Article by Dana Bell
“Your job is to do the best you can and leave the rest up to God.” That is one of my favorite quotes from Facing the Giants. I turn to this film when I need uplifting and to be reminded that God is in control even during the turbulent storms of life.
Even when I faced down the devil who tried to protect his bastion over Science Fiction. He’d held control so long that he got taken by surprise when a number of Christian SFFH writers stormed his wall and against all odds, got published and recognized in the community he’d controlled literally for years.
Did he put up a fight? Oh, yeah. Several of us went through spiritual warfare in various forms. Because I was expecting the attack I fought back in prayer. Others did as well, and, truthfully, some struggled. God still won. He had placed several writers in good standing inside Science Fiction fandom.
I found it exciting to watch. During those early years of Marcher Lord Press, the very active chat pages, and the impact made by new Christian SF writers. We were not all fortunate enough to be published there but did find homes in various markets, some Christian, others not.
The route I took was a local secular small press. While I love the Christian community, my heart was to break into a different market because how else are the unbelievers ever going to hear about Christ and what he did for us?
My first book Winter Awakening had creatures believing in the ancient Egyptian gods. I’ll admit I love the myths, and I use them in many of my stories and books. I also introduced an unknown god that several of my characters, none of them human, after they’d found an ancient book in the library and changed their beliefs. I alluded to the message they received, but never got specific.
My publisher picked up on it though and when I tossed my pitch line for my next book, “God told us you were coming, tell us about His son,” were the first words the aliens spoke to the human settlers. She informed me she wanted it.
I’ll admit God’s Gift was daring because I wanted to present Christianity as a life style, not a religion. My main characters were born in fanfiction. I invented them to fill some holes needed in a Stargate Atlantis/Left Behind story I wrote. Another Christian wrote the Stargate SG1 version, and we worked together on both. Quite honestly, we were the ones who opened up Christian fanfiction. Our followers were surprised but loved every minute of it.
Back to why I used the original characters I invented for fanfiction. One, I got amazing feedback on them. Two, I wanted to take them out for spin in their own novel to see what happened. Luckily, I got some of my military rank corrected, and I talked to someone who had actually been inside Cheyenne Mountain. Information I also used in the sequel Winter Emergence, which is still in progress.
Both books have done moderately well, and I was never attacked for my beliefs. Why? Because I was already known in SF fandom. People had hung around me, talked to me, knew me, and I’d never once tried to, and I’m going to put this bluntly, ‘shove my ‘religion’ down their throats.’
I also showed respect for what they believed. During a drive back from the Springs, a good friend of mine talked about why she was a pagan and what she believed. I never interrupted; I just listened. Toward the end of the drive, she asked if I’d fallen asleep or was offended. I told her truthfully no. Did I on occasion share my beliefs? Sometimes. Just a sprinkle here or a sprinkle there. When the Holy Spirit told me to shut up and change the subject, I did.
One surprise I did get was a friend of mine had been talking about their troubles and, all of the sudden, words came out of my mouth. Her response was: I don’t believe that. Caught by surprise, I replied I know. I figured out later I wasn’t one the one talking. That came straight from God.
Not the first time He’s done something like that. I work customer service quite a bit; and I’ll make a comment to a person I’m helping, and I frown, not sure where it came from. Later in the conversation, what I said was exactly what they needed to hear or to help build rapport with them. This is a good example of word of knowledge. God telling you something you couldn’t possibly know by your five senses.
Yes, I believe in the spiritual gifts talked about in 1 Corinthians Chapter 12. I have at times in my life used all nine. When walking in the world of science fiction and witnessing, you have to use word of knowledge and word of wisdom. The latter means wisely using what God just told you. Discerning of spirits plays into this too because you have to know if you’re dealing with a demon or not. If you are, the first thing you do is ask God what to do. I made this mistake once of not asking and the outcome was bad.
Discerning of spirits can also tell you who other Christians are. I always find them whether at conventions or in the workplace.
The reasons these three gifts are important to use is because the common mistake made is for Christians to talk more than they should. God will honestly tell you, say this and when to be quiet. Think of it like a chef sprinkling spice into a dish. Too much and it’s ruined. Not enough and it doesn’t taste right. Just the right amount makes it perfect.
The most important thing is: make sure you are grounded in your beliefs. I’ve seen way too many back down because they don’t honestly know what they believe. In Timothy, Paul tells us to study the word of God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
I’ve had many discussions on Facebook around many issues because I know exactly where to look in the Bible and how to back up what I believe. Does it upset people? Of course, it does. The word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword. Until recently, I didn’t understand what that meant. I was researching swords for a duel and discovered the ancient Romans used them as their weapon. They would have known that in Israel and understood the point Paul was trying to make.
I’m also firmly convinced dragons were once real. Not only from drawings done by some artist during the middle-ages, but also because of the description in Job. If you really read it, you can tell it’s a sea dragon. I even wrote a story based on it and published in the first anthology I edited Of Fur and Fire. A unique experience and I learned a great deal, despite not being allowed to pick the order they were presented in. The publisher did that. Side note here, Years later, I found out much later that I had accepted the first story of one of our local writers and help launch his career.
I went on to edit a total of seven anthologies and co-edited an eighth. One of our writers won an award from the Cat Writers of America in the latter.
The reason I bring this up is because one of my goals was to help other writers both improve their stories and to get them published. My running joke is: as an editor, I’m your worst nightmare English teacher, but my heart is to have your story shine.
I did open calls for all except one. Supernatural Colorado was an invite-only. Did I have writers contact me about submitting a story without an invite? Yes. I sent a copy of the guidelines, made them aware of the deadline and watched for their tale.
Honestly, in my opinion, it was the best one I edited. I had an incredible talent pool. My plan had been to write the vampire story. One of my authors sent a better one based on the black-eyed children tales. I’d recently learned about it. That one made the anthology because hers was better than the one I wrote. I contributed a mermaid story.
A certain percentage of the authors were Christians. I dipped into the pool and made certain they knew I wanted stories from them, not just my secular writers. What I discovered is that my Christian writers had more creative and original stories than what I got from everyone else. I share this at conventions, and I watch the shocked faces in the audience.
We write under the direction of the Holy Spirit. I put things in my writing that I later go back and say, why is that there? Eventually, I figure it out. I pray before I write. It’s normally, God or Daddy, you want to come play? And the words flow. I don’t know if it’s like that for anyone else. When it’s time to quit. I stop.
One hint here for those who don’t outline. If you start a sentence, don’t finish it, it’s a jumping-off point. Or leave yourself notes like where you want to go or questions you need answered. This technique has proved very useful and I learned it from the pros.
The bottom line we’ve been called as writers for SFFH. We are needed here. While there is a market for ‘preaching to the choir’, we need to expand our horizons and reach out to those who have never heard about Christ or have been preached at or condemned by well-meaning brothers/sisters who have been taught the incorrect way to share the truth.
Shared in the Bible is the story about planting seeds. One plants, one sows, and one reaps. Our job is to plant the seed. Leave the results up to God.
Dana Bell work can be found here: