Despite Mark’s lighthearted reaction, finding him at the market in the middle of the afternoon told Maria that something unusual was in the air. The sober look on his face as they walked down the street together was further proof. She remembered suddenly about his planned meeting with Eusebius and wondered what had happened. Evidently something unusual had taken place.
glanced at him while they walked and noticed that he was deep in thought. She
wouldn’t disturb him, she decided. He’d tell her when he was ready. She stepped
a little closer to him, drawing strength from his presence.
amazing how God brought us together, she thought. I never expected to get remarried after
James died. I suppose Mark felt the same way when he lost Lydia. Yet here we are
at him again, noting the wrinkles in his forehead and the bit of grey sprinkled
through his hair. His face could have been cut from marble—it was rugged and
showed the hard times he’d been through. Yet it was also the face of a man. A
man who had faced life and overcome it. A man who didn’t need accolades and
flattery to make him feel needed and useful. A man who had looked at the
answers to life, evaluated them, and thrown out the artificial ones.
A man who
had made peace with his God and with himself.
Publishing a book is a little like having a baby. Except it’s taken longer than nine months. But it looks like a few more months will bring this book to life. So start saving your pennies, unless you’re Canadian. In that case start saving your nickels, since pennies no longer officially exist here in Canada.
I pressed the SEND button for my first draft of this book to get it on its way to my reviewers. This is always a good feeling. While it will be at least a year before you can buy a copy, the hardest part of the book is finished. A historical novel takes a lot of research in order to set up a realistic setting. For instance, here are some simple questions that I battled with.
How many people lived in Nicomedia, the city where this book takes place? Apparently, the city had as many as eight bishoprics. But how many Christians does that translate into?
What was “home” like for Mark and Lydia? Where would they have lived and what was it like? I discovered that running water was the norm at this time in a Roman city.
Soon after I started writing, Mark’s mother was cooking supper. And I realized I had no idea what this entailed. A fireplace? I finally decided on a barbecue like charcoal stove as the most likely.
Since I was including the emperor’s point of view, I had to make sure that I got the history right. But what is right when major historians disagree on the timing of major events like the battle of Margus River? And when did Diocletian die? I had several possibilities to choose from. So I chose 311, knowing that probably I’ll get a letter from someone stating that the proper date was 313.
Lactantius, one of the Early Church Fathers was an eyewitness contemporary of some of the events in this book. But big name historians like Gibbon brush him aside as biased in his coverage. Gibbon is sure that his documentation is seriously exaggerated. Surely no one could believe that this many people died. My sympathies (and those of some later historians) are with Lactantius, but I finally stuck with the figure of 3,500 martyrs.
And of course there were dozens of other details. What did Mark and Lydia wear? What was baptism like in this era? Did presbyters and bishops really take a vow of poverty? Did the church support members becoming soldiers? What was a normal service like?
I think you get the idea. If you want to know the answers, read the book when it comes out.
I realize that projections can get you into trouble. But I’m hoping to get reviewing and fine tuning behind me and have the book to the publisher in 6 – 8 weeks. Then it goes through their review process while I bite my nails. Well I tend to do that anyway, but my writing style and methodology seems to be on the edge for this publisher. But I’ll dive right into Book Two of this series and let the editors and reviewers sort out what needs sorted out.
Suffice to say that I hope you can actually buy this book by the fall of 2020.
And a Sneak Preview…
So, Constantine, here we come! You might be surprised at my view of Constantine, but we’ll see. Those were heady days for the church and we’ll ride the roller coaster with Mark as he faces the everyday life of a bishop under Constantine. The Nicene council? He’s going, and they’re going to talk about more than just the substance of Christ. Can a Roman emperor be both emperor and Christian at the same time? Some of these questions still haunt us today and are surprisingly modern in focus.