Vision: A Resource for Writers

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Website Review:

Where the Map Ends

By Valerie Comer
Copyright 2008 by Valerie Comer, All Rights Reserved

Anyone who is interested in Christian speculative fiction--reading it or writing it--should bookmark the website and check back on a regular basis. What is included in spec fic? Fantasy, science fiction, alternate history, time travel, end-times fiction: anything a bit--or a lot--off the wall.

Site owner and webmaster Jeff Gerke has set out to create a hub for all things related to this group of genres, and I believe he's succeeded. Since the site went live in 2006, Gerke has added a lot of content.

What can you find at Where the Map Ends?

My favorite part of the site is the book list. Gerke has compiled a comprehensive inventory of every speculative book available from Christian publishing houses to date. Even though I've been actively watching this market, Where the Map Ends showed me that there are a lot more novels out than I'd thought. Knowing that not everyone has high speed internet, Gerke has set the book list up so that you can view images of the covers or go with a simple inventory.

Every month a new interview is posted. Gerke conducts humorous, in-depth conversations with authors and agents involved in the genre, providing plenty of insider information and tips.

The forums are known as The Anomaly. In one section of the board, a collaborative writing project is under way, featuring fantasy versus science fiction in a fight to the death. It looks like a very active fight, and both sides are recruiting more warriors to continue the battle.

Of course the collaboration isn't the only thing happening in The Anomaly. There are plenty of places for folks to post other questions and discussions based on the Christian spec fic genres and to get to know one another. It's an active place.

The webmaster, a published author and former acquisitions editor for major houses, provides a section with tools for writers. Addressed are topics such as the usefulness of conferences, which writing books are the best, an explanation of the complete process of publication, idea and world builders (complete with a random story generator), and a tip-of-the-week column that has been running for almost two years. Some of the tips are specific to the Christian market, but many are good sense for writers aiming at any publishing house. They range from things to avoid (such as pet phrases and ambiguous clues), to dialogue tips, description, characters, etc. A lot of great wisdom is included.

Gerke realizes that speculative fiction goes far beyond novels. Folks may submit short stories, poetry, and artwork to Where the Map Ends. It isn't a market so much as a show place for a few pieces. Manga, machinima, computer games, graphic novels, comics, and more are listed, along with links to follow should these categories be of interest to you.

The newest section of the website is Marcher Lord Press, a small print-on-demand press that will release its first three novels in October 2008. Folks are welcome to sign up in advance for notification and access to first chapters, and when they do, their names are put in a draw for great prizes. Those who purchase a novel on the grand opening day will receive additional material--their choice of a virtual coffee table art book and/or an ebook about the history of marcher lords. While Marcher Lord Press does not pay advances, it is not a vanity press either. Jeff Gerke is a professional editor with many years of experience, and he is choosing the novels with care as well as working with the authors to produce the highest quality book possible.

Gerke has his finger on the pulse of the Christian speculative fiction market, and because of his personal and professional experience, he knows how to translate the raw data into practical advice. He's dedicated to building the genre, and I know that if this is also an interest of yours, you'd be very welcome at Where the Map Ends.