Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paranormal . . . Romance?

I need some help from my readers. I’m wondering how to categorize a novel whose main characters are normal high school aged teens. There are “encounters” with demonic forces, though the contact is within the scope of the natural and not the supernatural. The novel contains periodic narration from one character’s guardian angel. This is a YA novel with a love triangle. So, is it a paranormal romance?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rejection - What It's Not


Rejection is something that authors either fear, loathe or accept. A decade ago I received a rejection letter from an intern (a fluffy young intern!) who, acting on behalf of an overworked editor, sent me an average form rejection letter. She did, so kindly, include her reason for the rejection. She stated that she didn’t believe character A would let characters B and C do XYZ. Fine, except that THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN! Not in my book. She obviously had not read my manuscript. From that I learned my first lesson in what rejection is not. Rejection is not always deserved.

About a year ago an agent requested the manuscript for a different project and I sent it off at a bit of an expense: paper, ink, mailer, postage. Though it was returned with plenty of positive notes, flowery adjectives and uplifting comments, the project was still rejected. The agent (he) just couldn’t connect with an eighteen year old girl . . . Rejection is not always criticism.

Rejection is not always denunciation, either, or dismissal or even elimination. I’m still in the game, aren’t I? Rejection is the first, and necessary, step to gaining recognition and approval. If I don’t learn from rejection I’ll never get to the goal. Did I learn from that first intern’s rejection? Absolutely. What she claimed was an unbelievable plot set-up, even though I didn’t do it, I mentally filed away as something to avoid when creating situations for my characters.

I used to tell my students that mistakes are good; you learn more from mistakes; if you make them on the practice test then you won’t make them on the real test. Same for rejection. Maybe if one gets rejected a lot one will learn how not to get rejected.

Next month I’ll be sending out a new project and entering a contest, hopefully not to be rejected.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Palestine, Puzzling Out the Promise

A woman in my Bible Study class asked if I could explain why there’s so much turmoil over a teeny tiny strip of land in the Middle East. First stop: the Bible. Genesis 15 tells of God’s covenant with Abraham (still Abram at this point). Verse 18 says “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates” and the verse continues to list the current inhabitants including the Canaanites. In chapter 17 the covenant is repeated in verse 8: “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

So the question is: who are Abraham’s descendants? We know that Sarah got impatient and gave her servant Hagar to her husband to be his wife. Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. Finally fourteen years later Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Hence there are two lines of descendants. Jews trace their lineage back to Isaac and Arabs trace theirs back to Ishmael.

If both Jews and Muslims trace their heritage back to Abraham then it stands to reason that both groups should be entitled to the land promised. The rest of my research in Genesis revealed this: God promised Hagar to increase her descendants until they would be too numerous to count, He promised her a great nation through Ishmael, He promised that through Isaac Abraham’s offspring would be reckoned. Reckoned? Huh? I checked the original Hebrew and it says that through Isaac his (Abraham’s) seed would be “called”. The actual Hebrew word here has many English equivalent words with various nuances. The specific nuance in this verse led me back to the word reckoned and the definition “to include a person as being part of a particular group”.

Does that sound like Isaac’s descendants are “in” and Ishmael’s are “out”?

I found a map on the internet that shows the many Arab nations surrounding Israel. I think God has honored his promises (Gen. 16:10, 21:13, 21:18) to Hagar to make a great nation through Ishmael. But look at Genesis 22:17 where, after Abraham nearly sacrifices Isaac on an altar, God promises him that “your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies.” Interesting, think about that.

Should we Christians take sides? (Answers are yes, no, maybe, later, I don’t know, I don’t care, or I need to learn more.) Know your Bible, study the Word, let God speak to you through His Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Edge of Escape, now $.99 on Kindle


Here's another excerpt from chpt. 1 of EDGE OF ESCAPE:

Eddie had a crush. Becky was the cutest girl in the school. He couldn’t remember when he didn’t like her. He named all of his cats after her. There was Rebbie, Becker, and Lil Beck. Sometimes he would just watch his cats out by the tool shed as they pounced on mice and played with them. He could sit as still as they did and he mimicked their movements, snatching imaginary victims and swatting paws, slowly devouring helpless rodents. Eddie, of course, didn’t eat mice but he would pretend that he was catching a certain girl and kissing her.

At the bus stop he just stared at his shoes but his peripheral vision was extraordinary and he was aware of Becky looking at him as well as the yellow of the school bus drawing nearer. His heart began to pound harder. He could feel it in his neck and he could hear it in his ears. He would be a cat now; what would Rebbie or Becker do? If Becky was his mouse this morning could he stay still enough to catch her? The Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland grinned a lot, maybe he should smile. He raised his eyes, turned his head slightly and smiled at Becky.

Time stood still for Eddie. He looked into her eyes in that first quarter of a second and just knew that she would one day be with him. The next quarter of a second played on his mind’s eye like a tiny television showing reruns of every moment that Becky had ever shown an awareness of him. But that last half a second sent his heart rocketing down through his stomach as Becky turned away without smiling back. Eddie was crushed.

copyright 2010 by Debra Chapoton

Sunday, June 19, 2011

An Ideal Father

I’ll save remembrances of my own father for another time. This Father’s Day I’d like to honor my husband, Paul, who became step-father to my daughters when they were 8 and 11. He had custody of his own children, too, who were then 6 and 10.

I could write the true declarations of how fair he was and is with them, how he loves and treats them like his own, how he has been an example to them of how a husband should treat his wife, but those are “tip of the iceberg” things. Instead I’m going to focus on four personality traits that he exhibits to the max: he is patient, attentive, understanding and loving.

There is no man more patient than he is. It’s that kind of patience that one cannot develop consciously. He just has it, along with an unsuppressed sigh signaling that he’s in control. He can drive a step-daughter ten hours round trip to a renown clinic, sit in a waiting room alone all day or be on-call ten days straight in a strange city having nothing to do to kill time. I’ve seen patience when dealing with our kids’ disobedience, their misfortunes and their repeated transgressions. I thank God for Paul’s patience.

Attentive? Yes! As a husband he is the most attentive spouse out there, but he displays this quality as a father, too. Are men attentive to their children? Do they know when they’re feeling the less obvious emotions or the subtle ones or the ones a child tries to hide? Paul does, he pays attention and then he does something about it. I thank God for Paul’s attentiveness.

That brings me to his trait of understanding. That same sixth sense he has for detecting our children’s feelings includes his knack for being understanding. I guess it goes hand in hand with compassion and empathy, two other qualities he has that I love about him. I thank God for Paul’s understanding nature.

It’s not hard to puzzle out that I would end with love. Paul is patient, attentive, understanding and loving. See the pattern? How does a father (step-father) show love? Paul is always uncomplaining, caring and sympathetic with the kids. He is enduring, conscientious, kind and accepting. He is generous. I’ve never heard him yell at them, belittle them or criticize them negatively. He is loving and he shows that love. Thank you, God, for this wonderful man who has been the ideal father.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Northern Michigan Authors

Three Northern Michigan Authors will be at the Topinabee Library tonight, Saturday, June 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. They are Jan Kinne Conway, Jim Conway and little old me.

If you find yourself wondering whether there is more to life you will want to read Jan Kinne Conway's inspiring story of a life well lived as told in her book The Finisher. This book is about an extraordinary man, an amazing adventure, and most of all divine purpose. Jesus calls us to produce fruits that last, fruit with eternal significance. This book will inspire you to focus on what really counts as you finish your one, and only, life.

Jan's husband, Jim Conway, has revised and updated his classic book Men in Midlife Crisis. The material Dr. Conway presents will benefit all couples and will provide practical hope for successfully making this life transition. He is a popular conference speaker and counselor. He holds five earned degrees in theology and psychology, is the president of Midlife Dimensions, an international counseling and conference ministry, and is the author or co-author of 14 books.

Then there’s me. I’ll be presenting my non-fiction work, Crossing the Scriptures, which teaches how the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet connect three times each with the 66 books of the Christian Bible. There are amazing connections between books that are spaced exactly 22 books apart. I’ll also have my children’s and young adult books available.

The Topinabee Library is located in the old train depot at 1576 Straits Highway in the Village of Topinabee, 2 miles north of exit 313 off I-75. Our books will be available for sale and, most importantly, there will be refreshments.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Excerpt 2 from TUNNELS


As I followed the others I noted that they were veering off in three separate directions. A pair of old guys were heading left followed by several middle-aged women, all plump. The center trail accepted hip young things, male and female. I felt inclined to keep to the right, following the children and three adults, smartly dressed.

One last look behind and I knew I had just made it out of there in time. The spotlights were scanning everywhere. I turned and fell. Straight. Straight down. Straight down a slippery tube.

If I wasn’t so scared I would have laughed and enjoyed the ride. It lasted a full minute – sixty microwaved seconds – as I felt hotter and hotter. The sliding slowed as the tunnel evened out. I had to crawl out the last three feet.

“Simmons, over here,” someone whispered. Who could know my name?

“We’ve got a hard case here,” she said, an ageless woman, maybe thirty-five, maybe sixty. Her nametag said ‘Jackson’ and I glanced down at my own chest to see that I, too, was labeled.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I couldn’t think of a clearer way to put it.

“Oh, yeah, yeah, the memory thing. That’ll pass. Just follow me for now,” she said. “It’s almost midnight, we don’t want to be late.”

The sky was black. Suddenly there was a boom of thunder and lightning and the rain poured down in sheets. Jackson led me to a high, rocky bluff and we crouched down and looked over. The straight river below held a steamboat trapped on a rock. With every flash our eyes registered the progress of a small raft that was heading directly toward the boat.

“That’s Jim!” I shouted to Jackson. I wondered how I knew that. Who was Jim?

“Of course,” she answered. “And we’re here to save him and the little guy with him.”

copyright 2011 by Debra Chapoton

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Crossing the Scriptures


It was an amazing experience to discover the dynamic connections between the ancient Hebrew letters and the individual books of the Bible.
There are several excerpts (I labeled them "snippets") from various chapters of CROSSING THE SCRIPTURES that I have posted here in weeks past.

It is now out in PAPERBACK as well as KINDLE and NOOK

I can think of a few people to send a copy to who have never read the Bible - they'll get a good concept of the whole Bible in a short time.

I've also had several people who know the Bible well read it and tell me how interesting and enlightening it was to read (and reread) CROSSING THE SCRIPTURES. So . . . I guess it's for everyone.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Puzzled But Not Perplexed



You never get the subtleties if you don’t know the language. No translation gives the whole picture and I know that. So as I fretted over how to teach a seemingly straightforward, teeny tiny little six verse Psalm I started by looking at the original Hebrew. Aha! I recognized a few words from my limited self study of this most difficult language and right there at the end of verse 6 of Psalm 13 I found my first clue: gml or rather lmg in Hebrew – I’ll explain later. (Unfortunately the Hebrew font won't print on this blog)

Here’s the Psalm:
1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

The first two verses have four repetitions of “How long” and oh, man, does that ever show a groaning lament in the Hebrew. The next two verses contain a request, but still show a desperate, forlorn grief.

“BUT I TRUST” the Psalmist, King David, says in verse 5. What does he trust in? He trusts in God’s unfailing love and then he goes on to turn the psalm into a hymn of praise with a secret message. And I solved it! It was that “gml” clue I mentioned above plus the fact that I always look at several English translations as well.

Verse 6: “he has been good to me” in the King James Version is “he has dealt bountifully with me”. That phrase rang a bell so I checked the Hebrew and, sure enough, there was “gml” which not only means “to deal bountifully” but is a homonym for the third Hebrew letter which pictures, or symbolizes, the Holy Spirit. Hmm, the line above that has LORD in caps. Aha again! The Hebrew here is the unpronounceable name of God. Back up one more line – “my heart rejoices in” . . . oooh, I saw that the next word was salvation. I know that’s Jesus, but this is an Old Testament verse so . . . off to the Hebrew original . . . and AHA! The Hebrew here for salvation is yeshu’ah. (Guess how you say Jesus in Hebrew. That’s right: Yeshua.) So, David trusts in God’s unfailing love which is, in English, Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. I love puzzling these out!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Daily Cheap Reads



Does everybody but me know about these sites? Daily Cheap Reads Jr. features ebooks for kids and young adults at ridiculously low prices. From there you can link to their sister site for more Cheap Reads.
Schools are out, or almost out, for summer and with all the Nookbooks and Kindles out there I suspect that kids may just do a little more reading this summer if it's electronic.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Family Cliches

“It’s dumb. It’s stupid. I hate it,” were the standard three sentences my step-son gave in response to anything that didn’t work out right. If he was frustrated or angry or annoyed we could count on hearing this triad of opinions.

Are there “family clich├ęs” in your household? Phrases that everyone can finish? If I say something is dumb, I can expect my husband to add that it’s stupid and a daughter to say she hates it. Then we all laugh.

Something bad happened one Christmas ten or so years ago and one of the kids accused another of ruining Christmas. Her response was “I said ‘oops’.” Now everyone waits for the inevitable mishap at any family holiday so they can be the first to say “you’re ruining Thanksgiving (or Easter or whatever)” and someone else will say, “but I said ‘oops’.” Again we laugh. It never gets old.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Delight of Returning Favors

I'm in the middle of doing some fine line editing for a new author, Stephen Flitcraft, and in exchange he has made this amazing book trailer for one of my kids' novels. Please tell me what you think. Stephen is recovering from a stroke and I have been amazed by his creativity. Authors help authors all the time, but this has been a most rewarding experience.
Youtube Video for Bullies and Bears

Friday, June 3, 2011

Swearing

My mother never swore. Almost never. I heard her say “damn” once, but that was it. I remember one time when I was in the back seat of the car and she was driving. A nice conversation was underway between me and someone else in the car (I no longer remember who) when in response to something incredible that the other person said (probably my sister) I expressed amazement by saying not “gee” as I usually did, but rather “gees”.

Faster than a whip came my mother’s hand across my mouth. “You don’t talk like that!” she simply said, not yelling.

What did I do? What did I say? She went on to explain that “gees” was just too close to Jesus’ name. I was maybe nine or ten and I understood the Ten Commandments, especially the one about not taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Pretty rough, you’re thinking, to strike a child for that, but I am so thankful that she did. I don’t swear. I never picked up the habit and though I’ll let a character in my books swear, I never actually type the word. And my characters will never, ever use the Lord’s name in vain.

I remember a sad story about a poor, homeless child learning the Christmas story for the first time. He was amazed and happy to learn about the baby’s birth, but couldn’t understand why Mary had named him with a cuss word. Sad.

Sad. Yet amazing. Does anyone curse by saying “Oh, Buddha!” or “Hare H. Krishna!” or “Allah damn it!” or anything like that? Think about it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Short Story Contest - YOU WIN by Voting



Heart of Eden Short Story Contest

Remember my post "The Spanish Stranger"? Well, it's in a little ROMANCE contest over at the Immortality and Beyond blogsite. I'm hoping you'll take a peak, vote, and give yourself a chance to win a $25 prize. Yes, that's right, voters get prizes, too. So click on this link please.
(This is NOT an "adult" type of contest.)