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Updated: 2017-12-06T16:08:42.318-08:00


Author Interview: Christopher Hopper


Welcome to the third and final day of the CSFF Blog Tour for September!  I am pleased to officially announce the interview of Christopher Hopper, coauthor of Venom and Song.  It was a close one, mainly due to the fact that he's been overseas.  BUT - just in time, CH has come through for us with his answers to my interview questions.  YES!  He rules!  If you didn't see yesterday's post, my interview with Wayne Thomas Batson, click HERE.  And if you're wondering what the heck I'm going on about, click HERE for Day One's post for Venom and Song.Step up to the mic, Mr. Hopper.  Oh wait - you're already there.I'll be using the same questions for today as I did for Wayne's interview yesterday.  But as you'll see, the answers are interestingly unique, if not a tad cryptic at times (for our own good, of course).***Me:  What does "Endurance and Victory" mean to you?CH:  We felt it very much embodied not only the plight of the Elves, who's condition confined them to a life of delayed hopes (Endurance) and a reminder of eventual conquest (Victory), but also of the young lords, and that of our readers. Victories are hard won, at least those worth obtaining. And in a generation that has largely adopted an instant mentality for almost everything, learning to Endure is a character trait we need to tie back into our day-to-day lives.Me:  There are several prevailing themes throughout this series, but some really come into focus in Venom and Song, like trust, forgiveness, acceptance, and many aspects of relationships. What is the one theme you felt was the most necessary to portray?CH:  For me it was the development of interpersonal relationships. Next to how we get along with Jesus, how we get along with each other is the most important thing in life. Kingdoms rise and fall because of relationships. So watching the Seven learn to work together through their differences was simply a reflection of real life, and made the book extremely realistic for me.Me:  We see the Seven's gifts mature and grow, will that growth continue? And what spurns this growth?CH:  Growth is an essential part of human development; it's the whole reason people want to read a story in the first place. If characters are not growing, there's no real point in reading. So yes, it will continue.As for the reason, I think it's two-fold: one is to serve their world in its pursuit of freedom. Allyra's bondage demands dedication to the development of their gifts (meaning the Seven). And secondly, the Seven themselves find more of their identity as they grow in their gifts. Like they say about men:  we find our value in what we produce. And therefore, the greater the Seven grow in their individual giftings, the more they feel connected to the world around them. Me:  There are so many aspect to writing a great story, how does the language itself factor in for you? Is it important?CH:  Yeah, language is a huge part of story-telling, esspecially when you're mixing a modern world with a pre-modern age. Apart from physical descriptions and environments, language is the single greatest telltale of who's talking and what era they're in. We worked very hard to make each character reflect their own world simply in the way they communicated.Me:  We see a lot of battle and death in this installment. As an author of endearing characters, how do you choose who lives and dies?CH:  We roll dice, make bets, and try to make out images in cloud formations. It's a very exact science.Sometimes you just get this feeling like, "What if just killed off this person?" The bigger the upset, the more likely it's going to make it into the book. Never give the reader what they want, give them what they need.Me:  Certain pairings are starting to appear within the Seven, will these carry significance througout the rest of the series?CH:  Depends upon how the characters like each other.Me:  The character of Mannaelkin is often the voice of doubt, why is a character like this important to the s[...]

Author Interview: Wayne Thomas Batson


Welcome to day two of the CSFF Blog Tour!  Hopefully you've read my review of this month's excellent book, Venom and Song by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper.  If not, click HERE.  Now that we're all caught up, let's see what Mr. Batson had to say in answer to my interview questions...  Can this guy rock a cape, or what? Oh - and please don't forget to click on a few links from the day one post for updated tour info all about Venom and Song:  Book 2 in The Berinfell Prophecies.***Me:  What does "Endurance and Victory" mean to you?WTB:  Not much. Christopher came up with that. Just kidding. The Elves are the Children of the Sun, and they have an actual physiological need for sunlight. It's their natural habitat. So to be forced underground where they can only rarely escape to get light requires great endurance. During that time of hiding, it seems the enemy has the upper hand. It's like that for Christians sometimes, I think. The world can seem so dark and dreary. And esp. in America, it can often seem like false things prosper while others suffer. But there will be victory. God has already won it. We know that in the end, not only will God wipe away every tear, but He will renew everything, a new heaven and a new earth. Everything false will be burned away. Victory is coming.Me:  There are several prevailing themes throughout this series, but some really come into focus in Venom and Song, like trust, forgiveness, acceptance, and many aspects of relationships. What is the one theme you felt was the most necessary to portray? WTB:  In Spider King we hoped that the seven teens would show readers that each and every kid, rich, poor, athletic, bookish, popular, or reclusive--each one is more precious than he or she can imagine. In Venom and Song, we hoped our young lords, now endowed with spectacular powers, would show readers how much each one needed to be content as one part of the whole body. As my mom says, "Comparisons are odious." Jealousy should be impossible for Christians. To each one He gives gifts. Run with it. Do your part. Be content.Me:  We see the Seven's gifts mature and grow, will that growth continue? And what spurs this growth? WTB:  We will indeed. CH and I have been plotting out book 3 of the series. And just the other day, we discovered that two of the seven will develop breathtaking extensions to their abilities. :-D Me:  There are so many aspect to writing a great story, how does the language itself factor in for you? Is it important? WTB:  Language is important. Vocabulary, sentence structure--it all matters. But, there's an element of language that is really very fluid and subjective. What I mean is that writing styles change over the decades. Ten years ago, we taught students to avoid using the speaker tag "said" so often. Be more specific with your verbs, we'd preach. Not said, but howled, bellowed, whimpered, etc. But in 2010, a lot of readers smirk and complain when writers don't just stick with "said." Get rid of adverbs, some tell us. Eliminate the comma before the and in a series. It's all very malleable and depends on who you ask. All that said, I am a firm believer in using words to impact tone. Every word and phrase, every chance for a simile or metaphor--can I craft it just right to add to the readers fear, joy, sadness, anxiety, etc? If a publisher gives me time, I like to go back through a manuscript and just tweak little things to add that lingering impression. Me:  We see a lot of battle and death in this installment. As an author of endearing characters, how do you choose who lives and dies? WTB:  I'm not sure what CH will say here, but for me, I don't choose. The story does. The story often demands that someone die, and usually, the demands are pretty specific. How can Aidan ever become the leader he needs to become if Captain Valithor is always there over his shoulder? And in Venom and Song, there was just no way that the seven could infiltrate [...]

Venom and Song - CSFF Blog Tour Day One


Welcome once again to the CSFF Blog Tour!  Today kicks off a very special three day tour with two of my very favorite author dudes:  Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper.  These guys have both created amazing prose and breakneck adventure in their individually authored books, but today we look into the mad-science that happens when these two superstar authors get together for Book Two in The Berinfell Prophecies:Venom and SongClick to get your own copy!Important Links:Christopher Hopper's siteWayne Thomas Batson's siteThe Undergroud - The Berinfell Prophecies forumAmazonBook 2 in The Berinfell Prophecies follows its predecessor with fervor and fire.  Taking up the story from exactly where we left off in Curse of the Spider King, Venom and Song hurls us into the lives of the Seven as they encounter their people, train in the ancient art of Vexbane, discover their true history,  learn about themselves and each other, and fight to survive and free their race from hundreds of years of oppression.The Seven carry a heavy burden, but first, they have to learn to use their ever-growing gifts:  air-walking, strength, speed, mind-reading, foresight, marksmanship, and flame-throwing.  Each Elven lord is equipped with one of these, but not yet ready to use their blessings.  It takes, Grimwarden, an externally gruff yet big-hearted military genius to reign in the Seven.  Along with some excellent cooking by an Elf named Mumthers.Their training takes each one of the Seven on their own personal journey as well as a physical one.  Each is introduced to Ellos, the creator of all Allyra.  And in time, each will find their own connection to Ellos.  The teenage lords also find comfort in each other as a team.  They work together, using their abilities in harmony, rather than competing, thus learning to work "as one."  But none of their training is without cost, a foreshadowing of the realities of war.  For Allyra has been at war for over 800 years and the Seven are supposed to be the key to victory.With training brought to an abrupt halt, the Seven are thrust from the protection of their practice sessions into the violent reality that has plauged Elves for centuries.  They fly on giant birds of prey, navigate ancient underground bastions, search for something vitally important known as the Keystone, and grow into warriors.By the time the final battle begins, the Seven are no longer separate entities concerned with their own individual lives, but the focused, dedicated leaders of a race that desparately needs freedom.  New beasties have been brewing in Vesper Crag though.  The Spider King is prepared for a seige.  His forces are great, but his weaknesses will be exploited.  All in the name of Ellos, the war with the Spider King ends.  For victory or for ruin, I'll not say.  Only that we discover that one war's end may not be the end of fighting for the lives of the Children of Light.This story takes us through so many exciting twists and turns that it's almost like riding a cavesurfer to Nightwish Caverns.  And if you have no idea what that means, read the book.  You won't be disappointed.  This installment of The Berinfell Prophecies is chalk full of intensity, wisdom, action, suspense, and just plain fun.  We ride along with the Seven through their myriad of emotions and challenges.  Every teenageer or anyone who's been one will easily relate to the experiences the Elven lords endure.  Though we are seldom faced with overt battles like in Allyra, we all have similar mountains to climb.  The spirit in which this story was written pervades through its rich language, intelligent humor, and sincerity.  Trek into the unknown with the Seven.  And if you dare, travel into The Underground, the internet forum with direct links to specific parts of the book.Tune in tomorrow, when I will have my perso[...]

Open During Construction


Judging just by the last post date, it's safe to say I've been gone for quite some time now.  And when I came back I realized that cobwebs were collecting in the corners, thus I decided it was time for a change!  I've got a new layout, new approach, and LOTS of new ideas. 

Coming soon...

I'm rejoining the CSFF Blog Tour this month for the sole purpose of promoting two of my favorite author buddies:  Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper.  I'll be posting a review of their newest book, Venom and Song, book two in The Berinfell Prophecies, interviews with the authors, and a few other goodies to get you sucked into the world these two amazing guys have created.

In the future...

I'm spending this year to focus on developing the craft of writing.  I've decided to join NaNoWriMo this year and will post updates on that madness.  I'll also be blogging about my other writing projects big and small.  But this is the year for me to really sink my teeth into my writing.  I plan to take full advantage!

I'll also be continuing to do my own reviews besides the tours.  I read so many books that it just seems like a waste not to continue to review them all.  I may even venture into discussing movies, tv shows, and music.

Also - I may be introducing a game or regular feature soon.

Overall, I have big plans to be around this part of the bloggy world a lot more often now.  Scoot over neighbors and make some room, cuz here I come!  ;)

Until next time,

Day 3 - Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter


Today I'll be taking a brief look into the author of Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter, R.J. Anderson. First, I am pleased to announce the June 22, 2010 release of the second Faery Rebels book, Wayfarer. Here's a look at the cover.

You can pre-order a copy over at by clicking HERE.

Now - about our author. The following is from the bio on her official website (HERE):

R.J. (Rebecca) Anderson was born in Uganda, raised in Ontario, went to school in New Jersey, and has spent much of her life dreaming of other worlds entirely.

As a child she immersed herself in fairy tales, mythology, and the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and E. Nesbit; later she discovered more contemporary authors like Ursula LeGuin, Patricia A. McKillip and Robin McKinley, and learned to take as much pleasure from their language as the stories they told.

Now married and the mother of three young sons, Rebecca reads to her children the classic works of fantasy and science fiction that enlivened her own childhood, and tries to bring a similar sense of humor, adventure, and timeless wonder to the novels she writes for children and young adults.

Here is a list of links to interesting interviews of R.J. Anderson I found:

Thanks again for joining me here for the CSFF Blog Tour! I'll soon be posting non-tour related reviews for Graceling and its companion Fire, both by Kristin Cashore.

Day 2 - Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter


Welcome to the second day of the CSFF Blog Tour!  This month's book is Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter by R.J. Anderson.  If you missed yesterday's post, you can catch up by clicking here.  Today I'll be giving my personal opinions about what made this book great and what could've been improved upon.First, here's the cover of the UK version of Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter, called simply Knife.Let's begin with the cover of this book.  As I mentioned yesterday, I honestly may have passed this book by on the shelf simply due to its American cover.  The main colors are green and a bright purple/fuschia.  The font of the title just screams "princess story" - which is a huge miscommunication.  However, the artwork of Knife herself is stunning.  In my opinion, a melding of the UK cover and the American cover would have better served the content within.  Perhaps, using the blues of the UK cover and the portrait of Knife from the American version.  For comparison's sake, here's the American cover again.I would not have guessed that these are the same book.  Two different artists interpretations of a single story.  Honestly, I can say I would have definitely picked up the UK version first.  Now that I've gotten the cosmetics issue out of the way, I can move on to the substance.CharactersWe're first introduced to a young faery, Bryony, who one day changes her name to Knife.  She is strong, independent, and a bit mischievious.  Her desire for knowledge and truth is the driving force behind the story.  She simply refuses to blindly obey rules that don't make sense or feel right to her.  Knife is the kind of character that must discover the truth on her own. Disobeying the laws of the Oak's ruler, the Faery Queen, is initially seen as a huge risk of pure curiosity, but eventually leads to several truths that prove imperative to the survival of her people.  The message is clear:  Finding truth is worth the risk.  In this case, I completely agree.  Until Knife discovers the real history of the Oak's faeries, they have no hope of surviving the Silence.Several wonderful supporting characters enrich this tale including Wink, Knife's adoptive mother.  In a society that doesn't ever say "thank you" because of its implications, love isn't shown in the traditional human way.  In fact, the entire community has become one of trade and keeping score.  Not even information is given freely.  They barter for everything.  However, Wink brings a warmth to Knife's life that she doesn't recognize as love initially.Thorn is a gruff, tough faery who is the Queen's Hunter and has several lessons for Knife, not all of them pleasant.  Her intentions aren't clear until well into the story, but reveal several aspects of her true feelings that have been hidden from most of the faeries of the Oak.Finally, we have Paul, Valerian, Campion, and Queen Amaryllis.  Paul is a human boy who becomes central to Knife's struggles and joy, complicating her situation.  Valerian is the Oak's healer and a kind soul with a secret past.  Campion's faery occupation is that of the only librarian in the Oak.  Her willingness to help Knife proves vital.  Amaryllis' past is clouded by mystery, thus giving the reader plenty of doubt about her motivations and loyalty.  She appears to care dearly for her fellow faeries, but Knife uncovers secrets that could mean the Queen wasn't what she appeared to be.Overall, through the well-developed characters the story comes alive with possibilities.  Wink's caring, Thorn's influence, and the Queen's mystery all carry Knife along on her journey.  Paul shows Knife emotions that are foreign to her, but become more important than h[...]

Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter


Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunterby R.J. AndersonImportant Links:AmazonAuthor R.J. Anderson's WebsiteAuthor R.J. Anderson's BlogAuthor R.J. Anderson's TwitterRecommended Age:  10+Let me begin by stating that although the old adage about what not to judge a book by is ever-present in my mind, the cover is inescapably the first information one receives about a book.  If I had been in a book store, I may have just passed it by with the impression that it was a bit juvenile for my taste, and I would have been sadly mistaken...The story opens with a peek into the faery world of the Oak, and a particularly spirited faery named Bryony.  As the only youth in the Oak, Bryony feels a certain restlessness that fuels her first forbidden encounter with a human boy.  Years later, scared back into following the rules by a deadly sickness called the Silence that has been striking faeries for the last hundred years or so, Bryony is finally appointed to her faery profession.  Newfound freedom rekindles Bryony's passion for discovering the truth about the world, not only in the Oakenwyld, but beyond as well.  Through a series of excursions outside the Oak, Bryony encounters several natural dangers that creatures as small as faeries must face.  Against the faery queen's orders, Bryony, once again, gives in to her curiosity about the strange creatures in the House nearby - humans.It is her disregard for rules, passion for truth, and willingness to take risks that earns Bryony her new name:  Knife.  Along with her new name, Knife gains new understanding about her people's history, the terrible act called the Sundering that robbed all future generations of faeries of their creativity, and the Silence that has claimed yet another faery life.  In her quest for knowlege, Knife gains an unlikely friend and ally in Paul, the now-teenage human boy she had once encountered.  Through this friendship, we see the complexities of Knife's unique position evidence themselves.  She has several decisions to make, but will she choose duty over adventure?  And what of love?  Was her race ever able to love anyone other than themselves?  Through one faery's actions, the future of a race is decided.***Tune in tomorrow for Day Two of the CSFF Blog Tour when I'll give my personal opinions on Faery Rebels:  Spell Hunter.  In the mean time, please check out what other tour participants have to say by clicking a link below.CSFF Blog Tour Participants:Sally ApokedakBrandon BarrAmy BrowningMelissa CarswellCSFF Blog Tour Stacey DaleD. G. D. DavidsonJeff DraperApril ErwinTimothy HicksJason IsbellBecky Jesse Cris Jesse Jason JoynerJulie Carol KeenKrystine Kercher Dawn KingRebecca LuElla MillerNew Authors FellowshipNissaJohn W. OtteDonita K. PaulCrista RicheyChawna SchroederAndrea SchultzJames SomersSteve TrowerFred WarrenPhyllis WheelerKM Wilsher****In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a complimentary review copy of this title from HarperCollins Publishers.[...]

CSFF Blog Tour: North! Or Be Eaten


North!  Or Be Eatenby Andrew Peterson  Important Links:AmazonWingfeather Saga Author Andrew Peterson's Site  Recommended Age:  10+ North!  Or Be Eaten is the second book in the Wingfeather Saga.  The first book is called On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.  The story continues to follow its main character Janner Igiby, as he attempts to avoid evil Fangs, protect his little brother, Link, and travel - you guessed it - North.  Full of imagination, humor, and just the right amount of darkness, Adrew Peterson delivers an action-packed tale that's sure to satisfy the appetite of readers of all ages. Please check out what the other tour participants have to say about North!  Or Be Eaten, here:  Brandon BarrJustin BoyerAmy BrowningCSFF Blog Tour Stacey DaleJeff DraperApril ErwinTodd Michael GreeneRyan HeartTimothy HicksBecky Jesse Cris Jesse Jason JoynerJulie Carol KeenKrystine Kercher Dawn KingRebecca LuElla MillerNew Authors FellowshipNissaDonita K. PaulCrista RicheyChawna SchroederAndrea SchultzJames SomersSteve and AndrewRachel Starr ThomsonRobert TreskillardFred WarrenJason WaguespacPhyllis WheelerElizabeth WilliamsKM Wilsher [...]

Day 3 - Part Two of My Exclusive Interview With the Authors


Welcome to Day Three of the CSFF Blog Tour for Curse of the Spider King by co-authors Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper (Book One in The Berinfell Prophecies).  I recently had the awesome opportunity to interview both authors, and they didn't disappoint.  Yesterday, I posted Part One of the interview.  Today, you get to read the final questions and answers about the most exciting new Fantasy series in a few years.  So, without further ado...***Me:  The stage is set for the sequel and we even get to see a tiny preview at the end of Curse of the Spider King. Has the series been laid out already, or are you still unsure how many books will be in The Berinfell Prophecies? WTB:  There will likely be three books at least. We've just recently finished Venom and Song, the second book, and are considering some plot ideas for book three. It all depends on what God wants. If the books sell well, then certainly we'd write as many books as we have good ideas for.CH:  Here-here!***Me:  What can readers expect from book two of the Berinfell Prophecies?WTB:  Venom and Song will absolutely AMP the stakes. It's not just the Seven who are at risk but everyone in two worlds. Readers will get much more into the world of Allyra and meet the strange races and beasties that thrive there.CH:  Aside from all the freakish monsters, fast-paced battles, and crazy plots twists, my favorite thing about Venom and Song is that the readers really get to see each of the characters develop. In Book One, you're merely introduced to them; they don't really have a whole lot of interaction together. But in Book Two, the characters--who are each very different in their own rights--have to live with one another day-to-day. And things get extremely interesting!***Me:  I love the interactive aspect of the riddle you pose to readers, what inspired you to create a forum just for readers of this series that will allow them to create their own tribe and solve a mystery?WTB:  Again, CH, you can speak best on this one. CH:  Wayne and I are both firm believers that reading needs to be exciting, and technology has allowed us to super-charge the way we involve fans. I've been really impressed with the whole ARG (alternate reality game) concept, playing out a story-line with real people in real time where their responses to challenges across multi-media platforms actually shapes the outcome of the game. We've had huge success with it and love getting to know our readers from around the world! As for Tribe Building, while I've certainly hand my hands in it a little, that's really Wayne's baby. He's a master at large-group ventures like that. I admire that about him a lot!***Me:  Both you and Christopher Hopper/Wayne Thomas Batson are musical. Do you ever have jam sessions?WTB:  Christopher Hopper is the musician. The guy's played all over the world and has 9 CDs. I'm just a wanna be. I played in a metal band back in the day and loved it. It's the one area of my life that I've kind of had to let go, but still care deeply for. So CH and I thought about creating a soundtrack for Curse of the Spider King. We've recorded one song "The Lost Ones," that will be out on iTunes this month. I still can't believe it. But yes, we've jammed to it live and gotten spectacular reception.CH:  Wayne is a really good guitarist for all his "I've had to let it go" talk. I've had so much fun playing live together during our book signings...just so much fun. And as he said, people really seem to like the song, which is always encouraging. While the music is mostly mine, the lyrics are mostly all his. I can honestly say, Wayne is a brilliant lyricists, as he is a novelist.***Me:  There are definitely plenty of spiders in this series. How do you feel about spiders in real life? Do you kil[...]

Day 2 - My Exclusive Interview With the Authors


Welcome to the second day of my favorite CSFF Blog Tour to date!!!  Yesterday, I gave my review of Curse of the Spider King (Book One of The Berinfell Prophecies). Today, I will be posting the first half of my exclusive interview with co-authors Wayne Thomas Batson (WTB) and Christopher Hopper (CH).  Enjoy!***Me:  Why did you decide to collaborate with co-author Christopher Hopper/Wayne Thomas Batson?WTB: It was an easy decision. I had been praying for a LONG time that God would bring me a writer friend to work with, kind of asking for a CS Lewis to JRR Tolkien. A friend and someone who just "gets" what I do. Well, BAM, God introduced me to Christopher at a convention. And right there I said, "Hey, wouldn't it be great to get together for like a bootcamp weekend where we could write and help each other out with our writing?" So we picked a locale halfway between my home in MD and his in NY. It turned out to be Scranton, PA. And we had an absolute ROARING good time. He was working on Athera's Dawn (book 3 in The White Lion Chronicles) and I was working on A Sword in the Stars (Book 1 of The Dark Sea Annals). And we found that we have very similar writing styles and interests. So right then, just six months after we met, we agreed that it would be "WAY COOL" to write a book together. God made it happen just three years later. CH: As Wayne said, it was really a God-thing that brought us together. We still marvel at how providential it was. As for writing a book together, it was a real "wouldn't it be cool if" kinda' thing. When you say those kinds of things and dream with other people, you know it probably won't happen, but deep inside there's that crazy potential of "what if?" When Wayne's publisher asked him for a new series, he pitched our outlandish idea of co-authoring a novel. And to our utter surprise they came back with an emphatic "Yes!"***Me:  Did you both always have the same vision for the series?WTB:  I think so. We outlined together, so whatever vision we each had, it kind of melted into one vision that we shared.CH:  It very much grew organically from dozens of phone calls, emails, and iChat (AIM) sessions. We feed very well off of each other, so one idea tends to start a chain reaction of many more. And since we're both extremely easy going, and stated from the beginning that we wouldn't take things personally, we have an easy time of being open about stuff we don't like, or don't agree on. It's as simple as, "Dude, cool idea, but I don't think that's going to fly." We smile. We nod. Then we move on. It's really freeing, actually!***   Me:  As an accomplished Christian Fantasy Fiction author, how do you weave spiritual themes into your stories without beating people over the head with evangelism?   WTB:  I think you need to be real. Make your characters real people with real problems, asking the same questions that we all ask of life...if we're honest with ourselves. Ask any of the big questions of life: who am I? why am I here? what happens when I die? is there any truth we can hold on to? --ask any of them, and the only real answer is Jesus Christ. But, and this is important, you must respect your readers, and you must respect the God you hope to honor with your writing. You cannot wrap the gospel message in a lame story and expect readers to be impressed. What does that say of God? Write a good story, take readers on an adventure, give it take home value...and there you go.   CH:  I like what CS Lewis once said (don't we all?), and I'm paraphrasing here, but fiction has a way of circumventing the dragons that people set up to guard the front gates of their minds, and go in the back door. It's very easy, in my mind, to wrap spiritual principles in fiction, because it was one o[...]

CSFF Blog Tour: Curse of the Spider King


Curse of the Spider Kingby Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher HopperImportant Links:* Amazon* Wayne Thomas Batson's Site* Christopher Hopper's Site* The Berinfell Prophecies ForumCurse of the Spider King (Book 1 of The Berinfell Prophecies) weaves together a tale of seven Elven Lords, who, as infants, narrowly escaped their doom and are now residing on Earth, completely unaware of whom they are, or any idea of their true heritage. Seven thirteen-ish “human” children begin to notice dark strangers lurking about, and friendly sources give them each a very special book, The History of Berinfell, a book that comes to life with only a touch. Their first tastes of a history they didn’t even know was their own come rushing out of the ancient handwritten text, seemingly releasing giant Warspiders or setting fire to their classroom.Each child is an Elven Lord, and thus, is endowed with a mysterious and previously unknown ability that manifests near their thirteenth birthday. As children of Earth, the possibility of such gifts or other existing realms is unheard of. However, The Seven have been sought out and protected by Sentinals from the children’s homeland of Allyra, and are hiding in the shadows. Unfortunately, the Elven Lords are also being hunted by dark forces bent on their destruction.Curse of the Spider King is what YA Fantasy Fiction is all about. It’s well-paced, richly developed, and irresistibly enthralling. The language is beautiful without getting too caught up in itself. And while we discover more about The Seven, Allyra itself remains mostly a mystery. The scene is set for book two in The Berinfell Prophecies, Venom and Song.Stay tuned tomorrow for Part One of my interview with co-author Wayne Thomas Batson.  And please check out a few of our other CSFF Blog Tour Participants:Brandon Barr  Justin Boyer  Amy Browning Valerie Comer  Amy Cruson  CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale  D. G. D. Davidson  Shane Deal Jeff Draper  Emmalyn Edwards  April Erwin Karina Fabian  Todd Michael Greene  Ryan Heart Timothy Hicks  Becky Jesse  Cris Jesse Jason Joyner  Julie  Carol Keen Krystine Kercher  Tina Kulesa  Melissa Lockcuff Rebecca LuElla Miller  Mirtika  Nissa John W. Otte  Cara Powers  Chawna Schroeder James Somers  Speculative Faith  Robert Treskillard Fred Warren  Jason Waguespac  Phyllis Wheeler Jill Williamson  KM Wilsher[...]

Review: The Blue Umbrella


The Blue Umbrellaby Mike MasonImportant Links:Amazon PageMike Mason's SiteDavid C. Cook (Publisher)B&B Media Group (The lovely people who made this review possible.)Recommended Age:  10+Not all magic has to be kept from the rest of the world. Sometimes it can be simple and wonderful, just like this book, The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason. Filled with themes of loss, trust, love, patience, endurance, and possibility, The Blue Umbrella whisks readers away into the world of ten-year-old Zac Sparks. He has lost his mother to a lightning strike, never knew his father, and is taken to a small town to live with his “Aunties,” as nothing more than a servant. But there is something strange going on in the town of Five Corners. Everyone in the town fearfully respects the “Aunties” and worse, they give in to their every whim. Then there’s Porter’s Store, and the strange events that haunt its rooftop at night. Zac sees the owner, Sky Porter, every morning in front of the store as though he’s greeting each new day. Known to the household and neighbors as “Boy,” Zac becomes ever more frustrated as the grip the Aunties have on him tightens. He realizes he’s a prisoner and that there are more secrets around Five Corners than he could have ever imagined.One of my favorite aspects of this book is its demonstration of the real-life principle that shows how our mistakes, no matter how horrible, can sometimes harbor extraordinary results. Zac’s journey touches the lives of so many in Five Corners that we get to see several relationships begin and flourish, but a betrayal could ruin them all.My only complaint: It has a bit of a slow progression at first, but like most firsts in a series, it needed to establish the basics. The last third of it was pure joy. The Blue Umbrella will speak to all ages and carry themes that will enrapture its readers and fill them with hope. And with at least two more books in the series to come, we’ll all be enjoying the adventures of Zac Sparks and his family and friends for quite a while.[...]

Day 3 - CSFF Blog Tour: Eric Wilson


Eric Wilson

"From an early age, I wanted to be a writer. Although I was born in California and raised in Oregon, my more enduring memories start in Europe where my parents took Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. Life was an adventure, full of exotic cultures and peoples.

Back in the States, I went through junior high and high school. I loved soccer, basketball, chess...oh, yes, and girls. It took a few years to learn how to talk to them, but they interested me from a distance. After high school, I traveled in eastern Europe and China. I returned to my parents’ crumbling marriage. I moved to LA and began college.

During my junior year, a childhood friend showed up as a freshman. Within months she and I were married, and we’re now in our eighteenth year, with two daughters to keep us on our toes. We’re not perfect (our kids could give you details), but we refuse to stop fighting for our family...and for our faith in Jesus, who is bigger than our self-centeredness." 

(Taken from Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy's website:  HERE.)

Day 2 - CSFF Blog Tour: Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy


Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy
by Eric Wilson

Book One:  Field of Blood
                                    "(image) 1989: Scores of Romanian children contract a life-threatening virus. In Jerusalem, the same year, an ancient tomb is broken into.

Gina Lazarescu is a girl caugtht between an unknown past and a dark future. Will she stand in the gap against the rising evil? Or become victim to it?

Death is not a question. It is the answer. Welcome to a world that hides before your eyes."  (Summary from Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy's website:  HERE.)

Book Two:  Haunt of the Jackals
"(image) 1211: Crusaders ship tons of soil from Jerusalem back to Italy, convinced of its holy properties. But something unholy has joined them.

1944: Allied bombs destroy a cemetery only yards from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A fire rages. A tomb is opened.

In our modern world, Gina Lazarescu is a young woman caught trying to forgive her mother and track down her father. If she fails at either task, she will die."  (Summary from Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy's website:  HERE.)

Book Three:  Valley of Bones

"1911: Rasputin, advisor to the Russian tsars, travels to Jerusalem to unlock hidden relics, both sacred and profane.

2004: With yet another tragedy in her wake, Gina Lazarescu makes a discovery that renews her hope for the future.

Even as Akeldama Collectors amass forces, Gina and Cal search Jerusalem for a secret that will raise up their own holy army--a valley of bones prepared to fight for the souls of mankind."  (Summary from Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy's website:  HERE.)

Join me back tomorrow for some more about Eric Wilson.

CSFF Blog Tour: Haunt of the Jackals


Haunt of the Jackals:  Book Two of Jerusalem's Undead Trilogyby Eric WilsonImportant Links:*Amazon:  Haunt of the Jackals *Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy website *Author Eric Wilson's websiteAdmittedly, I came back to the CSFF Blog Tour a little late and didn't get a chance to read this one.  I did, however, do a little research and came up with a fantastic review from for today.  Check it out HERE.More to come tomorrow on day two of the CSFF Blog Tour for Haunt of the Jackals.  Please be sure to check out the other tour participants by clicking the links below:Brandon BarrWayne Thomas BatsonJennifer Bogart Justin BoyerKeanan BrandAmy BrowningKarri ComptonAmy CrusonCSFF Blog TourStacey DaleD. G. D. DavidsonJeff DraperApril ErwinKarina FabianBeth Goddard Todd Michael GreeneTimothy HicksBecky JesseCris JesseJason JoynerJulieCarol KeenDawn KingMirtikaNissaJohn W. OtteJames SomersSpeculative FaithRachel Starr ThomsonRobert TreskillardSteve TrowerFred WarrenPhyllis WheelerJill WilliamsonKM Wilsher[...]

Book Review: Marked


*Note:  This review may not be appropriate for all readers.Marked:  A House of Night Novelby P.C. & Kristen CastImportant Links:  Amazon, House of Night SeriesRecommended Age: WARNING 18+ (due to language, sex, and drug/alcohol content)After one hundred nine pages, I almost stopped reading. I literally debated for an entire 24 hours whether or not to send the book back…I didn’t. I decided that not all reviews can glow.  So I read the entire book, and I’ll be honest and let you make a decision for yourselves.This story portrays a world in which “vampyres” have always existed. Zoey Montgomery is being forced to live with a religious fanatic step-father whose aim is to control her mother so completely that Zoey isn’t allowed to exist in her Marked form, when she comes home with a blue crescent moon “tattoo” on her forehead, the sure mark of a fledgling “vampyre.” He’s an Elder for the People of Faith and would rather see her die slowly than to take her to the school that will save her life and prepare her for the Change into an adult “vampyre.”Zoey flees to her grandmother’s house, has a religious experience with the Goddess of Night, Nyx, then wakes up at the House of Night where her teen adventures begin as Zoey Redbird, adopting her grandmother’s surname. Zoey faces a buxom blonde bully, shakes an obsessed old flame, starts anew with Erik (the hottest guy at school – which is mentioned several times), and becomes the leader she was meant to be in the group called the Dark Daughters and Sons.With its spiritual roots right out of a handbook for new Wiccans, this book expresses contempt for “religion,” which seems to encompass any faith that includes the idea of God as a singular. Elements and cardinal directions are encouraged to join in their ritual circle, after each person has had a pentagram drawn on their forehead with oil, and exchanged the proclamation, “Blessed be.” Rituals are a regular part of their schedules. Freedom to choose your faith and beliefs seems to be lost to all who carry the genetic marker for “vampyrism.” They must all worship Nyx, without question. And nobody does question, which totally takes me out of the book’s reality. In the real world people get to choose.  It’s like they’ve all been fitted with mind control chips: I. Will. Worship. Nyx. My biggest problem with the religious aspect is that it’s so exclusive. As soon as you exclude part of your audience, you risk losing an entire sector of potential readers. If it wasn’t so blatantly hateful toward what they call the “People of Faith,” then I might be able to scrounge an ounce of quality from the writing, which is not entirely ridiculous. If this book didn’t include the dialogue, the overdone teen themes, and could make me care an iota for any of the characters, then maybe I’d consider letting a friend read this. But unfortunately, I can’t.The teen-speak is insulting to the intelligence of today’s teenagers and tedious to the adult audience it had potential to harvest some readers from, given the success of another famous vampire franchise with a wide range of age-appropriateness. Marked: A House of Night Novel just doesn’t have the sophistication or depth to share air with the big boys.The swearing was gratuitous: f*** was used quite a few times, as well as sh**, dam*, b*tch, sl*t,and God’s name was taken in vain several times within the first page as well as being littered throughout, h*ll is Zoey’s “favorite word.” There’s more, but I’ll leave it at that for now.Drugs and Alcohol. There’s talk of kids smoking p*t. The first conve[...]

An Update From Deep Within the Pages


After months of inactivity or sparse posting, I'm happy to announce that I'm now in the perfect position to return to my regular blogging. The following is just an update on what's been happening in my life since I last posted, followed by what I plan to do virtually as well as actually.ReadingI've been reading like crazy. Check out my Shelfari. I've been updating that fairly religiously. I've been knee-deep in Fantasy Fiction. I'm rereading the first two books in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, because I've just acquired the third book, which was released earlier this year. (Look for reviews coming soon.) I finished The Alchemyst three days ago, and am now about halfway through The Magician. The third, and as yet never read by me, book is called The Sorceress.WritingApart from my usual jotting down of random ideas, my writing in the past few months has been pretty stagnant. Today, however, I managed to copy a bunch of files from my desktop onto my laptop. In doing so, I discovered quite a few documents that I'd completely forgotten about. I went through many of them and discovered something that completely motivated me. I really do believe God has blessed me with some skill in writing. Doubt is my biggest foe, and its all self-inflicted. I vow, here and now, to persistently battle my doubt in my own ability. Through "The One True King" I shall arise the victor! All prayers are welcome. Today I realized and remembered a few things I need to do:Write daily.Use the drive and ability to write that I've been blessed with.Be prayerful in my writing process.Don't forget the fellowship I get and give through the blogging network of Christian authors I've become associated with.Go back and read what I wrote long ago. Great ideas can come from unassuming Word docs with the title Notes or something similar.Have faith in everything I do (especially my writing)!HomeschoolMy daughter, now 11, and I just began our fourth year of homeschooling. We're doing our 6th grade year. I'm really excited about the changes in difficulty and content we'll be dealing with this year. Math gets more complex, Science delves deeper into concepts only previously touched on, and English contains far more opportunities to teach writing. We'll be doing some extra-curricular creative writing as well. Just for fun.After a summer of camps, sleepovers, and plenty of pool time, even my daughter is ready to get back to work. The ice cream truck won't be coming around for too much longer now. Aw man - that means I don't get anymore frozen lemonade cups - too yummy.I've been busy planning for lessons and correcting papers, while Kailee is doing independent work and developing a voracious appetite for books. We're a much better team now. I think our starting-off years are over and we're both a lot more comfortable with the whole homeschool gig. We slipped right back into our groove this fall and I couldn't be more happy about it.Coming Soon...I will be updating all sections of my blog's information.I'll be blogging regularly.I plan to devote at least a small portion of each day to writing.More book reviews!!!I'll be making my rounds to all my net nerds and blog buds to check in and check out what everyone's been up to lately. (I'll update any exciting news as I come across it.)See you soon.[...]

Fantastic Fantasy: Twilight


Twilightby Stephenie Meyer Important TwilightAuthor's Website: StephenieMeyer.comRecommended Age: 16+ (due to mature themes and content)Twilight is not a typical vampire book, or a typical romance. I'm not into either, and I loved this series. The characters are believable, as are their relationships. The whole vampire thing is essential to the plot but not its main focus. The good guys are "vegetarian" vampires - they don't hunt humans. The rest of the vampires do, but the emphasis is more on self-control than about blood-sucking.Essentially, the story follows Bella, a clumsy, all-too-human character who falls for an amazingly, dazzlingly, decidedly NOT human guy. His family is one of the only groups of vampires that don't hunt humans, and their story is deep and intricately woven into the story. Also, Bella's best friend, other than Edward, turns out to be a member of a tribe of mortal enemies to vampires. This causes a few issues that only their mutual love for Bella can overcome (later in the series).The cast of characters from Bella's dad to all of Edward's "family" enriches the story and gives way to some elements of humor. The Cullen family all posess qualities to be admired, such as: unparalleled self-control, compassion, restraint, respect, strength, and loving enthusiasm. In the end, Bella desperately wants Edward to turn her into a vampire, but he refuses. His only goal is to protect Bella and be with her for the rest of her mortal life. She wants to spend eternity with him and he wants her to have a normal life and not to be what he calls a "monster." That whole issue is seen throughout all four books.In the end, the appeal of Twilight isn't vampires or romance, but tangible relationships that we can all relate to and become enthralled with, right alongside Bella. Stephenie Meyer's writing style is familiar, yet original. The pacing and plot of the books are easy and interesting at the same time. Each book holds its own mysteries and revelations, bringing the reader closer to the moment Bella, and all of us, are dying to reach.Twilight is the first book of the Twilight Saga, which, in its entirity, and in order, includes: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.*A spiritual note: There is a debate among characters about the existence of a soul within a vampire and their final destinations, if any. The conclusion to that debate is clearly one of faith. Also, Edward comments that even he can't believe this world was all created by accident (smart guy). [...]

Fantastic Fantasy: Eragon



by Christopher Paolini


Important Links: Eragon

Official Inheritance Site:

Recommended Age: 15+ (due to violence and gore)

Not a typical dragon story. Eragon, a farm boy, finds a brilliant blue stone, which is actually a dragon egg. When she hatches, Eragon discovers his connection with her runs deeper than the silvery marking that appears on the palm of his hand when he first touches her. Their telepathic communication helps nuture a life-long bond of friendship, love, and a mutual goal: taking down the evil ruler of Alagaesia, King Galbatorix.

What begins as a quest for revenge, carries Eragon and the town's mysterious story-teller, Brom, into a centuries-old struggle for the freedom of the people of Alagaesia. Eragon must choose. Will he fulfill Brom's wishes and become the first Dragon Rider in centuries to lead the rebel group, the Varden, or will he join the king who had put an end to the peace-keeping Riders of old? And who were Eragon's parents? Why was he left to be raised by an uncle and aunt? Will Eragon avenge his uncle's death by the strange creatures known as the Ra'zac? These questions and more plague Eragon as he trains to become a legendary Rider.

The first book in a series of four, Eragon, begins us on a quest of unkown origins and an even more mysterious endings. Along the way, Eragon will meet elves, dwarves, and creatures abound in a magical tale of epic proportions.

Fantastic Fantasy: Brisingr


Well - it's been a really long time since I posted my first book review, but now it's time for my second. I'd love to promise that these would be regularly posted, but that's just not realistic. The truth is that when I have the time, I'll review the book. As always, if you're interested, check out my Shelfari shelf either on the sidebar or through the link. So - here's review #2:Brisingrby Christopher PaoliniImportant Links:Amazon: BrisingrOfficial Inheritance Site: Alagaesia.comRecommended Age: 15+ (due to violence and gore)In book 3 of the Inheritance cycle of 4 books, Eragon and Saphira face more challenges and trials in their quest to take down the evil King Galbatorix. Full of action and new revelations, this book easily lived up to the previous two.Around half-way through though, there is a section that just didn't quite do it for me. Roran, Eragon's cousin, is repeatedly in battle, which gets a bit monotonous. You can really only read about blood spattering and soldiers' guilt so many times. Also, Eragon must witness a clanmeet of dwarves in a very long drawn-out process to pick a new dwarf king. Unfortunately, Paolini chose to spend a bit too much time showing us just how long and boring this process was.After this lull though, revelations come to light as Eragon's life is altered in new ways and his mission to kill the evil king seems more attainable than ever. The exciting conclusion makes up for the slow spot in the middle, and the whole book ends with you clambering for more.[...]

Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour


Well - it's tour time again and many of our favorite authors have finally made it over to the West Coast. Yes! The Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour is currently in progress and making a huge difference in the lives of Fantasy fans. It's running through October 11th, so you may still have time to catch them in a city near you.I was blessed enough to be able to catch the tour in Portland, OR, (which is right across the river from where I live in Vancouver, WA) on Sunday, October 5th. It was raining and the spot the authors had to set up at, was an open-air gazebo in the midst of an outdoor mall. The roof of the gazebo was, thankfully, covered and rain-proof, however, it did make for an inconvenient place to gather. We, who call ourselves fans and Northwesterners though, didn't let that stop us from enjoying the authors we know and love, and even a few authors we hadn't known of until that day.My husband, daughter, and I had a great time talking with Christopher Hopper, who is, well - there's no other way of putting it, a really cool guy. And Wayne Thomas Batson was even able to make a few minutes for us in the midst of a frenzy of teenage fans. We also had a nice chat with Eric Reinhold. All in all, it was an awesome experience. I was inspired to keep writing, and my ten-year-old was inspired to keep reading. She actually said, "Mommy, you'll get to do that someday." I smiled and thanked God for giving me such a supportive family.All eight of the authors will be touring for another four days. To see highlights of the tour and find out what's really been going on, check out the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour website as well as the authors' sites. Here's a quick list of links for you: Christopher Hopper, Wayne Thomas Batson, Eric Reinhold, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Donita K. Paul, Jonathan Rogers, and L.B. Graham. [...]



Well - I've finally done it. Construction is well underway for my first book. I don't yet have a title, but I have lots of notes, note cards, and a completed first two chapters. Yay!

I'm learning so much as I write. I'm using notes, but only to a degree. I'm wide open to let the story take me where it will. For a while, I was stuck on the notion of having to have the whole book planned or mostly planned out in my head, but now am only planning major plot points and I don't even have most of those yet. However, writing is taking place and characters have been born, and the whole thing is really coming together.

Right now, the thing I'm trying to keep in mind is pacing. I don't want to get too caught up in description, or too worried about speeding the plot along. I'm finding that a balance between the two is a little easier than I originally thought.

It feels amazing to actually sit down and type out scenes that I've only outlined and watch them take shape. It's so cool to see a few scribbles on note cards turn into real scenes with action and dialogue. I've decided that even if I don't end up seeking publication for this first book, I'll keep on writing and value this first one as the best learning experience I've had in writing.

I've heard other authors say how important it is to write daily, and I'm finding that even on days when I don't feel inspired or think maybe nothing will come of it - that it's worth it to try. I finally decided that even if I scrap all I've written in a day (which I have yet to do), it's still so rewarding just to get something written.

My internal battle with the editor-me vs. the writer-me is actually working out quite well. I will do my best to get something out first - anything. Then I let myself obsessively edit and rewrite. The end product is a pretty smooth rough draft. I'm totally satisfied with that.

I've found too, that writing is very good for me. I can feel myself learning and changing and growing as a writer and a person. In spite of my health problems, I have a definite purpose. I only pray that God will guide me and use me as His instrument of grace. I want to tell stories that glorify Him, however directly or indirectly that may be. It's all in God's hands and I'm so excited about that.

Until next time...



Since my last post, not only has the season changed, but many other life events have shaped the course of my days.My health - ugh...I'd love to have a good report, but don't. So - I'll at least keep this part short. Migraines now daily? Yes. Asthma as bad as ever? Yes, and now there may be a possible genetic link to cystic fibrosis and my grandmother and possibly myself as carriers.Homeschooling...Fine, yet we've fallen a little behind where I'd imagined we'd be at this time of year. We'll be working into the summer partially. Standardized testing will probably be held in July, or whenever we get around to it.Family...Great actually! My parents moved up here, somewhat temporarily, in February. They've got their own room at our house and share the upstairs bathroom with my brother, but that's just like old times for them. :)My mom has been a huge help. She drives when my meds keep me from being able to. She drags me out of the house to the library with her and Kailee, even when I refuse at first. She cooks and keeps us all well fed and spoiled with her excellent fare. She picks up where I leave off and doesn't, even for a second, let me feel like less of a person, even when it would be easy to do. God sent my parents to me during a time that I needed them far more than I knew.Work...Jeff's been a busy guy lately. When he's not a his regular job, he's on a side job doing a remodel. When he's not doing side work, he's busy as can be around the house with all kinds of home improvement projects. This weekend he refurbished our ugly white ceiling fan, turning it into a thing of beauty. The metal is a gorgeous pitted brown and the blades are now a textured deep brown. He took $20 and turned the $30 fan into a $200 fan. He amazes me sometimes - well - all the time. His gifts are so useful.Writing...Well -I'm getting itchy again. I think that after our end of April snowfall, followed by early May high temps has finally flipped my creativity switch. Winter in the Northwest is a bit tough for most of us. All of us imports have to adjust to the grey and rainy weather for a solid three months, so it gets easy to procrastinate. However, as soon as the sun is shining, I'm in the zone all over again. It's like our own little human hibernation. I'm definitely feeling awake now though.Other news...We just celebrated Kailee's 10th birthday. Last weekend (end of April), Jeff and I went shopping at IKEA for a new bed for her. We'd decided to do a whole room makeover for her, and ended up doing an Extreme Makeover - Kailee Edition. :)She was at Jeff's parents' house for the weekend and we'd been shopping and decided to keep her at her grandparents' for an extra day to give us time to paint, build, sort and organize, and decorate her brand new "tween" room.It went from froo-froo pink to grape green in less than a day. We got home from IKEA and left again to Home Depot for some paint. We had to primer the pink on three walls, and left it alone on one wall. Two coats of primer and two coats of green later, it looked like a whole new room. Jeff even decided to give the pink wall a fresh coat of pink.I'll see if I can get up some before and after pics soon. We took plenty, as proof of all our hard work.After the green dried on that Sunday, we began our individual projects. My job was to sort through all of the endless clutter and toys that had previously littered our little girl's bedroom, that always kept it from being clean. Jeff was busy building the bed [...]

My New Project


Well - my very good friend, Eve - found at Quest Writer, and I are collaborating on a story! It was her idea, the very clever girl she is, and totally loved by me. I'll update here sometimes, but so far we're just tossing ideas around. It's such a neat opportunity and I feel blessed to have it.

Email Forwards?


Okay - we all have opinions and views, but how often do others' words reflect our own hearts intimately? Not often. This was emailed to me by a person who is very much "on the fence" about his faith. He doubts and challenges Christianity. Somehow, I believe, he gets it a little more than he's willing admit.------------------------------------------------------------------------The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS SundayMorning Commentary. My confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and Idon't like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to. In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking. Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?'(regarding Katrina) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get outof our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?' In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and wemight damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK. Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscien[...]