Vision Forum’s Baby Conference: talk amongst yourselves

Friends,

I know some of you are planning on coming to the upcoming baby conference here in San Antonio. I’m planning to be there with a 5 or 6 week old babe in arms.  I would love to see a show of hands, and I hope you’ll take time to introduce yourself in real life when you’re there!
I also know that at least one reader whom I have already met in real life is hoping to find somebody to share a hotel room.  I told her I would mention it here so that she and others can discuss the possibilities in the comments.  I’d rather stay out of the decision making process, but I will be happy to help interested parties trade email addresses if they request.

Linkage

Stuff you should see.  Or at least, I think you should see it.

  • The Widow’s Might, which won the $101,000 prize at the SAI Film Festival, will be playing on the big screen April 13-18!  This is an extremely well-done movie, a musical that will appeal even to those who don’t normally care for musicals.  It’s got humor, snappy dialog, a great plot, good production quality…in short, this is the sort of film that Christians should be making.  See if it’s playing in your area.  If not, at least download the soundtrack from Behemoth.com.  You’ll love it!
  • The Genevan Psalter is available online.  Many of the songs have lyrics and music uploaded, usually more than one version, in both midi and mp3 formats, often with vocals.  In short, this website is a massive work and an important reference.  Bookmark it, and use it.
  • Not to toot my own horn, but Feelin’ Feminine recently posted an interview of li’l ole me.  It only seems right to link to it since they have been kindly sending traffic our way as well.  I enjoyed answering the thoughtful questions.  Read it if you like.  🙂
  • My friend made a solar oven and actually cooked brownies in it! Now I’m interested.  Her design is like this, but I like the looks of this one too.  Maybe 1 or 2 of each for our family?

In which we interview one of our favorite fanatsy authors.

Posted by: Deanna

Kaitlyn and I met Mr. Schiller at a homeschool conference in Plano and he kindly agreed to do a blog interview with us about the series of Christian fantasy books he’s book1writing. I own and love the first three books in his series (The fourth was recently released) and I have read them all several times.

Some Christians object to all fantasy, because they think that things like talking animals are magical and that any magic is bad. In these books, a talking animal would have to be possessed by a demon or something. One thing I really love about these books is that they really are christian books. They aren’t like Harry Potter where some people like to say that J.K Rowling used “Christian Ideals” and try to say that Harry Potter himself represents Christ. The biggest difference between these two series is that in one, witchcraft is glorified and encouraged, and in the other it is shown to be the vile and disgusting thing that God says it is.

When Kaitlyn and I sent Mr. Schiller this interview, I didn’t expect the deeply thoughtful response we got. So please take the time to read this interview, I think you’ll really enjoy it.

What kind of world view would you say is shown in your books?

I’ve never given much thought to my “World View”. I guess I didn’t even consciously know what a World View was until you asked the question. Writing Christian Fantasy one might think that the World View presented in my books would be different than the World View I hold for the real world. This is not the case. I view the world through a few simple parameters that color all my opinions, beliefs, and ideals.

First, I believe that without God as our guiding force, the world will tear itself to bits. Historically, one can observe that once a country loses its focus on God, that country goes into decline. I try to show this in my books and make it clear that it is not enough for individuals to commit to Christ; communities and Nations must do the same. Without that commitment man will fall by the way of familiar sins and weaknesses with a resultant decline in the community or nation.

Second, I believe that man must stand against evil. This is a common theme in fantasy literature and holds true in my personal views of the world. I have been a United States Marine and a Dallas Police Officer. I was drawn to those professions because of my desire to “stand in the breach” and make a difference by confronting the enemies of our nation and community. The old saying “Freedom isn’t free” is very dear to me. This not only applies to physical liberty, but to spiritual liberty as well. We must be bold in identifying those things that, though accepted by society, stand in opposition to our Faith. Tolerance, the mantra of many who wish to embrace every decadent whim of man, cannot be our defining philosophy. Unless we stand against the darkness, the darkness will overwhelm us.

Finally, I believe that through the efforts of individuals, sweeping changes occur. We can change lives with simple acts of kindness and changing the life of one person changes the world. Standing in the breach doesn’t always entail physical battle and sacrifice. Sometimes the most insignificant things cause the greatest changes, both for good and evil.book2

Some people might say that all fantasy is alike. How would you say that the fantasy you write differs from series like Harry Potter?

The basic theme of much fantasy centers on a group of good characters drawn together to battle a great evil. This is present in my books as well. But what is missing in most secular fantasy is a greater good, or, more to the point, God. So I have included the requisite good characters, the great evil they must fight, and I have attached the greater good that focuses and defines the efforts of the protagonists. You generally don’t see this in the fantasy genre. Additionally, my references to God and Iosa Christus (the Gaelic/Latin words for Jesus Christ) are literal, not allegorical or implied. I do not get preachy but there is no doubt that the main characters are trying, in their own flawed fashion, to follow God in their daily lives.

The heroes in my books will never use magic of any kind. The antagonists will use anything and everything they believe will give them an advantage, but for those who follow Iosa Christus, magic is not an option. Like the heroes in The Lord of the Rings who choose not to use the ring of power, so my characters choose to depend on the miracles/magic of God to help them in their efforts.

I do not use miracles as a convenient literary device. Miracles abound, but most often, as in the real world, they only appear miraculous to the individual who needed the miracle at the time. The reader is left to determine what is a miracle and what is not, just as the characters themselves decide within the context of the story.

What inspired you to write the Warrior of the Son books?

I have always been a writer. Since I was a young boy I have penned stories. But even when I wrote something that I felt was good in a literary sense, it always lacked a meaning beyond the words of the story. This series of books is my attempt to imbue the fantasy genre with a deeper meaning: the Glory and Love of Jesus Christ.

How do you think readers will benefit from your books?

First of all, the books are fun. They are filled with adventure, desperate battle, romance, fantastic creatures, and all the things that make fantasy books such an enjoyable read. Additionally, the characters are flawed, imperfect people, just like you and me. I present my characters as real people, not as idealized cut-outs. I think this lets the reader identify with the heroes as opposed to presenting an impossible ideal. Additionally, I attempt to make the villains (not the goblins of course!) sympathetic in some ways. I want the reader to at least understand what makes this character tick, even if in the end you don’t like what they do.

What kind of lessons do you try to teach in your stories?

The themes of redemption, mercy, and obedience run through much of my work. These are the anchors to the main characters. I also try to show the reality and consequences of standing against evil. There is always an element of glory in fighting for what is right and just, but there is a cost as well. To show only one side of this issue is a disservice to the reader.

Are any of the characters in your books based on real people? Would you say that your stories have any autobiographical elements?

Some of the things that my characters go through are based on personal experience. This is generally in an abstract way, since I have never fought a goblin or engaged in a real sword fight. However, some of the struggles experienced by the heroes and even the villains, are built up from a mixture of things I have observed, experienced, or shared with real life people.

The struggle for faith in the main character is an example. Much of what Evan MacKeth goes through as he runs from God mirrors my own foolish attempts to escape God’s Grace.

Do you have a favorite character in your Warrior of the Son series?

I suppose that I like the tragic, brooding, Anwend Halfdane the best, though he is by no means the central character. I am also rather fond of Martin Reamon. I have big things planned for both of those characters.

It is interesting to note that many of the characters I originally developed as nothing more than literary mechanisms have become fully fleshed out characters in their own right. Young Martin Reamon was never intended to play such an important role in books two and three and in the fourth book, “Fire from the Earth”, Bronwyn Villich, another intended mechanism, becomes in many ways, the central character in the book.

I like it when characters unexpectedly come to life. I treasure these developments like little jewels that I stumbled across within the words of the story.

Do you have a plan for the rest of the series?

I have an idea of where all this is going. That isn’t to say that it will get there. I have come to realize that often the story goes where it wants to go. I am nominally in charge of the direction, but I am often surprised where I end up.

How long do you think it will take to finish the series?

I plan on ten to twelve books in the series. It is difficult to estimate the time necessary for such an endeavor, but hopefully I will not make my supporters wait too long on the remaining volumes.

And finally, do you have plans or another series after this one?

I am considering a prequel to the current series covering the adventures of Julian Antony Vorenius before he meets Evan MacKeth.

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Kaitlyn and I are excited that Mr. Schiller is thinking about writing a series about Julian. He is one of my favorite characters in the  books, and it will be fun to find out more about him.

Good links I want to find again someday when I go looking for them

Blinded

I got up at 5 AM this morning so I could spend 2 hours staring at this:
blind-view

Unfortunately, that was all I saw.  My next chance is Wednesday morning.

If all else fails, maybe we’ll have some excitement on the way home again this year.

Anti-procrastination day

I’m thinking of declaring National Anti-Procrastination Day.  What do you think ?  Tomorrow, maybe?  Yeah, me too.

But seriously, I want to quit procrastinating one step at at time.  I want to tackle a project once/week – something that I’ve been putting off for no good reason, and I want you all to hold me accountable.

Just to make it fair, you can volunteer to quit procrastinating one step at a time too.

It’s just one item each week, but it might include the following over the upcoming weeks:

  • Empty the overflowing mending basket. Er…by doing the mending.  I’ll post a picture of the basket later.  Hey, quit smirking.  That was meant to be a joke.
  • Replace the missing insulation under the floors. I feel most motivated to do this during cold weather, but it will save us money in warm weather too.
  • Keep the insulation from falling out again. We’re thinking chicken wire might do the job.  It doesn’t sound like fun, but we lose money 2 ways when we lose insulation and have to buy it again.
  • Paint the trim on all of the interior doors. It’s really not that hard to do, and our unfinished house might begin to look a lot more finished if I put my mind to wrapping up loose ends like that.
  • Make sure all outlets and light switches are covered. Not just for safety, but so they’ll look nice.
  • Move the outdoor trash cans. We’ve got to find a way to keep our trash away from the vermin.

What would be on your list?  It could be as easy as balancing the checkbook or organizing your coupons.  Or maybe you’ll finally get started on a major project that you’ve been putting off.

Will you join me?  Ask me next week if my mending is done.  But only if you tell us your project here, and are prepared to give an update next week.  But wait – let’s start tomorrow.  Cuz, you know, I have sick kids.  And other excuses.  Really good ones.  Just like yours.

mending

You didn’t think you’d see my mending basket, did you?  This includes many items that need minor alterations and repairs, as well as some that are slated to be reborn as altogether new garments.  Note that the mending pile is roughly 7 times the size of a Golden Retriever.  OK, maybe not, but it’s 25 items.  Maybe one week is too ambitious.   What do you think?

p.s. In a similar vein, over on Frugal Hacks we’re resolving to make one change/month. My change for February will be ditching the disposable diapers for cloth.

In the news

Everyone has the election on their mind, but here’s what else is new today:

  • Mother Hen’s latest and greatest idea: Help For Growing Families.  It’s a Mr. Linky event to share helpful tips for growing families.  What do you wish you had known sooner?  What did you learn the hard way?  I shared my sock system, which happens to be the same system Michelle Duggar uses.  Grab the banner, choose an old or new post to share with the world, and link up at Ship Full O’ Pirates.
  • Our new look.  The image for our new header was an outtake from the last time I tried in vain to get everyone to stand in a row and smile.  We finally gave up and I snapped a few pics while the kids goofed off.  Are you wondering what Becca is doing with her hands?  So are we.  So is she.  She was in her own world.
  • 9yo Natalie is making pancakes alone for the first time. 
  • Lots of new Vision Forum items on our For Sale page, all priced at 50% off or more.  I mean less.  I mean, discounted at least 50%.  How would you say it?
  • Puppies.  sigh.  Our Golden Retriever is in heat.  We decided not to have her bred this time, but there has been a big handsome black lab camped out on our deck for days.  We locked our dog in her outdoor run for safekeeping and left for the day.  When we came home, we found that her suitor had dug a tunnel for her to escape.  I’m sure they had a lovely day together.  Who wants a puppy?

You too can buy peace of mind for $1.77

I had an epiphany.  You might remember that we have a lot of vomit stories in our family.  Don’t believe me?  Try searching our blog for vomit.  Hubby’s family has weak stomachs, and my family has carsickness.  It’s not a good combination.

Usually when somebody starts complaining about carsickness, we start rummaging for an old soda cup – hopefully with a lid to lock in the odor when she’s done.

If we’re well prepared, we might have a special container for just this purpose.  Usually it’s been kicked around so the container is wedged under the back seat and the lid is nowhere to be found.

If we’re really in a bind, we pull a fresh diaper out of the diaper bag, spread it out inside a plastic grocery bag, and have the victim toss her cookies into it.  It works in a pinch.

But now I’ve really got the perfect idea.  I’m ready for the next wave of carsickness – I just can’t wait to try it out.  I mean, I can’t wait for one of the kids to try it out.  Not me.  I want to maintain my status as a spectator.

Oh, you’re waiting to hear the idea.  Sorry.

Ziplock bags.

I just bought a small box of name brand freezer bags (freezer bags are thicker than the standard ones) with the extra special zipper and expandable bottom.  I went with quart size, which should be plenty of capacity for anyone young enough to get away with puking in a moving vehicle.  I paid $1.77 for a box of 15 – more than I would pay for general household use, but definitely worth the peace of mind I’m feeling now in the van.

Who knew peace of mind could be bought so easily?

News & Notes

I’m sick, so this is a lazy day post about a few things in the forefront of my mind.

  • Homemakerang is having a giveaway.  The winner gets a gift basket of homemade laundry detergent, cherry salsa, raw honey, some farm wares and more!  We love her laundry detergent!  It looks beautiful, smells lovely, and works very well.  Follow her blog to enter the giveaway.  Post about the giveaway to be entered 5 more times.
  • Simple Mom linked to Frugal Hacks.  I’ve never seen her blog before, but it’s well-designed and drives a lot of traffic, so I’ll be spending some time exploring.  By the way, we have several new contributors at Frugal Hacks.  Drop in and see what they’re saying!
  • Our pet meme has generated some interesting stories.  Be sure to check out Paulette’s and Karen’s scary pet stories.  Ugh!
  • My sister had her 2nd baby girl early Wednesday morning.  This means that my parents, who are in their mid-50’s and could easily pass for 10 years younger, have somewhere between 20 and 25 grandchildren.  No, I don’t know exactly how many, though I could take the time to count them all.  Yes, I’m lazy when I’m sick.
  • My friend Victoria Botkin has two new CDs about choosing curriculum for homeschooling. I listened to both yesterday while recuperating from a nasty flu bug and feel that it was a wonderful way to redeem the time. These messages are a family effort with sections by her husband and all 7 children, interwoven with Victoria’s advice for each subject.  Very encouraging stuff: any parent with a love for God can homeschool without a rigid curriculum, extensive lesson plans, or piles of textbooks.  This is how we endeavor to educate our own children, though I have much to learn from Victoria.These CDs will be available in the next Vision Forum catalog but you can get them right now from the Botkin family webstore, either as physical CDs or as an MP3 download.
  • Speaking of family projects in the next Vision Forum catalog, our family has been working on something too.  We found a rare old book at a library sale and were captivated by the story, so we set to work on having it republished.  Our family retyped the manuscript, did some editing, created a map and glossary, and here is the finished product, published for us by Vision Forum: Princess Adelina: An Ancient Christian Tale of Beauty and Bravery!  What do you think?
  • Can you tell that we’re excited about it?

Reminders

We’ve passed the official end date, but the orders are still trickling in and we’re happy to keep filling them. The girls’ fundraiser is going to have to end eventually.  We will extend it through Monday, September 22.  Hurry up,

people.  Where else can you get new Vision Forum products at 50% off retail?   Shipping is free if you order $50 or more, and every penny goes to the Persecution Project Foundation!  So far we’ve raised nearly $600 from orders and donations via Paypal.  Can we make it an even $1,000?

Speaking of Vision Forum, I hope I’m not shooting our fundraiser in the foot by mentioning the Kit & Kaboodle special.  40 CD messages for just $99 – that’s 75% off!  It ended on September 18th, but we know the secret code to extend the sale for an extra 5 days: KIT.  Keep an eye on the left sidebar for other Vision Forum specials.

And a reminder that my kids are, indeed, weird: our boy has a new habit.  He carries concealed weapons around the house.  He thinks they are swords in a sheath.  I think they are butter knives in his diaper.

Yes, gross.  Kids sometimes are.  But they’re worth it.