My latest novel, TRUTH RUNNER, is out this week. I’m thrilled about it and wanted to share a few thoughts here about it.
This is the fourth book in the Jonah Stone: Son of Angels series. I can’t believe I’m even saying that…to be honest, I didn’t think it would go this far. I hoped it would, of course, but sometimes the things we hope for and reality are two different things. But there are other times when things we don’t even dare hope for come true, and then some. I firmly believe this is “God-territory”. He has dreams and thoughts and plans for us that at times we are afraid to hope for. Maybe because we think we’ll be disappointed if/when they don’t happen.
Sometimes it’s best to ignore that voice in our heads. You know, the one that tells you you can’t do it. You shouldn’t try. You’re not good enough. THAT voice…we have to live with it to some degree, I guess, but often we let it take control. We give it too much authority in our lives.
Who’s to say you can’t write a novel? Or finish your project? Or go after that degree? Who are we to tell ourselves not to dream?
As for me, I am thrilled about this novel and I want you to read it! I wrote it for you, after all. But I am also reminded that I am moving ahead, dreaming new dreams, writing new stories that excite and challenge me. And if I write fast enough, pressing forward into the unknown dreams (the things that voice calls “impossible”), I can stay ahead just enough to ignore its whisper in my ear. That the movement toward things, toward the future, with its possibilities, will allow me to not listen, and in some cases un-hear words that can cause me harm if I let them.
I’ll write more on TRUTH RUNNER in the next days and weeks. Just know that it is a story close to my heart. About a boy who is becoming a man, but a kid who is running away from life, from everything he is, from everything he believes, from everything that has made him into this unique individual named Jonah Stone. I wanted to see how far he could go before he realized a few things about himself. It’s truly impossible to run from Truth in the end, I believe. Truth is relentlessly loving, and lovingly relentless. And Jonah finds himself at the bottom of a pit, and face to face with Truth in all its dangerous goodness.
Can’t wait for you to read it!
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.