First Step

Matthew 18:3 (NKJV): “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

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“The first step in entering the Kingdom of grace,

is to become as little children: lowly in heart, knowing yourselves utterly ignorant & helpless, & hanging wholly on your Father who is in heaven, for a supply of all your wants.”

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* NKJV Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Notes re: Matthew 18:3.

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Chameleon Kid (at BibleDude.net)

Sometimes I’m thumped sideways with misunderstanding. Or I’m flat out knocked down with insults. Worse yet, I’m acknowledged and then rejected. Usually though, I’m piece by piece ignored. And as a result, my Chameleon Kid hat tips backward, falls off my big ole head, and lands upside down, along with my heart, in the dingy dust of the wayward day.

 

So, I scramble to my feet, brush off the grime and dirt, retreat to my hovel, and strip down to nothing. Yet, again.

 

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Please come over and read my piece of writerly work entitled The Chameleon Kid over at Bible Dude.

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By the way, it’s been filed under the tag of

Authentic Christianity.

 

That’s pretty cool, huh?

See ya there. Giddy-up! buckaroos.

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When Mockingbirds Sing – a book review & interview

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“He fashions their hearts individually;

He considers all their works.”

~ Psalm 33:14

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To tell ya the actual-factual truth, partway through reading sir Billy Coffey’s newest book, “When Mockingbirds Sing” I decided I didn’t like it, so I set the blasted book down, closed the cover, and simply walked away. Yeah, that status lasted about half a day. From behind its closed cover and hidden pages, the contents and message of that book taunted me. Neener-neener, I have a story in here. You have a few talents, but you simply cannot read through book covers. Pick me up. Hold me. Read me. Right now!  Somewhat akin to its title, the book mocked me.

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To appease the yammering away that the novel was doing, and despite my initial discomfort, I just had to know what happened next. Next. Next. And in the midst of pushing through my heebie-jeebies and reading on, I began to realize why the book scratched me up one side and down the other… like it or not, I had found some itchy stuff therein that is part of who I am, and dare I say, who you are too. In fact, I wanted to stand a couple characters in the corners for some overdue, long time-outs; but, as I flipped page after page, I realized that a goodly lot of the time I woulda been standing shoulder to shoulder in said corner with ‘em.

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And that there is exactly

what hadn’t been sittin’ well with me.

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Coffey’s fictitious town of Mattingly has a good balance of serious, weird, sad, outlandish, selfish, generous, and funny – just like what I’ve found in all the small town, rural communities where I’ve always lived. And these are some of the very traits that stare back at me each time I look in the mirror.

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And land sakes, buckaroos, there’s one little gal in particular, miss Abbie, a straight forward, shoot from the hip sorta girl who says it like she sees it and believes in the Good Lord with a faith that near ‘bout bursts her child seams.

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You’ll see what I mean, especially when you get to the baptismal scene.

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Even days after reading sir Billy’s book, yes, cover to cover, snippets of it still chase after me, tug at my frayed bluejeans, and pull at my heartstrings. I’m still making sense of it and finding Truth in the tale that he’s told. And I’m ever so glad I picked up the book, not once, but twice.

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Like usual with me, a book review wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Pickin’ An Author’s Knows. Sir Billy has been kind enough to shed some light on the questions rambling about in my ole noggin…

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1. Do you think of a storyline and then figure out how to add your faith in God into the plot or does your faith dictate your storyline?

 The story always comes first. Usually it’s just an idea, sort of a “What if?” thing. Or it could be a single picture in my head. I don’t stress about where God will fit into it, or how or where. To me, God’s in everything. It doesn’t matter if I dive into the pages without looking for Him. He’ll always find me.

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2. How long did it take you to write this book?

All told, about six months. When Mockingbirds Sing came out real quick and only needed three drafts. The one I just finished took about nine months and five drafts. Most often, it depends on how much time I have to sit down and work. 

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3. I read a how-to-write book about 15 years ago that said you should flip through a phone book and blindly poke a finger about to select character names. How do you come up with character names?

I try to pick character names according to the locale of the story. For me, that’s a small town in the mountains of western Virginia. That means common names like Jake and Tom and Barney, Biblical names like Leah, and older names like Mabel. I like to keep the names themselves simple—one syllable always works best, but no more than two.

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4. Which character(s) do you most liken yourself to and why?

I’ll admit I’m most like Reverend Goggins. At it’s core, When Mockingbirds Sing is about the prejudices we all have when it comes to dealing with others not like us. Those prejudices have a lot of faces. The one Reggie struggles with is why God would ever entertain the possibility of God speaking through anyone else but him. I’m tempted to think the same sometimes, though not to that degree. With me, it’s more like Don’t You see everything I’ve done and everything he hasn’t? So why does he have so much more than me? I think that’s a pretty common sentiment with most of us, whether we want to admit it or not.

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5. What book is on the top of your bedside table stack?

 Right now, it’s Stephen King’s Joyland, followed by James Wood’s How Fiction Works, followed by Walker Percy’s Signposts in a Strange Land.

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6. In this about to be released novel, you tilled up some fertile ground from which new novels could grow – will your next book contain characters we’ve just met? There is a “next” novel, right?

If I have my way, there will always be a next novel. The town of Mattingly is a pretty small place, no more than a couple thousand people. So yes, I would imagine you’ll see some familiar faces pop up every now and then. Many of the people you’ll meet in Mockingbirds are present in the next novel. You’ll get to know them better, along with plenty of new characters.

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7. If you were to use one word to describe the take-away message from “When Mockingbirds Sing,” what would it be and why?

Maybe. Because that’s what faith is when it’s all stripped down, isn’t it? It’s the sureness of knowing there’s more than we can understand and the reality of there being so much going on around us that we can’t see. It’s possibility. To me, that’s magic.

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Thank you, sir Billy, for giving us some insight into your God-grande, writerly heart!

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Buckaroos, here is a video chat with the author about one of the characters, the Rainbow Man, in his new novel, “When Mockingbirds Sing.”

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Sir Billy Coffey is also the author of two other finer than frog’s hair novels,

 “Paper Angels” (2011) and “Snow Day” (2010).

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