Monday, February 27, 2012
Professor Moriarity played by Jared Harris is an excellent villain.
Here's a link about Doyle's Biography A paragraph on this site reveals a lot and so much I didn't know: " The young medical student met a number of future authors who were also attending the university, such as for instance James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson. But the man who most impressed and influenced him, was without a doubt, one of his teachers, Dr. Joseph Bell. The good doctor was a master at observation, logic, deduction, and diagnosis. All these qualities were later to be found in the persona of the celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes."
Also, I think he solved a dilemma that many of us struggle with. I wish it was this easy for me. He had a serious bout with the flu that nearly killed him. "When his health improved, he came to realize how foolish he had been trying to combine a medical career with a literary one. "With a wild rush of joy," he decided to abandon his medical career. He added, "I remember in my delight taking the handkerchief which lay upon the coverlet in my enfeebled hand, and tossing it up to the ceiling in my exultation. I should at last be my own master."
I love a great mystery. Is this what makes the team of Sherlock and Watson so enduring and endearing? This team goes on and on . . . why is that?
My very favorite Sherlock Holmes book and movie was and is, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Do you have a favorite? Are you a fan of a different type of mystery?
Monday, February 20, 2012
If you have the gift of teaching, evangelism, hospitality, or helps, there is a place for you in the Church. If you have administration skills, musical talent, or simply like to serve, there is a place for you in the Church. But if you are an artist, a writer, a poet, or an actor, you’re out of luck.
Christians often misunderstand the role of creativity. Few churches get involved in the arts, and as a result, many creative individuals feel separated and alienated from God and His body of believers.
That’s how I’ve been feeling lately — “separated and alienated.” Probably because the last few weeks, in our church, we’ve been talking about spiritual gifts and callings. The funny thing is: It’s not ignorance of my calling that alienates me; it’s awareness of my calling that alienates me.
I mean, where do artists fit in the Church?
The church needs people to man the nursery, host Bible studies, organize social events, plan outreach opportunities, visit the sick, counsel the hurting, and recycle bulletins. But… poets? Seriously. What practical purpose do poets serve in the local church?
It’s a conundrum. On the one hand, if God “calls” some members of His Body to write fiction, direct theater, sculpt, or paint abstracts, how do those callings practically relate to the local church? If they don’t, are we prepared to say that artists and actors are peripheral to the real mission of God on earth? And if they’re not — if artists actually serve an important role in the Body of Christ — why isn’t there more of a practical place for them?
Thursday, February 16, 2012
The theme in all my books is reconciliation through forgiveness. Whether my manuscript is historical or contemporary, that is the theme. I suppose that is my brand. When readers pick up my books, that’s what they expect and that’s what they get. Sometimes the forgiving and reconciliation is with God and other times it may be person to person, but it’s there.
Forgiving others for wrongs they do is one of the most difficult things that many Christians have to do. When we or those we love have been deeply hurt, embarrassed, or humiliated by another, forgiving is the last thing on our minds. God’s forgiveness is unconditional, and quick to be given when we ask Him, so why then is it difficult for us to do the same?
I had this lesson brought home to me in a very real and meaningful way with my brother. Ever since he was a teenager, he’d been in trouble with the law. He was in and out of juvenile institutions until he reached adulthood. What happened to him in those places is too horrible to even describe now, but we didn’t know those things then.
When I married, he was at my wedding, but not many months later, at age fifteen, he was once again in detention. When he was finally arrested as an adult on drug charges and sexual crimes, I gave up on him and turned my back.
Off and on for the next ten years he tried to rehabilitate, and we’d once again have contact, but I didn’t want him around my sons. His lifestyle led him in the wrong direction that completely alienated me from him. My mother and father were deeply hurt by his actions, but they never gave up on him and supported him whenever they could.
However, at one point I decided I’d had enough and wrote him out of my life. I no longer had a brother and never talked about or mentioned him to anyone. To me, he no longer existed. That went on for many, many years until the year our oldest son planned to be married. Two weeks before the wedding, my mother called to tell me that my brother had been arrested again. This time he’d taken a young boy and left town with my dad’s credit cards.
His name, crimes, and arrest were all over the front pages of the newspapers and on TV news reports. I was thankful my last name was now different and no one would connect him to me. No one did, but God knew.
Very early one morning, mother called to tell me that he’d been visited in prison by her pastor and that Johnny had made a confession of faith and asked forgiveness from the Lord. I told her that was impossible and didn’t want to talk about it.
Later, as I was praying and getting ready for my day, a feeling came over me that I cannot describe. It was as though I was suddenly completely alone. After seeking out our chaplain at school and telling him about my brother, he handed me his Bible, open to a verse in Matthew, and simply said, “Martha, you know what you have to do.”
I read the words of Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Tears filled my eyes and I sobbed to my Heavenly Father and asked his forgiveness for my actions, and then forgave my brother and let all the bitterness flow from me.
That feeling of being so alone disappeared and once again the arms of our Lord wrapped around me and assured me that no matter what my brother had done, he had been forgiven. I wrote a letter to him and told him what had happened. He was convicted as a pedophile and sentenced to sixty years in prison. Since that time we have corresponded regularly and since our parents’ deaths, I’ve been the one to support him and make sure he has what he needs while in prison.
The ironic thing is that my friends didn’t turn away from me in disgust when they learned about John, but surrounded me with love and compassion and admiration. My testimony in the months and years since then has touched many lives and became the basis for my writing theme of forgiveness and reconciliation. Johnny is still in prison, but he is also a son of our Lord Jesus Christ and my brother.
Some of you have shared difficult times in forgiving others, but the peace that comes is from God for having been obedient to His teachings and commands.
Which is more difficult for you, seeking forgiveness and saying you're sorry or that you were wrong or forgiving someone else for doing something to you or a loved one?
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
However, what should have been an exciting time—with the release of the book—was marred by personal tragedy. Just a couple days before the release, I discovered that my best friend had been involved with child pornography for many years. So much so, in fact, that he has been arrested and sentenced to spend the next ten years in a federal prison. As the grisly details surfaced on the news of what authorities found on his computer, I felt a deep black hole open up in my heart, devouring every good memory I had with my friend. We grew up together, he was the best man at my wedding, he stood by my wife’s side during her stay in the hospital after my first daughter was born. This man was a brother to me and now to discover this ...
I spent the first day I learned of his crimes crying, nearly to the point of vomiting. The next day I felt nothing but a cold emptiness as my entire outlook on so many years of friendship was painted in a new, disturbing light. I’m still processing it, and imagine I will be for many, many years to come (though I am doing better). I’m thankful to God that my own young children were not harmed by his actions, but I’m left in a weird sort of limbo—torn between being disgusted and oddly compassionate. Christ calls us to love our enemies, but He doesn’t deny that we will have enemies. People who are opposed to the things we stand for, or who could be a physical danger to us or those we love.
I do still love my friend, though I acknowledge that he has fallen into a pit of evil. Can he climb out of that pit? Only with years of therapy, perhaps—but, more importantly, the transformative power of Christ. Will he accept that, though? I don’t know. How will I respond? I don’t know that either. I confess I need some transformative power myself to overcome the conflicting feelings I have.
In some respects, Enemies of the Cross—finished long before any of this surfaced—proved to be darkly prophetic to my own life, and seems to only further prove the point of why I write horror. Why I need to write horror. I need to write about fictional monsters with claws and fangs and slime because I’ve seen—now first hand—that there are more terrible things in the real world. Incomprehensible things. I need that fictional world as a retreat, where the monsters are easy to identify and quickly vanquished by good and noble souls. Where righteousness can conquer over depravity, where hope always wins out in the end. I need that place, however fantastic it might be. Because, ultimately, I want to believe that those things aren’t just possible in fantasy, but in reality as well. God is still more powerful than all the wickedness of man and forces of hell. Christ is still in the business of righting wrongs and saving souls—even those souls we might not initially think are worthy of saving. I believe the world can still be a place where good conquers evil, where hope and faith are our only driftwood in the dark, tumultuous seas. I want to believe that... I must. Otherwise, what hope do we have?
So, I will face this the only way I know how. By lassoing the fears lurking in my heart and binding them to the page, where I will do battle with them once again.
I’m a writer. If the pen is mightier than the sword, then I have wars to wage.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I recently read a blog post by a fellow author about when a writer should quit.
It’s a tough question and, I’ll admit, one I’ve entertained. Yes, there are
times when I’ve wanted to quit, when I’ve wanted to throw in the proverbial pen
and never write another word.
Regardless of popular opinion and common assumption, writing ain’t easy. It’s a road
travelled alone, a road full of potholes and obstacles and plenty of dead ends.
There are few, if any, signs to point you in the right direction and no one
really knows what the destination is.
And if you’re like 90% of writers, even if you do get published, you’ll still be
working a full-time job and struggling to make ends meet.
A writer’s life is full of second-guessing and self-deprecation.
I suppose after all that, after the countless rejections, false starts, bogus
ideas, and shattered expectations, the reason someone quits is because he
hasn’t succeeded. But what is success? How’s that for an existential question?
Success depends on those expectations. If you expect to get published you will most
likely fail. If you get published and expect to be a best-selling author you
will most likely fail. If you become a best-selling author and expect to write
full-time, setting your own schedule and enjoying the good life, you will most
likely fail. And when you fail over and over again, you will most likely quit.
But if you expect to gain some intrinsic joy from writing, to write for writing’s
sake, then success is within your grasp. If you expect to reach just one person through your writing then success is within your grasp. If you expect to glorify God with the best you have to offer then success is within your grasp.
And who cares about the other stuff. You travel the road because the road is there
and you enjoy walking it. And that’s success enough.
Oh, and by the way, my newest thriller, Frantic, just released yesterday. Check it out.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Years later when I was submitting a fiction manuscript to my agent she asked, “This is a great story, but when are you going to finish those devotionals?” My answer, “I’ll be done with them when my daughter’s done.”
When I got the final galleys and saw the formatting I was thrilled. Each page flowed beautifully and was easy on the eyes. But that wasn’t the only reason for my joy, my girl was done. She was in college, living in her own apartment, working and doing much better.
When I signed the contract I remembered feeling a bit scared and exposed. A part of us would be out there for hundreds of people to read about. But then a sense of peace flowed over me thinking...but I need to share this because I wish I would have had these devotionals when I needed them. It was then I was still enough to hear God’s voice and heard Him say, “You did. You wrote them.”
Question: Do you find yourself in the books you write?