Monday, September 21, 2015

Improving on God's Plan

I wrote the following for The Blazing Center.

Joshua: Okay, everybody quiet down. It’s time to start this elders meeting.

[Din of talking continues among the seventy elders]

Joshua: Seriously, shut it!

[A beat]

Joshua: Alright, then. So tomorrow begins our big siege of Jer— . . .  Seriously, Jehoiarib? I see you passing that note. Stop it. Put it down. No, not in front of Tola; put it . . . You know what? Give it to me. It’s mine now. I keep.
[Note is handed down comically long line of elders, to Joshua who reads it, frowns with, like, a sort of old-lady frown if that makes sense, and then crumples it up.]

Joshua: [to Jehoiarib] You know, just because I’m a super-spy-slash-mighty-warrior who hides in the homes of high-end prostitutes, escapes out windows, slaughters the enemy, and is basically the James Bond of the Ancient Near East doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings, man. Comments like this [slightly hefts crumpled note] still hurt.

Jehoiarib:  [Studying his feet, mumbling] Sorry.

Joshua: So anyway, I’ve gotten the plan for the attack, direct from Adonai, and it is incredible. He is obviously going to do something huge and miraculous in our midst!
[General din of anticipation, which sort of sounds like some people saying “murmur murmur” under their breath while others say “watermelon, watermelon”, also under their breath]

Joshua: You all know that Jericho is straitly shut up because of the children of Israel; none go in and none come out. But God has given the city and their king and their hardest-core warriors into our hands. Here’s the plan: all the men of war in Israel will surround the city at once . . .

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Podcasts! Everywhere!

You may not be aware that I host a weekly podcast, together with prolific author Ted Kluck, called the Gut Check Podcast. It's a niche-of-a-niche humor type thing, in which we also talk about publishing (including promoting our own books) and skype in with a motley crew of regulars (some famous) to discuss whatever happens to be on our minds that day.

Without any research (not even googling), I'm going to assume that we made podcast history when Ted and I played a double-header with NYT bestselling novelist Cliff Graham. Cliff has been on our show before (and by "show," I mean two guys talking into USB microphones), but what made this unique is that, immediately after recording the Gut Check Podcast with Cliff as a guest, we proceeded to record Cliff's Good Battle Podcast with us as the guests. I know—groundbreaking.

Here are the links:
The Gut Check Podcast, Episode 24 - The Cliff Graham Episode  
The Good Battle Podcast, Episode 18 - Zachary Bartels & Ted Kluck

In addition, I was happy to pop up in Noah Filipiak's “Behind the Curtain Ministry Podcast” recently. We talked about self-promotion as it relates to writing and to being a Christian.

You can find that link here:
 Behind the Curtain Episode 7


Friday, September 4, 2015

I'm Just Like Jesus, They Tell Me...

My son and I just finished the Gospel of Luke. Ideally, we read a few chapters of the Bible together every night, but it's actually more like three to four times a week. Still, we've made it through three

books of the Bible now. He loved the story of Jesus and he remembers details I would never expect a seven-year-old to retain. He loved the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus so much (especially the road to Emmaus) that he has opted to read John next and get the story of our Savior from another angle.

So, anyway.

A new Christian bookstore opened today in an outdoor mall near our house, so he and I went to check it out. As most authors are wont to do, I wandered by the fiction aisle and was pleased to see that they had a couple copies of The Last Con and one copy of Playing Saint. Just then, an employee happened by and said, "Can I help you find anything?"

Thinking I'd be clever or cute or something, I said, "Have you ever read either of these books?"

"No, I don't believe I have," she replied.

"They're amazing," I quipped, planning of course to aw-shucksingly reveal that I had written them after building them up to a ridiculous degree.

"Amazing? Really?"

"Oh, yes," I said. "Maybe even brilliant."

"What is?" called another clerk asked from behind the counter.

"These two," clerk #1 said, carrying my books over to her.

At this point, my son called me over to look at some comic books we don't yet have. (Aside: Kingstone Bible Comics are the money!) I kind of forgot about the whole shameless self-promotion thing until we got up to the counter and saw my books sitting there.

"Thanks for the recommendation," the clerk said. "I'm going to pass it on to my husband."

In a little too deep to come clean directly I just nodded and expectantly handed her my debit card, which, incidentally, bears my name. She didn't notice.

As we left the store, my son says, "Huh. You're kind of like Jesus."

"How?" I asked.

"You know, pretending to be someone else."

Yeah. That's one way to look at it.