Monday, July 28, 2014

We Three Kings

We Three Kings

A few people have read Following Yonder Star. Well now that I'm working with Ellechor Publishing, we are changing the title to We Three Kings. I think it is a much better descriptive title, and it is quickly recognizable.

This could be considered historical fiction, although there is precious little that is known about the kings/wise men. I've kept true to the bible passage, and have relied on the earliest historical texts as best as possible. However, since we don't have a solid description of their history, we really don't know much about these mysterious men who visited the Son of Man.

My friends, the key message is one of sacrifice and dedication. A giving up of one's possessions to the true King; casting off that which glitters for that which truly matters; giving Christ your gifts versus hoarding them for yourself.

I will post updates as we go through the editing process. I think you will find this an exciting adventure that has a deep, moving message within.

*** We work so hard to find our own treasure, our own little trinkets and baubles. What if we we just as hard to give those treasures to others? ***

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wise Men, Magi, Kings... or something else?

Just who were the three kings? Were they really kings, or wise men, magi, or just some dudes in fancy clothes.

I use king and wise men interchangeably, because history has done so. If we look at Matthew, the term “magi” is used specifically; but our collective understanding of these men is that they were also regal. Thus, they are portrayed as rulers/kings of whatever lands they had left. 

Another reason to portray them as kings is because it is a wonderful symbol: Three earthly rulers handing over their riches to the true King of the world. Ancient texts portray them thus, but also highlight them as wise men or magi.

The term magi derives from the Old Persian word maguŝ and is related to the religious caste of Zoroaster. Magi refers to the priestly sect of Zoroastrianism, and these priests were particularly well-versed in astrology. Some scholars argue that the men were astronomers, not astrologers, a notion which I hold dearer; they were definitely not sorcerers. Ancient man was quick to judge the new and unusual in a darker light, and three men arriving from a thousand miles away might give one the impression that some sort of magic was involved. It is sad that the early church writers had to paint such a picture of the Three Kings; in my opinion, it cheapens the experience and makes them seem less than they were.

In the upcoming book We Three Kings—appearing November 2014 from Ellechor—these mysterious men come alive in an epic tale. They are real human beings, with foibles and faults. Though they are kings, they are humble rulers; men who are deeply spiritual and seek truth and knowledge in all that they do. Deeply spiritual men, they seek a greater truth, they wait for the Son of Man with patience: they are not agents of evil (as much as the early Church writer Origen wanted us to believe.) When they are gathered together on an evening, a fateful star bursts into being in the western sky.

The three kings follow the star: And that is all that matters.

These rulers unburden themselves of their possessions, their wealth, and power. They simply follow where the star leads.

If you saw such a star in the sky, would you follow? Our own “stars” do not necessarily require us to fight the devil, negotiate with evil emperors, or forsake our homes forever, but they do require a sacrifice. In order to follow what is good and right, in order to do the most good for humankind, we have to suffer a little.

Could you give up your iPhone? Your iPad? X-Box? Television? Could you send that latte money to a charity? How about giving up that reality TV show and work in a soup kitchen on Mondays?

Your star is out there—and though it was very obvious to the three kings, sometimes God isn't so obvious with us. But if we pause all of the devices, still the wild running of our minds, and listen: We can hear what we are being called to do.

No matter the time of year, I encourage everyone to find their star and follow it. It will require some effort to follow, but the rewards will be great (though they will not be monetary.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day

Since I wasn't online yesterday, I will share this today. For all who serve, or who have served, God Bless. Especially those near and dear to us.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The First Thunderstorm

I have been through many Midwestern winters, living in this so-called tropical paradise of MN. This year was a doozy, however. We had a record number of below-zero days, the frost line went down to almost six feet, and we had a crap-ton of snow that never melted.

There were some silver linings, however. The cold supposedly killed the ash borer, my igloo never melted, and I got in three years' worth of XC skiing in one winter.

But yesterday morning, my ears thrummed with the most wonderful sound of spring: Thunder. Sparks of lightning lit up the early sky; they bolted down from behind a gorgeous half-formed shelf cloud. The smell of ozone was thick in the air, and I suddenly felt myself again.

It reminded me of why I put up with -29F just a few weeks ago. And people call us crazy, but sometimes I feel like the man in the following anecdote:

A man is continually beating himself with a hammer. When asked why he keeps doing it, he responds:

Because it feels so good when I stop!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I've Signed on with Ellechor!

I've Signed on With Ellechor!

I've landed a deal with Ellechor, a Christian Publishing House, for the three kings' books, and two more books as yet to be titled... I'm thinking of "Echoes of the Nativity" or something like that for the theme. One does not have to read all books in order, but they do relate to one another.

It is a very exciting time!

"Following Yonder Star" will likely be renamed to "We Three Kings," since the next book is "The Legacy of the Fourth King." From there we'll have a story of Zaccheaus, and the fourth book is still being conceptualized.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Would Following Yonder Star be more popular if the wise men were zombies or vampires?

I’m sorry that I even went there, but as I took a walk this morning, I started thinking about what really appeals to the general public. We have:
·         Romance: twisted, sick, degenerate stuff like 50 Shades. Not the heart-warming tales of Nicholas Sparks; that stuff is fine.
·         Vampires: I never understood how one could romanticize creatures that never die, live off of human blood, and are basically the spawn of Satan. Read Brian Lumley some time if you want a clear line between Good vs. Evil when it comes to vampires. Lumley’s creations are most definitely evil and there is not a shred of anything redeemable in them.
·         Zombies: Again, why do slow-moving, crumbling, decaying entities grab us so? Is it because of Night of the Living Dead? That un-escapable nightmare where the monster catches you, no matter how fast your run, or how slow it moves?
And these types of books and movies top the charts!
“Hey, writer-man, I thought you just wrote for fun. You said this story wrote itself, so why do you care what sells!?”
That voice--a blend of family, friends, and my own conscience--has a valid point. And it’s true. After Epiphany Mass in 2012, I began drafting the journey of the wise men, and started my research. Their snippet in Matthew always left me hungry for more; so when I discovered that there wasn’t a whole lot of other information about these men, I crafted my own adventure. Of course I was careful to stick to the research that had been done, and to Matthew, but the rest was my own extended prayer for mankind. So, in a sense, this was just a story in my head that I wanted to tell.
But... the reaction I have received when I do signings (at stores, churches, etc.) is a humbling one. People actually enjoyed the story. They found it unique that these men were described as real human beings, that the reader could join in on the journey. I realize that I only touched a hundredth of a percent of potential readers, but it gives me hope that others will like this.
What if I made these guys into zombies or vampires? Hey, now there’s shock value, there’s appeal. I smell talk shows and lawsuits and a slew of negative press, followed by massive sales. There ya go, that’s the ticket! If only I sell my soul, I can make millions!
I believe the question is thus answered. It is a sad time in our society when we put more value into football, entertainment, and the Kardashians, than we do in working for the greater good. Instead of digesting books and media that uplift people, call us to reflection and prayer, or inspire us to help those less fortunate, we read about zombies, vampires, and deviant behavior. The media moguls have appealed to our animal instincts: And it works.
So this stuff sells, and people buy it. I’m not really here to pass moral judgment, just observe the phenomenon. Heck, I’m a guy who likes to watch a shoot-‘em-up movie over a tear-jerker any day. But I’m also one of those strange men who has the entire Golden Girls collection on DVD, I’d rather read old literature than anything modern, and I don’t like zombies.
“What are you talking about?!”
I don't know... I'm sorry, but this is turning into very long, late-April rant. We still have snow on the ground in MN. I shouldn’t be terribly upset that Following Yonder Star hasn’t overtaken 50 shades; besides, I don’t want that kind of publicity anyway. I just feel a little bit sad that society has gone the way it has. Zombies, vampires, and gross sex are the top-sellers. And, if I wanted to appeal to my own animal nature, I can be pretty sure that, were the three kings vampires, it would be at #1 by Christmas.
Instead, however, readers will have to take comfort in the story that it is: A spiritual journey, a story of friendship, dedication, faith, and love. It’s a reminder of what Christmas truly means, and that the Christmas spirit is not limited to the Macy’s/Target/Wal-Mart-designated holiday time frame.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cover Reveal!

The Legacy of the Fourth King will come out later this year. It is a short book, more like a novella, that supplements the story Following Yonder Star. Most everyone is aware of the Three Kings, so reading Legacy has no prerequisites... it's just a fun story about a possible fourth wise man.

I am loving the new cover, developed by Karri Klawiter (