Friday, June 29, 2007

Live Intentional, Live Missional

We were blessed to have Tom and Suzie Brock speak at our church this week. Thankfully they are faithful servants who go where they feel the Lord leads them, rather than numbers and finances. They both always challenge the church to get beyond ourselves and move into a new fullness of what God has for us.

They've been sharing the last couple of visits about the need to get out of the pews, out of the church walls, and out to the people who need a touch of the kingdom of heaven. I hope that the people who read this blog DON'T need this encouragement, but it is a good word nonetheless.

Tom speaks deeply but also has a talent for pithy sayings. I don't think theology should be summed up in sound bites, but in this case it works as an easy reminder when you're out in the world and you remember what he is saying.

One point was the fact that Jesus told the disciples to "follow Him." We do that well in the modern church, but we lose sight of the second part, "and I will make you fishers of men." We hole up in our comfy chairs that can stack, link, or be moved easy, with contemporary music and seeker-sensitive messages, and wonder why the lost don't flood into our churches. You have to go where the fish are to catch them. Jesus didn't usually hang out in the tabernacle - He was out among the sinners. He would be with the Pharisees one time, then another time he was around a prostitute.

Tom encouraged us with the following: Belong, Believe, Behave. First we need to make people feel like they are a part of something, without the hope that they will just be a body for nursery or ushering. We are awfully busy anymore, but people lack community or belonging in what they do. We need to intentionally befriend people, honestly reach out and fulfill a need. If we are genuine in what we do, people will see the light in us and be drawn in to our community.

He also exhorted us about the idea of letting them belong first. Develop the relationship first. Don't try to clean them up or force belief on them. As they spend time with us, they will come to the place where they are open to the truth, and will then come to believe. After they believe, then the Spirit will work on sanctification, and the behavior will come into line.

The other main idea was to live missionally. Tom is not a part of the "emergent church" movement, and the term missional often gets associated with it. Despite the pros and cons of the emergent movement, we shouldn't let the idea of living missional to get overlooked. Everything we do can be missions to the people around us.

I love foreign missions, and I want to see Christians released to the ends of the earth, so that every people group can have a witness of the gospel. I would like to be involved with that one day, but I can reach people right now, where I am. I recognize all that I do can be used for His glory. I love soccer - so I coach my son's soccer team and try to build relationships with kids and their families to show them the love of God. I use my internet time to build a case for Christ, whether here or on a Star Wars fan site. If I'm aware and sensitive of the Spirit's leading, everyday encounters can be used by God.

So, live a life intentional: determine right now that everything you do can have a greater purpose, and go out with the intent to share the Kingdom wherever you go. Live a life missional: sharing the love of Jesus. Build relationships. Find a need and see if you can serve someone. Watch for the opening to speak about what Jesus has done for you.

I'm tired of playing church. It's not that fun. I want to see the Kingdom come where I live right now. I'm not waiting for the sweet by and by in the nasty here and now. I can make a change for the better today. Won't you join me?

Thanks for sharing Tom - keep fighting the good fight!

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I'm a big superhero fan. I've always daydreamed of doing something extraordinary to help people. So I have been a long time fan of comics and superheroes. I had the Super Powers series as a kid. Basically I'm a sucker for the resurgence of superhero movies over the last several years.

I will admit to liking the first Fantastic Four movie. It wasn't high art, but a fun enough popcorn flick. I think the fun was seeing them discover how to use their powers and to work together as a team. Some comic movies aim for dark and brooding. Some carry a powerful theme, like the Spiderman movies. Others are meant like FF, just fun summer fare.

Unfortunately, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, can't seem to find a groove and stick with it. It tries to be light at times. It tries to show the importance of relationships and the value of self-sacrifice. It tries to entertain. It fails on all counts.

I like Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba as actors, but they really don't have chemistry and don't show much interest in this movie. Alba in particular shows up to look pretty, but the acting is mailed in. The actors playing the Thing and Johnny Storm don't take things as serious and they are the main parts worth watching through the film. Because the film tries to focus on the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, it falls flat.

The Silver Surfer as the titular bad guy is amazing from a CGI aspect. Doug Jones does a great job with the movements of the Surfer, but the voice of Lawrence Fishburne only goes for gravitas without much else going for it. The action is fairly limited, and the payoff at the end of the movie with the arrival of Galactus is wasted, as we don't really see the main baddie who threatens the Earth.

Doctor Doom wasn't very popular in the last movie, but I thought he worked well until he started throwing one-liners. His return this time is pretty much limited to the one-liners, so he becomes a big disappointment in my opinion.

Overall, FF: Rise of the Silver Surfer will make an okay rental movie sometime this winter on a cold fall day (if there's no football on, that is), but isn't worthwhile as a summer movie experience.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Dangers of Writing

I didn't realize when I started this journey that there are hazards involved. Sure, I could expect a few brave writers would be taken down by a cruel attack of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Others might succumb to Writer's Cramp. Paper cuts can be pretty vicious in the right setting, mind you.

Undaunted, I proceeded. Unaware of the dangers awaiting me as I pursued this craft. Alas, I have fallen into this trap, and I am not sure how to free myself from its grip.

I've become a critical reader.

It seems that honing my craft has trained my eye for certain things to look for in a book. I do it unconsciously. I'm looking for active verbs, strong adjectives, and tired cliches. I analyze what I am trying to enjoy. I think it is a natural process-handymen usually start out by taking things apart to figure out how they are built. Novels operate under a similar pattern.

Before I tried to understand writing, I wouldn't recognize a change in POV if you hit me with it (I wouldn't even know what a POV was). The author could head-hop and hip-hop for all I cared.

Now I'm reading an otherwise really good book, but the POV changes in each new paragraph keep pulling me out of the fictive world the author is trying to portray. I have to stop and figure out where I am: "What? I thought it was Suzy who was the POV character. Now it is Joe."

I'm really not trying to be so picky. It is operating under the hood anymore. I read, and I critique.

"Oh, that works."

"What were they thinking?"


Thinking back, there were sage writers who warned of this pitfall. Your reading may not be the same, they said. Ah, how I wish I could go back to the innocence of reading a bad novel and not knowing it...

On the other hand, I don't think so-but be warned, you who strive to write. This fate could befall you as well!

CFBA Tour - The Divine Appointment

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing THE DIVINE APPOINTMENT (Howard Books June 5, 2007) by Jerome Teel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. He is also the author of The Election, another political thriller that we reviewed November of '06. Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children...Brittney, Trey, and Matthew...and they reside in Tennessee where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.

"They aren't hiding just one something, but a bunch of somethings..."

Small town southern lawyer, Elijah Faulkner is a dying attorney that actually takes pleasure in fighting injustice by working hard for the little guy. But when he takes on a case to defend a philandering doctor with a pregnant wife in a seemingly open-and-shut murder trial, Eli is not so sure he is on the 'right' side.

Back in Washington D.C., supreme Court Justice Martha Robinson has died, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for conservative President Richard Wallace to impact the direction of the highest court in the land. He believes God put him in the presidency for just such a time as make a Divine Appointment. Not everyone is thrilled with the president's nominee, however. And some will stop at nothing, including murder, to prevent his confirmation by the Senate.

A lobbyist with a vendetta, a small-time Mafioso, an investigative reporter with a Watergate complex, and a powerful Washington political machine combine to create a fast-paced suspense novel that explores the anatomy of a murder, and the ripple effect that it creates across the country.

"Jerome Teel has crafted an intriguing political thriller...nice twists and turns to keep you reading. he paints vivid mental pictures that bring characters and locales to life."--Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee's 7th District

Monday, June 25, 2007

TL Hines Carries On

If anyone's read any of this blog, you'll see that I am a member of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. It is a group of bloggers who hope to highlight new books in Christian fiction. We are readers and writers. Some just like a good book, others want to review fiction, and yet more are studying the craft of fiction. It is a great little community, and I invite you to check it out if you are interested.

The thing is, it wouldn't be here if it weren't for TL Hines. Tony is the brainchild of this group as a way to spotlight Christian books on the web. He's an author and marketing guru. He figured out how to use our blogs' collective influence to get a book noticed on Technorati, a major internet player. We had the privilege of featuring his first book, Waking Lazarus, a year ago. Tony got too busy to be in charge of it, but a lot of what my blog is about is due to him and the CFBA.

I'd like to ask you to keep Tony in your prayers.

Today on Infuze they posted that he has been diagnosed with a serious form of lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands). I don't know Tony personally, but have interacted with him over the web, and he is tackling this in true TL humor and style.

Read the TL lymphoma blog for more!

It would be great for anyone you know who is dealing with such a chronic, potentially fatal illness. However, it is also just great writing and an insight into an intelligent, funny, and poignant man.

Keep an eye out for his next book, The Dead Whisper On, and the accompanying blog tour later this summer. And remember Tony in your prayers as he battles. I'm sure he will fight the good fight, but we can lift his arms and spirits as well!

Blessings, Tony.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Family Heirloom

Posted by Picasa
I just had to show off my first attempt at making my mother's famous rum cake recipe. She bequeathed it to my brother when she died, and he gave it to us a year later (ya know, just so he could torture us a year - love you too bro!).

You may not get the full effect, but I was quite proud as it tastes awesome. I suppose you could lick the monitor, but I don't have that interactive of a blog.

Now taking orders at $25 a cake...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Venturing Out

When I first started this blog I was very coy about admitting I was trying to write a novel. It seemed somewhat presumptive when you have only written a few chapters as your claim to fame. Slowly I've been coming out of my shell regarding this. Last week I actually posted my progress (or lack of it). This acts as accountability to me - I see that number and say to myself that I want to see that change tangibly, and soon.

I'm also trying to embrace this more and take it on as my identity - not so I can claim something I'm not doing - but to own it more so that it becomes my second job. I write when I can wrestle the muse down at the same time I can plop in my chair. I know I need to write regardless of the presence of some mystical force that whispers in my ear.

To that end I've taken a couple more steps of faith. I've joined the American Christian Fiction Writers. I'm being more proactive in interacting with other writers here on the web. I know none of this means I am a writer too, but again it comes back down to accountability.

So off I go. Thanks for keeping me accountable, even if you didn't know you were doing that! Just by posting this, it makes me get my rear in gear more. Whooooooooo.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Restorer Wrap-Up


This was certainly an interesting CSFF tour. There were some opinions expressed that generated some heated discussion at times. I think overall most of the conversation has be productive and helpful. A little of the tone was not exactly what I would hope for in a group of Christians, but we are far from perfect and will hopefully grow from the experience.

My overall impression remains that Sharon Hinck's The Restorer, the focus of the tour this week, is an ambitious work that really seems to resonate with a female audience in general. I wouldn't say male readers shouldn't approach the book, but I could not connect to the writing or the main character. It seems that one intention of the book is to open fantasy up to women who may not otherwise consider it. In this circumstance I think the book has great potential, and would be pleased to see this happen. I already know of one female friend I will give the book to.

I've made an effort to check all of the people listed in the tour at least once, and some I've visited multiple times. I've tried to pull some of the interesting content together. Please don't be offended if your posts aren't here: I had to stop at some point!

Marcus Goodyear wonders about the purpose of the tour.

John Otte (starting with 6/17 and following) provides a great interview with Sharon and is a guy who liked it.

John Ottinger brings things together with grace.

Karenee loved it and responds to a negative review.

D. G. D. Davidson (6/18-6/19) posts a critical review and some thought-provoking essays (to say the least). I may not agree with them, but they are an interesting read.

Wayne Thomas Batson (6/18-19) discusses blind praise versus flames, and challenges us to do everything in love.

Tina reviews the book and pulls questions from its discussion guide to answer on her blog. An unique approach to the tour!

I have all the links for the other tour participants on 6/18/07's post. Check out the others (Hanna Sandvig's is worth it for the art and pictures alone...)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Review - The Restorer

The Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy blog tour is highlighting The Restorer by Sharon Hinck this month. You can see yesterday's post for an introduction of the book, as well as the links for my fellow tourmates. I promised that I would post my review today.

Becky commented yesterday that a slight trend was developing that the guys of the CSFF tour may be less enamoured by this book. Certainly Sharon has some good endorsements from true-blue guys like Robin Parrish, T.L. Hines, and Randy Ingermanson.

Unfortunately, my opinion is that this may be more of a ladies read.

As I said yesterday, and the author freely admits, it is hard to categorize this book. This can create problems, because people like their comfortable descriptions ("You like reading Lori Wick? Try Deeanne Gist.") Like I posted recently, what would you think if Ted Dekker wrote a prairie romance (depends if it is written in true Dekker style, I suppose)?

I applaud Sharon's creativity to do something new. Inherent in this are the risks that something may not work across the board.

The premise is intriguing: a discouraged soccer mom gets pulled into an alternate realm and finds her calling to help the people. The book is written in the classic "lit" style (mom-lit, chick-lit), which fits with Sharon's two previous books. The mom-lit style tends to be a little light-hearted, which undermines the seriousness of the situation in the alternate realm in danger of being overwhelmed by enemies.

A couple of reviewers have noted that the main character spends a lot of time whining about her situation both in the real world and in her new locale. Some of this is to be expected in such a situation, but it does get grating after a while.

I've seen a lot of praise for her world-building, but honestly I felt quite disjointed by it all. It is a bit of "science fantasy", where there are some things that are futuristic like the transports mentioned, but other aspects of life are standard fantasy (swords and such). I wasn't able to picture the world very well-it seemed the description of different areas was either sparse or not very memorable. However, the preferred drink in the alternate world, clavo? I could almost taste it, as much as it is mentioned!

To be fair, there are some nice twists in the story. The major twist I didn't see coming, and was pleasantly surprised by that development. In the middle of the story the heroine has an epiphany of a spiritual experience, and I thought it was very touching and well-written. That is one point where I really felt drawn into the whole experience of the book, and it was very enjoyable.

But overall, it was more of a chore to read this book for the review. I think the idea was clever and had a lot of potential, but in my opinion it falls apart in the voice and world-building aspects and never really gets me to a point of investing in the book or characters. This is just my opinion-many of the reviewers this time site what I've just said as strengths of the book. So tomorrow I'll pull together a few of the reviews from the tour to give y'all a fair picture of The Restorer.

Monday, June 18, 2007

CSFF Tour - The Restorer

Here it is again, the Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy blog tour. I always enjoy this tour, as there is more interaction with so way cool people. Some are writers, some are readers and fans of speculative fiction.

I definitely fall in the latter. I admire those who can think up whole worlds and all the logical outworkings of the details of these places. And I thought my imagination was active!

This group of fans tend to be more vocal and supportive of the types of work we enjoy. Our inner fanboy (or girl) must be satiated! We crave more. More good fiction to read. More opportunity to explore spiritual themes without the conventions/limitations of regular fiction.

This month we are focusing on Sharon Hinck's new book, The Restorer. As I've seen her describe in an interview, it is not an easy book to label. For starters, think fantasy meets mom-lit. If that doesn't catch your eye, nothing will.

Susan Mitchell is a believer and a harried soccer mom, keeping up with two teenagers and two younger kids. Feeling as though she's missing out on the adventures the Lord has for her, she is wearing thin. When her husband Mark renovates the attic as a private place for her to steal away, she only anticipates a little peace and quiet. When she is pulled into a portal and falls in the dirt with a sword by her side, she is in for a lot more. Could she actually be the foretold Restorer?

I'll check back in with my review tomorrow. I also plan on visiting my other tourmates and pulling together some of the insightful reviews and commentary. Check back on the 19th and 20th for more with the CSFF tour.

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Heather R. Hunt
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

I have been wonderfully blessed with three special boys (yes, so far we specialize). I know that it is by God's grace, because I do not deserve my beautiful wife and these three gifts from heaven that we have to raise.

However, I still have some issues when Father's Day comes around. My father died of a heart attack at the age of 52; I was only 5. My mother did over and beyond what she could in my life, but there was always a void from being fatherless. Part of it manifested through being one of the youngest and smallest in my class. I don't know for sure, but I believe that I would've had more self-confidence and ability to stand up for myself if my dad had been around. I never quite fit in with my peers. High school was an awkward time for me, to be sure.

After high school I attended a Discipleship Training School through YWAM Montana . This is an intensive three month training program, emphasizing the character and ways of God, followed by a two month practical outreach. It was an amazing time that really cemented a lot of things in my walk with the Lord. Nothing compared, however, to the teaching of David Graham on the Father's heart.

He shared for a week in September about how the Father loved us so unconditionally. He described the adoption we have in Him, and how it made us sons and daughters of the King. Me, a prince of Heaven? It sounded wonderful, but it was all head knowledge. Thankfully, God has a way to move beyond our intellect.

David was speaking out of Romans 8 and Galatians 3:26 - 4:7 one day. He shared how our adoption gives us the stature of God. We take on His character and standing through this. As he described how God "sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" (Gal 4:6, NKJV) Abba is an Aramaic term that shows deep affection, like the term Daddy in modern America. This hit something deep within me, and I felt the churning of emotion and hurt inside.

David began to minister to different people in my school who were undergoing similar revelation from God on what it meant to be a child. Finally, it felt as if a fount, long blocked up by junk in my life, was released. A torrent of emotion and pain flooded out of me, washed away with divine love from my heavenly Father. No longer was I fatherless. No longer was I insignificant. I was a child of the King. So much fear, self-doubt, and insecurity was cleaned out of my life that day. I truly felt like a "new creation" at that time.

That was 9/24/91. It was my 18th birthday. It also became the first Father's day that I truly could comprehend. Now I have a Father in heaven that looks over what I do, and it is my greatest joy when I hear, "Well done, son."

My prayer for my boys is that they will understand the Father's heart for them without going through the turmoil that I did. I also pray that anyone who reads this, and doesn't know about the glorious freedom of the children of God, will also experience God as their Father.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

CFBA Tour- As I Have Loved You

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

As I Have Loved You



Nikki Arana is an award-winning author of highly-acclaimed inspirational women's fiction who weaves today's social, political, and spiritual issues into her novels. She has received numerous awards, including the Excellence in Media 2007 Silver Angel Award for The Winds of Sonoma.

The book was based on the true love story of how Nikki met her future husband Antonio as he was cleaning the stalls of her parents' Arabian horses. Nikki and Antonio have been married for over thirty years, have two grown sons, and live in Idaho.


Contemporary Struggles...

...A Single Mom and College-Ages Son.

Leigh Scott is a widowed, single mother who wants the best for her son Jeff. She would like him to graduate from college, land a secure job, and start a family. However, Jeff, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at a young age, has a God-given compassion for people. And his non-judgemental acceptance of all has unintended consequences.

Jeff starts dating Jessica, a girl with a questionable past and seemingly non-existent future. Soon, Jeff's grades drop as quickly as his sober determination to achieve the goals he's worked toward all his life, and Leigh finds herself caught ina relational tornado

To complicate matters further, Leigh is an author with a looming book deadline, a father battling cancer, and her former boyfriend and first love, a strong Christian Native American, coming back in her life.

Arana weaves a multi-layered, emotional family saga that brings the peril of judgement, the need for forgiveness and the gift of love to light

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Culturally Savvy Christian

Dick Staub is on the forefront of dealing with Christianity and pop culture. He has a blog post that is so good in describing the "culturally savvy Christian" I wish I could steal it and post it here as mine. No such luck however. A quote from the article:

So what is a CSC?

A CSC is serious about faith, savvy about faith and culture and skilled in relating the two.

Go check out the main article. His book of the same title is high on my wish list. Also, you can sign up for his update Culture Watch. Good stuff.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The First of Many!

My oldest son Nathan has a mid-summer birthday, so he hits the cut-off for his soccer league just right. Last year he was the youngest and smallest on his team (made for the NBA, we are not). That didn't deter him, as he ran hard and mixed it up with any of the kids out there. Unfortunately, he didn't manage to score a goal last year, although he came close a few times.

He was a little bummed, as my middle boy Matt was a scoring machine on his team (TWO separate hat-tricks, thank you very much). Of course, Matt was on the U-6 (under six) while Nate is on the U-8 team. The difference is two more players and a little more skill. With the youngest kids, the ball is usually stuck in a group of kids falling all over each other. Pretty cute, but if a kid like Matt has the sense to pop the ball outside and go up the field with it, he can get goals easy.

Nate was a very good defender though, and he realized that with a little encouragement from us. He knew he stopped a lot of goals, but he still wanted to score. Who can blame him?

This year I anticipated would be different. He would have a year to grow and be in the middle of the group. Except...they changed the cut-off date for teams and birthdays. So he is the youngest and smallest on his team! However, he is one of the more knowledgeable kids as far as soccer goes, and continues to hustle and show no fear in getting in there after the ball.

Setting: Soccer fields at MVMS, 3rd quarter. Game is still close, 3-1 in our favor (go Jaguars). Our team is pushing down the field again. Suddenly, from the left wing, Nate nails the ball and the ball squeaks in from an almost impossible angle...


(Yes, I've watched soccer on Univision before - more exciting than ESPN!)

I'm very proud of you my son. You persevered, and you got it at the right time. Keep up the great work!

CFBA tour - Diva NashVegas

OK, usually you won't find any posts about country music here (shudder), but this book looks like it has an interesting premise. Here's the CFBA take on Diva NashVegas:

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Thomas Nelson May 8, 2007)
Rachel Hauck

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Rachel is the author of many books. Her current release, Diva NashVegas is the second in a series which began with Lost in NashVegas. She is also a Blogger and a CFBA member! She lives in Florida with her husband. Visit her great profile and learn more.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Even if you are not a lover of country music, you can enjoy this fun look at the Nashville entertainment industry.

What do you do when the past you’ve been skirting shows up at your door with cameras rolling?

Aubrey James ruled the charts as the queen of country for over a decade. She’d rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parents’ death-both of them pioneers in Gospel music. But while her public life, high profile romances, and fights with Music Row execs made for juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey has remained a media mystery.

When a former band member betrays Aubrey’s trust and sells an "exclusive" to a tabloid, the star knows she must go public with her story. But Aubrey’s private world is rocked when the Inside NashVegas interviewer is someone from her past-someone she’d hoped to forget.

All the moxie in the world won’t let this Diva run any longer.

"Hauck once again takes us into the country music world, this time through the experiences of mega-star Aubrey James. Aubrey's life journey is filled with flaws, as well as a great deal of joy, and real life locales makes this highly original story authentic. The extra tidbits - from Aubrey's liner notes to quotes from the "media" at the beginning of the chapters - add extra sparkle to the plot."
- 4 Stars, Melissa Parcel, Romantic Times Book Club

Monday, June 11, 2007

Writing Realities

So I got the writing bug about 2 1/2 years ago. I hadn't done any creative writing for years, but I had started penning a few short stories a few months prior. Then I got the brilliant idea that I could write a novel! I started with a simple mental picture/sequence, and the story unfolded itself pretty quickly from there.

I enjoyed creative writing in school, but I am not the type to just jump into something. I started looking into books and searched the internet for writing sites. Soon I had found Faith in Fiction and that became my portal into a lot of other contacts about writing (for instance, with all the writers there starting blogs, I finally decided to check this world out).

Still, when I started I thought that I could have a serviceable book done in a year at the most. Heh, heh, heh. Silly n00b.

Over the weekend I managed to finish chapter six. All told, I have about 12-15,000 words and 26-28 pages down on my WIP (work in progress for the uninitiated). My goal is around 80-90,000 words. I guess I'm about around 1/6th there.

In 2 1/2 years I have spent reading and studying the craft of writing. I've done a lot of reading in that time. I may not be an expert, but I think I have a better understanding of what it takes to write a good book. Also, I have gained an appreciation of the timeframe it can take to become published.

Thankfully I'm not alone in starting this endeavor thinking it isn't all that big a deal. I hear many others say that they didn't realize how long it can take to get published. I started checking out Randy Ingermanson's blog at Advanced Fiction Writing, and he has shared the time frame it took him to get published.

10 years.

He then shares about a friend who took 26 years to get published. I don't know about you, but I admire that persistence. Brandilyn Collins has shared about her 7 year (approx) journey to publishing fiction as well, and there are many other stories like that. I had come to the conclusion quite a while ago that this wouldn't be a quick, wham-bam process. Especially since I deal with working full-time, busy kids, keeping up with my loving wife, and ministry at my local church. Oh, and blogging!

Anymore any progress is a good thing. Maybe if I share it here, I'll have accountability and encouragement. I know Matt's updates at Burning Hearts Revolution has inspired me to get BOC (butt in chair). I can't seem to let this bug go, so I pray for grace to keep at this project. Keeps me off the streets I suppose (except the time I test-drove a mo-ped just to understand a tiny plot point of a character...)

Randy has more advice for the aspiring writer - he gives you permission to be bad. Guess you'll have to read that one for yourself to get it!

Doctor Demented

If anyone didn't know the background philosophy (utilitarianism) of Jack Kevorkian, this article will be most informative.

Hat tip to The Point.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Blog Tour - These Boots Weren't Made for Walking

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing These Boots Weren't Made for Walking (WATERBROOK Press June 19, 2007) by Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson has published over 100 books for adults, children, and teens, including On This Day, Finding Alice, the Notes from a Spinning Planet series, and Homeward, which won the Rita Award from Romance Writers of America. She and her husband, the parents of two grown sons, make their home near the Cascade Mountains in Central Oregon. Melody is a full-time writer as well as an avid gardener, biker, skier, and hiker.

Willing to make the necessary sacrifices–even skipping the occasional latte–to ensure career success, 31-year-old Cassidy Cantrell "invests" in a chic pair of boots, certain they’ll make a spectacular impression and help seal the deal on a long-anticipated promotion from her Seattle employer.

But reality tromps all over her expectations. Cassie’s job is abruptly eliminated–and her love life obliterated, when her longtime boyfriend dumps her for a "friend." Her self-esteem in tatters, Cassie limps home to the resort town she once so eagerly fled–only to find her recently divorced mother transformed into a gorgeous fifty-something babe with a thriving social life. Cassie wrestles with envy and apathy as she considers the dismal shape of her own physique and romantic prospects. What will it take for her to jump back into life and regain her stride?

This sassy and hilarious novel leads readers on a romp through the wilds of relationships, romance, career, and spirituality, revealing that, while God’s plans may look drastically different than our own, it’ll always be a perfect fit.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Culture and More Culture

I don't intend for this blog to become a pop culture blog, but I do enjoy keeping up with things and seeing how it all plays out. I do think that the interaction between Christianity and pop culture is particularly interesting, and of course some of what I have done here deals with that. With that, I wanted to point out a couple of discussions or articles of interest.

Becky at A Christian Worldview of Fiction is tackling the ever-present topic of "What is Christian fiction?" See the post and comments that inspired it, then read her short story and dive into the debate.

Alex Wainer posts an insightful essay on Breakpoint talking about Christians and entertainment.

Those wishing to produce and market films to the large Christian audience looking for movies that aren’t hostile to their deepest beliefs should keep in mind several elements that set such stories on a promising path.

Read the full article to see the aspects he is espousing. He is speaking specifically about movies, but I think his ideas fully apply to all forms: music, fiction, comics, or whatever we strive to do.

From that article I discovered that Alex contributes to the Culture Beat, a blog that keeps track of pop culture and spiritual issues. Looks like a new one for my Bloglines feeds.

Check them out if you get a chance.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Our Father's Pleasure

Saturday was more like a mid-summer day here in Idaho. The stifling air wilted me as I mowed my lawn in the heat. So much for the idea of getting up early to work in the coolness of the morning. The grass wasn't going to cut itself, so I pressed into the machine, trudging behind like a slave to suburbia.

My two older boys played happily on the slip-n-slide I had pulled from the garage earlier. We don't always get to pull out the water toys this early in the season, but no sense in waiting if the weather cooperates. Besides, it kept the kids from begging for some Xbox time, so when there was enough grass mowed I had put it out so the boys could be boys.

Finally the heat had worn down my resistance. I found the siren call in the freezer-ice cream. A couple of scoops should help me conquer my task. I whipped out the scooper and soon had a foaming Coke float for me, while the boys would enjoy a bowl with chocolate syrup drizzled over their treat.

I walked carefully down the stairs, not wanting an ice cream bath. The boys squealed with delight at their bounty, and sat in the grass content with the cool confection sliding down their throat. I sat in the shade, taking my time before braving the elements once again.

As I tossed back the yummy mixture of melted ice cream and Coke, my middle son walked up to me with his empty bowl outstretched. His blue eyes sparkled. A wide grin extended across his small face. Silently he handed off the dish and started back toward his playground. One more glance back to his dad, the fresh smile still plastered in place, before he turned his attention to noise and splashes.

There was something that passed in that simple exchange of a smile between a son and a father that day. No words were spoken, but the love he had for me was evident in the fixed gaze he held with me. The gift was acknowledged and more than compensated in that quiet moment. I don't know what his eyes saw in return, but I hope the love and pride I have in him as my precious son was shared with him in a similar manner.

Sometimes our relationship with our Father God is just as simple. Whether appreciating the smooth taste of vanilla, sugar, and cream, standing on a rocky outcropping watching the view unfold below us, smelling the freshness of impending rain in a summer thunderstorm, or the kindness of a helping hand at an opportune time, we have an encounter with the divine in such moments.

He didn't create automons to obey His every command. He made us with significance and honor, the price being the very real likelihood that we would walk away from Him in our pride and doubt. Still, we had the free will to choose life or death, and continue to do so every day. Why He was willing to do such a thing will always be a mystery to me. Maybe when I get to heaven I can ask Him if it was worth it all. But I think I had a glimpse of the answer just this weekend.

It was in ice cream with chocolate syrup and the smile of a young boy.