Friday, July 29, 2011

JEWEL OF PERSIA--A Book Review


Today it's a real pleasure to review the latest release of my writing peer, and publisher, Roseanna White.

One of the many things I like about WhiteFire is they publish books that some would call edgy Christian fiction--I prefer the term, realistic.

The wrong things happen in life, and that's why we need the Savior. But in WhiteFire Publishing, while these issues happen within the story, the story must always point back to the need for Jesus Christ to wash away our sins. That's what happens within the pages of Jewel of Persia which I rated 5 stars.

Jewel of Persia is a glowing example of wonderful writing combined with a fascinating historical era and mesmerizing characters. But the author took me for a romantic spin I never expected with this story set just prior to the reign of Esther, the little Jewish Queen.

I was prepared for an epic tale set within the rich tapestry of a Biblical setting, the elegant and sophisticated kingdom of Xerxes, King of Persia. And this book fulfilled all its promises. At times the exploits of Xerxes reminded me of scenes I’d seen in the movies 300 and Troy.

What I wasn’t prepared for, and absolutely delighted by, was the tender monogamous-type love between King Xerxes and his favourite concubine, Kasia.

The last thing Kasia wanted growing up as a young Jewish girl in Susa was to be concubine to the richest and most influential man in the world, especially when she could never be his wife or Queen, but only a concubine among hundreds of wives and concubines.

The author painted the scenes of the wives’ palace with such detail that this social phenomenon of past ruler’s having hundreds of wives enthralled me.

But unexpected love can come to the ‘king of kings’, and to a lowly Jewish girl when they meet on the banks of the river like two ordinary people.

That tender, sensuous love carries the reader through much heartache with Kasia and Xerxes. And the king is seen to be a man who needs the wisdom of a good wife. Xerxes relies on Kasia to shape decisions that will shape the world. It is an ordinary Jewish girl who teaches the king of kings about the Lord of Lords, paving the way for Esther and her crown.


Drop by Roseanna White's web page to say hi, click here on Roseanna White.

Friday, July 22, 2011

GOD KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING

Being a writer in pursuit of a writing ministry is in my opinion one of the most effective ways the Lord has of shaping a character.

The writer’s character this is.

It’s not so much in the hearing of the call, because God already wired writers to be intuitive. They usually respond to that urging of the Holy Spirit and start to put words on paper pretty young.

And it's not even the sacrificial efforts that go into learning the craft, buying the writing books, because writers enjoy learning how to write.

What shapes a writer---or perhaps any creative person's character---is in learning how to accept rejections, failure, lack of success.

In Prov. 27:17, it says “as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another”. The writer’s character is then refined by the willingness to accept hard critiques on their work. Granted most critiques are given in tough love, but for some it’s hard to accept those suggestions or opinions about their work.

Critiques like iron chip away at pride, and force the writer to accept that someone else knows a bit more than they do, paving the way for that writer to yield more and more to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

The rejections of your query letters, later of your manuscript can chip away at that pride. But if that writer is listening to the Lord, they will simultaneously hear His Spirit, saying, “Keep on going. I am rooting for you.” And faith is forced to grow.

It’s not easy to pursue a ministry in Christian Fiction. Many of us sometimes wish the call to write had never come, because there is so little in the way of payment for those long, long hours, years of writing.

But we keep on because we feel the Spirit encourage us in spite of the disappointments, the unmet dreams.

This summer I was encouraged through a prayer that at first seemed unanswered. The prayer had nothing to do with my writing career but my son’s college career.

Rob returned from Briercrest College at the end of April, and we’d been praying all the academic year that he’d get a good job this summer.

The end of May came and still no job. But his knee had been bothering him from a school event months earlier. Our family doctor confirmed there was something wrong and set him to a specialist. We dreaded that appointment because if our son needed knee surgery this could mean a date in the middle of the school year, causing him to postpone his graduating year.

On May 30 we went to the surgeon’s office, and were amazed that he could have a surgery date of July 12, which would give him enough weeks to recuperate before returning to school.

Looking back we could see that the Lord had a perfect plan all along. He didn’t get the job we’d prayed for, but the Lord knew exactly what our son needed this summer.

It’s the same with the writing career. Our prayers are not necessarily answered the way we expect them. But if God has called you to write about Him, then in due time, He’ll arrange the details.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Friday, July 01, 2011

PANDITA RAMABAI---A true-life heroine


It's about time I shared why the Mukti Mission in India inspires me and features so much in my first two books Shadowed in Silk and Captured by Moonlight. It is the real-life woman, Pandita Ramabai, that is the inspiration behind one of my secondary---but oh so integral---characters, Miriam, in Shadowed in Silk. My fictional Miriam is a tiny 50-year-old Indian woman, a former Hindu widow who turned to Christ.

In Shadowed in Silk Miriam goes about rescuing abused and abandoned women and children as well as running a small clinic and orphanage. It is there that Miriam teaches my heroine Abby that God does not wish His daughters to submit to cruelty within their marriages.

The real heroine, Pandita Ramabai, an Indian woman who died in 1922, did so much for women and children in India that England awarded her the Kaisar-I-Hind Gold Medal. India has since issued a commemorative stamp in Ramabai’s honor, and she was given the honorary acclaim of ‘Pandita’ in Hindu tradition, meaning ‘learned master’. This Indian woman is the equivalent to Mother Theresa.

Born into a high caste Hindu family, Ramabai’s father broke with tradition and taught her to read. She memorized enormous amounts of the Hindu scriptures. But this was only the beginning of my heroine’s search for enlightenment.

As a family they walked the length of India. During this time Ramabai’s eyes were opened to the incredible suffering of Indian women and children, especially the way Hindu widows are cast out to live in abject poverty, or children were sold as sex slaves to Hindu temples.

After her parents and siblings died, Ramabai also broke with tradition and married a lawyer of a lower Hindu caste, but he died of a cholera leaving her alone with a tiny daughter.

One day, looking through her husband's papers she found a Bible, and found fulfillment to her spiritual search in the person of Jesus Christ. But Ramabai didn’t just add Jesus to a list of Hindu gods to worship. She came to the realization that Jesus is the only way to God the Father. As a child her heart had ached for her Indian sisters, but her new found faith in Christ gave her the strength to do something about it.

To name just a few of Ramabai's accomplishments---she translated the Bible into her local language, started the first Braille School, promoted the need for female medical doctors, and was the founder of the Ramabai Mukti Mission, a home for sexually abused Hindu widows and children. The Mukti Mission is still in existence today, and continues to rescue women and children. Even today, a baby girl can be put to death, simply because her parents did not want a daughter.

Ramabai was a great social reformer in India long before Gandhi, and such an inspiration behind Shadowed in Silk. I look forward to Heaven one day when I'll be able to meet this true-life heroine---this strong and beautiful Indian woman.

I am so inspired by this woman that I had to feature the real person in the background of my second book Captured by Moonlight