Tag Archives: why

The Focus of Prayer

26 May
I still have one of these, though I haven't shot medium format in a long time.

I still have one of these, though I haven’t shot medium format in a long time.

This might seem like quite a leap.

I’m finishing up a young-adult fantasy series, and fleshing out a science fiction/Western/paranormal/romance/hard-boiled detective/humor series … and now I’ve written a devotional on prayer.

But the devotional is tied to my “day job” with New Tribes Mission.

The Focus of Prayer: a Balanced Prayer Life takes a look not only at praying for yourself – which we all do and should do – and seeks to balance it with two important facets of prayer that we often miss: praying for others, and praying for what’s on God’s heart.

The Kindle version will be free, and there will also be a free study guide. We’ll also make a print version, which will incorporate the study guide, but because of production costs, we’ll have to charge for that.

I’ll keep you posted when it’s ready to go.

In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about my work with NTM, you can take a look at my NTM blog.

5 reasons to read more novels

4 Aug

It’s better to be entertained than amused: Although most people think of entertain and amuse as synonyms – and they’re even presented that way in many dictionaries and thesauruses – they’re actually different concepts. Amuse comes Greek words that literally mean, “without thinking.” That’s an apt description for what happens when you watch TV or movies. Your brain just sort of turns off and takes it all in. There’s not a lot of thinking involved. That’s not a good thing. But when you’re reading a book, you’re entertained – it holds your attention and gets you thinking. Thinking is good. Novels are good for your brain.

Novels are cost-effective: If you go to the movies, you pay $10 each for a couple of hours of amusement. If you want something to eat or drink, that’s even more unless you sneak it in. A $10 novel gives you eight to twelve hours – or more – of reading enjoyment. And that $10 covers you and anyone else you want to share the book with. (You can share my ebooks – which are well under $10 – the same way.) Oh, and the bonus of reading a book wherever you want to – like in a comfy chair at home – is that you never have to sneak food in. Unless you’re on a diet. How’s that for cost-effective?

Novels can be re-enjoyed: I’ve bought a few movies on DVD. But I almost never watch them. I find that I really don’t enjoy most movies the second time around. On the other hand, most books contain such a wealth of clues, cues and foreshadowing that reading them a second time is a whole new experience. The third time through, when you are reading with the depth you gained the first and second times, is thoroughly enjoyable. And any book you read three times is like an old friend you want to come back to and enjoy again and again.

Novels inspire us: I read the other day that some foundation is going to spend millions trying to figure out how to make their documentaries more effective at prompting people to take action. I’ve worked on documentaries, promotional booklets, short stories, articles, novels – I think that just about everything you can write, I’ve written. (Though it pains me to admit it, the first piece I ever sold was a poem.) And I can tell you two things: First, a story is more effective than the facts. And second, people react very differently to movies and video than to books and other written stories. Movies and videos primarily impact people emotionally, but they seldom make people think. (See the first point.) Books and other written stories make people think. And if the story is powerful enough and written well, it hits people emotionally too. That combination of emotional impact and thinking is what spurs us to action. Novels inspire us.

Novels remind us of real life, and that’s good: Television is lived out in half-hour and hour segments, usually with a happy ending, or at least a conclusion to the story. The main characters can’t die, unless it’s the end of the season and their contract isn’t renewed. It’s a series, after all. These days, a lot of movies want to leave things open for a sequel, or a continuing series, so you have a pretty good idea going in what is going to happen. Not so novels. A lot of novels are also written as a series these days, but characters can still come and go. (It’s easier for an author – you have no contracts with your characters.) But more importantly, the timespan is greater and more flexible. The author has eight to twelve hours of your time, or perhaps even twenty hours (if the book is compelling) to take you through the story. OK, but how is it good that novels remind us of real life? They remind us to persevere; to pay attention to the details; and to enjoy the journey.

So crack open a good book and enjoy the journey! I wouldn’t mind in the least if you try one of mine …

The House in the Old WoodKaria's Path

Oh, and remember to vote so I know which characters to include in Book 5, The White-Silver House.

Your dad is not stupid

11 Jun
My mom and dad

My mom and dad in New York in 1946, after their return from India

I seriously doubt that your dad is or was stupid. My dad sure wasn’t. And three out of my four children don’t think I’m stupid. (Now they’re all thinking, “Which one of us thinks he’s stupid?” What fun!)

So with Father’s Day approaching, that got me wondering: Why are insipid, or absent, or malevolent dads a staple of young adult literature?

Look, I’m not claiming to be a perfect dad. My dad wasn’t perfect either. But stupid? No. Not clueless, either. Or missing. And certainly not evil. (Unless you consider it evil to make your kids wonder which of them thinks you’re stupid.)

I’d say the same thing about most of the dads I know.

So instead of embracing the cliché – instead of taking the easy way out – I tried to write a story in which the main character’s dad is more true-to-life. I wanted to model a healthy relationship as I wrote about Karia and her dad, Reva, in The House in the Old Wood. And I think I did it without coming across as preachy or moralizing.

This Father’s Day, if you’re looking for a book that has a little respect for dads, please take a look at The House in the Old Wood. I thank you, and I think your dad will thank you too.

The House in the Old Wood, the first of five books that tell the story of The Day Magic Died, is available from Amazon.

Dedicated to my dad

4 May
My mom and dad

My mom and dad in New York in 1946, after their return from India

If not for my Dad, I may not be a writer today, and I doubt I ever would have written a novel.

My dad wanted to be a writer, but he grew up in the Great Depression. The Great Depression was followed by World War II. And when World War II ended, he had the beginnings of a family.

My dad had ended up in construction, and worked from early in the morning until early evening. Then he’d come home, eat, go to bed, and repeat. Six, sometimes seven days a week that was his routine.

But when I was in elementary school, he’d fit in a walk after dinner and before bed. And on those walks, he and I would tell stories to each other. I don’t remember a single one of them. I only remember that his seemed pretty good, and mine seemed rather lame. But swapping stories made me want to tell stories. Continue reading

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