Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Review: Love Amid the Ashes

Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews is the story of Job from a fresh angle. This is Andrew's first novel. As with her later books, we see the Biblical content elaborated upon with how things might have been and the result is a gripping story that will continually surprise you.

Here we find Dinah, the shamed daughter of Patriarch Jacob, in a place many of us never suspected to find her-- thrust into the midst of Job's struggles. Nobody knows exactly when Job's story took place and at the end of her book Andrews does offer backup for the decision to intertwine these two biblical figures. Whether Dinah and Job lived at the same time, here we find a heartbreaking and ultimately satisfying story of redemption and faithfulness in the midst of the most unimaginable struggles.

Job and Dinah start their journey together after the death of her grandfather Isaac who arranged for Dinah to wed Job's son. From there we begin to encounter an interesting and endearing cast of characters and many twists and turns along the way. Mesu's telling of Job's suffering is not for the faint of heart, yet it lends a realness to the struggles of this man who once lived and breathed and suffered, then rose from the ashes victorious. I do not claim to agree every piece of doctrine presented in this story nor the portrayal of certain characters (especially Jacob), but as fiction I found it to be a satisfying read.

I first discovered Mesu Andrews through Blogging for Books, but have sense continued to acquire her novels for the sheer pleasure of reading. She is a gifted storyteller who seldom disappoints.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Five Es of Writing

If my writing doesn't have purpose beyond simply to entertain, then I feel I have failed myself. This has often led me to give up on projects, because I wonder, "What message does this really convey? Is it valuable? Does it have substance?"

So in recent contemplation, I discovered that my goal and guidepost in writing is to bear in mind the five Es: Encouragement, Enlightenment, Edification, Entertainment, and Endearment.


This is paramount. I never want somebody to walk away from one of my books feeling discouraged or depressed. I want stories that build up and inspire us to be better people. This doesn't mean sad things can't happen along the way, or even that an ending can't be bitter-sweet, but overall I want a resounding ripple of good cheer to reverberate from my pages.


I love teaching and as I research for my books I often learn things that I am excited to share with others. I want you to be smarter when you've finished reading my stories, just as I hopefully come out a little brighter after writing them.


This perhaps works hand-in-hand with encouragement, but with the idea that you've received some nugget of wisdom from my writing in a palatable and pleasant form. I want to help people introspect and adjust because of the lessons my characters have learned.


As a fiction writer, entertainment is important to me. It's never my only aim, but certainly a big part of it-- not only to entertain, but to do so in a clean and honest way that does not have to exaggerate, but helps us see the wit and humor in everyday situations. Life is richer with laughter.


I want people to remember my characters, to sympathize with them, to befriend them. May I never write a boring character- even if boring is a part of that character's character!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything I endeavor to put into my writing, nor is this to serve as a guide to all; it is merely a personal and ever-evolving guideline.

What we project as artists says a lot about us and what is most important to us. What we "put out there" is our voice to the world. Popular culture is a sad reflection of what matters to most of the world. What about you? In writing, or even in life, what do you hope to project to others?