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Iscariot is the forthcoming novel from Tosca Lee. It is due to be released on February 5th of next year. I was privileged to receive an electronic galley from NetGalley. (For my book-loving friends, this is a great way to read, and review, upcoming books).

I’ve made no secret of how much I like her work, and have even had her here on the blog for an interview. Her work resonates with me, and her work ethic inspires me (I’m told she engaged in a marathon 19,000 word writing session as the deadline for Demon: A Memoir encroached upon her).

Every writer, I think, needs a muse, and I’ve found a writer in Ms. Lee that inspires me to greatness. I may never achieve her level of success, never be more than a guy with a blog–and a dream–but at least I’ve got a star to shoot for (though I may crash back to earth). With that in mind, here’s my advice to those of you write: consider a writer you’d like to write for, give yourself an “ideal audience,” and shoot for that every time you sit down at the keyboard. I’ve picked Ms. Lee because she crafts gorgeous sentences, includes vivid descriptions, is a crackerjack at research, and very ably draws her readers in.

What does that digression have to do with her forthcoming book, Iscariot? For me, it represents a return to form, to the first person narrative of her earlier works, Demon: A Memoir, and Havah, the Story of Eve. If you have been following her career, you know she has been engaged in writing a trilogy with mega-bestselling novelist Ted Dekker, called the Books of Mortals.

As with most Dekker books, the series contains labyrinthine plots, amazing twists, global conspiracies, etc. worthy of the best of Ludlum.

Iscariot is nothing like that.
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As I said above, it represents a return to form: the story is stripped (oh, it has its twists), the plot is simple, and the point of view is intimate. Ms. Lee makes perhaps the boldest choice I’ve ever seen a novelist make: she narrates the story from Judas’s perspective. To help put this into perspective, allow me a comparison from popular literature:

Author George R.R Martin is engaged in the telling of vast tale, encompassing many volumes, known as the Song of Ice and Fire. In this story, he has a character known as Jaime Lanister, who is the architect of the inciting incident that gets Martin’s story rolling. He is a character readers love to hate. Where Martin’s story differs from Lee’s is that his is a tale told from multiple points of view (there are alternating chapters). Jamie Lanister is not a point of view character until well into the series.

But when Martin introduces him as such, things change. The reader is forced to see things from Lanister’s perspective. At first it feels akin to having sympathy for the devil, but the monster quickly becomes a man. Lanister is human after all.

Likewise Lee, in her portrayal of Judas, forces the reader to see events through his eyes, and process life through his mind. Like George R.R. Martin, one of her great strengths as a novelist is the sympathetic portrayal of much-maligned characters. And it turns out that Judas Iscariot, arguably the most notorious traitor of all time, was just as human as you or I.

Not a cheery thought to contemplate, but a necessary one. For who among us, at one time or another, has not betrayed Christ?

The brilliance of this book–though it goes beyond the biblical narrative (as it must)–is that it sets Judas in the proper context of Israel’s history: his is an occupied state, the religious structure is oppressive, the Roman rulers are cruel, and crucifixion is all too common. People, Judas among them, are anxiously expecting a Messiah–one who will deliver Israel from her enemies. What they get–what he gets–is something, or Someone else entirely. For the curious, the story moves quickly from the setting of Judas’s childhood to the central relationship of the book: that of Judas and Jesus.

Yes, like Revenge of the Sith, the ending is known: Judas betrays Jesus. But what a journey getting there! It is nothing short of a tour-de-force! You will see Judas in an entirely new light.

Have you read any of Tosca Lee’s books? Will you read Iscariot when it releases in February?

'Suicide prevention notice' photo (c) 2009, Samantha Marx - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/My cheeks are rose-tinted with the hot flush of a smoldering rage. Because it happened.

Again.

A smart, capable, accomplished woman—skilled in the art of healing, possessed of the patience of Job, and the bedside manor of an angel– was taken in her prime.

Not by accident, nor incident, but by the rigors of life.

I did not know her, but I knew her, you know? I know women like her.

My mom, for instance—a woman who: taught elementary age children, worked as a youth probation officer (her handcuffs were real—I know), and ended her career as a youth diversion coordinator, keeping kids out of the justice system. If anyone has suffered through the slings and arrows of life, it’s her. Add to that a troubled marriage, subsequent divorce, and one could safely say that life did its number on her.

She was:

Bowed, yes. Broken, assuredly. But alive.

Not so much this other woman I mention above. As a wife, mom, and
bringer of hope to many, she had none left for herself:

In her mind, the career she loved took the brunt of the blame for a
marriage that was failing. Somehow, it was solely her fault.
Despite a husband declaring his love for another, and a desire to
leave.

So this smart, capable, talented soul–a light to so many–snuffed out
her own light, leaving behind her young children. Soul crushed beneath
the weight of a guilt that wasn’t solely hers to bear.

How did we not see? We who knew, or knew of, her? Why did we not see
past the happy veneer to the hurting soul inside? How did she not keep
any hope for herself alive?

Why did she believe the lie that she was alone–that she alone was to blame?

Why?

Because smart, capable, and accomplished is no match for some lies.
Especially those predicated upon false premises. Falsest of all: that
you are alone.

Because you are not. Women—men, too–please don’t be the woman I here wrote of. We need you. We need your gifts, your talents… We need you. Only you can tell your tale.

Have you ever been there? Known someone who was? How did you come back from the brink?

I Am A Cad

randomlychad  —  November 13, 2011 — 11 Comments

I am a cad. A knave, a scoundrel, a scallywag.

Why do I say this?

Because I didn’t think things through, and posted what I thought was a satirical exposé of brutish behavior, I’ve deeply hurt my own wife.

(It was, as I can now see, well-nigh the nadir of insensitivity).

Which, at the time, was the furthest thing from my mind.

But the truth about me is that, at one time or another, over the course of twenty-one years, I have likely said most (if not all) of those things in that list to her. Yes, like just about every other married couple, we’ve gotten upset with one another, and said things. I’ve said things. Hurtful things.

So I can understand why, though it’s not at all what I had in mind in this instance, she would be so deeply shocked and offended.

And hurt.

It hurts me that something I wrote hurt her so deeply. What hurts worse is that, although she was recovering from surgery, I fought with her about it–insisting that it was satire. Instead of giving up my rights in a Christlike fashion, I fought for them. To my shame, I was proud of the creativity I thought I displayed.

The Scriptures say that pride comes before a fall, and in an ironic twist of the tale, I became the brutish oaf I thought I was lampooning.

And for that I am deeply, truly sorry.

I hurt her so deeply. I hope she can forgive me. Please pray that she does.

Why in this vale of tears do we so often hurt the ones we love?

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Since about February of this year, I’ve been on what can be termed a “carbohydrate-restricted” diet. I’m sorry, I mean, don’t call it a “diet”–it’s a lifestyle. This lifestyle has been great for my waistline–I’ve lost close to 40lbs–but hasn’t improved my sleep apnea.

Not one bit. I thought by losing weight, I would improve my nighttime breathing. Well, not so much. In fact, if anything, the apnea has gotten worse.

Not only that, though I’ve lost weight, my total serum cholesterol is 212, and my LDL is 143. Not such good numbers.

This, despite my “lifestyle,” and moderate exercise. Guess it’s all in the genes, or something.

Thanks, mom and dad! Thanks a lot.

Anyway, I thought I could get a handle on this without any additional doctor visits, etc. But it’s not looking that way. (You in the peanut gallery: shut up! I know full well it sucks to be middle aged). So, it looks like another sleep study is in order, and with a recurrent staph infection in my left nostril, a visit to the otolaryngologist (otherwise, like Treebeard, known as an ENT) as well. I hate going to the doctor!

All of this added to what my wife is going through health-wise: diabetes, adhesive capsulitis (“frozen shoulder”–for which she has been enduring painful physical therapy thrice-weekly for sometime now), and various other health issues as well.

Added to which, our son has had some issues with bullies at school.

All of which is to say that this introvert’s heart is on overload. Life is too much right now. So much so, that I presently don’t really care about my healthy regimen. I mean: eat right, exercise daily, die anyway, right? So I may as well eat what I enjoy.

Awesome headspace to be in, right? Can I get an “Amen?”

As you can probably guess–if you read yesterday’s post–I’ve been somewhat surly and withdrawn lately. If you don’t believe me, just ask my wife. 😉

I’m sorry if this sounds like a pity party; that’s not why I’m sharing. I’m just trying to be real with you.

Insofar as I know, I ain’t dyin’, but I feel–chronically–only about half alive. I guess what I’m saying is: I could use your prayers.

Thanks, and God bless!

How can I pray for you?

'depression' photo (c) 2008, Rupert Ganzer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

So. I’ve mentioned that I have a piece in a book called Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression. Yeah, it surprises me, too. Thing is, if you met me, you’d probably think “he seems like a pretty happy guy.”

The truth is: I get by.

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