Archive for October, 2009

BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST!!!


Believe it or not, I normally find Halloween an annoying time of the year (the wife and kids, however, have the entire house decorated all month and only rotate the decorations in time for Christmas). But this year I’m feeling generous, as I usually get when dealing with other people’s stuff, so let’s do a book giveaway. From the Hachette Book Group we have:

The Heretic’s Daughter By Kathleen Kent ISBN: 031602449X

Sins of the Flesh By Caridad Piñeiro ISBN: 0446543837

When Ghosts Speak By Mary Ann Winkowski ISBN: 044658133X

BoneMan’s Daughters By Ted Dekker ISBN: 1599951959

The Historian By Elizabeth Kostova ISBN: 0316070637


For the next two weeks–well, til Halloween–this blog post will be an open thread. Anyone leaving a comment here or on my Facebook cross post (or on my message board) will be considered entered into the giveaway. I’ll pick three winners–who will each get a complete package of the books–based on either random plucking or their ability to make me laugh. Sarcasm only increases the odds in your favor.

I’ll then get with them to get their shipping info so the publisher can send them their prize package. Please ONLY contestants who are US or Canadian residents. And no PO Boxes.

That’s it. Have at it!

Being “Maurice Broaddus”

Okay, I’ve just wrapped up Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention that puts the other conventions I attend into perspective: 21 New York Times best sellers, over a dozen attending writers who are millionaires, sheesh), marking the end of convention season for the year. As a friend pointed out, cons are 72 hours of a bunch of introverts pretending to be extroverts. And I’m exhausted. (I’m sure coming off of a great time at Killercon and a fantastic time at Context has nothing to do with it).

Like many writers, I’m not as social a creature as some may imagine and find it rather exhausting to be “on”. Yet at conventions, difficult though it may be, we hit that switch, ignore the cries of our inner introverts, and push through. In this case, being on means constantly being aware of our professional image, courteous, witty, entertaining and, you know, being nice!

Knowing that each encounter has repercussions—an angry encounter with a waitress, an ugly confrontation with an editor, the snubbing of a fan—can create ripple effects and the stories spread to define who we are. It’s not so different for other folks. It’s funny how we always seem to be nicer to strangers.

So it almost begs the question “Why can’t we always be “on”?” Wishing our public personas were more in line with who are default settings are. Just like there are times when I wish I bore the image of Christian(ity) a lot better than I do: being conscious of who I am, how I come across, what I represent, how I carry myself.

Each encounter is an opportunity, a God moment, to be gracious, to be loving, to be healing, to listen, to simply be there for one another. I need to go through more of life as “Maurice Broaddus”.

This is probably the existential crash that comes after being completely worn out at the end of the convention. Luckily, we’re also about to prepare to go into our Fall/Winter cocoons so that we can re-charge our system. Gearing up for next year’s gauntlet and the rush of being on.

But it’s so exhausting to think about. I’m going to bed.

Mo*Con V: The Kelli Strikes Back (SAVE THE DATE)

*SAVE THE DATE*

April 30th – May 2nd

What is Mo*Con?

Brought to you by the Indiana Horror Writers, Mo*Con is a convention focused on conversations revolving around horror literature and spirituality (two great tastes that taste great together!). If you enjoy writing, horror, fantasy, poetry, and food, you’ll find plenty to enjoy at this convention. Basically, imagine a room party held in a con suite, and that’s Mo*Con.

Who Will Be There?

Kelli Dunlap
Kelli spends her free time pounding on the keys with the bloody nubs that used to be her fingers. She has sold several short stories to both online and print magazine, and even dabbled in a poetry sale here or there. Her first novel will be available in 2009 through Morning Star, an imprint of Bloodletting Press. She has a family and pets, but more importantly, a website–where you can stay up to date on the novel or other output from the bloody nubs: kellidunlap.com. Visit her and she’ll refrain from shaking her nubs at you, thus splattering you with bloody goo.

Brian Keene
Brian Keene is the author of over twenty horror, crime, and dark fantasy novels and short story collections, including Castaways, Dead Sea, Unhappy Endings, Dark Hollow, Urban Gothic, and many more. He also writes comic books for Marvel, DC and others. The winner of two Bram Stoker Awards, as well as several other literary awards, Keene’s work has been translated into German, Polish, French, Spanish, and Taiwanese. His novel, The Rising (published in early 2003), is often credited (along with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later) as ushering in the current resurgence of zombies in pop culture. Several of his works have been optioned for film and other media. His short story The Ties That Bind was released on DVD in July 2009 as a short independent film. Also in 2009, his novel Terminal debuted as a limited release stage play.

Gary Braunbeck
Gary A. Braunbeck is a prolific author who writes mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mainstream literature. He is the author of 19 books; his fiction has been translated into Japanese, French, Italian, Russian and German. Nearly 200 of his short stories have appeared in various publications.

Lucy Synder
The author the author of a trilogy of novels that are set be published by Del Rey starting in 2009; the first book in the series is entitled Spellbent. Also the author of Sparks and Shadows, a cross-genre short story collection from HW Press, Lucy A. Snyder may be most known for her humor collection Installing Linux on a Dead Badger (And Other Oddities). With over 70 short fiction sales and over 20 poetry sales, her fiction goes all over the road, although she does tend to write genre stories (science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, etc.) more often than straightforward mainstream fiction. She also writes a column for Horror World on science and technology for writers.

Wrath James White
Succulent Prey marks his first mass-market release from Leisure Books. If you have a taste for extreme fiction with socio-political and philosophical messages that push boundaries, break taboos, and leave you thinking long after the book has ended then check out Teratologist co-written with Edward Lee, Poisoning Eros co written with Monica O-Rourke, The Book of A thousand Sins collection, His Pain novella, Orgy of Souls with Maurice Broaddus, Hero novella with J.F. Gonzalez, and Population Zero. If you have a weak stomach, a closed mind, rigid morals, and Victorian sexual ethics, than avoid his writing like the plague.

Artist Guest of Honor

Alex McVey
Alex McVey is an award-winning, Chesley-nominated illustrator whose work has been published internationally, ranging from album art to graphic design to book illustration. He has illustrated the works of Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Gahan Wilson, Brian Keene, Ramsey Cambpell, and Richard Matheson, among others. His clients include ad firms, gaming companies, film studios, bands, and book and magazine publishers.

Editor Guest of Honor

Jason Sizemore
A young writer and editor from Appalachia Kentucky, Jason has seen his fiction appear in nearly two dozen books and magazines. He’s a prolific non-fiction writer, having dozens of essays, reviews, and editorials published in print and on the web on varied subjects such as gaming, geek culture, and politics. He earned his college degree from Transylvania University, making him an ideal candidate to head a horror magazine. He was a 2006 Stoker Award nominee for his work on the Aegri Somnia anthology. In 2007, he published his first chapbook (under the newly formed APEX BOOKS division of Apex Publications) titled Webs of Discord. He appears in Writers Workshop of Horror and has a collection of Appalachian horror titled Irredeemable from Shroud Publications coming out in the spring of 2010.

Featured Guests Include:

Chesya Burke
With more than 40 publishing credits to her name, including the acclaimed Chocolate Park, Chesya Burke has been making her mark in the horror and fantasy worlds. She has several articles appearing in the African American National Biography published by Harvard University and Oxford University Press, received the 2003 Twilight Tales Award for fiction and an honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Science Fiction: 18th Annual Edition.

Alethea Kontis
Alethea Kontis is the New York Times bestselling author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, as well as the AlphaOops series of picture books. She has done multiple collaborations with artist Janet Lee including A is for Alice, The Umbrella of Fun, and the illustrated Twitter serial Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Alethea’s most recent work can be found in the Apex Publications anthologies Harlan County Horrors and Dark Faith.

Steven C. Gilberts
Steven and his lovely wife Becky now live in a spooky Queen Ann cottage within a small Dunwich-esk village of southern Indiana, near the now abandoned ammo plant of his youth. While hiding from the townsfolk, Steven concocts odd illustrations for the small press industry. His work has graced magazines from Apex Digest to Cemetery Dance, Dark Wisdom to Shroud Magazine.

Other guests confirmed so far include:
Debbie Kuhn, John C. Hay, Michael West, Sara Larson, Brian J. Hatcher, and Michael Knost.,

Location:

Trinity Church
6151 N. Central Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46220

Attendees are encouraged to book their rooms at the Quality Inn & Suites (where we’ve negotiated a special rate):

Quality Inn & Suites
5011 North Lafayette Road
Indianapolis, IN 46254
Phone: (317) 297-8880
FAX: (317) 297-8765
(mention Mo*Con)

Cost: $50 in advance/$75 at the door
Money will be accepted at the door or it can be sent to my paypal account [Maurice Broaddus – MauriceBroaddus@gmail.com memo: Mo*Con V]

There will be several debut projects, not the least of which will be our anthology DARK FAITH (each attendee will receive a copy as a part of their membership fee)

The dedicated Mo*Con web site is under construction and will feature some previous video of Mo*Cons past. This is strictly a save the date post so you all know what’s coming.

Rush to Judgment

For matters of complete disclosure, back in the early 90s, when my politics leaned a bit more to the right, I was quite the Dittohead. So it’s not like I have an ax to grind against Rush Limbaugh. I get him and sympathize with him. But still, he shouldn’t be so surprised by the backlash of the possibility of him buying into an NFL team.

The fact is that he’s a public figure who has built his success on his opinions and being an agent provocateur. Republicans in general need to face the facts that if they have to keep defending themselves against charges of racism, there’s probably a reason why. At the very least, they have a public relations problem issue that ought to cause them to examine their methods of operation. For example, Republicans are going to (continue to) look racist if they simply scrap programs for the poor without having a different plan to replace it with. [Just like Democrats are going to (continue to) enable this co-dependent relationship that keeps a disproportionate amount of people suckling at the government’s teat.]

Some things disqualify us from certain positions. In the hierarchy of social sins, perceived racism trumps even dog killing. This is the land of second chances and people have the freedom to pursue the opportunities that come our way. When you are outspoken, controversial, and polarizing—and that’s your brand—doors open and doors close because of your act.

As we think through the criteria of what makes a good leader, certainly their gifts are still in place. Some folks have called Rush the leader of the Republican Party, some see him as just an entertainer with interesting ideas. Either way, he has trained a good deal of his life for his vocation and in few occupations can one failing cast you from your career track for good. Don’t feel bad, it is what it is: I’m probably not going to drop my kids off at the Howard Stern DayCare either.

Checking Back In (aka The Discipline of Being Present)

What we call “at least being there” as quality spouse or family time, they see as either just the back of our heads or just our eyes above the cover of our laptops as we write … I’ve promised to try to do better at being present with her and the family, learning to be in the moment and raising the curtain. It’s funny how any of us can be at home yet functionally absent, focused on whatever side project or work we’re doing.

As I reflect on that blog, I’m wrestling with how much of a multi-tasking society we are. We’re in a hurry to be busy, because as we all know, busyness is a direct reflection of how important we are. I know personally, if I can kill two birds with one stone—say listening to research for a novel while at work or getting some typing done while the kids watch television—I’m going to go it. What we often forget are the relational consequences of such things.

Part of it is because we don’t multi-task nearly as well as we think we do. Our concentration is divided, our focus is split, and things inevitably fall through the cracks. Part of it is we can’t multi-task relationships. When people are multi-tasked, they are getting the short thrift of things. I’ll tell you right now, if I were to get an iPhone, I would be checking out of many relationships. I’d be playing on that thing constantly. A date with my wife would be filled with me checking my Facebook. Time with my kids would be interrupted by my Twitter. Hanging out with friends would involve a lot of me checking my e-mail and miscellaneous surfing that I would justify by calling work.

Not that I’m much better without an iPhone. Sometimes it’s the side project that I’m working on or one last bit of work I have to finish an important phone call to squeeze in. There’s always something adding to the noise of our world. Not that a consequence of our technological ability to socially network is our increasing difficulty to socialize in the moment , but the sum total of the constant noise of our lives transforms and impacts our relationships. No one gets our full attention. I think of how we sometimes don’t see God through our multi-tasking haze. God does not hide and if He seems that way, it’s because He’s hidden in plain sight. We fail to see him because we fail to see Him or are otherwise attentive. We fail to be present with Him.

Is it our short attention spans? We just that bored? That impatient? That discontent? Or are we finding affirmation in our online noise, the re-tweets and the comments?

Nouwen believed that caring means, first of all, to be present with each other, ‘offering one’s own vulnerable self to others as a source of healing.’ One does not need to be useful as much as to be present.

We all want to believe that we are fully present with one another, yet I think of how many times our friends sat around with one another texting and IM-ing rather than being with the people in the very room with them. The first step to being a source of healing to your family and your friends is to be present, presenting your vulnerable self (think of it as a “living sacrifice”).

This is where we are. So during our family time, we have an interruption ban. No cell phones. No computers. As we attempt to be fully present with one another. If our families and friends are the most important people in the world to us, the least we can do is focus on each other as if they really are.

Grey’s Anatomy (Season Five) – A Review

So my Thursday nights are taken up by a group of hot, young surgeons in training at Seattle Grace Hospital, the top teaching hospital, in competition with one another. Each dealing with life,love, and loss on a daily basis and whose problems and lives seem more intense in their life and death world. The doctors of Grey’s Anatomy struggle to be great professionally and personally, the two rarely coinciding due to their overly complicated personal lives.

“I’m leaning into the fear to get a happy ending.” –Meredith

Because all of the doctors are hot, and where would we be without hot docs, the show revolves around their bed-hopping, I mean, relationships. Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) explore the idea of a long term relationship. Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) and Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) explore their budding lesbian relationship. Also in the sprawling, ever-changing cast, Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) joins as he and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) explore a tentative relationship as he deals with his demons and history of hurts.

“Reality is so much more interesting than living happily ever after.” –Meredith

The reality is that they are all learning how to deal with the pain of living in a fallen world. They use alcohol and sex to bandage the hurts within them, eventually forging friendships and becoming family as they learn to lean on each other to get through the harsh hands life deals at them. In the process, “little pieces of you get chipped away” or you “shave pieces of yourself” so that you fit better with one another.

They, as well as the cases they encounter, learn that there are no warranties on friendships or any relationships. Friendships can be betrayed by wrong, stupid, and selfish decisions or pride and using people as balms for internal hurts. That no matter how much one might have thought of themselves as good, a person can come into their lives and reduce them to “that crazy person” as a consequence of the wounds people do to one another in relationships.

“I forgot about God.” –Bailey

They also learn to listen with their hearts, to forgive and make things right. Always striving to love better. To be each other’s “person”: the people who know us “darkly, really knows us.” Or, as Meredith sums things up, “it’s important to tell the people you love how much you love them while they can hear you.”

Despite its convoluted romantic storylines, the show is designed with intelligence. The cases comment on the characters, and the characters often comment on the show (like when the chief says, “We’ve been resting on our laurels. … It stops, and it stops now”; and acknowledgement that the show rights itself, as it had rather meandered through the previous season). And it digs deeper than most, getting at some truths about humanity and relationships.

Private Practice (Season Two) – A Review

“Our family takes care of your family.”

Following Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) moving to Los Angeles, Private Practice has an identity wholly separate from the show it spun off from, Grey’s Anatomy. The show has its share of bed-hopping madness. Dr. Sam Bennett (Taye Diggs) and Dr. Naomi Bennett (Audra McDonald) are still confused in their friend-ex-marriage relationship. Dr. Cooper Freedman (Paul Adelstein) and Dr. Charlotte King (KaDee Strickland) are involved in their sex romp threatening to become a relationship. Besides dealing with the clinic teetering towards bankruptcy, the show focuses more on the human issues revolving around their cases as well as the interpersonal relationships of the staff.

“Patients come to see us because we take care of all of them. Body, mind, soul.” –Dr. Violet Turner (Amy Brenneman)

The private practice in question focuses on a more holistic approach to their patients. We all seek wellness and wholeness, though like many of the doctors in the practice, we use (on their face, good) things—chocolate, shopping, relationships—to fill a hole inside us. As we go about on our spiritual journeys, we often get locked into our modern mindset, the Greek ideal of perfection; tormented by the guilt of failure because we couldn’t reach this goal of perfection. What we often translate in the Bible as perfection actually should be read closer to the Hebrew idea of wholeness because being complete is something that we can attain.

“You ever miss the good old days when life and death was decided by God instead of doctors?” –Charlotte

Hearing the Good News that we are beautiful and made in the image of God. People of worth. That we’re not quite whole, our feelings, spirit, will, and mind not working in concert as they should, with sin disintegrating what’s normal and desired, unraveling our lives and goodness. We want magic, not spiritual discipline, a more holistic dimension. It becomes about seeking wholeness, humans to be restored in all the dimensions of humanity, being fully human.

As Henri Nouwen says, “in the spiritual life, the word discipline means ‘the effort to create some space in which God can act.’ Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up.” Part of what it means to follow the way of Jesus is to put on his characteristics, like a coat. It’s all a part of our journey.

“It would be good to not be in control. To let go and let God.” –Charlotte

The thing about journeys is that more times than not, the journey is the destination. It is through the struggles that we learn a lot about who we are. Yes, we may stumble, fall down, fail, but it’s what you do after that happens that’s the important thing. Do you quit your journey? Do you find an entirely different path to take? Or, do you get up, dust yourself off, then continue on your way? Wholeness can be found in continuing your battles, despite the occasional setbacks, as we speak wholeness, life, hope, faith and love into each other’s lives. And though some are “pathologically allergic to human relationships,” that’s what the dysfunctional family that forms the private practice do.

“Life is not assfat.” –Violet

The show’s ensemble cast remains intact and unchanged, the writer’s strike truncating Private Practice’s first season as we were getting to know the characters and how they related to one another. Each character, however, is fully realized despite the familiar territory the show treads in. The show is essentially comfort food, likeable characters doing nothing out of the ordinary. It’s pretty but forgettable.

Ugly Betty (Season Three) – A Review

“Get Ready for Betty”

Ugly Betty enters its third season on a familiar trajectory. The first season being a breakout hit, the second kind of wobbling (partly because the writers hadn’t fully thought through the second season as they were too busy surviving the first; partly due to the writer’s strike), and the third season being a make or break kind of season as the show tries to re-coup some of its lost viewers. The fashion world backdrop of Ugly Betty continues with its fascination with physical beauty and style even as the eponymous lead character, Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), continues to evolve.

We still have some of the ridiculous office shenanigans as Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) schemes for power and the Meades—mostly in the form of matriarch Claire Meade (Judith Light) and heir apparent Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius)—try to maintain the reins of control of Mode magazine. Daniel also attempts to balance his “just wanting to have fun” mentality with the realities of being a new father. Betty’s sister Hilda (Ana Ortiz) is still dating the married coach and after the grief of losing Santos. Throw in the comings and goings of the other superficial Mode employees and we have a cast of mostly twenty and thirty something teenagers, people who are emotionally in their teens but in big people’s bodies.

“I’ve created a plan for myself.” –Betty

Betty has returned from a trip around the country and has returned to New York, and Mode Magazine, rejuvenated and with an agenda. She wants to be about experiencing things: change, growing up, and discovering herself. Armed with her “empowerment animal” (a dove, symbol of her feminine energy), she braces herself for new challenges as she seeks her independence. She has even made a life checklist: 1) more responsibility at work, 2) get her own apartment in New York City, 3) no more romantic entanglements. Well, two out of three isn’t bad as Betty has to deal with her romantic entanglements with Henry Grubstick (Christopher Gorham), Giovanni ‘Gio’ Rossi (Freddy Rodríguez), Jesse (Val Emmich), and Matt (Daniel Eric Gold).

“I can fix this.” –Betty

It’s funny: we come into the world completely dependent on them (and our parents know EVERYTHING); we start to make noises of independence and doing things our way (and our parents know NOTHING); and then we start to brave the world by ourselves (and our parents know SOME things after all). But at some point we have to try to get our crap together. We can’t be afraid to change and grow and cutting the apron strings is a rite of passage as you carve out your own direction. It’s about growing up, dealing with the decisions you’ve made, and picking yourself up no matter how many bowls of ramen noodles you have to eat in the process.

“It gets better.” –Betty

Even our spiritual journeys hit bumps as we mature, with the journey inward being part of the progress. Some people compare this time to God actually “giving” you more responsibility by not guiding you by the hand any more. Allowing us room to go and explore where we need to go, but continuing to be present or being a guard rail. The signs of maturing include an increase in humility and teachability; the acknowledgment of the need for help.

Ugly Betty rights itself with season three, after the lamentable season two. There’s a less over-the-top quality to Season Three, as it has found its footing. Less ridiculous and more natural feeling storylines, less celebrity cameos, and a less one-note quality to many of the characters. Betty remains a fantastically lovable character, strong, capable, and independent; living in “BettySuarezland” which isn’t such a bad place to be.

Male Pattern Depression

(aka Woundedness and Wounded Healers)

“The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is nothing sound in it,only bruises, welts and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil.” –Isaiah 1:5-6

Ever have one of those moments when you realize that you’re a hot mess? That you still carry around that little child inside who had been rejected, hurt, misunderstood, and lonely. That there is this ache, this silent scream inside of you constantly threatening to find its voice and tear itself from within you. That you are lost in a sea of deep pain, wondering where God, your friends, or your family are, the very pain itself ripping open old wounds you thought healed. And you’re just tired. Tired of fighting, worn out by the struggle to do better, losing hope that you’ll ever find wholeness or the light.

Feeling broken, beyond repair, as if something is fundamentally wrong with you and you don’t know if you’ll ever be fixed. Afraid to be around others for fear of saddling them with all of your baggage; or worse, letting your disgust and anger with yourself pour out over them. You’re not where you wish to be, realizing the clash between what you believe and say you are about versus how you are living. Your life and circumstances not playing out the way you had imagined.

So brought low by your sin or how life has played out—shattered and convinced every eye was on you, could see you for what you did—you do what many people do when they are hurting and withdraw to your cave. There you are free to bleed all over the place, lick your own wounds, focusing on your pain, not realizing that you’re too hurt to reach out.* But the spiral continues as you barely eat or sleep, assuming sleep finds you at all. You quit taking care of yourself. You may not even be able to assess how hurt you are as you process the fresh memories and fresh pain. Or pride may keep you from admitting how hurt, vulnerable, or in need you are. Admitting weakness is scary, especially to males.

And you are running out of reasons to get out of bed each morning. But you go through the motions of living, dragging yourself through the routine, smiling on the outside, withering on the vine on the inside.

Suffering in silence.

Depressed.

Wounded.

It makes you wonder about the true horror of the cross of Jesus: that God abandoned Jesus. And yet … there’s also hope in that. We can know that both God and Jesus understand what it is to be forsaken and alone. In his humanity, He suffered and knew helplessness. He understands it.

It’s funny how so many people come to know Christ through times of need and pain. Men who were blind or lame or leprous or whose family was sick. It’s like Jesus is found in brokenness. As if he’s revealed to us in weakness rather than in strength or in our sinfulness and doubt rather than our perfect purity and faithfulness. It’s as if in those times He becomes fully real to us. It’s the broken Jesus, the one who knew what it meant to be forsaken, we can approach. He invites us to connect with him there.

And our handicaps remind us of our own weakness. In our own brokenness–all the things which make us feel dirty and unusable, all the things that make us feel ugly and disqualified from any sort of relationship with Him–is exactly where He desires to meet us. Along with these broken bodies we need to seek treatment, not wallow in our misery and hopelessness. And you’re not alone as you may think as in His mercy, His healing hands and presence is felt when fellow wounded healers find you.

I like the idea of wounded healers. The thing about wounded healers, is that they understand the pain so intimately. They know what to ask and they know when the “pain meds” aren’t working. They are living reminders to not let the past define you, but to always be working toward who you were meant to be. And there is hope of becoming whole. We’re all wounded healers, broken or rather, incomplete. Most people are selfish, so busy thinking of themselves they couldn’t think of another, but we are not sent to be served but to serve. In the midst of pain, agony, and infection, we are to encourage one another as a fellow patient and in so doing become part of the healing. When our spirits are wounded, we speak words of resurrection. We offer new hope and new life. We invite one another to live a new kind of life, one where we are continually surrounded by Jesus’ transforming love.

In the book, The Spiritual Legacy of Henri Nouwen, author Deirdre LaNoue says:

Nouwen gave several concrete principles on how to care. The most prominent in his writing goes back to the idea of being present. Nouwen believed that caring means, first of all, to be present with each other, ‘offering one’s own vulnerable self to others as a source of healing.’ One does not need to be useful as much as to be present. To be present is to listen and to identify with each other as mortal, fragile human beings who need to be heard and sustained by one another, not distracted or entertained. Nouwen’s most powerful expression of this idea is found in Here and Now. (pp. 129-130)

Though you might fall down but you have to get back up. Because it’s not the end, God’s not through with you yet, and it matters how you finish.

*Ironically, leaving bewildered friends and family going “all you had to do was ask”. Or they misread the signals as you pushing them away. Or they otherwise pull away because they don’t know what to say nor want to say the wrong thing. After all, it wasn’t until Job’s friends started running their mouths that they got into trouble.

[BIB/ReadersRoom] The Fear

So I’ve been signed to a three book deal. Now how does it feel?

This is a common question that I’ve gotten and the honest answer is that I’m excited and terrified. Of course there’s the requisite celebration, after all, it’s a three book deal. To date, I’ve written five novels. After years of struggling to sell one novel, I’ve finally sold one plus two I haven’t written yet. Fifth times a charm.

And it’s terrifying. This is it. This is the dream I’ve been working toward. What I’ve sacrificed for. What I’ve thought about and through for so long. I’ve often said that it takes ten years to become an overnight success and that getting published is 90% persistence. During that time you are preparing yourself for the eventual opportunity. Honing your craft. Disciplining yourself. Broadening your contacts. Developing your professionalism. Learning to meet deadlines. All the while, you remain open to opportunities that come along. And when that opportunity comes along, it can be frightening.

This is a variation of the fear of success that many of us suffer from. Generally speaking, every stage of your writing career is filled with fear. Fear of the blank page and beginning to write. Fear of finishing, after all, writers finish things. Fear of editing and being critiqued (our stories are our children and we don’t want anyone to hurt our precious). Fear of submitting (eventually we have to send our children, hopefully prepared or at least fully edited, out into the world).

Now I have deadlines, that feeling of writing under the gun. Of feeling rushed (yet, ironically, realizing at the same time knowing I’m doing and writing exactly the same way I’ve been writing, except more focused and disciplined). I have 18 months to write 300K words. That’s a lot of words. That’s also no way to think of the project, but the part of you that nurtures that nervous ball in the pit of your belly rolls that fact around in your head. Part of you begins to second guess and doubt yourself.

Because you don’t want to fail. The fear creeps back in, reminding you that this is your big chance, that this is what you’ve dreamed of. To not blow it. Nor do you want to let down the writing, the craft, itself. Nor your readers, neither the ones you’ve accumulated up to this point or the new ones you hope to gain with each new project . There there are your publisher and other folks who’ve believed in you or gambled on you with the opportunity (understanding that when all is said and done, this a business).

And I know for me, I don’t want to disappoint my wife. She’s sacrificed and believed in me and I want to show her that it was worth it even though I know she doesn’t care how “big” I get as long as I’m using my gifts and talents.

And yes, I want to succeed. I’m not imagining that I’ll be the next King of Rowling (no more than we all dream of that kind of success). But even the idea of success fills me with the kind of dread that has me reaching for the covers to crawl under and hide for a while.

So you stare down the mocking blank page.

And you remember to take it one word, one paragraph, one scene at a time. If nothing else mindful of the sacrifices, the hard work; knowing that you want this and that you’ve got this. Letting the looming deadline (and in my case, the voice of a lady at my church who read the first novel and is demanding that I finish the second so that she can read the next part) help you conquer your fear.

Never let them see you sweat. And you start to write.*

*Right after you’re done procrastinating by blogging.