Thursday, 25 June 2009

Tiltshift Photography

Hey! Been a while... would you like a look at some of my recent photographic stuff? I've recently discovered the tiltshift effect. The collection below holds my examples of the technique. The photos themselves span a time from early 2008 to now.

And guess what! You can do the same with your photos - get yourself over to and get playing!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Interview with author Tom Pawlik

*Featured book, Vanish -
*New release, Valley of the Shadow -

Today I'm interviewing author Tom Pawlik, author of Vanish and Valley of the Shadow.

How and when did you get your start in writing?

TP: I've always loved writing stories. I wrote my first book "The Way Back" in 1997 and shopped it around for several years before stumbling across the Christian Writers Guild website in 2003. I saw the ad for their "Operation First Novel Contest" and entered. I was pleasantly surprised to finish second that year. My finish attracted the attention of my agent, Les Stobbe who shopped that book around for the next 2 years. In the mean time, I had been working on my second book, VANISH, which I entered in the 2006 contest. This time, I won. That was the most thrilling event of my life! A life long dream come true. Tyndale published "Vanish" last summer and the sequel, "Valley of the Shadow" was released this month. They have expressed an interest in "The Way Back" but as it was a slightly different genre, wanted me to get established a little more as an author first.

Tell me about your first encounter with the genre.

TP: Growing up, I loved Sci-fi and fantasy. And still do. I sometimes felt guilty trying to reconcile my love for those genres with my Christian faith and Biblical doctrine. I have come to realize that these genres have a place in our lives and culture. And if we are going to be salt and light, we should seek to use this medium to communicate God's presence, His love and His judgment as well.

Who are your favourite authors?

TP: C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, Gordon R. Dickson, Asimov, Bradbury, Clifford Simak just to name a few.

How do you come up with ideas for your books?

TP: I sometimes get the germ for an idea from a weird dream. I think many writers use other authors as inspiration as well.

Do you plan the plot beforehand or let the story tell itself - and what is it like to go through the writing process?

TP: I'm still a novice so, yes, I start out by writing up a basic plot outline, but this is a very tedious process. Also, I find that many great ideas actually come up during the writing phase. I wrote on my website that writing a novel is like digging a sliver out of your finger with a large, rusty scissors. A lot of meticulous, self-inflicted pain. But it's worth every excruciating minute!

Do you write yourself into your characters?

TP: Yes sometimes, different aspects of my own personality may go into various characters as a starting point. For instance, Mitch Kent got his sarcasm from me. But then from there, I like to let them develop on their own. Sometimes they surprise you.

What research was required in writing your books?

TP: Not very much. I spoke to a few friends who had expertise in a specific area. (I can't say what or I might give some plot elements away).

How has your faith influenced the contents of your books?

TP: Tremendously. I don't think of myself as writing a parable, but I do want to communicate spiritual truths through the story. The key is obviously to let those truths evolve naturally from the story rather than compose a story around a particular truth or moral.

What is your opinion on the value of speculative fiction?

TP: Very high. I love it. I'm thrilled to see it becoming an increasingly popular genre within the Christian marketplace. It's nice also, to see it growing beyond the CBA marketplace into the general marketplace as well.

Check out these other bloggers for reviews of Tom's book and more:

Brandon Barr Justin Boyer Keanan Brand Karri Compton Amy Cruson CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson Jeff Draper April Erwin Karina Fabian Alex Field Beth Goddard Todd Michael Greene Ryan Heart Christopher Hopper Joleen Howell Becky Jesse Cris Jesse Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Margaret Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen Nissa John W. Otte John Ottinger Donita K. Paul Epic Rat Steve Rice Crista Richey Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder James Somers Speculative Faith Rachel Starr Thomson Robert Treskillard Steve Trower Fred Warren Phyllis Wheeler

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Angel of Wrath by Bill Myers

I have it on good authority from my horror-loving friends that they like it very much when their reading material scares them silly, gives them nightmares, or sends chills down their backs. So I'm guessing that horror aficionados everywhere are going to adore this book. It would certainly have given me nightmares if it wasn't quite so far-fetched. But the unbelievable has also long been a staple of the horror genre, so there you go.

An ex-agent turned Satanist helps a bunch of high school kids get involved in carrying out black masses in the mountains. What the kids don't know yet is that their "fun" calls on actual demonic powers and results in a macabre murder each time they meet. So we have a series of particularly grotesque deaths among members of a megachurch. Finally the pastor calls his ex-FBI sister Lisa for help, and she brings her ally Charlie, also an undercover specialist. Thirteen-year-old Jaz insists on going with them - she lives with Charlie since the death of her parents.

Jaz is deaf, but is also able to detect spiritual vibrations. As she investigates the strange power she experienced in a church service, the pastor's son entangles himself with the Satanist kids and both of them catch sight of a demonic monster - first only a glimpse, then a full-out attack. The evil creature, once approached, spouts Bible verses which it uses to condemn its hearers. Meanwhile, the murders continue, and Charlie is on the trail of the killer.

There are some fascinating observations on a deaf kid's approach to life. Also some (to me) dubious theological claims - the idea that a Satanist kid suddenly decides to pray to God and is then protected from the demon, well, that seemed a bit strange. But this story is trying to communicate the power and necessity of forgiveness, of living at peace with your past, and that's got to be a good thing. You will find a lot of interesting insights if you can see beyond the fiction to what is real.

Check out these other member blogs this week for more