The Labyrinthine Journey follows Evan on his continued quest to locate a sacred object and stop the advent of Christianity? What were some themes you wanted to bring over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?
I wanted to explore the concept of what if Christianity never happened, and what events may have prevented the birth of Christ. What if the Greek gods were to learn they would be superseded by a single divinity? How would they react and what would they do? Are their powers omnipotent or are they impeded by restrictions and what are they? This is what I wanted to delve into in the trilogy, and offer an alternative. If Christ wasn’t born, then which deity would prevail?
The main theme is self-enlightenment, growing and learning from experiences whatever the challenges or situation. As each book is written, it is my hope Evan and his companions continue to grow and become more self-aware and enlightened. Destiny is another theme I wanted to explore and develop further in each book. Was Evan destined to be the hero, go back to his past and prevent the rise and birth of Christ? Or does his destiny and the world’s change once he makes a decision or when he acts? Is he controlled by forces that he cannot see or feel? In essence, I wanted to explore the idea of whether destiny shapes who we are, how we think and what we do. Family was another theme I wanted to include, Evan is very close with his parents and deceased sister, and mentions in book one various familial experiences. In book two, his recollections of his family are still there, however his surrogate family, Dexion and Phameas, and half-brother, Homer, who he discovers at the end of book one, become pivotal in the story. He and Homer are Zeus’ offspring, and the family ties are even stronger with the High Priestess, who is his sister. Darkness and light are another theme, which is hinted at in book one, grows in book two, something that I will explore more in book three. The darkness is within Evan, his transformation evident when he gets angry and his eyes turn black, a characteristic he shares with the High Priestess, though she tends to use her particular abilities when they are in trouble.
How did the idea of the gods from Greek mythology fighting monotheism develop into a story for you?
It was a twisted path, much like the journey the characters go through in book two, the original concept for the story looked very different to the books I’ve written. It was meant to be about how the Atlanteans re-emerge from the destruction of their home and re-discover the world in which they once inhabited. It didn’t have enough for me to explore or write, so I re-read Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey. They are my go-to books for inspiration as is Joseph Campbell’s books. Then I had an epiphany, if the gods created such havoc through one war and for one individual who tried to return home, what would they do if they discovered that their existence, their omnipotence, their control over humans was threatened? I didn’t think they’d like it at all! And that is how my idea for the story evolved.
I think you did a fantastic job of building great characters in this story. What is your writing process like in developing your characters?
Thank you very much for the compliment! I tried very hard to make sure each character had his/her own personality and I wanted each to stand out, even if their role was a minor one.
I have in mind what they look like, how they sound, how they walk, the colour of their skin and hair, how tall they are or short. I then write their details out on a proforma, similar to the old index cards, a character biography. I have three separate documents: one for master characters, major and minor. On each of these ‘cards’ I have their names and age; their pertinent biographies including occupation (if they have one); physical features; distinctive language; goals/motivation; fatal flaws and saving grace. These help me keep the characters consistent and ‘flesh out’ who they really are. I got this strategy from reading: The Writer’s little helper by James V. Smith Jr.
When I am writing, I visualise the characters, how they interact, what mood they are in, their body language, speech inflections and little quirks they have. For example, Phameas, who likes to keep his hair and beard curled, a Phoenician style and sign of a man’s virtue, is upset when Evan has radical haircuts and shaves. However, the characters don’t always allow me to write how I want the story to go, they interfere, a lot. I guess that’s only fair, as it is their story I am writing.
This is book two in the Servant of the Gods series. Where will book three take readers?
In Book three, Evan and his companions find a way to leave the Isle of Hephaistos, and sail to Crete. They are a bit concerned, as prior experience has seen them shipwrecked and the Argo badly damaged. They island hop, that is Jason’s preference to ensure they don’t run into the Cyclops again. It is at one of the islands that Evan encounters the Dark Master, and have a conversation. When they arrive on Crete, they discover ancestors of the island who had escaped the deluge. One of the islanders shows them the way into King Minos’ labyrinth, where Evan will face the Minotaur. What happens in between, who knows?
Follow Evan as he continues his odyssey as Servant of the Gods in The Labyrinthine Journey. The quest to locate the sacred object adds pressure to the uneasy alliance between Evan and the Atlanteans. His inability to accept the world he’s in, and his constant battle with Zeus, both threaten to derail the expedition and his life.
Traversing the mountainous terrain of the Peloponnese and Corinthian Gulf to the centre of the spiritual world, Evan meets with Pythia, Oracle of Delphi. Her cryptic prophecy reveals much more than he expected; something that changes his concept of the ancient world and his former way of life.
Will Evan and his friends succeed in their quest to find the relics and stop the advent of Christianity?
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God, who loves so deeply and delights to give, has made a multitude of promises throughout the Bible to His children. Yet, there are many of them who never posses their promises. They become weary with the wait and burdened down by questions like, “What do I need to do in order to inherit the promise God made me?” God has come through this author to provide His children with the answer that is sure to cause them to posses all their promises: You gotta let God finish! The Holy Spirit delves deep into God’s word by looking at the lives of various men and women throughout the Bible to shed light on the loving heart of God, His unfailing ways, and sure faithfulness toward His children, proving that all you have to do is allow God to finish what He began in order to receive all that He has. Readers’ lives will be completely transformed as they receive these revelations that have come forth from God, and as a result they will inherit all that God has for them and enter into their Promised Land!
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Life Interrupted: It’s Not All About Me is a memoir about your life and the challenges dealing with Multiple Sclerosis. Why was this an important book for you to write?
It was important to write for several reasons none of which was more important than the next. When I started out writing Life Interrupted, It’s Not All About Me, it was my intention to help one person, myself. You see, when I was divorcing my ex-wife to be’s lawyer had embellished much of the petty jousting that often goes on between individuals in the process of divorcing, but he really made me out to be a calculating monster, which I was not.
I wanted to share the truth with family members, in-laws and friends , but I believe God intervened and said, Chris, you can help one person, yourself, or you can help thousands of chronically ill and disabled individuals in the middle of their own desperate, downward spiral into the abyss of depression by helping them to avoid making the same relationship destroying mistakes that I once made.
In summary the two main reasons for writing my memoir were one, to save face and two, to help others with chronic illness avoid falling into the self – sabotaging, dismal, depressing downward spiral of the relationship destroying poor me attitude.
I enjoyed how you shared both the good and bad times and it felt like you held nothing back. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The hardest thing for me to have shared was my insidious anger and the fact that it was misdirected anger made it that much worse. I was out of control and in the midst of the worst I found God and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone gave you when you were diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis?
The best piece of advice anyone could have given to me when I was first diagnosed with MS would have been, never stop living your best life. If I had given into my initial thought that life was over, I would have missed one of the most fabulous lifetimes full of unimaginable things, loves, wonders and experiences. I have lived and continued to live the most exciting joyous life with not a single regret.
The book is very emotional but also inspirational. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
My hope is that readers will look at what I have gone through and recognize that through hardship and misery comes purpose and direction. In my life it was God who saved me, when I thought I was not worth saving. Take a couple of moments to invite God into your life, asking Him to reveal Himself to you.
Life Interrupted: It’s Not all about Me, is a candid and humble memoir about one young man’s diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and how his ‘poor-me’ attitude cost him his marriage. Chris hopes others might learn from his mistakes to communicate more effectively and not allow disability and low self-worth to destroy relationships. Chris also writes about his faith in God, and his new wife, Jane, who he married in April of 2007.
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In Breaking Worlds we learn about the divide between Lisen and Korin and we witness their daughter’s determination to change the world. What were some driving ideals behind the characters relationships?
Once Rinli died in Protector of Thristas, I knew what had to happen. The death of a child can either bring the parents closer together or rip them apart. I decided to go the latter route and see if I could help them heal eventually. It was difficult to write because I love these characters, but it was necessary to show how two people so closely bound in life and love could respond so diversely to such a tragedy. Now for Rinli, resurrection was not kind. She’s 16 at the time of her death and harbors strong resentment toward the mother who bartered her life for peace. I asked myself how does the psyche of a person who dies and then lives again survive such a painful ordeal? Jon Snow in Game of Thrones remembers nothing past his murder when he’s revived. Jesus Christ reawakened in his tomb a glorified being, but of course he had godhood going for him. But what does resurrection do to a 16-year-old child with deep emotional wounds? And it became clear to me that the rift between Rinli and her mother was only going to widen despite Lisen’s previous efforts to protect her. Sad and tragic as all this was for these three characters, challenging as the work was for me, it was fun to write. Am I wicked for saying that? I doubt any author would feel differently.
This book has clearly been crafted with care and is full of emotion. What were some themes that were important for you to continue in this book, and what were some new ones you wanted to introduce?
The continuing theme of the consequences of decisions remained paramount in my storytelling. I find tales of redemption the most interesting of all, and there can be no redemption if there is no sin. I love breaking characters into pieces and watching how they reassemble themselves and the relationships they’ve broken in the process. In Breaking Worlds, I wanted to explore what it means to be the helpmate to a person with the potential for greatness. I delved into the parallels between Korin and Madlen in their roles as lovers/supporters for their beloveds, and Madlen’s unquestioning (or barely questioning) devotion to Rinli fascinated me. And beyond all of that were the variations of grief and the effect grief has on us as people. I found it both harder and easier to dig into the pain of grief as I wrote because I had just lost my best friend to cancer. Harder for the immediacy of what I’d just been through, but easier because it was so fresh. What it comes down to is what I say on my Facebook page. “I love combining characters with conflict and crisis and then watching as they suffer the consequences of their choices.”
This is the fifth book in the Lisen of Solsta series. Has the series grown beyond what you had originally imagined or are you still following a clearly defined path?
Well, the series has certainly grown. I never expected to write past Blooded, book 3 in the series. But as I’ve noted before, I grew curious about what would happen when “the bill came due.” In other words, what would happen when Lisen had to hand Rinli over to the Thristans in the desert as their “Mantar’s Child”? Then another question emerged after I finished Protector of Thristas (book 4). What would a world broken by Mantar’s Child look like? That led quite neatly into Breaking Worlds.
What can readers expect in the finale of the Lisen of Solsta series, book 6 Pushing Madness?
Breaking Worlds and Pushing Madness were written together. I didn’t know if I had enough material for two separate books, so I kept pushing forward with certain criteria set up for what length would be too much for one book and where I would split the book into two if that became necessary. In terms of the story, my intent is to clear the table, to answer all the questions–in short, to tie up all the lose threads and hopefully leave the reader satisfied while allowing the ending to be a bit messy. I’m not a fan of endings that are too neat. I prefer to be left, as a reader, with a few things to tidy up for myself, and that’s what I strive for in my endings.
Left with the blood of a tragedy on their hands, Lisen and Korin can no longer face one another. Korin heads east towards the desert, while Lisen remains in Avaret with two children in need of comfort Lisen cannot provide. Never has she felt so alone. As war threatens on the horizon, two deserted people must somehow find their way back to life, to each other. Will Lisen and Korin reunite in time? Will the truth of the dead and the living be revealed?
Return to Garla and Thristas where love may not conquer all, but it can serve as an ally in the fight. Where all that seems well doesn’t necessarily end well. Where loyalty can be bought with a nudge. Where all the magic in the world may still fail you. Where, with Garla and Thristas on the edge of destruction, Book V of Lisen of Solsta’s saga drives the story closer to the inevitable conclusion to Lisen’s story.
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Have you ever wondered about the importance of communion? What really is the root of all this power the blood of Jesus is purported to have? How can human beings harness this power as God wishes?
Wendy Varga’s Sacred Secret is an in-depth analysis of the Communion. We often use blatant explanations of God’s instructions. But man is protected from all sorts of evil if he marks himself with the blood.
If faith is shallow, little is expected. People should know the limitless capabilities of God as this affects their level of faith and consequently, how impactful He will be in their life.
Wendy Varga’s passion helps to eloquently unravel many biblical mysteries. Her fervent writing had me craving to know more about communion; I found myself often referencing my bible. By the end of this book I felt that I had a better understanding of the power of the New Testament Covenant Meal. The author’s eagerness to truly understand God’s purpose for the Passover is evident. Her break down of the relation between His blood and God by use of scientific explanations is startlingly enlightening. Her insistence to not just know God, but also know Him intimately is a recurring theme. I’ve read other religious books on similar subjects, but they often only touched on this subject before quickly moving on. But it is the focal point in this book. It’s refreshing to see a book take a deep dive into one aspect of faith.
I consider this a knowledge check for anyone who knows their Bible well, but what I truly appreciated was the unique perspective in which the information is presented. Be prepared to ask yourself questions you never have before. In the end, I appreciated how this book left me reevaluating my relationship with God. This book will arm you with the knowledge and power of the blood and thus strengthen your faith. I believe that this book will unlock the potential of God’s power in your life through faith.
Pages: 156 | ASIN: B072M8R6JG
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Have you ever wondered why there is such a huge discrepancy between what scientists say about the age of our planet and what the Bible says? According to scientists, the planet is 4.6 billion years old. Yet the Bible says that this planet Earth is only six thousand years old. But what if both were right? What if there was an analysis of creation that combined science with scripture in the search for truth—yielding a unique and provocative conclusion about life’s beginning?
In The Re-Creation of Planet Earth and the Real Account of Life’s Beginnings, author Brian Donnelly explores just this integration of science and biblical truth to provide a more realistic account of creation and re-creation. He addresses the ongoing debate between creation science and evolutionary biology, and he shows how creation is more viable than evolutionary theory and the big bang. The Re-Creation of the Planet Earth and the Real Account of Life’s Beginnings also speaks to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and it provides a detailed description of what heaven is like—an account supported by scripture and near-death experiences.
Having a complete view of creation, re-creation, heaven, and life’s beginnings will help you better understand how God relates to us today. But even more, this understanding can go on to help you see through the fog of the world and better relate to God as a believer.
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Mindfulness and mediation are creeping into more parts of society. Things that were once meant for children are evolving for adults to enjoy as well. One of these is colouring books. No longer is this pastime reserved strictly for young children. There is a soothing sense that one can derive from colouring an image. It does not require much artistic talent either. Along with this shift to the adult mindset comes The Contemporary Christian Colouring Book by Rev. Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriada. Coupling the peaceful activity with biblical themes and images this book is a perfect gift for the devout. Each image evokes the idea of a stained-glass window one might see inside a church depicting various scenes from the bible. There is some melding of these scenes with modern technology which just serves to remind us that Christ is still present today.
The book begins with a lovely forward from Ruth Finnegan, operator of Living Tree Publishers that has produced this colouring book. In it, she seeks to remind us why we are drawn to art and why we colour. It is the marriage of that simple meditation with something tangible. A brief biography is also given of the artist who designed the pictures, Lozada-Uzuriada himself. The images are carefully crafted to convey the message of a particular scene or passage from the bible in a format that is easily understood. Titles are given to each piece to help the user remember which part of the bible and which story the scene belongs to. The line work is heavy and dark; much like stained glass itself. This is useful for those who colour because it easily defines which sections are contained.
Given that the images impress upon this writer scenes in stained glass windows, it serves to mention that the content of this colouring book is better suited for adults. The expressions of various people within the scenes could be taken as angry, frightening or scary. Young children need to have faith in the beauty and gentleness of the Bible and exposing them to this colouring book without proper context might serve to scare them, rather than inspire them. That aside, this book is a wonderful compilation of some of the more memorable pieces of scripture that one might want to colour and perhaps display in their home. Christ is a central figure in most of the pieces of this book.
With the world’s attention focusing more on mindfulness and meditation for the adults in the world, colouring has become a de-stressor for many. The Contemporary Christian Colouring Book by Rev. Ernesto Lozada-Usuriada is a must-have piece for those of the Christian faith who would like to colour while they meditate. Being able to add a personal touch to such moving and important points of Christian faith allows those who use this book to come closer to the inner workings of their faith. It is nice to see how something as traditional and sacred as someone’s faith can mix and meld with the current needs.
Pages: 46 | ISBN: 1326968165
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Protector of Thristas takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War and Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before. What were some important themes for you to capture in this novel?
I’ve taken on several archetypes in these books with an eye towards shifting what originated as masculine-oriented myths into their feminine equivalent. Lisen is the hero of a story in which she must overcome many obstacles, including her own self-doubt, to rise at the end of the original trilogy to the destiny she cannot escape. I looked at heroes, such as Luke Skywalker and King Arthur, and asked myself how this would look not simply with a “girl” as the hero but with a gentler and more sympathetic way of presenting the momentous events that occur in the story. The battle at the end of Blooded is a case in point. Lisen found a way to break through the fighting and turn the combatants towards a negotiated resolution rather than one in which many people died or were left physically or emotionally injured.
So, when I decided to explore Lisen and the others as adults, to look at the relationships and their children fifteen years on, I made another decision–to raise the bar and tackle an archetype I refer to as “the king must die and live again.” This myth can be found in many nature-focused cultures. The leader of the people sacrifices his life (or acts the sacrifice out in ritual) and goes to the underworld, then rises again, all of which is symbolic of the “burying” of seeds in the fall and their rising as plants in the spring. It is a form of fertility ritual. It is also, in some ways, the Christ story, but this time it’s a young woman.
I think this book did a fantastic job displaying how emotional a mother-daughter relationship can be, and family relationships as well. How did you develop these complex relationships? Anything pulled from real life?
My mother was not the nurturing type which left my father with that role in my life. In fact, Korin’s nickname of “Fa” is the way my father, in his later years, signed birthday cards and such. But there was more to it than that. As I foraged deeper into the story and the wounded relationship between Lisen and Rinli, I realized one very important thing. I had to be very careful about how I framed the discord between the two of them. The critique group I belonged to at the time loved the portrayal of the mother-daughter conflict, but I began to recognize that I had created a very “earth-centric/potentially sexist” struggle. In my experience, women in our culture learn at a very early age that they must challenge one another over the attention of a man. Men are taught a similar lesson, but it manifests differently. Men thump their chests and growl at one another (figuratively) or go out and kick a football around, whereas women get mean. And it often begins in the relationship between a mother and daughter and their desire for the male in their lives–the husband/father. It’s fairly subtle in most cases, but it’s there, and once girls become teenagers with all those hormones raging, they may not “desire” their father, but they want what their mothers have and the fight is on.
I couldn’t let this be the basis for Lisen and Rinli’s conflict, so I struck out on my own to find something that didn’t smack of the sexism in the “typical” tension that can tear a mother and daughter apart. And although I may have no control over the enculturated eyes the reader brings to the story and her interpretation of what she sees in that relationship, I had to be true to my commitment to present Lisen and Rinli sparring not over the mean-girl stuff that can mess with a mother and a daughter but over the betrayal Rinli feels at her mother’s use of her as a bargaining tool to bring a war to an end. Add to that the fact that Lisen is not the nurturing parent in the family, and it becomes clear, in my eyes, at least, that their relationship was likely doomed no matter what Lisen did.
Rinli is resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities. How did you handle magic in this novel that was similar and/or different from the previous novels?
In some way, I think the magic became more central to the story than it had been previously. I have always played the push as something unacceptable but sometimes necessary, even to Garlans who are pretty accepting of most hermit magic. As a Thristan, Korin distrusts hermits and what they can do, and Lisen has a powerful gift. This presented its own set of problems in the first trilogy and ultimately tore them apart. Now, with Rinli growing up and it becoming obvious to both of her parents that she has inherited her mother’s gift, Lisen and Korin have to make their peace over the magic thing and then band together to convince Rinli that the only way to stay safe amongst magic-fearing Thristans is to master her gift in order to control it. This is where that conflict I mentioned above manifests with Lisen trying her damnedest to reach out to Rinli and Rinli turning away. (I had one reviewer say, “So many times I just wanted to scream ‘Say I LOVE YOU!'” which would, of course, have simplified things a great deal. But it was about the magic in Lisen’s mind, and “I love you” wasn’t in her lexicon.)
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I began a followup to Protector of Thristas with the idea that it would be the final book in the series. I had to find a way to put down the characters and the world I’d created in order to move on to something new. Five books. The series would be five books. I was adamant with myself. Then as I wrote and wrote and wrote, I began to realize that this was going to be one hell of a long book. I set a word limit at which point I would break it up into two books. I’m still on first draft, and I am within 2500 words of that limit I set. It’s definitely going to be 2 books. Because I’ve been making changes that affect earlier scenes as I go along, I must finish the entire tome before officially splitting them up. (And even then, I’m probably going to produce draft 2 of both books together, incorporating all the necessary tweaking at one time, before I turn to book 5 of the series and complete it.) All of this is to say, that this has taken far longer than I wanted it to take, but I continue to move forward.
As regards where we go from here, having sent a young person as flawed as Rinli through the experience of dying and rising from the dead, I discovered (upon working on the final two books) a character who is not doing well emotionally at all. It’s been an interesting trip. Rinli was originally intended to be the character to whom Lisen would pass the baton, but she turned out to be a character very different from what I had expected when I began. Her last words at the end of the book blew me away, coming as they did as I was writing that last scene, and they set the tone for the remaining story. I had to ask myself “what does a world broken by Mantar’s Child look like?” It took a while to answer that question. Now first draft is finally winding down for books 5 and 6, and all I can say is “whew, what a ride!” “When will it be available?” I’m hoping for some time early in the new year for book 5 and spring for book 6.
Fifteen years after the One-Day War, Lisen, now Empir Ariannas, has developed into a just and capable leader. Together she and Korin have created a union of two souls based on respect, commitment and love, and their family has grown. In addition to Rinli, their daughter who made her first appearance in Blooded, two more children have joined the family, completing their complement of three complicated adolescents.
Now the sixteen-year-out Rinli prepares to take on the mantle of Protector of Thristas, a title destined for her in the treaty that ended the war. The Empirs of Garla have carried this title for hundreds of years, and Lisen anticipates changes once she hands this single title on to Rinli at the girl’s investiture. But the prophesy of Mantar’s Child, upon which Lisen and Korin depended in the treaty negotiations fifteen years earlier, refuses to remain but a convenient myth, and with the advent of the fulfillment of the prophecy, an epic begins.
Although Protector of Thristas includes the familiar faces and settings of the young adult Lisen of Solsta trilogy, it begins a new adventure for an older and often wiser Lisen and her allies. Looking at their world through their matured eyes, the book takes on the heroic tragedy that the trilogy could only hint at. Return to Garla. Enter its mystical environs for a new encounter with Lisen and her world’s gender-free culture. The adventure awaits.
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