Christ's Glory, Not Mine

Devotions, advice, and book reviews from science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

A Brief on Homosexuality

How many of us have chosen which temptations our flesh is drawn toward? We’re all born sinners. What any of us chose is to walk in the sin and to embrace that tendency as an important-to-us piece of our identity. That is a difficult stronghold to break, whatever the sin is, and it can make it not feel at all like a choice.

Disrespecting someone’s feelings is not an effective way to persuade them. Do we feel the need to ram it down every sinner’s throat that their feelings are wrong and they choose to give in to sin, even if they didn’t choose to desire it? Do we always act like it should be easy to choose to break a stronghold and choose to go free?

We shouldn’t go to the opposite extreme of simply making people comfortable and happy on the way to Hell, either. We do need to speak the truth in love, but let’s try not to forget the love. The only thing as grievous as the false teachings that “lovingly” validate sin are when the Church sounds as hateful as we’re accused of being.

If someone takes what I said personal (it isn’t) and feels a need to go off, vent to the Lord, thanks. Peace to you all.


Shortest Modesty Article

Do I personally wear long underwear? Why, yes, I do, but not as an outer garment. If another lady feels comfortable prancing around in pants that look like underwear to me, though, I figure I should leave that between her and God. It took God’s conviction to change my heart before I changed my mind and behavior on wardrobe issues, after all.

 

Let’s modestly stop the backbiting and the attacking one another for differing personal convictions and live at peace.

Twitter version:


Writers’ Blog Hop Week 4 – Lifelong Learning

To ask me to blog about lifelong learning is virtually the same thing as asking me blog about my approach to research. That is about the most organized way it works for me. At any given moment, the burning questions of my heart, and the topics I’m curiously interested in learning about, have a way of ending up in the novel I’m writing at the time, assuming I’m not busy with editing.

I’ll admit I have strong pantser tendencies and with them comes an arguably bad habit of getting started writing before I’ve done all the necessary research that project will require. This forces me to stop writing at the point where winging it won’t cut it and look up the information I need to continue.

Like a lot of us, I go to google.com first and try to get my information from websites that appear to be credible. For instance, in writing about Mars, I’ve been spending far more time than normal at NASA’s website. When writing about cancer, I go to credible medical websites like webmd.com and others that doctors recommend. My search history lately would have someone worried that I think I have a brain tumor.

Since it is the 2080s in the novel I was writing at the time I wrote this article, I’ve also had to dig into what medical tech is in development/research to create a believable fictive dream of how technology might make things better for future patients than it is for the friends with cancer that I keep up with on Facebook.

Another website that has proved surprisingly useful to me for research is Pinterest.com. The “Saved Blog Posts” board is a mix of pins of my stuff and others articles that I found interesting and decided to save for later. The “Books” board is likewise a mix of my books, others books that looked interesting at the moment, and pins with tips related to writing books.

I have two boards devoted to pins specifically related to research. The board labeled “Research” is for articles I’ve found useful as I was actually writing. The other, “The Future is Here” is for pins related to current tech developments that I either think might be useful to me in future works or I think it could lead to the tech and the gadgets found in my completed works.

Mind you, not everything I come across as I research a topic for my book ends up on one of my Pinterest boards. The Research board is more like a small sampling of the data I’ve actually been feeding my intuitive brain with as I write.

This is the last week of the blog hop, so we should get back to normal around here soon. Not that normal usually describes me. :)

To see the other contributions to the blog hop, check out Ruth Snyder’s blog.


Writer’s Blog Hop Week 3: Favorite Character

Sorry for being so late, I get a little scatterbrained when I’m deep into writing a novel. Okay, I get a lot scatterbrained. My all time favorite character (from my own novels anyway) has several aliases so I’ll just give you what would be on his star on the 22nd century walk of fame if its still around: Sander the AI. I’ve already interviewed him, and that’s character profile enough, though. Likewise, I’ve never decided who my favorite character is from either real life or my personal library. Even if I had, that would feel a bit too much like high school.

In some ways, I’ve always been the sort of author where every new baby is her favorite. We usually choose our favorite character as the protagonist and the protagonist as the person who tells the story. The short novel I’m writing as of this posting date is tentatively titled Life After Mars? and is told by the Fowler fraternal twins, Gloria and Federica (who are unwittingly playing a prank on the reader.) The sister who answers to Gloria is the heroine and her twin the sidekick helping her tell her story for the simple reason that Gloria faces the most danger. Of course, her twin would argue that the risk of losing your twin is a higher stake than the risk of losing your own life.

Both twelve-year-old girls are curious about romantic love, but they are looking for a daddy to be their story’s hero. Their search, and the health problem, gets the attention of their actual father, Peyton Fowler, Commander of Apricot Pond. (Roughly compares to being a duke or a governor.) He begins fighting for his children’s hearts, to keep his gravely ill daughter alive, and must continue to protect them from his aristocratic world, which has refused to let him leave it.

I’ll admit, as much as the sisters have stolen my heart, their father is a surprise favorite in their story for me. It is a surprise as, when we first meet him, he seems far more likely to betray and antagonize his daughters than to be a hero they can trust enough to root for him, and fight along side him in their own tween-girl ways.

The fathers in my stories are often cold abusers, absent, or loving men of god almost too much like Christ to be real. Peyton is a deeply flawed man–his past mistakes contribute heavily to the problems he and his family are facing, and he has neglected his children, however valid his reasons for being disengaged may or may not be. Yet he’s also a sincere Pilgrim who fled the City of Destruction and left behind his parents, aunt and uncle, his ex-fiancee, and most of their Mars colony’s military-aristocracy.

In the natural, he has been forced back into his military-aristocrat world and had his civilian life with the Cruzes taken from him. The Cruzes are humble homesteaders who adopted him at sixteen by giving him their daughter in marriage. His birth family wants to see their will for his life done: for their heir to govern in the worldly way they govern and to get remarried, to the bride they’d chosen for him.

He feels called to remain faithful to his first wife and to govern as a Christian servant-leader. He struggles with how to do that in practice, and it’s illegal for him to stay married to his civilian wife after he’s been drafted. The threat of painful consequences for his family has often led him to fall into his corrupt birth culture’s practices, like lying, two-facedness, negative secrets, and bribery.

He’s had a tempting-to-hate Proverbs 31 wife’s counsel for years. In their relationship, Marisol Cruz is symbolic of the Holy Spirit and he is the struggling Christian. She’s encouraged him in the faith and helped him govern better. Yet it is his children who most inspire him to stop hiding the truth of who he is, to be honest about what he believes, and live according to God’s word at any cost.

Trouble is, it is also the consequences to his children that most inspires in him a crippling fear of faithfully following Christ’s way of the cross. He has such a critical decision to make here, he could be seen as the true hero of the novel. His daughters are more interesting narrators and arguably have the most to lose, but it could be said I’ve given the hero two young Watsons and had them tell his story, along with their own story as my twin heroines.

Right now, I’m planning to tell Life After Mars? in two volumes. I’m close to the end of the first and expect it to be 50-55,000 words. It will be a prequel series to the Web Surfer Series and meant to be lighter reading and more suitable for younger readers, though parents would need to screen it for appropriateness for their child. Ahead of the release of the Web Surfer novels, we’re releasing ten short “episodes.” The first three are out on Amazon, including “Regeneration.

If you’re here for the blog hop, go see the participants’ list on Ruth Snyder’s blog.


Writer’s Blog Hop Week 2: Sample

Here is a sneak peak at the sci-fi story I’m writing. It’s more in the tradition of Ender’s Game than true Middle Grade. I am making efforts to be kid-friendly, but it’s not a safe world where adults can always protect kids from having to face difficult adult issues and may only be okay for kids whose worlds aren’t that way, either. To see links to other participants samples, check out Ruth Snyder’s blog.

Life After Mars Chapter One

Flashes of a claustrophobic white tube haunted the Martian pioneer girl. Gloria was playing Quarter Liter in her favorite cartoon. Virtual reality was getting so good, the Old West frontier town’s empty street looked almost as real as the videos of Earth. She should be watching one at school with her sister. Instead she was at the hospital clear in the New Plymouth sector of Xanthe Outpost.

It was normal for her head to hurt a little. Why would it hurting a lot get her sent to a tourist trap for Earthers with cancer? They came seeking miracles and got death instead.

Remnants of her headache throbbed despite the strong medicine that had been pumped into her veins. She squinted in Cartoon Earth’s strong sunlight and shook her head. That nightmare made no sense. What would make sense was skipping school to go play with Pa.

Her sister would be mad. This had to be coming out of her sister’s allowance. Federica—pronounced FE-de-RI-ca—somehow made her energy rations last all week. Gloria used up her energy rations in three days. Then she’d have to wait four long days before she could again run down the cartoon streets of nineteenth-century De Smet, North Dakota.

She’d skipped the forth Vast Prairie show, Apricot Pond, as her sector was named after it. Her sector was an oasis in a vast, freezing, deadly desert. An oasis under Plexiglas was a cage.

Pioneer girls weren’t made to be caged.

She and Federica would be dead long before their people won their battle to achieve a Mars with an atmosphere both plants and people could breathe. How could Federica stand the thought of living in a cage for their whole lives? Gloria gulped. The only scarier thought was having been shipped to the hospital in New Plymouth to die like the rich gringos.

If only it were Commander Peyton Fowler. Having two daughters by him got Ma the same energy rations as everyone else in Apricot Pond. The sisters did have bearing Peyton’s surname to thank for their allowances, but maybe energy would be unlimited if he were dead. Then she could be a Cruz like Ma.

She’d gotten way too old to daydream about Pa magically becoming real enough to marry Ma and adopt her and Federica. No, he’d still be only a virtual doll if he ever stopped giving her dumb error messages and moved to her early birthday present, augmented reality glasses. Pa ought to be able to use the military satellites to access Oceancast’s cloud server on Earth and give her a reason to use her present.

And Pa had once again proved he was a virtual doll by putting himself away when she stopped playing with him. She stomped her foot. “Pa!”
The computer loaded as a tall cartoon gringo—a man who wasn’t Hispanic. This one had pale skin, a scruffy black beard, a stripped pink shirt, and dark trousers worn with suspenders. His blue eyes had a permanent, most unnatural twinkle. “Could you please remind me where we are in your version of the show’s script?”

Grr. Stupid machine. She rolled her eyes. “We are at the part where you prove you are an inteligencia artificial rather than a máquina estúpida.”

Pa shifted his feet. “If you must know, this ‘stupid machine’ is a program. I am a self-aware actor being dragged into handling a customer service complaint. I wish you would accept ‘no’ already and let me get back to what I was made to do: entertain you with a VR show.”

Grr. Maquinas estupidas. “Play your role! Just do it from my new augmented reality glasses. They’re supposed to be less energy-consuming.” Plus Ma doesn’t care for the number of hours I spend with my head inside a virtual reality helmet. I shouldn’t mention her, though. She isn’t a part of his world. She glanced at her cartoon body. It had braided pigtails, and her sunbonnet hung down over her calico dress. Can Pa hear my thoughts? If I understand right, the VR works by the computer reading my mind while I’m asleep and influencing my dreams.

Pa nodded. “If you want us to talk telepathically, then play a show not set two hundred years ago. Unless my user insists, I am to refrain in settings where it doesn’t make logical sense.”

Ooh. She grinned. “Rewrite the show’s genre from historical to time travel.”

“Which role is the time traveler?”

“Me and Federica replaced Quarter Liter and her big sister when we were really nine. We’re twelve now.”

“Yes, you are now old enough for Vast Prairie: De Smet Part 1. You can replay it.”

“That’s nice. I want my requested script change to the third part of De Smet, please.”

Pa sighed. “To confirm, in the script, you stole the bodies of my oldest two daughters at the time you deleted my wife and my younger two daughters and made us move here early?”

“Yes, and now I have to move back home to my time, and I am offering to take you with me. With your lust for adventure, how could you possibly resist a new frontier to settle?”

“I wouldn’t without my wife around to insist we stay put in De Smet. However, I am still not sure that request is a legal operation in real life, Quarter Liter. One moment, please, while I try to call my maker. He lives on Earth, so please expect delays.” Pa froze for a long, long time.

She shrugged and ran off into a field beyond Main Street in long leaps. Cartoon wild flowers waved in the wind. She plucked some and began braiding them into a crown. She’d finished one for herself and one for her sister, too, before the computer’s avatar finally reloaded.

Pa beamed at her and puffed out his chest. “The government spybots managing the military satellites did generously permit me to use their bridges. I reached Oceancast’s cloud service and was able to get a software update. My shows are now playable in augmented reality, but the spybots instructed me to remind you that I am for entertainment purposes only.”

“And their point is?” She scrunched her brows.

“It is legal for me to make your virtual dolls move and speak for your amusement, but I can’t assist you with any other computing task. You’d need another kind of AI for that.”

If her system didn’t already have one, likely, it cost more energy than she got for her allowance. She squared her jaw. “Pa, we are pioneers! We make due with what we have.”

To see links to other participants samples, check out Ruth Snyder’s blog.