Posts made in February, 2014

Recovery Resource Review: Intentional Warriors

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in Addiction Recovery, Reviews & Recommendations

When I discovered James Cordrey’s site, Intentional Warriors, I felt that I had found a kindred spirit. His content was openly anti-porn and pro-pursuing-righteousness, presented with a professional look and forthcoming attitude. His posts and platform revealed a life that Christ renewed from destructive behaviors and near-collapse, and that’s a life to which I feel connected.

Cordrey goes into the details of this journey in his book of the same name, which I liked despite a few missteps. Intentional Warriors is forward, open, and full in its content but lacking in its presentation (a surprise given the website’s superb look and feel). Formatting errors such as page numbers and chapter breaks created a bit of a clunky read, and I am not entirely sure that I agree with all of his word choices. For example, he calls God “risky”(p32), but I would contend that an omniscient being risks nothing; on the flip side, he says that “faith=risk” (p29), and with that I could not agree more. He also calls God “dangerous”, and I think there’s something to that concept, though I’m again uncertain of the word choice–which is prevalent and oddly capitalized throughout the book. Finally, the references are  some of the most used of the last 15 years: BraveheartThe Matrix, and Lord of the Rings. That being said, I had some issues with Intentional Warriors.

However, the book contains much more that I love. Intentional Warriors features some great Scripture (Proverbs 28:13, p33); great quotes (p90), and many valuable thoughts gleaned from firsthand experience. Cordrey touches on a multitude of factors in the struggle against sex saturated culture, and he does so in a way that provides insight into many facets of Christian recovery. He admonishes his brothers to become sober minded (106), pro-active (112) fighters, who redeem rather than destroy (71). He also deftly outlines the great irony of pornography consumption: that porn exploits man’s insecurities, provides him a false sense of masculinity that deceives him into believing the experience is uplifting, and then leaves him feeling more insecure and inadequate than ever (84, 96-97, 100). These excellent explorations are accompanied by many others such as but not limited to: life’s inherent difficulty making us feel inadequate (99), our tendency to stray from the sober-mindedness required to fight sin (106); the danger of self-protection leading to cowardice (109), and the hard reality that church failures, such as adopting business models for growth (139) and offering false accountability (113), are partially to blame for our plight (and require a new generation of men to step forward and lead the charge toward purity).

Regardless of my misgivings, I cannot discount the value of the above content nor the veracity of Cordrey’s testimony and his willingness to put himself on the line. He lays himself bare to the judgment of his readers through his personal confessions (p40,44,82) and serves as an example of the change the Holy Spirit provides to those who would be transformed (149,154). Additionally, he is not concerned with aires; I never once felt his tone was condescending, as if he ‘knew so much’; instead, I saw a real human being, healed from real pain, who possessed a desire to help others. Publishing missteps aside, the truth of person’s heart is compelling and warrants praise.

Ultimately, I think Intentional Warriors can help a number of men. Cordrey’s manner and tone will speak to them in ways that my novel, Stronghold, never could. As far as Cordrey’s concerned, real men aren’t watching from a comfortable place where evil has no footing (90-92). Real men take courage through Christ and, in so doing, exhibit a strength they never thought they could have, one that is imbued by their Heavenly Father as direct result of his using them for his purposes (160).

Intentional Warriors has its flaws, but its substance outweighs its style. You can check out the book for yourself at Amazon: Intentional Warriors: Fighting For Purity And Freedom In A Sexually Saturated Society





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Lifehacks, Kre-o, Movies and More!

Posted by on Feb 26, 2014 in Addiction Recovery, Offsite Content, Site Business, Writer's Diary

Hi All,

So, I have basically become a derelict on this blog; and for that I deeply apologize. I have 4 books/reviews pending the queue, in addition to several posts I am revising, and I promise you that I will step up in March (hopefully to the tune of two posts a week). Again, my apologies.

If you are wondering what I have been doing of late; my answer is simple: writing.

I had articles published this month at three other sites (linked below), and I have been busily working on my second novel, To Retreat from Romance, in order to send it to readers (still 3 days to join my revisions team!). Additionally, I have begun revisiting the study guide for Stronghold, as it seems a demand for it has developed.

So, without further ado, here’s links to my latest articles, plus a very kind review of Stronghold that went live this month.

As always, thank you again for reading. I sincerely apologize for my lack of content lately, and I will strive to provide some posts worth reading come March.


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Using Old Notes to infuse New Ideas

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in RandoMusings, Writer's Diary

If you’ve been at your writing craft for any amount of time, you have likely produced an inordinate amount of notes–notes on this idea or that location, on some intriguing character or a great maguffin or plot. You’ve probably had more false starts than a pee-wee-football offensive line and a hundred great moves in your playbook that have never been seen by another set of human eyes.

Do you know what that means?

You likely have a library of original ideas at your disposal, just waiting to be remembered and used. Like arrows in a quiver, these ideas can be strategically fired into a story to create that new supporting buddy for your hero, perfect plan for your villain, or the great location wherein their last conflict is decided. The “waste” of unused ideas and notes are only wasted if you abandon them. If instead, you refine and utilize them, they become very useful, indeed.

Now I am not referring to “recycling”, mind you. This is not a recommendation to take the ideas you have already put into a story and re-tooling them because you know they work. No, this is an encouragement–or, rather, an exhortation–to take ideas that you knew worked at some time, on some level, and to harness them for the purpose of making your current story better. 

I felt the need to share this as I spent a fair amount of time this weekend going through half-starts and random ideas I put to page in 2013. Floating in the ether of my notes, reminders, e-mails, and outlines, these concepts and characters were long forgotten, despite their being interesting to me. So I took the time to build a very simple matrix in excel, using 4 worksheets–persons, places, things, ideas–to organize my inspiration into an easily accessible table. Now when I am hitting story walls, I have a multitude of possible, original solutions, characters, places, or devices.

But that’s just the half of it. Additionally placing my notes into a matrix has allowed me to see patterns and recurring themes, which are great for understanding what is important to me in my storytelling. If my mind seems to be generating multiple ideas in various genres that all seem to share concepts of regret or redemption, chances are that such subjects will prove strong key themes for my next story. Further, having the ideas in one place also enables me to more easily synthesize them into a dynamic and full construct. By seeing characters X and Y together, near location C, both searching for a type of Maguffin-Q, I can better see how these seemingly unconnected ideas can be brought together like elements of a Lego Set.

The process involves a great deal of time, sure, but nothing of value is simple or easy. I am tackling a few portions of notes at a time in order to ensure that the process remains manageable. Thus far, the act has proven rewarding; and as I continue to make time for it, I am confident the practice will pay perpetual dividends.

And like I said, if you’ve been at this for any amount of time, you can do it too. Who knows, maybe that first chapter of that unfinished novel from 2004 will give you just the insight you need to close the last chapter of that near-finished novel in 2014. And that is an exciting thought.

Keep writing, and thanks for stopping at my little corner of the internets!


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Be my Reader, Editor, and More!

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in To Retreat from Romance, Writer's Diary

I’m excited. Really excited.

I am going to release another book in the next twelve months, a young adult novel entitled, To Retreat from Romance. I am happy with the preliminary drafts, and I look forward to making it the best novel it can be.

But I cannot do it alone. The truth is that I need help to do it; real help, not affirmation from “yes men” and cheerleaders but strong feedback from people who like what they know and know what they like. I am building an amazing team of committed readers to help me refine and proofread this latest novel. And guess what, I want you to join that team! Yes, you! Especially, you!

Here’s the deal: 

To Retreat from Romance follows the romantic misadventures of a group of high school freshmen on their first, full-weekend church retreat; and the story is full of all the characters, antics, lessons, and breakthroughs that made those weekends memorable for so many of us. 

For its release, I need a few folks (a max of 12) willing to commit time, effort, and energy toward expanding 3LC Publishing into a new frontier with quality, energy, and enthusiasm!

So what am I asking of you, really? Well, it’s plenty. BUT I think you’ll find that in the end it’s worth it. Why? Because I’ve helped some folks with their projects, and I’ve never regretted doing so; and because I am also going to try to make it worth your while. Here’s your commitment level:

You are not required to review it on any site (though you are welcome to do so).
You do not need to promise to tell ten people (though you may want to).
You will not be asked to personally buy twenty copies yourself (because that would just be silly).

But you will need to…

1) Read the Digital Rough Draft of To Retreat from Romance and answer a survey about the book. 
(Draft provided as soon as you are committed to the team, with responses due March 14, 2014)
This is a broad reading where you’ll be able to comment on everything. What you liked, what you didn’t, what should change, what can’t change, etc.

2) Read the Digital Revised Draft of To Retreat from Romance and answer a second, similar survey.
(Draft provided May 1, 2014, with responses due June 15, 2014)
This draft will reflect the changes and edits provided by the prior draft’s feedback and be a slightly different and hopefully better reading experience. But once again, you’ll be answering a similar set of questions.

3) Offer feedback on “Reading Group Questions” for a small group/book club 
(Questions provided June 30, 2014, with responses due July 14, 2014)
This content will be made available at either the 3LC site or as an appendix in the book. The series of questions will be presented to engage readers of all ages in group discussion about the spiritual content of the story.

4) Offer feedback on “Personal Reader Questions” for a reader to explore on his or her own.
(Draft provided July 15, 2014, with responses due August 4, 2014)
With a similar purpose as the above, only for personal application.

5) Proofread the PHYSICAL Proof of To Retreat from Romance
(Draft Mailed before September 15, with responses due no later than October 15, 2014)
This draft will be a big, final improvement from the last one, but you’ll be looking for every typo, oddly spaced item, and little issue that irks you as a reader–a sentence, an “off” line of dialogue, or a misplaced comma. This is it. How it looks in your hands is how it will look to any reader when we go to publication.

No small task, right? I am asking you to read 1 book 3 times in 11 months, plus take a few surveys. That’s alot; I know. But if you are willing to see this project through to the end, you’ll be afforded the following benefits:

1) You’ll receive a signed, hard copy of the proof for To Retreat from Romance (these will be limited copies, so it’s kind of a cool deal), which will contain YOUR NAME IN PRINT, in the acknowledgement section, as a member of the “Reading & Revisions Committee,” the special title for all the readers and editors who will be part of our team.

2) Plus, you’ll get a copy of the final version of To Retreat from Romance.

3) An additional second physical copy of To Retreat from Romance to give to a friend, fellow reader, family member, etc. (and I will sign it for them personally if you know to whom you want to give it)!

4) My gratitude and sincere appreciation, written on the 3LC Publishing Site, to be visible as long as that site is up and running. 

I know; I know. The requirements outweigh the benefits. It’s true. But I think having one’s name in print is a pretty sweet deal (otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this), and I am giving you a physical copy for each time you read the book.

This is your chance to participate in the writing process with a clear and tangible end result you can hold in your hands. I sincerely need help from readers who love good stories and are willing to help me tell one.

If you have any interest, please e-mail me at [email protected] and answer the below questions:

1) Why do you want to be a part of the “Reading & Revisions Committee”?
2) Can you commit to ALL of the tasks as outlined in this post, and will you fulfill them honestly and as requested, solely for the expressed benefits promised, with the understanding that if you do not complete them in full, said benefits will not be bestowed?
3) Do you promise? (just kidding)

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Replaying Songs of Scripture

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Love of Scripture

I have spoken of the way music and melody have helped me better memorize Scripture.

Here’s why it’s so cool.

A friend on Facebook posted a status recently that she needed a Scripture that “feels like a hug”. I paused for a moment, and a song came to mind–not a real song but one of the melodies behind my Scripture memory. Like any other beloved favorite, the tune brought the words from my mind through my fingertips. The content was that of Daniel 4, because nothing feels like a hug as much as knowing that God is overseeing all things.

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