Category Archives: Report

Haunt of Jackals–What Others Are Saying

Other bloggers on the CSFF blog tour have actually finished Haunt of Jackals by Eric Wilson, so let’s find out what they think.

Here’s some more plot summary from Karri Kompton:

“Cal Nichols, one of the original Nistarim and Gina’s father, works to keep not only Gina safe, but also Dov Amit, a young boy on the side of good. One of the orphans in Gina’s care, Pavel, shows signs of being a Concealed One. They must both escape to America in order to stay under the Collectors’ radar. Throughout the book, Gina and Cal fight Collectors and banish the blood-drinkers forever to torment.”

Jason Joyner referred us to a past discussion on his blog about whether Christian writers should write about vampires. Twilight is mentioned, as is Eric Wilson’s work.  The writers seemed to agree that vampires are evil, and should be portrayed that way.  This book by a Christian writer treats vampires very differently from Stephenie Meyer’s treatment of them in Twilight.

KM Wilsher tells us a bit about Eric Wilson’s unusual childhood:

“Eric Wilson, a family man, was born stateside but spent many years traveling abroad with his parents, missionaries. I hear they even attempted to give out bibles behind the iron curtain. Most of what I read about Mr. Wilson says that he wanted to write from a young age. We are all glad he was given the chance. ”  She also tells us that he has written screenplays for the films Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel. I am not surprised at this; his high-action style is very suited to film.

Rachel Starr Thompson didn’t find Jesus in the book. “…In this adventure, all you really need to defeat evil is the right artifacts, self-discipline, and good combat training. Cal declares at one point that “We battle not against flesh and blood,” yet his methods of battling are decidedly physical. Vampires are killed with blades, blood, and tent pegs, but never once is a demon vanquished by the power of Jesus’ name or by the power of faith in His blood.”

I am disappointed. I had hoped that the lead characters in the book would turn to Jesus to vanquish fear. I have learned that fear is the opposite of love. It’s fear that the Enemy uses against us most often.  Wilson lost an opportunity here to teach Christians how to deal with fear, not by using artifacts but by holding the hand of Jesus.

To find out more, check out other blogs on the tour. Those who had posts on this topic when I looked are checked.

+Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
+Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
+Keanan Brand
+Amy Browning
+Karri Compton
+Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
+Karina Fabian
+Beth Goddard
+Todd Michael Greene
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
+Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Mirtika
+Nissa
+John W. Otte
+James Somers
Speculative Faith
+Rachel Starr Thomson
+Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
+Fred Warren
+Phyllis Wheeler
+Jill Williamson
+KM Wilsher

CSFF Blog Tour Day 3: Donita K Paul weighs in

Now it’s the third and final day of the CSFF blog tour of Donita K. Paul’s book, The Vanishing Sculptor.

Mrs. Paul kindly supplied the answers to my questions of yesterday. Here they are:

1. Is The Vanishing Sculptor the beginning of another series?

Vanishing Sculptor is the first in The Chiril Chronicles. We’ve planned for three, and I’m working on The Wandering Artist now.

2. Do paladins (emissaries of God) live 1000 years?

Paladins do live for a 1,000 years or more. A Paladin is a champion of the people. On my world, they are mortal.

3. The market is in flux now, with Internet publishing gaining a foothold, and publishers cutting back on selections by unknown writers. Do you have advice for writers who have a Christian fantasy story they’d like to publish?

The last question is the hardest to answer, because it is hard to be positive. Breaking into the writing world is hard when the economy hasn’t tanked. Now it is even harder. But we have an all mighty God. Write the best story you can. Continue to hone your skills. Go to conferences to learn more and network. Join a professional organization like ACFW. Nothing is impossible with God. Read, read, read. Write, write, write, Pray, pray, pray.

Here are other participants in the blog tour. I put a “+” next to the ones that had entries on the topic when I was checking.
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
+ Rachel Briard
Karri Compton
+ Amy Cruson
+ Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
+ Jeff Draper
April Erwin
+ Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
+ Julie
Carol Keen
+ Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
+ Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)
Nissa
+ John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Crista Richey
Cheryl Russell
+ Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
+ Rachel Starr Thomson
+ Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
+ Fred Warren
+ Dona Watson
+ Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams
+ KM Wilsher

Day 2- CSFF Blog Tour, The Vanishing Sculptor

I’m still talking about Donita K. Paul’s book, The Vanishing Sculptor, as Day 2 of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. This blog tour has really grown in the year or so that I’ve been on it. It has taken me a while to visit all the 35 blogs listed and check out what others are saying.

Nearly everyone really enjoyed the book. It has an unusual feature for fantasy these days: it’s upbeat. Rachel Starr Thomson summarized it nicely:

“It was a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish. In a genre which often relies on heavy themes and gathering darkness, that can’t be said about every book. It’s entirely true of this one.”

It’s also got some great offbeat characters in it, particularly the giant parrot, many agreed.

Mrs. Paul has granted interviews in some cases. I emailed her some interview questions Sept. 12, and never got a reply, so I am guessing that the good old email system isn’t working too great as usual.  In case she stops by this blog, here are the questions; maybe she could answer them in the comments.

Here they are:

1. Is The Vanishing Sculptor the beginning of another series?

2. Do paladins (emissaries of God) live 1000 years?

3. The market is in flux now, with Internet publishing gaining a foothold, and publishers cutting back on selections by unknown writers. Do you have advice for writers who have a Christian fantasy story they’d like to publish?

Here are the other blogs on the tour. I put a “+” next to the blogs that had a post on this topic when I looked for one.

Donita Paul’s blog: http://dragonbloggin.blogspot.com/

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
+ Rachel Briard
Karri Compton
+ Amy Cruson
+ Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
+ Jeff Draper
April Erwin
+ Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
+ Julie
Carol Keen
+ Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
+ Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)
Nissa
+ John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Crista Richey
Cheryl Russell
+ Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
+ Rachel Starr Thomson
+ Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
+ Fred Warren
+ Dona Watson
+ Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams
+ KM Wilsher

An Audio Book Coming Up

I’ve been quiet for a while now.  Wondering why? I went to New York City with our church youth group on a mission trip for 10 days. Now I’m back, and trying to figure out which thing needs to be done first.

Just wanted to let you know that I listened to an audio book while on the road.  I’m not ready to report on it yet.  This audio book is unusual in that you can’t buy it in print–it’s only published as an audio. Also, it has plenty of original folksy music in it.

More later!–Phyllis Wheeler

Reading…

Just a report–I’m reading George Bryan Polivka’s book The Legend of the Firefish, Book 1 of his trilogy set in Nearing Vast.

I’m having trouble putting it down! That’s all I’ll tell you for now.

Blaggard’s Moon: Review Coming Up

This month’s Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour involves a number of bloggers writing about the novel Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka.  Our aim is to let people know that Christian science fiction and fantasy make great reading, and can convey great truths.

Unfortunately, the market for new writers in this genre has been soft, shall we say. But Tolkien and C.S. Lewis continue to get a lot of attention, so we know there’s interest! So let me tell you about the work of a very talented writer.

George Bryan Polivka’s pirate novel Blaggard’s Moon is actually a prequel to the Trophy Chase Trilogy. All these take place in the land (or waters) of Nearing Vast. The first of these three books is The Legend of the Firefish (which our local library has bought at my request).  The third one is The Battle for Vast Dominion, which has garnered a Christy Award nomination.

So this brings us to Blaggard’s Moon. For those who like me haven’t read The Trophy Chase Trilogy yet, this is apparently a great place to start in learning about Nearing Vast.

Tomorrow I’ll give you my review of Blaggard’s Moon.

Today I’ll talk about Polivka’s Web site, www.NearingVast.com.

The home page says,
“Welcome, weary traveler, to the Kingdom of Nearing Vast! ”
I like the design a lot. It’s clearly made by someone who knows what he or
she is doing.

On the home page, one of the trilogy’s characters, Cap Hillis, speaks to the reader as if the reader is a tourist and provides a list of entities to beware of, including pirates and firefish.  This is pretty cool. It gives you a good idea of the general lawlessness of the place, and also the idea that in this world, nightmarish monsters can be real.  In addition, it gives you a taste of the colorful characters that fill Polivka’s books.

If we click on “Cap’s Pub,” we come over to a blog where most of the entries are in the voice of Cap, but a few are in the author’s voice. Unfortunately the blog entries ended last September. I guess Polivka got busy with other stuff, like writing and promoting Blaggard’s Moon.

“Rumors” takes us to a set of quotes from happy reviewers of his books.

“Captain’s Log” takes us to a record of book signings, with pictures.

The “Vast Encyclopedia” takes us to a compendium of lore from Nearing Vast, concerning fishing, sailing, pirates, prophecies, and so on.  So, what do YOU think?

Here are the other CSFF blog tour participants this month:
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespack
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Pirate Story Coming Up

With the story of heroics in response to piracy in the news, it’s interesting that our next Blog Tour review will be a fantasy book about pirates. This is Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka, and I’ll tell you all about it starting Monday.

I’m reading!

You haven’t heard from me because I’m pretty busy, and I do have several books to read. I’m very happy to have these in the hopper. Right now I’m reading Blaggard’s Moon, a fantasy pirate story. Or group of stories actually. Stay tuned!

Interview with Allan Miller: Blog Tour Day 3

This is the final day of the CSFF March Blog Tour, featuring Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow by homeschool graduates Christopher and Allan Miller. These brothers live in the Seattle area. Both are married and have two young boys. Allan kindly granted me an email interview. Here it is!

Q: I saw a banner ad at homeschoolblogger.com that indicated you and your brother were homeschooled. Can you tell me about that? All the way through?

A: We were homeschooled for my 6th-11th (I graduated one year early) and Chris’ 8th-12th grades. Prior to that we attended a private school in Fairbanks, AK. The year we moved from AK to WA (my 2nd grade and Chris’ 5th grade) my mom had homeschooled us so we could be flexible during the move. We loved it! However, this was 1986-87 and homeschooling was not very “popular”. Not yet comfortable with the idea that she could successfully teach us at home, my mom enrolled us in private school the following year after we moved. However, neither us or our parents were settled with the decision.

After my brother completed his 7th grade year he asked mom if we could homeschool again… she had been feeling the same way. So, we bravely jumped back into it and we will forever be indebted to our parents for that gift. Homeschooling truly is a gift from parents for every kid who receives it. One of the greatest benefits of home-based learning is the opportunities it gives you to discover your strengths and invest time into those.

We found that our base subjects (math, english, science, etc) were able to be completed rather quickly, leaving us with time to explore interests like art, animation, or writing stories. Additionally, as our parents started seeing our passions forming, they encouraged us to incorporate them into all of our studies – leading to us writing/illustrate children’s books as our science projects – books that creatively taught the concept of physics or light/color through story. I believe this is a HUGE contributor to directing our future path towards becoming published author/illustrators.

The time homeschooling also allowed Chris and I to really grow in appreciation for each other as friends which eventually led to us attending the Art Institute of Seattle together in 95-97. The combination of our friendship and our strong foundation in faith, nurtured through homeschooling, helped us stand firm in our convictions even amidst a strongly secular college environment. So, in short, we would never wish we had our schooling any other way. It was fantastic!

Q: Who is older and by how much?

A: Chris is older by 2 1/2 years. Somehow that didn’t stop us from becoming great friends – sharing many of the same friends throughout our teens.

Q: Apparently you also worked in a Christian bookstore while homeschooling?

A:My parents and grandparents (mom’s side) ran a Christian bookstore up in Fairbanks, AK for a number of years. So, soon after entering the world both Chris and I were brought into a world of books – tucked behind the counter. Many of our earliest memories are of roaming the aisles after-hours and making little forts between the tent-shaped bookshelves where we’d peek out through holes of the peg-board backing to spy on customers (you never knew there were spies in the bookstores did you?)

After moving to WA our parents started a Christian School Book Club (think Scholastic) and after selling that began traveling as Representatives for a homeschool distributor. So, we never really could escape books. In fact, Chris and I recall thinking about how we would be glad to never have to haul another box of books after high school… oh the irony that we now haul our OWN books from and to events and schools!

Q: Did you find a lack of Christian fantasy works to read as you were growing up?

A: As a matter of fact, we did. The older we got, the thinner the selection of GREAT Christian books became. There were some wonderful books, to be sure, but not enough in our opinion. This is one of the driving factors in why we’ve chosen to write the Codebearers Series. In fact, you could say that we are writing these books for ourselves – the 10+ year-old versions of ourselves. These are the kind of stories we loved to read (and still do) These are the stories we believe we’ve been called to write and we hope our work answers that call well. There has been nothing more fulfilling than hearing from a reader or parent about how it connected with them and met that very need.

Q: Is the second book out now?

A: The second book, Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire, is written going through the editing and illustrating process right now. It is slated to be released 9/9/09. You can follow our progress through our website, Codebearers.com, and blog, http://themillerbrothers.blogspot.com

Q: How long are you planning the series to be?

A: We have a 3 book story arch for Hunter Brown that Warner Press has contracted us to complete. The 3rd book should come out summer/fall of 2010. However, we have some other storylines we’d like to explore that may extend the series into more books… possibly following another main character, but that’s all I can tell you now!

Q: Is there a videogame to go with the book? If so, is it similar to the book trailer?

A: There is an online game off of our Codebearers.com website, but it’s not animated in that sense. It plays more like a first-person mystery – where you get to solve visual puzzles and riddles to discover the message that Hunter eludes to at the end of book 1 – so it’s a continuation of the story between book 1 and 2. If you’ve ever played the popular PC games, Myst or Riven, then you’ll be familiar with this style of game. Ours is built with the widely distributed Flash plug-in, so it works on any browser (though dial-up is not recommended). We try to add a new level every month or so, but it’s tough when you are writing a book too!

My brother and I are professional website designers/programmers. That has been our “day job” for the past 11 years. So, much of what you see on Codebearers.com is a direct application of our skills. The website also offers a great community for kids to interact with each other. We also make appearances via a fun “3D Chatroom” every so often. I should also mention, the online game plays for points as does other things like writing a review of the book, recruiting a friend to Codebearers.com, etc. On December 15th we awarded a $400 gift card to Best Buy for the top points earner. It was a lot of fun and we will be starting up the next round of competition soon. (end of interview)

Be sure to check out what other bloggers are saying on this today on the CSFF Blog Tour:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Magma
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Wade Ogletree
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Middle-grade reader recommendations

A Christian mom emailed me and asked for recommendations for her middle-grade reader who likes science fiction.

So I asked Becky Miller of A Christian Worldview of Fiction what she would recommend, since I didn’t know. She kindly responded. She only knows of Christian fantasy, not science fiction, for that age group.  Here is what she recommends:

  • The Landon Snow series by R. K. Mortenston starting with Landon Snow and the Auctor’s Riddle (Barbour)
  • The Wilderking trilogy by Jonathan Rogers starting with The Bark of the Bog Owl (B&H Publishers)
  • The Knights of Arrethtrae series by Chuck Black starting with Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione (Multnomah Books)
  • The Codebearers series by the Miller Brothers starting with Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow (Warner Press)