Emily Rae Robles

the paradoxymoron

Not Just For Christians: A Guest Post by Brian Holers

Please enjoy this guest post by Brian Holers, author of the literary novel, Doxology. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

One of the beauties of self-publishing is that the gatekeeper has been fired. In this new world of books made possible by the Internet, no one is left to guard the door. To tell the reader what is what. This state of affairs may introduce an element of confusion for dogmatic readers, but the good news is, new breeds of literature are being created.

Self-publishing allows literature to cross over in new ways. Traditional Christian fiction publishers, for instance, disallow most references to sex, and even the most juvenile profanity. Self-publishing changes this. Not to suggest a writer should ever debase a genre—as writers we are obliged to choose our words carefully. But the old Christian books kept many readers away. “I’m not going to read that. That’s Christian. It’s boring.”  Still, nearly every Christian I know periodically swears, fights, and even becomes amorous from time to time. Christians like good stories too, with depth of character, excitement, whimsy, action. The success of a book like The Shack shows the need for stories of real people dealing with real problems, in a faith-based context. It doesn’t even have to be good literature.

As humans, we all look for answers. Stories are stories. Conflict builds to crisis, which leads to a form of resolution. Sure, some people never doubt their faiths, even in the face of horrible tragedy. Others do. Some never ascribed to a faith in the first place, and instead  spend their days casting about for a context to this condition we call humanness.  The problem with much traditional Christian literature is this; when a character is pushed to a crisis, and the only change we read is “he fell on his knees, then and there, and accepted Jesus into his heart,” that incident may describe a beautiful sentiment, and may have value to a real person in real life, but as a reader, it doesn’t tell me anything. A reader wants details. He wants to see the sweat break out.  She wants to hear the thoughts and words that accompany the character’s condition. Literature is literature. We want to see development. We want to get inside the characters. We want to get to know them. That’s why we care. Regardless of the genre label put on the book.

Doxology is a story in between. The book has a religious message; given its primary setting in rural north Louisiana, that message is Christian. But the characters are just people. They experience the same emotions all people do—love, joy, loss. Their conflicts grow and grow until they must be resolved. Like real people, they go astray, take paths of separation from God, or just from what is good for them. They experience desires that can never be fulfilled, want things that can never be had or even understood. They discover the traits in their lives that aren’t working, and set out to find new habits that will work. Many Christian values are universal—a belief, despite evidence to the contrary, that our lives are worthwhile.   An understanding that letting go, and learning how little we are in charge, makes life more manageable.  A certainty that the kindness and compassion we offer to others is returned to us a hundredfold.

Some say God. Some say the universe. But we all–when we’re honest, and when we pay attention, have a sense of something looking out for us, giving us what we need. Putting people we need into our lives. We give credit for these gifts as we see fit.  Good literature promotes a point of view by showing the reader how a character’s modes of operation and beliefs work for her (or don’t). Good literature, whatever its genre, lets the reader inside. Lets the reader do part of the work. Doxology, in this vein, is a story at the crossroad of God and man. It presents God as the characters experience God, and as real people experience God, looking out for them, giving them what they need.  Coming to understand how God has been there all along.

Doxology is a love story. Faith plays a role, as it helps the characters find answers and resolution, improves their lives.  Like Jody and Vernon and the others, we all look for redemption from brokenness of the past.  They and we find it, as people both real and imaginary alike do, in family, friends, productive work, a sense of place, a faith in something greater.  Doxology is a story, first and foremost. Its characters face problems. Their conflicts grow. They look for resolutions and ultimately find them, imperfect as they are.  We the readers get to know them, and we care. We sympathize. They matter.

 

About the book:  Fathers, sons and brothers reconnect over tragedy in this blue-collar Southern tale of love, loss, and the healing power of community and family. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author:  An arborist by day and a novelist in every moment he can steal, Brian makes up stories from the treetops. Visit Brian onhis websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Doxology eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Doxology for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event


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March 9, 2012 Posted by | writings | Leave a comment

Anxiety

I walk alone at night, with no one near
to calm my ever-rising agony,
to clasp my hand and whisper in my ear,
to softly take my dreams and set them free.
They say they understand, but no one knows
the panic that I feel when each breath comes,
the tightness in my chest that always grows
until I sink to earth, blind, deaf, and dumb.
I cry and cry, but tears remain unleashed.
I scream away the pain within my soul
afraid that it will stay and never cease,
unsatisfied until it takes its toll.
The monster in me scratches at my heart
and threatens, always, to tear me apart.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | poetry, writings | , , , | 2 Comments

Grasping at Stars

why today?
why burn away
the dreams that lay as speckled pebbles in the distance of my heart?
a thousand suns are burning
a thousand fires spurning my love for love and life and you.
in the night, i burst forth from my soul,
break free of my whole self
and fly away from the world that drags me down.
take me, break me, forsake me
but you can not reach me where the stars cry tears of dust on my wounded shoulder.
my fingers cling to memories of a life filled with more than death
where youth opened my eyes to magnificence greater than truth.
the stars welcome me with open arms
but will they burn as well?

May 17, 2011 Posted by | poetry, writings | Leave a comment

Flash Fiction: Graduating

I was older once.  Back in a day where innocence was for the young, I washed my hands of adventure and looked down my nose when nothing would look up at me. Back in a time when time sorted itself into tiny labeled boxes, I splashed my face with regret at the multitude of boxes that contained only emptiness.  Back in an age where age became irrelevant, I counted my wrinkles with quivering fingers and smiled at my own smile because I could find nothing else to smile at.

I became younger the day I died, graduating from this life to the next.  I started over again, retaining the knowledge I had but losing the harrowed hardening that had toughened my skin.  I said much in few words rather than the nothing in many to which I was accustomed.  I lived death with more conviction but fewer convictions than I had lived life.

I do not see myself in the future, because only the future can see me now.  It is a one-way mirror in which my reflection flickers.  It is a two-way street in which we race past each other without noticing.  My future is the only thing connecting me to my past.

May 16, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | , | 1 Comment

Circles

Isn’t it strange that, no matter how hard you try and forget that you’re going to die, no matter how much you pretend that you are at peace with whatever happens, no matter how dedicated you are to whatever personal beliefs you have, the moment you realize your life or the life of someone you love is in danger is the most terrifying moment of your life.  Someday, despite your arthritic joints and wrinkled skin, you will lift the corners of your mouth in a smile that looks more like a grimace, because age always taunts you with irony like that, and you will amble over to the bedside of your fourteenth dying friend and comfort them as if you really knew what you were doing when, who are you kidding, they’re much closer to death than you’ve ever been, so how are you supposed to tell them they’re going to a better place when you’ve come from a life that actually wasn’t that bad, despite the arthritis and the natural disasters that didn’t actually affect you and the moments of loneliness when you realized that companionship wasn’t going to happen for your pitiful little self? You will argue with yourself that your life was worth living, fulfilling, and a blessing to others, but really you’re afraid that it was none of those things, and you’ll never know the difference because you can only live once, unless you come back reincarnated as a giraffe or a street urchin or member of nobility in a life that is tainted by the same regrets and fears that you have now, only you don’t remember that you’ve had them before because reincarnation has wiped your memory.  You start wondering about the molecules that make up your body and what they made up before being assigned to you by some unknown powers.  Perhaps you are a combination of bits of long-gone creatures, plants, and people who never knew that they would soon become you, people with hopes and dreams and regrets and fears just like you’ve had in this life and every other that you never knew.  Imagining what sorts of people make up your physical body can go down many paths, either depressing you like crazy at the realization that everyone is really the same, no matter how much focus you place on individuality because everyone turns to dust and is reincarnated physically if not spiritually, or maybe encouraging you to know that you are made up of individuals who were each geniuses in their own way, since God makes each person absolutely unique even though you forget that when you’re inexplicably angry at the girl in your group project who  gets credit for the work you did while she partied the night away at some anonymous frat house with anonymous drunk frat boys whose names she forgot in the morning.

The smell of turkey wakes you up from your reverie, if you can call it a reverie since that implies pleasant thoughts about your future when all you have in your future is dead animals smothered in gravy.  Sitting at the table, you think about how odd a habit eating is. Who decided it would be a good idea to shove objects into the orifice in the middle of your head in order to somehow achieve some amount of nutrition, whatever that means, since cavemen most likely did not know what in the world nutrition was, so why didn’t they just die out like the flies you tortured in middle school by trapping them in tape until they suffocated and then framed in plastic cages and stuck around the classroom because you were too bored to do anything else but limit the existence of other creatures?  You try mentioning your thoughts to your family, but they look at you like you are absolutely out of your mind, which maybe you are, but maybe being out of your mind isn’t so bad and being inside your mind (which presumably is the opposite) is actually limiting you to a life full only of whatever worlds you can imagine and create from what you know, whereas being out of your mind will push you to your limits and take you places you never knew existed because they don’t exist in your mind, only outside of them.  After eating the turkey, you feel sick to your stomach and want to throw up, but you stop yourself by reminding yourself that bodily functions are silly, and all that really exists is your perception of an experience rather than the experience.  Then you kick yourself for getting all philosophical again and run to the bathroom to be sick.  As the remnants pour out of that poor turkey that gave its life so that you could give it back up to the toilet, you wonder whether someday you will be vomited up in the same way, perhaps by a cemetery torn apart by an earthquake, or by the worms that wriggle their way through your decomposing organs until the place where your family and friends visit you to pay their respects is not actually where you lie, but rather the center of a circle throughout which nature spreads your body until you have become part of countless organisms that don’t even know or care who you were.  You think about the dead organisms that now make up your body and what sorts of lives they must have led, and you realize that your train of thoughts has come full circle, just like the molecules in your body, and you wonder if you have ever existed in a life exactly like this one as the person you are right now, with no changes in personality or appearance, but you realize that personality isn’t determined by molecules, so you’re stuck again in a rut of your own thinking, but at least thinking is something productive in that it leads to something outside your physical body.  Then you kick yourself for getting all philosophical again and lie down on the bed and cry because every time you try to think of something new, it ends up reincarnating itself and coming full circle like the way you used to spin around faster and faster as a little child every time your parents put on music until you came crashing down and the world descended upon you in a dizzying frenzy of colors.

May 7, 2011 Posted by | ramblings, stories, writings | , , , | Leave a comment

It’s A Beautiful Day

In the neighborhood, where the sun pounds down like the thunder in my ears
and suffocates the tune to which I dance
away my regrets of the nothings I never did;
I swing on the ropes that I can’t climb
and feel the calluses on my tender hands burn
against the passing of time.
Breathing in the heat is like swallowing a sponge
that soaks up nothing but the air that chokes me
until  I fight to drown,
would rather be drowning
than burrowing my way through consciousness.
If I were a someone other than my own, I might inhale
the song of my sight,
the vision of my hearing,
the smell of my touch
into lungs that contain much more than air,
much more than the will to live.
It’s a beautiful day
where the children play-act
scenarios that pit good against evil-minded
villains whose own childhoods colored grey the questions of their heart.
In a someday that may never come, I will seize the day
with both tender hands, burning
against the stopping of time,
until life slowly begins again
to breathe me in.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | poetry, writings | Leave a comment

You Are Loved

This week, for Tuneful Tuesday, I went a step farther than usual and actually wrote a little tune.  Enjoy the madness of my mind.

You Are Loved

April 12, 2011 Posted by | writings | Leave a comment

Flash Fiction: Insecurity

I have never seen the depth of your eyes, but I know their visions.  I have never felt the pulse of your heart, but I know its dreams.  I have never rested my head on your shoulder, but I know it is always there for me.

You have taught me the beauty that lies in uncertainty.  Your imperfections are what make you perfect. In the light that is your smile, the shadows that surround you are diminished into nothing.

When you doubt that your tears are of salt and blood, I bleed for you to know that pain is growth, love is heartbreak, and fear will never be your master. The words I sing to you are limited in comparison to the song you sing every day, just by living.

 

April 11, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | Leave a comment

A Birthday Poem

(This is what happens when I am given five or six words to incorporate into a poem.)

 

I made her a cake
of fungal avocado
that will forever

asphyxiate cats
as I drink wine in my room
where dreams go to die

and are born again
onto heavenly clouds of
warm fantasticness.

 

March 29, 2011 Posted by | poetry | Leave a comment

Cravings (Flash Fiction: Day 18)

prompt: wild child

Stephanie had never been so warm and comfortable in her life.  Swaddled up like a newborn baby, she rolled along the bowling lanes until she reached the pins, at which point an employee yelled at her and made her get up and walk back to where her friends waited.  Her unwrapped blankets trailing behind her, Stephanie hummed to herself until the tunes in her head and the tunes playing through the tinned speakers blended together in a cacophony of sound.

“Stephanie, are you coming?” Evelyn asked, breathless from giggling at the bowling escapade.  “We’re going to get pizza.”

“Sure!” Stephanie said brightly.  “I hate pizza.  Can I get breadsticks? I’m definitely craving breadsticks.”

“Yeah, their breadsticks are fantastic,” Evelyn replied. She was used to Stephanie’s oddities.

The group of girls wandered over from the bowling alley to the pizza place, tittering amongst themselves about things they would forget about the next day.  When they sat down in a booth, Stephanie pulled out an apple and started spinning it on the table.

“Where on the apple do you think I’ll take the first bite?” she asked no one in particular, as she usually did.  “I wonder if the apple cares.”

“I bet it’ll be right there,” Karen announced, pointing randomly at the skin.  “Now go. Eat it.”

“I don’t think this apple wants to be eaten,” Stephanie pondered.  “Would you want to be eaten if you were an apple?”

“Definitely not,” said Pauline, who almost always agreed with everything Stephanie said.  It was easier that way.

“Would you rather be an apple or a breadstick?” asked Stephanie as their food arrived.

“Breadstick,” said Karen.

“Apple,” said Pauline.

“Stephanie,” said Evelyn, “You’ll never actually BE anything but what you are.  You know that, right?”

“Nope!” Stephanie twisted a napkin around her finger and gazed at it.  “How do you know what I am? I don’t know, so how can you? I have lots of options, but I think my favorite right now is still the bowling ball.  But when I go to college, I think I want to be a children’s book illustrator.  Doesn’t that sound fun?”

“Yeah, but it has nothing to do with bowling balls,” Karen pointed out.

“I can draw all the bowling balls I want,” Stephanie persisted.  “And breadsticks.”

The three girls gave each other dubious looks.  All three of them, though only in 7th grade, had long ago decided that they would open a fashion designing business together in the far-off future.  Stephanie had rejected their offer for a fourth partner, choosing instead to pretend to be inanimate objects.

“Well,” said Pauline, chewing on a piece of pepperoni, “I guess it’s the wild child who gets the coolest life.  Breadsticks are definitely worth living for.”

March 27, 2011 Posted by | flash fiction, writings | Leave a comment