Winner of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award for Dauntless!!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Valiant Heroine - Ashley's War

One of the things I want to use this blog for is to honor real life Valiant Heroines. Recently I heard the story of Ashley, a young soldier who was recruited for a top-secret all female unit who could get into a place no males could--namely the world of Afghani women. The petite, blonde Ashley gave her life serving her country, and I hope her legacy of bravery, excellence, and service will be long remembered!


If you would like to read Ashley's full story, you can purchase her biography here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Getting My Medieval On

So yeah, I had some fun on Mother's Day this year. First I recorded this excerpt from Dauntless and then proceeded to take some pictures in my new medieval get-up. I'll be wearing the gown this week at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for their genre night. Enjoy!!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Body Image - It's All About that Health

Arguments over body image, body positivity, and even body shaming have been all over the media lately. Personally, I don't have a big problem with Megan Trainor's curvy girl cry of empowerment. Sure, it's a little out of balance, and it focuses on some of the wrong issues, but clearly it has struck a chord with our culture.

These girls all look pretty fit and healthy to me!
On the other hand, I must confess, I think sometimes people go too far, because let's face it, being overly fat is not healthy.

To me that's the real issue. Health. A certain body shape becomes the latest trend, and girls are willing to go to unhealthy lengths to try to achieve that supposed ideal, whether it means starvation or plastic surgery. And that is not okay. For that reason, we all need to learn body positivity and to love ourselves for who we are on the inside.

But if you constantly stuff your face with big macs, fries, sugary sodas, and hostess cakes, and end up falling into the obese weight category with unhealthy side effects like high cholesterol, high blood pressures, or diabetes--please don't try to tell me that God made you that way and it's beautiful. You know what I mean? It's no more beautiful than the girl who takes laxatives and starves herself to try to be a size 0.

Here's what I think. One, gluttony is a sin. Two, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Those issues should guide all we do concerning our bodies, and health should come first. 

If God made you with tiny bones and a high metabolism, then rock your skinny look and be happy. If He made you with big bones and curves, then rock that look and be happy. If He made you kind of squarish and athletic, then rock that too. It's when we try to look like someone else, or ignore basic health issues, that we get ourselves in trouble. For example, I had to accept that while I was basically tall and thin, I would never have model proportions without starving myself. So I gave up my modeling aspirations and learned to be happy with myself.

The truth is, you might be skinny and be perfectly healthy, but you might be destroying your body by starving it from nutrients, by overstrenuous exercise, or even by an eating disorder. Or you might be skinny but gorging on junk food and lazing on the couch. You might be on the heavy side but eat healthy and exercise regularly. Or you might be on the heavy side while eating horribly, being sedate, or even while having bulimia. In the meantime many athletes and performers, who we might assume to be in the ultimate health, are destroying their bodies in their quest for perfection.

No one really knows. And for that reason we do need to stop the body shaming and learn to love ourselves as well as a wide variety of others. But I think we can do that without accepting poor health habits. Here's what we should all be doing, no matter our body type.

1) Eat a balanced, moderate, mostly natural diet.
2) Exercise regularly, but not excessively or destructively.
3) Take good care of your body and put your health first.
4) Accept and love the person God has made you to be.

Let's be women of valor, even in how we think about our bodies. In the end, it shouldn't actually be about your body at all. Your body is just a temporary shell for the real you. It should be about pleasing God and living a holy lifestyle. You don't need for every guy to be lusting after your perfect shape. You just need for one right guy to find you beautiful in his eyes. And that right guy will care far more about your physical and emotional well-being than about the specifics of your form. Most of all remember, God loves you no matter what, even when you're unhealthy, even when you mess up. But He wants the best for you. He wants you to prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.

And so do I!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Thoughts on Thievery and Civil Disobedience

Stories in our nation's headlines today often bring up the important subject of civil disobedience. Is there ever a time when we should disobey the law, and if so, how far should we go? This is an important question that we all need to ask ourselves, and this is a major theme in young adult literature.

While writing Dauntless, I faced the daunting challenge of writing about Robin Hood style stealing from the rich and giving to the poor in a Christian novel. It was a hard balance to strike. Some reviewers have mentioned that they wished I had included more exciting Robin Hood style raids, while a few others felt the thievery was just wrong and shouldn't have been included in the book at all.

But allow me to go back to the issue that both of those groups seem to have missed. Civil Disobedience. I didn't want to have my thieves just glibbly stealing for stealing's sake. If they had done that, I would have had to have included a big cheesy "all-the-Robin-Hood-thieves-repent" style scene, and that wasn't what I wanted. They were living during the time of a corrupt government, and the king wanted every single one of them dead. So they thought of themselves as government dissidents, a warring tribe if you will, and they did what they had to do to survive.

You know, I think it is within the realm of possibility that during the lifetime of teens reading this book, it might become illegal to be a Christian in this country. Stop. Think about that. Did I get your attention? During our children's lifetimes, or maybe even our own, it could become illegal to be a born-again, Bible-believing Christian. Sure, maybe we would be raptured out before things got that bad, but maybe not. It's already that bad in many countries today, so I think that's a naive assumption to make. One last time, it could conceivably become illegal someday to be a Christian, and in some countries it already is.

And if and when that happens, what would you do? According to the reviews against thievery and civil disobedience that I read, I would have to assume that some of you would take the pacifist route and be thrown in prison or even killed. I'm not saying that's wrong. There is certainly an honor and a humility in that. But others would fight. They would hide out. They would form dissident groups. And those groups would be illegal. And every resource they allocate would be considered by the government to be stolen. Every bite of food they put in their children's mouths would be "stolen," because they wouldn't have any "legal" right to it.

That's the position Merry and her band found themselves in in Dauntless. And after giving the issue much thought, I decided that it is important for our teens to struggle through this concept of civil disobedience, no matter what they might decide about it. And my characters also struggled through those places where they took their thievery too far and became too casual with it. Of course I could have just not written a Robin Hood book at all, but I don't regret taking on this fun, yet daunting, challege.

Personally, I'm thankful for the popularity of dystopian novels right now with their focus on civil disobedience. Because of them, we are raising up a generation of children who will not easily be lured into government oppression. And in Dauntless I have created a historical dystopia through which I was able to add my voice to this important theme.