Gratitude: It’s Worth More Than 13 Scrabble Points

thanks-1804597_1280This is the time of year when people talk about things they’re thankful for. Gratitude is a healthy thing, and it’s refreshing to hear people express it instead of whining.

Today, I’d like to comment on how thankful I am that I don’t have to earn my living by writing.

Yes, I enjoy writing, and I’m probably fairly competent at it. But earn a living at it? Ha! In order to make money, you have to actually market yourself. And your product. And I loathe, abhor, detest, despise, and abominate* marketing in any form. Besides that, I dislike it rather intensely.

Though I might phrase it a bit more passionately than most, the majority of my fellow-writers feel pretty much the same way. We’d rather write than do promotion. But if you want to sell books (or articles, or whatever you write), you have to let people know your work is available. And worth buying. And there’s no way to do that without putting a good bit of effort into it.

I sell a book now and then. I think since my first self-published book came out in 2014, there’s only been one month when I didn’t earn a few cents’ royalties. (And when I say “a few cents,” I mean that literally. There have been more months than I care to admit when my total month’s royalties for all four books have totaled under a dollar.) But I figure even if I sell only one ebook, that’s one new reader who might tell one or two others about the Gannah stories and/or buy another book in the series. In other words, though I can’t really call it progress, it’s better than paying people to take a book.
So I’m thankful my husband has always been a good provider. His provision allows me the luxury of spending my time writing without having to stress over marketing.

Which is not to say I don’t do any marketing. Awhile back, I submitted The Story in the Stars to Rabid Reader Reviews, and they liked it. Though the review was published a few years ago, they recently tweeted about it, and I thought, “Hmmm, that was a good review, wasn’t it? Maybe I should remind people it’s out there.”

So, in case you care, hop on over to their site and check it out. And if you haven’t bought the book yet, treat yourself to a good read. If you have a Kindle, you can pick it up for a mere 99 cents, so you shouldn’t have to break into the kids’ piggy bank to afford it. And I’ll get a 34-cent royalty payment. We both win!


*apple-1603132_1280In case you’re curious, that heart-felt phrase is borrowed from a poem I loved as a kid. While you’re clicking on links, check it out too!




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Maybe a Book Blog Should Be About Books

books-1015594_1280In our last not-so-exciting blogging adventure, I mused about the possibility of making my next post about books… since this is kinda-sorta like a writer’s blog typa thing. One of my devoted readers (my sister) commented privately that she liked that suggestion. So I’ll take her up on it.

As a kid, I was an avid reader. It helped that I had the time to just sit and read. Nowadays, I guess I do again! Because when I started jotting down the titles I’ve read in the past month or so, the list turned out to be longer than I’d expected. I might have missed one or two, but these are the ones that I thought of:

Fiction – on Kindle
Crooked Lines, Holly Michael
At God’s Mercy, L. L. Fine
The Dance, Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky (didn’t finish)based on the

Fiction – print books
The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Amy Tan
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke (based on the screenplay of the film by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke)
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
Space Captain Smith, Toby Frostspace captain

Nonfiction – print books
The Heavenly Man (Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun) by Paul Hattaway
Song of Songs: The Divine Romance Between God and Man by Watchman Nee
Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

A few thoughts on each:

I love Kindle because it’s cheap and efficient. Where else can you get so many books for free or 99¢? And how else can you store hundreds of volumes in a space measuring roughly 7.25 x 4.5 x .5”? I mean, seriously! As a book lover, how can I justify not having a Kindle?index

And yet… I much prefer reading a print book, and I know many who agree with me. Ebooks certainly have their place, but for the best reading experience, you can’t beat print. For that reason, I find it way easier to acquire ebooks than to actually read them. But every once in a while I’ll force myself to make use of the device.

Back when I was working with The Borrowed Book blog, I met author Holly Michael and was introduced to what was then her latest release, the above-mentioned Crooked Lines. Holly is a very interesting person; I loved the cover art; and the book sounded interesting. So, somewhere along the line, I got myself a copy on Kindle but only got around to reading it last month or so. It was okay. Had some interesting aspects to it, and all in all I’m glad I read it, but it doesn’t make my list of favorites.

Neither does At God’s Mercy. This was one I picked up for free, and it was worth the investment. Or maybe I paid 99¢ for that one. I don’t keep track of these things. But I’m glad I didn’t pay more.

51DaiSB6QML._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_I bought The Dance because I used to rub shoulders with Dan Walsh on Novel Rocket, and many years ago at church, we went through a film series by Gary Smalley that I thought was quite good. So when I saw Walsh and Smalley collaborated on a novel, I took the opportunity to get it on the cheap. Though it’s not the sort of thing I’d ordinarily read, it was quite well done. Smalley is a well-known family counselor, so there’s no surprise that family issues are the basis of the story—nor is it surprising that it has a happy resolution. If that type of tale is your cup of tea, you’ll enjoy this one.

Awhile back I had a discussion with someone about The Brothers Karamazov (how do you pronounce that, by the way? What syllable gets the accent?), and remembered that I’d downloaded a free Kindle copy—English translation, of course—quite some time ago, but hadn’t read it. So I pulled it up, read about 20% of it, and decided to let it rest for now. It’s not terrible, but finishing it didn’t seem to be the best use of my time.bonesetters

After that I deemed it time to do a little weeding-out of my physical to-be-read shelves. I think the first thing I grabbed was The Bonesetter’s Daughter. I loved Tan’s debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, and this, her fourth, was equally a delight. I believe was Stephen King in his book On Writing who said that no amount of training or practice can turn a mediocre writer into a great one. The average person can be taught to write competently, but, as with any other endeavor, true greatness is a gift. In that discussion, he mentioned Amy Tan as one who is greatly gifted.

After having read two of her novels, I wholeheartedly agree.

After that, I picked up the old classic-you-probably-can’t-believe-I’d-never-read-before-because-I’m-supposedly-a-sci-fi-author, 2001: A Space Odyssey. (I’ve never seen the movie, either.) It was… well, pretty much as I expected. A good example of the genre.

white tigerThe White Tiger was an excellent read. It was my first exposure to the Indian/Australian author Adiga, but I’ll keep my eye peeled for more of his novels. A journalist by profession, he made the crossover into fiction with amazing skill in this adroit story of one man’s struggle to escape the constraints of his caste in modern-day India.

I acquired Space Captain Smith some years ago in the course of my membership in The Paperback Swap Club, looking to expand my sci-fi reading. If you liked Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its ilk, you’ll get a kick out of this one.

Now to the nonfiction.

YunOther than the Bible, I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but I do occasionally indulge. The first on this list, The Heavenly Man, was recommended by my friend in Tasmania. Because I’ve liked her recommendations before, I decided to give it a try—and I was glad I did. The writing style was, in my opinion, clumsy, probably due to geographical differences. But the content made it easy to get past the mechanics. This is the true story of a Chinese man who’s still alive, about my age (a little younger, as I recall) and still active in Christian missions. His experiences put the Christian life in a far different perspective from that which American Christians know. He brings out many points, some obvious and some more subtle, that are well worth noting, and which I’d like to elaborate upon further, but this is already getting too long. Maybe in another post.

In late August, I began a study of the biblical book Song of Solomon and didn’t finish until the end of December. (I’ve been meaning to blog about that for a few months but never have gotten around to it.) After completing the study, I bought this book by Watchman Nee, Song of Songs, for further reading. I’m definitely going to have to talk about all this in another post, or series of them. For now, let’s move on…

My pastor loaned me the two books listed above about homosexuality and the Bible and asked me to read and review them. I’ve done the first part but haven’t written the reviews god anti

Both were good, but I liked the shorter one, Is God Anti-Gay?, better. When it comes to “What does the Bible teach about…” any subject, it makes sense to me to go to the Bible to see what it says. Why employ a middle man?

The author in this case does a thorough job with it, but while reading his scholarly, linguistic, but altogether readable explanation, I couldn’t help but think that the problem isn’t so much knowing, as believing what the Bible says. Quote chapter and verse all you want, and parse it down to a pile of split hairs; none of that matters. What counts is accepting, and submitting ourselves to, the Scriptures’ authority. Apart from that, it’s just old writings.

Brevity was one reason I liked the first book better. Another is that the author gives some very practical things for a Christian to consider when dealing with the matter of homosexuality in the church, in the political realm, in familial and casual relationships, and in one’s own life. But perhaps the most commendable aspect is the author’s perspective. He is a Christian who himself is attracted to people of the same sex. Therefore he knows whereof he speaks, and what he says is well worth listening to.

So that’s my recent reading list. Maybe I’ll do this again sometime.

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Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

Screen shot 2014-04-21 at 7.19.43 PMRANSOM IS AVAILABLE!

While waiting for my proof copy of Ransom in the Rock, I went ahead and published the Kindle version.

So if you’re one of the readers who told me that, when you read Words in the Wind, you reached the end and thought your Kindle was broken because it wouldn’t turn any more pages, here’s your chance to see what happens next. There are quite a few new pages for you to turn.

The print version is coming soon.




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Saturday Situation Report

Received my book shipment this week. Always fun! Took a pretty close look at Words in the Wind and didn’t find any glaring errors. Didn’t read every word, of course, but it looks great!

Still moving forward slowly on my WIP.

Just want to remind y’all that The Story in the Stars is available for only 99 cents on Kindle, but for a limited time only — on August 1, the price goes back up. So if you’ve been thinking about buying it, you’d better quit thinking about it and do it! (It’s also available in print, but that version’s not marked down.)

And you do know about the Kindle computer app, don’t you? Whether you have a Mac or a PC, you can download a free Kindle reader to your computer. It works just like the hand-held Kindle device, except on your bulky computer. I’ve read quite a few books on my laptop thanks to Kindle for Mac, and it’s eminently do-able. I prefer a print book, but I must admit, e-books are convenient and inexpensive.

Though the official release date (August 1) has not yet arrived, Words in the Wind is available now, too, both in print at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or for Kindle at Amazon. I also dropped off copies at the New Philly and Dover libraries, so once they get it processed and into circulation, you’ll be able to borrow it and read it for free.

Speaking of which, I see Amazon has made Words available to Amazon Prime members to borrow for two weeks for free.

For those of you who live near me, The Dayspring Christian Bookstore in New Philly has both books in stock as of today, so you can buy either or both there as well. Quicker than ordering them online and having to wait for them to arrive (a problem you don’t have with ebooks).

If you do read it, however the method, could I ask you to post a review on Amazon and B&N sites? Because there aren’t any there yet, and it looks sad and empty.

And, don’t forget the author talk and book signing at the Dover Public Library on Tuesday night, September 4, at 7:00 pm. I’ll have both books to sell there, too. If you want to buy an ebook instead but want an autograph, stop by and I’ll sign a bookmark for you.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Book Review: A Fountain Filled

I don’t do a lot of book reviews here. One reason: it takes a lot of time to read the book then do the review.  But I make exceptions in some cases — like now.

I met the author, Sarah Wells, through the Novel Rocket blog (then known as Novel Journey) when she submitted the story to the blog’s Out of the Slush Pile contest in 2010. Back then, she still had a lot of work to do on it. However, she’s not afraid of work. And despite major events going on in her personal life (such as, having a family and making a major move twice–or was it three moves? I lost count), she not only polished up this story, but she also recently published it through Amazon as an ebook.

I’m as proud and excited as a grandma at her grandkid’s high school commencement! So I’d like to share with you my review:

A Fountain Filled
by Sarah Wells MD
Kindle Edition
File Size: 570 KB
Available only on Amazon

Anne Knox, a Southern belle adopted from South Korea in infancy, dreams of becoming a missionary doctor. She starts her first year of medical school determined to make it through Gross Anatomy without passing out or puking. What she doesn’t expect is a plea for help from her brother in the jungles of Venezuela, who asks her to recruit a team of students to set up mobile clinics. But the desperate need, and a call from a surgeon friend who offers to help, make the request one she can’t refuse.

So, despite an overwhelming workload, unnerving clinical experiences, and her secret belief the med school made a mistake by admitting her, Anne sets out to build a team from her class. One by one they agree to join her: A handful of Christian classmates she meets during a prayer meeting on 9/11, both her bulimic and Hindu roommates, a scarred Gulf War veteran, and even legalistic Jonathan Church—a cutthroat student looking to pad his resume.

After a tumultuous first year, final exams complete, the splintered team travels into the Orinoco River Delta and camp amidst the Warao, a primitive jungle tribe. Each day in the clinic brings more difficulty. An ill child needs round-the-clock care, and tempers flare while the thermometer rises, with students quarreling over the complex needs. Then a terrible accident occurs, a massive thunderstorm hits, and they face a new question. Will they all get out alive?

In an era when it seems everyone contrives a plot to make the reader’s heart pound, Dr. Wells takes a different approach. Without sensationalizing, she lays it on the line with a breathtaking realism. You’ll feel like you’re beside the characters around the dissection table, struggling to concentrate in the lecture hall, or unwinding on a jog through Charleston. When the protagonist hears the shocking news on 9/11, you’ll remember how you first heard it and what consumed your thoughts and prayers throughout those uncertain days. When the team sees patients in the jungle, you sweat with them, scratch sympathetic insect itches, and grieve for the unfortunate patients the young doctors can’t help.

But best yet, if you’re a Christian, you’ll appreciate the honest reflection of the protagonist’s insecurities. You’ll relate to her reticence in talking about her faith and her struggle with judgmentalism. You’ll share her joy at seeing how God works out His plan for her life. And you’ll shout “hallelujah!” at the end.

This is a real snapshot of the Christian life, flaws and all. I’m at a loss for another adjective besides “real” to describe the characterizations, the setting, the situations, and the issues of faith portrayed here.

I recommend this book. It is, in my opinion, a graceful example of what Christian fiction ought to be.

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