Thursday, February 28, 2013

“Iscariot,” by Tosca Lee

Tosca Lee is the NY Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed DEMON: A MEMOIR, HAVAH: THE STORY OF EVE, and the Books of Mortals series with NY Times bestseller Ted Dekker: FORBIDDEN, MORTAL and SOVEREIGN (Spring, 2013). ISCARIOT, her highly-anticipated novel of Judas, the infamous betrayer of Christ, releases February 2013.
Tosca received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She also studied at Oxford University. In her spare time, Tosca enjoys adventure travel and makes her home in the Midwest. Check out her website.

Book Description:
Based on extensive research into the life and times of Judas Iscariot, this triumph of fiction storytelling by the author of Havah: The Story of Eve revisits one of biblical history’s most maligned figures and brings the world he inhabited vividly to life.
In Jesus, Judas believes he has found the One—the promised Messiah and future king of the Jews, destined to overthrow Roman rule. Galvanized, he joins the Nazarene’s followers, ready to enact the change he has waited for all his life. But soon Judas’s vision of a nation free from Rome is crushed by the inexplicable actions of the Nazarene himself, who will not bow to social or religious convention—who seems, in the end, to even turn against his own people. At last, Judas must confront the fact that the master he loves is not the liberator he hoped for, but a man bent on a drastically different agenda.
Iscariot is the story of Judas, from his tumultuous childhood to his emergence as the man known to the world as the betrayer of Jesus. But even more, it is a singular and surprising view into the life of Jesus that forces us to reexamine everything we thought we knew about the most famous—and infamous—religious icons in history.

My Thoughts:

My Rating: 5 stars.
After reading Lee’s “Havah” and “Demon” I was ecstatic to hear that she was doing the story of Judas Iscariot. Unlike most historical authors, she actually does research and her characters are three dimensional. While we are all familiar with the Biblical account of Judas, this novel puts a humanistic face on him rather than writing him off as the incarnation of the devil. As the story unfolds, you begin to sympathize with him and understand that at that point in Jewish history, they were expecting a conquering king to free them from Roman oppression. Though Jesus stirred up some trouble, He didn’t fit the mold (at times He still doesn’t fit the mold people expect of Him). One point the author makes throughout the book, is what we would have done if we were in Judas’ position? I guarantee that you’ll walk away from “Iscariot” with a different perspective on the most maligned figure in the Bible.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Blah, Blah, Blah

My Dad’s uncle Bill died last Friday. If you’re reading this, I am asking you to remember Uncle Bill’s family in your prayers. He was a great man and will be sorely missed by all. It seems like wherever I look, friends and family alike are suffering through something. Loss of a loved one, sickness, unemployment… I know that this is part of life. I am just eager for life to settle down again.

I finished the first draft of WIP #3 in a month’s time. That is a record for me. Usually it takes up to three months for me to complete a first draft. This first draft is much shorter, approximately 43000 words. And I’m sure it’s crappy, as most first drafts are. Going to let it set for a couple weeks and do some research, then I’ll pick it up again and work on draft 2.
Sort of in limbo with WIP #1 and #2. WIP #1 was rejected by nearly every agent under the sun. For the heck of it I entered it into a contest for self-publishing (Crossway Books, a Division of B&H). What do you know, it is one of the 30 semi-finalists. Want to wait to hear the results from that before I do anything to WIP #2. I did query six agents about it and haven’t heard anything back. Then I stopped. Do you ever get a Still Small Voice tell you not to do something? I don’t pretend to hear God’s Voice, but for whatever reason, I feel like He is telling me not to query. And to wait for Him to provide the right agent for me. None of that makes sense to me. Logically the thing for a writer with a manuscript to do is to send it off.

“God’s foolishness is so much wiser than our wisdom.” So said Corrie ten Boom.

So I am going to try and wait on Him, though it makes no sense to me. Tell me if I’m talking crazy or if I’m procrastinating. One thing is for sure, I’m not in a place where I can receive another 150 rejections. I need to wait a bit and build up my personal resolve before I try anything. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Old Stories

Isn't funny how when you look back to something you written long ago and all you can do is shake your head? You writers out there know what I mean.
Recently I’ve been nosing around the internet and found some fan fiction that I submitted to a fan site called “Anya’s Journey” for the movie “Anastasia.” It’s an animated romantic comedy loosely (and I mean very loosely) based on the life of Anna Anderson. From 1999 to 2001, when I was thirteen to fifteen years old I authored many stories about Anya, Dimitri and their hypothetical offspring. In 2002 I got embarrassed and deleted all of my copies. Needless to say I never thought I would see them again and forgot about them for the most part. Until now. With all that’s happened this last year, I’ve thought a lot about the past.
Anyway, I’ve been able to salvage some of these dinky little stories. And they are awful. I shudder, wondering how I could have let myself write such things. It’s not the fact that its fan fiction. Some fan fiction can be pretty good and enjoyable. But what I wrote was just plain silly. Aside from that, I’m glad to have them back and compare them to my current works.
Looking back I miss the innocence of that time in my life. Naturally I was a brat and thought I had it hard and now all I can do is daydream about those days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dare Questions

Fun Spiritual Questions to Answer!

What do you consider your first spiritual experience to be?
I remember being three or four years old and standing in the kitchen thinking about the Holy Trinity and I understood the three-in-one concept.
I was raised in church and automatically thought I was a Christian/saved. Then I went to a religious ceremony for my Dad's cousin. He was entering into the Capuchin Brotherhood. The Holy Spirit was very present there and I felt like I had to get out of there ASAP. That was the first time I ever felt God's Presence and it scared me to death.

What is the most religious thing you’ve ever worn in public?
Probably a cross or a witness T-shirt.

What is the kindest act you’ve ever done for someone?
Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything right now.

What is your favorite story from the Gospel or a religious movie?
I've always liked the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. That one where He was resurrected is pretty good too. :~)

Favorite religious movie:
I consider the movie "Bella" a religious movie. It isn't blatant but rather more subtle. It always cheers me up.

Have you ever prayed with someone from a different religion?
I don't think so.

Have you ever prayed in a public place?
I have prayed over people and in a women's group, but never in front of a crowd.

Have you ever participated in a religious service other than your own?
Yes. I have attended a Messianic church a couple of times and loved it. It’s one of the few places that I felt God's Presence.

Have you ever gone outside your spiritual comfort zone in order to move closer to God?
Yes, but it’s been awhile.

Are you in a good relationship with God right now?
Not sure. The last year has been really hard and in some ways I feel closer to Him. But I also feel bitter towards Him and am trying to work through that.

What do think God’s wish is for you?
I think He wishes for me to trust in Him completely, no matter what the circumstance is.

Whose desires come first in your life: yours or God's?
Probably my own. I know God's desires should be first, but I get wrapped up in my own petty concerns that I forget about Him and what He wants.

Do you struggle with selfishness? What helps you overcome this?
See prior answer. What helps me to overcome this? Having to dedicate myself to someone else.

Do you struggle with false or empty relationships that distract you from your relationship with God? What relationships help you stay close to God?
I don't see myself having empty relationships. All of them are important and none of them really distract me from God. The people in my life encourage me to stay in tune with Christ.

When you pray, what is your image of God? What do you think of?
My Grandpa was an artist and he did a chalk drawing of Christ and it is that image that comes to mind most of all when I pray.

What is on your “spiritual bucket list?”
Lead someone to Christ.
Go on a mission’s trip.
Do something extraordinary that changes the world for the better.