The Best Christmas Movie Ever

A Christmas Carol (1951) Movie Review

We watched this yesterday–Scrooge, the 1951 retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring Alistair Sim. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this. Dozens? At least forty, given that Patty and I watch it every Christmas. But it won’t matter if we see it forty times more: it has never failed to melt my heart, and never will.

Why? Because it’s about redemption! What could possibly be more important? And who doesn’t need it?

By the time we were halfway through the story yesterday, I was shaking my head: this was a man who had seriously made a hog’s ass of his life. He’d started out with real disadvantages–his mother died, his father never loved him–which he parleyed into enduring character flaws. If ever a man was bound for Hell, it was he.

And by the power of Jesus Christ, acting through Christmas… he’s saved.

Think about that. Saved! Think of the bad things that you’ve said and done in your life. Truly awful, isn’t it? Oh, what was I thinking!

But God’s sovereign grace, in Jesus Christ, has wiped them all away. They won’t count against us. They won’t even be mentioned.

That’s what this story is about. That’s why it never gets old.

If you haven’t seen it, or been a long time without it–well, it’s easy enough to find on line. Find an hour and a half to give to it. You’ll be abundantly repaid.

‘Are My Books Biased?’ (2013)

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It was going to be my big break. My books were going to be reviewed by a big-name critic I had actually heard of.

Until he decided they were so crawling with subliminal Calvinism, he shouldn’t even mention them.

Are My Books Biased?

These are fantasy novels. They depict an imaginary world. I detest fantasies that remind me I’m only looking at words on paper. For me to load Bell Mountain with sly Calvinist insinuations would be to break my own rules.

Who we are is always going to have a bearing on what we write. Otherwise we wouldn’t be writing in the first place. If I wanted a Greek Orthodox slant to my story, I’d have to work and study hard to acquire it. Much of who we are is what we’re used to.

I don’t think my books are biased against one particular branch of Christianity or another. I try not to be. This blog serves readers of many different denominations–or no denomination. I rather hoped my books would do the same.

Ta-Dah! It’s Finished

[Pardon my use of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme music for Patton (1970). It’s my way of enjoying a victory lap.]

It’s a beautiful gorgeous day today, with honeybees busy with the white wildflowers that have grown up around my writing chair. Tomorrow we’re supposed to get cold rain, but I don’t mind–

For I have finished writing The Witch Box! And if my execution is worthy of my vision, well, wow–I’ll have done something well worth doing. There’s life in the Bell Mountain series yet, and plenty of it.

Now I have to go back and fill the hole I left when I stopped writing Chapter Set 4 and decided to jump ahead to the double climax; but that shouldn’t be too hard to do. I also have to type it all up and send it off to Susan to be edited. That’ll be a big job but again, not too hard to do. I never expected to fill up another 165 pages of legal pad; but at least I don’t have to worry about the book being too short.

But give God the glory, for guiding me through this work from beginning to end: and may it be fruitful in His service. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S.–I’ll bet I’ve once again finished a book on the last day I could have finished it, taking into account the advent of cold weather. That’s what happened with Behold!, too. It does make me wonder…

Sorry I’m Late!

Ruined UK castles spring back to life | CNN Travel

Sorry I’m running so late today, but it was unavoidable: four errands to run this morning, including grocery shopping–and then I had to take advantage of the sunny weather to work on my book, The Witch Box.

As I work my way into the book’s double climax, the people settled around the ruined castle of Carbonek are about to yield to a temptation: not to trust entirely in God’s promise, but to try to beef it up with something more. Something of this world. They can’t help it. We’re always looking for some kind of insurance policy.

I have to do as much as I can this week, before cold weather really settles in. At the same time, I have to be careful not to force the story. I have to trust in God’s guidance–and that’s not always easy to do. Carbonek, I know how you feel.

I’m being drawn into the story. I don’t know how to say it any other way.

Prayer Request: Kenny

My friend and editor, Susan, has requested prayers for her cousin, Kenny, who needs a serious heart operation. Please join in prayer for him.

O Lord our God! Have mercy on our brother, Kenny, and see him safely through this present danger. Protect him, preserve him, and heal him, Lord: in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Thrill Is Back!

The Bell Mountain Series - Reformed Reviews

I’ll never get over the thrill I experience when a story I’m writing takes on a life of its own and pulls me along with it.

It’s going to be tricky, putting the book into a coherent whole, but I’m sure the Lord will guide me. Like, waddaya know! Suddenly I have a pre-climax that not only leads into the double climax of the story, but also ties the two together. I never expected that, although it’s not the first time it’s happened. The story unfolds and I just write it down! How cool is that?

I’m already working on a second chapter of the pre-climax, with another chapter waiting in the wings. It’s really going to mess up my legal pads–but once I’ve got all the pieces written, I’ll be able to put them together as they should be.

Meanwhile… who knew Wytt had a streak of clairvoyance in him?

A Breakthrough!

Breakthrough' is a faith-based adaptation with the ability to reach all  audiences - CLTure

Well! That little piece of The Witch Box that I woke up with today turned out to be a big piece.

Let me see if I can explain this to you. If you’re thinking of writing a novel of your own someday, you might find this interesting. Maybe even useful.

I had reached a point in the story where I was, in a word, stuck. Ahead of me lay unknown territory which I would have to cross to get to the double climax of the plot. How much territory, I had no idea. I didn’t want to pad the story (heaven forbid!), but I didn’t want to wind up with a short book, either.

And then, as I sat down to write this morning, the skies, as it were, opened.

I interrupted the ordinary writing of the story to jump ahead to a point just before the climax–and suddenly I had a nice big chunk of plot! I had an incident that shed light on everything that had to come next. A piece of the story that had to be told. So now I’m telling it.

The idea is to write this all up and then work backward to reach that point at which I’d interrupted the chronological flow of the story. In fact, I could then also work forward from that point, until the two plot streams met somewhere in the middle and joined into one.

I’ve never done this before, but it’s an exciting challenge, artistically. Sort of like solving a hard jigsaw puzzle by stopping work on one section and starting on another; and if I can bring those two sections together, I’ll have most of the puzzle finished.

I can only pray it works. But I’ve learned over the years to trust those bolts that come out of the blue: because I think they come from God.

‘I Love My Characters’ (2018)

Image result for images of the cellar beneath the cellar by lee duigon

One thing about writing a continuing series: it gives your characters scope to grow and change.

And of course it’s always fun when new characters enter the story.

I Love My Characters

Any day now The Wind from Heaven will be published, No. 13 in the Bell Mountain series. I have no idea how it’ll be received.

If you’re reading Bell Mountain for the first time (a lot of people read it more than once), I’d love to hear from you!

The Adult Fantasy’s Not So Hot, Either

Emissary by Thomas Locke, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Yesterday we looked at a review of an appallingly bad fantasy novel pitched to children.

Today’s mouldering pile of rubbish was marketed to adults.

Question! When in America did “mainstream” come to mean “completely outside the Christian world-view,” and how did we ever allow that to happen?

Christian fiction author T. Davis Bunn, with a string of best-sellers on his resume, decided a few years ago to write “a wholly secular fantasy”, Emissary, under the pseudonym of Thomas Locke; and a major Christian publisher decided to publish it.

Emissary contained every fantasy cliche known to man; it was a veritable thesaurus of cliches. Why in the world do fantasy writers do this??? I mean, it’s “fantasy,” right–and that means it’s supposed to be imaginative. Like, what is the freakin’ point of a thoroughly unimaginative fantasy? Why bother to write it? Why bother to read it? If you’re an experienced fantasy reader, you’ll already know precisely what sort of characters will appear in the story, you’ll know exactly what they’ll say and do on any occasion, and the only surprise you’ll ever get is if you drop the book and fall out of your chair trying to pick it up. If you even bother.

Also, many of these fantasy cliches, in addition to their thorough predictability, are basically pagan–not “Christian” in any sense of the word. Why did Mr. Bunn waste his talents on such bilge?

Fantasy matters because it has access to regions of the heart and mind not easily explored by other kinds of stories. It matters because it ought to be included in Christ’s Kingdom and put at the service of that kingdom, not reserved as a province of neo-paganism.

And I wonder if Mr. Bunn just stopped caring about such things.



‘Are We Really Talking “Christian Fiction”?’ (2018)

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What makes “Christian fiction” Christian? Is it just a convenient marketing term, or does it have a real meaning?

Are We Really Talking ‘Christian Fiction’?

You’ll be interested in the comments by Nadine and Unknowable.

BTW, getting a super-early start hasn’t helped me in the least. Neither have key words. I’m not going to bother with them anymore.