Friday, August 17, 2018

Flawed

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not (Ecclesiastes 6:20).


It's said Amish quilters used to intentionally put a flaw in their quilts to ensure they showed their human frailty and that only God could make perfection. I'm also a quilter and have always been struck by the arrogance in that attitude. I've never had to intentionally put a flaw in my quilts. They always have at least one naturally. Although it might not be obvious, some corner might not squarely meet the adjacent one, a stitch might be slightly irregular, or the binding not exactly uniform all the way around. The same is true in my writing. Despite all my best efforts and the efforts of editors and beta readers, a few mistakes often slip through.

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).


The truth is that no one who has ever walked this earth has been perfect, save one - Jesus Christ. On our own, we remain highly imperfect and sinful. However, when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we become perfect where it counts through Him. Because of his sacrifice on the cross and subsequent resurrection, we're able to exchange our imperfections and sinfulness for his perfection and righteousness. Therefore, we can stand before the Father without flaws or fault.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, O am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:19-20).


This is the wonderous, glorious Good News of the Gospel, our hope and joy forever. This is the message we are commissioned to share with the world. To not do so is the epitome of selfishness and neglect. Remember love and faith only grow as we give them away. You will be richly blessed as you become a blessing to others in Christ's name. Go and be blessed.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Audible Experiences

Now having three books out on Amazon Audible and two more in the works, I've taken some time to examine the process and the venue. I realize that each person's experience will differ, but we can certainly learn from one another. For example, an author posted on a Facebook page for writers that her audibles far out-sold her other books. That has not been my experience, but I can still see the potential. I certainly love listening to them when I do my daily exercise, travel for a distance, or do menial tasks.


Of the five producers I've worked with so far, two have been female and three male. I try to choose a voice where the age and gender are based on the predominate main character in the book. In general, I've found the women to prove more conscientious and reliable so far, but this is probably because the men are more likely to have other pressing commitments at the same time. However, I've had listeners tell me they prefer to listen to a male voice. Regardless, many of the audiobooks I listen to are narrated by women, and I wonder if those authors have had similar experiences.


When we were producing my first audible, I only worked on With Summer's Songs. However after I found a narrator for Promise and it was progressing, I started Peace, the second book in the Farmer's series. Those two are now finished, and we're working on Pardon, the last book in the Farmer's trilogy and When Winter Is Past, a historical novel set in colonial Pennsylvania that has a slight connection to With Summer's Songs. I've found that I can handle two books at once but more than that becomes too burdensome. That's because I listen to each chapter and then relisten if there's needed corrections, and all this is time-consuming. 


Although producing audibles can have its headaches at times, it also holds satisfaction and joy. I think the market for audibles will continue to mushroom. Many of the younger generations prefer listening over reading, and this will likely only increase with time. My books are already in print and e-versions, and this gives my fans and potential fans one more option. 
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Monday, August 13, 2018

Left-Handers' Day


August the thirteenth is International Left-Handers' Day. Most people probably have at least one left-hander somewhere in their family. I certainly do. My mother tells the story of being forced to use her right hand instead of her left when she entered school years ago. I have two first cousins who were southpaws, and I had a tendency toward being left-handed. My mother followed the doctor's suggestion and handed me everything in my right hand, and I ended up with the right being dominant. I did the same thing with my daughter, but she always transferred it to her left hand, so she ended up being a left-hander.


About one-tenth of the world's population is left-handed with statistically more men than women. In ancient times, left-handers were looked down upon and sometimes even considered to be witches. In medieval times and in certain parts of the world, people used the left hand to wipe with after using the toilet, and they would not shake hands or eat with it. The Greeks and Romans wore their main rings on their left hand to ward off the evil associated with it.


However, in modern times, some declare that left-handed people are special and more apt to be creative. A few of the noted left-handers include Aristotle, Joan of Arc, Leonardi da Vinci, Wolfgang Mozart, Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Babe Ruth, Marilyn Monroe, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Allen, Prince Charles, and Prince William. Here's to all left-handers. Let's help them celebrate their day.
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Friday, August 10, 2018

Paul's Name


Of course, Paul grew up as Saul in Tarsus. Saul is the Hebrew name his Jewish family gave him, and that's the name he used for the early part of his life. It means "asked for or inquired of God." I've heard sermons where the pastor indicated that his name changed because of his conversion on the Damascus Road. However, the Bible doesn't say this.



This fact became clear to me as I researched and wrote my first Christian, non-fiction book, On the Road to Jericho, which is at the publisher now. Saul was first called "Paul" in the Bible at Antioch in Acts 13. "Paul" is actually his Roman name, and since he was a Roman citizen, it may have been used some earlier. I think it's used more at Antioch and thereafter because he's becoming an apostle to the Gentiles, and Paul is a Gentile name.


Paul became one of the first missionaries and one of the greatest. He helped shape the early church, fighting for a theology based on God's mercy, grace, and love and what Jesus did on the cross and by His resurrection. Much of our understanding of the Christian life comes from his letters. But Paul's accomplishments didn't come from his own strength. It came from surrendering to God and letting Him work through Paul. We should do the same.




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Wednesday, August 8, 2018


Raves and Reviews


Last week, I had a librarian tell me how popular my books are with readers. She said they flew off her shelves, and everyone was raving about them. This wasn't the first time this has happened, but it always puts a big smile on my face. I find such comments very encouraging.


I've been blessed that I've received such great comments from hundreds of readers. However, I'm a little disappointed that such sentiments haven't transferred into more reviews. In fact, as my fan base has increased, my reviews have decreased. Although my first book, Cleared for Planting, has decent reviews, two of my recent books have no reviews. I check them every day in anticipation but have been disappointed for a good while now.


I know some writers have a review team that reviews their books for free copies. I have a slight concern over the ethics of buying reviews like this but, nonetheless, other authors talked me into trying it. It didn't work for me. Only about a third of the people left a review, although they received the book and agreed to do so. Then some of those left were lackluster and mechanical.


Therefore, I appeal to my readers. If you've read one or more of my books and enjoyed it, please, please leave a review on Amazon. It is the best way to say thanks to an author, and once you start, it will take no time at all. Reviews don't have to be lengthy - just tell what you liked about it or how much you enjoyed it. A sentence or two are fine. New five-star reviews would warm my heart and bring much joy.
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Monday, August 6, 2018

Jamaica Celebrates Its Independence


On August 6, 1962, Jamaica obtained its independence from the United Kingdom. Jamaica is the fourth largest island country in the Caribbean and lies about 90 miles south of Cuba. The island was originally inhabited by the Arawak and Taino Indians but was settled by the Spanish after Christopher Columbus landed there in 1494. As part of their colonization, the Spaniards brought in African slaves. England later took over, and Jamaica became a leading exporter of sugar.


Jamaica has many faces. It is a tropical island with lovely beaches and points of interest. It has a strong musical culture with reggae being the most commonly recognized form, and Bob Marley its most noted musician. Jamaica is also known for its special cuisine which has been influenced by many different parts of the world. Popular dishes include curry goat, fried plantain, rice and peas, fried dumplings, and saltfish. However, the island also has its poverty and less appealing side.


Tourism has been strong in Jamaica for many years, although recent reports indicate this may be waning somewhat. Ian Fleming had a home there, and it became the setting for many of his James Bond novels. However, only one James Bond movie, Dr. No, was filmed there. Other movies filmed there include The Harder They ComeCocktail, starring Tom Cruise; and Cool Runnings, which is partly based on the true story of Jamaica's first bobsled team to the Winter Olympics.

I've been to Jamaica a few times, and it has much to offer. I wish them all the best on this, their Independence Day.
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Friday, August 3, 2018

Paul's Early Years



Paul became such an outstanding apostle and missionary, we often skim over his early years, but these helped form him into a man God could send to take His messages and truths to the Gentile world. He grew up in Tarsus, one of the main trading centers on the Mediterranean Sea. His father was a Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin and also a Roman citizen. The son may have been named for the first king of Israel. Saul was his Hebrew name, but as a Roman citizen, he was also known as Paul.


Growing up in a Jewish community and strict Jewish home, Saul would have begun learning scripture early, as little more than a toddler. Normally, a Jewish child would begin reading scripture around age five, but Saul was more precocious than most. He started studying under a rabbi at the synagogue when he was six. As Beth Moore aptly explained in To Live Is Christ, "Being a Hebrew was not just a religion; Judaism wasn't even just a way of life. Being Hebrew defined who you were, how you thought, and what you felt."


When Saul turned thirteen, he left for Jerusalem to study under the famed teacher, Gamaliel, who was the grandson of the great teacher, Hillel. Saul took to his studies with a passion and excelled. He quickly moved through the levels, and many thought his zeal and commitment set him in a likely position to become the high priest and certainly an important leader.  He saw the followers of Jesus as enemies of the Jews and heretics who were trying to mislead the people and pull them away from God, and he attacked them with fervor for this reason.


His experience of meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus changed all this. When he was shown the truth of who Jesus is, he became as zealous for Christ as he had been in destroying His followers. He knew the Scriptures thoroughly, and he could use it to point to Christ and show people the truth of the Word. He was the most scholarly of all the apostles, but he had a practical side, too, and he could be content in whatever state he found himself. He developed a deep, abiding faith, and led others to do the same. Oh, would that the world had more Christians like Paul today.


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