- Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life
It's snowing again. Coming down pretty heavy. The weather man says five to eight inches this time.
I was going to call it an insult, but no. The last one was an insult. This is the one there's no alternative to laughing over. Even if it puts down a foot, I declare here and now I won't shovel it. It'll be gone in a couple days anyhow.
I'm beginning to think we need to draw lots to figure out who offended the Almighty.
Only I'm afraid it's me.
Anyway, our friend Grim at Grim's Hall has posted a review of Hailstone Mountain, with a call for discussion on a theological point which I, frankly, had never actually connected to the scene in the book he's talking about. But now that he mentions it, I guess he's right.
The final figures on our free offer of Hailstone Mountain yesterday show upwards of 1,000 downloads, which strikes me as pretty good. We’ve gotten a fair number of sales in the backwash today as well.
So in a mood of thanksgiving, I offer the video below, the best version I could find of a Christian song that (in my opinion) has never gotten the attention it deserves, Rest Within His Sanctuary.
You can also download the MP3 from Amazon here, which I did. This professional version, also, is not quite up to the original I remember from the radio some years back. I’m pretty sure it was recorded by the Lillenaas Singers (Haldor Lillenaas, by the way, was born in Bergen, Norway. Just thought you’d like to know that).
If you sometimes wonder what makes me smile, well, the answer is that few things do. But this song does. I endorse it even though I strongly suspect its purpose is to promote the schismatic Calvinist doctrine of Eternal Security.
Broad-minded, that’s what I am.
I'm happy to report that our free book day (not over yet, you can still get it here until midnight, I think) seems to have been a success. We've given away more than 750 downloads, last time I checked, and one may hope that this might attract a few readers and referrals. Hailstone Mountain reached #2 on a couple of free Christian fantasy books lists today as well.
To put the cherry on the sundae, Loren Eaton posted a review at I Saw Lightning Fall. And we got a link from Vox Day of Vox Popoli.
Now I shall lean back and let all this adulation go to my head.
Thanks to everyone who helped promote it.
In our infinite benevolence and generosity, Ori and I are making my new e-book, Hailstone Mountain, available for free download on Tuesday, April 16.
One day only! Act now! Unless it's not Tuesday yet. Or it's Wednesday.
Free on Tuesday. That's the deal. Tell your friends.
Roberto Estreitinho writes about reading. "If by page 30 of a book I’m not hooked, I stop reading," he says, and if it's a long book he begins to have doubts about, he skips to the end. "If it’s worthy of understanding how the author got there, read it all. If not, congratulations. You just avoided wasting time." (via 99u)
On that note, The Unofficial #TGC13 Discount E-Book Store is open with many discounted eBooks from the authors at The Gospel Coalition Conference in Orlando this week.
I apologize for the cliffhanger ending on this one, but only out of politeness, because I did it on purpose. You can buy the book here. It doesn't cost much.
One of the thralls came to me then with a complaint. As you may recall from my earlier tales, Erling had a plan for his thralls whereby they bought their freedom through labor carried out in the evenings, after their day’s work for him was done. As his priest and the only man about who knew letters, I was in charge of running the thing (granted, the Norse have a kind of writing of their own, but I don’t know it, and Erling wanted me to do the job since it had been, in part, my idea, thus earning me the headache). The thrall was unsatisfied with the plot of ground he’d been given to sow barley on. I ended having to go and inspect it with him. I can’t recall now how I resolved the matter, but I suppose I must have. It was evening and suppertime when I headed back to the steading at Sola, entering the loose oblong of buildings that surrounded the yard. My goal was the new hall, set end-to-end with the old hall which we used only for great feasts these days. The day had cooled enough that I wished I’d worn my cloak. I was wearing layman’s clothes, as most priests in Norway did in those days, except for special occasions.
I went into the entry room, then turned right and stepped over the threshold into the high, smoky hall. It was peat smoke, a homely smell. A long fire burned in the hearthway down the middle. Pillars of wood that marched down either side of the hearthway upheld the rafters. Fixed benches for the diners to sit on ran down both side walls and across the far end, and before them trestle tables had been set up for eating. Erling’s high seat was midway down the bench on my left, between two specially carved pillars. My place was on his right. Erling’s wife Astrid Trygvesdatter, fair headed and great with child, had her seat on the women’s bench at the end. Their little boy Aslak sat beside her, when she could get him to sit still. Erling’s mother Ragna sat on Aslak’s other side.
The seat for the honored guest was on the bench across from Erling. Our honored guest tonight was in fact a woman–Thorbjorg Lambisdatter, a young widow who owned her own trading ships and had gone from being a prosperous to a very wealthy merchant. (Lawfully the business belonged to a brother I’d never met, but he’d been lamed in battle and was home-bound.) Thorbjorg was a tall, robust woman with a strong face and fiery red hair. She might have looked almost mannish were it not for her slender hands and graceful walk. Read the rest of this entry . . .
I think I mentioned that I did a podcast interview for Baen Books a couple weeks back, about the "Vikings" TV series. I wasn't aware it had been posted -- last week, I think. Anyway, if you go here, you can scroll down and listen to the one second from the top.
Hailstone Mountain can be purchased for Kindle here.
I returned my attention to the fine day. Sola farm, named for the sunny southern slope on which it stood, gave a generous view of the country south along the Norwegian coast. Looking that way I had the blue sea to my right, bending into Sola Bay whose wicked surf was our constant chorus. We tasted the brine in the air always, like breakfast fish. Stretching southward was the unremarkable but rich country of Jaeder, flat by Norwegian standards and rocky, good country for raising grain and digging peat.
I could not see north as I stood, but just so you’ll know, there was more of the same kind of country in that direction, interrupted by the great water of the Hafrsfjord, the land stretching northward toward the tip of Jaeder, which is a peninsula ending in the Boknafjord. Off to our east was more of the Boknafjord and Erling’s winter market of Stavanger, with mountains beyond, and north over the water was the rest of Norway, a rocky and mountainous country fit only for goats and trolls if you want my opinion.
I tell you this to explain why Erling was a busy man. Norway, “the north road,” is a long land, and ships go ever up and down the coast, for trade mostly, but also for war. If you’re coming from the south, around the southern tip at Lindesness, you pass the regions of Agder and Jaeder. Agder and Jaeder are niggling for harbors. The first good harbors are up in our country, at Risa and in the Hafrsfjord.
So if you mean to make that trip, it’s good to be on friendly terms with Erling Skjalgsson, lord of Sola. One may, with luck and a fair wind, pass by Erling’s country on a long summer day, but it’s not a thing to gamble on.
All this had been true even before the late King Olaf Trygvesson gave Erling, his brother-in-law, lordship over the country from Lindesness all the way north to Stad, thus adding another good day’s sail to our reach.
True, this lordship was disputed now, Olaf Trygvesson being dead at the bottom of the Baltic and his enemies Jarl Erik and Jarl Svein ruling up in Nidaros as sworn men of Svein Forkbeard, the king of Denmark.
But Erling Skjalgsson was not a man to give ground to trifles like kings and mortality. He ruled as he had ruled, and his enemies had failed to take that rule from him. Change seemed even less likely now that Jarl Erik had been summoned to help his king chastise the English.
Hailstone Mountain can be purchased for Kindle here.
At last the girl Freydis came into view, yellow-haired and buxom, leaping the fence lightly (giving me a glimpse of a pretty ankle whether I liked or not) and running lightly through the grass to her uncle, Lemming. Her uncle stopped what he was doing and gave her his full attention, as he ever did.
“I need a new ribbon,” she said. “A blue one, to braid in my hair. Deirdre has some she wove. She’ll trade me one for one of your bronze pins.”
Lemming summoned his strength and said, “No.”
Freydis pouted and asked, “Why?” She was a master pouter, that girl. God had given her a fair, plump mouth and she knew how to use it to get her way, as many men had learned, even men better defended (like me) against her whims than Lemming. Read the rest of this entry . . .
I should mention that if you have an established book blog and would like a free review e-copy of Hailstone Mountain, I can arrange to get you one.
I sat on the stone home-field fence, watching Lemming in the meadow. The big, ugly smith was doing his sword drill, as was his daily custom. Dividing an unseen circle in the air again and again, swinging Smith’s Bane, the heirloom sword Erling Skjalgsson had given him, with a corded arm that never seemed to weary, making whistling sounds in the air. It was a beautiful bright day in spring, an uncommon enough event to make me wish to sit in the sun and revel a bit. A seagull lit a little distance away to make a meal of something he’d snatched. Another gull flew in to dispute it with him, and they squabbled loudly, using their beaks on one another. The disputed prize, I saw at last, was a bloody seagull chick.
“He’s good,” said a voice, and I turned my head to see Erling Skjalgsson coming up behind me, tall and fair, dressed in a blue linen summer shirt.
“I suppose he is. He’s been in fights enough and he still lives. I’m no judge of swordsmanship. My folk weren’t fine enough for swords. An axe for me, when I must needs fight.”
“Would you like to learn?”
I smiled. “Steinulf once told me, ‘Seven days to learn to fight with an axe. Seven years to learn to use a sword.’”
Erling smiled too. “That’s about right. Still, you’ll be that much older seven years hence whatever you do. If you’d like to add swordsmanship to your skills, you’ve but to ask.”
“Thank you, but I think there are better ways for a priest to spend seven years.”
“Please yourself.” Erling settled his elbows on the stones and watched Lemming. “I wonder where he learned,” he said.
“What do you mean? He practices every day.”
“As you yourself pointed out, it takes seven years, more or less. It’s not been that long he’s had the sword. He was skilled from the day he filched that weapon from my father’s dead hand, though only new-freed, and no thrall is trained to the sword.”
“How do you explain it then?”
“I think Lemming wasn’t born a thrall. I think before his enthrallment he was raised as a warrior. We contrived to get a little of his story from him, as one pries meat from a mussel, how his brother was sacrificed and how Freydis is his niece, but there’s more to the story.”
“I suppose we could ask him.”
“Do you think it would do any good?”
“With Lemming? No.”
“I agree. But I do wonder.”
“And now so do I.” Read the rest of this entry . . .
A look at my sales figures suggests to me that I need to promote Hailstone Mountain, my new novel. So I'll be doing some snippets. Here's the first, actually the Prologue:
I sat in the darkness. The mountain-rats slept around me. I could see some of their forms in the firelight. My brown cat lay curled against my leg, purring soundlessly. They’d shared their supper with us—dried fish.
I felt no need of sleep just then. I’d slept a lot on my high stone bed.
“Are you awake, Outsider?” a voice asked. At first I thought it might be the cat speaking again, but then I saw it was a boy, one of the mountain-rats. Although I could not see him clearly, I thought I knew which one he was. Sixteen winters or so, with bright blue eyes.
“I’m awake, my son.”
“Why do you call me your son?”
“It’s what I call everyone. Son or daughter. It’s my business to be a father to people.”
“I never knew for sure who my father was.”
“That’s just why I’m here.”
“May I ask you a question, then, …Father?”
“Have you been out in the great world?”
“Aye. And mean to be again.”
“Is it really there?” Read the rest of this entry . . .
Some days everything happens at once. The Year of the Warrior is now available as an e-book, from Baen.
Readmill is an eReader app for iPads and iPhone which connects readers and authors in a community with the books. It appears to be Goodreads.com with eBooks. You can share quotes and get recommendations from your friends. They recently added a page of recommended stores for buying iPad/iPhone formated books easily. You can see what's going in a post like this one featuring highlights from the past week.
In related news, I've started to use The Old Reader, an RSS feed aggregator. It's good. I like it so far.
Do you use either of these sites/apps?
Here I am, it's approaching 7:00 p.m. I need to get to translating, and I have nothing to blog about. Today's big challenge at work was starting the training of my newest assistant, a young man from Haiti. I shouldn't have to train new assistants at this time of year, as the ones I trained in the fall aren't supposed to have expired yet. But I've been running through assistants a little more rapidly than usual of late. One would almost think there was something wrong with my management style... No, no, that's ridiculous.
Anyway, I praised Robert Mullin's space fantasy novel Bid the Gods Arise a while back, and for a very short time you can get the Kindle version free here. I think you'll enjoy it.
Intelligently run independent bookshops have a future. I've no doubt about that.. We have at least two in the Scottish Borders , one in Selkirk and the other in St Boswell’s, which are a pleasure to visit, precisely because they are run by people who combine an interest in books and literature with an interest in their customers and an awareness of their tastes. Without such interest and awareness, few bookshops will be long for this world.
Sam Storms has an 11 book list of his ten best books of 2012, included two books on, if not actually by, Jonathan Edwards. He also worries that D. A. Carson's The Intolerance of Tolerance will not find the readers who need it.
Crossway has a butt full of recommendations for serious readers (I'm sorry. I meant to type heart-full, but a Twitter trend got in my way #replaceheartwithbutt So juvenile.) Crossway's staff recommend serious titles each, from John Frame's The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God to Ender's Game. They also asked their authors to recommend reading for the coming year, and of course after removing all of the self-promotion, they had a pretty good list.
For more non-fiction recommendations, Tony Reinke of Desiring God Ministry has a list of twelve.
If you haven't perused the fun novels, etc. at The Rabbit Room, you should.
Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, known in the church calendar as St. Thomas' Day. It was on St. Thomas' Day in the year 1028 that Erling Skjalgsson, hero of my novels, The Year of the Warrior, West Oversea, and (soon) Hailstone Mountain, was killed at the battle of Soknasund. (Or Boknasund.)
By coincidence or divine appointment, I have today reached verbal agreement with Baen Books to re-release The Year of the Warrior in e-book form. Look for it soon.
Addendum: Thanks to Ori Pomerantz for facilitating the negotiations.
If you have an e-book reader, you can get C. S. Lewis' classic space trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength, for $1.99 each for a limited time.
The links are to Amazon for Kindle versions, because we get a cut of our linked Amazon sales. But if you've got a Nook or Kobo, you can buy the books through the Harper & Row site here.
This has been a service of your friends at Brandywine Books.
And Rupert Murdoch, I suppose.
Goodreads has announced their winners for the 2012 Choice Awards in twenty categories. See what users have reviewed and scored highest for the past year.
Of potential interest for our esteemed readers, here are some $1.99 deals for today only:
Flyleaf copy: "Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) published 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power." His stories of almost human androids and clairvoyance have pressed in on us as part of a kind of modern mythology. This is a biography or exploration of the author who had many fascinating and some bizarre ideas.
Read the rest of this entry . . .
Today, America, it is your duty and honor to make what will be perhaps the most important choice of our lifetimes.
No, not that political race. Most of you, being upright citizens, have probably cast your votes in that one already.
No, I'm talking about the solemn and portentous decision as to what the cover of my next novel will be like.
As you know if you've been around here, I've gone to e-publishing, with the generous assistance of our friend Ori Pomerantz, who does the technical publishing stuff, and Phil Wade of this blog, who designs the covers. (You can see my previous masterwork, Troll Valley, here.)
The new book is another Erling Skjalgsson novel, and I call it Hailstone Mountain. It's a sort of H. Rider Haggard-esque story, centering on a lost civilization high in the mountains of Norway. We've been brainstorming it and have gone through a few versions. Here's one. The background is a photo I took during my last trip to Norway. It's a famous place in Romsdal called Trollveggen (Troll Wall). The people in front are members of my Viking group, the Viking Age Club and Society of the Sons of Norway.
Read the rest of this entry . . .
Here’s a nice list by Rebecca Winther-Sørensen over at Listverse—10 Creatures in Scandinavian Folklore.
It intrigued me, aside from its intrinsic interest, because out of the ten creatures listed, fully five are found in my e-novel, Troll Valley. Miss Margit, the fairy godmother, is a huldra. Nisser are referenced in connection with Christmas (though I personalize the Santa Claus-like julenisse more than this list does). There’s a troll in the title, if not in the actual story (and I’ll count it because this is my list). A Nøk (Norwegian spelling) makes an appearance, and Bestefar recalls seeing a draug.
All this is just proof that if you haven’t read it, you must buy it now. If you don’t own an e-reader, buy one of those and then get Troll Valley. If you read the Amazon reviews, you’ll see that one of my many intelligent, good-looking fans recently did just that.
Slate Book Review and The Center for Cartoon Studies has announced a new award for excellence in cartooning. Get the goods here.
Kelsey Patton, who has some slight interest in the matter, has posted this YouTube video of my epic battle with her new husband in Minot:
In other ego-building news, this link will take you to the Amazon page for Troll Valley, where the latest reader review goes like this:
Most Expensive Book I Ever Bought
Lars, I bought a Kindle so I could read your books. I have loved all of them since finding Warrior in (of all places) a grocery store. Please write more.
Thank you, Joseph J. McConnell. I'll try to make it a worthwhile investment for you.
Nigel has released his literary tourist audit of Rochester, NY.
Maybe publicity doesn't lead to book sales. Maybe an author sitting on the couch for seven minutes with Gretchen Carlson on Fox News doesn't sell 10,000 of his books. Are book sales the whole ballgame?
Elsewhere on the web, Lindsay Buroker asks what's a good price for ebooks? Are new authors pricing their books at $0.99 hurting everyone?
Petrona has a round-up of books eligible for this year's CWA International Dagger award. There are many Scandinavian titles. The 2011 CWA International Dagger was given to Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström for their novel, Three Seconds (translated from the Swedish by Kari Dickson).
Bookseller and poet Jen Campbell has made a name for herself by quoting odd and often hilarious things people say in bookshops. For example: "What books could I buy to make guests look at my bookshelf and think: ’Wow, that guy’s intelligent’?"
Now, that question makes complete sense to me. I remember a speaker, perhaps Ravi Zacharias, saying he overheard someone ask for so many feet of books. It didn't matter what types of books really, just important looking ones to fill up a shelf behind a union leader's desk to make him look educated when he spoke to business owners.
We've talked about censorship here before. We've noted often that when a government stops a book from being printed or distributed, that's censorship, but when a parent complains about the appropriateness of a book for her child, that's not. We hope parents are actually morally and reasonably when they question some of the recommended reading at school. Doesn't always happen, of course. Recently a teacher was investigated by school and community law enforcement because a parent complained that Ender's Game is pornographic. Help us.
BTW, you can buy Ender's Game (with cool cover art) here.
But we usually don't talk about bookstores that won't sell perfectly good books because of one or more select words. Caryn Rivadeneira writes about a few of these examples, particularly an argument author Rachel Held Evens had with her publisher. In short, Thomas Nelson wouldn't let her use the word vagina.
Rivadeneira notes the difficulties. "They are businesses after all, and to be successful, businesses need to sell products their customers will read without getting up in arms. The problem with Vagina-gate and similar forms of “censorship” is that, in an attempt to protect customers, publishers and bookstores are making it a lot harder for writers to tell the stories God has called them to write. And when Christians are barred by other Christians from serving God, it dishonors God. In fact, it’s sin."
I think she's right.
BTW, you can pre-order Evans' book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master, here.