Tuesday, 27 November 2007

I love Stephen Lawhead.


Seriously. There’s no other author on the planet who has contributed so much to my daydreams, my literary enjoyment, my personal fantasies, and my writing aspirations.

When I daydream, I often find my thoughts drifting off to vanished Atlantis, to faraway Fierra, fantastic Albion, historical Istanbul, present-day Scotland, or the misty hills of Wales and Ireland. Charis and Taliesin, Orion Treet, Quentin, Aidan the monk, James and Jennifer, and the mysterious Mr. Embries aka Merlin Рthese populate my imagination and provide an extended family for my own Faith and Mariah and Caitlin and Blake, and all those others bouncing around in there since my childhood РPeter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. Kirk and Spock. Kardia and Gaal. Aslan and the Professor. Need I say more? No doubt Bran and Will and M̩rian will soon join their ranks as they go down in literary history.

I believe it was about seventeen years ago when Taliesin was first placed in my hands. Ever since, the effect of alternating viewpoints has fascinated me. Taliesin’s tale, told in third-person, and Charis in first, may seem hard to get into at first, but it’s more than worth the effort. And later, after they meet, the reason for telling it thusly becomes clear: it is Charis penning both their stories.

Stephen is largely responsible for my literary education. I used to hate English in school, but when it came time to pick books to analyse for examinations, I chose Arthur above those schoolroom classics the teachers wanted to insist on. And so at the age of fifteen I dedicated much time to memorising passages about battles fought with prayers, and the sword coming loose from the stone in Arthur’s hand to the displeasure of the gathered lords. In my mind I can still see the candle-lit scene where the young king steps into the church, sword in hand, as the lords are observing the Christ Mass.

And so, how could it be otherwise? Every word I write myself is spurred by the aspiration to such depth of feeling as Yarden “talking” with the empathic fish on the planet Empyrion, or Taliesin singing his son to life and prophesying over him, or Aidan’s first view of the Golden City from a Viking vessel. Dome’s final destruction, Myrrdin’s conversations with the wolf, the Cymbrogi’s pursuit of the Grail, incredible journeys to the Holy Land. I do earnestly wish that Stephen would write more sci-fi – that early stuff was brilliant – but I tip my hat to the continuing flow of novels from his pen. Each one is a gift to the world.

I am writing this away from home, so I have none of these books on hand to refer to just now. But they are engraved in my memory forever. Will I ever attain such sparkling prose? I do not know. In any case, I am blessed with a shining example.
Thank you, Stephen.

Other participants in the CSFF tour for Scarlet:

Trish Anderson Brandon Barr Wayne Thomas Batson Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer CSFF Blog Tour D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne Jeff Draper April Erwin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Timothy Hicks Christopher Hopper Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Mike Lynch Margaret Karen McSpadden Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller Mirtika or Mir's Here Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Lyn Perry Deena Peterson Rachelle Cheryl Russel Ashley Rutherford Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder James Somers Rachelle Sperling Steve Trower Speculative Faith Robert Treskillard Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver Laura Williams Timothy Wise

Monday, 26 November 2007

"Scarlet" by Stephen Lawhead


(This post is part of the CSFF blog tour and is double-posted at the Lost Genre Guild. A full list of participants can be found below!)

For a lifelong fan of Stephen Lawhead’s poetic and moving tales, every new book is a feast for the heart. Last year I read “Hood”, a necessarily brutal introduction to the rough world of the Brits and Normans of a thousand years ago. If that first volume in the King Raven trilogy was a little hard to get into, then it served to lay superb groundwork for this second one. Readers moving from the first book to the second will already know that the hero we have known as Robin is in fact Rhi Bran y Hud, and that our adventures do not take place in Nottingham, but rather in the March Forests of Wales in the times when the Normans began to overrun Britain and impose their cruelly weighted laws upon the Cymry. With this in mind, “Scarlet” grows beyond fantasy and becomes a living, breathing possibility of history.

The journey begins with Will Scarlet in a dark, damp cell awaiting the noose. He tells Odo the priest the entire tale of how he came to join the forest community, and the daring adventures accomplished in the company of his canny lord. Raids on forest roads embarrass the hard-nosed Franks again and again, rousing their ire and inspiring the band of rebels to ever riskier feats of bare-faced cheek, until Will is captured one unlucky night. But this is not the end of the story. I do confess that I began reading and soon after flipped through the back pages to see if Will escaped the impending execution; however, this information was not to be had in that part, and I was forced to find out in the usual way as events unfolded that did not disappoint in the slightest.

One of the most astonishing things about this book is the masterful style of writing. Now, we all know that Lawhead has always given us the very best of prose and adventure. Long have I modelled my own writing inspired by his example. But here, he has raised the standard by several rungs – most visibly in the changing viewpoints within the story. Aspiring writers are invariably told not to attempt this – let alone switch between first and third person narrative – because it’s almost impossible to pull it off without disturbing the natural flow of storytelling. But master that he is, Lawhead has accomplished it with flair. Only the most skilled of authors may break such rules and succeed at it, turning an apparent transgression of style into a many-faceted shine for the tale – thus dragging the reader happily helpless into the rush and flow of what would no doubt be called swashbuckling if this was a pirate tale. I guess young Rhi Bran is a pirate of the road, so the comparison may stand.

Speculative elements are found in the mysterious foresight of old Angharad, whose musings are reminiscent of prophets and druids. Her rituals and prayers seek a supernatural response to see through a complex and confusing matter facing the forest tribe she mothers.

“Scarlet” owns at once the familiarity of the traditional Robin Hood legends and a truer realism of earth and blood and honest-hewn humanity. Rather than the sanitised Robin and the Merry Men known to most of us, Lawhead has instigated a new tradition likely far closer to the truth of those turbulent times. A desperate folk having lost their livelihood and a desperate king denied his rightful throne are more than motivated to irk the strangers who cast them from hearth and home. The end of this book is not the end of the tale – there is another tome to come – but within these pages reside political intrigues, spiritual epiphanies, and tear-jerking romances to shake the world and change it almost beyond recognising by the time you turn the last page. This will be a joy to fans old and new, bringing back memories and hints of the world of Taliesin and Merlin, now long resting in the past. A hard journey taken with humour and zest, twisting into heart-warming surprises – a banquet for the soul, with the hope of more to come.

Trish Anderson Brandon Barr Wayne Thomas Batson Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer CSFF Blog Tour D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne Jeff Draper April Erwin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Timothy Hicks Christopher Hopper Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Mike Lynch Margaret Karen McSpadden Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller Mirtika or Mir's Here Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Lyn Perry Deena Peterson Rachelle Cheryl Russel Ashley Rutherford Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder James Somers Rachelle Sperling Steve Trower Speculative Faith Robert Treskillard Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver Laura Williams Timothy Wise

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Thursday's collection of Faith Awakened stuff

Cheryl's review at Amazon.com

David's Day 5 post at CFRB

And some other things you might not have seen yet:
Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley about Faith Awakened and other things

Pre-publication reviews at faithawakened.com (some are not yet posted elsewhere)

The Faith Awakened video collection at YouTube

I won't be around to collect links from Friday night - I'm flying back to Germany and I intend to sleep as much as possible on the way. Back to work on Monday... sigh. New Zealand is a wonderful place, everyone. More than that, it's home to me and Lord willing, I will come back and live here next year. Catch you on Sunday!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Yet more reviews of Faith Awakened!

The response this week continues to be overwhelming! Here are the new blogs for today:

David Brollier's Day 4 at CFRB


Rachelle's review at Sojourner's Journey

Melissa's review at Bibliophile's Retreat

Bruce's review at BruceThinx

Virtual Book Tour de Net:
Karina's review
Karina's interview

Reviews also continue to appear at Amazon: here's the whole collection. I'm very pleased to see people tagging it as "christian science fiction" - there aren't many books in that category, making it easy to collect comapratively high tag counts.
Have fun surfing!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Monday, 5 November 2007

Blog Tour Day 2 - Faith Awakened

For the second day of this blog tour, a number of people have been active... here are the links:

Review by Frank Creed at A Frank Review


Review by Delia Latham on her website


Day 2 comments by David Brollier at CFRB

Review by Lyn Perry at Bloggin' Outloud

Cathi H's review repeated at Gather.com


And don't forget the reviews showing up at
the Amazon page for Faith Awakened (please add yours there if you can!)

and its Lulu page where you can get the e-book free!

Thanks everyone for taking part! Let's see what happens next...

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Faith Awakened Blog Tour begins!



This week it is my great honour to have my book featured at the Christian Fiction Review Blog tour! Already, comments are popping up all over the Web. I'm going to try and collect links to them all here - If I've missed yours, just let me know and I'll add it...

David's Day 1 Comment at CFRB

Caprice Hokstad's blog

Cathi Hassan's blog

Carole McDonnell's blog

AND... the big surprise of the day... Faith Awakened has appeared at Amazon!
Here's the link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1430311118/

This is actually a real miracle as we had a few glitches in the publishing process during October, and yet it has appeared at the planned time.

It's not too late to take part. You can download the e-book free from http://stores.lulu.com/grace1034 - if you write an original review (at least 200 words) and post it, I will send you a free copy of the book! Or a T-shirt, mousepad, soundtrack CD... whichever you prefer.

I'm greatly looking forward to the rest of the week with you all! Hugs all round :)

Thursday, 1 November 2007

New Christian Novels out in November

Here is the November 2007 line-up of new Christian fiction releases! Time to add a few books to your Christmas wish list or find a great gift for a loved one. Be sure to stop by and visit the websites of the following authors. Enjoy!

1. A Christmas to Die For Book 2 in The Three Sisters Inn series by Marta Perry from Love Inspired Suspense. A holiday season among the Plain People swarms with hidden danger when an inn owner finds herself the target of a killer.

2.A Matter of Trust by Lisa Harris, from Heartsong Presents. With Ty back in her life, will Kayla be able to trust him when a dark secret comes to light and all evidence of the crime points to him?

3.Faith Awakened by Grace Bridges from Lulu Press and Waitemata Books. In virtual stasis to escape a deadly virus, an ex-slave in Ireland finds far more than just survival.

4.Just Jane by Nancy Moser from Bethany House. Historical novel about the life of author Jane Austen.

5.Standing Strong, Fourth and final book in the Homeland Heroes Series by Donna Fleisher from Zondervan. Four warriors. Two rival gangs. Is faith enough to win peace on the streets of Kimberley Square?

6.The Love of His Brother by Jennifer AlLee from Five Star, a division of Thomson Gale. A young, pregnant widow finds more than just support when her black-sheep brother-in-law comes home.

7.Within This Circle (mass market size) Sequel toA Vow to Cherish by Deborah Raney from Steeple Hill Books. After her mother’s death from Alzheimer’s disease, Jana McFarlane struggles to cope with her roles as wife and mother.

Happy reading~