Archive for the ‘Guest Columns’ Category

Minnesotans Get Real-World ‘Lion of Babylon’ Experience

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Friends,

I received this amazing note from a man who read Lion of Babylon and Rare Earth, and I felt compelled to share it with you.

Hello Davis,

Your writing has helped me discover the heart of God for my community. Your gift as a storyteller has catalyzed my engagement with the Somali Muslim immigrants pouring into my small, Midwestern town. (Little Mogadishu, as we now are known.) From fear to faith; the transformation of many hearts is underway!

A few nights ago, I brought my family to a Pre-Ramadan Feast; brown rice, spicy beef, and sambusas (triangular pastries stuffed with goat-meat.) The scene was like reading a passage from your book.

Picture us, a few dozen Minnesotans huddled together in a warm, sticky room, nervously awaiting the arrival of the Somali Elders. A glance around shows every face a pale mix of excitement and trepidation. My wife and children stand against the wall with the rest of the Scandinavians; willing, but unsure what to expect.

Most, in the room I realize, have never met a Somali before. Never held the dark-skinned hand, never looked into the eyes, the God-loved soul. Our worlds are close enough, now, to touch yet seldom do. It’s as though a curse separates us. Fear or pride.

But then a ripple through the waiting crowd tells all: the guests are here. I greet them at the door in their native tongue, as best I can. Hello! Welcome! Please be seated! My scant ability is pitiful, of course, but does the trick. Breaks the ice. Grins and laughter.

My role, here, is introducing a ministry which has the focus of teaching adult Somalis the English language. My goal, tonight, is finding new friends, building relationships, and traveling the road of life together. (John 1:41 “…Andrew found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah”.)

An energetic young lady from the ministry declares, “We are Christians and we are here to help you!”

The room stiffens noticeably. Words convey different meanings in different cultures. One man’s concrete block is another’s roadside bomb. After a few more comments she whispers to me, “Can you take this, please?”

Her arm is down at her side and her fingers twitch upward, prompting me from my chair. I have no forewarning, nothing planned. A quick prayer (Holy Spirit, help me now!) and I stand up, feeling like Marc Royce or Sameh Al-Jacobi in Lion of Babylon.

Our Interpreter, Abdullahi, translates my warm but careful words of welcome to the Somali Elders. We hold many things in common, I assure them, feeling my way forward. We share a strong commitment to raising our children to be healthy, wise, and successful.

We hold in common the values of virtue, integrity, and honor. We choose to celebrate the good in each culture. We believe our community is made stronger as we link arms and walk the road of life together. This is what welcome means to us, I say, and all the Elders smile.

Then it is their turn to speak. The Somali Elders admit to being nervous over bringing their children to America. It is difficult knowing what to believe when all you have is a television in a Kenyan refugee camp. They explain, however, that they have since found this city to be a good place for them. They are happy, now, to be able to call this place their home.

The atmosphere relaxes and the evening sprouts naturally; smiling faces and a hundred conversations blooming on every side. Later, our Interpreter, Abdullahi, listens to my attempt to define our community of faith. We, too, I explain, are submitted unto the One God. We are passionate followers of Isa Al-Masih. Jesus the Messiah.

Abdullahi watches me, hearing me declare my family and I love the example of Isa Al-Masih and His holy teaching, and that we raise our children to follow Him. Abdullahi looks into my eyes, into my soul; I can see that he’s thinking, pondering. After a moment he gives a slight nod; I know he is accepting my words even if unsure where to place them.

But all is good this night; he and I have made new friends. And I have found my brother.

After returning home that evening, I received an incredible invitation to a private dinner connection with one of the prominent Somali Elders and his family, with my wife and children begging to come along! And so the next real-world chapter begins.

Brian Gazelka
Willmar, Minnesota

A Fan of a Lifetime (Guest Column)

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

By Marilyn Rhoads
Oregon Christian Writers Winter Conference Director

Davis Bunn will kick off Oregon Christian Writers’ 50th anniversary celebration on March 16, 2013 in Salem, Oregon.

Why? Because a sweet Mennonite lady dressed in a white cap and calico is a huge fan and encouraged us to invite him.

This Davis Bunn fan knows no age or gender barrier, but she does know quality writing and a call to adventure that challenges the spirit and soothes the soul. She is one of many fans who have purchased more than six million copies of Davis’s novels.

She said she started reading Davis Bunn years ago when she discovered his first book, The Presence. “His writing captivated me, and I began watching for his novels. His characters are alive! The rich tales and settings draw me into the adventure, and I feel like I’ve traveled the world with this wonderful storyteller. His attention to getting the myriad of details right to create an exceptional emotional experience for the reader is appreciated.”

Oregon Christian Writers began fifty years ago with a handful of members and now attracts writers from as far away as Davis’s England. We offer some of the best in authors and teaching at our three one-day conferences and our popular Summer Conference.

Davis will present two keynote address, “The Gospel of John, Act I” and “A New Definition of Success.” He will also teach “Transforming the Outline from Drudgery to Joy.”

If you aren’t already a fan, you will be after reading one of Davis’s nineteen best-selling novels, three of which have won the prestigious Christy Award. Unlimited, Davis’s movie release, will premier in September. Don’t miss it!

Make plans to join us on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at Salem Evangelical Church, 455 Locust Street Northeast, Salem, OR, 97301. Register online at: www.oregonchristianwriters.org.

Come and meet with other Davis Bunn fans and learn techniques to improve your writing skills. The Mennonite lady will be waiting to welcome you!

Writing for Life Workshops Come to Silicon Valley

Friday, January 18th, 2013

By C. S. Lakin
Guest columnist

It all started with a conversation. I was sitting at a writing conference talking with best-selling author Davis Bunn, saying how I wished someone would put on multi-day writing intensives with authors like Davis.

There didn’t seem to be any venue anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area that held such events, despite the fact there are thousands of serious writers living in this region. Sure, there are some annual conferences in which great author/instructors teach for an hour or two, but nothing intensive. Davis then expressed with excitement his interest in doing such a workshop.

This was three years ago, and when I told another author friend, who also is an outstanding writing craft instructor—James Scott Bell—about my idea to start hosting these multiday workshops, he got excited too and said, “Count me in.”

I figured it was time. Since I had run plenty of businesses over the years and hosted workshops at my bed and breakfast on the North Coast, it seemed like an idea whose time had come.

I spoke with both authors and set some dates, and Writing for Life Workshops was born.

I’ve since teamed up with author friend Geraldine Solon of Fremont Area Writers with enthusiasm over this new year’s lineup:

  • A three-day workshop June 28–30 with James Scott Bell
  • A two-day workshop September 13–14 with Davis Bunn
  • A two-day workshop October 19–20 with Hollywood consultant Michael Hauge.

I met Geraldine at a one-day event she was hosting for the Fremont Area Writers, at which I was a presenter, and wanted to enlist her help in marketing and promoting these events. We’re both very excited to be diving into this venture.

The venue chosen is centrally located—The Courtyard Marriott in Newark, next to the Dunbarton Bridge, allowing for easy access from all parts of the Bay Area as well as close to major airports (San Jose and Oakland).

All events will include a full lunch as well as offer much-discounted hotel room rates for participants. Our aim is to provide a high-quality event in a comfortable, inviting setting, with attendance between 60 and 100 to keep a feeling of intimacy.

These three events are planned as the first of many, with all three of these first presenters wanting to make this an annual affair.

I can attest that in my 25+ years writing novels that I have learned more, and in the shortest time, the most invaluable writing tips and techniques by attending intensive workshops like these. Having numerous hours over a number of days with just one instructor is like an immersion.

Instead of a short talk that can only skim over a few points, writing intensives like these help important material to sink in and really help take writing to a new level.

One of the most powerful and helpful workshops I took was a five-day morning track with Davis Bunn at the Mount Hermon Writers Conference in CA.  This drove home to me the value of a workshop that went deep into technique, and Davis has this is spades (had to throw in the Britishism since Davis teaches in the UK!).

We hope to branch out and do more events, including smaller one-day workshops that focus on different market segments, such as children’s writing and memoir writing. But for now, these three major events are the only ones on the docket for 2013.

Information on these events can be accessed at the Writing for Life Web Portal. Writers can register and pay at this site and will be put on an e-mail list for news and updates.

Registration opened January 14 and to celebrate the launch of this new endeavor, Writing for Life is throwing a registration party  through January 20!

Everyone who registers for any of the three events will be entered into a drawing to win a whole lot of great prizes, including free books, consulting, and editing services, a free night at the Marriott, and even a Paperwhite Kindle.

More prizes will be added at benchmark registration numbers. The party will also be held on Twitter (hash tag #writingforlife) and winners will be awarded their “cyber” door prizes at the workshop they attend. There will also be drawings for other prizes and giveaways at the event for all attendees.

Early bird pricing will be available for all events for a limited time, so register early.

Space for these events is also limited, so mark your calendars AND go to www.writingforlifeworkshops.com and sign up for the newsletter to be reminded of the registration party and be kept up to date on all new events and news.

You can also contact us at writingforlifeworkshops@gmail.com.

C. S. Lakin is the author of thirteen novels and works full-time as a writing coach and professional freelance copyeditor for the book publishing industry. She teaches workshops on the writing craft, focusing mostly on using cinematic technique in fiction writing. You can check out her popular blog for writers—Live Write Thrive and check out her Amazon Author Page to see her many novels.

Are Dreams Reliable Predictors of our Future Reality? (Guest Review)

Monday, December 5th, 2011

By Kevin Bunn
Guest Reviewer

Are dreams reliable predictors of our future reality?

Does the battle of good and evil use time and circumstance to influence our perception of how much is at stake in our quest for eternity?

These questions and many more are woven into the story of Elena Burroughs, considered a foremost authority on dreams. A global bestseller book she authored, titled The Book of Dreams, catapulted her into the status of a star, worthy of global adulation – lectures, televised events, sold-out public appearances and more.

But underneath all the adoration lay a vacuum, a tragic event now five years in the past and still clawing at her heart. A practicing clinical psychologist by trade, Elena maintains a prestigious position providing help to clients whose very souls seek her wisdom and experience to help them. Her practice is now exclusive to the point that she no longer accepts new patients. Until one pivotal day….

Set among the historic scenery and buildings of Oxford, England, this latest offering from Davis Bunn incorporates seemingly detached vignettes of several characters whose dreams are impacting their lives in very real, very disturbing ways.

Beginning in New York City, the story opens with Teddy Wainwright, a Wall Street success story whose life has reached a pivotal moment. How is it possible that he could know what is about to happen? And, in the opening scenes of the story, articulate that he was “expecting” someone to violently arrive?

The circumstances of Terry Wainwright will impact Elena in ways for which she is seemingly unprepared. A patient comes into her office under the cover of secrecy, and once inside Elena’s office, reveals a dream so disturbing that even Elena cannot comprehend the meaning.

From this notable appointment comes mystery, intrigue, traveling to other countries, invitations to meet with persons of high authority, global financiers and threats upon her very life. Elena’s aged mentor, Miriam, will provide insight and safety for a time, but her life will feel out of control despite the reassurances Elena receives.

Our clinical psychologist is thrust into a story which turns her life upside down in many ways. Her past experience of trauma, loss and heartbreak are overtaken by challenges that seem to have no connection to each other until a certain, ancient book is placed into her care. This book, carefully passed from one caretaker to another, will reveal a message so powerful that even Elena will wrestle with the impact it conveys onto her own life.

Book of Dreams grips the reader by setting a pace of fast-moving events, carefully scripted characters, heart-warming turns of redemption and new-found relationships. Those who choose to delve into the pages of this novel will find it hard to put it down, even harder to put it away.

About Kevin Bunn (no relation to Davis Bunn): From early childhood I have been associated with the Christian faith. I have always been an avid reader, starting before kindergarten reading the newspaper and anything else I could get my hands on. I remember reading the Bible during church services, especially the Old Testament stories, mostly because when I was young, the sermons were “over my head” in terms of subject matter and theology.

Over the years I absorbed the Biblical history and learned how important these stories are to our ongoing battle with sin, as well as the thread of God’s plan for our salvation.

This understanding has helped me as a Bible class teacher, study and home group leader and from time to time, a speaker delivering the message of our faith. More importantly, as a father and husband, I learned how to help my children develop their faith in God and Christ, as well as supporting my wife during her journey to become a Marriage and Family Therapist and Bereavement Counselor.

I am presently a businessman in the construction industry, searching out and developing a focused, niche business to recycle construction debris into marketable product.

Stretching the Bubble (Guest Column)

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

I invited readers to submit stories of experiences they have had which have stretched the bubble of their daily existence, and in so doing expanded their vision of God, and their connection to the divine. Cudos to Braxton Smith, who has offered one amazing view of just this sort of tremendous ride. Here’s his story:

I just wanted to say….I flew today. I jumped out of a perfectly good plane with my daughter, Cameron Grace, and flew 13,500 ft to God’s good earth. I cannot tell you how exciting it was for a 53-year-old man, a bit overweight, with thinning hair to partner (way too closely) with a man who guided me through the most exciting, heart grabbing moment of a life… but it was the most exciting thing this man has ever done.

Praise the good Lord for allowing Cameron Grace and I to land safely. It was a glorious look at this small Louisburg area of the world, from 13,500 ft.

My wife gave this to my daughter and me for a Christmas present because we had talked about doing “The Amazing Race” for years. So, we did it! We jumped, yes with someone in tow and control, BUT we jumped!

I am renewed. It was, in a matter of minutes, the one event that will allow me to go on. It bypassed religion, depression, complacency, the “I could haves,” and moved myself and my daughter into another realm of life. Not death–LIFE.

God blessed me with Karen, who saw we needed this. She knows our father-daughter bond and she said here you go… go jump. I was so scared for months. I was scared until the day we did it, then I was calm…until we left the back end of that plane…then God showed me a glimpse of all His glory.

Part Mystery, Part Mystical, Says Reviewer of ‘Book of Dreams’

Monday, November 28th, 2011

By Kathryn Eriksen
Guest Reviewer

Have you ever read a book of fiction and felt like the author was deciphering current events in a clear and concise manner that made you sit up and say, “Of course – that’s why that happened!”

When the story is told by a master wordsmith, the book becomes more than thought provoking… it almost becomes an explanation of why events occurred and the motivation of the individuals and institutions involved.

Book of Dreams by Davis Bunn is such a work of fiction.

Part mystery, part mystical, the characters come alive at the deft touch of Bunn’s hand. The heroine,  Dr. Elena Burroughs, faces a troubling choice in her life that is only resolved when she relies on her faith and intuition to guide her. Because she is a psychologist with an international reputation of being an expert on dream interpretation, Elena is drawn into a troubling crisis that tests her fortitude, resolve and morals.

The underlying theme is one of good v. evil. Or more accurately, greed v. God.

Elena must choose which voice to listen to, and it is her guidance and insight that resolves the conflict. By sharing her faith in an open and direct manner, Elena inspires the other characters (and the reader) to “look within” for direction. Knowing that she is loved by God, Elena stares down her adversaries and remains undaunted in the face of even the most dramatic of challenges.

Christians will cheer as they read this book, for it reinforces our belief that God always prevails. Non-Christians will still be intrigued by the plot and factual details concerning the greed that created the current financial downturn. And perhaps, if enough readers caught the message of Book of Dreams, the economic climate that the world faces would shift away from greed and limitation to abundance and joy.

One can only hope for such a result from Book of Dreams.

Kathryn Eriksen is an attorney who discovered a passion for writing later in life.  The author of two books, “Walk With the Master,” a Christian children’s book about Jesus’ life, told from a unique perspective, and “Images in America – Waxahachie.” Eriksen is a teacher, speaker and writer about developing and growing in your personal relationship with Jesus and God.

This review was originally published at Kathryn’s blog, http://kathryneriksen.wordpress.com/tag/book-of-dreams/. Reprinted with permission from the author.

Can Christian Fiction Help Rescue Our Nation?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Here is a wonderful article Carol Johnson shared with me, titled, The Saving Story: Can Christian Fiction Help Rescue Our Nation?”

By Carol Johnson, Charisma Magazine. Reprinted with permission from the author.

‘An Adventure of the Mind,’ Says Reviewer of ‘Book of Dreams’

Monday, November 21st, 2011
By Michelle Rayburn
Guest Reviewer

Have you ever had a recurring dream?

Imagine if you shared a dream with another person whom you had never met?

The world of dreams is mysterious and difficult to comprehend, but there are some who attempt to interpret dreams.

In Book of Dreams, Dr. Elena Burroughs, a young widow who is a psychologist at Oxford University, was known as a foremost authority on dreams. Her best-selling book titled The Book of Dreams had sold millions of copies and she made numerous speaking appearances at sold-out events until she lost her husband.

Elena hides in the mundane work of clinical appointments until she receives a referral for a high profile client with an unusual recurring dream. Around the same time, she received a set of copies of a book that is hundreds of years old. The instruction with the books—study one page until it speaks to you. The gilded vellum pages of the books, or plates, contained the words of the Lords Prayer in Aramaic.

Through the divine power revealed in the ancient book, Elena begins an exciting journey that puts her at the center of an international conspiracy. When she begins to share the dream of several others, their worlds collide in such a way to bring them together for the sake of a cause that will forever bond them.

Davis Bunn has once again created an action-packed fantasy that weaves together scriptural principles with the art of fiction to create a moving story of God’s power. It’s the story of emotional healing for a women consumed by grief as well as a demonstration of how God can work all things out for his glory.

At the cost of losing it all, one American Ambassador and a financial advisor to Rome hold fast to their integrity. And they nearly do lose it all. I like how this book can inspire leaders and politicians to take risks to stand up for what is right. It inspires with the message that God is still in control, even when it seems like all is lost.

Some readers might have a difficult time with the fantasy aspects of the book. As with many authors in this genre, Davis Bunn has a fantastic imagination and he takes the reader on an adventure of the mind.

It’s important to remember that it’s fiction. If there is any lesson to be learned from the book, it isn’t about any theology related to these supernatural events. It’s from the idea that readers, like Elena, can discover that a life fully surrendered to the will of God is a life worth living.

I think both men and women will enjoy this book, and I can totally see it as a movie.
Michelle Rayburn is a speaker, freelance writer, and musician with a passion for helping people connect the dots between faith, creativity, and everyday life. She’s an avid reader and book reviewer. You can find her blog at Faith… Creativity… Life.

‘Book of Dreams’ Ripped from the Headlines, Says Reviewer

Monday, November 14th, 2011

By Pam Nelson
Guest Reviewer

I have read quite a few Davis Bunn books by now and all of them are highly enjoyable.  However, I think I can say without a doubt that Book of Dreams is my favorite so far.  The book grabbed my attention from page 1 and didn’t let go until the very end.  In fact, I was greatly disappointed at the end…not by how it ended, but because there was no more to read!  It was truly a masterpiece!

Dr. Elena Burroughs is the main character, a psychologist and dream interpreter in Oxford, England, with the inability to completely deal with a personal tragedy in her own life.  She is soon joined by an interesting new patient who is experiencing frightening dreams on a regular basis.

When Elena is given an ancient book that she is required to decipher, things take a very interesting turn.  The book, which is fascinating in and of itself, has been in the possession of her very good friend for a number of years and has yet to be understood.  But when Elena takes possession, interesting things begin to happen and her life takes a dramatic turn.

Very soon after the opening chapters, the main character shifts from Elena, to a small group of people working as one unit (of which she remains the unofficial leader).  These other characters include Antonio d’Alba of Rome and financial advisor to the Vatican and Lawrence Harwood, the American Ambassador to England.  The character development is rich and you soon feel connected to each character for different reasons.

This book is not only about an ancient artifact, but is in reality about letting the Holy Spirit guide you and stepping out into unknown territory with the confidence that God is with you and will guide you.  The story sounds like one out of today’s headlines, with the added bonus of the ancient thrown in.

If you are interested in international intrigue, this book is for you.  If you like romance, you will love this book.  If you enjoy a good mystery, look no further.  If biblical history is your forte, this is the book for you.

I would highly recommend this book.  It is one I plan to read again and again.

Pam Nelson has 3 married kids, 2 grandsons & 1 granddaughter (ages 8, 5 & 1 respectively). She also is the Women’s Ministry Director for her church as well as Secretary/Treasurer for the corporation (church). Seven years ago, God blessed Pam with a brand-new heart via transplant, and she says every day is precious.

Guest Reviewer Describes Experience with ‘Book of Dreams’ as ‘Intensely Personal’

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

By Joy DeKok
Guest Reviewer

Dreams. Most of us have them and excuse them – we ate too much pizza too late or watched something upsetting on television.

In Davis Bunn’s new novel, Book of Dreams, Dr. Elena Burroughs can’t ignore hers or those of the others coming into her life. When an ancient manuscript is placed in her possession, her training as a psychologist shifts and she realizes her gift of interpretation has a purpose far greater than she could imagine. She and her new friends must confront an evil that jeopardizes the world economy.

If you feel me holding back on this review – I am. I don’t want to give a single detail away that will ruin the adventure that reading this book is. Each word has been carefully chosen because I want you to discover each clue, nuance, and character for yourself.

Most of you know, I’m a Davis Bunn fan and will read every book he writes. If you ask me which one is my favorite, I can’t give you a straight answer. It’s the one I’m reading currently, the one I just read, or the one I just re-read – he cannot write them fast enough for me.

However, this time, he took me somewhere I did not want to go.

Dreams. Those nebulous, barely remembered in the morning, sometimes bizarre things that weigh heavy on my mind. Mine are in living color, scare me badly, and sometimes cause me to wake up crying out. (Dr. Elena Burroughs would have a heyday with them!) I can remember a vivid few from when I was a child that still frighten me a bit when I think of them.

Interpretation isn’t likely to go beyond the pizza thing I mentioned earlier because trusting someone else with translating them would be weird. Or if anyone found out, they’d think I was weird. Maybe even a weirdo.

So, I keep them safely tucked inside myself. It’s just safer that way.

And yet . . . for all my discomfort in the real world, I felt none of that reading this book.

I applaud Davis Bunn for the way he took a spiritually difficult (even radical in some circles) subject and made it entertaining. On every page I felt a gentleness I can’t explain even though the book is full of energy, murder, financial espionage, and action.

The author dealt with the interpretation of dreams and the book of dreams, in a way that was mysterious, but not superstitious. While it didn’t get overly religious, it is one of the most faith-filled books I’ve read in awhile.

I will visit the pages of this story again at least twice. When it comes out in the audio version, I will buy it for date nights – those evenings when Jon and I have coffee together and listen to strangers read us stories and again on my Kindle when I decide to visit the good doctor and her friends again.

Joy DeKok is an author, speaker, and author coach. One of Joy’s favorite things to do is reading fiction curled up in a comfy chair in the winter and outside in her gazebo the rest of the year. She and her husband Jon live on 35 acres of woods and field in rural Minnesota.  They find great pleasure riding their John Deere Gator to their bog where they can listen to the bull frog choir, watch the birds, drink hot coffee, and hold hands. Visit Joy at Author Infusion.