tempest is continuing on. I'm trying hard to set aside my first work hour of the day to focus on this moving this story forward. Some days are quiet and my mind is clear(ish) and I get a thousand words. Other days I'm getting in the neighborhood of 600-700. I'm reasonably pleased with those days. Yesterday it was about 300, but I'd had a lot of interruptions: boss guys, customers, phone calls. At the end of the hour, I thought: I should keep going with this because I have so few words.

Did a bit of soul-searching on the concept of things I should do. The main reason I switched from a word count goal to a timed goal was because my time isn't always my own at work (go figure). Some days reaching a WC goal can take all day, and right now I have to divide my time, and not just with work duties. Tempest is a hard story to write; there is no comedy or fluff within its scenes. She is living a nasty life in a nasty place with little hope of relief, and things are still getting worse every time I sit down at the keyboard. (I'm about 1/3 of the way into the story.) If I spent all day every day on this novel, I'd get depressed.

Don't ask where it came from. I'm not a dark person. I don't like dark books. And this isn't dark in the sense of a horror story, but in its hopelessness. Because my life (thank God) is NOT hopeless, I have to struggle to immerse myself in her troubles in order to depict them, and it's not a pretty place. So, all in all, I'm glad I also have other things to think about, and why it's not a bad idea for me to be working on timed goals rather than word count.

Quite a bit of the rest of my time (around the work stuff, which is fairly busy this time of year) I'm spending on the Thinking Sideways classwork. (If you click the link in my previous post now, you'll notice that the brief window for signing up for the class is over for now.)

I can't begin to tell you how much my mind is being stretched with every week's lesson. It is being pushed and pulled and folded and then pulled some more--much like making taffy, perhaps. I'm so logic-oriented that it's amazing I write novels at all. I shouldn't be good at it. (And maybe I'm NOT good at it, but I enjoy it and have written seven of them to date, so there's obviously something in there calling me to the process!)

This week we're talking about plotting and I'm beginning to understand that I've blown off advice I've read prematurely. Holly Lisle talks about writing a Line-for-Scene outline, and I've always thought that I needed more information than that to remember what should go in that scene.

Today I've come to the sad realization that there is a difference between a focused sentence and the...junk...I write in my short paragraph or two. Because I've been writing AROUND the central issue, not being able to figure out ahead of time what the core purpose of the scene is. I can look at my scene and, I believe, tell you that it is important, that it moves the story forward. And I believe that I'm right! But I can't tell you WHY.

So I pulled Tempest back out. I just wrote a new scene this week, after all. It's still fresh in my mind. If I was having trouble figuring out a concise sentence for a vague idea of a scene for my yet-unfleshed-out novel, surely I could do better for the scene I had just written in a novel I know.

Or not.

This is a really really REALLY key concept. I can feel the importance of it. But catching a hold of it is like tackling a greased pig.

I may need something for my headache.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

You are worth the time--youtube

When you need to remember why the urge to create *art* (in whatever form you define art!) drives you so much, and when you wonder if you should take the time to feed that longing, watch this (about 7 minutes):

Thinking Sideways Sign-ups Open!

Last week I posted about the writing course I'm taking, Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways.

For this week only, signups are available for the second session, which begins, I believe, in February. Looks like I'm not the only one struggling a bit to keep the pace as one of the options will be for lessons every second week, thus stretching the course to a full year rather than the six months that the first session will be completed in.

(**edited to say: The current signup is for a course that starts right away, so your first payment and first lesson would be within 24 hours. Or you can put yourself on a waiting list for later, if you prefer.)

Doesn't mean, of course, that I'll be done all the work for the course in six months. Folks are welcome to work at their own rate, just download each lesson as it becomes available and then read it (and work on it!) as you (I) get caught up.

I mentioned in the other post that I didn't expect the course to be so challenging right out the starting gate. I have a very practical mindset and wasn't expecting to get so much out of the mind-mapping aspects of early lessons. Instead, I've come to a better understanding of my brain (never a bad thing!) and am using clustering for a wider variety of problem-solving than the course even calls for. I'm really excited about the ideas I'm working with now and look forward to learning how to think sideways to include plot twists that the reader won't see coming--but still be logical.

All I can say is that it's worth every penny I'm paying for it (roughly $300 total--I pay in Canadian funds so the monthly amount varies a bit month by month.) The 12-month course will cost the same, just be spread out more.

If you'd like to kick your writing up a notch and learn new ways to create and plan projects, click through and read Holly's write up. I don't think you'll be sorry you did.

The course is touted as A Survival Guide for Career Novelists. Some folks in my session have never completed a novel. Several have been multi-published. Doesn't matter, as there are many things writers of all abilities can use.