Donald James Parker

Donald James Parker is a rebel with a cause and is the author of nine novels, seven of which he considers culture-flash fiction. His goal is to promote God's kingdom and tear down strongholds of the enemy while he provides entertainment. He writes for The Christian Pulse, Examiner.Com, and The ebooks of all his novels are available for free download from his website at All of Don's books promote sexual purity, but two are especially focused on that topic - Love Waits and Homeless Like Me. The novels that attack the theory of human evolution include More Than Dust in the Wind, All the Voices of the Wind, and All the Fury of the Wind. Reforming the Potter's Clay is an attack on the occult. All the Stillness of the Wind is a spiritual odyssey which spotlights cheap grace and lukewarm living.

Ford Had a Better Idea—Do You?

Warning: The subtitle of my article this month is Spinach Cliché. Be advised that frequent use of clichés may be employed throughout this soapbox monologue. And remember that use of clichés, except sprinkled in conversation where language pattern usage actually helps draw the portrait of a character, is severely frowned upon by critics. I am in the jaws of a wicked time crunch and don’t have time to wax eloquent with original prose. And besides, taking a stroll down cliché memory lane could be fun.

As a unpublished or self-published fiction author, you are probably aware that the cards are stacked against you, that you’re behind the eight ball, and that you haven’t got the chance of a snowman constructed in front of chestnuts roasting o’er an open fire. I hope I’m not popping your bubble here. If an ambitious but unsuccessful author is to analyze the current publishing landscape and develop a strategy for literary acknowledgement, I believe one ingredient is conspicuous by its presence: uniqueness. Ecclesiastes stated that there was nothing new under the sun.

With the zillions of books collecting fine grains of Mother Earth, one might be led to accept that statement as gospel truth. Has not every single story been told already? Are we not all rehashing old tales when we weave our tangled webs of romance, mystery, and suspense? The challenge of bringing something nouveau to the novel does appear rather daunting.

Is this really Mission Impossible? Are you dreaming the impossible dream? Are you trying to scale Mount Slippery, clad in patent leather shoes dipped in bear grease, or circumnavigate the stormy seas of the world in the Good Ship Lollipop? My first reaction is a definite “duh.” The examples of snowflakes and fingerprints give me pause to ponder and to realize that even a common love story can have original twists, perhaps enough to make it stand out among the crowd. There is hope on the horizon.

Speaking of clichés, whenever success in fiction becomes the topic du jour around the water cooler, The Shack is usually one of the combinations of syllables uttered. Talk about improbabilities. A totally unknown author, writing a story for his kids and not publication, turned the Christian publishing world upside down. Definitely there was an aspect of uniqueness in this overnight sensation.

How many other writers have ever dared to put God as a character in their novel and make Him a calorie-challenged black woman? I’d be tempted to go out on limb, since I haven’t read every book ever written, and say that Mr. Young was certainly innovative with his portrayal of Papa. Not only did The Shack blaze a new literary trail, but it was controversial. Possessing the moxie to write something that makes waves is definitely in the asset column.

Face the music, folks! The world offers other entertainment besides the novel, forms that require less effort are easier to digest and take up less of our precious time. If you want to make a splash in the world of modern literature, you need material heavy enough to displace large amounts of water. Simply writing a worn-out tale of a man and woman playing games of love will draw little attention. Somehow you need to bring freshness to stale topics, or better yet, find a new topic.

I don’t know how you operate. Do you sit down and scheme to write the “great American novel”? Is your goal literary success at any cost? If so, let me stroll out on a limb and stick my foot in my mouth. You’re missing the boat, as well as the cab and the train! If God has called you to write, His sole purpose is not to entertain the world. His calling is much higher.

Your duty is to be obedient to Him and to write things that glorify Him and influence readers to choose light instead of darkness. Sure, you can ignore that call and pigheadedly push your own agenda onto the world. And you might even break through and encounter some success, but the odds are that you’ll end up a frustrated and warped hack, trying to compete in a literary jungle where only the strongest survive.

There seems to be something noble about never letting a dream die, but appearances are often deceiving. I might really venture out on that branch to where only squirrels and small birds go. It might be that your attempt to be a writer is preventing you from fulfilling God’s real call on your life. Be it far from me to dash another’s dreams, but I truly believe you need to be assured that your dream coincides with God's will.

One thing we observe in the secular world (and perhaps even in some Christian circles) is that in order to be different, many writers fall prey to the dangerous practice of heightening the sensational and highlighting the devious. This is leading our culture to a state of debauchery as material gets sleazier and sleazier in an attempt by authors to obtain someone’s attention (as well as their hard-earned cash). We Christians need to counterweight that descent into depravity by producing works of light and love. The mission field is well defined.

The tactics required to combat successfully and conquer are more elusive. How does one write a novel to stem the inundation of the sexual slave trade market? Can a skillful author shut down meth labs with words? Can abortion be abolished through poignant fiction? We need to enter into combat in all of these arenas. Remember that writing is fragile; handle with prayer. Be led not by your thirst for success but by your thirst for righteousness. Let God write the masterpiece through you. Don’t try to manufacture it through worldly means. I believe uniqueness is a necessary element in novels, but I’m convinced we need to let the Creator of the snowflake bring out the miraculous quality of novelty in us.


Love Waits