CFBA

Merciless is the flavor of the week right now among the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I love these guys; they always do a great job of bringing much-needed attention to worthwhile new books.

The ones I’ve seen so far that have reviews have all been positive, too. Hit the link for a full list of websites that take part in the blog ring/alliance.

If you have a review of Merciless and I haven’t yet mentioned it here on my blog, by all means please email me with the link, and I’ll post it.

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Interview

A very in-depth interview with yours truly is available now, over at The Christian Manifesto. Lots of talk therein about Merciless, the trilogy, the past, and my future. They even dared to ask the big question: “So what really happened to Infuze?”

Oh, and in case you never visit my front page, Bethany House Publishers has set up a really nifty Dominion Trilogy official website, which contains all of the promotional materials related to all three books — including the trailers, the “Guardian” graphic novel, some contests, and even a Cafe Press page where you can purchase official Dominion Trilogy gear. (Though I think I like the “Guardian Lives!” swag my friend Paul Rose came up with better; it has a different kind of cool factor, since it’s like something a person in the books would actually create and wear!)

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Comic-Con ’08, here I come!

It’s that crazy time of the year, and I’ll be flying out early in the morning at the crack of whyamIawake? to San Diego for the annual Geekapalooza, Nerdopolis, fanboy prom… Comic-Con! I and 125,000 of my closest friends (or, you know, total strangers, whatever) will be taking a look at what’s hot and what’s to come in the world of movies, television, comic books, video games, and more.

I’ll be blogging my experiences and all of the latest news over at PopCultureGeek.com with my partner in crime, Doug Kline. We’re going all out for our usual non-stop coverage, with tons of photos, videos, and lots and lots of words.

I’m also going to try and shop myself around to the comic book publishing companies and see if I can get a foot in the door to do some comic book writing. (If you feel led to pray for this, that would be great! Karen and I could really use the income.) I don’t expect it to be easy — like all things, it will depend on meeting just the right people — but I’m going to pray for some divine appointments and give it my best shot.

Here goes nothing.

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ICRS2008: Finishing Up & a visit to NASA

I don’t have a lot to say about today at ICRS, because I didn’t stay that long. I was pretty much done by around 11:30 in the morning. As I told several people on my way out, ICRS started making me feel bad about being a Christian today. It wasn’t any different than yesterday, really, I just reached a critical mass point with it. I had to get out. And I won’t be going back tomorrow. I’ve had my fill. I’m all done for this year. See you in Denver in next year, CBA.

Before I forget, let me say once again a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came to my book signing. 2008 hasn’t been my best year, professionally, so it did my heart good to be here for that. It was so nice to meet some true fans among the crowd, and I even heard several comments about how much some of you miss Infuze, which was also a really nice thing for these ears to hear.

(And fans of Infuze: stay tuned. I don’t have a website in the works, and Infuze isn’t coming back. It’s nothing like that. But I may have a bit of news in the near future that should be of great interest to Infuze enthusiasts.)

Speaking of Infuze, I ran into blogger/writer/thinker/speaker Andy Crouch today. He’s a guy after Infuze’s heart. We’d never met before, and he was doing a book signing for his new nonfiction title, Culture Making, which looks really good, and right up my alley. Super nice guy. Can’t wait to read that book.

I’m missing E3 to be here, and man, I do feel it. I could have gone and covered it for PopCultureGeek.com, but my wife and I both felt that ICRS was more important. (And probably less expensive.) I miss my annual video game fix, though.

Had a cool lunch meeting with Paul Higdon (the designer of all my book covers, I mentioned him yesterday), and we brainstormed cover ideas for Offworld, my next novel. (I’m writing it now; it’ll be out next summer.) He’s insanely talented, but this is a tricky one. It’s got a simple story hook, but that same hook represents an enormous challenge to communicate visually. Paul asked me really intelligent questions about the story, the characters, the thematic elements, and the entire plot. And I answered his every question as best I could. I could practically see the wheels turning in his mind. Sometimes when I answered one of his questions, his eyes would twinkle a little bit. We seemed to be on the same page as for the level of detail and photo-realism and how it should be presented. Now it just comes down to what he can come up with, image wise, with the limited budget BHP has. I should get to see something within the next few months, but I gave Paul all my info so we can stay in direct contact, and he can continue to grill me if needed.

Speaking of Offworld, after I left the convention center after lunch, I rented a car and drove out to Kennedy Space Center. I’d always wanted to go there, and this was too good an opportunity to pass up. Plus, it allowed me to do a little research for Offworld. (Don’t bother asking for details; my lips are sealed!) I took tons of photos and threw a few of them up on Facebook. Check it out if you can. They turned out pretty cool, especially the super-zooms I was able to get of the launching pads and gantries. Wish I’d had more than a few hours to poke around; there’s tons more to do there than you might think.

That’s pretty much it for me from ICRS this year. It was a fun experience. I loved connecting with friends, old and new. And I’m glad it’s over now and I get to go home and see my adoring wife and my wonderful little boy!

(And despite what Sharon Hinck may tell you, my 7-month-old son Evan really can say “I love Da-Da.”)

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ICRS2008: Random Observations from Day 1

I actually took notes so I’d remember all this stuff for my blog. That’s right, I love my readers that much. And also, I may not officially be a reporter at the moment, but I just can’t seem to shake the habit.

In no particular order:

  • Everyone seems to be commenting on what a “weird year” it is at ICRS this year. Attendance feels down somewhat. Tough economic times appear to be catching up with the industry.
  • This morning people kept forcing flyers and postcards into my hands. And I kept dropping them in the trash. No offense to struggling writers out there (cause I are one too), but the last thing anyone at ICRS needs is something else to carry around or take home.
  • You wouldn’t believe how many guys are wearing shorts and girls are wearing capris. Probably because we’re in Florida and the air here is 80% water. But I kinda dig “the dressing down of ICRS.” It’s refreshing. Why shouldn’t we all be comfortable?
  • The different sections of the show floor are separated and color coded this year. It’s very neatly done. All of the book vendors, for example, are on blue carpet. All of the gift vendors are on green carpet. Personally, I give the green carpet a wide berth. Something about the gifts just creeps me out. Though I did pop inside this “New Product Showcase” thing that was right in the middle of the book section, and found some indescribable stuff (which you can see in my Facebook photo album). I think my favorite was the leather pillow with a Bible verse inscribed in it. You have to see it to believe it.
  • I keep running into people I know while wandering the show floor. It’s fun. Invariably, they ask: “So what are you up to?” And my stock answer: “I’m trolling for books. I’m not going to lie. It’s all about the free stuff.”
  • Speaking of freebies, I tried to score a brand new NLT Study Bible, which looks exceedingly cool (I’ve always liked the New Living Translation) and just hit the market, but a very nice Tyndale rep apologized and said they only had 100 of them, and they were for retailers only. I totally respect that, but hey, you can’t blame a guy for trying.
  • If you’ve ever been to ICRS, you know the following is true. And if you plan on going in the future, here’s an important survival tip. In conversation, you will hear so many names that you don’t know, constantly being tossed around by people you do know. Just pretend you know who these mystery people are. “So I was talking to John Smith the other day, and he mentioned how commercial ICRS is becoming…” I just nod and say something like, “Oh yeah, he’s great.”
  • I saw Relentless in a few different places on the show floor. Once in the International Pavilion, on the bookshelf there. Also spotted it at a discount book seller. Hrm.
  • Ran into the irrepressable Sharon Hinck, and was so glad to see her here. We had several occasions to hang out and talk, and it was just a blast. She was a little down in the dumps but I think I managed to cheer her up a tad, and then later in the day she met her #1 fan, which cheered her up a LOT, methinks. I also learned that she worries about the feelings of inanimate objects. Seriously. She said that she worries about her sweaters. Like, if she wears one for too long, the others might feel neglected. I could add a punchline here, but frankly Sharon’s just so sweet I can’t bring myself to do it (and it doesn’t really need a punchline, does it?). Check out her books. She’s an excellent writer. I loved hanging out with her today. Great fun.
  • Finally got to meet mister Michael Snyder in person. That was a special treat, because his short story, “My Name Is Russell Fink,” was originally published at INFUZE a couple of years ago, and it even won the contest we ran to determine entry in the short story & poems compilation book we put out. Since then, Mike’s gone on to sign a publishing deal with Zondervan, and he’s turned the “Russell Fink” short story into a novel by the same name. I read the first chapter this afternoon during a little downtime and was laughing out loud all by myself. Mike has a natural talent for writing witty, off-kilter comedy, and I highly recommend checking it out.
  • My book signing this morning went GREAT. We never had long lines, but the line was steady and constantly replenished itself, and by the end of the hour, we’d run completely out of books. Woohoo! That’s 3 for 3. Nicole C. Mullen even showed up and picked up copies of all three books for her husband David. David, if you read this, I’d love to hear what you think of them! Email me.
  • I did an interview this afternoon with WBMI Radio from Chicago, which is part of the Moody Broadcasting network. Very cool. I wasn’t expecting it, but the interviewer really gave me a chance to hop onto my soapbox about the design flaws in the various “Christian” industries, and I totally took the bait. Couldn’t resist. (Once you get fired up, it’s hard to stop.) She seemed to love it, so I think it went quite well. No idea how people will react when they hear it. Hopefully I won’t offend anyone. I’d love to tell you when it will air, but she didn’t know yet. Oh, and we also talked about Merciless. :)
  • Jesus is at ICRS. Seriously. There’s a guy wandering the show floor dressed as Jesus. He’s super groomed, too, kind of metrosexual-like. His hair is no stranger to the product. I couldn’t figure out what company he was there representing, because every time I saw him, he was either on the move, or standing in a different part of the convention center. But I saw him repeatedly. Got a picture, too. (It’s on Facebook with the rest.) Also spotted a couple of gladiators, and a few Berenstain Bears. I understand that Po, the main character from Kung Fu Panda, put in an appearance at the Word booth, but I wasn’t there.
  • I’m not sure, and I have no proof, but I think Karen Kingsbury did signings today at every single booth in the exhibit hall. That woman gets around like nobody’s business.
  • The Baker Publishing annual dinner was tonight at EPCOT. (Bethany House, my publisher, is a subsidiary of Baker Books.) Very nice, very fun. Good food, fun company. Afterwards we went outside and watched the 9:PM fireworks and light show. (Yep, you guessed it: pictures are on Facebook.) It was so humid I was little more than a dress shirt in a puddle by the end.
  • Tonight at the Baker dinner I met a very cool guy I’ve met a few times in the past, but this was my first opportunity to really get to talk to him at length. His name is Paul Higdon, and he is the graphic design artist who created the covers to all three of my novels. He told me that the process used to create the shiny, metallic cover for Merciless was actually a first for the publishing industry! I was so jazzed to hear this — I knew it was cool, but I had no idea it was a first! I can’t do justice to his description of how it was done, but basically there were various color passes done overtop of this foil cover, and no one even knew if it would work until they tried it. Apparently it cost a fair bit of money to do it, but Paul took the initiative to do it all on his own, simply because it was the last book in the trilogy and he wanted it to have a special look to it. I cannot put into words how grateful I am to him for putting his special touch on this book cover. It’s a fantastic cover and I LOVE him for going out of his way to do something really unprecedented to signify the “grand finale” of the trilogy. (If you haven’t seen the cover in person, photos don’t do it justice.) I’m in awe of Paul and his talents!

Off to bed now, at last… More tomorrow.

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