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17
Dec

Thanks to the schoolyard bullies


I was a bit surprised when a fellow Christian author blogged about bullying recently. Not that he’d been bullied, no surprise there. It seems to me it’s one of those ubiquitous kid things like zits. And not that I’m making light of his experience. Far from it. I was hit by a car when I was a kid, damned near killed in fact, and grew up with no memory before the age of 7, a nasty limp and a damaged eye. Dealing with disability is the only life I’ve known, really. So I get being bullied, and all the condescending rubbish that goes with being ‘disabled’. The surprise comes because I always figured an unhappy childhood was a prerequisite for being a writer. (or a serial killer. fine line, there)

I mean what else jump starts a person’s defensive mechanism of escapism and fertilizes the imagination quite like being taunted, mocked, shunned, ignored? A nice layer of creative mulch, that festering rotten crap. And who else can lay it on quite as stinky and thick in those crucial formative years as the jocks, teacher’s pets, and cheerleaders?

Forward is the only direction God has given us though, and I’ve learned over the years it’s not what you can’t do that counts; it’s what you can do. So decades later not only am I still married to the same beautiful woman after 29 years, have three great kids and three wonderful grandchildren, but when I’m not doing stained glass work, I get to write stories. Stories that people buy and read. Some of these readers even enjoy my stories and come back for more.

So thank you, schoolyard bullies, for forcing me to take that ‘less-traveled’ path, for laying the groundwork to my spec-fiction projects. It’s working, thank God. And you know what the really beautiful thing is?

I don’t remember your names.

Have a great day.

Something for the bullied and the bullies

8
Dec

Coming Soon

Cover2

A short story for those who fought the good fight and are still fighting.

If anyone would like an Advance e-Copy, leave a comment below.

Thanks.

6
Dec

TED TALK: Mac Barnett

Another TED Talk worth watching.

4
Dec

The Barrow Lover – Free for Kindle

TheBarrowLover 2 eyes Through Friday the 5th. Not exactly festive but Merry Christmas.

LINKY

28
Nov

“Read More Poetry”

“Then write more poetry.”

Was asked what advice I had for beginning writers and that leaped to mind. Say more with less. Don’t fret over being misunderstood.

It’s my advice to myself. The whip I flog myself/ my work with. It’s what I see my favorite writers doing. I’m not talking amount or style so much as traction and weight.

We’ve been trained to give book reports, to listen to and give lectures, instructions, directions. All great and necessary, but those aren’t stories. In my opinion, nothing will fend off Dramatic Essay Syndrome (or Dramatic Sermon Syndrome, in the case of faith-based fiction) faster than a heavy dose of Collins, Tennyson, Kunitz or Szymborska. (or Mali or Mojgani, if spoken word is your thing)

BTW – fell embarrassingly short of my NaNoWriMo goal.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
Ray Bradbury

31
Oct

Market, Medium, and Motives.

I’m weary of discussions on Christian writing and writers. Wary too. I approach them like the Enterprise meeting an Klingon Peace Delegation: shields at full power. Seeing as I fall outside the norm of evangelical opinion on this matter, I’m braced for the inevitable salvos against my work, motives, and faith, along with the general blunt force trauma of religious weird-think. It’s all rather tedious and discouraging.

However, the movie Fury rekindled my interest in the debate. Rather it reinforced my opinion. Paid to see it on the big screen. In my view, the excellent script, pace, special effects and solid performances make it a worthy addition to the old-school war movies of my youth. I’ll own it on DVD – no question. (Three words: real Tiger tank)

That said, I think the film is also a prime example of credibly integrating faith (Christianity) into a plot. In my opinion, Shia Lebeouf’s character “Bible” comes off not merely the brave soldier and comrade, but a genuinely devout and human one as well. Bible’s faith is organic without being ham-fisted and contrived. By the time we reach the final scene in the turret, the 1 John 2 exchange is as relevant and natural as it is moving.

Let’s be frank though: Fury is not a “Christian” movie. On screen kilo-deaths, hints of off-screen sex, blood, mud and dialogue that red-lines the profanity-meter like soldiers do… we’re off the Christian Broadcasting programming list. It is however a good war movie that also has a devout Christian character and explicit Christian content. All the ingredients combine to make a fine genre film, but not a sermon. Which is my point here.

Loop back to the Christian writing/writers debate – I suspect much of the friction stems from poor judgment of Market, Medium, and Motives. Gratuitous violence, sex, profanity is just that – gratuitous – and inappropriate for the Christian market. I think it also makes a poor substitute for good wordsmithing. Explicit content – Christian or otherwise – may be necessary in the writer’s chosen genre or plot. A writer’s job is to show not tell and create a credible, consistent, engaging world in which the story unfolds. Those are the demands of the medium. To hobble any literary element in the name of religion is not only dishonest but dishonoring the vocation in the sight of God. “Work must be good work before it can call itself God’s work,” Dorothy Sayers noted. A pious hack is still a hack.

The judgment against a writer’s motives is the most tangled issue. As a stained glass artisan, is my work any less inspired, any less valid if I don’t incorporate the shape of a cross into every piece? Is my faith, my salvation, or even my testimony somehow diminished if I don’t? Same for my writing. If I don’t write what amounts to a dramatized sermon, complete with salvation doctrine, (choose your denominational flavor) alter call moments and a repentance prayer, is my work less “Christian”? If my non-Christian antagonists act and speak in non-Christian ways, am I guilty by association? In the minds of some, apparently yes.

In a religion-saturated, Christ-haunted culture, do artists and writers really need to be propping up the same old insular evangelical status quo? Seems a shameful play to cheap seats if you ask me. I rather believe we are tasked with being genuine artisans striving for mastery in our respective fields of labor, implicitly and explicitly expressing the reality of Jesus’ transcendence and redemption in our work, thus engaging our calling and audience in a spirit of honesty and excellence.

Dear God I hope so.

31
Oct

2nd Amendment stuff

What I find most disturbing in the debate is not the usual redefining of terms, the sloppy logic, or obfuscation of FBI and Police data, but the (not-so-subtle) implication gun owners are inherently more violent and a hair-trigger (yes, I did that) away from climbing to the top of the nearest water tower and engaging in pedestrian target practice. In my recent email exchange with Panera Bread over their anti-gun request/policy, I was told the presence of firearms upset the desired ideal of ‘Panera Warmth” in the cafe. Well sure, If I’m waving my Beretta Cx4 Storm around or firing in the air in a Jihadist-style celebratory manner. But as a licensed Class A concealed carry guy, it’s concealed. All the years I’ve been going there, never has anyone accused me of harshing their carbohydrate mellow.

(kudos to this Scott fella for tricking his out similar to mine)

30
Oct

Post-Modern Juke Box

They’re so damn good.

28
Oct

Re-Post: Dear Writer…

In case you missed it, Chuck Wendig’s Dear Writer… is a great article. Read it. It’s crass, clever, and brutally honest. If you write, it’s totally worth your time. Caution – has bad words so beware.

I’m sure someone else has noted it, but ‘Wendig’ is just an ‘O’ (as in OMG!) away from the mythological, Native American, ravenous, demonic, flesh eating, demi-beast, (and uber-cool comic book villan) Wendigo. Just sayin’

Have a Happy Trick or Treat.

27
Oct

The Barrow Lover panel #2

12" x 12" with 18" chain for hanging.

12″ x 12″ with 18″ chain for hanging.

Managed to solder the second Celtic panel for The Barrow Lover Stained Glass Giveaway. Simple design with a Celtic knot negative-etched on antique gray glass in the center. The halo is a Kelly green antique glass with a secondary ring of clear double-chip. The arms are a very cool translucent white with an unusual gold fire when in the sun, while the corners are dark gray granite glass. The third piece for the giveaway will be similar. (Different center) I should finish it late this week.

Someone commented giving away stained glass was an unusual way to get reviews. I don’t like the Shenanigans and Review Inflation that goes on at Amazon/Goodreads, etc, but I’m convinced honest reviews are important. Of course I want them. But this is also a way to say ‘Thank you’ to readers. There are plenty of other books, plenty of other things you could be doing with your time and money. That you read my stuff is an honor. To then take the extra effort to post a review is remarkable. So while I can’t give everyone a panel or even buy you a cup of coffee, I want to express my gratitude for your interest and support. Thank you.

All the best.
Patrick Todoroff

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