Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Ale Boy's Feast: CSFF blog tour

The Ale Boy's Feast is the fourth and final book of the Auralia Thread series by Jeffrey Overstreet. It is a high fantasy series--- that is, a fantasy set in a world other than our own.

The Auralia Thread series is somewhat like the Lord of the Rings series in that the story continues from one book to the next. The Ale Boy's Feast is the conclusion. I would recommend starting with the first book in the series, Auralia's Colors, and reading the series in order. I haven't read the middle two books in the series and as I read The Ale Boy's Feast I felt I ought to have read the others first (which I why I'm not writing a review--- please turn to the other tour participants for reviews).

The fantasy world of The Auralia Thread is a unique vision rather than an imitation of an established fantasy world. It's a world I was glad to visit, and I hope to hear more from author Jeffrey Overstreet in the future.

*Book link -
Author’s web site -
*Participants’ links

Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Shane Deal
Chris Deane
Cynthia Dyer
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Inae Kyo
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Sarah Sawyer
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do You Want More Readers for Your Blog?

From the Catholic Writers Guild blog:
Everyone wants to know how to get more readers for their blog, myself included.

Because, after all, if you're not reading my blog, you're missing out!


Recently, I realized that I have some pretty committed readers, though they may be small in number. And maybe, just maybe, I should focus on interacting with them before I go out and worry about everyone else who isn't reading my blog.

Read More....

I have already been following some of the steps recommended in the article:

1. I interact with those who comment on this blog by making response-comments, and by checking out the commenters' blogs and usually becoming a follower of them.

2. I read other people's blogs and comment on them. I also--- as in this post--- am not averse to sharing a great blog post from someone else's blog.

3. Getting known for something: the CWG article suggests to share if you have a unique conversion story or a unique perspective. I guess the fact that I have same-sex-attraction, am Christian, and believe in chastity as a solution rather than jumping on the Gay marriage bandwagon makes me unique. Don't know if that will help me gain readers or repel them, though.

4. Read other blogs. I've used Google Blog Search to try to find other blogs that may be of interest--- I've found some with reviews of Mercedes Lackey or Marion Zimmer Bradley books. I also have a few lists of like-minded blogs--- the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour has a list (see sidebar), and I've used the list from the LDS (Mormon) Writers' Blogfest (see sidebar again). I've also looked up all the blogs that have participated in the blog tour for Karina Fabian's Infinite Space, Infinite God II (see related post).

One way I accomplish #4 is that I follow blogs on my Blogger dashboard page--- I've added ALL the blogs from the above mention blog tours/fests to the blogs I follow there. Whenever the blog in question had a sidebar invitation to follow them on Facebook's Networked Blogs, I also followed them there.

When I first had a previous blog, I was mostly interested in reading/commenting on the big blogs with loads of followers. But I've since learned that a medium-sized blog that is more closely targeted to the kind of blog I'm doing actually is more likely to get results. And when I read/follow/comment on a tiny blog with very few readers, the blog author is often happy enough over it to start following my blog, maybe even will add a link to my blog on their sidebar.

But I know all this blog-interacting can be kind of hard on some people. I mean, if you are a writer and spend a lot of time just by yourself writing, maybe you are a shy person around others and doing things like commenting on some stranger's blog is really hard for you. Yeah, it's hard for me too, but it gets easier once you do it. (If commenting on blogs is hard for you, why not write a practice comment here? Even if all you can think of to say is 'interesting post'. Or 'boring post' for that matter!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Greg Mitchell: The Strange Man: Stephen King Rides Again!

The Strange Man (The Coming Evil)

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour
Book: The Strange Man (The Coming Evil)
Author: Greg Mitchell
Genre (Official): Christian/suspense
Genre (actual): horror

'The Strange Man' by Greg Mitchell has everything you'd expect from a classic Stephen King novel--- except the compulsive swearing, which I don't miss one little bit.

Dras Weldon was a classic slacker--- living for horror movies and GI Joe collectibles, unemployed and loving it. His older brother Jeff is the responsible one, a pastor who has taken over the church that was once pastored by the boys' father.

But there is an ancient evil afoot in the town of Greensboro, and when the reckless Dras comes face to face with the fact that the bogeyman, the scary thing in the woods, isn't something out of a horror movie but as real as it comes, he has to warn his best friend Rosalyn who is the Strange Man's next target.

At this point Dras realizes that just that when fighting werewolves one needs silver bullets, the remedy for demon infestation has to do with the Bible and Jesus--- it's Kryptonite for demons.

Unfortunately when Dras evangelizes at his girl Rosalyn--- with all the skill of a third grader--- she's offended. She thinks he, the preacher's kid, is taking a superior tone to her, the lower-class girl. So she remains in danger as Dras continues his quest to fight the Strange Man.

The book is a Stephen King thrill ride, up until it hits against the real problem with Christian fiction. The author sets it up very carefully that the Bible/Jesus stuff is a logical step when fighting this particular monster--- like silver bullets for werewolves or a squirt gun of holy water for a vampire.

But when I read the witnessing scene I thought 'oh, no the Christian message!'. It was off-putting. And I'm a Christian, I can imagine what I would have thought when I was still a Neopagan.

And in all honesty if Dras had set about doing some Pagan-derived anti-demon ritual I and many readers would have found that more in our comfort zone. Perhaps readers today--- even Christian ones--- are too biased against Christian elements in our fiction--- in most authors, the only characters who spout Bible verses and evangelize are the villains. Look at the second season of the BBC TV series Being Human for confirmation.

And perhaps also the Bible element makes the horror a bit too real for our taste. After all, most of us have been witnessed to/witnessed at. Regardless of what WE believe, we are aware that many people take such things seriously. Maybe having the Bible/Jesus being this monster's vulnerable point makes us a little vulnerable to the thought: maybe it's not just a scary book. Maybe it could be real. Maybe there's something out in the scary place in my own town that's out to get ME!

To read more reviews and such about 'The Strange Man', follow the links on the 'Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour' blogroll on the side bar of this blog.

Featured Post:
Lackey's The Oathbound: Thalhkarsh the Demon

Note-- the government told me to tell you I got a free copy of the book in connection with the blog tour.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Some genres, when crossed, explode

Genre is important in fiction. If you want your work to sell, book publishers and book readers have an easier time if you can hang ONE label on it: mystery, fantasy, mainstream fiction, literary fiction, thriller, romance, Christian fiction, Gay/Lesbian fiction, and so on.

But sometimes the writing urge comes on us to combine genres: Christian fantasy, fantasy-romance (girl meets vampire), Gay/Lesbian mystery. This also can work, some of the time.

But some genre-crossings don't work so well. Christian science fiction? Mainstream sci-fi fans may think: Christians--- aren't they those bad people who don't like science? And the Christian publishers/readers may think: science fiction--- isn't that the bad stuff that seeks to destroy our faith in Christ and in God's word? But there are some brave souls out there writing Christian science fiction, and some has even been published.

But Wildmage is the ultimate bad genre mixup: high fantasy that is Christian fiction (like Narnia or Lord of the Rings) and that is also Gay/Lesbian fiction (like Mercedes Lackey's Last Herald Mage series, or J. F. Rivkin's Silverglass), but doesn't promote the ideology of the Gay activist movement. Yes, wow, I can hear the heads exploding now. Mostly it seems like a great way to get blacklisted everywhere.... which I guess is why I'm a pen name and not a real girl after all.....

But in today's crazy publishing world where print-on-demand self-publishing companies like can make all sorts of cross-genre explosives happen, if it's what I want to write, I can do it. If I write well, and do some internet networking, maybe it will even build a following.

After all, years ago who could have predicted that every other book in the sci-fi/fantasy aisle would be about sparkly vampires?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Charlaine Harris, Bob the Cat and the Origin of Shapeshifters

Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire series (Sookie Stackhouse novels) is a fun romp into a world where vampires, werewolves, fox-women and fairies co-exist with regular folks, though it's weakened quite a bit by the author's habit of throwing in explicit sex scenes.

One book tells the tale of how telepathic barmaid Sookie's friend Amanda the witch unintentionally turns her boyfriend Bob into a cat during some 'adventurous sex' (not described.) Amanda and Bob the cat, New Orleans residents, go to stay with Sookie in northern Louisiana and have to stay longer than planned when Hurricane Katrina hit.

At one point in Amanda and Bob's stormy relationship Amanda goes out into the woods looking for Bob and finds him with a female cat who is nursing a litter of kittens. Said kittens all look like Bob.

Later Bob is changed back to human, but nothing more is ever said about the kittens. They are half-human after all. What will become of them now that their human parent has bugged out?

That makes me wonder about the origins of werewolves and similar shapeshifters. In most werewolf tales, a werewolf gets that way by being bitten by another werewolf. But who bit the first werewolf?

I like the idea that shapeshifters might arise when a witch transforms a human into an animal, and that animal reproduces in animal form. Surely the child of a human, even a transformed human, will inherit the human essence/human soul.

In Asian culture, by contrast, the fox people (gumiho, kitsune) arise when a fox, who normally live only 12 years, lives to the age of one thousand. There's also a magical being that arises when a household object such as a teapot or a sandal becomes one hundred years old.

In Wildmage, there are shapeshifters. What happened was this: the original settlers of the elemental world (Wildmage world) came through portals from our world. They came from different points across the scope of human history (and landed within a hundred year span of the elemental world's history). Among those from the latest period were some who were humans with animal DNA, or animals with human DNA. On contact with the mage energies of the elemental world's environment, they all became shapeshifters who can be full animal, full human, or take the change-form (like the Wolf Man in the movies, hairy man-shaped dude with claws).

Later on, the lizard-men who settled in the central region of Zmaray got stuck in their change-form permanently, but that's another story.

Writers of Faith United: LDS Writers Blogfest

It's wonderful when writers who have love for Our Lord and our Heavenly Father work together to help one another. I've discovered that some writers of the LDS (Mormon) faith are currently doing so through an event called the LDS Writers Blogfest.

Now, as a Catholic, when I'm looking for correct theology it's not the LDS church but the Catholic Church that I turn to. But for other purposes the LDS folks are just as much my brothers-and-sisters in Christ as Catholics, Baptists and Moravians are.

There are a number of ways that we writers of the Christian faith can unite with one another. We can unite along denominational lines, as the members of the LDS Writers Blogfest are doing. I've noticed Catholic writers doing the same thing as we link to the blogs of other Catholic writers. Some people might be concerned that this might be prejudice--- certainly I've encountered Evangelical preachers who have extreme negative views of Catholics and consider a Catholic as unsaved as a Satanist. But I think for most of us it's more a matter of liking to be together with similarly-believing Christians.

Another way we can unite is by genre. There is something called the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour, which monthly picks out a Christian book in the speculative fiction genre and reviews it on their blogs over the course of three days. Though most of the members of the blog tour seem to be Evangelicals, there are also Catholics, a Lutheran pastor, and many other denominations.

A third way we might unite is by connecting to writers who share a similar theme, across genres. Some writers often or always include certain themes in their writing--- child abuse, women's issues, a certain disability. A fantasy writer who writes about characters with autism spectrum disorders (like Asperger's syndrome) might connect with mystery and romance writers who write on this theme as well.

In my case, my theme is characters with same-sex attraction (gay/lesbian orientation or identity), in a fictional universe where respecting the Biblical/traditional/sacramental view of marriage isn't considered hate (or h8) and chastity is always an option. If there are any other authors out there writing books like that I'd read them even if they were romances or westerns!

Here are the list of participants in the LDS Writers Blogfest. I'm living proof that you don't have to be LDS to enjoy the posts or the blogs!

Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jennifer McFadden: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jessie Oliveros: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become as a Little Child”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Krista Van Dolzer: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wildmage: Insert war here

Characters from K-drama 'Dae Joyoung'

I'm from the 'no plot, no problem' school of writing which means I often have to do a little re-imagining of my story, or write a chapter that comes before my original chapter one.

In Wildmage I've come to the conclusion that a war that was a vague part of the backstory needs to come onstage for the first chapter. I did a little clustering on this idea and came up with loads of cool stuff.

The story now starts with the Battle of Kumori. Kumori is a border county of the Northern kingdom and the original home of the Wildmage Hana. The traditional enemy of the Northern kingdom and its three allies is the Zmaray empire, home of the part-reptile Zmaray people. The Zmaray empire is in the center of a large, pangaia-ish continent, is landlocked, and always wanted to conquer its way to a coastline, any coastline. So this time they invade the Northern kingdom at Kumori which is at the border between the Northern and Eastern kingdoms.

I'm also working with a new character, Geon, a wildmage who is part of an army hwacha crew and who discovers Hana, a five-year-old orphan girl who in the midst of war's chaos has ended up with some refugee fox-people (fox shapeshifters, gumiho/kitsune). Geon discovers Hana has an unprecedented mage-talent even at her tender age and sends her off to his old teacher.

It's kind of odd having to insert a war into an already started story but it's really helping to develop the core idea. Geon is going to serve a purpose later in the story as an intermediary between Hana and the Oraha (king)--- Geon meets the Oraha during the story and is later given a position at the Court.

Hwacha is a Korean weapon that fires exploding arrows. They tested one on Mythbusters.
Kumori was inspired by a Korean place name Gomori/Komori, and by the hill Cumorah which is a part of LDS (Mormon) history.