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Friday, August 24, 2007

They're Here...

No, I'm not actually talking about the arrival of malevolent spirits planning to kidnap small children. I'm talking about...drumroll please…

That's right, my new pirate adventure novel, Isle of Swords, has been spotted. Amazon is apparently shipping IoS now, and several bookchains have them in stock!

If you are planning to get yourself a copy of this here pirate tale, first of all, thank you. Secondly some food for thought. The first month of sales for any novel is a critical month. Here's why:

• Prior to the books release, all preorder sales are allocated toward the first month sales numbers, meaning that the potential is there for a book to hit all kinds of Bestseller lists. If presales were good, and nonPreSale purchases continue at a high rate in that first month, good things can happen. And, of course, success begets success. If Isle of Swords appears on bestseller lists, more people find out about it, leading to more sales and a higher place on the bestseller list...of it goes.

• Publishers set marketing budgets well ahead of a book's release, but if the book does well early, publishers will often jump in with both feet to promote the book even more. If sales are low, some initial promotional ideas might not come to fruition.

• Publishers also like to launch books with a promotional bang. Thomas Nelson is doing just that. In some participating bookstores, if you buy Isle of Swords, you can get a free copy of The Door Within Lost Chapters Edition! Call your local store and see if they have the deal. But the deal is only for "While Supplies Last." Hence the call to hit it this month.

• And finally, purchasing a book in the first month of its release is great because authors sometimes like to give away free stuff to people who purchase books early. {Cough} And having said that:

Wayne Thomas Batson's Isle of Swords Promotional Giveaway!

If you, kind reader, purchase a copy of Isle of Swords during August or September, email me your snailmail address, and I will send you very cool piratey bookplate sticker--signed and personalized to you or whomever you are buying for! No limit to number of stickers. If you purchase 4,000 copies of Isle of Swords (Hey, it could happen.), I'll be happy to sign 4,000 stickers. (The last coupla hundred signatures might be a tad messy due to nerve damage in my hand, but I'll do it.)

If you purchase Isle of Swords Aug-Sept, email me at:

**And as a bonus, anyone who posts a review of Isle of Swords on Amazon, CBD, or
Barnes & Noble, I'll send you a sneak preview chapter of the Isle of Swords sequel currently in production. Post a review and email me, and I'll send the chapter right off.

Not sure if Isle of Swords is for you? Did you like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies? Well, Isle of Swords is like that (the first movie, that is) only with more depth. ;-)

Still not sure? Here's a Sneak Peek at one of the opening chapters of Isle of Swords:

Echoes of Cannon Fire

A cannon shot, deep and sudden, trailed off like a peal of thunder. Something cold touched his fingertips. Another shot. Run them all out, boys!

Water trickled over his hand. She’s taking on something awful! Bosun, pitch that leak! Another shot, nearer still. Water surged into his mouth and nose. A wave partially submerged his head and sprayed his back.

He woke, jerked his head up from the surf, and flailed onto his side. His face, his arms, his back—throbbed and burned. “What happened?” he moaned, coughing up seawater and grinding sand between his teeth. He could not see. Has someone cut out my eyes? Hands trembling, he reached up. His eyes were swollen and caked shut . . . but at least they were there.

After several painful attempts, he managed to pry them open. Brilliant white light knifed in, he clutched at his face. His head throbbed, sun blazed mercilessly off the white sand, but slowly his eyes adjusted. He squinted under a cloudless blue sky and saw water. As another wave raced toward him, he rose to one knee. That little bit of movement brought tremendous pain. It felt as if there were shards of glass embedded in his skin.

With another groan, he stood. He reached over his shoulder and, between the tatters of his shirt, he felt ripped flesh, sticky and wet. His fingertips came back glistening with blood, and he became lightheaded. He swayed for a moment, then steadied himself and looked around.

Across a slope of white sand, there stood a deep copse of trees—mostly tall palms, surrounded by sea grape and divi-divi trees. He stared at the leaning, gnarled trunks. Divi-divi trees always leaned to the southwest. That meant something . . . he felt sure it did, but he could not grasp what. He looked along the tree line, up and down the shore, and again, out to sea. “I don’t know this place,” he whispered.

He grabbed fistfuls of his matted blond hair. His welted face felt foreign . . . like someone else’s. A sharp ringing came to his ears. The world seemed to spin. “My God,” he mouthed,
“I . . . I don’t even know who I am.”

A flash of green racing across the sand drew his attention, and he turned. At his feet, a large iguana sat gnawing at the leather drawstring of a pouch that lay half-buried in the sand.

Brushing aside the lizard, he picked up the fist-sized pouch. It had some weight to it. “Is this mine?” he wondered aloud. He thought it had to be, but nothing about it seemed familiar. Still, when he loosened the drawstring and began to pour out its contents, he couldn’t help but feel a strange gravity weighing upon him.

A sparkling green stone fell into his hands first. It was shaped like an almond, but much larger. The brilliant sun flickered within it as if the stone was alive with fire at its core. Next, a lock of lustrous red hair dropped out and lay in his palm close to the jewel. The hair was a little damp but still very soft. He ran a finger lightly over it, wondering. . . .

The surf raced in and covered his feet, just as the last item—a rusty iron cross—fell into his palm. Ancient it looked—and not just from the tarnish. It bore strange markings and a script of some design, but he could not read it.

He dropped the three tokens into the pouch. He did not recognize any of these things. Nothing made any sense! His head ached. Weak and confused, he watched as an iguana scurried away and disappeared over the slope. Then he froze, for nearby the lizard’s trail was a trail of footprints. They wound away from the trees, down from the slope, almost directly to where he stood. A wave crashed with a sound like a cannon shot . . . or maybe, more like the crack of a whip, and he jumped.

The ringing came back to his ears, and he felt dizzy. As his vision blurred, he looked at the footprints leading up to where he stood. The thought, I am not alone, flashed into his mind before everything around him faded into darkness.

Once again, Isle of Swords, a swashbuckling high-seas adventure, is on sale now online and in all fine stores. A cool piratey tale just in time for back-to-school reading!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour: George Bryan Polivka, Day 2

Greetings all! Welcome to Day Two: The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka. The cover you see above is the recently released 2nd book in the Trophy Chase Trilogy. I'm a big fan of trilogies, and so far...this one sounds like a winner. Love the title "Hand That Bears the Sword." Very evocative. It makes promises to the reader, and from all accounts, it lives up to those promises.

Today, from Harvest House's website, an interview with George Bryan Polivka:

First things first: take us back to the beginning and explain how you became interested in writing. Have you always wanted to write fantasy fiction? What inspired you to start?
I’ve always written. I wrote my first book, which I also illustrated, when I was seven– or eight–years–old. It was a comical spy thriller. I have no idea what happened to it, but I know it was never published. It was well–accepted by its target audience, though, which consisted of my parents. I’ve been writing ever since.

I became interested in fantasy in high school, when a friend gave me a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring. I was deeply, deeply moved by the trilogy and read it several times. I wasn’t a Christian, and these books spoke about good and evil, light and darkness, in a way I had never encountered. Then the same friend introduced me to Narnia. Eventually, I followed the light to its source. So, truth–filled fantasy has always been extremely important to me. I wrote my first novel just after graduating from college, almost got it published, and then wrote ten more before Harvest House found one they liked.

How did you dream up the premise for the Trophy Chase series, and how did you develop the idea of the Firefish?
The Legend of the Firefish is neither my first nor my latest novel, but something I started about a dozen years ago. I can’t remember the exact sequence of events that triggered the creation of Nearing Vast, but I know there were multiple inspirations. Before I graduated with my English degree I had done two years in Bible college, planning to go into the ministry. I was not expelled, but dropped out. When I wrote the first draft of Firefish, I’d been in the business world for ten years or so, and was impressed (not always positively) by the risks entrepreneurs were willing to take. That was about the time that the Internet began to take off, and there was a serious glow around new technologies in general. I remember thinking that a man with no fear could harness a new technology, even a very dangerous one, and exploit it to make himself rich. Or, he could try to use it for good. Out of all that, somehow, came Packer Throme, Scat Wilkins, and the Firefish.

Have you had any experience aboard sailing ships? What do you think it is about a seafarer’s or pirate’s life that is so captivating?
I’ve been on tall ships, and to me they are poetry. I’m not sure why that is, but there is nothing on earth that speaks to the longing of the soul quite like the sea, and nothing that gets to the heart of the sea like a tall ship. And this trilogy is really about longing, about different longings, and where they lead when you follow them. That’s why I chose this setting.

Tell us about Panna and your motivation to create such a strong female character.
I remember being in a college English class when my professor, a woman, stated flatly that “men can’t write believable women characters.” I took it as a challenge. I think good writing is about getting inside people’s heads, finding what’s unique and interesting about them, discovering motivations, and then letting them be themselves for good or ill in different situations. Strong women are strong in ways that men just aren’t, and they make different mistakes. I find those differences compelling and interesting and worth exploring.

I know that a woman’s traditional role is more service oriented, while a man’s is more control oriented. But for generations women have managed to control through their service—and I don’t mean by being manipulative (though of course that has been known to happen!). I mean by giving love sacrificially, for the reward of having given it. Sacrificial love may appear soft on the surface, maybe unmanly, but it is an extraordinarily powerful force that shapes everything around it. And in healthy situations, that love is returned in full measure with devotion. That’s the fundamental family dynamic, usually driven by the mother. And it’s also the heart of the Christian message. It’s what God did, and does, for us. Panna doesn’t reflect all that perfectly, of course. If she did, she wouldn’t be very believable. But it is her basic orientation, part of which she fights against, part of which she embraces with great passion. I think people want to see how all that turns out for her, which makes her both strong and compelling.

One of the great things about the Trophy Chase trilogy is watching Packer and Panna’s love story unfold. So does this mean you are a romantic at heart? What dragons did you slay to win your own lady’s heart?
Jeri and I have been married for more than 25 years, and we do have our own love story, and it’s quite a yarn. It’s got romance, comedy, tragedy. Add children, and you get the whole gamut, like it or not! In Firefish, we’re seeing Packer and Panna at the outset of their life together, when everything revolves around romance. Jeri and I met when we were teenagers. So yes, I drew heavily on the only love story I know. How could I not? But we’re a private couple. You won’t get me to kiss and tell!

Where do you think your creativity comes from? When you sit down to write, crafting characters like Talon, Packer Throme, and of course the illustrious Firefish, how do you get the creative juices flowing?
I’ve heard about this thing called “writer’s block,” but I have never experienced it. I don’t always feel like writing, but I never have trouble sitting down and doing it, or getting into characters’ heads, or crafting a scene. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “just write the good stuff.” When you’ve got it in your head that you want to do a scene, and you can see it, and you feel the joy of it coming on, and you’re thinking how cool it would be if this happened or that happened, just write it. Don’t say to yourself, “Oh, I’m not there yet. I have to write all this other stuff that leads up to it first.” People tell me that the Trophy Chase books really move, that they can’t put them down. My father likes to call Firefish a “Pirate 24” and tells everyone that Packer Throme is Jack Bauer with a sword (although, for the record, I wrote Packer’s adventures long before there was a Jack Bauer!). But I think that’s why the stories are packed with so much adventure. I just write the scenes I like. And apparently other people like them too, for which I’m very thankful.

In The Trophy Chase trilogy, you communicate the Christian message overtly, rather than allegorically or symbolically. What factored into this decision?
One thing that always bothered me about Middle Earth and Narnia was that for the good side, the spirituality was always symbolic, while the evil was literal. Never seemed quite fair to me. And so I asked myself, why does it have to be that way? I don’t think mentioning God should be breaking some rule of fantasy etiquette. Why should it put people off, so long as it’s part of the story and it makes sense to who the characters are? Setting these books in Nearing Vast, with its 18th century–like environment, made it very natural to address Christianity and its trappings, the church, priests, prayer, all of it, in a way that is both fun and meaningful. It’s easier to see where God is and where He isn’t when you don’t have to deal with the cultural baggage the church lugs around today. I find that refreshing, and I’m pleased that others seem to as well.

A recurring theme in the storyline of The Legend of the Firefish is that of submitting to God’s will and recognizing one’s own weakness. How have these themes played out in your own life?
My. Okay. Where to begin? Well, what makes fantasy ring true, is... truth. My life, looked at through the very significant lens of this particular truth, could be said to be one long lesson on this topic. As a long–time evangelical, I’ve heard messages about submitting to God’s will and recognizing one’s dire weakness over and over, but it’s almost always tied to salvation. Bow your head and confess, and ask God, and He’ll do what you can’t... He’ll save you. But somehow we forget that this is how we are to live our lives every day. Somehow we don’t think that falling to our knees and humbly confessing and crying out for his mercy is an everyday occurrence and the way we should behave all the time. I’m not sure why that is. It’s not like the message is hidden between the lines in Scripture... Pride comes before a fall. The meek shall inherit the earth. The last shall be first. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices. Turn the other cheek. Think of others as more important than yourself. It was the theme Jesus lived and said we are to live as well. He was raised up and given all the power in the universe because He humbled Himself to death, we are told— and even death on a cross. And we are to do likewise.

I have had a lot of success in my life. I have powered through, sometimes, on my own strength. And then my strength has failed me, and I’ve failed. But when I have cried out to God in pain, in humiliation, in weakness, He has always answered. He has lifted me up out of trials that seemed every bit as severe as anything Packer Throme ever experienced. That’s His power, not mine. And we all go through these times. God knocks us down, or lets us get knocked down, hoping we’ll learn how to trust Him there on our knees. If I ever write my autobiography, I’ll have to title it Just Stay Down! I still need to learn that. Because “knocked down” is where the power is, and where life and joy come from. That’s where God gives strength and the only success that matters.

George Bryan Polivka, author of Legend of the Firefish

Bryan, let me know if I'm NOT supposed to borrow this interview from the Harvest Website. Not trying to step on toes. ;-)

Monday, August 20, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour: George Bryan Polivka's Legend of the Firefish, Day One

Greetings all! Welcome to Day One introducing you to a great new Christian Fantasy book: The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka. Now, I haven't read the book. Sadly, I've a deadline to meet and little time to read. And, honestly, I've heard so many great things about this "Piratey" fantasy that I'm a little leery of reading it because I'm afraid it might somehow influence the pirate adventure I'm writing right now. LOL

Nonetheless, I believe this to be a book series worth your time. So over the next three days, I'm going to provide as much introduction as I can dig up.

Today, a word from the author himself:

“I am one soldier in a great army of many, many thousands who have been enchanted and changed by the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. When I first ventured into Middle Earth, the outcome of the battle between good and evil, between creation and destruction within my own soul was far from certain. In a very real way the eternal loyalties of my heart were forged in Narnia. It is therefore my sincerest prayer that you will find your journey into the Kingdom of Nearing Vast worthy, if only in some small measure, of so rich a heritage, and so complete a victory.”
George Bryan Polivka, author of Legend of the Firefish

I can get behind an author like this swordbrother. Amen?