Sunday, October 18, 2009

GENTLEMEN'S CONSPIRACY--Interview of author Nick Daniels

It's a refreshing change this week that I interview a male author, Nick Daniels. Nick's first book 'The Gentlemen's Conspiracy' was just released. In the interview below, Nick tells us about himself and his calling to write Christian fiction. Having lived in various parts of the globe, Nick has a fresh grasp on cultures outside of North America. This comes through in Nick's characters. Each nuance in voice, accent, and mannerism is vividly drawn in his writing. So I hope you'll read my interview of Nick below, and also check out his website.

But now let me tell you about 'The Gentlemen's Conspiracy'. When Nick first sent me a copy of his novel to review, I was afraid I'd find the male viewpoint not soft or romantic enough. How wrong I was. The story is set in London in the early eighteen hundreds and is evocative of that era. While the hero of the story, Daniel Young, pursues the murderer of his best friend, he fears losing the love of his life, Susan. There are plenty of tender scenes set in this mystery, but a mystery with a twist. The hero has discovered a secret society that is threatening his life and that of his beloved Susan. But is this secret society bent only on the overthrow of the British monarchy, or is there something even greater at stake? Is this secret society committed to destroying the Christian faith with subversive philosophies in the area of Geology? The hero must ask, "How old is the world really? And can we believe the Bible?"

As the author, Nick Daniel's has used all his skills as a scientific journalist to weave this fascinating tale, with danger, mystery and love at every twist and turn. At times I found the scientific terms a bit of a challenge, but they were so deftly woven in that they did not shake me out of the story. This book may not be for every women, but those who like something that will tease their mind with possibilities, and want something more than romance will enjoy this book. It may also be something they would give to the male members of their family. I highly recommend it.

And now for my chat with Nick Daniels:

Christine Lindsay: Tell us a little about yourself, Nick, where you live, your family.

Nick Daniels: I'm a Jesus freak, who adores his wife and children, and has all these crazy ideas but not enough time to put them on writing, especially since it's so nice outside in the island in the Pacific where I live, and yes, sometimes I find myself staring at the ocean instead of the computer screen, so most of my writing gets done really late at night when everybody is sleeping and it's too dark to play outside.

CL: Having been to Hawaii once, I’m green with jealousy. So, with such an environment to live in, what do you like to do for fun?

ND: Hiking is a favorite activity but watching thrillers and playing with my kids are what I enjoy the most. Lately, I've been playing lots of different board games, which is weird because I'm in my 30s and I didn't play a lot of board games when I was a kid.

CL: How did you come to write novels, especially this one that is steeped in science and mystery?

ND: I worked as a science journalist for several years and loved Christian apologetics since I was a teenager. One day I was reading a journal article about the history of geology and it occurred to me that there was a novel hidden in that paper. That's how I came up with the premise of The Gentlemen's Conspiracy.

CL: This next question is dear to my heart; Did you ever doubt your call to write; ever feel like giving up?

ND: More than doubts, I think I had to make a choice. I'm a guitar player and played with a band many years ago, but I came to a point where I had to decide between music and writing, and I chose writing. I've always earn my living as a writer, it’s what I do.

CL: Tell us about your awareness of the Lord in your normal writing day.

ND: I pray for creativity every day, and ask God to use me as a writer. He's great at encouraging me, the Holy Spirit's voice always saying: "Finish that book!"

CL: How did you first come to believe in Christ and His promises for your future?

ND: My mom led me to the Lord when I was nine, but it wasn't until I was thirteen that I committed myself to the Lord completely. I had bad company at my school, if you know what I mean, but then I started to hang out with the youth group at church and I said to myself, hum, this is what I want to be like, I want to live for God.

CL: Amazing how many godly mothers lead their children to the Lord. I led my own kids to believing in Christ’s promises. So tell us more about your life following Jesus—What was your darkest hour, and how did God bring you through it?

ND: I've had my shares of darkness, but I would say the darkest came in 1999 when our youth group was infiltrated and divided by a cult. That rocked my faith to the point that I felt angry with God and purposefully did not pray to Him for 3 months. During all that time, God let me know He was still there by my side, arms wide open. One day I just gave up and ran back to Him.

CL: And like the prodigal son, the Lord was waiting for you with open arms. It seems the Lord has blessed you with a ministry in writing, Nick. With the release of your first book, what message do you hope your readers will come away with after reading it?

ND: The main thing is that my readers would finish my novels and think, wow, that was a good read. My themes are rooted in Biblical truths I'm passionate about, so if they enjoy the novel, they will probably grasp those truths and their lives will be impacted.

CL: Now my favourite question, tell us what your most audacious prayer was.

ND: "Lord, use me." And He has!

Thank you, Nick, for telling us something about yourself and your new book. I pray the Lord will use you and this book to encourage people to follow Christ.

You can read more about Nick Daniels on his website Nick Daniels

Sunday, October 04, 2009

GRAIN FOR BREAD--Guest Blogger--Dr. Shirley Hereford

My mother said to me the other day, that in this life we are either coming out of a valley of struggle, or we'll soon be entering one again.

That's why today I'm sharing something that was sent to me several months ago when I was in a dark valley of disappointment. Dr. Shirley Hereford is a friend I have not met in person...yet. God-willing one day I will. But Dr. Shirley lives in Bangalore, India, and last spring did me the honor of critiquing my novel SHADOWED IN SILK for historical and cultural accuracy. Through that I feel she has become a friend. I find Dr. Shirley to be a fascinating woman. She has a PhD. in literature, specializing in the writings of African American women. Dr. Shirley taught for many years in a private university for young women in India. I consider it an honor to share with you a piece that she wrote for her parish several years ago.

Grain for Bread--by Dr. Shirley Hereford.

In everything, give thanks!
When the domestic help doesn’t come in, give thanks.
When the milk curdles in the white sauce, give thanks.
When your microwave goes kaput, give thanks.
When your computer crashes and you lose precious data, give thanks.
When you’re diagnosed with hypertension and have to lose weight, give thanks.
When your grubby child places sticky fingers on your favorite outfit, give thanks.
When the electricity turns off before your favorite Television serial, give thanks.
When you have a puncture on your way to work, give thanks.
When you are caught in a traffic jam, give thanks.
When your children upset you, give thanks.
When your husband complains about the food, give thanks.
When it rains on your parade, give thanks!

A recipe for disaster! This could be a typical day in the life of many of us, ordinary mortals. Yet, we are still standing, smiling, coping, and bashing on. That’s more than enough reason to be joyful, to give thanks, because things could be worse. Things can be worse.

We all know and acknowledge this cliché but when it comes to the crux of any issue, it still is about me, myself and I. We get so caught up in the moment, the feeling of loss, of helplessness that we aggravate the situation rather than look at alternatives. It is very difficult to look at the other side, because we are sensitive and vulnerable to hurt, betrayal and pain.

Giving thanks for everything is a tough act to follow. When we know “it is the will of God concerning us”, it becomes even more difficult.

Isaiah 28: 23 – 29 is my personal recipe for coping cheerfully. It constantly reassures me that there is someone in control.

The passage talks about a farmer who treats dill, cummin, rye, barley and wheat differently for he has already decided what they will be used for. The use predetermines the treatment it receives.

Wheat has to be crushed to make whole wheat bread. If it remained intact it would be just a seed with all its limitations. I know that the Lord knows my threshold, is in control and will make his strength visible in my weakness. Knowing that I will not “be crushed forever”, believing that my temporary loss can only point to a rich legacy of gain, makes me understand how being proactive can alter my disposition and change the way I evaluate my circumstances.

Things are often beyond our control. We allow ourselves to become victims of these situations. We do have choices, in the way we cope with situations. We need to evalute our options and give thanks “in everything” and for everything.

Try this recipe for living…and count your blessings.

Dr. Shirley Hereford