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ARTICLES

Thoughts on life, inspired by fiction.

Stories are our passion and calling…so we give them a lot of thought. Join the publishing team and authors as we wax philosophical about all things story-related.

From Ghost Child to Author

Imagine being born into a world where you do not exist.

For many this is unimaginable. But for some, this is a way of life.

And that, for many years, was my life.

I was born in the south of China in the late 1990s during the infamous one-child policy and I was born with two things against me. Number one, I was born to a single woman who had most likely gotten pregnant outside of marriage (a punishable offense at the time). And number two, I was a girl. In a world where one-child was strictly enforced and seeing as at the time females could not own land, vote, etc. most people opted out for a boy. So what happened to the girls that were born, or what if the couple got pregnant with a second child?

In many cases, abortion was the only option for them and seen as the “humane” way of dealing with the situation. But in other cases, girls as young as two years old, boys who were born from a second pregnancy, or babies in general were abandoned. Left outside in the streets to fend for themselves with no one to turn to. These are the “ghost children,” children which, by law, do not exist. They are not issued any kind of ID, they are not recognized by the government, they cannot attend school, get a job, get married. Millions were killed during this time by either people sent to “deal” with this issue, starved to death, killed by other ghosts who had formed into gangs, or died of illness or exposure. The ones who were lucky enough to survive found work in sweat shops or prostitution. This was the reality for millions of girls and boys who were left behind.

Back to me and my story. Like I said, I was born into this world as one of these “ghost” kids with nothing. Left outside of the hospital I was born in by my birth mother who fled, never to be seen again. Oh, and I need to mention that this hospital that I was born in was notorious for killing off these babies and selling their organs to the rich. I was literally at the devil’s doorstep, right outside the place that could have taken my life easily. But that is not what happened. I was saved. Taken by a nurse that found me who thought I was a “beautiful child.” Looking back on it, I can’t help but think this is how Moses got his start when he was saved from being slaughtered because Pharaoh’s daughter thought he too was a “beautiful child.”

From there I was passed around from different families but the question remained. Who would want me? Who would want a baby girl that had and could never have anything? Who would most likely be a dependent for the rest of her life, never marry, never get an education, etc.? Who would want a nuisance that would bring nothing into their lives? But God in his infinite mercy had a plan for me. He would give me a family.

My parents were missionaries who had already spent six years in Asia, and although they were in the forties at the time, the wife wanted another baby. A baby that she couldn’t have naturally after already having one child. She had prayed constantly for a baby as it was a deep desire in her heart. Then one day, they heard about a three-week-old baby girl who had been abandoned and needed a family, so they set off to meet me.

I was given to them and they tried to adopt me, but there were a number of issues standing in the way…this baby didn’t exist. How do you adopt someone who legally does not exist? So they decided to do the unthinkable. Raise me in secret in a small town where it was less likely that anyone would bother them. I was soon joined by another little girl who had been rescued from a trashcan outside of a factory who then became my sister. Together we were raised in a small town, in apartments, and were homeschooled to provide us with an education.

I grew up very sheltered because I had to be. My entire world consisted of the apartment that I lived in, my family, the small town, and the groups of people in the inner circle who were dedicated to keeping my parents secret and keeping me safe. Many assumed that we were legally adopted and that provided us with a tentative wall of safety. However, if word had gotten out that my parents were, in fact, harboring illegal children, things would have gone bad and most likely I would have been taken away from them and not survived.

Because my world was so small, I had didn’t have some of the things that most people take for granted. I never had many friends that I would see on a regular basis or people to “hang out” with. It wasn’t uncommon to see a friend once and then not see them for years on end only for them to pop into your life for a day or so before leaving. And I desperately wanted to experience something outside my little bubble. I found it when I was a teenager. My escape. A book my dad brought back from America for me. Moon Over Tokyo by Siri L. Mitchell.

I was hooked. The story was about a woman living in Japan who basically was alone in the world being a foreigner with only one friend, who ultimately leaves, and who lives in her own little bubble. This resonated so much with me as I found myself in the character. It was like looking through a mirror. I don’t know how many times I read that book, but I craved more. I began reading every book I could get my hands on and since physical books were out of the question (unless you’re willing to pay with one of your organs), I turned to eBooks. And I read. I read like a starving person finally having food. I went on countless adventures from the comforts of my own room. My favorites to read were romance novels. I could escape from my world into that world where I could be anyone and do anything. But I wasn’t satisfied. I found myself not wanting to just “read” books anymore. I wanted to write them.

I was gifted by God to have a wild and vivid imagination (one of the reasons I can’t watch horror movies). I like to say I started my writing career at 13 with writing fanfiction instead of taking notes in class (just don’t tell my dad, lol). These were very short, fun stories about characters I loved from different TV shows doing basically whatever I wanted them to do. I loved reading fanfiction and writing them, and that was fun for a while. but I found myself wanting so much more. Using already established characters from fandoms were one thing, but I found myself wanting to create my own characters so at 16, I decided to make the switch. I was going to write my own work.

I found a group on Goodreads that would host weekly writing contest (no money involved, just glory), and I participated almost every week. We were given a word and then would need to write a short story based off of it. It was a fun way to get into writing my very own short stories of around 3,500 words. And I am very proud to say, I won several times.

But I wasn’t done. Short stories were fun, but I found them unsatisfactory. I wanted to write novels. I liked how longer novels delved deep into characterization and plot with their extensive word counts. To me, 3,500 words was too small for me to attempt that kind of development. So I decided to make short stories a thing of my past. I was going to be a novelist. I just had a few issues. For example…how on earth does one write a novel? I knew nothing and I had no one to teach me. I started several stories but never got anywhere near novel length. For a while, 20,000 words seemed to be my limit before I would get stuck and ultimately give up. And, after doing research, I learned that novels were generally 60,000 or 70,000 words and up and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to break my 20,000 word barrier.

This went on for years, and the more time passed, the more I was beginning to doubt myself. But I still had this burning desire in me to write a novel. I wanted more than anything to see my books on the shelves. So I decided I wasn’t going to give up, but I needed a new strategy. I was going to do something drastic. It happened in 2016 with my first ever book blitz (at least that’s what I called it). My plan was simple: I would not write for a whole year. Not one word. Instead, I would read as much as I possibly could. I would read whatever novel I got my hands on. It was a good plan, and one I took very seriously.

By January 1st of 2017, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had read 120 novels in the year. I analyzed how authors approached characterization, I studied how each author paced everything, I learned about common tropes, themes, etc. I found what I liked and what I didn’t like. So now it was finally my turn. I was going to beat my 20,000-word limit and write my first full-length novel. So during the first week of January, I sat at my dining room table with my laptop and opened it up to a new Word document. A story had been going on in my head for some time, and I wanted to bring it to life. So I sat there…for two hours, a blank screen taunting me with its emptiness.

And then came the negative thoughts. “How are you going to write novels?” “What makes you think you’re any good?” “You’re only 19, what do you know?” I wanted to shut up those little voices. Because during 2016 and my book blitz, my passion for writing and need to tell my own stories had grown from being a lighted match to a blazing inferno. I was going to write, and no one was going to stop me. Not even me.

So I sat back in my seat and threw my head up to Heaven. Frustrated with myself, I sent out a short prayer. “God! You gave me this. I have no one to teach me how to do this. I believe this is something from you. You are the one who gave me this passion, so you’re going to have to be the one who teaches me how to use it.”

It was short. It was simple. And I waited for something to change. For a long time I waited and nothing seemed to happen. So I came up with a new idea. I was going to write out a character outline for my characters. Just an overview of their characters. I could at least do that. Two and a half hours later, I wrote “the end” to a fifteen-page synopsis, having no idea how or where all the ideas had come from. I smiled up to Heaven. “Thank you,” I told God. I had my synopsis. Now it was time to get to work.

It took me months (and my computer was out of commission for several of those) but I finally wrote “The End” to my very first novel at 19 years old. A novel entitled “Season for Miracles,” clocking in at 92,000 words. Words cannot describe how I felt having completed it. Words also cannot describe how I feel almost a decade letter knowing that one day I’ll read it again and more than likely cringe. But at the time, I was proud of myself. I had achieved my dream. Or at least the first part of it. I needed to get it published.

From there my life started to change. I wrote about things that I wanted to do. I wrote about people going ice skating, hanging out, going on vacation. Basically, I lived vicariously through my characters, who were free to do whatever they wanted…which was very much unlike the world I lived in where I was confined to one small place.

Then the laws were changed. Possibilities opened up for me. I now live as a full-fledged citizen, no longer a ghost kid, free to live a life without fear of being taken away from my family or even worse.

My story is complicated, it’s messy, it’s sometimes hard to talk about, but looking back on it, I can see God’s hand working through it all. Not only did he save my life, give me a family, and teach me how to utilize my passion, He taught me a lot of life lessons along the way. Despite my circumstances, I learned to always have hope. Hope for a better future. I still have that hope and faith that my life, even now, will always change for the better. Which is sort of the reason I used Jeremiah 29:11 as my anchor verse for my first novel.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

As far as I’m concerned, I’ll never quit writing novels. There are too many stories and characters floating around my head and more are being added to it on a regular basis. And in the same way Moon Over Tokyo inspired me as a young girl, my prayer is that God will use my stories to help inspire others. That is my prayer for every novel I start.

Joy Crain

Joy Crain

WhiteCrown Author

Joy Crain was adopted and raised in southern China by an American missionary couple. At an early age, her fondness for books and vivid imagination gave her a genuine love for storytelling. Joy started writing her own stories as a teenager and the journey has just continued from there.

Joy’s novels contain strong romantic elements with inspirational undertones which will make you fall in love if you’re not careful. And Joy feels that if a reader doesn’t walk away from her novels with a smile, she hasn’t done her job.

Currently, Joy lives with her sister and her toy poodle, Raisin. When she is not traveling internationally, she spends her time teaching English and pursuing her passion for writing.

Missy Hanson never dreamed of falling in love and living happily ever after. In fact, she doesn’t know what she wants to do after she graduates from college; nevertheless, she’s content working as a journalist for her local newspaper and assisting at her aunt’s California bakery. When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity emerges for her to visit the southeast Asian country of Andelar, Missy is thrown into the world of royalty as the special guest of the king and queen—and it’s clear she doesn’t belong, despite her family ties to the area. But the royal family isn’t without its mysteries. Rumors abound that a secret prince is hiding amid Andelar’s society, and Missy is determined to find out who he is.

 

Can Fiction Change Lives?

Whether you’re an avid reader or an occasional one, the power of fiction is something we’ve all experienced at some point. And it’s not just about entertainment; it’s about the transformative influence stories can have on our faith, our families, and our understanding of ourselves. Fiction isn’t just something we should feel like we’re indulging in. Fiction is one of the most powerful ways we can grow as a person and as a community.

Faith: A Complex Conversation

Imagine the feeling when you’re deep into a novel, and a character grapples with questions of faith that you, too, have pondered…maybe even issues that you’ve been pondering recently. It’s uncanny, isn’t it? And as you flip those pages, you find yourself desperate to see how the characters handle the questions that you, too, have asked. They may be questions you hadn’t even known how to put words to, or questions so personal that you had no idea how to look it up or seek advice. But in those characters, in that story, you find encouragement and wisdom. You find other people who wrestled with a problem and found strength through faith. Fiction has a way of delving deep into intricate spiritual questions in a way that feels approachable, which in turn helps readers to explore their beliefs. Whether it reinforces your convictions or challenges them, fiction creates a safe space for spiritual exploration.

Family: A Reflection in Literature

Family is a universal theme in literature, for good reason. Even when a story is set in a world far removed from your own, the dynamics of the relationships are often strikingly familiar. By diving into these narratives, readers can gain fresh perspectives on their own family lives—views that ar e often more insightful than what we could achieve through countless conversations around the dinner table, because they don’t just look at everything from one point of view (our own). These narratives invite us into the hearts and minds of others and helps us open our eyes to what those we love best might be experiencing. Fiction can show us the truth of our families in a way our own simple observations often fail to do. And then, in turn, it helps us open up new dialogue with them.

Self-Discovery: A Pathway Through Pages

When you poll fiction readers on WHY they read, one of the most popular answers is “escape.” And that makes sense…we all need an escape from the everyday. And yet, fiction is a lot more than JUST an escape. Novels are windows into other possibilities. A well-crafted narrative can make us consider choices we’ve never thought of and outcomes we’ve never imagined. Fiction puts us into the heart and head of someone else–something nothing else in our lives can ever quite achieve. Through those pages into which we “escape,” we in fact encounter situations we otherwise never will, to see the world and the people in it in new ways. Opinions and stances that immediately make us defensive or offended in regular conversation can look very different when we’re experiencing those things through someone else’s eyes. And that leaves us with questions to ponder, ideas to explore, empathy and understanding we hadn’t had before we opened that book. Fiction isn’t just an escape–it’s a a catalyst for personal growth, urging us to explore who we are…and who we want to become.

Mindfulness: The Hidden Perk of Reading

Let’s be honest—life gets overwhelming. While many look to mindfulness practices like meditation to find balance, there’s a case to be made for reading as a form of meditation. A good book allows you to step outside your immediate concerns and immerse yourself in a different world. It’s an invitation to be present, which is one of the most understated benefits of picking up a novel. Reading fiction can clear our heads of the worries clouding them, helping us to put our own concerns into perspective after living for a while in someone else’s shoes and dealing with their concerns. And thanks to the wide variety of reading available, we always know there’s a book out there promising exactly what we need in each day. Books can help us laugh, make us cry, take us away, or ground us.

Community: Shared Stories, Shared Connections

Maybe reading seems like a solitary endeavor, and it certainly can be. But what’s the first thing you do when you finish a book you absolutely LOVE? You tell someone about it! Better still is if a friend is already reading it too, or already has. When we share books with friends, we don’t just have parallel experiences–we open a door to community. Shared conversation on stories and the subjects they bring up not only help us understand the book on a deeper level, it helps us understand each other on a deeper level. Maybe you’re part of a book club, or maybe you’re simply sharing a favorite book with a friend.  Either way, that common experience is like going on a literary journey together. And at the end of that journey, you’ll all have a deeper, richer understanding–both of the story and of each other. It’s the kind of experience that you’ll want to embark on again as soon as you’ve finished one leg of the journey!

Closing Thoughts

The impact of a good story extends far beyond the final page. Whether challenging our faith, deepening our family relationships, spurring personal growth, encouraging mindfulness, or building community, fiction enriches our lives in countless ways. So, the next time you pick up a novel, remember: You’re not just reading a story. You’re embarking on a journey that could well change your life.

Fiction: Your New Pathway to Divine Connection

Ever thought a good story could bring you closer to God? Here’s why faith-based fiction is more than just entertainment.

 

Why it Matters:

  • Engaging with faith-based fiction opens new dimensions in your spiritual life, offering a unique way to connect with the Divine.
  • You may have skipped over fiction thinking it’s just leisure reading, but it can be a potent vehicle for spiritual discovery.

More Than Just Stories:

  • These aren’t just tales; they’re explorations into the complexities of faith, spirituality, and the human experience.
  • You encounter relatable characters grappling with moral dilemmas, spiritual crises, and personal transformations.

How Fiction Facilitates Faith:

  • The story arcs can serve as allegories or metaphors for your own spiritual journey, inviting self-reflection and deeper understanding.
  • Reading becomes an act of spiritual meditation, each page a step closer to God.

Prayer struggles got you down? Discover how faith-based fiction can be a gateway to deeper spiritual connection.

Why it Matters:

  • Many women aged 24-54 feel disconnected from traditional prayer methods.
  • Fiction can offer an alternative route to spiritual exploration and connection with God.

The Prayer Struggle is Real:

  • Pressures of daily life, emotional overload, or even past religious experiences can make focused prayer a challenge.
  • You’re not alone: Many women struggle to find time and emotional space for effective prayer.

Unlocking Prayer Through Fiction:

  • Fictional stories can serve as a form of meditative reflection, allowing you to engage with spiritual themes without the ‘pressure’ of formal prayer.
  • Through relatable characters and experiences, you can uncover insights into your own spiritual journey.

The Big Picture:

  • Books aren’t just for escapism. They can be spiritual tools that help you find a different pathway to God.
  • As fiction increasingly becomes a medium for spiritual discovery, look for books that incorporate themes you can resonate with, and perhaps even discuss with your spiritual community.

In Between the Lines:

  • The beauty of fiction is its ability to approach real-world challenges—like prayer—in a nuanced way, making the complex simple and the daunting approachable.
  • Dive into narratives that explore complex relationships with faith, prayer, and God, enriching your own understanding in the process.

     

    By using fiction as a means of enhancing one’s spiritual life, you can peak directly into your struggles and needs 

The Transformative Power of Fiction

Whether you’re an avid reader or an occasional one, the power of fiction is something we’ve all experienced at some point. And it’s not just about entertainment; it’s about the transformative influence stories can have on our faith, our families, and our understanding of ourselves. Fiction isn’t just something we should feel like we’re indulging in. Fiction is one of the most powerful ways we can grow as a person and as a community.

Faith: A Complex Conversation

Imagine the feeling when you’re deep into a novel, and a character grapples with questions of faith that you, too, have pondered…maybe even issues that you’ve been pondering recently. It’s uncanny, isn’t it? And as you flip those pages, you find yourself desperate to see how the characters handle the questions that you, too, have asked. They may be questions you hadn’t even known how to put words to, or questions so personal that you had no idea how to look it up or seek advice. But in those characters, in that story, you find encouragement and wisdom. You find other people who wrestled with a problem and found strength through faith. Fiction has a way of delving deep into intricate spiritual questions in a way that feels approachable, which in turn helps readers to explore their beliefs. Whether it reinforces your convictions or challenges them, fiction creates a safe space for spiritual exploration.

Family: A Reflection in Literature

Family is a universal theme in literature, for good reason. Even when a story is set in a world far removed from your own, the dynamics of the relationships are often strikingly familiar. By diving into these narratives, readers can gain fresh perspectives on their own family lives—views that ar e often more insightful than what we could achieve through countless conversations around the dinner table, because they don’t just look at everything from one point of view (our own). These narratives invite us into the hearts and minds of others and helps us open our eyes to what those we love best might be experiencing. Fiction can show us the truth of our families in a way our own simple observations often fail to do. And then, in turn, it helps us open up new dialogue with them.

Self-Discovery: A Pathway Through Pages

When you poll fiction readers on WHY they read, one of the most popular answers is “escape.” And that makes sense…we all need an escape from the everyday. And yet, fiction is a lot more than JUST an escape. Novels are windows into other possibilities. A well-crafted narrative can make us consider choices we’ve never thought of and outcomes we’ve never imagined. Fiction puts us into the heart and head of someone else–something nothing else in our lives can ever quite achieve. Through those pages into which we “escape,” we in fact encounter situations we otherwise never will, to see the world and the people in it in new ways. Opinions and stances that immediately make us defensive or offended in regular conversation can look very different when we’re experiencing those things through someone else’s eyes. And that leaves us with questions to ponder, ideas to explore, empathy and understanding we hadn’t had before we opened that book. Fiction isn’t just an escape–it’s a a catalyst for personal growth, urging us to explore who we are…and who we want to become.

Mindfulness: The Hidden Perk of Reading

Let’s be honest—life gets overwhelming. While many look to mindfulness practices like meditation to find balance, there’s a case to be made for reading as a form of meditation. A good book allows you to step outside your immediate concerns and immerse yourself in a different world. It’s an invitation to be present, which is one of the most understated benefits of picking up a novel. Reading fiction can clear our heads of the worries clouding them, helping us to put our own concerns into perspective after living for a while in someone else’s shoes and dealing with their concerns. And thanks to the wide variety of reading available, we always know there’s a book out there promising exactly what we need in each day. Books can help us laugh, make us cry, take us away, or ground us.

Community: Shared Stories, Shared Connections

Maybe reading seems like a solitary endeavor, and it certainly can be. But what’s the first thing you do when you finish a book you absolutely LOVE? You tell someone about it! Better still is if a friend is already reading it too, or already has. When we share books with friends, we don’t just have parallel experiences–we open a door to community. Shared conversation on stories and the subjects they bring up not only help us understand the book on a deeper level, it helps us understand each other on a deeper level. Maybe you’re part of a book club, or maybe you’re simply sharing a favorite book with a friend.  Either way, that common experience is like going on a literary journey together. And at the end of that journey, you’ll all have a deeper, richer understanding–both of the story and of each other. It’s the kind of experience that you’ll want to embark on again as soon as you’ve finished one leg of the journey!

Closing Thoughts

The impact of a good story extends far beyond the final page. Whether challenging our faith, deepening our family relationships, spurring personal growth, encouraging mindfulness, or building community, fiction enriches our lives in countless ways. So, the next time you pick up a novel, remember: You’re not just reading a story. You’re embarking on a journey that could well change your life.

The Good Word

A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold

We are told that words are powerful, that words matter, that a spoken thought has a ripple effect in the world whether for good or ill. The main character in my novel A Voice Within the Flame is Samuel, the last great judge and prophet before the monarchy was introduced in Israel. There is a descriptive phrase written of Samuel that is used nowhere else in Scripture, nor is it used to describe any other character. It is stated of Samuel that God “let none of his words fall to the ground.”

This is biblical poetry and does not just refer to Samuel’s prophetic declarations. Those pronouncements, while profound in effect, were infrequent and not the everyday life that Samuel led. This idiomatic expression reveals Samuel’s deep and knowing character rooted in truth. Whatever Samuel spoke, either in the sacred language of God or the common communication of man, it could be trusted.

The ancient Hebrew phrase “fall to the ground” means that something is useless and carries no weight or power. In Samuel’s case, his words did not fall to the ground like “precious liquors if spilt upon the earth, or like an arrow shot from a bow not arriving to the target,” as one commentator wrote. As spilt liquor upon the ground or a missed shot of an arrow are useless, so are thoughtless and foolish words when spoken.

When Samuel spoke his words carried the full weight of truth. Many times people did not like what Samuel had to say or the way he said it, but the measure of everything he spoke was bathed in the oil of truth, and the people trusted him.


The Bible, the Ancient Greeks, the Drama

A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold

The Invention of Tragedy

The invention of tragedy as a form of dramatic storytelling often is attributed to Aristotle and the ancient Greeks. The basic construct of a tragedy is that the protagonist—the one with outstanding qualities—rises to prominence before succumbing to disaster and being destroyed due to personal failures, circumstances beyond their control, or a combination of these two factors. Tragedy has been a creative style of expression in multiple art forms ever since.

The Role of Catharsis in Tragedy

When told well, a literary tragedy gives an audience the opportunity to experience catharsis. Simply put, when we become engrossed in a story, we experience deep and intense connection with the characters and, thus, identify with them. With our imaginations, we enter the story’s unfolding action and see ourselves in the different characters. Our emotions are engaged, and by the end we will have had a complete empathic experience. It is like a cleansing for the soul.

Long before the Greek playwrights wrote their stories and the actors donned their masks and began to orate in the amphitheaters, there was King Saul, the first true tragic figure of this kind in the Bible. Preceding when Sophocles wrote of Oedipus’ encounter with the prophet Tiresias, Saul encountered the prophet Samuel.

The Tragic Formula in Crown of the Warrior King

In my novel Crown of the Warrior King, the story of King Saul picks up where my first novel, A Voice Within the Flame, left off. Saul is in the early days of his kingship, winning the hearts and minds of the people of Israel with his success on the battlefield and benevolent leadership. But then personal hubris (excessive pride and self-confidence), crept in, and the tragic formula began to develop.

Art holds up the mirror of our humanity reflecting the tragic and comedic realities of our human nature. In Crown of the Warrior King, Saul reveals those human qualities we recognize in ourselves and makes choices that prove to have fatal consequences. It is a cautionary tale for us all.


Cutthroats and Swindlers and Thieves…Oh My

A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold

The Bible as an Entertaining and Instructive Book

John Milton of Paradise Lost fame wrote in a letter to a friend, “Why is the Bible more entertaining and instructive than any other book?” I say it is because the stories are addressed to “the imagination, which is spiritual sensation.”

More than forty writers are attributed to its authorship, and the divinely inspired literary styles and stories range from historical, poetic, wisdom, prophetic, narrative, and epistolatory to apocalyptic. Some of my favorite passages are in Psalms. Every human emotion is expressed in those one hundred and fifty psalms. Honesty at its most raw.

The Timeless Relevance of Biblical Stories for Modern Readers

Scripture also does not shy away from revealing every distinguishing trait of human nature—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some stories are so outrageous that people can’t believe they are included in such a holy book. I say, how could they not?

This great quote from Bono describes one of many reasons I have such affection for the Bible: “That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers, and mercenaries used to shock me. Now it is a source of great comfort.” Ancient times or modern times, nothing is new under the sun.

Conflict and Tension in Crown of the Warrior King

When I began to write my biblical historical fiction series, The Song of Prophets and Kings, I dreamed of gleaning truths from these three-thousand-year-old stories without altering any of the historical events and put them into an artistic context so a modern reader could relate to the situations and the emotional life of the characters.

With the publication of Crown of the Warrior King, the second installment of this series, the tension between the characters sharpened, and the conflict between the monarchy and the theocracy has intensified. The choices made by the main characters threaten to destroy the nation of Israel and bring down the reign of King Saul before it barely had time to be established.

The human struggle in this novel is as relevant for the modern reader as it was for those who lived through it so long ago. We can learn from our past. It is not inevitable that we repeat it.


Chaos, Hover, and Create

A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold

Human Love for Order

Human beings love order. When our world descends into chaos, we quickly begin the task of restoring a semblance of it. When the larger world around us becomes chaotic, we are fearful of being sucked into the wider maelstrom.

God chose to reverse the chaos of the amorphous universe. After hovering over the waters of turmoil, God began the process of creating form and beauty out of disorder.

Maintaining Order in Our Lives

Just contemplate what you do in the waking hours of a single day and consider all the ways you attempt to maintain order in your life. How do you react when your personal world order hits the turbulence of life and is threatened by upheaval?

We spend a great deal of physical energy bringing form out of our chaos and maintaining an ordered life. And when our world does spin out of control, too many times our natural response is to complain, curse, and blame.

The Three-Step Process to Bringing Order out of Chaos

In the book of beginnings, Genesis 1:2 reveals a simple three-step process to bringing order out of chaos. How and when the chaos in the universe came to be is a debate others can argue. But chaos existed in the dark, wet, void of the cosmos. Perhaps this image was in the subconscious minds of the creators of the lava lamp.

Then God hovered. The original Hebrew meaning for hover is “to brood; to be relaxed.” When we are relaxed enough to ponder and mediate on a situation, the time spent in doing so allows our imaginations to consider new forms to replace the chaos.

The Satisfaction of a Job Well Done

After such a brooding time, one goes into action to create beauty, to restore the benefits of peaceful existence in one’s heart and to the community at large. God’s response when the creation process was complete was to say, “It is good.” What a wonderful appraisal to be able to say when one is finished creating something beautiful, that “It is good.”

From the beginning it was so. Chaos, hover, and create.


Tell Me a Story

A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold

Conflict and Drama

When our girls were young, they would badger me with requests such as, “Daddy, tell us a story about when you were bad.” I think our girls learned about the reputation of my younger days by listening to family stories at the gatherings of the Arnold clan. Do not be tricked. When you think your kids aren’t paying attention, they are.

I never told them all the stories; they were too traumatic for their little psyches. I usually distracted them by suggesting we create our own stories full of characters that got into trouble.

“Like you, Daddy?” came the innocent question. “Well, maybe…” was my cagey reply. We would create scenarios fraught with conflict, danger, and drama, and we figured out how their characters got into and out of these troublesome situations. This freed their imaginations and got me off the hook.

Surprises and Authenticity in Storytelling

I have lived in the world of storytelling all my life as an actor, a playwright, a director, and a novelist. I have played and written about all manner of saints and scoundrels. Kay, my wife, tells me I do best with scoundrels. She knows me too well. But to be an effective storyteller it goes back to the advice I gave our girls: pay attention.

I try to look at life from a 360-degree perspective, paying attention to what is happening around me but also what might be happening within me. Surprises will follow. I am surprised by what other people reveal of themselves, and many times I am surprised by my own reactions. Both responses are real and authentic. I want my characters to be fully believable because I have fully felt them.

Refraining from Judgment

Refraining from judgment is a test for a storyteller. I seek to describe the action taken by the characters and the possible motives behind the action. There are always consequences to the choices characters make, just like in real life. As a writer, I try to make logical connections between character, choice, and consequence.

The Art of Daydreaming

This requires daydreaming. “He has his head in the clouds” would be an apt description when it comes to the artist. I see the reality of the world around me, and then I take the time and freedom to daydream about what it was, what it is, and what it may be in relation to my story. To create a compelling story requires time spent in the clouds to give meaning and depth to our lives here on earth. Defy the law of gravity. Keep daydreaming. Keep creating. The world is a better place for it.