Thursday, August 13, 2009


The End Is Now made Relevant's best of 09 book list. Where did it end up on this list? Only one way to find out. Also some other very good books you should be reading on this list

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Just for the record I am a novelist. Which means that I write books that are not truth, but rather make believe stories that point to much bigger, rewarding, and insightful truths.

My newest novel, is titled, The End Is Now. It is about Goodland, Kansas a town that will be the test market for the rapture. It is not pro-rapture or anti-rapture but simply and exploration of faith and humankind's fascination with The End Of The World. Here is the trailer:

My debut novel is titled The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher. I just did a piece for Relevant with Jason Boyett where he described the novel as "A brilliantly satirical romp in which a non-theistic real estate agent ends up the pastor of a megachurch." That's the best synopsis I've heard all week. Here is the trailer: 


Matthew Paul Turner a friend (as he says it we're Facebook friends, but we're also like minded authors in the CBA, I'd like to think of us as the Tito Jacksons of the CBA.) Anyway, I did a guest post for his blog Jesus Needs New PR (Rob Bell was on the morning, and Rob Bell is the Michael Jackson of the CBA). 

I was writing about a controversial topic, but didn't want to give an obvious answer. Would the obvious have been safer? Yes. But people turn off the hearing aids when it comes to obvious answers, and besides I think the question posted on the blog brought up real issues. 

Here's what I had to say at Jesus Needs New PR

Monday, July 27, 2009


I did a podcast with Screen Geeks yesterday. The resident comedian on the show, Ethan a guy who has brilliant insight into films AND is from Canada mentioned something that I thought was great. He called it, "His List of Shame." 

The idea is this: It's the list of his movies that he's ashamed to have never seen. The reason is if you're a movie Geek then there are movies that you just have to have seen like 2001, Easy Rider, and Treasure of Sierra Madre. But everyone has their list of shame. Everyone has movies that came out and you somehow missed and everybody talks about but you just smile knowingly because you don't want to admit that you haven't seen it. 

For movies here is my top 3:

1) Schindler's List
I've picked this up at the Blockbuster, had it on my netflix que, and think about renting it all the time. But I alway chicken out because it just seems to depressing.

2) Blue Velvet
How I claim to be in the know with David Lynch but still haven't seen this movie is something I should be ashamed of.

3) Singin' In The Rain
This is number 5 in the AFI all time list. All I know of this movie is from scenes in A Clockwork Orange.

And because I write novels, here are my top three on my list of shame:

1) Ulysses 
This is a masterpiece. And James Joyce is one of the most important writers who have ever lived. (At least for native English speakers like myself). But I'm not gonna lie this book intimidates me. 

2) Atlas Shrugged
I don't even really know what this book is about. I don't know how Atlas is or why he shrugged. I do know that I love 1984 and a Brave New World so it seems like I should read this book.

3) Twilight and (5 and 1/2) of the Harry Potter series. 
Not because these are literary classics necessarily, but just because they are on the cutting edge of pop culture. I write fiction and everybody talks about these books. So I should have read them by now. Shameful.

What's on your list? 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not gonna lie. I would watch this show.

Friday, July 17, 2009

This review popped up for The End Is Now online. I got a kick out of it. Thought I'd share it with you:

Oh why did this book have to end??
I have four words for you: This book is AMAZING. I don't even know how to describe it to you. I read a review of this book claiming that it was "hilarious", which it certainly is not. Yes, there were some funny moments, but they were 'Smile Inwardly' funny moments, not laugh out loud moments. It's a satire technically I suppose, but I think it would be better described as The Left Behind books for the rest of us. You know, the same thrilling end times story without being forced to endure having the disturbing worldview of premillennial dispensationalists like Tim LaHaye shoved down your throat. To put it in simpler terms, this book is the Left Behind series minus the misogyny, intolerance, glorification of violence, and best of all minus the descriptions of our Lord as a bloodthirsty killer. Ahh I'm going off on a tangent here, but you get what I'm saying, don't you? 

The book is an edge of your seat thriller. I couldn't even pick it up during the day time because once I started reading I could. not. put. it. down. One night after having devoured a third of the book in one sitting, I had to throw it down on the table and run away so I wouldn't stay up all night reading. Some of the descriptions of the events in the story were so vivid and powerful that I got goosebumps. 

One more important thing: I don't think you need to be a Christian to love this book. The book is definitely written from a Theistic viewpoint, but it doesn't preach or force any particular view. I don't know if Rob Stennett actually believes in the Rapture or not. All I know is that his writing didn't insist either way, and that's a pretty remarkable accomplishment. 

So, in conclusion, read this book. Better yet, buy 20 copies and pass them on to everyone who you love so that they can be so blessed as well! Then come back and find me and we'll form a Rob Stennett fan club. What are you waiting for?? Go!!

Monday, July 06, 2009


We don’t have time for theme songs anymore. We want a quick opens like LOST and Heroes. But a good ballad that give you the whole premise of the show AND makes you feel good, that’s for yesteryear. 

Well, I for one miss it. I miss ballads that are sung over a montage of clips. So in honor I’ve decided to make a list of the top TV themes of all time. And I've decided to only include sit coms for the purpose of this list. I didn't want a list filled with the themes from MASH and ER. Where's the fun in that?

Just to be clear, I am not judging the show. This is purely a list based on the music that plays in the 60 seconds before the show begins. So now, in order, once and for all, the list of the top 5 greatest sit com themes of all time. 

5. (a)  Gilligan’s Island
This probably should be higher on the list. But this show was before my time. Still, this song gives the whole premise to the show, introduces and gives the occupations of the entire cast. Pretty impressive way to spend 60 seconds.

5. (b)  Mr. Belvedere
This song is epic. “According to our new arrival, life is more then their survival.” This song not only gives the premise to the show but also the theme of the show.

4. Perfect Strangers

The Perfect Strangers theme accomplished something that was rampant in 1980's--a sense of hope and purpose if we live life together (other shows TV themes that did this Family Ties, Growing Pains, Lavern and Shirley). And while all of those other shows maybe better TV shows, nothing was more sweeping and hopeful then the this theme.

3. Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

The Fresh Prince Getting a sit com. It was to good to be true. And this opening was shot just like a Fresh Prince and DJ. Jazzy Jeff music video. It had the same magic of Parents Just Don't Understand and Nightmare On My Street to this TV theme.

2. Friends

Now, I don't even like this song. It pains me to put it this high on the list. But seeing everyone playing in water fountains and acting so wacky and over-expressive defined the mid 90's. Coffee shops were at their height and it all started with a little tune from the Rembrandts.

1. Cheers

There aren't any clips of characters in the cheers theme. Most of it is just sepia 1800's looking photographs of guys with mustaches and top hats. But the lyrics, "Making Your Way In The World Today Takes Everything You've Got...Sometimes You've Got To Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name." There has not and will not be a better TV theme song then that right there. The end. Goodnight. 

Monday, June 01, 2009

RETURN POLICY a Michael Snyder Novel

Nick Hornby convinced me to get married.

Now, I’ve never met Nick Hornby. I probably never will. But High Fidelity was such a spot on exploration of the endless cycle of “get to know you,” “love you,” and then “hate you in explosive breakup” types of relationships that at the end of the book Rob (great name for a character) decides that he wants to experience something deeper. That there has to be something more to a relationship then what he’s experienced, and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to take the plunge.

I had always subscribed to Paul’s theory that it is best not to marry (assuming that I wouldn’t burn) until I read Hornby. He challenged me. Changed my views on marriage. And I also happened to meet the most incredible girl in the history of girls. But that’s another blog.

Hornby also changed my views on literature. Before Hornby, I either read classics like Twain, Dickens, and Hemmingway or I read contemporary greats like Kurt Vonnegut, Tim O’Brien, Stephen King, and Phillip Roth. It did not occur to me that simple stories of normal people had inherent value until I met Nick Hornby.

Well, there is now a novelist that reminds me of Hornby. He has his own voice to be sure, but for me pop culture discovery has always been one thing linked to another: Star Wars to Star Trek, Wes Anderson to The Coen Brothers, Nirvana to Pearl Jam, and so on…

Michael Snyder’s new novel hits the shelves today. You’ve got to read it. It’s the seemingly simple story of three characters whose lives intertwine in the most unique of ways, but it’s literate, funny, thoughtful, a great read and a redemptive story.

I won’t spoil the plot, or give you a synopsis, the promotional copy does a much better job of that then I ever could. But I will say, that like Hornby, Snyder is interested in coming of age stories. This story involves three characters who came of age, were struck by tragedy, and now seem lost and incapable of a second chance. Mike writes each character in the first person (and as I writer myself, I can say writing so confidently in the first person takes a lot of talent, yet Snyder seems to do it effortlessly) as they tell their stories, explain their pasts, and get involved in a Robert Altman like journey of intertwining paths.

Return Policy is fun ride, the dialogue snaps, and the characters jump off the page. Get a copy of this book, it’s great for the beach or a rainy summer afternoon with a hot cup of coffee. Just don’t drink the hot coffee to fast and remember to wear sunblock SPF 15 or higher before you get sucked into the story. 

Want to get the book. Get it here:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Let me tell you about the conversation that I’ve had at least six times today. 

ROB: So excited for the LOST season finale tonight.

SOMEONE: (response #1) I know. I can’t wait. 

SOMEONE: (response #2) You still watch that? 

So first, here is why you should be watching LOST. It is a show that loves it’s characters. It’s a show centered around providence, faith, philosophy, literature, and it is a show that is redefining the very nature of what television and storytelling can be. And that just doesn’t come around very often. 

Still, there are reasons that so many people are frustrated with LOST and they are good reasons. Or at least understandable reasons. But those need to be defused so you can go watch this great show. It’s not for everyone, but there are really smart people who I respect who should be watching this show. So this is my attempt to debunk all of your excuses. 

Reason #1 What up with the polar bears and black smoke? 

When LOST premiered people expected a show about beautiful people running around on beach. It would be a hybrid between Survivor and Baywatch.  But then something went wrong. It started with the dinosaur sound in the pilot. Soon there were polar bears, the black smoke which sounded like a printer circa 1986 when it moved around, and a hatch with a button that had to be pressed everyone 108 minutes. All the sudden everyone wanted to know what’s going on here? Are we watching a Sci-Fi? This isn’t what I signed up for.  

People felt like there was a bait and switch. 

But the reality is LOST always has been a human story. But it’s also an allegory, a fantasy, a mythic and an epic. It the 2000’s Star Wars or The Lord of The Rings. The elements of the supernatural and science make the show much more than just an adventure show about people hunting for pigs and trying to stay alive by the fire. And like I said, you just don’t see these types of shows on Network TV.

 Reason #2 I don’t have time

Come on. You’re reading my blog. You spend half the day on twitter and facebook. You can watch LOST.

Reason #3 It’s just one big confusing soap opera.

Wrong again. A Soap Opera equals lame writing, acting, music, sets, and just all around badness. 10 years from now Soap Operas won’t exist. Whereas LOST has the most compelling storytelling this side of HBO, the effects (minus the lame CGI sub last week), the performances, the writing are all the best on Network television. 

Reason #4 It’s too geeky

Greatness inspires geekyness. People are geeks for The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Star Trek, Star Wars, and DC Talk. None of these people, movies, or bands can be held responsible for the lame keychains and geeky tee-shirts that spring up as a result of fandom. It just comes with the territory.

Anyway, there are lots of other reasons to be frustrated with LOST that I just don’t have time for. If there are more reasons you can’t stand LOST leave them in the comment section and I will tell you where you are misguided. 

And to all the Losties I can’t wait for the finale tonight. I got money that Charlie is going to show up somewhere. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


I have no deep thoughts today. So, I have decided to repost my top 5 favorite Deep Thoughts of all time, those by Mr. Jack Handey: 

1) Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.

2) I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye.

3) If you're a young Mafia gangster out on your first date, I bet it's real embarrassing if someone tries to kill you.

4) Whether they find a life there or not, I think Jupiter should be called an enemy planet.

5) Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Amen Mr. Handey. Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2009


The swine virus is here. And it’s frightening. In apocalyptic stories this is probably the number one thing that causes the world to come to the end. I know this because in my research for my upcoming novel The End Is Now I tried to read as many apocalyptic stories as I could. I’m not an expert, I just wanted to know the structure. So, I read The Stand, Alas Babylon, Good Omens, Left Behind, The Postman, as well as watched quite a few movies with apocalyptic story lines. What I discovered was there are about five primary things that bring on the apocalypse. 

In no particular order:

1) The Rapture (Left Behind series, A Thief In The Night)

2) A Superflu Virus (I Am Legend, The Stand, Outbreak, 12 Monkeys)

3) Aliens (The Day The Earth Stood Still, Independence Day

4) Nuclear War (Alas Babylon, Terminator Series

5) Uncontrollable Force Of Nature (The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon)  

These fears can and have caused panic and predictions of "The End Of The World." This panic is one of the themes that I explore when in my new novel. Once you read the novel I’d love to hear what you think about this.

Still, this morning, I was getting a cup of coffee from Starbucks and I saw the USA Today headline about the virus. I thought this is how it begins. And my guess is I thought this only because this is how the end would begin in a movie or a novel. But are things really coming to an end? When something like this happens do you fear the end or just keep on doing what you’re doing? 

I’m just curious.  

Thursday, April 23, 2009


First of all this is a trick question. There are no great American rock bands. They’re all from the UK. In no particular order: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, U2, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, any of these groups are arguably better then the best America has to offer. So what is America great at? Solo acts: Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson (I know Michael is not even close to a rock band, but he is greatest pop star ever so he must be mentioned and for that fact Madonna should probably be mentioned as well because she is the second greatest pop star ever).

Many people (my friend John Conrad included) would say that the greatest American rock band ever is Aerosmith. But that is wrong. They are arguably the most American rock band ever. They’ve starred in Superbowl halftime shows with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake; not to mention Wayne’s World 2; they’ve made the soundtrack to a movie with Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and Steve Buscemi; Aerosmith even has their own Guitar Hero video game. What’s more American then that? 

But are they great? They were good for a long time. They are the Karl Malone of rock bands. They have all the stats but they’re too easy to forget.

Which is why the answer to this question is Nirvana. I’m not stating that you should or shouldn’t listen to them, I’m just giving you a cultural fact. And you can’t even really debate this (what are you going to tell me Journey was a greater band?).  And there are three primary reasons for their greatness. 

1) They Defined An Entire Music Movement

Grunge, alternative, call it whatever you want, but when Smells Like Teen Spirit showed up in 1991 it changed everything. From the music video in that old musty gym, to their appearance on SNL, to all of the alternative bands from Seattle that followed—Kurt, Dave, and the funky looking bass guitar player changed the face of music.

2) Cobain’s Death

Again legendary. It’s been debated, books have been written and movies have been made but it was tragic to loose such a talent. Still, I’ve often wondered what would have happened if he wouldn’t have died so young. I’d like to think great things. But who knows, maybe they would have become Pearl Jam making a string of good albums until they finally scored a Sean Penn movie. After all, Nirvana only had one great album, Nevermind. However, my real guess is Nirvana would have followed a career path closer to Guns N’ Roses.

3) The Foo Fighters 

Dave Grohl’s band must be talked about when talking about Nirvana’s legacy. And The Foo cements Nirvana as the greatest American rock band ever. Even though, in so many ways the Foo is a better band but mostly Wayne Campbell sums up the Nirvanna Foo relationship with this brillant Star Trek analogy. “They’re a lot like Star Trek: The Next Generation. In many ways, they’re superior but will never be as recognized as the original.” I cannot believe that’s my second Wayne’s World mention today.  

This blog is dedicated to my friend Chris Londino. He’s lives in Dallas and asked me a year and a half ago what the answer to this question was. Now you know Chris. If you have other pop culture questions you want me answer feel free to comment below and let me know.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Okay, so the ARC's (it's an acronym publishing folk use for advanced reading copy) for The End Is Now are out. An ARC is something that is bound like a book, looks like a book, but it's not quite a book. It's like the rough cut of a movie. The ARC's for TEIN (an acronym for The End Is Now) got printed a couple of weeks ago by the good people at Zondervan. And now the seeds of those ARC's are blossoming into endorsements and reviews. That sounded weird. Sorry I wanted to give a nice springtime analogy but not sure if that worked. In fact I'm sure it didn't. It bombed. If I had time I'd write a better analogy but I save that sort of great writing for my books. 

So, anyway, here are some endorsements by writers who I admire and respect and am thrilled to have them say kind words about my novel: 

"Rob has a way of undermining your way of thinking without you knowing it. Like a thief in the night, his endearing characters and hilarious satire will disarm your defenses and rattle your traditions. By the time you realize Rob has more in mind than simple entertainment, it will be too late. Some difficult questions will be staring you in the face and you might as well wrestle with them until morning comes."
 -- Glenn Packiam, pastor and author of "Butterfly in Brazil" and "Secondhand Jesus"

"If any genre needs a good satirist, it's end-of-the-world fiction. Good thing we have Rob Stennett. He's the Christopher Buckley of rapture reading."
-- Jason Boyett, author of Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse and other Pocket Guide titles.

"Rob Stennett makes the apocalypse fun! He has once again served up a brilliant dose of family dramedy. With equal parts humor, pathos, and artistry, Stennett deftly examines controversial dogma through the lens of family dysfunction. The satire ranges from subtle to sublime. It’s the best kind of storytelling—keenly observed, wise, humane, insightful, sympathetic, and downright rapturous.
--  Michael Snyder author of My Name Is Russell Fink and Return Policy 

"The End Is Now is a compelling story of love, faith, anxiety, humor, uncertainty, fear, community, family, and redemption. Rob Stennett tells a gripping tale that leaves no one behind."
-- Kevin Beck author of This Book Will Change Your World 

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Nothing to say today. Working on a novel. In the meantime here are some reviews others have posted about my debut novel The Almost True Story Of Ryan Fisher:

Friday, April 17, 2009


I grew up in the 1980’s which in many ways is somehow the best and yet worst decade for movies ever. And I loved (still love) movies. But my mother was protective. So was my father. They worked in a church and movies were a slippery slope and the wrong ones would ruin me forever. 

They were probably right. 

Nonetheless, here are the movies that I missed that everyone else was watching:


This was the coup-de-gras, everyone, everywhere had seen this 1984 gem that had the fingerprints Spielberg and Henson all over it. The playground was buzzing with tales of the Gremlin that mother put in the blender while another was put in the microwave. I was forced to only imagine how cool these scenes actually were, though I didn’t know what a Gremlin looked like. I only knew that they were put together by the same guy who did the Muppets and I could only imagine what it would look like if Kermit The Frog or Gonzo were stuck in a microwave or blender.   


Another 1984 masterpiece. Everyone on the playground was saying, “I’ve been slimed,” and I laughed and said it along with everyone. But I had no idea what a Slimer was. Or a proton pack. Or Rick Moranis.     


Also 1984 film (wow, I had no idea that was such a significant year; I do have a book that I want to write that takes place in 1984 because I think it is the most significant year in Pop Culture ever. I mean bigger then the Beatles significant. The stars aligned that year. Also, totally unrelated, but while I’m still in parentheticals, Gremlins and Temple are the movies that inspired the PG-13 rating.) 

Anyway, wasn’t allowed to see this one either. And I think mom was right about this one. This movie was awful. It was awful in the grotesque sense (monkey brains; priest that rips hearts out) and in the movie making sense. Sadly, this not even the worst movie in the franchise. Indy 4 may puzzle film students for years to come in its awfulness. 


Jump ahead 4 years to 1988. I heard of a movie where Daffy and Donald had piano duel. I heard of a movie where Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny pulled a prank on the same guy. A movie with a place called Toon Town where any and every animated character ever created came to life. And I wasn’t allowed to see it. This may have been the toughest one to swallow. It’d be like being told that there was a movie where Captain Kirk and Luke Skywalker went to fight and Darth Vader as his group of Klingons as they tried to take over the galaxy, but sorry you’re to young to see it. 

Anyway, those were movies I that were censored from me. There were others but these hurt the worst. What weren’t you allowed to see? 

Thursday, April 16, 2009


You can check out what another blogger had to say about TEIN here

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SO YOU WANT TO WRITE? (part 1)  

Every writer (and even more non-writers) have thoughts and rules about the writing process. Nearly everyone of those rules are right (except for those which are clearly not right). I’m teaching a class on writing today. They are writers interested in writing anything and everything. So I will give them broad, general, notes for writers starting out. If you are just jumping into a genre, or still searching for what’s out there this is for you. Hopefully, sometime soon I’ll post more specific notes pertaining only to novels (this is my specialty). Until then, I’ve dabbled in all sorts of writing and here is what I have learned:

In General: 

1) Write everyday

2) Characters, not plots, should always drive the action in the story

3) Have a place to write

4) Know your voice (what you want to write about and how you want to write about things)

5) Have heroes (know writers whose careers you admire, read everything they’ve ever written including the story of how they became successful)

6) Read everyday (if writers don’t read who will?)

7) Meet other writers and join a writers group (this is not easy, they hide under rocks and even when you do find them they already have a writers group, but they’re out there, somewhere, if you look hard enough) 

On Nonfiction:

I know very little about this. The biggest thing I know is what my undergrad English Advanced Composition teacher told me. He looked like Owl in Winnie The Pooh and is one of the best writing teachers I have ever had. He told me always make an argument. Argue anything. Look at both sides. Play the devils advocate. Then, show how misguided the devil really is.

Tomorrow thoughts on stories... 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I direct a piece of theater called The Thorn. It takes a small army to pull it off. There are probably about 13 people on earth who really understand all of the logistics and organization it takes to pull it all together. 
I am not an organized person. I can barely keep my lights separated form my darks. This is why I own so many pink shirts.  
The only thing I really understand how to do is how to fix something until it gets right. Right is not an absolute fact in art. Far from it. It’s more of feeling; an understanding of what the audience will experience and then deciding, yes this is what needs to happen for this type of a story. And what I spend my time doing for three months is practicing scenes over and over, fixing and changing and tweaking things until it is finally right, or at least as right as I can get it.  

The same is true with a novel. I write and then rewrite over and over again until I think, Yeah, this what I want to say. This is the type of story I want the audience to experience. Then I give it to my editor. And he edits (much like the audio and video and lighting engineers do their work on my first draft of a show), then he gives it to editors who edit more, until finally things go into production.  And that’s the scary part. Because once the book finally goes to press or the show is finally performed in front of audiences I can only think, Is this really what I wanted to say? Is this really what I wanted to do?  

I always thought it’d be gratifying when books are printed and shows are performed (and don’t get me wrong in some ways it is) for the masses. Instead all I usually think is Wait! Stop! I need to fix one more thing.  Because I know the truth. Now, it’s out there in the light of day for anyone to judge and to make comments on. 
This happened in The Thorn. When the first show was over a man came up to and said, “Are you the producer?”  
And I said, “Sure.” 
He said, Thomas (the new narrator) was okay but I have a couple of notes that will make him great. 
And I said, "Really? Oh, good.” 

Then I smiled as he gave me notes for the narrator of our story.  And this is what’s so scary about creating these days. For shows, anyone can come up to you after the show. For books it's worse there are blogs, amazon reviews, and so on. The reviews people see could be from my aunt Roxy or someone who only read two pages of the book yet other people will at the very least listen and take stock in the review.  
It freaks me out. 
You can spend months (years) on something and someone can take five minutes, type 100 words, and make a grand proclamation.  But in the end that’s what’s great about art. It’s not just about the creating of it, it’s about the audience experiencing it, and the audience can experience whatever they want. They can say whatever they please.   

And I can only sit there and smile as they say anything and everything. Because deep down I know the truth, they have as much right to criticize as I do to create.