Monthly Archives: October 2014

Fun News for Reviewers of The Word Changers!

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Most of you probably know the importance of getting reviews for your own book, or leaving reviews for others’ books. They help potential buyers find a book to begin with, and then help them to decide whether or not it’s the book for them. Real, honest opinions from real, honest readers – for me, at least – count far more than even the book’s blurb or cover.

The Word Changers now has 55 reviews on Amazon (thanks to 55 very awesome readers!). When it reaches 60 I am going to be doing a giveaway. For what, you ask? Well, there will be an Amazon gift card involved, and something bookish and creative which I haven’t yet made a final decision on. But trust me, it will be lovely, and you will want it 😉

So my request for you is this:  If you have read The Word Changers but haven’t yet left an Amazon review, hop over to their site and write one! Reading4And if you’ve been wanting to read The Word Changers but haven’t got around to it yet, get your own copy over at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords (see sidebar for links), and then leave a review. It’s just $2.99 right now in eBook (rather than its original $3.99).

If you know a friend who may like to read it, lend her your e-copy, or buy her a copy as an early Christmas present … and then ask her to leave a review as well! The more the merrier!

This opportunity will be for Amazon reviewers ONLY … and we only need 5 more reviews for me to start the giveaway!  Yay! So get your review in so you can enter your name when the giveaway begins.

Ok, my shameless requests for you to read and review my book are over. But I will have you know they are just a front for what I truly want to do:  THROW A GIVEAWAY!  😀

Have a great weekend, a fun Halloween … and happy reading!

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Vital Imagination

“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.” (Henry Ward Beecher)

I suppose there are people who believe imagination isn’t essential. People who think the visible realm is the important one, facts are what matter, not theories or dreams.

I’m not among those people.

I believe imagination is important. I’d even go so far as to say imagination is vital to our well-being as humans and as Christians.

Imagination helps us empathize with others.

Romans 12:15 tell us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Then of course there’s the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12: “treat people how you want them to treat you.” Have you ever considered how difficult this would be if you had no imagination? How can we weep with the brokenhearted if our hearts don’t break a little with them? How can we truly rejoice with the joyful if we don’t feel some of their happiness as if it were our own?

Imagination is the bridge that takes us from the world we live in, the world that has “me” at center, to the world of others’ hopes and tears and Imaginationjoys. It broadens our feelings, our views and our ideas. It forces us to treat others not as something separate, but as a part of ourselves. Which is exactly as God intended, isn’t it?

Imagination helps us picture the future, and prepare for it.

Pretty straightforward, right? You have to imagine what your future will be like, sometimes tomorrow or next week, sometimes in a year or ten years. It doesn’t matter if you’re grocery shopping for the week, or budgeting for the month, or planning a marriage, or raising a child … you have to picture the future in order to make smart choices now. Say what you will, that takes imagination.

Imagination helps us know God better.

Imagination is at the heart of God, really. As the Creator of the universe, imagination was crucial to Him. His very nature is a creative one. And when we feel His nature speak through us in the form of our imaginations, we know Him better. Yes, our attempts at creating things are pathetic and second-rate compared to His. But they bring us closer to Him, still; they forge a strong link between ours hearts and His. We are like children emulating our Dad, and finding joy in it. When I create things I understand my own inadequacy, but in the light of my Father’s greatness, that doesn’t seem to matter … I just find joy in the act of creating, and in my creations, however flawed. Like He does.

Imagination gives us hope.

Try for a second to stop thinking about what will happen to you in a minute – an hour – a day – a week – a year – a lifetime. The dreams you have always had? Nowhere to be seen. The hope you have for a husband and family of your own?  Gone. Becoming a stronger Christian tomorrow than you were yesterday? Don’t even think about it. In fact, you can’t think about it … because you have no imagination … remember?

What a dismal picture.

Emily Dickinson (Imagination)My efforts for myself and my family and my son and my career would flag and die if I couldn’t conjure an image of a hopeful future. Why discipline or love my son if I can’t picture his future as a man after God’s own heart? Why live a life for God at all if I can’t imagine the hope of heaven, if I can’t picture being there myself?

“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7

Imagination makes us stronger Christians.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not certain I’d be a Christian if I didn’t have an imagination. It always seemed to me that you could take every fact in the world to prove something – Christianity included – but in the end it still comes down to a matter of leaping. A matter of faith.

Yes, the facts are lined up for me. Yes, the evidence of God’s works are before me. His Word is written on the pages beneath my fingers. … But perhaps my heart is wary still. What will such a leap mean for me? When I believe, what will be required of me? I imagine looking into the face of God, for that’s what such a leap will mean, surely … I can imagine being in His presence, accepting Him not as a fact, but as all-consuming, beyond facts, Alpha and Omega, Creator of the world and of my soul.

So the leap must be made. And to make it, imagination is vital. And what do I imagine? Arms that hold me, a voice that whispers truths unseen. I see God’s face in my imagination. And not only do I have to believe He is God … I want to believe.

Imagination: Necessary

Some of the most important things in life have a basis in imagination. Foresight. Hope. Wisdom. Faith. Even love. Can you picture life without even one of these things? No? Then you are like the rest of us. You are like me. You have an imagination. Personally, I think it’s one of God’s greatest gifts.

Books Are Dangerous

beware of book

Books can be bliss. Books can be a wonderful escape. Books can be deadly dangerous.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m addicted to books. I know of many people who are afflicted by this madness as well. It’s not really curable, and I’ve never been quite clear on whether that’s because it’s impossible, or just the fact that people simply don’t want to be cured of it.

Books have blessed me with countless hours of laughter, happiness, heart-thumping excitement and soul-wrenching sorrow. They have given me what I consider to be some of the richest times of enjoyment in my life.

So why are they so dangerous?

For someone like me who is immersed in books, it is easy to lose your way. The characters within them can become more real than the people in your life. The adventures in them can make your own life dull in comparison. The satisfaction of happy endings can distort your real-life expectations.

Don’t get me wrong. Books offer us much. New worlds, ideas, emotions and thoughts. The epic romance, the love at first sight, the evil that is always punished, the bad guy who is always caught, the ending that is always happy. I don’t blame you for wanting that. I want that. And it’s not something we’ll find very often, if at all, outside the covers of a book.

And this is where the danger lies.

Books teach us to expect these things. Books teach us not to settle, not to give in, until we have found these things. They promise that things like true love and happy endings are always attainable, if we could only find the right person, if we were only in the right circumstance, if we were only …. If only …. If ….

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor 10:3-5)

You see, our war is within. It’s a subtle one—you can’t hear it raging, most times. But it’s there. And our own thoughts will turn against us if we books2don’t take them captive, bend them to our own will.

If I get annoyed with my husband because he doesn’t give me the deep and mysterious affection that Mr. Rochester gave Jane Eyre, or because he doesn’t change for me as Mr. Darcy did for Elizabeth, that’s no one’s fault but my own. It’s wrong for me to have those thoughts, the thoughts that books put into my head, the ones that I allow to control my expectations of real-life people.

Admit it, it’s a little bit funny, isn’t it? To know that a book can change the invisible pathways of my mind? To know that I want my husband to be just a bit more like Mr. Rochester? To admit that my life frustrates me and makes me want to cry like a child who hasn’t got her way when things don’t go right?

I think Satan must think it’s funny, too, watching as I’m separated from God’s plan for me. Watching as I grow bitter with life and friends and the people I’m supposed to be showing God’s love, all because I want someone to sweep me off my feet, or because my life is not the adventure I’d like it to be, or because I must watch as someone I’m close to suffers an ending that is anything but happy.

Books. Are they right or wrong to teach us these things? Right or wrong to make us long for … more?

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Books. Dangerous or not? Do they lead us to neglect the springs of life from our own hearts, and make us instead focus our eyes on the imaginary, the unattainable?

No.

Books, when all is said and done, don’t control your mind. Media doesn’t control you mind. Your mother, your father, your spouse, your friends—they don’t control it either. Only you, and only God. And even God will not force His way in unless you invite Him. So it’s your choice, then. Just as God intended.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

Trust in the Lord … that’s the key, isn’t it? Keep your eyes on Him. Read books, enjoy books, love books … but keep your eyes on God and His Kingdom.

This world isn’t likely to offer you the epic romances you read about. It’s certainly not going to solve every crime and punish every criminal. And ask anyone … happily-ever-afters are but a myth.

We live in a world of sin and darkness.

But God is not vanquished by sin, and His light is not to be put out. What we look for in books and fail to find in real life—we may find in Him.

God gives us the fullest, most all-consuming love. He pursues us with relentless passion and gentle steadfastness. Isn’t that just what any true romantic longs for in the end?

God is the ultimate judge. Bad guys go free on earth too many times. But don’t believe for a moment that means their sins will go unpunished.

God is the creator of mystery, and therefore the solver of it. We should revel in His creation, even the mysteries of it, and look forward to one day having Him explain them to us.

Lastly, God is the maker of happy endings. Some of them do happen here on earth—some of them even rival the best books we’ve ever read. But nothing compares to the Final Happy Ending that we as Christians have to look forward to. Not a single book on earth can hold a candle to that.

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before. (C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle)

This world is not our home. It is not where we belong. Books tell us of other worlds—let us not forget the one we are in, nor the one we are going to. Books give us happiness—let us not forget where our eternal happiness lies. Books tell us of adventures and heroes—let us not forget that the life God gave us is the greatest adventure of all, and that the only hero we need is our Savior, the maker of the truest Happy Ending.

A Thing or Two About Fauns and Satyrs

  1. Satyrs and fauns began as creatures very different from each other. The faun was half-man, half-goat, and the satyr was depicted as a hairy, stocky dwarf. But eventually the Romans noted some of the similarities between their fauns and the Greek satyrs, and over the years the features and characteristics of the two began to blend.
  2. Satyrs are associated with the god Dionysus. Fauns are more often associated with the god Pan (or Faunus).
  3. When it comes to partying, fauns love to dance and play music on flutes and tambourines. Satyrs, however, party a bit harder. They have Fauna strong fondness for wine, and tend to chase women …
  4. Satyrs tend to laugh at everything, and hold nothing in reverence. Their name is where the word “satire” originated from.
  5. Fauns are more low-key and peaceful than their raucous satyr cousins. They generally prefer to live in harmony with nature and others.
  6. The god Pan (and its Roman counterpart Faunus) was a satyr, the god of all wild creatures. It’s said that his temper could inspire pan-ic in all who heard him.
  7. Both satyrs and fauns are usually depicted with horns, although some say a faun has natural horns, whereas a satyrs has to earn his.
  8. Fauns are forest dwellers, and have sometimes been known to be guides to humans.
  9. Satyrs are mischief-makers, but are also generally thought to be more knowledgeable than fauns.
  10. When satyrs arrived at an advanced age, they are referred to as Sileni.
  11. Sometimes shepherds would sacrifice the firstlings of their flocks to satyrs, but more commonly they would just offer grapes or apples. They would also make songs addressed to satyrs in hopes of appeasing them.
  12. The writer, Horace, claimed that Faunus (the father of fauns) was the guardian and protector of men of wit. Virgil says that Faunus was a god of oracles and predictions.

Fauns and Satyrs in Literature:

  1. Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (faun).
  2. Grover Underwood in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (satyr).
  3. Satyrs feature in Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.
  4. A satyr carved into the door of a cabinet is a character in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Shepherdess and the Sweep.”
  5. In Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, the Satyr is one of the Creatures of the Night, Brought to Light.

First Drafts and Dragons

first draft 2

Well, my friends, I am feeling a strange mixture of utter relief and tension right now. It’s the feeling that comes when a first draft is finished (relief), and edits loom large (tension) ….

Yes, you heard me. Mere minutes ago I typed the last sentence of my book. It is the second of a series I am working on (I finished the first draft of the first book earlier this year). It’s a thrilling feeling, to say the least! Especially as this is a bigger undertaking than I’ve ever tackled before. From a girl who has written only standalones, a series is a daunting task. As of now I have written the first two books, and have many plans and ideas for the third book, although it may be a while before I begin officially working on it.

What, you ask, are these books about? Well, I’m always a bit reluctant to say much about my WIPs while they are still in first-draft form – even to my own family! But I will give you a few clues.

Firstly, there are dragons. And anyone who knows me knows how much I adore dragons. I’ve longed to put them in a book for many years, but dragon1hadn’t found the right story for them until now. And I’m so excited about them, although to be honest, a little nervous about how I’ve pulled it off …!

Secondly, and probably obviously, these books are of the Christian fantasy genre, just as The Word Changers was. There is an element of allegory, an element of mystery, a great deal of adventure and intrigue and danger, and a bit of romance.

Thirdly, these books are told from multiple points of view. There are two protagonists – one is a male and one is a female. The story is told alternately from their viewpoints, something else I’ve wanted to do for a long time but didn’t quite have the courage for. The male viewpoint was a difficult one, and when I’m editing I’m sure I will have to sharpen his voice and think many manly thoughts in order to get it just right …! Perhaps some of the men in my life will be willing to read the book and offer their wisdom! 😉 😉

I am giving myself a week or two off before I begin edits. And by “off,” I mean that I will probably just tackle another writing project while I wait.  A short story, perhaps … or maybe a brand new book. I’ve got ideas for both of those things rattling around in my brain right now, so we’ll see.

So thanks to those who prayed for me and encouraged me as I struggled through the ending of this book (you know who you are!), and to those of you who I pray get to read these labors sometime in the distant future. I truly couldn’t do it without you, or without God, the true Author of all our stories.

Have a blessed weekend!

Hunger Games vs. A Time to Die

This is a guest post by Nadine Brandes, the author of the newly released dystopian novel, A Time to Die.

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“What’s your book about?”

My most common response: “It’s like Hunger Games, only Christian.”

This is rather ironic since half the inspiration behind A Time to Die came from wanting to write a book unlike Hunger Games. Don’t get me How-WOuld-You-Livewrong — I devoured the Hunger Games series. I’ve watched both movies multiple times, I obsess over every released picture, trailer, or tidbit from the upcoming Mockingjay films, and I even have a mockingjay pin.

But, I threw book three, Mockingjay, against the wall when I finished it. Hey, I know several others who did this same thing. Maybe even you.

Why?

Because the story lacked hope. Those books progressed into a darker and darker place, ultimate ending despair with a sprinkle of bittersweet-ever-after.

That wasn’t enough for me. I needed to know that standing up for my beliefs, that striving for more, that fighting for justice was worth it. That humans could make a difference and that goodness could be found in the world.

I know Christ. I know it’s possible. So I wrote about it. Here are some similarities and differences between The Hunger Games and my own dystopian novel, A Time to Die.

 

Similarities

  • They are both dystopian (duh)
  • Both Katniss and Parvin are striving against an unjust society for the purpose of protecting the people they love.
  • Both books examine the struggles that minority people groups face against a controlling government.
  • The government in both books has a special power that can control the decisions and cooperation of the people. In Hunger Games it’s the Hunger Games, in A Time to Die it’s the Clocks.

 

ATimetoDieCoverDifferences

  • The Hunger Games is about Katniss’s external fight against her government (and her impending doom) to survive and make a change.
  • A Time to Die is about Parvin interally seeking the meaning of life, trying to understand the purpose of her existence.
  • The Hunger Games – Katniss draws her hope from her sister, Prim, and from her love interests, Gale and Peeta. Her hope is completely tied up in these people and of course, because they’re human, they can’t uphold that weight.
  • A Time to Die – Parvin learns to draw her hope from faith in God. And, despite tragedy and the failure of humans, His power withstands the weight of human sorrow.
  • In The Hunger Games, Katniss is a survivor. She’s been raised hunting, shooting and making bows and arrows. She never cries, she’s the leader of her family. This is a common trait in female dystopian protagonists, but a not-so-common trait in real teenage girls reading.
  • In A Time to Die, Parvin is as human as they get. She has doubts about life, about God, about her purpose. She’s afraid, she’s never even gone camping, and she’s been raised in the comfort of home with a solid family. While she tries to be strong emotionally, she’s human and she breaks when she’s alone.

 

Not only is this difference in the books, but it’s a difference in our lives – in our thinking – as believers in Christ. Because Christ is my hope, it forms the stories I write. This is the beauty behind Christian fiction. I’m honored to be part of it.

 

What books have left you hopeful? What books have left you hopeless?

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To find out more about Nadine or her book, visit her at one of these places:

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