Signs of Fall

Signs of Fall

At long last, signs that autumn is taking hold, here in the Sacramento Valley of California!

It is afternoon, and though the sun is out these dewdrops remain in the grass of my front lawn. Scattered like glinting rainbow stars throughout the faded green grass, they promise me that cooler weather is finally here.

The seasons of the year come and go, and the seasons of life are the same. Youth and young single-hood. Young married life, married with children. Grand-parenthood and retirement. And there are other seasons scattered throughout or independent of those common family-based phases.

Naivete and idealism. Maturity and cynicism. Creative productivity and progression. Renewed hope and passionate pursuit of — something.

What season are you in?

Have you been searching for something for a long time, and perhaps drawing near your goal? Are you beginning a quest?

I feel I am in transition, struggling to find my feet in a quagmire of wonderful choices. So many worthy things that draw my attention, so many opportunities at my fingertips. My children are of an age to soak up knowledge and experiences. The Internet and e-publishing has come of an age to be accessible to all who have the skills (as I do). Renewed desire and understanding of the joys of a simpler lifestyle have opened up wondrous time-suckers like gardening, canning, making foods from scratch.

During this change of seasons, I pray that you may get your bearing, find your feet, and go far on the road you are traveling. Godspeed, my friends.



7 Reasons to Support the Enclave Publishing Kickstarter

Enclave Publishing Fall Releases 2014

I’m a writer. An author. But I’m also a reader.

I’m a reader primarily of science fiction and fantasy. But I’m also a Christian.

Why mention the above? Because this is a list of reasons I think supporting the Fall book releases of the “premier publisher of Christian fantasy and Christian science fiction” (as their website proclaims) is something you might consider.

This is a list for READERS.

This is a list for AUTHORS.

This is a list for CHRISTIANS.

If you are none of the above, feel free to skip this post. :-)

1. Solidarity with Other Creatives

I love supporting Kickstarter campaigns and other ways that my fellow creatives are producing and distributing their art. It’s a bonus that these are fellow Christian authors who are salt and light in the entertainment world, producing quality work from a Christian worldview.

2. Belief in a Vision

Enclave Publishing is the new name for Marcher Lord Press, which is the premier (largest, most well known) indie publisher of science fiction and fantasy written by Christians.

(No disrespect intended towards other fantastic Christian indie publishers — there are some great ones out there, and they may yet overtake Enclave’s lead. However, for the moment, everything I’ve seen indicates that Marcher Lord Press has been and is currently the biggest of the indie fish in the Christian speculative fiction pond.)

They want more Christians to read speculative fiction. They want to get more spec fic on the bookshelves of Christian retailers. They want to publish more fantastic Christian authors who write speculative fiction.

This is a vision that I can get behind. These are things I want to see. More on that below.

3. They Take All the Risk, We Still Benefit

Enclave Publishing has a vision that includes some risky and bold ventures into the network of established Christian publishers and retailers that most of us (Christian authors and indie publishers) do not have the contacts, experience or knowledge to reach.

If they succeed, it could open doors to all of us that we could not have opened by ourselves or even working together. We just don’t have the kind of insight and industry savvy that Enclave’s new owner Steve Laube brings to the table. Whether you know and trust the guy or not, whether you like what he’s doing with the company or not, it would be wise to support his efforts in whatever way we can.

Why? Because like it or not, Laube is the guy at the helm of our flagship indie publisher. Even if he fails, we gain from watching the process and from whatever awareness is raised while he tries. That may sound callous, but I’d like to think I’m just being pragmatic.

I’m really hoping — for all our sakes — that he succeeds.

4. Self-Interest

A friend of mine on Facebook objected, “The only people who like this idea are authors, and it’s because they want to be published with Enclave someday.” Well, sure. But what’s wrong with that? It’s a great reason to consider supporting the campaign! (Although I disagree that only authors will benefit, as shown below…)

Are you a Christian author of speculative fiction? Even if you never, ever intend to submit your manuscript to Enclave Publishing, if they succeed in exposing more Christians to speculative fiction and get more Christians and Christian retailers interested in buying this kind of book, you benefit from that.

Even if you write stuff that they’d never publish (due to “mature content” or some such) and their primary target audience wouldn’t want, there will be other Christians who get wind of this surge of Christian speculative fiction. And the Christians who find Enclave’s catalog too tame for their tastes might want your stuff.

Raising awareness among Christians about speculative fiction benefits all of us who write it. tweet this

Personally, I don’t have anything on my current project list that would fit Enclave’s vision or submission guidelines. But maybe someday I will. If they continue to grow (or even continue the success that they’ve had so far), they will continue to be a great place for Christian authors to submit and get their books in front of Christian readers.

And now, on a more altruistic note…

5. Love for Jeff Gerke

Come on, guys. Do we really want to let Jeff’s baby die just because she was adopted by a grumpy old miser who changed her name and — oh, wait, some of us don’t even know the guy. Maybe he’s NOT a grumpy old miser. And even if he is… I’m gonna support Jeff’s baby because I love Jeff, no matter what her new name is.

(Actually, I have spent some time with the new guy, and Steve Laube is a great big, lovable teddy bear under his razor sharp, pull-no-punches publishing agent surface. He is both a keen businessman and a man of Godly integrity. My personal assessment is that he has a passion for speculative fiction and a pastor’s heart for writers. But ssssshhhhhh! That’s just between you and me!)

6. Love for the Authors

Enclave is putting out new books by the (previously Marcher Lord Press) authors we already know and love, and they’ve found some wonderful new voices. If you have a chip on your shoulder regarding the change of ownership, don’t let it get in the way of supporting these fantastic authors. Check out the full list of Enclave authors — aren’t they wonderful? If you haven’t read their books, check them out!

7. Love for the Stories

This is related but separate from our love for the authors. This is about being a reader who likes great books.

There are some seriously cool stories coming out in Enclave’s Fall release. Supporting the Kickstarter campaign can bag you a significant discount off the retail price of the books. And you get an early release of the ebooks. Sweet deal, if you ask me.

Click the Button!

Some of these reasons are more altruistic (getting more Christian authors and stories out into the world, encouraging more Christians to read these great genres) and some more self-serving. If one or more of them resonate with you, this is your chance.

Here are two things you can do to help: support the Kickstarter or share a tweet about it to spread the word.

Support Enclave Publishing Fall Releases

Tweet about the Enclave Fall Release Kickstarter

Whether it is a $1 gift or you decide to pounce on the entire Marcher Lord Press / Enclave Publishing catalog, including the new releases, for $225, you have a chance to grow this genre and support this indie publisher. I don’t get anything out of promoting them. I just believe all the reasons above.

UPDATE 7/21: They have met their goal in the first week! However, don’t stop sharing now. Those discounts will be gone once the Kickstarter is over. It is still the best way to get a deal on those books and the more support they get, the more social proof they have to show Christian retailers that there’s a readership out here that wants these books. So keep supporting and sharing until the campaign is over!

UPDATE 7/25: Ben Wolf, founder of Splickety Magazine and speculative fiction writer, just published his Five Reasons Why Supporting Enclave’s Kickstarter is a Good Idea. His thoughts are a bit different than mine, so check them out!

And if you don’t support this Kickstarter, keep your eyes open for a chance to support one that you DO believe in. Crowd-funding is such a fun way to participate in creating the products and services you want to see in the world. Go forth, and make things happen!

Best Chapter Titles Ever (can be used as writing prompt)

Fire burning - photo by Janne Karaste

The titles speak for themselves:

Chapter 1: The First
Chapter 2: The Chapter Second
Chapter 3: The Chapter Which Cometh After the Second
Chapter 4: The Chapter Which Cometh After the Chapter that Succeeded the Second But Before the Chapter Fifth
Chapter 5: The Chapter Fifth
Chapter 6: In Which Things Happen
Chapter 7: In Which Yet More Things Happen
Chapter 8: In Which Fewer Things Happen and Our Devoted Readers Draw a Quick Breath
Chapter 9: Bet You Didn’t See THAT Coming, Did You?
Chapter 10: In Which Your Beloved Author Doth Put George R. R. Martin to Shame and Sendeth Him Home, Weeping, to His Mommy, at the Most Terrible Tragedies Which This Chapter Entaileth
Chapter 11: In Which the Readers Do Weep
Chapter 12: Bunnies
Chapter 13: In Which Seven More Perish
Chapter 14: In Which You Meet a Love Interest
Chapter 15: In Which the Love Interest Doth Tweaketh the Hero’s Mustache and is the Cause of Much Mayhem
Chapter 16: And We Are Not Talking About the Allstate Mascot Either
Chapter 17: REAL MAYHEM
Chapter 18: In Which the World Burns, and Other People Watch It

If you’re not smiling or laughing out loud by now, then move along. Apparently there’s nothing to see here. But as for me, I’m going to gush about the source of this hilarity.

Stant Litore: Where creativity knows no bounds

stant-litore2013So there’s this author guy named Stant Litore. He’s not just some friend from high school or writing class that I’m patting on the back because we’re friends. The dude inspires me. All. The. Time.

I saw him first on a panel discussing fiction and faith hosted by another author who is a friend of mine. His comments intrigued me. I read his books, loved his writing. It grabs you by the shoulders and drags you into another time and place. I found it lyrical and memorable. Vivid and provocative. And funny.

He was gracious enough to accept my friend request on Facebook and now I have his brilliance on tap, so to speak. Don’t be jealous. It could happen to you, too. tweet this

Best Chapter Titles Ever

Stant’s friend Joseph Brassey is working the finishing touches for his next book, and off the cuff Stant comes up with these suggestions for the chapter titles (well, the book is 35 chapters long, so this is just the first half).

Chapter 10 especially made me Laugh Out Loud, although each one had me smiling.

And the world burning. tweet this

I think I want to write this book. Don’t you?

I hope Joseph doesn’t mind.

“What do you write?”

I’m attending a writing conference this weekend. There’s a question that writers ask each other, especially when meeting someone new at a conference.

“What do you write?”

For some reason, despite the years of hearing this question, it still leaves me feeling like a deer in the headlights. Shouldn’t this be an easy question to answer? Oh, sure. If you’re only writing one thing!

It would be great just to say, “I write urban fantasy.” It would be so much more convenient just to say, “I write Christian devotionals.”

It’s kind of awkward to say, “I write paranormal urban fantasy and Christian devotionals.”

Of course, now that I write that out, I find myself grinning and thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that before? That’s a great answer!”

Publishing Projects Currently in the Works

Without further ado, here are the projects I’m currently working on:


Aka “The Holy Spirit for Every-Day Christians”

An e-book series, with companion website containing downloadable bible studies and possibly a podcast. The content is in simple, approachable language and based on the premise that the Holy Spirit is central to our relationship with God and both accessible and essential to every Christian regardless of denomination or circumstance. The concept is to introduce the topic for those who haven’t looked into it for themselves and give them the basics while encouraging them towards further personal study.

I have a number of Christian sites/books along these lines in various stages of development: – For “graduates” of the site, folks who are starting their journey walking in the Spirit and want to know more about how this looks in daily life. – Profiles of supernatural encounters with God from the scriptures, from Christian history, and from modern-day life. With the scriptures as our ultimate measuring stick and guide, I hope to encourage people to see how God is speaking in their lives. – “God’s Word on Words” is a book / site / bible study series on the topic of words. I believe that words are a powerful influence on our minds and hearts, and have experienced dramatic transformation in my life through understanding and applying biblical principles in this key area.


I am passionate about speculative fiction. I enjoy this form of story-telling more than any other and believe it is very compatible with the Christian worldview. I want to promote it to Christians and encourage Christian participation in this great entertainment arena.

This website (and companion Facebook and Twitter presence) is being designed as a place where fans flock. Where Christians who enjoy science fiction, fantasy, horror, historical fiction, urban fantasy, steampunk, and any number of other subgenres can come together and celebrate the stories they enjoy.

In theory, this site will strictly avoid doctrinal debates or a judgmental approach to entertainment content, but instead will provide a place to discuss TV, movies, comic books and other things we enjoy. It is a place for fans: If you love something, talk about it. Share why you like it. If you feel it’s not appropriate for Christians or feel uncomfortable watching or reading it, do not participate in the discussions. No bashing allowed, with strict moderating of comments and threads. It has yet to be seen if it is possible to maintain such a site as envisioned. I am ever the optimist.


An educational site explaining that speculative fiction is the umbrella term for the many subgenres of science fiction and fantasy. It will give examples of several of the best-sellers in each genre and perhaps recommend some rising stars in current releases. I am passionate about raising awareness for this term and the overall genre, getting public attention and interest and opening the doors to new readers. There are so many fantastic subgenres that deserve attention and I think one of the best ways is to educate the public about this umbrella term.


A blog where I can share ideas, resources and encouragement with other Christian moms. There are probably thousands of these blogs out there, but I still want to add my voice to the chorus. A special focus will be encouraging each woman to be a fierce protector of her family, in prayer and in how she partners with her husband (or other support team) and mentors her children. I am passionate in my belief that a woman has great power in Christ to influence her family and all those she comes into contact with. I want to see women awakened to this potential.


This site started years ago as an ad-revenue site and is much neglected. Yet underneath the neglect is good information and a project dear to my heart. Unlike most sites offering the meaning of a name, this one focuses on names from the bible and Christian history. Besides the literal meaning and name variations, it also provides links to the scriptures where the name is found and a summary of the story of each biblical person’s life. People seem to find it inspiring, and I love hearing the comments of people who share about naming their own children, and what the names mean to them personally.

I need to give this site a facelift and get a regular publishing schedule going to flesh out the content. Eventually, once there are at least 52 (or 365) entries, I may compile them into a book. I’d like to offer personalized gift items featuring the names and their meanings, as well. There are few things as life-shaping as one’s own name, and it can be a great blessing to receive a gift that reminds us of the meaning of it.


This series is written for a dramatically different reading audience than any of my other work, so it will be under a pseudonym for easy searching purposes. Folks in my speculative fiction writing circles will probably hear about it, but for purposes of my blog here, it’s just a fringe project you won’t hear much about.


A website with companion Facebook and Twitter presence to provide frequent (daily or perhaps tri-weekly) encouragement for writers. There are other sites out there, but I believe there’s room for my spin on it. This site is purely visual graphics with inspiring quotes or writing prompts, all geared specifically towards reinforcing the message “Just write! Keep writing!”


I have tens of thousands of photographs I’ve personally taken. Many are beautiful photos of nature: landscapes, wildlife, flowers. As a blogger and web publisher, I am always looking for free resources for my online projects. This is my way to give back to the community. This site will offer photos already sized for online use, free to download, tagged and categorized by what’s in the photo for easy searching.

Where To Next?

I’d like to say that the reason none of these projects are finished is because I’m working so hard on all of them that no single one is complete. But the truth is, I have worked very little on any of these. Other important things in my life (such as my web design business or the choice to homeschool my kids) have taken precedence and, I admit, so many things of personal enjoyment (chatting with my Facebook community, reading others’ blogs and books, relaxing with a good movie or TV series) have also come first.

Last year, I declared here that my focus was shifting, that my writing and publishing efforts would take center stage away from my web design business. I followed through on that. I turned away new clients right and left, and by the end of the year I had wrapped up the last of the projects I’d committed to during the first quarter. In November, I committed to NaNoWriMo and I won! 50,000 words in 22 days (I took 8 days at the beginning just to figure out what I was going to write).

This year, I have been stepping into a great online speculative fiction community and honing my plans, wrapping my brain around some different publishing options available now in the wild world of new publishing. The year is nearly half gone. I hope that by the end of the year, I will have launched at least ONE of these projects into the world!

Is God okay with poverty?

I read an article recently bashing Dave Ramsey’s ministry because the author felt Dave’s approach implies that 1) God wants His people blessed financially and 2) people are individually responsible for their financial state.

The author says, “People are poor for a lot of reasons, and choice is certainly a factor, but categorically blaming poverty on lack of faith or lack of initiative is not only uninformed, it’s unbiblical.” She goes on to list a number of factors that could create financial hardship in a person’s life. Things like the economy, the societal oppression of people in certain demographics (racial oppression or gender inequality), medical bills, being born into a poor family or poor neighborhood, and other systemic or individual injustices.

Friends, an article like this one sets off certain alerts in my mind, and I’d like to offer the suggestion that you consider making this a litmus test for what articles you believe and what articles you share. And perhaps even what articles you write. Yes, I’m preaching AND meddling tonight.

Two Broken Pillars

Articles like this one are standing on two broken pillars:

  • A fair amount of time is spent bashing and discrediting another Christian’s ministry.
  • The central assertions of the article are biblically incorrect: “God does not bless people with money” (direct quote) and “applying biblical principles will not change your physical circumstances” (my paraphrase).

Bashing Others is a Bad Idea

When speaking from a critical spirit, you’re not likely to be dealing gracious truth, even if there are grains of truth in part of what you say. If your words are cookies, then I’m not interested in eating cookies made with even just one rotten egg. Have you ever smelled a truly rotten egg? Eww. No amount in your food is okay.

It has become popular today to attack Christian ministers who are financially successful. Although I may not think I’d do the same thing that some ministers do with their money, that’s not my place to judge. Unless they are engaging in truly unethical business practices, I don’t care what they do with their money. That’s between them and God!

As long as the majority of their teaching matches my understanding of the Word of God, I will listen to them. If there are too many things I don’t agree with, then I will stop listening to them. But even when I feel that their teaching is detrimental to others, I don’t usually “speak out against” a minister of the gospel. (If I’ve done it in the past, please forgive me — my current conviction is not to do this.) Instead, I refrain from promoting them and if I feel someone else is perhaps heading down a harmful path in listening to them, I’ll pray that God will reveal the truth to that person.

I’m not certain whether using a specific article as a talking point and example in this blog post is doing the same thing I’m accusing the author of doing — bashing someone else’s ministry. Maybe it is. Maybe I should keep this post entirely generic and speak in broader terms. However, at the moment, that seems less effective than sharing a specific example.

I hold no ill will towards the author and actually respect her writing and the journey she’s been on, from what I’ve read of it. I’m not bashing her as a person or discrediting her ministry. The subject matter of her post involves the reputation of my God and the well-being of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and contains a subject that I find is often misunderstood. For that reason I wish to pursue this discussion in a respectful, non-bashing way with my friends, the readers of my blog.

God is Not Okay With Poverty. Read the Whole Bible, Friends.

The author of the article asserts, “But while Ramsey may be a fine source of information on how to eliminate debt, his views on poverty are neither informed nor biblical.” Hmmm. Nobody is perfect. I’m not saying Dave Ramsey and every word he says is correct and the perfect interpretation of the Bible and the facts of life. But his views on poverty are by and large very well-informed and quite biblically sound.

The author of the article basically says, “You may be stuck in poverty due to circumstances outside your control and God’s ability to fix, because of things like where you live and what family or ethnicity you were born into. But that’s okay because you have God’s love and peace in your heart, and that needs to be enough because that’s all He promised.”

A companion piece to this is the idea that rich people can’t be close to God and God chooses the poor and thinks they’re better off than the rich. It’s the same old Catholic teaching of the virtues of poverty, come back around with fresh trappings. Just as wrong today as it was a thousand years ago.

It grieves me that so many in the family of God reject what He says over and over and over again: “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” – Proverbs 10:22

This isn’t the place for a full list of scriptures showing that God endorses physical wealth for His people. I encourage you to do a study on what God thinks of wealth and how He says to handle finances. I did not follow any one ministry’s teachings to reach the conclusions I have. My personal convictions are based on my time spent in study of the Word itself under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26, 1 John 2:27), and then I read widely to see others’ perspectives and pick up details they share from their studies that I may have missed.

“And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” – Deuteronomy 8:18

The old covenant God established with Abraham and his descendants was a reflection of His desire towards us, a shadow of things to come. It provided some things in the physical realm based on obedience to certain agreed terms.

Read through Deuteronomy 28 and look at the patterns given there. What things were considered the blessings and rewards of the covenant? What things were considered curses? God hasn’t changed His mind about what is good for His kids and what is bad.

Simple but effective litmus test for certain controversial doctrines: Any time you see something that is listed as a curse under the old covenant presented in a Christian teaching as something “good”, that teaching has something wrong with it. Dig deeper and find the truth.

Is the “prosperity gospel” wrong? Or is the “poverty gospel” wrong? First of all, it depends on the details. I’ve heard some truth on both sides. And error on both sides. So dig deeper. Look at the patterns across the whole Bible. Look at the intent and the heart behind the rules of the old covenant.

Didn’t Jesus Diss the Rich?

When viewing the New Testament teachings on riches, keep them in the context of what all Jews (including Jesus) at that time already knew inside and out: that wealth was a blessing from the Lord and poverty a curse.

So when Jesus says things that seem to fly in the face of that (the Sermon on the Mount, for example), look to the heart of what He’s saying. Look for how He’s shaking up the status quo. Again, the status quo was the letter of the law: wealth means you’re obeying God, poverty means you’re not. There were a ton of people abusing that system.

Rich people walked around flaunting their riches as proof of God’s approval. They never needed to look any further than their bank statement to have proof that they didn’t need to improve their character or change their ways. Poor people were not only suffering the experience of poverty itself but at a huge social and religious disadvantage.

Jesus challenged all of them with a deeper reality: God looks at the heart.

Jesus taught that what is in your heart is the focus of His attention. A man whose faith is in his wealth will have a hard time entering the kingdom of God. A man who lusts in his heart is as guilty in God’s eyes as one who commits the act. The woman who gave only two cents actually gave the most. Those who are aware of their poverty (the poor in spirit, the grieving, those hungry and thirsty for righteousness) are therefore closest to the kingdom, the most ready to accept the almost-too-good-to-be-true news.

Jesus was raising the bar so that people would be primed for the revolutionary act of the cross, and the message of the gospel: that the curse of the law was gone and every blessing available in the original covenant was now available for all those who believed.

Anything Less Would Be — Not the Gospel

So why are we so willing to embrace this idea that poverty is okay with God? That He just wants to save our souls, and not give us a better life today, tomorrow and every day that we draw breath on this earth? Why are we accepting less than the full gospel?

Oops. Did I just set off some of your alarm bells? “Full gospel”, isn’t that a doctrinal group, one of those crazy ones? Well, honestly, when I typed those words I wasn’t thinking about that group at all. It is the natural phrase that comes to mind when I look at the difference between what I see in the Bible and what so many want to embrace — a gospel that only includes some of the blessings God intended for us. I can only imagine why some are so unwilling to see it. Perhaps afraid of wealth and its corrupting influence? I can understand that. But I’m not going to let fear stop me from receiving what Jesus purchased for me on the cross.

All of it.