Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat? Not!

From the incomparable Brad Stine:

Halloween makes no sense. The idea is that if you are tricked, you give out a treat. But it doesn't work because THEY ALL COME ON THE SAME DAY!

Kids: Trick or treat!!

Brad: Ah, but I knew you were coming, so I wasn't tricked. Hence, no treat.


What they should really do is come when you're not expecting it. Like May. At 2 in the morning.

Kids: Trick or treat!!

Brad: (Eyes wide) Well, you got me! Here's a pickle.

(Not necessarily word for word, but you get the idea. From his Put a Helmet On DVD.)

DKA Magazine - Interview with Mirtika

I'm still contributing to the CSFF blog tour featuring DKA Magazine (Dragons, Knights, and Angels). I've interviewed Mirtika Schultz, assistant editor of DKA, f*i*fer, and blog buddy about the nuts and bolts of DKA. Look for how you can submit a story for moolah and the latest space missionary saga!

1. How did you come to be involved with DKA?

I won The Sword Review's fiction contest in 2005, and that got me involved with the TSR site. DKA and TSR are sister publications, both thriving under the banner of Double-Edged Publishing. I had an active blog over at TSR for a while, and I posted in the forum. From my presence there, I was asked to be an editor. I said, "Sure." I hang out much less at TSR, even though I won their recent poetry contest. I spend most of my time and energy at DKA.

2. What is its purpose?

Our purpose is to provide a place for the publishing of Christian science fiction and fantasy short fiction and poetry. We want to offer the CSF community the best we can of the material that's submitted to us. We always hope to get better and better quality creative work to publish.

We also seek to nurture new talent. We offer critique and the chance for some writers to revise and improve. We sometimes publish student work that shows promise. The next generation of CSF writers needs to be encouraged.

I refer anyone who is curious about our "vision" to read the Vision Statement written by Johne Cook and available at dkamagazine.com. Just click on "vision" in the sidebar.

3. If I want to submit, do I have to have a dragon, knight, or angel in the story?

No. In fact, we tend to be glutted on stories with those elements. We crave good science fiction. However, we always will publish good stories with those three titular elements. One of the best of our recent offerings is a pure angel story with a special plot twist called "Damage" by Jane LeBak. Coming up in December (maybe January, I forget) will be a more experimental, odd tale with a space missionary that features a human and a quantum computer.

As long as the story fits our Vision Statement and is not patently offensive to Christians or disrespectful of Christian doctrine, we're happy to look at it. We welcome submissions across the wide spectrum of fantasy and science fiction classifications.

What don't we want? We don't want stories that merely exist to preach. Give us good prose, good characterization, conflict, resolution--the usual craft elements. And don't use the elements in tired, trite ways. A knight off to kill a dragon, and not much more going on but angst and fiery breathing, well, that's a story that will bore us and earn a decline.

The level of religious "preaching" that we tolerate correlates precisely to the level of craft involved. Write a compelling story, and we are less likely to gag at sermonizing.

4. How many submissions does the site typically get in a week/month (whatever time frame you choose)?

I don't know. Honestly, Selena Thomason is the managing editor and the Keeper of the Numbers. Nothing is "usual." Some months we're swamped and can barely keep up. Last month was like that. Some months are dry and we start putting the word out that we need subs.

If you have something good that fits our Vision Statment, then I urge you to send it to us. This is one of our slower weeks, possibly due to so many CSF-ers gearing up for NaNoWriMo and the holidays.


Check back tomorrow for more questions with Mirtika. Be sure to check out the site and some of the others from the CSFF blog tour, listed below. And Mirtika has a special offer for any who comment at her blog Mirathon, and I will extend the same offer: Those who leave a comment saying "enter me in the review drawing" will win a chance to receive a free critique from Mir. She isn't just a pretty face, but she has judged a lot of writing competitions and has a keen eye for what makes a good story. She will critique a poem or the first five pages of a story. So leave your comments if that interests you!

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Kameron M. Franklin
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Joleen Howell
Karen and at Karen¹s myspace
Oliver King
Tina Kulesa
Kevin Lucia
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Cheryl Russel
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Frank Creed
Christina Deanne
Lost Genre Guild
John Otte

Monday, October 30, 2006

Blog Tour - Dragons, Knights, and Angels

I've been a supporter of a couple of blog tours. Today is the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy (CSFF) blog tour, brainchild of Becky Miller, highlighting the world of Christian speculative fiction to bring it more exposure. Ultimately, our purpose in discussing CSFF is to show there is a demand for it in the market, and enable that growth to happen.

One site that is working toward that goal is Dragons, Knights, and Angels. It is an online e-zine that highlights Christian spec fiction. I first heard about of it from a writer friend who happens to be a neo-pagan type, so it has become known to a degree outside of Christian circles. I am more familiar with it now due to blog buddies Mir and Chris Mikesell; Mir because she is an editor for the site, and Mikesell because one of his stories won their last fiction contest.

When I first got into writing, I didn't think much about sci-fi and fantasy as genres. My initial writing ideas didn't fit into those "niches". However, I decided to do the first CSFF blog tour just to get my little new blog a little exposure. But in doing so, I found that I always have enjoyed sci-fi and fantasy, it's just that I haven't really thought about it.

I'll bet that a lot of people out there think they don't like the sci-fi or fantasy, but if I mention movies like Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Star Wars, those same people would say they enjoyed them. So don't overlook sci-fi and fantasy as reading choices, because you may be surprised. And a good, FREE place to start reading some quality short stories to get into CSFF is at DKA.

Tomorrow I have a little interview with Mirtika, assistant editor of DKA to talk more about it. And the links below are my fellow tour-mates who will have their own unique spin on DKA, so check out a few of them as well, OK?

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Kameron M. Franklin
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Elliot Hanowski
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Joleen Howell
Karen and at Karen¹s myspace
Oliver King
Tina Kulesa
Kevin Lucia
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Cheryl Russel
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Frank Creed
Christina Deanne
Lost Genre Guild
John Otte

Pastor Hank Leaves His Mark

Our favorite Kanner Lake pastor has the post on the Scenes and Beans blog today! Check it out.

Scenes & Beans: A Different Fall Classic

Friday, October 27, 2006


I've been reading Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. Today I was struck when he was talking about working on the part of our private world involving our minds, wisdom, and knowledge. He talked about our amusement, and in doing so he broke down the word:



Did you catch that? Once the word was broken down, I was stunned. "A" as a prefix means "not". As an aspiring writer, the muse is very important. "Muse" deals with thinking. So "amusement" refers to a state of lack of thinking.

How often is that true? When we are seeking amusement, it is really involves a lack of engaging our mental capacities. I remember coming home from college and flipping on the afternoon cartoons like Animaniacs. Since I was working in the toy department at Wal-Mart, I joked that I was doing research to see what kind of toys kids were buying. But I really wanted something that helped my mind shut off for a little while between being engaged at school and then engaged at work.

Think about what we do, and if it is really profitable for our mental life. I know we can't be "on" all the time, but how often do we "shut off" for our amusement?


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blog Tour - The Election

I'd like to introduce you to Jerome Teel. He is a self-described political junkie, a lawyer in Tennessee, and now a first-time novelist. This week's blog tour highlights the release of his new novel, The Election.

His tale is ambitious: It involves a Southern attorney defending a murder suspect, a mysterious romance, and a presidential election between Vice President Ed Burke and Republican Senator Mac Foster.

He shows some real promise. The book keeps the pace moving, and there was rarely a time where I wasn't reluctant to put it down. He keeps up the setting well while keeping the action on high gear.

There are a couple of issues that kept me from fully enjoying the book. The characters tend to be stock: The tall, handsome attorney, the bad guy with a goatee manipulating the action behind the scenes. Except for the main character, Jake Reed, the characters all serve the plot and have no growth at all.

The overall plot structure could be taken from what I felt was a standard Christian end-times scenario: A secretive group of businessmen fund the corrupt VP in his presidential bid over the noble Republican opponent so they can take over the world, Illuminati-style. I appreciate that the Republican good guy is very pro-life, but the character is perfect. On the other hand, the VP's wife is Hillary Clinton thinly veiled. I happen to share the author's convictions, but they are dealt with on a very simplistic, surface level. Had depth been added to these ideas, this could have really spoken into contemporary society and politics.

Overall, I do feel it is a solid first effort. If I could write a book that kept readers hooked like The Election, that would be a wonderful start. There is room to grow, so I will keep an eye out for Jerome Teel in the future. If you like political/legal thrillers, he will be an option.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fun with Telemarketers

Last night I was up to my elbows in cooking dinner. The phone rings, and I don't think to screen with caller I.D. I was looking for the spaghetti noodles when the lady said, "We're conducting an important food survey."

My answer: "Then you shouldn't call during dinner."


Anyone else have a great comeback for these annoying phone calls? List them in the comments, and we'll have a little contest to see which is the best!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

30 Days of Prayer for Muslims

This may be bad timing, as it has just ended, but I wanted to highlight the 30 Day Muslim Prayer Focus that occurs each year during Ramadan. It is sponsored by WorldChristian bookstore, which you can find a button for on the right. They produce a booklet that leads you through praying for different areas and people groups of the Muslim world over those 30 days.

This has been a wonderful experience, as my wife and I have participated over the last several years. I especially enjoy the testimonies of what has happened in previous years as the result of the prayers, one of which I'll share now:

Last year an African prayer group of five participating in "30 Days" had the following experience: On the 17th day of prayer during Ramadan, the imam who was leading the local prayers found it impossible to continue praying. Another imam saw in a vision that the local Christians who were praying at the same moment were actually blocking the Muslim prayers. In the vision it was as though both sides were throwing rocks at each other in prayer, but the Christian rocks were breaking the Muslim rocks. The imam even asked the Christians not to pray at the same time as the Muslims. After this even several young Muslims came to faith in Christ.

Next year I will trumpet the Prayer Focus so anyone who would like to get on board can. It is wonderful to partner with our Father in prayer for those that need Him so much. It is also a great learning tool for other cultures and peoples around the world, treated respectfully.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Blog Tour - Like Dandelion Dust

This week's blog tour for the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance involves best-selling Karen Kingsbury and her new novel, Like Dandelion Dust. Just a FYI: Since the CFBA is doing a book a week now, I don't have time and don't get to read every book. However, by our highlighting one book, it raises its profile on the web to help it. Tune in next week for my personal review of the next tour book. I know you can't wait...

And for this week's tour.
About the Author:

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's #1 inspirational novelist. There are nearly 5 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including more than two million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 30 novels, nine of which have hit #1 on national lists, including award-winning Oceans Apart, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, the Redemption Series and Firstborn Series, and several other bestsellers, one of which was the basis for a CBS Movie-of-the-Week and Gideon's Gift, which is currently in production as a major theatrical release for Christmas 2007.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.

About the Book:


Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life (great house in a fancy neighborhood, high-paying job, and a beautiful little boy) in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey. Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start lifeover with his son. (It's discovered that Joey's birth mother forged the signature of Joey's birth father, making it a fraudulent adoption.) When a judge rules that Joey must be returned to his father (a man who cannot separatee love and violence), the Campbells, in a silent haze of grief and utter disbelief, watch their son pick a dandelion and blow the feathery seeds into the wind.

Struggling with the dilemma of following the law, their hearts, and what they know to be morally right, the Campbells find that desperation leads to dangerous thoughts. What if they can devise a plan? Take Joey and simply disappear....LIKE DANDELION DUST.

Review by Mimi Pearson

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Art and the Bible - Day 5

Make sure you read yesterday's post, because today really is a follow up to this. We're discussint the idea of "the art work as an art work". Seems pretty self-explanatory, until we think of the baggage that is often put on art. We can't just have Christian novels, comic books, or music. They have to be evangelistic. If we aren't reaching people with the gospel of Christ, then art has no value.

Obviously that is extreme, but we can have art for beauty's sake. But concerning the nature of a work of art, what perspectives can we have?

1. Art for art's sake. "This is the notion that art is just there and that is all there is to it". People may say there is no meaning to an art work, that it just is. However, there is always meaning to something we do, it just may not be apparent. Everything speaks of where we come from. We'll talk more on this next time.

2. Art is only an embodiment of a message. Basically it is a vehicle for propoganda. But Schaeffer says that if either the Christian or non-Christian reduces art to just the vehicle for the message, then art is only intellectual and loses its intrinsic art value. If we use a work of art only to get a message across, it is little more than a tract.

3. The artist makes a work of art, and then the body of his work shows his world-view. Schaeffer argues that this is the possibility that holds out that something can be a great work of art. Sometimes we can produce something that is more message driven, and another time we do a work that is more towards pure artistic. Over time, these works will show where the creator is coming from. I think of novelist Brandilyn Collins, whose books have a variety of levels of spirituality. Some are very blatant, as God gives visions to her protagonist. In her newest book, Violet Dawn, the topic of God is lightly touched. Brandilyn has shared on her blog that the story drives the spiritual content, and she's not going to force it in there just to speak an evangelistic message.

Schaeffer has this to say:
How then should an artist begin to do his work? I would insist that he begin by setting out to make a work of art. He should say to himself, "I am going to make a work of art."(emphasis original)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Art and the Bible - Day 4

Back to our regular programming (for a bit, at least). I had to count my "art" posts to figure out what day we were on.

In Art and the Bible, Francis Schaeffer started with explaining a biblical justification of art. The second part is entitled "Some Perspectives on Art", and he lists 11 different perspective that he discusses. He admits this is not exhaustive, but they are helpful ways for a Christian to look at art. I intend to discuss some of them together, but the first one is important enough to discuss alone: The Art Work as an Art Work.

Basically, this is stated as "a work of art has a value in itself". As I said in previous posts, art has intrinsic value just for beauty's sake. It does not necessarily have to have external value. That is the biblical perspective: remember the pillar in the temple that was beautifully decorated, but had no utilitarian purpose.

Schaeffer has some advice for an artist, which I think is a key point for novelists/writers of fiction to keep in mind.

How should an artist begin to do his work as an artist? I would insist that he begin his work as an artist by setting out to make a work of art. What that would mean is different in sculpture and poetry, for example, but in all caases the artist should be setting out to make a work of art.

He goes on to discuss the fact that creativity is an act of worship because our God is the ultimate Creator. To create is one of the ways that we are "made in His image", and just by creating something beautiful, we can honor Him.

Second, an art work has value as a creation because man is made in the image of God, and therefore man not only can love and think and feel emotion, but also has the capacity to create. Being in the image of the Creator, we are called upon to have creativity.
We all manifest this creativity differently. Some creatively solve math problems, or build houses. Creativity is not limited to the artist. We all walk in creativity, even if we all don't feel that we create art. But art is an obvious act of creation.

Sometimes we do lose the the idea of art having value intrinsically. Schaeffer criticizes evangelicals when he says:

I am afraid, however, that as evangelicals we have largely made [this mistake]. Too often we think that a work of art has value only if we reduce it to a tract. This too is to view art solely as a message for the intellect.
Tomorrow I'll talk about three perspectives regarding this idea of art as art.

Monday, October 16, 2006

100th Post - Something Poignant?

Usually 100 of something is a milestone to be celebrated with solemnity. Around SftO, traditions don't always hold sway.

So how about my favorite movie quote of the year so far:
This is the captain. We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence, and then explode.
What movie and what character? Any takers?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cooking with the Joyners, Take 1

I love my wife.

I just wanted to state that right up front, so everyone had no doubts about this.

Also, my wife has become a good cook. When we got married, I think we could make about 4 things between the two of us. We had to call for help one time on how to boil eggs. Now my wife is not afraid to try new things and comes up with some great dishes to feed all her boys (me included).

But sometimes, she and I both do goofy things in the kitchen.

Today we both had our moments. Sundays are often quiet and relaxing during the afternoon, and we didn't get around to making a nice dinner due to my special project I'll mention below. So it was corn dogs for the boys, and Cambell's Bean and Bacon soup for me. Beccy was deep into a book, so she came in the kitchen and decided my soup looked good, and put some of the same in the microwave to heat it up after mine finished.

I'm sitting down ready to eat when I hear, "Are you supposed to add water to this?"

She had some pretty thick condensed soup there in the bowl, and I got a pretty good chuckle over it.

Course, I had my moment earlier in the day. We had some great tasting Honey Crisp apples, and I decided to try my hand at baking a pie. The recipe called for 6 medium sized apples, but these were pretty large. I peeled and cut 4 of them, thinking that would be fine. I mixed the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and apples together and dumped them into the pie crust.

My pie must have been 6 inches high.

I didn't think that would work very well. But I hate to mess up when I'm learning new recipes and don't know what I need. I didn't want to just take out the extra apples, because then I'd get the sauce all wrong. I ended up dumping all the apples in a strainer, rinsing them all off, and measuring out the right amount of apples before mixing a new batch of sugar and co. to mix with it...

Go ahead and say it: I'm anal. But the pie turned out good!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Slow Week

Sorry that I haven't been much of a blogger this week. I wish I were like my friend Becky Miller and kept up each day with a series. But a few things have conspired against that this week.

One thing is that we've had beautiful weather, and I've been trying to get those last-minute summer projects done before we settle in to cold, grey, and dreary days of late fall and winter. Boy, have I been having fun painting, repairing cement cracks, and the like. Not really. Handyman work is not my cup of joe.

Another thing has been a general disinterest in sitting down and blogging. For those that have been wondering, I am on my 6th week of unemployment. I have had good time and down times while walking this out. God has been faithful to provide for my family, and I am always looking for job opportunities, but the doors don't seem to be opening just yet.

He has also been faithful to keep me encouraged. I have gotten down at times, but He is my sustainer. This week I have been blessed by reading a book, Making Jesus Lord, by YWAM founder Loren Cunningham (I'm actually reading the old version which was called Winning God's Way.) It speaks of laying down our rights to reputation, finances, and life the way we want it, in order to allow Jesus to make full use of our lives. This is where I want to be, and the book was a good reminder.

I plan on continuing my little "Art and the Bible" series, as well as the latest Christian fiction blog tour stuff and other interesting tidbits. I did update my links on the right if you'd like to check those out. And be blessed, all of you saints of God - He loves you!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blog Tour - Violette Between

This week's CFBA blog tour presents Alison Strobel and her new novel Violette Between.

My friend Rhonda Lewis read this book initially, and as an avid reader of CBA novels this is what she had to say: "A great story of romance, tragedy, and redemption. I can't wait to read more from Alison Strobel."


Alison Strobel graduated with a degree in elementary education, and in the summer of 2000 she moved from Chicago to southern California where she taught elementary school for three years. It was in Orange County that she met her husband, Daniel Morrow, and the story developed for her first novel, Worlds Collide.

Violette Between is a poinant story of a true artist. When the love of Violette's life, Saul suddenly died, she died too. Then she meets Christian, who also is morning the loss of a loved one.

As Violette and Christian begin to feel something that they both thought was impossible. Tragedy strikes again. Christian finds Violette on the floor of his waiting room, that she had been painting to look like a New York rooftop restaurant.

As Christian holds a vigil at her bedside, begging her to come back to him, Violette is in a coma, traveling to a place where she meets her beloved Saul. And she finds that she may not want to come back!

What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?

Violette Between is a powerful character study of a woman finally relinquishing the past to move on, only to be thrust into the quandry of reliving that life and needing to make a choice.

For Christians, this will definitely make you think about heaven and the consequences of eternal life.

"Delving into the underside of complicated relationships, Alison Strobel takes readers to unexpected places, but doesn't hesitate to deliver redemptiom when needed."
---Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice

Monday, October 09, 2006

Art IN the Bible

If anyone thinks that the Bible doesn't include any art, then they just need to look a little closer. Schaeffer takes a look at several instances of art in the Bible. Most of the references do come from the Old Testament, which contains more history. The New Testament is more concerned with teaching, so art does not really show up significantly (except for the beauty of the New Jerusalem, with gold and precious stones used to decorate streets).

The first time we see art in the Bible is when Moses is given directions for the tabernacle. In Exodus 25:9, God tells Moses to follow all of the patterns he is given. The Lord goes on to have two cherubim of gold formed (Ex 25:18). There are also candlestick with branches and almond-blossoms coming off of it (25:31-33). These are both examples of representational art. Later in Exodus we see an example of interpretive art: on the skirts of the priests' garments are pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet (28:33). In nature, pomegranates are red. Now purple and scarlet could be part of the growth cycle of the fruit, but blue definitely would not be. Thus, God wants beautiful things associated with His worship, and there is creativity to interpret things beyond the exact of what they are on earth.

In the temple, it was covered with precious stones "for beauty" (2 Chron. 3:6). The stones didn't have a symbolical or representational aspect that required their presence. God just thought they looked nice! Later on in chapter 3, Schaeffer talks about free-standing columns decorated with chains and pomegranates. These columns do not support weight or have a utilitarian significance(3:16-17). Again, they are there for beauty and presentation. This is a good argument for any who would say that art needs to have some purpose, such as evangelism or exhortation. It is possible to create a work of art just because - in order to create something beautiful is reason enough in itself.

There is artwork besides visual art in the Bible. One obvious area is poetry. Much of the Old Testament is written in poetic form, with a lyrical beauty that transcends the original Hebrew and comes across in other languages. Not all of the poetry is psalms and prophecy though, strictly religious subjects. 2 Samuel 1:19-27 is "a secular ode, a poem by David to the praise of Saul and Jonathan as national heroes" (FS p385).

The Song of Solomon is often interpreted as the love of Christ for the church, which is a definitely valid interpretation. However, we must not forget what its original purpose is, which is obviously a love poem. This is inspired Scripture - a demonstration of holy love of a man and woman, enjoying all that God has given them - including a celebration of beauty.

I could go on to discuss music and drama and dance in the Bible, but I think my point has been made. Art is in the Bible, and God has used it both for His purposes (psalms in worship, Ezekiel acting out the siege of Jerusalem as a prophetic word) and for beauty's sake alone. Now that I've established this point, I'll go on next time to discuss what Francis Schaeffer has to say on perspectives of art.

Don't forget, leave a comment to be entered in a book giveaway at the end of this series!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Roamin Through Romans I

I still am teaching Romans in my church's adult Sunday school class. I said a long time ago that I would post a little about our study and any pearls gleaned from it, but I have been pretty negligent in that.

Oh well. Today we are studying Romans 6. As a study guide, we are using Francis Schaeffer's book The Finished Work of Christ, (why yes, I do happen to like Schaeffer :P). In a passage discussing Romans 6:4, he says:

Jesus didn't die on the cross just to die on the cross. Jesus died on the cross in order that we might be redeemed. Likewise, we are not called upon to die daily just in order to be dead; we are called upon to die daily in order that we might experience the reality of being alive in Christ.

There are too many gems in Romans to list them all. And Schaeffer's book is an excellent study guide to go along with the book

Friday, October 06, 2006

Blog Tour - Dark Hour

Today is part of a blog tour for Dark Hour, the most recent book from Ginger Garrett. She is an expert in ancient women history, and she uses her knowledge and research to bring biblical times to light.

And now, a special Q&A with Ginger Garrett:
1.) First, tell us a bit about Dark Hour.
I was praying about what book to write after Chosen, and accidentally left my open Bible on the kitchen table. (A dangerous thing, since in my house, small children and large dogs routinely scavenge with dirty hands and noses for snacks!) As I walked past it, I saw a caption about someone named Athaliah and a mass murder. I stopped cold. I knew it was my story.

Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel--a real woman in history--who tried to destroy all the descendents of King David in a massacre. God made a promise that a descendent of King David would always sit on the throne, and one day a Messiah would come from this line. If Athaliah succeeded, she would break the promise between God and the people, and destroy all hope for a Messiah.One woman, her step-daughter, Jehoshebeth, defied her. She stole a baby during the massacre and hid him. Between them, the two women literally fought for the fate of the world.

2.) What drew you to write biblical fiction?
The similarities between the lives of ancient women and our lives. We get distracted by their "packaging," the way they dressed and lived, but at heart, our stories are parallel.

3.) How much time is spent researching the novel versus writing the novel?
Equal amounts, and I don't stop researching while I write. I have a historical expert, probably the best in the world in his field, review the manuscript and point out errors. The tough part is deciding when to ignore his advice. He pointed out that most everyone rode donkeys if they weren't in the military, but a key scene in the novel involves riding a horse to the rescue. It would have been anti-climatic to charge in on a donkey! :) So I ignored his advice on that one.

4.) Dark Hour takes its reader deep into the heart of palace intrigue and betrayals. Were parts of this book difficult to write?
I left out much of the darkest material I uncovered in research. It was important to show how violent and treacherous these times and this woman (Athaliah) could be, but I tried to be cautious about how to do it. The story was so powerful and hopeful--how one woman's courage in the face of evil saved the world--but the evil was depressing. I tried to move quickly past it. I wanted balance. Our heroine suffers and some wounds are not completely healed in her lifetime. That's true for us, too.

5.) What would modern readers find surprising about ancient women?
They had a powerful sense of the community of women. They also wore make-up: blush, glitter eyeshadow, lipstick, powder, and perfume! They drank beer with straws, and enjoyed "Fritos": ground grains, fried and salted. Many of our foods are the same today, but they loved to serve pate made from dried locusts, finely ground. Ugh!


One other special for this blog tour - I am authorized by her publicist to hold a contest for one copy of Dark Hour! All you have to do is leave a comment to this post, and I will draw a name by October 9th to determine the winner. (This is limited to this post, so don't get it confused with my other contest on the Art and the Bible series.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Art and True Spirituality

As I mentioned yesterday, evangelicals are sometimes faulted for being interested just in the Truth or focusing on getting souls saved. The feeling is that "time is short" and we need to be serious about what we do. Writing fiction is just wasting time in imaginary worlds, and don't have "eternal value".

Francis Schaeffer argues in Art and the Bible that "true spirituality includes the Lordship of Christ over the whole man (p 376)." The first point he makes is that God made man and woman in His own image. Who is God but the ultimate Creator? If we are to truly honor God in all we do, it makes sense that we would be creative beings as well.

Too often spirituality in American evangelicalism takes on a dichotomy of body and soul, or sacred and secular. "I don't listen to secular music, only Christian rock." This is actually a Platonic idea instead of a scriptural idea. As Schaeffer says, "Redemption is for the whole man (p 376)." As a saved person, my whole life is under the lordship of Christ. It doesn't stop at the church doors on Sunday, but it extends to my work, my relationships, and everything I do - including my creative aspects. I've said it elsewhere: we don't have Christian plumbers, we have plumbers who happen to be Christians. An author shouldn't be labeled a "Christian" author to give them a special distinction from a regular author. Too often this label only keeps the author from being recognized outside of our Christian ghettos.

The arts and sciences do have a place in the Christian life - they are not peripheral. For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts. A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God - not just as tracts, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An art work can be a doxology in itself (p 377).

Tomorrow we'll look at examples of art in the Bible.

Leave your comments to be entered in the Deliver Me from Evelyn contest!

P.S. All quotes are from Art and the Bible, book five in A Chrisitan Worldview of the Bible as Truth, Volume 2 of The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview.

Pastor Hank Blogs Again

Make sure to check out Scenes & Beans today - our favorite fishy pastor again deals with the aqueous kind.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Art and the Bible - Day 1

If you were asked to name one of the great Christian thinkers in the 20th century, one name that should be at the top of the list is Francis Schaeffer. I really can't think of anyone who did more to promote a complete Christian/Biblical worldview for all of life. Actually, Schaeffer considered himself an evangelist, with a heart for reaching the jaded college students of Europe. However, reaching that particular group meant having a complete, comprehensive worldview.

I would recommend any of his works. There is a classic "trilogy" of his works: The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent. These books give a solid basis for understanding his theology and some of the basic principles he draws from. Then you can get the complete works of Francis Schaeffer as well - 5 volumes of deep digging; plenty of jewels here to uncover.

In Volume 2 there is a small little book called Art and the Bible. It is only 38 pages long, but it gives a great defense of art in the Christian life.

I will confess that I am not a great one for what may be called "high art": painting, poetry, sculpture, or classical music. I can appreciate classical music better than an abstract painting, to be sure, and I do enjoy these forms. However, I am more interested in what Schaeffer terms "popular art": the novel, movies, popular music, and theatre. There could definitely be a debate about comic books and video games being included here nowadays!

As this blog focuses on fiction, I want to bring what Schaeffer has to say about art to bear on the craft of writing. I think an initial point to make here is that there is a sense out "there" (that nebulous there) in evangelical circles that time is short, and that we shouldn't be wasting our time with fictitious worlds when there is so much going on in the real world. What would Schaeffer say to this? I'll talk about this more next time.


And as I mentioned last week, to encourage comments I have a little contest planned. I don't know how long this discussion will go, but whoever leaves a comment anytime during this discussion will be eligible to win a copy of Deliver Me from Evelyn, the latest novel from Chris Well. Chris has a quirky, unique style that will draw you in and keep you guessing! So leave those comments people, and you may be the winner!