[Good?] Friday

Good Friday is, perhaps, my favorite church holiday.

This day commemorates the crucifixion of Christ, whose resurrection is the cause for the feasting and new-life celebrations of Easter. Which is also a great day.

But some people get so excited about Easter that they skip Good Friday altogether. After all, what’s so good about the day Jesus died? It wasn’t so good for him.

While there are lots of explanations of the word “good,” some people say that Good Friday is good because of the ultimate salvation it brought to humankind. Yes. That’s probably part of it.

But I think Good Friday is also good for its own sake. For all who have ever suffered, this is the day when God chose to identify with us. To stop and mourn with us. A day when the loss has taken place and the redemption hasn’t.

We love stories with happy endings. We love them so much that sometimes we skip ahead to the happy ending, past all the dark parts, the sad parts, the parts where badness wins. This Easter story has a happy ending, eventually. But it is not yet. First, there is a time that seems like “the end of all things.”

Sunday is coming, but Friday is its own sacred space. 

If you are mourning today, stop and be here. Be silent. Lament for a while. Today is its own sacred space.

If someone you know is mourning, stop and be here with them. Be silent. Lament with them for a while. Don’t, please don’t, try to fix, explain away, or rush them past their grief. Today is its own sacred space.

Whatever our grief, today is a day when we are not alone in it. When God became “a man of sorrows” and chose solidarity with us.

And that’s why I say Good Friday is good.

Peace to you.

Another Stop on the #MyWritingProcess Blog Tour

Happy Fourth of July!

A few weeks ago, I was tagged in the #mywritingprocess blog tour by my good friend Angela Wallace, herself an author of thrilling, imaginative fantasy and urban fantasy. So, considering interviews are a theme of this summer’s blogging, I thought I’d take a turn and give you a peek inside my writer brain 🙂 I’ll answer four questions, then pass them on to two other writers.

What am I working on?

I’m currently writing like a freight train to finish the sequel to The Illuminator’s Gift, a book which is scheduled for publication this December! At this point I think I can safely say that it’s quite different from the first book, but is still a continuation of the same story. If you enjoyed the characters in The Illuminator’s Gift, I think you’ll enjoy watching them grow and face new dangers, enemies, and challenges in the sequel.

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Dunollie Castle, Scotland; an image on the mood board for my 2nd book!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The Illuminator’s Gift is fantasy, but truth be told, I’m not a die-hard fantasy lover. (Did I say that out loud?) Of course I enjoy discovering new worlds and encountering mythical beasties, but those aren’t enough for me to fall in love with a book, either as a reader or a writer. Dragons and swordfighting alone aren’t enough to make me care. So my work combines genres–some fantasy, some theology, a dash of history, a sprinkle of fairy tale, a little travel writing. I love to read cross-genre books, so why not write them?

Why do I write what I do?

Fantasy books like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Great Divorce have been some of my best friends and truest guides as I have navigated the roughest places in my life. What I really love about fantasy is its ability to grapple with deep truths and teach us how to tackle life’s difficulties and darknesses, all without triggering our defense mechanisms or putting us to sleep. So when I write, I seek not only to spin a good fantasy yarn, but to infuse it with truths I’ve learned along the way, because I think all good stories have truth at their center. Not that I have it all figured out! Often I find myself exploring and growing right alongside my characters, which is part of what makes writing challenging and fun 🙂

All good stories have truth at their center.

How does my writing process work?

Hehe. Today or yesterday? As with many important disciplines, I don’t think writing habits are something you learn once, master, and practice like a machine for the rest of your life. The way I wrote my first book is not the way I’m writing my second. Part of that is because I learned from a few mistakes the first time around! I consider myself a “pantser,” meaning that I tend to write by the seat of my pants, letting the story develop organically rather than planning out a whole book in advance. This time, however, I did start with a sketchy, big-picture outline of the story’s events, leaving big gaps for serendipity to happen. I think the general outline has helped me stay on track (and write faster), but some of my favorite scenes have come from the serendipity gaps 🙂

And the blog tour continues with two other splendid writers, both of whom I hope to introduce to you via interview this summer!

Shelley Adina is the author of over twenty books, from Victorian steampunk to Amish women’s fiction.

Jenn Castro is the author of Mom*Me, a charming picture book for young readers and their moms.

If you’re local to the SF Bay Area, come say hello at Village House of Books next Thursday, 7/10! From 6-8 PM, illustrator Amalia Hillmann and I will be there, signing The Illuminator’s Gift and answering questions. Plus lots of family-friendly activities including face painting, snacks, an art contest, and a drawing for a free book! We’d love to see you there!

Independent Bookstores: Santa Rosa

This is the story of my life.

not to be trusted in a bookstore with a credit card - pinback button badge

Especially at a used bookstore like Treehorn Books in Santa Rosa, CA. My mom and I took a short trip up there last fall and saw the “Books” sign in the window. You know what happened next.

Of course I couldn’t resist going in. In a cheery, pedestrian-dominated downtown just off of Highway 101, this bookstore rubs elbows with public outdoor gardens, international fair-trade shops, coffee shops, and an authentic millinery store–that’s a hat shop to the rest of us.
My attention was arrested right from the window, where an array of dollhouses and paper constructions, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, announces the presence of whimsy and imagination (some of them are dangling from the ceiling).
But of course, as with good books and good people, it’s the inside that really counts. This bookshop is much bigger than it looks on the outside. Rows and aisles and alcoves and crannies of books. No sliding ladders here, but there are some stepstools.
I drooled over books old and new for a while, even chatting it up with the friendly store owner for a few minutes. But what almost got me was the first-edition boxed set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy under glass by the cash register. Gasp. Drool. (For those of you who don’t yet know, I had The Lord of the Rings read to me when I was eight and it’s been my most favorite, inspirational set of books ever since. See my Good Reads page for evidence.)
Unfortunately, those beautiful first editions were something like $250 per book. And since I am a devoted book lover, I majored in English in college. Which meant that that purchase was not happening. So I admired that boxed set like a work of art in a museum and decided to put it on my “when I am rich and famous” list.
Take heart, though! The less rare books were very accessibly priced. So if you’re ever in Santa Rosa, climb a few of the stepstools for me.
Treehorn Books is located at 625 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404. They don’t have a website, but their Yelp page has all their information.