Monday, October 31, 2011

Links for Living Dead Christians

Hey friends...


Bullet the vampire dog!
I'm guessing quite a few of you are coming over after the radio interview with Chris Fabry. He's a great guy and we had a lot of fun in our time together on the air!  And, aside from my two-year-old bursting into the recording studio/my room I thought it went well. I thought I'd give you a few more links if you were interested.

Here's Chris Fabry's site, which includes a pdf download of the "Monster Guide" which you can use for self-diagnosis. Are you a monster? (Yes, I think so.)

Here's the post on Her.menuetics that Chris mentioned.

He's so fast he can scarcely be caught on film. Like a Bullet!
Here's a a recent (long!) interview I did on a theology blog called Near Emmaus (Part One, Part Two).

Download a short, recent interview on Teen Talk.

And, of course, if you haven't seen it already, here's my website, my twitter, the Night of the Living Dead Christian facebook group, and if you look in the sidebar you'll see places to buy my books or sign up for my infrequent but satisfying newsletter.

And, if you just can't get enough about zombies for some reason, check out this long post about what zombies mean at Just Above Sunset, in which I am briefly quoted.

Vampire Dog provided courtesy of Sarah Atkinson, Acquisitions Editor. 
You should follow her on Twitter.

Dracula The Unconquered!

My friend Steve Downer has a new comic that just came out today. Steve has been a professionally published comic colorist for a while, but this time he's teamed up with some buddies (and Steve is doing the pencils as well) and they're doing a digital-only launch of their new comic, DRACULA THE UNCONQUERED!


The story follows Dracula as he is resurrected in the early days of the 20th century. He'll be running around the world fighting monsters and ghosts. Is he protecting the world for the world's sake or keeping it safe so he can rule it? Who knows? Anyway, check it out... it's only a dollar! Here's a 6 page preview.

UK man calls the cops about a UFO... which turns out to be the moon

Police in the UK took this phone call at 999 (their equivalent of the U.S. 911). The police have put the call up on the internet to remind people not to call the police with frivolous calls. You know, like when you think the moon is a spaceship. So... call 911 responsibly today. Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Fifty-Eight: Martians are weird!)

Dedicated to my lovely daughters and to the cast and crew of the defunct television series, Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive! My kids love Power Rangers, and this morning I thought I would try to understand what was going on! At least, more than "Rangers beat up bad guys." I spent much of the morning interrogating my eight-year-old, A. 

Me: Why is that one guy so weird?

A: He's from Mars.

Me: But the rest of them are just ordinary humans?

A: No. That one guy wearing a backpack is really rich.

Note: Actually, I discovered while watching, that one guy was from Mercury.


More Eavesdropping with Matt here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

LINKS! The sausage of the internet 10/28/11

Ah, you love those tasty, prepackaged links, made up of things from all over the internet. These should keep you busy during this beautiful weekend.

First, be sure to check out the new cover to John Scalzi's forthcoming book as discussed by his art director, and then the author's thoughts here.

Then, you would probably like to know all about albino cyclops sharks. Well, shark, singular. But come on, if there was one out there, you know there's an evil super villain somwhere with vats and vats of the things. Special thanks to Ken Cheung for pointing that one out.

Hey, why not another review of Night of the Living Dead Christian.

Ever wondered what an expert in Greek would say about all those sermons that talk about "Go and make disciples"? Is it a command? Are we commanded to "go" or "make disciples" or both? Well, stop wondering and click on this link.

And, lastly, for all of you out there who are following your dream and wondering, "When will I break through to the big time?" I include this moving video about some aspiring actors who wanted to make it in Hollywood, and tried out for a part in The Empire Strikes Back. I think you'll recognize most of them.

FREE copy of HowlSage by Brock Eastman

No doubt you recall author Brock Eastman doing a guest post for us earlier in the week.

Well, last night Brock sent me a note offering to give YOU a free copy of his YA adult fantasy novel, HowlSage! 

Here's what he had to say: 
Please offer your fans a chance to get a free copy of HowlSage, my latest YA book. Destiny Image is giving away copies of HowlSage to anyone willing to provide a review of the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CBD.
Please have your fans send their name and mailing address to freehowlsagebook@gmail.com and Destiny Image will send them out a free copy in a the next couple of weeks.
Thanks, Brock! I'm sure some of our gang will be excited to get a free book. I'm ordering one for my children. Right. Now.

Don't worry, they will also do a review!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Even babies love Night of the Living Dead Christian!

The wondrous Linda Howard sent me these delightful photos of her handsome grandson, who is clearly above average in the intelligence department. You can tell by the look on his face in these pictures!

Oh hey!  A book? For me? Can I do anything I want with it?
 I can? Can I... eat it?
 
Seriously, if you don't want me to eat this, now's the time to speak up.
It's a little... ugh... a little different than I was expecting.
Oh! Actually! It's growing on me. Maybe it's an acquired taste. Mmmm!
You heard it here first, people! Night of the Living Dead Christian is better than babies expect! It is an acquired taste!

So, buy two copies. One to read, and one for a baby you love to lick!

EDIT: Make that, one for a baby you love. For the baby to lick. Not a baby you love to lick. Ew. What's wrong with you?

Just in case you are missing the melifluous sound of my voice

Today I'll be hanging out on the live video blog/chat show, Remedy Live from 3-4pm Pacific. You'll also be able to see me, wearing my big headphones with attached microphone. Which begs the question: what will I wear? I'm thinking a pirate patch and a Greek fisherman's cap.

As if that weren't enough, I'll also be on Nicole O'Dell's Teen Talk radio show at 7 p.m. tonight, although I'm not sure if that one is live or not.

Or you could just call me. You never call anymore.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Imaginary Jesus, we love you

I'm sure you guys are getting really sick of hearing about Night of the Living Dead Christian all the time. While you love the shiny new thing, you are also filled with a nostalgic twinge of sadness thinking of a simpler, more innocent time when I only had one book and all I ever talked about was how King James Jesus made me laugh with his silly anachronistic comments.

So, as a sort of throwback to those glory days, I've got a few little somethings for you:

1) Imaginary Jesus e-book is free for a couple more days. Wherever e-books are sold. Which is to say, primarily on the internet.

2) You may recall that last May I spoke at Clayton Community Church for what was supposed to be a few week series about "Imaginary Jesus." The pastoral staff enjoyed talking about our misconceptions about Jesus so much that the series became a TWELVE PART JUGGERNAUT! I thought you might enjoy listening to some of the talks, which are here. Fun fact: three of the speakers are people I've known for some time. Rick Nylund was one of Krista's youth group staff, is a good friend and actually performed part of our wedding ceremony! Dr. Shawn Robinson was the leader of my InterVarsity club in college, and Sara Goetz and I went to high school together!

3) Remember back in the day when I would always post interesting reviews of IJ? Here's a recent one from a lovely woman who has four beautiful adopted kids. Enjoy.

4) I've been waiting to tell you about some of the big changes coming for Imaginary Jesus. Mostly because I want to make sure that the new baby, NLDC, gets plenty of love, and there's nothing like the first born wanting to show off to take away attention from the new baby. But suffice it to say that IJ is getting a new name, a new cover and a new unveiling very soon because, you know, it was waaaaay back in 2010 when it first came out and we want to update that bad boy for 2012. Yeehaw! More details soon. But if you can't wait, a little internet snooping will reveal all.

Does anyone else have "Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen stuck in their head? Man! Knock it off, Boss!

Guest Post by Author and Seminary Professor Todd Miles: What about those who haven't heard the good news of the Kingdom?


Dr. Todd Miles was one of my professors at Western Seminary, and I enjoyed his classes a great deal. I took two theology classes and an ethics class from Todd, and all three classes taught me things I'm using in ministry and in life today. The ethics class was both terrifying and insightful. Todd is also the author of  A God of Many Understandings?: The Gospel and Theology of Religions, a book about the way in which Christians should interact with people of different faith systems within our culture. This is, in fact, one of the things that Todd addresses in this blog post, talking about the Great Commission and how it relates to pluralism. I found this post refreshing and challenging and I trust you will as well. Enjoy.

Each day on my way to work I drive by a billboard advertisement for a local university celebrating its commitment to inclusivity. Though it could be construed as a statement regarding its admissions requirements (Send us an application! Everybody gets in! Nothing exclusive about us!), it is more likely that the university is attempting, in a vague way, to tap into postmodernity’s commitment to tolerance and its rejection of exclusivity.

We live in a pluralistic world, full of different kinds of people, different kinds of philosophies, and different kinds of religions. Of course, ever since shortly after Adam’s fall, pluralism of this sort has been the way things are, so nothing much has changed in a descriptive sense. What has changed is that pluralism in our day does not just describe the way things are; pluralism describes the way things ought to be. When pluralism is cherished and prescribed, then tolerance necessarily rises to the top of the virtue list. Christianity’s claim that Jesus Christ is the exclusive way to right reconciliation with God does not sit well with the prevailing cultural sensibilities.

In today’s world, to be exclusive, particularly about religion, is to be rude, narrow, and close-minded, and most likely (in a guilty-until-proven-innocent fashion) judgmental and bigoted.

Therefore, we are told that truth claims, especially religious truth claims, ought to be humble. Better yet, people ought to have choices and our pluralistic world delivers. We are presented with a seemingly endless array of options, an ideological smorgasbord, where we can sample and select religious entrees according to taste and preference, without fear of cultural reprisal. To be told that your religious conviction is wrong is largely equivalent to being told that your dessert choice is wrong. Claiming that Jesus is the only way to salvation (however salvation might be construed) is like arguing that Derby Pie (chocolate-saturated pecan pie - need I say more?) is the only legitimate way to after-dinner paradise.

Such thinking comprises the ambient cultural atmosphere. It is the very air that we breathe. It creeps easily into the church’s thinking. Then, when we are confronted with the enormous numbers of people who die without believing or even hearing the gospel, our minds begin to race: Doesn’t God desire that all be saved (1 Tim 2:4)? Isn’t it true that the Lord does not wish that any should perish (2 Pet 3:9)? And then we consider the trumping question of anti-exclusivity: What about those who, through no fault of their own, have never heard the gospel? The response in some Christian circles is to speculate on the possibility of salvation apart from hearing and believing the gospel or the possibility of salvation being mediated through other religions.

Christians must recognize that such questions, while being difficult, are not off-limits. We need solid, biblically-faithful responses to those questions. But we also have to recognize the force of the climate in which we do our thinking. Our postmodern context demands that we answer questions such as these in an “exclusively inclusivistic” fashion. It is our duty to think through those questions, but it is equally our duty to think through them faithfully. Jesus Christ demands that we take every thought captive in obedience to him (2 Cor 10:4-5) and warns us about being conformed to the pattern or mold of this world (Rom 12:2). Our thinking is to be guided by his Word and here are four reasons to think that pluralism (all roads lead to God) and its sensibilities lack biblical warrant. Or to say it a different way, here are four broad reasons to think twice about jettisoning Jesus’ exclusive claims.

Explicit Biblical Teaching
When we read the gospels, we are confronted with the reality that Jesus was not at all concerned with being tolerant of false ideas about God and if he were speaking in our context he would not bow to the idol of political correctness. Living and teaching in a day and age that valued religious pluralism (the Greco-Roman world) as much as ours, Jesus taught that “repentance and forgiveness of sins was to be proclaimed in his name to all the nations (Luke 24:47), that unless one honored the Son it was impossible to honor God (John 5:23-26), and that he was the way, the truth and the life and that no one could come to the Father apart from him (John 14:6).  Jesus’ first disciples understood that teaching and were bold in propagating the message that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). These explicit teachings (and that was just a representative sampling) must be considered in any Christian’s zeal to construct the possibility of salvation outside of belief in Jesus Christ.

Jesus was Not Hopeful That Most Would Be Saved
On a couple occasions, Jesus spoke to the destiny of the majority and he was not optimistic. In the Sermon on the Mount he concluded, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt 7:13-14). In a parallel passage in Luke, Jesus was asked, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” Jesus replied, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:23-24). If Jesus was not hopeful, I see little purpose in dreaming up scenarios by which the unevangelized are saved.

The Story of Scripture
The Scriptures present a God who brooks no rivals and who is not impressed with human machinations to either approach him or approximate him. It is God who, following the sin of Adam and Eve, promises that a child would one day be born who would crush the deceiver and rescue his people (Gen 3:15). It is God who, of his own choosing, selects an unworthy man through whom to display grace to the nations and initiate his plan for redemption (Abraham in Genesis 12). It is God who, time and again judges his own people and the nations for failing to honor him (e.g., Deut 28: 15-68; Isa 40-48; Acts 5:1-11). It is God who,  “in the fullness of time, . . . sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4). And it is God who calls all nations everywhere to repent, “because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). Contemplation of the possibilities of salvation apart from faith in Christ must be consistent with the biblical storyline.

Unfaithful Implications of Speculation
Christ gave a clear mandate to preach the good news of the Kingdom (e.g., Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). The apostles were faithful to that commission and made it their goal to take the gospel to the whole world (Acts 10:42). Paul’s life ambition was to preach the gospel wherever Christ had not already been named (Rom 15:21). What happens to missionary zeal when Christians labor to gather support for a shared optimism concerning the fate of the unevangelized? Admittedly, negative implications of a position are not defeaters of that position. But when those implications repudiate the logic of mission and the explicit commands to evangelize the nations, then one has to wonder about the legitimacy of that position. Rather than philosophizing and theologizing about the possibilities of salvation apart from faith in Christ, we would do better to recognize that the biblical response to the question of “What about those who have never heard?” is a forceful call: “Go tell them!”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guest Post by Author Brock Eastman

Today's guest post comes from author Brock Eastman, who is an author and also product marketer at Focus on the Family. Some mutual friends introduced me and Brock and I asked him to do a post here at BHR. I was pretty astounded by his story!


Here's his introduction:


My name is Brock Eastman, and I have a beautiful supportive wife and two cute little girls. I’m committed to family first and books second, so some times I find myself writing in the wee hours of the night. But God gives us strength and creativity.

Please find my author page on facebook, Brock D. Eastman and give me a Like if you will. You can find all my books on Amazon, the Focus online store, or to get signed copies visit my website BrockEastman.comThanks for reading and I hope you enjoy my work. The best part of writing is putting smiles on kids faces.

Writing to change lives, that’s what I want to do. I’m a marketer at heart; in fact that’s my day job at Focus on the Family. Product Marketing where I get to work on cool projects like Adventures in Odyssey, the Screwtape Letters, or TrueU: Does God Exist?

I’m not a writer; at least I didn’t set out to be. I’m not even a fast reader; ask my wife how long it takes me to get through a book. I read all of about; oh three books when I was in middle school and high school. I didn’t read anything for entertainment purposes until I was in college. It was sort of a competition between my future wife and me; too be the first to complete a particular book series. I did win, just for the record. I didn’t enjoy reading, so you can see why I never had any plans to write a book.

A discussion with a friend about the serious lack of family friendly and safe entertainment in the secular market spurred me on. Not safe like, ‘hey this story is boring,’ no safe as in you’re not going to find curse words and unnecessarily graphic depictions of death and romance. I wanted to write something Christian and non-Christian kids could enjoy.

I was learning to be open to God and trust whatever it was He had planned for my life. I knew when I started writing The Quest for Truth in 2005 that it was about one in a million chance I’d ever be looked at by a publisher, more or less get a book onto store shelves. I’m not that great with grammar and I don’t really have the patience for writing thousands of words, but this wasn’t about me. So five years later, with a completed 100k word manuscript in hand and some encouragement from my wonderful editor (wife.) I signed a contract for 5 books with P&R Publishing. The Quest for Truth would start with Taken (which released in July 2011) and was to be pulled from the first half of the original manuscript, Evad. The second half, became Risk, and will release February 2012. The two manuscripts now total more than 160k words. Whoa! So with a publishing commitment for 5 books, I was going to be plenty busy. Right?

About a month later I was driving down the road, and God laid another story on my heart. With the excitement over the Twilight series, I knew that dark tales of werewolves and vampires (positioned often as heroes) were beginning to dominate the young adult marketplace. It was time to write a story that put them in their proper place, as nothing short of demons. So I pitched the Sages of Darkness trilogy to Destiny Image and they loved it. HowlSage (about a werewolf demon) just released September 2011. I’m currently working on book 2, BlizzardSage.

Finally with 8 books now due to publishers over the next two and a half years, I had one last contract to sign. At Focus on the Family we’d just launched our new Imagination Station series, and I really wanted to be a part of it. I’d grown up on Adventures in Odyssey and had even come to work at Focus with hopes to someday be involved with the brand. I am now the quasi brand manager for AIO (Thanks God.) So I signed a contract to write Showdown with the Shepherd, the David and Goliath story, told as an Imagination Station adventure. So that made 9 books contracted yikes.

Remember I said I’m not a writer, nor that good at grammar (Just read this blog post.) The point of all this is, God is sovereign and He provides. He has plans for our life and sometimes they aren’t exactly what we might expect. I want to encourage you to be open to whatever might be laid on your heart. If we make ourselves available God will do some really cool things through us.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guest post by author C.J. Darlington: How do you know you're called?


You may recall that this month I've invited a lot of different people to send in guest posts to celebrate the release of Night of the Living Dead Christian. I've tried to get a diverse set of people with interesting points of view on a wide variety of topics. Our guest today, C.J. Darlington, is one of those ubiquitous internet personalities who seems to be everywhere! C.J. and I have never really interacted, but I thought I'd drop her a note anyway, and I'm glad I did. She's as pleasant and enjoyable as you would expect from reading her writings. In addition to being an author (more on her books in the post below), she's also the co-founder of TitleTrakk.com, a Christian book, movie and music review site. I think you'll enjoy her insights into the concept of following our callings in life.

When I was a teen I remember worrying long and hard about what I was supposed to do with my life. I desperately wanted to be in God’s will, but I wasn’t sure how I would know. All of us can attest to the fact that you certainly don’t have to be a teen to wonder if you’re on the right path for your life!

Now that I’m an adult, I still have questions, but that’s when I need to remind myself of a few ways you can seek out the Lord’s will.

What did you love to do for fun as a kid? Often God will give us natural inclinations as children that coincide with our calling as adults. Have you always had a fascination with stories, books or writing? Chances are God’s put that in your heart. It’s not about skill. You can develop skills, but you can’t fabricate a calling.

If I had looked closely as a teen, I would’ve seen He was already leading and guiding me through my childhood dreams. I loved to read. One of my favorite activities was visiting the library, and I’d come home with bags full of books. I loved writing little stories about animals. My sister and I started a newspaper/magazine we peddled around the neighborhood for fifty cents.




When I was fifteen I started writing a story about two sisters. I had no idea that story would eventually become my first published novel, Thicker than Blood. Those first pages were horrible, but I kept at it because it was something I couldn’t not do. That’s another way to recognize a God-given dream. Does it burn within you? I asked Jerry B. Jenkins once how beginning writers could know they were called to write, and he said if you can’t not write you may be called to write.



It’s the same with whatever interests you. God often puts desires and dreams in our hearts at an early age to guide us into our calling. And why wouldn’t He? Doesn’t it make sense He’d plant ideas in our hearts as children? As Psalms 139 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” It’s only as we get older that those dreams begin to fade due to the distractions and pressures of life. Take time and look back. Remember what you dreamed about as a kid. Maybe you’ll discover God’s been calling you for longer than you think.


But what if you didn’t follow the desires you had as a child. What if you really didn’t have any dreams at all? It’s never too late. And even if you were supposed to start something sooner, don’t despair. I like to think of life’s journey as walking down a road. The easiest way would be to stay on the straight path. But many of us veer off course. We might take a turn that wasn’t God’s direction for us. Note to self---don’t sweat it. God’s a God of love, forgiveness and grace. All we have to do is ask Him to get us back on track. And you know what? He will. No matter how many wrong turns you take, God can reprogram your life’s GPS and still get you to that final destination… the fulfillment of your dreams and His plans.



Here’s something I’m learning---nothing is ever wasted by God. Did you dream of being a writer but for whatever reason became a lawyer instead? Great! Maybe you can write a legal thriller. Your life experiences can help you create a character you might not have written otherwise. Did you become a nurse instead of writing the next Great American novel? Maybe you’ll share your knowledge and experience writing nonfiction articles about health. Or maybe you’ll write a historical novel, featuring a struggling doctor serving in the Vietnam War.



Even though I wrote stories when I was young and dreamed of someday publishing a book, writing wasn’t exactly paying the bills. So I followed another interest of mine---rare books. I became a book scout and sold used and rare books to local bookstores before eventually co-founding my own online bookstore with my sister, Tracy.



 I was able to incorporate a lot of what I learned about rare books and the book business into my novel Thicker than Blood as well as my second book Bound by Guilt. It might not have looked like I was on track for reaching my dreams during those grueling book scouting years, but God knew all along the experiences I’d need to write the novels I’m writing today. It was all part of God’s plan for my life after all.



Don’t give up on the discouraging days, because they will come. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will succeed.” If you do, then you can’t fail. He’ll make sure you get where you need to be at just the right time.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post from author Nathan Foster: Church

A mutual friend suggested I check out Nathan Foster's Wisdom Chaser: Finding My Father at 14,000 Feet, a spiritual memoir about re-connecting with God and his father (also an author... Richard Foster). I asked Nathan if he would give us a guest post, and here's what he sent in. I enjoyed it a great deal, and I'm sure you will, too. In which case, be sure to check out Nathan's book.

It had been a rough night in the little cave I’d slept in. The ground was bumpy and angled at a slope. Last night the allure of sleeping in a rocky mountain cave seemed worth the inconvenience. But, I didn’t anticipate the hours would be filled with sleepy visions of a lost bear stumbling upon my borrowed patch of earth. I don’t think I’ll ever sleep in a cave again.

 It was a Sunday morning and all around the world countless faithful sheep were stumbling into sanctuaries, with worn hope and the fresh wounds of the week’s chaos. I thought of them as I knelt beside my little fire and brewed the morning coffee.

 It was just before dawn; all the forest creatures knew it. Some softly scurried about their morning activities trying not to disturb the quite hush of the approaching sunrise. Others lay waiting in anticipation.

The chorus always begins with that impatient bird that can no longer contain its enthusiasm and ignites the morning chirping. Little by little the whole choir of birds join in, welcoming a new day with harmonious procession, declaring with all the beauty they can muster from their tiny breath that the world is bathed in the joy and love of God.

All around me God’s great book of creation was being preached.

I gently listened to the poetic growl of a distant river that flowed all day and night, never taking a holiday off. It echoed God’s faithfulness.

I watched the trees dance in the breeze and I thought of the how important it is to be flexible if I’m to follow the ebbs and flows of the spirit.

I watched a spider race towards a recent catch in his web and I thought of the oppression and devastation that marks so many people’s daily lives.

I watched a newly sprouted flower and was reminded that beauty is everywhere if only I take the time to find it.

I listened for the rocks to cry out in praise, I didn’t hear anything. But I remembered the importance of being steadfast and solid in my gratitude; that my quality of life often hinges on being thankful for today’s breath and the people, things and insights that I have and don’t have.

The scurrying butterfly reminded me of the resilience, uniqueness and creativity of others.

And as a hawk submitted to the wind and majestically soared, I remembered the freedom I feel when we let go of trying to have my own way.

I studied the plants, grass and trees scattered about in a chaotic fashion and remembered that in the chaos of life, God remains in the business of making beautiful landscapes out of our messes.

And as my Sunday service concluded, I breathed the morning air, a symbol that every day is a new chance to begin again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Library Journal weighs in on Night of the Living Dead Christian

From Library Journal:
In the allegorical sequel to Imaginary Jesus, Mikalatos, the author and main character, discovers the monsters lurking within his neighborhood as he meets his neighbors and questions what makes a monster and what makes a Christian. From a late-night encounter with a mad scientist and his robotic henchman to a zombie stampede to meeting a werewolf, Matt’s self-contained world explodes as he tries to reconcile his theology with new knowledge. When the werewolf, Luther Martin, asks for Matt’s help in becoming Christian and shedding the monster within, Matt embarks on a quest to help his new friend regain his humanity before a rabid werewolf hunter destroys Luther. Their quest takes them to a church where the zombie followers have experienced a partial resurrection, caught up in the trappings of religion, with no free will. Then they visit another neighbor, a former vampire, who gives them hope the monster can be defeated but also warns that people don’t always recognize the monsters within.VERDICT C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters meets the current obsession with para­normal creatures in this thought-provoking quest for individual belief and truth within the framework of society as a whole. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book signing today!

If you happen to be in the Portland, Oregon area today, you're officially invited to the book release party for Night of the Living Dead Christian. I'll do a reading and short question and answer time, and will (of course) sign books! I've also got posters for the first forty people to buy books!

It's from 1-3 p.m. at the LifeWay Christian store in Beaverton, OR! Here's more information

Bring your friends!

Okay, fine, you can bring your enemies, too.

See you there!




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday: Four Wonderful Things

Today at Wonderful Wednesday, I am sharing four wonderful things with you. One is a gift for you to take advantage of and pass along to all your friends. One is a sort of geek test I stole off someone's facebook. And two are wonderful things from the internet sent to me by the intrepid internet spelunker, Nurse Shasta.

NUMERO UNO:
For a limited time, in celebration of my second novel, Night of the Living Dead Christian, you can get the IMAGINARY JESUS e-book FREE.

At Amazon!

At Barnes and Noble!

At Christian Book Distributors! 

You can also buy Night of the Living Dead Christian as an ebook at AmazonB and N, or CBD. You won't regret it.

And if you already love Imaginary Jesus, you'll also love the audio book. It's like a one-man play version of IJ, read by yours truly.



 NUMERO DOS:

 I hate to say it, but if you think this is funny without someone explaining it to you, you are an enormous Geek. I know that's a compliment these days, but it's true. I stole this from Greg Horton on Facebook.

 NUMERO TRES: 1

The goats of Morocco like to climb trees. To eat berries. Silly goats! Berries are for kids!

NUMERO QUATRO:

Cows. Do they love remote controlled cars or fear them? This hard-hitting investigative video will answer that question and more:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another Sighting of Night of the Living Dead Christian in the Wild!


If I am correct (and I believe I am), this is the first picture that has been sent in of Night of the Living Dead Christian on an e-reader. Courtesy of this lovely lady, Amie Campbell, sent from the Salt Lake City airport.


In other news, this dog seems to be making good headway through the book! His name is Banksy, and he's a King Charles Cavalier SpanielDogs love this book, because the main character is a werewolf. This picture was sent in by Adam "Just Some Guy" Sabados.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Awesome Rosh Hashana video

Rosh Hashana happened recently, and for those of you who missed it or don't know what it is or who have never seen awesome Israeli dancing and singing that teaches you about Jewish culture, watch this:

Guest Post from Author J. Mark Bertrand: The Straight Truth

To say that J. Mark Bertrand has range as a writer is a ridiculous understatement. He has written a non-fiction book about worldview, a romance novel and, my personal favorite, the first two books of a series of hard-boiled detective novels. I'm picky about my detective fiction. I only read a few (living) mystery authors: Connely, MacDonald, Rozan, P.D. James. And Bertrand. He's on my list now, one of those rare authors who has me scouring the internet for information about when the next book releases. I enjoyed J. Mark Bertrand's first book about detective Roland March, Back on Murder. I loved the second one, Pattern of Wounds. Here, Bertrand shares about something I love in his Roland March novels: why it's important to write fiction that reflects the world as it is, not the world as we wish it be. Enjoy the post, then go pick up one of Bertrand's books. You won't be disappointed. 


Authors sometimes write themselves into their fiction. In my first Roland March novel, Back on Murder, Detective March is assigned to investigate the apparent suicide of a fellow cop. On the dead man’s phone, he finds a low res photo of a nude woman. He thinks he recognizes her, despite the poor quality: she’s someone he has already interviewed, who seemed to be lying about her relationship to the deceased.

Now March faces a dilemma. This dead colleague was married, and March has already spoken to the distraught widow. She’s suffered enough without having her late husband’s infidelity coming to light. All he has to do to prevent that from happening is erase the photo. His thumb hovers over the button as he considers.
           

What would you do? Here’s March’s answer:

                        “I don’t have the whitewash gene. Part of me wants to cover for him -- not so much for his sake as for hers -- but I know deep down that the unvarnished truth is better than even a well-meaning deception. I’m not here to pretty things up, to give [the widow] or anyone else a reassuring vision of the world as she thinks it is. All I have to do is uncover the way things really are. I didn’t make them that way, and I don’t have the power to change them. Even if it’s tempting to think I do.”


The temptation to “pretty things up” isn’t exclusive to detectives. Writers feel it, too, particularly those of us working under the Christian fiction label. Some do it without thinking, as a matter of habit, while others are pressured into it. Pushing the button and making the objectionable truth disappear isn’t that hard, after all, and you can tell yourself it won’t make a difference to the quality of the story.


But as I said, some authors write themselves into their fiction, and I’m one of them. Like March, I don’t have the whitewash gene. I didn’t make the world the way it is, and I don’t have the power to make it different. My goal as a writer isn’t to reassure or to inspire. It’s simply to tell the truth.

The Revised English Bible translates Ecclesiastes 12.10 this way: “He chose his words to give pleasure, but what he wrote was straight truth.” If I had a life verse as a writer, that would be it, my twin ambitions being to give pleasure through well-crafted writing, while at the same time conveying a deep, even unsettling honesty.

When we succumb to the pressure to provide what March calls a “well-meaning deception,” often there are unintended consequences. Tidy and sentimental fictions don’t change our view of reality; they only undermine our confidence in the vision of those who see the world that way. What are they afraid of admitting? Can’t their philosophy stand up to the cold light of day? All those little deletions add up, and you find yourself laboring at a disadvantage. This is why Flannery O’Connor wouldn’t call her writing “Christian”:

                        “Unfortunately, the word Christian is no longer reliable. It has come to mean anyone with a golden heart. And a golden heart would be a positive interference in the writing of fiction.”

In Back on Murder, March learns a little bit about the unintended consequences of suppressing the truth. That photo he was tempted to delete? It’s not exactly what he supposes at first. The picture is part of a different story, a deeper layer he would never have discovered if he’d followed through on his impulse to censor.

I’ve discovered the same thing myself. The little truths we hide are often what keep us from finding the greater truths, the ones that are only found at the end of long and uncomfortable roads. 

.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Scalzi, Youth Worker's Journal and Near Emmaus....

Wow. Yesterday was a busy day for Night of the Living Dead Christian. Here are some cool links you should check out.

1) I did a guest post on John Scalzi's blog. If you don't know who John is, he's an amazing science fiction writer who is probably most famous for the book Old Man's War. It's good stuff. And his blog is consistently entertaining. To be honest, writing a post on his blog was a huge honor and I was geeking out over it for a while yesterday. Because I am a geek.

2) There's a short interview with yours truly up over at Youth Worker's Journal. Included as part of it is one of the "extras" in the back of NLDC... ARE YOU A MONSTER: A LAYMAN'S SELF-DIAGNOSIS GUIDE TO COMMON MONSTROSITIES. You should check it out. It's a lot of fun.

3) A great review of the book by Brian LePort at Near Emmaus. Brian just sent me some questions for an interview... he's quite good at this sort of thing. If you want to see a review from a guy who doesn't like fiction but loves theology, this is the one for you.

Don't forget to keep sending me pictures of you with Night of the Living Dead Christian, or when you see them at the store. I'll put them up here on the blog!

Riddle me This, Batman!

I mentioned that Marc Cortez, our guest poster for today, is a bit of a geek. As if to prove it, I found this video on his blog this morning:


Guest blog from Seminary Professor and Author, Marc Cortez: Life and Death: Twin Moons Circling the Same Planet


Today's guest post to celebrate Night of the Living Dead Christian comes from Marc Cortez, who runs my favorite blog on the internet. I am not exaggerating. Favorite blog. Internet. Marc has an amazing ability to be a deep thinker about theology (he is, after all, a seminary professor and can write books like Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed and Embodied Souls, Ensouled Bodies: An Exercise in Christological Anthropology and Its Significance for the Mind/Body Debate ) and simultaneously a guy with encyclopedic knowledge about all sorts of Geekery including science fiction novels and a surprisingly diverse number of television shows. You can feel comfortable asking Marc hard theological questions or bringing up the Godzilla vs. King Kong debate, and he can converse freely on either topic without meeting a beat. Marc has a real ability to bring balance and historical perspective to difficult theological questions in a way that is uncommon and much needed. You can connect with him on facebook and twitter, and if you enjoy this post, be sure to check out his series of posts related to a book he is writing about the gospel. For now, sit back and drink deeply of this post about Life, Death and Blood....

Hungry.

It’s been too long. I feel weak. Dizzy. Can’t think.

There. Down there. A woman. She’ll do. She has to.

Drop behind her. Cloak flapping in the wind. Didn’t make too much noise. Perfect. 

Grab her shoulder. Push her head to the side. Savor the smell. 

It’s time. Bite. Pierce the tender skin. Let the hot blood flow. Taste life. Feel it. 

My strength returns. My mind clears. For the first time in days, my cold flesh feels warm again.  I’m still dead. Nothing can change that. But, now I get to be dead for another day. She took care of that with her unwilling gift.  

Blood is life.
------------------------------
Everything was so good just a few seconds ago. The concert was amazing and I haven’t had a girls’ night out in so long. A quiet walk home under the full moon seemed like the perfect ending to a lovely, summer evening.

Now something has changed. I can’t pin it down, but it’s not right. I’ve got that tingling feeling on the back of my neck that you get when you think someone is staring at you. But, there’s no one here. I’m probably being irrational. Maybe I shouldn’t have walked home alone.

What’s that? It sounds like a flag flapping in a stiff breeze. That’s odd. There’s no wind.

Someone’s grabbed me! I have to struggle, fight, scream, get away, anything. But, I can’t. Something’s wrong. I’m getting weak, dizzy. I can’t think clearly. Everything’s fading. Where am I? What’s going on? What’s happening to me?

I'm on the ground. How did I get here? A few bright red drops hit the ground in front of my eyes. Blood? My blood? I must….

Blood is death.
---------------------------------
One substance, two very different results. Life and death. Twin moons circling the same planet.

That’s how the Bible views blood. On the one hand, blood is what keeps us alive and allows us to be what God intended. In Eden, God created blood, and it was good. But, sin and evil entered the world and shattered God’s good creation. And, blood came to mean something else. Still the source of life, it also became the symbol of death. 

You can see this most clearly in the biblical sacrifices. If you stop and think about it for a moment, sacrifices are weird. Imagine that you’re an Israelite and you’ve just sinned. What should you do? Why, go lop the head off some poor, innocent ram, of course. That’s a great system. At least it is for the human; I’m sure the ram sees things differently.

The point of the sacrifice, though, wasn’t to take out Israel’s problems on some innocent animal. That would be weird. No, the sacrifices demonstrated the devastating connection between sin and death. With clocklike regularity, the Israelites brought their animals to the priests and shed blood as a reminder of the fact that they lived east of Eden, in the brokenness of sin, in bondage to death. As Paul says later, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23). And, every time the Israelites brought forward their sin sacrifices, they reminded themselves of this truth.

At the same time, though, the blood brought a promise of life. Israel always knew that somehow it was only by shedding blood that forgiveness and life would be restored to God’s people. God promised he would forgive and cleanse his people when they brought their sacrifices to him. 

But why? What is the connection between blood and death on the one hand and the promise of forgiveness and life on the other? The Old Testament never says. The Israelites just take it on faith that God will be faithful and will do what he promises.

Then Jesus came.

And, we killed him, shedding his blood on the cross.

And the truth became clear.

We still see the dark side of blood. The betrayals, beatings, mockery, loneliness, pain, blood, and death. Could there be a clearer picture? The Messiah came, and we killed him.

But the blood of Christ means so much more. Jesus died so he could break the power of death. His death was not the pointless sacrifice of a tragic Shakespearean hero. It had purpose. Jesus died so that we might be reborn as those who have the gift of life.

Blood is death. Blood is life. On the cross, both are true.

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Come and drink. An invitation to vampires everywhere.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Doodling and why it should be encouraged, especially in meetings

As you probably guessed from the previous post, I enjoy art enough to doodle nonsensical things during meetings, but I'm not talented enough to do something of substance. Chris Dennis of Island Framery fame sent me this video, in which a Doodling Expert explains why Doodling Is The Best! Enjoy.

 

Night of the Living Dead Christian, ILLUSTRATED!

My acquisitions editor, Sarah Atkinson, made a big deal about the fact that she didn't get a signed copy of Imaginary Jesus right away when it came out. She complained SO MUCH and SO PUBLICLY that I had to do something with the new book to make her feel that she had received something special. I made her a version of NLDC that, in addition to being signed, was also heavily illustrated by yours truly. I'm not the best artist, but it does make for a unique edition of the book. Here are some of my favorite illustrations.

Werewolves are probably the
best monsters for cuddling.

Narrator and one of the main characters,
Chief Officer of the Neighborhood Watch,
MATT MIKALATOS.
Some of the characters from the book.
The werewolf I was drawing in the lower right
hand corner inexplicably became a cat.
Worst thing about being a werewolf:
getting the hair off your suits.

In my opinion, even children should be
taught how to kill monsters.


This one is titled "Hands Are Hard To Draw."
I like it when study Bibles have more content
in the footnotes than in the Bible itself.
Everything is derivative of Star Wars.

A picture of me with my cousin.





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