Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Arise again!

I didn't post yesterday because I was still reeling from the Arise event that took place on Sunday. I'll give you an update on that after a few reminders and announcements.

Remember that the Kanner Lake website is due to launch on July 5th promoting Brandilyn Collin's new book, Violet Dawn. I'll be participating in the character blog at Scenes and Beans.

For those interested in historical fiction or just history in general, Favorite Pastimes, a blog devoted to history, is now open to readers. Each week a different contributor will present her perspective. This week's host is Cindy Thomson, author of Brigid of Ireland. My week of blogging begins on July 24th and I'll be focusing on the Middle Ages and historical fantasy. I hope you'll join me for the highlight: an interview with Linda Wichman and discussion about her current project, Briar Rose.

Back to the Arise event. Arise was a call to prayer and unity among churches. It was a day filled with praise and worship among thirty plus cross-denominational churches. The Indian Nation opened the event with drums and dance. Thirty pastors joined together, along with their congregations and others--it was open to the public. . and hearts were changed. Local church worship teams and over one hundred intercessorers joined together, along with Doug Stringer and Jason Upton. People are now saying that it felt like we had drawn a line in a spiritual sense, we'd joined together in unity to do battle. . .rather than the various camps we are now (34,000 to be exact) divided. Any war strategists understands that to conquer you must divide, and that's where we are as a body now--divided. But yesterday, in the Amory in Medford, Oregon, the body united in a big way.

As I was leaving the Armory Sunday evening, one of the many band members commented that things are back to normal tomorrow. I responded, "I hope not." And I mean that. Our prayer now is to move forward with what we've started, not to fall back into our old routine.

I was struck as I listened to people comment about the spiritual aspect of this event. . .the battle against good and evil. I'm convinced now more than ever that the direction of my writing should mirror this spiritual battle--and what better genre than fantasy. Jeff Gerke is discussing this very topic over at Becky Miller's blog on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Make sure to read his comments.

Blessings!
Beth.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Review: The Hidden


Title: The Hidden
Author: Kathryn Mackel
Publisher: WestBow Press
ISBN: 1-5955-4037-7
Genre: Suspense

Grieving her son’s death, psychiatrist Susan Stone returns home to Colorado to help her elderly father manage his horse-breeding business. After the botched delivery of a prized foal, Susan rides wildly into the mountains, seeking release from consuming guilt. Thrown from her horse, she tumbles into a dark ravine and makes a startling discovery—a young man chained in the darkness.

I admit that comes directly from the back of the book. But I was afraid if I said it differently, I might give too much away. Most reviews tell you a good portion of the story and perhaps leave the ending to your imagination. But I don’t want to give anything away in this book, because if you’re like me, you want to enjoy the unknown, slowly unraveling the story as you read. It’s like that old soup commercial that says it’s so chunky you could eat it with a fork, but use a spoon, you’ll want to savor every bite. (or something like that)

In every scene, Kathryn Mackel leads you deeper into the mystery of the chained man, and though you have more information, you still don’t know what he’s about, only that the story has it’s claws in you and you can’t let go. A master of characterization and fresh writing, Mackel weaves all elements smoothly into an intriguing and, at times, shocking plot.

Though the novel is written in third-person, the villain’s voice is a unique blend that Mackel places strategically throughout the story. Here’s an example:

He is in a thinking mood and inclined to share his wisdom.
Tonight’s lecture, students, is—cue drum roll—the animal world.
The first beast specifically mentioned in the Bible is . . . anyone? Come on, children. You’ve read the press release. Now the serpent was more craft than any of the wild animals.
Condemned to crawl on his belly . . it is abundantly clear that the snake gets a bum rap. Certainly there are beasts far more manipulative. Consider cats, for example. Why are they elevated to household companionships while snakes are shrieked at, stomped on, driven over? Are sleep fur and twitchy whiskers really more attractive than exquisite scales or those penetrating eyes? Droll sigh. I fear that those little ears and friendly purr are cunningly deceptive. The truth is that a car will rip out a throat simply for the amusement of it. and their inclination toward humans is not to be interpreted as any sort of interest. Indeed, cats are the ultimate narcissists. Their way or the highway, baby.
Perhaps—cue drum roll and make it a double—a creature’s worth should not be measured in its essence, but in its function. Is not the rat known by the garbage he consumes? Though this is a worthwhile and perhaps enviable contribution, nevertheless folks fling invectives at these creatures when they really should sing praise. Certainly if one would rat out the truth, pun intended—self-deprecating chuckle—it wasn’t trash that devalued the rodent, but that he bore the black death. And consider this: why are the two middlemen overlooked in this equation? The flea, which has its own public relations nightmare to contend with. At the bottom of it all—it was bacteria that caused the plague.
We fear what we can see while the hidden persists, undeterred.
That gave me chills. I LOVE that nugget, that small slice of wisdom and the subtle, yet profound way she weaves it in.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book for those who love the creative and want to escape the humdrum of everyday novels. I'd love to hear your comments on this book.

Blessings!
Beth.


As writer's what form do we follow?

Thanks to all who visited the blog during the SFF tour. Remember to check back next month for more SFF author interviews and discussion on websites.

Brandilyn Collin's Kanner Lake blog and website will be going live on July 5th. Remember I mentioned before that I had landed a character part on the Scenes and Beans Blog. I'm really looking forward to working with the brilliant writers in that group.

Also launching in July is a new blog devoted to history hosted by historical writers, Tricia Goyer, Joan Hochstetler, Cindy Thomson, Tiff Miller and myself. I'll provide more information as it becomes available.

I mentioned in a post a few days ago the upcoming Arise event and would ask that you continue in prayer for what we're hoping will be a forerunner to a revival in the region.

The young artist, Jason Upton, that will be performing in the evening, made comments during a radio interview that I believe can be applied to writing. I will make a feeble attempt to convey the essence of what he said, but you can listen to the interview here. Be patient because at first it won't seem like there is an application for you, but I hope you'll glean some insight and even a revelation of all that God has for you and your writing.

Jason hasn't been popular in the Christian retail stores because he has never conformed to what has been deemed as music that would sell--the popular stuff that people want to buy. That has changed however. He has a special annointing-a prophetic calling upon him that sometimes doesn't come across as feel good music. And we all want to feel good. But he has stayed true to the form that God has called him too. . .he can't sing like the others, or conform to the popular because it wouldn't be him. "It's not about the form. . it's about the message and the heart." When he writes music it's about the revelation first. . .And in fact, God has blessed him for staying true to what he knows. "Form invades and hijacks particular callings." His schedule is full, traveling to concerts and changing lives.

I believe as writers we should also consider staying true to what God has called us to write. Many of us, me included, rush to and fro trying to discover what we can write that will catch an editor's attention. . .after all, it's all about becoming published. When we're published, it's all about becoming more published. . that next book. Isn't it? And there are those who would say there is nothing wrong with that. Fundamentally, they would not be wrong. Except, when we venture out of what God has created us to do, I think that perhaps we just become more noise in a world filled with noise.I encourage you to listen to Jason's interview, in case I've failed to make a sound point.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for what I'm calling a New Kind of Review of Kathryn Mackel's the Hidden.

Blessings!
Beth.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Donita K. Paul: The Person

Shannon McNear had wonderful things to say about Donita in her post yesterday and I wanted to echo that. Last fall I had the privilege of being invited to Donita's crit group by a dear friend--someone I'd only recently met at the ACFW conference--but there was an instant connection. For months I only read the works of others in the group, fearing I wasn't ready to sub since I had only begun to write in the fantasy genre. Finally, I reworked my fantasy story, starting at a different place. It was Donita who confronted me with the unfortunate news that I had started my story in the wrong place. She gave me advice about where I should start, and thus, the next day I spent rewriting according to her suggestion. It was this rewritten beginning that I entered in the Genesis contest and that ended up becoming a finalist.

Donita hosts a website separate from the Dragon Keeper Chronicles site. You'll find writing helps, information about a teen writing club, home schooling advice, you name it. On the Dragon Keeper site, you'll see many links for young peoplet i.e. games and even an art gallery where they can see their dragon artwork displayed. The bottom line is that you'll find much of Donita's caring and loving personality within her novels.

I was amazed at how much Biblical wisdom I gleaned between the pages of her dragon stories. Some things, I had never even considered. That's the beauty of being a talented Christian writer, and God's gift. His inspiration flows from every word.

Donita--We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being faithful to His calling!!!

Again, I list the links for the other participants:

Sally Apokedak
Valerie Comer
Johne Cook
Janey DeMeo
Mary E. DeMuth
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Marcia Laycock
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Becky Miller
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower

Blessings!
Beth.

Monday, June 19, 2006

SFF Blog Tour: Donita K. Paul



Today we begin our discussion about Donita K. Paul, her books and her website, in our effort to promote the science fiction and fantasy genre within the Christian market. Mrs. Paul has had phenomenal success with her Dragon Keeper Chronicles. Though written for the YA market, Dragonspell and Dragonquest have entertained both young and old alike. With various races that inhabit the land, as well as numerous dragon types such as minor dragons and meech dragons, there’s never a dull moment.

Many writers have expressed an interest in writing a Harry Potter type of series for the Christian market. I believe that Mrs. Paul has done this with her books, whether that was her intention or not. The novels are filled with wizards and magic. Yet, she goes to great lengths to define all things within the law and wisdom of Wulder—the equivalent of God within the world she has created. The stories are wonderful tales that both teach and reveal many deep truths without being didactic.

For her latest installment, DragonKnight, she has captivated me with her hero. Bardon comes into his own as he seeks to fulfill his calling. Watch the trailer for the book here.
To quote her website:
Return to the land of dragons and magic you discovered in Dragonspell and DragonQuest, in this finely crafted and memorable work of fantasy fiction with a core of eternal truth.
Be sure to visit the other blog tour participants:

Sally Apokedak
Valerie Comer
Johne Cook
Janey DeMeo
Mary E. DeMuth
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Marcia Laycock
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Becky Miller
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower

Blessings!
Beth.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Indescribable

Yesterday I drove an hour from my home to meet another writing friend who happened to be passing through the area. As a home schooling mother of several children, I have to admit I don't get to leave the house very often. So it was just me driving north on the freeway in Oregon.

A Chris Tomlin song played over the radio. I enjoyed the beautiful mountains and curvy roads. (this time because I was driving and not my husband who takes the curves entirely too fast.) I considered how incredibly beautiful the mountains are and thought back to my search for images to go in my blogskin. It made me think that no matter what we do, what we create, there is nothing that can match or even come close to the beauty we see God's creation--INDESCRIBABLE--as the song says.

When I met with my friend we discussed writing-related topics--it's in our blood! LOL I told her that I had been considering sending my fantasy to the ABA, given the current status of the CBA market. Her mouth dropped open. She and her son questioned me at the same time "WHY?" They both began to babble on about the success of several Christian fantasy series such as Bryan Davis's Dragon's In Our Midst, and Donita K Paul's Dragon Keeper Chronicles--both of which have had phenominal sales. You'd think with this sort of track record, that the Christian publishers would have an interest in this genre. Though I know that the Lord has directed me to write my story, the outcome--will it go to the ABA or the CBA--remains in His hands. (I will stay out of the future as Karen Hancock says!)

This brings me to the reminder that our SFF blog tour for June begins next week officially on Tuesday. We'll be focusing on Donita K. Paul's website, books, and success. I've listed the bloggers joining the tour this time:

Valerie Comer
Johne Cook
Janey DeMeo
Mary E. DeMuth
Rebecca Grabill
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Marcia Laycock
Shannon McNear
Matt Mikalatos
Becky Miller
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower

See you there!

Blessings
Beth.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Arise

First a warning. I'm revamping my blog over the next few days, so if you don't see a link on the new blog where there was one. . .never fear, things will be put back. Eventually.

The SFF Blog tour is back beginning next Monday. We will be featuring fantasy writer Donita K. Paul. Dragonspell, Dragonquest, and the her new release, DragonKnight are part of the DragonKeeper Chronicles. All awesome books. I have the privilege of participating in a critique group with Ms. Paul and was honored to be able to read through DragonKnight as she wrote. Please join the fantasy tour group once again next week.

To take the discussion of evil and "darkness" down a different road--a path where light shines into the darkness and dispells it, I want to announce an event the Lord has led my husband to organize called Arise that will be taking place in Medford, Oregon on June 25th. It will be a day of prayer and unity across denominations and will include prophetic and performing arts, Indian Nations' drum and dance teams, as well as Jason Upton.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of Jehovah has risen on you! For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples. But Jehovah shall rise on you, and His glory shall be seen on you. And nations shall walk to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawning. Lift up your eyes all around and see; they are all assembling; they are coming to you. Your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be supported on the side.

LITV (The Literal Translation) Isaiah 60:1-4
The Mission:
Like “The Call(s),” Arise 2006, and if God for ordains a 2007, 2008, etc…, is a prayer assembly. Its purpose is to see - True reformation, revival, and revolution in the Rogue Valley born out of a spiritual shift, an open heaven. This can occur when we have altered the spiritual atmosphere and power structure through sustained prayer, worship, and fasting – by pouring out our extravagant love and devotion to Jesus Christ who is worthy of all praise and adoration we can see this manifest.

The people of the Rogue Valley have been praying intensely for revival--an awesome move of God-- for the last thirteen years. Please join us in prayer that God will change hearts.

Blessings!
Beth.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Does Evil Exist?

Before I get into this topic, I have an announcement. I recently auditioned for Scenes and Beans, Brandilyn Collin's character blog for her new
Kanner Lake series. Violet Dawn is the first book in the series. I learnd on Monday that I've been selected to participate! I'm thrilled about that and I hope you'll take time to keep up with what is sure to be an entertaining blog.

Now on to the topic. I'm sure the thoughts I'll present here have already been considered by the brightest minds. Becky Miller has an awesome discussion going on about evil right now at her blog. She quotes Ted Dekker:
I refuse to become complicit with evil by characterizing that nasty, nasty stuff in a way that softens its destructive bite. Doing so would not only be deceptive but it would undermine the great victory won by our hero in His majestic defeat of this terrible villian called evil. They want stories about the light without turning an eye to the darkness it dispells, which ultimately negates the need for such light.
Here's another school of thought on the subject. Many of you are probably already familiar with this. I can't be sure of the source. . .but it is another perspective.
Cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 F) is the total absence of heat; and all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.

Darknss does not exist. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact, we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.

Evil does not exist, at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat, or the darkness that comes when there is no light.

-- Albert Einstein (I can't verify this, of course)

More tomorrow!

Blesssings!
Beth.

The Sky is not a Lemon

Being surrounded with children 24/7 I'm privileged to hear profound statements on an almost ongoing basis. I told my kids last night that I was going to start reading them CAN OF WORMS by Kathy Mackel. If you're not familiar with the story, Disney made a movie from the book (Kathy wrote the screenplay) and it's about a guy going through those teenage angst years who sends a message to outer space asking for help. He is beyond surprise when aliens begin to answer his call. I explained a little bit about the story to my boys (I also have a daughter going through the teenage years but she's not interested, of course) and also that Ms. Mackel had signed the front for me with "The sky is not the limit." Later on my six year old presented me with a picture that included the aliens, a jar (rather than a can) of worms, and his rendering of the sky pointing to a lemon with a large X over it to which he exclaimed "the sky is not a lemon." Of course, I thought that was the greatest and I'm still laughing over it.

So I thought I would stretch my imagination and see if I can relate this to writing somehow. Bear with me. First of all, even if the sky was a lemon, I would enjoy that because I happen to love lemons, and I have the pitted teeth to show for it (of course, you can't really see those pits with the naked eye, thank goodness). So, from here I draw on the old adage "if life gives you lemons, then make lemonade." To make lemonade you simply add water and sweetener.

I suppose one of the worst things about being a writer is the rejection which could easily represent our lemons. At this point, I should come up with a list of sweeteners but I honestly can't think of any except the Holy Spirit (the water) and the Word (His precepts are sweeter than the honeycomb). God is here for us even in our time of rejections and even if the sky were a lemon, the Lord could turn it into a time of refreshing.

Blessings!
Beth.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Write First, the Story Will come

What a beautiful smile
Can I stay for awhile?
On this beautiful night
We'll make everything right

Do you know that song by The Afters? That's the chorus and I've been singing it all day. And of course, you can't help but smile while you're singing the words or humming the tune. Can't help but dance around while it plays over the radio or through the earbuds of your iPod. Oh Okay, my daughter has just informed me the song is titled "Beautiful Love."


I couldn't help but think that if you started your day out grumpy, bogged down in the mire, that all you would have to do is listen to that song, plant a smile on your face and you would be happy. This led me to consider the words from the Bible--the physical first, then the spiritual. That applies to so many aspects of our life--yes, including writing.

Several months ago when I first started my fantasy project, I struggled with the fact that I didn't have a theme. I know several of my writing buddies have been discussing this very topic recently and, of course, you will find all sorts of opinions.
But back to the fact that I did not have a theme in mind for my novel. The Lord impressed upon me to do the physical first. . .then the THEME would come. Within two minutes after I considered that, I opened my Writer's Digest and discovered a very similar article. Though secular, the article discussed that when you don't feel like writing you have to perform the action, then it will all begin to flow. Those weren't the exact words, but essentially they mean the same thing.

So, in essence, when you don't feel like worshipping God, worship Him anyway, and it will begin to flow. When you don't feel like worshipping Him with your writing, write anyway, and the worship will flow. And if you listen to "Beautiful Love" by The Afters, you're sure to smile while you do it!

Blessings!
Beth.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Discovering the Source

I wish I knew what sort of vitamins I took or what food combination I ate today that put me in such a great mood. I feel wonderful--both physically and spiritually. I'm energetic and though I didn't accomplish all that much, honestly, I'm brimming with joy. Okay, so it must be God. In the midst of an incredible trial--one that requires a huge leap of faith--I'm full of joy!!! I'm too lazy to look that up right now, but there must be a Bible verse about it somewhere, right? Maybe when I am weak, He is strong. . .

I had planned to work on a summary for the anthology I mentioned earlier, but instead I helped a friend work on her dreaded synopsis. Maybe that was it. . .just giving to others, preferring others. The Kingdomof God is a paradox. . .it is better to give than to receive, the last shall be first, to lead you must serve, etc.

Of course, I've crossed the threshold in the fantasy which I already mentioned so it should be smooth-writing until the end for that. (yeah right) So my mind is already chewing on that next story--the one that I dreamed about a couple of weeks ago. I thought I'd share with you the picture that inspired it. Can't tell you more. Maybe later.

Okay, so in writing this post, I've figured out the ingredient, the source of my joy(and that there is a purpose for blogging!)

I made a conscious choice today to rest in Him. Sometimes we do have to gird ourself as warriors, and sometimes we have to rest. We have to be in tune to His voice to know which it is. In my particular situation, and at this point in time, all I'm required to do is just rest in Him, sit back and watch how He will work it all out. I can't wait to see what He does. . .and to glorify Him.

There is one that is closer than a brother. . . He loves us individually, we are his favorite ones!

Blessings!!!
Beth.

Crossing the Threshold

I'm excited that I've finally crossed that threshold in my story--the place where the story comes together and you no longer have to concern yourself with what happens next, but rather you're just writing in response to all of the conflict that you've set up. Schew! Now if I can just carve out the time I need to complete this novel.

I should point out that though I've been working on this for a while, I've been diverted by other projects several times. Last fall I stopped to work on an anthology with other authors, then in February, I had to complete a requested manuscript--and that's a good thing, right? So, though it seems like I'm taking a long time to finish this, I have many things going at the same time. Still, I'm at a pivotal point in the story and I don't want to lose momentum. That's why, though I'm stopping this week to work on yet another anthology, I plan to take only a week to complete my summary and proposal chapters.

After writing a fantasy, writing romance feels much easier! I love the freedom to be creative in the SFF genre, but it is a "brain drain"!!!

Blessings!
Beth.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Procrastinating. . . Again

I've been remiss in posting. And it's not because I was procrastinating. It's because I am a procrastinator! I recently heard that procrastinators tend to overestimate the amount of time it takes to do something. In addition, they bite off more than they can chew, then become overwhelmed and ultimately paralyzed. I've been in the paralyzed mode. That, because I took time with my family over Memorial weekend and neglected the computer while emails continued to collect.

I think I'm caught up on those, but now I've got to catch up on other writing-related activities--you know, the ones that keep you from actually writing! LOL.

Be sure to check back for the upcoming SFF blog tour which will continue this month. I believe it begins on June 20th. We will be focusing on Donita K Paul's new book DragonKnight. Also forthcoming will be interviews with Kathy Tyers and Kathryn Mackel--two of my favorites.

Okay, I'm going to focus on finishing my fantasy the next few weeks and I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Blessings!
Beth
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