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Every year in school in my elementary years, my teachers would learn to expect the worse from me: lack of cooperation, minimal homework, disrespect, and a smart mouth. It was ironic to them that their last memory of me that year was very positive.
At the first of the year, each teacher would emphasize how important it was to keep covers on your books to prevent wear and tear, not mark in your books, and (at one time my favorite) draw horns on the pictures of people the books used for illustrations. The always said, “If your book is in bad shape, you WILL have to pay for it.
That last day, the teachers would call us to their desks, on at a time, typically in alphabetical order, and have us turn in our text book. We would hear her say things like, “That’s acceptable.” “Good job, Lisa. As good as new.” “That will not do for another year, John. You will need to pay for this book before you get your report card.”
Since I was a “W”, I was always close to last. The teacher would call my name, glare at me with heavy eyebrows, and prepare to give me the horrible news that I would be working this summer to pay for a book I ruined.
She would inspect the book with raised eyebrows, not believing her eyes. She would flip through the book twice quickly, and usually a third time very slowly. Finally, she would lay the book on her desk, grit her teeth and almost spit, “Good job, Tim.”
Not once did any of them ever think to say, “It’s like this book was never opened.”
Today I looked again at one of the emails that sends a daily verse. I enjoy looking at those and considering what God wants me to know from them. Today, one grabbed my attention right away.
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
Paul had just mentioned the opposition he faced and requested prayer from evil men. He states, “not all men have faith.” He then speaks to the Thessalonians who are believers that they can rest in the faithfulness of the Lord. Significant in the next sentence is the word, “will”. Not the word, “can”, or “is able.” Based upon the Lord’s faithfulness, He will establish you and protect you.
I first thought of the bad religions and theology that have to develop a “work around” for this verse. OK, that’s was a good place to start because it ignited my praise to God for the truths here. However, God wasn’t satisfied with that and the “back patting” I was enjoying. Truly, those who don’t trust God to keep what He redeems is not my problem. It’s his.
I then thought about the prayer requests that I ask for and share that express doubt in these truths. “Will the Lord be faithful this time?” “Will He really protect me from the evil one and establish me from the truth if I don’t qualify with enough prayer, Bible time, and physical ministry? What if I don’t have enough people praying?”
I understand that “effectual, fervent prayer of those made righteous accomplishes much,” and pleases God. But it doesn’t earn brownie points that must be cashed in to get all my “Christian benefits.” Those things were paid for by Jesus Christ.
As a result of my lack of faith, I worry far more than is necessary, and that worry does burn energy that is best spent elsewhere. Perhaps I should learn to not pray for what Christ has already purchased and guaranteed for me and pray for other believers and their realization of the assurance we have in Christ. I could pray more for the lost and/or fruitless who are struggling in life. And, I could pray for those whose every day is a question of survival or torture for professing faith that I am free with express in my situation.
Lord, help me live in my confidence in You, and spend my prayer time not expressing faithlessness, but standing in the gap for those who need it.
Writing a grammatically incorrect teaser could hurt your book.
“Dr. Paschal Keebler a surgeon on a humanitarian mission accidently swallows a minute nuclear bomb and if he doesn’t perform surgery on himself he may destroy the whole village. Will his arthritis allow him to succeed or is this the end of an endangered tribe.” Yuck!
It’s a delusion that people only want to read from writers who are smarter than they are. I’m somewhat sure that most readers are satisfied with reading from someone who is equal in intelligence, and maybe more creative in different areas. Seldom will you find the reader who wants to dumb down to enjoy a novel.
This occurred to me as I was shopping for another hidden great read. It is disturbing that many of the blurbs, teases, and ads are poorly written with glaring grammatical errors.
Readers reject books quickly if reading is irritating because of a lack of understanding of the language. I’m not speaking about the pesky typos and spelling errors than sneak by editors and get published. However, if your blurb is a violation that would make the substitute English teacher gasp, fix it.
Writing should be a growing art for the writer. It’s very easy in our world to polish a manuscript without hiring the literature department from Harvard Universities. Here are a few tips that could help you cross the bridge to another level of literary recognition in an ever-growing competitive market:
Most of you will use Microsoft Word to write your next masterpiece. Or if you are as cheap as I am, you will opt to some OpenOffice application. Those squiggly colored lines under those words are not Christmas decorations.
There are times when a software grammar and spelling feature will disagree with the writer. I had a character who answered to “Sobaka”, and my software tried to correct it to something every time. However, most of the time, you need to investigate why the software doesn’t like it. You may learn something or be reminded of a grammar rule you had forgotten.
2. Look at the grammar and writing programs.
After looking through many, like Autocrit, After-the-Deadline, and PaperRater, I settled on Grammarly for my go-to virtual editor. There are many from which to choose, and many of them have a “free”, but limited version. This allows you to try several different ones and determine which one you are going to “buy.” They are a lot cheaper than hiring Dr. Fuddyduddy.
These are the territory of “pet peeves.” “They’re” is different from “their,” which is different from “there.” I know this, but when I am under the spell of inspiration, it doesn’t always translate into my fingers. You will hear many writers complain about this.
Spend due attention to your blurb, or many will not care about how well written your book is.
Can one be spiritual and not believe in God?
When my sweet wife flipped through the TV channels to find the one we watch for evening news, a television show was ending. It represented that the universe was God and we would benefit from getting in tune, or aligned, with it.
Laura said, “You can’t say that God created the earth but you can say that the universe communicates with us in a spiritual way. Political correctness has gone crazy.”
That got me to thinking, which is a risky proposition at best.
Do atheists recognize the spiritual? Can they recognize that life is made of the seen (physical) and the unseen (spiritual)? Is life nothing more than chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics?
What is life? What physically is different from a frog that is alive and one that is dead if we analyzed every chemical reaction? What leaves a frog at the time of death, from a scientific view. Can life be created in a lab?
A friend of mine and I were speaking honestly about what has been invented during our lifetimes. It’s amazing. What will the next generations see in their lifetimes? Will discovery of new knowledge plateau, or at least slow down? Assuming the earth will withstand another 20 years of abuse, what will the world, and living on the earth, look like?
As part of the conversation, I brought up teleporting. Another friend had told me that scientists have successfully teleported an orange from one place to another. In other words, the converted the matter to energy, transmitted over a network, and reassembled it properly, but I have found no evidence of this in my internet searches.
If matter can be teleported, maybe sometime in the future, molecules would be transformed into energy (electricity) and returned back to being matter at the receiving end exactly in the position and condition it had been before.
But life consists of the seen and the unseen. In other words, until science defines life, they cannot advance teleportation. If they put me into a teleporter in Chama and zapped me New York Star Trek style, they may someday be able to assemble the molecules back into their original position, but not their original condition. There is no guarantee that the body they retrieve from the teleporter would be alive.
How would the scientists digitally, or in analogue, convert “life” into something they could transmit? Until science understand, defines and can create life into material terms, teleporting is out. I guess funeral homes would benefit from it. You can transport the physical, but not the spiritual, like life itself.
An honest atheist will admit that life consists of the seen and unseen, and the unseen is a mystery. We call that mystery “spiritual”. If there is a spiritual reality, there has to be a god (or God). A massive explosion in the universe past could not assemble something that is seen and unseen, a living creature, no more than blowing up the Library of Congress would create the 2018 Encyclopedia, bound in volumes.
If there is a God, He has to be the ultimate mathematician, engineer, biologist, geologist, and any other form of scientist you can imagine. He had to have created the seen and the unseen.
To me (and you will need to come to your own conclusion), it seems that if there is a God, He would communicate to us. He would relay to us some sort of purpose in this experiment we call “life on earth”.
If God communicated with us, it would have to be a time-tested, perfect message that we could understand and a way we could somehow find.
If we have opposed God’s plan, there would undoubtedly be retribution. If any human was to survive that retribution, that survival would have to be part of God’s plan. He would have to grant to us forgiveness for opposing the one with all the power. He would have to offer forgiveness by grace, something we could never deserve.
Hey, doesn’t that sound very much like the message of the Bible?
Please feel free to comment.
It's truly interesting the spiritual insights hidden in the scriptures. It's exciting to, through the help of the Holy Spirit, dig them up.
Lamentations 3:40-41 say, "Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens." Particularly note the last part; “Let us lift up our hearts with our hands unto God.”
In this Old Testament book, the prophet of God, Jeremiah, is lamenting the fall of the city, Israel, that the Jewish people believe God would not allow to fall. But God had warned the prophets who were listening to Him that the sins of the people and the nation could not go without correction, and that correction would be very painful.
In the verses mentioned we notice that Jeremiah is talking about personal repentance. He called for continual examination of the life as necessary for repentance. The thought is that this search for sin in our lives must be a deep searching.
Then he draws out the path to complete repentance, as opposed to simple sorrow for the loss of status quo due to the consequences of sin. After sin has been discovered in the life and repented, we lift up our hearts. How do we do this? WITH our hands. What is this talking about?
Despite the words of many teachers today, he is not talking about praying with our hands lifted. Many can do, and often do, this without any self-examination and repentance of sin.
Obviously, by this point in repentance, the mind has made a decision to repent; to confess and turn from the sin revealed. However, the process is not completed. The heart has to be lifted up to God in Heaven.
Salvation and forgiveness is not a result of works. Don’t read that into this. However, neither do salvation and forgiveness occur without a change in the works of our hands. A changed heart does not continue to do the things with the hands that God hates (1 John 5:18).
The peace of God comes from a forgiven and changed heart (Philippians 4:17). A change heart is God’s doing and gift to those who are saved (Philippians 2:17). A changed and forgiven heart, given by God, changes what our hands find to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10). When God uses our hands, it further lifts our hearts to God in heaven.
Audible has the finished version of the new Audio book and is going through their process of publishing it. We eagerly await its release and will let you know immediately. I've listened to it, of course, and Chris did a fabulous job. Nearly time to pop the tops off bottles of Coke and celebrate!
I was thrilled when Chris Pierce agreed to record my first Ted Kline Novel, "Death Water". Unfamiliar with the process, I set unreasonable time frames. He quickly pointed out that doing quality work took longer than I had anticipated. Of course, I gave him all the time he needed to complete his work.
He finished his original audio recordings and sent them to me for approval. Wouldn't you know they hit my calendar during my busiest period of the summer? So the ball is in my court.
I promise you, I have heard enough of the recording to guarantee that the audio book of Death Water is very much worth the wait. Watch for it. I will announce it as soon as we finish polishing it up.
Tim and Chris
I have been guilty of rookie mistakes. Yes, old rookies make the same mistakes as young ones. What happened to the wisdom gained by years? Good question. I'm still looking for the answer.
Mistake #1: Publish the book to quickly. The temptation is to rush a new book to market because there is nothing like seeing the first book in a new series for sale. The biggest sign of rushing a book to market is having to do too many edits in a published book. If books have sold and in the customers' hands, somebody is holding and reading a hand full of mistakes. Guilty as charged.
Anyone who purchased my book and wants the latest version, please let me know. I will take care of my readers.
Mistake #2: Unfamiliar with the publishing process. Amazon has revolutionized the publishing business. However, if you aren't familiar with the process and details, it can be confusing, especially in the print version. You are given options for size, paper used, finish of the cover and a few more details that sound minor.
But they are not minor. For instance, in my first release, I picked 6"x9", white paper and matte finish. The book had to be sold for $35. For my second book, I picked 5"x8", canary, and matte finish. The book could be sold for $8.99. I try to go back and change the first one, but once you get an ISBN number, according to Amazon, the format of the book is in concrete. Paper in concrete? Who does that?
Amazon's amazing customer service representative explained my options like this: "You can leave it the same, or you can do something so drastic, it's unreasonable. You would have to unpublish your book and do it under another title."
Unreasonable? It seems unreasonable to me for people to read my second book, or third, and desire to seek out my first one, expecting them to pay $35. So, I unpublished. I had to change name from "Water" to "Death Water" (a better title anyway), and I changed cover photo (I think a better one too). But it's the reader a writer works for, not the publisher.
So the moral to this story is, young writers, don't seek out an old writer for advise. Seek out an experienced one.
Have you ever been reading a novel and the author begins describing a character to your disapproval? I do sometimes. Let me tell you why.
Sometimes as I read a good book, reading about the roll and personality of a character, it reminds me of someone; maybe an actor or one of the many characters I have met in my life. Some writers are so detailed about each person, they box me in and I feel smothered with the details they create.
That's the reason I try to leave a little wiggle room for the reader to fill in the blanks. I try to leave enough dots in the description that the reader's mental image of a character is roughly the same as mine. But they fill in the details and therefore become co-writers with the storyteller as they read along.
My assumption was that everyone enjoyed that type of reading. What about you? Leave a comment about how you like your characters described.
Be sure to check out Tim's books:
The house was haunted. At least that’s what the Crandall High School students were saying. That was enough to believe it. And that was enough to send two fifth graders to investigate, but in broad daylight, of course.
The “Love House”, named such by the last family who lived in the two-storied white frame house, was only a mile out of town. But Larry and I didn’t want to be seen walking south out of town on Farm-to-Market Road 148. Most of the citizens of Crandall, TX knew Larry Dickerson and the preacher’s son would be up to no good.
We knew if we went down the gravel road known to locals as Number 5, we could quickly come to Buffalo Creek, the same creek that ran alongside the old Love’s place. It was a lot further, but amid the tall and thick cottonwoods, elms and oaks that ran along creek, it would be a lot more private.
The journey was further than we imagined and we were bushed when we arrived. But the excitement of exploring a haunted house supplied enough adrenaline to keep us going.
First, we investigated the house. Nothing spooky. Just an abandoned, dusty house that displayed signs of other curious visitors. Beer cans, cigarette butts and graffiti. Bored, we decided to look around the outside of the house. We found the water well in the back of the yard. Our imaginations told our eyes before they adjusted to the darkened expanse there was a body floating 20 feet below in the water. But our eyes adjusted and the excitement faded with the growing reality that the house wasn’t as spooky as reported. At least not in daylight.
Discouraged, I suggested we return to the house and at least break out some windows before we left. As we were walking beside the house we saw it. It was scarier than ghosts, more dreadful than monsters, more shocking than dead bodies floating in an old well.
We both froze, hoping that we had not been seen. But the Sheriff’s car continued up the long, gravel drive towards the house.
“Run, Larry, run!” I shouted as I turned and ran towards the barbed-wire fence along the back of the property. I didn’t know if I could outrun a deputy, by my goal was to outrun Larry. I could always outrun Larry.
The fence was coming up quickly. There was no decision for me. I dove onto the weeded ground and rolled my small frame under the bottom strand of wire.
You think you know things at times like this. I thought I knew Larry, with his awkward, tall, skinny frame was a step or two behind me. Without looking, I could imagine his running, knees and elbows flying in every unproductive direction. I knew he would see my stunt-move roll under the fence and copy it. And I hoped I knew that no Kaufman County deputy would chase beyond the fence.
After rolling clear of the fence, I looked up and saw Larry running ahead of me. I followed him into the creek bottom and we found a good nest to look back for the deputy and catch our winds. My guess is the officer never got out of the car. He had accomplished his objective by just driving up to the house.
“Larry, did you jump that fence?” I asked after sucking in enough air to speak.