I gained a lot of experience in publishing by producing anthologies through the Ohio Writers Association (originally Columbus Creative Cooperative). We weren’t the first writers group to think of publishing a collection of our work, but we set a professional bar for ourselves. We didn’t want people to buy the book just because it was a local group. We wanted them to buy it because it was genuinely good.

That’s what we did. Our first anthology was Origins, then Overgrown, we put out 2-3 year each year. The last ones I produced for the group were Best of Ohio Short Stories: Volume I and Volume II. I oversaw the production of one or two more, but didn’t manage them directly, and the group has gone on to continue to produce great stuff since I moved on.

I look back at those early anthologies in awe. Sure there are things we could have improved, lessons I hadn’t yet learned, but that was such a fun time in my life. Everything was fresh and exciting. I got to meet and work with so many cool people on those projects—people that impacted my writing and the way I relate to other writers.

I put those projects aside for a while and gave away the Ohio Writers Association because I had lost my fire. What enthusiasm I had left was suffocated by the COVID season. In a selfish way, those projects had run their course in my life, I wasn’t learning anything new or excited about them, I was just going through the motions. I needed a break.

But I’ve had this pesky idea. Man, it’s one of those ones that just won’t go away.

Let me be clear, I get ideas all of the time. I’m an idea machine. But most of them don’t take root. They’d be cool, but I can’t justify the time.

But this idea…it wouldn’t let go. I was waiting for the right time. Really, I was waiting for the right person.

For a few years, really since we started the School of Kingdom Writers, I’ve wanted to put together an anthology of stories inspired by the book of Judges. There’s just so much there.

Judges is rich and complex. It doesn’t give easy answers. The characters are brutal and heroic and deeply flawed. I believe these stories are completely true, but they’re also the stuff of amazing fiction.

What if you could take those stories and set them in a really cool sci-fi universe? What if you could translate those stories to a new environment and in the process open people’s eyes to how rich and cool the Bible is?

When Alli Prince joined me as an apprentice, I knew that she might be just that person.

So I gave it to her, and she took off. I could tell she really got it, and could see the same value that I saw. She even added a new layer when she started talking about how most biblically-inspired fiction skews heavily towards a female audience (think Francine Rivers). How do we pull men into the Bible?

She collected some ideas from her friends Lindsey and Thirzah along the way, and she took this concept to the next level. She took that tiny seed and she cared for it and planted it just right, and a sapling emerged.

Now we’re collecting a team of writers to bring it the rest of the way to life.

Lawless will hit bookstores on January 18, 2024!

If this project speaks to you like it did to me, then apply! (Find instructions for applying here.)

If you want to see the kind of thing that we’re after, you can find sample stories written by both Alli and me on the Lawless website here: https://lawlessbook.com/sample-stories/

I wrote a story called “The Deliverer.” Read it and if you can guess which judge it is before the end, drop a comment on this post.

If this project isn’t the right fit for you to write but you agree that it’s super cool, you can support the project by pre-ordering a copy of the book here: https://lawlessbook.com/order/ E-book or paperback are available for pre-order, and you can get a special price on the print edition.

One of the best things about anthology projects is all of the cool people you get to meet! Everybody gets to do their own thing and write their own story, but we share this common goal. I’m excited to work with a new group of writers on this project.

Judges is an uncomfortable book. You can’t wrap it up and put a bow on it. Instead of being scared of it, I can’t wait to take advantage of all of that irony and ambiguity, and see how God uses our collaboration.

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