My newest book Once Again: an inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance, is the first in my Rewinding Time Series. It’s about a young woman named Merrideth Randall, whose day job is teaching history at a small college. In her after hours, she turns to her first love, historical research. She has a tool other historians can only dream of—a computer program that rewinds time, giving her a first-hand look at the past.
In Once Again, Merrideth uses the amazing program to assist her in finding the location of a long-lost pioneer fort and to meet the brave settlers who lived there in the late 1700s. Although the book is categorized as Sci-fi/time travel, it’s not a traditional time-travel tale, because Merrideth only virtually experiences people’s lives as she “rewinds time.” (I didn’t want to mess up the whole space-time continuum thingy. You’re welcome.)
Professor Merrideth Randall has lots of historical mysteries to solve in Once Again and is scheduled for plenty more in the upcoming books. (Only One Way Home is scheduled for Jan. 2015) But she is also trying to find the answers to life’s puzzling “little” questions—like why bad things happen to good people, and what kind of God do we have, anyway?
When one of the young pioneers takes the Gospel to an Indian tribe, Merrideth thinks he is “brave, but foolish.” She doesn’t understand “why missionaries risked their lives “to take their religion to people who had their own and didn’t want or need someone else’s.” And when she realizes the young preacher is ministering to the very tribe that had scalped his brother, she is astonished at the scope of his forgiveness.
Her colleague Brett Garrison puzzles her, too:
Brett made being a Christian sound like something more, but Merrideth couldn’t put her finger on what differed between his religion and hers… Hopefully, he would not turn out to be one of those people who had a Bible verse for every occasion. One of her freshman roommates had been like that. Emily had started in spouting verses the first day and hadn’t let up until another roommate told her to stop already with the proselytizing. By their sophomore year, Emily had gotten metaphorically slapped down enough times that she stopped quoting Bible verses altogether. Merrideth always felt a little guilty when she thought about that. Maybe she should have stuck up for Emily, but hadn’t she needed to learn not to be so pushy with her beliefs?
Merrideth has always thought she was a Christian. After all, she goes to church, contributes when the offering plate goes by, and “tries to be nice.” But with what she’s seen and learned, she begins to wonder whether she’s a Christian after all.
She is right to question her salvation. She is a fictional representation of the many, many Americans who have a form of Christianity, but not the substance—a believing faith in Jesus Christ. In the coming books she will continue to ponder questions that have no easy answers and meet people who cause her to think. But have no fear; one day it will all be clear to her. Another title for the series might be, “The Redemption of Merrideth Randall.”
Based on the one-star review I got last week for my earlier book Time and Again, I predict that the Rewinding Time Series is going to drive some readers nuts. I should tell you that Time and Again and the rest of the trilogy have very mild Christian themes. And since, I personally dislike fiction in which the characters are like Merrideth’s roommate, constantly spouting Bible verses, I don’t ever do that in my books. But for some readers even a mere two verses (as are present in Time and Again) are just too much to be tolerated. Here’s a portion of what the reviewer said about the main character of Time and Again:
She’s CONSTANTLY quoting Bible verses. I can handle religion being woven into a story where appropriate, but this had the preachy quality and that rubbed me the wrong way.
I have to admit, I was mad when I first read her review, because what she complains about are the very things I try so hard not to do—and did not do, in my opinion. Afterwards, I thought that I should be happy, because maybe her annoyance is a sign that my book caused her to think about her soul. Maybe the one she is really annoyed with is God. Maybe He is working on her. Maybe I am doing something right.
Satan hates anything that promotes the Kingdom, and he will have even more to hate with my new Rewinding Time Series, because Once Again and the succeeding novels will have a clearer, even more obvious Christian message than anything I have ever written. But here’s my Christian fiction guarantee to readers: there will still be no spouting of Bible verses, no fiery preaching, no using the Gospel as a club to bludgeon people with.
Even so, I have donned goggles and a helmet to meet the onslaught of gnashing teeth and angry words that I fear will be coming my way with Once Again. I send it out with a prayer that the biblical principles and messages woven into the story touch the hearts of readers, not annoy them. On second thought, if the annoyance is a sign that they’re thinking hard about their own souls, then I hope readers are annoyed.
Please support Christian writers by leaving positive (but honest, of course!) reviews whenever possible in order to dilute hateful reviews such as the one I just got. (BTW, my personal policy is to not leave a review at all if I can’t say at least something positive about a book.)
Be Sweet and Tweet!
It would be so nice of you to share!