“Bells of Paradise” by Suzannah Rowntree

"Bells of Paradise" by Suzannah Rowntree — Kimia Wood — fairytales The fairytales of modern times tend to be, well, modern. They are full of princesses in fluffy tulle dresses, and fairies with wimpy wings that wouldn’t lift a butterfly — and fairies that grant wishes to all and sundry without making any demands.

You would have to go to Andrew Lang or the Grimm brothers for the strange fairytale punishments of being rolled in a barrel of nails until dead – or to meet fay-people (cp. to “in a fay mood”) as grotesque and magical as a gothic cathedral – or to see the fairy food that can only be eaten at the forfeit of your soul.

And where could you find a hero as noble as he is faithful, who is drawn into the quest through no fault of his own – a romantic hero with a remarkably steady head on his shoulders – who ends the tale triumphant, unsullied, and glorified? No fairytale of modern craft would portray that, surely…heroes must be “flawed” to be “realistic”.

Ms. Rowntree has changed that. Continue reading

Why Are Bad Book Reviews So Important?

Why Are Bad Book Reviews So Important?

Some people on the internet refuse to write or publish “negative” book reviews. They claim the writing world is a community, that every book took a lot of effort and tears from its author, and to “support” each other, we shouldn’t air our concerns or disappointments with another’s work.

The problem with that is that this community is about more than patting each other on the back, or smiling politely at something we think is sub-par. And we’re more than just writers – the readers who consume our work have a right to receive the best possible product we as writers can supply!

How do “bad book reviews” serve that purpose? Let’s break it down by who is benefitted by critical reviews: the reader, and the author. Continue reading

“God’s Not Dead 2”

 It’s a rare sequel that can match, let alone surpass, its predecessor. As controversial as God’s Not Dead was – an unabashedly Christian movie with steps and missteps – I think the sequel is an improvement.

The story: when popular public school teacher Grace gets a question in her history class about Jesus, she well-meaningly answers it in the historical context, quoting from the historical texts that establish Jesus’s actions and teachings.

Shortly after, she finds herself being sued by the ACLU for “preaching” to her students and trying to spread her Christian faith, with a non-believing young lawyer to advise her. Continue reading

Jesus—Word Made Flesh

Around that time Caesar Augustus sent out an official order that every person living under Roman rule must be registered in a public record. This first happened during the time that Quirinius was governing the province of Syria. So everyone had to go to his family’s hometown to be registered. Joseph also traveled to his family’s hometown, along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. Because Joseph was a descendant of King David, they left the town of Nazareth in the region of Galilee and traveled to the region of Judea, to the town of Bethlehem, which is also known as the city of David. Joseph and Mary went there to be registered in the public record. When they arrived in Bethlehem, there was no place for them to stay in a place where visitors usually stayed. So they had to stay in a place where animals slept overnight. While they were there the time came for Mary to give birth and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in wide strips of cloth and laid him down where the food was kept for the animals inside the barn.

Jesus—Word Made Flesh — Kimia Wood — Jesus

Mom’s “Christmas” nativity (Precious Moments ceramic), which has come out with the decorations for as long as I can remember. When we had a mantle, it always lived there for Christmas.

That night, there were some shepherds who were taking care of their sheep in the fields near Bethlehem. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to them. A bright light shone all around them, showing the Lord’s glory. So they became very afraid. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! I have come to tell you good news, which will benefit all people and will make you all very happy! Today, in the city of David, a baby has been born who will save you from your sins! He is the Messiah, the Lord! This is how you will recognize him: In Bethlehem you will find a baby who has been wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding place for animals.”

Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven appeared and joined the other angel. They all praised God, saying,

“May all the angels in the highest heaven praise God! And may there be peace on earth among people who are pleasing to God!”

Jesus—Word Made Flesh — Kimia Wood — Jesus

Plastic and wood créche, that sat under my grandma’s tree every Christmas for the kids to play with. When she went home to be with Jesus, I inherited it.

After the angels left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “We should go right now to Bethlehem to see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about!” So they went quickly and when they had found the place where Mary and Joseph were staying, they saw the baby lying in a feeding place for animals. After seeing him, they told everyone what had been told to them about this child. All the people who heard what the shepherds said to them were amazed. But Mary kept thinking about all the things she had heard and carefully remembered them. The shepherds returned to the fields where their sheep were. They kept talking about how great God is and praising him for all the things that they had heard and seen, because everything happened exactly like the angels had told them.

Eight days later, it was the day when the baby was circumcised, and they gave him the name Jesus. This was the name the angel had told them to give him, even before he was conceived.

When the required number of days for their purification had gone by, according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph traveled up to Jerusalem to dedicate their son to the Lord. It had been written in the law of the Lord, “Every male offspring that is the first to be born will be set apart to be holy to the Lord.” The law of the Lord also said the parents of a newborn son must offer as a sacrifice: “two turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Jesus—Word Made Flesh — Kimia Wood — Jesus

Hand-carved créche from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At that time there was an old man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. He did what was pleasing to God and obeyed God’s laws. He was eagerly waiting for God to send the Messiah to encourage the Israelite people, and the Holy Spirit was directing him. The Holy Spirit had previously revealed to him that he would see the Lord’s promised Messiah before he died. When Joseph and Mary brought their baby, Jesus, to the temple in order to perform the rituals that God had commanded in his laws, the Spirit led Simeon to enter the temple courtyard. Then he took Jesus up in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Lord, you have made me content and I can now die in peace according to your promise.

I have seen the one whom you sent to save people,

the one you prepared in the midst of all the peoples.

He will be like a light that will reveal your truth to the Gentiles, and he will bring honor to the Israelite people.”

Jesus’ father and mother were very amazed at what Simeon said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Jesus’ mother, Mary, “Note what I say: God has determined that because of this child, many Israelite people will turn away from God, and many others will turn to God. He will be like a sign to warn people, and many people will oppose him. As a result, the thoughts of many people will be made evident. A sword will also pierce your own soul.”

There was also in the temple courtyard a prophetess named Anna who was very old. Her father Phanuel was a member of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for seven years and then her husband died. After that, she lived eighty-four more years as a widow. She was always serving in the temple area and worshiped God night and day. She often fasted and prayed. At that very moment, Anna came up to them and began thanking God for the baby. Then she spoke about Jesus to many people who were expecting God to redeem Jerusalem.

Jesus—Word Made Flesh — Kimia Wood — Jesus

Hand-carved wooden Philippine nativity – normally displayed year-round at our house.

After Joseph and Mary had finished doing everything required of them by the laws of the Lord, they returned to their own town, Nazareth, in the district of Galilee. As the child grew up, he became strong and very wise, and God was very pleased with him.

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. So when Jesus was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem for the festival as they always did. When all the days for the festival had ended, his parents started to return home, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know he was still there. They assumed that he was with the other people who were traveling with them. After walking a whole day’s journey, they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days, they found him in the temple courtyard, sitting in the midst of the Jewish religious teachers. He was listening to them teach, and he was asking them questions. All the people who heard what he said were amazed at how much he

understood and how well he answered the questions that the teachers asked. When his parents saw him, they were very surprised. His mother said to him, “My son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been very worried as we have been searching for you!” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I needed to be involved in what my Father does?” But they did not understand the meaning of what he said to them. Then he returned with them to Nazareth and he always obeyed them. His mother kept thinking deeply about all those things.

As the years passed, Jesus continued to become wiser and he grew taller. God and people continued to approve of him more and more.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!


Text comes from the free Unlocked Dynamic Bible, Luke chapter 2, which is FREE and used as a translation source text around the world.

“Christmas Carol” Sings the Eternal Song

This is a re-blog from last year, but the points it makes are still true this year! And if you still haven’t read Dickens’ classic work, now’s a great time. Better yet, if you haven’t read the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2 or Matthew chapters 1-2, it’s available for FREE here – and here…and here or here (for Mac). What’s your excuse?

And if you go see the new movie The Man Who Invented Christmas, let me know what you think! WORLD Magazine gave it a recommendation!

Three Things to Think On This “Holiday Season”

51ycpilxgcl If you’re like me, you’re pretty familiar with the mythos of A Christmas Carol, but have never actually read the original. This year, I remedied that.

Charles Dickens’ original story of rich, cantankerous, “Bah-Humbug” Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas, and the joy of celebration is available on Project Gutenberg and on Amazon as free ebooks (or as an audiobook!), so there’s no barrier to enjoying this classic tale.

As I read Dickens’ version of the story, three things jumped out at me.

Scrooge is still a sympathetic character.

Yes, he snarls at carolers, deals rigidly with his clerk, and Bah-Humbugs the charity collector, but his actions are so over-the-top he is not really villainous. His evil, uncharitable nature is more a caricature of real-life tyrants than otherwise. Further, in the visions of the Ghost of Christmas Past, we glimpse the back-story that led Ebenezer to this point, offering a counter-point to his self-insulated misery.

Everyone (bar grumpy Scrooge) is full of “holiday spirit.”

From the cheery Christmas fruits on the shelf, to the grocers working Christmas morning, to the customers bubbling with good humor toward each other, everyone shows Ebenezer the general aura of “good cheer” that supposedly characterizes the season.

How about us, in the modern world? Did you banter with the people waiting with you in line? Were you cheerful toward your waitress, when you were eating out to celebrate and she was working her feet off on a holiday? Did you show Christmasy compassion and kindness toward your check-out clerks, your annoying uncles, that out-of-control kid in the mall?

Sharing “good will” certainly includes bestowing donations on the “work-houses” of our day (a la Christmas Carol) but it involves so much more than that. I admit it’s difficult, in the midst of extra hours, presents, coordinating vacation plans, and all the rest of the bustle, to remember an upbeat attitude, but it seems to me sort of the whole point. The new-made Scrooge does {SPOILER} give generously with his money, but he also starts giving smiles, greetings, well-wishes, and time – he frivoles at his nephew’s party, leaves his office to enjoy the Christmas-day streets, and invests not just money but time and himself in a relationship with his clerk’s family.

Did anyone else have trouble remembering to be generous with ourselves this year?

Everyone goes to church.

There’s no indication Scrooge’s Christmas day was on a Sunday, but when the church bells ring, everyone sallies out to their ecclesiastical duties (cheerfully, of course).

In 2016, Christmas Day was also Sunday, which is highly fitting. On Christmas, we remember when God the Son came in human flesh as a defenseless baby; on Easter (and, technically, every “first day of the week”) we remember that His purpose in coming was to die on the cross, a sacrifice for our sins, and to rise again, defeating Death forever.

How many people struggled with whether or not to go to church that morning? How many churches cancelled services so people could “be with their families,” forgetting that worship of God was the whole point of Christ-mass?

Yet, in the London which Charles Dickens portrays, everyone gladly follows the bells to the church – Ebenezer Scrooge included.

Forget “Christmas Movies” – Do Your Christmas Reading!

If your only experience of this classic is an abridged children’s version, or one of the movie versions, or vague cultural references, it’s worth it to pick up this Christmas classic and consider the allegories, lessons, and themes it celebrates for yourself.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

God bless us, every one.

Get More Than You Pay For With Free Books

Get More Than You Pay For With Free Books

Over the past year or so, I’ve been downloading and reading free ebooks from a number of sources – partly because I have a weakness for free, partly because I want to find greats reads for you that you don’t have to shell out a penny for!

But sometimes “you get what you pay for”. Sometimes a book is free because we wouldn’t slog through it for any other reason.

Is that the rule? Are the reading-gems the exception? I’ve dug back through my review archives to figure out which books are worth reading (and worth paying for, even if I didn’t have to).

Note: All deals are listed as of this writing. Authors naturally have the prerogative to change how they charge for their works. By that same token, some books that I loved but couldn’t list because they didn’t qualify might become free again later 😉! Continue reading

Christmas Gift Ideas for Non-Bookworms

Many people in my circle are “bookworms”. But some people out there are non-bookworms.

Some people love everything to do with books, and you could make a placemat from a doctoral thesis and they’ll pretty much swoon.

Other people would look at your word-covered gloves and go, “Huh?”

But Christmas is coming, and in ritual celebration of the gift of God’s Own Son (Jesus) EVERYONE deserves a gift!

This list is for those people…those dear ones in your lives that don’t share quite your enthusiasm for all things paper and folded-in-half: Continue reading

“Poison Kiss” by Kendra E. Ardnek

Poison Kiss by Kendra Ardnek — Kimia Wood — fairytale You must pick up a fairytale with open eyes. The well-worn road to fairyland is practically paved with princesses, curses, and talking cats. Yet for those not too “grown-up” to venture into the land of fairies, ogres, and millers’ sons, Poison Kiss offers a quick, entertaining read that delivers exactly to genre.

Everyone’s heard of the “Sleeping Beauty” story, so when the king hears that his daughter is to fill the role in the next cycle of the tale, he deliberately snubs the evil fairy and prepares to ban all spinning wheels.

When the fairy responsible for the curse brings originality to the course of events and switches the cure for the curse, the horrified kingdom is left to fear “love’s first kiss” – and wonder how a spinning wheel will help reverse the whole thing. Continue reading

Meet Author Amanda Tero!

Meet Author Amanda Tero — Kimia Wood — interviewAs part of the Indie Christian Books Black Friday sale (which is live today through the 30th), I got to interview fellow author and homeschool graduate Amanda Tero! Hope you have as much fun getting to know her as I did!

Interview Q&A

What made you decide to be an author? What encouragements have you had along the way?

I was the kid who tried my hand at story-writing well before I was ten. I don’t remember really deciding to become a writer, I just was one. My family has always been an encouragement to me, whether it was my sisters joining in with story-churning, my mom teaching and editing, and my dad bragging about me, they have never been anything less than supportive.

Tell us about other things you do – work, family, church. What do you do for fun?

Writing is actually one of the smaller things that I do, so this is fairly simple. I do a lot of music—I teach piano and violin, arrange hymns (and sell them at withajoyfulnoise.com), record music (my YouTube channel), play for church, and play for my family ministry. I suppose you could say that music is my work, even though for me it’s a big ministry and blessing. Some hobbies are photography, graphics design, crocheting, and reading (of course). My family—I’ll get to that with your next question. As for church, I go to Pleasant Ridge Missionary Baptist Church, which has been an incredible blessing! Our pastor is a very solid Bible preacher, as well as a big brother figure for all of us siblings.

Family is a big thing for me – especially sibling-love!
Tell us about your family and siblings. Do you all get along? Do you have favorites : ) ? What was it like growing up?

I have eleven siblings from 35 to 8. I’m number 5. Overall, we get along. We have our moments and certain personalities clash a little more than others. But from what I have heard, our family gets along so very well—which is all due to being raised to honor God. As for favorites, I do try not to have favorites. 😉 My siblings are my best friends—they know the best and worst of me, what I believe, and how I communicate.
Growing up was super fun. Since I’m number five, I’ve always had a “large” family feel. We were raised with a lot of music (teased to be the “von Trapps” when we were younger), homeschooled, a lot of lighthearted teasing, animals, gardens, that type of thing.

Why did your parents choose to home-educate you? What’s your opinion? Would you choose the same for your own children, should you have any?

When my oldest sister was getting ready for kindergarten, my family lived in New Orleans. They saw guards packing guns around these little kids running around, and that was what led Dad to make the decision to keep the kids home and homeschool them. It wasn’t a popular decision at the time, and they didn’t know many homeschooling families. Since then, their reason for homeschooling has changed, and it was more of a conviction than a safety issue. I absolutely loved being homeschooled. What stands out to me most are two things: 1) When I think back at my schooling years, it wasn’t just about getting an education, but getting a solid start in God’s Word. The years that my parents invested into me spiritually can never be compared to any education in this world. 2) My highschool years were catered to what God had specifically gifted me in; while other kids were studying subjects that were irrelevant to their calling in life, I was majoring in music and writing. Given my very positive experience, I would definitely homeschool my children.

What are three things about you that are interesting, unusual, or unexpected?

Uh…I’m completely okay with being single…uh…I so have a hard time with words. Like, I use the wrong word in the place of the correct word. I can’t think of a good example, but I might would say something like, “quarantined” instead of “quartered.” And number three…I hate marketing? That’s not a huge unexpected from an author, though. 😉

Who is your favorite author (and book) ever and WHY? (If you can’t pick just one, narrow it down to two!)

Ooh! Well, my favorites change a lot. Right NOW, my favorite authors would be Roseanna White, for her writing ability, and Kim Vogel Sawyer, for her solid, Biblical plots.

How does your relationship with God interact with or influence your writing?

Oh wow. My relationship with God is the backbone of my writing! I pray a lot about my writing, study God’s Word when I’m looking at themes, take from personal-life examples of what God has taught me. I doubt that I’d even be a writer if it wasn’t for God’s leading in this.

Meet Author Amanda Tero! — Kimia Wood — interviewDo you include your own life in your books? Why or why not?

It all depends on the book. My short story, “Coffee Cake Days” was probably most auto-biographical. When it comes to my novels, I do try to reach outside of myself and portray characters who are not all like me, and who go through struggles that I may not go through. The reason for this is that I don’t want all of my stories to sound the same.

Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — Do you use Beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?

I have several helpers in my writing. Currently, three of my friends are my “writing counselors.” They know my general storyline and/or will read excerpts as I write the story, pray with me as I write it, and bounce off ideas like nothing else. After the writing stage, I definitely use beta readers. I currently have a team of about thirteen working on my upcoming novel. When they are finished with it, my story goes into the hands of my mom, who is my final editor. So far, I have designed all of my covers. It’s something that I enjoy doing, so I’m not quite ready to hand that job over to someone else. 😉

What’s your view on indie versus traditional publishing? Have you tried to be published traditionally, or do you want to?

I have never traditionally published, so my views are limited of that of Indie. So far, it has really worked for me, but I do have strong opinions about it. The ease of indie publishing has opened the doors to hundreds of pathetically patch-worked stories that really aren’t worth being sold. Writers aren’t always learning the craft as much as they are just trying to churn out a story and make some money. Quantity over quality. In ways, a traditional publisher moderates the quality of the quantity that they produce. But enough of that. 😉 For now, I try my best to do the best I can with Indie publishing, but I wouldn’t be opposed to traditional publishing—at the same time, I’m not blinded to the “glamour” of traditional. It still requires work, but it is a nice goal.

Meet Author Amanda Tero — Kimia Wood — interviewTell us about your newest book. Make us want to read it.

My latest or my upcoming? Let’s settle on my latest: “The Secret Slipper.” A dual-plotline has become my absolute favorite to work with—especially when it covers a girl who has no clue that she has a father, and a father when he has discovered that the daughter he thought dead ten years ago is alive and under the hands of someone he cannot trust. Lia and Raoul make a very neat team. Raoul is a Christian who is struggling with trust—not necessarily for himself, but for his daughter. Lia isn’t a Christian and everything in her life is coming to a cascading fall, swirling completely out of control. Oh, and did I mention that this is kind of a Cinderella-inspired retelling? It was such fun to put an original twist to it!

What’s your next project?

And here’s for my upcoming project: Nat’s story. Oh, Nat’s story. It’s my first full-length novel (currently 70k words) and has been a long haul of a job! But, let me introduce you to Nat. He is a boy raised on the streets, independent, fending for himself. One mistake places him in jail then hauled out on the orphan train out west, going places he doesn’t want to nor has any choice about. Just when life begins to go as he has planned, he is thrown into the War Between the States against his will. Are there ways that he can make choices in the midst of all of these choices made against him?

Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you still hope to be writing books? Are there other accomplishments/projects you hope to achieve?

Well, five years ago I hadn’t planned on being exactly where I am today. I definitely still hope to be writing books. I would like to still be producing music albums and publishing sheet music and teaching. And, if the Lord doesn’t bring a husband, I’d still like to be teaching. Maybe have my own house by then. I don’t know. 😉 I try to live my life by the moment, seeking God for the next step—it’s exciting, cause you never know where it will lead!

Where can people find you on the Internet?

Email: amandaterobooks[at]gmail[dot]com
Website: http://amandatero.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/amandaterobooks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandateroauthor/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amandaruthtero/
Blog: www.withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/AmandaTero
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/amandatero

Find Her Books!Meet Author Amanda Tero — Kimia Wood — interview

Amanda and I both have books on sale or discounted with the Indie Christian Books Black Friday Sale (site is live Nov. 24–30) so be sure to look her up! She says her short stories are all free, while her novels are discounted – and who doesn’t love free reads?😉

Don’t forget to enter the sale giveaways, too—

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are You Thankful for Free Christian Books?

It’s that time of year.

The time for buying presents, and making lists of things we’re thankful for. Books, for instance! Here are some books I’m grateful for:

Are You Grateful for Free Christian Books? — Kimia Wood — booksNever, by J. Grace Pennington;
That Hideous Strength, by C. S. Lewis;
Prince of Fishes, by Suzannah Rowntree;
The Innocence of Father Brown, by G. K. Chesterton;
This Present Darkness, by Frank E. Peretti.

If books are something you love to give – and get – here’s one more thing to be grateful for:

Books on sale!

In honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a group of independent Christian authors has banded together to offer a huge selection of discounted books between Nov 24th and 30th.

On November 24th, the Indie Christian Books website (http://www.indiechristianbooks.com) will go live. Every single book listed will be on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebookspackage deals and more. Even if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, we have some freebies for you! (And we all know how much I love FREE! 😉)

Need even more of a reason to support independent authors and fill your shelf with good stories? When you purchase a paperback book through indiechristianbooks.com you’ll be eligible to enter an exclusive giveaway including free books and an Amazon gift card!

And who doesn’t love giveaways?!

You can meet our authors by visiting the Author Database on the website. Want to get to know the authors better AND have the chance to win some fun prizes? We’d love to have you join our week long Facebook party which will feature 39 authors over 7 days.

What awesome reads are you grateful for (so much so that you just have to get copies for all your friends 😃)?

A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.


White Mesa’s on Sale, Too!Are You Grateful for Free Books? — Kimia Wood — books

My books are on sale with this promotion, too! If you haven’t yet grabbed ebooks copies of my titles (or you’d like a cheap paperback edition) now’s the perfect time to do it – just get on the site once it goes live on the 24th.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter all the giveaways—

a Rafflecopter giveaway