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Books

Book Review: I Am Redeemed

This post was #sponsoredbyfaithwords. I was not required to give a positive review, so my review is my honest take on the book I Am Redeemed: Learning to Live in Grace by Mike Weaver.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity from Faithwords to read this book for free! I’ve enjoyed the other books that they’ve recommended to me as well, such as Pull it Off by Julianna Zobrist, Get Weird by CJ CasciottaYou Are Enough by Mandy HaleBeyond Blessed: God’s Perfect Plan for No Financial Stress by Robert MorrisDead Sea Rising by Jerry B. Jenkins, and the God Made Me series by Hannah C. Hall.

“…Story is the language of the human heart. That’s why movies and other kinds of media have such an impact on us. They can climb over or around or under some of the walls we put up so that we can receive a message” (186).

Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave, in collaboration with Jim Scherer, shares his story of discovering redemption in Christ.The first song I’ve ever heard from Big Daddy Weave was the song “The Only Name (Yours Will Be),” which goes, “When I wake up in the land of glory/ with the saints, I will tell my story/ there will be one name that I’ll proclaim.” Throughout every page of this book, I see that this song is true for Weaver’s life. All I can see is Jesus written in every word.

Although the book is about the story behind the song “I Am Redeemed,” Weaver includes the story of how he became interested in music in the first place and how the band started, along with his struggles and insecurities and the trials that his family has faced. You’re going to have to read the story yourself, but it is a story that has resonated with me and has inspired me on my own journey.

Truthfully, I could not put the book down until the last page. When I told my husband I had finished the book, he said, “Wow, that was fast!” I know! That night, I was falling asleep reading it. I would have rather found out what happened next than have gone to bed!

I was already a fan of Big Daddy Weave, but now, I feel connected to the band in a whole new way. How God speaks to Mike is similar to how He speaks to me: in pictures and in conversation. So when he talks about his conversations with God, I can totally imagine and understand what that looks like.

Unexpectedly, Mike’s story about his weight loss journey resonated the most with me. Believe it or not, that was my takeaway from this book. For the past couple of years, I’ve struggled with weight loss, more than I ever have before. I’ve been taking care of myself since January, and seeing tremendous results, but ever since reaching my goal weight, I haven’t been eating as well as I should have. Mike’s journey reminds me to celebrate the process and keep going! Since finishing the book, I have decided to detox from sugar and dairy products for this week, and I’m trying out a new workout program.

In addition to that interesting piece of inspiration, I also enjoyed all the people that are sprinkled within the book. If I Am Redeemed was a movie, we’d have cameos from Toby Mac, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Caedmon’s Call, Zach Williams, Kari Jobe, and many more. He talks about them as if they were just ordinary people (as in, not famous) when he first met them. We all start at the beginning, and it was so cool to see how God used all of these people in Mike’s life to grow him and his faith.

I Am Redeemed: Learning to Live in Grace seems to have been written in a style that anyone can understand, but I think Christian readers would get more out of it. The book was a good message, that it’s not enough to know about Jesus. We have to have a relationship with Him, and surrender our whole lives to Him. That is how He truly redeems us.

“When I think about painful memories,” Weaver writes, “it no longer hurts to talk about them because they are not the same memories. The Lord changed each memory by showing me where He was in it. He showed me a new and right reality of what hat been there all along. I was just seeing it for the first time” (197).

You can order your own copy of I Am Redeemed here on the FaithWords website. Let me know what you think of it!


Picture taken from the FaithWords website

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Book Update

The Wait is Over!

Thanks so much to my faithful followers who have continued to read and share this blog! I created this blog to be a joy for me and for my audience, but it was becoming a burden. Between my novel writing, my part-time job at a publishing company, and chores (yay for adulting!), my blog couldn’t really get the attention that it deserved.

While on my hiatus, I’ve learned to make time for God, to “go deep,” and to invite God into my plans. A couple of weeks ago, we had an awesome prayer night at our young adult ministry. It was dedicated to making time for God. As a creative, I spent most of the night playing with clay, drawing pictures, and writing psalms. I had a blast! However, it reminded me that God is in control, and that even rest is necessary for me to be successful. I’m an achiever, and I have my to-do list, but maybe I need to add “rest” and “going for a walk” and “coloring” to my daily tasks!

I’ve also been listening to a great podcast called Write from the Deep, by Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young. They are both novelists who have helped me find the core message of what God wants to write through me. In a nutshell, my message is: God is faithful even when all has failed me. That is my testimony, and that is what I hope to convey in my writing of YA dystopian, which involves creating societies where chaos is the only thing that’s constant. Even in a dystopia (the opposite of a utopia), God is in control.

During this time, I also finished my novel, joined a critique group, and have been waiting to see next steps for publication. My friends gave me wonderful feedback, and my writer friend recommended that I join a critique group to meet other writers in my genre. So far, I’ve met a couple of people who write my genre, and I’m looking forward to connecting with them and seeing their work!

Along with that, I’m going to start building up my newsletter! I honestly didn’t know what to do as a novelist, but I’m going to start writing short stories. I may also advertise novels in my genre that I enjoy, depending on what I find. To get book updates and all things fiction, click here to join my newsletter!

Finally, I’ve considered publishing a non-fiction book, since I already seem to know how to talk about topics such as marriage and anxiety. However, I have to do research, not just for the book, but about how that affects me as a novelist. I’m more about showing my readers how to have healthy marriages or how to overcome anxiety, than I am about telling my readers what to do. Maybe after writing a topic on my blog, I can write a short story about it. Sound good?

Thanks again to all of my faithful followers who have checked up on me the last couple of weeks. Since I’m able to schedule posts in advance (thank you, WordPress!), I’ve gotten a running start, and have published a month’s worth of posts in advance. You’ll be seeing new content about marriage, anxiety, and what God is teaching me.

Comment below if you have any exciting updates to share!

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Books

A New Book Series for Children!

This post was #sponsoredbyfaithwords. I was not required to give a positive review, so my review is my honest take on this book series by Hannah C. Hall.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity from Faithwords to read this book for free! I’ve enjoyed the other books that they’ve recommended to me as well, such as Pull it Off by Julianna Zobrist, Get Weird by CJ CasciottaYou Are Enough by Mandy HaleBeyond Blessed: God’s Perfect Plan for No Financial Stress by Robert Morris and Dead Sea Rising by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Since I am involved in children’s ministry at my church, and I am a kid at heart, when I saw that they need a review for a few new children’s books, I signed up right away. The series contains four books: God Made the World, God Made the Animals, God Made Me, and God Made Night and Day. Each book involves two brothers, Clive and Ian, who look at the world around them and talk about how God made it all. In God Made the World, they are having a picnic in the park. In God Made the Animals, they are at the zoo. In God Made Me, they are playing in their house. In God Made Night and Day, they are camping. I believe the books should be bought together, because they all tie into each other. I also read them in order of when they took place in the Bible, ending with God Made Me, as a reminder that, out of everything God made, we were His favorite thing. God made us special.

Hannah C. Hall is a Christian writer, mom, and worship pastor’s wife who has published other children’s books, such as Sunrise, Easter Surprise and God Bless You and Goodnight. This book series is part of a new imprint called JellyPress, which involves content from the creators of VeggieTales.

Before knowing anything about Hannah C. Hall and her experience, while reading the books, I could sense that the writing was influenced by television in some way. I could imagine the dialogue taking place on a television screen. During humorous parts, I could hear a tuba playing in the background (wom, wom!). It would also be fun to read this book in funny voices!

Since I have no kids of my own, and I volunteer with girls that are probably too old for this book, I asked my friend (who has three kids) to read the books to see what age and gender is appropriate for this book. After discussing the book, we found that it’s probably suitable for age 2-5, but a 6-year-old can also enjoy it. Both boys and girls would be interested in it.

My favorite part of the book series is at the end of each book, there’s a parent connect. Instead of just reading a nice story, you have the opportunity to make this real for your kids. They suggest going for walks in the park and looking at nature, or having special conversations with them about God and creation. I personally enjoy that aspect of the series, because it allows them to apply what they’ve learned to their everyday lives.

You can find out more information about the books and how to purchase them here (the link will bring you to God Made the World, but on the bottom of the page, under “Related Books,” you should see the other ones). Whether you have little kids of your own, you have kids in your family, or you want to buy them for your church to use in the preschool room, find out if these books are a good fit for your family!

 

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Books

Dead Sea Rising by Jerry Jenkins

This post was #sponsoredbyfaithwords. I was not required to give a positive review, so my review is my honest take on the book Dead Sea Rising by Jerry B. Jenkins.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity from Faithwords to read this book for free! I’ve enjoyed the other books that they’ve recommended to me as well, such as Pull it Off by Julianna Zobrist, Get Weird by CJ CasciottaYou Are Enough by Mandy Hale, and Beyond Blessed: God’s Perfect Plan for No Financial Stress by Robert Morris.

Most of us who read Christian fiction know about Jerry Jenkins through the Left Behind series. But did you know that he has also written hundred of novels, most of them bestsellers? Knowing this, when I heard about this book, I had to read it. It was a thriller, and since I’m writing Christian dystopian fiction, I was interested in how Jenkins would keep up the suspense of the novel.

His book Dead Sea Rising, the first of the Dead Sea Chronicles series, is a time slip novel that has received praise from many well-known authors. One of the authors that endorsed his book was James Scott Bell, the writer of Plot & Structure. I actually read Bell’s book for direction with my own writing, so I knew that if he said this book was good, it had to be good!

As a warning to any reader, if you set your expectations too high, you will get disappointed! That is the downfall of every great writer: he/she is expected to put out a perfectly captivating novel each and every time. To be honest, it took everything in me not to compare this book to the Left Behind series, and to what I have learned from Christian writing mentors. That is also the downfall of every great writer: he/she becomes a very critical reader. And so begins my honest review of this book.

Dead Sea Rising is a time slip novel that ties together the story of Nicole Berman, an archaeologist, and the story of Abraham. Berman is an archaeologist who is on the brink of discovering something that could change history. However, after her mother was supposedly attacked in her own home, it becomes evident that someone doesn’t want Nicole making this historic find. Meanwhile, we follow Abraham’s parents as they wrestle with faith and attempt to protect their son from King Nimrod, who has discovered that Abraham will become more powerful than him.

Truly, it was a captivating story. Time slips are difficult to accomplish, and I believe Jenkins ties all of the stories together well. He uses short chapters and quick dialogue tags to jump from character to character, keeping the quick pace of the plot throughout the entirety of the book. I also understand that he is setting up the book for a series, so he did not intend to tie the book up in a neat package. However, he does provide relief to most of the questions in the book while still leaving room for a sequel. The characters were dynamic and interesting, which, again, is difficult to accomplish. Each of their back stories was unique and captivating, and I enjoyed getting to know them!

Now, my one complaint (which was a BIG complaint) was that I felt that Jenkins left the reader hanging for too long. The synopsis included above (the part about Nicole being on the verge of discovering an important piece of information about the story of Abraham, but someone is trying to stop her) wasn’t fully recognized until page 275 of 310. The beginning of the book is pure suspense, a carrot on a stick. And while I believe that suspense has its place, I think it runs the risk of losing the reader’s interest. Basically, I think the synopsis was a little misleading.

Overall, if you like thrillers and Biblical time slips, I believe you will like it. Hopefully the second book, Dead Sea Conundrum, provides more of an exposition. More information about purchasing Dead Sea Rising is found here.

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Books

A Review of the Dystopian Novels in My Bookshelf

The novel I’m writing has taken an interesting turn. I went to ReNEW again this year, and I met with a literary agent, who read the first six pages of my book and gave me feedback. My takeaway from meeting with him was that my writing style is great, but that my book lacked direction. He asked me what genre it was, and honestly, I had no idea. It was sort of contemporary fiction, but there was a king involved, so was it fantasy?

When I got home from the retreat, I thought more about the direction of my novel. Experts suggest that to improve your writing, you should read. I acquired a free trial of Kindle Unlimited and decided to read whatever Amazon suggested to me.

The #1 book on my Kindle Unlimited suggestion list was A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. After reading it, I wondered why Amazon thought I was twisted enough to enjoy this story! Professors and the like have advertised this book to me as a Christian society gone wrong. However, it was not a Christian book at all. Atwood’s society uses the Bible to manipulate people, but I do not believe the government is Christian. They are so far removed from God that Offred doesn’t even know how to pray! Although it was not my favorite story, this tale encouraged me to explore the idea of what it would be like for God to actually be in this story. In a dystopian society, God is often removed, so is it possible for a dystopian society to exist if God is in control and He is going to redeem us before all of that happens?

While on Goodreads, I searched “Christian dystopian” to find an answer to my question. There’s not much of it out there, but after doing some research and asking my bookworm friends, there definitely is a hunger for it. One book from that genre was Counted Worthy by Leah E. Good. I was able to see the opposite of what I struggled with: The story was captivating in and of itself, but she does silly things like explain her jokes and include a preachy character (preachy characters are the ultimate downfall of Christian fiction). Reading this book confirmed that this genre would be a challenge, but it would be fun and appropriate for me to write.

After reading A Handmaid’s Tale and Counted Worthy, I realized that the only book that I enjoyed reading in high school was 1984 by George Orwell. I still had my copy from when I had read it in high school. Through this book, I thought again about what would happen if Winston was a Christian. I’m actually exploring the scene in Room 101 for my main character, who is a Christian and has just been charged by God to stand up for the truth no matter what. Would she still stand if they tortured her with her worst fear or her deepest grief? 1984 also taught me that a dystopia looks different for every generation. For the people who would have read 1984, which was written during World War II, a dystopian society looked a lot like socialism. For the people who would have read A Handmaid’s Tale, which was written in the 1980s, a dystopian society looked like women losing the rights they just fought for in the Feminist movement of the 1960s. What type of dystopian society would scare the masses today?

An obvious dystopian fiction series that I would read next was The Hunger Games. I learned a lot from this series about the structure that I’m supposed to use in the dystopian fiction genre, and how to craft a society that is purely evil but thinks everything is okay. I love how The Hunger Games ends, but the rest of the books sort of fall apart. Even though I didn’t enjoy the other two books in the series, I learned not to cut corners when writing dystopian fiction. You have to have a strong plot, and you have to carry it through until the end. You have to write what makes sense given the situation. Spoiler alert: They do not need to have a happy ending, and as a matter of fact, most of the time, they don’t.

I’m currently reading a novel that I consider Christian dystopian but is actually more SciFi because it involves human cyborgs and nanotechnology. I cannot wait to write about it next week! But until then, please send me recommendations so that I can continue to improve my craft. On my “to-read” list is the Divergent series, Brave New WorldAnimal Farm, and the Left Behind series.

Do you enjoy dystopian fiction? Why or why not? What is your favorite dystopian novel and why?


Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Categories
Books

Beyond Blessed: Give Your Budget a Heart Check

This post was #sponsoredbyfaithwords. I was not required to give a positive review, so my review is my honest take on the book Beyond Blessed: God’s Perfect Plan for No Financial Stress by Robert Morris.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity from Faithwords to read this book for free! I’ve enjoyed the other books that they’ve recommended to me as well, such as Pull it Off by Julianna Zobrist, Get Weird by CJ Casciotta, and You Are Enough by Mandy Hale.

Out of all the books I could have picked to review, I picked this one because it included a foreword from Dave Ramsey. My husband and I have followed Dave Ramsey’s financial advice since about a month before we got married. Because of his teaching, we’re debt free, and we’re making excellent progress saving for a down payment for our future house. Any book recommended by Dave Ramsey is a book for me!

Since I got the book before it was released, Dave Ramsey’s foreword wasn’t in it. However, I did enjoy reading the introduction from Robert Morris, founding senior pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas-Forth Worth. Beyond Blessed is a follow-up to Pastor Morris’ book The Blessed Life. Honestly, it was so refreshing to read a book from a megachurch pastor who didn’t preach the prosperity gospel. I’ve seen so many pastors pray over their wallets and ask for a donation to make their big church even bigger. Instead, Pastor Morris writes about his journey from humble beginnings to a church of over 39,000 active members.

God certainly has blessed Pastor Morris with an ability to teach us about our finances while also reminding us of our identity in Christ. He starts each chapter off with a word-picture, a parable, to introduce the topic. In each chapter, he debunks the myths of what the world says and what we’ve even been taught in church about money. While we all strive to be rich, he writes, “The rich are more likely to be on antidepressants or antianxiety medications than average working-class folks. Millionaires and billionaires commit suicide with shocking regularity” (15).

Pastor Morris spends the beginning of the book laying down the foundation of what it means to steward God’s money well. God owns everything, but He has entrusted His people with resources to be a part of His Kingdom. “Your little enterprise is an important part of a much larger conglomerate” (79). God has given us all responsibility over the resources, people, time, and energy with which He has blessed us. With this mindset, there is no comparison and no ownership.

While Dave Ramsey talks more about the financial aspect of money than the spiritual (although his teaching is biblical), Pastor Morris’ book truly digs deep into what the Bible says about how we should take care of our money. Using charismatic language that I personally agree with, he even discusses the demonic spirits that try to entice us to worship money rather than God. His teaching opened my eyes to what the Scriptures say about money, and how my perspective on money needs to change.

My favorite quote of the book, and a good summary of the book, is how Pastor Morris explains the gospel: “You see, contrary to what many would have us believe, the gospel is not a poverty gospel. Nor is it, as some preachers and teachers would have us think, a prosperity gospel. No, the good news of life in Jesus Christ is a provision gospel” (63). Praise God that He gives us enough. We don’t have to be rich or poor; we just have to have enough.

I recommend this book to anyone who has even a dollar to his/her name. Although I’ve written notes in it, I’m giving it to my husband so that we can talk about it and do a heart check about our finances. Beyond Blessed will be available on January 8, 2019. You can pre-order the book and also be entered to win a free copy here.

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Books

Onward

I met Alicia Yost through a mutual friend from ReNEW (Retreat for New England Writers and Speakers). When Alicia came to ReNEW this year, we connected right away. I enjoyed hearing her stories and her heart behind her writing. As I learned during that weekend, people don’t care about what your book is about; they care about your heart.

Based on that alone, I believe Alicia’s new book is a must-read for all, since she is such a joy to know! The full title of her book is Onward: A Funny, Heartbreaking and Insightful Collection of Faith Lessons. The book definitely goes along with the title. In the introduction, she explains the meaning behind the title of her book. I love the analogies and word pictures that Alicia uses, especially the dinner party in chapter 1 and God molding us like clay through prayer in chapter 3. She’s honest, real, and vulnerable, and there are good transitions. Her stories are emotionally compelling. Plus, she’s not kidding; some of them are funny!

It reminded me of Blue Like Jazz or Love Does, where the stories sort of tie together but they don’t follow a linear pattern. But I believe that’s Alicia’s point. Life isn’t meant to be a straight path that we all follow, but a journey full of twists and turns. We don’t all go through the same life experiences, even if we are Christian. Our only starting point is that God saved us, and we came to know Christ. With that being said, Alicia starts with her testimony in the first chapter, and everything beyond that is in no particular order. I believe a passage from the final paragraph summarizes it perfectly: “Life isn’t really about getting anywhere; it’s about going somewhere. Life is about motion. We must keep moving. And while we are on our journey, perhaps we see someone walking along the same road and we wave” (96).

Although I haven’t shared the same life experiences as her, I feel like I’m right there with her, reading the letter about her sponsor child or getting frustrated when her husband doesn’t bring her home flowers. She struggles with faith, wrestles with temptation, and submits to God’s will even when it doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t that sound like the rest of us? She says the words that none of us are comfortable saying out loud, but we all feel. As she writes, we’re new creations, not improved creations, so we have to let God do the work in our lives (chapter six).

Quote for chapter 1: “It was like my whole life, God and I had been at a dinner party and I was nervous to meet Him so I mingled with other people and gave Him uneasy side glances. Then I ran to the bathroom to hide and after emerging found everyone gone. It was just me and God, and I couldn’t avoid Him any longer. He smiled and looked deep into my eyes. I felt fully seen and expected to feel the weight of my shame, to see Him furrow His brow in disappointment. But instead, I felt fully loved” (8).

One of my favorite stories is the story about her son. “It was then I realized that this joy would not have been possible without the struggles. It was the struggles themselves that magnified the joy in ways that “normalcy” never could.” (chapter four). This book came at an opportune time for me for me to check my heart about how I feel about the church, how I feel about waiting, and how I feel about serving.

Alicia writes with emotionally-compelling words and analogies. Serving is messy. Parenting is messy. Marriage is messy. But each time, Alicia talks about the mess, but then brings glory to God through it. Her chapters each end with the phrase “Onward I go,” as a reminder that we may not know where we’re going, but we know that God is calling us to move forward. Put one foot in front of the other and keep going. You’ll get where you need to go eventually.

This book is perfect for women who are struggling in their faith, just like the rest of us. Alicia does talk about being a wife and raising kids, but even if you’re not married or don’t have kids, you can relate to being a daughter or having a step parent or even simply understanding how to be a Christian. You can purchase this book on Amazon today.


Photo taken from Amazon website.

Categories
Books

You Are Enough

This post was #sponsoredbyfaithwords. I was not required to give a positive review, so my review is my honest take on the book You Are Enough by Mandy Hale.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity from Faithwords to read this book for free! I’ve enjoyed the other books that they’ve recommended to me as well, such as Pull it Off by Julianna Zobrist and Get Weird by CJ Casciotta.

When I saw the title of this book, You Are Enough, I instantly felt like it was written for me. I constantly struggle with not feeling good enough, and I needed a little pep talk to remind me that God sees me as worthy. Although this book is written by a Christian, she obviously struggles with her faith, which is refreshing for me. She’s not writing from a place where she has it all together and she’s telling you how she’s overcome. Rather, she’s writing deep in the trenches of depression, anxiety, and heartbreak.

Sometimes, when we’ve already overcome, we forget what it’s like in the battle. We try to help people overcome anxiety by saying how we claimed victory in Christ, but we neglect the fact that it’s not as easy as we make it out to be. Depression and anxiety hurt, and for some people, the hurt is more comfortable than the healing. I appreciate that Hale speaks to her audience through her own brokenness, because as she’s dealing with it, she’s helping others deal with it as well.

I’m very vocal about my anxiety, but I’ve slowly started to imply that depression is prevalent in my life as well. Hale holds nothing back when she talks about her depression, from the thoughts she has each day to the fact that she was in a mental hospital. Her honesty forced me to take a hard look at my emotions and consider how I can cope with them. Would I endure therapy? Would I go to a facility like she did and get group support? Only time will tell, but Hale’s book definitely helped me start the conversation about my mental and emotional health.

Although I really enjoyed the first half of the book, to be honest, Hale lost me right around chapter 11. For those who don’t know her story, she had a pretty serious relationship for about a decade until the guy told her that he didn’t (well, couldn’t) love her. As sad as I am for her, and as much as I could relate to a feeling of heartbreak, I was kind of turned back by how much she brought it up. She also mentions that this story is in her other books as well. I’m warning you because it may be helpful for you if your depression is because of a seriously bad breakup, but the fact that she repeats it so many times makes me feel like she thinks I’m stupid and that I don’t understand her pain. I’m already on her side, but I feel for the rest of the book that she’s trying to prove herself. She has nothing to prove! I already appreciate her, and I’m already on her side. She’s already enough.

Overall, 3/5 stars. I loved the beginning, but pretty much once it got to the part about Mr. E, I lost interest. It might speak to someone who is waiting for a boyfriend or who has been hurt pretty badly by one. I recommend this book to women battling depression and anxiety, especially in light of a bad relationship or a dark season of singleness. After all, who doesn’t need a reminder that you are enough?

You can purchase this book here. To find out more information about the author, you can follow her and her ministry on Twitter or Instagram.

Categories
Book Update

Hope Against the Hopeless

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve decided to take on the genre of Christian dystopian fiction. Dystopian fiction is based on a world or society where everything has gone wrong. Think 1984A Handmaid’s Tale, or The Hunger Games. They’re all set at some uncertain time in the future (well, except for 1984, but it was written in the 1930s so for them the ’80s was a long way ahead!), and they describe societies that promote fear, hopelessness, and deep conversations about the fate of humanity.

After hearing that description, you might be thinking, “Those novels were terribly hopeless! I mean, did you read A Handmaid’s Tale? How could you bring God into plots like that?”

My answer to you is…exactly.

Originally, I had wanted to write a novel about a woman who overcomes anxiety in order to encourage other women to find hope. Well, why not create a society that is completely against the protagonist, and watch a woman navigate her way to hope?

This journey started for me after reading A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I was not only disturbed by the plot and how women were treated in this story, but also the fact that they use the Bible to justify their terrible acts. Is this how Christianity is portrayed to the rest of the world? When we as Christians claim to have the hope that the world needs, is this what people are thinking? After reading this book, I wanted to create a story that discusses what a Biblical society would look like, and if it became a dystopia, why it went wrong.

I had read 1984 in high school, but I read it again this past week to confirm if this genre is the one for me. During the last section, turning each page with anticipation, my heart pounding out of my chest, nausea rising to my throat…yep, I knew that was what I was meant to write. While reading about Winston’s transformation, I thought about the martyrs who were willing to die for their faith. They went through the utmost torture, and yet they would not betray the One they loved. This book reminded me that while humans have limitations, God does not. God is the one who empowers us to make the change we wish to see in the world. Despite the worst case scenario for humanity, God is still in control, and His plan to redeem the world at the end of days is still set in stone.

The book I’m writing is the one I’ve been working on for 4 1/2 years. I had the theme this whole time, but I did not have the plot, an exciting, compelling, gut-wrenching plot. And now I do. Be prepared to sit on the edge of your seat and take in the story of a woman who feels trapped, but might finally have a way out of her mess.

Although I’ve been posting weekly updates on my blog, I’m going to reserve Fridays for book reviews from other great authors. If you want to get weekly updates sent to your e-mail about how my book is doing, click here to subscribe to my newsletter! Thanks for coming along for me on this wild ride. (Note: If you want to subscribe to my blog, which includes content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, click the little “Follow” button on the lower right-hand side of the page. This content will also be e-mailed to you as it is posted).


Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

Categories
Book Update

I Could Never Write Like That!

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. By reading, I can learn from other writers’ techniques, and can try to figure out why they are published and I am not. Last week, I reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, not only because it was free on Kindle Unlimited, but also because JK Rowling is always referred to as the goal for all writers. (“I want to be the next JK Rowling”). Rereading this classic, I couldn’t help but fall in love again with the quirky characters, each and every one of them unique, and find myself wishing I had received that letter to Hogwarts when I was eleven (Ironically, I got saved when I turned twelve, so it was like God gave me a letter to embark on the adventure He had for me!).

While I read this book, however, I couldn’t help but feel a little sense of hopelessness. There was no way I could ever write like JK Rowling. I mean, seriously, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans? Such genius! They’ve even made a game out of it (Beanboozled) that we can enjoy! We feel part of the story through Rowling’s work by figuring out what house we’re in, and even after she’s finished writing the series, the fans are still creating scenarios of what could have happened at Hogwarts. Doesn’t everybody want to write a novel that captures the audience so much that readers are actively talking about it eleven years after the final book was published?

Alas, I’m no JK Rowling, and I never will be. I might as well put down my pen and stop writing altogether.

Unless, what I never was meant to be JK Rowling? What if God gave me a voice that I could use to bring hope to the world and glory to His name?

Even if I rewrote the Harry Potter series, my book would be a little different from the originals, not because I’m a bad writer, but because I’m a different writer. I have my own flavor I add to my writing that JK Rowling doesn’t. This idea reminds me that I’m not in competition with any writer. We both have a voice, a platform that we want to reach, and God is using both of us to accomplish the plans He has for us.

I scan even the Christian market at fiction authors that blow me away with their amazing talent. Francine Rivers? Who could recreate Redeeming Love? The reality is, I was never meant to recreate Redeeming Love. God has given me my own story to tell.

Although we writers are set free from the need to be the next JK Rowling or Francine Rivers, we still have a responsibility. We are still called to excellence. I might not have come up with earwax flavored jelly beans, invisibility cloaks, or a freakin’ sport played on broomsticks with like three different types of balls, but that does not mean I have to write mediocre ideas. I may use time travel, or a dystopian society, or tense conflict, to convey my message. Whatever I end up using, I will use it well. End of story.

So, if you’re a writer, keep writing! Don’t look at the work of the people next to you, unless you can appreciate it. Try to figure out what you’re good at, and then work from there. Think about the message that God has given you to share with the world, and brainstorm how you can best share that message with others. You may not be the next JK Rowling or Francine Rivers, but maybe over time people may want to be the next [enter your name here].


Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash