Shameless   2 comments

My wife is shameless, I’ve realized.

Hi, this is Brad posting, by the way.

Lela and I have been having a conversation with a friend about shame versus guilt in 21 century America and, in the course, of that conversation, I’ve realized that Lela won’t be shamed into changing her mind about almost anything. I, on the other hand ….

One of the things you learn in 12 Step work is that we alcoholics (addicts of any sort, really) filter everything through a lens of shame. This is often described to me as feeling you’re not adequate or being embarrassed by where you come from or your past. Guilt is said to grow out of shame, but I’ve always felt that wasn’t quite right because having a conscience is not, in my opinion, a bad thing. It’s what the Christian group the Newsboys called “a circuit judge.” When someone doesn’t feel guilt, they can justify anything. Guilt keeps us from doing all kinds of horrible things to our neighbors.

Mark, a friend who holds a PhD in psychology, a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Christian Counseling, asked us to read a manuscript he’s working on about shame and guilt in the 21st century. I think we’re what Lela calls “alpha readers.” It’s changed my view (no shame needed) on guilt and shame and it’s made me understand my wife better.

Guilt is an awareness of failure against a standard. Shame is a sense of failure before the eyes of someone else.

Christian should be aware of our failure against God’s standards. Paul explained the struggle of Christians who desire to do God’s will, but find their flesh weak. All Christians should be examining themselves against God’s standard and asking “Do I represent my Savior in the way that He has asked to be represented?”

Shame is our fear of the censure of our social group, what Mark describes as our tribe. Some tribes raise their off-spring with more fear of letting down the group than others do. My tribe — very shame-based. Lela’s tribe … apparently not so much.

To a certain extent there is nothing wrong with shame. It’s been 21 years now since my church disfellowshipped me to force me to look at who I had become and just shy of 20 years since they, upon my repentance, forgave me and let me back in. That “shaming and shunning” saved my life and my marriage. So, in some ways, I’m a fan of shame, which on occasion has taken the place of guilt for me. I didn’t feel guilty for my behavior back then and, if I ever started to, I quickly got drunk so I would stop feeling that way. Shame was necessary to bring me to repentance.

But back to my wife. You have no idea how much she loves people and wants them to come to the Lord. A part of that for her is being honest with the gospel and striving always to live up to the standard God set. She’s not perfect, but very few women would have taken me back after the things that I did both to her and out in the world. What always amazes me, when we’re disagreeing and I bring up the past to hurt her, she doesn’t do it back to me. She walks the talk of Romans 8:1 — “There is no condemnation” though I know sometimes it isn’t her first instinct.

Our daughter has a T-shirt that reads “I Am Not Ashamed — Romans 1:16). I can see why non-Christians want Christians to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ and will chip away at the edges of it until we have nothing left of the gospel to not be ashamed of. That’s the world obeying its father and we shouldn’t be surprised. That Christians allow themselves to be silenced by the world’s shaming saddens me but it doesn’t really surprise me. The apostles had already seen it happen by the close of the New Testament.

What does surprise me is the Christians today seeking to make other Christians ashamed of parts of the Bible because … well, you tell me?

Are you ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ? You know you can’t have it both ways, right? Right now, you reject the second half of Romans Chapter 1 and the world applauds you. What are you going to do when they demand you shed Romans 10 or John 3:16? You see, when you deem God’s gospel to be up for interpretation, you expose it to serious erosion and pretty soon, none of it means anything at all. The world is looking for that opportunity and you’re giving it to them on a silver platter. Congratulations!

Do you deem friendship with the world so valuable that you will represent God falsely? Do you think that will somehow make the gospel more palatable to them? It won’t! (James 4:4)

Do you honestly think something will quit being a sin after you’ve stopped defining it as a sin? (Romans 6:1) You have no understanding God if you do.

Before you accused me of trying to shame you, think seriously about God’s standard and whether you might be guilty of failure against it.

While you’re doing that, maybe you should read this book of the Bible and see if you really know God like you say you do.


Posted July 3, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Hot or Not? All you need to know about global warming.   Leave a comment


What an insightful and balanced report! See, you can find intelligent life on Twitter!

Originally posted on On my way to...:

For nearly three decades now, climate change has been a hot topic of an ongoing public debate. The debate itself evolved, starting with cries of imminent doom for all mankind in the late 1980’s, through tales of unprecedented, unforeseeable, and unstoppable wild weather incidents (storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.) at the turn of the centuries, to be finally hushed by a global economy crisis of 2008, when humanity discovered other threats to its well-being. With the crisis more or less over, the climate change debate reemerged in a more civilised form of real scientific arguments and long-term government policies, ceasing to be merely a popular bandwagon of easy publicity for celebrities and a lucrative fundraiser for numerous NGOs.

Being 35, I am a representative of the first “ecologically conscious” generation. Regardless of our personal viewpoint of the matter, either demonising or dismissing the human impact on the long-term, global climate processes…

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Posted July 2, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

World Building 101   Leave a comment

Have you ever wondered how the speculative fiction greats created their realistic fantasy worlds? Me, too.

Yes, I’m a fantasy author, but I stand in awe of writers like JRR Tolkein, Katharine Kerry, Brandon Sanderson and Kate Elliott in their ability to make the magical seem real.

Some of them have been kind enough to blog about how they do it and I have learned a lot from that, which I now pass on to you.

The world we live in is magical. You may not realize that because it seems to familiar, but creating a fantasy world means building a world based upon reality and making sure that the reader knows the rules of that world. For readers to accept and continue to read a story, the write must make them believe in the world the characters inhabit. Characters must remain true to the rules of that world throughout the story for readers to accept what is happening to them.

  1. R. R. Tolkien depicted Middle Earth as a world so real that it has become a classic upon which so many others are based. Tolkien created Middle-earth, the lovable hobbits, the psychic elves and the irrepressible dwarves with incredible description and attention to details. The story contains all the elements of a traditional fantasy — a bumbling hero, an enchanted talisman, dark magic versus the good wizard, and an quest. It’s the gold standard in fantasy fiction.

How to attain something similar in your own writing? It’s not magic. I know I don’t have a wand. I did, however, study about how the greats created worlds their readers readily accepted.

The setting must be believable.

  • Characters should dress appropriately for the period and culture.
  • Weapons must be appropriate to the world.
  • If magic is involved, the writer should define the rules of magic and stick with them throughout their tale.

That looks like a perfect table of contents for a series, so see you next week.

Interview with Joshua Jacobs   1 comment

josh0Today’s interview is with Joshua Jacobs, author of The Withering, a fantastic YA dystopian. Joshua was one of my favorite authors on the Authonomy writers website, so I’ve been watching for him to publish for some time. Welcome to the blog, Josh. Tell us something about yourself. 

By day, I teach History and English to a bunch of crazy, loveable 8th graders who probably do more to educate me than I do them. By night, I enjoy nothing more than a relaxing night with my fiancée drinking a beer, watching a movie, or having a shopping cart race. I spend my days with a deliberate but sometimes spontaneous balance between work and play.

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always had an overactive imagination, so as soon as I could string a few words together I was writing stories. I still remember elementary school when I wrote a story about my best friends going trick-or-treating on Halloween. I think half of us died in the end, which might explain why some of my stories nowadays are so dark.

What’s Halloween without a few scares? Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Anywhere I can! I’ve found that the older I get, the harder it is to develop a good idea for a story. As for tone, theme, and writing style, I would say whichever author I’m reading at the moment is the author who inspires me the most. I tend to write similarly to whatever it is I’m reading. As a result, I try to stick to one author while I’m in the process of writing a novel.

What are you passionate about?

My job, my family, and every Arizona sports team. And hot wings. My week isn’t complete until I’ve had my first dozen.

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

I like to read many different genres, but mostly, I limit myself to whatever genre I’m writing in at the moment. I spend a lot of time reading young adult, fantasy, horror, and science fiction with a sprinkling of realistic fiction to keep me grounded.

What point of view do you prefer to write, and why?

I love writing in first person. It comes much more naturally for me, and I find it easier to tap into a character’s mind/personality. The Withering, however, is in third person, which is one of the main reasons it took me so long to write!

I really liked The Withering in its beta version on Authonomy. What sort of research do you do for your novels?

As little as possible. I love learning, especially about history, but not when I have to learn and not when it means I have to stop the writing process to conduct research. One of my friends once suggested I write historical fiction, since I teach History. I considered it for about thirty seconds before quickly reminding him that he was out of his mind.

When you are not writing, what do you do?

I spend a lot of my time working out/running. I coach Cross Country and Track and Field at my school. I also enjoy reading, watching movies, playing games, going to new places, and trying new things. I’m never one to be bored.

TWoA2What is something you cannot live without?

Exercise! It’s my therapist, my life coach, my diet. It keeps me healthy and sane. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer? Why?

I’ve done both, but in recent years, I’ve become an outliner. I’ve found the finished work is always more coherent and better developed. I’ve also learned that the story really develops and takes shape apart from the outline as I progress, which gives me structure but also allows me some freedom with the plot and characters.  I remember my first novel was written without an outline and it ended up being close to 400 pages and had so many subplots that didn’t link together that by the end I’m pretty sure I left about half of them unresolved. It might work for some people, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

The Broken OnesI’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Sounds like a perfect opportunity to write a novel. Probably a horror novel, given the setting. I’d bring plenty of Stephen King books for inspiration. Oh, and I’d do lots and lots of exploring!

Talk about your books individually.

The Withering, my only published novel, follows Alice Issaacs who lives in a world destroyed by a plague called the Withering. The disease begins with a horrible black mark that quickly spreads, consuming the body within days. Alice has had the mark for two years now and it hasn’t spread. Now she’s on the run from a group that believes she is responsible for starting the disease. It’s available for purchase as an ebook through Amazon’s publishing imprint, Kindle Press.

My other two novels I hope to one day publish are The Words of Adriel and The Broken Ones. The Words of Adriel is about Blake Matthews, trouble-maker extraordinaire, who discovers a book that grants wishes. Through a series of unfortunate events, he learns that the book is possessed by a demon, and that this isn’t the first time someone in his family has used the book for personal gain. He works to uncover the mystery behind the book, but with every wish, the demon grows stronger.

Finally, The Broken Ones takes place in the future. People have evolved beyond emotions. Society is controlled by Rationals, people without emotions who only do things for logical reasons, and the world works like a well-oiled machine. If one is born an Emotional, he/she is quickly eliminated by the System to guarantee society continues to function in its most efficient way. Penny and her family are Emotionals who have eluded the System for years and live amongst the Rationals, until one day her secret gets out.

Joshua JacobsWas it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

Not really. My only real goal when I begin a story is to entertain the reader. If I can get you to keep turning pages, that’s all that really matters to me. However, I do find that every novel I’ve ever written ends up having multiple messages/themes that pertain to everyday life. This probably happens because I try to make my characters and their experiences realistic, and real life is packed full of lessons just waiting to be learned.

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

You just hit the key to writing a successful novel with that question. It doesn’t matter what readers think or feel throughout a novel. What matters is that they think or feel anything at all. I teach my students that writing is about manipulating the reader. It sounds horrible, I know, but it’s true. If you can get your reader to feel any sort of emotion (anger, sadness, joy, etc), then you’ve done your job. What do I want my readers to think and feel after reading one of my books? Anything! Anything at all! If they aren’t thinking or feeling, I haven’t done my job.

Where can we find your books and other writings?




MMB Open Book Blog   Leave a comment

Originally posted on aurorawatcherak:

PictureDo you like to read? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the MMB Open Book Blog Hop each Wednesday and we will tell all. Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the Blog on this site, I’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask questions in the comment box.

If you are stopping by author Christine Ardigo has shared her favorite recipes with you. Thank you, Paula, for the great introduction. Folks should check out her blog by clicking the hyperlink.
This is my inaugural post for the MMB Open Book Blog Hop. My friend Patti Fiala invited me to join.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK!  Food, share a recipe or two and why you love it. Where did you get the recipe or…

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Posted July 1, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

This week’s interview is with another debut novelist Joshua Jacobs, who is a long-time Authonomy friend.

MMB Open Book Blog   2 comments

PictureDo you like to read? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the MMB Open Book Blog Hop each Wednesday and we will tell all. Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the Blog on this site, I’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask questions in the comment box.

If you are stopping by author Christine Ardigo has shared her favorite recipes with you. Thank you, Paula, for the great introduction. Folks should check out her blog by clicking the hyperlink.
This is my inaugural post for the MMB Open Book Blog Hop. My friend Patti Fiala invited me to join.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK!  Food, share a recipe or two and why you love it. Where did you get the recipe or from whom?

It’s somewhat fitting that it’s about recipes. My father was a professional chef and my mom was a diner waitress, so I grew up in a restaurant kitchen. Hamburgers were the family dinner as well as the family business.

I don’t cook like my folks did, but I thank them for instilling an adventuresome culinary spirit in me.

Here is my family’s favorite dish — Burmese Chicken Curry, courtesy of a friend (Barbara) who was a missionary there. We like it because it is a milder curry that allows us to enjoy some spice without overwhelming our pallets.


2 to 2 1/2 lbs Chicken deboned and skin removed*

3 small onions, chopped fine or grated

2 clove of garlic, minced

3 T soy sauce

2 tsp chile powder or cayenne pepper

1 tsp tumeric or curry powder

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp powdered ginger


1/2 cup vegetable or peanut oil*

1 cup water


Combine chicken, onions, garlic, soy sauce and seasonings in a sauce pan. Coat the chicken in mixture. Saute until lightly browned. Stir in oil and water. Cover and cook over medium heat until chicken is tender – about 1/2 hour.


Side Dishes

We like carrots with this dish. You can do them a variety of ways — buttered, mildly curried, or bronzed. My favorite is lightly buttered, then lightly coated in a mixture of cinnamon and ground ginger.


While the curry is simmering, prepare rice — about 1/2 cup dry for each serving. I like medium grain white because it cooks quickly, but you can use brown rice if you prefer the taste. Add the rice to cold water and then bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes on low. This will give you the nice sticky consistence of Asian rice.


* You can make this dish with a variety of meats. Turkey and pork will work and we have used game bird and beaver meat.

*Peanut oil is not a requirement. Any oil with a fairly high smoke point is good — I’ve tried saffalo, vegetable and seseme oil. Olive oil imparts an unwelcome taste to this dish. Peanut oil provides the flavor without adding peanut butter which we tried and liked.


If you really like desert with dinner, aim for fresh fruit.


Wow, I need to make that this weekend. It’s been a while. What are you cooking? What are some of your favorite recipes? Don’t forget to stop by and visit author Kelly Williams. I wonder what she’s cooking up.

Posted July 1, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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