Blog Archives

A Day That Will Live In Infamy

I just ordered my proof copy of “Death By Darwin”. Soon, you will be able to get your hands on my next book. By December 15th, the ebook will be available and hopefully, the printed version. More on that soon.

My mother and father in downtown Shreveport during World War II

My mother and father in downtown Shreveport during World War II

But, today, I want to focus on what took place on this day 75 years ago. Yes, December 7 1941 is a day that will live in “infamy”. In 2005 our drama group at Brookwood Baptist Church performed my last written play, “The Homecoming Tree”. The play was set in the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas 1941. I based the story on my parents’ experiences living in Shreveport, Louisiana during World War II. The play has a very special place in my heart and I have rewritten it over the past 11 years. I am now working on the conversion of the play to a novel.

My hopes are to see the play performed again in its new form and also to possibly add musical numbers to the play. But, for now, I am settling for finishing up the novel. Today, in the honor of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the brave men and women who died that day and the Generation that took upon themselves to defeat the greatest evil in modern history I want to post an excerpt from my upcoming book, “The Homecoming Tree”.

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Death By Darwin Release is coming soon!

 

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Luke Lee and I are working on the final layout of the novel and the cover for my next novel, “Death By Darwin”. For those interested in this upcoming novel, here is an excerpt from the book. Jonathan Steel has been retained by an attorney, Ruth Martinez, to help defend an innocent man convicted of killing his boss. In this scene Steel has met with Detective Lunella Jones and is being escorted to the Evidence lockup.

She fell silent and tapped the desk with her fingernails. “Well, Mr. Jonathan Steel, let’s get you to the evidence room.” Jones led me through the hallways of the police station to a remote room. A window covered with thick wire separated me from a large room filled with shelves. Jones spoke with the man behind the wire and then motioned me forward. His name tag read, “Juan Destillo, F.B. I. Crime Technician.”

“Juan is on loan from the feds. He’ll give you thirty minutes, Mr. Steel. See you later.” She walked away and Juan studied me like I was some insect trapped in amber. He was a slight man with unruly, dark hair and eyes that glowed with the menial power he had been given. Read the rest of this entry

The First Domino Falls!

Be careful what you ask for.

I was wandering through Barnes & Noble about four weeks ago. I stood in the Christian fiction section and recalled a time when my first two books sat on the shelf along with books by authors such as Tosca Lee and Ted Dekker. For a moment, I imagined myself as a bestselling author whose books would stay on the shelf for more than a few weeks before they would wind up in the $3 pile at Half Price Books. I was pretty down. Depressed. Discouraged. I wrote about this in my last post and made a decision to back off from writing.

Something happened that day. Something that would change everything for me. But, first, let me take a moment to share one of my personal philosophies. My inspiration for writing comes from God. Period. No contest. No argument. And, I have discovered that I can very easily wander off the path God has chosen for me and get all wrapped up in the dream of being Ted Dekker or Tosca Lee or any of my favorite Christian writers.

And, then, God humbles me. Over. And over. And over. And, in the humbling I stop and remind myself what I have chosen to ask God every morning when I wake up. It is simply, “God, what is the one thing you want me to do today as part of your work for my life. Let me know what that thing is and not waver from the purpose you have for my life.” Wandering away from God’s purpose for my life is what got me into so much trouble 20 years ago when I descended into a horrific and paralyzing depression. (See conqueringdepression.com for more on that!).

Back to the book store. I have always maintained there is no experience you can reproduce online that rivals that of wandering through a bookstore. Surrounded by the look, the feel, and, yes, the smell of books can’t be replicated on the keyboard and screen. It’s impossible to wander aimlessly through Amazon’s almost infinite collection of “books”. And that is why, in my dreary mood that day, I paid a visit to my local bookstore chain. It was the first time in months and now I stood forlorn and depressed in the section where my four fiction books should have been featured along with others written by Christian authors who have a story to tell to the world. And, I asked myself if it had all been an empty dream; a squandered opportunity because I wanted to be published for my own satisfaction, not to fulfill God’s work in my life.

I turned away from the fiction and glanced at a small, turquoise book on the top shelf behind me. “Switch On Your Brain” by Caroline Leaf. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I see a book there is a quality, an instantaneous attraction to it that defies human explanation. I glanced away and then looked at it again. It called to me. I picked up the book and read the back. Something about it clicked. I now know this was a divine appointment. I didn’t see it at the time. I added it to my small pile of books and checked out. I placed the book on my desk along with three other books I had purchased on improving my writing.

During the next week or so, I opened one of those writing books on Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke. The opening few pages asked a very important question. “Why do you want to be published?” His answer was simple. Fame. Money. Glory. Immortality. I have an entire lecture on the three types of writers: those who can’t not write; those who want to be published; and those for whom writing is a “job”. And, all three are vastly different. When you sign that contract with a publisher, your writing moves beyond a hobby to a business. And, then the job becomes work! I had to stop and really ask myself why I wanted to continue to write and be published. The answer, I had to remind myself, lay in the paragraphs above. If God did not honor my writing, then I was wasting His time and mine doing the wrong thing! And so, I prayed once again for direction. “God, if you want me to continue to write, help me know what you want me to write and show me your will.”

This past weekend, while on call for my radiology practice, I picked up the “Switch on Your Brain” book and decided to read the first chapter. An hour later, I was halfway through the book. What happened that afternoon was like someone pushing over the first domino. You see, about a dozen things happened in one week that had nothing to do with each other when viewed separately. But, putting them together I began to see an undeniable push toward a complete rewrite of “The 9th Demon: A Wicked Numinosity”. Suddenly, information and ideas fell into my lap. Ideas circling in my brain actually gelled. And, three different separate conversations with people about totally unrelated subjects suddenly converged into the final conclusion that I HAD to write this book!

Monday night of this past week, I shared all of this with my wife, Sherry. She is my anchor, my reality check. After I laid out all of the “coincidences” of the past month, she nodded in agreement. “Yes, you need to write again.” Today, I started over with the book and it is coming fast and furious. And, the central theme of this book is so timely! I hope to share more with you in the coming weeks. But, right now, I have to write! Here I go!

So, I have an idea. Here in the ArkLaTex about six years ago we had an event featuring local authors. I’d like to consider something like that again. If you are a local Christian writer, would you like to have a weekend event where we get together and have some presentations about publishing, marketing, editing, etc.? Would you like to have a venue where you could feature and sell your books? It’s just an idea, right now. But, if you are interested or if you know someone who might be interested, drop me an email or a comment.

The Shreveport Times Article

I met author Judy Christie a few years back at our “Author! Author!” event here in Shreveport. Judy writes excellent novels with a “Louisiana flair” and her books are delightful. Check them out. Well, not too long ago, Judy and I reconnected and she has written an article for the Shreveport Times about little old me! I am humbled and honored by her article you can read at this link.

Now, for an update to the fourth book in the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel. I am finishing up the final edit this week. After being released from a very restrictive book contract and whittling down the story from 120000 words to 75000 words it is a pleasure to completely redo the novel. I was forced to cut so much of the story in order to meet these word count restrictions. Now, I have written the book I want to read. And, hopefully, my writing has improved thanks to editorial input from fiction editors I worked with while at Charisma.

My plan now is to publish the book under my own imprint and I am shooting for August or September so I will keep you posted.

Thanks again to Judy for a wonderful article.

Can Fiction be Christian?

fantasy_books

 

This past week the Christian publishing world was shaken by the announcement from Broadman & Holman (B&H) Publishing regarding their new Christian fiction strategy. Steve Laube, a major voice in the Christian publishing industry, commented on these changes at this link. This may seem like some mundane industry-babble but it has grave implications for the reader of Christian fiction. The bottom line is this: a major Christian publisher has decided to back off of fiction unless it ties in with some other media initiative (such as a movie). In fact, all contracts for future fiction that would have been released  beyond April 2014 are now null and void. Kaput! Gone! And, I know that feeling!

Hennigan_The 12th Demon 1-24C

Why? In September 2012 just a few weeks before the release of my second book, “The 12th Demon: The Mark of the Wolf Dragon” by Charisma, I received a notification that I was being released from my five book contract after the second book. This didn’t catch me totally by surprise. I had already heard from a couple of my fellow authors at the Realms imprint (an imprint is a division of a publishing “house” focused on a particular “genre”) who had suffered the same fate. As of September there were two of us left, myself and Mike Dellosso easily Realms bestselling author. Mike has now moved on also. At least I was in good company! I know this was a business decision made because of the downturn in the economy but it had a lasting impact on my personally as well as many Christian authors.

What does all of this mean for you, the reader of Christian fiction?

It will mean a much smaller selection of books and a much narrower range of genres. Major publishers will not be taking as many chances with new authors and will not be looking to branch out into “strange waters” such as Christian speculative fiction. Frankly, this frightens me. I am already a victim of the troubled economic times coupled with the sea change in traditional publishing trying to adapt to newer digital technology. However, I followed the advice of Michael Hyatt, once CEO of Thomas Nelson (which has been swallowed up by the larger HarperCollins publishing behemoth along with Zondervan). He suggested I self publish. The good news for authors like myself is there are many reputable self publishing ventures available. The bad news is I have to fund the book and all of the prep work myself. Let’s just say it makes for a tremendous tax right off! But, I am hoping the momentum of two previous books will help “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” sell enough copies to keep the series going.

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Summer Reads — Two Good Books!

Summer-reading-006Summer is coming. Hot days. Humid days. Days on the beach or in the shade of an oak tree. Lazing around beside the pool. And, people want to have something to read.

As you prepare for summer, I want to remind you that there are two books that are perfect summer reads. Let me introduce you to the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel.

The first book, oddly enough, has the highest number in the title. “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”. You see, I’m counting down from thirteen to one. Jonathan Steel is a Christian version of Jason Bourne. He has no memory of his former life except for one outstanding event. The day he became a Christian is the only meaningful memory he can recall. As his memory begins to return, he finds that he has a very specific skill set that only a mercenary or an assassin would have.

Who was he? Soon, he begins to remember an abusive and hateful father. It doesn’t take long for Steel to become embroiled in evil. He encounters a serial killer possessed by “the 13th demon”. It doesn’t take long for this man to bring tragedy into the life of Jonathan Steel and he vows to track down the killer and destroy it.

But, although evil is real, so is the force of good. Steel finds himself in the midst of a spiritual battle in the small town of Lakeside. An evil presence has settled into the local church and is determined to take over the town. Steel wants revenge but he also realizes he has made a promise to help others in danger.

“The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” is harrowing and frightening but ultimately redemptive. It is a story of good versus evil. It is a story of self sacrifice for the good of others.

The second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” picks up where the first book ends. Steel has assumed the responsibility of being a guardian to a young teenage boy. The boy’s uncle, Cephas Lawrence, is Steel’s mentor. Steel finds himself in Dallas, Texas battling an army of vampires to recover the young man who has been kidnapped by Rudolph Wulf, the 12th demon. The story ranges from the Texas countryside to the mountains of Transylvania.

You can read the reviews of both books here.

Will there be other books? I have planned all thirteen books and have already written the next two books. Unfortunately, my current publisher has “released” me from my current contract and I am looking for a new publisher to pick up the rest of the books. If you are a traditional publisher or know of a traditional publisher interested in picking up the series, you can contact my agent, Nancy Jernigan at jjernigan@hiddenvaluegroup.com.

But, rest assured, if I do not have a traditional publisher soon, I am planning on self-publishing “The 11th Demon: Ark of the Demon Rose” under my own imprint. I have retained the same fiction editor I worked with for the first two books so I am excited about the final manuscript!

So, pick up the two books for summer read. The books are appropriate for men, women, and teenagers. It is suspenseful with a touch of horror. But, I guarantee a good story and a redemptive message.

Check it out and see that evil is real. But, so is God!

 

All That Is NOT SO must Go!

ray2In 2008 I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet my all time favorite writer, Ray Bradbury. If you have not read stories by this giant of science fiction and fantasy literature, then you have missed out on a life changing experience. Ray Bradbury passed away in 2012 and his loss was a tiny tremor in the tumult of this past year. For you see, as forward thinking and progressive as Mr. Bradbury was, he hesitated to embrace many forms of modern technology. He refused to fly. He would only travel by train or boat. He would not allow any of his works to be translated into electronic form. You will not find any of his stories as ebooks! Why? Go read Fahrenheit 451 and you might catch a glimmer of the reason. Stories, to Bradbury, belonged inside people! Story is Life!

As we enter 2013, I am depressed at the negative tone of many of my favorite blogs. Who can blame us? If you are a Christian, then 2012 was a year of blow after blow to the Christian lifestyle. And, I don’t need to spend time listing those developments here. Others have done it well. But, there is one concept I want to explore as we enter a new year.

In this past year, scientists have mounted a campaign against God. Not surprising. This happens with regularity. But, this past year the attack was imbedded in such books as “A Universe From Nothing” by Lawrence Krauss or Richard Dawkins’ atheist children’s book “The Magic of Reality”. And, that venerable icon of science for children, Bill Nye, the Science Guy attacked creationism in public and on internet based video. The year ended with the American Atheists’ huge billboard on Times Square asking people to “Dump the Myth”.

Back in the 1950‘s, Ray Bradbury wrote a series of short stories that resonate with today’s headlines. Now, remember, he was an advocate of science. He helped develop ideas for many of Walt Disney’s animated shorts about space travel. He was involved in the design of “Future World” at EPCOT. But, he had cautionary words for us about the danger of the supremacy of science as a philosophy. As a philosophy, this is known as scientism or materialism or naturalism. Nature is all that is. If we cannot sense it with our scientific machines, then it cannot exist. NOTHING in the supernatural realm can be even considered as possible.

martian chroniclesIn “The Martian Chronicles”, Bradbury created a character who had escaped to Mars and built a house of “Usher” to resurrect the creations of imagination. It seemed that on Earth such imaginative works had been outlawed. Look at this passage from “Usher II” in the Martian Chronicles:

They passed a law. Oh, it started very small. In 1999 it was a grain of sand. They began by controlling books, cartoons, and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.

Every man, they said, must face reality. Must face the Here and Now! Everything that was not so must go. All the beautiful literary lies and flights of fancy must be shot in mid-air! So they lined them up against a library wall one Sunday morning thirty years ago, they lined them up in 2006; they lined them up, . . . and shot them down, and burned the paper castles and fairy frogs and old kings and the people who lived happily every after . . . and Once Upon a Time became No More!

 

In another story from that book, “The Million Year Picnic”, a family has escaped the self destruction of Earth and has made it to Mars to rebuild a new life. Here is what a father told his children about Earth:

Life on Earth never settled down to doing anything very good. Science ran too far ahead of us too quickly, and the people got lost in a mechanical wilderness, like children making over pretty things, gadgets, helicopters, rockets, emphasizing the wrong items, emphasizing machines instead of how to run the machines.Wars got bigger and bigger and finally killed Earth.

 

But, the most powerful story, and more than likely a precursor to “Fahrenheit 451” was “The Exiles” from “The Illustrated Man”. In this story, the authors of science fiction, horror and fantasy have found exile on Mars from a world in which their works have been burned and now, a rocket from Earth approaches. In this scene, Edgar Allen Poe is waiting for the rocket men to land so he can defeat them.illustrated_man

 

They won’t be prepared for us, at least. They haven’t the imagination. Those clean young rocket men with their antiseptic bloomers and fish-bowl helmets, with their new religion. About their necks, on gold chains, scalpels. Upon their heads, a diadem of microscopes. In their holy fingers, steaming incense urns which in reality are only germicidal ovens for steaming out superstition. The names of Poe; Bierce, Hawthorne, Blackwood — blasphemy to their clean lips.”

How did this happen and how did Poe come to reside on Mars?

On Earth, a century ago, in the year 2020 they outlawed our books. Oh, what a horrible thing — to destroy our literary creations that way! It summoned us out of — what? Death? The Beyond? . . . the only saving thing we could do was wait out the century here on Mars, hoping Earth might overweight itself with these scientists and their doubtings; but now they’re coming to clean us out . . . “

And, lest you think that Bradbury was not aware of the war on Christmas look at this scene of a wasted, near dead Santa Claus:

They took him, a skeleton thought, and clothed him in centuries of pink flesh and snow beard and red velvet suit and black boot, made him reindeers, tinsel, holly. And, after centuries of manufacturing him they drowned him in a vat of Lysol, you might say.

What must it be like on Earth? . . . Without Christmas? . . . nothing but snow and wind and the lonely, factual people.

Ah, the power of Story. I will address this in upcoming posts. For now, we must stop and revel in the sheer power of Story to transform humanity. Bradbury did it with these short tales. Bradbury cautioned us that if we allow our imagination to die, then we will die as a people. And, imagination is built upon the foundation of the possibility of the supernatural. Eliminate the supernatural, and you MUST eliminate imagination; burn it out of the brain; cauterize it from the human thought patterns; outlaw it from public and private expression.

Don’t miss this. Bradbury talked of it and he was on the side of science. Science is a tool! It is NOT a way of life. And, if we allow Science to become a way of life, we will see the death of imagination; the death of superstition; the death of the supernatural; the death of Story; the death of God! There is no other path.

Adolf Hitler built his world upon the foundation of naturalism. And, he tried to purge the world of superstition in the ovens of Auschwitz. We cannot forget this. We must remember that to kill Story is to kill what makes us humans. And, one Man used Story to change the world. These stories were called parables.

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So, this coming Sunday, January 5th, I will be signing copies of my three books at our local LifeWay in Shreveport, Louisiana from noon to 2 PM. Of course, I would like for you to come. I will be giving away tee shirts. But, here is my request. Go to a book store. Any book store this coming Saturday. Go and find a book that fuels your imagination. There are wonderful books for all ages and for men and women in the realm of Christian fiction at a LifeWay and if you come to my LifeWay, I can point you to many good Stories.

Go out this Saturday and let’s show the world that as followers of Christ, we recognize the importance the power of Story. This Saturday, wherever you are, go into a book store and buy a book and when you check out, look the person behind the counter in the eye and say, “Story Is Life”!

 

And Now, For a Word From Our Sponsor

I’m taking a short break from discussing the essential teachings of Jesus of Nazareth for this message from your sponsor.

This holiday season if you are looking for an action packed thriller for the man on your gift list who likes books by Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti, then check out my two books in the Jonathan Steel Chronicles. The first book is “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” and is followed immediately by the second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”.

Jonathan Steel is a Christian version of Jason Bourne afflicted with amnesia yet having skills like an assassin or a mercenary. His one memory is of the day he became a Christian and this memory sits at odds with his nature. He wants to recover his lost life and find out why he seems to be at such odds with himself. In the stories, Steel comes up against some very evil human beings in league with demons from a “Council of Darkness”. The council is charged with carrying out the plans of Lucifer to destroy humanity and claim their souls. Steel ends up being the man in the Council’s path

Note that the numbers of the demons are in descending order. They get more powerful the closer we get to the number ONE demon. The 13th demon is the first book; the 12th demon the second, etc. You can check out the review page for discussions of my books.

Also, if you have a teenager who likes Twilight or Hunger Games, they will like these books. One of the major characters is a teenager named Josh who ends up fighting demons alongside Steel, much to Steel’s dismay. Let’s just say they don’t get along very well.

Each book also features strong female characters and a hint of romance. My sisters LOVE Jonathan Steel and want to read more of the book, so if you like thriller type romance novels, this book is for you.

 

Now, if you or someone you love is suffering from depression this holiday season, check out Conquering Depression: A 30 Day Plan for Finding Happiness”. This book has had an amazing history and continues to help people literally around the world. My co-author, Mark Sutton and I still get emails weekly from people who say the book “saved my life”. It is an easy to read introduction to begin the process of conquering depression in your life. Each chapter is a “day” in the 30 day plan. You take it in small, gradual doses and the LifeFilter cards in the back are there to give you a daily tool. We highly recommend the book and it continues to help those who suffer from depression or who have friends or family who suffer from depression.

 

Now, that’s it! No more commercials. Come back in the next two days for more posts leading up to Christmas.

Vampires, Zombies, and Werewolves, Oh My!

Humans are fascinated with the undead — vampires, zombies, and werewolves.

“The Walking Dead” and “Twilight”. I am asked this question often in interviews about my book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”. Why are we so fascinated with vampires and zombies?

We are fascinated with the undead because we have lost that connection with the divine and the eternal in our culture. In Ecclesiastes, we find a verse that says “God has put eternity in the hearts of all men”. But, our culture no longer accepts organized religion and has pushed God out of the Creator seat and replaced Him with Chance and Scientism. Without without the connection with the divine in our culture, we fill this spiritual void with a poor substitute.

In my book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” I use the context of our fascination with vampires, werewolves, and the undead to reconnect you with the truth that we have eternal souls and we long to connect to our Creator. You see, our “postmodern” culture claims there is no “metanarrative”; no “Big Picture”, no Story in which we play a role. But, Ravi Zacharias says that whatever we believe should answer 4 questions:

How Did I Get Here? — Origins

Why am I Here? — Meaning

How Should I live? — Morality

What Happens when I die? — Destiny

For centuries we here in America have lived according to the Christian “worldview” that there is a Creator with a purpose for creation; for our universe; for our world; for each of us. But, in the last fifty years, our culture has moved towards “naturalism” — the idea that there is no supernatural realm; that we are here purely by chance. When you die, you rot — end of story. Have a nice day.

Once we pushed God out of the creator seat and replaced Him with Chance and Random Processes — our answer to that last question went away. There is no “Destiny”.   We have hidden the Story behind a veil of denial. And yet, each human being longs for the divine; seeks the eternal.

And so, we long for destiny; what lies beyond this realm of existence. We sense there is more to life than just living and dying. And, if you have removed the rational foundation for belief in God, all that is left us is science. Science, or naturalism, tells us we are nothing more than DNA and biochemistry. So, science doesn’t answer the question. And, without God and religion, we turn to fiction; we turn to tales and myths and legends of the undead. Thus, our culture has become fascinated with death — specifically what happens after we die.

Ironically, in denying the truth of God; disallowing anything supernatural; we end up embracing fictional and mythical concepts and ideas that are far more wanky and bizarre than belief in the God of the Bible. As the famous author and apologist G. K. Chesterton wrote: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”

Hutchmoot 2012 — Day 1 So Many Rabbits

Thursday afternoon and it is around 530 PM. My son, Sean and I can smell the wondrous aroma of dinner wafting up the stairs from the basement of Redeemer Church. We were sitting in the sanctuary with 184 other people attending the 2012 Hutchmoot. I watched as Andrew Peterson smiled and looked out over the crowd. He welcomed us and then said something that in any other creative conference in the world would be a sign that we are all in big trouble. “Welcome to Hutchmoot. I’m not sure what is going to happen but here we are.”

Yeah, Hutchmoot is like that. Well planned and well co-ordinated thanks to the ever awesome hard work of Pete Peterson. But, exactly what each person is going to take away from the conference is uncertain. At least to us. Not uncertain to the One who spoke the world into existence, the One who holds the universe together, the One whose Story is unfolding all around us, the One who invites us to be a part of that Story.

An hour before my son and I left the hotel for the conference I received the email I had been dreading. One of my current publishers was “releasing” me from my contract. Just an hour away from the most wondrous creative conference of the year and I get this bad news.

But, you know what I thought? Instantly, I knew that God had something very specific to reveal to me through Hutchmoot. God is in control. This was no surprise to him. In fact, this development was the next plot point in my story. He wrote it. My job was to play my part as truthfully and as faithfully to the Author as I could. So, it was with heavy heart and a growing sense of depression that Sean and I set out for Redeemer Church for the opening of Hutchmoot 2012. The dark clouds were gathering and blotting out the shining light of the sun that I had hoped would illuminate the next four days. I felt my world contracting and squeezing down, pressing in on me with the bitter oppressive realization that my Dream was dying. Twelve years of hard work culminating in a five book contract were now a total and complete waste. God, where are you? Why?

I was understandably subdued at the most excellent dinner Evie had concocted for all of her “so many rabbits!”. Sean and I sat outside under the tent at an empty table waiting for others to join us. No one joined us. I guessed it was for the best. I wasn’t very good company. But, it gave Sean and I a chance to talk for over an hour. He lives in Austin, Texas and I live in Shreveport, Louisiana. We seldom get to see each other and already the past twenty four hours together had been fantastic. Now, Sean sensed the need to comfort his father. And, I sensed the need to pull out of my funk and make the time we had together the best it could be. The food helped.

That evening, Hutchmoot 2012 kicked off with one of my favorite events. The Square Peg Alliance, the alliance of independently minded singers and songwriters that Sean and I had grown to love performed for us. It was a totally random, unplugged affair filled with gaffs and laughter and wonderfully real performances. As the songs filled the air and swirled around us, I felt my mood lightening. Just a bit. It wasn’t the end of the world. Things would get better. I would move on with my books. God was in control.

I slipped outside for a moment to call my wife, Sherry. She was in Chattanooga staying with friends of ours. I had told her briefly about the email and we talked for a while as I wandered around in the still, cool night outside of Redeemer Church. I went back inside and sat on the back row. In the row in front of me were Andrew Peterson’s three children. His two sons sat at the end of the row listening with intense concentration to the music. His youngest daughter, Skye was stretched out on the seats with her head in her mother’s lap. She was the typical young girl, twitchy, bubbly, moving all around, staring at the ceiling, mouthing words, perhaps even bored? Andrew Peterson took the stage to sing us the last song of the night. He asked if Skye was in the room.

I watched in wonder as Skye’s eyes lit up and she sprang up from the seats with childlike energy. She bounded up the aisle to the stage. She joined her father to sing a song. She joined her father! I suddenly saw a ray of hope. I was here with my son. And, Andrew Peterson would be singing a song from his latest album “Light for the Lost Boy” about a son and his father. Suddenly, a framework appeared, suddenly the plot thickened, suddenly I saw that God had planned all of this. I was here with my son for a reason. All was not lost. I was not wandering through the misty woods alone.

And then, Skye and her father sang a song, a powerful and yet simple song, The Voice of Jesus. Moments before, Skye had been the typical energy filled, mind wandering child but now she was focused and engaged and sang with the voice of a child in perfect harmony these incredible words:

I know you’ve been afraid

Don’t know what to do

You’ve been lost in the questions

I don’t know what to say

I’m sure if I were you

I’d proceed with some caution

But I want you to know

When the joy that you feel

Leaves a terrible ache in your bones

It’s the voice of Jesus

Calling you back home

I know you’ve got a lot

Spinning in your head

All this emptiness fills you

Maybe you could try

Laying in your bed

To ask the silence to still you

And you might hear a beat

On the door of your heart

When you do, let it open up wide

It’s the voice of Jesus

Calling you his bride

Once upon a time there was a little boy

Who wandered the forest, abandoned

And he heard in the leaves

And behind every tree

The sound of a secret companion

Following

So listen, little girl,

Somewhere there’s a King

Who will love you forever

And nothing in the world

Could ever come between

You, my love, and this Lover

So when I kiss you at night

And I turn out the light

And I tell you you’re never alone

It’s the voice of Jesus

Calling you

It’s the voice of Jesus

Calling you his own

There it was. The refrain for my first day, closing up my depression and despair into a simple realization that I am not alone and although I am now wandering through the woods, if I stop and gaze carefully into the fog and mist and listen with intense concentration I can hear the voice of Jesus calling me His own.

After the concert, Sean and I hung around and met four guys from San Diego and bless his heart, Ryan lifted my spirits to the heavens. We talked for about thirty minutes just standing there in the aisle while the singers broke down their instruments. Ryan, you will never know what that conversation meant to me! Never! You helped me refocus and repurpose Hutchmoot. Jesus was speaking and I needed to listen.

Just a reminder that I still have a few books left for the free giveaway of “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” in preparation for the release of “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” on October 16, 2012. If you want a free book just fill out the form below and there is no obligation.

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