I found this post I wrote back in the fall of 2010, just before Thomas Nelson offered a contract for Spirit Fighter and the Son of Angels series. I apparently never posted it – it was saved in my blog post drafts…I think I felt like if I did, I’d be speaking too soon and somehow jinx myself. I thought it would be fun to share this with you now – these were my feelings as I waited, and waited, and waited to hear back from the publisher, wondering if they’d want to publish the book, thinking at this point they probably did, but not counting on anything yet. At this point, I hadn’t even told people I’d written anything at all.
So I wrote a book.
A novel, actually. I haven’t talked about this with a lot of people, so you probably had no idea. I’m not sure why I haven’t spoken about it more often – I really only talk about it much with Susan, my parents, and occasionally a friend. I think it’s because as a “wannabe-writer”, it’s always a little awkward to discuss. Not the kind of thing I bring up at parties or in casual conversation. I think there’s a difference between having an idea for a book, and being able to actually, you know, write. And I’ve often felt stuck somewhere between those two places. A lot of people have an idea for a book. A very few actually complete it. And a small percentage of those who complete it see it in print. (unless it’s out of their Canon InkJet)
Well, my book is not published…yet. And man, do I ever not want to jinx myself by putting this in print. But since I’ve decided I don’t believe in jinxes…
Right now there’s a decent chance it might get published.
By ‘decent’, I mean that a publisher has the manuscript, has had it for almost 8 months, and hasn’t said NO yet. Now, they haven’t said ‘yes’ either, and I’m certainly aware that at any moment they could turn it down, that every part of a publisher’s process is designed to tell the writer no, and that it’s easier for them to say no than yes. But it’s still alive. And honestly, that’s more than I can say I expected.
You should also know that it’s not my first novel. It’s actually my fifth. Five fully-completed manuscripts written over the last ten years. I’ll spare you the details, but one had a slight chance, while the rest were misfires. I like to think of them as practice. (At least, that’s my justification for the ridiculous amount of time it took to finish each one) Let’s just say Susan is anincredibly patient, supportive wife. I’ve had the inclination every once in awhile to write something non-fiction, but the truth is I just love stories.
If you’re interested, here’s a little bit about the book, and the process that got me from there to here – from the idea to the last chapter written. The summer of 2009 was a tough one for the Laws. Susan was dealing with a recurrence of breast cancer, and we were in the process of shutting down the church we’d poured our hearts and lives into for the last five years. Not a banner year. Anyway, at about that same time, I had an idea for a story that I wanted to write, primarily for my kids. (An aside – for whatever reason I have had good seasons of writing when I’m going through frustrating times in other areas of life – that sounds like good psychiatrist-chair fodder some day)
So I began to develop a story about a normal thirteen-year old boy who discovers that he is not so normal after all. After he begins to develop certain powers, like super-human strength, he discovers that he’s really only three/fourths human. He’s one quarter angel. When he discovers that the Evil One himself, Abaddon, has kidnapped his mom as part of a plot to rule humankind, getting cut from school basketball tryouts because he’s too short becomes the least of his concerns. The novel is about his quest to retrieve his mom, and how in the process he discovers that there is a spiritual world behind what can be seen. And that there is a battle raging between good and evil.
It took about 3 1/2 months to do the actual writing. In February I reached out to someone I’d met a few years back, a terrific author in Charlotte. He graciously agreed to look at some of my work, and then was willing to contact his publisher on my behalf. This was absolutely huge. It is so hard to break in – having tried off and on for 10 years, I know. The publisher read a sample, asked me to rewrite it, and eventually requested the whole thing.
There’s a lot more I could tell you, but that’s enough for now. Guess I just felt like sharing. I’m still waiting, which is half-exciting, half-insanity inducing. I’m excited about the message in the book, and about the possibilities it holds.
The main thing is, though, that my kids loved it. Anything else is gravy.
There is a certain comfort when we know how things end, isn’t there? There are books I’ve read multiple times, even though I know that the ending isn’t going to change. It will be the same every time. The Lord of the Rings trilogy comes to mind. I have recently been re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring, and I still enjoy the story, still enjoy the dialogue and the adventure, just as much, if not more so, than when I read it the first time.
It is different the second, third, or twelfth time through, for sure. The first time you read a book, you don’t know what is going to happen on the next page, let alone, the end. That’s the fun of reading something for the first time. But in some of the greatest stories, like Tolkien’s masterpiece, there is something comforting and even energizing about knowing how it will finish up. You, the Reader, are going on a journey once again with the author and his characters. And knowing the ending somehow enhances the experience. I know that Good is going to triumph over Evil in this tale, but I still get caught up with Frodo and Sam as they carry the ring into the ever-increasing darkness. I still feel their terror as they are hunted by Eye and the wicked horde from Mordor. And my anticipation still builds as I walk with them, knowing all along that in the end, in a death-defying feat of bravery and courage, deep inside a mountain, Evil will forever be defeated.
There is a beautiful thing about the Scriptures and it is this – it speaks to us about the future. About our future, our place with God in it. It is a reminder that when things are difficult, when there is pain, darkness, and all kinds of craziness around us, that these problems are only temporary. That cancer, sickness, and disease don’t last forever. People will be cruel and mean to others, yes, but their day of judgment is coming. There will be hatred, bullying, divorce, slander, and even murder. But their days are numbered.
There’s a song by the great songwriter Ben Shive called “A Last Time for Everything”. He sings about this, that there will come a day when every one of those evil things will die. There will be a last child to starve to death, a last tear to fall, a last murder, a last victim, a last awful word. All these things are temporary.
I know the end of the story, you see. I’ve read ahead, I’ve seen what the Scriptures say, and I believe them to be true. That the hateful evil of this world will pass away. The end of the story goes like this (to borrow from a sticker a friend of mine slapped onto his bulletin board):
That’s the headline. The God of love will win this battle. The days of evil running rampant are limited. Even though we don’t see it, because we are caught up in the day-in and day-out struggle of life, we can know this. We can live with this truth settling us deep in our bellies. We can step back and read the pages of God’s words to us and know that He can see into the future. He lives there, as much as He lives here with us now. That the One who cares for us in this very moment has plans and dreams for us in the future that we haven’t even considered yet. That we wouldn’t dare dream of.
Jonah, Eliza, and Jeremiah, the kids I write about in the Son of Angels series, become aware of this along the way, although they often struggle to see it, just like we do.
But how great is it to be able to be a part of this story, knowing how it’s going to conclude? We may not know what the next chapter will be about, but we do know how things are going to end.
Which is a very, very comforting thought as I walk along the twisted, winding path God has put in front of me.
One day, probably not too much further down the road, I will be able to see, with both of my eyes wide-open and clear, that the God of love will triumph over all things. And the path of trouble for each of us will become an old, distant memory as we move into the fullness of life with Him.
This is the first in a series of Fire Prophet reviews from some of my great friends who agreed to read the book and give me their honest thoughts. Enjoy!
“Fire Prophet is the sequel to Spirit Fighter, and it is one of the best books I have ever read! I couldn’t take my eyes off it from the beginning. From Jonah and his family getting attacked by the fallen to the final battle of the book it was action packed until the end! It has a strong christian message that ties the book together. The way it talks about everyone having a light inside them that burns brighter when their faith grows stronger inspired me to make my light burn as brightly as possible. I would definately recommend this book to all of my friends!”
Hi friends -
It’s been way too long since I’ve written. Just a note to say how excited I am about the upcoming launch of Fire Prophet – book 2 in the Son of Angels series! It’s felt like a long time coming…especially since it was over a year ago that Walmart began carrying Spirit Fighter. Fire Prophet will not be available there (there’s a good possibility they will be carrying the third in the series), but it will be available in lots of bookstores and online. You can pre-order it now via Amazon, and soon I’ll have a button on the site where you can purchase it directly here.
Mainly, I can’t wait to hear what you think of the story. Jonah, Eliza, and Jeremiah are growing up, and there are lots of surprises in store for them. They discover, for one, that they aren’t the only part-angel quarterlings in the world. There are others, with similar gifts and abilities. Soon, though, they also discover that they are all under attack. And that the key to their survival lies in a finding a mysterious prophet. Can Jonah and his friends find her before Abaddon and his evil horde destroy all of the quarterlings and their families?
Fire Prophet releases officially on Dec. 8. We have some fun things in store for the launch – one of which will happen at our local LifeWay store that day! More on that soon…
You can’t do it alone.
This is one of the biggest spiritual realities in life. We need each other to make life work. We are dooming ourselves to failure when we try to do it alone. We are made to be in connection, in community, with one another.
Nowhere is this more true than when we face spiritual battles around us. If it’s true that God made us for community and relationship, it is equally true that Satan will do whatever he can to convince us that it is better, more noble, and easier, to go it alone.
A few days ago, it was clear that my ten-year old son was getting sick. He wasn’t eating as much and his stomach was bothering him. I had already put him to bed for the night, hoping he would get a good night’s rest and feel like going to school the next morning. But not long after I tucked him in, he came downstairs. It was clear that he was feeling even worse. He looked pale, and from feeling his forehead it was obvious that he had a fever. What was worse, his stomach was doing somersaults, and at that point, I knew where we were headed. And as a single parent, there was no one else I could pass this off on.
I’m pretty sure you don’t want me to get into the details of his illness, but let’s just say he lost most of the contents of his stomach that evening, and on into the night. If you are a parent, you know that these are not the most rewarding moments of your parenting life. But taking care of a sick kid is just what you do – part of the job description, so to speak. So I was there, offering him a cup of water, a cold washcloth, and a thermometer. I was there for him, to give him some comfort, and let him know he was not alone. It’s not a heroic act – it’s just what families do for each other.
Whether we are fighting physical battles like illness, or preparing ourselves for battles that will take their toll emotionally and spiritually, this is a profound truth – we need each other. Why do you think Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs? So that one could support the other when the ministry conflict got too overwhelming. So that one could pray for the other in times of distress. Because Jesus knew there was power in community.
In my middle grade action/adventure fiction novel Spirit Fighter, Jonah discovers that he needs others to help him. Even though he and his sister have not always seen eye-to-eye, he realizes that if they are going to rescue their mother from the evil clutches of Abaddon and his evil horde, they will have to do it by relying on each other.
Just last night, I began to feel lousy. I wasn’t hungry, I felt tired, and my stomach was upset. My son had gotten over his sickness, but apparently he had passed it on to me. Ugh…I knew what was coming.
Like my son, I ended up on the floor in the bathroom, with a regretfully-empty stomach. As I sat alone on the cold hardwood, trying to regain control, I heard a light rap on the door. At first I ignored it, but it came again, and I finally stood up on wobbly legs to see which child needed what. (Parenting never stops.) But there stood my ten-year old son, with a cup of cold water in hand, asking if I was okay. I couldn’t help but smile at him as I took it, and he proceeded to find the thermometer, rinse it off in the sink, and pop it in my mouth.
Taking care of each other. Living life together. Walking with one another through difficult things. That is what family does. Both in our blood families, and with our spiritual brothers and sisters, all around us.
This article also appears in the September issue of Christian Online Fiction Magazine.
The following also appears in the June edition of Christian Fiction Online Magazine here.
Spirit Fighter Recon: Tips from the field for helping kids fight the spiritual battle
1. An invisible, spiritual realm exists.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” -Ephesians 6:12, NIV
As I sat down outside my favorite local coffee shop with a spiral notebook in hand, ready to jot down some notes and outline this blog entry (yes, I still use what I believe they used to call ‘pen and paper’ occasionally), a gust of wind scuttled through the patio, which was fitted in the narrow space between two brick buildings. It almost blew the notebook off the metal table, and my drink onto the pavement. I slapped my hand down on the pages quickly, and rescued my precious beverage from almost-certain peril, and was reminded once again of the reality that compels me to write:
There is an invisible world that exists, and in that world, a battle is raging.
My book, Spirit Fighter, is about this one enormous idea – that life is about more than just what we see. That there is a world, behind the world, as if you could reach out your hand and poke a hole in the landscape in front of you, peel it back, and expose this invisible land.
If this sounds a little out there, consider this – it is impossible to read the Scriptures and come away with a different understanding of the world than this. The Bible is full of wonderful stories about how life is about more than what we can see with our eyes, and touch with our hands. Full of stories about an invisible God making Himself known to us.
And yet, we – and our kids – tend to live as if all that exists is what is right in front of us. Often we give little thought to the place where the important, life-changing things are happening.
In Spirit Fighter lingo, this place is called the Hidden Realm.
Jonah and Eliza, being part angel, are able to physically see this place, even enter into it – and with amazement and horror, their eyes are opened to the battle raging.
We don’t have this ability (we would jump at the chance to have it, but I’m doubtful as to whether we’d really like it) – but we do have the capacity to sense it. It’s like the wind. We can’t see it, but there are times when we can feel its presence. We can feel it rushing around us. These are the times in life when we are overwhelmed with the sense that there is something more. More to life. More that hangs in the balance. It often whispers in our ear, “Your heart is right, there really is more to all of this.”
Jesus confirms the existence of this spiritual world, over and over again. In fact, he speaks with the authority of One who has been there and seen it.
In short, He has perspective.
My goal with Spirit Fighter – and with this post, and those that follow – is to challenge you to have a new perspective. To adopt the view that says that 90% of life is actually being played out behind the scenes. And because of this, even the little things in our lives matter. Decisions we make can impact not only this world, but the other.
And by the way, if this is true, which world is more real, anyway? The one we can see, smell, and touch, or the spiritual realm? Does that sound like an idea right out of the movie The Matrix? Not really. It’s a much older concept, gleaned from the pages of the Scriptures themselves.
Which world are you living in? Are you living in light of the reality of the Hidden Realm, or only in what you can see with your eyes? Do your kids know that a spiritual world exists? If you’ve neglected it, consider the possibility that the most important things happening in your life just might be invisible right now.
And for those of you who find your hearts longing more and more for this world Jesus spoke of, know that one day, you too will be able to look behind the curtain, and really see.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”
-Jesus, in Matthew 10:26, NIV