I Have Labored to No Purpose …

“I said, ‘I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.'” ~ Isaiah 49:4

My Father, you are my provider and strength. My purpose is found in you.

“I will make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” ~ Isaiah 49:6

May I be a faithful beacon to others. Help me to shine YOUR light. 

“The children born to you will say, ‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.'” ~ Isaiah 49:20

Lord, expand my boundaries. Enlarge my area of influence for you. Keep me from harm. Keep me from sin. Keep me healthy and focused on hearing your voice and calling.

Readers are Leaders, Buy a Boy a Book

Dead Calm, Bone Dry Curse of the Black Avenger

Why I Dedicated Dead Calm, Bone Dry to Spencer Wyatt

Why I Dedicated Dead Calm, Bone Dry to Spencer WyattI’ve never met Spencer Wyatt but I’ve met his mom, Amy. Some years ago at the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, Amy and I talked dialogue and plot and character development over lunch. You know, boring topics that only writers find exciting. During the conversation Amy asked, “So, what are you working on?” That’s always a great question to ask at a writer’s conference.

I explained how I felt called to write for boys and that I was working on a middle-grade paranormal, murder mystery series for Harper Collins. “Oh, and I just released the first book in my Caribbean Chronicles series. It’s about a boy who suffers from absence seizures, falls into a creek, drowns, and refuses to go to heaven. When he comes back out of the creek, he’s on a raft in the middle of the Caribbean Sea being chased by pirates.”

Amy looked at me with wide eyes. “My son, Spencer, has absence seizures.” I knew right then the creek scene in book one was for Spencer.

See, in time-travel fantasy, the hard part is finding a way to transport your character back in time. You need a portal — an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, a Harry Potter Nine and Three-Quarters platform at King’s Cross Station. During a previous writer’s conference, a friend told me about her absence seizures. When I asked if the creek scene was plausible, she said maybe.

“It’s possible someone suffering from an absence seizure could ‘blank out’ for a few seconds. I always smell something like burning wires just before it happens to me. If your character is leaning over the water when they have an episode, sure, they could maybe fall in.”

I felt bad about giving my character epilepsy just so my story would work, but I went with it.

Then I met Amy at the Ghost Ranch and I understood that my character’s epilepsy wasn’t just to make the story work. It was an opportunity to bring attention to those impacted by epilepsy. It was a chance to make someone with epilepsy the hero of a series.

I don’t know if I accurately portrayed what it’s like to have an absence seizure. But I know Spencer is devoted to family, loves his mom and dad, and doesn’t let his circumstances limit him or define who he is. That makes him a hero in my eyes and worthy of a book dedication.

Readers are Leaders, Buy a Boy a Book

Dead Calm, Bone Dry Curse of the Black Avenger

Are You Writing to the Jews or Gentiles?

Are Your Authors Writing to the Jews or Gentiles?“I will keep you and will make you a light for the Gentiles, to open the eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison, to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” ~ Isaiah 42:6-7

At the Florida Christian Writers Conference I asked a group of writers why they write Christian fiction.

“We need to support each other,” “there’s not enough good Christian fiction out there,” “write what you know – I know about Christ and what he’s done for me.”

Great answers but if we ONLY write to the saved we leave the blind, deaf, imprisoned, and lost to the schemes and words of the enemy.

From the beginning I felt God called me to write and publish INTO the general market. I read general market fiction. I watch general market movies and TV shows. More than ever I’m convinced our mission is to share God’s light with the Gentiles.

Tough market, sure, but it’s also a lucrative market. For example, here’s the monthly market revenue for the top 100 titles in three popular Kindle categories.

Religious Women’s Fiction? $90,000
General Women’s Fiction? 7.5 million

Religious Romance? $265,000
General Romance? 2.5 million

Religious Suspense? $440,000
General Suspense? 6.7 million

We already have plenty of examples of how to weave God’s moral truths into story.

The Prodigal Son – a story of a parent’s unconditional, long-suffering love. Themes: trust, hope, and the importance of home and family and forgiveness.

The Good Samaritan – a story of inclusiveness. Themes: tolerance, institutional pride, religious hypocrisy, service, and generous giving.

The Hidden Treasure – a story of one individual’s journey to find his purpose. Themes: Passion, perseverance, risk and commitment to a noble cause.

Not once will you find the words, “God, Pray, Prayer, Salvation, Repent, Jesus, Christ,” in those stories and yet God’s love is shown throughout. You will also see how a lost son seeks guidance (he doesn’t pray, but he contemplates), turns from old habits, and hopes of forgiveness. We see how an individual gives everything he has in pursuit of a God-given treasure (or passion). (The theme of the movie La, La, Land.) God owns the copyright on these ideals. He created them. His moral truths challenge readers to change.

Look, I’m not saying we should abandon the Church and Christian fiction. I am saying that we need to reach beyond the walls of the temple and take His message into Samaria and beyond. God knows the rest of the world needs His light.

Readers are Leaders, Buy a Boy a Book

Dead Calm, Bone Dry Curse of the Black Avenger