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Ten Tough Questions (and 1 easy one) for...LB Graham!

Once again, we take an author to the brink of bewilderment with another spellbinding episode of "Ten Tough Questions"


L.B Graham is the author of The Binding of the Blade, a five book epic fantasy series with P&R Publishing that began in 2004 and just recently culminated with the publication of All My Holy Mountain in 2008. The first book of the series, Beyond the Summerland, was a 2005 Christy finalist in the “Visionary” category.

L.B. was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up there before heading to Wheaton College outside Chicago in Wheaton, Illinois. From there he went to St. Louis to attend Covenant Seminary. Since 1996 he’s been teaching in St. Louis, the last 9 years at Westminster Christian Academy where he also serves as the Bible Department Chair.

With diverse writing interests, L.B. currently has a nonfiction book proposal under consideration, but he is also developing a new fantasy series which he hopes to begin proposing to publishers soon.


Christopher Miller: Welcome, LB!

L.B. Graham: Thanks for having me – ‘Ten Tough Questions’ is a prestigious opportunity and one not to be missed when offered.

CM: We are here to learn who you are and why you write.Are you prepared to be tested and probed beyond all reasonable measure?

LB: Unreasonable tests and probes are always welcome.

CM: QUESTION ONE! I am aware that many successful authors have chosen to use pen names with two initials (i.e. JK Rowlings, CS Lews, RK Mortenson, GP Taylor, JI Paker, RC Sproul, JRR Tolkien, etc.). In light of this, what does LB stand for and why did you choose that as your pen name...just another copycat I suppose or is it, perhaps, that you are deeply afraid to tell us your true identity? Hiding something are we...hmmmm?

LB: That you used JRR to illustrate authors who use two initials when they write raises certain concerns with me about the state of mathematical education in America. As I was also educated in America, I can only assume something dreadful happened in the few – emphasis on few – years between my own education and yours. (Have I written enough yet to look like I’ve answered without actually doing so?)

CM: Point taken. However, I must advise you that it is unwise to press your luck. Since you won't tell us your name...we'll just have to make something up! Oh yeah - as penalty for NOT answering the question that first question doesn't count! Take THAT!

LB: Ouch!

CM: Maybe this time, Lucy Beth, you'll actually answer the question! QUESTION ONE (take two): Your Binding of the Blade series seems a bit different because all 2500 pages read like one story from beginning to end. Did you have the whole story planned out in advance of book one or did you just find your way through it?

LB: It didn't come together all at once, but what I conceived of was a story about a world where the making of weapons essentially represented ‘the Fall,' or the loss of that world's innocence and descent into sin and misery. And, on the other hand, the unmaking of weapons was the clearest picture for that world of peace, of things being made new. In short, the symbolic picture from Isaiah of our future restoration became a literal picture in my fantasy world, the picture of their great hope.

So, the Isaiah image became the thematic core of BOTB. The geography archetypes gave the story shape. I decided to structure the series geographically, matching tone and mood and theme and plot elements according to the pattern I outlined above.

Thus Beyond the Summerland took place in the south, was a story of romance and summer and things generally going well. The cover shows this summery feel. The story moved in Bringer of Storms to the west, in autumn, as things begin to fall apart pretty substantially, and as the world fades quickly into darkness. The stormy motif is portrayed pretty well here in that cover.

The story then cycles in the next two books through the north and into the east, each representing those archetypes in turn - darkness, night & desolation in winter followed by the slight glimmer of hope that comes with morning, sunrise, spring and things new. The covers for books 3 and 4 below show those seasons too. And then the last book returns to summer, though a different kind of summer, but I'll leave it at that.

CM: QUESTION TWO! I remember the first book I saw was the Bringer of Storms book and I was a bit surprised by the giant on its cover controlling the weather. It made me think of greek mythology where gods would control the weather. How do you classify your books for those who may have similar thoughts?

LB: I have no interest in denying that Greek and Norse Mythology have been an influence on me even as they were on Lewis and Tolkien. Taken as stories, those myths are excellent food for the imagination. However, as with Lewis and Tolkien, whatever creatures or archetypes or whatever I may have appropriated from mythology consciously or subconsciously have been put to very different use. As for classification, my stories are what might be called ‘high fantasy,’ or ‘epic fantasy.’

CM: I see, so it is Christian fantasy then not Greek myth.

LB: Actually, I would just say fantasy. I wouldn't use the term Christian fantasy.

CM: Interesting, why not? Are you afraid to be labeled "Christian"?

LB: Well, the short version is that I think the adjective "Christian" is one that is properly applied to people, not things like "music" or "fiction" or in this case, "fantasy." I know what people mean with labels like "Christian fantasy," I just dislike the implication that Christian fantasy is good, and other fantasy is bad. I think that view is simplistic. Music, stories, movies and other artwork that conveys a message isn't really divided into two piles - the good and bad. Rather I see them in a continuum. Some stories have lots of truth or good in them, others some, others not so much, and just because the author is a Christian doesn't mean I'm going to agree with what he or she says or like the story. Likewise, I've read some great books by non-believers, who despite their unbelief are people made in the image of God and have created powerful stories.

CM: That is pretty deep for someone named Lucy Beth...I think I'll have to call you Left Brain instead!

LB: You are certainly welcome to do so, but Lucy Beth was beginning to grow on me.

CM: QUESTION THREE: What is the most memorable line you have ever written in a book?

LB: I don’t spend much time memorizing my own work, so I don’t know about memorable, but I can comment on my favorite line. I have several lines in the series with the same basic message, and it isn’t original with me; it’s been borrowed and adapted from scripture. “Allfather is making all things new. Come and see.” Since my books are about “restoration,” the promise that God will make all things new is the thematic center of my story.

CM: QUESTION FOUR: Recently I was answering questions about writing in an elementary classroom during a school visit. During the session, one of the kids raised his hand and asked a pretty tough question I want to pass on to you as well. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest) how popular of a writer do you think you are?

LB: 3

CM: Hmmm...you answered that pretty quick. Must have been thinking about it for awhile then, eh? Probably have a chart posted on your wall to monitor your "fame factor" I bet. But moving on...QUESTION FIVE: If someone could only get only ONE book in the Binding of the Blade series which book should they buy and why?

LB: If you can only get one, get the first one, because it is the one that makes the most sense on its own. You’ll be a little ticked at the end though, since it is a bit of a cliffhanger. My favorite is the last. It is clearly the best. Maybe if you can only get one, find someone who’s read the series who can summarize the first 2000 pages and then read book 5.

CM: QUESTION SIX: Have you ever had to force yourself to write when you didn't really want to? If so, what did you do to motivate yourself to keep going and finish the story?

LB: I’m sure during the years I was working on the series there were days I didn’t really want to write that I forced myself to, but if so, there weren’t many. I’m a teacher, so my hours to write are few and precious. I cherish them and enjoy writing greatly. It’s a great privilege to be able to do this and to get paid for doing it.


CM: QUESTION SEVEN: Don't you think there are enough fantasy stories in the world? Why do we need more? More specifically why do we need yours, Lost Boy?

LB: Ooooh, now you’re talkin’! “Lost Boy” puts me in a hip, Kiefer Sutherland kinda mood. I like that one. There are lots of fantasy stories in the world, and strictly speaking, it doesn’t need mine. On the other hand, when I wrote “Beyond the Summerland,” Christian fantasy basically wasn’t happening, as it was almost non-existent in the Christian publishing world. I thought the world needed new, relevant, quality fantasy from a Christian perspective, which is why I set out to write some – but that’s not the same thing as saying the world needs my stories.


CM: QUESTION EIGHT: How do you pick the titles of your books? Did you know them before hand or did you select it after the story was completed?

LB: I had working titles before the series was written, but not all of them were ones that my publisher wanted to use (and I wasn’t completely sold on them all, either). Some didn’t change at all, some just a little bit, and some completely. Book 3, "Shadow in the Deep" had the working title "The Waters of Sea & Sky". The actual title is more catchy, perhaps, but the working title fit the book, content-wise, better. For Book 4, "Father of Dragons", one early possibility I toyed with was "On Wings of Gold." I decide on "Father of Dragons" later because of the symmetry with "Bringer of Storms" in book 2. At the end of the day, I was pretty happy with all of them though, and I came up with all of them, even if not at first.

CM: QUESTION NINE: Is there anything you do to keep your writing skills sharp?

LB: Read. Reading good writing is the best thing you can do for your own writing (that and writing itself).

CM: Good answer. That brings us to the FINAL QUESTION: Besides the previous 9 questions, what is the most difficult thing you have ever been asked about your books and how did you respond?


LB: Truly, no question ever put to me about my work has ever challenged me as these have. I thought I knew who I was and what I was doing and why before I sat down to answer these questions, but you have pushed me to the brink. I need to regroup and reconsider my calling in life, to figure out why God put me on this planet and perhaps repent for the terrible waste of time my life has been to this point. Most likely, I’ll need to quit my job and relocate to the Seattle area, where I might possibly seek out the help of compassionate brothers with a heart for ex-writers. If you can think of anyone like that who might be able to take me and my family in and provide for us in this time of transition, let me know.

CM: That was a bit of a cop-out but we'll let it slide. Smooth talk goes a long way my friend. Well, Long Beard, you managed to survive the terrible ten! How does it feel?

LB: I feel a Little Beat, but also like a Lucky Boy. The questions were good for some Light Banter, anything I can do for a pair of Loco Brothers, is a real privilege.

CM: Now for the easy question! What can you tell us about your next book series...what will it be about and when can we expect to read it?

LB: I’m not under contract for anything at the moment, so I can’t tell you much. The series I’m developing that I hope to begin proposing to publishers soon is a fantasy series with some Sci-Fi-esque elements, and I’m pretty excited about it. We’ll see if I can sell it, and if I do, maybe I can visit with the Miller Bros again and tell you all about it.

CM: Thanks for joining us for our ten tough questions with Leech Bug Graham (AKA LB Graham)!
Note: You can read more about LB Graham and his work at www.LBGraham.com or www.BindingOfTheBlade.com





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Ten Tough Questions (and 1 easy one) for...Bryan Davis!

Next up, in the hot seat facing the Ten Tough Questions interview is none other than Bryan Davis.

Bryan Davis is the author of the best-selling Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire series, contemporary/fantasy blends for young people. His book, Eye of the Oracle, hit number one on the January 2007, Young Adult CBA best-seller list. His new series from Zondervan, Echoes from the Edge, debuted in May of 2008 with Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, and the second book in the series, Eternity’s Edge, came out in October.
Bryan is also the author of several other works including The Image of a Father (AMG) and Spit and Polish for Husbands (AMG), and four books in the Arch Books series: The Story of Jesus’ Baptism and Temptation, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb (over 100,000 sold), and Jacob’s Dream. Bryan lives in Western Tennessee with his wife, Susie, and their children. Bryan and Susie have homeschooled their four girls and three boys. Bryan was born in 1958 and grew up in the eastern U.S. From the time he taught himself how to read before school age, through his seminary years and beyond, he has demonstrated a passion for the written word, reading and writing in many disciplines and genres, including theology, fiction, devotionals, poetry, and humor. Bryan is a graduate of the University of Florida (B.S. in Industrial Engineering).

In high school, he was valedictorian of his class and won academic awards in English, Algebra, Advanced Math, and Science. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and voted Most Likely to Succeed. He continues to further his writing education by attending relevant writing conferences and conventions. Although he is now a full time writer, Bryan was a computer professional for over 20 years.

Chritopher Miller: Welcome Bryan!

Bryan Davis: Thank you. I’m glad to be here … I think.

CM: We shall know soon enough. I must say, you are a brave man to face the Ten Tough Questions that lay ahead. I assume you have adequately prepared yourself for the challenge.

BD: I installed a seatbelt in my desk chair for the occasion. I’m ready.

CM: Clever - but will it be enough? Let's proceed with the inquisition!

FIRST QUESTION: For starters let's talk about what you hope to accomplish with these books. I mean, why is it, Mr. Davis, that you chose fantasy fiction as your preferred genre?

BD: I'm not a fan of most fantasy, because it seemed that the characters would get out of difficult situations by suddenly learning a magical spell or an undiscovered power, or maybe a new character would come along and save them. It was too easy. I wanted my characters to use their gifts from God along with strength of character, faith, and perseverance to work through their problems.

I don't know of any other Christian fantasy that blends fantasy elements into the real world. Most either take place in another world or follow contemporary characters as they travel to another world. Although my characters take a couple of journeys into alternate dimensions, the base world, where most action takes place, is in our world and in our time.

I had a dream about a boy who could breathe fire. I told my eldest son about it, and he suggested that I write a fantasy novel based on the dream. He said that if I wanted to speak to children in our culture, fantasy was the way to go. After brainstorming with him for a couple of hours, we came up with the fantasy concept of how a boy could breathe fire.

CM: Hmmm....I see. You know, I had fire breath once, but I found these great breath mints that really solved that problem for me. But enough about that - it's time for...

QUESTION 2: As a Christian, where exactly does your faith fit in to your writing? I mean, are you trying to hit your readers over the head with your beliefs?

BD: My faith pervades all my writing, but my doctrinal stands on some issues make my stories quite different from most. My Christian protagonists depart from what many writers call "real" or "honest," though they portray a more "real" Christian character than what is passing for that label in much of Christian fiction. On this point I could elaborate until your ears fall right off your head, but, briefly, I reject the notion that you have to write sinful acts or tendencies into Christian characters. Sin doesn't make them "real" or "honest." It just makes them sinful, and in most fiction I find too many characters with tacked-on flaws. It really seems clichéd.

I believe in the overwhelming power God gives us for holy living. My characters struggle in many non-sinful ways and find the power to overcome. I like successful heroes. God gives us victory in Christ, so it makes sense to write that way. And feedback from my readers indicates that they relate to the great struggles my characters go through, and they are inspired by my characters' successes. I believe this portrayal of obedient faith is what is truly real and honest.

CM: QUESTION 3: Many Christians are leery of fantasy works and some even believe that it is the work of the devil - opening doors to unseen worlds. What is your take on this...hmmmm?

BD: This is a topic I talk or write about nearly every day. Yes, fantasy does open the door to an unseen world, but this is not a bad portal. There really is an unseen world, so understanding it is an important part of the maturing process in our walks of faith. As Paul said, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." How can we do battle if we can't imagine what's out there? Elisha opened such a portal for his servant, saying, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

The key is to provide young readers a way to see the good side of the unseen world in order to give them reason to rely on its power. God has often provided a vision of the holy for His people, and Christian fantasy is one of the best ways to stretch young minds beyond the here and now and give them a view of the heavenlies.

I believe that Jesus used fantasy elements in his stories. In fact, if I were to write a story about His miracles that didn't include His name or where He got His power, it would be a fantasy story. Yet, Jesus made a fantasy story come to life, knowing that we learn and remember best when the story is fantastic.

I wrote an article that elaborates on this subject. You can find it online at http://www.daviscrossing.com/fantasy.pdf

CM: QUESTION 4: What about the use of witchcraft or magic in storytelling? Are your books similar to Harry Potter?

BD: People who like Harry Potter will love this book. But, there are two reasons it's different. One is that all supernatural events come from God through prayer, and miracles, not magic. Second is that in the Harry Potter books, the main characters progress their stories often through deception, disobedience of rules, and lack of respect for authority. That doesn't happen in these books - the stories progress through courage and wise choices, and if they don't make a wise choice, they can get into trouble. One thing I want to make clear is that I'm not a Harry Potter basher, but I also don't think that series is necessarily wonderful. My kids have read it with my parental guidance, so they know that we don't believe in witchcraft, and we don't appreciate the disrespectful attitudes.

When it comes to dragons and King Arthur, these are symbols that are used to teach Christian truth; even Jesus used symbols. All through the book of Revelation, we see really strange, marvelous symbols that teach things. I don't know if there is going to really be a locust with long hair, but that's what Revelation uses as a picture of something else. We shouldn't be surprised that God would use great symbols to teach truths that are too deep to make simple - He uses symbols in a way we can remember. Stories that have great symbols are far more memorable and last a lot longer in our minds, especially for young people, if we use that method of teaching. Jesus knew it well. Unfortunately there are some people who say all fantasy is bad, or even all fiction is bad. It makes me wonder if they ever ask themselves why Jesus taught that way; He used stories and symbols to teach. I hope that people extend some grace and understand that these stories were written out of a heart of love that just wants to tell the truth in a story.

CM: QUESTION 5: Obviously, with a title like "Dragons in our Midst" there are a lot of dragons in your books. I think it is safe to say that most people see dragons as a symbol of evil as well. Why did you decide to make "good" and "bad" dragons?

BD: Well, I think that dragons are rightly a symbol of evil. But we have to remember that Job chapter 41 tells us that God created Leviathan. He describes it as one of His greatest creations and He uses it to reveal His power. If you read that passage carefully, Leviathan has armored scales and breathes fire. It sounds just like a fire breathing dragon. That's certainly where the authors who have described such beasts got their inspiration, from this creature of God. God created this being in order to show His power.

Now, I don't believe that God created anything for the purpose of being born evil. Angels were created and some of them fell. They weren't created to be evil, but some of them chose evil and fell. I'm putting dragons in the same mold, as a symbolic parallel to angels. They were created to be good; some of them fell. The greatest evil figure in all the world, and in all of the Bible, is a fallen angel, and the symbol of the fallen angel is a dragon. But why can't there be good dragons as well? Some people would say that dragons are a symbol of evil. The Bible calls Satan a dragon. Therefore, all dragons are evil. Well, the fallacy there is Satan also appears as an angel of light. Does that mean that all angels of light are evil? I don't think so. I wanted to make that angelic parallel, and it becomes even clearer in the third book, called Circles of Seven. Billy's faces a tremendous decision, and he'll have to discern between good and evil dragons. It's such a great story.

CM: QUESTION 6: Ah yes - the struggle of good and evil has been the source of many great stories - especially for the fantasy writer. While I can't say I agree entirely with your conclusion about God NOT being Sovereign over the actions of evil beings I still find your stories very engaging and enjoyable to read.

However, in the spirit of asking "tough questions" I feel compelled to ask how your characters wrestle with the scriptural principals presented in Romans 9 when it states in verse 18 that "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." or in verses 20-21 where it states, "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" Do your characters come to grips with these statements or do you avoid them in your work?

BD: I see your question as a false dilemma. My characters don’t “come to grips” with the statements, because there isn’t any conflict between the statements and the philosophy I portray with my characters, and I don’t avoid them, because there is nothing to avoid. Since Romans 9 addresses the fact that God decided to save people by faith rather than by works, it makes sense that God would have mercy on those with faith and harden those who rebel. It makes sense that Paul would use the potter parallel to illustrate how God uses certain people for certain tasks and also has the right to decide to save by faith. I don’t see how the passage raises any relevant issues I need to tackle. It fits perfectly with what I believe and the way my characters operate.

CM: So it would seem. I would love to continue this discussion, however, it is much too broad of a discourse to have here (and perhaps too boring for our current audience, I'm afraid). Perhaps a later date we can pick up where we left off. Consider yourself forewarned. :-)

See - I told you these would be tough, and there are still four more questions to go. Do you want to turn back now or are you willing to persevere to the end?

BD: When do the tough ones start? I’ll decide then. :-)

CM: Be careful what you wish for. Perhaps we should ask a question that is a bit more...shall we say..revealing.

QUESTION 7: Certainly there are some who don't like your writing. Have you spoken with people who have been offended by your stories or your beliefs? If so - what did you say to them?
BD: I have spoken to a few. First, I tell them that it’s great that they are so concerned about what they read. Then I try to address their specific concerns. I usually am able to calm people down and get them to agree that my stories aren’t as bad as they had once thought. Most objectors haven’t even read the books, so explaining the stories and the lessons behind them usually helps a lot.

CM: QUESTION 8: I heard that you were rejected nearly 200 times by publishers. What were the biggest challenges you faced in writing these books and getting them published?

BD: Between agents and publishers I collected about two hundred rejection notices, which I might use to wallpaper my office someday. I rewrote the first book about twenty-four times, changing it drastically in some of the rewrites. I think I made it even more radical as time went on, perhaps thinking that it might just end up as a story for myself and my family.

Since these books are faith-based, the mainstream publishers didn't show any interest. I often heard, "Too spiritual" or "Too Christian." The Christian publishers at that time weren't producing fantasy at all, and certainly not a series about dragons. I couldn't find a significant Christian fantasy series for young people that had been published in the last thirty years. It didn't matter that the Chronicles of Narnia had been one of the greatest sellers in history. In fact, when I mentioned that to one editor, hoping the Narnia success would open a door, he said, "You're not C. S. Lewis."

I finally met Dan Penwell of AMG Publishers. He had already contracted with me for a non-fiction book called The Image of a Father, and although AMG had never produced fiction, he took interest in my weird dragons story. AMG liked it so much, they started a fiction line with the series, and it has become their best selling line of books.

CM: Question 9: Seeing as "You're NOT C.S. Lewis" (as one editor put it), did you find it difficult to incorporate your beliefs into your story?

BD: It really wasn't that hard because it's been my desire for a long time to be able to say, "I just want to tell a story that is filled with Christ." There is no soapbox; no one is standing there shaking a finger, preaching at you. I want to have a natural flow of Christian thought and Christian love, without having to say "Jesus loved you and died for your sins." It'll flow out naturally. The reason I'm doing that is because so many people get turned off with the shaking finger and the soapbox sermon. But as we get to later books in the series, the Christian message of the blood salvation of Christ is going to come out a little more clearly. We want to hook our readers and not turn them off with a fire and brimstone, or an "Are you saved by the blood?" kind of message. It will come out later. I think you probably can tell that Bonnie is clearly a Christian, and Billy is probably not. He's got a lot of questions because he's never been taught right. He's in between because his father, being the dragon, revered the Bible, but he didn't feel like he was a fallen creature that needs to be saved. This is one of these deep mysteries that I don't think kids will get but I want adults to think about.

CM: Question 10: What are the greatest lessons you've learned in your journey as a writer and as a published author?

BD: The most impact has come through watching God provide for our needs. In order to pursue writing full time, we had to make a lot of sacrifices, but God has shown Himself to be our sufficiency.

I have a long story that shows God's provision, but to make it short, when I went to a homeschool conference to try to sell the dragons books for the first time, I was quite concerned that the slow sales wouldn't provide enough for me to break even on this venture. As the conference drew to a close, it became clear to me that I would come up fifty dollars short. Soon after calculating that number, a man came up to me and noticed my books and my sign that identified who I was. He pulled out his wallet and said, "On my way over here, God told me to find a man named Bryan and to give him fifty dollars." He then handed me the money. I didn't want to take it, but he encouraged me to do so, I finally did. When I got home, I recalculated my expenses versus sales, and the fifty dollars caused me to break even to the dollar.

I will never forget that lesson! God is my sufficiency, and I have learned not to sweat a lot of the issues that used to cause me concern.

CM: Amen to that! One of my favorite verses is in Romans 8:28 where it boldly claims that "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Not everyone lives to see the good that is being worked out in the trials - but yours is one of great blessing and encouragement to us all. Congratulations on making it through the ten tough questions. You did well!

BD:
I made it through with only a scratch, and I have a Band-aid for that.

CM: You have tough skin, my friend. Great job! Okay so now for the easy question.

BD: I’m ready. Can I loosen my seatbelt now?

CM: Yes, this one won't hurt a bit. I heard a rumor that you are working on a new end-times novel series based on the apocolypse. When will that be coming out and what can we expect it to be like? Is it like a "Left Behind" series or what?

BD: There is a series, but it’s not really an end-times series, and it’s not like Left Behind at all. In fact, you might call it an anti-end-times series. I hope to turn the end-times genre on its head. And you won’t have to worry about which eschatological doctrinal system the story fits into, because it won’t promote or reject any of them. My working series title is “Riders of the Apocalypse.” It will be designed for the Young Adult age group, but I think adults will enjoy just as much. But you’ll have to wait a bit. I have three other books coming out in 2009, so this new series won’t debut until 2010.

CM: Grrrr! We'll have to wait then...assuming the world doesn't end before then. :-) Thanks again for joining us for Ten Tough Questions and One Easy One!
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Ten Tough Questions (and 1 easy one) for...Wayne Thomas Batson!

Starting this week and every week thereafter (leading up to Christmas) the Miller Brothers have taken it upon themselves to post a new weekly interview with some of their favorite fiction authors. These interviews are meant to be tough - to cut to the heart of what these authors are truly about, why they write, and the nitty gritty of their lives. It is a series of ten questions designed to make our favorite authors sweat a little (and maybe even cry).

Wayne Thomas Batson is the first author foolish enough to take the challenge.

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock, Wayne is an author of amazing talent. He is probably best known for the "Door Within" book trilogy which has been an inspiration to hundreds of thousands of kids and has earned its place in the CBA bestseller list for youth fiction. In addition to the Door Within Trilogy, Wayne has taken to the high-seas with the first two books in the Isle of Swords series (a good pirate yarn).

Wayne has spent the last fifteen years teaching Reading and English to middle schools students. He lives in Eldersburg with his beautiful wife of eleven years and his four wonderful young children. Besides dividing his time between family, teaching, and writing, he likes to read, golf, play PS2, travel to the beach, play electric guitar, and create 3D artwork. (Sounds mischievous to me!)


So without further ado, let's begin the interview:

Christopher Miller: Mister Batson...er...shall I call you Wayne?

Wayne: Actually, I prefer, "Grand Author Extraordinaire, his Eminence Wayne Thomas Batson." LOL, just kidding. Whatever's clever.

CM: Whatever. Let's dispense with the pleasantries and get down to business. See, we've prepared ten of the most grueling questions ever posed to a writer before in the history of mankind (along with an easy one for good measure). If you choose to continue I feel you must be forewarned that it is a dangerous undertaking. Beware, there be rough waters ahead, matey! Are you ready for a challenge?

WTB: {rolls eyes} I was born ready. {rolls eyes again}

CM: Good, then let the QUESTioning begin!

WTB: {Pauses for rim shot}

CM: Your latest book series, the Isle of Swords (published by Thomas Nelson), is all about pirates and an adventure on the high seas and such. I think it is safe to assume you are not an actual pirate, though I must say your most recent mug shot does raise some suspicious.

WTB: No, not in the traditional sense. Pirates were absolute wretches: murderous, thieving, unsanitary, violent, foolish scalawags. So, you're thinking, and how do I -not- fit that description? Well, really, compared to the Holy God I claim to serve, perhaps I do. And yet, Jesus saved me anyway. And for that, I am so grateful.

CM: FIRST QUESTION: Did you do any special research for the Isle of Swords book series like actually setting out to sea, swabbing the poop deck, catching scurvy and hoisting the main sails - or are you just another land-lubber who is posing as a piratologist?

WTB: I thought the other question was question number one! Okay, who's the brains of this whole operation anyway???

CM: Never mind that, just answer the question...are you a land-lubber or a piratologist - which is it sir?

WTB: I actually did travel to the Caribbean. I visited Dominica, Curacao, the Bahamas...all notorious pirate haunts back in the day. While it was mostly a vacation, I soaked up so much of the setting and wrote about it in Isle of Swords and Isle of Fire. Other research I'm afraid came from Idiot's Guide to Pirates.

CM: I see, then I suppose that rules out that it all started by watching the VeggieTales Pirate movie. Rats!

WTB: I do denounce all rumors to that effect. But I am a big fan of Phil and Mike's work.

CM: QUESTION TWO: As a parent myself, I can't help but notice that pirates are typically notorious for being ill mannered and devious villains. These are not quite the traits that I would expect a devout christian such as yourself to honor. So then, why pirates? Just a childhood fascination or is there something deeper there? Perhaps you once pirated a candy bar as a child or something.

WTB: You are so right. Some of the real life pirates I researched did stuff that would make Freddy Krueger look like a Care Bear. But, Christianity is about redemption, right? Is there any one of us who deserved to be saved? All of our sins are hideous in God's sight. "We are all scoundrels" might be a decent paraphrasing of Romans 3: 9-18. But not one of us is beyond redemption. Jesus bore the horrendous penalty of our sin on His cross so that we might be saved and restored. I decided we need a dramatic portrayal of that very thing: take a young lad raised in a horrible setting, beaten again and again, witnessing countless atrocities, given every excuse to be a sociopath--but when love radically invades his life, he has a chance to be redeemed.

CM: Excellent. You've got spirit - I like that! Redemption is a powerful thing, no doubt. But I do believe I have found your weakness, Mr. Batson. This will be...

QUESTION THREE: Both of your book series to date have been fantasy fiction. Why not another genre? Are you a softy for fantasy?

WTB: Well, fantasy and adventure you could say. The pirate adventures of Isle of Swords/Isle of Fire are pretty realistic in most ways...well, except for the whole sea serpent thing. Heh, heh, heh. But fantasy is my true love. I think, aside from my height, I am genetically related to Hobbits. There is so much that I just love about other worlds and unsung heroes. I love how characters of diverse backgrounds and talents band together to do some great thing that they might never have attempted alone. Fantasy is all about that!

CM: Very well then...

QUESTION FOUR: What, in your mind, makes a hero worthy of admiration?

WTB: Oh, you are setting up for future conflict, aren't you? LOL I think there are many attributes or qualities that could make a hero worthy of admiration. First, I think a hero should be willing. Frodo didn't know the way to Mordor, he didn't really know the hardships he'd encounter, and he wasn't even sure if he'd have any help. But he was willing to take the Ring to Mordor. How about loyalty? Sam didn't have to help Frodo on that desperate quest, but he did. Determination is a necessary 3rd quality. A real hero doesn't give up in the face of hardship. He or she may be knocked down, but you know they will get up again or die trying. Finally, I respectfully contend that a hero need not be perfect. In fact, most of my readers more readily identify with my characters because they are flawed heroes. Frodo was not perfect. If not for Sam and even Gollum, he never would have destroyed the ring. Edmund of Narnia betrayed his family and Aslan, and the price was steep. But after learning that terrible lesson, he was a man on fire. I love stories like that.

CM: Hmmm....you pass the test on that one, but there be more to come so hang tight! ;-)
QUESTION FIVE:
I recently went to the public library and I became keenly aware of how many books there are to read in the world. What is it that makes you different from the rest? Or to put it another way - why should we give your book series a second glance?

WTB: I don't think I'm among the most skilled writers.

CM: {raises an eyebrow in gleeful anticipation}

WTB: My prose may never be as beautiful as Cornelia Funke's or Tolkien's. One could even argue that the basic plotlines for my novels are not altogether original (what is?). But, by God's grace, I think you'll find that my books have a lot going on at a deep level. There is take-home value in my stories, messages woven within that will encourage the faithful and give the skeptic something to chew on. Yes, I write high-speed, action-oriented adventures, but there's always something more. Readers have told me that certain aspects of my stories have changed the way they see the world or have helped them grow closer to God. For this, all I can do is thank God. He keeps giving me stories and a life full of adventure. All I do is write it down.

CM: Thought I had ya running scared there for a moment. You managed to recover yourself, but don't get too confident.

QUESTION SIX: Writing a novel is no easy task. What is the single-most effective tool/process you use to tackle the job?

WTB: Outlining, hands down. My first book (The Door Within) took me 13 years to write. Many reasons why, but the chief among them was that I tried to write by the seat of my pants. It was agonizing. I'd be on chapter 14 and have a great idea for chapter 3. Then, boom. I needed to rewrite the whole manuscript. Awful waste of time. I rewrote The Door Within something like nine times. Ouch. When I outline, however, I take about a month to do it. I allow myself the surprises that SOTP writers often laud as so important to the success and fun of a story. But most of the big surprises come during the outline, and so all I have to do is reshuffle note cards or cut and paste. I don't have to rewrite the whole novel. And now, I have a software program called SuperNote Cards by Mindola software that has made my writing life a lot more organized. Cool program.

CM: {looks up from tedious note taking} Ehem...congratulations, you have made it through the first six questions. Only four more left so let's kick it up a notch now.

QUESTION SEVEN: This one is a two-parter. Have you ever hated a book you were writing? If so, which one and why?

WTB: No, not in the sense of "this is a terrible story." But once when I was working on Isle of Swords, I began to feel that way. My publisher and I miscommunicated on word count. I thought I had a guide number of 80,000 words, and my publisher thought it was a hard number. I went 20,000 words over my count. The editing process for trimming 20K from that IOS manuscript just about killed me. I really began to hate writing for a time. It was just too much work, esp. when I felt like it never needed to happen the way it did. That really left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Thankfully, Isle of Fire was a relatively easy write, so I like writing again. ;-)

CM: QUESTION EIGHT! What is the most difficult critique you have ever received and how did you survive it?

WTB: Well, there are two that come to mind. I had one Amazon review that ripped me up one side and down the other. I mean there was not one thing that this person could say that didn't rake me over the coals. It was a flame job in the highest. To overcome that, I prayed a lot and asked others to pray. I even wrote an email to the reviewer. The next day, the review had vanished from Amazon. The second was from a home school organizer in PA. The fantasy tour was scheduled to visit their Homeschool Coop. Would have been a huge opportunity to reach kids with our books. Well, long story short, this lady got a copy of The Door Within (and Raising Dragons by Bryan Davis), read them, and concluded that they were tools of the devil meant to seduce kids and turn them into little antiChristians. She went so far as to say she would not only not have us come speak to her kids but she would go to every store within a hundred miles and do her level best to persuade those books not to carry us. This was a Christian woman. Ouch. Well, to survive that, the tour authors collected numerous fan letters and testimonials where Christians had written how our books had encouraged them or changed lives. Several kids had come to Christ through reading our books. We put together a massive document and sent it off to this lady. She never wrote back.

CM: QUESTION NINE! Spiritually speaking, what is the greatest thing you have received and/or hope to accomplish through your writing?

WTB: Grace. I am a wounded, broken man. I know that I have no chance without Jesus. But for His mercy and Grace, I am toast. Seriously. I guess my main goal in writing is to create stories that will get people asking the questions of life for which Jesus is the only real answer. If they do, then I have no doubt they will find the Lord.

CM: Okay one last tough question assuming you are adventurous enough to persevere to the end!

WTB: {fingers quiver over the keyboard} Bring it on.

CM: So be it!

QUESTION TEN! Not everyone is blessed with the opportunity to become a professional writer. In fact, there are many aspiring authors who are still sitting at home waiting to catch their "big break". What is one thing you would like to say to them about your success?

WTB: It was a God thing. Again, I'm no better at crafting than so many unpublished authors. But there was a gap that God wanted me to stand in, and so I went. If you have more than just the itch to write, a creative passion and a story that weighs so heavily on your mind that you cannot imagine not writing it, then you have probably been called. Pray about it. And then, be faithful and write the thing. Be a student of the craft and of the business. Get and agent. Learn how to write a zinger of a proposal that hooks a reader something fierce. But if things don't happen, don't give up. Remember the perseverance of the heroes you write about. Rejection is not a "No." It's really just a "Not yet."

CM: You have done well - the hard part is behind us, now to the easy question.

WTB: Woo hoo!

CM: There is a rumor floating around that you may have audio books and a movie deal in the works...can you fill us in?

WTB: Yes and No to both.

CM: What? Are you evading the easiest of questions? Could it be that you have fallen down at the finish line and will not complete the task?

WTB: No - the audio book for The Door Within has been green lit, but nothing has really come about for quite some time. And I've been so busy I haven't even had time to push for it. That will change soon, I hope.

As to the movie: I have someone in Hollywood looking into buying an option for The Door Within. He wants to buy a one year option and then shop it around to production companies as possibly a live action -OR- CGI animated movie. I'd be open to either so long as it would be well done. Thanks so much for having me on. You two are just awesome gents.

CM: Well there you have it folks. The award for the first survivor of our "Ten Tough Questions" goes to Wayne Thomas Batson.

And let me just add that not only is he a fantastic writer who can capture your imagination, but he is also a masterful storyteller who is equally exciting to hear reading in person. I, for one, can't wait to get a copy of his audio book set!

Until next week - I'm Christopher Miller and this has been Ten Tough Questions (and 1 easy one) with Wayne Thomas Batson!
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Video Diary of a Book Tour: Day 2

Day 2: Seattle, WA
Having been joined by the final two authors (Wayne Thomas Batson, LB Graham) we started the day off with a TV interview for TBN in Federal Way, and then raced back to Seattle for a booksigning, followed by another booksigning event in Enumclaw. It was a high octane day that kept us on our toes.

At the end of the night, we all arrived back at my house (Chris) for a giant sleepover with some of our favorite authors. How cool is that!?

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Video Diary of a Book Tour: Day 1

Day 1: Abbotsford, BC CANADA
We joined up with six authors for the first day of the Fantasy Fiction tour. It was a fantastic time.

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Watch our West Coast Book Tour Live Online!

Some exciting news for all of you fantasy fiction fans out there. The folks at www.fantasyfictiontour.com have really hooked us up with some cool technology as we join their upcoming West Coast tour for select dates in the Northwest.

You can watch each event on the West Coast Tour live right here from our blog! When we’re not on the air, you can catch re-runs from the daily video journals. Chat with us and send your comments and questions; be sure to include where you’re watching from!

In fact, unless there is something that prevents us from connecting to the internet, we’ll be broadcasting live from Abbotsford, Canada Friday at 7:00pm Pacific Time. Just keep an eye on this blog and click the button to the right and chat with the authors. You can send your comments and questions via instant message; be sure to let us know where you’re watching from!

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New Book Signing Event Announced at Borders Bookstore!

Following two days of sharing in the joy of the Fantasy Fiction Tour with Bryan Davis, Wayne Thomas Batson, Donita K. Paul and five other fantastic authors (check it out at www.fantasyfictiontour.com) you would think that we would be looking forward to a day off!

No way! Even though the other authors will be making their way down the coast for the remainder of the tour, we have been working hard to give local fans more chances to meet us. That is why we are thrilled to announce that we have just added a new book signing event for folks in the Federal Way area to attend. The Borders bookstore in the Federal Way Commons Mall has just agreed to have us join them on Sunday, October 5th, from 2pm - 5pm for a book signing event.

Everyone is welcome to attend. This will be our first Borders bookstore event and we really want it to turn out great. We'll be giving away bonus codes for the online game that you can't get anywhere else. So, even if you have the book already, come on up and bring a friend so you can get that code!

See you there - October 5th!
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Inside Scoop: Hunter Brown Book Two

As part of our research for the development of Hunter Brown's second adventure (and the continuing saga of the Codebearers series) Allan and I decided to take a little field trip two weeks ago. We spent part of the morning and a couple hours in the evening exploring the Puyallup Fair. We were researching the fair for a very thrilling sequence in the next book. While we were there we found a lighted sword that was pretty fun so we decided to have Allan pose for the camera.

It looks more like a lightsaber than a Veritas Sword - but we had a good time. What do you think?

While we were at the Puyallup Fairgrounds (the 5th largest fair in the country) we spoke with one of the operators of the cable cars. Interestingly enough his son had just purchased a copy of Hunter Brown and was reading it at home. What are the chances?

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The Miller Brothers are Going to Jail for "Good"!

It's true, and we need your help to post bail!

A warrant for the Miller Brothers "arrest" has been issued by the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). We'll be going to "jail" on October 9th - handcuffed and dragged away to serve our time. No doubt the press will be there in droves to watch us get hauled away to the slammer. However, if we raise our bail of $500 before the Lock-up, they promise to go easy on us, but to do this we need your financial assistance to post our bond.

Your 100% tax-deductible donation is our key to freedom and will help MDA continue research for treatments and curew of the 43 neuromuscular diseases they cover. Your support also will help MDA provide wheelchairs, clinic visits, support groups and summer camp for the families served by the Association in our local area.

Any donation amount is welcome from $5 to $500 or even more.

Visit this site to make your donations and help us post bail.


https://www.joinmda.org/auburn/cmiller

Serious folks, this is a great opportunity to raise money for a really good cause. Help us out and we'll be sure and share pictures with you from the Lock-Up.
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Join us Live Online in 3D!!!

With the help of an emerging technology from Google called "Lively" we're taking our Author book tour to a whole new level. Introducing the Virtual Meet and Greet with Chris and Allan Miller (aka - the Miller Brothers). Through the wonders of 3D Technology you too can meet your favorite author duo live and (almost) in person. Couldn't make it to our latest event? Don't sweat it. Just check the schedule for our Virtual appearances and join us for a personal chat in 3D online.

See, there we are just waiting for you!


Joining is simple. Anyone with a FREE google account can join in on the fun.

Just visit our website at http://www.codebearers.com/ and login with your Codebearer account (if you don't have one - get one). Once you are registered with our site and logged in you can view a members only webpage by clicking on "Beyond the Books > LIVE CHAT!" in the menu. It will take you to this page http://www.codebearers.com/sitemax/tabid/398/Default.aspx

Download the Lively software as prompted (only takes a few seconds) and follow the instructions on the screen to get started by creating your own 3D character. Before you know it - you'll be taken to a whole new dimension of the website where you can interact with other visitors, fans and friends online in 3D (not to mention the Miller Brothers as well). \

Oh and one more thing: If its Bonus Codes you're looking for (to earn points in our online game) we'll be passing them out at every virtual meet and greet we host. So make sure to put us on your schedule and collect those points!

See you online! :-)

-----------------------------------------
Want to host a virtual book signing for your church or school? Contact the Miller Brothers for an exclusive 3D appearance and chat session in a private room for VIP guests only.
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Author Tips: Tracking Amazon Sales Rank Numbers

Authors love to watch the Amazon sales rank and speculate what that means for their book sales. The problem is that in order to chart the progress of your book against other comparable titles you have to manually search and click on each title in Amazon and write down the sale rank. This is a time consuming and frustrating process.

Luckily, you don't have to do that anymore.

I just found a great website that offers a FREE book monitoring service for your titles. The website is called www.TitleZ.com. Simply sign up for a free account and start adding titles to your watch list. It provides a sales rank history for your books and any comparable titles you type in. In addition to giving you a history it will calculate your average sales rank number and the best sales ranking you've received to date. PLUS: with a single click of a button the website will generate a printable report with all of the data on it in a graph chart.

So - if you're a published author looking for a better way to monitor your sales rank, try www.TitleZ.com and see what you think.

For those who are interested, Hunter Brown has ranked as low as 19,045 out of over 6 million titles (the lower the number the better!) We're working hard to bring that number down even more through marketing. For a better understanding of how Amazon's sales ranking system works check out this other blog entry.
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Fake Celebrity Endorsements

Since we are still awaiting official celebrity endorsements for our book Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow we decided to make up a few of our own. Are they real? Absolutely not. Funny? We'll let you decide.

------------------

On the eve of his Republican National Convention appearance, presidential candidate John McCain is considering legislation that would require every American to read Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow. In doing so, he earned our votes.

Not to be outdone, Obama replied that he absolutely loved the book and claims he agrees with McCain on the issue adding that he found it ironic that one of the characters in the book was named after his campaign slogan: Hope. Regrettably, we had to inform him that the character was not, in fact, named after his campaign to which he simply replied, "the audacity!" (An obvious and humorous plug for his own book entitled the Audacity of Hope.)

If you are a real celebrity, or if you know a real celebrity who enjoyed our book, and would like to offer an endorsement - drop us a line. In the meantime, we'll keep looking for other "fake" celebrity endorsements for our book.
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Miller Brothers to Join Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour

Some exciting news has surfaced for the Miller Brothers and you won't want to miss out!

In July 2007, four Christian Fantasy/Fiction authors embarked on a journey that would make literary history, open doors for their beloved genre and spark the imaginations of readers and publishers alike. They called it the Fantasy Fiction Tour; four authors from four different publishers uniting together for the cause of promoting the fantasy fiction genre. Last year’s successes included appearances in 15 cities, hitting everything from large chain bookstores to homeschool events, front page coverage by The Washington Post and even an interview on FoxNews.

Needless to say many new fans were made, and faithful readers popped up everywhere, surprising the four authors with gifts and rowdy welcomes into their cities.

This year - they are at it again with a West Coast tour that is twice as big as last year. They are calling it Motiv8 and are welcoming four additional authors to the team. Joining the original FFT “Fantastic Four” of Wayne Thomas Batson (Thomas Nelson), Christopher Hopper (Tsaba House), Sharon Hinck (NavPress), and Bryan Davis (Zondervan), are new comers Eric Reinhold (Creation House/Strang), LB Graham (P&R Publishing), Jonathan Rogers (Broadman & Holman Publishers) and the amazing Donita K. Paul (Waterbrook/Random House). Never before have so many fantasy/fiction authors from completely different publishing companies come together for a multi-city tour like this!

In addition to the full tour the Miller Brothers (that's us) have been selected to join the Motiv8 tour for the northwest portion of the event. It is an honor to be invited to join the tour and we would love to have a great gathering of people show up at each event. If you can make it to any of these locations please come and cheer us on. Having personally met several of these authors we can say without a shadow of a doubt that they are amazing individuals with a passion for great writing. We highly encourage you to check out the full tour schedule on their website at http://www.fantasyfictiontour.com/ and make plans to visit them when they come through your town.



The official schedule for our appearances is shown below.

Friday – October 3rd Abbotsford, BC, Canada
Mennonite Educational Institute (Middle School)
4081B Downes Road
Abbotsford BC
Canada V4X2M8

1pm – 3pm - Full school assembly
4:30pm – 6:00pm –Meet the Authors Dinner with 20 student reading contest winners
6:30pm – 8:30pm – Speaking Event with parents and students
8:30pm – Book Sales and Autograph session

Saturday – October 4th Seattle, Washington
Harvest Logos Bookstore 3pm to 5pm
115 N. 85th St. #100
Seattle, WA 98103
206-781-8725

Salt Shaker Bookstore – 6:30 to 8:30pm
1456 Cole St.
Enumclaw, WA, 98022
360.825.7258

Sunday - Ocotober 5th - Portland, Oregon
(TBD)

Looking forward to seeing you at one of these events!
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Just Another Bigfoot hoax?

After the recent Bigfoot hoax in Georgia I thought I had sworn off believing in the beast. But recently new evidence has caught my attention that perhaps it is actually alive and well. Just look at this interesting image below. Is it just me or is that our book the creature is holding? Could it be that Bigfoot actually likes to read fantasy fiction?

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August Rush - The Month that Nearly Escaped Us!

The past month has been a whirlwind of events and appearances and (to our shame) we have failed to post a blog update in quite awhile. So here is a blog entry to catch everyone up with what the Miller Brothers have been doing.

8/2: The VIP Pre-Release Party
We hosted an exclusive event for members of our VIP club (join at Luminationstudios.com for FREE) and family and friends. It was an exciting time and we had a super turn out this year. It was fantastic to see so many of you there. Those who came were treated to food, fun and a special game in which they could find the working title of the next book in the Hunter Brown series hidden throughout the room. For those who figured it out - great job! For those who are curious well let's just say that the title has nothing to do with Surfing On Mice or an Ice Forming Sun and leave it at that.


What a great looking family - if we do say so!

8/8: The Official Launch at WATCH Convention
Of course the big news since our last post is the official launch of the Hunter Brown book on 8/8/08. We kicked off the launch with an appearance at SPU (Seattle Pacific University) for the WATCH homeschool conference. The event was a huge success and we signed nearly 100 copies of the book for some new fans. The event lasted 2 days and we stayed in the dorm rooms with many of the other vendors and exhibitors. We also had a chance to present two seminars to homeschool families. One on "Inspiring the Artist in your Student" and another on "Inspiring the Writer in your Student". It was a lot of fun.

The seminar wasn't as boring as it looks in this picture, really!


See, I told you it wasn't all boring!


8/13 - 8/14: Writers Retreat for Hunter Brown Book 2
After a busy beginning to August, we were blessed to have the opportunity to get away for a couple days for a writers retreat. Escaping away to a cabin in Snoqualmie Pass we were ready to start planning for our next project. We were joined by our good friend and pastor, Ryan who helped us work through the many ideas we had been collecting for the next Hunter Brown book. The outline started to come together and we explored many details, events and characters that will be involved in the next story. It was an extremely productive time and one that we will long remember and cherish. Oh yeah, the Mt. High Hamburgers were very good too!



8/21 - 8/24: Church Campout
It is tradition every year for our church family (Valley Bible Church) to head for the hills and enjoy an extended weekend away. With clear skies overhead, and more than a million starts to capture the imagination at night we explored the wonder of God's green earth. How can you look at the world and not be amazed at God's artistry? One of my favorite memories from this trip was the night we used a video projector to project the movie "Ratatouille" on the back of the RV. There we were in the great outdoors roasting smores while watching a movie with our kids and other campers under the stars. Yeah - we were really ruffing it! :-) It was great fun anyway.


8/29 - Final Outline for Book 2 Completed
The final outline for Hunter Brown (book two) was due to the publisher today and we turned it in at the last possible moment. Karen and Robin (our editors at Warner) will be very happy. Now, we're waiting to hear if they like it or not...we'll keep you posted. Here's a quick teaser summary for those who are interested.

Hunter's connection with the Shadow has been broken, but the real battle has only begun. Upon returning home he discovers things are no longer as they used to be. For starters, he sees things no one else can. Yes, the Shadow are still alive and well in Destiny and they seem to be growing in number every day. To top things off, a mysterious figure seems to be following his every move.

Will Hunter be able to resist the Shadow alone...and who is this mysterious new stalker that haunts him as he goes?



The Stuff that fills in the gaps.
Well that brings us through the major events of the month. However, all throughout the month of August we have also been hard at work on several improvements to the Codebearers website as well as developing the next several Codebearer challenges that are scheduled for release early next week on http://www.codebearers.com/ Exciting stuff is on its way!

So, thanks for sticking with us through the August rush. I'm hoping the month of September slows down a bit so we can enjoy writing the next Hunter Brown book. Keep an eye out for some special events coming soon.

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We love the muppets!



Go Beaker Go!
3

Making a Splash at ICRS!

The last couple of weeks were a bit of a whirlwind. July 14th kicked off the annual ICRS (International Christian Retail Show) event in Orlando, FL. Each day was jammed packed full of meetings, interviews and book signings. Our enthusiastic publishers (Warner Press) pulled out all of the stops on our behalf and really made us feel like the stars of the show. For those of you who aren't aware of what ICRS is all about, it is the primary trade show where publishers present their latest offerings to Christian and family-friendly bookstores and licensee's around the globe.

Allan and I felt very blessed to be able to attend for the fourth year in a row. This time, we were given the royal treatment and were able to take part in a lot of fun stuff. Here's a short list of some of the highlights of our trip:

  • Book signing for Ten-Gallon Sam

  • Trying to keep up with a line over 100 people long for our 2-hour Hunter Brown book signing (sorry if we had to turn you away at the end)

  • Seeing a giant 20 foot banner promoting our novel

  • Seeing our book promoted on the back of each show bulletin

  • Several interviews by radio stations and TV

  • Seeing one of the characters we created in our latest novel as a real-life costumed character along side Bob & Larry, 3-2-1 Penguins, the Bernstein Bears
  • Chris nearly tackling Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungee
  • Meeting some really cool movie execs who are interested in our book
  • Signing books FOR renowned fantasy fiction author Bryan Davis (Dragons in our Midst)
  • Dinner with Chris Waters of Angel Wars fame
  • Personally giving away 200 Hunter Brown backpacks to booksellers
  • Meeting Ben Stein (producer and star of the recent "Expelled" movie)
  • Meeting "President Bush"

Here's a short photo snippet of our journey for you to enjoy!

Signing the Hunter Brown book for one of our young fans.
I asked Ben Stein for his money - but apparently somebody else already won it.
Not too many authors get endorsed by a "president".
He said he liked the book because it was easy to read.
One of the many interviews.

Signing a book for Bryan Davis, author the extraordinarily
successful Dragon's in Our Midst series

But after all the meetings had been made and the conference wound to a close, I must say my favorite part of all was receiving a special letter from one of the parents of the children who had acquired a copy of our Hunter Brown book at the show. She left the hand written letter at the Warner Press booth and it read as follows:

Dear Miller Brothers,

My Son Marek is thrilled with your book. The first thing out of his mouth this morning: "I couldn't put that book down last night. I love it! I stayed up past my bedtime."

He went on to tell me all he's read so far. I've never seen him so animated over a novel.

Thank you for your awesome novel. I'm sure its going to change Marek's view about reading. A mother's dream!

Thanks again,

Melissa

P.S. Can't wait to read it myself!

It's a message like this that makes all the long hours of writing completely worth it. Thanks for the message, Melissa. You really encouraged us as well.
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NEWS FLASH: Hunter Brown Novel Reportedly Stolen from Publisher!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Book piracy is on the rise - publishers are getting worried their books will be next!

At approximately 11 AM (PST) author Christopher Miller (the balder half of the infamous Miller Brothers team) received an unexpected and disturbing phone call from his publisher Warner Press. The news was not good. Apparently, the first shipment of the long awaited novel, Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow (written by Chris and his brother) arrived as scheduled to an undisclosed top secret Warner warehouse earlier this morning. However, within moments of the delivery, a disembodied hand emerged on the scene and swiped the very first copy of the highly anticipated book.

"When I first heard the news, I was stunned," Miller exclaimed. "I mean, I had heard there were a lot of people eager to get their hands on this book, but this is ridiculous!"

Photo evidence emerged shortly thereafter from the facility's security cameras confirming the incident and catching the criminal red handed (so to speak). Authorities on the scene were unable to apprehend the suspect before he/she/or...it slipped through their fingers taking the coveted first copy away.



Eyewitnesses on the scene were both shocked and outraged. "Whoever did this should be ashamed of themselves!" said one man who wished to remain unidentified. "Hands should have bodies...that's just the way it should be!"

Another woman, who was visibly shaken by the episode had this to say. "It's just wrong...and gross...and I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I mean, the thought of a hand just appearing out of nowhere, when you least expect it is...well...freaky."

One has to wonder what devious purpose does a disembodied hand have in stealing a book? After all, it has no head or eyes and will probably not be able to read it. The irony of the situation is astounding especially considering that the book is expected to be released for FREE online in its entirety as early as 8/8/08 (the official launch date of the book). You can also pre-order the book legally and have it shipped to your home when it is officially released.


So, while the motive remains unclear and the criminal remains at large (or small) we are asking for your help. If you recognize this hand or have any tips as to the whereabouts of the perpetrator we would appreciate hearing from you.

Help stop book piracy!

---------------------------------

Please forward this message to as many people as possible. The more people who see it, the better chance we have of catching the hand responsible.

You can PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!
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The Warner Press Staff

You know, we don't talk enough about how great it has been to work with the staff at Warner Press. These guys are awesome and we wanted to honor them by sharing a photo of the team. Here they are today after having happily recieved our first shipment of the Hunter Brown novel (due in stores 8/8/08).

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Final Poster Design

Okay - here's the final version.
Some people didn't like the symbols because it made them think of witchcraft or the occult. So, keeping in mind that we wanted a family friendly design that Mom's will buy for their kids...we opted to make a few changes to "brighten" the tone of the image without removing the drama of the image.

Let us know what you think!

If you really like it - you can now Officially PRE-ORDER Hunter Brown from our website! We'll include a poster for FREE and it will ship in time for you to get your copy on 8/8/08!

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!

Enjoy!

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HELP! We need your feedback...

Allan and I have been working hard on the Codebearers website and marketing material. Very soon we will have some exciting things to show you - but first we have a work in progress to review with you. We need your feedback on this poster design we've been working on. Tell us what you think and we'll take it into consideration as we finish up the design. Make sure you post your response in our poll as well!

Enjoy!

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Just a bit of fun...

You may hate yourself over this. Take some advice... be sure and think before you answer. Then click on the "Result" tab. Have fun!

Click here: How Smart Are You?
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A Renewal of Passion

A couple of years ago I attended my first ever Northwest Christian Writer's Association (NCWA) Writers Renewal. Back then, the conference was held at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) and the keynote speaker, Stephen Bly, reminded us to "seek first the kingdom of God". His teachings were never dull, always biblically sound and very encouraging. I am sure it was the combination of his teaching and God's hand that weekend that ultimately influenced a lunch conversation between Allan and I that inspired our first book (The Legend of Gid the Kid and the Black Bean Bandits)

The rest, as they say, is history!

This past weekend I returned to the Writer's Renewal conference (now held at Northshore Baptist in Bothell, WA) and was not disappointed. I must say - any budding or seasoned writers in the Northwest (or for that matter the country) should make this event a top priority on their schedules EVERY YEAR!

Friday kicked off the event with scheduled editor/agent meetings from several top organizations (Focus on the Family, Cook Communications, Broadman & Holman, and many, many, more). This was everyone's opporutnity to schedule face time directly with the agents/authors and pitch your ideas for books first hand. Many publishers do not consider unsolicited manuscripts - but they WILL consider your work following the show with the contact info they provide in these meetings. Very valuable.

Saturday was a day of workshops. The speakers in attendance this year were fantstic and credible teachers who were full of advice and techniques designed to hone your skills. My only complaint is that there were so many great sessions happening at once I needed to clone myself to attend all of them. In the end I settled for swapping and copying notes with others who had attended the sessions I missed. It worked out great this year, but hopefully next year they will have recordings available.

My favorite sessions were the two "Speculative Fiction" classes taught by Kathy Tyers (author of The Firebird Trilogy and several Star Wars books for Lucasfilm). This lady knows her fantasy fiction inside and out and provided enough information for me to scribble over 7 pages of notes in one of her workshops alone. Another Hot session was given by Jeffrey Overstreet entitled "God's Magic - the uses and abuses of Supernatural Storytelling". He tackled the concept that Fairy Tales are though of as dangerous by many Christians and unfolded for us a compelling argument that there is more to fairy tales (and storytelling) than meets the eye.

Cec Murphey commanded respect as the keynote speaker for this years conference. He is the author of 90 Minutes in Heaven (among many others) and a very charismatic personality. Cec encouraged us in one of the sessions to "show don't tell" and ran us through a rigorous gauntlet of excersises to help rid our minds of passive words.

In the end, I came away full. The weekend will be forever etched in my mind as wonderfully as the first time I went. There's just something about surrounding yourself with exquisite writers and industry professionals that awakens the story inside of you. The spark of creativity is re-ignited and the ideas start to fly. Thank God for events like this one.