Thursday, September 29, 2011


I've been up at the Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference all week, on the shores of Lake Michigan in Muskegon. Beautiful place! I've even felt a chill in the air.

Know what I've noticed over the years? Some writers want to be unusual people. They talk about how strange they are, as if strangeness is a quality to be cultivated. Well, I've got news for you--I have about a hundred close writer friends, and they're not strange at all. You could have dinner with any one of them in a public place and no one would stare at you. On the other hand, when I took my daughter to art school, I stared at everyone in attendance. You want to know unconventional, get thee to an artists' colony.

Maybe, you say, I don't notice that my novelist friends are strange because I'm strange. But I still beg to differ. Every been to a dentists' convention? Hung out with circus folk? Gone "backstage" at a dog show? If you've done any of the above, you'll realize that everyone is strange in their own way. And when like minds congregate, the difference tends to show.

Yet when writers cultivate their unconventionality, I think we make writing seem altogether too mystical, as if mere mortals can't possibly aspire to it. Blarney and poppycock. Anyone with the gift of sitting still can learn to write. They may not be artistic about it, but if they can speak and think, they can write. Written communication is not rocket science.

One of my favorite writing books is Dare To Be a Great Writer by Leonard Bishop. I've had this book for years and never tire of flipping through the assorted entries. But one entry, I think, was written entirely tongue in cheek. Bishop says that once you have become a best-selling author, you need to develop a persona; you need to cultivate the writer's mystique:

"No longer have casual conversations. Conduct orations. Not with passive platitudinous ponderosities, but with dynamics and charm. Use the body language of a shadow-boxing pugilist. Develop cunning facial expressions. Grimace as though pained with profundity. Wink, pout, sigh, crack your knuckles in contemplation. Use a repertoire of snappy jokes employed by any popular dentist. Be direct, outspoken, bold. Do not become subtle or ethereal with implication. Audiences are not talented at grasping existentialist innuendo. Rehearse being extemporaneous. "

I respond to the above with a ROFLOL. And while I'll admit that my ten presentations at schools in the past week contained a LOT of body language, acting, and humor (two girls from one school dubbed me the 'drama queen'), most of that was just to make sure my audience remained awake and interested.

Yes, writing requires a lot of hard work. Writing a good novel takes hard work and endless hours. Writing an artistic novel takes even more time. Writing an artistic novel that doesn't put people to sleep requires even more effort. Few folks commit to that level of sacrifice.

But there are surgeons who strive for that level of excellence in their field . . . and teachers who aim for excellence in order to influence young lives. And broadcasters and mothers and fathers and architects and pastors and dog groomers, all of whom have committed their lives and their careers to excellence for the glory of God.

Does that make them strange? In a sea of mediocrity, perhaps. In the light of eternity, they're not strange at all. They're the called, the committed, the good stewards. The ones who will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."

I aspire to be one of them, but I don't think that makes me strange. Just . . . called.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Myers-Briggs and Now This?

It had to happen. They now have "types" for bloggers.
I have to admit that I use "types" all the time. Myers-Briggs is my favorite tool for creating characters and it's also helped me understand my spouse, my friends, and my independent, hard-headed self.
But the following is for fun. Click on the link and see what "blogging type" you are!

P.S. Thanks to Cindy Swanson, where I found this gem!

Your Blogging Type is Logical and Principled

You like to voice your well thought out opinions on your blog.
And if someone doesn't what you write, you really don't care!
Serious and blunt, sometimes people take your blog the wrong way.
But you're a true and loyal friend to those who truly get you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Flannery O'Connor--wow!

I've been reading Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners like a devotional--one chapter a day, with time to savor and think about each page. Today's essay, "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" ought to be required reading for anyone who would write novels. With a wry sense of humor, O'Connor speaks plain truth and challenges at the same time.

This is priceless, and one of those "plain truth" comments:

"But there is a widespread curiosity about writers and how they work, and when a writer talks on this subject, there are always misconceptions and mental rubble for him to clear away before he can even begin to see what he wants to talk about. I am not, of course, as innocent as I look. I know well enough that very few people who are supposedly interested in writing are interested in writing well. They are interested in publishing something, and if possible in 'making a killing.' They are interested in beng a writer, not in writing. They are interested in seeing their names at the top of something printed, it matters not what. And they seem to feel that this can be accomplished by learning certain things about working habits and about markets and about what subjects are currently acceptable."

Oh, if you could see what I've seen--the rapt attention beginning writers pay to editors who dare to talk about trends and "the market" and what's currently selling. Who cares? By the time a book is written and published, today's trend is yesterday's news. And if you're writing to the market, you're not even beginning to write from your passion. You're not listening to the voice of God, the voice of Truth, but the voice of consumerism.

 I love this essay!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rediscovering the Known Country

I've been reading G.K. Chesterton's book ORTHODOXY, and he cracks me up. Philip Yancy's foreword is priceless, but he doesn't steal the show from Chesterton.

I love how in chapter one he says he set out searching for truth and was like a man who lands upon an island, thinks that it's some exotic place, and finds out that it is in fact Mother England. Says Chesterton: "If this book is a joke it is a joke bagainst me. I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before. If there is an element of farce in what follows, the farce is at my own expense; for this book explains how I fanciesd I was the first to set foot in Brighton and then found I was the last. It recounts my elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious . . ."

That's how I often feel about my own life as a Christian and a writer. The Lord brings me through some lesson--and I usually think it's definitely uppergraduate stuff--and then I find that I'm setting foot in the Land of Knowledge with youngsters who learned my new lesson a long time ago. Or never needed to learn it in the first place. :-)

I can't wait to become a little better acquainted with Mr. Chesterton. They say he won over his debate opponents not by blasting at them, but by laughing at himself. I think you can see a little of his humor in this passage:

"It may be that somebody will be entertained by the account of his happy fiasco. It might amuse a friend or an enemy to read how I gradually learnt from the truth of some stray legend or from the falsehood of some dominant philosophy, things that I might have learnt from my catechism--if I had ever learnt it. There may or may not be some entertainment in reading how I found at last in an anarchist club or a Babylonian temple what I might have found in the nearest parish church."

And that's one of the joys of writing the kinds of books I write. I tell a story in which characters have their eyes opened--and some of my readers will be already acquainted with the new vision, but others won't be. One group will be nostalgic, perhaps, the other fascinated. And those who don't or can't see the truth--well, they could be bored or offended, I suppose. Each to his own reaction. My job is not to react, it is to write.

Off to attempt it for another day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

If You Want to Write a Book. . .

From my soapbox:

If you are trying to become published, stop looking for short cuts. Do not ask a published friend to introduce you to an editor, do not print your manuscript on pink paper, and do not send it to your favorite author in an e-mail. Simply write an irresistible story. Keep working at it until you find an editor who agrees.

Face the possibility that you may be called to write for your children, your grandchildren, your church newsletter, and other local venues. That is a ministry in itself, and a worthy one. Do not disparage any of these avenues, but do your best at them. Anyone who writes is a writer. Never forget that.

There are many people who really don’t want to be writers, they want to be published. If you think being published will make all your dreams come true, think again. Life will go on pretty much the way it did before. People who know you well will be, for the most part, singularly unimpressed. They will view your work as a nice little hobby, or think it is only being carried in local bookstores. People who view you with stars in their eyes will do so largely out of ignorance—either they don’t know you or they don’t know what being a writer is really like. When they get to know you as an ordinary person, or when they learn how hard writing can be, those stars will vanish.

Life as a published author is not an endless junket of book signings. It’s a seemingly endless round of sitting at a desk, staring at a computer, and hoping against hope that the words rolling from the ends of your fingertips can carry the spark of life and a glimmer of truth to the reader you HOPE will pick up the book. It’s living by feast and famine, walking in faith that your finances will be provided and your creative well replenished.

Once you are published, doors do not always open easily, fans do not routinely flock, people unrelated to your mother usually do not stand in line to praise your work. Getting your foot in the door is hard; keeping it there can be even harder. The work you did to get published will have to be improved upon. You will have to grow, to sweat, to strain, to keep improving. Most of the “overnight successes” you read about have been quietly laboring for years.

You will receive fan letters from people who say your book is the best thing they have ever read. Do not believe them; they say that to everyone. You will also receive letters from people who say you’re the worst writer alive and could not possibly be a Christian. Do not believe them, either. You will also receive occasional letters from people who gently point out areas where you may have erred—those letters you may take to heart, for they may be God’s way of correcting you.

If your book does not do as well as you have hoped, you will be tempted to become critical and envious of others’ success, to complain about your editors, your marketing department, your reviewers and bookstores. You will find that life is a never-ending struggle to walk in obedience to the Lord who called you to follow him. You will have to avoid being distracted by marketing plans and promotional gimmicks and best-seller lists. You will have to cast your dreams of million dollar sales on the altar and realize that if God calls you to write books that sell ten thousand, that is better than selling a zillion copies of a book not written in obedience. At some point, you will have to decide--are you writing for the praise of men or the glory of God?

Writing is a job like anything else, neither higher nor lower than the calling of the Christian dentist, minister, teacher, or day care worker. We have to see ourselves as ministers to an unseen audience many months away, and trust that the Lord will place books in the proper hands. We have to struggle against pride when a book does well; we have to struggle against discouragement when a book does not.

We have to be kind enough to rejoice when a brother or sister succeeds; we have to resist the inner editor and critic who would (incorrectly) assure us our work is better. We have to guard against the self-censor who urges us to write to the market instead of writing the story God places on our hearts; yet we must not be such a slave to stories of our own egotistic imagination that we place them outside the realm of the average reader. Most of all, we have to be walking in Truth enough to know what springs from Self, and what from Spirit.

We must work to keep the unity in the bond of love, for other writers are our co-laborers, whether they write in our genre or not, whether they sell alongside us or not. We must banish the word “competition” from our tongues, for we are pulling the same yoke, straining for the same purpose: to honor God with our livelihood. We must not allow others to put us on a pedestal, for writing is like anything else—if God calls us to do it, we are to do it wholeheartedly, as unto the Lord. When glory or praise is given, it belongs to Him, for creativity springs from the Creator. (And if we are honest, we will admit that we are constantly torn between wanting to believe we are special and knowing we are completely human.)

We must recognize that each of us is unique, with different voices, styles, and callings. My job is not to write like my brother or sister, my job is to write the truths God places upon my heart.

Being a writer is a unique joy, for none of life’s experiences are ever wasted. But this means that the people around you may grow wary, and some of the things you write, if they are honest, may hurt. If you write from a place of honesty, you will bare parts of yourself you would never display before a neighbor, yet you do it, hoping your revelation will spare some other person some pain.

Writing is hard. Some days I can’t imagine why any sane person would ever want to do this. Other days, I know I’m the most blessed woman alive.

It all boils down to this: the creature finds joy doing the thing he or she was created to do. Birds put forth effort to fly, salmon expend energy swimming upstream, and writing requires hard work.

I suppose it’s that simple.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This dog has been drinking smart juice . . .

Beats anything I've ever seen.  What makes this little beagle so much smarter than his buddies?  Who knows, but he's amazing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Will you take this woman?

I'm not sure where this came from; my mom sent it to me. But I actually gasped when I saw it. Oy! 
So no matter what happened during your wedding (I cried all the way through mine), I hope it wasn't this bad. 


Monday, September 19, 2011


Blogging today at The Lovin' Oven. 

Tuesday night, doing a webinar on "The Plot Skeleton."  Contact the Christian Writers' Guild for more information.

See you over at the Oven!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Started a New Blog. I Need to have my head examined.

Because I've been baking, I decided to set my next novel in a bakery.

Because I decided to set my next novel in a bakery,
I decided I need to learn more about baking.

Because I decided I need to learn more about baking,
I came up with a plan to teach my self . . . and share it with others.  Shared misery, you know.

Because I came up with the plan . . . I want you to join me at The Lovin' Oven.  Please.  I can't be the only one this crazy.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happiness or Holiness?

I'm just so doggone HAPPY! 
Yesterday--you may have heard about it--the Rev. Pat Robertson said that it's okay for a Christian to divorce his/her partner with Alzheimer's and remarry.

I'm not writing to rail against Pat Robertson, and he certainly doesn't speak for all believers in Christ.  But his statement started me thinking about the marriage covenant (a fancy word for contract), and then a friend on an email loop asked, "Who says marriage isn't about making us happy, but making us holy?"

Whoa.   In my ponderings, I realized that nowhere does Scripture tell us to try to be happy.  We are told to be like Christ, to be faithful, to be holy, and to be mature.  But nowhere did Jesus say, "Go out and do something that makes you happy."

This invitation to holiness is found in all contracts, whether written or verbal or implicit.  I entered into an implicit agreement to parent my children, and I can tell you that I've experienced long periods of parenthood where I received very little happiness and loads of invitations to holiness (and I'm sure my parents could say the same thing!).  Marriage is not a bed of roses all the time, and what job doesn't have its aggravations?

As to being an employee: with each struggle in employment (or unemployment), I've had a choice to be unhappy or to exercise some aspect of holiness--patience, grace, sacrifice, kindness, generosity.   In marriage, in family relationships, in business relationships, and even in the neighborhood--whenever I'm tempted to be unhappy, I could instead exercise one of the virtues of holiness.

And you know what?  When I deliberately choose to exercise an aspect of holiness--which is what God commands me to do in the first place--I find something better than happiness.  Jesus said that he came so that our joy would be full.  And joy is much deeper and much more permanent that light and frothy "happiness."

I know that many loving spouses have cared for and remained faithful to their spouses with Alzheimer's and other debilitating diseases . . . choosing to exercise the virtues of holiness rather than seeking their own happiness.  And when they choose that path, they bring glory to God.

We all face the same challenge--and not one of us makes the right choice 100 percent of the time.  But we tend to forget we HAVE that choice, so here's a little reminder . . . to you and to me.

So when the Bozos of your life drive you crazy, remember: by the sovereign will of God, that Bozo is in your life to help make you holy.  :-)  Thank God for your precious little crazy-maker.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Checking IN . . .

Well, it's been a busy week.  Monday I polished up and sent off FIVE MILES SOUTH OF PECULIAR.  It's far from finished, because I still have to hear from my editor and make those changes, then it has to go through copyediting, etc., but it's time for me to switch mental gears and move on to the next book--an idea that's still niggling in the back of my mind.

So for the next few days I'll be sketching out a proposal, then I'll adjust my work calendar and begin the next project.  I still have other things to do, too-- a spec novel that's been rolling around in my brain, a revision of "the train story," and I also have to write my dissertation, which should become a nonfiction book on what happens when we die (near death experiences and the like).  So my calendar is pretty full, though not all of those are contracted jobs.

Still, I have plenty on my plate.  Add to that baseball (boy, the Rays have come to life and we're not out of the running for the playoffs yet!), baking (I went to pastry class last weekend and know how to make all kinds of fancy things now), and The Grand Baby (see latest photo).  Plus I have quite a bit of traveling to do from the end of September through October, so you might want to check my "events" list and see if I'll be in your area. You never know!

Whew.  Sometimes you just need to stop and take a breath. :-)

P.S.  Today I baked dog biscuits and brioche.  :-)


Monday, September 12, 2011

Historical Ads . . . wow.

If you have some time today, trip through some of these astonishingly anachronistic ads--takes you breath away to see how time and mindsets have changed.

I've been watching some of the AMC series MAD MEN.  And while the subject matter is dark and depressing (it's almost a morality play about how drink, excess, and pride bring a man to ruin), I am tickled to see clothing, plates, kitchenware, etc., that I remember from my childhood.  But now and they the characters will say or do something (especially regarding women or people of other races), and I'm simply aghast.

Anyway, do check out the ads.  Click on them for a larger view.  Hilarious, aren't they?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Cross in the Ruins

Today, I want to send you to this news story.

God bless America.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Librarians Rock Gaga

In case you missed it on my Facebook page . . . what would we do without librarians and their catalogs? Love this parody! Hmmm . . . maybe I should gather my writer pals to do another one. :-)


Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Whale Says Thank You

I love whales and elephants and all those huge creatures that are obviously intelligent and emotional animals. So I especially loved this story, and I hope you will, too.

I wrote a book about whales once--The Whales' Song, which is one of my children's books, and one of the Kimberly and the Captives' Series. It's been a long time, but I'll always love whales.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

BOM: Questions and Answers

There weren't many questions, but I'll try to answer them.

Let me clarify my comments about charts, maps, and glossaries--I don't hate them, in fact, I'll agree that they're often useful. But as a reader, I find them off-putting when they're at the front of a book. As a writer, I try to keep my cast of characters manageable and I try to define unfamiliar terms in context. And yes, if a map is important, by all means, put it up front. Sometimes a picture is worth ten thousand words. :-)

And Kay, about Herod and your time line--I grappled with this when I was working on THE NATIVITY STORY and MAGDALENE. And there's no problem at all if you place Jesus' birth at 1 or 0 A.D. --Herod then dies, if memory serves, in the year 4 A.D. I found lots of support for that date as regarding Herod and Jesus.

Peggy asked if the Joseph books were available: they are DREAMERS, BROTHERS, and JOURNEY, and they are available as used books on

Thanks for coming along on another BOM!


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

BOM: Results and reader reaction

I was thrilled when THE SHADOW WOMEN was a finalist in a couple of major awards. But by far the most thrilling thing happened when . . .

Well, let me back up.

In 2002, right after The Shadow Women released, my husband and I moved into a new neighborhood. Our reputation preceded us (it's a small neighborhood), and I was trying hard to be a friendly Christian, not a self-righteous one. I gave most of the neighbors on my street a copy of one of my books, and I wanted to give a book to the Jewish family that lived on the next block.

So one night I walked over and knocked on their door, introduced myself, and said, "Would you like a book?"

The woman replied, a little dubiously, "Is it Christian?"

I held it up. "It's about Moses."

So she took it. And a month later she stopped by while I was sweeping out my garage and said she'd enjoyed the book. And would I be willing to come and speak to the ladies' group at her synagogue?

You bet! I prayed about it for several days, and spoke to several people who have worked with Jewish people--should I avoid mentioning the name of Christ? Should I try to be more overt? How, exactly, should I be a testimony of Jesus in a modern synagogue?

The advice I received was this: "Be yourself, be honest, don't try to strategize. Just be true to your testimony."

So I was. I talked about how I accepted Christ as a child and grew up in a home that studied the Scriptures. How the Lord had led me to become a writer. How I wrote stories to honor Him. And how, beginning with the time God sent Nathan to David with a story of a man and his beloved lamb, God had been using Story to convict and sway the hearts of men. I told them truthfully that I have had a love for the Jewish people for years . . .

And you know what? That was one of the warmest receptions I have ever received anywhere. I gave a copy of my Joseph novel to every woman and left a stack of books for their library.

And all because of Moses and the women who shadowed his life.

Tomorrow: any questions? Be sure to leave them in the comments box and I'll answer them tomorrow!


Monday, September 05, 2011

In Memory

A moment of silence today to honor Leroy Selmon, football player, civic leader, child of God and friend of Jesus. Read about him here.

BOM: The Editing

Repeat after me: "I don't remember much about the editing . . ."

Actually, I do. :-) Leslie Peterson was my excellent editor on this project, and she had several helpful suggestions, including the idea of placing a glossary in the book. I insisted that it go at the back, however, because I personally am put off by any book if I open it and see either a glossary or a chart of characters up front. I read primarily for entertainment, not to learn something (though I'm always delighted if I do!).

I do remember hearing one comment that filtered in from somewhere--someone suggested that I put in some scenes from Moses' point of view. I demurred, because that would have defeated my entire purpose--to tell Moses' story completely through the eyes of the women in his life.

Moses had lots of chances to tell his story in the Pentateuch. I figured it was time to give the women a chance to speak.

Tomorrow: results and reader reaction


Sunday, September 04, 2011

BOM: The Writing

Here we go again--I don't remember much about the writing because it happened a long time ago. I do remember really getting into the heads of the three women, especially Miriam. She saw so many miracles and was such a leader among the people, and yet she fell into the sin of bitterness just like anyone else.

Ironically, that's one comment I often hear about my book MAGDALENE. I portrayed that other Miryam as carrying a burden of bitterness even after she met the Savior, and I've had people say that they find that incredible.

I don't. The disciples still squabbled among themselves after the Lord's ascension, and they were still human, even though they had witnessed miracles and performed a few themselves (through the power of Christ).

Yet even though we may be born again and filled with the Spirit, when we turn our hearts away from following the Lord, we can fall prey to any number of human frailties. Bitterness, envy, anger, jealousy, pity--these were Miriam's problems, and the Lord had to humble her even after her great victories.

There's a humbling lesson in her story. For all of us.

Tomorrow: The editing


Saturday, September 03, 2011

BOM: The Research

I love research--for one thing, it's easier than writing. For another, it stalls the dreaded day when you simply must put words on a computer screen, and it holds the dreaded FEAR OF THE BLANK SCREEN at bay for a while. That's why I don't spend more than a week on research up front--any longer than that and I might never get started.

I do keep researching as I write, though, and of course I have to look things up when I run into a conundrum--let's say that people were sitting down to eat. I have to know if they used plates or silverware or fingers or chopsticks, so if I don't already know, I put in a pair of brackets and say [look this up later!] and keep typing. First drafts are for getting the story down.

My biggest problem when I began to research THE SHADOW WOMEN was setting the story in a specific time. Dozens of researchers and theologians all have various ideas about who the Pharaoh of the Exodus was and when the Israelites officially left Egypt, but once I began to really study the Scripture and Egyptian history, everything fell neatly into place. The key is realizing that the Hebrews were in Egypt only 215 years--there were 430 years from the establishment of the Abrahamic covenant until the Exodus. Most people try to make the slavery last 430 years, but that doesn't work.

Let me explain. In Galatians 3:16-17. Paul says that the Law came 430 years after God's covenant with Abraham.

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 under Jacob 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--which presumably required a horse. 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 pertains 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!

Many people, of course, interpret this differently, but they run into the problems mentioned above if they do. In the interest of fairness, here's another man's opinion.

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 . . .)

So the Hebrews 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.

Let's also look at it from a genealogical perspective: 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.

Okay--went down a rabbit trail with that one, didn't I? But I really do think these decisions through. And when you do a systematic study of Scripture, all the pieces fit. After all, biblical fiction is historical fiction. The two DO mesh.

Tomorrow: The Writing


Friday, September 02, 2011

BOM: How the Idea Germinated

The idea for The Shadow Women wasn't hard to come by--I had wanted to tell the story of Moses ever since finishing the story of Joseph that I tackled in DREAMERS, BROTHERS, and JOURNEY. But "biblical fiction" is a hard sell--it is alternately hot and not, and the market didn't seem right until Anita Diamant's THE RED TENT hit it big. Suddenly everyone was interested in biblical fiction again, particularly from the Old Testament, and I was hankering to tell Moses' story.

So WarnerFaith took on the project (and Greenbrier, in this latest incarnation) and I set to work. The challenge, of course, in telling a familiar Bible story is telling it in a unique way, through fresh eyes. So I chose to tell Moses' story through the eyes of the three principal women in his life: his Egyptian mother, the daughter of Pharaoh; his wife, Zipporah; and his sister, Miryam. I also chose to maintain a distinctly Jewish flavor throughout the story. I wanted to be as true to the story as possible.

And so I pulled out my old books on Egyptian history and added some new ones about Moses. And happily settled in for a week of in-depth research.

Tomorrow: The Research


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Book of the Month: The Shadow Women

Time for a change of pace . . . the book of the month will be THE SHADOW WOMEN, one of my favorite historicals.  I've featured this book before, but now it's been re-released!  Like the new cover?

Here's the blurb:

The Shadow Women

Winner of the 2004 Angel Award from Excellence in Media, and a finalist for the ECPA Gold Medal and the Christy Award.

One called him son. One called him brother. One called him husband. And all three suffered for him. How do you live with a God-intoxicated man?

Under the shadow of ancient Egypt, a baby boy is born to a peasant woman. His young sister leaves him in a basket in a river, hiding in the rushes to watch over him until a princess comes to claim the child as her own. The princess names him Moses, and he grows to become a man whose life is characterized by violence and terror, but equally by faith, and whose sacrifice ultimately leads to the redemption and liberation of his people from slavery.

Told from the perspective of the women who loved him--from his mother and sister, who saved him by giving him up to the Egyptian princess who adopted him, to the shepherd's daugher he married--this epic novel of passion and intrigue offers a fresh perspective on one of the most enigmatic figures in biblical history.

Tomorrow: how the idea germinated