31 Dec 2006

Wishing You Well

When the sun shines on the mountain
And the night is on the run
It's a new day
It's a new way
And I fly up to the sun


23 Dec 2006

Guest Blog - Lisa Jordan

Christmas is upon us. As the festivities and merry-making envelop our senses, Lisa Jordan, Christian fiction writer, reflects on her genre, and how her faith has shaped her writing. Let us join her as she brings us closer to...

A Cradle for a King

Travel over two thousand years ago with me to a little town called Bethlehem. Our imaginary journey takes us to a stable where a tired husband and his wife, heavy with child, had been denied room at the inn. An ordinary woman has given birth to an Extraordinary Child. Instead of being surrounded by family and well-wishers, she and her carpenter husband have been greeted by noisy, smelly livestock. A feeding trough cradled their newborn Child. A cradle for a King. Such lowly surroundings for the Prince of Peace. Mary’s life has changed dramatically since the day the angel proclaimed her destiny. What went through her mind as she hugged this tiny infant to her breast? She was an ordinary woman whom God used for His extraordinary Purpose.

I’m honored to be a guest on Bhaswati’s wonderful blog. She invited me to share with her readers what it means to be a Christian fiction writer. The Christmas season is a glorious time for Christians, but as a Christian writer, it is also a wonderful time of reflection for me. God’s gift of His Son is the root of Christianity. Without His birth, my faith as I know it wouldn’t exist. Because of that faith, I have chosen to write Christian fiction.

Christian fiction glorifies God and promotes Biblical principles. The characters in Christian fiction stories are Christians or they have come to accept Christ as their Savior by the book’s end. Christian fiction novels and stories have a spiritual element woven into the plot. The characters rely on God to help them through their situations. The books are wholesome with no swearing, no premarital sex, or graphic content.

Christian fiction characters endure real life situations and writers of Christian fiction novels use realistic, and sometimes, edgy themes, such as abuse, adultery, addiction, child pornography, prostitution, rape. Christian fiction genres are broken into many of the sub-genres as secular fiction, such as romantic suspense, chick-lit, romantic comedy, women’s fiction, thrillers, science fiction/fantasy.

Some of my favorite Christian authors include Susan May Warren, Colleen Coble, Deborah Raney, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Trish Perry, Dee Henderson, Judy Baer, Allie Pleiter, Debra Clopton. There are many more. These women write in different genres, but they share the love of Jesus and their novels reflect their faith.

I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was sixteen years old. Through the years, I’ve penned stories that will never see the light of day. However, each of those stories has taught me valuable lessons about how to develop three dimensional characters, setting, plot, conflict, etc. Even published writers will say they never stop learning. By listening to constructive criticism and accepting advice from other knowledgeable writers, I’m striving to write a novel that will catch an editor’s attention.

Belonging to reputable writing organizations has helped me hone my craft. I’m a proud member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the premiere organization for Christian fiction, and Faith, Hope & Love, the inspirational chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’ve had the opportunity to attend two ACFW conferences. Both have been vital in helping me understand the complex craft of writing.

Writing Christian fiction is a ministry. It is my desire to combine my faith with stories of my heart to touch the hearts of women who may read my future novels. I write Christian women’s fiction novels about ordinary women who are extraordinary in God’s eyes. After all, I have years of experience of being an ordinary woman, but I believe in an extraordinary God. I invite you to visit my website.

As the holidays approach, take a break from the shopping, the baking, the parties, the gifts, and remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Merry Christmas. May God’s blessings be abundant throughout the New Year!

12 Dec 2006

Morning Marvels

Every morning, I go for a walk on my terrace. The stretch of open space has proven to be the most hassle-free exercising venue for an undisciplined soul like me. I don’t need to sport special attires since technically it’s part of my house. I usually climb my way up when the morning manifests itself fully. This means I don’t start my day with the first rays of the sun, but only when the soft rays mature into a generous splash of tropical sunshine spread across at least a section of the terrace land.

My mornings on the terrace have introduced me to a whole bunch of friends and events.

The All-India Avian Congress is hard to ignore, what with the volume of its esteemed members’ throats. Crows clearly appear to dominate the proceedings, even as pigeons prefer playing the part of silent board members. They leisurely take up their positions atop building roofs or electric poles, barely putting up with their cacophonic counterparts.

At times the meetings don’t end on a peaceful note, leading to a show of strength with regard to territorial rights. Again, the agile crows take the lead, often scaring me with their ominously low flights, marked by agitated wind flapping. Are these birds known to have higher blood pressures? I suspect so; especially since a couple of them attacked me during a park walk around a year ago.

The crowing supremacy cowers into a resigned defeat, however, when kites appear on the horizon. Where the crows and pigeons vie for slices of the sky, the kite claims the entire pie with a single sweep of its magnificent flight. My walk stops momentarily as I look up, transfixed to see this breathtaking stretched-wings wonder spanning across the blue canvas.

Soon the chirpy parakeets rush in, restless to get on with business as soon as possible. The business being picking on the fresh guavas off our tree in the backyard. They do get some competition from the home mynas, who are already found soaking in the comfort of a cozy nest amid the foliage of the guava tree. Although the parakeets are almost always too swift for my reflexes with the camera, they make me smile. Not just for their alacrity, but also because folklore tells me guavas bitten off by a parakeet turn out to be the sweetest of the lot.

Then there are the canine friends who are the kings and queens of the park behind our house. Seeing them send out vociferous warning messages to any outsider dog is being witness to the act of maintaining the security of one’s sovereign regime.

My walks have also unraveled to me an ancient scientific understanding. Just as the sunlight ambles over to the spot where the homemade pickle jars are kept, I can tell it’s 11 am (did I not tell you I walk really late in the morning?). Amazing to know how accurate the earliest experts in astrophysics had been.

This morning, as I was ready to climb down the stair, the flight of two pigeons caught my glance. I couldn’t help stopping for a moment and be in awe. On more than one occasion I’ve suddenly noticed my footsteps gathering momentum automatically the second a catchy song is played on the phone radio I carry during my terrace jaunts. As the pigeons flew overhead this morning, I found their flight to be effortlessly synchronized to the song that was playing.

Pure joy.

5 Dec 2006

Abiding Characters - I

Characters who live. Whose breath conjoins ours from the printed pages on which they appear. Who stay with us long after the book is closed, the story is forgotten. Abiding Characters. A new series.


From Khokababu’s Return by Rabindranath Tagore

First Signs: Hardly anything strikes about Raicharan at first. He enters the household of his masters as a servant boy of twelve. His job is to look after a one-year-old baby. When this baby boy, Anukul, grows up into a man, Raicharan still remains his servant. Although his rights over his master wane once the latter gets married, the space for his unreserved affection is filled in by Anukul’s little son.

What Endures: Even though he is the quintessential servant, ever devoted to his master’s family, Raicharan's unwavering love for Anukul’s toddler, marked by rustic simplicity and endearing awe tugs at the reader’s heart again and again. There is no end to Raicharan’s marvel when the little boy learns to cross the threshold of his room even as he crawls. The servant is even more amazed when the baby utters his first words calling his ma "Ma", his pishi "Pichi" and Raicharan, "Channa". He had in fact declared within months of the little boy’s birth that upon growing up, he will be a judge for sure.

The decisive turn in Raicharan’s life and indeed in the short story comes when the servant accompanies his little master astride his stroller for a late-afternoon promenade. A clear day turns murky as the little child is lost to lure of the Padma River even as Raicharan is busy picking up flowers as demanded by his young boss.

When the child’s mother sends people to look for the child-servant duo the same evening, they find a hapless Raicharan’s yowl—calling out for his junior commandant—tearing through the monsoon winds. However, the judge-to-be isn’t found, his mother accuses Raicharan of stealing her son, and the old servant leaves the household, unable to bear the burden of his guilt of leaving the child alone while plucking flowers.

Soon after his return to his village home, Raicharan is blessed (or cursed as the perspective may be) with a son. Even though his wife dies during childbirth, Raicharan pays no attention to the newborn baby. As a reader, I was at once incredulous and shocked to read this part of the story. For who could think the affectionate man, who went out of his way to fulfill the tantrums of Anukul’s son, could be so dispassionate toward his own child? However, that’s exactly the cause of Raicharan's indifference; to him the child epitomizes deception, trying to claim the love that was the birthright of his previous master.

Only when his son, named Phelna (meaning “rejected”) by his sister, starts crawling across the room’s threshold and demonstrates other signs of intelligence, does Raicharan take note of him. From this point, he begins seeing striking parallels between Phelna and Anukul’s dead son. Convinced that his son is a reincarnation of the dead child, he starts bringing up his son in grand style—buying him expensive clothes and toys and preventing him from befriending other village boys. As the boy grows up, Raicharan takes him to the city and enrolls him into a good school, while taking up a measly job himself. All this while, he raises his son like a prince. The boy takes a liking to Raicharan as well, but not quite in a son-like way. For, as Tagore writes in the story, “In his affection Raicharan was a father and in his service, a servant.”

Years later, when Phelna reaches the age of twelve, Raicharan takes him to Anukul’s home. There, to everyone’s astonishment, he admits to having stolen Anukul’s son and presents Phelna as that stolen child. This dramatic revelation, while delighting the parents of the dead child, turns Anukul hostile toward Raicharan. The most ironic point in the story comes when Anukul orders his old servant to get out of their household and young Phelna, standing proudly along side his ‘parents’, asks his ‘father’ to forgive Raicharan. The boy’s suggestion to keep sending a modest stipend to the former servant is upheld by Anukul. Only, the money comes back from Raicharan’s village address. Nobody is found to live there any longer.

I like Raicharan despite: his obsessive commitment to his master’s family, his near exasperating spirit of sacrifice, and his invitation to emptiness in his own life in order to fill the vacuum in his master’s household. I like him for the humanity he represents. Even if it remains unsung in the end.

Khokababu = Term of endearment for little boy.
Pishi = Aunt (Father's sister).

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