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Story Sunday #5: Brought Up by a Demon

Seth isn’t thrilled to be the nephew of a man who raises the dead.

First of all, I am so sorry if anyone received more than one email notification for this post. There were difficulties uploading, and I did not realize that unpublishing and republishing would send you guys another notification. So I am very sorry about that, thank you for understanding!

And now…

Story Sunday salutations!

What a genius introduction, am I right?

The Details on This Week’s Writing

Number of words written: I am super proud of myself, because I actually wrote 9,521 words! This coming week I’m aiming for 10k. I appreciate all the encouragement given in the comments!

What I did: Here are the things I worked on this week.

  • Went back, reread, rewrote, and edited Chapters 2-4 of The Apostle’s Sister.
  • Sent those chapters to a group of beta readers and studied their advice and suggestions.
  • Worked on a short story based on TAS.
  • Brainstormed by doing some free-writing.
  • I don’t know if this counts, so I didn’t include it in the word count, but I wrote a speech I’ll be giving in a couple weeks.

Highlights: I think I really improved Chapters 2-4 during this week’s edits. I’m much more satisfied with how they are now, and I think this coming week I’ll move on from them and begin work on another section of The Apostle’s Sister.

Thoughts/experiences: Well, while editing Chapter 2 this week, I realized something that made the plot a lot more interesting! In Chapter 2, Temira and Paul have their first confrontation after years of estrangement. (And it’s very awkward!) You can hardly blame Temira for being on the defensive.

So I wrote Chapter 2 and went through rounds of edits before I realized this: that Paul would actually not have known about Reuben. Well, the last time he saw Temira she was with child, so he knew that, but since he didn’t stick around he had no idea whether he had a nephew or a niece. In the first drafts of Chapter 2, I wrote it so that Paul knows he has a nephew and even knows Reuben’s name, but I just now realized: How could he have known that if he abandoned Temira? I honestly can’t believe I overlooked that before, and once I fixed it, it added so much tension to the confrontation scene.

Paul not even knowing whether he had a nephew or a niece really clues the reader in to the fact that he seriously neglected Temira, and makes us feel that she had good reason to be angry and unyielding toward him.

I feel that during the first chapters of the novel, it’s really easy for us to be quick to judge Temira. Her action and feeling toward Paul is cutting and sarcastic, and we easily find ourselves thinking, “Goodness sakes, poor Paul, he’s trying to apologize, can’t you just listen to him and see that he’s a changed man and cares about you now?” It’s easy to dislike Temira for her treatment of Paul, because we love Paul for his transfiguration, and can’t imagine how anyone could be so mean and unfair to him. (Especially his own sister.) But that’s viewing the story from only one side.

Temira was deeply hurt by Paul’s actions. She loved and trusted him, and thought he would always be there. Think about it – even as a very little girl she knew no one cared for her but him. And then he just quit caring, and that was traumatic for her and destroyed her world. I mean, really do think about it. How would you feel if your sibling rejected you and refused to even speak to you? Especially if you had no one else who cared?

That’s what it was like for Temira. Her actions were not out of pure spite – Paul had truly hurt her, and she was reacting to that. He didn’t even know he had a nephew! That’s just how loving he was before he became a Christian.

In Temira’s words, when Paul asks after his mysterious nephew/niece: “I had forgotten you could not possibly know, as you choose to abandon your own flesh and blood” (page 18).

Quite a stinging comment. But you can’t blame Temira for it.

Anyway, that’s something very interesting that added a lot of tension!

And now for today’s diary entry!

On Story Sunday Survey #4, the majority voted for a diary entry from Seth about Paul’s miracles. That’s certainly a very interesting part of Paul’s life that deeply affected his family. It’s especially interesting from Seth’s perspective. I mean, how would we feel being a small kid and one of our parents raising people from the dead, healing them of diseases, casting out demons… all without even having to lift a finger? Very strange to consider, isn’t it? That is Seth’s life!

So I hope you all enjoy the following entry.

I’ve only ever had one friend my age, and I think you can guess why.

I met Eutychus in Troas while we were staying there for seven days, and spent nearly the entire week with him. Uncle Paul baptized his mother the second day we stayed, and Euty was my friend for a short time. We explored the woods and cave nearby, waded, and skipped rocks on the river. We found each other agreeable – I liked him because for once I wasn’t pestered about my uncle, and he liked me because we could escape from the older boys who harassed us.

On the first day of the week Uncle Paul held a farewell gathering, as we were to leave the next day. I was disappointed that I would have to leave Euty, and barely listened during Uncle Paul’s sermon, which was unbearably boring. Euty sat straddling the windowsill – we were in the upper room. His mother, sitting with Mama and the other women, didn’t notice.

I thought about accepting Euty’s invitation to sit in the window, too. Only I knew that with Uncle Paul being as strict as he is, he would have my tomb prepared if he caught me. I was falling asleep when an agonized cry went up and I jerked awake.

Euty’s mother was wailing and screaming his name, and at that moment we realized he had dozed off; fallen out of the window, all three stories; and broken his neck at the bottom. I don’t remember anything that happened in the next moments – I was too dazed. The one part I do remember vividly was Uncle Paul rushing down, taking Euty in his arms, and saying calmly to us: “Don’t be alarmed, for his life is in him.”

Mama clutched me so tightly I could scarcely breathe; I was aware of nothing else but people shouting.

It was then I knew, and heard what the shouts were about. My uncle had just raised a boy from the dead with a mere touch. Euty had not even a scratch. Most everyone seemed happy, but some looked at Uncle Paul with such terror that I had never seen in a human face before, surely not one looking at my uncle.

Behind me, Mama kept petitioning God.

Uncle Paul carried Euty back to the upper room, and I heard him say, “No more sitting in windows now, young man.”

Euty didn’t have the strength of mind even to nod. He was so shocked that his eyes were popping out of his head. I think he was just beginning to realize that he had been dead one moment and alive the next. His mother was too relieved even to scold, she just held him and kept crying. Mama pulled me beside her and made me stay there until we left in the morning. I suppose she wasn’t taking any more chances with kids sitting in windows.

Believe me, I had no intention of telling her I had almost done it. I felt awful enough. Grateful beyond words that my friend was alive, yet not sure if he was my friend anymore. Some might think that my uncle raising him from the dead would seal our friendship. But it does the opposite. He never even looked at me again. That’s how I get treated. It’s not my fault. I would never say this to Uncle Paul, but I hate the way I’m treated because of him.

Like Mama, the other mothers became sharp and protective after Euty fell and died and came back to life. They kept their children close beside them. I did wish Mama would loosen her grip, but I also was close to tears in relief that no one else would try falling down three stories and dying. I didn’t want Uncle Paul to resurrect anyone else; as it is, he will not remain as obscure as I want him to be.

As I said before, not everyone was happy. One woman, who was nearly choking her daughter as she spoke, remarked: “They say Beelzebub possesses selfsame power to raise souls from the dead.”

She glanced at my mother, who said nothing. I didn’t exactly understand, but the words were spoken with the familiar contempt that makes me feel sick to my stomach. The contempt that’s too often in people’s voices when they speak of my uncle, especially after he performs miracles like this one. I nearly sprang up in anger; I would have. Only Mama, who always seems to know what I’m thinking before I think it, said, “Hush.”

The woman and others around her continued to whisper. One glanced sideways at me and mused loudly, “Don’t you feel sorry for his nephew? He is being brought up by a demon. Didn’t you hear that story about Paul that came all the way from Ephesus? The demons are acquainted with him – yes, they are. They would not listen to the sons of an honorable high priest, but attacked the very heirs of priesthood and declared they knew Paul intimately. The magicians perform the very same signs he does – casting out Satan, curing diseases, raising the dead as we saw today, in essence acting like a madman. One would think Paul’s sister would know better than to follow him.”

Mama’s eyes were lowered, but she pressed my shoulder gently to acknowledge that she heard. I really don’t think she enjoys such attention on her brother any more than I do. I closed my eyes and tried to shut out their voices, prepared to hear the ridicule I am used to by now. I prayed that if God looked on me in mercy, he wouldn’t allow any more miracles tonight.

As I read through that, I realized how comedic that diary entry really is. I mean, first of all, it’s so funny how the boys think Paul’s sermon is so boring that they fall asleep! Seth even describes it as “unbearably boring.” Oh, Seth. Imagine getting the chance to hear the apostle Paul himself, in the flesh, give a sermon, and falling asleep during it. But honestly, I did the same thing in church when I was little. Only I didn’t fall asleep. I did Bible-based coloring pages and puzzles, LOL.

Second of all, who would sit in a window three stories tall? That doesn’t seem like the smartest thing to do, LOL. But after all, they’re just kids, and kids don’t always do the smartest things!

And all the hilarious comments in that entry! Seth’s observation about Paul’s strictness was absolutely priceless. I guess he should be grateful because that literally saved him from death. (Even though he would have been resurrected.) And there’s Paul’s comment, “No more sitting in windows, young man.” That one made me laugh.

I think I need to practice incorporating subtle humor into my writing, because The Apostle’s Sister is such a serious novel it can get kind of exhausting at times. Do you guys think I should put in some more humor? My favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird and Les Misérables, are very serious books, but one of the many reasons I love them so much is because there are occasional humorous moments to release the tension.

Okay, now for Story Sunday Survey #5. Click HERE to complete the survey. And from this week on, when you submit your form you’ll find a book quote. (Occasionally you’ll find one from The Apostle’s Sister!)

And in case you forgot, last week I began including a Discussion Question at the conclusion of each Story Sunday. If you’d like to answer it, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


Discussion Question for today: What do you think Seth means when he says he hates the treatment he receives because of Paul?


I’d also love to hear how your writing went this week! Make sure to give me an update.

You know the drill – eat, pray, write, repeat!

JC

By Joy Caroline

Joy Caroline is a fifteen-year-old Seventh-Day Adventist Christian and Biblical fiction writer. Her two novels, The Apostle’s Sister and The Anointed, are about St. Paul from the perspectives of his sister and nephew. JC also enjoys reading, sketching, watching Hallmark's When Calls the Heart, and trying delicious desserts. You can find her at her website, joycarolineauthor.com.

4 replies on “Story Sunday #5: Brought Up by a Demon”

Wow, congrats on writing over 9k words this week, JC!!!! That’s amazing!!! And I loved your introduction–gotta love alliteration!! 😀 😉

I think Seth means that he doesn’t like people judging him because he and his mother follow Saul, and wishes he wasn’t lonely because of this.

Thank you! Yes, alliteration is just so awesome-sounding!
Hmm, great perspective. That makes a lot of sense. It can get decidedly lonely to follow something or someone that isn’t the popular thing.

Congratulations on that incredible word count!!! It sounds like you’ve accomplished a ton on your book. Editing is by no means easy. Do you mind if I ask what your total word count is thus far and what your end goal is?

Oohh. Temira’s quote from page 18 is brutal, and would make a good graphic when you publish the book. If I didn’t know anything, it’d definitely hook my attention.

I love how you weave in “real-life” characters. Sitting on a window’s edge and dozing off during a sermon is definitely something boys would do. I don’t know how you’re imagining the room’s shape, but the fact that Paul didn’t notice testifies to how how focused he was while teaching. Something I can totally see happening. As for inserting the humor aspect, I think kids are the perfect way to do it. “Seeing” everything from Scout’s point of view and her delightful descriptions definitely added humor to “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

For the Discussion Question, I could see how Seth could mean that in two different ways. One, he is irritated by the way Paul is revered: “I liked him because for once I wasn’t pestered about my uncle”. Two, because Paul is seen as evil. Because of this, Paul is ostracized and treated terribly, as are Temira and Seth, as is evidenced by the way you wrote some reactions to the miracle: “Don’t you feel sorry for his nephew? He is being brought up by a demon” and “I closed my eyes and tried to shut out their voices, prepared to hear the ridicule I am used to by now”. (Sorry, I went all essay-form. Some habits can’t be broken, I suppose. ‘S what happens when college professors think essays are second only to oxygen.)

Thank you so much! I don’t mind at all. My total word count is 16,492 at the moment (the stuff that has actually gone into the second draft instead of getting cut). The first draft was 122,086 when completed, so I’m hoping to get the second draft around there. There are storylines to be cut, but also ones to be added.

Haha, she said a lot of brutal things that scene, but that one is definitely near the top of the list! I’m really glad to hear it got you interested.

Indeed. I don’t really know what rational adult person would sit in a window three stories up… *sighs*. It is funny, now that I think about it, that Paul didn’t notice. I guess he was really caught up in that sermon! And seriously, Scout’s POV was the best thing about TKAM. It just wouldn’t have had the same effect if the story had been from Atticus’s perspective or even from Jem’s.

Your first thought is so true and I’m surprised I didn’t consider that before. It is pretty annoying to have a parent who’s always being revered. It’s sort of like a pastor’s kid – everyone is always talking about how pious and admirable their parent is and remarking, “You gonna be a pastor like your dad?” or “Why is Pastor X’s daughter dressed like that?” you know. Point two is also so true.

And I absolutely love how you give examples from the entry as evidence for your line of thought! Readers who analyze are the best. I always enjoy your comments.

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