Friday, December 29, 2006

site updated

The Little Dozen Press site has been updated with a new feature article... "Love Touches," one of my old favourites.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Real Meaning of Christmas

One of my old Christmas articles, "Tinsel and Trappings and the Meaning of Life," is being featured on this Web site:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I saw it. The best part of the whole night was watching Alexis throw fits on the end of the row... poor child, she was reading the book that very morning and so cared passionately about how much the movie warped it. I, who read the book two weeks ago, was much more calm and collected. It was still a disappointing rendition, but I learned a few things by comparing the book with the movie.

Most of all I learned that the key to the book--the thing that makes it special--is the relationships, particularly between Eragon and Saphira, and, in a much lesser way, between Eragon and Murtagh (I know that's not one of the key relationships in the story, but bear with me. I think it was one of the more original elements in the book).

The movie did a bad, bad job with the relationships. It sacrificed relationship for flashy action scenes, and that was a big mistake. It sucked out the heart of the story and left us with a body going through the motions.

Let this be a lesson to us: write relationships. They matter.

Technorati: reviews, eragon, books, movies, christopher paolini, fandom, inheritance trilogy, fantasy

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Going to see Eragon tonight! Yes, I read the reviews. Yes, I know how bad it's supposed to be. I feel a little sorry for Christopher Paolini, but hey... if I wrote a bestselling novel and it was made into a rotten movie, I'd still be able to walk around telling myself, "I wrote a bestselling novel." From all accounts the young man has a fabulous career ahead of him. Just because Hollywood can't make a decent fantasy movie doesn't change that.

Initially I hoped that going to see this would give me a shot-in-the-arm for my own fantasy project, The Seventh World Trilogy, the first installment of which I'll be releasing as an eBook sometime early next year. The reviews have almost but not quite quelled that hope: I like overdone, melodramatic stories and themes. I liked Dragonheart, for Pete's sake.

Monday, December 18, 2006


The first picture from my new camera! It's so exciting I could pop. Sigh... books... aren't they beautiful?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Writing Tip: What's the Big Idea?

When you write nonfiction, your opening paragraph should include a thesis statement--what I call a "big idea sentence." It's the statement that tells readers, in a nutshell, what you're writing about. There are several good reasons to include a clear "big idea" in your first paragraph:

1. It will keep you on track. The best of us meanders in word and thought at times. A clear big idea is like markings on the pavement. It will keep you focused and writing in the right direction.

2. It will pull your readers in. If you've written an article on canning peaches the easy way, your opening paragraph had better make your subject matter clear. If you spend the first half a page warbling on the virtues of peaches in general, would-be canners will stop reading and the only audience you'll retain till the end will be a few diehard horticulturalists from the We Love Peaches Association.

3. It will give the body context. Have you ever experienced the uncomfortable feeling, while reading, that your brain was out in some airy-fairy no-man's land? Trackless wildernesses may be romantic, but they don't make good reading. Our brains need to feel anchored. An article or essay without a clear big idea sentence will leave readers feeling lost and slightly nervous--we're not sure what this is about, so we can't be at all certain that something scary might not jump out at us at any moment.

A big idea sentence isn't hard to come up with. Simply answer this question in one sentence: what is your article about?


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

new devotional book

A devotional book I did developmental editing and ghostwriting for has just been published. The author has become a friend of mine and I'm happy for her. Check it out here:

Writing tip coming tomorrow... I just bought my own copy of Strunk & White and I'm reveling in grammatical snobbery :).

Friday, December 01, 2006


I was just posting more articles to, and I came across this one, written in 2002. This has been on my mind again lately... thought I'd share it with you.

by Rachel Starr Thomson

I was born into a Christian home, and so many of the words of Jesus are familiar to me. They're so familiar, in fact, that I often forget to listen to them. There's a great temptation to take for granted that which is most precious, only because God has blessed us with an abundance of it. Perhaps this is true for you, too.

I can quote many of Jesus' words in my sleep. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” “I have come that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly.”

But recently I was reading a portion of the Bible, and I stumbled across some words of Jesus that were not written in red. I did not expect them to be there, and they took me by surprise. They are in a prophecy, in the Book of Isaiah:

“Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion” (Isa. 8:18).

In that one verse I gained a whole new perspective of what exactly God is doing with us. When we think of signs and wonders, we tend to think of flashy miracles and supernatural phenomena—the fire from heaven sort of things. We talk about the miracles that Jesus did as being signs and wonders, and we overlook something very important. Jesus himself was the real sign. Jesus was the real wonder.

I've heard a lot recently about how God is moving around the world to confirm His word through signs and wonders. Christians are seeing the sick healed, the demon possessed delivered, and even the dead raised. All of this is true, and we ought to give glory to God for it. But let us not forget that our lives, our daily walks, are the real signs and wonders to the world around us.

In the book God's Smuggler, Brother Andrew talks about working in a candy factory where he and a young Christian woman endured the mockery and contempt of a large staff of worldly, foul-mouthed young ladies. Together, the two Christians did their utmost to show love and respect to their co-workers. They prayed for them, talked kindly to them, and refused to lash out in anger. The result? One of the leaders among the factory workers was converted, and one by one the workers came to Christ. They started meeting together to pray and study the Bible, and in a place that had once been a haven of vanity, the praises of God began to ring out.

Nothing supernatural happened here, if what you're looking for is something scientifically inexplicable. Yet, the greatest miracle of all did take place—lives were changed. The sign and wonder that brought about the change was the patience and forgiveness of two young Christians.

You may not think that your efforts to serve God in the little things matter, but they do. God will see to it that your faithfulness is used for His glory. He calls us to serve Him in everything we do, cheerfully, with our whole hearts. This is not only for our benefit, but also that the world around us may understand that we have something they do not. Our attitudes, our words, and our actions, are for a sign and a wonder to those we interact with.

Not one of the apostles decided to follow Jesus because He did a miracle for them. They followed Him because He called, and in His life they saw a chance for something more. He was pure, and loving, and zealous for God in a way that they had never known. The chance to be with Him was a chance for a new life.

God does use miracles and supernatural happenings to bring people to Him, but He is more likely to draw someone through what they see in your life. If what people see when they look at you gives them hope, then they will seek the reason that you are the way you are.

Whatever trials you may be facing, remember that they are not for you alone—the way you come through them will speak volumes to those watching.

Is your marriage on shaky ground? Stand on God's word, and don't give up hope—you are for a sign and a wonder to a broken world around you. Are your children in rebellion? Stand on the Word of God. Pray. Stay faithful to the call of God on your life. You are for a sign and for a wonder in a world that has given up hope.

Teenagers, are you tempted to rebel against your parents and follow the crowd? You, too, are for a sign and a wonder. Don't cripple the rest of your generation by making their mistakes with them and taking away their only glimpse of something better. You are for a sign and a wonder to them, to show them a higher road.

Finally, are you living in a second-choice life, entangled in the consequences of bad choices made in the past? No one is in a better position then you are to show the world that they need not die where they have fallen. Cry out to God, and He will lift you up, higher then you could ever have thought possible. You, maybe more than anyone else, are for a sign and for a wonder to the house of Israel.

It is not easy to be a sign, because it means that you must be constantly under God's hand—to be changed, chastised, and purified. But every step of the way will be worth it. Every part of the journey, though you go through fire and water and back through again, will yield a reward.

Do not expect everyone to understand. When the Holy Spirit came down on Pentecost, people accused the disciples of being drunk. When Jesus cast out demons, the Pharisees claimed that He did so by the Prince of demons. When the Son of God bowed His head on the cross and died, onlookers laughed. Many were blind, and they could not see what was happening in front of them.

But some did. Some opened their eyes. And today, some are looking for a new life…

"Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion."

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