What is an Author Takeover? It's when authors take over an online group and provide games, fun, and prizes! Last week, those who joined the Facebook Group Biblical Fiction Aficionados were busy interacting, sharing ideas, and building community with other readers and writers of biblical fiction.
I was thrilled to be a member of this group! I had over 30 people enter to win my prizes. One winner received a paperback copy of my biblical fiction #forgottenfollowers from Broken to Bold and two winners received a silver-plated book marker with an ichthys fish pendant. The name 'ichthys' is the Greek word for fish, often used by early Christians to identify themselves. I appreciated the chance to interact with people about my posts.
I'm a new biblical fiction author, so let me introduce myself. I enjoy #hiking, music, and tennis. I like to get away, let my thoughts settle, smell the greenery, see the colours, hear the birds call, and feel the breeze. Hiking allows my husband and I to converse without being in a rush or multitasking. Hiking gives you time to dream, to visualize what’s next. We took three years, between family and work, to get away and complete the 900 km #BruceTrail from Niagara Falls to Tobermory, #OntarioCanada This photo is taken on a rugged section of the Bruce Peninsula, that narrow point that separates Lake Huron from Georgian Bay. We have also enjoyed hiking in Newfoundland, Alberta, Tennessee, Colorado, Peru, Chile, and Africa.
I asked: Where do you go most often to hike? How do you calm your soul? How do you like to enjoy God’s creation? Many people enjoy hiking in their local neighbourhood - whether they live near mountains, meadows, or urban landscapes. Some enjoy beautiful views from their back porch. Many commented on the peace of being near water, listening to waves or birds or music.
I have two business degrees (HBA MBA) but graduated- both times- during a recession. I was part of a large cohort, and most jobs were taken by early boomers. That is why I went into sales. Yes, I am an introvert, but it wasn’t about being a good talker. I thought of my career as relationship-building, my interactions as educational, and my purpose to help people achieve financial security for their families. I enjoy learning and took continuing education throughout my career in life insurance, stock brokerage and financial planning. I also took courses from Kingdom Advisors which taught us to look at our financial careers as a ministry, that God had put us in business for such a time as this. You may be a homemaker or a writer or in some other job or profession, and I believe there is a season in our lives for any or all of these things.
I asked: What is your calling today? What is your ministry in this season of your life?
Many people talked about being called to one thing and then later to something else, which I have experienced as I moved from being a financial advisor to being a writer. Many agree with me that there is a stage of life where raising and shaping our children takes up the bulk of our energy. Others talked about caring for elderly parents as their ministry at this time. People talked about their involvement in various ministry organizations, volunteer work, leading in church school or small group meetings, or spending time with charities and non-profits. Some are writers, speakers, podcasters, or Bible study teachers. Each shared how they used their time and gifts for others.
What makes me motivated to write biblical fiction empowering women? My three daughters. I wanted to give them the confidence to follow their dreams and fulfil their potential.
My own thinking was formed as women’s liberation, or second-wave feminism, was gaining strength. The United Nations declared 1975 the International Women’s Year (IWY) and the IWY badge incorporated a dove of peace, a female biological symbol, and an equal sign. The widespread Why Not? campaign exposed discrimination against women and said that women could enter any career and ask for equal pay. The Bible upholds women as valuable beings made in God's image and calls us to serve those who are oppressed or marginalized. My mother and others like her saw the women’s liberation movement as a means of applying biblical principles to solve economic inequality, similar to the social gospel movement of the late 1800s. As I finished 30 years as a financial advisor, I realized that not all women have been liberated and that sometimes the Christian church has held back women’s liberation. I wanted to show my daughters – and other women- that believing in Christ brings freedom.
The front cover of my book shows Mara with her mouth covered, her voice silenced, and her body trapped inside her home. My book is written to bring hope and healing to women like her, who have doubts and feel trapped, sidelined or silenced.
What experience have you had with being silenced? How has Christ liberated or freed you? Which women in the Bible have shown you how God empowers women?
Some participants shared being silent or not speaking out in order to avoid confrontation or to keep the peace, they spoke of the lasting impact of being silenced due to domestic abuse, of feeling ignored when people don't seem to listen or respond. When we receive pushback, it is hard to regain the confidence to participate and speak out the next time.
Other participants spoke of speaking out without ever having been silenced or having the willpower to not notice pushback. Others spoke out and suffered negative consequences. Some felt strongly empowered to speak without fear, being liberated in Christ
The conversation showed that sometimes we need to speak out and sometimes we need to stay silent. Maybe it is better to only speak out when it's necessary
Participants mentioned empowered women in the Bible including Rahab, Esther, Deborah, Mary of Bethany, Martha, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan Woman, Lydia, Priscilla, Junia, and Phoebe.
My main character, Mara, loves to cook, so I needed to research both the foods of Galilee and the foods of the first century. I had written that Mara’s favourite food was baklava, the most popular Middle Eastern dessert. I had Mara’s brothers teasing her as she dreamed of honey dripping over the filo pastry filled with apples, cinnamon, and walnuts. While some say that flattened bread layered with nuts came from the Assyrian Empire in the 8th century BC, most believe baklava came from the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. I changed Mara’s favourite food to Apple Raisin Cake.
Would you prefer baklava or apple raisin cake? What’s your favourite dessert?
Some participants love baklava, and others had never heard of it.
There were some strong statements for and against having raisins in their cake.
Many people named their favourite dessert. Mine is likely apple pie.
Most people love chocolate! However, in the first-century Middle East, there was no chocolate. Their most common sweetener was honey. The Spanish brought chocolate from South America in the Middle Ages.
Video Excerpt from the biblical fiction Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold read by the author, Elaine Ricker Kelly. This excerpt is based on the biblical story of Jesus blessing the children (Matthew 18-19, Mark 10, Luke 18). Today it is still surprising that Jesus tells us to become like a child, since we tend to see religious leaders as the greatest in God’s eyes. Biographical fiction portrays historical persons with fiction added. We see Jesus in movies such The Jesus Film Project, Sight & Sound’s Jesus, and The Chosen.
How do you feel about having Jesus as a character in biblical fiction?
Who are the greatest in God’s eyes?
How should we honour our religious leaders and teachers?
In what ways are we to become like a child?
Participants are careful about seeing Jesus portrayed in movies and novels and need to see that it is appropriate and accurate with the Bible's narrative. It is good to see Jesus in art if he is portrayed well. In other words, it is acceptable if the portrayal of Jesus helps people, builds their faith, and raises God's name. Some were raised to think no one should portray Christ, although he is in some church plays and passion plays. Some like The Chosen and some felt it took too many liberties or is not true to the Bible. Others replied that since Jesus is the central figure in Scripture, it makes sense to see him in a movie, play, or biblical fiction.
Jesus lifted up the children as the greatest; Jesus had a passion for them. The video does not give new insights to Jesus, since his portrayal is similar to the biblical text. However, it may give insight into the unfortunate way women and children were viewed in that era. Jesus overturns this way of treating them. It shows the disciples were slow to realize that the women and mothers had an understanding about faith, slow to show respect to women and children in the same way that Jesus did. slow to see that Jesus uplifted the women to the same level as the men.
We can honour religious leaders and teachers by praying for them. We should give honour where it is due, but not if they behave dishonourably.
Children: their innocence, their acceptance of Jesus for who he was, their faith and belief. Children are our future. Their faith is not complicated; they hear and believe. We are to have a childlike faith. Children tend to trust others. We can come to Christ as humbly as a child does. Children love freely and are an example to us. Children are pure in heart and so they see God.
When my husband and I visited Newfoundland, we learned about cod fishing and the hard work not only of those who went fishing but of those who did everything else. In my novel, I wanted to show that being married to a fisherman is more than being a wife; being a fishwife involves the daily work of preparing the fish and selling it. I drew on my experience in Newfoundland to expand on the roles of the fishwives in Capernaum: “Salome chatted about all that the fishwives did: scaling and cleaning the fish, splitting and salting them, spreading them out on drying racks in the sun, turning them, and taking them in each night. Fishwives also took the fish to be sold, mended clothing, tended the garden, and preserved food.”
Fishing has a role in the Gospels from that first miraculous catch when Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to be his disciples to that last miraculous catch after Jesus is risen. In between, Jesus feeds crowds with a miracle of multiplied fish, calls apostles fishers of men and uses a fishing analogy to describe how God sorts the worthy from the unworthy.
When Christians were being persecuted, they used a fish as their secret symbol. The word fish is spelled using the first Greek letter of the words Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, and Saviour’. In traditional art, James the Less is portrayed with a fuller's club. A fuller’s club is used to beat cloth to make it clean and ready for dying. A fuller is also a blacksmith tool to imprint grooves into metal. My novel makes blacksmithing the trade of James the Less and his father Clopas. James the less handcrafts fish to give to newly-baptized believers.
How is being called a fishwife different from being called the wife of a fisherman?
What do you think of the fish as a symbol of Christianity?
Besides fishing, blacksmithing, and carpentry, what professions do you think the disciples had?
Participants had diverse views on using the description of fishwife instead of wife of a fisherman. Fishwife is like being married to a fish, just as housewife is like being married to a house. The word fishwife has been used as a derogatory term meaning a woman who shouts or is course-mannered. It is quite likely that when women sold their fish in the markets or on the street, they did shout and they were not ladylike. However, the fishwife does the daily work of preparing the fish and selling it, while the wife of a fisherman may not do any of the work with fish. She may have her own profession and be uninvolved with fishing. A fishwife is a partner with her husbanad, taking an active role in the fishing business.
The fish is a wonderful symbol of Christianity, reminding us of the Bible stories about fish and reminding us of God, and Christ, the Saviour.
Disciples: fishers, blacksmiths, silversmiths, jewelry makers, leather workers, farmers, fishermen, tentmakers, cooks, historians, tax collectors, bakery, vineyard owners, olive farmers, scribes, servants, shepherds, tanners, clothmakers, weavers... and more.
Thank you to the Biblical Fiction Aficionados Group on Facebook for hosting this party!
I was happy with all the participation, discussions and engagement!
I picked up a few new followers on my Facebook, Twitter X and Instagram, and a few new subscribers to my enews.
I enjoy biblical fiction because it is easy and engaging to read, stimulates my learning about the Bible and strengthens my faith. Some call it Edu-tainment.
I asked: What do you like about biblical fiction? What parts of a novel are key for you?
Participants love the historical details, imagining what it might have been like in Bible times, and connecting us to Scripture. Readers appreciate the historical research and framing the story accurately around the biblical account as well as the culture of the era in which it is set. We like to see the Bible stories come to life, where characters are human with experiences and feelings and story arcs that bring them to a crisis. We like seeing different views of Bible stories. and learning new insights. Sometimes it stimulates us to pick up the Bible, dig deeper into certain passages. Christian fiction balances sharing a comforting Christian message with challenging our faith by looking at stories, events or characters in new ways. One noted that biblical fiction speaks to the deepest parts of the human soul and offers hope in God.
I encourage you to check out the biblical fiction by the participating authors:
Jenifer Jennings - the Servant Siblings Series about the brothers and sisters of Jesus Sandi Rebert - Redemption's Promise and fictional first-century romance Alicia van Huizen - When the Stars Fought, a young girl taken captive in a biblical battle Dana McNeely - Rain and Whirlwind are two novels bringing to life Elijah's story Barbara M. Britton - orphaned girl is key in the biblical fiction Defending David Carol Ashby - the Light in the Empire series of twelve books follows the lives of Roman families Natasha Woodcraft - her Wanderer Series reimagines Cain and Abel Elaine R Kelly - Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold retells the Gospel stories from the view of woman disciples Elizabeth Jaacobsen - Not By Sight is a novel bringing Joseph's story to life Donna E. Lane - Author of historical fiction, devotionals and counselling resources Naomi Craig - Yahweh's Legacy trilogy starts with Rahab's Courage Donna E. Lane and Naomi Craig are preparing for the upcoming release of And Their Numbers Grew, centred on four followers of Christ as the early church began.
Elaine Ricker Kelly uses her experiences as a woman in business to inspire and empower women at home, church and society. She was an investment and insurance advisor for thirty years, has three grown daughters, and is passionate about writing to encourage girls and women in leadership. Elaine R. Kelly lives near Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, with her husband and lap dog. She and her husband have hiked the 900 km Bruce Trail and enjoy hiking, nature, tennis, music, history and culture.
Books by Elaine Ricker Kelly:
Forgotten Followers from Broken to Bold - biblical fiction offering hope and healing to anyone who feels forgotten, belittled, or out of place.
The Sword: A Fun Way to Engage in Healthy Debate on What the Bible Says About a Woman's Role - provides 104 flashcards with an objective, memorable look at the rationale for diverse views on gender roles.