Friday, March 30, 2012

Inappropriate Public Behaviors

Do these things gross you out? I have observed the following things in public places. What is the world coming to? I’ve listed 5, can you add to my list? You never know when I might incorporate some grossness into a short story or novel . . .

1) A young mother clipping her baby’s fingernails in church.
2) An old man cleaning his fingernails at a restaurant table.
3) A woman cleaning a spot on a counter with a tissue she had just used to blow her nose.
4) A kid hiding the fact he had a bloody nose by plugging it with his thumb and then licking his thumb and re-plugging the nose. (Yuck!)
5) A handyman squatting at a utility box, revealing at least 8 inches of butt-cleavage.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday - Work in Progress (excerpt)

Ben got in at 2:45 a.m., tired, aching, but wide awake. There were two sets of tracks going from the street to the front door, then the tracks doubled back to the driveway and continued to the side door. A third set of tracks went straight back to the street.

The door was unlocked, but that didn’t alarm him. Cori was careless, believing their safety lay in the stupid theory that no burglar would enter a totally dark house . . . or a house with the TV on . . . or a house with all the lights on. He locked the door and threw his hockey bag down the steps. The TV was glowing but there was no sound. He tip-toed to the living room and found Cori sprawled on the couch, coat and boots still on. He bent low and sniffed.
(excerpt from work in progress)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just Believe

To believe means to accept something as true, to think that something exists, to have trust or be confident that somebody or something is worthwhile or effective. Religiously, belief is a much stronger stake in something than believing that, for example, it’s going to rain tomorrow.

Anyone who states that he believes in Jesus Christ sets himself up for ridicule. After all, Jesus claimed to be God. Non-Christians must consider that claim to be preposterous, right? Furthermore, Jesus asserted that He could forgive our sins. He testified that He, and only He, is the way, the truth, and the life, thus negating each and every other religious faith. Christians are, by their belief in Christ, confirming that all other religions are false. Hence the ridicule and discrimination against us.

I was recently shocked to hear a Protestant pastor say that he worried sometimes that he hasn’t done enough and when “the trumpet blows” he might not hear it and miss out! Where is his belief? And doesn’t he know that he doesn’t have to “do” anything? Salvation is a free gift; you just need to believe in Jesus. Period.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Plot to Kill

The book was opened to a new chapter that started half-way down the page, but my eye was drawn to the phrases I had underlined years ago. Blue, black, red, and green ink markings litter most pages of the giant print Bible I’ve had since the last century (not really as long ago as it sounds). I read: “He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”

I had underlined ‘he prophesied’. Apparently that had caught my attention before, but at this reading I was drawn to read the preceding paragraphs for clarification. The section was conveniently subtitled by the translators as ‘The Plot to Kill Jesus’. I learned that the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting and complained that this Jesus was performing miracles (no dispute there) and that if they let him continue all the people would believe in him and then the Romans would come and take away their temple. Interesting. Here they have the fulfillment of scripture right in front of them and they’re worried about the Romans’ reaction. It’s at this point that one of them, Caiaphas, speaks up and says, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

Was that not profound? Yet, I don’t think Caiaphas knew what he was saying. From his perspective he was thinking of saving the old (traditional) ways of the people and not the people themselves. From our perspective we can see something quite different, can’t we?

Next Caiaphas goes on to prophesy that Jesus would die for the nation. Again, did he really know what he was saying? It’s so much deeper than he realized.

And so much more personal. The Easter plot thickens.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday - Work in Progress (excerpt)

Wordle: 3/21
She sat on the love seat in the front room, her boots off, her feet tucked up under her short black skirt. She played with the toe ends of her shredded black tights, twirling her fingers around and around the seamed tips. Her usual air of indifference melted with alcohol-produced mirth. Laughter was a reaction she forced herself to avoid at home and school. Her trademarks were moodiness, anger, and resentment. But after the fourth beer she began to giggle. Jason liked it.

Jason, sitting half slumped in the client’s chair, grinned at Cori and tapped his pierced tongue twice on his upper teeth. The other couple with them wandered to the back room where Jason had a sofa bed. One more beer each for himself and Cori and then he’d tell Jake and Sue that the party was over.

“So what did you do after you tied them up?” Jason asked.

Cori laughed too loud and took another slurp. “I watched Dawn of the Dead and told them that if they said anything to their folks their next babysitter wouldn’t be as nice as me.”

“But they told?”

“Yup. Everything I ever did . . . somebody narked on me . . . or a camera caught me.” She laughed again and pulled at her toes. “What are they doing back there? I thought we were going to party?”

“Is that empty?” Jason reached across for her can, crushed it, and handed her a new one.

The city plow scraped along the street outside, its lights making the dark interior flash and glow with reflections that danced from mirror to glass framed samples to shiny displays of nipple rings and silver doodads. Cori popped the tab and rose up unsteadily; she settled back down on her other hip, leaving one foot on the floor.
(excerpt from latest work in progress)
(giveaway still going on & last day for free book on Kindle - see post below)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday - Work in Progress (excerpt)

Megan loosened her grip. She didn’t know what to think of this Ben. He seemed charming, but she was startled when he darkened the room. She wasn’t sure if this room was directly above Mrs. Kremer’s room or not. Would the lady hear her if she screamed? Ben was flashing a dimple now. Megan relaxed and stepped forward. A loud noise from below stopped her.

“Wait here!” Ben said. He reinforced his order by closing the door behind him.

Megan listened to his feet pound down the staircase then looked around the room again. A mattress and a dresser. Not much, but all she needed for now.

She sat down on the mattress and stretched out. From this angle she could see the dust on the floor. That would bother her; she’d find something tomorrow to clean the floorboards.

She strained to hear the voices below. Was there an argument? Had Mrs. Kremer changed her mind? It sounded like maybe Ben was pleading.

Or quarrelling.
(excerpt from latest "work in progress")

Monday, March 12, 2012

Released in Germany TODAY!

Long-distance excitement is curiously surreal. EDGE OF ESCAPE made it to the German bookshelves today, titled SOMMERFALLE. The publisher also released a digital teaser last week of extra scenes that I wrote for this purpose. When I checked this morning it was #10 on the Kindle Top 100 Free for Young Adult selections. Also surreal.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Today is Brought to You by the Letter ALEPH

Let’s look at the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet: aleph. Verse 1 of Genesis says: “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth.” Elohim starts with aleph, in fact many of God’s names start with this letter : El (God, Mighty One), El Shaddai (God Almighty), El Olam (God Everlasting), El Elyon (God Most High). Also many facets of God’s nature begin with this letter as well: love, light, truth, faith, Sovereign Lord. These are all Hebrew words that start with aleph.

When you write the three letters in Hebrew that spell "aleph" you get 3 different words - eleph which mean “ox” or “thousand”, alaph which means “teach”, “learn” or “tame”, and aluph which means “prince”, “chief”, “leader”, “master”, “ruler”, “guide” and “teacher”. The first one, eleph, may seem weird at first if you’re trying to relate the letters to Biblical symbolism. What has an ox to do with anything Biblical? An ox signified strength. It was the chief domesticated animal of the time and had to be “tamed”. That brings us to the second word, alaph, which means “tame” as well as “teach” and “learn” with the idea of learning by association. The last word, aluph (prince, leader, etc.), appears in Genesis 52 times, that’s 64% of all the times it appears in the entire Bible. I think Genesis is showing us very clearly who our leader, master and guide is: God.

There are many words that begin with aleph besides God’s names, such as “one”, “love”, “light”, “truth” and “faith”. These are such important words to our beliefs that I suggest you pause a moment and think about why they would all begin with this first Hebrew letter.

Now think of the Ten Commandments (found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). What’s the first one? No other gods before me! God is Number 1, the One and Only, the Eternal Omnipotent God. He keeps reaching out to man, provides new covenants, never gives up on us and blesses us. He is the Sovereign Ruler over all of His creation.

(Above taken in part from Crossing the Scriptures, copyright 2011.)
(Other posts on Hebrew letters: TET, ZAYIN, KAPH, PEY )

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday - Work in Progress (excerpt)

I thought I'd start a feature for Wednesdays and post a few paragraphs from my latest young adult novel that I'm working on. I'd be delighted for feedback, suggestions, and critiques.
Here goes. This is the opening:

Smoke curled past the woman’s eyes; she squinted at Ben. He held out the money and repeated his offer. “It’ll only take five minutes. Just say ‘nice to meet you, you’re welcome to stay as long as you need’ and then ask me to drive you to the store or a meeting or something.” He wiggled the money in the crone’s face. “I’ll bring you right back to this bar,” he promised.

The woman kept her eye on the wad of bills, figuring out the extra number of drinks she could buy tonight. Ben could tell she was reaching the decision he hoped for. He raised the money to eye level and smiled his honest, dimpled grin, the grin that all the females in high school fell for, even the teachers.

Her hand shot out, but Ben was quicker. He held the money back, peeled off the top bill, and handed it to her. “I’ll give you the rest after you convince her that you’re Mrs. Kremer. Agreed?”

He half expected her to tuck the bill down her blouse, but she opened her purse, dropped it in and closed it. She took a final puff, crushed the cigarette butt under foot and grabbed the passenger door handle to yank it open. This wasn’t the first time she had gone home with a stranger, but it was the first time she had entered a teenaged boy’s littered sedan. And such a handsome boy, too, with that dark blond hair and clear blue eyes. She hadn’t always been the best judge of character, but this kid was easy to read – he was innocent.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It's "Read an Ebook" & "Dig Out from 14" of Snow" Week

Lots of authors are giving 25%, 50%, 75% off and even making many books FREE.

Book 1 in the TUNNELS series for kids 8 - 12 is FREE at SMASHWORDS. Pass it on. Explore the site. You can download to any kind of e-reader, Kindle, Nook, Sony, phone, computer, i-pad, whatever.

This promotion runs March 4 - March 10 which is about how long it's going to take us to dig out from the quiet blizzard that dumped a foot to a foot and a half of beautiful snow throughout northern Michigan.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

AMAZING Stuff in Psalm 22

What if a thousand years ago when the Viking Leif Ericson sailed to the new continent he brought with him some written lyrics that sang of a tragedy in which huge flying ships would crash into twin 110 story tall buildings? How fantastic would that sound for the next millennium until airplanes were invented and buildings scraped the skies?

But what if that song had a second verse that named the exact number of victims, the time of day, the nationalities of the perpetrators? Would you not decide that the writer was clairvoyant or, perhaps, divine? Apply that logic to the prophetic passages in the Bible and be AMAZED.

Psalm 22 was written a thousand years before Christ was born and hundreds of years before the cruel spectacle of crucifixion made its way to the region of Israel. The psalm begins with the very words Christ spoke on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The verses alternate between complaints (you do not answer, trouble is near, evil men surround me) and trust in God (you are the praise of Israel, they cried to you and were saved). Clear imagery of Christ’s suffering on the cross is used in verses 12 through 18 and then the next three verses make four earnest petitions: come quickly to help me; deliver my life from the sword; rescue me; save me.

You can split the psalm in two after verse 21 as the mood changes to one of praise and thanksgiving thereafter (He is Risen!) and ends with the assurance that future generations will be told about the Lord.

One AMAZING word picture comes way back in verse 6: “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.” This portrait of Jesus on the day of his crucifixion is enhanced by the very specific worm that is mentioned: the coccus ilicis. This worm was crushed for its use as a scarlet dye. The female would attach itself to a tree and protect her larvae even through her death, whereupon the tree (picture the cross) and the offspring were stained with the scarlet red coloring (picture Christ’s blood).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Of Teens and Plots and Paranormality

Have you ever wondered if authors’ plots change directions mid-stream? Sometimes I’m as curious to find out what's going to happen next in my own stories as I am when reading someone else’s book.

Here’s the plot summary I wrote as I began to write my latest teen novel:

Hoping to surround himself with a family of his own creation, seventeen year old Ben uses his inheritance and sly maneuvering to lure emancipated teens into living in an old rooming house. With no adults to turn to, the five teens trust and distrust one another, fall in love and in hate, and harbor good and evil secrets. When the new girl suspects there’s a body in the basement Ben’s whole plan unravels in several directions. Can Ben fix things before five already broken lives are totally destroyed? Or will his willingness to keep secrets and defy authority turn him away from a hero’s path? Or, maybe, the new girl has better plans.

Well, I got a few chapters in and those darn teens got all trendy on me. I wasn’t expecting to write a paranormal story, but my characters threw themselves into another genre right before my eyes. It’s kind of exciting and makes writing fun. Here’s my latest summary:

What do a teen mom, a schizophrenic boy, a homeless girl, and a tattooed goth girl have in common? They all live in unsupervised disharmony in a rooming house arranged by seventeen year old honor student Ben. Ben has a unique plan that unravels as his housemates suffer nightmares, demon-possession, and then paranormal powers. When the authorities step in to separate the kids they bond in an unexpected way that puts Ben’s plan back on track.

This story is about a third of the way written and I anticipate more changes because I can’t trust those kids to do what I tell ’em.