September 23rd, 2010
Both of these are excellent books, and both are fun to read. Venom & Song is the CSFF Blog Tour book for next week, and THE SKIN MAP is planned for October’s CSFF Blog Tour.
And … in the October tour, I will be giving away a FREE COPY of THE SKIN MAP!
I had purchased a copy for myself when Stephen Lawhead’s BRIGHT EMPIRES TREASURE HUNT kicked into gear, and I was the thankful person to solve clue #7 here in St. Louis and find ANOTHER copy of THE SKIN MAP! This one unlocked clue #8 so the hunt could continue.
The amazing thing is, of all the clues so far, only clue #7 has to do with King Arthur! This means that I had to solve an Arthurian referenced riddle to solve the clue. Here it is:
King Arthur and his knights were chivalrous and true. Since 1953, on Ladue, the administration of this academy has hoped that the same can be said for their young scholars. Come to the place in St. Lou where Merlin and Arthur and Gawain tell their tales. Go to the main desk and ask the people there whether they think it’s possible to pull a sword from a stone.
(Note his contribution to John Piper and Wayne Grudem’s book, RECOVERING BIBLICAL MANHOOD AND WOMANHOOD. Also, through research, I was able to ascertain that George W. Knight III graduated from college in 1953.)
I was providentially designed to solve this clue, having in the past been a member of John Piper’s church when I lived in Minnesota, and also having a friend in fellow author L.B. Graham, who teaches at Westminster Christian Academy here in St. Louis.
The funny thing is that the contact person (not L.B.) for the treasure hunt at Westminster Christian Academy didn’t understand the directions and had failed to drop it off at the Knight Library.
It took me three trips to the academy, interspersed with visits to Panera Bread Co. for internet access, before they located the free book and I was able to unlock the next clue.
So … come back next week for the VENOM & SONG book tour, as well as next month for THE SKIN MAP book tour and a chance to win a free copy!
And, Lord willing, I’m going to get my treasure hunt copy of THE SKIN MAP signed by Lawhead himself next week when I go to the Laity Lodge Writers Retreat. I’m pinching myself.
August 25th, 2010
Having loved the tales of King Arthur since childhood, I can say without a doubt that Merlin’s Blade is a fabulous reimagining of the legends. This book ensnared me in a manner fiction has rarely been able to do. The characterization was deep, the plot imaginative and unpredictable, the villains made me cringe, and the heroes I loved. I’m a critical reader . . . but Merlin’s Blade is a classic I will add to my shelf of favorites. I highly recommend this book and anticipate its sequels!
August 22nd, 2010
This interview is SO excellent that I decided to post this before I even finished reading it!
The greatest thing is that he talks about the method he uses to write his books, as well as gives some great insights into his latest novel … The Skin Map, book 1 of the Bright Empires series, published by Thomas Nelson.
Also, he talks about coffee … and yes, it does have to do with his latest novel!
August 5th, 2010
This is an article I wrote for the Holy Worlds website, and I thought I should finally post it here, updated a bit.
Keep in mind that although I directly speak about fantasy novels—being an unpublished author of a fantasy—what I say applies equally to other genres of fiction.
So here it is:
What is Christian Fantasy?
A Definition and a Challenge
From the pen of Robert Treskillard
As I endeavor to define what is meant by the term “Christian fantasy”, the task reminds me of angling for catfish. When I was a kid in Minnesota, my brother caught a catfish, and I was amazed at its foot long, very thick girth. But that did not prepare me for catfish Missouri style. In Missouri, they don’t fish for catfish, they noodle for catfish.
Now noodling is, to say it mildly, a very personal way to catch a fish. What you do is this. You find yourself a stream, climb down into the water, find a hole in the bank, and stick your bare arm in it up to the shoulder. Now, mind, you’ve no idea what’s in the hole. Down here, it could be a poisonous snake or a snapping turtle!
What you are hoping for is that the hole is actually the mouth of a catfish. If so, you grab the inside of the fish, and pull the fish out. And we’re not talking little, teensy, tap-dancing, foot long catfish here. They can be 100 pound, four foot monsters that can actually eat your arm. Well, at least you’ve got it by the, you know, gills and guts, so I guess you win. Anyway, I’ve seen pictures of these fish and, needless to say, I’ve never been tempted to go noodling.
So that’s my first impression of trying to define Christian Fantasy: it’s far bigger than I can imagine, and I’m going to have to wrestle it out of its hole to get it into the light of day.
July 23rd, 2010
I finished working through Tegid’s excellent edits this last week, fixed up the cover image last night … and just placed an order for twelve copies of MERLIN’S BLADE!
Most of these are for securing endorsements, but a few are for friends.
Also, I am 100% through my edits on MERLIN’S SHADOW, so I should hopefully begin writing new material very soon!
July 18th, 2010
Yes it’s true.
I had just finished entering all the (beyond-excellent) edits that Tegid had given me for Merlin’s Blade, when the mailman dropped off the last 125 pages sent by Tegid (thanks!) … and the first professionally printed copy of Merlin’s Blade!
And no … for those of you new here … I am not self-publishing. This is a proof copy for the sake of verifying my formatting and cover prior to printing up copies to send out for endorsement.
And no … I don’t have a publisher … yet. My hope is that the endorsements will help in that process.
Anyway … here are the pictures!
Printed in 6x9 format, the book is officially 423 pages, not including the three maps.
Most of the endorsement copies will be softcover, but I printed up a hardcover for my own personal proof copy.
And its good I printed a proof copy because the background graphic of the cover turned out too dark. I need to figure out a way to lighten it up. It’s possible that the gloss coating made it darker.
Also… the endorsement copies I print will have Tegid’s edits. Thanks for helping Merlin’s Blade be the cleanest it has ever been, Tegid! Which means the copy that arrived today has many mistakes in it.
But despite that, this is still a historic moment in my four-year odyssey writing this book. Thank you, Lord!
July 9th, 2010
I’ve been waiting quite awhile to announce that I’ll be attending the fall writing retreat at Laity Lodge, and that’s been hard to hide since it’s such big news.
Why did I wait to announce it? Because until this last Tuesday, I didn’t know if I was even going. And that uncertainty was after I had registered, paid to go and even bought an airline ticket. The hold-up?
I had a major commitment beginning the same night that the retreat began … and that commitment would continue for the days following. I simply failed to realize the two coincided.
Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.
Thankfully my gracious boss rescheduled everything, allowing me to go. There were other reasons for the new schedule, and that helped, but I am still very appreciative for his understanding. Especially considering that my writing is a hobby, rightfully taking second place to my day job, which I enjoy.
So what is this writing retreat? Nothing less than three days spent in a small class of ten taught by Jeffrey Overstreet, author of Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and the upcoming The Ale Boy’s Feast.
And the kicker? Stephen R. Lawhead will also be there the whole time, and I’m scheduled ot have a 45 minute appointment with him to go over my writing.
Big Wow. Stephen Lawhead is the author that redeemed fantasy fiction for me.
I grew up as a non-Christian, reading lots of fantasy and science-fiction. I also played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, even starting a club in my junior high school. When I became a Christian in ninth grade I left it all behind, auctioning off all my D&D equipment and books.
My friends thought I was nuts, but I was in love with Jesus Christ, and D&D had taken me down some bad paths.
Fourteen years later (married to my wonderful wife, Robin, with two kids), enter Stepehn Lawhead and his excellent Paradise War, book 1 of The Song of Albion.
This was, and is, Christian Fantasy at its best.
Everything changed for me. Amazed, I saw in his writing how fantasy could communicate spiritual truths in ways a sermon could not.
I also began to percieve afresh the Christian literary legacy of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, the latter to which I indirectly owe my salvation.
But it would still be another ten years before I picked up my own quill, having read Stephen Lawhead’s excellent Pendragon Cycle and his other books in the meantime.
In a flash of inspiration one night lying in bed, a story came to me that has now become Merlin’s Blade:
Why would someone thrust a sword into a stone?
What if the stone itself was the darkest enemy?
And to top it off, I would have missed the whole retreat and not even known about it if not for a tip from Tegid. All I can do is say “Thanks, Tegid” for letting me know about the retreat and SRL’s presence there, as well as for your encouragement to me as a writer. A dream coming true!
Besides fiction writing, there will be courses on poetry, song-writing, and non-fiction spiritual writing. Stephen Lawhead’s wife, Alice will also be team-teaching on the business and personal sides of life as a writer.
I hope to meet Marcus Goodyear in person, who helped plan the retreat. So Marcus, if you’re going to be there (and I assume you will), I’m actually, actually coming—the Lord still willing, of course.
So there you have it … my two mystery authors:
- Jeffrey Overstreet, and
- Stephen Lawhead
I have no clue if they’ll have any time to look at the copy of Merlin’s Blade I will offer, but that is in the Lord’s hands.
I’m just grateful for the opportunity to learn from them how to improve my writing!
July 8th, 2010
Yes indeed—the first ever copy of Merlin’s Blade is rolling off the press right now , and will be sent to me in a week or two.
If this proof copy turns out as expected , then I will be ordering more copies to give to ten published authors I’ve met, as well as one friend, Tegid !
(Remember … I am NOT self-publishing Merlin’s Blade. These copies are purely for securing endorsements to increase my chances with a publisher such as P&R … remember my previous Big News #1?)
Here’s the complete list of authors:
- LB Graham
- Douglas Bond
- Scott Appleton
- Wayne Thomas Batson
- Christopher Hopper
- S.D. Smith
- Andrew Peterson
- Pete Peterson
- Mystery Author #1
- Mystery Author #2
LB lives here in St. Louis, and we attend the same church … LB … we need to get together soon!
Even though I’ll have to mail a copy to both Douglas Bond and Scott Appleton, I was able to spend time with each of them when they visited St. Louis … Scott in January, and Doug in June.
I’ll see Wayne and Christopher at the Curse of the Spider King party this coming October, so that’s going to be great fun!
S.D. Smith is being sent a copy for himself and one to share between Andrew Peterson and his fellow brother-author, Pete Peterson, whom he’ll meet at Hutchmoot 2010, which I’ll sadly miss.
As part of getting Merlin’s Blade ready to print … I have finished the cover art for the novel using Blender 2.5 Beta 2 and a lot of help from my son, Leighton! So … here it is … if you want to see it up close, click the image!
Keep in mind that this cover art is for my personal printing only … a publisher would probably want to do it differently. Either way, I have striven for as professional of a look as I can get given time constraints.
As well … here is a “desktop background wallpaper” version if you are interested in that. I removed the extraneous text from the image to make it more artsy and also reveal the graphic.
Oh … you’re wondering who Mystery Author #1 and #2 are? For that you’ll have to wait for Big News #3 … coming up soon!