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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Supernatural: flickering lights, moving chairs, the power of love

The world (and by the world I don’t mean our Christianese word that means “the people who are going to hell in a hand basket”—whatever a hand basket is)—Let me start over…

The whole world is looking for the supernatural God of the Bible. I truly believe that. We want to hear what the prophets of old heard, we want to see miracles like Jesus and the disciples performed, and we want proof that God isn’t some mythical being filing his nails, with no interest in the creation he fashioned and forgot about.

It’s so obvious as we watch TV and peruse Amazon.com—the market is glutted with supernatural stories. Some from a reality perspective, some clearly fiction.

Some MY fiction.

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Warning: Shameless plug coming.

I wrote two metaphorical vampire novels for the Christian market. Both on the subject of generational family curses. The first one…alcoholism. The second: co-dependency.
And then there’s the new one. My favorite book I’ve ever written: The Widow of Saunders Creek. Which is selling well and getting the best reviews of my LIFE! Thanks to Jesus and everyone who is reading and liking it!
Shameless plug is now over….
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But here’s the thing. I’m the LEAST likely person to write scary stuff. Except maybe, Deb Raney, who, as she readily admits, might be a bigger fraidy cat than me.

When I was a kid and even into my oh…40s. (I’m 42), I was a huge scardy cat. One of the original members of the Big Honkin’ Chickens club—of which Deb is president, although I’m not sure we ever held an election.

I’ve seen a ton of supernatural stuff over the years. Some of it BS and worked up by Christians who are desperate to feel God and hear his voice, but most of it real and true works of a loving Holy Spirit who wants to speak to us and reveal the love of Christ. And set the captives free. Some of it violent, a powerful struggle between evil and love.

I honestly don’t know why God asked someone like me to write The Widow of Saunders Creek. When I wrote the proposal for it, I was alone in the house (DUMB) and as I started to walk downstairs to my laundry room, the stair lights –only--started flickering on a clear night. They never flickered before and haven’t done it since.
It made me kind of mad, so I pled the blood of Jesus, spoke out loud. “God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear but of power love and a sound mind” and forged ahead, wildly beating heart, shaking hands, determined to put in a load of towels and not let the devil scare me off.

Then there was the time when I was finishing up the rewrite, preparing for the book to go into production. I was writing a very intense scene where the “ghost” is sounding off and the heroine is about to be forced to run away or confront it, and my chair started moving. MOVING! Back and forth.

I did what any crazy Christian would do. I got mad and rebuked the demon. Then it had the audacity to move my chair again! Hey! Didn’t I just rebuke it? It’s supposed to go away in Jesus’ name. My confidence shaken—clearly I need more faith—I sat there a second or two trying to figure out what the heck I was supposed to do now. Running out of the house and driving to the peace of my mom’s home, came to mind. Also, giving my publisher back the money and finding a nice plot for an Amish novel seemed like a good idea.

Instead, I called out to my husband who was in the kitchen, and isn’t afraid of anything, least of all a demon. “Honey?” My Big Honkin’ Chicken voice trembled. “I think a demon just shook my chair. Twice. Will you come pray?” ☺

He stayed in the kitchen, calm and completely unaffected, which annoyed me a little, but I didn’t let it show, because perfect love casts out fear.

“Honey!!”

“Good grief, calm down. It was an earthquake. It shook the kitchen too.”

“Oh, thank God.”

Turns out, the Oklahoma City earthquake reached a five point something on the scale and we felt it all the way in Ozarks. (insert sheepish grin).

But writing about the supernatural from a Christian perspective is risky. Christians are scared of the topic and non Christians don’t want to believe the devil and demons are alive and well and kicking serious butt, while we sit back and let it happen.

In spite of my deep down knowing I was supposed to write another supernatural novel, I decided NO WAY. I’m done with all that. It’s too scary and I hate when my lights flicker and my chair moves and fear nearly chokes me. I convinced myself and my agent that God was leading me to go back to writing historicals. So I came up with a really super proposal (in my own mind it was super) worked on it for about six months, which really should have shown me that I was doing it on my own. When God gives me a story, it pops onto the page almost without effort. And we sent it out. I confidently sat back, waiting for all the contract offers to come in…only…YIKES, for the first time in my career, editors weren’t biting.

So after a few months, I turned back to the idea of a supernatural fiction book. I hadn’t been able to get it out of my head anyway, and thought…okay, sheesh, maybe I’m supposed to do this.

But as I finished up a chapter, fear shook me to my core once again. And I told my agent. I don’t think so… I have another idea, a better one. She said, “Okay, I’ll read anything you want to send me.” Her way of saying, “But don’t get your hopes up.”

So I drafted a chapter and a synopsis on a topic that is current and suspenseful, but not scary, and dashed it off to her, confident she would jump on it, be excited and we’d be back on course.

Only….I have an agent who is not only smart and savvy about the market, but ALSO tuned in to God’s heart and quite intuitive about her clients’ motives. So we had a phone conversation. And I recognized Michael Hyatt’s “How to say No” model of YES, NO, YES.

YES: Tracey, anything you write is good

NO: While this proposal is good, I think you should continue in the genre you’re writing (whoooosh, the sound of my balloon popping)

YES: I think you should consider this…

So we discussed why I wrote Widow and I said, I woke up in the middle of the night after forgetting to set the TV timer and Ghost Hunters was on. So I got mad about the lies of the devil on our beautiful world. In the morning I had the idea for Corrie’s story.

She asked, “What else makes you mad?”

Knowing she didn’t want to hear about my son’s filthy bedroom, or the puppy who keeps pooping on the floor, I said, “When Christians won’t love people who are bound by satan because they’re afraid of the supernatural.” Then I proceeded to tell her about another idea I’ve had rolling around in my head since I started working on The Widow of Saunders Creek.

About witchcraft and the person who is bound up by it and why they got into it in the first place and the person God sends to her to shine light in the darkness.

And Karen said, “oooooh.” Which loosely translated means, “Go back to the drawing board and send me a proposal for THAT one.”

And I thought, “Crap.”

So here’s the thing. The Bible says we will be faced with demonic situations. Jesus even said, “Cast out demons.” If we bury our heads in the sand and refuse to associate with and love those who are bound, how will we ever reach them for Jesus?

The people in darkness have seen a great light. Or have they?

Jesus was “moved with compassion” when he saw the sick, the lame, the bound. It’s my heart’s cry to be like him during these days on earth when the dark is getting darker. The light has to be lighter.

So, that’s why I am saying YES to God and continuing to write supernatural fiction despite the obstacles.

As I press forward, I’m keeping the lights on, guarding my heart, and writing what he says write. One day, the battle will be over, but until then, we don’t wrestle flesh and blood. If we don’t shine God’s truth and light into a deceived and dark generation, then no one will.

7 comments:

Karen B. said...

I'm sitting here laughing. This is great, Trace. Made my day.

Now, as they say...

Forward, into the fray!

Peace, friend.
Karen

Pepper said...

Wow, Tracey. I needed that! I've researched your supernatural books because I was pretty sure I was going cRAZY after I started writing my 'Christian' supernatural.
WHAT A RELIEF to know someone else struggled with the same "no Way" as me...and God said "Yes".
GREAT post and wonderful reminder of how God brings out His will for us in unexpected ways :-)
CONGRATS on your books!!!!

Nicole said...

Amen, sister. It's good to hear of those willing (yes, only because God keeps pushing us) to pursue Him even through the fearful and scary. To fight the good fight. To light up the darkness. You go, Girl. I'll pray for your revelation knowledge and spiritual power.

Tracey Bateman said...

Pepper (and OMG, is there a cooler name for an author??) I'm so glad I'm not in the fight alone. WRITE!
Nicole, thank you for those prayers! They make all the difference.
Karen...well, you know... :)

Deborah Raney said...

Tracey, as the standing, lifetime (and proud of it) president of the Big Honkin' Chicken Club® I will NEVER read your supernatural horror thriller novels. But this blog post rocked. : )

Mary-Louise said...

I would just like to say I think it's supernatural the way Deb Raney can be the subject of, yes, believe it or not, TWO!!, blogs on the SAME day.

I would have never believed it.
Just sayin..

I'm thinking that you are having way to much fun.

Tracey, love your blog (and your books... am on my way to the bookstore now)...

Kristine McGuire said...

I don't know how I missed this blog. Have I told you how awesome (and funny and awesome) you are lately? You are awesome. :)

And you know I've always got your back!

 
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