Sunday, October 18, 2009

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming...

Hello friends of Christian Speculative fiction!

I know I said I was going to come back here and make some comments about our local production of Dracula, but I had to push that to another burner for a moment,due to an exciting development in my journey towards publication for my novel, The Sword of the Patron.


Below, you'll find a press release form Jeff Gerke of Marcher Lord Press, the publisher that currently has my manuscript. I have received my formal invitation to participate in the votes-based contest you'll read about below. Since The Sword of the Patron is my first novel-length work, I am humbled and honored to be in the running for publication through this contest.

October 17, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Marcher Lord Press Announces Marcher Lord Select

(Colorado Springs, CO)--Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, today announced the debut of a revolution in fiction acquisitions.

"Marcher Lord Select is American Idol meets book acquisitions," says publisher Jeff Gerke. "We're presenting upwards of 40 completed manuscripts and letting 'the people' decide which one should be published."

The contest will proceed in phases, Gerke explains, in each subsequent round of which the voters will receive larger glimpses of the competing manuscripts.

The first phase will consist of no more than the book's title, genre, length, a 20-word premise, and a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb. Voters will cut the entries from 40 to 20 based on these items alone.

"We want to show authors that getting published involves more than simply writing a great novel," Gerke says. "There are marketing skills to be developed--and you've got to hook the reader with a good premise."

Following rounds will provide voters with a 1-page synopsis, the first 500 words of the book, the first 30 pages of the book, and, in the final round, the first 60 pages of the book.

The manuscript receiving the most votes in the final round will be published by Marcher Lord Press in its Spring 2010 release list.

No portion of any contestant's mss. will be posted online, as MLP works to preserve the non-publication status of all contestants and entries.

Participating entrants have been contacted personally by Marcher Lord Press and are included in Marcher Lord Select by invitation only.

"We're also running a secondary contest," Gerke says. "The 'premise contest' is for those authors who have completed a Christian speculative fiction manuscript that fits within MLP guidelines and who have submitted their proposals to me through the Marcher Lord Press acquisitions portal before October 29, 2009."

The premise contest will allow voters to select the books that sound the best based on a 20-word premise, a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb, and (possibly) the first 500 words of the book.

The premise contest entrants receiving the top three vote totals will receive priority acquisitions reading by MLP publisher Jeff Gerke.

"It's a way for virtually everyone to play, even those folks who didn't receive an invitation to compete in the primary Marcher Lord Select contest."

Marcher Lord Select officially begins on November 1, 2009, and runs until completion in January or February 2010. All voting and discussions and Marcher Lord Select activities will take place at The Anomaly forums (http://wherethemapends.proboards.com/index.cgi?) in the Marcher Lord Select subforum. Free registration is required.

"In order for this to work as we're envisioning," Gerke says, "we need lots and lots of voters. So even if you're not a fan of Christian science fiction or fantasy, I'm sure you love letting your voice be heard about what constitutes good Christian fiction. So come on out and join the fun!"

Marcher Lord Press is a Colorado Springs-based independent publisher producing Christian speculative fiction exclusively. MLP was launched in fall of 2008 and is privately owned. Contact: Jeff Gerke; www.marcherlordpress.com.


So, there you have it. I would be further humbled and deeply grateful if you and any friends you can drag with you would head over to www.wherethemapends.com and cast a your votes to usher The Sword of the Patron into print.

And I promise, I'll get back to Dracula soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drawing the Line

Let's face it, it's something we all have to do. We have to decide what we believe honors God--what we will allow into our minds and subsequently, our hearts. The world is rife with entertainment that looks innocuous at first glance, but will slowly poison the soul. It's also full of garbage that looks horrible from as little as the thirty second teaser that pops up during commercial breaks for other programming. I'm thankful for those horrific blurbs. They save me a lot of time in deciding what I can absolutely avoid.

What I want to address today, however, are the instances where the line is blurrier. In my recent experience, one of these foggy places had to do with my husband's participation in a local stage production of Dracula.

I realize that the vampire has made a comeback, with the overwhelming popularity of the Twilight series. I admit, I know next to nothing about Stephenie Meyer's phenomenon, since I have no fascination with vampire stories, and have never followed the genre. The craze isn't new, though. Ann Rice had her heyday, I believe starting with her Interview with the Vampire, written in the 70's but propelled to becoming a household word by the 1994 film. And I'm sure there were other surges of vampire lore that came up just about every decade before. (Given Anne Rice's current body of work, I should probably familiarize myself with more of what she's done, but I digress.)

What I'm saying here is that the vampire, like so many other denizens of the speculative sub-genres, sees the spotlight in cycles, and I think that has a lot to do with why our local theater chose Dracula for this year's fall production. Whether or not any spiritual consideration went into the choice, I have no idea, but in the reading of the script, the spiritual content is there. The power of God to overcome evil, forgiveness, all of our need for salvation...it lingers in the subtext, and sometimes even the outright spoken word of the play, and it's for this reason I can say I came to grips with my husband taking a role in the show.

Many Christians might not agree with our choice in having my husband participate in the production. They all have to draw their lines for themselves, and if any naysayer has a biblical reason he'd like to discuss with us as to whether we have misstepped, I'd gladly hear it. One undeniable benefit of the experience, however, is that his belonging to this cast has given my husband the chance to rub elbows with some folks who were ready to engage in a spirited debate about the matters of faith in the play, as well as his walk with the Lord. Through a carefully chosen secular vehicle, I believe my husband has encountered a chance to speak freely about the gospel. In that regard, he's doing immensely better than I am in furthering the gospel. Real world interaction and honest debate are powerful tools in shedding light on the gospel to those who haven't considered it beyond a passing familiarity.

So, once again, the challenge of being "in the world but not of it" rears it's head, and we all have to search the scriptures and our souls as to what this means in daily living. We also have to decide how our passions, interests and talents can be used in the context of the world to show others that there is something immeasurably greater that lies beyond our daily experience. Whether this production of Dracula raises any of those questions to the audience, I don't know, but I'll find out this weekend, and perhaps post a review of the show here. But what I do know is what went on behind the scenes, in the context of dressing room conversations, and that itself had eternal value.