CSSF Tour of the Lost Genre Guild: Reflections

It was a busy 3 last days in 2009 for the tour members of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour as they featured the Lost Genre Guild. We at the LGG would like to thank the CSFF bloggers for their time and efforts!

Some stats and reflections:
  • 37 bloggers participated in the Lost Genre Guild tour with 40+ posts! Grace did a great job of noting some memorable posts earlier in the week and I'd like to give a special shout-out to a couple of people:
Make sure to read Stephen Rice's 3 days of posts. He makes good use of his characters to provide information, good laughs and truths.

Timothy Hicks' posts give some great insight into the guild as he interviewed Frank Creed.

Two guild members, Karina Fabian and Terri Main deserve special attention. Karina interviewed a few guild members on what the LGG means to them and Terri wrote a beautiful essay about the impact of the LGG on her writing life.

And finally, a nod D.G.D. Davidson's direction for gathering the most interesting responses that veered off into discussions of speculative fiction and even romance!

  • The LGG Blog visits were up ~60% from the previous week.
  • The Lost Genre Guild site hits doubled over the tour days (up to ~1300 hits)
  • 21 new members have joined the LGG in the past 30 days and we've received 10 new requests since the beginning of the tour.
  • The LGG now has 143 members.

Some Reflections:
  • We received some very complimentary posts and thank people for promoting the guild and its goals. While promoting the guild, please remember y'all are promoting the entire industry of Speculative fiction respectful of a Christian worldview!
  • We received great feedback about our site, even though lostgenreguild.com is NOT the whole of the guild's raison d'etre.
  • Some criticism we received about the website was very useful and constructive; others not so much.
I am afraid that the LGG website is not about glitz and fancy stuff—it is simple and yes, amateur (just like we are!). We want to disseminate information, we want our pages to load quickly. CNN and Yahoo!, for example, are Web 1.0 AND are user-friendly.

However there are some really good ideas that we will implement (or have implemented):
  • dead link from site to Mentors bulletin board (fixed! and thanks for pointing this out)
  • a page with a range of graphic buttons for others to use to promote the guildthe LGG shield is out of sync with the overall look of the site (yes, it is, and it is a matter of debate about what to do about it since there is sentimental value attached to it)
  • fonts in the LGG catalogue are often difficult to read (thank you to Robert Treskillard for the last 3)
  • embed the blog in the website so that the navigation bar links directly to the blog html site description tips for better browser presence (Phyllis Wheeler, thank you for this idea; Phyllis even gave us an example of a good description for the site!)
  • update the speculative fiction subgenre list (as a result of Rebecca Miller's post) mission statements on both the LGG site and Guild Review that makes it clear that the LGG is not an elitist organization—that we support ALL Christian spec-fic no matter who the publisher is (thanks to posts made by Rebecca Miller, Jason Joyner, and more! obviously we haven't been clear about our mission).

And, that's all folks! All Christian spec-fic writers, published or unpublished, thank you for helping promote the genre.


Why the Genre is "Lost"? Part 2 of the LGG Tour Wrap-Up

During the three-day CSFF tour of the Lost Genre Guild, I was pleased to see so many positive responses to the guild and its mission. Grace has done a fine job of highlighting these responses in her "Blogger Buzz on the LGG" and "Quotable Quotes"

I'd like to take a couple of quotes:
Terri Main responded to Keanan Brand's post on Adventures in Fiction by saying,
[The LGG] has also been an inspiration to Christian writers who's stories didn't always fit into the Christian romance or contemporary "mainstream" fiction of traditional Christian publishing.

Genie (aka Steve Rice) noted at his blog Back to the Mountains,
So it's accurate to say that the status quo hinders new writers. The Lost Genre Guild helps new writers get noticed and read, even though it isn't a publisher itself.

For our curious readers, the Lost Genre Guild also promotes and represents authors whose novels do not fit into the big Christian publishers' mold (or is that "molt"? see Ansric's post "Deep Enough, Let's Try to Get Back Out").

To again quote Frank Creed:
Major Christian publishing houses have experimented with trials in the young adult fantasy market and signed a handful of authors. (Unfortunately, the major houses have yet to venture further-the adult fantasy market remains largely untapped.) The independent houses are taking the lead, and the risks, to get good Christian speculative fiction to readers but their efforts are blocked in several ways.

Horror, disguised on Christian bookshelves with spiritual thriller or chiller labels, has been accepted since the late 1980s with Frank Peretti's first novels. T.L. Hines and Ted Dekker carry on today with their supernatural thrillers.

That leaves science fiction. Thought Probes: Philosophy Through Science Fiction Literature, a college textbook, describes sci-fi as "the handmaiden of worldviews." For over a decade, Christian sci-fi authors have seized this opportunity as the perfect vehicle for the Christian worldview. The genre, alas, remains virtually nonexistent in Christian bookstores.

Christendom has always been suspicious of and slow to accept new things. Science fiction, horror and fantasy stories of faith have long been marginalized by believers. Not just believers who once said that rock music was of the Devil and could never glorify God, but even by actual genre fans. (
Christian Spec-Fic in the Publishing Industry, July 2008)

While it is apparent, and understandable, that many Christian readers and lovers of our genre don't know about the state of the publishing industry where spec-fic is concerned, writers know this all to well. It is one reason why they approach independent and small publishing houses or even self-publish. The Big Christian houses won't touch what they write.

Rebecca Miller, in her post on Speculative Faith, hits the nail on the head: "My thinking has been that many writers have grown frustrated with waiting for changes in Christian publishing."

However, she goes on to wonder, "I'm not sure why those writers haven't pursued publication with general market presses. Maybe they have, with no success."

It could well be the lack of facial expression and voice intonation that comes with internet correspondance, but I would like to address these statements as I interpreted them.

Dear readers, please do not ever assume that all the best in Christian fiction comes solely from the large Christian publishing houses.

Yes, there are some mainstream publishers now taking on Christian fiction in their imprints, but these places primarily market to the Christian Booksellers Association-affliated bookstores. Point is that whether they are Christian or General market publishers, they will still not readily offer some types of fiction (same old, different name).

And, there are excellent offerings from the small traditional houses, the independent traditional houses and from self-publishers. It is from these places that you will find that which the big boys won't touch and it has nothing to do with quality.

How do I know this, you might ask?

Well, first of all, look around your local bookstore, whether Christian or Barnes & Noble. Do you see Christian sci-fi? Have you ever seen the label Christian horror? I am here to say that these subgenres do exist but not in great numbers nor are they published by the big houses.

Consider these comments:
Jeff Gerke who wrote and worked for Strang Communications, NavPress, and Multnomah said,
"After twelve years of beating my head against the wall, it dawned on me that the entire CBA fiction industry is set up to service a demographic that is not interested in speculative fiction. Nothing against the CBA or that wonderful demographic. But no matter what I tried, so long as this was the demographic those publishers reached, Christian speculative fiction would never become a beloved genre." ("One-of-a-Kind Christian Publishing Company," May 2008)

An acquisitions editor for a major Christian publishing house responded to a post on a popular speculative fiction group blog. The editor publicly stated that more genre fiction would be published if only submitted manuscripts were of a higher-quality. His message was: go out and learn the craft.

Just a few months after the interview, a guild member spoke with the same editor on the phone. The editor (who asked that his name be kept private) admitted that of the five or six excellent science fiction projects that had been pitched to the company's board, all were rejected outright; not because of quality, but simply because they were sci-fi.

Another editor for a different "large" press made this statement:
The ECPA [Evangelical Christian Publishers Association] houses will never publish a book about vampires, or should I say, that contains the word "vampire."

I'd say that these are good enough reasons for novelists of adult fantasy (not the XXX variety!), horror and science fiction (respectful of Christian beliefs) to bypass the big boys. For anyone to suggest these writers should have more patience and wait for large press publication (or that they've been turned down from, as if their work didn't have the quality necessary) is naive, in my opinion.

Christian readers of speculative fiction: look to the small presses as well as the larger ones for your reading selections. And, please read further than the publisher labels.

Defining Magic in Christian Fiction

Please welcome our first guest blogger of the new era - the one and
only Andrea Graham, as she defines magic according to Biblical principles...

Stage magic: smoke and mirrors. Illusions of natural origin without any supernatural power involved. Only scripture anyone could possibly hang someone who does this on is to avoid even the appearance of evil.

Magic as the Bible defines it: supernatural power given by demons rather than by God. This magic is by definition evil (whatever its color) and is strictly forbidden in the bible with no exceptions. Before the Cross, those who practiced it were to be stoned. After the cross, in Acts, the Church had occultists who repented and embraced Christ burn their spell books, a way of renouncing their old way of life and completely turning their backs on their former allegiance.

Spiritual gift: supernatural power that comes *directly* from God. This is the real deal that the devil seeks to imitate (crudely) and counterfeit via magic. The bible contains very specific lists of supernatural abilities that God gives, plus Christ's miracles--in His first coming, He laid His own power aside relied upon the same Holy
Spirit that empowers His people.

Note the confusion between the first two is precisely why wiccans spell their magic as "magick," to differentiate it from stage variety.

Also, in Fantasy, to be biblical, you mainly need to make it clear that any supernatural power the good guys use comes DIRECTLY from the Lord God (Jehovah/YHWH/Whatever name you give Him). The bad guys can use all the magic they want, but it needs to be the inferior crude imitation that the reality is, or at least the good guys need to make such a distinction and not use the same terms to describe their power.
Now, an apprentice good guy may well have to wonder, "if their power is so inferior, why are they whipping our tails?" (A: because the bad are often better at being bad than we are at being good)

In Science Fiction, you can do technological miracles, which are by definition natural and hence not magic. For instance, in the Order of the Sword (a Laser & Sword serial) the Sword's sidekick, er, equal partner, Revelator invented a nanobiotic device that can detect and interpret brainwaves, which he can mentally block or focus in on to eavesdrop on folks' thoughts. He also has the device set to unconsciously scan the brainwaves of those around him and inform him of any danger. VoilĂ , demon-free telepathy. Laser & Sword invented this technological miracle because the first draft had our assistant editor (that would be me) threatening to resign.

Of course, God knows everything, and can reveal what He pleases to whom He pleases; we call this prophecy. In practical practice, it takes discernment and a firmly grounded knowledge of God's Word to distinguish between God's power, Satan's counterfeit, and human error.

In Christ's Truth,
Andrea Graham


Lost Genre Guild Promotes ALL Christian Spec-fic

An interesting few days it has been as the Lost Genre Guild was toured by the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour. This is a three-part post and at the end I will summarize the tour's impact on/ for the guild. Now, however, I'd like to address an important concern and begin with a quote from Frank Creed the sole founder of the Lost Genre Guild:

At least part of every Christian writer's motivation is bringing glory to God. The Christian publishing world is not as golden-rule as they would have readers believe. There exists an ugly profit-motive double standard, even for genres like Biblical sci-fi that traditional houses won't touch.

Anyone who takes the time to look at
LostGenreGuild .com will see that the Guild promotes quality speculative fiction no matter who publishes it. Members of the guild promote the good CBA-approved fiction alongside Indie novels.

It's what we who love the genre must all do, no matter how the prejudice swings. Raising awareness for Christian and Biblical speculative fiction, or any non-CBA genre, is a team effort.

Our art is not about fortune, glory, and power. As long as we allow profiteers and pride to squelch such powerful worldview literary ministries, we're not doing our best for His glory. ("Christian Speculative Fiction in the Publishing Industry," July 2008)

Not news to anyone in the Lost Genre Guild this is what we are all about, promoting the genre and helping each other promote our work.

Rebecca Miller, the mover and shaker behind the CSFF, and a great hard-working proponent for Christian speculative fiction wrote a tour follow-up post at Speculative Faith to address an issue that concerned her—her opinon, in turn, concerned me!

A couple of the bloggers on the tour pointed out that the Guild Review contained reviews of only non-"CBA" books. While on the face, this is true at this point in time, the problem the Guild Review has isn't about excluding "CBA" books—it is a matter of logistics and . . . well, I could go on at length. Check the mission statement of the Guild Review to see that the site isn't elitist.

I mention the Guild Review only because it was comments about the site that "has given [Rebecca Miller] pause." She goes on to say:

But here's the bottom line. Shouldn't we who want to see more Christian speculative fiction support it no matter what form or from what venue it comes to the reader? I don't see the value of segregating traditional from non-traditional. (Speculative Faith, December 2008)

Two things:
First is a note to self: update the LGG website to ensure that everyone who comes by understands that the guild is not elitist. To this end, today I updated the Guild Review to provide a direct link to the mission statement on every page.

Second: I am confused. The only place I don't see segregation of "traditional from non-traditional" is at the Lost Genre Guild. So I do take exception to this statement; let me explain,

The guild was set up to raise awareness about all well-written speculative fiction that is respectful of the Christian worldview. Among our membership, for example, are some of the best-selling fantasy authors published by the big Christian houses—one only needs to look at the LGG Bookshelves to see that our guild doesn't discriminate as far as membership goes.

As our fearless leader and spokesperson, Frank Creed's public statements and promotion of speculative fiction have only ever been inclusionary, however, he does not ignore the inequities of the Christian publishing industry as a whole.

In her post entitled "CSFF Presents: Lost Genre Guild Promotes Christian SFF Beyond Its Group" Karina Fabian, LGG member and CSFF blog tour member said:

One thing Frank [Creed] and others in the LGG have always said is that we're not just here to promote our own works, but the genre in general.

What I would dearly love to see is other sites and organizations do the same: promote well-written works in the genre that are respectful of Christian beliefs and values, no matter what the name or affliation of the publisher.


Quotable Quotes Continue...

As the CSFF blog tour goes on, we're seeing a continuing stream of LGG-related posting. Again, here are some snippets with links to more.

Karina Fabian in The Lost Genre Guild and What It Means for Readers: We want readers to know that exciting Christian sci-fi, fantasy and horror is out there, and we want to make it easy for you to find it.
Karina's also laid on a party called Meet the Members - in which you'll find pertinent information about some of the movers and shakers.

Nissa said: I find it exciting, as a Catholic convert who grew up Protestant, to find that the Lost Genre Guild is open to both Catholic and Protestant varieties of Christian faith.

About the booklist, Crista said: I found some “jewels” on the website that I am very anxious to read, and I look forward to future updates.

Phyllis Wheeler reviewed our blog archive from the days of the Guild's beginnings, and noted: Clearly there are plenty of people out there who love to use this set of tools to be creative and to convey some of God’s great truths.

Terri Main wrote about how joining the Guild has impacted on her writing life: I'm going to get personal, because the Lost Genre Guild literally changed my life and restored something I thought I had put away forever.

The Hobbiton Hill bloggers said: They've done a nice job enlarging the boundaries for Christian speculative fiction to include topics I hadn't thought of. How about space opera? Or cyberpunk? Their list of featured books include some recent offerings that are excellent...

D.G.D. Davidson wrote a post with the intriguing title: I woke up one morning and discovered that my genre was gone.

Cherryblossom said: These people have decided to rescue the lost genre and bring it to where it is accessible for people to read as easily as romance or historical.

Timothy Hicks talks about some Guild books he's got his hands on: Here at last I found other people who enjoyed a good fantasy, science fiction, or horror story. And they were Christian authors. I was hooked.

Andrea Graham has apparently had a GMTA moment and posted a round-up of other bloggers' posts, plus a silly picture of Frank.

Steve Rice never disappoints - this time it's a post covering recycled cardboard boxes, the horrifying underbelly of the Guild, a Mysterious Figure, a cat (what, just one?), and the Chicken Booksellers' Association.

Becky Miller makes an introduction to the Guild and goes into some detail on the question of genre definitions.

Rick Copple, who wasn't on this tour, has also arrived and says about the LGG: In the short time I’ve been on board with them, I feel that I’ve not only gained support for my writing and marketing, but a whole new set of friends that understand where I’m at, because most of them are there too!

That sums it up pretty well, Rick.
And somehow I don't think it's over yet!
Party on, dudes...
Yes, that's a quote from a sci-fi movie - who can tell me which one?


Blogger Buzz on the Lost Genre Guild

Here's some of the things people are saying about the Lost Genre Guild on the CSFF Blog Tour this week...

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the people who are involved in the Guild...Many of them have enjoyed a small measure of success in the world of publishing, having found publishers for their books, articles, and short stories. Others are newer to this crazy writing world we have immersed ourselves, and are in the process of finding their literary voice. That is why I see the purpose and value of the Guild...All in all, I cannot think of a reason why any writer would not be involved with the Lost Genre Guild.
~ Mike Lynch at http://mikelynchbooks.blogspot.com/2008/12/lost-genre-guild-review.html

Christians who are science fiction, fantasy, and horror fans don't often look on the shelves of their favorite Christian bookstores for the latest and best and the science fiction/fantasy section isn't usually bursting with identifiably Christian offerings either. Frank's site is another attempt to bridge that gap. He has some cool-looking and, in most cases, little known books in his editorial review section, Like many of the people you will meet during our tour, Frank Creed and the authors he represents are doing this as a labor of love.
~ Timothy Wise at http://emporiausa.net/Cafe%20Main%20Page.html

The Lost Genre Guild has taken the lead in addressing the vacuum of Christian speculative fiction on the shelves of Christian bookstores...The group was formed by founder Frank Creed to confront this issue by way of force. We are a large, strong group, and numbers grow daily.
~ Brandon Barr at http://www.christiansciencefiction.blogspot.com

...the Lost Genre Guild seeks to expand the allotted shelf space for this kind of fiction by exploring beyond the safe boundaries of what is currently called "Christian fiction"...
~ Keanan Brand at http://adventuresinfiction.blogspot.com

...the status quo hinders new writers. The Lost Genre Guild helps new writers get noticed and read, even though it isn't a publisher itself.
~ Steve Rice at http://ansric.blogspot.com

Timothy Hicks interviews Frank Creed at http://fantasythyme.blogspot.com

See also interviews with Terri Main, Grace Bridges and Karina Fabian at the Virtual Book Tour de Net.

And don't forget: Tonight at 7PM PST you can join the Lost Genre Chat at Second Life - here: http://slurl.com/secondlife/North%20Bound%20Marina/227/25/25. If you're not registered at SL already then come a bit early to do that, please!


Online Genre Events This Week

Today is the first day of the Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog Tour, and this month it's featuring...us! So all of these people are going to comment on Lost Genre activities, one of which is this blog. Check out the links below to see what they say. We'll be back tomorrow with a collection of quotes from those who post today.

Brandon Barr Justin Boyer Keanan Brand Kathy Brasby Grace Bridges Valerie Comer Courtney Frank Creed Amy Cruson CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson Janey DeMeo Jeff Draper April Erwin Karina Fabian Andrea Graham Todd Michael Greene Katie Hart Timothy Hicks Joleen Howell Jason Isbell Cris Jesse Jason Joyner Kait Carol Keen Mike Lynch Magma Margaret Rachel Marks Rebecca LuElla Miller Nissa John W. Otte Steve Rice Crista Richey Mirtika Hanna Sandvig James Somers Robert Treskillard Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespac Phyllis Wheeler Timothy Wise

Also tomorrow: Terri Main is hosting the next Lost Genre Chat in Second Life. Here's what she says...

We are going to restart our meetings in Second Life. Tomorrow [Tuesday December 30th] at 7 p.m. Pacific time also SLT we will be meeting at my place. The SLURL is


If you are an SL resident just click that or paste it in your browser and it will take you to a webpage that will open your SL software and drop you into my living room landing zone. I built a stage there to land on I hope it works.

If you are not an SL Member, you can join at http://www.secondlife.com . You do have to complete a "training course" on Orientation Island the first time you log in. So, if you are planning on joining add about a half hour to set up your avatar and complete the course.

We will be having a general discussion about Christian Speculative fiction. After the new year we will be having chats with authors and themed chats. Right now, we will be going on alternating weeks. But maybe we will be able to go to a weekly schedule if some others want to help out.