Why Storyformed?

My website has a new header. It’s not dramatically different, just a change from “Passionate living through passionate writing” to “Storyformed living through storyformed writing.”

Why the change?

I was first introduced to the term “storyformed” back in 2015 when my husband and I attended a church planter training called Soma School in Tacoma, WA. Soma recommended The Story-Formed Way, a method of facilitating conversations about God and the Bible through the overarching narrative of Scripture with believers and nonbelievers alike.

The concept behind the Story-Formed Way is that the Bible is first and foremost a story, a grand narrative in which God is the main character. To help people understand who God is and what He has done for us, it’s helpful to start by understanding the Story of God. Stories level the playing field, because when we stop and read the Bible as a story (a true one) and its individual components as stories, we relate to it, to God, and to each other on a whole new level.

The term reflects an instrumental change to my perspective on the Bible and my faith walk. I am part of a larger story. Every verse of the Bible fits within a larger story, a story God has been unfolding since the beginning of time. It’s incredible and masterful and brilliant.

We are a Storyformed people. We tell stories. We relate to stories. We pass down stories. Jesus used stories called parables to illustrate his points and the Bible is at least 50% narrative text because God knows this about us. We are a people shaped by stories, and specifically by the Story of God, whether we follow Him or not.

When it comes to my writing, I don’t love the term “Christian fiction,” because it’s too vague and peachy. My books aren’t just clean books Christians can feel comfortable reading or fun stories with some Jesus sprinkled on top (not that there is anything wrong with that); they’re purposeful vessels of life-transforming truth that include messy, raw people and complex plot lines. They’re intentionally written to reflect the reality of living in a broken world and how the gospel of Jesus breaks in and changes everything.

I slightly prefer the term faith-filled fiction, but considering that some of my characters are definitely NOT Christians for a good part of the story, that doesn’t quite resonate either.

Instead, Storyformed sums up the purpose and content of my writing. Every word is shaped by the Story of God, the grand narrative of God’s unrelenting pursuit and His redemptive work to save Humanity from our sin. Whether I am writing articles for small newspapers, penning blog posts, or authoring books (fiction or not), my prayer is that every word I write will point people to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

So, welcome to Storyformed Writing, where you’ll find Storyformed Fiction and other forms of written word. If my writing in any way helps you to better understand the Story of God and your part in it, I would love to hear from you – please send me an email or post a comment!

P.s. – I did my research on the term “Storyformed” to make sure it isn’t trademarked (it’s not at present). I did find one other organization using the term, The Storyformed Project, which is focused on getting quality literature into the hands of children. AWESOME! I haven’t dug into it much, but I plan to check it out, and if you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or have ever met a child, you should too 🙂

5 Christian Fiction Authors to Read in 2020

 

Considering that I had my fourth baby in January of 2019, I still managed to read a decent number of books. I may or may not have prolonged middle-of-the-night nursing snuggles a *little* longer than necessary because I wanted to finish a chapter…or a book.

I read a ton of romantic mystery/suspense, with a dash of historical fiction thrown in – two of my favorite genres. These five authors were new to me in 2019, but they’re all on my “read more” list for 2020!

Check out these authors and pick up a new title or two to read soon (bonus: most of these are available for free on Kindle Unlimited). Don’t forget to leave these authors a review on Amazon or Goodreads when you’re done 🙂

 

H.L. Wegley

Genre(s): Christian Suspense/Mystery/Thriller

Topics: United States of America, domestic terrorism, Special Forces, patriotism, military, romance, high-action

Titles I’ve Read:

My Take:

H.L. Wegley is an Air Force veteran, meteorologist, and Boeing Systems programmer turned award-winning author of suspense-filled, action-packed novels.

Wegley’s accounts of combat scenes, weapons, and warfare are highly technical and detailed (which makes sense given his experience and scientific bent). Not everyone will enjoy this, but I personally love because it adds to the realism of the book (plus I enjoy learning about all things military). He writes about places he is personally familiar with and succeeds in bringing the reader there in a vivid way without losing you in flowery, overdone descriptions.

I found the romance in the first book a little weak, but the love story takes a back seat to the story line anyway, so I didn’t mind. I found the romance in the second book better than the first. Both books kept me turning pages rapidly.

Wegley’s books are thought-provoking, and you know I love fiction that challenges and changes you. The Against All Enemies series is an end-of-the-USA story of courage, bravery, and patriotism to save the nation from threats against its core values of freedom and democracy on the part of a tyrannical president who is slowly dismantling the democratic process by subtle abuse of power (please don’t grammatically dissect that sentence). Wegley does an excellent job of painting a scenario that seems scarily possible, especially in our current political climate. If you want to just read the book, you absolutely could, but if you’re willing to think deeper, Wegley  challenges the reader to think critically about the state of our democracy and wrestle with what our individual responses would be if placed in the same situations as the characters. In the second book, he grapples with the issue of the morality of violence and military action from a Christian perspective. I found his perspective on this (through the lens of two characters with very contrasting views) unique and provocative in a good way.

I’m only two books into this author, but he is definitely high on my “read more” list!

Next on my list: the prequel, Chasing Freedom (the Prequel to the other two)

Ronie Kendig

Genre(s): Christian Suspense/Action Fiction/Romantic Suspense

Keywords: war hero, Navy SEAL, PTSD, Special Forces, military, high-action, terrorism, FBI, conspiracy,

Titles I’ve Read:

My Take:

As an Army brat and now Army wife, Ronie Kendig has ample experience to draw from for her military action novels. Her “rapid-fire” fiction is just that – books fill with rapid sequences of action, suspense, drama, twists, and turns. Conspiracy of Silence felt like National Treasurer on Special Forces steroids mixed with some Indiana Jones. Her characters are raw and have believable human flaws.

I inhaled both books and honestly didn’t stop to read too critically, but I don’t have any critiques off hand. In Conspiracy of Silence, I loved how she incorporated the Biblical story of Korah in Numbers 16 (which, cool side note, I just studied last week in my Bible study). In both books, I felt like I was right there with the characters – experiencing the questions hanging in the air, the intrigue at each step, the danger right around the corner, and the heart-pounding adrenaline.

Next on my list: Crown of Souls (The Tox Files Book #2)

 

Linda Brooks Davis

Genre(s): Christian Historical Fiction/Inspirational Historic Fiction

Keywords: turn-of-the-century, inspirational, women’s suffrage, Great War, World War 1, domestic violence, abuse, heiress, Spanish Flu, female leads

Titles I’ve Read:

My Take:

Linda Brooks Davis, a true Texan and former special-needs educator, is a relatively new author to the historical Christian fiction scene with the release of her debut novel in 2015. Her books aren’t for the faint of heart – they are long books that cover large spans of time with multiple twists and turns to the plot, all of which allows for a great deal of character development. Each books include a love story, but the romance is more like a supporting character in an ensemble cast rather than a main player. Davis dives deep into difficult issues that may be triggers for some readers (such as physical and sexual abuse), but she also paints a beautiful picture of the redemptive power of God’s love.

The Women of Rock Creek series is set at the turn of the 20th century through World War 1. Davis brilliantly depicts the historical setting, tensions, and events that shaped that time, touching on the women’s suffrage, the Great War, The Spanish Flu, class distinctions, and more. She is not just a fiction author who sets her books in a historical time period because it’s fun; she is a true historical fiction author who takes the time to research the time period and craft a story that could have come right out of the diary of a real person. The historical context is as much a character as the characters themselves.

Next on my list: I’m honestly not sure, because her only other books are novellas, and I don’t like novellas! (I’m weird – I usually only read books that are over 300 pages). But, since the novellas expand on the Women of Rock Creek characters’ stories, I may concede and read her Rock Creek Christmas Collection.

 

Julie Klassen

Genre(s): Historical Christian Romance

Keywords: Jane Austen, period drama, period romance, dancing master, apothecary, intrigue, Cornwall, regency romance, friendship, class society

Titles I’ve Read:

My Take:

Julie Klassen is an award-winning author who gives fans of Jane Austen more books to read! Her historical romances with a touch of mystery are true period pieces in the vein of Pride & Prejudice and Jane Eyre. Also, if you are a Poldark fan, you will love these books, especially since some of them are set in Cornwall as Poldark is.

Though lengthy (which I like), her books are filled with just enough unanswered questions keep you turning pages long after you planned to go to bed. She unfolds her characters’ stories slowly while keeping interest and resolving the unanswered questions in the end. Her character development is well-thought out, her attention to historical details is spot on, and her plot twists keep the reader guessing.

True confession: The first book I read of hers was The Dancing Master. I could not get into this book. It took me almost a month to read; usually I will fly through a book like that in well under a week. I’m glad I did not give up on her though, because I absolutely loved the others of hers I read!

Next on my list: I don’t know yet! She has plenty more books for me to discover, but I haven’t picked one.

 

Christy Barritt

Genre(s): Christian Romantic Suspense/Mystery/Thriller

Keywords: police drama, undercover cop, law enforcement, strong female lead, Navy SEAL, veterans, war hero, beach mystery, North Carolina

Titles I’ve Read:

Another true confession? I read over 30 of Christy Barritt’s books in 2019. Instead of listing them all, I’ll list the first book in each series I read. You’ll definitely want to read her series in book order!

My Take:

Christy Barritt is a Publisher’s weekly bestseller and award-winning author who churns out thrilling mysteries with clean romances and underlying faith messages. She’s like the modern Christian version of Agatha Christie (but her faith messages are light enough you can enjoy her books even if you don’t subscribe to her faith views).

I don’t find her books particularly deep or thought-provoking (although she does deal with some nasty gang violence and a cult in the above series), but they are solid page-turning reads that kept me awake through many wee hours breastfeeding sessions last year. I read them far too fast (and in too sleep deprived a state) to analyze her mysteries and law enforcement procedures, but there weren’t any glaring loopholes. Her books are a little bit like a drug to me…I just can’t stop reading them! And clearly she can’t stop writing them.

Part of what makes her books so addictive that each series has a threaded mystery (except for the Carolina Moon series). Each book in a series is has its own mystery to solve but also unfolds more pieces of the overarching mystery. Much like episodes in TV show like Burn Notice, you enjoy the satisfying completion of a story line when you finish a book, but you’re left hungering for the next piece of the bigger mystery.

Her characters are definitely not boring and have endearing quirks. She overlaps characters from other series, which is always fun for the reader (though risky as an author). She does a good job of maintaining each character’s persona when you encounter them in another series.

If I had to choose favorites, I’d say my favorite series were the original Lantern Beach Mysteries and the Worst Detective Ever. If you’re looking for fun, easy page-turning mysteries, start there!

Side note: I’ve tried reading a couple of her darker mysteries such as Dubiosity and the Fog Lake Suspense Series, but I personally do not like getting inside the twisted heads of serial killers and rapists. If that’s your thing, I’m sure they’re as good of reads as her other books, but they’re weren’t my thing.

Next on my list: Rains of Remorse (Lanter Beach Romantic Suspense Book #5) is currently waiting on my Kindle!

 

Bonus Author: Me!

Genre(s): Christian romantic suspense

Keywords: Maine, Ireland, dance, musician, domestic abuse, survivor, FBI, Navy SEAL, lighthouse, epic drama, romantic saga

Titles I’ve Written:

My Take: I’m a debut author, and I would be honored if you would read my book! I’ll let you read the description and reviews and decide for yourself 🙂

Next on my List: I’m in process writing the second book, Finding Forgiveness.

 

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