Check Out Featured Indie Authors at Kay MacLeod’s Author Advent Calendar

advent-calendar-indieFantasy author, Kay MacLeod had a wonderful idea—why not set up an online advent calendar that features Indie authors from many different genres?

It starts today. Why not check it out?

Review of Jean Chamberlain-Froese and Patricia Paddey’s GAME CHANGERS

Here is my review recently published on Goodreads:

The Game Changers: True Stories About Saving Mothers & Babies In East AfricaThe Game Changers: True Stories About Saving Mothers & Babies In East Africa by Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Game Changers is a powerful and moving book that gives a snapshot of the lives of key leaders, healthcare workers, and teachers in Uganda as they struggle to solve the huge problem mother-and-child deaths during pregnancy and delivery. Through the lives of front line workers, Dr. Jean Chamberlain-Froese (the founder of Save The Mothers) and Patricia Paddey (a journalist) provide heart-wrenching accounts of the magnitude of the problem as well as a look at the courageous men and women that are working to solve it in East Africa.

This book will move you and also give you a sense of hope as you see the commitment of these Ugandans, see how their deep faith moves them to action, and marvel at the progress that has already been made. It will also leave you (as it did me) with a profound sense of gratitude that we are not forced to go through the same trials here. The Gamer Changers is worth reading several times and can also be picked up and read in short sittings. I highly recommend it.
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On Steven Erikson’s Preface to GARDENS OF THE MOON

gardens-of-the-moon-coverI’ve just started reading Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon (Steven Erikson is the pseudonym of Steve Rune Lundin). My edition has a preface by Erikson telling a little bit about how the story came about.

As an author, its always interesting and instructive to read other people’s descriptions of how their stories took shape. One quote in particular caught my eye and got me thinking. Erikson was explaining why his book took a long time to get published and he mentioned how “Gardens marked a departure from the usual tropes of the genre [fantasy]”, and he went on to say that his work followed in the footsteps of Glen Cook …

“I could certainly strive for the same tone of dispirited, wry cynicism, the same ambivalence and a similar sense of atmosphere [in Cook’s books]. Maybe I was aware of the swing away from Good versus Evil, but that just seemed a by-product of growing up—the real world’s not like that, why persist in making Fantasy worlds so fundamentally disconnected with reality?”

Now I haven’t read Glen Cook’s books and I must say reading a story with a “tone of dispirited, wry cynicism” is not a comment on a book’s back cover that would move me to rush to acquire it. But is Erikson right? Is the sense of a battle between Good and Evil that’s so central to The Lord of the Rings “fundamentally disconnected with reality” as Erikson states?

I don’t think he is right. First of all, the nature of reality is not a settled question, otherwise we would all agree on it’s exact nature. Now what I believe Mr. Erikson is saying that in his understanding of the nature of reality, Good versus Evil is a view that he discarded as he grew older.

As a theist and a Christ-follower my convictions about the reality of a cosmic battle between Good and Evil have only grown stronger as I have grown older. I live with great hope. It’s not that I don’t see the pain and suffering around me (indeed Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings had a great deal of loss, pain, and suffering) but I believe we are somewhere in the middle of our story, and so we feel like the defenders in the last desperate hours of the siege of Minas Tirith or Frodo and Sam felt as they set out on the last impossible attempt to the Cracks of Doom. But its not the end of the story. There is an ending coming where Good triumphs over evil. Those are my convictions about reality which give me great optimism. Given my view of the nature of reality it seems to me it makes good sense to write stories that have exactly those story lines.

Steven Erikson’s book has already given me much to think about. I expect to have more to contemplate as I progress through the story.

I’d be grateful if you checked out my books at Amazon.

Review of SKY GHOSTS: THE NIGHT BEFORE

Sky Ghosts: The Night Before (Sky Ghosts #0.5)Sky Ghosts: The Night Before by Alexandra Engellmann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sky Ghosts are superhuman freedom fighters that clandestinely fight renegades of their kind (beasts) in order to protect the innocents, that is the rest of us, from the beast’s depredations. Sky Ghosts: The Night Before, like the sequel is filled with non-stop action, martial arts and blade combat interspersed with gallows humor. I enjoy that and I find Alexandra Engellmann handles the action scenes very well.

This novella (my e-book was 40 pages) is easy to read at one sitting and will let you know if you want to go on to the much more substantial Sky Ghosts: All for One.

As I understand it, from Alexandra Engellmann’s biography, english is not her first language. I would not know that from the quality of the writing. Indeed, I had a few complaints about word construction and unexpected point of view changes in my review of Sky Ghosts: All for One, but I find these little grammatical intrusions have disappeared in this later work.

A word of caution: I enjoy stories with lots of action. This one has a  lot of “hacking and hewing” mainly of beasts. At times the language is also quite strong.

View all my reviews

Review of SKY GHOSTS: ALL FOR ONE

Sky Ghosts: All for One (Sky Ghosts, #1)Sky Ghosts: All for One by Alexandra Engellmann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sky Ghosts: All for One is a fast-paced, action-filled fantasy that kept me engaged from the beginning to the end. The beings, Sky Ghosts, are a faction of super humans (they can fly, have extraordinary strength, and can heal themselves of injury) that at night battle their evil counterparts (Beasts), led by a corrupted, but very powerful former Sky Ghost called Eugene.

The story begins with a fortuitous rescue of two regular humans (Chad and Dave) by Sky Ghosts Jane and Pain (Patricia) in New York City. As the story unfolds, Dave and Chad have an interest to Eugene that causes him to do his best to kill them. Their protection and ultimate significance to the Sky Ghost cause is the enduring theme of the story.

My rating of three stars means that I liked the story a lot, but would not read it a second time. This really should have been a four star story (meaning I would come back to read it over and over again). However, the author often changes point of view within a scene so, as a reader, I’m surprised suddenly to find myself in different character’s head. There are also grammatical imperfections and sometimes the wrong word is used.

Having said that, I found this story contained a wonderful, exciting plot, with characters I found interesting and that I cared about. If you like fast-paced, plot-driven fantasy with strong female leads, I think you would enjoy this book.

A word of caution: I enjoy stories with lots of action. This one has a  lot of “hacking and hewing” mainly of beasts. At times the language is also quite strong.
View all my reviews at Goodreads

In Case You Didn’t Get My Newsletter …

A short summary of what the Kazmaiers have been up to and what’s happening with Peter’s writing. To see Peter’s author page at Amazon check http://goo.gl/k4e420.
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A significant milestone in Peter’s writing:

THE BATTLE FOR HALCYON was the 2016 winner at the 28th Word Awards in the Speculative Fiction category

As one attendee at the Word Award Gala in Toronto quipped: “Speculative Fiction? I thought all fiction was speculative.” That’s true, of course, but some fiction is more speculative than others. Speculative Fiction is an umbrella term that covers Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. Winning that particular award is especially gratifying to me since my writing in some respects has a foot in both genres.

On the one hand, my interest in science means that I work pretty hard to come up with plausible explanations for some of the imaginings in my new world. Plausible explanations are a signature of Science Fiction.

On the other hand I find the Materialist worldview implicit in most Science Fiction implausible and I’m much more at home in the philosophical landscape of Fantasy such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, where Good and Evil have real meaning and are fundamentals of existence (as opposed to inventions by people). From that perspective I think my books read much more like Fantasy.

So I was delighted to receive the 2016 Word Award for Speculative Fiction for my third book, The Battle for Halcyon. If you’d like to read more … http://wp.me/p4cZo4-6c

This newsletter is my chance to re-connect with my friends. If you have a moment, I would love to hear from you.

Writing at the Cottage

I find that our time at the cottage encourages me to write. The beautiful scenery and the wonderful birds are very inspiring. Here are a few pictures from our time at the cottage so far.

What is a cottage in Ontario without loons? This one along with its mate were cavorting in our bay.
The beautiful Pileated Woodpecker can be found around our cottage. This large bird is quite shy and it has been hard for me to get a good photograph.
Dragon flies are beautiful and help keep mosquitoes down.
Copyright © 2016 Wolfsburg Imprints, All rights reserved.
Many of you have been asking me how my writing has been progressing and I wanted to provide you with an update.Our mailing address is:

Wolfsburg Imprints

2421 Council Ring Road, Mississauga, ON, Canada

Mississauga, ON L5L 1E5

Canada

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THE BATTLE FOR HALCYON Wins at the 28th Annual Word Awards

My third book, The Battle for Halcyon, won the 2016 Word Novel Award: Speculative Fiction category. This is a major milestone for me since it is my first award as a novelist. Here are a few pictures from the award ceremony and the award itself.

28th Word Awards - Voice

“Every Writer a Voice” at the Word Awards (Photo by: Stephen Gurie Woo)

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2016 Word Award Certificate and Award

THE BATTLE FOR HALCYON Winner in the Speculative Fiction category (Photo by: Stephen Gurie Woo)


2016 Word Award - Peter

A milestone moment for me (Photo by: Stephen Gurie Woo)



Provoking An Attitude of Gratitude

Reflection on this award really brings me to remember the many friends who have helped to make this possible; this reflection cannot help but provoke an attitude of gratitude. Special thanks to The Word Guild and The Christian Herald for sponsoring The Speculative Fiction Award. Here are a few who have helped me so much with The Battle for Halcyon:

  • My editors Stephanie Paddey and Patricia Paddey. Thank you for improving the manuscript so significantly. It is such an encouragement to a writer to know that one’s editors are not simply professionally improving the grammar and sentence structure of the text, but that they care about the work and want to make it as good as it can be. Thank you.
  • For my beta readers who read the whole manuscript through and made many helpful suggestions. My friend John Greenhorn spent many hours going over every sentence meticulously and helped clarify the fuzzy parts. There were also many others (in alphabetical order—please forgive (and correct) me if I forgot anyone: Mark Jokinen, Darren Kazmaier, Mike Kazmaier, Phil Kazmaier, and Doug Paddey. Thank you.
  • Our monthly writer’s group at Don and Gloria Martin’s house. Thank you for listening to me read a few pages and then helping me to make them better.
  • To my readers who have contacted me end encouraged me with your feedback. Thank you.

Finally, I want to thank my wife Kathy. Her encouragement and support of my writing continue to mean so much to me. Without her partnership none of my novels would have been written.

I am cognisant that the finished novel, after much labour contains many defects and shortcomings. Still the good that I have been able to achieve through my writing has its origin and motivation in the Lord Christ and for that I am thankful and grateful.

Personal Thoughts on Peter Kreeft’s BACK TO VIRTUE.

I have previously published my review of Peter Kreeft’s excellent book, Back to Virtue. In this post I wanted to provide a more personal view of how the book changed or perhaps broadened my thinking. At one point, Kreeft talked about how Christianity brought together the best of what Hebrew, Greek, and pagan thought and tradition had to offer. This is depicted in the diagram below (reworked to capture my own musings on this important idea from a similar diagram in the book).Christian Nexus

The Hebrew Foundation

If one reads the New Testament, one can’t help but notice how Christianity is grounded on, and grew forth from Hebrew history, revelation, and practice. All of the very early Christians were Jewish. The Old Testament is cited again and again in the New. Even the Christians called out of Greek and pagan backgrounds were steeped in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. When Paul spoke in 2 Timothy 3:16 about “all scripture,” he was primarily referring to the Old Testament.
Jesus had to be born into Jewish society because they had a high view of God: his Oneness and His creation of the world out of nothing. Had Jesus been born in Athens, as pantheists and polytheists, they would have happily put Jesus alongside Zeus and so missed the whole point of the incarnation. The shocking incredulity of the Jewish mindset to the incarnation was absolutely necessary for us to get the message and import of what was taking place.
This Hebrew ground or environment for the incarnation did not come without cost or loss. As far as I can tell from my reading, the first century Jewish people were remarkably free of idolatry. A by-product of this achievement was a complete lack of development of some of the arts such as sculpting and painting because they were too closely associated with idol worship. Kreeft helped me realize how this temporary omissions were build back in to the Christian community after the significance of the incarnation and resurrection of Christ were recognized.

The Greek New Testament

The use of Koine Greek (the lingua franca of the Mediterranean and Middle East) as the language of the New Testament had profound consequences. Not only did it bring the Good News in the common language of the Roman Empire, but it could make use of the nuances of language and thought brought into Greek by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. So for example it enabled the distinction between the old nature (flesh – sarx) from body (soma), drawing a clear distinction between Gnosticism and Christian teaching by putting a high value on the body as well as the spirit (Gnosticism values only the spirit). It also made God-guided reason an important way of testing truth claims and made reason an integral part of understanding teaching.

Pagan Imagination

When viewed as a religious system, pagan polytheism was simply a branch of pantheism. But pagan practice had given rise to stories, plays, and poetry that showed a wonderful imagination and a longing for truth. Here again, it seems to me Christianity was able to keep the good. Much if not all of the ancient literature was preserved by the Church as the Roman Empire collapsed and the anarchy of the Dark Ages replaced it. The use of imagination as an engine of the written arts and also of science has played a significant role and life of the church.

So What Does This Mean to Me?

Kreeft’s analysis and synthesis has allowed me to see a number of things in a new way. Here are some of them:
1. God is always working toward the summum bonum, the greatest good.
2. Sometimes because of our weakness and frailty, we miss out on some things as the Israelites did as they were learning to avoid idolatry and so gave up some of the arts. These temporary omissions are part of our growing process.
3. In the end all genuine good comes from God and we as his people are not wrong to seek it. You cannot go far wrong if one truly seeks the good.
4. My own Christian walk is founded on my personal interaction with the Lord Christ through His received word and His Spirit. Imagination and reason play an important role in that interaction.

Note Added on “Reason”

In The Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, Kreeft points out the differences in the way the word “reason” was used by Aquinas and how it’s used by modern philosophers. Aquinas and other ancients used reason to denote knowing, judging, as well logical processes such as inductive and deductive analysis. Modern philosophers, according to Kreeft, tend to use it only in the third sense.

THE BATTLE FOR HALCYON is Still in the Running for the 2016 Word Awards in the Speculative Fiction Category

TBFH Front CoverMy most recent book is still in the running for the Speculative Fiction category of the Word Awards. The Award winner will be announced at the Word Award Gala in Toronto on June 24, 2016.

Here is a 100 word excerpt from the book requested for the Gala.

Dave peeked over the rubble heap and saw a large band of Halfmen approaching, carrying torches. Just then an arrow thudded into the first Halfman and the others howled with rage and sprang to the attack. There were so many of them that they flowed through a gap in the broken ruin of the wall like a dark howling tide. Dave had no time to think, but along with his friends was fighting for his life. Three large Lupi bounded on a nearby broken wall. The leader spotted Dave, growled and leapt for him. Dave rammed his shield into its snout and thrust his sword into its chest.

Peter’s Presentation and Author Exposition at the CHURCH LIBRARY ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO in Guelph, Ontario

CLAO PictureI was delighted to be invited to participate in the Church Library Association of Ontario (CLAO) in Guelph Ontario through my association with The Word Guild. I was able to display my books, speak to attendees and also present a two minute synopsis on one of my books.

My Two Minute Presentation

My name is Peter Kazmaier and I write adventure fiction targeted primarily at high school- and university-aged males. The book I’m featuring today is called The Halcyon Dislocation. It describes a fictional university in North Carolina that, for the Department of Defence, conducts a large scale research experiment  that goes awry. As a consequence the whole university is transported to a parallel world. The students and the faculty find themselves in a struggle to survive when their whole support structure has disappeared.

Finding enough food, exploring the new world with all of its surprises, and dealing with a university administration that becomes increasingly tyrannical is enough to lead the protagonists into one adventure after another.

So why might a church library be interested in acquiring this book? Most adventure and science fiction is based on a completely secular world view. From the perspective of these books, religion in general and in Christianity in particular have ceased to become societal influences just prior to the start of the story. I wanted to change this formula. I try to be true to the genre, but several of my characters are Christians and as readers we can experience how they react to both the secular university environment and the stress of the university dislocation. It provides a chance to introduce some faith discussions without derailing the plot. These types of faith discussions are a natural part of university life and I hope I have portrayed them in a way that is realistic.

If you are looking for books for your high school and university students that will challenge their thinking but keeping them reading to the final page, I would be delighted to talk to you about it. If you share my interest in Speculative Fiction as a genre, I would enjoy talking about some of our favourite books. Thank you.

My Books

Where to buy Peter’s books:

Peter’s Websites

Local Book Stores

  • Good Books Christian Bookstore, Oakville, on Kerr Street
  • Family Christian Bookstore, Burlington, on Guelph Line

Online

Search for “Peter Kazmaier” at Amazon, Chapters-Indigo, iTunes, Google Play, or at Word Alive.

Specific short-links for your convenience (in alphabetical order)