28 August, 2010

Rosie the Reviewer {While Mortals Sleep - Book Fingerprints}

I have always been partial to historical fiction, mainly because I love to learn about the past. I believe you can’t know where you’re going unless you take a look at the past. And for the horrific times of the past, it’s good to know and study it so that you will know if history is repeating itself.

While Mortals Sleep, is the first in the Songs in the Night series by author Jack Cavanaugh. It is a series set from the late 30’s to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Star Character Pastor Schumacher wants to change the lives of the youth in his church during the dark shadows of Hitler’s Germany. Most of the children are sympathetic to the Nazi movement, but few have a passion yet to be unveiled to fight against the infamous Third Reich.

Jack Cavanaugh is a unique and impressive author. I’ve read a few of his novels and each one has left a “book fingerprint” on me. The Songs in the Night series dives deep into the horrors of the mass murders of eugenics. Many people only remember how over six million Jews were murdered; but millions of German (non-Jewish) citizens were euthanized by the hands of the Nazis who dubbed them “untermenschen” (English translation: subhuman). Jack Cavanaugh’s While Mortals Sleep captures how gruesome the Germans were to not only the Jews, but to their own German people.

If you haven’t picked up Jack Cavanaugh’s While Mortals Sleep I hope after reading this you will and it will leave its own “book fingerprint” on you.

24 August, 2010

Enough is Enough

I do not write romance…I write love stories.
I do not write “Christian” fiction…I write for God.
I do not write bonnet books…I write about history.
I do not write to please you…I write to please God.

I write stories where people find family during difficult circumstances, and learn what God’s will for their life is.

My dream isn’t to get published; it isn’t seeing my books on the store shelves. At least it isn’t anymore. I’m tired of wasting my prayers on my own selfishness. What writer doesn’t want to see his/her name on the cover of a book they worked so hard on?! But how does inflating your own ego really going to change the literary world? That’s right…it doesn’t.

You don’t know how much time we have left on this earth. How are we expected to make a difference if all we do is write about love?! I’ve even had to lower my own regular bar to write a easy and non-thought provoking read! Yes, love/romance can be important, but the love of Christ is what we’re trying to bring forth to the lost. The only differences between the Christian market and the Secular market is a few mentions of God and prayer thrown around to “baptize” the novel and no smut that would be considered pornographic.

What the saddest thing about this situation is that the Christian market actually promotes writing “happy-Pollyanna” books. Where did we go wrong? Where did we loose sight of reaching a world that is dying and going to hell? Yes, that’s right I said hell. Because hell is a real place and if we don’t act fast it will be too late for people.

I don’t know about you, but I do have a passion, a real passion, for writing. Though more than that, I have a passion for actually writing for God. Life doesn’t revolve around romance, so why are people only writing about it? What are we going, or willing, to do to make a difference in this world?

18 August, 2010

This is what it means to be held...

I heard this song after my sister's dog Casey passed away five years ago and it touched my heart so very much. Remember God holds you.

14 August, 2010

The Closer

A year or so ago my friend MA really got me hooked on the series "The Closer" with Kyra Sedgwick. It's been on for five years straight and I do try and watch it as much as possible. I love how quirky the characters are and how each one of them all has to follow the orders of this little lady Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson.

Now with every show you have your favorite characters and of course Brenda and Fritz are a given, but of Brenda's team, I have my personal faves. Detective Sanchez and Lieutenant Tao happen to be my favorites. Though Provenza and Flynn are good for a laugh when they always happen to mess up now and then.

Kyra Sedgwick------------Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson

Corey Reynolds-----------Sgt. David Gabriel
Robert Gossett-----------Commander Taylor

G.W. Bailey------------Detective Lt. Provenza

Anthony John Denison------------Lieutenant Andy Flynn

Phillip P. Keene----------Buzz Watson

Michael Paul Chan---------Lieutenant Mike Tao

Raymond Cruz----------Detective Julio Sanchez

Have you seen "The Closer"? Are you a fan of it, if so, who are your favorite characters?

13 August, 2010

VJ Day – 65 years later

Do you know this photo? Do you know why the romantic couple was kissing? The majority of people probably don’t even know this was taken on August 14th 1945 at Times Square in New York.

On August 14th 1945 caused world wide celebration. Japan had finally surrendered to American forces after two Atomic bombs which had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the USAAF by the Enola Gay. And on that day in the heat in the middle of August 1945 people crowded New York’s Time’s Square, where Alfred Eisenstaedt snapped one of the most famous photos ever to come out of the 1940’s and WWII.

Edith Shain and Carl Muscarello had no idea how much mystery and romanticism they would bring to end of WWII. They had never met before in their life, but that one spontaneous kiss of the celebration of the long awaited end of WWII will hopefully be remembered forever.  Tomorrow at Time’s Square a 26ft statue will take it’s place at the very place of sailor and nurse, and many others plan to flock to reenact the famous VJ Day kiss.

Happy VJ Day!!!!!!

06 August, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Trailer 2 [Of...

I dunno about you, but I have been a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when it came out a few years ago. Ever since I both read and saw what the Pevensie children went through, I was hooked. When Prince Caspian came out, we got it as soon as we could to see the continuation and now I can't wait till The Voyage of the Dawn Treader comes out. I've been looking forward to this for over a year. :)

I've read "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" which sticks pretty close to the book. Now "Prince Caspian" strayed a bit from the original plot. I hope "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is like the first movie and sticks closer than "Prince Caspian." And I am also so happy to see that all of the Pevensie kids are going to be in this. :)

Have you seen the movies and/or read the books, what did you think of them? And if you haven't seen/read them would you?

03 August, 2010

Grampa Drawing

We thought this was lost and eleven years later we have it once more. It was lost in the depths of our basement. LOL! This is a drawing of my grampa that was drawn by someone back in the 40's when he was in the Army. Not sure when or even by who. But it's a great likeness of him.

02 August, 2010

Is it Time for Christian Fiction to Die? by Eric Wilson

Just a moment or so ago, I just stumbled upon this on Facebook and I knew I had to post this so others could read. Here is the link to the original POST and I hope you get a chance to read it here or on his site.

As a child, I was taught not to complain about a problem unless I was willing to be part of the solution. I was also introduced to the literature of J. R. R. Tolkien, John Bunyan, C. S. Lewis, Daniel Defoe, Flannery O’Connor, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Not one of these world-class Christian writers worked within the parameters of a “religious fiction” market.
By the time I was 19, my own faith had faced more obstacles than I found in most “inspirational” novels. I hunted for stories that dealt with real issues from a Biblical perspective, but found offerings that were mostly trite and poorly written--with Bodie Thoene's books being an exception. Did it have to be this way? Even those who love Jesus struggle with doubts, depression, sexual and financial issues, addiction, and disease.
If the Bible truly offered the Answer, I wondered, then why did these stories seem so afraid to ask the questions?
Hoping to be part of the solution, I read, read, read, and wrote, wrote, wrote. I studied the craft of fiction. I earned a Bachelor’s degree with honors from an accredited Bible college, got married (faithful for 20 years now), and published my first novel in my mid-thirties. I have since written nine more novels, with over a million words in print. One of those books spent four months on the New York Times bestseller list.
Trying to be part of the solution, I have also reviewed and endorsed hundreds of novels—the majority of them by Christian brothers and sisters. I've done my best to open doors for up-and-coming authors. I've invested the past decade in broadening the reach and readership of this market, and in reclaiming genres that had been hijacked by immoral and/or humanistic worldviews. Despite my efforts, and many incredible yet relatively unknown writers who have bettered them (W. Dale Cramer, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Tosca Lee, Robin Parrish, Claudia Mair Burney, Mike Dellosso, Steven James, and Sibella Giorella, to name a few), this market’s recent influence and parameters seem to have narrowed.
The late 1960s and early ’70s saw the rise of young Christian musicians who helped spearhead the Jesus Movement. As the number of listeners grew, a few entrepreneurial sorts saw an opportunity to spread the Word even further; yet with success came the need—initially uncorrupted—to keep “churning out the hits” to keep this baby rollin’. The moneychangers stepped in, the Spirit moved out, and for a long time Christian music became a cloistered, “safe” alternative instead of a vibrant, world-changing entity. I believe the same has happened in today’s Christian fiction.
Why, as Christian novelists, have we removed ourselves from a place of influence in the “marketplace” of the everyday reader? Do atheistic authors put their books in the “Atheist Fiction” section? Does Stephanie Meyer label her books “Mormon Fiction”? Aren’t we actually “selling out” if we write what will sell to a certain church demographic instead of writing what God puts in our hearts?
In years past, the works of Tolkien, Lewis, and O’Connor glistened in the unrestricted air of “real life.” That is not to say Middle-earth is real or Puddleglum still survives in some swamp—though I would be the first to pay him a visit if he did. I am saying the weight of Frodo’s ring (a powerful symbol of sin) and the cynicism of a pessimistic swamp-dweller were presented poignantly, without polish or affectation. They felt real. They captured emotions and experiences with which we can all relate.
In the same way, an ultra-gritty (and beautifully poetic) book such as James Lee Burke’s Jolie Blon’s Bounce still lingers in my thoughts, due to its spiritual and redemptive arc. John Dalton’s Heaven Lake and David Maine’s The Preservationistwon awards in the mainstream market, while tackling Biblical themes with remarkable skill.
If our own writings fail to also wrestle honestly with life’s difficulties, it seems to me that we gloss over the bloody, earth-shaking war that Jesus fought on the cross—and we undermine the triumph of His resurrection.
True, the publishing number-crunchers feel the need to meet profit margins. Yes, we writers of the faith are called to honor God in our storytelling. Does this mean, though, that we should censor all the raw elements? Isn’t the Bible itself filled with depictions of violence, sexual misconduct, deceit, and bigotry? Some of its stories have happy endings. Some are dark cautionary tales. Few, if presented as modern fiction, would make it past the industry’s “gatekeepers.”
It seems to me that most “religious” storytelling has taken the place of relational, incarnational works of literature. I know there are authors who desire to write more than scrubbed-clean, rose-scented fiction. Must all Christian novels be “inspirational,” or can’t some be challenging, daring, even ironic and unresolved?
In my own novels, I don't want to regurgitate platitudes. I want to allow Christ to enter the muddy, messy settings of my own life and those depicted in my stories. He is a redeemer. He has a way of calling the dead from their graves, the sinners from their prisons, and the pharisaical busybodies into glorious freedom.
Yes, God is the Creator. We are created in His image. When we write fiction, when we create, we have the opportunity to reflect a sinful world in such a way that the glory of the risen Lord is that much more astounding. No, not all writers are called to this, and maybe this market will never make way for those who are. Nevertheless, Jesus gave us an example to follow, stepping into the muck of humanity instead of calling to the street dwellers from lofty mountaintops.
I believe fiction has the ability to change minds, shock us from complacency, and soften hearts. (Paradoxically, those Christians who question the validity of Christian fiction are often those who rant about the evil power of fictitious Harry Potter.) I believe at least some faith-based novels should serve as more than “moral” alternatives. But are there publishers still willing to offer that chance?
Consider these words from one of Russia’s greatest novelists. Over four decades later, they still rattle the bars on artistic cages.

"Outstanding manuscripts by young authors, as yet entirely unknown, are nowadays rejected by editors solely on the ground that they “will not pass.”Literature cannot develop between the categories “permitted”—“not permitted”—“this you can and this you can’t.” Literature that is not the air of its contemporary society, that dares not pass on to society its pains and fears, that does not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers, such literature does not deserve the name literature; it is only a façade . . .Our literature has lost the leading role it played . . . [and] now appears as something infinitely poorer, flatter and lower than it actually is . . . If the world had access to all the uninhibited fruits of our literature, if it were enriched by our own spiritual experience, the whole artistic evolution of the world would move along in a different way, acquiring a new stability and attaining a new artistic threshold . . .--Alexander Solzhenitsyn,Letter to the 4th National Congress of Soviet Writers, May 16, 1967"

The Christian-fiction market, if it remains myopic, could very well die. I hope it does not. It has done many good things and produced some quality novelists, both commercial and literary in nature. Before we settle into mediocrity, I pray we'll see godly writers of all genres, all ages, all races, ready to raise the bar even higher and impact the world around them. Some are already published but struggling. Others are waiting for their opportunity. The question isn’t whether the market will die, so much as whether it will push aside fear and allow its authors to live.
If not, Christians who are writers should be publishing well-crafted, honest, and thought-provoking novels in the general fiction market. When Jerusalem’s Christians lingered too long in first-century AD, the Diaspora and hardship pushed them from their comfort zones. They spread far and wide, sharing the Good News.
Maybe today is the beginning of an artists’ Diaspora. Maybe literary life will yet rise from these ashes.