Why I Wrote a Story About Death [i’m getting published again; ‘a kind of death’ release day!]

Today is the day that my short story, Eshe, gets released in Uncommon Universes Press’s first anthology, A Kind of Death: Tales of Love, Loss, and Transformation.

I’ve actually hardly talked about this? Which is definitely weird. Life’s been kind of crazy, and I’ve hardly sat down with my computer at all. Anyweys.

I want to tell you why I wrote Eshe, a story about death.

akod 1


Sometimes it feels strange to say that I’m getting published in a collection of poems and short stories about death. I know how morbid it sounds, how some people definitely think, “yikes!” when they hear that title.

Honestly though, most of my stories involve death. If you’ve read any of my eight published flash fictions, you will find that four of the eight deal fairly strongly with death in some form or another.

But why do I come back to death again and again in my stories?


Death was never meant to be.

This world was created bursting at its atoms with life and wonder, every piece perfect and whole and beautiful and glorifying to God.

Yet humans rebelled against God, pushed against his kingdom, and enter from stage right: sin and death.

This world is shattered now. Death comes to all things here; from the honey bee to the forests packed with trees to the stars galaxies away to the picked rose to the blue whale to the cells that make up the fingers that type these letters.

I’m still young, in good health. Yet I am decaying, dying. And so is this world.

Little ones only weeks old die in their cribs from SIDs. Graves fill with bodies of soldiers. The hearts beating under the papery skin of the elderly stop. Sickness and violence rob families of loved ones every way we turn. We can’t escape death. Death is a present reality.


I write about death to see death rightly. It’s not romantic. It’s real, but it’s not normal. It’s not how it should be. It’s not how it will always be. It’s not the end.

I write about death to peer past this destroyed world and remember that there is another kingdom my eyes can’t see.

I write about death so that I can learn to die well.

I write about death because it reminds me to live well.

I write about death because in doing so, in a strange way, I see Jesus more clearly. I see his kindness, for only One of great love would submit to death to save a rebellious, self-destroying, dying people. I see his power, for only One of great might can redeem death itself.

And seeing Jesus more clearly gives me courage. Courage to not fear death. Courage to pray that every sinful, unfruitful thing in me be put death and that I be undone and remade again and again until he calls me home. Courage to believe that one day, death will be a distant memory, and being alive, being with Jesus, will forever be the present reality.

Death will come for me one day, but death will not get the final say over me. Only Jesus gets that.

aKoDCover.jpgA Kind of Death Blurb:

A princess who makes dangerous bargains with the afterlife. A man desperate to save his wife, no matter the cost. An uber driver for the undead.

Death, whether real or metaphorical, comes for us all. Yet it is not always the end. And in the depths of grieving can be the promise of hope and redemption.

The tales and poems in this anthology explore the depths of love, loss, and transformation. Whether in a reimagined folktale or a modern urban fantasy, A Kind of Death features a fine balance of tragedy and comedy, but always with a hint of wonder and hope.

As this anthology concerns matters of loss (all handled tastefully and without graphic depiction), certain stories might prove challenging for sensitive readers. Recommend reading with a hot beverage and/or a packet of tissues.

A Kind of Death is available as in paperback, hardback, and ebook.

Find it on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and UUP.

Don’t forget to enter to win a hardback copy of A Kind of Death along with two art prints and additional book swag!

I can’t wait for you to read Eshe. <3

With love,


p.s. – here’s the Eshe pinterest board, if you’re interested.

p.p.s. – fun fact: Eshe is my favorite thing I’ve written to date.

p.p.p.s. – I get to be published with Savannah Grace again! And alongside Bethany Jennings for the first time! Whoop whoop!

The Stories We Will Tell [musings from my recurring existential crisis about Christian art]

This post is five years and six tries in the making.

It is not my usual trying-to-be-helpful/5-tips-for-xyz/oh-and-here’s-a-book-and-a-playlist-I-recommend-on-the-subject sort of post. I already tried to write this post in those formats and a few styles as well. It didn’t work.

So this is more journal entry/stream-of-consciousness.

I am a Christian, and I am a storyteller. Welcome to my angsty thought life regarding the marriage of my Christianity and my storytelling.

The Stories We Will Tell.jpg

This is me, for the last five years, about every story I’ve written:

I’m a Christian. Do I write Christian stories? Or am I a Christian who tells stories?

Is this too preachy? Or is this subject matter too dark?

I’m twenty years old. Am I old enough to write this sort of stuff? Will I ever be “old enough” to write this stuff?

My mom will read this. Will she squirm?

People at my church may read this. Will they judge me?

People I’ve never met may read this. Will this help them?

Should I paint the world and humanity as it is, how it should be, or how it could be?

On one hand this story has blatant themes of true greatness, healing, and hope. But it is steeped in kidnapping, stonings, family dysfunction, betrayal, murder, torture, idolatry, and self-obsession. (False Gods)

Will the Christian community condemn me for this? Or are they willing to see into the dark to see why it’s written like this? Can they see that every layer of darkness and depravity has a role to play in contrasting every layer of light and goodness?

Will the non-Christian community scorn me for this attempt at art? Or will this break down barriers and show Jesus to those who have never known him?

Am I writing to entertain, challenge the comfortable, befriend the lonely, raise questions, answer questions, tell it how it is, tell it how it can be, glorify God, or all the above?

On one hand this story showcases one small step to healing. But it is filled with anger, bitterness, grief, and violent death. (Start With Their Names)

Is my Christianity coming through too obnoxiously in this story? Or does this look no different from what the world has to give?

If I include a God-figure, am I capable of writing it well? If I cannot write it well, how do I portray a world without God? Is it wrong for me to portray a world without God? Is that some sort of betrayal of the truest, most real Person in the universe?

Why does it feel like I’m overthinking this? Why does it feel like I’m not thinking about it enough?

These people who I love and respect think that Christian art in general is not done well. And they think I shouldn’t write Christian stories. These other people who I love and respect think that I shouldn’t go too dark, are concerned when my stories aren’t moral or light enough. Which is right? Are either of them wrong? Is it possible for me to execute overtly Christian art well?

On one hand this is a story of new life, light, love, grace, and family. And in its backdrop sit shame, extramarital sex, abandonment, and disownment. But without the latter, can the former shine so brightly? (Unexpected)

Am I reaching too far with this story? Can even a fraction of this vision in my head be achieved on the page?

Do I have what it takes to tackle all of this? Do I have what it takes to bridge this gap between excellent art and the Christian community? Does it matter at all if I have “what it takes” or not as long as I pursue God’s glory through excellent storytelling?

Should there even be such a thing as specifically Christian art? Should I write stories for other Christians, or should I write stories for non-Christians? Is it possible to do both?

At what point should I just quit caring what people think and just work to tell a good story?

What even defines a good story? Can there be an excellent story that isn’t “good”? Or does excellence denote goodness? And what sort of goodness are we talking about here? Moral goodness, craft excellence, or something else?

Will it really kill me to just write fluffy stories since those don’t tend to step on any toes? Oh, wait, those do step on the toes of the people who don’t appreciate the unique value of a fluffy story. What now?

On one hand, this story is all about perseverance, responsibility, and self-sacrifice. And yet it also includes mild gore and torture while touching on genocide. (That Last Breath)

Will people think differently of me if I write dark stories? Is that a bad thing? Does it really matter what they think of me?

If they will condemn me because of truth of human nature (aka: depravity) in my stories, do I really care what they think?

If they will insult me because of the flaming arrows pointing to Jesus in my stories, do I really care what they think?

Speaking of Jesus, what does he think about all this? What does he call me to do in this?

Can I live with people misunderstanding my intentions, insulting me, or condemning me as far as my storytelling goes if I know I’m writing what I’ve been called to write? Basically, do I really believe Jesus’ opinion is enough to render all the others moot?

There is no good way to finish this post, and so I’m going to drop the bookend here.

These questions (and more) come back again and again with every story that I write. The only thing I really know for sure is that I’m called to pursue excellence in storytelling for the glory of Jesus.

I must learn to tune out the conflicting, raging opinions around me and focus in on Jesus and what magnifies him. It’s not always going to be obvious. It’s not always going to be subtle. But it must always be the motivation and end of every story I write.

Thank you to Caleb Valentine, Janie Valentine, Katie Grace, Nadine Brandes, Tony Reinke, Stephen E. Burnett, Jackie Hill PerryMary Weber, Tosca LeeLindsay Franklin, Steve Laube, and Aimee Meester; though you may not have known it, your friendship, books, teaching, example, discussions, podcasts, and/or blog posts have been helping me think through this issue for quite some time.

Thank you to Daddy for not being freaked out by the wide variety of stories along the Christian storytelling spectrum that I’ve thrown at you.

And thank you, Jesus, for who you are. You are not tame. You are not dark. You are not clean. You are completely holy. You are endlessly creative. You are always good.

Hopefully this question-filled post will help you figure out the kind of stories you will tell.

With love,


P.S. – sorry for being AWOL last week, my friends. My brain hiccuped, and then it was too late to put together a good post for last week. So here we are.

P.P.S. – what about you? What’s the deal with the stories you tell?