Monday, 31 December 2012

Blog tour: Cephrael's Hand

Please enjoy this excerpt from Cephrael's Hand, a spellbinding epic fantasy by Melissa McPhail. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book.   



 Ean hugged the shadows as he tried to find his way back to le Comte’s estates. He feared they’d hurt his head worse than he thought, for the twisting alleys of the city disoriented him now. He was sure he’d passed the last street corner already once, and he had the uneasy feeling that he was walking in circles.
 Trying to break the cycle, he turned into a long and shadowed alley, spotting a streetlamp at the other end. Abruptly a form reared out of the shadows. Ean reached for his sword—
 “…Ean?”
 The prince halted with his hand around the hilt. “Fynn?”
 “Balls of Belloth!” Fynnlar crossed the distance in a rush and grabbed him by both shoulders, giving him a shake. “What are you doing out here, you wool-brained fool?”
 “I might ask the same of you, cousin.” Pushing a hand to his throbbing head, Ean closed his eyes. He’d seen so much death since the last moon…so many lives lost, and for what? He couldn’t fathom the events that spun violently around him, only knowing they somehow had him caught in the whirlwind.
 “Ean, are you unwell?”
 “Hit my head pretty hard,” the prince murmured, lifting tired eyes to refocus on his cousin. “I’ll be all right.”
 “Come on. We’d best keep moving.”
 The prince shook off the numbness edging his thoughts and followed his cousin. Fog was rising from the river as they headed back toward le Comte’s villa, fat fingers sliding through the streets to leach the color from the night. They reached a corner, and Fynn paused and looked warily around.
 “Fynn, what are we waiting fo—”
 But the words stuck on Ean’s tongue, for he heard it then: a strange whispering, the whisk of silk across the rough edge of glass. The sound had prickly tentacles that pierced into the soft flesh of Ean’s inner ear and twisted there, making him cringe.
 Something flew out of the shadows and Ean swung his head after it, straining to make out what he’d seen. “What in Tiern’aval was that?”
 Grimly, Fynn held his sword before him. “A Wildling—a Whisper Lord.”
 The whispering continued, tormenting, growing soundlessly louder until it shrieked inside Ean’s skull, shattering any hope of focus.
 The Wildling shot out of the shadows again, and Ean forced his eyes to follow, to find him in the shadows where he hid.
 There.
 He saw him lurking against the wall, smiling around big white teeth. His leathery skin was pitch black , and his eyes were golden like the desert sands. The man locked gazes with him, and—
 Suddenly they were nose to nose. Ean felt the heat of his breath in the same moment that the fiery sting of steel pierced his flesh.
 Shade and darkness!   
 “Ean, he cut you!”
 “I’m all right.” But Ean grimaced as he gingerly probed the wound. “Shadow take the abominable creature.” Fynn gave him a long look. “Be ready,” and he rushed to meet the Wildling.
 The fight turned instantly vicious. Whisper Lord fought with long, stiletto daggers that speared like claws out of his gloves. His hands crisscrossed with amazing speed, never failing to find their mark on Fynn’s person, while his body twisted and spun. Fynn’s thrusts in turn only seemed to meet with the slashed silk of his garments. So fast did the Whisper Lord dart and cavort that Ean at first felt helpless to join in, for he could barely see the Wildling move until after it had happened, as if the sight had to bounce off the back of his eyes…as if he could only see the man’s reflection.
 Then Ean found his focus and rushed to help Fynn.
 The Whisper Lord marked him before he even got his blade around, a long swipe at the joining of neck and shoulder that burned bitterly. Ean realized that trying to use his sword alone would get him killed, so he pulled his dagger and dove in again. The Whisper Lord dodged like a jumping spider and managed in the same maneuver to slash a deep cut across Ean’s thigh, his daggers flashing first with the silver of steel and then dark with blood. Ean snarled a curse and staggered into the wall, teeth clenched against the pain, for the wound was angry and deep.
 Abruptly Fynn threw himself backwards, himself narrowly avoiding a deadly thrust to his gut. Those spine-like blades sliced a chunk of flesh out of his side instead. The royal cousin clenched his teeth and held one hand to his midriff, using the other to pull himself out of reach.
 Ean dove at the creature with renewed determination, his battered head forgotten in his haste to keep the man away from Fynn. He wore a malicious grin as they battled, and his golden gaze was flecked and sparkling against his face of leathery pitch. As Ean’s strength failed, the Wildling grinned even broader and began to chant in a voice like sand, “Tur or’de rorum d’rundalin dalal!  Tur or’de rorum d’rundalin dalal!” Over and over while he pressed Ean on the retreat; gleefully, like a madman.
 And then he made a sudden thrust, and Ean jumped to avoid the slashing daggers that barely missed his throat. He came down unevenly on his bad leg, and his knee buckled. Stumbling, he hissed a curse and the man bore down on him. A swipe of his hand, and three spiny daggers cut deeply across Ean’s back with their sharp fire. The Wildling’s other hand darted for his throat again, but the prince veered and twisted so the blades caught his chin and cheek instead. Ean rolled and thrust upward, but the Wildling merely laughed and arched out of his way; the weapon met only the whisper of silk.
 Ean lay panting. His dagger seemed lost along with his will, and desperation could no longer drive him on.
 The Whisper Lord advanced slowly wearing a grim smile. With the shrieking noise still accosting his skull and the loss of blood and nausea in his stomach, Ean felt only numb acceptance. Shaking, he lowered his head—
 A tall form pushed past him, knocking Ean aside as it rushed to engage the Whisper Lord, driving the Wildling back and away, taking the battle out of Ean’s hands.
 Ean fell onto his back, gasping as the last of his strength bled out of him, and lay watching his rescuer take offensive control.
 The woman’s brown half-cloak floated behind her as she advanced with long, fast strides, forcing the Whisper Lord on the retreat beneath two short swords wielded in a flashing figure-eight.
 The Wildling smiled no longer. Every thrust and swipe of his daggers was blocked by the woman’s whirling black blades. She matched him stride for stride, spinning when he spun, darting as he did, dodging as he lunged. They performed a ferocious, twisting dance of death where both knew the steps intimately and took them with ease.
 As Ean watched, the Wildling slashed his daggered gloves in a motion that should’ve gutted the woman, but she flipped out of his reach, thrusting long as she landed. Her sword met with the flesh of his side, drawing a hiss as he jumped back. He glared malevolently at her and pressed one palm to his side.
 “Merdanti,” he snarled, his golden eyes hot as they assessed her black blades.
 Arching brows with a predatory smile, she twirled her blades and lunged for him again, and once more the dance began, the meeting of their deadly weapons a rhythmic beating that seemed in time with Ean’s still-racing heart.
 And then—
 Ean thought he must’ve dreamed it, his tortured mind inventing an impression for what clearly defied explanation. The woman and the Wildling seemed to shift and slow, their cloaks floating as if suspended on the wind. Then the woman launched out of her turn so quickly that Ean lost sight of her, only to spot her again as she stood squarely before her opponent, blades crossed. With naught but a grimace of effort, she chopped her short swords crosswise through the Wildling’s neck, removing his head completely. His body toppled to the stones at her feet, paying respects to her skill.
 Silence hung in the street, a palpable blanket sewn of incredulity fringed with pain.
 The woman lowered her dripping blades and leveled tawny eyes on the prince...

Cephrael Tour Badge    As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Cephrael's Hand eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Cephrael's Hand for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event






About Cephrael's Hand: Two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of a great battle, neither knowing the other is alive... A traitor works in exile while preparing for the disaster only he knows is coming... A race of beings from beyond the fringe of the universe begin unmaking the world from within... And all across the land, magic is dying. Cephrael's Hand is the first novel in the award-winning series A Pattern of Shadow and Light. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
  About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Visit Melissa on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Friday, 28 December 2012

#fridayflash: Just a little crush

“So do you think he likes you?” Tasha asked, the nail polish brush poised in the air.

“I don’t think he does. No, I know he doesn’t,” Ginny replied, following its arch as it alighted on Tasha’s finger.  Gently, gingerly, perfectly.

“Of course he doesn’t. Look at you.”

Ginny sighed. She hated it when they got to this point of the conversation, as they invariably did. Obediently she looked at her torn nails and ragged cut-off jeans. She realized she hadn’t shaved her legs again, and her hair was escaping what was probably the saddest excuse of a bun ever.

“You’ve got to start taking care of your looks, Gins, even if you don’t have much to start with in the first place.”

“Thanks for the confidence builder, Tash.”

“Just speaking the truth, you know, in love.”

She knew the spiel by heart: go for regular facials (a waste of money), put on makeup everyday (like a painted doll), dress up (though she’d rather dress down after wearing stuffy suits every day at work), act a little more helpless (which would only irritate herself), manicure and pedicure (just another excuse to be helpless) and lose some weight (maybe she should, though she was hardly fat). She nodded vaguely at the noises that came out of Tasha’s mouth. She had stopped listening a long time ago, after seeing the perfectly coifed Tasha running through a string of boyfriends and never ever settling down with one. The heartbreaks were more than she could bear, and they weren’t even her own. She should have stopped asking her for relationship advice as well, knowing the kind of advice she’d be getting from Tasha, but she couldn’t help it.

He was such a nice guy.

And that was the problem.

He was such a nice guy that she was sure he acted the same with every single girl that crossed his path. Only, she had to develop a stupid mind-boggling crush based on a random conversation that hadn’t ever repeated itself. Stupid Ginny, she said to herself as she drove home. Stop over-thinking it.
But she couldn’t. She remembered clearly where they had sat as they sipped on their iced teas, talking about books and travels, she half listening to a parallel conversation beside her and suddenly realizing – realizing what exactly? She didn’t quite know. She just knew that she went home that day feeling abnormally blissful, and waking up the next morning thinking about Paul. She shunted the name aside, trying to think of nothing as she readied herself for bed. Still, a smile crept onto her face as she snuggled under her blankets. Paul.

---

“But is she single?” Paul asked, ignoring Jeff’s smirk.

“You like her, don’t you? I could tell from the way you were cornering her the whole night.”

“I wasn’t. We were both at the same table with all of you.”

“Yes, but you weren’t exactly there, were you? You were off somewhere in that head of yours, ignoring the rest of us stupid people.” Jeff laughed at Paul’s grimace. “I think she is, bro. Don’t get all flustered.”

He scowled, annoyed at the way he always let Jeff ruffle him. But he had had to ask, hadn’t he? It would have been odd to ask her, out of the blue, for no discernable reason. He remembered smiling across the table at the distracted young woman, admiring the curve of her neck as she listened to the conversation about movies beside them.

“What did you think of The Hobbit?” he had asked, watching her head swivel towards him suddenly, awkwardly.

“Oh! The movie?”

He nodded.

She shrugged. “It was okay, I suppose.”

He had carefully drawn her into a discussion about movie adaptations, hobbits, Tolkien and fantasy books in general, amused by the way she spoke to him directly but somewhat nervously, her attention flitting between him and their other friends. He had lost track of the conversation beside him a long time ago, not quite deft enough in tracking multiple strands of discourse as she seemed to be doing, and doing rather skillfully, darting one moment into their talk about books and then dropping comments about some movie to the others in the next.

It was nothing ground breaking, no fanfare, no fireworks; just a steady appreciation that grew over the course of evening. He didn’t say a word extra, didn’t turn a hair, only left with a thought on his mind that night. I’d like to get to know you better, Ginny.

---

They smiled at each other, stopping as they were about to cross paths.

“How have you been?”

“Fine, just fine. And you?”

“Yeah, good. You know, I checked out that book you talked about the other day.”

“What book?”

“Magician, by Feist. I thought it was pretty interesting.”

“Oh. That’s nice,” he smiled, unsure what to say next.

Ginny looked at him awkwardly, then turned away. He’s obviously not interested.

Paul watched her leave. I don’t think she likes me. 

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Muddle

So let's start off this post by saying that I'm somewhat of a purist when it comes to making movies out of books, especially when it comes to what I've perceived of the person's character. I mean, I'm watching the movie because of the book, right? So I would reasonably expect it to be... true to it? Mostly?
That said, I liked the way they started off; the little prelude with Bilbo and Frodo makes sense, in a way, as it ties in the LOTR movies to this one - I suppose this was mainly to provide some familiarity for the movie fans who haven't yet read the book. The history of the dwarves was well put in the beginning for a movie, rather than in the random bits and pieces that trickled in through the book. And I just LOVED the dwarves' misty mountains song. It wasn't necessary. But it was nice.
My first major eh-what moment came when Bilbo runs up to the dwarves yelling for them to wait for him and that he'd signed the contract. Okay, so my memory of the Hobbit isn't as good as I'd like it to be, but if I'm not mistaken, Gandalf fairly chased him out of the house to join them. In fact, I don't think he ever actually agreed, but found himself being swept along anyway.
The next major bugbear I had, and this ran all the way through the movie, was the way they made Thorin hate everything so much. He hated the elves, he was nasty about Bilbo and he was overall a rather unlikeable person. Which annoys me, because whilst Thorin was aloof, he wasn't so overbearingly bitter. There was no major animosity against the elves in the beginning of The Hobbit, especially those in Rivendell - he only started to hate them because of their treatment of him in Mirkwood. In fact, there was some light-hearted ribbing between the elves and dwarves over their ancient rift, but nothing so... dark and ominous as in the movie.
I don't recall the stone giants appearing in The Hobbit, but whatever. And this led to another piece of character damage that I totally didn't agree with; Bilbo did not decide to leave the Company - in fact, he was the one who realised the door was opening and alerted them, which allowed Gandalf to escape. In the movie Gandalf wasn't with them because... he was holed up in a conference with Saruman, Galadriel and Elrond, whereby the three were against the dwarves' mission and Gandalf let them sneak out during their conference. I suppose the conference served its purpose - to explain the fall of Greenwood, and to bring up the Necromancer, though the Necromancer doesn't actually do anything in the Hobbit, so he could have been readily ignored. And whilst the dwarves were a little upset at missing Bilbo, they weren't as nasty about it as they were in the movie. In fact, they rather looked up to him after that because of his "feat" of escaping the goblins and sneaking past their lookout.
And then came the pointless battle between Thorin and Azog, who really shouldn't even be in the movie. The Wargs had come to meet the goblins, who were mourning the death of the Great Goblin, and which was why they were seeking revenge against the dwarves.
A friend rightly asked why the eagles didn't just drop them near the Lonely Mountains since they were being carried anyway, and that was where the filmmakers skipped the dialogue between Gandalf and the Lord of the Eagles, where the eagle-lord would not take them anywhere near dwelling places, and only because Gandalf had once helped them. Instead, they did the speaking to the butterfly thing again from out of LOTR.
I'm not really sure what to think about Radagast. I suppose he served a purpose in filling in some informational gaps that needed to be filled, but I didn't really like that they made him stupid-crazy eccentric. I rather imagined him distracted/absent-minded eccentric.
I suppose they needed the extra drama in the movie.

All that said, it was interesting as a movie, and I suppose some of the changes might possibly make sense when we see the next two instalments.
I still don't like what they did to Thorin.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

#bookreview: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, #4)The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up on a recommendation from a friend. Ok, to be really honest, I picked this up because it was on my friend's look-out list and I found it at a book fair, and I couldn't resist peeking. This is the first Sanderson book I've read, and I mainly only know his name from the fact that he's finishing up the Wheel of Time series.

To put it simply, I LOVED IT.
Ok, so it's the fourth book in a series, but this one apparently jumps a few centuries from the original Mistborn Trilogy, so I didn't lost in some ongoing plot.

Waxillium Ladrian, a Twinborn, and a lawman in the Roughs is forced to return to his family estates on the death of his uncle. Fitting back into civil society is harder than he thought, though he soon comes to realise that society can be just as dangerous to his health as the rough and tumble rules of the wilds.

The feel started off very westernish, and it retains the slight aura of an old-style western over its fantasy basis with the use of magic (Allomancy and Feruchemy).
There's deep thought behind it, something that Pratchett has explored in Thud! (I think), about lawmaking, or who watches the watchmen, if I may use Pratchett's phrase. Also, theological leanings makes me pick out themes of godhood; the idea that we are our own gods. But that could just be me.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

The interwebs have already been flooded with a plethora of Christmas greetings, so I'll just add mine into the mix. Nothing much especially new or different to say; it's all been said before, and there's nothing new under the sun, right?

May this Christmas bring you a fresh touch of God's great love, a new realisation of who you are in Christ, and a firmer conviction of where you stand in Him.

Be blessed.

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GIVEAWAY RESULTS

Congrats to Adelynne and Evangel for winning the Worship Songwriter and In That Day giveaways respectively!

An e-mail has been sent to the winners.

Hope you enjoy your Christmas gift!
=)

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Cover reveal: Free Souls by Susan Kaye Quinn

Free Souls by Susan Kaye Quinn
(Book Three of the Mindjack Trilogy) Now Available!
When your mind is a weapon, freedom comes at a price.
Four months have passed since Kira left home to join Julian’s Jacker Freedom Alliance, but the hole in her heart still whistles empty where her boyfriend Raf used to be. She fills it with weapons training, JFA patrols, and an obsessive hunt for FBI agent Kestrel, ignoring Julian’s worries about her safety and repeated attempts to recruit her for his revolutionary chat-casts. When anti-jacker politician Vellus surrounds Jackertown with the National Guard, Kira discovers there’s more to Julian’s concerns than she knew, but she’s forced to take on a mission that neither want and that might be her last: assassinating Senator Vellus before he can snuff out Julian’s revolution and the jackers she’s come to love.
All of the Mindjack stories are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and iTunes (Note Free Souls is not yet available on Kobo or iTunes)

Early Praise for Free Souls
“Quinn paints a picture of a not-too-distant America where politicians inflame the hatred of one section of the populace for another—all for their own gain—and you worry that her world is not so far off from our own.”
Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, The Caged Graves, and the forthcoming The Eighth Day
"Free Souls starts with a bang and doesn't let up. Like a mash-up of all your favorite science-fiction adventures from Star Wars to The Legend of Korra, it blends nonstop action, nail-biting escapes, and great romance. I absolutely loved it! A great series conclusion—a must-read."
Leigh Talbert Moore, author of Rouge and The Truth About Faking
“Susan did it again. Free Souls was WOW! I expected Kira to step up to her role as heroine but not like this. Surprises kept coming until the very end which tied up more loose ends than I knew existed. Warning: Don't start reading until you have time to finish. I didn't want to put Free Souls down for a second. It's that kind of book.”
Sher A. Hart, Goodreads Review

Interview
Susan was over at Amy Saunder's blog yesterday (12.14.12), answering questions about how she came up with the mages' abilities, what kind of mage she would be, and all about her future works.
Digital Box Set
Since Free Souls is out, there is now a Digital Box Set of the Mindjack Trilogy for those of you who want the whole series!
Available on AmazonBarnes and Noble

Mindjack Origins Collection
Want more Julian? Wondering how Sasha's ability really works? Looking for EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls? This collection of novellas, scenes, and other goodies is for those craving a bit more of the characters and drama of the Mindjack series.

Includes: Mindjack Novellas Mind Games (Raf's story) The Handler (Julian's story) The Scribe (Sasha's story) TWO EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls (published nowhere else!) PLUS Mindjack flash fiction, an (imaginary) conversation between Raf and Julian, and other goodies for readers who want just a little bit more of Kira, Julian, Raf, and the Mindjack crew.
Available on AmazonBarnes and Noble

ENTER TO WIN one of FIVE ecopies of the Mindjack Origins Collection
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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(Also, if you haven't already entered my giveaways for In That Day and The Worship Songwriter, you can still do so here!)

Friday, 14 December 2012

Hobbitfest!

I signed up for the Hobbit blog fest over at M Pax's blog way back when. Can't wait to go watch The Hobbit, but it looks like that will have to wait until after I come back from the Big Bad Wolf Sale (boooksssssssssss)

So here are the questions and my answers:

What is your favorite hobbit characteristic/or the one that you think closely resembles you?
Um. I'm short and I eat a lot. It's an Asian thing. ;)

If you could choose between a scrumptious second breakfast and a perilous unexpected journey – which would you prefer?
Breakfast, of course. Though I'd be okay with an unexpected journey if it wasn't perilous.

Have you ever left behind something on a journey (expected or unexpected) and wished you could have it over and over again? (a pocket handkerchief?)
The one thing I always leave behind (or lose on the way) is my hair-tie. Or hair clip. Or rubber band. And then I'll either have to buy one somewhere, or I end up using miscellaneous stuff to keep my hair up. I've become something of an expert in using a pen to bun my hair. =) Ok, I've also used paper clips.

What is your favorite part or quote from the book that you hope will be in the movie?
Um... I was going to say the riddles in the dark... but you know what? I hope that whole exchange in the beginning about the many meanings of "Good morning" makes it into the movie.

Now you're done reading, go and visit the other bloghoppers as well!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

#bookreview: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Imagine a world where books were illegal, and if you were reported to own books, you would be arrested and your house would be burnt down. For one who lives in a world of words, it's a scary thought. It's frightening that all our words could just so easily disappear into the void like that.

Fahrenheit 451 was a gripping read; I'd only intended to read a few chapters before bed, but ended up finishing the whole book. I got sucked into the internal tension of Guy Montag's world, as all his careful construct as a fireman, who burnt books, started being pulled down around him.

I'm just sorry I took so long to get round to reading this.

View all my reviews

Just a few more thoughts on this. In the passage where Montag meets the men at the railway tracks, and he is lamenting his loss of the words of Ecclesiastes and Revelations that he thought he could remember, Granger tells him that they have found ways to remember, and introduces his friends thus:
"I want you to meet Jonathan Swift, the author of that evil political book, Guilliver's Travels! And this other fellow is Charles Darwin, and this one is Schopenhauer, and this one is Einstein, and this one here at my elbow is Mr. Albert Schweitzer, a very kind philosopher indeed. Here we all are, Montag. Aristophanes and Mahatma Ghandi and Gautama Buddha and Confucius and Thomas Love Peacock and Thomas Jefferson and Mr. Lincoln, if you please. We are also Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."
It just struck me, reading that, that there are places in the world now, where people are that. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in places where the Bible is scarce, or outlawed. And here we are in places where everything is so accessible, and we don't treasure it that much.

Must it come down to a day when we don't have it anymore before we start to lament our apathy?

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Still time to enter the Christmas giveaways here!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas Giveaway!

When it comes round to the end of the year, you start to reflect on the things that have been happening in your life.
I would like to appreciate a few people - Josh, for his ministry in Penang and his friendship; David, for his ministry to worship leaders online; and you, my faithful blog readers - by running two giveaways for:
1) Josh's worship album, In That Day
2) David's ebook, The Worship Songwriter.

(I've shifted the rafflecopter entries from the previous entry over here so it's easier to share)
Entries close on 23 December 2012 (Sunday) and results will be announced on Christmas!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 9 December 2012

#fireplace: pressing on in #worship (and two #giveaway s)

The weekends when I lead worship at church are often both stressful and satisfying. (Okay, it's only stressful for me and the musicians because I'm a muddle-minded person).
Today, for example, our drummer didn't turn up. We pressed on, with keys and guitar. Then our LCD projector blew a fuse in the middle of Lead me to the cross. And you know, that's a difficult song; it has so many words. We pressed on - even the littlest child can sing the chorus of In moments like these. Then the pastor's microphone didn't work. He swapped mikes and pressed on.
It felt like a recipe for disaster, but it wasn't.

And somewhere in the back of my mind was the question, 'why does this always happen to me?'
But that's an unfair question, because it doesn't always happen to me. And even when it does, you know that it only makes you rely on God all the more.

Sometimes I think that's why it happens to me. Because sometimes I think I can handle it when I know I can't. And though mostly I hope for a great worship session, I'm usually thankful that we got through the set with minimal disasters. After every worship session, I thank God for getting us through, and promise I'll be better prepared the next time, I'll dig deeper in His Word, but life gets in the way, and sometimes I do, but more often I don't. That's probably not a very good confession to be hearing from your worship leader, but sometimes it really is the truth! (And if you can't be truthful to your church, who can you be truthful with?)

I just bookmarked this verse during service this morning:
Luke 22:32 - But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.
It kind of struck me... did you ever realise that Jesus said "And when you have turned back"? It presupposes we will fall but we will get up again. Okay, yes we know that Peter denied Jesus and later he turned back and led the church; we know that in hindsight. Imagine, for a moment, if you were Peter, and you knew with all your heart you would never fail Jesus... and then you did. That one word, "when" would have made a lot of difference for me.

So we press on, continually press on. 

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CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAYS!

I've blogged about my good friend Josh before - last year, I did an artist interview with him when he first launched his album, In That Day.
This year, I'm running a giveaway for his album (digital download), unless you live in Malaysia, in which case I can arrange an autographed copy for you. It's an easy entry giveaway

Also, I've been much blessed by the Next Level worship series by David Santistevan, and was also privileged to participate in the launch of his book, The Worship Songwriter, in October. So here's another easy entry giveaway!

Entries close on 23 December 2012!

(p/s I've moved the rafflecopter to a separate post here.)

Friday, 7 December 2012

#fridayflash: musicians watching musicians in the rain


"They're good, aren't they?"
"Got the crowd really grooving."
"Why aren't we up there?"
"Different countries, different styles, wouldn't work -"
"No, I mean, why aren't we up in front grooving with the crowd?"
"Beats me."
Beat.
"It's wet, isn't it?"
"Positively soggy."
"Bit of a dampener on the whole spirit of the thing."
"But the crowd has been great."
"Yeah, even during our set."
"But not as responsive as this."
"I knew we should have started a conga line."
"Or kissed a girl."
"We're too straight."
"Straight."
Snort.
"What was that for?"
"Nothing."
"Why are you sitting so far away?"
"Our... our umbrellas need space."
"Oh."
Beat.
"I swear I'll never understand you."

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

of Advent, Books and Coming-soons...

I was supposed to post this on Sunday, but what with Christmas practice, then jazz fest, then work, then general all-round laziness, and setting up the song set for the weekend...

Advent
Well, I suppose it's a little too late now to wish you a "Happy Advent", if one does wish that, but all the same, do take time to slow down even as we enter the busiest time of the year (oxymoron, that).

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming." It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday. The Eastern churches' equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, but it differs both in length and observances and does not begin the church year, which starts instead on September 1.[1] At least in the Roman CatholicAnglicanLutheranMoravianPresbyterian and Methodist calendars, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, which is the Sunday from November 27 to December 3 inclusive.[2]Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.

We don't observe this in my church, or even at home, and I'm a somewhat erratic person when it comes to observing traditions and such, but seeing my growing disillusionment with Christmas celebrations on a whole... maybe as Mark Roberts puts it:
In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.
 may help to put things more into perspective.
At any rate, I've been wanting to do a giveaway for two things: 1) Joshua's album, In That Day and 2) David Santistevan's The Worship Songwriter so I figured what better time than to do it now?
(We'll work that out along the way)

Books
I'm finally going for the Big Bad Wolf Sale!

*slobber*
Okay so I'm using the 1 week picture because I'm only going down to KL next weekend. WHEE!

Coming soon
As mentioned above, I'm trying to figure out a way to do the giveaways. I'm thinking of using Rafflecopter, but I'm not sure how it works. BUT I WILL TRY! It'll run from whenever I figure it out until Dec 23rd, with winners to be announced on Dec 24th, so you'll get your stuff right in time for Christmas!

If you're a female singer located in Penang, George Town Festival is holding an audition next week. Details here.



Also I just recalled I signed up for a blogfest some time last month. Or the month before. So I'm posting the linky code here so that you can join in the fun too! Can't wait for The Hobbit!


Oh yes, C was also supposed to be for certs, in which, I was going to paste my nanowrimo cert, but since my computer died and I'm a little too lazy to go re-download the cert at 1am and print screen it for you, well, that's too bad then. Also, I completed the Greek and Roman Mythology course over at Coursera, so I'm just waiting for my cert on that one too! Yay!

So that's it for the moment!