The idea for my series of Christian Biographies for Young Readers came a few years ago, in 2008, just before Calvin's 500th anniversary, when I was burdened by the lack of serious Christian biographies for children under 12 years of age. The books on t...
The book is scheduled to be published by the end of August. I am giving everyone time to receive it and read it, then the tour will start! Thank you everyone who agreed to host the tour!
Friday, September 16
Tuesday, September 20
Thursday, September 22
2. Weight of a Flame, the Passion of Olympia Morata, is my first historical novel (aimed mostly at young girls), and the fifth title in the series Chosen Daughters by P&R. It will be out on September 20th. In the story, Olympia Morata, a young Italian scholar (arguably the most prolific woman writer of the Reformation), learns to overcome the pain of rejection, religious persecution, exile, illness, poverty, and war by resting her hope on God's promises. Although her circumstances may be exceptional, her responses and feelings are universal, and young girls will easily identify with her. It's a true story - dramatic, but also poetic and inspiring.
3. Lady Jane Grey, fifth title in the series Christian Biographies for Young Readers, published by Reformation Heritage Books, is under way! Matt has just started sketching the illustrations and I will be taking photos of our models in the next few weeks. I am also in the process of re-checking my manuscript. Professor Eric Ives, Emeritus Professor of English History at the University of Birmingham and author of Lady Jane Grey, a Tudor Mystery (arguably the most authoritative book on the subject), has graciously agreed to check my final manuscript. Dr. Diarmaid MacCullough, Professor of History of the Church at the University of Oxford, has also kindly answered my questions on the intriguing time of English history when Lady Jane lived. I could never thank them enough!
Originally, in my book on Athanasius, I had mentioned that bishops had more power than they do today. Since most of my young readers are probably not very familiar with the role of bishops, I had described them as "in charge of many churches." That created a problem. A Protestant child may think of a pastor, and what kind of "power" does a pastor hold? My editor, Annette Gysen, and I went back and forth with emails for a while discussing what power bishops held in those days (fourth century AD) and how to explain it to children.
1. The bishops' authority depended much on their strength as opposed to the emperor's strength. It was difficult for a bishop to oppose a strong emperor. Bishops like Athanasius, Ambrose, Augustine, and Cyril were strong personalities.
2. Bishops had a strong impact on their people because they lasted longer than emperors, who often died in battle, at the hand of traitors, etc.
3. Bishops had a better knowledge of their cities than emperors, who lived far away.
4. Bishops lent material help to their people. In Alexandria, bishops granted food to about 1500 people. In Milan, Ambrose rescued the prisoners after the battle of Adrianopolis with the church's money - for this reason, they were very popular, and emperors could not ignore them.
5. For emperors, the problems posed by bishops were some among many others, and could quickly lose importance in the event of more urgent matters. Bishops, on the contrary, were very tenacious in defending their title, because for them this was an essential matter. The bishops had their moments of greatest power when the emperors were busy with political or military problems.
6. Bishops were depending on the church's considerable riches, while the emperors depended on taxes, and were very unpopular for this reason, even with their own officers.
Annette and I realized then that the word "power" was not correct. The bishops didn't have temporal powers as they held instead in medieval times. The correct word was "influence." But how do you explain that to children?
Finally, after reading and re-reading my paragraph several times, the answer became evident. Instead of writing that the bishops were in charge of many churches, I should write that they were in charge of all the churches in a large area or a country. That was enough! If they were in charge of all the churches in a country, of course they had influence on the people, and I didn't need to add explanations.
I decided to post this little editing story here because Dr. Corti's explanation of the power (or influence) exercised by bishops at that time was very interesting.
Yesterday, someone posted a comment to my blog post on Athanasius - the Black Dwarf. This person (who remained anonymous) seemed to suggest that I had some revisionist agenda in portraying Athanasius as an Egyptian rather than a black African. As I me...
Yesterday, my publisher asked if I wanted more illustrations in my books, and my first reaction was to say YES, of course! He then sent me another email, refocusing and redimensioning my thoughts. First, he pointed out the importance of photos. "I thin...
The character arc is not one of my main priorities in short 64-pages biographies for children, focusing mainly on God's doctrines and His hand on His church. It's however important for the narrative and makes the characters more real and closer to us.A...
Biographies for children today have for the most part deviated from fictionalized accounts to emphasize facts. There has also been a shift in purpose, from the raising of heroes to an attempt to help children to understand the development of history, personal choices, social concerns, and human experiences. There is an emphasis on accuracy, avoiding suppositions.
Most books on writing fiction advise the author to find their character's yearning. There is a perceived need and a hidden need. The hidden need is normally the motivating force, the yearning that carries the character through the story, even if at fir...
Years ago, when I was looking for an illustrator for my series, someone told me, "If you find a good one, hold him fast!" Someone else said that working with an illustrator is like a marriage. I think they meant the same - think well before you ...