Thursday, January 31, 2008


Today's Wall Street Journal has a little blip titled "How Novellas Could Rescue Fiction Writers and Readers."  The gist of the story is that since everyone knows people read less these days, perhaps we can entice them to read novellas instead of novels.  

Says the author, taking a cue from Jean Hannah Edelstein's book blog on The Guardian:  "with a length somewhere between a short story and a novel, the novella can deliver a sophisticated read in the time it takes to watch a reality-television program or a movie.  Thanks to the amount of paper they require, novellas can profitably sell for the price of a magazine. Best of all, growth in novellas would bolster intellectual standards in an industry that lately has been accused of dumbing down literature. The novella's brevity tends to bring out "care and thought ad the extra level of creative gusto" in authors." 

Okay.   While I applaud the idea in theory, I don't think someone who is averse to books--and I know people who are--is more likely to pick up a novella than a novel.  And those who DO love to read tend to feel dissatisfied if you only give them one main plot (all you typically have room for in a novella.)  Furthermore, novellas tend to be produced in hardcover, not softcover, so the initial expense is actually much greater than a magazine--unless you're talking one of those showy magazines that I don't usually read.  :-) 

I've written at least one novella (it's too early in the morning to do an extensive search of my memory bank), and its sales were dismal.  Readers want an emotional payoff that's worth the time they've invested into a book, and while it may be possible in a shorter work, it's much more difficult.  So the publisher who pushes novellas may actually be asking his authors to work harder for less money and fewer sales. 

What about you?  Would you rather read a novella than a novel?  Does size matter?  (Sorry for the double entendre.)  Does a really thick book give you pause at the cash register?  I think Harry Potter proved that length doesn't hurt sales if the readers are invested in the story, but I doubt many new readers would be willing to take a chance on a book that weighs more than two pounds. 

What are your thoughts?  And, BTW, is there a book we haven't done as a BOM that you'd like to hear about?  Let me know! 


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Glen Eyrie Writers' Workshop

Let me just take a moment to go into more detail about the Glen Eyrie Writer's Workshop.  It will begin on Sunday afternoon, and go through Wednesday mid-afternoon, April 27-30.  We will have four tracks:  General freelance writing, public speaking, screenwriting, and fiction.  We will have four teachers:  Alton Gansky, Kathryn Mackel, Nancy Rue, and myself.  The four of us do a little bit of everything and it's truly a team effort. 

I don't think you'll find a workshop like this one.  It's not filled with agents and editors, so there's no need to try to impress anyone.  :-)  It's a time to learn and to write and to get feedback, and the atmosphere is friendly and fun.  

Plus, where else do you get to stay in a real castle?  Nancy and I have led this workshop for two previous years, and it's always been a wonderful experience.  So if you're interested, here's the link to sign up.  The conference schedule you'll see on the site is bare bones only--we'll explain more when everyone arrives. We try to be flexible so everyone gets what they need out of our time together.  (We're not going to edit your book for you, but we want to give you the tools so you can do it!) 


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Engineering marvel

After watching this video about the latest architectural innovation, I yearn for only one thing:  Dramamine!  

The Da Vinci Tower (also known as Dynamic Architecture Building) is a proposed 313 m (1,027 ft), 68-floor tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The tower is expected to be architecturally innovative for several reasons. Uniquely, each floor will be able to rotate independently. This will result in a constantly changing shape of the tower. Each floor will rotate a maximum of one full rotation in 90 minutes. It will also be the world's first prefabricated skyscraper. 90% of the tower will be built in a factory and shipped to the construction site. This will allow the entire building to be built in only 18 months. The only part of the tower that will be built at the construction site will be the core. Part of this prefabrication will be the decrease in cost and number of workers. The total cost will be 23% less than a normal skyscraper of the same size, while only 90 people will work on the construction site. The majority of the workers will be in factories, where it will be much safer. The entire tower will be powered from turbines and solar panels, and five other buildings in the vicinity will also be provided with electricity. The turbines will be located between each of the rotating floors. They will generate 1,200,000 kilowatt-hours of energy from the movement of the floors, and the solar panels will be located on the roof. Construction of the Da Vinci Tower is expected to be completed in 2009. Architect: David Fisher.

So . . . would you like to live in a building that literally twists and turns in the wind? 

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sweet Caroline, by Rachel Hauck

Hi, everybody: 

I'd like to take some time today to tell you about my friend Rachel Hauck's latest book, SWEET CAROLINE.  Rachel lives across the state, and we have played around on our Macs with Ichatting . . . and I'm happy to say that both of us tend to work in shorts, tee shirts, and bare feet!  :-) 

Rachel is a multi-published author living in sunny central Florida with her husband, Tony, a pastor. They have two ornery pets. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeyes football fan--as is my hubby. 

I'll let Rachel tell you about her latest arrival. 

For most of her life, Caroline Sweeney put the needs of others before herself. When her friends went off to college and exotic European cities, she stayed home in Beaufort to look after her Dad and brother, and whoever else needed her help.

At twenty-eight, she’s invited to embark on her own adventure when a friend offers Caroline an amazing job opportunity in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, her home town is calling her to stay. Unexpectedly, Caroline inherits the run-down, money-pit Frogmore Café.

Caroline must choose between a Beaufort treasure, the Frogmore Café, and the unusual Barcelona adventure. If that’s not enough, Caroline finds herself torn between two loves--a very hunky deputy Sheriff and a returning hometown boy, a country music star.

In the midst of her trials, Caroline shares a lot of laughter with her friends and discovers the sweet fragrance of Jesus as He pursues her heart.

 Well, I'm not sure which guy Caroline should end up with, but I'm betting she stays at the Frogmore!  How could you resist a name like that? 

Romantic Times Book Club wrote: 

 “Hauck adorable novel contains the multi-layered character readers have come to expect from her books. The enjoyable story and unpredictable ending entertains and offers much to think about.”

Rach--from where did this story idea come?

The final product is a long way from the original story idea. Several years ago I had a thought, “What if a girl ended up hosting a TV cooking show, but she couldn’t cook?”

I had the title Sweet Caroline and knew I wanted to write a book set in the beautiful South Carolina lowcountry, so I tried to put my cooking show story in Beaufort.

But it didn’t work on a few levels, and I added the element of Caroline working at the Frogmore Café. In the end, I had to cut the cooking show story line to focus on Caroline’s life in Beaufort.

I also wanted to write about a woman who willingly set aside her life for others. Yes, she struggles with esteem and fears, but she is also confident enough to venture out if the right opportunity came along. But she’s content to stay home, meet the needs of others.

At the story opening, Caroline doesn’t know God or that He has a plan for her. Yet she’s spent a lot of time talking to “whoever’s up there, if anyone.”

One evening Jesus introduces Himself to her. While most of us meet Jesus through hearing and watching others, Jesus is able to touch our hearts in many non-traditional ways. I opted to show that with Caroline. It was fun.

Reminds me a bit of George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life." How everyone else goes off to make their fortunes, but George stays behind to tend the old savings and loan.  Of course, George can't cook.  :-) 

When does the book release? 

February 12, from Thomas Nelson.

We'll be looking for it!  Thanks for dropping by! 

Order : Sweet Caroline 


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Miss Potter

Saw a delightful movie the other day that I'm happy to recommend for the entire family--"Miss Potter," based, of course, on the life of Beatrix Potter, author of Peter Rabbit and many other stories you probably loved as a child.  You can watch the movie trailer here

Beatrix was unconventional in her day, but charming and loyal and adamant about her little book.  I'm no artist, but I was moved by her beautiful art and the charming life she led--which was not without tragedy, of course.  (I don't know how much of the movie is actually biographical and how much conflict was inserted for story's sake, but it is a satisfying film.) 

And the farm--who wouldn't be inspired writing in a place like that!  Although I don't know how she had much time for her fancifully realistic art while she was overseeing a working farm. 

Lovely movie.  Rent it today and enjoy! 


Friday, January 25, 2008

Newsletter Went Out . . . did you get one?

I spent a good part of yesterday putting together my winter newsletter.  If you didn't get one, you can read it here.  And you can get the next edition by signing up for it in the box to your right.  Be sure to respond to the confirmation email you will receive--you have to reconfirm to be sure you're on the list (all the hoopla is protection against spam).  Don't worry, the newsletter only goes out four times a year, so it won't be flooding your mailbox.

Mom, are you on the list? Aunt Rene? 

Because Florida's primary is next week, my phone keeps ringing. The caller ID says, "Political Caller."   I've heard recorded speeches from Mitt Romney, McCain, and Rudy.  Now I've begun to lift the receiver and drop it as soon as I see that "PC" in the "ID." 

Incidentally, I think I should write a book called "How Not to Make Money on EBay."  I recently got a new printer/scanner/fax machine, so I thought I'd sell my old scanner and fax on the auction site.  They were older models, so I priced them at $4.99 and estimated their weight. Long story shot--they both cost more to mail than the buyers paid in total, so I sent the buyers a note and told them to consider the items a gift.  :-)  

Maybe that's what the Lord intended all along.  And now, I really ought to get to work . . . 


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Poor Gracie Mae

You may have read the story in your newspaper.  Unbelievable, but true.  And with a happy ending. 

Seems that Kelly Levy took her hubby to the airport and noticed that her poor kitty cat wasn't in her usual spot when Kelly arrived back home.  She searched high and low, looking for the poor baby cat--only ten months old. She and her father even took out some bathroom tiles to check a crawl space.  

Meanwhile, her poor husband arrived at his destination and lost his suitcase.  You know those ubiquitous signs that warn us that "many bags look alike?" Apparently someone grabbed Kelly's hubby's suitcase. 

But the fellow, who turned out to be Rob Carter from Fort Worth, Texas, opened the bag and a cat--Gracie Mae--jumped out.  He "screamed like a little girl"  (I would scream like a BIG girl), and then, after much coaxing, got the cat out from under the bed.  Fortunately, Gracie Mae was wearing a collar with her phone number on it.  So Kelly got a phone call and, a few days later, she got her cat back. 

Good thing--Rob was going to name the cat "Suitcase." 

The moral of this story is:  if you're a cat, stay out of things that are traveling.  And if you're a cat owner, better count your kitties before they're packed.  


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Human Clock?

If you like participating in the Internet, here's something that might interest you: 

Click on "view the clock" to see a picture of something, somewhere, with the real time on it.  Submit your own photos if you're so inclined.  And while you're there, watch that video on Bonzi.  I've never seen a dog grin like that! 

AND--today (Wednesday) my pal Lisa Samson and her daughter Tyler are leaving for Swaziland, Africa!  Please keep them in your prayers.  


Monday, January 21, 2008

Home again!

What a delightful time we had in the mountains of Kentucky!  Friends are treasures.  Lizzie Higgs brought these wonderful "spa booties" for all of us, and they came with these lavender pads that you can heat in the microwave and then slip into your socks!  Heaven on earth! 

So enjoy my pictures of my friends Lisa Samson, Patty Hickman, Liz Higgs, and me--or at least our feet!  We had a ball!


Friday, January 18, 2008

Girlfriend time

Maybe it's turning fifty . . . or maybe it's the solitude of a writer's life, but lately I've realized how important girlfriends are.  So Friday morning I'm flying off to Kentucky, where I'm spending the weekend with three close girlfriends (who happen to be writers, too).  Looking forward to laughing and (probably) shedding a few tears, too.  Catharsis is good for the soul. 

My coats are doing a happy dance because one of them gets to come out of the closet!  :-) Which one shall it be? . . . .

And next month, I'm going to Ireland with three DIFFERENT girlfriends--three daring souls who took me up on my offer to just take off and spend a week tooling around the Emerald Isle.  (Why people didn't jump to go with me when I asked for volunteers to go to the Amazon jungle, I'll never know.)  

And after that, my work travel schedule begins.  A few conferences this year, but hubby and I are going to take some time after one of them to see northern California . . . should be fun. 

All that to say that I'll probably be away from the blog for a few days.  But I hope to return rested, refreshed, and with pictures! 


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Time's Top Ten Lists

If you have some time to murder, visit this link from Time Magazine.   I haven't had time (ahem) to visit all the links, but I did click on "Top Ten Fashion Must-Haves for 2008."  Naturally, I don't have any of them.  

But one of my favorite collections, by far, was the number ten on the list of "Top Ten Animal Stories"--Lobsters on the Lam!
Here's the story: 
"Run, lobsters, run! In October, more than a dozen jumbo lobsters gave new meaning to the phrase "late-night supermarket run" when they high-tailed it out of a grocery store and headed down the street. The determined crustaceans had crawled their way out of insecure cages, scurried across the supermarket floor and exited via the front door. Passersby alerted police, who apprehended the would-be entrées and gave them to an animal shelter."

Let's just hope that grocery store wasn't in Kansas or someplace miles from the sea!  Me, I'd have marched them down to the beach and set those crustaceans free!  



Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blue Heart Blessed

I'm sorry to post this late, but I've been in the emergency room. No, I don't feel sick, but my blood pressure was 212/100, so the doc sent me to the hospital. 

Well.  What fun.  My first EKG. 

Anyway, I'm home, and my eyelids are heavy. Probably a good thing. 

I've invited my friend Susan Meissner (aka "Sooz"--isn't she cute?) to tell us about her latest release.  Susie is a wonderful writer, so I know you'll enjoy this one!  

Blue Heart Blessed in a nutshell:


Left standing at the altar, Daisy Murien, a wounded but hopeful romantic, opens a secondhand wedding dress boutique, hoping to soothe her broken heart while giving doomed wedding dresses a second chance at love. Her predictable days take a sharp turn, though, when the retired Episcopal priest who blesses the tiny, blue satin heart she sews into each dress falls ill. When the priest’s brooding and recently divorced son arrives with plans to take his ailing father away, a contest of wills begins between two stubborn—and hurting—souls. While fighting to keep Father Laurent close by, Daisy finally begins to understand why she has routinely convinced potential buyers not to buy the one gown that started her business—her own: She doesn’t want to give up on the dream of a fairytale romance. This compelling story is about the magnificence of unconditional love and God’s impeccable timing in bringing it about.

Publisher’s Weekly said this about Blue Heart Blessed: “Meissner tells her story well, and her Christian themes are interwoven throughout with a deft touch. Readers will appreciate some fresh elements: an Ecuadorian couple that cooks for the apartment dwellers every Sunday, and the one gown in Daisy’s inventory she does not want to sell. The ending is well told if conventional, with all the loose ends neatly tied up, which should please fans of “happily ever after” romance novels.”

Romantic Times gave it 4½ stars and chose it for one of their Top Picks for February: “Meissner's unique story is a treat. It's filled with realistic, wounded characters who rely on God's grace and guidance to see them through. Themes of learning to trust God and waiting for His perfect timing exude warmth and love.”

You can preorder BLUE HEART BLESSED here.  


Where did this story idea come from?

I was on a long car ride with a friend one afternoon a couple years ago. She had just seen her roommate’s wedding dress and she was describing it to me. It sounded so beautiful. I said something like, “It’s kind of a shame such a lovely dress will only be worn once.” As soon as those words were out of my mouth, a story began to bloom in my head about a woman who opens a boutique and sells second-hand wedding dresses. I began to imagine what kind of woman would open a shop like that and by the time we got to our destination, I had a title for this book, my quirky character Daisy, and a reason why she can’t seem to sell the one dress that began it all. And I knew this would be a story about waiting on God for true love — that is, love that is true.

Hey, my wedding dress is still in my closet--and I really don't think my daughter will be interested in wearing it (too traditional).  I'd happily donate it to your character, except  . . . she's fictional.  :-)  Anything else you want to tell us? 

I’ve got a great blog started that will dovetail nicely with this book. The blog, called Blue Heart Blessed by the way, will feature stories, ideas, op-ed pieces, poems, jokes, lists, you name it, on quirky engagements, second chances at love, proposals, laughable wedding stories and the like. I’d love to hear from readers and writers alike, especially if they’ve a story to share. Here’s the web address:

 Thanks for dropping by, Sooz!  (Echoes of Seinfeld, anyone?) 


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An incredible story of faith and courage

And it's true. 

My friend Michael sent me a link to this father's blog. This photo is the first family picture with Nate,  his wife, Tricia, and their (as yet) unborn baby girl, Gwyneth.
Here's his story as of December: 
On September 1 during our Sunday evening communion gathering at church, I shared for the first time with our church family (which is basically many of our closest friends) that Tricia was going to be placed on the active transplant list...PT was to begin the very next day. Tricia was not there that night because she was not feeling well. When I got home, she had some very scary and exciting news to tell me...we were (and still are) pregnant. She had literally found out as I was sharing the transplant news at church. While we had been trying to become pregnant for several months last year and early this year, we were no longer trying.

At that point, she was about 5 weeks along. She is now almost 4 months along. She is incredibly high risk...about as high risk as any woman can possibly be. Although we immediately told our doctors and family and closest friends, we have waited this long to tell anyone else because the chances of losing the baby in the first few months are especially high, and the added stress of trying to answer a bunch of questions that we couldn't answer was not something we desired for our lives at that time. 

(after we told them that aborting the pregnancy was not an option) Our doctors told us that the best thing for Tricia and the baby would be to begin the PT as planned, which, of course, made it very easy to not have people ask questions. Of course, Tricia was immediately disqualified from transplant candidacy. (our prayer is that she will be healthy enough after the pregnancy to be re-evaluated and placed on the list) 

Tricia has been monitored especially closely by her CF and OB docs for the past three months. Of course, this complicates everything to the nth degree. Tricia now has diabetes. Her meds have been changed. She has only gained about 2-3 lbs. She is on oxygen almost 24/7. I could go on and on, but that's not what we're focusing on... 

So far, the baby is healthy. Everything has come out normal (and we've had a lot more tests than normal). We learned several weeks ago (see picture above) that we're having a girl. Just this past week, we saw and felt her move for the first time. We are excited beyond words, especially as we consider that it is a miracle that we even conceived, much less that we have made it this far. 

The due date, according to the size, etc. of the baby is April 24. A fetus can survive outside of the womb at 24 weeks...anything we get to beyond 24 weeks we'll count as an added blessing. 
* * * *
Update: (Angie here again):  The baby, Gwyneth, has been born and is doing well, though she is TINY and in an incubator.  Tricia is in the hospital and needs our prayers.  Please follow Nate's blog and pray for him and his family.  

 ALSO--you may recognize the name of "Accidental Poet," aka Susan, who posts her occasionally.  Her unborn nephew has developed problems in the womb, and his mother is keeping a blog of his progress and their prayers.  Will you join me in praying for them, too?  Thank you! 

Monday, January 14, 2008


I have ONE more project to do for my doctorate, so I'm sitting here writing a paper on Elizabeth I.  :-)  Not sure I'll be finished tonight, but I'm pressing on. 

In any case, my mother sent me this link and I'd love to share it with you.  Just don't expect me to perform any of this, ever.  Not even in heaven.  



Sunday, January 13, 2008

More theology . . .

I can't believe I'm sitting here watching football--but I am watching the  Pacs play in the snow, and rooting them on.  These men in bare arms, sliding around in the snow . . . (shaking head here) . . . 

Anyway--another theology lesson.  :-)  

Week Two: Does the Bible contain mistakes?

What has more power than an atomic bomb, more knowledge than Albert Einstein, and more value than pure gold? The Bible! It is the best-selling book of all time, and its truths have changed the world in large and small ways.

Last week we saw that the Bible claims to be the word of God. Over forty different men who came from all walks of life wrote the sixty-six books of the Bible. But since those men were human and humans aren’t perfect, how do we know the Bible is trustworthy? Isn’t it possible that somehow, in some way, it contains a few mistakes?

Let’s think about it. God cannot lie and he cannot make mistakes. Since the Bible is his word, the Bible cannot contain mistakes. The belief that God’s word is perfect, true, and without mistakes in the original manuscripts is called inerrancy.

The men who wrote the Bible knew God could not lie:

“For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth . . .” (2 Samuel 7:28).

“This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began” (Titus 1:2).

The Bible itself promises that its words are true:

“The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over” (Psalm 12:6).

“Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).

Jesus said, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth” (John 17:17).

The Bible is not an encyclopedia; it does not tell us everything about everything. But in everything it does teach, it is trustworthy. Before you start to think of possible exceptions, let’s back up and review a few considerations:

·      Sometimes the writers of the Bible use poetic speech. For instance, I could say, “The Lord is my shepherd” without meaning that I’m an actual sheep, complete with wooly coat and four legs. That’s poetic language in which I’m saying that I’m like a sheep and the Lord is like a shepherd because he guides me and protects me. Just because I’m not a real lamb doesn’t mean the Bible is untrue.

·      Sometimes the Bible writers used round numbers. For instance, in Genesis 15:13 God told Abraham that the children of Israel would be strangers in a foreign land for 400 years. He was using a round number. In Exodus 12:40 we learn that the “people of Israel had lived in Egypt and Canaan for 430 years. In fact, it was on the last day of the 430th year that all the Lord’s forces left the land.” In this passage, Moses was being very specific, down to the day. In Galatians 3:16-17, Paul confirmed that 430 years stood between the promise given to Abraham and the exodus and law-giving under Moses. So just because a number is rounded off in one passage doesn’t mean it’s not true in another.

Why do some Bibles use different words than others? Because the Bible has been translated into many different languages and many different styles. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic; the New Testament was written in Greek. Since you read and speak English, you need to read an English Bible. So whether you read the King James Version, the New Living Translation, the Message, the New International Version, or something else, you should realize that you are not reading the Bible as it was originally written.

So how can we be sure the Bible in our hand is worthy of our trust?

People who translate Bibles are usually extremely careful to get it right—they respect the word of God and do not want to make a mistake. However, because people are human, mistakes do sometimes creep in—for instance, in one King James Version the verse “let the children be filled” was printed “let the children be killed.” (I’ll bet they did a quick reprinting when they discovered that mistake!) That’s why it’s a good idea to consult several different Bibles if you have a question about a particular verse.

Why do people keep printing different versions of the Bible? Different versions are published because language is constantly changing. You know what the web is, what it means to IM someone, and what it means to be Googled, but a few years ago Google and IM meant nothing, and “the web” applied only to spiders! The King James Version of the Bible is lovely and poetic, but it was written in Shakespeare’s day . . . modern people don’t use words like “verily” and “trow.”

Let’s say that Elvis Presley once wrote a song on a napkin. Just for fun, let’s say he gave the napkin to a man who spoke Spanish, and this man went throughout Mexico singing this song in Spanish. The song became such a hit, in fact, that other people sang it, too—in French and Italian, Japanese and Greek. It would sound different in all those languages, right? But no matter how many times you translated it, you could never change the words Elvis wrote on the napkin. They would always remain perfect and complete, just the way he wrote them. However, occasionally a translator might make a mistake.

Translators of the Bible have made occasional mistakes, too. The good news is that we have many more ancient manuscript copies of the Bible than of any other book in the ancient world. Comparisons of our modern Bibles and those ancient manuscripts have demonstrated that our modern English Bible is very accurate. No original manuscript has ever been found with a mistake in it. Furthermore, the mistakes that have been found in copies are small things that are often corrected in another place in Scripture.

For instance: in your Bible, 2 Chronicles 9:25 says that Solomon had 4,000 horse stalls, but 1 Kings 4:26 may say he had 40,000 horse stalls . . . and 12,000 horses. Obviously, which passage do you think is accurate? Most modern Bibles have corrected these small errors either in the text or in footnotes.

Thousands of men and women over the years have given their lives to the study and preservation of the Holy Scriptures. God Himself has watched over His Word, and his people have guarded it, even given their lives for it so that others could read the truth about God and his love for them. The Bible is completely trustworthy. You can stake your life on it.

Memory verse: “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Discussion questions:

1. Before the invention of the printing press, Bibles had to be copied carefully, word for word, by hand. William Tyndale, known as the “father of the English Bible,” believed that all people had the right to read the Word of God in their own language. Many leaders of the church were terrified lest people begin to read the Bible and think for themselves, so they persecuted Tyndale and other translators. In October 1536, Tyndale was tried for heresy and treason in an unfair trial, then strangled and burnt at the stake in the prison yard. His last words were, “Lord, open the king of England's eyes.” This prayer was answered three years later when King Henry VIII published the “Great Bible” for all Englishmen to read.

William Tyndale is not the only man to give his life so that you and I could read a Bible—he is one of hundreds who have done so. Knowing this, how do you feel about the Bible you hold in your hands now? 


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Theology Lessons

I have absolutely nothing to say today.  Can you believe it?  

Fortunately, I have zillions of words in storage.  :-)  One of my doctoral projects was to write a curriculum for middle school students about theology.  I found it an interesting challenge--how do you boil down the most important elements of faith and put it into words that lay people can teach and middle school students can understand?  

So from time to time, I might pop one of those lessons up here.  The language is simple, but the lessons are profound.  Enjoy! 


Week One: What is the Word of God?

Do you have a good friend? Does he or she sometimes send you an instant message on the computer or a text message on the phone? It’s nice to hear from a friend, isn’t it? Before computers and cell phones were invented, though, people sent messages to each other in other ways. God spoke to people, too.  Sometimes he spoke directly (“Hey, Adam! It’s me, God. Why are you hiding?”). Sometimes he spoke through his prophets. (Nathan: “Yes, King David, the Lord sent me to tell you that you’re guilty of murdering Uriah and stealing his wife.”)

And sometimes God spoke had his prophets write his words down. The written word, you see, lasts a long time. Properly preserved, a hand-written document can last for ages. The apostle Peter wrote, “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

When we say that the Bible is “inspired,” we mean that it comes from God’s Holy Spirit, not from men alone. Therefore it is God’s Word to man, and we must respect it. For the next few weeks we’ll be looking at the Bible to see how it came to be and how we know it is worthy of our trust.

The Bible is one complete book composed of sixty-six smaller books. Many different men wrote these books over a period of fifteen hundred years, and we can see their different styles in the way they write. But God was the moving force behind all their writing. In fact, the first words intended for the Bible were written by the finger of God! Do you know what they are? No, not the first words in the Bible, but the first words intended for the Bible. They are the Ten Commandments, literally written by God to man. “When the Lord finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant [the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments], written by the finger of God” (Ex. 31:18).

Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy—and these are often called the Pentateuch (pronounced PEN-ta-too-k). Look at Deuteronomy 32:24-25: “When Moses had finished writing this entire body of instruction in a book, he gave this command to the Levites who carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant . . .”

Wait a minute—if Moses wasn’t even born in Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”), how’d he know what to write? Simple—God told him. Every word came from the Spirit of God. Moses knew what happened before his birth because God told him about the creation, how sin came into the world, and about the worldwide flood. God told Moses everything he needed to know.

The Bible itself tells us how it came to be written:

·      Ex. 24:4: “Then Moses carefully wrote down all the Lord’s instructions . . .”

·      Jeremiah 26:2: “This is what the Lord says: stand in the courtyard in the front of the Temple of the Lord, and make an announcement to the people who have come there to worship from all over Judah. Give them my entire message; include every word.”

·      Matthew 4:4: “But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

·      Deuteronomy 18:18: “I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him.”

·      Matthew 5:18: “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.”

·      Joshua 24:26: “Joshua recorded these things in the Book of God’s Instructions.”

So—does that mean that the men who wrote the Bible were like secretaries? They sat with a parchment before them and wrote the words they heard the Spirit whisper in their ear? Not exactly, because a person who simply writes what he hears is little better than a machine that transcribes sound into the written word. The men who wrote the Bible revealed their personalities and writing styles in their books even as they recorded every word God wanted them to write.

A good way to illustrate might be to think of an orchestra. Let’s say we have two excellent trumpet players who are playing the exact same part. The first player might play the part with confidence and an air of showmanship. The second player might play the same notes, but be a little more reserved in his playing. Or his “legato” (it means smooth) might be a little smoother than the first player’s version of the tune. Or maybe he’s feeling sad, and his sadness comes out through the music. Though we can hear their different styles, they are both playing music written by someone else—the composer.

In the same way, the Holy Spirit of God told the Bible writers what to say, and they said it exactly as God meant it to be said . . . while they displayed their gifts, emotions, and personalities.

What is the Bible? It is the Word of God, and “all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16).

God’s Word is his message to all people—those who lived yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God never changes, and neither does the truth of his word. The Bible is completely trustworthy—and next week, you’ll find out why. 

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Glass Booth

I was elated over the results of the Iowa caucus, and was very interested to watch the results  in New Hampshire. 

I stumbled across an interesting web site that pairs you with the candidate who agrees most with you--and helps you sort through the sea of names and sometimes confusing positions.  You can check it out yourself here. 


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kids and Money

One of the hardest things for me to do as a parent was to teach my children about money--and the value of a dollar.  (Believe me, we're still struggling with that lesson.) 

I heard about giving your kids a clothing budget at the beginning of the school year and making them stick to it--great idea, but it didn't really work for my kids because they wore school uniforms. 

Anyway, the other day I read a tip in the Wall Street Journal that seemed absolutely brilliant.  How I wish I'd thought of it when my kids were small--and it's this: 

The next time (and maybe always) when you're out with your kids in a restaurant and they're about to order a soft drink, ask them if they want the drink--of if they'd rather drink water and take the dollar instead. 

Aye, see what I mean?  

As to the dollar with my picture in it--obviously, one day I had far too much free time on my hands.  Yes, there is a page where you can make your own money.  Just don't try to spend it.  :-) 


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New looks for books

My last release was Doesn't She Look Natural, a title that was hard to depict in a cover. (Woman-in-funeral home isn't exactly a common genre.)  I liked the cover most of you have seen, which was green and youngish looking--trouble was, it seemed to identify the book as "chick-lit," which DSLN is decidedly NOT.  

So the creative brains at Tyndale House have come up with a new cover concept that I like a lot--and I think it's more true to the concept behind the Fairlawn books.  Featured are the new cover concepts for Doesn't She Look Natural and  She Always Wore Red, the next Fairlawn title. She Always releases this coming May. The last book, She's in a Better Place, will release . . . well, I forget.  Maybe this fall. 

Aren't the flowers a cute touch?  One flower, book one; two flowers, book two; three flowers . . . well, you get the idea.  :-)

What do you think of Fairlawn's new look?  


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

My Birthday Boy

My Charley (aka "Windfalls Glorious Gansky") turned five before the new year began.  He is the sweetest boy, but he's the biggest wimp.  

Charley has developed this habit of rubbing his nose against anything and everything--us, of course, the door, a wall, the carpet--and he's rubbed all the hair off the end of his nose.  So I took the boy and his poor bald nose to the vet, and the vet said it was likely that Charley was allergic to the plastic feeding bowl I'd been using--for years, I might add. 

Now--to feed a mastiff, you need to elevate the bowl, so they don't have to bend down and gulp lots of air with the food.  So I set my dogs' big bowls on the top of those huge buckets that chlorine tablets come in so the bowls are about two feet in the air. (You can see the OLD feeding bowl in the background of the BD hat picture.) 

Trouble is, it's hard to find a bowl big enough to fit snugly into the top of one of those huge buckets.  Every time I visit the pet store, either the bowls were too small, they were plastic, or they weren't round. 

But last weekend I got lucky.  I bought two new stainless steel bowls and gave one to Babe, one to Charley.  Babe looked at hers suspiciously for a minute or two, then she threw caution to the wind and  chowed down.

Last night when I tried to feed Charley . . . he was scared of his bowl. So Babe promptly ran in and scarfed down his dinner, clearing saying, "If you're not going to eat it . . . stand aside." 

Charley's bowl is next to his bed, which is surrounded by this huge folding exercise pen that functions as his crate at night.  So last night I put a nice doggie bone, which he loves, in the bowl, and penned Charley in  his crate with the Unfamiliar Evil.  Tough love. 

I think he spent all night sleeping as far as possible from the shiny Alien Bowl. 

This morning I poured his dog food into the bowl, then sprinkled it with yummy people food--our dogs LOVE our leftovers.  Charley wouldn't go near it.  

Knowing that last night, Babe had no compunctions about marching into his bed and stealing his food, when I went out, I had to keep Babe in the kitchen to stop her from dominating Charley's area.  I also had to drape a blanket over the x-pen to keep her from standing on the other side and barking at the bowl. (Hey! Food!  Come over here! Now! Talking to you!)   

Finally, this afternoon--when I knew poor Charley had to be starving--he put his front feet into the bed and leaned toward his bowl.  (I'd just poured warm sausage gravy over his kibble.)

  With his back knees knocking together, he took his first bite . . . and realized that the evil bowl isn't so evil, after all.  

Bless his heart.  My 200-pound wimp.  :-)

Aren't we just like that sometimes, though?  The Lord leads us to something new and different, and we hedge away, then finally approach with knees knocking . . . only to find there's nothing at all to fear. 


P.S.  Just found out that the Borders edition of Heavenly Daze should be available in stores in early March . . . so spread the word!  :-) 

Monday, January 07, 2008

BOM: Questions and Answers

Okay, time for questions and answers: 

Holly asked for details on how Lori and I wrote together.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, we decided beforehand who would write which story, depending on which "house" we chose.  After polishing our individual stories, Lori would send me her story, and I'd cut and splice it into mine.  Once it was in one piece, we'd actually meet--I went to her house a couple of times, and she came to mine a couple of times--and then we'd go through the entire book from start to finish, and then we'd take time to talk about the next book.  We had a lot of fun during those days together. 

In fact--aside here--I was at Lori's house, preparing to catch my flight home, on 9-11-2001.  I woke her and her husband up by screaming that we were under attack . . . and then it took me three days to ultimately get home. By bus.  A surreal experience. 

Susan asked:  Did you have much trouble keeping the voice consistent throughout any given book? Do you think it would be more difficult with a different partner?" 

A good writer, I think, is like a chameleon--you learn to "blend in" with the character.  My "voice" in any given book is really the voice of the character.  Though as a reader you may think that I have a certain voice, I don't see it that way.  I tend to adapt the vocabulary and tone of the character. 

In Heavenly Daze, all of our characters were crusty, country, down-to-earth islanders, so they all tend to have similar voices.  Lori has always written humorous, quirky, country characters, so that is a natural voice for her.  I didn't have any trouble adapting to it. 

With a different partner, it would have been a different book.  :-) 

I hope that answered all of your questions about this series!  Lori and I are still hoping that the Borders edition will sell so well that it'll be feasible to continue the series.  We'll see!