Sunday, July 27, 2014

De-compartmentalizing Geno

When I started this blog I was unsure how I wanted to present myself.
Should I show the perpetual performer I've been all my life? That would be easy.  Wish we’d caught some of my old “knock down drag outs” on tape from when I was little—where I would stand around a corner and someone (my other arm) would beat me down and drags me away. Had my family in stitches (not real ones)
Should I (can I?) display my Childlike (and kid-friendly) naturethe one that eschews many things my readers may enjoy, but I avoid... and that has always given me a pied-piper-ish quality? (Though I assure you I’ve only led the kids where their parents would approve, not to some magical cave outside the shire…cause that would be creepy). Showing that side would be fun but ultimately kind of shallow because there’s so much more to me
Should I (could I?) show the world, "I'm an Author now"? Not as easy when I felt less Authorly than in reality I am. To be an author I just have to have authored something... which I've done—several things really
Should I show the world the deeper side of me—including failings and shortcomings? That’s scary. I’m good at (possibly too good at) opening up and showing myself to people, as my mom used to say, warts and all. But… to share that way I have to go somewhere specific…
Should I show the world my faith? That's tricky. My faith is integral to my being, to my every breathing moment. But... to address this question I must show one of those shortcomings—maybe a few—the question of bringing up my faith here on my blog led to the solidly unpleasant question (solidly unpleasant in that it showed me how I’d let my faith flag) “Will that sell?"
Will that sell? Really? Is that the question? I thought my faith was integral to my being. Didn’t I just say that? I did. And I meant it. But…
The second shortcoming: I didn’t want to be branded a “Christian Author”. Look in a book store these days (other than a Christian book store) and there aren’t a lot of Christian authors on display. The Christian fiction section especially is soooo tiny—at least in the area where we live. I didn’t mind people knowing I was (am) a Christian, but as an author, as a brand… did I want to appear Christian?
Read my books and my faith comes through. I can’t say I shout about it with a megaphone—I eventually will in some of my writing—but like some of my writing heroes (Lewis and Tolkien among them—more like Lewis and less like Tolkien) my faith is there to see. So, why concern myself with being branded when I claim my life was (is) already branded by my faith? I didn’t know at the time, but now I recognize I was too concerned with producing the “Geno Allen Brand”—more concerned with that than I was in simply being Geno Allen.
I was also somewhat ashamed of my faith. I mentioned a few paragraphs back how I’d “let my faith flag”. I wish that meant I emblazoned it on a flag and waved it for all the world to see, but that’s not it. In my heart I still believed in God and in Jesus as his son, my savior—part of a triune God of mystery, majesty, and awe. But, if I felt compelled to tell someone something, it was probably going to be, “God loves you.” Which is true and if conversation started, I’d go a little deeper than that, but what I would shy away from at the outset is, “Jesus loves you.” And especially, “Jesus died for you to free you from sin.”
Let’s face it—I’d say to myself—this society is so jaded to the idea of Jesus Christ as anything other than a curse word that if I say his name, I’ll be shunned … … and I won’t be liked … … and … … and that won’t sell.
Wait. What!?
Did I think that exactly in those words? No. But I felt it… and I lived it. And, as I was trying to figure out how I wanted to present myself on this blog, I was forgetting myself, and Who I Really Want to Present.
My faith is integral to my being, to my every breathing moment. But saying that is utterly empty unless I say it this way. My faith in Jesus the Christ as God’s son and savior of the world—savior of all those who will accept his free gift of love and redemption from sin—that faith, that faith that is ingrained in my heart, imbedded in my heart and—thank God—recently re-unearthed… that faith is integral to my being and to my every breathing moment and frankly all the moments that will come after my breathing in this world ends.
The arrogance and audacity I’ve lived in for longer than I’d like to think, putting “Will it sell?” ahead of the God and Savior of the universe. Well… no more.
The performer in me will get to take the stage—because God made me a performer—but…
How do I want to present myself on my blog (or anywhere)?
I want to be my deep, child-like, silly, serious, awestruck, actorly, singerly, authorly, fatherly, husbandly, whimsically-minded, heavenly-minded, flawed, redeemed, earthly-minded, at times afraid, sometimes doubtful, always trusting (mostly—and I hope to get rid of the “mostly” at some point), comedic, theological, torn, broken, mend-able, future-focused, often funny, full of love, friendly, Christian self.
It has been almost two years of time spent in the bible in a way I have not spent before and time listening to some astounding Christian teachers and time hanging out and working out (read that as having my butt kicked—spiritually and physically) with my mentor that has brought me to this point where I’ve discovered how far from comfortable I’d become with expressing the love of Jesus.
But as I’ve spent time in the bible and discovered there more than I ever had before about the character of God, I find myself unwilling to ignore the Founder of my faith, and I cannot… nor should I… worry about whether or not it will sell. How mercenary a thought when speaking of my love for Jesus?
So… is this about to become a Christian blog? It already was one… just a poor and wavering Christian blog. Am I suddenly going to start putting a hundred over-the-top-Christian posts on a week? No. I wish I had the energy to put on a hundred posts a week (or maybe 4), but I don’t.
What this means is I’m no longer afraid to be myself. And that will make this a better place over all. If I have something profound that has impacted me, I’ll share it without concerning myself with who will or won’t appreciate it. I’m not being cavalier about that. I have no intention of intentionally offending.
Frankly, I pray none of it will offend, but the idea that we are sinners who need a savior is kinda offensive in and of itself. But that makes it no less true.
There’s a song that says, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” I’ve sung it. I meant it, but it wasn’t true. I wasn’t “ashamed of the gospel.” But adding in the heart of it, Jesus Christ, I was shy. I was afraid of being shamed. I was ashamed.
No more.
Jesus is my savior. He loves me—and you. Gave his life (and so much more than we can imagine) for me—and you. Has good plans for me—and you. No matter what it looks like.
Why I write the things I write…
I could and at some point may write something deep on this subject, but for now I want to share another author’s reason that so closely parallels my own that I’m unsure if I’ll need to write my own. (I’ll probably do it just to get it in my own words, but it’ll read very much like this.) This author is Andrew Peterson, author of the Wingfeather Saga which starts with the very funny book On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. Which I’ve yet to finish, but I was struck and humbled when I read his “Note to Parents” on his website. There was one statement about playing music that wasn’t exactly true of me. So I removed it. Where I removed it you’ll see a – – – and anything I add will be in blue.
So I wanted to let you know, in case you’re wary of these books, I’m not one of those writers churning out stories for money (not any more), or to push a political agenda, and I’m not writing fantasy just because I have a thing for swords and dragons, and I don’t want to corrupt your kids with shady philosophy or trick them into practicing witchcraft. I don’t want to expose them to words or situations I wouldn’t want my own children exposed to.
Here’s why I’m writing these books.
I bear the Maker’s image, and one of the ways that plays out is that I delight in making. I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember. – – – Ever since I was a kid I wanted to write stories. I love stories, and thrill to an imagination on fire.  I sat down in front of the blank page and let my imagination run wild, did my best to tell a story I would want to be told. If a reader is willing to trust me with a little of his or her imagination, I want to light it up with truth, and beauty, and goodness.
I want you to know that I take my job as storyteller very, very seriously. I believe deeply in the power of Story. It has informed the way I live, my relationship with God, and, as crazy as it sounds, my understanding of the meaning of life (if I may speak in such grand terms).
I have to say that bit about story informing my understanding of the meaning of life… that’s part of what has brought me to this post today. God’s story in which we live is amazing… and the protagonist isn’t me. It’s Jesus. So, for this post, I'm done talking about me.
Something profound that I really want to share, about Jesus.
Lastly I just want to share some links to a couple sermons—yes sermons—that have deeply impacted me. I will never hear Amazing Grace the same way again.
From C.J. Mahaney, a sermon called “The cry from the cross”
I highly recommend listening to a really good version of Amazing Grace immediately after. (if you know an astoundingly good version, let me know in the comments and I’ll add a link here)
Then move on to John Piper’s “The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heavens and New Earth”

Thank you for walking this journey with me.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book 2 Update & Some Other Story News

Book two is still in process, and at this point I wouldn't be doing anyone any favors if I speculated on when I'll have it done. Like I mentioned in a previous update, family and day job (both for me and Zachery Kraft) have made progress slower than expected. I am committed to getting it out as quickly as I can while producing the highest quality possible. So, I'll update again as I have more news.

Also, publication of the kids book I've mentioned off and on for a while now, The Adventures of Hickory Dock, is just over the horizon---I just need illustrations. I have a few possibilities there. So, hopefully I'll be able to get that out soon. Art seems to be one of my biggest hang-ups with writing. (Most of what I write works best with art.) More updates in due time.

If you've been following along, you saw that I posted a fifth installment of The Tale of the Maiden's Arms, but that's not the only glimpse into the ToDToL world I'll be sharing. Very soon I'll have another short story in the How to be a Hero storyline available on Amazon. This one will be significantly longer than the original. And, just like the original, it will have a sample of the upcoming ToDToL novel.

So, if you have a hankering for more of Zam's universe, it's coming. You'll get to see more of Galwen's young life... And in the sample you'll learn some of what happens to Griss after the final chapter of book one (something many people have commented they really want to know).

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the new stories and the sample.



Sharizeen Cor - Post 5

1400 years before the events of Through the Dark Wood, Sharizeen "Sarie" Cor walked the thriving land of Darlandis. This is the fifth installment of her tale which will have some bearing on the events to follow in the TODTOL universe. To read the story thus far on a single page,click Here.

Post 5

Kin Lash expected a battle most fierce when he and his men landed in Western Pyree. In truth, he expected a battle long before landing—Pyreeans were incredibly skilled seafarers. But, no battle came. He held the Perilous Dawn back from landing three days, awaiting any sign of the natives. He’d begun to wonder if the island’s inhabitants had somehow perished or turned coward, but just after dawn on the third day a bonfire was lit on a small raft made of freshly felled trees floating not far off in a bay the Pyreeans named Timbri. A man stood on the raft waving his arms wildly. Kin Lash sent Simlan, his second, in a skiff to search out the reason for the fire while he and his men remained on the alert. By the time Simlan reached the raft, the fire raged so greatly he had to take the man aboard the skiff. As they returned to the Perilous Dawn, the raft was fully consumed. Kin Lash noted the man wore only a blanket woven of large leaves.
Have Pyreeans become so primitive?
As they climbed aboard, the strange man addressed Kin Lash, breaking several rules of Coriaeran courtesy. “Good my lord, you are a vision and a grace from the powers on high. I am Alren Rosh—”
Several soldiers were at the ready to strike the man down should he breach custom too greatly. Their demeanor silenced him. Kin Lash stared at the stranger. “That I desire information is all that keeps you from death this moment. Never address a Coriaeran prince without first being inquired of.”
“Oh, my lord, I knew not.” He put his hand over his mouth. “And I do it again. I mean no offense. And I am still talking!” He was becoming frantic. “I mean no disrespect, I simply—”
“Silence!” Alren clapped his hand over his mouth and held it there, nodding. Kin Lash spoke calmly. “You are not Pyreean. You are Darlandan, and that intrigues me. When you respond to my questioning, do so at a more measured pace. Your anxiety is unwelcome. You will not be struck down without due solemnity if your life is to be forfeit. So, for now, know the courtesy of my ship and crew, and speak. Tell me. Why came you to meet us upon the water, and why do the Pyreeans not attack?”
Alren answered as calmly as he could. “They are dying, my lord. A plague. That is why I wear no clothing. It has all been burned and I have washed in the ocean to cleanse myself.” Kin Lash’s men all stepped back.
Kin Lash stood his ground, but his eyes flashed with rage, and he said sternly, “You would board my ship and risk the lives of my crew?”
“No! No, my lord. I and my men have not been affected. Only the natives.”
Kin Lash narrowed his eyes at the man. “How long have your men been among the Pyreeans?”
“Three months. We landed without being assailed and were begged for aid. Two days later, our ship was stolen by a group of Pyreeans who desired to escape the plague, but those who still had strength shot arrows ablaze with a flame that does not quench. My ship now rests at the bottom of the bay.”
“And your men have shown no signs of sickness?”
“None, my lord. We tend the sick and dying, but our strength and health remain.”
Kin Lash looked to the island. “Then it is no plague.”
Coriaerans were known the world over for their great understanding of the medicinal arts. Coriaeran princes and captains were required to steep themselves in such knowledge. Kin lash was uncommonly skilled as were several of the men he’d purchased for this endeavor. I will discover what is killing them before I take their chieftain. I must be sure I will not bring death home in my wake—if their Chieftain yet lives…. “Alren Rosh, is the Pyreean chief alive?”
“If I may, my lord, my name is Alren Roshketh, and yes. He is very sick, but he lives. It is a slow painful death they suffer.”
“Roshketh? I know of the city of Roshketh in your country.”
“Named for my family, my lord.”
Kin Lash arched his brow. “Then it is Lord Roshketh?”
“It may one day be, but while my father lives, I am only Alren.”
This quest may prove more profitable than intended. “I am Kin Lash. You will remain in my council.” He turned to one of his men. “Bring Lord Roshketh some of my clothes.” He smiled at Alren. “The heavens only can tell how long your father will live. Among my men you will be honored.”


Sarie woke in a lamp-lit room, recalling how she’d passed out and precisely why. Her mind was still struggling with the Court of Cor and the Gate of Sarie. She closed her eyes a moment longer then sat up. So where have you found yourself, Sarie? The walls were rough hewn stone, with great pillars standing in each corner and on either side of each door. There was an antechamber off to her left. The ceiling here was also rough hewn stone. Had the room been any smaller, Sarie would have felt trapped. As it was, she felt more than a little too closely confined. A rough wooden door was left open a crack and that provided the only relief she felt as she scanned the room. I’m not caged. Most of the furnishings were simple but well crafted: a dresser, a wardrobe, a table and chair, the bed on which she found herself. It was hard, but no worse than her bunk at Jaren’s hostel. There was a pitcher full of water and a washing bowl on the dresser. The floor was covered in a thick rug woven of crimson, and in one corner stood a tall, ornate mirror of polished metal.
Sarie stood and went to the wash basin. Pouring the water in, she was startled by a voice from the door. “You have woken. It is good.”
She turned quickly drawing a knife as she did. An old man with little hair and many wrinkles greeted her with a smile. “You needn’t worry here, Sarie. Here you are safe, though you won’t truly believe me for some time, and that is well enough. You have had many sorrows in your life and few men whose word could be trusted. In time you’ll know my word can be. I am Truash.”
Sarie returned the knife to her belt. “The Scribe?”
“Yes. The Scribe. Though you are only repeating something you have been told and have no real understanding of what it means.”
Though he spoke pleasantly and wore a genuine smile, Truash was very off-putting to a person like Sarie. “You speak true, Sir.” Her speech gained intensity as she spoke. “Nor do I understand how images from my life are scrawled on the walls of a chamber somehow named for my family and how you speak so freely of my sorrows and what I will think and what I will feel!”
Truash frowned, but the kindness did not leave his eyes. “Your temper is unexpected. I’m unaccustomed to dealing with the feminine temperament. I have not had the need. If this will help us communicate, I shall meet you tone for tone.” His intensity and volume suddenly changed. “I do not know how it is possible, save the fact that Elyon decided it should be so! I know what I know because I know it and cannot help what I know! That your life is written in stone, I have no control over.” he took several deep breaths, and Sarie stared at him momentarily disarmed.
That was strange. And, he’s not good at that.
Truash continued with a more gentle tone. “We can communicate through raised voices and raised defenses if you desire—it will be less efficient, but I have the strength for it, though not the stomach.” He smiled again. “What say you and I walk and converse like two reasonable people who would like to understand together what this all means?”
Sarie furrowed her brow. “I will walk with you, but allow me my right to feel unsure of everything around me.”
“Oh, certainly. You simply do not have a right to use those feelings to lash out at those who have only shown you kindness—regardless of your fears. I cannot accept you lashing out like that. It is improper.”
 Improper? She started building defenses in her mind when a thought came to her—almost as if from somewhere else—they have taken you in and are protecting you from the King’s second son. But, your right to be afraid is granted. Much difficulty lies ahead. And the choice to fight your guardians is yours alone. Sarie was unhappy with those thoughts, but she couldn’t deny this was the one place in the kingdom she could truly be safe from the lecherous prince. She swallowed her pride and pretended she didn’t know she was afraid of any of this. “Truash, you’re right. I took liberty that was not mine to take. I am sorry for lashing out at you.”
Truash sighed in relief. “Oh good… me too. I apologize that is—for the whole raised voice thing. I actually don’t have the strength to maintain that kind of intensity for any great length of time at my age. I was afraid that would be the way of things between us. I would have matched you there to the best of my ability, but I think a day of that and I would sleep too soundly. I would have to have Ermskan conduct the next day’s convocation.”
 Sarie was warming to the man, but couldn’t decide if he was weak or strong. The light in his eye led her to believe he was stronger than his words conveyed.

They walked the halls of Adrel Teng and he let her know which areas to avoid, mostly the bathing areas. Everything beyond that and the personal spaces of the individual monks were open to her. He said, “I understand your trepidation. Well, understand is a strong word. Your trepidation makes sense. First discovery of how one’s life can be wrapped up in such a larger story can be unnerving. When I was chosen to be the scribe, I knew I’d been born with insight, but I never knew how my life would affect others. Men and women have died at council given by the scribes of Adrel Teng, and that I knew, but holding that sort of power is fearful enough. However, having Elyon himself send words to me that alter the course of lives, I am honored by that, but humbled more greatly, and I walk with more fear than you would expect I should.”
Sarie was uncomfortable. “I don’t really believe in such things as Elyon or words from the heavens.”
“That’s alright, Sarie.” They rounded a corner into a chamber filled with statues. The first was of Sarie. It was very old. “He believes in you, clearly.”
“Scribe Anderel, almost five hundred years ago—if the inscription is to be believed.”
The statue was garbed as Sarie was that day with the exception of her cloak which was replaced by one of the monk’s cowls. Upon the base was a date and the inscription:

Grieving season draws to an end. Friendship rescues endangered friend. To Adrel to learn of what must come. And there to become what must become. ~ Scribe Anderel

Truash took her to a passage leading outside. “Go. You are safe within the forest of Adrel. The valley won’t allow you to be harmed. Spend some time in the air and the sunlight. We will talk more.”
Sarie walked the corridor toward the light pondering many things. Boujh, I wish you were here.


To be continued....