99 Days and Counting...

Posted by Zachary Bartels | Labels: , , , , | Posted On Monday, June 30, 2014 at 2:26 PM

We’re into the double digits until the release of my debut novel Playing Saint.

 Added a countdown to my webpage. It looks something like this:

Too soon?

Talking a Little Shop

Posted by Zachary Bartels | Labels: | Posted On Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 7:20 PM

A few weeks ago, my family and I were walking to one of our favorite restaurants, when I asked my son (who was about to turn six), if he owned his own restaurant, what would he call it?

Without taking even a moment to ponder the question, he answered "Gatos Marteis." I'm guessing at the spelling; he pronounced the second word mar-TACE. Gatos is, of course, Spanish for cats, but I'm not sure why my son would know that, since his school teaches Chinese as its foreign language. I have no idea what marteis would mean or what language it would be.

I asked what kind of food they would serve. Again, without missing a beat, he said, "Italian." He promptly invited me to be a partner in this enterprise and we began brainstorming (meaning, I asked a bunch more questions about our restaurant). Further highlights include:

  • You can eat on the roof, and there are FIVE roofs
  • They have a song there, and there's a party every Saturday
  • They will be open for one full year, 24 hours a day, and then closed for one full year (to build anticipation? Perhaps he stole this idea from AMC?)
  •  The sign will have a green background and white letters and a piece of pizza under it. And the writing will be in Greek.
 After dinner, we went down the street to get some ice cream and I, wanting to broach the subject again, said, "You mind talking a little shop?"  My son looked at me, confused. "About Gatos Marteis," I said.

"Yeah, we can have a little shop there," he answered. "Let's do it!"

This kid, like most kids, spends 99% of his waking life imagining stuff. (Largely involving the defeating of ninjas and the transforming of vehicles into robots). Writing fiction means you get to keep that part of you alive and in good health and even get paid for it. Which is awesome.

You mind talking a little shop? Next time you've got writer's block, try the five-year-old approach, which is also the improv approach: don't think; react! What's the restaurant called? Gatos Marteis! Can you eat on the roof? Duh--there are FIVE roofs. You know how to generate creative material from nowhere. Remember that. Your first instinct may not be the best, but it will do until something better comes along.

Does anybody blog anymore?

Posted by Zachary Bartels | Labels: | Posted On Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Seriously, is this still a thing?

Sunny with a Chance of Suffering

Posted by Zachary Bartels | Labels: , , , | Posted On Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Easter is relatively late this year. That usually makes me happy. Not because I want to put it off or even because I need more time to prepare for Holy Week (although that never hurts), but because it means we’re that much more likely to have a sunny, bright, pleasant day for our Easter celebration. That’s good for family photos, it’s good for the people wearing new clothes, good for kids searching for Easter eggs. But most of all, it just feels right, doesn’t it?

The same way a White Christmas feels right. I get really bummed when there is visible grass on Christmas. Or (worse) cold rain or sleet. Or (worse yet) a giant ice storm that destroys the crab apple tree in my front yard. Christmas is supposed to be cold, but calm—snowy, pretty, pleasant, and of course silent. We have no idea what that first Christmas night (or morn or whatever) was like, but we won't stand for depressing rain or raging blizzards—not quietly, anyway.

Likewise, Easter is supposed to be warm, sunny, maybe a comfortable breeze. And, let’s face it, we’re borderline-offended if we have rain or, as was the case a couple years ago, thunderstorms. Why would God mess up his own party like that? That’s just weird.

But here’s the thing: when the baby Jesus was born, he didn’t enter a world that was idyllic, peaceful, silent, and serene. It was a world where power-mad kings who thought they were gods demanded that people make treacherous journeys so they could pay more crippling taxes, where governors who thought they were kings ordered the deaths of babies in order to protect their own thrones, and even the worship of the true God had become big business that mostly benefited a few corrupt individuals at the top. That sounds a lot more like a blizzard or an ice storm than a soft blanket of white snow.

And likewise when Jesus rose again—while he did indeed conquer sin and death—he certainly did not leave his followers to enjoy a perpetual nice spring day. In the wake of his resurrection came accusations, man-hunts, conspiracies and cover-ups, stonings, beatings, floggings, and all sorts of persecution. 

That may be worth bearing in mind as we celebrate these events.

Is it good to take some time to enjoy a peaceful winter night or a bright spring morning, gathered together, meditating on what Christ has done for us? Of course! But if/when the weather refuses to cooperate, perhaps that is just as well. Because it reminds us that Jesus’ first advent—his coming in the flesh, living a sinless life, dying a substitutionary death, and rising again on the third day—gives us life, not just when everything is perfect, but in the midst of our own storms, whatever they may be.

Naturally, I’m praying for sun, chirping birds, and all manner of pleasantness on Easter morning, but if the clouds burst, I pray I’ll be all the more thankful that our Risen King is still the Risen King in the midst of the storm.

Playing Saint Available for Pre-Order

Posted by Zachary Bartels | Labels: , , , , | Posted On Monday, March 24, 2014 at 12:30 AM

Click here to visit the Amazon pre-buy page.

Nash-Vegas, Baby!!

Posted by Zachary Bartels | Labels: , , , | Posted On Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Last week, I had the pleasure of heading down to Nashville for the sales conference of  HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson & Zondervan). It was an absolute blast, and I definitely didn't mind getting on the plane in 15° and ugly gray snow and stepping out to 75° and lots of SUN. 

The conference itself was also pretty impressive. It was held in a TV studio and looked quite a bit like a talk show set. My editor Amanda interviewed me for about ten minutes. Sarah Ladd (author of popular regency fiction) was also on hand to talk about her new book. 

206 days. Getting stoked.

Got It Covered

Posted by Zachary Bartels | Labels: , , , , , , | Posted On Monday, March 17, 2014 at 3:00 AM

So the cover is complete. I'm pretty psyched about it. I'm thinking it will help the book jump off the shelf and grab people's attention in October when it is released.