Five Year Old Theology

As in, theology from a 5 year old.

The other night my middle, precocious boy launched into this without any solicitation:

Satan was an angel but he decided he wanted to be God and turned bad. He took the angels with him, not all of them but lots. Satan and the angels attacked God, but He whooped them on the bum!”

And yes, he said “bum”. From the mouths of infants… 😀

Five Year Old Theology

As in, theology from a 5 year old.

The other night my middle, precocious boy launched into this without any solicitation:

Satan was an angel but he decided he wanted to be God and turned bad. He took the angels with him, not all of them but lots. Satan and the angels attacked God, but He whooped them on the bum!”

And yes, he said “bum”. From the mouths of infants… 😀

Writing Dissection – Part Three

Yesterday I did a passage breakdown on a passage from John Aubrey Anderson’s book Abiding Darkness. Today I want to look at a smaller passage from 2/3’s through in Wedgewood Grey:

Ceedie stepped close and took the jacket from him. “Put your arm in here, then stand still.” She got him jacketed by standing on her tiptoes. When he was dressed, she patted his good arm and momentarily set the stability of his knees back twenty-four hours when she locked eyes with him. “You stay calm, now, an’ be nice to the other children.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The special attention caused his cheeks to use blood he couldn’t spare.

Again I’m doing a small section without context to appreciate what can be done in just a small blurb. Seven sentences, including the dialogue.

There is much less than the passage studied yesterday, but we learn about Ceedie and the man (Jeff Wagner) quickly with good description. What I see is this:
1. Ceedie is short or Jeff is tall (“standing on her tiptoes”).
2. Jeff has an injured arm (she helps him with the jacket, “good arm”).
3. It was a significant injury (“set the stability…back twenty-four hours”) that probably included some blood loss (“use blood he couldn’t spare”).
4. There is attraction from Jeff for Ceedie (his knees weaken when she locks eyes, the blush).
5. He is going into a confrontational situation (“be nice to the other children”).

The example from yesterday was more of a keystone passage, set apart at the beginning of a chapter. Becky commented on the flowery description. I would agree, except that in the context it sets up tension/suspense as well as reinforce characterization already begun.

Today’s passage is in the midst of dialogue and action as Jeff’s FBI supervisor comes to confront him about being out of action. It is a quick break of description, but it accomplishes a lot in its brevity. Reading it in context, we pick up on Ceedie’s increased attention to Jeff that was absent earlier.

Now, all that information can be given to the reader in different ways, but isn’t it more fun to see a weakened, tall agent feel the effect of the blushing. To me, this type of writing enriches the story and the enjoyment from just following a plot to savoring the style and craft in a book.

That’s all I have for now. If anyone has anymore comments, I’d love to hear from you on this. I’ve enjoyed reading, discussing, and dissecting these two books, and I’m grateful to Mr. Anderson for sharing with me. Look for book three in the Black or White Chronicles in August 2007.

Now I have to think of a new topic… aw, fishsticks…

Writing Dissection – Part Three

Yesterday I did a passage breakdown on a passage from John Aubrey Anderson’s book Abiding Darkness. Today I want to look at a smaller passage from 2/3’s through in Wedgewood Grey:

Ceedie stepped close and took the jacket from him. “Put your arm in here, then stand still.” She got him jacketed by standing on her tiptoes. When he was dressed, she patted his good arm and momentarily set the stability of his knees back twenty-four hours when she locked eyes with him. “You stay calm, now, an’ be nice to the other children.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The special attention caused his cheeks to use blood he couldn’t spare.

Again I’m doing a small section without context to appreciate what can be done in just a small blurb. Seven sentences, including the dialogue.

There is much less than the passage studied yesterday, but we learn about Ceedie and the man (Jeff Wagner) quickly with good description. What I see is this:
1. Ceedie is short or Jeff is tall (“standing on her tiptoes”).
2. Jeff has an injured arm (she helps him with the jacket, “good arm”).
3. It was a significant injury (“set the stability…back twenty-four hours”) that probably included some blood loss (“use blood he couldn’t spare”).
4. There is attraction from Jeff for Ceedie (his knees weaken when she locks eyes, the blush).
5. He is going into a confrontational situation (“be nice to the other children”).

The example from yesterday was more of a keystone passage, set apart at the beginning of a chapter. Becky commented on the flowery description. I would agree, except that in the context it sets up tension/suspense as well as reinforce characterization already begun.

Today’s passage is in the midst of dialogue and action as Jeff’s FBI supervisor comes to confront him about being out of action. It is a quick break of description, but it accomplishes a lot in its brevity. Reading it in context, we pick up on Ceedie’s increased attention to Jeff that was absent earlier.

Now, all that information can be given to the reader in different ways, but isn’t it more fun to see a weakened, tall agent feel the effect of the blushing. To me, this type of writing enriches the story and the enjoyment from just following a plot to savoring the style and craft in a book.

That’s all I have for now. If anyone has anymore comments, I’d love to hear from you on this. I’ve enjoyed reading, discussing, and dissecting these two books, and I’m grateful to Mr. Anderson for sharing with me. Look for book three in the Black or White Chronicles in August 2007.

Now I have to think of a new topic… aw, fishsticks…

Writing Dissection – Part Two

Continuing from yesterday, here’s the passage I want to discuss.
From early in Abiding Darkness:

Every day for the rest of his life, he would recall that she had been grinning. She was turning away from him; the movement lifted the short-cut hair in seeming slow-motion, moving it up and away from her like strips of ribbon on a fast carousel. A halo of water droplets escaped the brown tendrils and caught the afternoon sun life dozens of transparent pearls. The pearls arced away from the girl and fell in a perfect circle. Water ran down brown legs from the rolled up overalls, her knobby little knees bent, her body leaned out slightly, tanned arms lifted, and her knees began to straighten. And he’d remember how fast the grin changed to something else.

There are a lot of good things that happen in this passage. The key point, I think, is the statements that bracket the paragraph. “Every day for the rest of his life.” There is already suspense building up from what we’ve seen in the story so far. But with this one statement, it tells a new reader that this is a key event in the book, if the character is impacted so strongly by it. It sets us up for expecting a lot out of the coming narration.

Coupled with that statement is the grin. Without reading anything else, we get a picture of youthful exuberance. The change at the end signifies a change that tears us away from this bliss and into the danger the author has been building up.

The grin goes along with the slow-motion description of the little girl’s jump. This passage doesn’t tell us that she is about to jump in the lake, but the leg extension, water droplets in the air, and water running down the leg all build the picture. It seems to me a good example of the old writing adage, “show, don’t tell”. How boring if he simply said, “she started to jump in the water when she suddenly saw something bad.”

We also have a good picture of the girl. Sure, we know a lot about her from the first three chapters. However, the impression we have of her is reinforced with the mention of the different elements in this passage. Tanned arms/brown legs? It is summer and she spends a lot of time outside. Grinning? A happy child. Rolled up overalls? Sounds like a tomboy to me. Knobby little knees? She doesn’t seem very big. The addition of these scattered descriptives paint a fuller image of Missy Parker, and helps her jump off the page.

If we’re breaking down this passage, I have a point of critique. The careful description of water drops and such paints this as a slow motion memory, saying “seeming slow-motion” just spells it out for us a little more. There can be a good case for editing that phrase out.

Maybe all of this is elementary, but if nothing else this breakdown is helpful in considering my own writing. We don’t want to read a book with every paragraph heavy with description, but strategically placed, it can really set the mood and submerge us into the writer’s world.

It seems too much to tackle both passages in one post, so tomorrow I’ll break down the passage from Wedgewood Grey.

Writing Dissection – Part Two

Continuing from yesterday, here’s the passage I want to discuss.
From early in Abiding Darkness:

Every day for the rest of his life, he would recall that she had been grinning. She was turning away from him; the movement lifted the short-cut hair in seeming slow-motion, moving it up and away from her like strips of ribbon on a fast carousel. A halo of water droplets escaped the brown tendrils and caught the afternoon sun life dozens of transparent pearls. The pearls arced away from the girl and fell in a perfect circle. Water ran down brown legs from the rolled up overalls, her knobby little knees bent, her body leaned out slightly, tanned arms lifted, and her knees began to straighten. And he’d remember how fast the grin changed to something else.

There are a lot of good things that happen in this passage. The key point, I think, is the statements that bracket the paragraph. “Every day for the rest of his life.” There is already suspense building up from what we’ve seen in the story so far. But with this one statement, it tells a new reader that this is a key event in the book, if the character is impacted so strongly by it. It sets us up for expecting a lot out of the coming narration.

Coupled with that statement is the grin. Without reading anything else, we get a picture of youthful exuberance. The change at the end signifies a change that tears us away from this bliss and into the danger the author has been building up.

The grin goes along with the slow-motion description of the little girl’s jump. This passage doesn’t tell us that she is about to jump in the lake, but the leg extension, water droplets in the air, and water running down the leg all build the picture. It seems to me a good example of the old writing adage, “show, don’t tell”. How boring if he simply said, “she started to jump in the water when she suddenly saw something bad.”

We also have a good picture of the girl. Sure, we know a lot about her from the first three chapters. However, the impression we have of her is reinforced with the mention of the different elements in this passage. Tanned arms/brown legs? It is summer and she spends a lot of time outside. Grinning? A happy child. Rolled up overalls? Sounds like a tomboy to me. Knobby little knees? She doesn’t seem very big. The addition of these scattered descriptives paint a fuller image of Missy Parker, and helps her jump off the page.

If we’re breaking down this passage, I have a point of critique. The careful description of water drops and such paints this as a slow motion memory, saying “seeming slow-motion” just spells it out for us a little more. There can be a good case for editing that phrase out.

Maybe all of this is elementary, but if nothing else this breakdown is helpful in considering my own writing. We don’t want to read a book with every paragraph heavy with description, but strategically placed, it can really set the mood and submerge us into the writer’s world.

It seems too much to tackle both passages in one post, so tomorrow I’ll break down the passage from Wedgewood Grey.

Writing Dissection – Part One

I am continuing a discussion brought on by the book of the week for the CFBA blog tour, Wedgewood Grey, and its prequel, Abiding Darkness. I am not the greatest writer or editor in the world, but I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately, as well as trying to study the craft of fiction. I thought it could be informative to dissect a couple of passages from these books by John Aubrey Anderson.

There are three factors about these books that have drawn my focus over the last two weeks. One is the spiritual message that has greatly encouraged me, but that is a different discussion. The other two are 1) the delightful use of language to paint the setting of rural Mississippi and 2) the great characters that are brought to life by said language. I’ve enjoyed the story presented in his books, but I’ve also tried to pick out the aspects that fuel the entertainment.

I’ve chosen two passages, one from each book, to look at and see how it contributes to what I’ve mentioned above. I’ll quote them without context, and leave this post there. Tomorrow I’ll come back to them and present what I see out of them. If anyone has any comments regarding the passages, please share in the comments and I’ll bring that into the discussion.

From early in Abiding Darkness:

Every day for the rest of his life, he would recall that she had been grinning. She was turning away from him; the movement lifted the short-cut hair in seeming slow-motion, moving it up and away from her like strips of ribbon on a fast carousel. A halo of water droplets escaped the brown tendrils and caught the afternoon sun life dozens of transparent pearls. The pearls arced away from the girl and fell in a perfect circle. Water ran down brown legs from the rolled up overalls, her knobby little knees bent, her body leaned out slightly, tanned arms lifted, and her knees began to straighten. And he’d remember how fast the grin changed to something else.

From 2/3’s through in Wedgewood Grey:

Ceedie stepped close and took the jacket from him. “Put your arm in here, then stand still.” She got him jacketed by standing on her tiptoes. When he was dressed, she patted his good arm and momentarily set the stability of his knees back twenty-four hours when she locked eyes with him. “You stay calm, now, an’ be nice to the other children.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The special attention caused his cheeks to use blood he couldn’t spare.

See you tomorrow for the conclusion…

Writing Dissection – Part One

I am continuing a discussion brought on by the book of the week for the CFBA blog tour, Wedgewood Grey, and its prequel, Abiding Darkness. I am not the greatest writer or editor in the world, but I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately, as well as trying to study the craft of fiction. I thought it could be informative to dissect a couple of passages from these books by John Aubrey Anderson.

There are three factors about these books that have drawn my focus over the last two weeks. One is the spiritual message that has greatly encouraged me, but that is a different discussion. The other two are 1) the delightful use of language to paint the setting of rural Mississippi and 2) the great characters that are brought to life by said language. I’ve enjoyed the story presented in his books, but I’ve also tried to pick out the aspects that fuel the entertainment.

I’ve chosen two passages, one from each book, to look at and see how it contributes to what I’ve mentioned above. I’ll quote them without context, and leave this post there. Tomorrow I’ll come back to them and present what I see out of them. If anyone has any comments regarding the passages, please share in the comments and I’ll bring that into the discussion.

From early in Abiding Darkness:

Every day for the rest of his life, he would recall that she had been grinning. She was turning away from him; the movement lifted the short-cut hair in seeming slow-motion, moving it up and away from her like strips of ribbon on a fast carousel. A halo of water droplets escaped the brown tendrils and caught the afternoon sun life dozens of transparent pearls. The pearls arced away from the girl and fell in a perfect circle. Water ran down brown legs from the rolled up overalls, her knobby little knees bent, her body leaned out slightly, tanned arms lifted, and her knees began to straighten. And he’d remember how fast the grin changed to something else.

From 2/3’s through in Wedgewood Grey:

Ceedie stepped close and took the jacket from him. “Put your arm in here, then stand still.” She got him jacketed by standing on her tiptoes. When he was dressed, she patted his good arm and momentarily set the stability of his knees back twenty-four hours when she locked eyes with him. “You stay calm, now, an’ be nice to the other children.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The special attention caused his cheeks to use blood he couldn’t spare.

See you tomorrow for the conclusion…

Author Interview – John Aubrey Anderson


In continuing to highlight Wedgewood Grey, the latest book from John Aubrey Anderson, he was gracious enough to give an interview to some young’n’ blogging up in Idaho.

As his bio says, he was an airline pilot for many years. Doesn’t he just look like one here?

Either tomorrow or Saturday I want to post a couple of snippets from both of his books and talk a little about why the particular sections seemed to work, in my opinion. Please check back and add your comments to the discussion! And now, Mr. Anderson please:

1. How long did it take for the story of the Black or White Chronicles to formulate in your head? What was the process for putting it on the page?

There is no reason why anyone should believe this, but tracking the process behind the writing of these stories could not have been done with a Cray computer. But . . . My first and only effort regarding fiction was a two thousand word story I did for our girls twenty years ago . . . a little thing about choices.

In 1997, I pulled that little story out with plans to wrap it around the gospel. I had in mind using it as an evangelistic tool with a non-Christian friend of ours. I found myself “backstorying” in an effort to “set up” my little scene from the short story. Then, in November of 2002, I woke up to find myself surrounded by two or three hundred thousand words. . .and questions about how to get a novel published.

2. Are there any writing tips that you found valuable in writing WG and AD?
Absolutely. Go to a writers’ conference and learn how to get yourstory organized before you start.

And on a more serious note: Think less of being a writer and more of writing. From a time standpoint, this is the most demanding job I’ve ever job I’ve ever had; one person said, “It’s like having homework for the rest of your life.”

A writer does not have time to plan for future fame . . . he/she has to be writing and rewriting.

3. Are there any plans for a project after the release of Book 3 in The Black or White Chronicles?
God willing, this series will run for six books. After that I’d like to do a devotional book for men. Following the devotional . . . I just can’t say.

4. What type of feedback have you heard from readers regardingspiritual issues in the book?
What I’ve heard has been interesting to say the least. Mostly, I hear from readers who have encountered setbacks that were, in their eyes, obviously demonic in origin . . . usually having to do with interpersonal relationships.

5. What has been your favorite “author moment” so far in your career?
I went to my first-ever writers’ conference, with my first-everproposal, and made an appointment with my first-ever editor. I was carrying a 3-by-5 card and a cup of coffee when I arrived for our talk.

When I sat down, he smiled and said, “Brother, you’re way too laid back.”

I smiled back and told him what we both knew. “I’m not in charge of whether or not this book gets published, and frankly, neither are you. I just came to this conference hoping to trim the odds against me down to about ten-thousand to one.”

He said, “Well, I’ve read your stuff, and you’re sitting on about fifty-fifty.”

THE BLACK OR WHITE CHRONICLES were born right then, right there.

I had heard the words I needed to hear, and I was ready to go home. For the next three days of the conference, at each meal, I had to restrain myself from grabbing the PA away from the conference host and yelling, “Would y’all please vote me off this island.”

Author Interview – John Aubrey Anderson


In continuing to highlight Wedgewood Grey, the latest book from John Aubrey Anderson, he was gracious enough to give an interview to some young’n’ blogging up in Idaho.

As his bio says, he was an airline pilot for many years. Doesn’t he just look like one here?

Either tomorrow or Saturday I want to post a couple of snippets from both of his books and talk a little about why the particular sections seemed to work, in my opinion. Please check back and add your comments to the discussion! And now, Mr. Anderson please:

1. How long did it take for the story of the Black or White Chronicles to formulate in your head? What was the process for putting it on the page?

There is no reason why anyone should believe this, but tracking the process behind the writing of these stories could not have been done with a Cray computer. But . . . My first and only effort regarding fiction was a two thousand word story I did for our girls twenty years ago . . . a little thing about choices.

In 1997, I pulled that little story out with plans to wrap it around the gospel. I had in mind using it as an evangelistic tool with a non-Christian friend of ours. I found myself “backstorying” in an effort to “set up” my little scene from the short story. Then, in November of 2002, I woke up to find myself surrounded by two or three hundred thousand words. . .and questions about how to get a novel published.

2. Are there any writing tips that you found valuable in writing WG and AD?
Absolutely. Go to a writers’ conference and learn how to get yourstory organized before you start.

And on a more serious note: Think less of being a writer and more of writing. From a time standpoint, this is the most demanding job I’ve ever job I’ve ever had; one person said, “It’s like having homework for the rest of your life.”

A writer does not have time to plan for future fame . . . he/she has to be writing and rewriting.

3. Are there any plans for a project after the release of Book 3 in The Black or White Chronicles?
God willing, this series will run for six books. After that I’d like to do a devotional book for men. Following the devotional . . . I just can’t say.

4. What type of feedback have you heard from readers regardingspiritual issues in the book?
What I’ve heard has been interesting to say the least. Mostly, I hear from readers who have encountered setbacks that were, in their eyes, obviously demonic in origin . . . usually having to do with interpersonal relationships.

5. What has been your favorite “author moment” so far in your career?
I went to my first-ever writers’ conference, with my first-everproposal, and made an appointment with my first-ever editor. I was carrying a 3-by-5 card and a cup of coffee when I arrived for our talk.

When I sat down, he smiled and said, “Brother, you’re way too laid back.”

I smiled back and told him what we both knew. “I’m not in charge of whether or not this book gets published, and frankly, neither are you. I just came to this conference hoping to trim the odds against me down to about ten-thousand to one.”

He said, “Well, I’ve read your stuff, and you’re sitting on about fifty-fifty.”

THE BLACK OR WHITE CHRONICLES were born right then, right there.

I had heard the words I needed to hear, and I was ready to go home. For the next three days of the conference, at each meal, I had to restrain myself from grabbing the PA away from the conference host and yelling, “Would y’all please vote me off this island.”