Thursday, May 22, 2008

Heartfelt Condolences to Steven Curtis Chapman Family

This is an email I received a while ago regarding the death of Maria, youngest daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman. I decided that it would be better than trying to put it into my own words. I feel as though a member of my own family has died, as I imagine many other Christians do, having watched the Chapman family grow up over the years.

Maria Sue Chapman 2003 - 2008

Last night Maria Sue Chapman, adopted and youngest daughter of Mary Beth & Steven Curtis Chapman, was killed in a tragic accident in the family driveway. She was LifeFlighted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital but for only reasons God can explain she went home to Him... not back to Franklin as we all so desperately wanted.

We are all humbled by the incredible outpouring of love and support at this difficult time. I have watched you, the Chapman friends, overwhelm website servers and jam phone lines with your gracious words and heartfelt prayers. The Chapman family is so grateful. Obviously, we cherish your prayers for all in the Chapman family, and we welcome you passing this along to others to pray and encouraging them to sign up for Steven's e-mail list to receive continuing updates.
If you'd like to express your condolences and get a glimpse of this beautiful little girl through a short video clip, click here.

Mail to PO Box 150156 Nashville, TN 37215.

In lieu of flowers, the Chapmans request any gifts be directed to Shaohannah's Hope, click here.

In closing, as many of you know, the song "Cinderella" was written by Steven to help him (and us all) grab a hold of the special moments with those we love we might otherwise rush by. It was inspired by a bath time that Steven tried to "hurry," Maria and her sister Stevey Joy were not exactly cooperating. : ) Let us all be reminded again today what Steven compels us to with the lyric of this special song.

Maria, we already miss you so much, and we only take comfort in The Hope that assures us we'll see you again soon.

On behalf of the Chapman team and family, Jim Houser (Manager)

Monday, May 19, 2008

NEWS RELEASE: Debut Novel Bridges Gap Between Science Fiction and Christianity

Contact: Frank Creed, 765-807-6745

LAFAYETTE, Indiana, Feb. 6 /Christian Newswire/ -- Christian science fiction and cyberpunk are viewed with suspicion by many believers, as traditionally, these genres have been dominated by atheism. Christian readers who enjoy the action and futuristic concepts in sci-fi but not the anti-Christian worldview have had few or no viable alternatives. Until now. The release of Flashpoint: Book One of the Underground by author Frank Creed is leveling the playing field.

Published by The Writers Café Press, Flashpoint was the 2006 winner of best science fiction chapter book at the world's largest sci-fi/ fantasy online community,, and the 2007 Christian Fiction Review Impress award for the best book toured.

"If you're one of the many Christian science fiction fans who've despaired upon finding good sci-fi with a distinctly Christian worldview, weep no more. Frank Creed has delivered a novel that will appeal to teenagers and adults alike and that will please even the most ardent technophile." --Karen McSpadden, Christian Fiction Review. Award-winning author M.L. Tyndall calls Creed "one of a new generation of spiritual warriors" for daring to tread the uncharted waters of Christian sci-fi. Pastor Jonathan O'Hearn, Christian Church, Oklahoma states "Frank's writing is a colossal step towards delivering the Gospel to a new generation and an inspiration to future writers that Science Fiction and God are not mutually exclusive."

Set in Chicago 2036: Flashpoint is the story of an alternative future where patriotism meets tyranny, the Patriot Act waxes Stalin-esque and the violence of terrorism has united the world. Fundamentalist terrorists are the One State's only threat: including Bible-believing Christians. When peacekeepers make a home-church bust in the Chicago Metroplex, only two people evade capture. The siblings turn to the 'Body of Christ Underground' where they adopt street-names, undergo spiritual and technological reformation, and slip between the cracks of Chicago. Their mission: to save believers before they're rehabbed and brainwashed, or worse, by the One State Neros.

'Calamity Kid and e-girl fearlessly walk the valley of death, because He's with them. But they'll need every molecule of their re-formed faith to face down peacekeepers, gangers, One-State Neros, and fallen-angels, in America's dark Post-Modern Humanist age.' More information at or

Flashpoint: Book One of the Underground can be purchased at the following:,, and can be ordered into any book store. ISBN #978-1-934284-01-8

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Due to a little miscommunication, I didn't tell you this while the CFRB was running a blog tour for William McGrath's book, Asulon: The Sword of Fire Book One. On each of the CFRB sites where the novel Asulon is featured you'll
find a clue to answer this question. "Under which city is the Sword
of Fire hidden?" The first 25 people in the U.S. who answer this
question correctly will receive a free copy of Asulon, plus a DVD
showing the sword fighting techniques used in the novel.

(Hint: It's in the prophecy in the video, more or less. Think of a city with special roots for Israel and Jesus)

Send your answer to:

Specifically, you can find the answer here and here.

Hurry! I want my friends to be the winners!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

VIDEOS: ASULON and Pekiti-Tirsia

These are short videos, both of which I think are helpful for understanding Asulon: The Sword of Fire Book One by William McGrath. I will get into the spiritual and the characters later this week, but I was so intrigued by this Pekiti-Tirsia Pilipino marital arts connection that I wanted to include this video of a demo that Bill did with a grand master of the sport. First the book trailer:

The demo video is a bit grainy, but you'll get the idea. I read the novel before I saw this, and I was amazed because Bill had described the fight sccenes so well that I could easily imagine it exactly like he demonstrates here:

For an even further example of what to expect, Bill has audio and text samples from the book on his website. Three chapters, plus the first chapter of the second book, Eretzel. You can find these here.

I urge you to check out the sample if you are the least bit interested.

Other blogs on Bill McGrath's novel:
Back to the Mountains
Bibliophile's Retreat
Virtual Tour de Net
Rebecca Wire

Bill's websites: and

You can buy Asulon from Barnes and Noble,
Amazon,, or directly from the publisher (see address at the sword of fire website) If you buy it from the publisher, you may also get a package that includes a DVD about Pekiti-Tirsia.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuhon Bill: Interview with Bill McGrath, Author of Asulon

Bill McGrath, author of CFRB's book of the month, Asulon: Sword of Fire Book One, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, shedding some light on himself and his novel.

1. Could you tell us a little about yourself. You know, the basic stuff, like where you live, where you come from, family, pets, etc.

I was born in 1960 in Queens, NY and grew up there. My wife, son and I live in a small town in upstate New York called Fishkill. We live on the edge of a forest and see deer, wild turkey, hawks or some other wild creature almost every day right outside our door.
I work for New York State as a court officer. If you remember the TV show “Night Court” from the 1980’s and the character “Bull” played by Richard Moll, well that’s me – same job, same haircut, only a bit shorter.

2. I understand you have a huge interest in martial arts and even teach it. What kind do you practice?

I’ve been practicing a Filipino martial art called Pekiti-Tirsia since 1975 and have been teaching since the early 80’s. Teaching has given me a chance to travel quite a bit as I conduct seminars throughout the U.S. and Europe. Pekiti-Tirsia is a weapons based art, so I get to use its techniques and principles in the sword fights in my novels. You can learn more about this art (and see some video demos) at my website:

3. Have you always wanted to be an author? What has been your writing experience so far?

When I was younger I wanted to be a full time martial arts instructor. I even tried it for a few years, but decided something more stable would be better if I wanted to have a family. Prior to Asulon my publishing history has been articles for martial arts and law enforcement magazines.

4. What influenced you to write the Sword of Fire novels?

I began writing the story in 1981. A friend had called and told me about the storyline of the movie “Omen III, The Final Conflict,” which he had just seen. Typically of Hollywood at that time when handling a biblical subject, the story had very little to do with what’s actually in scripture (in this case, regarding the Antichrist and the Second Coming of Christ). I reacted both as a Christian, “That’s not what the Bible says” and as a twenty year old guy, “I could write a better story than that.” So that’s what I set out to do. I decided to set the story of the tribulation and Second Coming in a fantasy setting, figuring that non-Christians would be more likely to read a biblical story if written that way. I wrote on and off for the next few years, getting about 120,000 word done, but stopped writing when my father died in 1986. I took up the story again in 2001 when my son was born. I wanted to write a story for him that brought together many of the things in the books I read as a teenager that gave me a life long love of reading and, I like to think, help point me in the right direction in life in general. What I envisioned as one book (The Sword of Fire) has now grown into three (Asulon, Eretzel and Apocalypse). The direct spark for my writing was to write a better story than The Omen, but the tinder, the fuel for my story was all the great books I read as a teen. Therefore, you’ll see influences in my story from authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Dante Alighieri, Edmund Rostand, Alexander Dumas, James Fennimore Cooper, Edgar Rice Boroughs, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert E. Howard.

5. I notice a serious inclusion of mythology in Asulon along with Biblical material. It reminds me of C. S. Lewis’ fiction. Do you have a penchant for mythology like he did?

I grew up watching all those great movies from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s that had classical mythology at their base: Jason and the Argonauts, Ulysses, The Thief of Bagdad; even those low budget Hercules movies were a wonder to me. When I was a teen, I came across Bullfinch’s Mythology in the library and I was hooked. As a writer, I think Tolkien’s Silmarillion was more of an influence on me than Lewis. I liked how Tolkien “explained” the origins of the Greek gods in the Silmarillion and wanted to do something similar in my own work. What also helped was reading apocrypha, specifically the Book of Enoch, in which a third group of angels who tried to stay neutral during Satan’s rebellion were banished to earth as punishment for their neutrality. That’s the basis for the background of Anak the earthbound angel in my story.

6. I also noticed quite a few political ideas. Did you have a particular message or messages that you were trying to send with that?

I’m a Conservative in my political beliefs and a teacher by nature, so I wanted to teach some of the things I’ve learned about people and politics to the young people who are the target audience for my novels. I always recall my reaction on my first reading of Roman history and how the problems and issues of those days seemed so much like today, (usually the political elements in my stories that a reader will point to as being too much like this week’s headlines are the very ones I wrote more than twenty years ago and took directly from my reading of ancient history). My point is that mankind always seems to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. The political elements I have in my novels are my way of pointing this out to my readers and asking that they not make the same mistakes.

7. Could you give a summary of Asulon in your own words?

Asulon is the first book in my trilogy titled “The Sword of Fire.” My concept for The Sword of Fire was to tell the story of the Tribulation and the return of Jesus Christ in narrative form and to show the images from the related books of the Bible verbatim. That is, when Revelation tells of locusts with men’s faces and scorpion’s tails, that is what I show, rather than translate the locusts into attack helicopters, as some will do when setting their End Times story in the near future. I wanted to tell this story as a fantasy tale, because the images fit so well into a fantasy setting and because clothing a biblical tale in a fantasy story would get a Christian story in “under the radar” of people who would not normally read an overtly Christian novel.
In Asulon, I introduce my major characters (both good and bad), set up some of the major problems that get bigger in book two and reach a climax in book three.

8. In the beginning of the story, you gave a great deal of detail of Daniel hunting a deer and then dressing it afterwards. Have you done a lot of deer hunting yourself?

I’ve only been on one successful deer hunt and have much more experience with small game (when I was 20, there were a few months I spent in Arizona where I pretty much survived on Jackrabbit chili).
The opening scene in Asulon, where the wild country is thought of by Daniel with such affection, comes from my own days in the Boy Scouts and our monthly camping trips in the Catskill Mountains. I live next door to them now and they remain a very special place for me.

9. If you can tell it without too many spoilers, what would you like for readers to carry away from Asulon after they have read it?

One theme I wanted to explore in Asulon was what it means to be a godly warrior; to recall the Christian knights of the medieval tales. In the beginning of Asulon I give what I call the Paladin’s code (shown below).

The Warrior Virtues

The Kingly Virtues

The Godly Virtues

I use a phrase as a motto for the young warriors in Asulon that sums this all up. In Latin it is NOBILIS VOS ESTO. In English it is “Be Noble.” That is what I would like the reader to take away from Asulon. The desire to be noble.

Thank you so much for your time and such a wonderful interview. You've give us so much insight into your writing and the person that you are.
Some shots of Bill (in the floppy hat) during summer training with a Pekiti-Tirsia group. Much of the fighting in Asulon is similar to these demonstrations.

Websites for Bill McGrath:

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Asulon: Sword of Fire

Asulon by William McGrath is the book of the month of May for the CFRB. As per usual with the CFRB, a new article will be posted each day May 4 through May 10. With this novel, there are an abundant number of subjects to be addressed.

Asulon is a “manly” novel if I ever read one. Hunting, survival in the wilderness, adventure, coming-of-age for a young prince, martial arts, assassins, intrigue, political hijinks, secret society, strategic warfare, swordplay, danger on every hand, the future of a country and the whole world at risk. With great detail and relish, Bill McGrath has written a fantasy filled with elements that are obviously close to his heart, creating a compelling tale of a young prince who is embroiled in a war of epic, even Biblical, proportions. It is not just a war of human enemies but Abaddon versus the forces of Heaven fighting for the souls of men.

Daniel is a young nobleman of Asulon. He is first introduced while on a year-long survival foray in the wilderness, a rite of passage for those of his station. His mentor Moor comes to take him home a bit early because his father Argeus needs him. It seems the old king died while Daniel was out in the forest, and his father had become the new king. This changed the scenario for Daniel’s education a bit, thus the need to return ahead of schedule. The next step in his life was to be a ten year stay in Logres (yes, the ancient name for Britain in Arthurian legend) at his grandfather’s court for training to befit his rank. Unfortunately, there are other forces at work that wish to dispose of the royal family and take control Asulon themselves. Actually, they wish to control the whole world. Thanks to these evil men, King Argeus is murdered the night before Daniel is scheduled to sail to Logres. Although the trip is delayed, it soon becomes apparent to Moor that Daniel will be the next target, and so plans change a bit to a stealthy flight heading for Logres. Only now Daniel is accompanied by Moor, the most skillful weapons-master in all the country; an old priest named Simon who has more than just spiritual insight to offer; and Rachel, an especially gifted young lady, who must return to her people in the land of Eretzel. Their escape and the times ahead are filled with danger and unexpected events, but to tell more may be too much information.

There are so many themes and elements to this story that I would love to discuss further, but I already tend to write too long. Some of these will be addressed in other essays this week. This is a book I would heartily recommend for young adults, young men in particular, but it is also quite appropriate for all adults. Daniel and his family is guided by high moral principles based on scripture and following the will of God, making this not only an exciting fantasy, but also one full of true Christian values.


William R. McGrath
Epic Fantasy
PTI Press; January 1, 2008; 296 pgs; $14.95
ISBN: 978-0-9801058-0-3

Bill McGrath's website:

Purchase a copy of Asulon at
the following sites

Other reviews and blogs about this fascinating novel can be found at the following sites: (This was on Charles Colson's Breakpoint magazine)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Beyond the Reflection's Edge

Readers beware: there are NO dragons in this book! Bryan Davis proves to be an author with more than one angle and many more stories inside his head. Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, the first book in the new series Echoes from the Edge, is an intense tale of mystery and murder set (for the most part) in modern times in the Heartland of America.

The novel begins with a concert in Chicago. Sixteen year old Nathan Shepherd joins his mother, a world famous violinist, on the stage for their special duet. While Nathan is playing his solo section, his mother steps back and leaves the stage. As soon as he finishes the piece, Nathan searches for his mother and has the great shock of finding both of his parents dead in a back room of the concert hall. Then before his very eyes, the mysterious Dr. Simon is also murdered when a strange little man named Mictar uses his burns the eyes right out of his head and eats them. Mictar likes to eat eyeballs from fresh victims. Nathan and his long-time tutor, Clara, have to run for their own lives, a flight that will continue throughout the book. Their escape takes them to the home of an old college friend of Nathan’s father, Tony, who lives out in the country in Iowa with his teenaged daughter Kelly. A dazed and grieving Nathan tries to understand what happened to his parents and why. Oh, and by the way, his father was a secret agent of some kind who had been involved in a lot of heavy cases over the years. Just before that fateful concert, he had given Nathan a mirror that he called Quatro, stressing its importance to Nathan. Nathan and his new ‘sister’ Kelly soon discover that this mirror has very odd properties, somehow able to show people and images that weren’t there, sometimes that come true a few minutes later, but phenomena even stranger than that. The bad guys also want this mirror, and Nathan is convinced it may help them find out what happened with his parents.

As a result, Nathan and Kelly go on a voyage that includes parallel worlds, uber-evil foes, unexpected deliverance, and a lot of confusion. The reader is swept along with the mystery and adventure, compelled to decide whether the clues are red herrings or important pieces of this puzzle of many dimensions. Nathan is never sure who to trust or not, yet he and Kelly, with the help of some friends, eventually are able to unravel the incredible story.

While Bryan Davis is known for fantasy, this book is more like science fiction. It most certainly will appeal to young adults, both male and female. The constant action is most appealing, but it is full of spiritual content as well. Faith and love are two important elements that drive the action. There is a satisfactory conclusion to this portion of the story although it leads directly into a continuation. As further enticement (as if it were needed), the first chapter of the second book, Eternity’s Edge, is included at the end.

I couldn’t hardly put the book down. I admit to being thoroughly confused at times, so I had to do a bit of retracing and going back a page or two, but I think that’s because I start reading too fast and then miss some important points. It may be a book for and about teenagers, but many other adults will enjoy it as much as I did.

You can find out more about Bryan Davis and all his books at . Bryan also has a page at

Beyond the Reflection's Edge can be ordered directly from the author's website and should be available at many Christian bookstores and other stores such as Barnes and Noble and Borders. It is also available online at (