Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Having Darth Vader as your dad must be really hard

Someone recently posted 66 behind the scenes photos from Empire Strikes Back, and I was so charmed  by this picture showing the mattresses beneath Luke Skywalker that I had to attach the correct dialogue.

Which also reminded me of Star Wars: Darth Vader and Son.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What single people wish married people knew

My friend Kate Hurley is the author of  Getting Naked Later: A Guide for the Fully Clothed
a humorous and touching book about being a single Christian. I invited Kate to share some content from her book here at BHR, I thought some of you might be interested. You can buy the book here or on Amazon and connect with Kate on her blog or go check out her music here (yes, she's also a musician). Enjoy the post!

My friend Jess is a beautiful, single blonde girl who has been a missionary in Italy for 10 years and is the same age as me. One day, an Italian woman, let’s call her Mamma Carmen, came up to her with a little charm necklace that had a picture of a saint on it.

“What’s this?” asked Jess.

(Cue in accent of Italian mama who doesn’t speak much English)

“A necklace for you. A picture of Saint Anthony. “

“Who is Saint Anthony?”

“Is-a- the patron saint of lost-a things.”

“And what have I lost, Mama Carmen?”

“Oh, you know sveetie. “

“No I don’t know. What is that I have lost?”

“You lost-a your husband.”

“Mama Carmen, isn’t that usually the saint you pray to for a lost sock or car keys-things like that?”

“Yes, but not for you. For you, pray to him for husband. More important than sock.”

Mama Carmen’s Formula:

Lost Husband + Praying to Patron Saint of Lost Things + Ten Hail Marys= 1 wedding, 5 socks, 2 spoons, and 1 bracelet you thought you gave to your friend Jill.

I had my own formula concocting conversation with a ministry leader of mine a few years back. Let’s call her Emily. The conversation looked like this:

“Kate, do you remember our babysitter Joann? Well, she went through a season of really struggling with being single like you are going through. She cried and battled and finally brought her burden to the Lord. She let go.

Two weeks later, she met her husband. And he looks just like Ryan Gosling.

I said, “Emily, I am really happy for Joann.  But she is twenty freaking years old.”

“So? What does that have to do with anything?”

I respected and loved this leader, but I just couldn’t brush the comment off this time.

I said “I have had a decade longer than her of wrestling with God over this issue. In all my wrestling, I have had several seasons where I have been content as a single person, embracing the thought of God as my husband. But often, those seasons fade, and I’m struggling again. It is a cycle that happens.  I don’t think God laughs at my cycles of frustration. I think he understands. I think he wants to meet me there. “

Emily continued to argue with me, saying that I just needed to let go, insinuating that it was my own fault that I was still single.

I said, “Em, please understand me here. If you had a friend who was not getting pregnant or who was having multiple miscarriages, someone who had been struggling with barrenness for ten years, would you say to her ‘If you just trusted the Lord more with your barrenness, he would give you a baby?’ You would never say that! You recognize how much she is mourning that loss, and so you careful with her words. You don’t want to hurt her even more by making her feel like it might be her own fault.
Well at times, I feel barren. Not only barren in my childbearing, but barren as a lover as well. I don’t have children or a husband, and so I really have no immediate blood family. Please, please, be sensitive to this barrenness in me. Please don’t tell me that I have done something wrong in not letting go, and the result of that shortcoming is my barrenness.”

I know that sounds pretty heavy, but it is how many of us feel at times.

In the very thick book of popular theology that is not actually in the Bible, a book I like to call First Assumptions we have this formula:

Not letting go=being single.

Letting go= being married.

Most singles I have talked to have had this formula given to them in one way or another. Many of them dozens of times. Almost every time I mention writing my book on singleness, single people give me some kind of version of this story.

Most of us, when we first heard this formula as a young person, grabbed our journal and bible and went to a quiet place. We turned our sweet young faces to heaven with tears in our eyes and said “Lord, I let go. I give my husband to you.”

Do you know why we were saying this? Because we wanted a husband. And according to the formula, if you wanted a husband, you had to let go of him first. So we were letting go of him in order to get him.

Quite ironic, isn’t it?

But as years passed, when that formula didn’t work, we started cringing when someone told us we just needed to let go. We couldn’t put our finger on why it irked something deep inside of us, but it did.
I have a theory about why it frustrates us so much. At the root of this formula is the idea that all single people have done something wrong and all married people have done something right. Married people, I know you probably never meant to make us feel that way, but it is the nature of that formula.

It kind of reminds me of the story of Job. Here is the formula we can get out of his story:
Tragically losing everything+wife that is pissed+hideous boils all over your body+annoying friends telling you that you must have done something wrong to deserve this+being totally frustrated+God’s booming voice telling us humans that we don’t know as much as we think we do and that he doesn’t fit in our formulas and boxes+ praising God even through horrible circumstances and singing “Blessed Be Your Name”= even more stuff than you had before.

Sound familiar? That story is one of the oldest in the bible. One of it’s lessons? Don’t make formulas. Meet him, wrestle with him, praise him even when you don’t understand, but never, ever, put him in a box.

As Donald Miller said, “As much as we want to believe we can fix out lives in about as many steps as it takes to make a peanut-butter sandwich, I don’t believe we can.”

My married friend Becca explained to me that married people don’t often have bad motives in their formula making. She said that when human beings don’t understand something, they make formulas. They want to feel like they are giving their friend some control over the situation. They even make their own life journeys into formulas. Sometimes we singles cling to the formulas given to us because we want some control over the situation as well.

I really appreciate that we had this conversation because it reminded me that married people are not the enemy. They love us.

But out of love, I want our married friends to understand why these formulas are so hard for us to hear.
These formulas makes us feel like our being single has nothing to do with God’s will or our choices or the enemy or any other theory you have on why hard things happen.

It has to do with our lack.

We already struggle with feeling like we lack when we wonder why we haven’t been chosen. Please don’t cut that wound deeper.

This formula also makes us feel like our not being married has to do with our relationship with the Lord, which evidently is wanting.

For most of us, our relationship with the Lord is the most sacred one that we have. Please, please, don’t criticize that relationship as well. Don’t tear down the one relationship where we feel loved and accepted. Even if you mean well, just don’t do it.

I think a good rule of thumb for both parties is to do less formula making and pat- answering and do more listening. Listening to what the Lord has to say, and listening to each others’ journeys with compassion.

Restrain yourselves from formulas. But don’t restrain yourselves from giving each other a hug. We probably both need one.

Be encouraged that we all have our own journey, and that all of our journeys our valid.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fans: crazy geek wedding pictures, the man who built the BatCave and bronies unite!

This week on STORYMEN we talk about fans.  (You can listen here or download on iTunes.)

You know what I mean.

Guys who will build the Batcave in their basement.

Or paint My Little Ponies on their cars.

His name is Rave. Rave Crocker. Link.

Or get married while dressed like super heroes.

Extra points to Robin for claiming to be
"the best man." Batman must be mad!

Or Star Wars characters.

I'd like to see an Admiral Ackbar/Yoda wedding though.

Or Star Trek characters.

Did the Borg just give someone away?
That seems unlike them.

Or get the geekiest tattoo ever.

Can you name the three geeky
references in this tattoo?
Maybe you're raising your kids to be geeks.

You mean I'm going to be a baby for
hundreds of years? Being an elf is the worst!
Just remember: There's always someone geekier than you.

Okay, prove me wrong: what's your geekiest story? Or give me a link to something TRULY geeky. Did I miss your favorite Geek World (I'm looking at you Potter fans)... tell me about it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

An unexpected animal knocking on the front door.

My friend Shasta allowed me to have this video of a squirrel knocking on her front door. There was the sound of strange scrambling on the screen door and this is what could be seen through the peephole:

Strangely, the squirrel did not come in for coffee, as one might expect:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New MAN OF STEEL trailer is live. NEAT!

AHHHHH! I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much!

But this trailer looks pretty great.

What do you think? Who's in?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

You are more beautiful than you think you are

I admit it. I teared up a little during this video.

Win four YA "Riders of the Apocalypse" books from author @jackiemorsekess on the new STORYMEN!

This week on the Storymen we have Jackie Kessler with us, talking about her YA series about the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The books are Hunger, Rage, Loss and Breath, with the last book, Breath, releasing today! It's a fun premise: Death recruits teenage kids to take on the roles of Famine, Pestilence and War.

Jackie was a great guest on the show, which you can listen to here, or subscribe on iTunes.

YOU CAN WIN JACKIE'S BOOKS (all four of them) by leaving a comment here or here, or by sending others to visit the post via Facebook or Twitter (just leave us a comment letting us know you did so!).

Monday, April 15, 2013

Unidentified Funny Objects 2 is on Kickstarter! Throw a couple bucks at it and get some swag! @AShvartsman

You may recall that this last year I had a story in the speculative fiction comedy anthology known as UNIDENTIFIED FUNNY OBJECTS! My story was about a down-on-his-luck vampire who hunted vampire hunters and also accidentally a zombear. There were also stories by much bigger names in the spec fic world, like Mike Resnick, Ken Liu and Jake Kerr.

Well, the merry crew of UFO are reuniting to do another anthology this year, and they're raising money now through Kickstarter. If you enjoy speculative fiction or comedy or my writing, now is an excellent time to kick some money toward UFO. And remember, you get rewards for your support... books, dinner with the editor, writing classes, things like that.

I don't (yet) have a story in UFO 2 but I'm writing one right now that I hope will make the cut. I've laughed out loud while writing it, and that's a good sign. I won't give anything away other than to say it's a sequel to last year's story and that (sadly) the zombear does not make a reappearance.

Go check out the UFO 2 Kickstarter here!

This should make your Tax Day happier

I tried to think of something interesting or funny to say about taxes. I stayed up late last night doing our taxes, which is my annual tradition, except for the one year that I got a six month extension and then stayed up late the night before my NEW due date doing my taxes. For some reason this year several people kept asking me if I had done my taxes, and I kept thinking, "They're not even due yet!" But now they are due and they are done. Hooray!

In the absence of anything clever or witty or deep to say, I shall instead share with you this clever, witty deep comic about taxes. Like so:


This comic comes from here.

You may now leave comments with your own tax day observations.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sharks. Why did it have to be sharks?

There is some mild language in this video, in which a shark tries to eat a fish off the fishing line of A MAN IN A KAYAK. I would have run across the water to that island in the background.

Just a reminder, my fear-of-animals list goes:

1. Sharks.

 2. Wolves.

 3. Sharks again.

 All other animals are fine by me. Although cobras could disappear from the earth without too much sadness on my part.

How about you? What's your animal fear chart look like?

via Neatorama

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Awesome fan art for "The Sword of Six Worlds"

I got a fun e-mail surprise from a gentleman named David Larson, who sent me the picture below of Validus and Alex, the two main characters in The Sword of Six Worlds.

Validus is holding the sword from the title, of course, and David has even matched Val's clothes with the ones she's wearing on the cover of the book! I love that Alex is playing with a rock, because not only does he start out the novel throwing rocks at Val's window, he's also (SPOILER) a rock mage and can talk to and control rocks.

If you love The Sword of Six Worlds , there are some things you can do to get the word out to others, too! Do some fan art! Or you can post a review of the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Good Reads. Buy a copy for a friend or school teacher, or just link to it from your blog or Facebook or Twitter.

 I would LOVE to get more fan art, from adults or kids, and would gladly post them here. Thanks, David!

How to get published: insights from me and author Clay Morgan #writing #amwriting

As you all know, I have three professionally published novels out there in the world, with two non-fiction books on the way and hopefully more fiction, too. Clay Morgan has a non-fiction book out there, too, and I can't spill the beans on his other projects but there are more books on the way, I'm sure.

We get asked ALL THE TIME, "How can I get published?" So we decided, along with our compadre JR. Forasteros, to share our journeys to publication along with some tips and hints we've picked up along the way.

You can listen to the podcast or watch the conversation on YouTube here. You can, of course, also subscribe to the show via iTunes if you prefer.

If you have more questions after listening to the show, please let us know. We'd love to do another show answering your questions!

So: any questions about how to get published? About writing or the writer's life? About our secret projects which cannot yet be revealed?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Finally! A flying car for the middle class.

This is a concept car, which means no guarantee that it will ever come into being. But I'm pretty sure it will. Not much trunk space, though. That will be the next one.

For those who don't speak Chinese, the old couple driving the car are the bald guy's parents. And they are very proud of their clever son.

More Wonderful Wednesday here.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

How to tell when someone is lying to you.

Here's a fascinating talk about physical and physiological "tells" for when people are lying.

Monday, April 08, 2013

That looks suspiciously like a... book contract! Two new books coming from yours truly.

Why, as a matter of fact, it is a book contract. I'll announce more details shortly, but you should be preparing yourself for another spiritual book no later than the summer of 2014. And ANOTHER ONE in the summer of 2015. Make some room on your bookshelf. Or in your digital library.

As you can see, these two books will be coming to you from Baker Books. I'm excited to be working with the folks at Baker... they seem intelligent, fun and are trying new and interesting things.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Short films to encourage spiritual conversations, and a chance to win an iPad Mini

My friends at the Global Short Film Network are holding a contest right now to encourage people to use short films to have spiritual conversations. I asked my friend Joe Poe to send us a brief introduction to the contest and the Short Film Network. Here it is below!
In this fast-paced, ever changing culture, people are engaging their friends with new forms of technology daily. Communication and technology are intertwined in a way that has become a natural mode of conversation. Global Short Film Network provides a tool for our culture in the form of short films. We believe that the power of story, told through films, connects with the heart and provides the pathway for the gospel to be heard.

Now till the end of April, Global Short Film Network is hosting a contest to showcase using short films as a tool that connects a person’s story to the spiritual issues within the film. By doing so you have a chance to win an iPad mini. To enter, we are asking people to share a series of short films from our website to a group of friends, peers, co-workers, etc. Each film comes with discussion questions that provide deeper discussion. If you are having trouble brainstorming ways to share short films to multiple people, here is an Outreach Guide to help get you started.

Everyone is entered to win by simply filling out the submissions page on our contest website. For a complete list of rules on how to enter, please visit www.gsfncontest.com

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

A great post about the power of editing to make your short fiction stronger

I guess it's writing week here at BHR. Today my guest post at the Writer's Digest blog of Chuck Sambuchino went live (4 ways to build healthy relationships with your readers), and this weekend I'll be teaching a couple of seminars at a local Portland writer's conference!

Today I'd like to share a great post about editing. I was talking this week with my friend JR. about editing, and how one of the greatest advantages of being a published author is the fact of professional editors. Without question, all my editors have made my work stronger before sending it out into the cold, harsh world. In fact, I recall my editor on Imaginary Jesus saying, "If you don't change this chapter you will need a bodyguard for the rest of your life and I hope you're okay with that." I changed it.

I have this friend named Jake Kerr (okay, full disclosure here... I consider Jake a friend, but we've only had a few online interactions. He might very well think of me as a stalker. But I'd just like Jake to know I'm the sort of stalker that will loan him 20 bucks). Jake and I were both in the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology, and his story was my dad's favorite in the bunch. Jake writes deep, emotionally resonant science fiction stories, and his story The Old Equations was nominated for a Nebula last year.

Jake wrote an article explaining the back story of The Old Equations, revealing some of the hard work that went on behind the scenes after the story was "done" and had, in fact, been accepted for publication. It's a great article, with plenty of interesting insights into writing short fiction, professionalism as both author and editor, and the necessity of getting science right in science fiction.

Here's a second article that shows Jake working back and forth with his editor, John Joseph Adams, on a story called Requiem in the Key of Prose, complete with pdfs of the different versions.

If you'd like to read some more of Jake's work, you can check out his recently published short story, Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince, which takes the form of a wikipedia entry about a fictitious person. And it's beautiful, moving and makes you want to enter into that world to read more. Or you can check out his recent post about why he writes. Or, if you need something shorter you can always follow Jake on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Failure, Creativity and the Gospel

I've been writing a short series of articles for Cru staff on creativity and the gospel. I posted the first one here (Creativity, Limitations and the Gospel) and since you can't see it on the Cru staff web unless you're on staff with Cru, I thought I'd share the second one here as well: Creativity, Failure and the Gospel. Enjoy.

Artist Derek Holzer says, "I consider it axiomatic that, for any art work to be considered experimental, the possibility of failure must be built into its process."

If we don't fail – if failing isn't even a possibility – then we aren't trying hard enough. We're not innovating. We're not doing anything new. We're static.

After 9/11, increasingly unpredictable situations in the field meant the U.S. military needed more adaptive soldiers. Col. Casey Haskins, who was, at that time, the head of military instruction at West Point, explained the shift that was made in their educational approach, "You had to make it cool to fail."

Here are 3 ways failure helps us to become better ministers of the gospel:

1. Failure teaches us.

I know not to put a hot pan on a plastic tablecloth because I once ruined a pan, a tablecloth and my dinner. That’s also how I learned to check my jeans for my wallet before washing it. And, immediately afterward, how I learned not to "dry my wallet" in the microwave. Failure gives us a visceral lesson that's stronger than memorized guidelines. Failure in sharing the gospel teaches us what works and what doesn't.

2. Failure redirects us.

I visited a team once that believed that "the Gospel didn't work" where they ministered. They had built a decent ministry by collecting believers in their area. I asked how they were attempting to share the gospel and the simple answer is that they were not … they were afraid that failure would drive away the "faithful." With a little encouragement the team agreed to try to share the gospel. Many of their attempts failed (the gospel was unclear to some who heard), but some worked. And they began to incorporate the gospel into their ministry. Someone even came to Christ through (gasp) a religious tract.
Sometimes we settle for "what works" in ministry. This leads to stagnation. This is the same as saying, "This is successful and I don't want to fail by trying something new." Don't (only) do "what works" – be constantly on the lookout for improvement and "what works better."

3. Failure gives us something to laugh about.

I shared Christ with a cult leader once using a survey I had invented. He backed me into a corner and shared his own version of things without him ever hearing the true gospel. I have friends who handed out cigarettes to anyone who would come to their church services. Failure makes us laugh, reminds us that we are human and that it's not our technique or skills that draw people to Christ, but the power of God. If we refuse to fail, we take ourselves too seriously. We think too highly of ourselves.

Exercises in Failure:

  1. Have a "fail week" where your team sets out to share the gospel in a way that they don't think will work – knocking on doors, street preaching, 4 Laws via Twitter, whatever. At the end of the week share your stories. What did you learn? What is of value in this technique? How could you make it better?
  2. Take your favorite hobby and use it to share the gospel with at least 20 people.
  3. As a team, share your greatest gospel-attempt failures (encourage one another – have a laugh, tell each other what a great attempt it was). What lessons can you learn from one another?
  4. Take those failures from #3 and try them again. Modify them or make them better if you like.

Monday, April 01, 2013

An artist with nerve damage in his hand couldn't draw a straight line: thoughts on limitations and creativity

I wrote recently about Creativity, Limitations and the Gospel. Here's a great talk by an artist who has nerve damage in his hand and can't draw a straight line. He uses that limitation to inform his art rather than limit it:

Via Mur Lafferty.