Writing Challenge: Describe a jaw-dropping view

March 4th, 2016

Keeping things short and sweet today. Here’s one of my favorite descriptions from my new novel, The Fragment.

The Fragment by Davis Bunn

Writing challenge

Have you visited a place that is so jaw-dropping, it’s hard to describe in words?

Envision that place. Describe it, helping people who have never been there to see it, feel it, taste it.

This place might be a grand palace, like the one I describe here. Or it may be the view from your yard. Or something you see daily while you commute to work.

Give it a shot in the comments. I’m betting big money that we have more than a few “word artists” out there.

The Fragment: ‘A world of intrigue, romance, adventure, and faith’

February 24th, 2016

The Fragment, my new historical suspense (post WW I) has been out less than a week, and the reviews are flowing in. Here are three reviews from Deb Haggerty, Rachel Helms, and Eddie Gilley.

The Fragment, by Davis Bunn

Deb Haggerty, on Goodreads

The Fragment opens in the year 1923. The world is recovering from the privations of the Great War. Muriel Ross, a researcher at the Smithsonian, has had a dream come true. She is to accompany Sen. Thomas Bryan to Paris!

Once in Paris, Muriel falls in love with the people. A photographer of some great skill, she photographs people in all walks of life—struck by the joy she sees in their faces, despite the ordeals of the war.

Sen. Bryan, however, is there on another task—and he hopes Muriel will be the key person he needs to realize his dream.

Wearing a gown designed and fitted by none other than Coco Chanel herself, Muriel meets the Prime Minister of France. She impresses him with her knowledge and demeanor, so she (and the senator) are taken to the Cathedral of Notre Dame where she is allowed to photograph a reliquary holding, tradition states, a piece of the True Cross.

So begins their adventure—from Paris via Orient Express to Constantinople. Muriel finds herself stretched and intrigued and overwhelmed by her experiences. Will they attain their quest? Atatürk is besieging Constantinople … battles rage … alliances shift. The result …?

Muriel Ross is a well-written, very likable character. Beset by doubts and wonderings about her destiny, she nonetheless retains her strong faith. The romantic interest (every story has to have one, correct?) is less believable.

The Fragment by Davis Bunn

Charles Fouchet, an aide to a French official, accompanies them on their quest. Charles has lost a wife and child to the influenza epidemic and, apparently, has lost his faith as well. Given the descriptions, I had a hard time believing Muriel would find him attractive.

The history of the area—of Paris after the war, of the legends of the Cross, of Constantinople prior to Atatürk—is very detailed, but, I’m afraid, most readers will skip the history to get to the story.

Unfortunately, the story without the history is quite slim. I, personally, was enthralled by the history but found the presentation of the historical facts contrived, especially toward the denouement. Four stars—not for The Fragment, but for the historical education and the heroine.

Rachel Helms, on her blog

The Fragment. What a fabulous book. The way the author writes enables you to dive straight into that era; I could almost hear the music that would be playing.  Muriel is an engaging protagonist, whose new discoveries each day aren’t just related to the mystery of who to trust – her spiritual and emotional growth is involved throughout the whole story.

The potential of the story is astonishing – could this really have happened? Piece by piece, Bunn stacks the puzzle so that you believe it. It’s enough to make you want to dig into history, learn everything you can, about the story, the fragment, is it real or not real?

I enjoyed this author’s writing style, the descriptive characteristics of scenery, setting, people, and emotions. Both the story and characters were well written; I finished the book in one night, because I couldn’t put it down. I would definitely recommend this book for all of the above, giving it five stars.

Eddie Gilley, on his blog

Davis Bunn has done it again. That seems to be the way that most of my reviews begin of his books. However, it remains true. Every time I read one of his books, I am always amazed and entertained.

The Fragment is a stand-alone story in many ways, but to fully grasp the importance of The Fragment you need to read his other book, The Pilgrim, which was released in July. You can read my review of that book here. The reason I say it can stand alone is that if you didn’t read the first book, you still get enough of the story in the second book for the plot to make perfect sense.

The reader is transported back in time in The Fragment and we are introduced both to a historical period and some great new characters. My only experience in Paris was a layover in the airport but I feel as if I have been there after reading this book.

The other section of the story happens in old Constantinople or Istanbul for the modern reader and the setting is the time when the nation of Turkey is being born.

The Fragment by Davis Bunn

Having been to Istanbul many times and toured some of the sites mentioned in the book, I can tell you that Bunn has done a marvelous job of describing the architecture and ethos of that wonderful city. You will know exactly what it looks like as you read the pages of this book.

The story is compelling and draws the reader into a world of intrigue, romance, adventure, and faith. It is not only believable but it makes you want to get to know the people involved in a deeper way. The historical side is accurate, the settings are true, and the characters are developed in the typical excellence style of Davis Bunn.

After getting started reading this work, I found myself reading non-stop. I didn’t want to put my iPad down. I read during football games and basketball games over the weekend. My only regret was reaching the last page.

Perhaps there is another story in there that will link the ancient characters of the Pilgrim through the period characters of The Fragment and connect to the characters we met in The Patmos Deception!

Q&A with Davis Bunn: Is photography one of your hobbies?

February 17th, 2016

The Fragment by Davis Bunn

Q: Muriel Ross, the 23-year-old protagonist in The Fragment, is an amateur photographer. Is photography one of your hobbies?

Davis Bunn: When I entered junior high school, I met, by what I now call divine chance, a teacher who supervised the school newspaper. He was a passionate photographer, and had managed to equip a school darkroom.

Large format (4 x 5) press cameraHe chose one student from each class to serve as photographer for that year’s newspaper and yearbook. I had no experience with cameras and did not even know what I was letting myself in for. But for the next two years, I had the joy of working under a quietly passionate artist, and learned to handle myself behind the lens.

The two cameras I worked with were the precise instruments that Muriel handled. The Grafex 3 ¼ x 4 ¼
was for decades the workhorse of professional news photographers and still-artists alike. It was a monster of a machine, weighed over seven pounds, and required a series of steps to operate that at the beginning I never thought I would master.

The negatives had to be put in place by hand, in complete darkness, by feel alone. They were the size from which the camera got its name, 3 ¼ inches wide and 4 ¼  inches tall, that were fitted to either side of a glass plate which was slid into the back of the camera.

Then the protective sleeve was pulled out, the picture was shot, the sleeve put back in, the glass sheet pulled out and flipped over, then the second shot taken.

Leica cameraI carried the camera in a massive wooden case, and a second case that held a dozen glass sleeves.

Added to this was the smaller Leica and a light meter slung from cords around my neck. I looked like a complete and utter geek.

One of the high points of my junior high school career was having a photograph of our team’s center dunking a shot that ran in the local city newspaper.

What about you?

Are there any fellow photography buffs out there? Tell me about your first camera! What inspired your shutterbug love?

Reviewers of ‘The Fragment’: Political intrigue and spiritual quest in a great read — 5 Stars

February 10th, 2016

On February 19, 2016, my new historical novel, The Fragment, releases. Here are three early reviews of the book, from Sherry Arni, Dave Milbrandt, and Anne Rightler.

The Fragment by Davis Bunn

Sherry Arni, on Goodreads:

Against the backdrop of post-World War I Europe and the crumbling Ottoman Empire, Davis Bunn weaves a story of elegance, intrigue, strength, and faith as 23-year-old Muriel Ross embarks on a quest she only gradually comes to understand, along with U. S. Senator Thomas Bryan and mysterious French diplomat Charles Fouchet, a young man deeply wounded by the war and its aftermath.

A reliquary containing a fragment of the True Cross and deepening crisis in the Ottoman Empire pull these characters from Paris to Constantinople in a dangerous journey.

Davis Bunn’s characters, as always, are well-drawn, believable, and real. The story pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go until the last page. The Fragment, which ties in to the story of the Empress Helena in The Pilgrim, is a great read. 5 Stars

Dave Milbrandt, on Goodreads

Bunn’s previous book, The Pilgrim, provides an interpretation of Helena’s discovery of the True Cross of Christ. In The Fragment, we travel to Europe in 1923, where American researcher Muriel Ross is pulled into risky, yet spiritually rewarding search for a piece of this most auspicious of relics.

Having both taught history and written my own tale about a piece of the True Cross, I can tell you first hand that Bunn’s attention to historical accuracy is spot-on. But, where others might have fun taking a more mystical approach, Bunn travels the higher road and focuses on characters being changed from the inside.

Bunn’s writing is always poetic and never pretentious, leaving me enchanted and, to be honest, a shade envious. His details about life in 1920s Paris and Constantinople both ring true and, at times, make the reader crack a smile.

The book is a quick read, and well worth the investment of your time. In The Fragment, it’s clear Davis Bunn has mastered the art of weaving history and story together in a seamless fashion. 5 Stars

The Fragment quote 11 - reliquary of the True Cross

Anne Rightler, on Goodreads

The Fragment, by Davis Bunn, is a marvelous post-WWI novel that will delight readers of historical fiction.

Bunn gives a splendid glimpse of Paris and Constantinople from the perspective of Smithsonian researcher and photographer, Muriel Ross. She has been chosen by a family friend who is a U.S. Senator to accompany him to Europe to photograph a piece of the True Cross.

While in Paris, she meets Charles, a young man from the French embassy and realizes all may not be as it was originally told to her.

  • Can she trust the Senator?
  • Can she trust Charles?
  • Just why was she chosen for this project?
  • Where does her faith in Christ fit into all that is happening around her?

Bunn details the history of this post-WWI era in an interesting and intriguing manner. As he notes regarding Constantinople–the names were spiced by centuries of tales. The characters are beguiling, believable, and likable.

Despite the ordeals, threats, and disappointments, Muriel knows there is a promise of hope. The Fragment, a thrilling tale of a piece of the Cross and its impact on those seeking it. Don’t miss this newest book by Davis Bunn. 5 Stars

Two weeks until ‘The Fragment’ releases

February 5th, 2016

Let the countdown commence!

Only two weeks to go before the February 19, 2016 release of The Fragment, a historical suspense that takes place in 1923 Europe.

Here’s a quote from the book to pique your interest.

Quote from THE FRAGMENT, Davis Bunn's post-WW I suspense

The novel is available for pre-order from your favorite bookseller.

Super sale on Acts of Faith trilogy co-authored with Janette Oke

January 28th, 2016

Here’s a great deal on the ebook version of a series I co-authored with Janette Oke.

The Acts of Faith historical series is steeply discounted at many online booksellers, from February 1 through March 31, 2016. I’ve done some price shopping, and these are the prices, as of the day I published this blog post:

The Centurion’s WifeFREE at all three outlets!

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble NOOK Book

Christianbook.com ebook

The Hidden Flame – $6.99 or less

Amazon Kindle – $4.99

Barnes & Noble – $6.99

Christianbook.com – $5.59

The Damascus Way – $6.99 or less

Amazon – $4.99

Barnes & Noble – $6.99

Christianbook.com – $5.59

You Could Win Both Books in the Legends of the Realm Fantasy Series!

January 5th, 2016

Merchant of Alyss Like to WinMerchant of Alyss, book 2 in my Legends of the Realm epic fantasy series, is releasing today, January 5. What an exciting way to kick off 2016!

This series is published under my pen name, Thomas Locke. (Here’s an explanation of why I’m using a pseudonym).

I’m giving away copies of BOTH BOOKS in the series throughout January. My first giveaway is today and tomorrow on my @TLockeBooks Facebook page. Here’s the direct link to the contest: http://on.fb.me/1Rd5hkD

How to enter:

Go to http://on.fb.me/1Rd5hkD (it’ll be the first post on my page) and like the picture. Get a bonus entry by leaving a comment. That’s it!

I’ll announce 5 winners – who will each get a 2-pack of books – on my @TLockeBooks Facebook page  Wednesday, January 6 after 6PM PST. Be sure to stop by the page that evening to see if you won.

Here is a link to the Official Rules: http://statictab.com/jbsttgr

Would you help me promote the giveaway?

Here’s a tweet-length update I’d love for you to share Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan 5 and 6):

You could win EMISSARY and MERCHANT OF ALYSS. Enter at http://on.fb.me/1Rd5hkD by 1/6 at 6PM PST.

Reviewers are Saying…

Early reviews of Merchant of Alyss are pouring in. Here are excerpts from several reader-reviewers (click their name to read their full review):

Redd Becker:
“What fun to share in an honorable quest with characters I’d like to know; as real and vibrant as friends. Dragons, witches, elves, ancient spells and lore entwine in an adventure that spun me into their space and time. A test of endurance, the purity of love and loyalty meshed in an Ursula Le Guin-type adventure.” 5 Stars

Sue Stevens:
“What does it mean to love, to be loyal, to be a true friend, to seek one’s purpose in life? Through a complex but spellbinding plot, Locke explores these truly real and human concepts in the realm of fantasy. So while there is plenty of action and fantastical scenes that unfold almost cinematographically in your mind, there is depth here too.”

Judith Barnes:
“Locke’s writing captivates the reader. The landscape descriptions are vivid, and the action scenes move the story along with clarity. I particularly enjoyed the storyline involving the dragons.” 5 Stars

Natalie Walters:
“… My genre of choice is not fantasy but as of late I’ve found myself drawn into the world created by authors who captivate my imagination like no other. Thomas Locke is one of those authors. I was pulled in by Hyam’s struggle to overcome his new handicap (no spoilers here!) and the challenge to save not only his wife but his home from the threat of potential war. Mr. Locke pours enough detail into Hyam’s companions that they are no mere secondary sidekicks but rather characters who leap from the page begging me to ask, “What’s their story?” Thankfully, Mr. Locke provides.”

‘The Warning’ $2.99 eBook Deal on Amazon

December 15th, 2015

The Warning by Davis BunnIn 2001, my novel, The Warning, was the #1-selling fiction title for Thomas Nelson.

Strangely enough, Amazon is offering the Kindle version for only $2.99, as part of their Monthly eBook Deal until January 4, 2016.

The book is being featured by Amazon on the Kindle home page, featured in an eBlast to Kindle customers, and promoted via Kindle social media.

I’m amazed that a book published 15 years ago is being so heavily promoted. Mostly, I’m grateful!

How to Use ‘The Pilgrim’ as a Teaching Tool

December 4th, 2015

The Pilgrim by Davis BunnIn her review of The Pilgrim, Cindy Anderson — a self-described older adult, avid reader, and former homeschooling parent — examines the novel from a variety of perspectives. I particularly like Cindy’s tips for how teachers can create a unit study of The Pilgrim that covers the Bible, geography, history, and language arts. Well done, Cindy!

Cindy Anderson, on her blog:

The Pilgrim, by Davis Bunn, is a thought provoking narrative that deals with acceptance, forgiveness, and faith. While the book is a work of fiction, and therefore should not be viewed with a mind toward theological debates, these three aforementioned aspects of life are some that we all, in our own way, battle with daily. Sometimes the battle goes on for years depending on the extent of the damage done and our ability to overcome circumstances beyond our control.

As an older adult, I can relate well with the characters and several of their plights. Being able to empathize with a character allows the reader to better identify with the subject matter, and therefore determine whether or not they themselves need to deal with similar issues in their own life.

The author does a very good job of helping the reader realize that knowing one ought to forgive someone and being able to do so do not always go hand in hand, at least not immediately. Even though the main characters in The Pilgrim are Christians, they are shown to not be perfect and to struggle with the events in their lives that have hurt them deeply and permanently changed their futures.

While true Christians are told to forgive, they must realize that forgetting can be much more difficult, and often seems impossible. Reliving over and over again the event(s) that caused the pain is what tends to make forgiving so difficult.

The characters in this book were not immune to the consequences of rehashing events that could not be changed but which must be dealt with and endured. Remorse, self-doubt, self-pity, and the persistent “what if” question is shown to do nothing to further the characters healing process or their spiritual growth.

Each character in this book, beginning with Helena, works through the process of accepting his or her new set of circumstances, with coming to terms with their need to forgive those who were seen to have caused them pain, including God in Anthony’s case, and has their faith tested to the nth degree.

While only those with a very good knowledge of history would be able to discern whether or not the events and geographical descriptions are accurate, almost anyone who reads this book will be able to understand the turmoil that the actions of others, or life occurrences, can cause in one’s life making the storyline much more believable because of the reader’s ability to identify with one or more of the characters within its pages.

As an avid reader, I enjoyed The Pilgrim and was personally challenged to follow the examples of its characters, a task that’s almost always easier said, or in this case written about, than done.

How to use The Pilgrim as a teaching tool

As a former homeschooling parent, I can easily see this book being used as a unit study covering Bible, geography, history, and language arts.

Advanced students could also use it to study sociology and some areas of psychology. The student can research the various historical events mentioned, trace the journey and learn about the different cities and cultures of the area, not to mention the cuisine for those who enjoy learning and executing that subject matter, and look into the lives of the different characters mentioned such as Constantine and his mother Helena to determine how much of what they’ve read in this book is true and how much has been added by the author. That exercise alone would be an excellent way to learn “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say.

To end their unit study, the student would write a book report and/or essay(s) based on their research of the subject matter. There is enough material here to structure into either a one semester study or a full year study as determined by the parent/teacher.

Whatever your reason for reading The Pilgrim, I have no doubt that you will find it to be not only an interesting and enjoyable read but also one that will challenge and enlighten you. It will help you to deal with your own need to forgive and move on or possibly better understand someone you know who is having a difficult time forgiving and accepting their new normal.

In the event that the latter is the case, this book would be an excellent gift choice for that friend or acquaintance and may lead to fruitful discussions whereby you can help and encourage them to move forward and past their circumstances.

The Fragment by Davis BunnComing Next: The Fragment

This followup to The Pilgrim releases February 19, 2016. Here’s a preview:

It’s 1923, and a resilient Paris is starting to recover from the ravages of World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic.

Enter Muriel Ross, an amateur photographer tasked with documenting the antiques that her employer, U.S. Senator Tom Bryan, has traveled to France to acquire.

Although she’s exhilarated to have escaped her parents and the confines of their stifling Virginia home, Muriel has lingering questions about why the senator has chosen her for this grand adventure. Nevertheless, she blossoms in her new surroundings, soaking up Parisian culture and capturing the sights and sounds of Paris on her camera.

But events take a dangerous turn when she discovers that the senator is on a mission far more momentous—and potentially deadly—than a mere shopping trip.

At the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Senator Bryan asks Muriel to photograph an astonishing artifact: a piece of the True Cross, discovered by Empress Helena—a historical figure familiar to readers of The Pilgrim.

When rumors surface that another fragment has been unearthed, Muriel becomes enmeshed in a covert international alliance dedicated to authenticating the fragment—and protecting it from those who will stop at nothing to steal and discredit it.

Click here to pre-order The Fragment from your favorite online bookseller.

Readers Learn About Forgiveness, Courage from ‘The Pilgrim’

November 20th, 2015

Today I’m featuring reader reviews of The Pilgrim from Dennis Brooke and Mary Esque.

The Fragment, a follow-up book to The Pilgrim, releases February 19, 2016. While both novels are stand-alone books, the themes are loosely tied together. You might consider getting both of them as a gift for someone who loves historical fiction.

The Pilgrim by Davis BunnDennis Brooke, on Goodreads:

For three centuries Roman emperors did their best to crush the movement started by the disciples of a Jewish preacher they had executed as a common criminal. In The Pilgrim Davis Bunn tells the tale of the woman and her son who made that movement the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Bunn uses historical fact, legend, and masterful storytelling to weave a story about Helena, the spurned wife of one Roman Emperor and the mother of a future one, and her quest to find the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. Through this story and her example, I also learned something about forgiveness—and my personal journey.

Davis’ research and master of the craft made me feel like I was witnessing the early days of the church and a turning point in its history. I’ve done research on this place and era for my own book and Davis’ descriptions are spot on.

You might read The Pilgrim for the great tale, the characters, and what you learn about this important time in history. You’ll remember it for what it teaches you about yourself.

Mary Esque, on Goodreads

The Pilgrim is another fine example of the masterful storytelling we have come to know and love from Davis Bunn. Rich in detail and rooted in historical fact, Bunn weaves a lovely, engaging tale about an era of church history that is not very well known. It is a powerful story about faith and forgiveness, one that I found personally challenging.

In a world of faithlessness, it takes a lot of courage for Helena to step and go on the pilgrimage that she embarked upon. It took even more courage to continue on that journey in spite of all the obstacles that she faced. I found myself asking would I have persevered in such a daunting task if I had faced the same challenges.

As I considered the answer to that question, I realized how very similar our world is to Helena’s world. Both are full of faithlessness and have powerful opponents who would seek to destroy believers or at the very least silence them. I was reminded and encouraged that God is still at work and He prevails despite any and all opposition. His plans and purposes will not be thwarted. Helena reminds me that God delights in doing the most impossible of miracles in the hearts of those who would truly seek him. That is why I love this book.