Laura is offering to one randomly chosen commenter (US only) a print edition of her novel TREASURE TRAITOR. The winner will be announced here on Friday, July 26th, between 4-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!
Here's an excerpt of Laura's TREASURE TRAITOR for you to enjoy:
For the Glory by Laura Popp
As a child I dreamed of becoming a famous author. A whole universe swirled through my mind, demanding to be realized. I wrote dozens of stories and received only “thank you, buts...” in return. My dream seemed to be miscarrying before it could even be delivered.
Then, in 2009 at age 23, God called me as a missionary to Japan. A chill of fear accompanied my excitement. Could I find a church family? Would I ever master Japanese? Most importantly: could I pursue my writing career?
I suddenly found myself immersed in a world where few had even heard the name Jesus. It was suffocating to realize I may be the only person my students, colleagues, and friends ever met who could tell them about God’s ultimate sacrifice and love. Compared to this desperate need, writing stories felt almost sacrilegious. Spending hundreds of dollars mailing off manuscripts and contest fees and attending writers’ conferences in Tokyo seemed like a waste.
After the March 2011 tsunami swept away hundreds of homes and thousands of lives, I voiced my concerns to a fellow missionary. Shouldn’t I be spending all my time and resources in the relief effort? Was it selfish of me to harbor this dream of publishing books about make-believe worlds when the real world around me was falling apart?
Her forehead wrinkled, as if the question confused her. “Laura,” she said, “why can’t you do both?”
I stared at her, too stunned to speak.
“Don’t you think,” she continued, “that if you’ve been given a passion, you can use it for the glory of God?”
Not my glory. His glory.
This idea totally transformed my thinking. I stopped trying to compartmentalize my life into sacred and secular, missions and mundane. Everything, including my writing, became part of my integrated mission statement: To glorify God wherever I am, whoever I’m with, whatever I’m doing. The very next day, after my sixth novel, Treasure Traitor, had received thirty rejections, a small Christian press in Colorado contacted me. If that’s not God, I don’t know what is.
Two years later, I’ve been to thirteen different countries for missions and research for my books. My most exciting trip was probably Singapore, where I participated in a “falconer for a day” program, and developed the bird character Acha in Treasure Traitor.
Modern missionaries often use the term “people group” to describe their target audience. As with the Japanese, I feel that God chose my literary “people group” for me. I’ve always written for teens, because theirs are the stories that fascinate me. In young adulthood we discover who we are and what we long to become.
My challenge became how to share God’s love with teenagers who would never pick up a “Christian” book, let alone a Bible. That’s where the allegorical power of science fiction and fantasy really grabs me. The main character of Treasure Traitor, Renagada, flees from her desert world of endless war and a hopeless future, yearning for something more. In her journey she learns of the Kingdom, ruled by King and Prince. She travels there and meets Charis and Agape (whose Greek names mean Grace and God’s Love), but loses the one thing closest to her heart...
And you’ll just have to read the rest of the book! Or at least the excerpt above.
A warning, though: this story is PG-13. One of the things I struggled with was how “realistic” to be. Rena is a broken girl living in a broken world. Without being gratuitous or preachy, I wanted to be true to the kind of decisions lost teenagers make, so they could relate to and understand on a deeper level the trouble certain choices can cause. The words “Jesus” and “Christian” never show up in Treasure Traitor, and there have been some who never saw the connections. But it’s my prayer that the Holy Spirit will speak to those whose hearts are ready.
My challenge to you, whether reader, writer or someone in-between, is to glorify God wherever you are, whoever you’re with, whatever you’re doing.Laura's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Meet author Laura Popp, aka L.J. Popp, writer of YA fantasy fiction “on a journey.” (Tweet This)
Writers: do you feel guilty over writing instead of serving others? Laura Popp shares views. (Tweet This)
Everyone has a story: missionary & author Laura Popp shares insights. (Tweet This)
Win L.J. Popp’s YA fantasy fiction novel TREASURE TRAITOR. (Tweet This)
Besides writing, L.J. Popp has been a model, film maker, teacher, and missionary. Her novels, short stories, essays, and plays have won numerous local and international awards in fantasy and children’s literature. She dreams of having a television series based on her Hierarchy and Kingdom universe. She currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she works for the Young Women’s Christian Association helping refugees and immigrants.
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