Tuesday, September 30, 2008

THE LAUNCH IS HERE....9 HOURS FROM NOW





MARCHER LORD PRESS is officially launching at Midnight when the clock changes over to October 1st, 2008

I'm presenting a review of one of the three books being launched: Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy, by Theodore Beale. Mr. Beale is also published by Pocket and Simon & Shuster, in the field of Christian speculative fiction.

Summa Elvetica takes place in a fantasy world so detailed it might rival Lord of the Rings. Certainly, anyone in love with that trilogy will delight in this book. Here's the book cover:

"...Beale brings us a delightfully speculative what-if scenario: 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 questions 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 to his conclusion, he falls in love with an Elven princess and finds himself in the middle of a racially motivated war. More than the curiosities of high clerics hang in the balance as he comes to declare whether or not elves have souls."

Theodore Beale combines philosophy, traditional Christian teaching, demonology, and the paranormal powers of magic in all its forms, to render a story that's rich with metaphor. The world is a fantasy based on the Roman Empire. The Christians are led by the Sanctiff, similar to the Pope. He has Michealine priests based on the tenets of St. Michael the Archangel - the Defender. Our hero, Marcus Valarius, must journey to the Elvish Kingdom to begin his investigation into the story premise - do elves have souls, and are they created beings of God?

The story is slowed down by the telling of historical tales on the journey to see the Elven High King. It reminded me of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Once there, however, Marcus is rapidly drawn in to the controversy. His is a spiritual as well as a physical journey, and his actions and discoveries mirror those many of us have also had in our own quest for a relationship with God.

This book is multi-layered and should be read slowly and carefully to get the fullest experience. I found it rich in its concept, and Beales' use of humanistic philosophy versus Christian teachings. For those who love their fantasy, as well as Biblical teaching, this book will be a feast.

I have one caveat: at the beginning of each chapter there are quotations written in Latin. These are explained in translation at the end of the book. At first I found it odd, as I have no knowledge of Latin. However, the explanations at the end of the book are the "Summa" that Marcus writes to end the debate.

Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy by Theodore Beale, available October 1 from Marcher Lord Press, $12.99

Be sure to register at the site for special prizes, as well as the Grand Prize Draw - a trip for two to the 2009 comicCON in San Diego.

I have no relationship with MARCHER LORD PRESS in any way, and am not contracted by them for a work of fiction. I offer this review simply to engage readers in what they can expect from this new and adventurous publisher.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

CRIME FICTION, OR, "THE ART OF KILLING PEOPLE"

You may have seen this elsewhere, but I wanted to share this clip of Craig Ferguson from the Late, Late Show interviewing Lawrence Block. It aired June 24/08, so I'm a bit late to the party, but I enjoyed hearing Block's take on his two big characters, Keller, and Matthew Scudder. I had no idea Block's now 70 years old. It just goes to show that writing can be a long, lively career. (providing you're as prolific as Ludlum, Elmore Leonard, and Block, to name a few crime writers)



While we don't learn a lot of new things, it's enjoyable just to see Lawrence Block in person.

Friday, September 26, 2008

CONTEST SEASON AND THE GOLDEN HEART ARE HERE


I’ve had the privilege of judging three contests recently. I’ve judged fantasy, mainstream romantic elements, and inspirational. It’s been a revelation to see how many great writers are out there, with work that’s in near publishable condition. What a wonderful reflection of Romance Writers of American, whose Chapters sponsor these contests, train judges and use both PRO and published authors.

I know we’ve all read articles on how to write for contests. I’m not about to reiterate all those points here. There are a few areas I found consistently strong, or weak, so I thought I’d point these out and hopefully, you can take some of my comments and consider them for your next contest entry.


1) Is there an opening line or paragraph that immediately hooks the reader into the story?

This had to be one of the weakest areas I found across the board. The opening lines were often clich├ęd, or didn’t set up the first paragraph. I’m not going to give examples, because someone might recognize their work! However, another major problem was not starting the story in the right place. I’m guilty of this myself. When you’ve written a couple of drafts, and changed things around many times, it’s important to have someone else “beta” read your final results – even if it’s just three chapters and a synopsis (especially the synopsis!), to find out where things don’t make sense, or notice you’ve dumped back story, or started with the wrong POV. Once you’ve finished your manuscript, or the contest entry, it’s important to go back and “hook” that reader with action, or a question from a character, or something related to the story question. This seems to be what editors/agents want – they all say they want to be “immediately drawn in to the story”.

2) Does the story hold your interest to the end of the book?

All the contests I judged had an unjudged synopsis, which was a great feature to allow fairer judging. If you don’t have a synopsis of the complete story, how can a judge tell whether the story will hold your interest? While we all shudder at writing a synopsis, doing one for a contest allows the judge to have a wider view of your entry and better elaborate on the scored areas. So, polish up those synopsis skills before you enter the next contest!

3) Does the setting support the story without intruding?

We’ve all read, “don’t describe the weather”. However, weather, storms, tornados, severe blizzards are all good plot devices when used judiciously. if you’re writing an historical, make sure you have your facts straight about the where and when. Nothing pulls you out of an entry faster if you read about a castle with crenulations, gargoyles, or what- have-you, when the story is set in Norman England. They usually built what would be considered “forts” with wooden stockades.

This doesn’t mean your setting should take over the story. Unless you’re writing a gothic, “support your story” by layering in setting to provide the reader with an accurate idea of place and time. Lengthy descriptions of rooms, cities, or countryside are going to slow down your pacing.

4) Are your characters appealing?

Here’s the most subjective area of judging, in my opinion. Every reader’s going to have his or her unconscious bias. This doesn’t mean you can’t write characters with depth, and show strong goals, motivation, and conflict. (GMC) The conflict should especially be up front and center at the beginning of your story. Whether you show the external conflict first, or the internal conflict, this can usually be drawn with a few sentences sprinkled throughout the first chapter. This makes your character appealing as it draws the reader towards identifying with the character.

5) Is there a good balance between narrative and dialogue, showing and telling?

Ah, the show vs. tell debate. Nothing slows your pacing down faster than “telling” your reader back-story, how a character does something, or giving us long passages of narrative. “Show” your character grinding out a cigarette beneath those killer stilettos. This conveys anger, frustration, sarcasm, or a character out for revenge as soon as she steps back in to that party. If you waste time telling us how she lit the cigarette, tasted it, flicked it on the ground, and then stepped on it, the emotional impact is lost.

6) Do sensory details (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) enhance each scene?

I found this to be another weak area, and it made me step back and re-read some of my own writing. We don’t need all five senses in a scene. Stick to two or three at the most. In every entry I judged, the main senses were sound and touch. Smell, taste, and sight were forgotten by most writers. How things smell, or how your heroine perceives a smell is a good way to show characterization. For example, I can’t stand the smell of lamb cooking, or the smell of parmesan cheese. They make me gag for some reason. A negative reaction from a character can tell you something about them. Or, a character might like the scent of ripe oranges because it reminds her of Christmas. The sight of blood might not matter to a hero; or he might feel that gag reflex no matter how he tries to harden himself to the sight of blood. My husband used to react with fear at the sight of needles. He’s used to them now because of his job in the military. However, it was a process, and a device like that can show character growth.

Contest season is ramping up for the winter and spring. I hope some of my comments are helpful to those of you who choose contests based on either writing feedback, or to final in a category where you want to get in front of a specific editor or agent. And, it’s time to enter the Golden Heart. Good luck and good writing!

Monday, September 22, 2008

THE PERSONIFID INVASION


The Personifid Invasion is the sequel to R.E. Bartlett’s The Personifid Project, launched by Realms in 2005. You don’t have to read book one, but it’s helpful to get to know the characters, as The Personifid Invasion picks up right after the first book.

A Personifid is an artificial body, which a person can choose from pre-designed formats, so they can have the body they’ve dreamed of - forever. Do you love violet hair? Do you want perfectly formed features, sapphire eyes, or athletic abs? They’re yours if you can afford them. Better yet, Death doesn’t exist for you, although your body parts may become damaged and need repair from time to time.

R. E. Bartlett has created an entertaining futuristic world with innovative gadgets, talking robots, and computers that can produce whole rooms of furniture if required. Don’t let the world-building fool you – her premise is whether these artificial bodies created and inhabited by foolish humans can still be possessed by age-old demons. Evil still wreaks havoc on a planet decimated by Man’s ignorance and unconcern for the environment.

A human brother and sister search for another sister who they lost through adoption when they were children. Their sister has become a Personifid and lives in a city dominated by Interterrestrials – a new Earth word for demons. Entering the city of demons is deadly unless you’re under the protection of the Tri-Une. The brother is a Follower of the Tri-Une Soul, while his little sister is still struggling to decide whether to believe in the Unseen, or believe in what her male friend, who is an Interterrestrial, allows her to see.

While I would’ve liked to see deeper characterization of the three main characters Antha, Aphra, and Ashley, Bartlett’s action-adventure story gallops along and immerses you in this bleak, technologically perfect world. The supporting characters are Followers as well, and they provide a nice counter-point to younger sister Aphra’s spiritual struggle with the Interterrestrial, Datricius.

I thoroughly enjoyed the unfolding of this story and its wonderful world building created a strong backdrop for Bartlett’s premise. The idea of producing your own pre-designed body in order to live forever went far beyond the usual cryogenics or cloning plot. The question of whether artificial bodies showing “soul signs” of life can be demon -possessed makes for an intriguing and thought-provoking story.

You can find R. E. Bartlett at her website here R. E. Bartlett, and an interview with her publisher at MARCHER LORD PRESS Be sure to visit MARCHER LORD PRESS to sign up for the Launch Day Grand Prize of a trip for two to comicCON 2009. There will be plenty of other giveaways, and free books if you buy two books on October 1st/08.

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

Sunday, September 21, 2008

JUST WHEN THE EXCITEMENT IS OVER....


Something new hits the blogosphere! I've been nominated by Mommy C over at QUIRKY CHILDRENS LIT to receive the Brilliante Weblog Promo Award. Thank you, Mommy C, and especially for the kind words you said about my blog. I'll put the rules at the end, but here are the blogs I check every day when I'm first up with the second cup of coffee:

TONI ANDERSON, a "Dangerously Romantic" suspense author, who I'm looking forward to interviewing this fall when her new book HER SANCTUARY becomes available.

TED DEKKER, one of the best suspense writers in the past few decades - jmho, of course, but check out his website and trailers. He's a cutting edge writer!

LEE LOFLAND, whose police and crime site has more writer resources for the police procedural/suspense/thriller than anything I've found on the Web so far. His book is wonderful and a must-have if you're writing in the crime field.

My two favourite agent blogs that I check every day:

RANTS AND RAMBLINGS OF A LITERARY AGENT - Rachelle Gardner is an agent with Wordserve Literary Agency. She doesn't represent exactly what I write, but her blog is full of topical information, reader contests, and personal experience. She's a lovely lady with a helpful attitude if you write her in the comments section.

PUB RANTS - Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency. She's mentioned as a nominee elsewhere, but her sharp, witty, style make her a must-read. I love the fact she shows who she is behind her job, and keeps us apprised of what's playing on her iPod at all times!

My favourite writer resource site that I check every day:

WHERE THE MAP ENDS - while this is a site primarily aimed at sci-fi, fantasy, speculative fiction writers (and there's nothing wrong with that!) Jeff Gerke provides resources on what publishers look for, how to polish up for submission, where to find story/character/setting generators, and a weekly piece on editorial articles designed to make you take another look at your manuscript. Read these - you'll learn more than in any craft course. Jeff Gerke's been an acquisition editor for about twelve years, and he knows whereof he speaks.

Here's the rules:

1. The Award may be displayed on a winners blog.
2. Add a link to the person who you received the Award from so anyone can backtrack.
3. Nominate up to seven other blogs - sorry, I stuck with my *every day* blogs!
4. Add their links to your blog post.
5. Add a message in the comments section of each winners' blog that you've passed on the Award to them.

I hope you all enjoy these "daily reads" of mine. They're great people and love writing!

Friday, September 19, 2008

IT'S THE LAST DAY OF BBAW!

Our final draw winner is Amanda, who writes:

I read book reviews because...
I'm always looking for new books, new authors, etc. There are so many authors and books out there that I would never be able to find them all without reading reviews. Besides by reading the reviews and seeing how the reviewer scored new books, and perhaps some old books I've read, I can see whether or not I would potentially like the book rather than just blindly reading the book. It kind of helps to weed out the possibilities on the long list of TBR books I've compiled and more times than not adds more to my ever growing list.

Amanda, you've won a copy of DIRTY SWEET, a book by John McFetridge which I reviewed here last year. It's from ECW Press in Toronto, Canada, and is a trade paperback.

Here's a bit about the book:

"In the middle of the afternoon, a man is shot in the head while behind the wheel of his SUV. The killer drives away before the light changes. Road rage? Premeditated murder? Or is it an opportunity - for everyone involved?"

GANGSTERS, ONLINE PORN, REAL ESTATE...CLOSING THE BIG DEAL IS MURDER

It's been my honour to participate in BBAW, and I hope it becomes an annual affair. Thank you to the winners and readers of my blog. I hope you enjoy the books!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BBAW IS ALMOST OVER!


I hope you've enjoyed this week of rolling around the blogosphere and meeting new bloggers and entering as many Giveaways and Contests as possible. :) Here's todays winning response from a Blogger who has the most personal Blogs I've ever seen!

"This Book Blogging Appreciation concept has been wonderful. I have found so many new book review blogs - my mind is in overload! There is just not enough time in any given day to be able to read through and comment on so many great blogs. I have been able to find sites that appeal to all my tastes in reading: vampire, mystery, thriller, Young Adults and general reviews, just to name a few.

And the give-away - OMG, I have signed up for several, but there are so many!"

Bobbi at BOBBI'S BOOK NOOK, you've won a copy of WILD THING by Mike Harrison. This is the second Eddie Dancer book, a trade paperback from ECW Press in Toronto, Canada. I reviewed it last year and it's a tight, suspenseful, thriller. Please email me with your snail mail addy so I can get it off to you soon!

Tomorrow's the last day for BBAW, so make sure you check out the link from Day One and get in on the last of the Giveaways!

Oh, for those of you wondering, that pic up top is one of the two rivers that run through Winnipeg, my home town. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER BOGART, BLOGGER OF "QUIVER FULL FAMILY"

As promised, here's my interview with Jennifer Bogart. Her site's at QUIVER FULL FAMILY

1) Jennifer, I know from reading your blog you're a homeschooling mom as well as an avid reader and book reviewer. I have family members who've also homeschooled their children. What is it about homeschooling that makes it so special for both the parent/teacher, and their children?

Even before we had children we wanted to keep them at home with us! Raising and teaching our own wee ones is vitally important, and a major goal for our family. I love seeing the spark of understanding as they grasp new concepts, and listening to them pick up new vocabulary from our read alouds. They are also able to have rich and vibrant multi-age relationships with us as their parents, and with their other siblings. Now that we are Christian’s we believe that one of the most important tasks that our Lord has given us is to disciple and raise our children to love, know and serve Him! When we homeschool our children it makes the task much easier – we can point them to God and His wonders in even the smallest incidents throughout the day.

2) Do you pre-review or pre-read the books you use for homeschooling your children?

Some I do, some I don’t. If I pre-read everything we intend to use, wow, I don’t think we’d ever get any schooling done! Most of the read-alouds we just dive into, and I try to verbally edit as I read if I find some inappropriate content. Sometimes I miss inappropriate content, and then we need to thoroughly discuss what we’ve just encountered. My husband and I do skim through spines, such as history texts that we are evaluating for future use in our homeschool.

3) What kinds of books do you like to review? What are your favourite genres?

Through my blog I review mainly Christian titles, but through my work as a writer for http://blogcritics.org I also review secular titles that pique my interest – children’s books, knitting, poetry and others that catch my eye. I’d love to review more homeschooling books and curriculum, and just this morning I learned that I’ve been selected as part of a group through The Old Schoolhouse that may allow me to offer more reviews geared towards homeschooling parents. I love to review children’s books, and always read them aloud with my little ones first. I also adore Christian fiction that guides readers into self-examination and a closer walk with the Lord, and well-written Christian non-fiction.

4) Do you review any books a publisher/author/friend sends to you, or are there some kinds of books you'd turn away with a "thanks, but no thanks"?

I’m just now coming to the point where I am having to turn down titles that are offered to me. I receive some emails from publicists that don’t require a response, I’m just on their list, and some of those I definitely let slide. There are so many books available to review that unless I am passionately interested, chances are I’ll pass on it. Because I review many Christian titles, I am sometimes put onto the general ‘spirituality’ mailing list for reviews, so I get some pretty off-the-wall book offers in my inbox. I definitely don’t review books that encourage New Age beliefs (been there, done that), because they just wouldn’t be edifying for me. I’m also not a big romance, horror/thriller reader, and am choosey on my fantasy/science fiction.

5) Do you have any formal relationship with publishers who ask you to review their books full-time, or part-time?

I have had one publisher open up the doors to pick and choose from their titles, and that has been a real blessing! I need to get more of their books read! I’m not sure if this counts as a formal relationship though. I have dreams of a Christian publisher offering me a stipend to review books for them full time...ah....bliss.

6) What is your favourite book you've reviewed in the past six months?

Hmmm, I definitely have a few top picks. I’ve only been reviewing for around that long! I’d have to say...oh this is a hard choice, I have around three favourites! Let’s go with A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. It’s the first book in the Mark of the Lion series. I’m a Rivers addict now!

7) Have you ever thought about writing a book yourself?

Of course! Who hasn’t? As a child my family and the schools I attended encouraged me to write. I was pulled from Math for special ‘writing time’ sessions (sadly, I’m still Math challenged), chosen to attend writing conferences for youth etc. Unfortunately this just seemed to push me further from writing, and for years I wrote...nothing. Writing book reviews and blogging has me writing more than I ever have, and is such a high-reward way to write. Pieces are short and focused, so you have instant satisfaction when you’re done! I don’t think I’m very good at waiting for delayed gratification.

My husband thinks it would be great if we could one day write a family memoir of our off-grid, homesteading adventures in faith. Maybe after the children are grown?

8) What genre would you write in, if you could wave a wand and have a book typed up and out of your computer?

I love accurate Biblical fiction, whether it’s written for children and young adults or an adult reading audience. If a book has a strong basis on the historical aspects clearly covered in the Bible and then goes on to add cultural details and richly developed characters, I’m hooked . If I could crank one of those out, I’d be delighted.


9) Who're some of your favourite authors?

I’d have to say Francine Rivers (see above!), Angela Hunt, Jerry Jenkins has shot up to make the list with his recent title – Riven, Dave and Neta Jackson for their Christian biographies for young readers, the Bluedorn family for their wonderful picture books and homeschooling resources, Max Lucado’s children’s books. I still have a lot of exploring to do in terms of authors. I had actually taken a long sabbatical from reading (other than the Bible) after we got saved a couple of years ago. Now I’m busy learning about the many Christian authors and genres available. I’m sure I’ll have many more favourites by this time next year.

10) What books are in your *personal* TBR pile right now?

Personal TBR pile?! What’s that? ;) I do have one actually, but it is even more vast than my reviewing TBR pile. It’s cross-over, because I try to review books I’d normally enjoy in any case, most of my reviewing pile could cross-over into my personal TBR pile in an instant. It would actually be easier to tell you what we’ve read recently from the pile: Stuart Little by E.B. White (what an odd little book), An Echo in the Darkness (Mark of the Lion #2) by Francine Rivers – loved it, working on A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming – terribly convicting.

Here are a few titles from my personal TBR pile: The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace, Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl, Walking the Bible by Bruce Feller, my oldest daughter has added A is for Adam by Ken and Mally Ham to the up next list for her. It’s a BIG pile, even larger than my review TBR pile! I still buy books for myself and my family. What can I say? I’m a bibliophile, and I think it’s catching!

Thanks for trading interviews with me Laurie, I’m so excited to be a part of BBAW!

THIS JUST IN....


As part of Book Bloggers Appreciation Week, we're taking turns interviewing each other to find out more about the people behind the blogs. Sometime today or tomorrow, you can read Jennifer Bogart's interview of me at her site QUIVER FULL FAMILY. Jennifer also runs a book review blog, and I'll have her interview with me up shortly.

Also, I hope you're checking in daily at the OFFICIAL BBAW GIVEAWAY LIST and entering for fabulous prizes - not just books! Spa finds, chocolates, teas, goodies galore!

Stay tuned for Jennifer Bogart's interview, and be sure to click on her site to check out her interview with me. (you may learn some things you didn't know about me, or you may learn some things you wish you hadn't, lol!) I appreciate Jennifer taking the time to team up with me.

BBAW - DAY THREE


Good morning, all! I hope you're finding your way around My Friend Amys Blog, which I posted on Day One, and having fun checking out all the participating bloggers.

Here's what Christine had to say about why she reads book reviews:

"A hundred words! Boy howdy.

I read book reviews because I read books -- and thus I like to keep abreast of what's happening in the book world. Did I miss a new release by a favourite author? That book I've had my eye on in the shop -- is it wonderful or terrible? I read reviews because I love the conversations they can open up about people's favourite (or un-favourite) books.

I also read reviews because I write them as well, and I like to compare myself with others whose words I read (in a gentle way, of course)."

Congratulations, Christine, you've won a copy of ALL SHOOK UP, by Mike Harrison. It's the first "Eddie Dancer" PI novel and I reviewed it last year. I *loved* it! Here's the back blurb:

"ALL SHOOK UP is a fast-paced, hard-edged, energetic page-turner featuring Eddie Dancer - Canada's newest and toughest private eye. Two years as a city cop have convinced Eddie- the kind of guy who might have learned his craft with Robert B. Parker's Spenser, Robert Crais' Elvis Cole, or Lawrence Sanders Archy McNally - he's better off working for himself. When he's hired to track down a tough, professional bank robber, Eddie has no idea he's about to pry the lid off a very nasty can of worms - worms who will stop at nothing to put him in the ground. Running up against a pair of disgraced ex-bikers, he uncovers a macabre connection between them and the "fate worse than death" that has befallen many of the city's hookers. The unexplained attacks leave the women, irreversibly, in a vegetative state - evidence of a conspiracy that stretches from the back streets and tattoo parlors to the very top of the prison system food chain. Can Dancer's closest friend, Danny Many Guns, save him from the "fate worse than death"? Or will the bad guys finally get their revenge and leave Eddie All Shook Up?

This is a trade paperback published by ECW Press in Toronto, Canada. I loved it, and I'll be giving away another Eddie Dancer book tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

BBAW- DAY TWO


This is our second submission for our Giveaways, and I appreciate this ladys' honesty. Even reading a page or two a day can help with depression. I hope you are able to cope with life soon! You've won Kathy Reichs book CROSS BONES,a story about Temperance Brennan's visit to the Middle East to work on a site which may contain ossuaries of the family of Jesus. Congratulations, and I'll be in touch to get your snail mail addy.


"I read book reviews because I am a avid reader and it's important to me to try and pick the very best books I can, to keep me reading. Reading is therapy to me since suffering from severe depression and I don't ever want to get frustrated in my reading. That's why I go on these book blogs to see what books are coming out and what people are saying about them. I have found so many wonderful books this way and it has enhanced the way I buy books. I am almost always happy with the books I've purchased from reading book reviews."

To everyone else, make sure you take time today to check on the ongoing Giveaways and goodies offered at the link I posted yesterday!

Monday, September 15, 2008

IT'S SEPTEMBER 15TH! BOOK BLOGGER APPRECIATION WEEK


BOOK BLOGGER APPRECIATION WEEK is to celebrate all the Blogs that review books, and give back to our readers who faithfully follow our Blogs and take our advice on the books we find that just have to be added to your TBR pile. We're celebrating the wonderful authors who continue to thrill us, educate us, and leave us breathless with "happily ever after" endings.

This is the first post from last week which I feel best expresses reader's sentiments about reading reviews:

"I love to read book reviews because there are so many books out there that I wouldn't find otherwise. I love to read a book's preview, but reading another's review is often times beneficial too because you get to see the book from a different perspective than the straight cut blurb view.

Additionally, I love browsing the book blogs because you meet lots of great people who have the same reading tastes as yourself. Reading someone's review helps me connect with them because I can understand more about the person and how they relate to the books that they read."

Rebekah

Congratulations, Rebekah! You've won Kathy Reichs BREAK NO BONES. Please send me your snail mail addy so I can send it to you, and thank you for participating in our special week!

Check out the list of Book Bloggers who have GIVEAWAYS this week at MY FRIEND AMY. There's a list of participating Bloggers, the GIVEAWAYS, and there'll be Awards each day to the Best Blog in the categories I posted last week.

Friday, September 12, 2008

AN UPCOMING AUTHOR CHAT....

A reader left me this note:

"Abunga.com is a family-friendly bookstore and is hosting an online chat with Dillon Burroughs and Marla Alupoaicei to discuss "Generation Hex" on Wednesday September 17th from 2-3 EDT. Please join us if you can at Abunga.com/AuthorsAtAbunga. You will be able to ask authors questions directly to help you learn more and speak with others about it."

I hope you can join in the chat and "speak" directly to these two wonderful authors who've done so much research in to Wicca and pagan religions.

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON.....


Thank you to those who've left comments for my BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST that starts Monday, Sept.15th. You still have till midnight to answer the question "I read book reviews because...".

I'll also be posting a list of the winners in each Blogging Category next week, as well as some of the great Blogs you can visit during the week to round out your personal Blogosphere. I've met lots of wonderful women working up to next week's celebration.

If you haven't yet picked up WRITER'S DIGEST, or THE WRITER for September, I urge you to run out to your favourite book store and grab some copies. Debbie Macomber has an article in WRITER'S DIGEST entitled "How To Spot Trends". There's an interview with Tess Gerritsen in THE WRITER called "Building On The First Draft". There's something to be said for adding some general inspiration to your writing craft reading!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

LEADING UP TO BOOK BLOGGER APPRECIATION WEEK


Many of you know that I've regularly reviewed books here, and I love putting out the word on new and exciting authors and their books. In honour of BBAW, or BOOK BLOGGER APPRECIATION WEEK, I'm giving a book a day away to one lucky person who comments here. The comments will be saved up till the BBAW WEEK of September 15-19th, and I'll post the best, more humourous, most thoughtful, most helpful, comments each day. :)

All you have to do is start your comment with:

I READ BOOK REVIEWS BECAUSE...

What am I giving away? I'm glad you asked...

"Break No Bones" by Kathy Reich
"Cross Bones" by Kathy Reich
"All Shook Up - an Eddy Dancer Mystery" by Mike Harrison
"Wild Thing - an Eddy Dancer Mystery" by Mike Harrison (the sequel)
"Dirty Sweet" by John McFetridge

They're all gently used, and the last three mysteries are books I've actually reviewed on this site, if you check back in my archives.

I want to support fellow bloggers who a) review books regularly, and b) the suspense/mystery authors out there who make our lives happier by thrilling us with fear, intense emotion, and well-written, wicked tales of the human condition.

So, I'm accepting your 100 word comments till Saturday, September 13th, and hopefully you'll participate and win a great book. Cheers!

Monday, September 01, 2008

GENERATION HEX...by Dillon Burroughs and Marla Alupoaicei



When I got the chance to review GENERATION HEX, I jumped on it. One, because my knowledge of Wicca, or "white witchcraft" is next to nil, and two, because I wanted to see how realistic and detailed a Christian book would be about the subject of "witchcraft". Historically, the two religions haven't exactly met in the middle. I wanted to read the book for myself to see if two Christian authors could write a book that was authentic, non-judgemental, and easy for the average person to understand, when they don't know much about paranormal, or so-called "occult" subjects.



The book is called GENERATION HEX because the current teenage generation has been bombarded by information about the occult and "witchcraft" (there are various things which pass for witchcraft, as you'll read in the book). The media/TV is filled with shows: Medium, Ghost Whisperer, Reaper, to name a few. I was a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fanatic myself when the show was on - at least until the last two seasons when things just got plain weird with Buffy and Spike, and Angel was out of the picture. However, the importance of that show was that Buffy's best friend, Willow, became a "witch", cast spells, invoked demons, and took Buffy's little sister under her wing to indoctrinate her as well.



When I was a teenager in the 1970's, the occult was becoming very mainstream after John Lennon and other celebrities brought it in to the open during the 1960's. I owned a ouiji board, Tarot cards (and regularly gave readings to friends - whether they meant anything beyond fun I highly doubt), crystals, books on reincarnation - in fact, I won a public speaking contest using reincarnation as my subject. My friends thought these things were all normal and everyday, and so did my parents. Although we went to an Anglican church, they also regularly read books on clairvoyance, Edgar Cayce (a famous clairvoyant at the turn of the century), astral travelling, telepathy, and meditation through "spirit guides". All of these books were freely available to my sisters and I to read, and I admit we were better versed in all manners of the occult, then we were in what the Anglican church taught and stood for.



Hence my interest in reviewing a book about Wicca and witchcraft. While I've spurned the occult and the hold it had on me in the past, I'm sensitive to how Christians deal with others of different religions, and beliefs. There's nothing I hate worse than a judgemental Christian. Although we all should know what we believe about God, His son Jesus Christ, and what salvation is, that should also mean that we're able to examine what others believe, so we can relate to them in a positive way and share what we have to offer in Jesus.



I'm happy to say that GENERATION HEX: Understanding the Subtle Dangers of Wicca lays out the Wiccan belief system, how many Wiccan "churches" or "covens" there are, historical facts, and how the "subtle dangers" of allowing teens to see these things as normal is detrimental to a Christian worldview or lifestyle. At no time did the authors put down Wiccans, pass judgement, or say anything that would prevent an intelligent person having from having a conversation with a person who practices Wicca.



I'm not going to repeat their highlights here - you need to read the book to get the information. But at 176 pages, it's a fast read and easy to assimilate. It makes it easy for parents to talk to their teens about what they're thinking, or doing with friends at school, when their teens start drawing pentacles on their notebooks, and making "altars" of flowers, crystals, and candles in their bedrooms.



Wicca is the fastest growing religion in the world - faster than the rise of Islam. When my mother-in-law worked in a maximum security prison, she made regular "appointments" for male and female Wiccans (or witches, as some of them prefered to be called) to meet with prisoners who asked for them. This religion was the first on her list of requests, beating out requests for Muslim clerics, any Christian denomination, or Jehovah Witnesses. It behooves all of us to educate ourselves about something this powerful, because it affects families, friends, and people our children may encounter through school or sports clubs.

I encourage everyone who has a young person in their life to read this book. Learn the truth about Wiccan beliefs, and how confused teens usually are about what they're finding on the Internet. Dillon Burroughs and Marla Alupoaicei have done a fantastic job in researching and interviewing at least 20 practising Wiccans for this book. Please enjoy my interview with them below:

GENERATION HEX: THE BOOK

Where did you get the idea for the book?

Dillon: I had already worked on three world religion books where I had included some material on Wicca. However, most of my research showed most people were either unaware of Wicca or were misinformed. I thought a book that included talking with Wiccans and sharing what they had to say before comparing it to my faith made the most sense. Our publisher, located in Eugene, Oregon, is in a very strong Wiccan community and saw the need for the project. We did our homework on the proposal and after sharing our passion for it at a meeting during ICRS in 2007, were offered a contract in less than 30 days.

Marla: Dillon asked me to partner with him on the book to provide the female perspective on Wicca and to interview women who are involved in the practice.

What are the major themes of the book?

Dillon: It’s simply one, two: “What is Wicca?” and “What Should I Do about Wicca?” In 176 pages, we cover the basic of what Wicca is, why it matters, and how to influence those involved in it with the love of Christ. I guess you could say it’s part awareness, part outreach.

Marla: Each chapter addresses a different element of Wicca or witchcraft. We talk about Harry Potter and other media and their influence, the history of Wicca and witchcraft in America (including the Salem witch trials), the practices of Wicca, what Wiccans believe, how you can share the gospel with a Wiccan, how Wicca is spreading on college campuses, what Wiccans believe about the God and the Goddess, and much more.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book?

Dillon: Marla and I stopped by Barnes and Noble one day and took notes from every Wicca book on the shelf. We got a lot of weird looks! We read hundreds of pages of online content and magazines. We interviewed over 20 people involved or formerly involved in Wicca. I read every conceivable publication on Wicca, both by Christians and Wiccans. It has been my toughest book to write so far because I became part-researcher and part-journalist in seeking out personal stories from people on the inside.

Marla: We did quite a bit of research at libraries, on the Internet, at bookstores, and personally. We interviewed many Wiccans personally and read at least 20-30 books on the subject.

How did you decide to co-author a book together?

Dillon: Marla and I have known each other for years (since she’s my sister-in-law). We are both from Indiana and both attended Dallas Seminary. Both writers, we’ve spoken often about trying to do a book together at some point. Generation Hex provided a need in which I required a female voice to really relate with and understand the females involved in Wicca. Marla’s theological skills and writing abilities were a perfect fit.

Marla: Dillon asked me to co-author the book. We’ve talked about writing a book together for some time, and this one turned out to be a natural fit.

What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

Dillon: My overarching goal is that people who practice Wicca will experience the love of Jesus. This requires helping Christians understand the point of view of Wiccans, promote positive friendships between Christians and Wiccans, and provide examples and ideas of how to share Christ with those involved with Wicca. We’ve already seen some Wiccans turn to faith in Christ through our book, which lets us know God is already at work in accomplishing this goal.

Marla: The ultimate goal is to magnify Jesus Christ and to give people involved in Wicca/witchcraft the opportunity to come to a saving faith in Jesus. Secondly, we want to educate and equip Christians to know what Wicca is and what it is NOT so that we can teach our children about it, be aware of this powerful spiritual trend, and share God’s truth in a gracious way with those caught up in the practice of witchcraft.

Where are you headed next?

Marla: I just submitted the final manuscript for my next book, flow: Inspiring Devos for the Creative Soul (Regal Books, 2009). I am working with the president of East-West Ministries to get one of his books, The Call for Courage, written/edited and ready for publication, and I also am going to be starting on a new book on intercultural marriage called Taking the Intercultural Leap for Moody Publishing that is due on January 15, 2009. So I’ve got lots of books in the pipeline!

Dillon: In 2005, I had zero books in print. In January 2009, my 20th book will be released. People ask me how I do it. All I can say is that I do the book that’s due next. It’s all God.

Thank you for sharing with us today! For those of you who want to learn more about the authors, you can check out DILLON and MARLA at their home sites.
To find GENERATION HEX, click on AMAZON.COM. Check out AN EXCERPT here.
Others who are participating in this Blog Tour are:

A Peek at My Bookshelf
Aspire2 Blog
Be My Guest
Bible Dude
Blog Tour Spot
Book Room Reviews
Camy’s Loft
Christy’s Book Blog
read DB
Fictionary
Footprints in the Sand
From the desk of Flutecrafter
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
Good Word Editing
His Reading List
i don’t believe in grammar
iamhealed.net
In the Dailies
Leap of Faith
Lift My Noise
Lighthouse Academy
L’Chaim
Morehead’s Musings
Mystery, Suspense, and God, Oh My!
One Voice in a Big World
Portrait of a Writer . . . Interrupted
Quiverfull Family
Reality Motherhood
Refresh My Soul
Reiter’s Block
The Friendly Book Nook
The Reel Katie Morgan
The Sosbee Story
Wide Eyed Fiction
Windows to my Soul
Write by Faith

I hope you find this book as enlightening as I did!