Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Day Three of the February CSFF Blog Tour:
Jeff Gerke's Where The Map Ends website



I conclude this edition of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour by pointing out some areas I especially enjoy over at Jeff Gerke's Christian speculative fiction site, WhereTheMapEnds.com.

(Please read down to the end for instructions on your last chance to enter two giveaways, one graciously provided by Jeff and one I'm doing for my birthday week celebration.)


I'd like to focus on three sections of Jeff's super site:

1. Interviews
2. Fantastic Visions
3. Tip of the Week

Interviews


Prior to the establishment of the CSFF Blog Tour and Speculative Faith and Lost Genre Guild, I can tell you--from much experience of blogging and searching for it--that interviews with Christian speculative fiction authors, editors, and agents were a rare find.

The best repository was (and still is)the one at Christian Fandom. Shannon even has one with Gene Wolfe--yes, GENE WOLFE!--coming up in March.

Jeff is giving them a run for their denarius, accumulating some good stuff at Where the Map Ends. And, for all of us, that's good news. We'll have more information out there that's useful to us from pros in the field. And, natch, we can learn more about some of our favorite writers.

Agent Jan Dennis is currently interviewed at the site. Here's a taste:

WhereTheMapEnds: How would you characterize the current state of Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing?

Jan Dennis: I think some Christian publishers are intrigued by the possibilities. I mean, who wouldn’t be with the success of Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker (and Left Behind, if that counts)? But there are many obstacles to be overcome.

Obstacles like a lack of commitment in some places. That is, I think there’s a lot of dabbling by publishers, but unfortunately not a lot of money and long-term planning going into many fiction programs.

Another obstacle for aspiring authors and agents is what you’ll find in most fields when new people are brought into the mix: that is, a lack of editorial knowledge and expertise. There are several editors who would like to publish in this area, but haven’t extensively read speculative fiction and/or don’t really know how it works (again, with a few exceptions).

I’d also say that there are pretty extensive marketing and distribution difficulties to be overcome.

It’s not an entirely bleak picture, though, and I think a lot of publishers have a strong and healthy desire to impact the Christian and hopefully secular markets with fiction works that glorify God while telling a good story. That’s where I come in.


Other nifty interviews are in the archives, including: Frank Peretti, Jerry Jenkins, Ted Dekker, Kathryn Mackel, and Karen Hancock.


FANTASTIC VISIONS


I love speculative art. I own several tomes on SF art that I delve into with regularity. I also collect old paperbacks that have Richard Powers covers. (If I have a secret rich uncle who leaves me buckets of bearer bonds, I'd buy me an original Powers!) As you may know, I requested fantasy art for Christmas, and commissioned an original work. Pricey, but worth it for the sheer joy it brings. And its intrinsic beauty.

I've been inspired to write by just seeing a grand bit of magical art. Art sometimes gets me thinking along associational lines until, there it is, I have a premise for a story or an image for a poem.

Most of the sites that have banded together in Christian SFandom focus on literature, short or long. Poetry is a stepchild, less cosseted. Art is also, sometimes, discussed in afterthought. Oh, I've written something. I wonder who might have a pic to go with it?

But it's all part of the same whole: Speculative Arts. And tell me, writer, how would you like it if your book was just a plain brown wrapper edition? (Okay, that might work for some odd reason for some particular work.) I've always thought one of the great delights of buying a fantasy or science fiction novel or collection or anthology is the NON-VERBAL creative part of it: the cover, the illustrations.

Please, can you even think of a Conan cover without seeing a flash of a particular art piece in your brain? (Maybe Frazetta?) I will forever connect Harlan Ellison to this or that Leo & Diane Dillon work. I will always see Kinuko Y. Craft's work when someone says Patricia McKillip's name. (And that's a lovely association, is it not?) I bought the LOTR books AGAIN, so I could have them with those Alan Lee covers that are just so dreamy.

A work of art can make people pick up your novel. It can make someone kindly disposed to BUYING your novel. (I know I bought my first McKillip cause it had a Craft cover. No question.)

Be honest. You would pass out cold or scream until your whole family came running, if you landed a Canty or a Whelan or a Palencar or a Burns or a Lee or a Vess or, me personally, a Craft cover. (Just bury me with a hardcover edition clutched in my cold embrace after I die of sheer joy!)

So, I'm thrilled that Jeff features Christian speculative artists. (I hope he plans to add some of the fabulous ladies doing fantasy art, such as my much-admired Sara Butcher, or Carmen Keys, or our own CSFF blog tourmate Pixy (aka Rachel Marks). I don't know if the talented Hanna, who is a member of our tour, does specifically Christian work, but you should go and enjoy her stuff JUST FOR ART'S SAKE. That's right.)

I think The Call of Aslan is a very good link for WTME.com to feature! I am lucky to have some original pieces by both Sara B. and Carmen K. of that artistic association, and I hope I can continue to acquire bit by bit in the future. Art makes the world that much more fabulous.

So, thanks, Jeff. Keep expanding those art links.


TIP OF THE WEEK


The last spotlight on this tour falls on Jeff's writing "Tip of the Week."

As someone who is obsessive about continually improving my prose and storytelling skills, I value tips. Gimme tips!

Jeff's most recent entry is Tip #19: Keep a Character's Dialogue and Actions in the Same Paragraph

I'll let you go and read that tip and the preceding 18. Enjoy. Write better!

~ ~ ~

Special Bonus with hat tip to John O: If you've ever wondered if Jeff is actually an alien, like, you know, VENUSIAN or somesuch, there might be something to that rumor.



LAST CHANCE TO ENTER TWO GIVEAWAYS:
The Gerke Giveaway and the Mir Birthday Giveaway


THE GERKE GIVEAWAY: If you want a chance to win a 5 page crit or two software (Windows) prizes from Jeff, add a comment with "Enter me in the Gerke Giveway" and your first name plus surname initial (and a blog or site addy). See Monday's or Tuesday's CSFF Blog tour post this week for the details. I will not repost them here.


The Mir Birthday Giveway: I'm offering one person a two-page crit and a book of my choosing that will address what I see as the main craft weakness(es) that need fixing. See the Tuesday (2/20) blog tour post for details on the how, since it requires you email your pages in the text of an email, rather than commenting under this post. Good luck.

Check the very bottom of this post for names that I receive as entries for TODAY, Wednesday. (If you want to see if I got your entry noted for Monday and Tuesday, check those CSFFBT posts for the corresponding days.)

I hope you enjoyed the Mirathon segment of our February 2007 edition of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour. Come back in March for yet another fun time with CSF!

Please drop by several (or all!) of the blogs below, my tourmates:

Nissa Annakindt
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D.G.D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Tessa Edwards
April Erwin
Kameron M. Franklin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
K. D. Kragen
Tina Kulesa
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nicole
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Daniel I. Weaver
Timothy Wise


NAMES ENTERED IN THE GERKE GIVEAWAY FOR WEDNESDAY:

Eve N.
John O (Least Read blog)
Becky M.
Alice L.
Valerie C.
Katie H
Dan E
Josh V

12 comments:

Rebecca said...

Wow, it's been a while since I last had time to check out a tour, but since I like Jeff and this whole world domination thing he has going on, I thought I'd bop around. Great stuff! Everywhere I've gone, there's something new and interesting. Very cool.

Mirtika said...

I want to be Chancellor or Master Scribbling Mistress in Jeff's Global Empire. Hee.

Nice to see you, Miz RG, Grand Redhead of the Coming Domination

Mir

John said...

The writers tips were great, definitely worth checking out.

I know what you're saying with about art. A great cover is often enough for me to at least pick up the book and check out the back cover.

Oh, and throw my name in again for the prizes. ;)

John O. from the Least Read Blog

Becky said...

Mir, you've really outdone yourself on this tour. Outstanding, outstanding material. Thought-provoking, informative, helpful, fun. Ya got it goin', woman! ;-)

Please add my name once again to your JG critique contest (1st place eligible only since I am not Windows compatible).

Thanky much!

Becky

Jefferson Scott said...

Great post once again, Mir. Thank you for the great coverage of WhereTheMapEnds.

And thanks for the new names to add to the Fantastic Visions page. I do have a link to The Call of Aslan on there, but I like adding the individual names.

Thanks again!

Jeff, from Venus

Alice L. said...

Mir, good job all three days!

Please add my name to the Jeff Gerke giveaway.

Valerie Comer said...

Great posts, Mir. Please toss my name in the hat. Valerie C to you :P

Fantasythyme said...

Mir,
These have been great posts. Cover art is what first catches my eye with a new author or book. Good artwork makes me want to read more about the story on the cover.

Tim

Katie Hart said...

Man, I hate having to work Mondays and Wednesdays during CSFF blog tours - I'm always scambling to catch up with everything! I'd like to enter again.

Dan Edelen said...

Please "Enter me in the Gerke Giveway." I'd love a crit on my WIP.

Thanks!

Dan E.
http://ceruleansanctum.com

Josh said...

I'll toss another coin into the wishing well.

Enter me in the Gerke Giveway, pwease.

Josh V. from www.jrvogt.com

pixydust said...

Great stuff, Mir! Yet again. And I think it's so great that you mentioned the artists--not that I'm bias or anything. ;)

I belong to "The Call of Aslan" as well, now. There are several very formidable artists in the bunch. It's great that you add them in there. :)

Hope you had a happy b-day!