Saturday, September 28, 2019

Book Review: Obsessed

Today I am once again reviewing a book by Ted Dekker: Obsessed.

"Stephen Friedman is making a good living in good times. He's just an ordinary guy.

Or so he thinks.

But one day an extraordinary piece of information tells him differently. It's a clue from the grave of a holocaust survivor. A clue that makes him heir to an incredible fortune...a clue that only he and one other man can possibly understand.

That man is Roth Braun, a serial killer who has been waiting for Stephen for thirty years. Roth was stopped once before. This time nothing will get in his way."

As with most Ted Dekker books, I read Obsessed in the space of a few days. I have read very few authors who can grip me with the first word of their story and keep me turning pages to the end the way that Ted Dekker does.

Dekker's characters are, as always, fascinating to read about. He finds ways to make them all unique, 3-dimensional, and compelling. There is not a flat character among them. The main character, Stephen, is a young Jewish man who is trying to live an ordinary life in the 70s and ignore his past--an orphan whose parents were lost to World War II. Throughout the novel, he is forced to face the truth of his past, the horrors of the holocaust, and learn to care for something beyond himself. 'Care' seems like a poor choice of words. He becomes obsessed. ;)

The underlying theme, overtly stated right in the title, is that man was created to be obsessed. I loved this book for that reason alone, let alone the amazing story that followed. I have been writing a book myself called Created to be Obsessed for a number of years that explores this very idea. Consequently, I loved every aspect of it in Dekker's story. We obsess over many things, though the real object of that fascination is meant to be our Creator.

Dekker's writing style always pulls me in from the beginning, his fast-paced, intense stories keep me turning pages, and his plot twists--and there's always at least one--never fail to make my jaw drop. I don't know how he does it. I'm in awe.

Would I read this book again? YES

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Book Review: Adam

Today I will be reviewing and discussing a book by Ted Dekker called Adam. The review will be like any other I have done on this blog--the discussion afterward will be a new feature. A necessary addition due to the contents of the book in question.

So let's begin! What is Adam about?

"FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has been stalking a killer known only as Eve for the past sixteen months. When he traps the elusive psychopath in a face-off, Daniel becomes the next casualty. But then he is resuscitated. After dying once, he's got nothing left to lose in his obsession to stop Eve. Or so he thinks.

He died once to stop the he's dying again to save his wife."

Adam is a page-turner. I read it in a single day. This fact does not surprise me even a little--Ted Dekker is the author. Of course, it's a page-turner. Dekker never fails to grip me with the first word of his story and hold me there until he's done spinning his tale.

His descriptions are vivid, his characters so remarkably real, his story intense and action-packed. As with every Dekker book I read, I was enthralled by the entire thing. I've never read another author quite like Ted Dekker. This murder mystery turned psychological thriller is profound.

The character development is brilliant, as is the slow but steady filling in of details regarding the murders and the killer himself. The twist near the end stunned me. I quite literally put down the book in my shock and paced my room saying "this can't be true" before picking Adam up again and frantically searching the pages I'd already read to find the truth of that plot twist. I don't know how Dekker does it, but he always delivers.

Would I read this book again? Definitely.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes. Absolutely. Please do read it.

His remarkable writing aside, this book dives deep into something truly terrifying: spiritual warfare. All of Dekker's books have an element of Christianity, and Jesus, and His fight against evil. The ones I've read thus far have been relatively overt in their claims. If he has some that are more subtle, I've yet to read them. In this book, in particular, he dives into the idea of demon-possession and how very real evil is in the present day.

As a Christian myself, and devoted to following Jesus, the idea of spiritual warfare is not unfamiliar to me. It's something I have acknowledged, in a passive way, but never really faced. Yes, of course, I know the devil is real. I know this truth, but I don't confront it on a daily basis.

"Demon possession cases are the extreme examples of evil--where it breaks through the cloak it hides under and show itself to the world in a way that forces us to deal with it. But evil doesn't like to be dealt with, so it remains mostly hidden, and people begin to forget that it exists at all." --
Ted Dekker (in a discussion with John Eldredge included in the back of the book Adam)

Evil doesn't like to be dealt with. That sentence smacked me in the face when I was reading the discussion between Dekker and John Eldredge (American author, counselor, and lecturer on Christianity best known for his book Wild at Heart). I have never personally been demon-possessed, of course, but the devil is still prowling around like a lion, searching for prey, at the edges of my life. He's there when I get frustrated with the people around me. He's there when I am impatient with others. He's there when I choose to say something rude rather than be gracious. It is only through the grace of Jesus that he has no power to harm me. But he is there--and that's the point. Enticing me to get angry over small things, or make a selfish decision--choosing to benefit myself rather than someone else.

Those of us who believe in Jesus need to start taking the devil seriously--because let's be honest, the majority of us blessed to live in this American culture I call home honestly don't take it seriously. But we should. Spiritual warfare is a scary thing--but we have Jesus. There are so many people who don't--they don't have the Light to ward off the darkness, the only Light than can.

I don't have a clever way to end this review and discussion. The book was an amazing read. The truth it highlights is scary, but there's hope--His name is Jesus. And those of us who know that truth need to be pursuing that Light with ferocity and sharing that Light without hesitation.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Can You Write 10,000 Words in One Day?

Well...I survived.

On September 7th I participated in the 10k Writing Challenge hosted by Mandi Lynn (author of Essence, I am Mercy, and She's Not Here). The goal? Write 10,000 words in my novel in a single day.

I knew this would be hard work, but I was also fairly laid back about it. After all, I write a lot. I can't go longer than a day or two without having to write something; it's just the way I was wired. But the most words, prior to this challenge, that I remember having written in a single 24-hour period is around 8,000 words. That was on the final day of NaNoWriMo 2017 when I was desperate to finish the goal of November (50,000 in 30 days). So the idea of 10,000 words in one day was actually a bit daunting.

Why did I choose to do this challenge? I had seen a couple posts on Twitter and vlogs on YouTube about previous 10k challenges hosted by Mandi Lynn and thought it was an intriguing idea. And lately, I have been pushing myself to finish the novel I have been writing since November of last year. I am so close to the end of the story that I felt I just needed a little push to actually finish it. So when I saw Mandi Lynn was hosting another 10k Writing Challenge, I decided to do it!

It was hard work, and after the first 6,000 words, the quality of my writing plummeted. That was around 2 in the afternoon, if I remember correctly. My brain was turning to mush and I couldn't think well enough to string too many words together coherently. So I just strung them, coherent or not.

I did manage to write 10,000 words. 10,006 to be exact.

The best part of the day for me--aside from the relief and pride at finishing--was the interactions on Twitter. There were several other authors participating and posting about their word count, their struggles, their amusements, etc., throughout the day and that definitely is what made the experience fun. Because suffering together is way more fun than suffering alone. Plus we were able to encourage each other, and every writer needs a large dose of encouragement on a daily basis. Almost as much as we need our coffee (or in my case, tea).

Sadly, despite the 10,000 extra words in the novel, I did not quite finish the book I was writing. I shall carry on, however, knowing that someday this novel will be a complete story...

and in that spirit, Happy Writing, everybody!

You can find all things Mandi Lynn related over at her website:

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Mythical Creature Called 'Writer': Separating the Fact and Fiction

Hello, my lovely readers! How are you all today?

I thought I would take today to discuss some common myths about writers and set the record straight. These are statements that I have heard said about writers that I found to be false. Let's dive in, shall we?


It is true that many writers are introverts, and therefore often unsocial. There are writers out there who enjoy meeting new people and being surrounded by a crowd of crazy extroverted friends. Most writers don't enjoy that scene--but that doesn't mean we don't have friends at all. A more accurate depiction would be, writers have few friends (but those they do have they would die for).


This is not at all true. I can tell you this because I am a writer and I don't drink coffee.

Most authors do drink excessive amounts of coffee, that much is true. Yet for me, the beverage I need in order to write is tea. I suppose a more accurate way to describe the truth about authors is that we all have a beverage we're addicted to, be it coffee, tea, hot cocoa, wine, etc.


Okay...I can't deny that one.


I don't believe this. Anyone can write, sure. Being able to write does not make you a writer. Someone who has never written a book and says wishfully to a writer they know "someday I'm going to write a book"....yeah. Pretty sure you aren't. That's not how this works. Writing isn't telling a story, it's telling that story well. There's a lot of hard work that goes into it, not just wishful thinking, but there is also a good deal of natural ability--in my humble opinion.


We're not all sad, miserable creatures who live alone in a cave, okay? Some of us live perfectly happy, healthy lives.

While it is true that some writers are sad, miserable creatures who use writing as a tool to pour out their sad miserable tale, most of us are not that way. We may--and often do--use our life experience to build onto our story and make it real, or as a form of therapy for ourselves when dealing with traumatic issues, but we aren't always miserable.

Basically, people tend to believe--likely due to this being how we are often portrayed in entertainment media--that writers are depressed, lonely individuals who have no friends and live off of coffee. And yet somehow also believe that anyone can be a writer if they only had the time...

If you are considering writing a story, don't let the myths of our lonely existence scare you off. And don't let my insistence than 'anyone can be a writer' is false scare you off either. I don't believe anyone can be a writer, but I do believe that if you are passionate about stories and you are willing to take the time to learn the craft of writing then yes, there is every opportunity for you to become a writer.

And on that note...

Happy Writing, everybody!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Writing Well Takes Practice

You can't run a race well without training.

As an author, whenever anyone hears that I write they will inevitably say "I thought about writing a book once" or "I'm going to write a book someday" or any number of sentences along those lines. I am not offended by this, I find it amusing more than anything else. Yet what people don't seem to understand is that you cannot simply write a book by wishing it.

Yes, perhaps you can piece together a string of words to create a sentence. And maybe you can string enough sentences along to create an 80,000 word story. The latter is highly unlikely when done by chance, but supposing you had accomplished such a feat, will it be a good story? No. Nothing done without some level of expertise is going to be good. There are a exceptions to every rule, of course, but very few of us are such freaks of nature that we can simply be good at everything without trying.

One of my hobbies, outside of simply reading a book, is running. I do 5K races and half marathons and the like with one of my sisters. We pretend to train by forcing ourselves to least once a week. But we are never diligent or disciplined in training our bodies for the excess of physical activity; endurance, strength...the things you need to complete a race well. Do we get to the finish line? Yes. Are we in more pain than necessary because we chose not to train? Also yes.

Writing a book is hard work. It is not something that happens overnight, and certainly not without effort. You have to train for it first. Learning basic grammar rules is unfortunately often the first step--it is physically painful for me to read many first drafts from aspiring writers because they do not understand the most basic principles. Periods. Commas. Capitalization. Learn how to write; that's the first step.

Once you've mastered the basics of the English language, it is time for the next level of training, learning to write well. You have to write every day; practice, practice, practice and in time you will improve. Read excessively and learn to imitate what you see. Take writing courses to hone your skills and learn new techniques. Soak up all of the knowledge and know-how that you can and then pour that into your words.

If you can manage to reach a point of readability, then you've reached the next stage of training: finding your own voice. You want to learn from other authors, but you don't want to mimic them. You have to find your own way of expressing what you wish to say. Everyone speaks differently and it is the same way with the written word. We are all different. So find what makes you different and grow from there. The best way to do this is to write every day. Write, and then write some more--you're training, remember?

Now that you finally write well, you can start thinking about writing a book. This will also take time, effort, and several stages. You have to be disciplined and diligent in writing every day and moving your story forward or your book will never be finished. Some days it is fun to sit down and write, other days it is a chore, but you have to do it regardless.

I am much better at mastering myself and my laziness and procrastination when it comes to writing than running, but I hope from now on I can take what I know of training to write books and apply it to my running hobby. If I train correctly for the next half marathon, I won't die like last time.

So yes, I can run a race and finish it, but can I run well and in such a way that won't bring physical harm to my body? Do I force my way through a book, spewing words as they come, or do I train myself daily, and therefore learn to write well? As hard as it can sometimes be, if you want to write a book, your answer to that last question should always be the latter.

P.S. I fully intend to start training properly for running.

Are you considering writing a book, or already in the middle of such a project? Comment below: I would love to hear about it!