Friday, November 28, 2008

The Friday Five








The picture is of a few units of lumber in one of the warehouses at Vetsch Hardwoods.

Today starts the preliminary inventory for the business, so I thought I'd tell you five things that go into inventory-ing Vetsch Hardwoods:

1. I am the scribe. I write down the species, the supplier and the footages or numbers of sheets. I also transcribe my notes into a spreadsheet so we can cost out the lumber. The entire process takes about 7 hrs from start to finish.

2. My kids are the counters. They count sheets of plywood or layers of lumber and pencil the total on the top of the pile. My husband comes behind and figures the footage and tells me what supplier it came from.

3. My kids climb like monkeys. The lumber is stacked several units high, as well as stored in racks. As a confirmed land-dweller, I get dizzy when I stand on a step-stool, so I try not to look when they shinny up the end of a pile of lumber ten or fifteen feet off the ground.

4. Sometimes it is so cold when we do inventory that the ink in my pen freezes. I keep several pens with me and rotate them from an inner pocket to keep them fluid.

5. We count boards at the end of November, but we get to repeat the experience at the end of December. It's hard to contain my joy....NOT!

How about you? Have you ever taken inventory? We used to do it monthly when I worked at McDonald's in high school. I'm glad we don't have to do a monthly inventory at Vetsch Hardwoods. I'd need a raise!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe

A few times a year (very few) my kitchen resembles the Betty Crocker Proving Grounds. Today is one of those days. Just a few minutes ago, I slid a couple of pumpkin pies into the oven to bake. It's beginning to smell a lot like the holidays around here.
As a diabetic, I've been wondering how the holidays will affect my blood sugar. I've been doing well, no spikes or any numbers over 120, and that's at half the medication (which I forget to take far to often.) But it seems that everything 'holiday food' is loaded with carbs.
So I was very thankful when dear friend Margrethe Higgins gave me her recipe for sugar-free pumpkin pie. I tasted her wonderful pie at a church dinner recently, and boy howdy, you can't tell it from the recipe on the back of the Libby's can. It's delish! So I thought I'd share it here for you. Even if you're not diabetic, it won't hurt to watch the carbs a bit.
Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie
1 9 inch pie crust pastry
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) evaporated skim milk (I bought Carnation fat free evap. milk - easy to find)
3 eggs
3/4 cup Splenda (I used a little less at Margrethe's suggestion)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
Beat all ingredients together and pour into fluted pie crust. Bake at 450 for 15 mins, then lower oven temp to 350 and bake until knife inserted near center comes out clean (about 40 mins).
Dietary Exchange:
1 milk, 1/2 starch, 1 fat.
And as I said, it tastes delicious. Just like the real thing.
Have a happy and Splend-id (get it?) holiday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time to Collect the Goodies

I verified my NaNo novel today and here's one of the goodies you get when you win. Kinda cool, eh?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Craft Books

This week I picked up some new craft books. From the titles, you can see which way my brain is headed.
So far I've only read one of them, and WOW! It was like attending an entire writing conference taught by mystery masters. And I was happy to read that these masters recommended the same mysteries I have been reading and enjoying for years. Dick Francis, Ellis Peters, Elizabeth Peters, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett.
Here are the books I checked out and will be reading this week:
1. Writing Mysteries, edited by Sue Grafton.
2. Writing the Mystery: A Start-to-Finish Guide for Both Novice and Professional, by G. Miki Hayden
3. How to Write a D*mn Good Mystery, by James N. Frey
4. You Can Write a Mystery, by Gillian Roberts
A few weeks ago I queried the ACFW email loop, asking about historical mysteries in the CBA. You know how many responses I got? ZERO, zip, zilch, nada, nothing, diddly-squat, bagel, goose-egg. The only series I can think of in the CBA right now that sort of comes close to what I'm looking for is Sara Mills' Allie Fortune series about a female PI during WW2.
So either this is a truly untapped market in the CBA, or no one is publishing it because no one is reading it. Guess I'll find out which is which.
What books are you reading? Any mysteries you recommend?

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Today I got to give a devotional at a baby shower. I used the letters that spelled the baby's name: Gabriel. Seven balloons, one for each letter. As I got to that point, I'd give a balloon to the mama. The idea came from a wedding shower I was at, though at that one, the speaker used different colors to represent different blessings and challenges the bridal couple would face.
G=Gift. Children are a gift from God.
A=Awake. God never sleeps, which is a comfort, because mothers of newborns don't either.
B=Brothers and Sisters. Gabriel has two siblings who are big helpers for their mama, and his mother and father have many brothers and sisters in Christ who want to assist them in raising Gabriel to be the man God wants him to be.
R=Red Letter Days. All those firsts for Gabriel. We look forward to the day when he first understands the gospel and his need for salvation.
I=Instruction. There are lots of opportunities for a mother to instruct her child, but no instruction is more important than to bring them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord.
E=Energy. Little boys have more than their fair share of energy, but when we as mothers wait on the Lord, He will renew our strength.
L=Love. We love our children with a ferocity that can nearly overwhelm us. But the amazing truth is, God loves our children even more than we do. He gave His own Son to save my children. A glorious and humbling truth.
I went to the write in this afternoon and produced nothing but dust. The story is a little off track. I've printed the ms out and will read it, making pencil edits and getting it back into the shape I want it to be before setting it aside to work on editor revisions for another ms.

Friday, November 21, 2008

NaNo 21

Woohoo! I crossed the 50K word mark! Woohoo!
Small issue. The book isn't finished. I figure about 3K more words to wrap up the plot, so I'll have to go in and cut some words. Not a problem as I already know a couple places that need to go.
Feels good to have accomplished a NaNo novel.

The Friday Five

The Friday Five
Over the past few months, my husband and I have instituted Date Night. Every Friday, the two of us go out on a date. This has been so cool. A chance to talk, to share, to hang out with my best friend of all time. We go out to dinner. And I'm really looking forward to going out tonight.
So, today's Friday Five:
Five restaurants we love to go to in Rochester.
1. Carlos O'Kelly's. Occasionally called Juan O'Casey's or Alvarez O'Doul's, from a joke that my father can never remember the name of that place. He knows it's a Mexican and Irish combination, but after that, he's lost. Javier O'Toole, Pedro O'Meara.
2. TGIF. I love their crispy fried green beans.
3. Baker's Square. Chicken-cheddar-bacon melt. With fries. And Honey mustard on the side.
4. Pannekoeken. They have a raspberry-chicken-pecan salad that is yummmmmy.
5. The food court at the mall. You can get just about anything you're craving at the time, and you get to browse in Barnes and Noble. Now THAT is a cool date.
And always we are home by nine. Cuz we watch Numb3rs with the kids. :)
How about you? Any favorite restaurants? Got a date nite? I highly recommend them.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NaNo 20

No progress on the novel today. Too many other things going on. Only ten more days to November. The holidays will be upon us before we know it.
I did get a devotional finished for a baby shower on Saturday, and prepped food for a funeral at church.
I didn't sleep too well last night. Trying hard to remember that God is in control.
Oh, and just for kicks, ElfYourself is back. But beware of embedding it on your blog. I thought I was posting a video of my family doing the Charleston as elves and it turned out to be...well, let's just say it was something else altogether.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NaNo 19

NaNo 19. 2989 words. If I had known how close I was to 3K when I quit, I'd have knocked out those last 11 words.
The total now stands at 45057. Woohoo! 90% of the way done.
Wednesday Weigh In...STILL the same. Blah. I walked on the treadmill today and boosted the incline again. I could feel it in the backs of my legs, so hopefully I was burning something besides time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NaNo 18

NaNo day 18. 2375 words today for a totalof 42411. Had a major breakthrough epiphany for my heroine regarding the spiritual thread for this book.
Have you ever noticed that our greatest strengths can be and often are also our greatest weaknesses? That's what my heroine, Josie, discovered about herself today. A special ability and gift from God, when used incorrectly and for our own desires, often becomes the very thing that leads us away from the Lord.
This last week has been one of feast or famine as regarding how the words are flowing. Today, I could feel things going rough to begin with, but as I thought about how much Josie and I are alike, I felt the words flowing more freely. And one character, the voice of wisdom and correction in Josie's life, kept saying things that I needed to hear. a cool God sort of way.
Anybody ever had something like that happen to them while they were working?

Monday, November 17, 2008

NaNo 17

Woohoo! cracked 40K words on the ms. Only 10K to go!
Today I've been busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger. School, a little bookwork, working on a devotional for an upcoming baby shower (This Saturday, so I need to get cracking on it) errands, piano lessons for offspring, and whatnot. I'm glad today I only needed to write about 1300 words to hit my goal for the day.
But this past couple of weeks has taught me something. I haven't been busier than usual. My weeks follow a pretty set pattern with only the occasional change, like a dentist/orthodontist appt, or like this week, a funeral at church to help organize and prepare food for. For the most part, my week's rhythm stays the same. And though I'm busy, I can produce fiction if I make myself sit down to do it. I'm averaging better than two thousand words a day this month.
I've also learned that chapter-by-chapter outlines are my friend. I put a lot of work into plotting/prepping/planning this novel so that when it came time to write, I would know what I was doing and the target I was shooting at with each scene. The hardest times of writing this month so far have been when I've veered off this path and wandered too far from the outline. Getting the story back on track has produced a marked increase in words for the day. Yay for this outline.
I never thought I would say that, but it's true. I love having this plan, this story all mapped out. Serendipitous things still happen, strange characters appear or pieces I didn't even know would fit together suddenly lock into place. That is so cool, and when it works, makes me look like a genius. I love it when that happens.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NaNo 15

Today was an okay writing day. Got better than 2K words with a total of 38787.
I went to the local write in. Not sure if I will keep any of the words I wrote today. I felt like I was just filling in 'stuff' in the story. Maybe too much introspection, not enough action. Not sure, but at least I wrote.
I also got to do an interview. A local reporter dropped in at the coffee shop to interview Wrimos for an article about the types of people who take on the NaNo challenge and how they make NaNo fit into their lives. I got to talk about The Kennebrae Bride series and the Heartsong Presents Bookclub. How cool is that?
Hopefully I'll get a copy of the article when it runs and that will definitely go into the scrapbook Heather made for me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

NaNo 14

NaNo day 14. Man, I guess a day off was what I needed to get the story back on track. I wrote two chapters today and got the story back to where I needed it to be so I can reach the conclusion I want to reach. The words flowed well, since I got 4204 words done in just over three hours! Woohoo, that's pretty fast for me. 1000 words per hour is my usual pace when things are going well.
The ms stands at 36691 right now. Seven chapters to go, about 13.5K words left to reach 50K. Tomorrow's the halfway point in the month. I'm feeling pretty good about how things have gone. A few more days like today and I'll reach my goal. There are plenty of edits in my future, but you can't edit a blank page, so I'm happy with getting the words on the page in a hurry and going back later to straighten things out.

The Friday Five - Tagged!

Betsy tagged me this morning, so I'm going to use the tag for the Friday Five, and you get two bonus items.
7 Random things about me. (Good thing I'm a fairly random person, since last week's Friday Five was five random things about me.)
1. I loved Breyer horse models when I was a kid. They were my best friends. I would spend hours in my room playing with my horses.
2. I've worn glasses since I was three.
3. I can't sleep with my feet covered. And wearing socks to bed is nasty!
4. I love watching home improvement shows, particularly This Old House and Hometime. Hometime is based out of the Twin Cities, so their issues (and budget, usually) are closer to what we face here in Rochester.
5. I'm looking to purchase an Mp3 player soon.
6. I use Bic Crystal ink pens almost exclusively. They are cheap, about 10 cents each, and I can only find them in the late summer or early fall during the back-to-school sales. Oh, and they must be blue. Always blue ink.
7. I am hopeless when it comes to running audio/visual equipment. If the remote has more than five buttons or controls more than one device...I'm lost.
I'm tagging whoever reads this and wants to play along. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NaNo 13

I took today off from NaNo-ing. I'm well ahead in the word count, and I needed a day to regroup and figure out what I'm going to do with the story now.
And I didn't give the Wednesday Weigh in. I was down two pounds over last weekend, and somehow, they showed up again, so I stayed the same. Just how long is a plateau????

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NaNo 12

Day 12 of NaNo. Didn't quite make it to 2/3 tonight, but pretty close. 2438 words for a total of 32487. I felt tonight that my chapters and focus were wandering, which was probably a result of going to the coffee house for the write in. I've made marginal notes on my outline to remind me to really edit these chapters when it is time for revisions.
The write in was fun, but there were lots of interruptions, chit-chat, and silliness. A challenge floated around to work a random word into your ms every 15 mins. The words were thrown out by our group leader. I didn't have much success, since words like electroshock and converter and schmooze are hard to work into an historical novel. I managed to get a couple in there, but I typed them in ALL CAPS so they will stick out on revisions and I can yank them. :)
Tomorrow, the goal is to make it to 33,333 words, 2/3 of the way through. Less than 1000 words, but it will feel nice to get past that milestone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NaNo 11

Pick, pick, pick. That's how it went today. I was CRAWLING. I did manage 2500 words today, and the total stands at 30049 words. I limped across the 30K word mark and called a halt for the day.
Still, psychologically it feels good, and if I can manage 3,3oo words tomorrow, I'll be 2/3 finished with this first draft.
I've sent today's take off to my 'first look' buddy. And I'm putting the outline away for the night. Tomorrow is a scheduled write in at the coffee shop. I'd like to go. It might be the middle-of-NaNo-Week-Two boost I need.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NaNo 10

Day 10 of NaNo. 2542 words today for a total of 27549. I'm hoping I'll hit 30K sometime tomorrow. I should, since tomorrow doesn't have nearly as many errands and distractions as today.
And tonight I get to watch Chuck. I love Chuck.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NaNo 9

Another Sabbath day for me. The wordcount sits, but my soul is refreshed. Sunday School, church, Women's Bible Study, and my kids played the piano at a retirement home this afternoon.
I've forgotten how cute the littlest musicians are. One tiny girl of maybe five or six, dressed to the nines in her velvet bodiced, fluffy skirted fancy dress, was so small she could hardly make it up onto the piano bench. She gathered up all of her skirts to her waist and hopped up onto the bench. Miss Tiffany, the piano teacher helped her cover her tiny behind and arrange her music.
I love it when the little ones count out loud, or as in today's case, one little gal (I think it was the same one with the fluffy dress, but I can't remember) they bob their little head, and when they got to the right spot, the word "Rest" popped out.
The residents of the care facility seemed to enjoy the concert, and I always like to hear the kids play. To my own children's dismay, I circle songs in the program that I like, so they can ask Miss Tiffany if they can play those songs. :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

NaNo 8

2555 words today, and a BIG milestone passed. I'm halfway through with this ms, in 8 days.

Went to the write in. Evidently some folks got their wires crossed. Our fearless leader went to the coffee shop across from the hospital, while the rest of the writers went to the coffee shop where we had our initial kickoff meeting.

Anyway, I met a new gal, got reacquainted with a couple others, and got some work done. I really wanted to hit the 25K mark today. And you'll notice I quit as soon as I crossed the half-way point for the day. At least I know what to start on Monday. :D

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Friday Five - later than usual and NaNo 7

This week's Friday Five:

I had something brilliant for the Friday Five...but that was on Wednesday, and now I can't remember what it was...welcome to my world.

So, this week's Friday Five is Five Random Things about Me.

1. I go out of my way not to step on manhole covers or metal grating on the sidewalk.

2. I rarely enjoy movies based on factual events. Either the story is so poignant to me because I know someone went through these things, or I get frustrated by the poetic license taken by the moviemakers that obscures what really happened.

3. My favorite fruit is strawberries.

4. I've never met a cookie I didn't like.

5. The only fish I will eat are the little goldfish crackers.

Nano Update Day 7
Only 1833 words today for a total of 22452. Spent two and a half hours at Panera (eating lunch, then typing) and the place was jammed with people and distractions. I couldn't seem to get too much into the flow today.
Tomorrow is the first local write-in for Wrimos. I'm looking forward to attending and seeing people again and writing a bunch. I want to get to 25K words tomorrow. Halfway done!

Guest Blogger, Mary Connealy

A little OTWP trivia. Who was the first author interviewed at OTWP? Mary Connealy! I went back and read that interview which you can find HERE. Man, I threw the kitchen sink at her! Asked everything under the sun, and she was so gracious in her replies.

This time the interview will be shorter, but I know Mary will be every bit as gracious. Thank you, Mary, for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit still for another OTWP interview.

Today we’re talking about Golden Days, 2008 Short Historical Category winner of the ACFW Book of the Year Contest. I snatched up this book at the epic Mall of America book-signing and got it inscribed by Mary.

Mary, you mentioned in that first interview that you wrote for ten years before being offered a contract for Golden Days. That’s a lesson in perseverance. How many novels did you write before that wonderful day in 2005 when Tracie Peterson called your name?

Hi, Erica, thanks for having me on your blog. I had twenty books—that’s twenty finished full length novels on my computer when I sold my first book. I’ve since sold seven of them and nine more unwritten novels, all to Barbour Publishing.

How did the story come about? And what roles did fellow Alaska Brides authors Cathy Marie Hake and Kathleen Y’Barbo play in the process?

I was so, so, so blessed to have a great visit with Cathy Marie Hake after I won the Genesis Contest at ACFW, with Petticoat Ranch. She asked me to send her the first few chapters of my winning book. I obeyed her and she said she thought I was ‘ready’. YAY! No publisher had yet seen that light, but Cathy suggested pitching a three book series, with her, Kathleen Y’Barbo and me each writing one book. Tracie Peterson was the acquiring editor for HP at the time and she let me come along with the other two very established authors.
Golden Days is now available in the book Alaska Brides which is in bookstores, a three book anthology including Cathy Marie Hake’s book Golden Dawn and Kathleen Y’Barbo’s book Golden Twilight.

Amaruq is such an appealing character. Sturdy and steady, but vulnerable. Did you develop her character as you wrote, or did she spring to life fully formed in your mind?

I did a lot of brainstorming with Cathy and Kathleen before Amaruq (Amy) emerged. I wanted her to be native to that wild, harsh Alaska land but to be hiding her heritage to fit in, because she is sent away from Alaska when her mother dies. Now she’s back home and she finds herself well qualified to protect and provide for herself.

Where did you discover the nuggets of historical setting and fact, particularly the Tlingit terms and customs that flavor the book?
I did so much research for this book, Erica. The landscape, the plants and animals that would support human life and what their different uses are. And the Tlingit culture. Even the names I chose for my characters. I wanted them to be authentic. It was a lot of fun. Research can be tricky. It can be so interesting and compelling that you get sucked into it and lose writing time. But I loved trying to get that culture right.

Initial creation or editing phase? Which do you prefer?

I love both. I love writing along making up my story, but I know editing makes a good book better, and I want that improvement. I learned a saying that I always remember. ‘The best writing is re-writing’. I sincerely believe editing always strengthens a book.

What’s next for you?

Right now is a really hectic time. I’ve got a three book Heartsong Presents Series coming right now, book #1 was last month Buffalo Gal. Book #2 is this month, Clueless Cowboy and book #3 is December The Bossy Bridegroom.

And, in the midst of this is a three book Heartsong Presents Mysteries series. Book #1 of that is this month “Of Mice and Murder.” Books #2 and #3 will be out soon. Pride and Pestilence and The Miceman Cometh. They’re really fun, kind of whacky murder mysteries. In February book #3 in the Lassoed in Texas series comes out, Gingham Mountain. It finished the story started in Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon.

As you can see, Mary is one very busy writer! I have read Mary's first three books, and have loved every one of them. I know this trend will continue. You can visit Mary at and at where she's usually causing a ruckus. Her website can be found here:

Mary will be stopping in from time to time through out the day to answer questions and respond to comments. Drop her a line.
Thank you, Mary, for guesting on OTWP.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NaNo 6

Today wasn't an earthshattering gain on the NaNo, but respectable. I wrote 2466 words today for a total of 20619 so far.
A write in is scheduled for my local group on Saturday afternoon. I'm hoping that with a good effort tomorrow, I can be almost to the halfway point of 25K.
I went to a coffee shop today to write. I always feel so bohemian and artsy when I got to a coffee shop to work on my novel. Esp. since I don't even drink coffee. They allow me to buy a diet Coke or Pepsi.
This afternoon, I caved totally and ate a chocolate chip cookie. When I got home and tested my blood sugar, I was happy to see the meter read 85. Woohoo! As long as I don't indulge too often, a cookie now and again might be okay. :)

We interrupt this program

We interrupt this program to inform you that...

I'm guest blogging over at FavoritePASTimes blog. (Well, sort of. I wrote a review that is posted there today.) Hop on over and give it a gander.

We now rejoin our day already in progress. :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

NaNo 5 (and Wed. Weigh In)

Today I took the NaNo show on the road for the afternoon. Went to Panera Bread and wrote 3439 words, for a running total of 18153. I've never written a first draft so quickly.
And the amazing thing is...I don't think it's total drivel. Sure, it will need work, but the plot is flowing smoothly, and the characters are behaving in character.
Tomorrow starts chapter eight, something I've been looking forward to ever since the idea for it came to me. And it sounds like something out of one of the Dares on the NaNo forums. I get to write about the circus! Really! Doesn't get much better than that. Imagine all the possibilities for sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feels...yay! Even after today's long session of writing, I'm still eager to get back to it because the next chapter will be so much fun.
And for the Wednesday Weigh In... Yay! The numbers on the scale went DOWN. I lost a pound! Woohoo! As difficult and stagnate as things have been for the past several weeks, a pound is something to celebrate! Especially since I've eaten enough salad this week to make a bunny run shrieking into the night.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NaNo 4

Momentum is still flowing nicely. I wrote 4071 words today.
That felt good. So did voting in today's election. I have such peace right now that no matter who is elected, God will still be God in the morning, neither dismayed nor thrown off His plan by the piddly affairs of men and their elections.
Job 42:2"I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted."
Isn't that a comforting verse?

Monday, November 03, 2008

NaNo 3

Today was probably more typical of my NaNo writing than Saturday's big word count.
Today, after a trip to the orthodontist for the boy, schoolwork, bookwork, bank, post office, grocery store and piano lessons (whew!) I got to sit down at 3 pm and start writing.
I logged 3028 words this afternoon. Also got a speedy walk in with the DH after he got home from work. It was dark when we walked. Time change. Ugh!
Still, I'm happy with the word count and all the other stuff I got done today. I'm 1/5th of the way through a first draft! Woohoo!

Guest Blogger - Heather

Glorifying God Through Fantasy

Have you noticed the recent upsurge of fantasy books? Due to the success of The Lord of the Rings and related movies, literature suddenly abounds with dragons, knights, castles, and fair maidens. Even in Christian fiction, fantasy has been on the rise. Yet one author in particular takes the lead, Stephen R. Lawhead. Through twenty-three books and counting, Lawhead uses fantasy to tell of God’s mercy and grace.
Born in Nebraska in 1950, Lawhead was raised in the Midwest. After earning a university degree in Fine Arts from Kearney State College of Nebraska and attending Northern Baptist Theological Seminary for two years, Lawhead moved to Chicago. There he was hired at Campus Life as an editor and writer for five years. He wrote hundreds of articles and several nonfiction books. Lawhead then moved to England to research the ancient Celts. The Celtic time period of English history is the setting of many of Lawhead’s most popular books.
The subject matter of Lawhead’s books is truly unique. Shunning the orcs, dragons, and elves of typical fantasy, Lawhead delves into the rich cultural world of the ancient Celts of Britain. Not only does he write about the Celts; he retells their legends. Particularly popular are Lawhead’s retellings of King Arthur and Robin Hood.
With his unique stories, Lawhead has unique settings. The rough-and-readiness of Celtic warfare is the perfect fantasy setting for epic battles and legendary heroes. The heavy superstition of Celtic mythology creates a dark world where the Word of God shines brightly. This combination creates a rich canvas for Lawhead to paint his stories upon. The heroes constantly have to choose between the easy way and the right way. They pray often and sometimes must take up their swords in defense of their faith and friends. God Himself comes to the rescue at times, imparting wisdom or sending a miracle in answer to prayer. With memorable characters and settings, Lawhead’s books easily captivate the reader’s interest.
Lawhead’s characters are memorable because they provide a mirror of real people like us. They are not superheroes who easily leap over problems in a single bound. The characters are simply human, with all the human race’s problems, longings, and questions. They fail, fall short, and learn to rely on God’s power, not their own. They search to find God’s will in their lives and, thanks to the author’s wonderful writing style, we suffer when they do and rejoice right along with them. We can easily associate with them, especially those who experience the same trials and hardships as we do.
I am sure all of us can relate to the story of the Dragon King Trilogy. The first book of the series, In the Hall of the Dragon King, portrays a young man named Quentin in the land of Mensandar. Quentin is disappointed in the phony gods of his world but finds salvation and peace in the Most High God. Upon reflection, Quentin realizes that he had been searching for the true God his whole life; yet he had not found God. God had found him. Only the true God could fill the longing in his heart because God had made him. In the second book, The Warlords of Nin, Quentin is thrown into a war. Enemies who put their trust in darkness invade Mensandar. Through trials, hardships, and sacrifice, Quentin perseveres in doing the right thing. God rewards him and makes him an unlikely hero in the saving of Mensandar. This story illustrates that God uses the weak and makes them strong when they serve Him, much like the Biblical account of David and Goliath. In the final book, The Sword and the Flame, Quentin feels abandoned by God. His friends turn against him and God seems silent. Even his wife and son are taken from him. In this allegory of the book of Job, Quentin learns that God may test our faith, but He is always there to save us in times of need. God will always rescue those who call on Him.
With such vivid settings and realistic characters, Lawhead also brings a Christian perspective, and his stories reflect it. When the knights court the fair ladies, they do so in a godly and chivalrous manner. The characters stand firm in their beliefs, more willing to die fighting for righteousness and their friends than to save their own necks. The heroes not only fight the enemy but also themselves. They struggle daily to die to self and live for God. So many of these truths are missing from secular fantasy. In secular fantasy, though the heroes may strive to be chivalrous, they often rely on their works to save themselves. Evil is often accented or even smiled upon. This is not the case in Lawhead’s stories. Though Lawhead’s characters sometimes fail, it is because of their human sin nature. The hero must always look to God for the ultimate victory and not rely on his own strength.
But can even fantasy worlds truly acknowledge a God as great and mighty as ours? Lawhead shows that they can. Though Lawhead’s characters rarely refer to Him as God, Lord, or Jesus, the names the characters use show the author’s reverence of God. These names include Most High God, Whinoek Father of Life, Great Light, and the Swift Sure Hand. These names are always mentioned with respect and provide glimpses of God’s attributes, such as holiness, justice, and omnipotence. The characters worship God, praise Him, pray to Him, and glorify Him.
It may seem strange to some that Lawhead can combine fantasy and Christianity. Yet Lawhead does this in a way that is plausible. In the Pendragon cycle, for example, Merlin is a Roman Catholic. History shows that Celtic Christianity came to England in the fifth century, at about the time Lawhead places his books. Lawhead portrays Merlin not as a wizard of mythical art but as a bard and prophet. For those who just do not like fantasy in general, consider trying some of Lawhead’s historical fiction. Byzantium and Patrick portray the real historical figures of Aidan and Patrick, who are some of the earliest missionaries to the Celtic peoples of Britain and Ireland. These books are not loaded with the fantasy of some of Lawhead’s books yet retain all the author’s unique style and scope.
Today, many readers love Stephen R. Lawhead’s unique combination of fantasy and Biblical truths. Since Lawhead began writing fantasy in 1981, his books have not gone out of print. He has a huge fan base in both the United States and the United Kingdom. He has also received multiple awards for his writing, including a Christy award for his latest book, Scarlet. In 2003, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Nebraska. His books have been translated into twenty-one different foreign languages.In a fantasy world of dark magic, Lawhead leads the way in the growing market of Christian fantasy. With a firm foundation in God’s Word, Lawhead continues to write captivating stories that testify to the glory of God. He will continue to be well read and well received by readers around the world.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaNo 2

Nothing written today, but a great Sabbath for me. Church, dinner with friends, then company over for the afternoon. I feel refreshed after the big day yesterday and ready to dive in again tomorrow.
I hope your Sabbath was refreshing too.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

NaNo Day 1

Had a good day today. 7615 words. Whew, am I tired.

Had a thought while I was working...I'm really going to miss these characters when this story is done. Maybe because it is the third in a series, maybe because I've plotted this book more heavily than any book I've written before, but the first 7600 words came easier than the beginning of any book I've tried, even last year's NaNo novel attempt.

Longtime readers of OTWP will know that I usually have to whine my way through the first 20-40 pages of a new WIP. But this time I know my characters so much better, know what it is they want, and more importantly why they can't have it, that the work is going well. Well, the first day did, anyway.

I could tell I was having Mary Ann tendencies. (See my Seekerville post HERE.) Every time I knew I was going to be mean to my characters, I had to get up from the table at the library and walk around to psych myself up to lower the boom. It got to be kinda fun. :D

We Have A Winner

We tossed the names into the Helga Hat, and Heather pulled out a winner.

Congratulations, Carla!