Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Saying Good-bye to 2014

As we close on 2014, I am left with a single thought: I am going to do better in 2015.  I must.

Ending the year in such a headspace is difficult, but I would be lying if I implied anything otherwise. The truth is that I gave up on my dream for a season (or at least 2 months); I lost sight of what I loved and why.  I put money in place of value, and I filled my time with needless diversions and excuses rather than doing the hard work required to become a great writer. And I lamented these choices while I was making them and even moreso after the fact.
Like most optimists, however, I see a benefit to these lost days. You see,  I have tried--with little success, really—to share with you my writing journey--the up’s and down’s and day-to-day. If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that while I’ve shared highlights and disappointments, I’ve failed to be consistent (which is a key component of a successful blog) and am changing my goal set for 2015. If nothing else, the season when I became distracted is evidence that writers can lose sight of the prize and yet return to it—and with greater productivity and vigor than they might have had were they to have coasted through that period.

But as I’ve said, that period is passed, and my mind is set on the future. I have many things I plan to accomplish in the next 12 months, but the major ones are as follows:

To revise and re-release Stronghold
To release To Retreat From Romance
To draft my first fantasy novel (During National Novel WriteMonth, 2015)
To release study aids for my two novels in PDF format on my publishing site.  
To publish my first children’s book, Franklin Finnigan
To publish a series of blog posts regarding Writing as Worship
Maintain a consistent presence on Twitter and Flickr

This looks insurmountable, but it is not. I am confident I can get all of this done if I approach it correctly--treating each of these projects not as large works to be completed in a few sittings but rather as the end results of many intentional, shorter sessions and countless smaller tasks. Like dieting or building muscle, patterns of consistency and hard work will dictate the outcomes of the above and ultimately bring the success toward which I am reaching.

Of course, it’s all in God’s hands. Any good work I am able to accomplish is by his grace alone. I must never forget this; in fact, I must always affirm it—placing it at the forefront of my efforts and goals. Does the above list honor him? Will finishing these projects reveal more of his beauty to the world? Will these works benefit the kingdom or merely me; and if the latter, am I prepared to walk away from them? 

As I’ve said repeatedly, time will tell. And that time will happen in the next 12 months. I am deeply looking forward to this; my soul longs to see the outcome of this time next year.

May the Lord grant me the time and energy to chase it with unabashed enthusiasm. May he carry me to such work that his glory would be evident to all who engaging the output of 3LC Publishing. May my vainglory and conceit be stifled in light of what he wants me to accomplish, not for my glory but for his.

Pray for me, that all this and more should come to pass. And thank you advance for not only this prior year but for staying with me in the one to come.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review : The Lamb & The Fuhrer Graphic Novel

The Lamb & The Fuhrer
From Kingstone Media
Written by Ravi Zacharias
*PLEASE NOTE: I received a hardcopy of this book to review for the publisher.

The Lamb & the Fuhrer is a recent collaboration between Ravi Zacharias and Kingstone Media, and together they create a somewhat effective look at each man's final judgment after death. I can’t praise the book entirely for what I believe is a real narrative "sin", but I can say that the work provides some of Kingstone's most intense and provocative material to date.

So, let me get my gripe out of the way first, and we can be positive moving forward. The book opens with the framing device of a German national taking his American friend on a tour of important locations from the Second World War and its aftermath. During the tour they discuss Hitler’s position, and what it must have been like (will be like?) in the moment he stands before Jesus Christ to give an account of his life. They interject local German hero and Christian author Deitrich Bonhoeffer as a witness during the judgement, and they envision the discussion’s content and outcome.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why I Intend to Keep Writing in 2015...

2014 was a hit-and-miss year. I've documented this. But now we're headed toward 2015; and frankly, my mind's been there for some time. To be honest, I've been wrapping some final posts for the next ten days, but my real focus is almost exclusively on the coming 12 months--and a relaunch of sorts. Lord-willing, I am going to be able to better hone my energies on a few specific goals and projects, making the next 12 months far more productive, useful, and fulfilling.

A few housekeeping items:

  • As I've said, this address will be moving to directly to the official 3LC site.
  • Further, the ongoing blog on that site will now have a set schedule. Tuesdays and Fridays, all year.
  • Those posts will be focused content with "long term" goals in mind (but more on that in 2015).
  • The "In God's Image" series will likely end. Inasmuch as I love the idea, I do not think I will have the content to warrant continuing it in the new year. Of course, if I can get enough responses and interests, I'll certainly be resurrecting it.
  • With some additional help and reinforcements, To Retreat From Romance will be released before December 31.
  • And it will hopefully be one of several works to be published during the year. 
Again, I have no excuse for being so lax this last quarter. I admit that I let certain expectations and disappointments derail my motivation, but excuses are meaningless at this point. Now is the time to renew and continue. To work. 

I will say, that perhaps one of the best things that could have happened to me occurred this last quarter. I realized how much I loved writing, and I realized how deeply I am compelled to do it. I simply do not feel I am living my life to the fullest unless I am putting words to the page and making it happen, if even in small incremental steps. When I am in my zone, I feel a sense of doing what I was designed to do. I may have felt led to write a novel, but now I feel designed to stay a writer.

The revelation was equal parts encouraging and horrifying. I was encouraged in that "writing" was not a short-lived fad but rather a true desire that I cannot seem to dismiss. Further, any writer can publish, find an audience, and have an effect on that audience in ways he or she does not realize, regardless of whether one sells books or blogs or works in more collaborative fields. If one wants to write, he/she can do so and never be certain who is reading and benefitting from it. So doing the work matters, not just for oneself but for his/her audience. Thus, I was encouraged. 

I was horrified, however, to realize that this is truly what I feel fit to do, but I believe it will be a very long time before I can justify doing it for a living; in fact, I may never reach that day. The thought of spending the next 35 years working in a field other than what I am built to do can be frightening, but who knows what is in store for the future. 

All I know is that in the present I am focused and driven, and I'm going to take steps toward that future even as I continue to work hard at my 9-to-5 and support my family. I am looking toward 2015 with a sense of expectation and excitement I did not have in 2014. I think it could be the greatest year for my writing endeavors this far. I would like that very much, and I hope you'll join me on that journey as I take it. 

As always thank you again for reading, and please check back here over the next two weeks for my last posts at this address.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Recommendation : The Kingstone Bible : Volume 7 : The Exiles

The Kingstone Bible : Volume 7 : The Exiles
From Kingstone Media
*PLEASE NOTE: I received a hardcopy of this book to review for the publisher.

Kingstone Media has given comics readers another portion of the Old Testament in graphic novel form thanks to The Kingstone Bible: Volume 7: The Exiles. This interesting view into the plight of Israel is not only full of powerful storytelling but dynamic art, making it yet another valuable addition to the ongoing anthology (Volumes 1, 3, and 4, I have already reviewed). By collecting the stories of Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, the Kingstone Bible gives an impression of life for the Jewish people following their being taken to Babylon, while also highlighting some fantastic moments of this Biblical era.

Daniel provides the reader with the life story of one of the most beloved prophets. From Nebuchadnezzar through Belshazzar, this retelling shows the anti-Semetism of the times as well as the Lord’s ongoing faithfulness over the course of several decades. While some of the art could have gone further in detail (say, with Nebuchadnezzar’s going insane), the book is vibrant and moves at a relatively smooth pace.

Ezra follows Daniel and proves to be the weakest (and shortest) chapter in the volume.  I applaud  Kingstone for their attempt to capture Ezra’s plight, but I do not recall the thrust of the story at all, which is saying something given that I am writing this only two days after having reading it. That's just the truth. While I plan to revisit this piece of the volume, this interpretation of Ezra did not affect me on my initial reading.

Perhaps that is because it is overshadowed by Nehemiah, which is another wonderful segment of the volume, particularly because it highlights the difficulty of the prophet’s role in not only rebuilding the walls but also defending and governing the people. Nehemiah was a far more charismatic figure than I had previously considered, and the role his integrity played in his success is communicated beautifully. The best praise I can give Kingstone is that this volume made me want to revisit the text in a traditional Bible and see how it describes what Kingstone so vividly shows. This is some of my favorite work in The Kingstone Bible.

The book closes with Esther, and one could argue that Kingstone saved the best portion of the volume for last. While I enjoyed Nehemiah more, I think Esther is the best piece in The Exiles. Thanks to Beautiful art by Javier Salteres, the story of this Hebrew maiden turned Persian Queen is the quintessential tale of elegance and humility bringing honor and opportunity. I have never been so captivated by Esther’s story, and Kingstone’s telling allows it to move gracefully, like a fairy tale or modern princess film.

Noticeable by its absence is the voice of the Lord (except in the book of Daniel). It’s an interesting development considering the prior volumes that included the presence of God so overtly; however, in this portion of Israel’s story, it makes complete sense—and even benefits the narrative in providing context to just how far Israel as a nation had wandered. God did not speak to the Hebrews directly at this time; he used the prophets (and I think they are covered in another volume). His lack of direct, divine intervention is felt, but his ongoing faithfulness and mercy is as well.

Overall, The Exiles is a dense and moving tome. I hate to be hard on the book of Ezra, but it is a weak link in an otherwise fantastic chain of stories. The Kingstone Bible continues to surprise and delight with another great volume. Frankly, I wish I had a few million to toss their way to commission a full, chronological tale of the Scriptures, as they have the talent pool to create a vibrant and spiritually satisfying version.  Until that day, however (ha, ha), their present anthology will suffice as a wonderful version of The Bible in the comics medium.

The Kingstone Bible, Volume 7: The Exiles is available at The Kingstone Media Group site, as well as Amazon.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


As I look to wrap up 2014 and renew my efforts in the coming year, I have had a realization--an important one. Frankly, the last few months I was vexed by what to do with my continued writing pursuits. What projects I should abandon? What ends I should pursue? I feel like I am finally getting my answers.

I'd be lying if I said I hadn't lost some hope. In truth, my enthusiasm waxes and wanes more oft than the moon itself. I have had my days in despair; my hours of inaction. I've given into those "other" whispers--not the Spirit's gentle voice or the encouragement of the Scriptures but the self-doubt and inclinations toward surrender. I've given ear to the accuser, to the enemy; I've let him sow his seeds of discontentment and fear. I've mused on his taunts and ill charges, and he has snatched more of my attention than I would like. He's held me at bay longer than I care to admit.