Welcome to my blog...

Here's where you will find the latest on what's going on with my books and the movie. It's also a great place to ask questions, where I recommend other books, and post different things bouncing around in my head. Look me up on Facebook and if you want to buy, signed, discounted, copies of my books, head over to http://www.ryannwattersbooks.com/.

Friday, October 31, 2008

BUY 2... Just in case!

It's not every day that I get an e-mail from a mom who is distressed because her dog ate everything in sight. Mimi Baker came home to find books and shoes completely destroyed. At first she blamed it on the new stray dog they took in. But later on she caught their Border Collie red-handed... err "red-mouthed" as she says. Here was the e-mail dialogue between the two of us:

Mimi: Hi Eric. Wanted to let you know I purchased the book today. Didn't think I was going to get to buy it after talking to my husband yesterday. Today we were given some money and I decided that it was going toward your book. If Jacob is willing to read, I'm going to do what I can to keep getting him the books that draw him in. It's been a hard time trying to find books that he will spend time reading. You're book is right up there with Captain Underpants and Diary of Whimpy Kid. I have to admit, I've been enjoying your book too. I'm reading it aloud to Jacob so it's given us some nice time together. I took a picture today of the book in it's current state. I threw away the cover, back and book jacket yesterday, not thinking I would actually take a picture. After your email about having better book sales with stray dogs like the one we have, I thought I'd take one now. :)

Eric: Thanks so much for the follow up e-mail and picture. I admit that I got a chuckle out of it, as it reminded me of the Dalmatian, my wife and I brought home a year after we were married. We left it in our kitchen, penned up fortunately, when we both went to work and when we came home we found blue stains all over the kitchen floor. Our dog had gotten up on the counter and knocked over the entire cup holder of ink pens! Blue footprints everywhere, blue stains on her mouth and all over her white hair. It’s funny now!

Mimi: You are welcome to use the book demolition if you want. Too bad I didn't still have the cover and front & back. Would've been a bit more colorful. This morning after being downstairs for about 20 minutes getting ready for work, I came upstairs and found the Border Collie, who is 6 mos old, eating my 5 yr old's The Ants Go Marching book. This happens to be one of his favorite books! I have a feeling we've been blaming the wrong dog. Sigh... the stray, Abby was laying sweetly on her cushions and looking at me as if to say, "am I in trouble for this one, too?" Poor baby. Caught the stinker, Rugby, red mouthed! Thankfully I heard him run into his kennel! Big chicken, get out here and face the book reviewer!! This is a house of book lovers, there is no tolerating the destruction of them!!!! GRRRR (literally) :) Oh, and we can't forget the shoes. We are also a household of shoe adorers!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 - Blog Tour


I'm especially greatful to Bryan for being my initial contact with the Motiv8 authors and for him recommending me to join them this year. Bryan walks the talk and is a great example as a caring father and committed Christian. This week I'd like to provide you with a short interview with Bryan. If you haven't checked out his Dragons in our Midst series yet, you need to. Fortunately for you he is finishing the 8th book in the series now... so if you get started then you'll be able to have the complete series soon!

Q. I'd like to start by asking you to give a short testimony of how you came to know the Lord.

A. I made a profession of faith at the age of seventeen, but I didn't really completely surrender my life to God until I was about twenty-five. Reading Romans chapter six about dying with Christ and rising to new life made the difference. I finally realized that faith in Christ meant so much more than mere belief and lip service. I needed to die to self and surrender all.

Q. What was the inspiration behind the "Dragons in our Midst" series?
A. 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.

Q. You've written four books in this series. Are there any more books coming up?

A. Tears of a Dragon is the last book in the Dragons in our Midst series. I’m writing a new series called Oracles of Fire. The first book, Eye of the Oracle, will be a prequel to Dragons in our Midst, and the second book, Enoch’s Ghost, and the following books will be sequels. The new series will have the same basic story world, but a couple of the minor characters from the first series will step up and become major characters.

Q. Can you name some people/authors whose works have influenced you? If so, can you say in what way these people have influenced your life and your work?

A. I really enjoy C. S. Lewis, two books in particular; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Perelandra. I loved the spiritual parallels in Dawn Treader. The debate between Westin and the woman when he tried to get her to sin in Perelandra fascinated me. I have somewhat similar dialogues in The Candlestone and Circles of Seven, so that definitely influenced me.
The works of Francis Schaeffer had an impact on me. The God Who is There and He is There, and He is not Silent are two that come to mind. I enjoy careful, analytical thought, and Schaeffer was a master in that field. I try to carry that kind of thinking into my stories, and those who read my fantasy series will find that they are far more than children’s fairy tales.

Q. Does your faith influence the way you write? Would you like to elaborate on this?

A. 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 clich├ęd.
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.

Q. What were some of the challenges you faced in writing these books and getting them published?

A. 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."

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.
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.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish with these books? And what, in your opinion, separates these books from other books written in the genre?
A. 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.

Q. Some Christians are a bit scared of fantasy works. I know of some who do think that it is opening the door to an unseen world. What is your take on this and what would you say to encourage Christians to embrace Christian Fantasy and Science Fiction?

A. 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

Most people see dragons as a symbol of evil. Why did you decide to make "good" and "bad" dragons?
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 going to face a tremendous decision, and he'll have to discern between good and evil dragons. It’s such a great story.
I like how you interweaved Christian faith in your story, but didn’t "hit people over the head with it." Did you find it hard to strike that balance?
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.

Q. What would you like to say to readers who dream of writing a fantasy novel?

A. I know so many aspiring fantasy novelists! It seems that’s what half the authors I know want to write, but the Christian publishing world hasn’t caught up yet with the demand, which isn’t completely they’re fault, but that’s another topic. I would tell those authors to break free from the Tolkien and Lewis mold. Don’t try to create another Middle-earth with elves and orcs. Don’t send kids to a new world through a wardrobe-like portal where a new kind of Christ-figure dwells. Make faith a real component that fits naturally with characters of real faith.
I’d like to see another contemporary/fantasy blend like mine. I think young people of today relate to a world they recognize, and they enjoy seeing weird happenings within it.

Q.Would you like to share some of the lessons you've learned in your journey as a writer and as a published author?

A. 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.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fantasy Fiction Tour '08 Blog Tour


It was a blast meeting Wayne on the tour. You know you've bonded with someone when you're able to spend 12-hours a day in a van or event, eat every meal together, and yes (being good stewards of the publisher's funds) even share a "KING" size bed. Okay, okay... what do I know about Wayne? Wayne writes adventures set in imaginative locales because he believes that on a deep level, we all dream of doing something that matters and that we all long for another world. Wayne is a 6th grade Middle School teacher and knowing him now I would have done anything to have him as my teacher when I was that age (brrrr... I cringe thinking of Mrs. "O" from those days!)
But hey... why don't we do a little Q & A to get to know him more... shall we?

Q: Why did you write a fantasy instead of a contemporary story about middle school kids? I mean, you obviously know them well.

Fantasy is absolutely my passion. I’ve always loved tales of knights and dragons, exotic settings, and great feats of valor! And in traditional fantasy, I find the sort of world I’d like to live in. Honor and kindness are revered. Simple lives of tending gardens, working with your hands, and gathering around a table with friends at a pub—I long for such things. I mean, sure, running into a pesky dragon while taking out the trash would be a little inconvenient, but still…

Q: What made you want to write Christian speculative fiction?

Actually, I don’t write Christian speculative fiction. I write fiction that is informed by my identity as a Christian. I know that sounds like semantics, but really, it’s not. If I’m a Christian and a mechanic, and I fix your car…was it a Christian Repair? If the manager at the local McDonalds is a Christian, and I make a purchase there, do I get a Christian Happy Meal? See my point? I am a Christian and Jesus is everything to me. He is my worldview and my life. When I write, I pray that HE comes shining through. But I am NOT writing just for Christians to read. I want everyone to be able to read and enjoy my books on multiple levels: surface and deep. At the surface, come and enjoy a heart-pounding adventure in an enchanting realm. But go deeper than that. See the big questions. Be a thoughtful reader. My thought is, if I get people asking the questions for which Jesus is the only answer, then, I’ve done well.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Door Within series?

The Door Within Trilogy (DWT) came out of two distinct events. The base concept of the story, though I didn’t know it at the time, came from an encounter I had as a new Christian. I felt compelled to tell some important people I knew about Jesus, so I summoned the courage and went to them.

I laid it all on the line, spilled my guts with such fervor that I was literally shaking. I expected disagreement, argument, or just plain denial. But nothing prepared me for the reaction: they laughed. And it wasn’t just laughter, but it was that condescending “isn’t he cute?” kind of laughter. Insert dagger and twist. That pain stuck with me for a LONG time, and so, when I began to write, the first story that suggested itself was one that would be carried by a protagonist who discovered something akin to a cure for cancer…and yet, no one would believe it.

The between worlds aspect of DWT came from a challenge my students threw back at me. Teaching 6th and 7th grade Language Arts in Anne Arundel County Maryland, I assigned a short story to my students. I made it a contest. And for those who could not think of an initial story concept, I made a bulletin board with very evocative pencil/charcoal drawings—The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Well, the students, wonderful cherubs that they are, indignantly challenged me: “Mr. Batson, you make us do all the work, writing these stories. Why don’t you write one?!” So, using one of the drawings as inspiration, I began a 17 page short story called The Faith of a Child. Though most elements in the story have since changed, that short story became The Door Within.

Q: What message do you want readers to get from reading "The Door Within" trilogy?

#1 The nature of faith: it begins with persuasion. You recognize something as true. You accept its basis in fact. “You believe the bridge is strong.” But in faith there is also an element of risk that MUST be involved or you’ll never know how real it is. “You have to step on out there. Walk across the bridge. Trust that it will support you.”

#2 God can make use of failures. Aidan is no hero in the classic sense, but King Eliam uses him mightily.

#3 Putting God off or refusing to decide whether you believe or not is in reality choosing not to believe—The Glimpses with eyes that glint green. In the end, there is only faith or no faith. The superband RUSH said it this way: “If you choose not to decide, you’ll still have made a choice.”

#4 The reality of adventures to come in Heaven. I won’t give away too much here, but that is one message I hope readers will take to heart. When we die, the adventure has just begun. We will not be sitting around in heaven playing harps like in the cartoons. God the creator of all things will have plenty of surprises for us. I imagine each of us will spend a thousand years just saying, “COOL!!” over and over and over…

Q: Are your books influenced by your own childhood in any way?

I think so. Aidan is a lot like I was when I was in my tweens. Creative, hopeful, and thoughtful—but not very outgoing. I always longed for adventure, but most of mine were in my imagination. Aidan’s fear of Robby’s Basement came straight out of my own childhood fear. My parents had a split basement. The unfinished side, the workside as we called it, was the creepiest place on the planet. I was always afraid that some creature lurked in its shadowy confines—that it waited for someone to venture too close to the open door. I used to leap over the side of the stairs onto a couch to avoid going by that basement door.

Q: What have you seen that discourages or frustrates you about Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing?

I am thoroughly frustrated by product placement in both CBA and ABA stores. I know there are a lot of hands involved in determining where a book goes: marketers, distributors, branch managers—and even a local clerk can trump them all by putting a book wherever. Lol

In CBA stores, fiction often gets lumped together with Nursery Rhymes and Beginners Bibles. Come on, dude…if you’re a teenager looking for a book, are you even going to consider something next to A Very Veggie Christmas?

In ABA stores, you often see great Christian SpecFic titles tossed into teeny tiny “Religious Fiction” sections. Yes, the place where no one sees it. That’s another reason why I don’t like delineating my work as Christian Fiction—if I do, it’s just that much easier to get thrown in with New Age Fiction or Taoism. If I do have Christ’s message to share, the books need to be where people can see them. You don’t see Phillip Pullman’s books being pulled from mainstream fiction for a special “Atheistic Fiction” section. Tolkien and Lewis can be found in both sections—religious and main stream. Maybe dual designation is what we should be looking for. Hmmm…

Q: How did you involve your students in the process as you wrote this book?

Fifteen years of students from three different Maryland counties and six different middle schools helped to shape The Door Within. They were my sounding board and my encouragers. In 1992, when The Door Within was only a 17 page short story, my 6th graders pestered me to make it longer...until I did. Then, they helped me to know what parts of the story interested them or made a personal connection. The kids seemed to enjoy being able to critique the teacher's work instead of the other way around. And those discussions took the kids into an amazingly sophisticated level of understanding of literature that they would not ordinarily have attained. "Mr. Batson, you need more foreshadowing in that chapter" or "Mr. Batson, I found that allusion to The Hobbit when Aidan said..." or "There's not enough description in this section. I just couldn't see it." These are 10, 11, and 12 year olds analyzing literature and thinking critically. Good stuff! And in the end, as I flirted with a publishing contract, nailed it down, and began the real process of editing, my students were there to share the suspense, excitement, and frustrations. And when my new batch of students comes in this year, I imagine they will exult in the finished product just as I do.

Q: Adults tend to pass over Young Adult books, thinking they are too simplistic in nature to be satisfying. Personally, I have found many of my most profound reads in this genre. What do you think adults can learn from Young Adult literature?

Grrrr…you hit upon a sore point for me. The same folks who think YA lit. is simplistic are the same characters who underestimate the capabilities and intellect of our kids. Kids are far more perceptive and intelligent than most would believe—and the books they read deal with REAL issues, issues that matter to them with a passion that is hard to imagine.

I think that adults can gain a lot from YA Lit. Especially they can regain their youth, their creativity, their dreams. To quote Gandalf when he spoke about the Ents, the tree people who had become stiff and too tree-ish: “they [parents] will awaken and find that they are strong.”

Q: Any musical inspirations that help you write?

I have strange musical tastes. While writing though, I listen to progressive heavy metal. I know what you’re thinking: a.) How can you possibly concentrate with that noisy music? But Prog Metal is really quite classical and symphonic. It’s also driving and epic—an adventure in every song. b.) And, secondly, isn’t that evil? I choose here to respectfully agree to disagree with my Christian peers who think that a particular style of music is inherently evil. The bands I listen to may not all be Christian, but they are mostly positive or ask the big questions of life. My particular favorites are The Orphan Project, Angra, Dream Theater, and Evanescence. Oh, and I like Yo-Yo Ma too.

Q: If a movie was made, based on The Door Within Trilogy, what actors would you have as the lead roles?

Ah, too fun! Here’s my potential cast:

Aidan Thomas: some unknown lad, soft-spoken but tough as nails. Maybe Josh Hutcherson (though he’s quite well-known now).

Antoinette Lynn Reed: again, an unknown, but she must have serious inner fire.

Captain Valithor: Sean Connery. Please, God, let them make the movie while Sean is still with us!

Falon the Mortiwraith: I’d like her to be voiced by Eartha Kitt the voice of Yzma in Emperor’s New Groove.

Paragor/Paragal: This may seem weird, but I’d cast myself in this role. I’ve read his most intense scenes like “Traitor’s Legacy” so many times, I feel like I just know his flaws and his arrogance. If not me, then Sean Bean or Richard Armitage.

Mallik: Gerard Butler, the Scotsman who played Beowulf

Sir Rogan: my buddy Dan who, I’m convinced, is part Viking.

Thanks, Wayne for the great interview.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tour Day 9 - San Diego

Today we closed the tour with a trip from L.A. to San Diego. The Barnes and Noble in San Diego was great... they had our books in the window and a huge section of the store, right up front, set up for us to do our book signing. Our favorite reader, Wayne Thomas Batson, did a reading from the Door Within, we had the internet streaming live, and we had a nice group of current readers and new readers show up for us to sign books and talk.

I am including photos of several new readers. If you haven't watched the book trailer video above, then take a few minutes to do so and pass it along to your friends. It's a great way to give them a summary of the book. Also, if you didn't get your copy of the Book 2 - bookmarker, then send me your mailing address and I'll mail one out to you! Right now we are promoting a free book marker for sending the link to this blog to 10 of your friends.

To the left we have a big group of new readers, including one of my new fans... Noah!

He's the one to the far left. I let him know that one of my favorite characters in the book is named after him.

After our two hours at Barnes & Noble, it was sad to think that the tour had come to a close. In some ways it passed by very quickly and in others it seemed like such a long time.
We built lifelong friendships with people we hadn't even met before this passed week. Our hope is that the Christian Fantasy genre will continue to build through efforts like these and that both Christian and non-Christian stores will carry our work to impact generations.

As we pack our bags to head back home to New York, Florida, Minnesota, Tennessee, Missiouri, Maryland and Colorado - we will have fond memories of this tour, our time together, and meeting new friends in every town we visited. We have discussed so many potential ideas for the future and it would be premature for me to mention them here, but suffice it to say... they are very exciting and as soon as we finalize them, you will be the first to know! Eric Reinhold

Tour Day 8 - More SoCal

Friday morning, we arrived at Village Christian School, in Sun Valley and had two big sessions with the students. Hundreds of students packed in on the bleachers on either side and in front from the Middle School and then we followed it up with a larger presentation to the High School. One of the memorable events was the entire High School student body jumping in their seats as Wayne boomed Lord Fallon's voice during his reading.

We followed up the presentations with a visit to classrooms. Wayne, Jonathan Rogers and I visited a Fifth Grade Spanish class and the teacher, was as they say in SoCal, "Totally Awesome!" The kids were very attentive and interested in our discussion of Christian Fantasy Fiction... what a joy!

Five of the eight of us outside the gym in the courtyard area of the school getting ready to sign books. From left to right: Donita K. Paul, Eric Reinhold, Wayne Thomas Batson, Jonathan Rogers, L.B. Graham.

The Barnes and Noble of Burbank was the best! We were running out of time for the signing and they had us sign all of the books they had for us (tons!) and are having them available for kids in the school as well as other store promotions through Christmas!
We were under a time crunch to race across town to another school, West Covina Christian School, and arrived just in time! At this school we spoke to the upper elementary kids and I did one of my presentations and also participated in the sword play! Here are a few of the kids from that signing!

We then had some time to travel to our evening event at Calvary Chapel Church in Huntington Beach. This was one of the highlights of the trip as we had 2 hours to spend in more of a church service approach with a large adult audience and kids. Chistopher Hopper and his wife opened with praise songs, Sharon Hinck talked about the hero in us and I followed with a talk on "God's Timing" and my experience with starting to write, my open-heart surgery and God bringing about a publisher through that 7-year ordeal. L.B. Graham spoke and provided a transition into Christian Fantasy Fiction and was followed by Wayne providing a dramatic reading. Bryan Davis gave one of the most passionate talks I have heard, bring many to tears as he talked about changed lives through our writing. We finished with Q & A and went out for a time of book signing and discussion with the congregation. Below left is a picture of Bryan Davis signing books with his daughter Amanda who travelled with us and was a great help along the way.

To the right are two girls who are new readers of the "Ryann Watters" series.

Tour Day 7 - SoCal

We opened the day at St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City, CA (hear LA). Christopher Hopper has been our awesome moderator and challenged the high school kids in their walk with Jesus. This was one of the warmest and best welcomes we have received. As we got out of our van, the school cheerleaders were there to great us and show us where to set up.

After our presentation in the school gym, we split up into groups of two and headed off to teach one of the language arts classes. Bryan Davis and I taught the 11th graders.
We then went to the Bethany Christian School in Sierra Madre and had an hour program for the 4th-6th grade students. This was a fun bunch of students and Barnes & Noble was awesome in their support of the event.

To complete the trio of events for the day, we raced over to Valley Book & Bible store in Van Nuys. Super staff... wide open store with lots of room. Pictured to the left are two new readers to my Ryann Watters that I had a chance to spend some time with.

Wayne Thomas Batson in the midst of a dramatic reading from "The Door Within" series. As an author, this is what you like to see (below) when you walk into a bookstore!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tour Day 6 - Reedly, CA

Today was the Reedley High School stop and Downtown Arts Festival. In between, we stopped for an unbelievable 5 course meal at Christopher Hopper's publisher's house - Pam Schwagerl. Here we are on her front porch. (Why am I bending over?)

After dinner, we went downtown and set up for an outdoor book signing. We talked to a good number of readers and parents, before calling it a night at 8:30 (actually we went for ice cream after that at the Tasty Freeze), because we need to get up at 4:15 am to head down to L.A. ..ugh!


Good night!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tour Day 5 - Fresno, CA

Today started with a drive down to The Children's Hospital of Central Florida, in Fresno, CA, where we provided books to kids on the main floor and then went up to the cancer ward to visit with kids in their individual rooms. The Motiv8 Tour partnered with Character-4-Kids, a non-profit organization headed by me, to provide books to kids with physical and financial hardships. At the hospital, Jonathan Rogers and Bryan Davis read excerpts from their books and Donita K. Paul got in close with the kids to make up a story and have them play along.

Following our visit to the hospital, we headed out for lunch to Pizza Hut, where we relaxed until our visit to the READ-Fresno Charity Event, at the Bigby Village Apartment Complex. You can see two of the tour members at an NBC Channel 24 News Interview here: http://www.ksee24.com/programming/cvt/30567134.html?video=YHI&t=a

Besides information on the charity event at this inner city reading program, there is information about the tour and of course, a sword fight!


The author men...

(Seated from left to right) Bryan Davis, Jonathan Rogers, L.B. Graham, and Wayne Thomas Batson (Standing from left to right) Eric Reinhold and Christopher Hopper.

The women watched in awe as we downed more than our share of pizza.

At the housing development, we gave out book markers to the kids, let them hold our swords, had dramatic readings, sword fights, a drawing for tons of prizes and of course signed books to give away (provided through the support of Character-4-kids).

READ Fresno provided a Blow up Jumper House, food, and music.

I've included a few pictures to give you a flavor for the event.

Here's a picture of Christopher Hopper in amongst the kids!

After the event we took off again for a Berean Christian Bookstore and our last event for the day. We had a fund time talking with the kids that showed up as well as interacting with those on the internet.

Donita K. Paul and Eric Reinhold with two new readers of our books!

The last item on the agenda was visiting an "In and Out" Burger chain. We had heard about them relentlessly from Christopher Hopper and the decision was made to stop in at 9 pm for their unique burger. Mmmmm... is the best way to describe it :) Fresh ingredients, grilled onions, a special Thousand Island Dressing and so much more.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tour Day 4 - Sacramento, CA

We left bright and early (a recurring theme as you can tell), from Medford, OR to make our way down to Sacremento, CA. Majestic mountains, rivers, and pastures lined our drive on Highway 5, south. Our first stop was a "Jack in the Box" burger restuarant, which was highly recommended by L.B. Graham. Mmmmmm... is the best way to describe this juicy, monstrosity.

Back to the events... we then stopped at Trinity Christian School for an assembly time with the 5th-7th grades. This was the first event I spoke at and was followed by our favorite reader, Wayne Thomas Batson, and then a talk from Sharon Hinck on the Hero in all of us. After some Q & A, the sword play began between Wayne and Christopher Hopper... only this time, I joined in. They went through their typical banter over 'who rules the kingdom' and 'do real heroes have hair or are they bald?'

They asked for volunteers and I jumped in holding my head with confusion over who to join?

I revealed the front part of my head (yes, bald) and proclaimed, "Should I join Sir Christopher, a white knight in shining armor?" Chorus of yeas and nays. Then, "Strike that I mean should I join Sir Christopher a white knight whith a shiny head?" Lots of laughing! "Or should I drop this silly Irish accent and join the Antonio Bandaro look alike, Sir Wayne?" (change to slick spanish accent).

Yeas and Nays...

I pull out my sword at this point. "Sir Wayne... aka Sir Vain," and I look into my shiny sword and smile, "you look good, Sir Eric."

Chorus of laughter.

Christopher then said, "No, instead let us be all for one and one for all," as we point our swords in the air together.

We then headed out to dinner after a short stop at our Motel 8 (get it.. the Motivate Tour Stays at Motel 8!)... I digress. We rested and then jumped in the van and headed over to the mall and a mexican restuarant. Pictured here are LB Graham, a friend of Donita's, Donita K. Paul (aka Grandma), Christopher Hopper, Jonathan Rogers, Wayne Thomas Batson, Sharon Hinck, and the back of Amanda Davis's head. Brian Davis and I are out of the picture.

A short jaunt from there and we were at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore. There were lots of fans already waiting, the web cam was set up, along with our banners and we were up and running. Of course Wayne did his usual awesome job of reading, but this time we got to hear from his new "Isle of Fire" series. Arrgh! Pirates. Pictured below is a new friend I signed a book for and promises to read through and give me feedback right away!
Our Q & A period was the best. Beyond the typical questions on 'how long did it take to write your book,' we were asked by one boy in the front row, "are you all Christians?"

There was a resounding "YES!"

Then a woman asked a follow up question for each of us to give our testimony as a believer. What a great time to share, in the middle of Barnes and Noble, no less!

We've had lots of great questions from the Fantasy Fiction Tour website, so don't forget to check it out and give us an instant messaging question. Amanda, Bryan Davis's daughter will read them out loud for us to answer. Well, I better get to bed. Tomorrow we get up at 5:30 am again... whew.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tour Day 3 - Oregon

Early to rise today - 5 a.m.! Bryan Davis aka "The Android," was up at 4 a.m. Waaaaaay too much to pack into our supposed '15 passenger van.' Yeah right... maybe 15 dwarfs or smallish elves. The Miller Brothers - Hunter Brown Stories - were gracious enough to let us crash at their place and then we made a made dash from Seattle to Portland, OR for an 11a.m. - 1 p.m. "meet and great" at the gazebo at Bridgeport Village Mall. Wayne Thomas Batson provided the crowds of this open air mall with a boisterous dramatic reading and then we jumped back in the van for the 4 hour drive to Medford, OR and the Evangel Family Bookstore.

The folks at the Evangel Family Bookstore couldn't have been better to set up this awesome event. Tons of fans showed up and gathered outside the storefront in the large Mall area in front of Macy's. Tables were set up in a semi-circle and the area was roped off for great banter and swordplay between Wayne and Christopher Hopper. Again, Jonathan Rogers provided us with a dramatic reading.

To the left is a picture with Megan, one of two sisters who stopped by, chat and get a book signed.

The store front was awesome... displaying all of our books in such a classy way and each member of the Evangel team made us feel so welcome from their bright smiles to the food and drinks to keep us going. Thanks so much for your hospitality! Tomorrow we get to sleep in until 6 a.m. and then it's off to California!

Tour Day 2 - Seattle Area

What a whirlwind trip today! Heading down from Canada to a TBN television interview, while picking up some of the additional tour members at the airport - Wayne Thomas Batson and L.B. Graham.
The bookstores were awesome... first stop was The Harvest Logos bookstore (see photo above). There were many distracted drivers as a mock sword fight erupted among a few of the authors outside. After a few hours of meeting fans and signing books, we headed out on an hour trip down south of town to Enumclaw and a beautiful bookstore - The Salt Shaker Christian Bookstore. Dramatic readings by Jonathan Rogers and Wayne Thomas Batson highlighted the night as well as a sword fight between Christopher Hopper and Wayne, which broker out over whether long-hair or a bald head served fantasy fiction better!
It' time for bed... 11:30 pm and we need to get up at 5:30 am to head down to Portland! Eric

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tour Day 1 - Abbotsford, BC (Canada)

What a fun-filled first day to kick off the Fantasy Fiction Tour. Six of the eight authors flew in to Seattle from all over the country (I believe I flew the furthest, from Orlando) and we picked up the Miller Brothers (Christopher & Alan) who live in Seattle and just finished their first book. We all hopped in our 15-passenger van (driven by Bryan Davis) and headed north. Pictured here is Donita K. Paul - The Dragon Keeper Chronicles and Sharon Hinck - The Restorer Series.

We had to leave our swords in Seattle, due to customs at the Canadian border. Judging by the face of the border guard, they take security very seriously! After road construction traffic, we made our way through the lush green countryside, surrounded by mountains on the horizen and showed up 10 minutes before we were due to speak. The Mennonite Education Institute (MEI) Middle School was impressive. Great facilities, wonderful leadership kids to take us around, and a very friendly staff. Each of us spoke for 25 minutes to two different classrooms with 40 kids or so in them and then joined together in the library afterwards to spend time in small groups of 3 kids per author for in-depth discussions on writing. We then headed to our hotel to check in for a short 1-1/2 hr break before heading back to the school.
At 5:30 pm we had a fun-filled hour of pizza with prize winners from the St. James Bookstore that were invited to "dinner with the authors." We then made our way into the auditorium for a 2 hour time of storytelling and Q & A, led by our MC - Christopher Hopper. If you haven't checked it out, go to http://www.fantasyfictiontour.com/ and you can watch all of our presentations "live" and even send in questions while we speak. During the Q & A we answered half a dozen questions from the web. At the end we spent time talking and signing books for all the great fans who had attended. A super way to start the tour... at 7 am tomorrow (Sat) we head South to Seattle for an interview with TBN at noon! Oh... and my roommate for the trip so far? Jonathan Rogers - The Wilderking Trilogy.

High School student, Jason Derfuss films a summary video of book 1