Belated A to Z Reflections

Well as I started The A to Z Blogging Challenge late, I’d like to think that it is fitting to post my reflections a week late too. *coughs* 🙂

3/4 of the way through the month, I went away for a few days and never got back into it. However I hope you enjoyed the efforts.

My overall feeling about the project is that it was well worth doing. I’m sure if I’d done more research I’d have found a complete set of A to Z posts. But I did find a wealth of options in various styles and genres to choose from if yo,u fancy delving into Christian fiction

The project also encouraged me to make more efforts in writing Christian fiction myself; something I haven’t done much of. I decided to work on a piece for submission to the Association of Christian Writers who are putting together a collection for Advent/Christmas. Rather than staying in my comfort zone of non-fiction, I took a chance and wrote a story. I’m pretty chuffed to say that I made the cut, and my creative Christmas tale will be in the collection. More news on that as it comes.

If you’d like to investigate some of the ACW books’ I came across, I’ve put a list below. I’ve only looked into a few of them, but they’ve all been added to my TBR pile. I’m proud to be part of such a fine group of writers.

The Well is Deep – Ros Bayes
Destiny’s Rebel – Philip S Davies
Ironside – Heather Flack
The Livi Starling Series – Karen Rosario Ingerslev
The Dagger’s Curse – Wendy Jones
Behind the Sea – Ann Jordan
The Diary of a (trying to be holy) mum – Fiona Lloyd
A Vision of Locusts – Sue Russell
Fallen Warriors – Mark Smith
To Everything a Time – Eleanor Watkins

Happy reading x

O is for The Oath

Another one I haven’t yet read, but as I mentioned in my F is for Frank and Francine post, Frank Peretti is a fave of mine. The Oath was published in 1995, and was the winner of the 1996 ECPA Gold Medallion Book Award.

It is described as a horror/fantasy.  A body is found in the woods and the brother of the victim Cliff Benson, is not convince when the cause of death is thought to be a bear attack. Steve Benson joins forces with the deputy sheriff, Tracy Ellis and as the body count rises, the history of the town becomes an important factor in the investigation. The deeper Benson and Ellis dig, the more sinister the history appears, until they come face to face with the evil itself.

It’s a long winding tale, which reveals the history of the town’s fate by letters and diary entries. There are dragons, inexplicable (or not) skin rashes, and plenty of further examples of spiritual symbolism.

My only hesitation, and the reason I haven’t read it yet… the copy I have is a large hardback version. I love a REAL book, but for this one, I may need to buy a second copy… one I can read on my tablet.

G is for Gollum

Day 7 of the April A to Z Challenge. Having been blogging from a hotel room for the last few days, it’s been a challenge to keep up. But I’ve just about managed to 🙂

Today, I hope you’ll forgive me for directing you to someone else’s writing for ‘G’ post. I’ve recently found a blog called ‘Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings’, which I’m enjoying going through. I’ve only seen the films, once each. I was never a sold out fan, but I’m planning on watching them again, since starting to read about them.

I loved Stephen C Winter’s post about Gollum, and hope you enjoy it too. I recommend going through some other posts, particularly if you’re a TLOR fan 🙂

As I’m just back from a few days away, and trying to get sorted for church tomorrow, I shall leave you to click here  for some Gollum wisdom 🙂

I’ll see you on Monday for the H post; and I promise to catch up on some reading too. x

E is for Edmund

Though I did say in Day 3’s post, The Screwtape Letters is my favourite of the works of C.S. Lewis, my favourite of his characters is Edmund.

Edmund Pevensie almost gives away the whole of Narnia, and Aslan’s plans, for Turkish Delight. He is taken in by the White Witch’s false promises and but for the mercy of Aslan, would have been a prisoner of hers for the rest of his life. In the realms of Christian fiction, I believe Edmund is ultimate character. He is easily tempted, he lies, he betrays, he is captured, publicly shamed, rescued, forgiven, and restored. He is then crowned a King of Narnia, just as the prophecy had foretold.

At his coronation towards the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he is named ‘Edmund the Just’. Who better to rule a land with justice than one who saw another take the punishment for his own betrayal.

In the following two stories, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader we meet a young man growing in maturity, wisdom and patience. In Dawn Treader when Eustace finally starts to change, apologising for his ‘beastly’ behaviour, Edmund immediately tells Eustace of his own earlier failings. He had not forgotten, and it made him a better person for it. In The Horse and His Boy, Edmund becomes a strong leader in war; outshining his brother Peter, High King of Narnia, in battle and in insight.

In Edmund we hear echoes of Luke 7:47 “… whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” He had been forgiven a great betrayal and went on to show great love for Aslan and Narnia. One of my favourite fictional portrayals of mercy and redemption in action.

D is for Dan Brown

My guilty secret 🙂

We can’t talk about Christian and Fiction and leave out Dan Brown; even though you may prefer I did.

I loved The Da Vinci Code movie, and the Angels and Demons book and movie. I think Brown tells a great story, and his other works are definitely on my TBR pile. (To divert from the church-y stuff… have you read his first novel, Digital Fortress? I thought the end was a fab twist.)

There has been a lot written about the Da Vinci Code. Endless articles and critiquing of the story. Understatement alert… it does not show some parts of the Roman Catholic church in a good light. Nor does the suggestion that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married, thrill many Christians. Numerous writers  have been at pains to point out the errors and exaggerations.

It does bring up again, the question raised by Nick Park in his article which started me off on this theme (click here for the post the explains my AtoZ theme)… is the reason Christians don’t write good fiction, the fear of the heresy hunters? Brown is not worried about getting theology wrong; he’s far more concerned with getting his historical facts straight. He is extremely well researched so much so, he says himself in an article on, he has little or no time for reading fiction His time is concentrated on reading, “non-fiction-histories, biographies, translations of ancient texts.”

He has taken actual organisations like Opus Dei, the Illuminati, the Knights Templar, together with some associated conspiracies, and built works of fiction around their history. He has done the same with the NSA and the Freemasons. He’s a fan of secrets and telling stories about them. I believe he does it very well. He spins a good yarn, as they say in Ireland.

The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons are engaging entertaining reads that kept me guessing. They had added spice of religious imagery, religious history and a big dollop of religious conspiracy. Christian Fiction they certainly are not. They are fiction about Christianity, and I confess, confession being good for the soul, I love ‘em.

C is for C.S. Lewis

C is for C.S. Lewis

Day 3 of the A to Z Challenge. Click here to see my post about this year’s theme – Christian Fiction.

It may well be that I’m going to peak early in this year. I reckon we’re starting at a very high point with Mr Lewis. He was a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction. His official website says he abandoned his Christian faith before he turned thirteen. When he was thirty, he abandoned atheism for theism and converted to Christianity two years later. As an academic and writer, I can’t imagine he did any of those things lightly; particularly in the later years.

‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, are usually the first to stand out when we think of his Christian Fiction; but for me, ‘The Screwtape Letters’ is the work that continues to have an actual tangible effect on my Christian life. Uncle Screwtape’s lessons to Wormwood in how to trick and trip the Christian are all recognisable to me. Even the simple label of ‘patient’ assigned to the soul Wormwood is working on. A subtle insult maybe, that this person is sick because of their spiritual move towards God?

The Devil’s attitude towards us humans is derogatory. We see how he spoke to Jesus himself, One he knew to be God’s Son; so of course he thinks little of the rest of us. Lewis writes this disparaging attitude with excellent skill. Screwtape encourages Wormwood to keep things abstract, while attacking his ‘patient’ in the areas of everything from hunger to worry to prayer life, church life, even the facial expressions of his mother. Anything and everything that can be used for mischief is encouraged. I recognise myself in what I read and feel a teensy bit better prepared, or at least better aware of some of the tricks that are tried on me.

‘The Screwtape Letters’ is entertaining, engaging, informative, practically helpful, and just a little bit scary in how I can see myself in the ‘patient’. I love this work so much, and can’t recommend it highly enough.

C.S. Lewis himself has left an amazing legacy. Here’s a quote from the  C.S. Lewis Foundation website.

Inspired by the life and legacy of C.S. Lewis, the C.S. Lewis Foundation is dedicated to advancing the renewal of Christian thought and creative expression throughout the world of learning and the culture at large.

“Christian thought and creative expression…” I wonder if he even realised what his words would lead to. I hope so…

B is for Belated…

I’ve been a bit under the weather lately and so the start of AtoZ kinda snuck up on me. My A post from yesterday was off topic from my ‘theme.’ Hope you can forgive. I felt I had to get that one off my chest 🙂

My ACTUAL theme is inspired by an article I read about Christian fiction. The article was written by Nick Park, the Executive Director of Evangelical Alliance Ireland.  He asked the question, “Whatever happened to Christian fiction?” and talked about the heritage of people of faith, writing epic tales.

The post really challenged me as I write a lot of fiction but hardly ever write anything you could call Christian. In the intro to my first collection of short stories  I wrote, “To God, though you are not explicitly mentioned in this book, every redemptive moment, every opportunity for forgiveness and every glimpse of home are inspired by your Good News!” It’s the nearest I get to Christian fiction. After reading Nick’s article, I decided to challenge myself to try my hand at it.

Spoiler alert – I don’t think I’m any good at it.

In my posts, I’ll be looking at some writers who’ve made better strides than I ever will. So I won’t pain you with too many of my novice efforts.

Nick finished the article with a prayer that Christian writers will be brave. “The church needs writers who will refuse to play safe, who will not be cowed by those who are suspicious of imagination and creativity, and who will dare to dream of producing great Christian literature that can reach and inspire the world around us.”

No pressure then! 🙂

If you’d like to read Nick Park’s original article you’ll find it on the VOX website, click here.

Tomorrow we’ll start properly, right at the top with C.S Lewis.