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!
July 7th, 2010
Well … the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) has come and gone from my adopted hometown of St. Louis.
Once I heard that ICRS was coming to St. Louis, I had dreamed of going and meeting a publisher, but knew it was next to impossible since I was unpublished.
You see, in order to go you have to be either a Christian retailer, a publisher, an invited published author, a supplier, part of the media, or an agent.
For me that meant: impossible.
So I had given up hope of attending, and instead considered paying to be at the Christy Awards banquet.
But excellent historical author Douglas Bond contacted me to see if I could setup some book signings for him while he was in town for the show. Doug and I had met at last year’s Reformation Day Faire up in Peoria, IL, and he is a fellow P&R author with LB Graham.
And so I did, and by no effort of my own (honestly, I had tried this in January and had fallen on my face!), God setup two signings, and even provided Doug a telephone radio interview scheduled sometime in July!
And to say thanks, Doug got Ian Thompson, the VP of Marketing at P&R Publishing, to invite me out to dinner last Tuesday night. And Doug got me briefly onto the ICRS convention floor before we headed out, and so all I can do is marvel at God working on Doug’s behalf—as well as my own.
So Doug and Ian … thanks! It was an amazing answer to prayer for me, and I look forward to submitting Merlin’s Blade to P&R sometime in the upcoming months.
More on that in Big News #2 …
June 26th, 2010
It is told in the annals of the ancient days how it was their splendid horses that first brought the Elabaeans in to the knowledge of the men of Maruda. For in those days…
Thus begins the epic Tale of Manaeth , an excellent novella by Phillip Campbell. Reading it really did remind me of the Iliad, and other ancient lays told to recount the history of a land and its people, which was just as it says on the back cover:
Written in the epic style of such classics as the Iliad and the Silmarillion, the Tale of Manaeth tells the story of a young princess hesitantly thrust into a place of leadership among her people in the midst of a brutal war against a powerful foreign aggressor. Though hope is slim, through much suffering and many savage battles, she becomes a mighty and victorious queen and the foundress of a nation.
I would also agree that there is a similarity to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion, but it is more the style than the substance—there are no elves here, no dwarves, wizards, or supernatural gems. There is mystery, however, epic battles, an echo of ancient times long forgotten, all adding up to a fascinating tale well worth the reading.
The dedication of the book is to St. Joan of Arc, and this is fitting considering the inspiring story of Manaeth’s life and her unlikely leadership and victory against a strong and ruthless foe.
The first fifteen pages or so is mostly backstory … very important back story … so keep reading until the main story starts … you won’t be disappointed!
Also, there are lots and lots of characters in the story, dazzlingly so. But do not fear because, in epic style, you are reminded of who they are throughout the story so you don’t really need the glossary in the back of the book. If you get lost, though, it is good to know you can always refer to it.
I really must say that this book is a classic. Well written, with excellent pacing, Phillip has accomplished something remarkable here.
Recommended for all lovers of epic fantasy, assuming of course that you are 13 years or older!
And keep your eye out for book two in the series, Paladologies, hopefully coming out this summer.
To purchase Tale of Manaeth, click here.
June 25th, 2010
If you live in the St. Louis area, please come on out and meet Christian author Douglas Bond next week!
Douglas has written over fourteen books, many of them historical young adult novels. I first became acquainted with Doug when I read his Crown & Covenant series, with the novels Duncan’s War, King’s Arrow, and Rebel’s Keep. I was finally able to meet Doug in person last fall at the Reformation Day Faire up in Peoria, IL.
Here are the dates where he will be speaking and signing books:
Family Vision Library
(a free homeschool lending library)
St. Charles, MO
Monday, June 28th, 7pm
Family Christian Bookstore
Chesterfield Commons East (near Walmart in the valley off of THF Blvd.)
Tuesday, June 29th, 3pm
Doug has just released his latest young-adult novel, Guns of Providence, which takes place during the American Revolution, and he hopes to get an opportunity to talk about this at the book signings.
He is also the author of The Betrayal (about the life and times of John Calvin), and he is currently working on a new non-fiction book about John Knox.
Please pass the word on!
June 4th, 2010
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what the father wanted? “
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. “
This novel is unlike any I have ever read. Filled to the brim with hard-rock historical facts, yet conveyed in such a fascinating way through the eyes of John Calvin’s servant, Jean-Louise Mourin, that you must turn the pages to see what happens next.
Not only is the book written from an unsympathetic viewpoint in that Jean-Louise hates John Calvin, but he—as you may guess from the title—betrays John Calvin and his companions.
What Douglas Bond has accomplished here is downright amazing. The historical research alone must have taken many, many years, including traveling to all of the sites mentioned in the book. And then to write this novel in such an intriguing way …
Just one of the amazing things about this book is the faithful rendering of the words of John Calvin. Douglas Bond took great pains to make sure everything that John says is from his own writings. As he says in his note to the reader:
Though it is fiction, the reader may accept Calvin’s words in dialogues, sermons, discussions, and debates with confidence. In nearly all places where Calvin speaks, I have drawn and shaped his words from his letters, commentaries, Institutes, and other writings.
Wow! There were so many times while reading this book that I wanted to go and put up a Facebook wall-post with something John Calvin said! The only thing that kept me from doing this was knowing that his words were slightly changed for cohesion and grammatical accuracy, with altered tenses and pronouns. Let me just say that I was greatly encouraged by Calvin’s words, and am now encouraged to “go to the sources” for myself.
I now have a much better knowledge of, and much higher appreciation for John Calvin’s life and the struggles he endured to serve God in the midst of the tumultuous reformation in France, Germany, and Switzerland.
This book is highly recommended for teens on up!
May 22nd, 2010
I’ve decided to pick up Merlin’s Shadow once more, which currently stands at 156 solidly written pages. This is book 2 in The Merlin Spiral, and I would just love to fill out fresh pages with oodles of exciting prose and dialogue … except … ahem … alas …
… I want to delay writing fresh material for two reasons:
- I just finished editing book 1 to fix passive sentences … I need to do this to Merlin’s Shadow as well to make sure that these pages work well with what will follow.
- I desperately need to get myself back into the story after having spent almost four months with Merlin’s Blade. Editing will accomplish that nicely.
So … I’m not writing anything new yet, but I am accomplishing something and laying the ground work for new writing.
Based on my speed while editing Merlin’s Blade, the editing process shouldn’t take more than a month. My sidebar will reflect my progress.
Also … I will be printing up some personal copies of Merlin’s Blade !
These will NOT be for sale.
Let me repeat that: these are not for sale.
They are for the purpose of handing out to a few published author friends to entice them to read it … in hopes of getting a real recommendation to an agent or publisher.
As part of this, I want as professional of a cover as possible, so Leighton and I have been working on putting together a kicker of a book cover using Blender 3D.
So far the results are absolutely spectacular, and I hope to add parts of this graphic to my website soon.
Be on the lookout!