Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Seekerville Welcomes Jeff Gerke
Hello Seekervillains! Cheryl Wyatt here.
I'm pleased to welcome Jeff Gerke to Seekerville. Please join me in giving Jeff and Marcher Lord Press (MLP) a round of applause for Eternity Falls by Kirk Outerbridge winning the 2010 Carol Award for Speculative Fiction. Wahoo! In addition, Jeff's author Jill Williamson won a Christy Award in 2010. That's not all! Jeff has some great books lined out for 2011 as they, like Seekerville, also kick off their third year. Congrats to MLP! Check the previous and upcoming releases out at Marcher Lord Press.
How exciting that MLP and Seekerville share the same age! Happy Birthday to us...we are three! Today we will have Knights of Dragonia tea with alien soup for lunch on little UFO saucers served by elfen mimes...with or without anomalies. AND for dessert we have frozen Milky Way candy bar shakes sprinkled with toasted stardust. Yum!
As a tribute to Jeff's love for speculative fiction and to celebrate the success of MLP, I will be interviewing Jeff from outer space. Yes! You heard that right. Actual outer space. If we get cut off communication-wise, it's probably because Laundry Basket Unit #4 (my personal planetary travel pod) was struck by a small meteor or worse...a dreaded starphish...have you heard of them?
NO ONE in the world but Jeff and (now) Seekerville know this yet but starphish are the heinous reason that socks come up missing in the dryer. I'm part of a clandestine group called Desperate Housewives of the Fourth Dimension (DHs of the FD) and I've been deployed on a dangerous mission: to retrieve ALL of humanity's missing dryer socks. I'm also going to give those klepto-crazed, cotton-thirsty starphish a piece of my pairless-sock mind...
Any other DHs of the FD out there or husbands and relatives of?
Enjoy your speculative-fiction-esque interview...sci-fi style!
Homebase: Earth calling Cheryl, come in Cheryl...
Cheryl: *Static* Yes, I'm here. *Squeeeak-static*
Homebase: Cheryl, we have Jeff Gerke on the line. You know the amazing Jeff Gerke who not only writes out-of-this-world books under the name of Jefferson Scott, but editor-extraordinaire and founding publisher of the amazing Marcher Lord Press whose critically acclaimed books are receiving lots of industry attention, rave reviews and notable awards?
Cheryl: *Static-buzz*: Yes, I know all about Sir Jeff-a-lot. Do you know his newest non-fiction craft book, Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction releases soon from Writers Digest Books?
It can be pre-ordered now though at the link above.
In addition, Jeff authored another craft book titled The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction. That title is available through Marcher Lord Press. It also has a workbook co written with Mary Agius that you can order here.
As a published author I've had critiques with Jeff and can vouch for the fact that he can teach writers at any level. He is incredibly gifted at teaching craft in a way that will bump your writing to the next level. So I hope everyone here will go pre-order his WD book today. Did you know he even does freelance editing? And that his craft books make great homeschool curriculum for high school level students?
Homebase: Yes, we do know because you briefed us before you entered the Fourth Dimension through that invisible hole in the dryer in your laundry room. You know, the unseen black hole where all of America's socks go MIA.
Cheryl: Yes, well, work with me here. I'm in a dangerous spot and Laundry Basket #4 is no match for some of these meteors screaming by.
Homebase: You just be careful out there. Finding America's missing socks is no reason to endanger your life.
Cheryl: I appreciate your concern but my mission is two-fold. I'm going on behalf of every Desperate Housewife in America and Abroad who has suffered from the one-sock-wonder. You know, when you put six pairs of socks in the dryer and only three or four socks total come back out. There are a LOT of pairless socks running around out there. And I'm going to prove our theory that the starphish are at the helm of this massive sock-snitching operation.
Homebase: *mumble* Yeah, good luck with that. *murmur-snicker*
Cheryl: Excuse me? *static*
Homebase: I said "Excellent!" So anyway, Jeff is here in our studio and guess what? He has a surprise for Friends of Seekerville! In addition to Cheryl's other giveaways, Jeff has graciously offered to give away to one lucky Seekervillain today a copy of his previous non-fiction title: The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction! Winner will be announced in our Weekend Edition. Contest rules apply. Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered for a chance to win.
Cheryl: Fabulous! Tell him thanks. Is he ready to get started with his interview? Jeff, do you copy? Can you hear me? Lots of turbulence up here. I just passed a planet I didn't recognize and it looks kind of inhabited. I see no sign of socks though, so I'll keep looking for those. So, Jeff, tell us about your new craft book! What is the one thing you'd most want us to know about it?
Jeff: Thanks for beaming me aboard, you guys. Happily, I did not arrive inside-out--or explode. All good signs.
The new book is a path to the Holy Grail of fiction writing: the novel that is perfectly balanced between being character-driven and plot-driven. I believe all novelists are naturally strong at either plots or characters, but are usually very weak at the other thing. This book helps both types--and results in a novel that will appeal to both types of readers.
Cheryl: Sounds great, Jeff! *roar-swoosh!*
Homebase: Cheryl, do you copy? That roaring sounded kind of vicious.
Cheryl: I'm fine. Just a meteor cutting it a bit close. Singed my eyebrows but I'm okay. Laundry Basket #4 is a tad melted but that's what we expect from using recycled alien plastic. I've told you guys a hundred times to only use Earth-made stuff. Anyway, Jeff, my next question is: What inspired you to write this book?
Jeff: It started out as a way to address a weakness in my own fiction. I'm a card-carrying plot-first novelist. I'm awesome at story ideas and massive plots. But my characters tend to be flat, undifferentiated, and stereotypical. You could switch the character names all around and no one would know the difference--because the characters were all the same, distinguishable only by their attitude or role or silly accent.
I was able to realize that this was not an ideal situation. I mean, people liked my novels anyway, but I knew deep down that I should be working on getting better at character development. I set myself a challenge: could I create a new series of novels that were character-driven and peopled by an ensemble cast? It was like asking a dog to learn how to meow, but I wanted to try. So I developed this system to help me create realistic, memorable, differentiated characters.
After I published that series of novels--and got much better reader responses about my characters--I knew I'd at least made good progress toward my goal. I also realized that there were a lot of other plot-first novelists out there who could benefit from my system. So I created an interactive e-book called Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist.
Shortly after that, I realized I could probably help the other kind of novelist--the character-first novelist--too. I created another e-book, which I tentatively titled Plot Creation for the Character-First Novelist, but finally retitled as How To Find Your Story.
When I taught at Christian writers conferences, I would (and still do) lead attendees through both systems. First, we'd create a protagonist in class. We'd give him or her a full inner journey. Then we'd create a plot that wrapped beautifully around that character that provided the outward manifestation of the character's inner journey.
The system worked so well together that I thought it could be a book. The story of how I landed with WD is interesting in and of itself, but suffice it to say that they agreed it could be a good book for novelists, and now it's out! It's the first book I've ever written that has the potential to be in every major bookstore in America. And that is way cool, even for a veteran spacefarer like me.
Cheryl: Awesome! Both your answer and the fact that I'm seeing starphish droppings! Ugh, one just landed on my podshield. Gross. Anyway, I'm getting closer to my goal of locating the starphish base. Jeff, what is your goal for 2011 and 2012? What's on the horizon for MLP? Any fiction writing on the radar for you?
Jeff: My goal for...always...is to see Marcher Lord Press begin to do so well that I can cease doing as much freelance work and concentrate on growing MLP and get back to writing my own fiction. As far as MLP goes, 2011 is looking fantastic. The Spring 2011 list will almost certainly be our biggest blockbuster season yet. The rest of the year and 2012 look fantastic.
As far as my own fiction...there are always possible developments in the works, things that would subtly or radically change the game for MLP. If one or more of the most exciting possibilities comes to pass, then I'd love to get back to my own fiction. Both of my published trilogies could definitely have more books added to the series. And my epic fantasy is just languishing right now, pining for my attention. I've got lots of other ideas for novels still to come.
[sighs] God willing, it will all happen. There are seasons in a writer's life, and right now I'm in a no-fiction-writing season. But seasons change.
Cheryl: Indeed they do. Whoa! *bling-bling-bling*
Homebase: Cheryl, that doesn't sound good. Your alarms are screaming for you to get the heck out of Galaxy Dodge...
Cheryl: I'm okay. Just a drop in atmospheric pressure in my pod cabin. Too many starphish droppings hitting the windshield. Maybe one landed in my right engine. Can you pull me up on extraterrestrial satellite to see? Jeff, bear with us. I'm trying to conduct your interview and this mission and we all know I'm just a housewife desperate to find her family's missing socks and not a pro-multitasker.
Homebase: Cheryl, we may have to abort the mission. Your right engine is in fact gone. Do you have a few more questions for Jeff just in case?
Cheryl: Just in case what?
Homebase. *awkward silence* Well, just in case you, well, get abducted by the starphish cavalry stalking up behind you. They've been tracking you since Mars and appear to be hiding their starcraft under a clever Tide box disguise.
Cheryl: Great. And I wanted to be home in time for dinner too. Oh well, Jeff, tell me what you hope authors and aspiring authors will take away from your craft book?
Jeff: I know there are many novelists out there who are strong at either character development or plot ideas, but know they're weak in the other. I know the despair they feel: "I know I need to get better at that thing I'm weak at, but I don't know how!" Through the examples, clear teaching, and humor I use in this book, I hope to help those novelists find the guide they're reaching out for.
Of course, it will be more than just Christian novelists who buy this book. Sometimes I wonder how I feel about helping plot-first erotica novelists write better erotica. LOL. But I'll let God sort that one out.
Cheryl: LOL! Sweet! So, hey guys, mind sending some backup? I got two more Tide boxes and a batch of Bounty-hunters on my tail. Permission to engage?
Homebase: Permission granted. Backup deployed. Laundry Basket Units # 2, 7 & 9 are en route to your location. Stand down until they come within orbit of your craft. Starphish aren't aggressive until you try to take back the cotton they've acquired by five-phalanges-discount.
Cheryl: Roger that. Jeff, any last words? What is your favorite speculative fiction genre to read?
Jeff: I don't pick genres so much as ideas that appeal to me. But I'm finding lately that the futuristic story is appealing to me a lot. It takes a special Christian fantasy novelist--such as all the ones I publish at MLP--to create Christian fantasy that isn't didactic or overly allegorical. So I'm not always a big fan of Christian fantasy (except what I publish). But the Christian SF ideas I've encountered lately have been fresh and intriguing. And my own mind has been coming up with SF story ideas lately too.
Cheryl: Jeff, we look forward to reading more of your great stuff! Listen, my back-up is here so I need to join them in agitating some Tide boxes, but I'll leave you in the good hands of my fellow Seeker Sisters plus Friends of Seekerville. Today we have homemade moonpies for breakfast and coffee that is out of this world. Literally. Let's hope Helen hooks us up! I had to take the coffeemaker to house apprehended starphish in after capture. So I'm off! I'll see you and all of Seekerville in the comment section soon! Chat away all! Help me welcome Jeff to Seekerville and let him know what questions you have about MLP etc.
Amazon link to purchase Jeff's upcoming Writer's Digest book, Plot Versus Character-A Balanced Approach.
I love the cover of this book! It's very retro-coolio. :-) Ya gotta check it out!
About the Author
Jeff Gerke (www.marcherlordpress.com and www.wherethemapends.com) is an author of fiction and nonfiction including such books as the Operation: Firebrand novels. He has worked as an editor for numerous publications and is the founder of Marcher Lord Press, an indie publishing company dedicated to producing the finest in Christian science fiction, fantasy, and other wonderfully weird genres.
Cheryl aka DH of the Fourth Dimension.
Jeff: Thanks, Cheryl!
Friends of Seekerville, comment away!