Tuesday, February 28, 2006


A couple of notes--first, notice that you can now subscribe to this blog's feed. Just put your email addy in the box beneath my blogroll of favorite blogs, and you'll receive a copy of whatever I post whenever I post it. At least that's how it's supposed to work. Remember, profundity is not guaranteed.

Second, tomorrow begins our Book of the Month (BOM) feature. Seven days of looking at how one particular title came to be.

William Safire had a great column on blargon (blogger jargon) last Sunday. I knew most of the words, but encountered some new ones. Let's check your blogger vocabulary.

Above the fold: what you see on a blog's screen before you begin to scroll down.
Sidebar: obviously, the column down the side of the page.
Blogroll: the list of other blogs we love and/or recommend
Bye-line: an adios or farewell at the end of a blogger's post
wingnuts: right wing bloggers
moonbats: left wing bloggers
ping: "packet Internet gopher" a program that tests whether a destination is online
Link love: an unsolicited, posted link that aims only to amuse or interest
Link slut: carrying the above yearning to an extreme
meme: an online chain letter, where you "tag" your friends to answer the same questions
Delicious: a social bookmarking service that allows users to share their bookmarked sites with others. To del.icio.us someone is to add them to your delicious bookmarks.
blogerati: sophisticated bloggers
dotted: the word used to describe any site that sends out bursts of traffic
slashdotted: the recipient of all above traffic
spam blogs, splogs, and zombie blogs: robot-generated texts meant to game search engines. Often appears as comment spam.
blegging: sending a query through the blogosphere
to fisk: taking an article, reprinting it on your blog with your line-by-line critique.

Had enough? I have! I'm still trying to master the vocabulary in the dictionary!


Monday, February 27, 2006

For Our Soldiers . . . a true story

The following letter came from novelist Terri Blackstock:

A friend of mine just shared something that happened to her, and I thought it was so profound that I'd share it with you. My friend Diane was in the Atlanta airport the other day. She said she saw hundreds of uniformed soldiers lining up in a nearby gate. She watched, trying to figure out what was going on. Finally she realized they were about to board a plane to go to Iraq. She said that when their boarding call came, they lined up two by two to get on the plane. Everyone in the airport who could see them stood up and applauded until they were all on the plane.

Later, she boarded her own flight--a different plane--and was seated next to a marine in uniform. Diane was delighted to sit next to him, and she began to thank him for what he's doing for our country. She said he was very gracious. The flight attendant came back and asked him for his name and the name of the person he was escorting. The marine then explained to Diane that he was escorting a body home from Iraq. He explained that this wasn't someone he knew, but when someone died overseas and a family member or friend couldn't escort them home, he was one of the men who did it.

Before they took off, a man from first class got up and came to the marine and said, "I'd like to give you my seat in first class. Would you please trade places with me?"

The marine replied, "Thank you, sir, but I'm fine right here." The man insisted, but the marine was firm. He refused to take the man's seat. Aftera few minutes, the flight attendant came back and told them that, even though he didn't want to take that man's seat, they happened to have two extra seats in first class, and the captain very much wanted this marine to have one of them.

Again, the marine said, "Thank you, but I'm just fine right here."

The flight attendant picked another person to take one of those seats, then returned a minute later and offered the second one to the man behind Diane.The man accepted the first class seat, but then he stood up and came to the marine. "Son, I appreciate you so much, and I really want you to have that seat," he said. "Please take the seat in first class."

Again, the marine said, "Thank you, sir, but I'm fine."

The man got emotional. "I know you're fine. But I had a son who was a marine . . . " His voice broke off. Diane didn't know if the marine understood that the man's son had died, but she understood. Again, the marine started to refuse. But Diane got tears in her eyes, and she touched his hand and leaned into him, and said, "He NEEDS you to take his seat." Suddenly the marine understood. He got up and thanked him, and shook the man's hand, and headed up to first class.

Diane said that after the flight, when the plane landed, the captain asked everyone to remain seated until the casket was unloaded and the marine escorting it had gotten off. She said that everyone stayed quietly in their seats while that young man exited. Her husband was waiting inside the airport, and he noticed people gravitating to the window. They all looked very somber. He didn't realize until later that they were watching the American soldier's coffin being unloaded from the plane.

Despite what you may hear on the national news, Americans are firmly behind our soldiers, and they love, respect and admire them. May they be treated like heroes everywhere they go, because that is what they are.

Terri Blackstock

A note from Angie: I know there are many Americans who are against this war, and my heart breaks for those who have lost children in this struggle. But another friend of mine was recently in Iraq, and she said that several Iraqi Christians came up to her and said, "Thank the American people for coming here. If you leave now, we will all be killed."

No one loves war, but sometimes it is necessary to stand up against those who would deny life and liberty to others. If you have a son, daughter, or spouse in the armed forces, I salute you. Freedom--whether physical, social, or spiritual--comes at an extremely high price. May we never forget it.


Sunday, February 26, 2006


Well, I'm back and recovered from four days in the Christian schools of Virginia. Had a wonderful time talking to kids about books and writing, then had a wonderful time catching up at home--answering emails, tossing out junk mail, and doing our taxes. Turbo Tax had this new feature that I like--you can apply some of your refund to buying gift cards, but they give you more on the card than you actually spend. So now my family will be well stocked with gift cards (and I made sure to get cards where we regularly shop anyway.)

Still hanging in there with the 90 Day Bible Reading challenge? I love Jeremiah. The prophetic passages about Christ are so strong, poetic, and obvious to anyone reading from the perspective of hindsight. I am also drawn to the passages that describe Israel's ingathering and the promise of her future joy.

Reading Jeremiah whetted my appetite for more study, so last night I went online and signed up for my doctoral program. As soon as that's squared away, I'll start my doctor of biblical studies program, choosing classes in theology, old and new testament, and one called "the problem of evil." (Looks interesting!) I'm also very interested in a class called "bioethics overview." Hmmm. That could be useful.

Well, time to get ready for church. I'll be leaving mid-week to go teach an advanced fiction track at the Florida Christian Writer's Conference--looking forward to seeing many friends there! www.flwriters.org.


Friday, February 24, 2006

A Fun Quiz for Friday

Your Hair Should Be Red

Passionate, fiery, and sassy.
You're a total smart aleck who's got the biggest personality around.
My hair is red! It's been red for a few years now, and I love it.
What color is your hair? What color did this test say your hair should be?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Da Bunnies

One of my friends pointed me to this web site: it's plot capsules of major movies enacted in thirty seconds, more or less, by bunnies. Hilarious!

Caveat: some of the language comes directly from the movies, so just because it's bunnies doesn't mean it's rated G.

Check it out at www.angryalien.com.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Book Club that Wasn't

Tuesday I spoke at Norfolk Christian School, both branches of the lower schools. The sweetest thing happened at the end of the second chapel service--the principal called on three students to "pray for Mrs Hunt."

It was humbling and thrilling to listen to three elementary students pray for my family and my work. I was so touched.

I was talking to Dawn, my Nelson rep, later, and she said that somehow the prayers of children seem to go to the heart of God faster than other prayers. And while we know that's technically not so, she was right about the prayers of children having a unique and special quality.

On to the topic at hand:

LOL. Well, last week I experienced a first. For the first time in the two or three years since we’ve been having our neighborhood book club, every single woman backed out. Failed to show up. Didn’t come.

Leaving me with the freedom to finish my daily page quota and watch 24.

The problem? We picked a Pulitzer prize winning novel and out of our dozen women, I think two of us actually finished it. I finished it through sheer force of will on Sunday afternoon, and I skipped every other page in the middle. If I hadn’t been supposed to lead the discussion, I wouldn’t have made the effort.

Don’t get me wrong—we’ve had novels we HATED, but we still finished them. This thing was simply overwritten. It was a good story, but I think it could have been told in one-fourth of the pages. And it’s not that we’re prejudiced against literary novels—we’ve read them, finished them, and liked them.

But this one? I’m still laughing. I think we’re going to avoid Pulitzer books from here on out.

There’s a lesson in this, my friends . . . if you're going to write, leave out the boring parts.

(P.S. No, I'm not going to tell you the title.)


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Writing Tip: Backstory

The other day a dear novelist brother and I got into an email yin-yang (we do this all the time; it’s good mental exercise.) He was making a case for including some backstory in the beginning of a book because it aids in character development and reader sympathy. I’ve recently adopted a “no back story in the first 30 pages” rule because I think you can develop reader interest and sympathy through present action.

(Hey--it's an art AND a science.)

Here are some of my comments. If you want more on his side of the argument, you’ll have to read his blog. (VBG) (Um . . . he hasn't blogged on this. So you're stuck with my side of the debate.)

He said that lots of good writers put backstory in the front of a book . . .

Well, of course backstory can be put in the first 30/50 pages and still result in a good book. I could also lose weight eating a slice of chocolate cake every day. BUT—is it not better discipline to try and do without it? To arouse reader interest in the current conundrum and save the backstory until later?

I’ve been trying a new exercise when I teach. I pick up published books, manuscripts, what-have-you, and I tell the class to raise their hands the moment the writing provokes a question they want answered.

Some manuscripts go on for paragraphs, even pages, before a hand goes up. For some, I don’t even finish the first sentence before I see hands across the room.

It’s the dramatic question that keeps a reader reading. It’s the passing-by-a-car wreck effect—we don’t know who’s in the car, we don’t have any connection whatsoever, but, by golly, we just have to know what happened and how bad it was.

I’ll admit that there is perhaps a time and place for back story up front. In fact, the entire beginning of MYSTIC RIVER is an event from the grown protagonist’s childhood.

I was a skeptic at first. After all, I’d written dozens of novels and never paid a bit of attention to “move the backstory” idea. Until someone challenged me to do this:

Take your WIP. Highlight all backstory in the first couple of chapters. Then cut it and move it. (I didn’t say KILL it, just move it beyond the 30-page mark.)

Now—doesn’t the front part move faster? And some of those little “asides” of important back story—might some of them work better as a fully-fleshed out scene later in the book? We should be learning about who your character is from what you’re showing us in the present action. Give us revealing details, particularities.

I’m betting that nine times out of ten, your story will improve because you moved the back story. Unless, of course, you’re doing something like the author in Mystic River.

Try it, you’ll like it! Or I’ll eat my hat.

To which my dear brother promptly replied, “And I’ll bring the salt!”


Monday, February 20, 2006

90 Day Bible Reading Challenge: Isaiah

Photo: My office/desk. Believe it or not, it is organized. (We were talking about writing spaces on Charis, so I dug out a picture).

Onto the subject at hand:

Wow, Isaiah!

I’m lovin’ this book. So filled with grave judgment, but so rich with promises of mercy! God says he will afflict his people in order to get them to turn from their sin, but at the same time “In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it—one from the house of David—one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.”

There are millennial echoes throughout as well—from the familiar verse on the United Nations building (as if nations could ever accomplish the beating of swords into plows), to the promise that on his mountain (Zion), “the Lord will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples . . . and swallow up death forever, and wipe away the tears from all faces, and remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.”

Here’s something interesting I found: in the prophecies against specific nations (Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Moab, Cush, etc.,) look at Chapter 18: notice that God doesn’t promise destruction to this nation (apparently Cush, or Ethiopia), but says they will bring gifts to the Lord to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord (the Temple), during the time when time when all nations see the banner of the Lord on the mountains (the millennial kingdom).

Now . . . there’s an old tradition that says that an Ethiopian son of Solomon (borne by the Queen of Sheba), took the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia some time after Solomon’s reign. What if the “gift” brought to the Lord is the Ark being returned to the rebuilt Temple? Interesting thought, no?

Another thing struck me in these chapters: the plan of God. Human events do not take place nilly-willy. Over and over in Isaiah we read: “This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (14:26-27).

And “The Lord Almighty planned it, to bring low the pride of all glory. . .” (23:9) “in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago” (25:1). Why? “When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.”

I also found another OT mention of the belief in an afterlife for the righteous: 26:19 (though vs. 14 seems to indicate that the unrighteous dead do not live . . . not in the same way, in any case.)

My favorite part? The promise that one day Egypt, Syria, and Israel will be united in worshipping the Lord Almighty. “The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance” (19:25).


Sunday, February 19, 2006


The Publisher's Weekly review of UNCHARTED just came out. (The ellipsis was inserted where a spoiler was removed). This one is scheduled to release on 6-6-06. Somehow that seems apt.

Hunt, the author of more than 70 books, departs from her usual fare with this competent, if spooky, faith-based novel. The plot line is a blend of the movies Castaway and The Big Chill , with a touch of the television series Lost , creatively thrown together with the biblical story of the beggar Lazarus and C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce .

Six college pals gather for the funeral of their friend and end up being "guilted" by the widow into taking a trip halfway across the world to help build a Christian school. When a shipwreck leaves them washed up on a deserted island, they discover everything is not as it seems: all of their inner sins and crimes
are literally on display.

As the story unfolds, some readers may be turned off by a truly gruesome serial killer, although it helps Hunt make her ultimate point. Hunt excels at reminding Christian readers that God judges petty sins the same as heinous ones, and that being a "good person" outwardly often hides an interior life that is far from pure. Her theology . . . will be a good discussion point for book groups (a guide is included). General market readers, however, may find the serious faith
themes more than they want to contemplate.

Copyright © 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 17, 2006

My Parents and 50 years

I'm out of town this weekend, driving over to my parents' home on the east coast of Florida. My folks have been married 50 years! Can you believe it?

And here I thought I deserved a medal for 25 years.

Seriously--the other day I told someone I'd been married 25 years and they gasped. Not because I don't look like I've been married that long, but because in today's marital climate, that seems like a looooooong time.

And so it is. But 50 years is half a century. My mom was seventeen when they married, my dad 20, so they've been married most of their lives!

Happy anniversary, M&D. Thanks for paving the way.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

This and That and Sneaky Things . . .

There's a move afoot--a clever backhanded effort to keep the cash registers singing while Christians deal with the heresy of The DaVinci Code movie. You can read about it in greater detail at Barbara Nicolosi's excellent blog

IOW, they want us to go see the movie so we can "intelligently discuss it" with friends. Ha! I didn't read the book because I didn't want to spend a penny endorsing that sort of poppycock, and I won't see the movie, either. There's been so much in the media about the book/movie that I've been able to discuss it well enough.

The photo today is the cover of a book by Dandi Dailey Mackall, Maggie's Story. When Tyndale asked me to write a historical account of Mary Magdalene, they also asked Karen Kingsbury to write a contemporary parable, and they asked Dandi to write a novel for young adults. Maggie's Story is the result, so if you have any young adults who are confused by the DaVinci controversy, send them to Dandi's book.

Heard about a couple of very nice reviews of The Novelist. One here: bookloons.com

and one here: brownbookloft.com.

Well, my computer thermometer tells me it's 41 degrees outside. Brrrr! We Floridians don't quite know how to take that. Last night I slept with a sweat shirt over my jammies. {VBG}


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Organized Blogging Plan

I'll confess that I'm one of those pathetically-organized people. My kitchen spices are alphabetized, and when I get dressed every morning, I take garments from the left of my closet and replace them (after laundering!) on the right. I may be the only woman I know who rotates her jeans. {VBG}

So I have come up with a Grand Plan for this haphazard blog. Instead of bouncing from topic to topic every day of the month, I'm only going to bounce 21 days. The first seven days of each month will be reserved for the Book of the Month.

It will work like this: each month I'll take one of my books and spend seven days talking about these seven things:

1. The synopsis

2. How the idea germinated

3. The Research--what was required and how it was done

4. The writing: the process, the timeline, the pain and the pleasure

5. The editing: (see above)

6. The results: reader reaction, etc.

7. Q&A: if you have questions about any of the above, I'll answer them on this day. If there are no questions, we'll all take a sabbath.

That's it. I hope this will interest readers as well as writers. If I have a new release, I'll feature that book in its release month; otherwise I'll hit the backlist. Right now I have enough backlist to blog for nine long years . . .

Let's give it a try and see how it goes!


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Family Photo Album

Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!

And a happy Valentine's Day to my family, whom I've never introduced. Welcome to the Hunt family album.

This first picture is my husband and son a couple of years ago, dressed for a wedding. I figured I'd better snap a picture quick, as a tux is NOT what they usually wear.

The next photo is Regis Philbin (yes, he's real, not wax) with my hubby and my precious Justus, who's waiting for me in heaven.

My current mastiff is Charley Gansky, whom I've blogged about in other posts.

The picture is our family when my kids were young. This picture happened to be shot on the very day I found out I sold my first book (actually, it won a contest. First prize was publication.) We were visiting Dollywood Theme Park, so the day was memorable. This must have been 1987.

This last picture is of my son and Justus, circa 2000, I think. Justus was a big boy--275 pounds of pure sweetheart.

I'm sorry I don't have more recent family shots, but it's hard to get us all together in one place! Plus, my kids are at the age when they don't think it's neat to have Mom posting their pictures.

So don't tell.


Monday, February 13, 2006

90 Day Bible Reading Challenge: the Psalms

I am so enjoying the psalms! And part of that enjoyment is reading along and finding passages that are obviously messianic or were repeated from Jesus' own lips!

If you're interested in specific psalms that pertain to Jesus Christ, the following have been identified as messianic psalms and/or passages: Psa. 2:1–12; Psa. 16:7–11; Psa. 67:1–7; Psa. 68:28–35; Psa. 69:1–36; Psa. 72:1–19; Psa. 93:1–5; Psa. 96:1–13; Psa. 97:1–12; Psa. 98:1–9; Psa. 99:1–9; Psa. 110:1–7; Psa. 118:19–29[1]

Passages from the Psalms reveal many things about the coming Messiah, including his
Creative power (102:25–27; John 1:3, 10; Heb. 1:10–12)
Obedience to the Father (40:6–8; Heb. 10:5–7)
Zeal for the Father (69:9; John 2:17)
Faithfulness as a shepherd (23; John 10)
Rejection by Israel (118:22–23; Matt. 21:42)
Praise by little children (8:2; Matt. 21:16)
Betrayal by a friend:
the treachery of Judas (41:9; 55:12–14; Matt. 26:47–50; John 13:18)
the tragedy of Judas (69:25; 109:6–8; Acts 1:18–20)
Slander by false witnesses (27:12; 109:2–3; Matt. 26:59–61)
Suffering and death:
forsaken by God (22:6–8; Matt. 27:39–43)
ridiculed (22:6–8; Matt. 27:39–43)
beaten (129:3; John 19:1)
prayed for his enemies (109:4; Luke 23:34)
hands and feet pierced (22:16; Luke 24:39–40)
given sour wine to drink (69:21; Matt. 27:34, 48)
garments gambled for (22:18; Matt. 27:35)
none of his bones broken (34:20; John 19:36)
Resurrection (16:8–11; Matt. 28:1–6; Acts 2:25–32; 13:35)
Ascension (68:18; Luke 24:50–51; Eph. 4:8)
Victorious entrance into heaven (24:7–10; Rev. 7:9–12)
High Priestly work (110:1, 4; Matt. 22:44; Heb. 5:6; 7:17)
Marriage to the church:
description of the bridegroom (45:2, 6–8; Luke 4:22; Heb. 1:8–9)
description of the bride (45:9, 13–15; Rev. 19:7–9)
Destruction of the heathen (2:1–9; Acts 4:25–26; Rev. 6:12–17)
Millennial reign (45:6; 72:17; 98:4–9; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 11:15)[2]

[1]Swanson, J., & Nave, O. 1994. New Nave's. Logos Research Systems: Oak Harbor
[2]Willmington, H. L. 1997. Willmington's Bible handbook . Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, Ill.

Keep reading!


Why I Love Theology

I have just completed (ta da!) my masters in theology. As soon as I get my diploma, I'm moving on for more study.

Why do I love theology? First, God is fascinating. He is truth. And the study of him gives me great ideas for novels.

I also love theology because it's more fun to dig than to write. The following is an email conversation between me and one of my like-minded girlfriends (this is what we do when we should be writing). The subject: How long was Israel in Egypt, anyway?


I have a problem with Galatians 3:16-17. Paul says that the Law came 430 years after God's covenant with Abraham. But the 430 years didn't start until Jacob's family was in Egypt. So between Abraham and Jacob going to Egypt, there were a couple of generations. It seems like Paul's error. On the other hand, it may be one of those instances of "rounding off."

But these problems always just cause me to dig, and I always find the answers I'm seeking. Haven't yet found a real error.


Oooooh, (hand waving), I studied this in depth when I was working on my books about Joseph and Moses. I never actually publicized what I found out, but there goes—the years started counting from Abraham, not Israel.

I found that in the Septuagint it says that 430 years passed from the time Abraham left Ur from the time Moses left Egypt. In other words, it was 430 years between the time God promised Israel a home and they actually arrived in Canaan to claim it. There was absolutely no way I could make Moses and Joseph fit with the Egyptian timeline unless I went with this; when I did, it fit perfectly. To start counting years when Israel went down messes things up—puts the Hebrews there too early or sends Moses out too late.

I have all kinds of facts to back this up—Joseph had to be 18th dynasty or later because the Hyksos (pre-18th dynasty) introduced horses, and the Bible says Pharaoh gave Joseph his chariot, and the Bible also says that the Hebrews built the city of Rameses, which makes Moses confront Ramses the Great. There are only about 200 or so years between the 18th dynasty and Ramses the Great.

Look at Gen. 15:13—God tells Abraham that his people will be strangers in a country not their own and will be enslaved and mistreated 400 years—they did NOT have a country of their own until Moses led them into Canaan. And they were enslaved in Egypt, and probably mistreated everywhere else, but most people assume that entire passage belongs to the Egyptian period. It really doesn’t. (If God tells you your descendants are going to be homeless for 400 years, wouldn’t you think the clock started at that moment?)

Now look at Exodus 12:40: “Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.” BUT—the Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint substitute the phrase Egypt and Canaan for “Egypt.” So the Hebrews were without a home for 430 years, and this is what Paul was referring to.

Now it gets exciting—there’s no way there are 430 years between the place in the timeline where Joseph HAD to be and where Moses HAD to fall, unless you start counting with Abraham. But if you do, there’s a pharaoh in Moses’ time who mysteriously lost a first-born son, there’s a pharaoh in Joseph’s day who had mysterious dreams and was hung up on interpreting them . . . it’s really cool!

Here’s what one guy had to say, but I like my explanation better. Of course, I’m not prejudiced. LOL.
From Abraham’s call (Gen. 12) to Jacob’s arrival in Egypt (Gen. 46) is 215
years. (This may be computed as follows: Abraham was 75 years old when God
called him and 100 when Isaac was born, Gen. 12:4; 21:5. This gives us 25 years.
Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born, Gen. 25:26; and Jacob was 130 years old when he arrived in Egypt, Gen. 47:9. Thus, 25 + 60 + 130 = 215 years.) But Moses
tells us that Israel sojourned in Egypt 430 years (Ex. 12:40); so the total
number of years from Abraham’s call to the giving of the Law is 645 years, not
430. The length of the stay in Egypt is recorded also in Genesis 15:13 and Acts
7:6, where the round figure of 400 years is used.

(Angie here—but notice that Act. 7:6 is a repeat of God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants will be 1) strangers in a country not their own and 2) enslaved and mistreated 3) four hundred years. But God says he will punish the nation they serve as slaves (and notice he doesn’t say “and those who mistreat you,” though he certainly did punish the Canaanites . . .)

This stuff is fascinating, isn’t it? I could do this all day . . . when I ought to be working! But I’m convinced there’s an answer for every “seeming” contradiction, if we only dig deep enough to find it. The fun’s in the digging!

Yes, it's very interesting! I really like your explanation. So am I getting it right? You think they were really only slaves in Egypt for around 200 years? I'm sticking this page in my Bible, so I'll remember it when the question comes up again.

When I see stuff like this, I always KNOW that God knows something I don't, and that I'm getting it wrong. What freedom inerrancy gives us to dig and study and puzzle.


Exactly. They were slaves in Egypt for 215 years. It’s the only way the historical Pharaohs fit with what we know from the Bible, and it’s wonderful that the Bible does back this up . . . if you consider the Septuagint AND what Paul said. And it’s so, so exciting.

Look at: (Ruth 4:19-22)
Hezron the father of Ram, HEZRON is on the list of those who went into Egypt
Ram the father of Amminadab,
[20] Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon, Nashon is on the list of those who came out of Egypt
[21] Salmon the father of Boaz,
Boaz the father of Obed,
[22] Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of David.

Okay—Hezron (son of Judah) went INTO Egypt with Jacob. (Gen. 46:12)

Now look at (Exodus 6:23)
Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

See what I mean? Aaron—MOSES’ BIG BROTHER—married a woman whose grandfather came into Egypt with Jacob! Plus, Nashon is one of the leaders of the people during the Exodus (Numbers 2:3). People weren’t living extra-long in those days, plus these generations had to overlap. We know Boaz and Jesse were well into the time Israel was living in Canaan. So this fits MUCH better with 200 years than with 430.

One more fascinating tidbit: Genesis 15:15 gives us a reason why the Hebrews remained so long in Egypt: "In the fourth generation," God told Abraham, "your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."

Note that "the fourth generation" exactly matches the family names above.

God wanted to judge the Amorites (and he did, when the conquering Hebrews destroyed them), but he gave them plenty of time to fill the cup of his wrath, so to speak.

I have to get to work today!


Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Elevator's Eddie Vaughn

THE ELEVATOR started out being a book about three women . . . then Eddie showed up. And the more I write about him, the more I like him. He is, naturally, an elevator technician (don't call him a mechanic!)

Anyway, he's the fourth and final main character in the WIP, and this is his first scene.

BTW, Carrie asked when this book is scheduled for release? (big sigh). Spring 2007.

Eddie Vaughn turns up the volume on his radio as the wind fires sharp pellets of rain at his windshield. On the seat beside him, Sadie, his golden retriever, shifts her weight and gives him a beseeching look.

“Almost home, girl.” He slows to ease the pickup through a stream gushing through an intersection, then tears his gaze from the pavement to grin at the dog. “You ready to settle in and watch some TV? If the power goes out, I figured we could play a few rounds of Go Fish or maybe do a crossword.”

Sadie tilts her head, then lowers her chin to the top of the seatback and stares out the truck’s rear window.

Eddie forces himself to whistle a bar of “Singing in the Rain,” then gives up the effort. The dog is worried, and no amount of grinning or whistling is going to relieve her anxiety. Gordon has been swirling around in the Gulf for days, but only in the last twenty-four hours has the storm drawn a bead on Tampa Bay. He’s heard that animals can sense impending natural disasters. Whether or not the rumor is true, Sadie has been antsy for the last two days.

When the cell phone on the seat buzzes, Eddie turns down the volume on the radio, then scoops up the phone with his free hand. “’Lo?”

“Hey, doll.” Charlene’s voice, crusty from chain-smoking, fills his ear. “Are they all squared away up there at Freedom Home?”

“You can scratch that one off your list, ma’am. Those folks aren’t going to be using the elevators any time soon. The nurses have moved all the residents into the common room—the poor people who didn’t have anyone to come get them, anyways.”

“Thanks for running up there, Eddie. I hated to call you out so early.”

“No big deal. I can go power ‘em up after the storm passes, if you want.”

She croaks out a laugh as another phone rings in the background. “You must have gotten a look at my friend’s daughter. Did you meet Emily? She’d be the blonde, the one that looks like Pamela Anderson.”

Eddie shakes his head. “Yeah, I saw her. Nice cage. No bird.”

“You’re too picky, Ed. Here I go out of my way to hook you up with a pretty girl—”

“Give it a rest, Charlene, I’m doin’ fine.”

“But you’re too nice a guy to be livin’ all alone—”

“Don’t you have to answer that phone?”

Thankfully, the question diverts the dispatcher’s one-track mind. “Yeah, I’d better. Well, doll, you take care. Batten the hatches and all that; check in when you can.”

“You take care, too, Charlene. I’ll talk to you when it’s all over.”

He disconnects the call and tosses the phone back onto the seat. Sadie lowers her head to sniff at it as Eddie slants into the left lane, where the water isn’t as deep.

“Almost home, girl.”

He turns up the volume on the radio. No music yet, the newscaster is still reporting on the weather: “A direct hit by a category four hurricane could seriously damage many of the office buildings in downtown Tampa. Experts are saying Gordon could wreak the kind of damage that Charley did to Punta Gorda two years ago. The tidal surge could rise as high as twenty-two feet, enough to flood the downtown area, Tampa International Airport, and McDill Air Force Base.”

“Good thing we don’t live in Tampa, huh, Sades?”

Eddie presses his lips together as he turns into his subdivision and peers through the pouring rain. His neighborhood seems deserted, which means people have either heeded the evacuation warnings or hunkered down inside their homes. Sheets of plywood or corrugated aluminum cover most of the windows, the seven dwarfs have disappeared from Mrs. Jackson’s flower bed, and Jack Tomlinson has parked his wife’s minivan on the open lawn, away from the heavy oak tree that shades the south side of their house. Though the Tomlinson family’s garage is crowded with old newspapers, paint cans, sports equipment, and tools (several of them on loan from Eddie), apparently Jack has found room for his Corvette.

“I’d like to repeat,” the radio announcer says, “that the governor has ordered the mandatory evacuation of ten coastal counties, warning that those who say behind face certain injury or death. If you’re not in a shelter and you live on the beach, you need to evacuate immediately to protect your own life.”

Eddie’s house, located on high ground in unincorporated Pinellas County, is part of a thirty-year-old subdivision built when contractors cared more for utility than aesthetics. The rainwater is draining properly on his street, a road lined by three-bedroom, two bath structures of concrete block. Like its neighbors, his house isn’t fancy, but it has a fenced yard for Sadie, a small pool, and a half-dozen shade trees to protect it from the sweltering summer sun.
Eddie hopes those leafy canopies survive the approaching hurricane. Last year even the storms that merely swiped at Pinellas County toppled hundreds of trees, which damaged cars and homes as they fell. Not even a house of concrete block could withstand the weight of a sprawling two hundred year-old live oak.

“Officials estimate that 487,000 people in Hillsborough County alone have had to seek shelter,” the newscaster continues, “and over 550,000 have filled shelters in Pinellas County. Wherever you are, I hope you’re safely tucked away and not on the road.”

“You and me both, bud,” Eddie says, turning into his driveway. He pulls the pickup under the carport, then steps out of the truck. He doesn’t have to call Sadie—she leaps out behind him, a graceful golden blur on a bee line for the back door.

He laughs as he looks for his house key. “Ready to go inside, are you? Me, too. Let’s eat while we still have power to the microwave.”

Sadie scratches at the threshold, then sits back and waits for Eddie to slip the key into the lock.

After opening the door, he takes one last look around before following the dog into the house. The garbage cans have been hauled into the utility room, the bird feeders tucked into a sheltered corner of the carport. He has covered his windows with plywood, turned the glass-topped patio table upside down on a mat of old towels, and tossed his aluminum lawn chairs into the pool. He and Sadie have bottled water, a battery-powered radio, canned foods, and a manual can opener—enough supplies to get them through a couple of weeks, if necessary.

Satisfied with his preparations, he steps into the utility room and locks the door, securing the deadbolt as well. The deadbolt would stop a human intruder, but he’s not sure it will hold against a category four wind.

When he left Alabama to escape an emotional storm, he never dreamed he’d be exchanging one kind of disaster for another. All things considered, though, the literal storms are easier to handle.

“God, help us,” he murmurs, one hand on the doorknob. Then he turns and whistles for the dog.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Elevator's Regina Rossman

The Elevator: third scene, third character. (For fun, we've talked about casting this for a movie. Gina would be Susan Sarandon. Michelle would be Ashley Judd, and Isabel would be . . .?)

Tucked into the corner of a wing chair, Gina Rossman lifts her swollen eyelids and stares at her unrumpled bed. The report, in a manila envelope, still rests on Sonny’s pillow. She spent the night in this chair for nothing.
So much for dramatic gestures.

She closes her eyes and wishes she could exchange the world of illusion for reality. An hour ago she was back in college, strolling to class on a leaf-strewn sidewalk, her skin pinked by crisp autumnal air. She smiled at an English professor who approached to praise her paper, then she took his arm and laughed, shamelessly flirting with the amiable fellow.

In her dream she’d had no children, no husband, no serious concerns. No need for confrontations.

She lifts her head and glances at the clock, then frowns at the view outside the bedroom window. The sun is usually brighter by seven-twenty . . . but how could she forget Gordon? Destructive hurricanes are nothing new for Florida; in the past three months Hillsborough county residents have anxiously monitored the paths of Alberto, Chris, and Debby. The local weathercasters, who would probably lash themselves to a wavering flagpole if the stunt would get them national airtime, are positively giddy about the latest weather heading directly toward Florida’s central west coast.

Sonny will blame his absence on the storm, of course. He’ll claim he didn’t come home because he had to single-handedly prepare for the hurricane. He sent his employees home Thursday afternoon, he’d remind her, because he wanted to give them time to leave the state. His act of generosity left him with a stack of declaration pages that had to be faxed to frantic clients who needed to know the limits of their coverage. Besides—and at this point he would give her an easy, relaxed smile with a great deal of confidence behind it—he hadn’t built a Fortune 500 company by limiting himself to a forty-hour work week.

She used to accept his excuses, used to be proud of him for putting in more hours than the average husband. But no longer.

Now she knows where he’s been working overtime.

She pulls herself out of the comfortable depths of the wing chair and smoothes her slacks. She wanted Sonny to find her still dressed and awake when he came through the door, but if he didn’t come home last night, he probably won’t show up this morning. He’ll be at the office, feeding papers into the fax machine.

An alarming thought skitters across her brain. What if he doesn’t come home at all today? He might want to protect that woman, so he could be planning to ride out the hurricane in whatever rat hole she calls home.

Later, when the weather has passed, he’ll claim he was slaving at the office until the power went out and he had to evacuate to the nearest shelter.

Last year she might have believed his lies. This year, she has rebuttal evidence waiting in the manila envelope, along with a private investigator’s report. A list of places, dates, and times; eyewitness accounts of intimate dinners and lunches; even a receipt Sonny dropped outside Foster’s Jewelers.

The amount on the receipt nearly buckled Gina’s knees: forty-three thousand dollars for a diamond bracelet. Forty-three thousand that must have been siphoned off the company books. Forty-three thousand—money that should be part of her children’s inheritance—has been wasted on baubles for some tart’s wrist.

How much of his children’s future has Sonny squandered?

The investigator also included a photograph of Sonny walking down Ashley Street with the woman on his arm, her head brushing his shoulder. Sonny’s face is visible and marked by an expression of remarkable tenderness. The object of Sonny’s inappropriate attention is not facing the camera, but the photo reveals a tall, lean creature with a striking sense of style, a floppy rain hat, and a youthful body that has not borne three children and invested its best years in Sonny’s dreams.

Gina moves to the bed, plucks the envelope from her husband’s pillow, and stares out the window while she taps the package against her fingertips. A maelstrom is swirling in the Gulf beyond; a killer storm. Before the sun rises tomorrow, its merciless winds and rain will sweep over Tampa and destroy anything that hasn’t been properly secured.

Her husband is in his office in the Lark Tower, Tampa’s oldest skyscraper. His suite is on the uppermost floor, where the winds and rain will have the freedom to do their worst. Downtown Tampa is under an evacuation order, but everyone knows Sonny Rossman is a stubborn workaholic.

What might happen if he chose to remain in his office as the hurricane blew in?
* * *

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Elevator's Isabel Suarez

The Elevator: second scene, second character:

Isabel Suarez drives the vacuum across the carpet, her hips working to a disco beat as Donna Summer sings in her ears. She maneuvers the machine around the secretary’s chair, then stops to flip the power switch. A candy wrapper has drifted beneath the file drawer, out of the vacuum's reach.

The secretary, Waveney Forester, according to the name plate, obviously enjoys eating on the job.

Isabel crouches and pulls the crinkled wrapper from its hiding place, then yelps when someone yanks the ear buds from her ears. Her forearms pebble in the sudden silence, but when she peers over the edge of the desk, she finds she is still alone.

The cord has caught on a drawer handle.

Exhaling, Isabel stands and releases the cord, then dumps the secretary’s trash into the receptacle attached to her cleaning cart. A load of printed forms, typed pages, and soft drink cans tumble into the bin, followed by a rainbow of cellophane squares—the secretary’s guilty secret. Every Tuesday and Friday night Isabel finds dozens of empty candy wrappers at the bottom of Waveney Forester’s trash. The sight never fails to make her smile.

Isabel returns the trash can to its hiding place in the desk’s kneehole, then lifts her gaze to the wide windows along the east wall. A sprinkling of lights still sparkles in the skyscrapers of Tampa’s downtown district, a waste of electricity no one seems to mind. The sun has begun to rise , but only a glimmer of light penetrates the cloudy eastern horizon. Carlos warned her to be careful on the way home because a storm is on its way, a hurac├ín.

Because her fellow custodians like to complain about the weather, Isabel knows Florida has suffered many hurricanes in the last few years, along with states called Mis-si-sip-pi and Lou-i-si-ana. She doesn’t know anyone in those other places, but the people she knows in Florida are rich beyond imagining. They complain if their roof leaks—¿por que? At least they have a roof. And homes. And a government that hands out money and food to anyone who asks for it.

She presses her hand to the cool window and feels a shiver run down her spine. America. Home of the blessed and the free. Home to runaways and castoffs and so full of people a girl could get lost forever . . . if she has reason to hide.

A flag on a nearby rooftop snaps in the rising wind, but Isabel can’t feel even a breeze in this fortress of steel and glass. At this daybreak hour, in this towering perch, she can’t help feeling invincible. No one from Mexico can touch her here. Even if her enemy manages to track her to Tampa, she will not surrender. She has Carlos and Rafael, and she would rather die than lose them.

She catches sight of her mirrored reflection, gives herself a smile, and nudges the ear buds back into her ears. Leaving the vista of Tampa behind, she turns on the machine and hums along with Donna Summer as she works hard for the money and vacuums her way toward the executive’s inner office.
* * *


Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Elevator's Michelle Tilson

Okay--for the next four days, I'm introducing you to my four main characters of THE ELEVATOR. The text you'll be reading isn't perfect, but it's third-draft. In any case, it'll give you a taste of what's coming . . .

Wrapped in the remnants of a dream, Michelle Tilson rolls onto her back and smiles at the ceiling until she remembers the monster out in the Gulf. She reaches for Parker, but the spot where he should be lying is empty and cold. She pushes herself up, the satin sheets puddling at her waist, and looks into the bathroom, which is empty.

Of course—he’s gone to the office. He said he might not be here when she woke.

Groaning, Michelle falls onto his pillow and breathes in the minty scent of his cologne. Typical Parker, the disappearing man. Here for a night, gone for a week. Most women would resent his inconsistency, but she’s become accustomed to his vanishing act.

She props his pillow against the headboard and leans back, surprised she can feel so relaxed on a Saturday morning. Weekends usually depress her, but despite the hurricane warning she floats in a curious contentment, as though the previous night’s love and laughter has splashed over a levee and flooded the normally arid weekend.

Parker is good for her. The man knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play, a lesson she’s been struggling to learn.

She reaches for the remote on the nightstand and powers on the television, still tuned to the Weather Channel. A somber-faced young man appears before a map on which a swirling bull’s-eye is moving straight toward Florida’s west coast. Hurricane Gordon, already a category four, has left Mexico and is churning toward Tampa Bay.

Michelle squints as her mind stamps the map with an icon representing her little pink house. Nothing changed overnight; she’s still in the hurricane’s path.

At least she’s well-insured. Parker’s made sure of that.

She turns down the volume on the television, then drops the remote and considers closing her heavy eyelids. She could easily sleep another hour, but Parker might call and she wants to be alert if he does. He’s already told her he plans to ride out the hurricane at his house, but who knows? This could be the weekend he’ll take her to meet his children . . .

She eases out from under the comforter and reaches for the computer on her nightstand. The laptop is always online, maintaining a quiet vigil as it files incoming email and searches the web for prospective clients.

Michelle slides her glasses on, then clicks on her email program and checks the inbox: three inquiries from her website, http://www.brantleyheadhunter.com/, a note from her administrative assistant, four ads for fake Rolex watches, three for cheap (and probably illegal) pharmaceuticals.

The spam gets deleted without a second look, but Michelle smiles as she opens the web mail. The first inquiry is from Don Moss, a Houston CFO who has recently lost his job with an oil company. He’s looking for a management position in the $400,000-$500,000 range and he’s willing to relocate.

The second is from a young woman with a newly-minted MBA and “a strong desire to succeed.”
The third email is from a school principal who needs to move west due to his wife’s failing health. Can Tilson Corporate Careers possibly help him find a university position?

Michelle clicks her nails against the keyboard as she considers the requests. The CFO will get her full attention; he’s probably good for a $15,000 fee. One of her associates can coach the girl with the MBA on how to write a resume and urge her to attend industry conferences. She’ll not bring in much money, but she should find a job on her own within a few months. The principal might be tough to place, but since he’s probably been in education a few years, he’s bound to know someone who knows someone in Arizona or New Mexico. He’ll land a job . . . eventually. Tilson Corporate will simply have to make sure he exhausts all his resources.

She moves all three messages into her “action” folder, then clicks on the message from Reggie.
She sighs when she reads that he’s taking his wife and new baby to Georgia to escape the storm. I’ll keep an eye on the news, he promises, and you can call if you need me. I’ll be at my sister’s house in Marietta.

BTW—last week one of the counselors took an application from a young guy who’s looking for a management position. Nothing unusual in the app, but I saw him through the window and recognized him— he belongs to the gym where my wife works and he’s a reporter for the Tampa Tribune. Long story short, Marcy chatted him up and found out he’s doing a story on employment agencies who don’t meet their contractual obligations. Looks like we’re at the top of his hit list.

I pulled his file and left it on my desk—the name is Greg Owens.

Michelle swallows hard as her stomach sways. Her agency does find jobs for clients, though not as often as their brochure claims. And while their advertising states that they typically place people in positions with salaries ranging from $75,000 to $750,000, she can’t remember the last time they referred a prospect to a situation worth more than eighty grand.

If she doesn’t find a position for Greg Owens, he’ll be all over Tilson Corporate Careers. If he checks into her company, he’ll begin by investigating her.

Reporters ask questions; they verify facts and check entries on resumes. If she doesn’t find Owens a job, he could crucify her.

She presses her hands to her eyes as a rush of dread whirls inside her gut. Only one thing to do, then—find the fake applicant a real job, and pretend to be surprised when he doesn’t take it.

That part, at least, will be easy. She’s been pretending all her life.
* * *


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner

Yesterday a man came to give me a bid on some pool renovations. While we sat outside and he jiggled his numbers, he said, "Have kids?"

"Yep," I said. "Two."

He looked up. "They're awful quiet."

I laughed. "They're out of the house. They're 21 and 22."

"Oh, my!" he says. "You look so young."

I felt flattered . . . until I remembered he was trying to sell me something.

On to today's topic: I am an admitted gadget freak. I ADORE gadgets, especially if they serve a useful function.

The other day I was flying home and picked up the latest edition of Skymall magazine. You know the one--the catalog filled with overpriced whatnots and travel aids, garden chairs, creams guaranteed to make you look like you've had a face lift, and gargoyles for your living room.

Anyway, they had something new--the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner. I was entranced. This little doodad hangs from your shower nozzle. After the last shower of the day (at our house, that would be mine), you press the little blue button. A warning beep gives you fifteen seconds to exit the shower, then the little nozzle at the very bottom spins round and round, spraying mildew-devouring Scrubbling Bubbles solution all over the shower walls, door, even your loofahs and shampoo bottles. No scrubbing necessary! (There are no bubbles, either, but I suppose that's beside the point).

The skymall ad even had a picture of a dirty "before" shower and a sparkling "after" shower--after about eight uses, I think. Anyway, I was hooked. Ordered the thing and now have it hanging from my shower nozzle. And every morning, I dry off, press the blue button, and step out of the shower, happily entertained while the little nozzle goes round and round . . .

My parents have a 50th anniversary coming up. What do you think? Isn't that more useful than, say, a trinket or tray?


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

First Sentence Test

Okay, the thing I always tell my students is that the first sentence of a novel needs a person and a provocative question.

Does this first sentence work for you?

Wrapped in the remnants of a dream, Michelle Tilson rolls onto her back and smiles at the ceiling until she remembers the monster out in the Gulf.

Okay--let me have it! {VBG}


Job . . .

For those of you who are on schedule with the Overachiever's Bible Reading Program, today we whizzed through Job. And I gotta tell you, I love this book. So much of it is sheer poetry! I love the descriptions of the leviathan and the behemoth, and could easily see how they could be dinosaurs (can't you just see the behemoth being a brontosaurus?). I love the poetry in verses like 28:9 where Job talks about mining: "Man's hand assaults the flinty rock and lays bare the roots of the moutains."

I love the science in Job. Yes, a lot of this is metaphorical language, but there's also truth in it. 26:7: "He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing." Ah, and this was written before people knew the earth was a sphere suspended in space!

And this in 26:14: "And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him!"

Some of you know that I've been really focusing on the sovereignty of God in the last few years--it showed up in my writing before it showed up in my conscious thoughts. You see, I accepted Christ when I was six years old, and all through my life I nurtured this quiet kind of pride that yes, I had the good sense to choose God. Ha!

Ah, my friend, the miracle of the mercy of God is that he chose me. I don't mean to get into a debate about predestination here, but I'm still learning and seeing that all my days have been ordered by him. When I began to see this, at first I thought I was allowing God to be bigger than I'd seen him previously . . . and then I realized that the truth is that I'm much smaller than I'd previously realized.

This is what God reveals to Job. Job is a righteous man, but in the fury of his self-defense, he fails to realize that compared to God, he is a mere pot. A pot the Creator can do with as he pleases.

The book of Job destroys prosperity theology with one blow. Sometimes godly men do good and receive suffering in return because it's God's will. Job's three friends are intent upon believing that goodness equals reward, but God isn't bound by that equation. He is holy, he is Lord, He is God.

I would love to come back and meditate on this book further. God chastises Job's three friends, but Elihu, the young upstart, seems to get away scot-free. Why? Do his words contain more truth than the others? His words seem to be in line with God's, but I need to go back and read more carefully.

BTW, I still have a few open slots for Magdalene books, so if you haven't sent your address, feel free. I'll post a note when the slots are full. (Caveat: Some of you have sent Canadian addresses. I'm not sure the publisher will want to deal with customs and extra postage, but we'll see.)


Me 'n Nancy and the Roaches

Like this picture? That's me and my gal pal Nancy Rue at CBA Advance . . . and the Zondervan Roaches, of course! (They have a series of kids' books called The Roach Approach.)

You know, sometimes I feel like I should apologize for this blog. I really didn't know what it was going to be when I started, but I can tell you what it's not--it's not a daily dose of profundity. It's whatever I'm in the mood to write, so some days it may feel like a lesson, some days like a journal, some days like a joke. But thanks for coming around anyway.

I may not be profound, but I try to be consistent. [VBG]

Monday, February 06, 2006

(Almost) too good to be true

I hope you're still reading for the 90-Day-Bible Challenge! Yesterday we had the delightful story of Esther, and now we're into Job, the oldest book in the Bible. The more I read Job, the more I see this as an example of God's sovereignty--we are his to do with as He wills, but we are never to blame him for the ills he sends our way.

I watched an incredible movie yesterday--TO END ALL WARS. It's got some rough violence in it, as it's about prisoners in a WWII prison camp, but there was also so much gospel truth! I highly recommend it.

Now, onto something pretty cool. Tyndale House Publishers is granting me an opportunity to give away free copies of MAGDALENE as soon as it rolls off the presses. All we ask in return is that you read it and tell someone about it. Pretty cool, huh?

I'm only allowed a limited number, so first come, first served. I'll keep a list, and when my number has been fulfilled, I'm afraid that's it.

If you'd like to be placed on the list, I need you to send me an email with your address and "Magdalene" in the subject line (so I can find your note amid all the spam). For your own privacy, please don't leave your address in the comments section.

Send your note to Angie at (use the symbol) angelaelwellhunt.com. If you get the book sometime in March, you'll know you were one of the first to get your name in.



Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Snoopy Award

LOL about the photo--that's Jim Bell holding his Snoopy Award, which the poor man had to buy himself since Charis has no budget . . .

(Remember? Jim and Karen Ball won the "It was a Dark and Stormy Night" contest dreamed up by Jack Cavanaugh at the Charis Connection.)

Anyway, congratulations again, Jim! May you treasure your snoopy for years to come! Write on!


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Progress Report

Blogspot seems to be burping today, so I'll try to post this again.Late last night, finished the 2.5 draft on THE ELEVATOR (I call it that because I got to the mid-point and started over). Sunday afternoon will be triage; Monday we'll begin the third round.Some pretty needy areas are staring out at me.

First, I need at least 20,000 more words. After writing so many 100,000 plus word books, I can't believe this one is coming in at only 57,000 so far, but okay. I know what needs to be added, including

More flashback scenes to deepen character, especially the character of Gina, my gnarliest woman in the elevator. I need to make sure we can see why she's so gnarly.
I have dozens of notes (Love that comment feature in Word!) to myself sprinkled throughout the manuscript--mainly to remind myself of things I need to keep consistent.

And the elevator mechanics. Randy Singer was kind enough to introduce me to Michael Garnier, an elevator expert. At first I was only going to ask Michael to read a completed draft, but once I began to ask him questions, I'm so glad I didn't wait! This book has to be credible (for the sake of my own self-respect, if nothing else), so I want to get the mechanics right. So Michael and some of his friends are checking out all the details. I've learned some fascinating (and frightening!) things about elevators.

(Aside: I was with Patty Hickman last week in Nashville. We were in an elevator that looked like it had a polished brass roof, but I jumped up and jiggled one of the tiles to show her where the escape hatch was. I think she was impressed. Too bad the hatch will only open from the OUTSIDE.)

And sensory details. Though I have stood at my window and watched a hurricane blow by, I wasn't in a skyscraper and the hurricane wasn't a category four. So I need to do some more research.

Ah, round three. I'm ready!


Friday, February 03, 2006

Intrigue! Love! Treason! Murder! Revenge!

No, it's not headlines for a new TV show, it's the Old Testament, particularly the section we've been reading and re-reading in Samuel, the books of the Kings, and the Chronicles.

If you're still hanging in with the Overachiever's Bible Reading program, you've already read one-third of the book! Pretty cool, huh?

I thought you might be interested in one "story behind the story."

Absalom, who had become bitter ever since the rape of his sister, Tamar, began a whispering campaign to turn the people away from his father. He employed runners to run ahead of his chariot and praise him to the skies; he also sat in the city gate and accosted people before they could gain an entrance to see the king.

Absalom killed his brother Amnon, the first-born who had raped Tamar, and though he was exiled for a time, his father forgave him. David loved Absalom, perhaps because this son was spectacularly handsome and pleasing to the eye. But Absalom was not a man of God; he may have been the most wicked of the king’s sons.

When Absalom was certain his popularity would prevail, he went on a supposed pilgrimage to Hebron, the land of his tribe, and people began to announce that he reigned from there. Many people did support him, so David and his loyal followers had to flee for their lives. One who remained behind, however, was Ahithophel. Ahithophel had been one of David’s “strong men,” one of the select “thirty” and one of David’s most trusted counselors. Scripture tells us “Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel's advice” (2 Samuel 16:23).

Because Ahithophel had remained behind, Absalom assumed that the wise man had come around to his side. He asked advice of the older man, and Ahithophel advised him to pursue David with an army of 12,000 while David and his men were tired. Before advising him militarily, however, Ahithophel told Absalom to go to the royal palace and sleep with David’s concubines on the top of the house, so all Israel could see and know what Absalom was doing.

Why would he advise this? Part of the reason undoubtedly had to do with the fact that Absalom had claimed the position of a defeated king, but another part of the reason had to be personal. Scripture does not reveal Ahitophel’s thinking, but notice this: Ahithophel had a son named Eliam (2 Samuel 23:34) and Eliam had a daughter named Bathsheba (“and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ 2 Samuel 11:3).

Ahitophel’s granddaughter was Bathsheba, who had been taken from her husband, Uriah, and made pregnant by the king. In time the king’s sin was known throughout the land, and Ahithophel undoubtedly burned to know that his granddaughter had been shamed and her husband murdered. But what could a man do against the king? Only one thing: advise the king’s son about how to plan a coup.

Fortunately, God overruled Ahitophel’s revenge and Absalom followed another man’s advice. Afterward, Ahithophel went home and quietly committed suicide while Absalom was killed by David’s commander.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Birth Announcement

I'd take a picture of Charley Gansky with this new book, but he's sleeping at my feet and I don't want to wake him. But it's here! Hot off the press and beautiful! It's A TIME TO MEND, from Steeple Hill.

I originally wrote this book as GENTLE TOUCH. It's not a mere reprint, trust me--it's a book about a woman's struggle with breast cancer, and the field of oncology changes so rapidly that I had to completely rewrite the cancer protocols in this new edition. Fortunately, I have some great friends at an oncology center in Clearwater who helped me update the material.

I was at a Harlequin sales meeting last night (lovely!), and someone asked me if the book has a happy ending. I'd call it a hopeful ending. Which is the best kind of ending, I think.

In any case, A TIME TO MEND is rolling out all across the country, so I hope you'll give it a read.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Israel and Hamas

Photo: Hamas baby

Like many other American Christians, with with growing shock last week I watched Hamas win the Palestinian election. Hamas, whose platform rests solidly upon terror and a refusal to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, now controls the Palestinian government--which has recently moved into take lands vacated by Israelis.

I was even more shocked to learn that many Christians living in Israel actually voted for Hamas, preferring them to the more moderate (at least on the surface) Fatah government, best known as the party of the late Yasir Arafat.

You may be aware of my longstanding interest in eschatology. You may also know of my sincere belief that God ceded the land of Israel to the Jews, and it should be--and one day will be--theirs. Scripture informs me that the Abrahamic covenant, in which God granted an everlasting title to the land of Israel, has not been set aside. The church has not replaced Israel in God's eternal plan; Scripture says we have been "grafted" into their tree.

I do not know exactly how God will reveal his messiah to the Jewish people, but I believe the day Zechariah wrote about is coming : “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication,” wrote the prophet, “then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10).

I have been amazed on occasion to realize that many Christians seem to resent God's grace toward his chosen people. In one of the Heavenly Daze books, I had an angel report to duty. In the course of telling his past assignments, he said that he had comforted a Jewish family during World War II. I was startled when a reader castigated me for that position in a public book review forum.

Anyway, I digress--back to Hamas. Unlike many prophecy teachers who will be quick to proclaim that this is another sign of the end times, I'm simply going to watch and listen. It may be a sign of the latter days. It probably is. But I'm not going to stop paying my bills because Hamas is ruling in Palestine.

I did find this interesting--from Sunday's New York Times:

Mr. Schmidt sighed, then chained one careful word to the next on what it means
that Hamas is now the official Palestinian power. "I tell you," he began, "we
think it is actually the best thing that can happen to

"Because now we see the real face of the Palestinians," said Mr. Schmidt, 56, a computer
engineer from Haifa who considers himself neither on the left nor the right.
"From their vote we can understand their theory to destroy the state of Israel
is not a theory but a fact.

"So," he said, in a conclusion that may not seem
immediately logical to outsiders but was repeated again and again in interviews
here, "I think it is the best chance for peace. I think Hamas can understand
there is no way to destroy the state of Israel and will take a course to
peace. "Hopefully."
. . .

"There is going to be a big explosion between Hamas and Fatah," said Joseph Brenner, 58, a gardener sitting with friends in Rabin Square. "It's good for Israel. And God is the director. We didn't have to do anything. God did all the work for us."
(Article by Ian Fisher)

Ah. Mr. Brenner has it right. God knows his timetable, and he is sovereign over even these startling circumstances. God has always kept his hand upon Israel. But one day that small nation will be (as it has always been), the centerpiece of world events. Worth keeping an eye on that significant piece of real estate.