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Release Day: THE WARDEN AND THE WOLF KING

Wolf King PosterThe day is finally here. After years of work by a lot of different people (I'm looking at you, Pete, Kris, Christie, Carrie, Jessica, Joe, and all you Kickstarters), we're about to set The Warden and the Wolf King loose. Some of you have already read it. (Thank you!) Others of you may be sick of us promoting it. (Sorry!) But with this many people and this much work involved, it would be silly to not try and give these books the best possible shot at making it into the hands of the masses. I have long believed that Story (with a capital "s") is the language God wired our hearts to speak, and my hope is that this story is one that will speak to your heart, no matter what you may believe. So, if you're a fan of the Wingfeather Saga and you're willing to help, here's what you can do: 1) Come to Parnassus Books, 3900 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215 at 6:30 tonight for the release party! We'll have a book signing, a costume party, snacks (bibes!), and Skye and I will be singing a Wingfeather song. 2) Tweet about the books. You can link to either Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or here at the Rabbit Room Store. 3) If you blog, please write a review about book four--or about the series as a whole. 4) If you're J. J. Abrams, please consider making a film.

Gonna take a while . . .

“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” —Parker Palmer I recently spent some time sorting through boxes in my parent’s garage in preparation for an epic yard sale (I have a healthy respect for anyone who has done this more than twice in a lifetime). The dust, barely visible on my hands and collected in drifts across the concrete garage floor, added a visceral grit to those hours that mirrored the inner work of re-living memories, sorting through boxes and boxes filled with the past. With an endless stack of boxes in front of me, I sneezed and shook my head, then settled myself on a tattered old towel to fight through tears and dust. This is going to take a while. There was a lot of junk uncovered during those hours. There were treasures, too. The junk tended to be objects we’d purchased; the treasures were the things made or enhanced with that personal touch. The treasures were often the things that might easily be mistaken for trash—like a piece of paper, wrinkled and creased into something like a tiny book.

Glory Be (II)

To Him who presses curiosities four-to-a-row across the dimpled backs of infant hands; Glory be. To Him who has made the dust of the hay barn settle in drowsy glory through a slant line of sun; Who has birthed three naked, new mice, just pink, bare thumbs, sucking out blind thirst in a mother’s tossings and tendings of the grasses of the earth; Glory be. Who has swelled the heavy teats of the cow? Who has made them drip milk in drops, sweet, white puffs and sighs on the dry brown barn floor? Who has wetted her brown, round, empathetic eyes? Who has given her a tail to smack against her meat? Glory be. To Him who has made the cool March wind snap the curtains to applause; Who hovers (might He even cluck or coo?), wing thrown round about His beloved, heady as the hot underside of a hen; Who opens up the earth like a lap, belly out, leaned back, arms thrown wide, feet planted in a father's welcome, Glory Be.

The Making of a Home

Clean your little corner up and see what starts to change” --Andrew Osenga, “Don't Lose Heart” When I think of myself being “creative,” I default to my natural gifts, poetry and songwriting. But in the past few months those have been hard to come by. I had to prepare for one of the biggest changes of my life: finding a home and getting married. Back in February I was lucky to find a small third floor apartment from a kind old lady looking for good tenants. Jen and I stared at the blank walls and empty rooms, awaiting our touch like the unwritten days and weeks of our new life together. March was a month of hard labor and going to bed tired every night. You see, I'm not a tradesman by any means. I teach and read and write for a living, so while I'm not above physical labor, it's just not what I'm involved in every day. But that month I did more painting than I'd ever done in my life. I also became a frequent friend of hardware and furniture stores. I became obsessed with this new domestic space—how to make it better, how to make it pleasing for my soon-to-be wife. And yet, it felt like it was taking me away from my “creative” endeavors. Almost every spare minute after work and other responsibilities was poured into it until I collapsed on my bed at night. Something felt missing, like life usually feels when I'm not writing something.

Living Letters: Encountering Colossians

At Hutchmoot 2012, one of the most memorable parts of the weekend was Stephen Trafton's one-man performance of Encountering Philippians (yep, that's Jennifer Trafton's Broadway-veteran brother). His Living Letters series is a project that Stephen has developed over the last few years that's designed to bring Scripture to life in a way that audiences almost certainly haven't experienced before. It's a dramatic performance, a piece of genuine theatre, and it casts you, yes you, in the role of a first-century Christian hearing for the first time a letter that Paul has addressed directly to your local church family. Stephen sets the scene, introduces the characters, and delivers Paul's letter in one seamless performance. Speaking personally, it's a powerful experience. When Stephen first told me about the show, I admit I was skeptical. I thought it sounded a little Sunday-schoolish. But boy was I wrong. Hearing and seeing Paul's letter delivered (in a way very like it might have been to the first-century Philippians) moved me in the best ways; it shifted my perspective on the text enough to let me see in it new colors, new angles, new life. I think it's kind of like poetry---it's one thing on the page, read silently in your head, but often quite another when it's made vocal and visual, enacted bodily. It makes for great theater, as well as great Bible-study. Since that memorable performance at Hutchmoot, Stephen has performed Encountering Philippians for thousands of people all over the country, and now he's developed a new show centered on another of Paul's letters. On Monday night, August 4th, at the Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, you're invited to join us for his performance of Encountering Colossians. The show will run about an hour and I'm pretty sure Stephen will hang around afterward to talk with folks and answer questions. Hope to see a lot of you there. There's no admission fee, but we will take up a love offering for Stephen after the show. Spread the word. Bring a friend or a fellow Rabbit. It's going to be a fun night. When: August 4th @ 7pm Where: Church of the Redeemer, 920 Caldwell Lane, Nashville 37204 Admission is free

Glory Be (I)

To Him who permits the storm-torn hickory to cross upon itself, savage as thrown ink lines, Glory be. To Him who grants the turkey vulture a bare red face, so that she might reach between ribs of the dead and pick meat off their bones; Who beholds the rusted eye of Jupiter, blasting? (Like a woman in her fury? I cannot tell.) Even so, glory be. Nor can I tell if He ordains or simply allows hail to bruise the soft bodies of tree frogs; or why he does not stop the wild dog from laughing (by my judgment) overloud. Glory be to Him who shaped the teeth of the wolf in their sockets 'ere any shepherd shaped his staff; To Him who planted a fruit-bearing tree then spoke, "You shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Glory be. To Him Who has been from the beginning other, Who cannot be etherized, elucidated, abridged; Who grants to life gravity and resistance, Who is untamed by those who would harness Him, Who spins the moon round, round and round again, from dissonance to resolve until she flushes white and clean, shining like Moses fresh down from the mountain; Glory be.

Live at North Wind Manor: Son of Laughter

Last year, Chris Slaten (Son of Laughter) delivered a roundhouse kick to my brain with his EP The Mantis and the Moon, and I'm pretty sure his performance at Hutchmoot brought a full Van Damme down on quite a few other brains as well. Since then he's been all over the country playing house shows and raising money to record his first full-length record (for which he's already written all the songs). Part of our vision for North Wind Manor is that it be a unique house-show venue, and we've asked Son of Laughter to be our inaugural guinea pig. With that in mind, we've been working hard to get the house and grounds in order. Rooms to paint, weeds to pull, air conditioning to install, flowers to plant, screen doors to fix---the list is enough to make me tired just thinking about it. But we're looking forward to having a big group of all of you out next Friday night to put the place through its paces. Tickets are just $5 (free to Rabbit Room members) and we're limiting the show to 40 people. We also ask that you bring a snack or side dish to share. We'll provide the drinks. The event begins at 7:30pm and you're welcome to stick around and enjoy fellowship with friends after the show. We will also be taking donations for Chris, which will go toward funding his new record. We think you're in for a real treat. Here's what another house show host had to say: "Chris Slaten's songs . . . reminded us of longings and hurts and loves we had not known how to voice . . . He provided for us a space and a common language in which to reveal our lives to one another." ---Dr. Tim Basselin, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Worship - Dallas Theological Seminary And here's a taste of Son of Laughter's particular genius in the form of a song from the current EP, The Mantis and the Moon. It's called "The Fiddler" and . . . well . . . just listen. [audio:Fiddler.mp3] Click here for tickets. We'll see you at the door. [Note: If you aren't able to make the show at the North Wind, Chris has another show the following night at the Riverside Assembly Hall, also in Nashville. Click here for more information on that show.]

Avast! A Release Party

Friends, Skreeans, and Hollowsfolk! The official release of The Warden and the Wolf King is in three weeks, and we’re throwing a costume party. On July 22nd at 6:30 PM, at Parnassus Books (one of the best bookstores in Nashville), we’re ushering into the world the conclusion of the Wingfeather Saga, and we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re loosing the thwaps. We’re---we’re---herding the toothies! In true Hollish style we’re having a rowdy time, and I’d love for you to come. Why would you want to come to such an event, you wonder? 1) Because you’ll be able to try honeymuffins and sugarberry buns (and maybe some maggotloaf?). 2) You’ll be able to sip Hollish bibes of many fruity flavors. 3) You may want to to quote Oskar N. Reteep’s favorite books to one another. 4) There will be a COSTUME CONTEST—the winners of which will receive mind-blowing prizes. (One prize for each age group.) 5) My daughter Skye (the inspiration for Leeli Wingfeather) will be on hand to sing “My Love Has Gone Across the Sea” (from The Monster in the Hollows) with me like the Song Maiden that she is. 6) I’ll read from the new book and answer as many questions as I can. 7) Aedan and Asher Peterson will be there to autograph copies of Pembrick’s Creaturepedia, to which they both contributed vast amounts of talent. I hope you can come celebrate with us. Beware the toothy cows. AP WHAT: Wingfeather Saga Book Release Party WHEN: July 22nd at 6:30 PM. WHERE: Parnassus Books, 3900 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215 (615) 953-2243 WHY: (See above list.)

Shady Characters

Here is a literary exercise which might help illuminate a dilemma nagging my real life. When we are done with the exercise, hopefully, you can give me counsel. Think of one or more novels (or movies) that have shady characters. In the comments, list the title of the novel (movie) and the shady character. Now, by shady I mean to imply a character of doubtful reputation. A shady character is not definitely bad. Neither is she certainly good. Usually a shady character seems to be up to good but somehow gives the impression her motives are dubious. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they are not. Other characters are attracted to a shady character but never feel comfortable they should be drawn to her. Almost always, no matter how the shady character turns out in the end, the other characters are better off for having journeyed with the shady character for a time . . . but not always. A shady character can be as subtle as Mr. Tumnus leading Lucy Pevensie into the woods. A shady character can be as enigmatic as Sunday taking Syme on a wild goose chase. A shady character can be as unpleasant as Haymitch Abernathy mentoring Katniss Everdeen; Katniss herself is a shady character. Shady characters are most of the people sitting around Edna Spalding at church in that final scene of Places in the Heart.

Poll: What Songs Should Be on AP’s Best-of Record?

Hello, Rabbit Roomers. We're narrowing down the list of songs to include on the "best-of" record releasing later this fall (as opposed to a "greatest hits" record, which would be very short, indeed), and I'd love to know which songs you think should be included. This is tricky because I'm torn between making sure the album is listenable (i.e., it can't be all slow songs) and trying to choose songs that might have the deepest impact for new listeners. If you could take a few minutes and let me know a couple of your favorites from each my albums (not including Behold the Lamb), I'd appreciate it. If you aren't familiar with the record, just skip the question. Thanks! Click here to take the quick poll. You can leave comments here, but the poll is the easiest way for me to keep track. Gracias.