Monday, 17 September 2007

CSFF Tour: THE RETURN by Austin Boyd

This book was almost impossible to put down, which certainly made it easy to get through at high speed – which was good, since I got it just last weekend and hurried to read it in time for the blog tour. At first I was skeptical of “just another astronaut story”, but this one is anything but.

A far-reaching tale of bravery versus deception – story strands run through Earth and Mars, looking through the eyes of various characters scene by scene. We are plunged straight into the action, and although this is the third book in the series, it didn’t bother me at all that I haven’t read the first two – this one is complete in itself, and contains snippets of backstory as the characters remember prior events.

Admiral John Wells and his team are hard at work on the Mars base, and he is dealing with the loss of his family six years previously. The discovery of a mysterious second Mars base and its connections to a fertility cult are enough to occupy the NASA astronauts’ attention. Meanwhile, that cult’s leader on Earth is gearing up to fulfill his twisted dreams, spoken to him by a bodiless voice – and the fate of hundreds of teenage girls is in the balance.

This is not your usual astronaut story. It’s filled to bursting with unusual happenings and peculiar inventions – such as a tooth transmitter, an interactive virtual copy of a dead man, an alien hoax, messages in garden patterns, surprise appearances, fresh vegetables and a wagon train on Mars, and an international chase back on Earth. The topic of clones is also very well handled, showing that each is an individual soul even though their bodies are identical.

It’s a space tale with real warmth, humanity, and spirituality. Unlike the Apollo 13 brand of story that depicts space as empty and brutal, Mars is described as a good place to be, and the people living there change and grow through the pages just like the people on Earth. Occasionally you’ll need a fairly big stretch of the imagination to accept the outcome of particular situations, but that’s only a minor niggle and for me, made the whole ride a lot more fun with its unexpected twists and hitherto hidden opportunities. Yes, this story is about space exploration, but first and foremost it’s about people, about hope, and about the ultimate victory of good over evil. Expect the unexpected!

Take a closer look at the book's Amazon page here:

Other participants on this tour: Trish Anderson Brandon Barr Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton Lisa Cromwell CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis D. G. D. Davidson Janey DeMeo Merrie Destefano or Alien Dream Jeff Draper April Erwin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Christopher Hopper Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Rachel Marks Karen McSpadden Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen John W. Otte Lyn Perry Deena Peterson Rachelle Cheryl Russel Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz James Somers Steve Trower Speculative Faith Laura Williams Timothy Wise

And by the way... Today, my first-ever author interview has been published! You can check it out here: Lena Nelson Dooley's Blog - anyone leaving a comment there will be in to win a free copy of my book.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Name That Planet!

I'm writing a new novel with the working title "The Saga of the Seven Planets". The first planet is called Monday, and our hero and heroine escape from slavery there to go on an epic journey. As you've noticed, there are seven planets in total.

The planets are based roughly on the seven days of Creation in Genesis, but I don't want to name them all after days of the week - the analogy falls down at some point.

So can you help me?

Here's a list of the planets and their individual qualities:
1 - Monday; cloud-covered, chilly, only day and night, slave planet
2 - Airless rock, our heroes stop here for a short time to rest - doesn't necessarily need a name
3 - Oceania, air and water, no land masses

Here are the ones I really need help with:
4 - Plant life, tropical forest, loads of fruit; here our heroes meet the villain, who nearly keeps them from travelling on
5 - Like 4, but with birds and fish; here our heroes fight with temptation and nearly have an immoral scene
6 - Highly refined culture and technology; various races and cities with different characteristics; here our heroes visit many places and learn about racial diversity
7 - a holy planet, visited often by pilgrims from 6. Home of the Great King who sent our heroes on the journey.

So get your thinking caps on! The best suggestions will win either a Faith Awakened mousepad, or a Faith Awakened soundtrack CD.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Jack Stinson's "High Street" - an interview with the author

This week the CFRB is hosting a tour for the book "High Street" by Jack Stinson. I read it some weeks ago and then sent some questions to Jack - here are his answers:

What was your motivation for writing High Street? What got you started?
The story came to me as I was working with the homeless in an inner-city church ministry here in Columbus. I saw several young men and women (really boys and girls) that were only 18 or 19 and already so very messed up because of very poor decisions and the traps of the enemy. I wanted to tell that story.

Which target audience did you have in mind as you wrote? Has this changed since then?
The target was Christians and non-Christians. Everyone. No, that hasn't changed. I'll explain more in the next answer.

What do you want to accomplish with this book? How do you hope it will affect your readers?
I want to write fiction that causes the non-Christian think about the more important things in life: God, death, and the truth of life. In this particular story, I also wanted to make Christians understand how easy it can be to get hurt in this world. Sometimes we get very judgemental about people 'deserving' their situations. I wanted a main character that Christians would 'root for'. Also, I hope that it will make Christians more aware of how they can help others. (Also, if you're a teenage Christian or the parent of one, I hope it scares you a little...I hope that's OK!)

Your book is completely without spelling mistakes. Even bestsellers usually have a few! How did you do it?
A Christian editor in my church did a good edit on the final manuscript for me, and then my wife and daughter proofread it a couple of times each. It was a lot of hard work.

Tell me about your publisher, Infinity. I haven't heard of them before. How did you find them, or did they find you?
Infinity is a wonderful publisher for those going the self-published route -- I found them searching on the Web. I was given proof copies of the draft book to check...I was able to say what I wanted on the cover and then have changes made after I got the proof book. They charge a reasonable price both for their service and for the books later. I'm quite happy. I just had a book of short fiction, Hard Pursuit, published with them this summer and everything went great.

I see you live in Columbus yourself, where the book is also set. Does this mean that the places described are in fact real locations - the homeless shelters, the churches, the colleges, the woods, the motels, and of course High Street?
Yes. High Street is a very well known street here in Columbus. When I first went to college here years ago (at Devry Institute of Technology) I was not a Christian at the time. I went to those college bars... Later, during my last year of college, I was back around those college bars on High Street passing out Christian tracts with other Christians. Then much later (several states, two children, and two decades) I was helping in a church ministry going to the Open Shelter, Faith Mission, and so on. The church and the college were not real, but everything else was. The bridge on the cover is the bridge that Jamie walked many times in the story.

Your book has been described as a modern-day Prodigal Son story. But yours has a different ending. How come?
I've been asked that many times...some folks were shocked by the ending and it took them a while to decide that they really liked it... All I can say is that this is the story that came to me. It was the story that I wanted to write. I actually wrote the last page first, then went back and wrote the other 85,000 words...

Jamie's absence seems to cause a change to his family's spiritual life. How do you intend this apparent cause-and-effect to come across to your readers?
So many times it takes something bad or traumatic to make people think of God. I don't like the bad or traumatic things...but that's how it is so often.

Check out other posts at CFRB Central!