Monday, October 25, 2010

Another World winner!

The giveaway winner has been determined! Congratulations... Nancye, You have won!! I will email you, and you have 24 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kristen Wisen giveaway! (CLOSED)

Yes, another giveaway!! This time, a friend has graciously provided me with each of end times author Kristen Wisen's books, The Appearing and Overcomer. (Thanks Mrs. Hall!) You can read my review of The Appearing here: http://noahsreads.blogspot.com/2010/10/appearing-review.html. Kristen Wisen comes from the pre-wrath viewpoint.
Here are the rules:

Open to the U.S. and Canada.

This is a points-based giveaway. Two winners will be chosen. The first place winner will get the first pick, and so on. 

Any comments should include an email in no-spam form. [john(at)example(dot)com]
  1. You must do this to be eligible for any other points. You can follow this blog. A follower widget should be located on the blog's sidebar. (earns 200 points)
  2. You can post about this giveaway on your blog. Comments MUST have a link. Limited to once a week. (earns 100 points each)
  3. You can tweet with a link to this post. Comments MUST have a link. Limited to once a day (earns 50 points each)
  4. You can add my blog button (located on my sidebar) to your site. Comment MUST have a link. (earns 150 points)
  5. You can read any of my reviews (update: or interviews) on this blog and comment on it. (earns 50 points each)
  6. You may link to this giveaway on facebook. Update! Comments do not have to have links. However, you must send me an image of your status. My email is manuscriptna(at)gmail(dot)com. Limited to once a day. (earns 50 points)
This giveaway will end November 13th.


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More Ryann Watters

Here are some character fan posters I created for the new movie Ryann Watters and the King's Sword, based off of Eric Reinhold's fantasy book of the same name.






Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ryann Watters!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_eB7CzXZreD0/S_0rweG8qdI/AAAAAAAABVU/mkTz8YJlIWs/s320/2010-0525+One+Sheet+Front.jpg


I don't know if you have ever read or heard of anything by Eric Reinhold, but his fantasy is really good, from what I have read! The reason I am bringing this up now is because TYG Studios is making a movie of Mr. Reinhold's book, Ryann Watters and the King's Sword! Right now they are in the filming stage, and they plan to release it in 2011. I created some fan posters for this movie (even though they're nothing great) to help publicize the movie. The image above is a real poster, and the three below are mine.







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FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software

FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software, Kerry Nietz, Hentzenwerke Publishing, Memoir, 2003, 265 pages.

Here is the publisher’s synopsis of the book:

Much has been written about the battles that go on between software companies over market share. FoxTales is the story about one such battle, told from the perspective of a foot soldier-my perspective.


When I started working for Fox Software as a young college grad, it was a company of barely over thirty people. It shared space in a small bank building located in the town of Perrysburg-on the edge of Ohio’s farm country. It was a quaint, family-run business and it’s product, FoxBASE+, was a niche player.


The next four years brought many surprises, though. In that time, Fox would release a line of award winning database products, be sued by a larger rival company, grow to over 250 employees, and eventually outlive the rival to merge with Microsoft, moving all of us thousands of miles west.


And to think, I could’ve been a farmer.

My thoughts: Wow!! Kerry Nietz has surprised me again! In his later works (The Dark Trench Saga) he blew my mind with great sci-fi material, and now he has done so with his knowledge of software. Most of the time, I didn’t know what he was describing at all, but what was necessary, the difficulty or necessity of it, came clear. Nietz rendition of Dave Fulton was quite vivid, and he skillfully conveyed the characteristics of each of the mentioned employees. He wrote this book from the perspective of the “college grad,” always showing someone else’s work or product to be superior, and for this I admire him.

My rating: 5 stars

 Upcoming reviews
  • Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry
  • Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask by Mark Mittelberg (sp?)
Read my interview with Kerry Nietz
Buy FoxTales
Check out Kerry Nietz's website

Friday, October 22, 2010

Writing Wednesday (late)

I know it is Friday, but this is the soonest I could do it. It will continue to be this way for 1-4 weeks at least. Anyway, here is a personal testimony I gave as a speech at my school. It has not been edited at all, just a warning.

    God has worked in my life many ways, both with subtlety and a megaphone. An obvious bellow would be the fact that I have been saved. I was saved as a child, but I did not yet fully understand how to live for Christ. In the year I reached a decade of life, I experienced my first summer camp week. This Christian organization, Camp Gilead, changed my view of Christ a lot during my first two years. During the second year, I re-dedicated my life to Jesus, now realizing what it took to live for him. I went there twice more, last year being the most recent. Last year, God put a very important person in my life. He was my cabin counselor, and I felt free to open up about myself and my sins. This was a great blessing from God, because I could not keep these terrible things locked away for long without dwelling more on them, leading to further depression. Today, I am still in contact with this person, and the Lord is continuing to use him to guide me to Him.
    This year, God has led me to pursue Camp Gilead’s high school staff program. I  hope to encourage campers as I was myself inspired. So far, he has opened the doors to this opportunity to uplift and possibly witness to children and peers. God also may be calling me to the life of a missionary. He has given me a talent of memory, an interest in languages, and a desire to travel.
    God gave me a special opportunity, that being to attend this school. I have never worked this hard in school, but is greatly beneficial to both my physical and spiritual growth. In my time at Covenant, God has given me a rare gift: a new friend. Through my life, I have had very few friends, and single one more is amazing.
    Despite God’s help, I am still not perfect. No one can be. I am still participating in very bad habits that need to be broken. I give too little time to God, I am not exactly edifying to my siblings, and I need to respect my parents more. These are not all my problems. I have much worse sins to account for and discontinue. Please pray for me.


Kristen Wisen interview

Please welcome as our guest futuristic fiction author Kristen Wisen!

NA: What drew you to write futuristic Christian fiction?

KW: My father did quite a bit of eschatological writing and began a ministry to teach the church about the last days before he passed away in 1999.  He and I were science fiction enthusiasts and I had often imagined penning a fictional story based on his biblical teaching.  Novels are a great way to actually teach, however you have to be careful not to be preachy when you write.  I probably tried to start writing a dozen times, but years after his death, it just started to flow.  I think initially I wanted to encourage those who were in the throes of the theological battle about the timing of Christ’s return by giving them more material, but soon my heart turned to the unprepared church.

NA: What is unique in The Appearing compared to other futuristic fiction?

The Appearing: In the End Is Our Beginning CoverKW: Well, the biggest comparison I have is the Left Behind series and there is basically one glaring difference. I place the return of Christ (rapture) after the mid-point of the 70th week of Daniel and Left Behind places this event at the start.  The question of whether or not the church will go through the great tribulation will change an author’s storyline.

NA: Were there any books that you read that became inspiration or interest
in the genre?

KW: I am a big Dekker fan, but I think I have been a storyteller ever since I was a child.  I did read a little of my “competitor” and to be honest, it ticked me off.  So I was inspired to write something with more of a biblical foundation.

NA: Where did the interest in the end times come from?

KW: As I stated earlier, my father got me into the end times mode.  He was a passionate man, and growing up, I can remember him going through various phases – an origins phase, a sovereignty phase – this was his end times phase. He wanted to have a good biblical defense for the pre-tribulational rapture.  But the longer he studied the scriptures as a whole, the less solid his defense became.  Eight years into his study, he began to share what he was learning and though initially I didn’t want to hear it, I grew to love it because it became so clear in scripture.  The return of Jesus is the great hope of the church and should be something we all study and look for!

NA: Would you enjoy living in a cave?

KW: Enjoy?  Are you kidding me?  There are critters in caves…

NA: Which character was the hardest to write?

KW: Probably my male characters were the hardest. I didn’t want them to seem girly at all – being a woman writing the thoughts and actions of a man was very difficult.  But I had several real-life people in mind when I wrote certain characters and climbing into their shoes helped.  My editor had me write out a form for each character, answering about 40 questions about each one – favorite color, past job experience, childhood memories, favorite foods, education, etc.  Then when I wrote from that character’s perspective, I climbed into their shoes and made sure I was that person before I started writing again. It was a fun exercise.

NA: Which character was the easiest to write?

KW: Emma – at the time I wrote The Appearing, I had four teen-aged daughters – I was immersed with teen-aged girls and she came very easily!

NA: If you could be any person in your books, who would it be?

KW: I’ll pick from The Appearing, since you haven’t reviewed the second book yet! I  probably identified with Emma the most, not that she was written after me, but I did have a huge sense of right and wrong at a very young age and it seemed like I was always the conscience in the room.  Emma’s conscience is pretty loud and when she goes against her conscience, she gets herself in a lot of trouble – I guess that could me my testimony as well.

NA: If The Appearing were made into a movie, would you have any preferred
actor, director, composer, etc?

KW: I wouldn’t want the Coen brothers to direct because they are just too bizarre!  I guess I haven’t really thought about a movie.  Sorry…

NA: That is all right. J Can you tell us three things about yourself we readers may not know?

KW:  1.  My kids have never beaten me at laser tag.
      2.  I make killer chocolate chip cookies.
      3.  Though I am way too young, I am going to be a grandmother of twins this winter!  (yay!)

NA: Do you have any other book plans or ideas?

KW: I have written a sister novel to The Appearing. It is called Overcomer and it is not a sequel, but it takes place at the very same time as The Appearing’s storyline. So the international details are similar and since I laid them out in the first book, I don’t have to spend as much time on that in the second.  As for ideas, I have hundreds.  As for plans, it has become rather expensive to self-publish, so until the Lord swings that door wide open, my ideas are on hold. Oops, I almost forgot! I am published in Hebrew! I wrote a bible study book on the character of Jesus Christ and though I couldn’t find a publisher here in the states, my book was published in Hebrew and is blessing (Lord-willing) the church in Israel!  Strange but true story…

NA: Wow! Do you have any advice to those writing or planning to write futuristic Christian fiction?

KW: If you’re going to call it Christian, then be biblical.  Don’t misuse scripture but be a faithful student before you even write one word. I believe there is a high accountability for those of us who write and put the Christian label on it – be faithful to the Word.

NA: Thank you for spending this time with us! It was great to have you! May God bless you and your writing!

Read my review of The Appearing
Check out Mrs. Wisen's website

Sunday, October 17, 2010

T.L. Hines interview

 Please welcome as our guest today supernatural suspense author T.L. Hines!

NA: What drew you to write Christian suspense?

TLH: I don’t know that anything drew me specifically to a particular
genre—Christian or mainstream, suspense or horror. I’ve always just written
the kind of thing I enjoy reading: stories that are a bit off-center,
incorporating supernatural and/or odd elements. That’s why I like to call
what I write “Noir Bizarre.” It’s a little bit crime/mystery/suspense (the
“Noir”) part, and a little bit of a detour into the Twilight Zone (the
“Bizarre” part). I never go out of my way to work Christian elements into a
story, but I do naturally touch on some of those themes since faith is an
important part of who I am.

NA: What is unique in The Falling Away compared to other Christian
suspense?

The Falling Away by TL HinesTLH: I’m probably not the best person to ask, as the author. I have things
I think are different about it, but I don’t think a book is best judged by
the author. It’s judged by the readers. I’m always interested in tackling
different subject matter, and trying to do different spins on established
tropes. I aimed for a bit of both with this book.

NA: Were there any books that you read that became inspiration or interest
in the genre?

TLH: Oh, I think every book an author reads becomes fodder for his or her
writing. We’re all about telling stories, and the stories we hear become a
natural part of that fabric. In terms of Christian suspense, I certainly
owe a debt of gratitude to authors such as C.S. Lewis and, more recently,
Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. Without them, I don’t think a lot of
Christian suspense novels (or supernatural suspense) would sit on the
shelves today.

NA: Where did the story idea come from?

TLH: No one specific source. I think most story ideas come from a unique
mash-up of distinct ideas, which certainly was the case with “The Falling
Away.” I traveled a lot across Montana, and I often passed this giant wind
farm on the high plains of the state. Whenever I drove through that
section, I always thought how menacing the giant wind turbines seemed. So
in the back of my mind, I always wanted to set a story in that kind of
area. On the opposite side, I’ve always been drawn to the cultures of the
Native American tribes in Montana, especially after reading about some of
the honoring ceremonies performed for returning soldiers. So the idea of an
Iraqi war vet who happens to be an American Indian seemed to have a lot of
interesting possibilities.

NA: Were there any smaller influences that came into the book?

TLH: Every moment of every day, I think I pick up small little influences
and nuances that happen to work their way into my writing. It might be
individual scenes, character traits, snippets of dialogue…anything, really.
I constantly file away those bits of information and use them later.

NA: Why did you use the image of an embedder as a Christian in your book?

TLH: I think in today’s church, we have this tendency to sanitize the
Christian life. It’s easy to think of “before and after” imagery in terms
of becoming a believer, but life is rarely that neat and tidy. Certainly
mine isn’t. The fact is, there are constant struggles even after we become
Believers. At the same time, I believe He can, and does, use who we are to
accomplish good in this world—even if some of the traits we display aren’t
good traits themselves.

That’s why I was drawn to creating the character of Quinn, a woman who
suffers from Self-Embedding Disorder. On the one hand, she’s suffered from
this compulsion, and continues to struggle with it. On the other hand, it’s
this compulsion itself that uniquely qualifies her to do what she does. Her
compulsion—the embedding—becomes something of a spiritual (and physical)
shield for her.

NA: Do you believe there is demonic activity like you described going on
frequently today?

TLH: Sure, I believe we see demonic activity, and activity of a fallen
world in general, around us every day. Disease, disaster, lies, and so on
are symptoms of our broken world; this isn’t the way it was supposed to be.
At the same time, I don’t think we have a good handle on how evil truly
operates. C.S. Lewis portrayed operating as “armies” controlled by a true
chain of command, and many Christians still think in those terms. I wanted
to present a different view of evil and how it spreads, and the metaphor of
an infection or bacterial strain seemed an interesting way to do it.

NA: Which character was the hardest to write?

TLH: Every character is hard to write for different reasons. Dylan, the
main character, was a challenge for a couple of big reasons. First, he has
some obsessive/compulsive tendencies, so he really needed some quirks in
his thinking and logic. Also, as a physically injured man who has lost
touch with his heritage, he’s a “broken” man on both physical and spiritual
levels. Finally, because his missing sister Joni still exists inside his
head, it became a challenge to portray his ongoing relationship with her.

NA: Which character was the easiest to write?

TLH: I don’t think there’s such a thing as an easy character to write. If
it’s easy, I feel like I must be doing something wrong.

NA: If you could be any character in your books, who would it be?

TLH: Interesting you should ask this. In many interviews, I’ve talked about
authors who write what I like to call “wish fulfillment” characters. By
that, I mean they write about main characters who can do all the things
they, as authors, wish they could do. They have supreme powers of
reasoning. Or they’re expert martial artists. Or they’re world-renowned
experts in their fields.

I feel like I’m drawn to writing the opposite kinds of characters. I write
characters I’d never want to be. I’m drawn to people who are mentally
unbalanced, living in the margins.

NA: If your books were made into a movie, would you have any preferred
actor, director, composer, etc?

TLH: I’ve been asked this question before, and I have to say I’m not the
guy who fantasizes about any of my books being made into movies. I’ve had
interest in film rights from several sources, but nothing that’s ever
panned out.

NA: Can you tell us three things about yourself we readers may not know?

TLH: Hmmm. I’m an undefeated 3-0 in air guitar competitions (I performed
songs by ZZ Top). I’m 0-1 in my short-lived boxing career. I have some
obsessive/compulsive tendencies myself…which is probably why some of my
characters inherit those same tendencies.

NA: Do you have any other book plans or ideas after your current series?

TLH: Well, I haven’t really written a series. All my books are standalone
stories, and I like that. Sometimes, I think it would be more difficult to
write a series, coming up with different situations and ideas for the same
characters. I admire writers who can do that, but to this point, I’m not
one of them.

NA: Do you have any advice to those writing or planning to write Christian
speculative fiction?

TLH: Listen to the voice inside more than the voices outside. There will be
plenty of people offering you plenty of advice for how and what to write.
They’ll tell you which genre you should aim for, which subjects to shy away
from, which stories are “big sellers” in the marketplace right now. Ignore
them and write the story that quiet voice inside is urging you to write.
That’s the story God wants you to write, and that’s the story that will be
true to who you are as an author.

NA: Thank you for visiting, Mr. Hines! May God bless you and your writing!

Read my review of The Falling Away
Check out Mr. Hines' website
Buy The Falling Away
Check out more Christian suspense!

Mend Mark Giveaway (CLOSED)

TBB Media has graciously provided a Mend Mark bracelet for me to give away to one of you! This contest's winner will be chosen randomly (random.org) from all the entries. First, here is some information about the Mend Mark.


The Mark of Love

The Mend Mark tells a powerful story in two words

Mend Mark open packageHave you been “Marked?” The Mend Mark is a mission, a movement, an entire revolution. It is a bracelet meant to remind its wearers of Christ’s love and sacrifice, and its message is the passion of its creator, Hunter Harrison.

The Mend Mark is an innovative and distinctive bracelet that is designed to reflect the scars and nail holes of Jesus. When worn, the band resembles the deep holes of the nail driven into the wrists of Jesus during his crucifixion. By bringing the story of Jesus’ life and death to constant awareness by wearing a bracelet, Mend Mark is meant to powerfully remind wearers of the ultimate act of love Jesus made for all of humankind.

Harrison’s mission is to remind all to remember Christ’s love in both his life and death. But more than only a poignant recollection, the Mend Mark is meant to inspire and motivate wearers to live a life of service. Harrison strives to bring people together around the simplicity and power of love as lived by Jesus. But this is no example of passive love. The Mend Mark calls individuals in all walks of life to love with a profound sincerity and commitment great enough to change a neighborhood, a community, a world.

Harrison leads this call to love and sacrifice by example and joins hands with each Mend Mark bracelet purchaser to take the first step in global change. A portion of each bracelet sold goes to support Living Water International, an organization combating the clean water crisis victimizing over one billion people worldwide. Mend Mark bracelet.jpgEach $5,000 given will result in one well drilled, providing a community with clean water.

But wearers should be prepared to be seen. Unique in its design, the Mend Mark is sure to be noticed and gives wearers an opportunity to share the story of the profound love of Jesus for each and every person. “It was important to me that the design was simple and generic enough that the observer had to ask about it to know what it meant. But I also wanted it to appear distinctive enough that it sparked curiosity,” reveals creator Hunter Harrison. “I wanted it to require the wearer of the product to engage in conversation about the love of Christ (and hopefully show that love to others) instead of just letting the product talk for them.”

Launched in late 2009 after a year and a half of packaging, material, and design development by Harrison, the bracelet has been sold across the United States, Canada, and the UK and has been featured in retail stores as well. The Mend Mark bracelet movement has grown to further fame after being worn during performances by American Idol winner Lee Dewyze, Idol runner up Siobhan Magnus, Decifer Down, Israel Houghton & New Breed, Pillar, and Finding Favour, to name a few. Says Harrison, “I want it to be more than just another bracelet; I want it to represent a movement.” Based on the way things are going, a movement is exactly what it is becoming.

Order online for $9.99 at www.mendmark.com.

Now for the giveaway rules:

This contest is open to the U.S. and Canada. No siblings can enter (:P).
Any comments should include an email in no-spam form. [john(at)example(dot)com]
  1. You must do this to be eligible for any other entries. You must follow this blog. A follower widget is located on the blog's sidebar. (earns 2 entries)
  2. You can post about this giveaway on your blog. Comments MUST have a link. Limited to once a week. (earns 2 entries)
  3. You can tweet with a link to this post. Comments MUST have a link. Limited to once a day (earns 2 entries)
  4. You may link to this giveaway on facebook. Comments MUST have a link. Limited to once a day. (now earns 2 entries)
  5. You can add my blog button (located on my sidebar) to your site. Comment MUST have a link. (earns 1 entry)
  6. You can read any of my reviews or interviews on this blog and comment on it. (earns 1 entry)
This giveaway will end October 31st.

Taking Back Astronomy

http://www.newleafpublishinggroup.com/images/taking-back.gif


Taking Back Astronomy: The Heavens Declare Creation and Science Confirms It, Jason Lisle, New Leaf Press, Religion & Science, 2006; 2009, 128 pages.

Here is the synopsis from Master Books:

One of the major stumbling blocks to the presentation of the Gospel in our culture today involves astronomy. For decades, public school students (and even seminary students!) have been taught that the world is far older than the Bible chronology suggests, even billions of years older. This naturally causes a disconnect for people, who assume that modern "science" is unbiased and correct. The author debunks the most accepted teachings about evolution, giving tremendous answers for those struggling to reconcile the Bible and science. Readers are given solid answers to questions about the speed of light, geology, and the big bang.


My thoughts: This was an incredible book! When it first said it would be merely an introduction, I got the idea that it would be mostly pictures with a few captions explaining them. It was exactly the opposite! There were SO MANY facts in there, refuting evolutionary and naturalist arguments in many areas of astronomy. Big bang, millions of years, Oort Cloud, baryon number, you name it! It gives all of this from a Christian standpoint, and shows how the Bible confirms this science, and how this science confirms the Bible. All the pictures of galaxies, planets, and nebulae were astounding! Then, to top it off, he gives the Bible’s good news itself into the last chapter! I was very pleased!


*I received a free copy of this book from the New Leaf Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.*

My rating: 5 stars

Upcoming reviews
  • FoxTales by Kerry Nietz
  • Overcomer by Kristen Wisen
Buy Taking Back Astronomy
Check out more Religion & Science books!




Saturday, October 16, 2010

Giveaway Update

I forgot to mention, and I hope this doesn't disqualify anyone already entered, but the giveaway is limited to the U.S. and Canada.

Little Town of Bethlehem

Is Peace in the Middle East Really Possible?
New film shares true stories of hope in the midst of violence

ltob coverThere is no shortage of opinions, emotions, and actions regarding finding “peace in the Middle East.” While some are familiar with the issue and others are personally impacted by the conflict, many more are unaware, uninformed, and unconcerned about this critical global issue. Little Town of Bethlehem is a groundbreaking new documentary that shares the gripping story of three men—a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian, and an Israeli Jew—born into violence and willing to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime.

Filmed on location in the West Bank, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, Little Town of Bethlehem brings awareness to a growing non-violent movement in the Middle East that rarely, if ever, makes international headlines.

Sami Awad is a Palestinian Christian whose grandfather was killed in Jerusalem in 1948. Today he is the executive director of Holy Land Trust, a non-profit organization that promotes Palestinian independence through peaceful means. Yonatan Shapira is an Israeli Jew whose grandparents were Zionist settlers who witnessed the birth of the Israeli nation. Today he is an outspoken advocate for the non-violent peace movement, both in his homeland and abroad. Ahmad Al' Azzah is a Palestinian Muslim who has lived his entire life in the Azzah refugee camp in Bethlehem. Today, Ahmad heads the non-violence program at Holy Land Trust, where he trains others in the methods of peaceful activism.

Little Town of Bethlehem honestly and respectfully shares Sami’s, Yonatan’s, and Ahmad’s stories. With all three men referencing both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi during individual interviews, it is clear that their words, thoughts, and actions on nonviolence are still profoundly impacting today’s nonviolent movement. The images of these three men standing firm in the face of overwhelming opposition are inspirational, but Little Town of Bethlehem is not just about inspiring viewers. The filmmakers also raise the question, “Can the cycle of violence be broken?”

Little Town of Bethlehem was produced by EthnoGraphic Media (EGM), an educational non-profit organization exploring the critical issues of our time. Other feature films and documentaries from EGM include The Grandfathers (2009), Miss HIV (2008), and the award-winning End of the Spear (2005) and Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2002).

Like all EGM films, Little Town of Bethlehem was created with a global youth audience in mind. But this film will connect with any viewer who desires a deeper understanding of conflict resolution. “The major themes in the film are universal and timeless. The desire to end violence through nonviolence is not a demographic phenomenon, though often it is youth that mobilize. The theme of this film is appropriate for anyone who deals with conflict. This hopeful message of equality is for all,” says Jim Hanon, chief creative officer at EGM and the film’s director. “Little Town of Bethlehem doesn’t focus on who’s right or who’s wrong. The focus is on three men from different places and with different backgrounds who struggle together toward this common goal through nonviolence. We feel that the nonviolent approach promoted by the film is a humanitarian message with the power to transcend religions, nations, politics, languages, and cultures.”  Watch the trailer below




My thoughts: All things considered, I didn’t learn too much from this documentary. Not to say there was nothing to be learned; the music was often loud and distracting. I will have to watch it a second time to get the full intended impression. What I did learn came mostly from the great photography. There were a lot of good scenes showing the culture, including the music (which I found to be overly repetitive). The brief animations on the fences were quite interesting!

My rating: 3 stars.

Upcoming reviews
  • Another World by Philip Stott
  • Taking Back Astronomy by Jason Lisle
I was provided a free review copy of this film by TBB Media. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Douglas Bond interview

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_fjxIibOMbtY/ShCj4RLladI/AAAAAAAAAGs/RvWD9X70zl0/S220/Bond-11.jpg
Please welcome as our guest, historical fiction author (and my english lit teacher!), Douglas Bond!



NA: What drew you to write Christian historical fiction?

DB: My children began asking me not to just read them a book but to tell them a story that I made up out of my own imagination. I protested at first. “There’s plenty of perfectly good books and stories,” I attempted to argue. “Why do I need to make more of them up?” My protestations were vetoed and I started making up stories. Historical fiction came naturally to me because I love history, majored in it in college, and I have a high view of the value of Church history for keeping the Church from thinking too highly of itself today and reining in its tendency to be enamored with the latest thing.
http://www.wtsbooks.com/blog_images/9781596381254blog.png

NA: What is unique in The Betrayal compared to other Christian historical fiction?

DB: I was sort of forced to write it by my publisher; my idea for a Calvin book was very different. They vetoed my idea and asked me to write a novel instead. I was terrified. Calvin is such a giant and I was afraid that I would make a disaster of his life if I didn’t get both the history right and the story telling right. I knew I couldn’t attempt to tell the story from inside Calvin’s head; I was sure that I could never do him justice with this point of view. So the story is unique in that I tell it from the point of view of a critic and rival who grew up with Calvin in Noyon, resented his intellect and privileges, and grew more determined to destroy him while in Paris. The story takes off from there.

NA: Were there any books that you read that became inspiration or interest
in the genre?

DB: I was inspired by reading some historical fiction books that I didn’t feel like worked very well, that failed to create authentic characters with real problems in a real world. There seemed to be plenty of books like that, so I wanted to write books that went deep with complex characters attempting to figure out the perplexities of life in a deeply flawed and broken world. I found inspiration in just about everything I have read from C. S. Lewis (though he didn’t write historical fiction), Robert Louis Stevenson, Rosemary Sutcliff, Shakespeare, Milton, and many others.

NA: Where did the interest in John Calvin come from?

DB: Of course the release of The Betrayal was timed with Calvin’s 500th birthday (1509-2009), but my interest in him goes much deeper than simply a timely publication strategy. I became more interested in Calvin and his influence in the Reformation and beyond while I was in college studying history. The more I have read Calvin and those who were influenced by him, the more I became convinced that he was one of the most important theologians and Christians since the closing of the biblical canon. There is a renewed interest in Calvin and his theology that is much-needed and bodes well for getting us out of the emotive rut the church has settled into in its theology, worship, and living. The Betrayal is my best-selling book and has been translated into Dutch (Het Varraad) and now into Turkish. I hope into many more languages to be read by many more Christians and unbelievers around the world.  

NA: What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

DB: I get to hang out every day with great kids like Noah A. who have inquisitive minds, are supported by loving parents who want them to be nurtured in a gospel-of-grace centered school, where truth is understood to be first and foremost a person, Jesus Christ, not an elastic thing moderns play games with. I often think of what we are doing in the big picture: God graciously using flawed vessels to equip another generation for the work of the ministry, for living out the gospel in a troubled world that needs joyful Christians unafraid to sit down and listen and answer questions by pointing the way to free grace found in Christ alone.

NA: I certainly enjoy learning from you each day! Which person was the hardest to write about?

DB: In the Betrayal? I’d say Calvin himself. I created his voice from his writings, but especially from his letters where he is most accessible.

NA: Which person was the easiest to write about?

DB: The villain. Always the villains. I guess they’re easiest to write about in part because they’re most like we are, like I am. Goodness is much more difficult to portray well in fiction. It so easily devolves into unrealistic sentimentalism (Elsie Dinsmore-ism). The Bible’s heroes always have flaws, always experience failure—except One!

NA: If you could be any person in your books, who would it be?

DB: Good question. I get asked if I am Mr. Pipes or Sandy M’Kethe. No way. I wish I could be more like these men. Mr. Pipes is without question my closest to “perfect” character, but even he has weaknesses (failing health, creeping old age, occasional fears and longings). He is not who that series is about. It’s about deeply flawed kids who need to get the gospel right, need to meet the Savior. Mr. Pipes functions as my means to lead them to Christ through fictional episodes that intersect with the lives and stories of Christian hymnody and worship.

NA: If The Betrayal were made into a movie, would you have any preferred
actor, director, composer, etc?

DB: John Williams writes amazing modern musical soundtracks for films. Jean-Louis ought to be someone pretty dastardly. Calvin would be a tough one. Who do you think? Help me here.

NA: For Jean-Louis, Ben Barnes possibly? And how about Joaquin Phoenix as Calvin?
Can you tell us three things about yourself we readers may not know?

DB: I prefer duck eggs in my omelets. Usually when I begin a book, I’m very insecure, feel like I can’t ever write like I wrote in… whatever book, and wonder what on earth I’m doing trying to write another book.

NA: Do you have any other book plans or ideas?

DB: I am under contract for two more books right now (18th and 19th contracts), one I’m writing (with the aforesaid emotional turmoil in rolling boil) that will be a companion to The Betrayal on John Knox, and another set in 7th century Anglo-Saxon Britain. I have recently completed two non-fiction biographies, one on Knox (to release with Reformation Trust, April, 2011) and another on Isaac Watts.

NA: Do you have any advice to those writing or planning to write historical fiction?

DB: Read, read, read. Get thoroughly immersed in the historical context. But observe real people around you today and make the story relevant to the universal human problem that transcends a particular time and place. Historical fiction, well-crafted, ought to draw readers into unconsciously saying things to themselves as they read like this: “Jean-Louis is so much like my envious neighbor.” Hmm, read on. “Jean-Louis is so much like I am. Why am I like this? Why do I want what others have been given, and why am I so ungrateful for what I have been given. Why am I so discontent with the role I have been given to play? Why do I tear down others to build myself up? Why do I think I’m so much more worthy of honor than Joe-blow or Suzy-que? What is my problem! Why am I so powerless to solve it? Moral improvement didn’t work for Jean-Louis, and it’s not working very well for me either. Where can I go for answers to my real problem? I must find the answers.”

NA: Thank you! It was great to have you! May God bless you in your writing!

Buy The Betrayal
Check out more Christian historical fiction
Check out Mr. Bond's website!


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Writing Wednesday

This time I am putting up an essay. Let me know if this works or not. The essay was a school assignment about the internet.

The internet seems like it powers the world, and it seems and we cannot do anything without it. If it were to never have been, we often could spend our time more wisely, but there would be several things we would never have learned. Along with this knowledge opportunity, there is also the risk of hackers and unwanted websites. Altogether, the cons outweigh the pros, but there are solutions to get rid of several cons.
    A positive feature of the internet is interaction with people anywhere on the globe. One can send an email to anyone anywhere in the world, and it will arrive in seconds. The internet is also a great big encyclopedia. Information in the form of articles, magazines, or books can be accessed within seconds, and it can be published online with very little cost for unlimited viewers. Because of this material, those who were addicted to television are now literate, and often write many things themselves. Because these people can now access seemingly unlimited information, they have great insight into the cultures of many other countries.
    Unfortunately, because of this connection to these foreign countries, internet communication is replacing traditional communication. Public relations should be the meeting a person face-to-face, not through a computer screen.  Because of the replacement, people who do not have a connection to the web are frequently left out of communication. These people also cannot access information quickly, which is further reason for them to be left out. Many people have personal information stored on the internet, which hackers can easily view. Identities, credit cards, and bank accounts can be accessed or even stolen by these criminals. When accessing the internet, searching for information on websites can be dangerous, especially for youths. The temptation of pornography can appear anytime, anywhere, as well as the urge to pirate music or films. According to a survey by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the University of Michigan Child Health Evaluation and Research, 13% of parents whose children access the internet take no measures to limit what their children are viewing.
    These temptations and risks far outweigh the advantages of the internet. This is because the temptations can be placed anywhere, and hackers can also get almost anywhere. Internet communication can substitute for some traditional communication in the form of video conferences, meetings, etc. The internet is available on most mobile phones, which are usually cheaper than computers. This gives an opportunity for people with less money to gain access. To protect personal assets, better internet protection programs can be created. Unwanted websites and adds can be blocked by child-safe software, and websites that pirate media can be shut down.
    If the internet were to disappear, we would lessen the possibility of our personal information being stolen, but we would also lose much of our knowledge. The internet has more negative features than positive, but with new programs and innovation, many of these problems can be eliminated, making the internet safer for aspiring learners.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Worthy Fantasy

A great blog has had a Grand Re-Opening! Worthy Fantasy, which reviews Christian fantasy, interviews such authors, and writes articles about anything fantasy-ish. They have added a few new writers, a reviewer, and an editor, and I have the privilege of being the reviewer! Thanks WF! I really encourage you to check them out! Unfortunately, I won't be able to post my reviews in both places, so most of my fantasy reviews will go there.

The Appearing

The Appearing: In the End Is Our Beginning CoverThe Appearing, Kristen Wisen, Credo House Publishers, Fiction/Futuristic, 2007, 373 pages.

Here is the synopsis from Credo House:

Watch for the signs. Then look for My return.


That’s what Jesus said, and that’s exactly what the church has done for two thousand years.


Still Emma Hamilton and Adam Reed never dreamed it would happen in their lifetime. However, with the Temple rebuilt and an international leader gathering the world into a unified federation, the signs are everywhere. And though one is more prepared than the other, they find themselves hiding on a mountain with their families, cut off from the world, waiting for His appearing.


But there would be another second coming before Christ’s, and this one would turn the world upside down. He has a deadline and will do whatever it takes to accomplish his goal.


And time is running out.


Hurtling toward the finish line, nothing can stop these unthinkable events. The government infiltrates unsuspecting churches; no believer is safe. Overnight, the church finds itself the target of Satan himself. Emma and Adam soon discover that the plans of their congregation have been compromised, and years of preparation have been wasted.


In a time when angels deliver messages from God and demons influence the minds of men, the battle for earth is at hand. Emma and Adam struggle to believe what they know is true, though prophecy is being literally fulfilled before their eyes. One slip-up is all Satan needs to draw the church from its hiding place, and he sets a plan in motion to lure them out.


My thoughts: Wow! This is quite a change from the Left Behind series. It is shorter, and it has a different point of view, that being a mid-tribulation rapture. There were some very interesting points made for that view that made me consider that possibility. The first section of the book placed the setting nicely, and it wasn’t too boring. The intrigue pumped up about 100 pages in when the antichrist revealed himself, and the ball rolled faster from then on. Most of the characters were solid, but some at a few times wore thin with their lines. There were also a few editorial/spelling mistakes here and there. The climax was short and sweet (in a way), and had me gnawing my nails up until then!

My rating: 5 stars

Upcoming reviews
  • Another World by Philip Stott
Buy The Appearing
Check out more Futuristic Christian books!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Giveaway update

I made a mistake when I decided on the end date for the giveaway, because I had to post by a specific date, so I have changed it to end on October 25th. You can enter the giveaway here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fantastic Flaming Giveaway!

Jake at Teen Writer is giving away two copies of Wayne Thomas Batson's Isle of Fire! Head on over, and if you don't mind, let him know Noah sent you. :)

Mend Mark

I just recently found out about this bracelet and the program it supports, and they are inspiring! I hope to be holding a giveaway for one of these soon! Here is what this is:

The Mark of Love

The Mend Mark tells a powerful story in two words

Mend Mark open packageHave you been “Marked?” The Mend Mark is a mission, a movement, an entire revolution. It is a bracelet meant to remind its wearers of Christ’s love and sacrifice, and its message is the passion of its creator, Hunter Harrison.

The Mend Mark is an innovative and distinctive bracelet that is designed to reflect the scars and nail holes of Jesus. When worn, the band resembles the deep holes of the nail driven into the wrists of Jesus during his crucifixion. By bringing the story of Jesus’ life and death to constant awareness by wearing a bracelet, Mend Mark is meant to powerfully remind wearers of the ultimate act of love Jesus made for all of humankind.

Harrison’s mission is to remind all to remember Christ’s love in both his life and death. But more than only a poignant recollection, the Mend Mark is meant to inspire and motivate wearers to live a life of service. Harrison strives to bring people together around the simplicity and power of love as lived by Jesus. But this is no example of passive love. The Mend Mark calls individuals in all walks of life to love with a profound sincerity and commitment great enough to change a neighborhood, a community, a world.

Harrison leads this call to love and sacrifice by example and joins hands with each Mend Mark bracelet purchaser to take the first step in global change. A portion of each bracelet sold goes to support Living Water International, an organization combating the clean water crisis victimizing over one billion people worldwide. Mend Mark bracelet.jpgEach $5,000 given will result in one well drilled, providing a community with clean water.

But wearers should be prepared to be seen. Unique in its design, the Mend Mark is sure to be noticed and gives wearers an opportunity to share the story of the profound love of Jesus for each and every person. “It was important to me that the design was simple and generic enough that the observer had to ask about it to know what it meant. But I also wanted it to appear distinctive enough that it sparked curiosity,” reveals creator Hunter Harrison. “I wanted it to require the wearer of the product to engage in conversation about the love of Christ (and hopefully show that love to others) instead of just letting the product talk for them.”

Launched in late 2009 after a year and a half of packaging, material, and design development by Harrison, the bracelet has been sold across the United States, Canada, and the UK and has been featured in retail stores as well. The Mend Mark bracelet movement has grown to further fame after being worn during performances by American Idol winner Lee Dewyze, Idol runner up Siobhan Magnus, Decifer Down, Israel Houghton & New Breed, Pillar, and Finding Favour, to name a few. Says Harrison, “I want it to be more than just another bracelet; I want it to represent a movement.” Based on the way things are going, a movement is exactly what it is becoming.

Order online for $9.99 at www.mendmark.com.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Prosperity vs. Emptiness draft

Here is a draft of a sonnet I have been writing in my English class. It was inspired by Edwin Arlington Robinson's poems "Richard Cory" and "Miniver Cheevy." It isn't finished, so I will be posting the completed version later.

Treasure
His home bedecked with velvet red,
With cherry oak adorning every wall,
He sups each morn on warm French bread,
And ends each day with choice filet mignon.
When in the mood, he scratches out
A screeching tune upon his violin;
His neighbors cower from the spout.
Few people visit, lending looks of stone.
Yet in his shadow lives a smith,
Whose only tune is that of ringing steel.
An empty table is no myth;
His ancient, barren walls are aching-prone.
But when considered on a different scope,
His life is full of happiness and hope!