Thimblerig’s Ark 99¢ Sale Coming Soon!

Tell your friends, coming up on July 29, in honor of the release of Noah on DVD, Thimblerig’s Ark will be available for 99 cents for two days only! Then, from July 31 to August 2 it will be available for $1.99, and then from August 3 to August 5 it will be $2.99.

Please help spread the word!

And if you’ve already read Thimblerig’s Ark, please go to Amazon and write a short review. Thank you!


Mom’s Not Dead, for Real! The Movie

Mom's Not Dead for Real


“Mom’s Not Dead for Real”

Kendrick, an older bearded student studying philosophy at Reed College, has a vivid dream one night that heaven is for real. When he wakes up, his wicked professor, Dr. Hercules, mocks his beard and his dream, telling him that his mom, Debra, had gone out with some friends the previous night and died… and NOT gone to heaven.

Of course, the pure-hearted Kendrick refuses to believe it, and sets off on a hero’s journey to find her. Using information from the snakeskin given to him by his uncle Hannibal, Kendrick builds an ark, and as he, Trace Adkins, and Hermione Granger sail off to find his mom, wacky hijinks ensue.

Will Kendrick be courageous enough to face the group of fireproof rock giants who have taken his mom, or run the risk that she could be left behind in a shack… forever?

You Know About Noah, But Have You Heard The Animal’s Story?


By Nate Fleming

Nate Fleming’s debut novel Thimblerig’s Ark is a middle grade novel inspired by the writings of C.S. Lewis, the book of Genesis, and an Irish pub song about why the unicorn missed out on Noah’s Ark.    During its two free promotional days on Amazon in March, Thimblerig’s Ark reached the top ten of free Kindle books in the Children’s Fantasy and Magic genre, and the top thirty in the Children’s Literature & Fiction genre.

Nathan Fleming still remembers the day the idea for Thimblerig’s Ark came to him.  He was sitting in Tommy Condon’s Irish Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, when the band started singing a song about the unicorns missing out on Noah’s Ark because of their foolishness.  “I had a hard time reconciling this idea of unicorns getting left off the ark because they were acting too silly to be bothered,” Fleming explains.  “I’d always imagined unicorns to be noble and somewhat dangerous.  Then the idea came to me that I could try and tell a more serious version of the animal’s story.”

Fleming began the novel in 1999 when he moved to his wife’s native country of Kazakhstan.  Over the next several years, he’d work on the story when he had the time, also being busy founding and directing the Kazakhstan English Language Theater, the first English language theater in Central Asia.  As the story went through various incarnations, the characters and situations changed, but the unicorns remained the anchor to the tale.

Most surprising to Fleming was the hero, who turned out to be extremely unlikely – a con-artist groundhog named Thimblerig.  In the novel, the groundhog is not only in danger of being washed away by the flood, but he’s also in danger of losing his soul because of his lack of concern for the animals of the forest.  “The story is really Thimblerig’s story,” Fleming says.  “He starts out trying to run the ultimate con on the forest’s suckers, but he is finally confronted by how destructive his own selfishness can be, and he’s forced to change or lose it all.”

The decision to complete the story came fifteen years later when Fleming and his wife, Koolyash, found out they were pregnant with their third child.  “I’d been trying to write the story for so long, and realized that it was easier to start something it than to finish it.  When we found out we would be having another child, I was convicted to complete it so that my children would have something that they could one day read to their own children.”  Fleming set the goal to finish the novel by the time the new baby was born, and when baby Noah came into the world, the manuscript was complete.

Fleming currently lives in Chengdu, China, with his wife and three children.  Besides being a writer, he also works at an international school where he teaches reading, language arts, and drama.  “Living overseas for fifteen years has given me a unique perspective on the world, and, I hope, the experience makes my writing more accessible to readers from all over the world.”

Nate Fleming’s middle grade fantasy, Thimblerig’s Ark, is available exclusively for Amazon’s Kindle.


Noah Review Asks: What About the Animals?

I started out to write a blog entry chronicling the reviews that are starting to come in for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, and had already linked to one particular review and pulled out some good quotes, when I came to the review from The Hollywood Reporter, and everything I was doing came to a grinding halt.  In the (mostly positive) review, film critic Todd McCarthy says:

If anything, the animals get short shrift here. Noah never has to go out and gather them; hundreds of them just show up, as if they’d experienced the same vision as Noah’s (ed: read Thimblerig’s Ark!), push aboard the waiting ark and promptly go to sleep, not to reawaken or be seen again until the voyage is done. This not only comes off as something of a cheat — after all, it’s always interesting and fun to examine the occupants of the world’s first and most famous temporary zoo (ed: read Thimblerig’s Ark!), especially given some of the fanciful and/or extinct critters the filmmakers ever-so-briefly put on show here — but it’s also a convenient way to avoid the dilemma of explaining how the animals got along so well for the duration without eating each other (ed: read Thimblerig’s Ark!).

***Note that the parts in parenthesis and the italics for emphasis were obviously added by the author of this blog.***

I want to focus on the three highlighted statements:

Thimblerig's Arc_2

Thimblerig’s vision of a world-ending flood, the flood of Noah.

1)  The animals in Aronofsky’s film just show up as if they’d had Noah’s vision.  We’ve known since the trailers started rolling out that Noah receives his knowledge of the impending flood by way of a vision from God.  In Thimblerig’s Ark, the groundhog Thimblerig has similar visions, but it’s not surprising that both stories would share this idea.  Dreams and visions are a common enough trope in stories as a way for the divine to communicate with the worldly.  It’s just very interesting that Mr. McCarthy picked up on it with reference to the animals, and mentioned it in his review.  (Read Thimblerig’s Ark!)

2)  Mr. McCarthy says that it’s always interesting to look at the animals in “the world’s first and most famous temporary zoo”.  I read that statement and felt rather giddy, because that is exactly what Thimblerig’s Ark does!  The story doesn’t bother so much about what they are (green alligators, long-necked geese) as much as in who they were.  They are fully-realized characters who struggle with their situation as much as any human character would.  (Read Thimblerig’s Ark!)

3)  In the review, Mr. McCarthy says that Aronofsky has the animals show up and promptly fall asleep, side-stepping any attempt to explain how the animals got along in the ark during the voyage.  Thimblerig’s Ark asks this same question, and not only doesn’t side-step it, but jumps straight in feet first and answers both the why and how of it.  (…you know what I’m going to say…)

This excites me, because I’ve thought for a long time now that my novel could be a quietly good supporting novel to this huge epic film, and this review confirms it (I wonder if Mr. Aronofsky would be interested in writing a forward?  Maybe I should send him a request).  And I hope that if you have actually cared enough about this subject to read this far down, that you will help in my grass roots efforts to get the word out.   Here are two big ways you can help:

1)  Download Thimblerig’s Ark from Amazon!  This may be the obvious one, but it needs to be mentioned.  Download it, and then read the book, and then go and make a review on Amazon.

2)  Share the download link with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, wherever you like to lurk.  Encourage them to run, not walk, and download the book!

Thanks to anyone who will do this!  I sincerely hope that you enjoy the story, and that it increases your enjoyment of the film (if you go see it), and helps deepen your thoughts on the story of Noah’s Ark in general.

Aronofsky’s Noah Bows In Mexico… So, How Is It?

So, Noah has finally premiered, on March 10 in Mexico City and it will apparently play in several different countries before finally opening in the United States on March 28.  When trying to figure out why the film premiered in unlikely Mexico City, some have said that it was a strategic choice because of Mexico’s large Catholic population.

When asked why Mexico City was chosen as the film’s premiere locations, director Darren Aronofsky said, 

When the distro asked me where I wanted to have the premiere I said I wanted to have it in Mexico, because I love Mexico. As you know, I have come here many times. In fact, I have been here three times this year.

The economic decision (getting a largely religious audience in your corner from the get-go) seems to make more sense, but I suppose the fact that the director likes the country is as good a reason as any.

And what was Mexico’s response?

…Mixed Reception…

…Luke-Warm Response…

The articles linked above show that people generally liked it, but that it was thought to be slow in parts.

There were a few reviewers on hand, and they were apparently not permitted to officially review the film until it is released in the U.S.   Some did do a bit of tweeting, sharing their initial thoughts, which were pretty positive and upbeat.

And while this is not from Mexico City, I did come across this interesting tweet:

Thornbury is the president of King’s College in NYC, and is – from everything I’ve heard – a pretty solid theologian.

So what does all of this mean?  It means that the plot continues to thicken as we head towards general release.

Now, if I could only get them to post my picture on their Noah fan art website…

Thimblerig's Ark Cover Artwork by Burton Booz

Thimblerig’s Ark Cover
Artwork by Burton Booz

And don’t forget!  Thimblerig’s Ark will be available for free download on March 15 from Amazon!


News of the Ark

There’s quite a bit going on in the world of Noah’s Ark this morning, and I predict that there will be even more as the premiere of Aronofsky’s film approaches.  I thought I would try to make it a regular thing on the Thimblerigs’s Ark blog to collect the stories that I find the most interesting, and link them here.  Enjoy!

Russell Crowe Tweets the Pope

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.22.45 AM

When I saw this, I laughed, because I’ve been trying to get Russell Crowe or Darren Aronofsky to notice Thimblerig’s Ark for the past couple of months, to no avail.  And now, it seems he and Aronofsky are hoping the Pope will notice their film.  I wonder who the Pope tweets, asking for favors?

Here’s my response tweet to Mr. Crowe:

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 8.34.42 AM

I’m hoping that Mr. Crowe will be a believer in paying it forward, and will at least give the first three chapters of Thimblerig’s Ark a read.  Wouldn’t it be cool if he read it, liked it, and helped promote it?  And maybe the Pope would watch Noah, like it, and help promote it, too.

Free Noah’s Ark Game

Noah's Ark game pic

This game, made by the folks at PaperBigfoot, looks like it could be fun.  And it’s a free download for your mobile phone, so why not?

I’ll bet they wish they could get a RT from the Noah film guys, too.

New International Trailer for Noah

I have to admit, this trailer gets me more excited about the film.  I’m starting to see the structure of the film, and it does seem to show that Aronofsky intends to show humanity’s overall wickedness and not just his violence against the earth.  This should please the religious audience, and if the story is well told, it should also please the audience that isn’t interested in religion.

I had a similar goal with Thimblerig’s Ark, too.  To help with that, I told my beta readers to be on the lookout for the “Four P’s”.

Four PsThat’s all that I saw in the news this morning about Noah and the flood.  I’m glad to NOT report on the ongoing stories where people are deciding not to see Aronofsky’s film because of what it may or may not contain, when most people haven’t seen it to know what it contains.

And remember, watch out for groundhogs playing con games!  They’ll grift you every time.


Requiem for a Bible Epic?

I’ve been watching the development of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah for quite a while (not a surprise to anyone who follows this blog) and it’s been an interesting ride.  The first thing I remember hearing – way back in 2008 in this Slashfilm article – was that the movie was being made to promote a pro-environmentalist agenda.   In that article, Aronosky was cited as saying,

I think it’s really timely because it’s about environmental apocalypse which is the biggest theme, for me, right now for what’s going on on this planet. So I think it’s got these big, big themes that connect with us. Noah was the first environmentalist. He’s a really interesting character. Hopefully they’ll let me make it.

darren_aronofsky_02At the time, this revelation really bothered me.  Not because I’m opposed to saving the environment, but I’m not happy with changing source material in such a radical way.  While it’s a noble idea to try and draw the attention of the modern audience to the important issue of environmental awareness, the story of Noah from the Old Testament has absolutely nothing to do with humanity’s lack of being green.  Genesis 6:5 says that the reason God sent the flood was:

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

Certainly one could make the argument that God could have been grieved  because of humanity’s evil treatment of the environment, but you have to read a LOT into the text to make that implication, especially if that is the thesis of your film.  The text makes it clear that it was humanity’s immorality – their evil treatment of each other – that ticked off God enough that he wanted to clean house and start over.  Genesis 6 goes on to say that one of the redeeming qualities of Noah was that he was “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God”.

It’s pretty clear that the issue in Genesis was fundamentally a religious issue, that Noah was juxtaposed against the rest of the people, and they were found severely wanting.  But check out what Aronofsky said in the aforementioned article:

I don’t think it’s a very religious story… I think it’s a great fable that’s part of so many different religions and spiritual practices. I just think it’s a great story that’s never been on film.

Not a very religious story?  Seriously?  As it was said in the comments on Slashfilm at that time,

Why not take out the issues of racism from “To Kill a Mockingbird”?  Or, we could focus the next film adaptation of “Lord of the Rings” on the disenfranchisement of the orc population!  Bottom line?  The story of Noah’s Ark without the religious component is NOT the story of Noah’s Ark.

I think this is the heart of the matter, the thinking that has so many people predicting that the movie will flop with religious audiences.

And it is precisely where I am hoping that Aronofsky will surprise us.

Coming in March 2014

Coming in March 2014

As a Christian movie lover, I’ll be fine if part of the problem in the film is that humanity has despoiled the earth and is being punished for it.  But if he avoids showing that humanity was also just plain wicked, that the majority of the people were not walking with God, it will be a huge opportunity lost.

And so for the past few days there has been a lot of noise, starting with Variety’s recently published story that had this rather misleading headline:

Survey: Faith-Driven Consumers Dissatisfied with ‘Noah,’ Hollywood Religious Pics

How can “faith-driven consumers” be dissatisfied with Noah, when they haven’t actually seen the film?  My guess is that very few people are following the story as closely as I have been following it, and their opinion on the upcoming film is only based on the fact that it’s being produced by a big Hollywood studio, and stars big Hollywood stars with Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Emma Watson, and Sir Anthony Hopkins.  But Faith Driven Consumers, the group behind getting Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty reinstated, did a survey which found that 98% of “faith-driven consumers” weren’t interested in a Bible movie where the core message of the Bible story is replaced by a Hollywood message.

It’s a fair question, and one that the suits behind the film should be paying attention to, because ultimately it will be the thing that ensures that their 168 million dollar take on Noah is a hit or a flop.  This is what the noise has been about these past few days, with many websites asking the same question in a slightly different way.  Will religious audiences turn out for Aronofsky’s Bible-based epic?

Further Controversy for Noah

Will Christian Moviegoers Float ‘Noah’s’ Boat?

Wary of Hollywood’s “Noah”, Christians Back “Son of God” Instead

Director Claims He’s Following the Bible 

Noah Movie Test Screenings Reveal Christian Audiences Upset With ‘Darkness’ of Russell Crowe’s Character

But again, and what I return to is this: we don’t know.  We don’t know what Aronofsky is going to do with this story, and we won’t know until the film has been released, and so folks who are unsettled about this should just settle down.  Personally, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I want the movie to be a huge hit. I want to want to take people to see the movie – whether they’re religious or not.

The bottom line?  I am a “faith driven consumer”, and I want to give Noah a chance.