I’ve been waiting quite awhile to announce that I’ll be attending the fall writing retreat at Laity Lodge, and that’s been hard to hide since it’s such big news.
Why did I wait to announce it? Because until this last Tuesday, I didn’t know if I was even going… And that uncertainty was after I had registered, paid to go and even bought an airline ticket… The hold-up?
I had a major commitment beginning the same night that the retreat began … and that commitment would continue for the days following… I simply failed to realize the two coincided…
Mea culpa… Mea maxima culpa.
Thankfully my gracious boss rescheduled everything, allowing me to go… There were other reasons for the new schedule, and that helped, but I am still very appreciative for his understanding. Especially considering that my writing is a hobby, rightfully taking second place to my day job, which I enjoy.
So what is this writing retreat? Nothing less than three days spent in a small class of ten taught by Jeffrey Overstreet, author of Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and the upcoming The Ale Boy’s Feast.
And the kicker? Stephen R. Lawhead will also be there the whole time, and I’m scheduled ot have a 45 minute appointment with him to go over my writing.
Big Wow. Stephen Lawhead is the author that redeemed fantasy fiction for me.
I grew up as a non-Christian, reading lots of fantasy and science-fiction… I also played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, even starting a club in my junior high school… When I became a Christian in ninth grade I left it all behind, auctioning off all my D&D equipment and books.
My friends thought I was nuts, but I was in love with Jesus Christ, and D&D had taken me down some bad paths.
Fourteen years later (married to my wonderful wife, Robin, with two kids), enter Stepehn Lawhead and his excellent Paradise War, book 1 of The Song of Albion.
This was, and is, Christian Fantasy at its best.
Everything changed for me. Amazed, I saw in his writing how fantasy could communicate spiritual truths in ways a sermon could not.
I also began to percieve afresh the Christian literary legacy of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, the latter to which I indirectly owe my salvation.
But it would still be another ten years before I picked up my own quill, having read Stephen Lawhead’s excellent Pendragon Cycle and his other books in the meantime.
In a flash of inspiration one night lying in bed, a story came to me that has now become Merlin’s Blade:
Why would someone thrust a sword into a stone?
What if the stone itself was the darkest enemy?
And to top it off, I would have missed the whole retreat and not even known about it if not for a tip from Tegid… All I can do is say “Thanks, Tegid” for letting me know about the retreat and SRL’s presence there, as well as for your encouragement to me as a writer… A dream coming true!
Besides fiction writing, there will be courses on poetry, song-writing, and non-fiction spiritual writing. Stephen Lawhead’s wife, Alice will also be team-teaching on the business and personal sides of life as a writer.
I hope to meet Marcus Goodyear in person, who helped plan the retreat. So Marcus, if you’re going to be there (and I assume you will), I’m actually, actually coming… the Lord still willing, of course.
So there you have it … my two mystery authors:
- Jeffrey Overstreet, and
- Stephen Lawhead
I have no clue if they’ll have any time to look at the copy of Merlin’s Blade I will offer, but that is in the Lord’s hands.
I’m just grateful for the opportunity to learn from them how to improve my writing!