Tag Archives: Mike Duran

Guest Post: Why We Need Supernatural Fiction

By Mike Duran

America is incurably spiritual. Polls continually reveal that the majority of U.S. citizens have some belief in God, angels, heaven, hell and the devil. Fox News, reporting on a national poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, put an interesting spin on these stats. For instance, more men believe in UFOs than women (39 percent to 30 percent), and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in reincarnation, astrology and ghosts. In another poll, American Atheists, Inc. found that one in five Americans claims to have been visited by an angel. The same poll gives us this helpful statistical tidbit: “Income was another factor affecting responses. Eighty-three percent of those earning below $25,000 per year believed in angelic beings, while those earning over $80,000 were less likely (64 percent) to do so.” In other words, the further you get from the poverty line, the less you need to be touched by an angel.

Suffice to say that we are fascinated by—if not downright favorable toward—the supernatural. UFOs, psychic phenomenon, ghosts and angels are practically American staples.

Hollywood knows this. For instance, of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all-time, more than half contain speculative and supernatural themes. Films like The Sixth Sense, The Dark Knight, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Spider Man, seem to capture something about the American zeitgeist. The box office is a great barometer of our fascination for spiritual things. Movies like The Rite, Hereafter, Paranormal Activity, Legion, The Last Exorcism, and Ghost, are ever-present reminders of our belief that “something” is out there.

This trend is not limited to Tinseltown. In literature, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight epic and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series have sold gazillions of copies. Recently, on the NY Times’ bestseller list, you could find such books as Angelology, Paranormalcy, and A Discovery of Witches.

Point is: Pop culture is a reflection of our fascination, however skewed it might be, with the supernatural. What often gets lost in the statistics and commercialism is the implication of it all. I mean, what does it say about us that we are so interested in invisible entities and dwellers of exotic worlds? Are we escapists, dreamers or just plain primitives?

C.S. Lewis argued that the hunger for heaven is evidence for the existence of heaven. In other words, all cravings have a correspondent fix. Like a missing puzzle piece, we instinctively seek the “shape” that will complete us. Likewise, our unshakeable, intuitive sense that powers greater than ours lurk on the fringes of the everyday, may be the best evidence of their existence. Of course, believing in ghosts or extra-terrestrials does not make them so. Nevertheless, it is the consistent hunger for a “superior mind” and a perfect world that we can’t seem to shake.

Frederick Buechner tells the story of the young man who shot and killed his father in a fit of rage. Later that evening in his prison cell, the boy was heard crying, “I need my Dad. I need my Dad.” It’s very likely that what is going bump in the night is our eternal longings flailing against the void; we’ve evicted God, and we miss Him. America’s hunger for the supernatural is evidence of this spiritual vacuum.

Some theologians have called this the echo of Eden: the spiritual ripples of a world that once was. Because of it, we can’t stand at a graveside without asking where the departed went. We can’t look to the skies without asking if there’s anybody out there. The unseen realm resonates in us, because we are part of it; it is our home away from home.

In his work, True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer said, “The Christian life means living in the two halves of reality: the supernatural and the natural parts.” Demons and angels are real—not just for those who make less than 80K a year. As Christians, we should seek to affirm and reclaim this invisible realm, live in both halves of it.

Writing Supernatural Fiction is one of the ways I try to do that.

This is a part of a three-day blog tour for his debut book, The Resurrection. You can visit his blog here.

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Book Review: The Telling

“As they parted, Little Weaver exhorted them again. “The light—the dark angels hate the light. Go home and turn on every light in your house. The shadows are their essence, and the Holy One is their bane. When morning dawns, open all the blinds. And in your hearts—aha!—unfurl the shutters,” He laughed.” – Pg. 187

The Telling by Mike Duran effectively draws you into the town of Endurance and it’s creepy science experiments that hold supernaturally explosive consequences.

Zeph Walker was the Prophet of the Plains—the child who could prophesy death and life like the prophets of old. His mother’s death and his step-mother’s fury left the power—the Telling—dark and unresponsive when at his mother’s grave he renounced it all. But the remnant watches this boy grow into a man. He moves back to Endurance, buys some property, and keeps the book swap open. Zeph keeps his scarred face turned away from people, preferring the isolation of his property. It’s easier that way.

Then, Endurance begins to change. The Marvale Manor has residents who are changing, and Annie tries to explain to her granddaughter, Tamra, that it’s the Madness of Endurance all over again. A prophecy is coming true and the ninth gate of hell trembles on the verge of splitting the land wide open with an army of dark angels. Only one man can stand in its way.

And I thought that man was Zeph Walker. That’s where it got a little confusing. Mike Duran built up Zeph throughout the novel and I expected a big scene where Zeph in the caverns would be the one who stopped the dark army. The ending disappointed me a little because Zeph Walker’s build up seemed to sizzle. It’s Little Weaver who shines and stands to save the town of Endurance.  And yet, Zeph has a part to play, too.

“”Do you remember how you said the dark angels feed on our regrets, our disappointment? It’s like the darkness inside of us is their magnet, then I’m like a twelve-course meal. As long as I hold onto this garbage, let this fear, this bitterness eat me up—as long as I keep runnin’—they have power here. I can’t stand before them.” He gestured toward Otta’s Rift.” – Pg. 246

Mike Duran crafts the story so it chills you, building the suspense, bringing you reluctantly closer to the ninth gate of hell. It seems like, in my opinion, that he uses a lot of new age and occult information combined with scripture, but in a way where I only question it once. Should we so blatantly use scripture to manipulate a fictional prophecy? It’s uniquely and masterfully done that it’s almost believable. Mike Duran realistically portrays the personality of Death Valley and its surrounding towns, made up or real.

Lastly, the way he uses the old marquee at the town’s abandoned theater to be prophetic in itself leaves Endurance haunted by its legend as if the supernatural stirs still in the dry dust of Endurance long after the army of dark angels have been vanquished.

I gave the novel four stars for great story telling, but struggled justifying a five because of the realistic use of scripture in a false prophecy that I have never read yet in a novel. In the past, novels have explored theologies in fiction, but this mix of the occult, new age, and scripture felt new to me. Would I read this again?

I don’t know.

 In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. To read about the tour and to see others who are involved in the tour, click here to read yesterday’s post.

Mike Duran: The Telling Tours

This is the list of people who are involved in the tours of Mike Duran’s new novel, The Telling. My review of the telling will post on Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s been a crazy week. I would encourage you to visit these links to learn more about The Telling.

*Book link – http://www.amazon.com/Telling-Mike-Duran/dp/1616386940/
Author Blog – http://www.mikeduran.com/
Author Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/cerebralgrump

Jim Armstrong
Noah Arsenault
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Brenda Castro
Jeff Chapman
Christine
Theresa Dunlap
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

When Writers Don’t Care…

In Mike Duran’s blog piece, “Review. Rinse. Repeat,” Katherine Coble said, “My review elicited a private email (NOT from the author but a fan/friend/relation of hers) saying that I had just killed any chance I ever had of getting published in the CBA.”

In response, Mike Duran said, “As a sidebar… I recently spoke to two industry reps who’ve been involved in the CBA for a long time and who are both familiar with my blog. I asked them if being openly critical of some things in the CBA hurts me, my career, or reputation. They both said “No.” In fact, I was told that not only am I voicing what many personally feel, but that many CBA insiders read this blog. I’m not saying this to boast of myself, but to suggest that there really is a type of echo chamber effect where readers / reviewers / aspiring writers are afraid to voice… the truth.”

What has happened when the writer cares more about his “art” than the reader? When we send bullying emails or comments to our reviewers or delete their reviews because it won’t sell books? What does that say about us? When we ask our friends and families to flood our book sites with positive reviews what does that say?

We think our novels and books are wonderful. Everyone should be reading them. We invest our time and money into writing, but we knew going into it that we’re not going to get rich off of this career. We should focus our effort on writing well and learn from our mistakes; take what is useful from bad reviews and toss the rest. Not everyone will love my writing.

My bad reviews won’t stop someone from buying your book or novel. I am not Oprah where I can announce support for a presidential nominee and have the whole world fall in line and vote for said nominee. In some cases, my bad reviews have made people think, then buy them anyway to see for themselves.

Writing is more than just a calling, its a journey. It’s about people. It’s story. We reflect the life around us. We’re not anymore special than our neighbor across the street just because we have a book on a shelf.

So please respect reviewers (and readers’ pocketbooks) by allowing honesty.

Christian Fiction: Is It Too Innocent?

As I lacked two nonbelievers to fill two of the slots, I have chosen to substitute clips from Christian bloggers who have blogged about this very same subject. Enjoy!

From She Reads:

“As a child, I was taught not to complain about a problem unless I was willing to be part of the solution. I was also introduced to the literature of J. R. R. Tolkien, John Bunyan, C. S. Lewis, Daniel Defoe, Flannery O’Connor, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Not one of these world-class Christian writers worked within the parameters of a “religious fiction” market.” Read More

From Author, Mike Duran:

“While I’m thrilled that Christian publishers appear to be seeing their “mission” in terms of a larger market — both in terms of readers’ tastes and/or worldviews — there are inherent obstacles to “Christian crossovers,” some of which this article inadvertently highlights. Let me suggest two things that keep Christian Fiction from crossing over.” Read More

From “A Christian Worldview of Fiction”:

“I don’t know what Pastor Driscoll’s point was in his sermon, and I’m not bringing this up to discuss whether or not he was wise to voice his opinion in such a strident way. Rather, I want to return to the discussion about safe fiction.” Read More

Note From Nikki: Yesterday, I featured author, Tricia Goyer. Tomorrow is the last day of the series. Since we began with a humanist, we are ending with a believer. Author, Carol Cox will be guest posting. To read more about this series, click here. Remember to keep all comments civil.

Mid-June Series Introduction: What is it About?

Dear Readers,

“Christian Fiction: Is It Effective?” will post from June 13 – 20. I have come across blog posts like She Reads or Mike Duran or even A Christian Worldview that have discussed the effectiveness of Christian fiction.

In my opinion, Christian fiction is created for Christians. How can it be effective if it’s in the Christian genre? Some unbelievers feel intense anger towards the genre and won’t give it a second look. Some Amazon reviews show this anger with comments like the genre being ‘religous,’ or, ‘deceiving’ because they ‘didn’t know’ it was of the Christian genre. Some wonder if there isn’t a plan to simply eradicate Christianity from literature by sabotaging Christian fiction via reviews. So what do nonbelievers think of Christian fiction?

In this series, four Christian novelists and two nonbelievers will square off. Though I spoke with many nonbelievers, I could not get two more nonbelievers to read Christian fiction in order to participate. Some wanted to post posts to argue Christinaity instead of taking this opportunity to examine Christian fiction. This is not a debate about Christianity. The Christian novelists will write a 750-word blog post on why they write Christian fiction and how they intend to reach the unbeliever, while the nonbeliever will write a 750-word blog post about what they like or don’t like about Christian fiction, citing examples and being specific.

Comments will be moderated that week to ensure the discussion stays honest and friendly. I don’t care where the conversation goes, as long as we treat each other like humanbeings.

I only have two nonbelievers who have contributed. They have done an excellent job in answering my question. Here are their bios and photos:

David Rosman is an award winning author, columnist and educator. You can read his weekly essays in the Columbia Missourian, and on InkandVoice.com/editorials. He is also a book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.

Originally from the New York City metro-area, having lived in Denver, Colorado for 25-years, five-months and 22-days (but who was counting), David now resides in the middle of Middle-America, Columbia, Missouri.

David is faculty of Communication at Columbia College and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (CCBW) of InkandVoice Communication, providing communication consulting and editing services for business, political campaigns, and not-for-profits. He is the winner of the Interactive Media Council’s award for political web site design, writing and editing, and has been twice nominated for the Kulp-Wright awards for training and academic textbook and classroom excellence.

David’s most recent book is A Christian Nation?: An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs, and is available through Amazon.com in paperback or eBook formats.

 He also writes: “I am a member of the Columbia Atheists Association (American Atheists). At 13, after my Bar Mitzvah, I wanted to become a Cantor and ended up at St. Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, a Jesuit institution, where I was required to take all of the religion courses. There was a failed baptism in the Ohio River on my 25 birthday, and I was on the Board of Directors of two Temples before I discovered that I never really believed in God since I discovered quantum mechanics, evolution, and critical thinking.”
 
Hello, my name is Jennifer. I am the author of:
I’m about to publish a book on bullying called The Bully Vaccine: http://thebullyvaccine.com which will be out early May 2012. I write a freelance column about Humanism for the Bradenton Herald newspaper and yes, I am interested in syndicating it. I am also the Tampa Humanist and Freethought Examiner for Examiner.com and I publish the Happiness through Humanism blog and podcast. Finally, I am a speaker specializing in Humanism, ethics, morality and what motivates us to be better humans. I’m on the web at: http://www.jen-hancock.com
Christian Novelists:

Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

Carol Cox: If you’re a lover of history, mystery, and romance, you’ve come to the right place—a place where time pauses beneath brilliant Arizona skies.

As a third-generation Arizonan, I have a special love for the Southwest and its history. Life in the Old West was never easy, but the American Frontier had a way of drawing people who were resilient, who met adversity with a quiet inner strength and a reliance on God’s provision. From the deserts to the canyons to the towering pine forests, the history of my home state is filled with tales of characters whose courage and tenacity helped shape this part of the country.

I grew up listening to stories about people like this. Men and women who possessed the qualities needed to meet the challenges of this rugged land. Men and women who experienced their share of laughter and tears while taming the Southwest . . . and learning something about themselves and their relationship with God along the way. These are the kind of men and women who inspire the books I write.

Dianne Christner lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where life sizzles, at least in the summer when temperatures soar above 100 degrees. Before writing, Dianne balanced a career of office management with raising a family and serving the Lord in her local church.

 She has been married for thirty-nine years. Dianne and Jim have two married children, Mike and Rachel, and five grandchildren. With several historical fictions to her credit, she hopes you enjoy her new contemporary series – The Plain City Bridesmaids. If you want to learn more about Dianne’s writing and personal life, visit her blog. She loves interacting with her readers.

C. S. Lakin is novelist and writing coach who spends her time divided between developing new book ideas and helping writers polish theirs. She is the author of twelve novels – six contemporary novels and six in the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Whether she is exploring the depths of the human psyche and pushing her characters to the edge of desperation, or embellishing an imaginary world replete with talking pigs and ancient magical curses, she is doing what she loves best – using her creativity and skills to inspire and affect her readers.

Please join us that week. This is your opportunity to share your views. Feel free to ask questions.

Readers: Will you join us on that day and share your opinion after each post? You can subscribe to my posts so it comes to your email.

Posts begin tomorrow!

Are You An Atheist or Humanist?

Dear Readers,

“Christian Fiction: Is It Effective?” will post from June 13-20. I have come across blog posts like She Reads or Mike Duran or even A Christian Worldview that have discussed the effectiveness of Christian fiction.

In my opinion, Christian fiction is created for Christians. How can it be effective if it’s in the Christian genre? Some unbelievers feel intense anger towards the genre and won’t give it a second look. Some Amazon reviews show this anger with comments like the genre being ‘religous,’ or, ‘deceiving’ because they ‘didn’t know’ it was of the Christian genre. Some wonder if there isn’t a plan to simply eradicate Christianity from literature by sabotaging Christian fiction via reviews. So what do nonbelievers think of Christian fiction?

In this series, four Christian novelists and four nonbelievers will square off. This is not a debate about Christianity. The Christian novelists will write a 750-word blog post on why they write Christian fiction and how they intend to reach the unbeliever, while the nonbeliever will write a 750-word blog post about what they like or don’t like about Christian fiction, citing examples and being specific.

Comments will be moderated that week to ensure the discussion stays honest and friendly. I don’t care where the conversation goes, as long as we treat each other like humanbeings.

I only have two nonbelievers who have contributed. They have done an excellent job in answering my question. I need two more. Here are their bios and photos:

David Rosman is an award winning author, columnist and educator. You can read his weekly essays in the Columbia Missourian, and on InkandVoice.com/editorials. He is also a book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.

Originally from the New York City metro-area, having lived in Denver, Colorado for 25-years, five-months and 22-days (but who was counting), David now resides in the middle of Middle-America, Columbia, Missouri.

David is faculty of Communication at Columbia College and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (CCBW) of InkandVoice Communication, providing communication consulting and editing services for business, political campaigns, and not-for-profits. He is the winner of the Interactive Media Council’s award for political web site design, writing and editing, and has been twice nominated for the Kulp-Wright awards for training and academic textbook and classroom excellence.

David’s most recent book is A Christian Nation?: An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs, and is available through Amazon.com in paperback or eBook formats.

 He also writes: “I am a member of the Columbia Atheists Association (American Atheists). At 13, after my Bar Mitzvah, I wanted to become a Cantor and ended up at St. Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, a Jesuit institution, where I was required to take all of the religion courses. There was a failed baptism in the Ohio River on my 25 birthday, and I was on the Board of Directors of two Temples before I discovered that I never really believed in God since I discovered quantum mechanics, evolution, and critical thinking.”
 
Hello, my name is Jennifer. I am the author of:
I’m about to publish a book on bullying called The Bully Vaccine: http://thebullyvaccine.com which will be out early May 2012. I write a freelance column about Humanism for the Bradenton Herald newspaper and yes, I am interested in syndicating it. I am also the Tampa Humanist and Freethought Examiner for Examiner.com and I publish the Happiness through Humanism blog and podcast. Finally, I am a speaker specializing in Humanism, ethics, morality and what motivates us to be better humans. I’m on the web at: http://www.jen-hancock.com
 
 Could this be you? I need two more nonbelievers. email me at nikolehahn@thehahnhuntinglodge.com
 
Christian Novelists:

Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

Carol Cox: If you’re a lover of history, mystery, and romance, you’ve come to the right place—a place where time pauses beneath brilliant Arizona skies.

As a third-generation Arizonan, I have a special love for the Southwest and its history. Life in the Old West was never easy, but the American Frontier had a way of drawing people who were resilient, who met adversity with a quiet inner strength and a reliance on God’s provision. From the deserts to the canyons to the towering pine forests, the history of my home state is filled with tales of characters whose courage and tenacity helped shape this part of the country.

I grew up listening to stories about people like this. Men and women who possessed the qualities needed to meet the challenges of this rugged land. Men and women who experienced their share of laughter and tears while taming the Southwest . . . and learning something about themselves and their relationship with God along the way. These are the kind of men and women who inspire the books I write.

Dianne Christner lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where life sizzles, at least in the summer when temperatures soar above 100 degrees. Before writing, Dianne balanced a career of office management with raising a family and serving the Lord in her local church.

 She has been married for thirty-nine years. Dianne and Jim have two married children, Mike and Rachel, and five grandchildren. With several historical fictions to her credit, she hopes you enjoy her new contemporary series – The Plain City Bridesmaids. If you want to learn more about Dianne’s writing and personal life, visit her blog. She loves interacting with her readers.

C. S. Lakin is novelist and writing coach who spends her time divided between developing new book ideas and helping writers polish theirs. She is the author of twelve novels – six contemporary novels and six in the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Whether she is exploring the depths of the human psyche and pushing her characters to the edge of desperation, or embellishing an imaginary world replete with talking pigs and ancient magical curses, she is doing what she loves best – using her creativity and skills to inspire and affect her readers.

Please join us that week. If you’re a nonbeliever, contact me to contribute at nikolehahn@thehahnhuntinglodge.com. This is your opportunity to share your views. Feel free to ask questions.

Readers: Will you join us on that day and share your opinion after each post? You can subscribe to my posts so it comes to your email.

Mid-June Series Introduction: Exciting News!

Dear Readers,

“Christian Fiction: Is It Effective?” will post from June 13-20. I have come across blog posts like She Reads or Mike Duran or even A Christian Worldview that have discussed the effectiveness of Christian fiction.

In my opinion, Christian fiction is created for Christians. How can it be effective if it’s in the Christian genre? Some unbelievers feel intense anger towards the genre and won’t give it a second look. Some Amazon reviews show this anger with comments like the genre being ‘religous,’ or, ‘deceiving’ because they ‘didn’t know’ it was of the Christian genre. Some wonder if there isn’t a plan to simply eradicate Christianity from literature by sabotaging Christian fiction via reviews. So what do nonbelievers think of Christian fiction?

In this series, four Christian novelists and four nonbelievers will square off. This is not a debate about Christianity. The Christian novelists will write a 750-word blog post on why they write Christian fiction and how they intend to reach the unbeliever, while the nonbeliever will write a 750-word blog post about what they like or don’t like about Christian fiction, citing examples and being specific.

Comments will be moderated that week to ensure the discussion stays honest and friendly. I don’t care where the conversation goes, as long as we treat each other like humanbeings.

I only have two nonbelievers who have contributed. They have done an excellent job in answering my question. I need two more. Here are their bios and photos:

David Rosman is an award winning author, columnist and educator. You can read his weekly essays in the Columbia Missourian, and on InkandVoice.com/editorials. He is also a book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.

Originally from the New York City metro-area, having lived in Denver, Colorado for 25-years, five-months and 22-days (but who was counting), David now resides in the middle of Middle-America, Columbia, Missouri.

David is faculty of Communication at Columbia College and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (CCBW) of InkandVoice Communication, providing communication consulting and editing services for business, political campaigns, and not-for-profits. He is the winner of the Interactive Media Council’s award for political web site design, writing and editing, and has been twice nominated for the Kulp-Wright awards for training and academic textbook and classroom excellence.

David’s most recent book is A Christian Nation?: An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs, and is available through Amazon.com in paperback or eBook formats.

 He also writes: “I am a member of the Columbia Atheists Association (American Atheists). At 13, after my Bar Mitzvah, I wanted to become a Cantor and ended up at St. Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, a Jesuit institution, where I was required to take all of the religion courses. There was a failed baptism in the Ohio River on my 25 birthday, and I was on the Board of Directors of two Temples before I discovered that I never really believed in God since I discovered quantum mechanics, evolution, and critical thinking.”
 
Hello, my name is Jennifer. I am the author of:
I’m about to publish a book on bullying called The Bully Vaccine: http://thebullyvaccine.com which will be out early May 2012. I write a freelance column about Humanism for the Bradenton Herald newspaper and yes, I am interested in syndicating it. I am also the Tampa Humanist and Freethought Examiner for Examiner.com and I publish the Happiness through Humanism blog and podcast. Finally, I am a speaker specializing in Humanism, ethics, morality and what motivates us to be better humans. I’m on the web at: http://www.jen-hancock.com
 
 Could this be you? I need two more nonbelievers. email me at nikolehahn@thehahnhuntinglodge.com
 
Christian Novelists:

Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

Carol Cox: If you’re a lover of history, mystery, and romance, you’ve come to the right place—a place where time pauses beneath brilliant Arizona skies.

As a third-generation Arizonan, I have a special love for the Southwest and its history. Life in the Old West was never easy, but the American Frontier had a way of drawing people who were resilient, who met adversity with a quiet inner strength and a reliance on God’s provision. From the deserts to the canyons to the towering pine forests, the history of my home state is filled with tales of characters whose courage and tenacity helped shape this part of the country.

I grew up listening to stories about people like this. Men and women who possessed the qualities needed to meet the challenges of this rugged land. Men and women who experienced their share of laughter and tears while taming the Southwest . . . and learning something about themselves and their relationship with God along the way. These are the kind of men and women who inspire the books I write.

Dianne Christner lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where life sizzles, at least in the summer when temperatures soar above 100 degrees. Before writing, Dianne balanced a career of office management with raising a family and serving the Lord in her local church.

 She has been married for thirty-nine years. Dianne and Jim have two married children, Mike and Rachel, and five grandchildren. With several historical fictions to her credit, she hopes you enjoy her new contemporary series – The Plain City Bridesmaids. If you want to learn more about Dianne’s writing and personal life, visit her blog. She loves interacting with her readers.

C. S. Lakin is novelist and writing coach who spends her time divided between developing new book ideas and helping writers polish theirs. She is the author of twelve novels – six contemporary novels and six in the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Whether she is exploring the depths of the human psyche and pushing her characters to the edge of desperation, or embellishing an imaginary world replete with talking pigs and ancient magical curses, she is doing what she loves best – using her creativity and skills to inspire and affect her readers.

Please join us that week. If you’re a nonbeliever, contact me to contribute at nikolehahn@thehahnhuntinglodge.com. This is your opportunity to share your views. Feel free to ask questions.

Readers: Will you join us on that day and share your opinion after each post? You can subscribe to my posts so it comes to your email.

Guest Post: Why We Need Supernatural Fiction

By Mike Duran

America is incurably spiritual. Polls continually reveal that the majority of U.S. citizens have some belief in God, angels, heaven, hell and the devil. Fox News, reporting on a national poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, put an interesting spin on these stats. For instance, more men believe in UFOs than women (39 percent to 30 percent), and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in reincarnation, astrology and ghosts. In another poll, American Atheists, Inc. found that one in five Americans claims to have been visited by an angel. The same poll gives us this helpful statistical tidbit: “Income was another factor affecting responses. Eighty-three percent of those earning below $25,000 per year believed in angelic beings, while those earning over $80,000 were less likely (64 percent) to do so.” In other words, the further you get from the poverty line, the less you need to be touched by an angel.

Suffice to say that we are fascinated by—if not downright favorable toward—the supernatural. UFOs, psychic phenomenon, ghosts and angels are practically American staples.

Hollywood knows this. For instance, of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all-time, more than half contain speculative and supernatural themes. Films like The Sixth Sense, The Dark Knight, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Spider Man, seem to capture something about the American zeitgeist. The box office is a great barometer of our fascination for spiritual things. Movies like The Rite, Hereafter, Paranormal Activity, Legion, The Last Exorcism, and Ghost, are ever-present reminders of our belief that “something” is out there.

This trend is not limited to Tinseltown. In literature, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight epic and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series have sold gazillions of copies. Recently, on the NY Times’ bestseller list, you could find such books as Angelology, Paranormalcy, and A Discovery of Witches.

Point is: Pop culture is a reflection of our fascination, however skewed it might be, with the supernatural. What often gets lost in the statistics and commercialism is the implication of it all. I mean, what does it say about us that we are so interested in invisible entities and dwellers of exotic worlds? Are we escapists, dreamers or just plain primitives?

C.S. Lewis argued that the hunger for heaven is evidence for the existence of heaven. In other words, all cravings have a correspondent fix. Like a missing puzzle piece, we instinctively seek the “shape” that will complete us. Likewise, our unshakeable, intuitive sense that powers greater than ours lurk on the fringes of the everyday, may be the best evidence of their existence. Of course, believing in ghosts or extra-terrestrials does not make them so. Nevertheless, it is the consistent hunger for a “superior mind” and a perfect world that we can’t seem to shake.

Frederick Buechner tells the story of the young man who shot and killed his father in a fit of rage. Later that evening in his prison cell, the boy was heard crying, “I need my Dad. I need my Dad.” It’s very likely that what is going bump in the night is our eternal longings flailing against the void; we’ve evicted God, and we miss Him. America’s hunger for the supernatural is evidence of this spiritual vacuum.

Some theologians have called this the echo of Eden: the spiritual ripples of a world that once was. Because of it, we can’t stand at a graveside without asking where the departed went. We can’t look to the skies without asking if there’s anybody out there. The unseen realm resonates in us, because we are part of it; it is our home away from home.

In his work, True Spirituality, Francis Schaeffer said, “The Christian life means living in the two halves of reality: the supernatural and the natural parts.” Demons and angels are real—not just for those who make less than 80K a year. As Christians, we should seek to affirm and reclaim this invisible realm, live in both halves of it.

Writing Supernatural Fiction is one of the ways I try to do that.

This is a part of a three-day blog tour for his debut book, The Resurrection. You can visit his blog here.

Book Excerpt: The Resurrection by Mike Duran

“This is really unfair,” Clark managed to say. “I’m struggling with this, just like everyone else.”

“Yeah. The strugglin’s true. But you’ve got three churches in this city, and from what I understand,  none of them get along. They talk about love and unity and truth and blah-de-blah. Fact is, they spend more time swapping disgruntled members and bad-mouthing each other than doin’ anything constructive. And all the while, the poor remain unclothed and the hungry remain unfed.”

Clark mumbled, “We have a food pantry.”

“Reverend Clark,” Beeko chuckled, “you have the largest church in town, and we’re here debating whether or not God can perform miracles.”

“Listen, I’m not about to start a praise-a-thon because of some freak incident.”

“Yes, well…I can’t blame ya. Still, it lends credence to the theory.” Beeko walked to the desk, leaned against it, and folded his arms. “They say something evil’s over at Stonetree–something ancient, unnamed. By inference, you are all under its shadow.”

Something ancient, unnamed? The doctor was as mad as Keen!

“They can say what they want,” Clark grumbled. “Nothings forcing me to believe what I do. Besides, I thought you were middle-of-the-road. You know, uncommitted.”

“Yes. So I am.” Beeko sighed and eased up. “You’ve got something  there about not goin’ ga-ga over the unproven. Lotta bandwagon believers. But when it comes to religion, it’s not always cut and dried. When I was a boy, growing up outside Bwari, a traveling evangelist came to town and stirred up a bunch of hoopla. His tent meetings attracted big crowds, and many claimed to be healed. Newspapers and TV crews came askign questions, and all kind of wild stories emerged. ‘Course, none of it could be verified. Until one night a woman from the outback brought her dead son. Said the boy’d died that morning. She traveled all day to get there, and when she walked to the platform carrying him he started shaking and coughing. They said he came to life. Of course, nothing could be substantiated. Still, the crowds came, and the stories continued. The lady went back to her village and converted every last one of them. To this day that small village is a Christian village. And it can all be traced back to that one little boy and his mother. Did he rise from the dead? Was it a miracle or a medical curiosity? Perhaps they struck a deal with some tribal deity. Who’s to say? For me, I’ll stay in the middle.”

Clark shook his head. He’d given up trying to contain his skepticism. “Part of me wants to believe in miracles. Really. But there’s so much abuse. Heck, ninety-nine percent of what people label as miracles or healings is probably emotionalism or just wishful thinking.”

“Yeah, but there’s still that one percent.”

Clark looked at the floor. It was clean and cold–like him. He had no more rebuttals. The end of his rope was fast approaching.

“Look, Reverend Clark,” Beeko seemed to sense his turmoil. “There’s a lot of chicanery in religion. And mystery. Even in my field, with all its advances, some things still go unexplained. Maybe this is a case of hysteria. Or maybe someone made a mistake, and there’s a reasonable explanation. However, there’s another possibility which you and I must face–as uncomfortable and messy as it might be. Maybe–just maybe–we have a miracle on our hands. A modern-day miracle. If that’s the case, no word-swapping or mental gymnastics will change that fact. If something–someone–is invading the dead zone, we’d best stop debating and get out of his way.”

To buy the book, click here.