25 December 2011


He was poor, that he might make us rich.
He was born of a virgin that we might be born of God.
He took our flesh, that he might give us His Spirit.
He lay in the manger, that we may lie in paradise.
He came down from heaven, that he might bring us to heaven. (Thomas Watson)

(The Nativity scene is by the pre-Raphaelite artist Arthur Hughes.)

20 December 2011

Horatius Bonar (1808–1889)

Just realized that yesterday was Horatius Bonar’s birthday, which is as good an excuse as I need to quote one of his best-loved hymns:
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down Thy head upon My breast.”
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him. 
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk, till traveling days are done.

12 December 2011

Indie vs traditional publishing: the maths

Dean Wesley Smith has just posted an interesting blog entry in which he compares the (notional) incomes of a pair of new genre novelists during their first three years in the business for the independent (read digital) and traditional publishing routes respectively. He makes a number of what seem to me reasonably conservative assumptions in order to make his calculations. Perhaps the least conservative assumptions are that both novelists manage to turn out a new novel every six months and that the one who goes down the traditional route manages to land a book deal (without an agent) during those three years.

The conclusion?

Total income for first three years of writing: 2012-2014

Traditional: $3,332.00 (assuming no agent and $5,000 advance. Book not yet published.)
Indie: $525.00 + $4,095 + $8,715.00 = $13,335.00 for three years.

You can find the full entry with all his working here.

07 December 2011

The Bone House

The Bone House by Stephen R. Lawhead
Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011.

This is the sequel to The Skin Map, which I reviewed rather negatively some time ago. In spite of my disappointment with The Skin Map, I decided to give Stephen Lawhead a second chance because of the pleasure his earlier books have given.

Sadly there was no sign of improvement. The dialogue and characterization remain as wooden as before. As for the storyline, if anything, that has degenerated even further into a series of short scenes located at different times in very different geographical locations strung together in a (deliberately?) confusing manner. Even worse, he has begun to indulge in a bad habit of the second-rate novelist: using arbitrary scene breaks to create a false sense of tension. On top of that, he indulges in some rather unsubtle infodumping more than once.

I also have my doubts about the extent and reliability of the historical research he has done. To take just one example, he has Douglas Flinders-Petrie seek out Roger Bacon in Oxford in 1260 when according to modern scholars he was in Paris. Granted this is a parallel universe rather than our own past, but little things like that make it harder for me to suspend my disbelief.

Also irritating was the evidence of poor editing. Glaring typos like ‘Canus Major’ for ‘Canis Major’, ‘died’ for ‘dyed’, and ‘bier’ for ‘byre’ are really not excusable!

Much as I wanted to enjoy this novel, I must again register my disappointment. I won’t be reading any more of the series.
PS I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.