1. No Road Among the Stars: An Innerstellar Commonwealth Novel (Vol. 1) by A. Walker Scott
This book transported me back to the wonder and newness that first drew me to science fiction fandom. It’s well written and clean, and has believable, full characters with their own languages and cultures that the author (a real-life linguist and world traveler) created. All that and a high-stakes conflict in space. Keep an eye out for some fun Easter eggs, too.
2. Promise at Daybreak by Elizabeth Wehman
This novel is about two elderly sisters, cordial but not friendly because of their opposite opinions on faith and politics. They must cohabitate to face a promise that they made to one another at their mother’s grave site, though neither sister is sure she can go through with the promise. This is a feel-good relationship story with a mystery and a twist that I did not see coming. This book is clean and has specific Christian content.
3. Between the Bridge and the River by Craig Ferguson
This novel is raunchy and rude, filthy, funny, provocative, and spiritually insightful. I literally laughed and cried (and sometimes gagged a little) through the whole thing. And when I finished, I felt encouraged and thoughtful. If you’re offended by anything at all (not everything, just anything), it’ll probably offend you. But if you roll with the punches, it’s worth the ride.
1. Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller
I recommend this book at every opportunity for a reason: It’s one of those very rare books that I can honestly say changed my outlook on life. It’s riveting, clever, at times laugh-out-loud funny and at times mind-blowingly profound. If you saw the movie and it wasn’t for you, read the book anyway. As we old folks used to say back in the day, the book is a “totally different head.” Mostly clean reading. There’s some light cussing, if I remember correctly.
2. Is Jesus a Democrat or a Republican? by Tony Campolo
This book was first published in 1995, but I cannot think of a better time to read it than today. Without judgement, and with courageous love and truth, this book explores opposing sides of some polarizing political and social issues in light of the Bible–and why good and godly people can disagree with one another. It’s written in essay form, and delivers opinion with humility.
3. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkle
This is the true story of a man who just wanted to be left alone. At the age of twenty, Christopher Knight parked his car and vanished. He lived alone in the deep woods of Maine–undetected and unattached to civilization–for twenty-seven years. This is a fascinating story.
[Note: I don’t get sponsored or paid to recommend these, and I don’t get anything if you follow the links. They’re just books that I’ve read and like, and I linked to where you can find them on Amazon. Buy them anywhere you want or request them at your local public library. If you like one of my recommendations, and you’re feeling generous, I wouldn’t turn down a small donation. paypal.me/KAFrazier. ]
What are you reading? Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? What books do you recommend for the summer? Please leave the titles of your favorites in the comment section, so I can find more awesome books to read. We’re in this together.
Hola, Writer Peeps!
What do you think? Can I say the N-word and other “bad” words in a historical context? Or are some words just not acceptable ever?
As an example of non-acceptance, my husband Frazierhead and I went to a family’s home for dinner. The children ate in another room so they could relax and be children and so the grownups could relax and be grown up.
Over soup, our hosts asked if we had seen the movie Amazing Grace, a biographical film about the abolishment of the African slave trade in England. We said that we had and that we recommended it.
The mom asked if the movie was appropriate for children. I answered, “There’s no overt violence but there’s language you may not want your children to hear.”
“Like what?” she pressed. “What do they say?”
Because I was among adults and because she asked me directly, I said that, in the movie, a slave owner refers to a slave as the N-word. Only I didn’t say, “the N-word.” I said the N-word.
Both husband and wife—in unrehearsed but perfect unison—audibly gasped and drew back as if I had slapped them. Silence fell over the room. I looked to Frazierhead for support. He seemed frozen in wide-eyed horror. I quickly started chattering about the historical accuracy of the film’s use of the N-word, avoiding saying it again, and then changed the subject. We were not invited back.
In retrospect, I should have apologized. Even though, in context, I hadn’t said anything deliberately cruel or racist, the fact that I said the N-word at all was offensive to that couple and shocking to my husband. The current American convention says to replace some cuss words—the really bad ones—with initials. We say “the N-word,” “the B-word,” and “the F-word.”
The problem, I think, with the initial thing is that all words are symbols. When I wrote, “the N-word,” I put that word into your brain. You didn’t wonder what I meant. I accomplished the exact same thing that I would have accomplished by saying or writing the word out in full. This seems pointless to me. I’d rather say the word or not say it. But seeing where that gets me in the real world, I’m hesitant to follow through.
Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is full of the N-word. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird also uses it. Yet both books are clearly anti-racism. The racist words within the stories testify to racism’s cruelty within those cultures and in those times. Still, some people believe that the use of the word alone compels us to ban or censor these books–or at least let them drop off of reading lists. What do you think? Should books with bad words get put on the shelf forever? Should we “fix” art and censor history to make it conform to our current sensibilities?
As writers, we know that authentic characters make or break our story. But we also know to write for our target reader. And if our target reader is going to gasp and fall back, or—more importantly—stop reading if we let our characters use bad words, we need to make adjustments. Or we need to reevaluate our target reader.
In fiction, it’s easy to avoid cussing.
Marion slammed the vase to the ground, shouting profanities at no one in particular.
“Why, you’re just a no good, dirty–”
“Enough!” Alex pulled him back by the collar.
I’ve mentioned the 1964 film Lady in a Cage (bad title) before, but it’s still the best example of believable bad-guy dialogue without cussing that I know. If you write bad-guy characters and want to avoid cussing, it’s worth your time to see it. Don’t let kids watch it, though. Even without cussing or nudity, it’s violent and disturbing.
I’m currently writing a biographical book about ordinary family life during the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. A lot of racial slurs, sexist slurs, and homophobic slurs flew freely in those days. I’m tiptoeing around the words in my book, but I will have to make some hard choices. Do I spell out the sins of the past or just hint at them?
What would you do as a writer? As a reader, would you read an overall “good” book if it contains bad words? Or would you shrink back in horror? Let me know in the comments below. We’re all in this together.
UPDATE! Half Off Copyedits for NaNoWriMo Winners
I’ve currently booked 241,000 words of the 800,000-word limit. That means there’s still plenty of room to book your work in progress! Details HERE.
We’ve just finished Hanukkah. I lit the candles and sang the prayers. But this year, I’m all about celebrating Christmas! Who’s with me?
Last year at this time, my husband’s mother had just died–only six months after my own mother’s death which was eleven months after my father’s death. It was a time of indescribable grief for our entire family.
This year, sadness has (mostly) given way to fond memories. We have a new baby grandson–our first!–and we’re looking forward to making new memories with this new little person. Our lives have settled back into a routine and we’re ready to open up and accept the joy of the Christmas season again. This year, we’re celebrating along with the angels of God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)
How is your holiday season going this year? Are you in a sad or anxious time, or a time of refreshment (or some of each)? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Whether this season finds you mourning or rejoicing, I pray that the free gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus, will guard your heart with peace.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9 NKJV
Ready for a chuckle? Check out this short video from Blimey Cow.
ATTENTION NANOWRIMO WINNERS:
Did you finish NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program last month? If you did, you’re eligible for half off copyedits in 2019. Read the specifics at Half off Copyedits for NaNoWriMo Winners and contact me to schedule yours. I have two novels scheduled already but there’s still plenty of room for more. Pass this offer along to NaNoWriMo winners that you know. We’re in this together!
I’m gonna level with you: This isn’t going to be the most coherent post I’ve ever written. I’m on day five of a stubborn migraine, taking painkillers, AND I’m on day five of BEING A GRANDMOTHER! Woooooot! My grandbaby Tristan Alexander was born November 21st, the day before Thanksgiving, and we are so very thankful for him! So I’m distracted. Bear with me. We’re in this together.
Since I’m all about the baby right now, I’ve been thinking about the humility of our Savior’s birth. I’m awestruck to think that the Light of the World, the Creator of the ends of the Earth, willingly gave up his position in heaven and confined himself to the darkness of the womb for nine months. For you. For me. For himself. Such a humble and patient spirit! And to think I get miffed when someone cuts in front of me in a line. Sigh. I need to work on that.
Many people believe that Jesus began life in the womb of the Virgin Mary during Hanukkah, which begins this year (2018) after sundown Sunday, December 2nd.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him… Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:1-12
My very dear friend Cindy Elliott, over at His-Israel.com, along with Keren Hannah Pryor, wrote up a DIY Hanukkah free download for Christians who want to get in on the celebration. Even if you’re not observing Hanukkah this year, I recommend reading through the guide for a deeper understanding of Messiah and Savior, Jesus.
What are you doing to express humility and patience this holiday season?
Hello, Writer Peeps!
It’s November, and that means NaNoWriMo!
National Novel Writing Month is a time to write, write, write your little heart out, and produce 50,000 words in thirty days. Your novel has to have a beginning, middle, and end, but it does not need to be good. You can do this. We all know the only way to write a brilliant novel is to get that first ugly draft down.
Kids can write shorter books through the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program.
As a little bonus incentive, I’m offering a limited number of NaNoWriMo 2018 winners a discount on copyediting your new novel. I’ll give you time to flesh it out and clean it up first so the discount will be applied in 2019.
Terms of Offer:
(1) All NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program winners are eligible for this discount and will be scheduled on a first-come, first served basis. A 10% non-refundable deposit will hold your scheduled spot and will be applied toward your final cost. If you schedule a copyedit, then don’t have your manuscript ready by the scheduled date, you can apply your deposit toward another date, if available.
(2) Offer limited to copyediting a total combined word count of 800,000. Once that number is reached, no more discounted copyedits will be scheduled. So, keep writing at NaNoWriMo speed to get in on this deal!
(3) Discounted copyediting price is equal to half of my average fee, that is $3.50 per 1000 words or any part of 1000 words, with no minimum. (e.g., With this discount, a book of 50,000 words will cost $175.00 to copyedit; A book of 50,001 to 51,000 words will cost $178.50. A young writer’s book of 10,000 words will cost $35.00 to copyedit.)
(4) Word count applies to the manuscript as given to me, not to the copyedited version. I count every word I have to read, including titles, footnotes, subheadings, etc.
(5) Copyediting discount will apply to both fiction and nonfiction books of any genre.
(6) Discount will apply to copyedits scheduled from December 1, 2018, through December 31, 2019, and completed on or before March 1, 2020.
(7) Copyediting will be defined as:
* Correcting spelling, punctuation, and other grammatical errors in accordance with the most current Chicago Manual of Style guidelines and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
* Detecting inconsistencies in tone, style, story timeline, facts, and character point of view
* Detecting misused or overused words
* Detecting awkward or less-than-comprehensible language
* Rearranging or cutting words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs for better flow, logical transitions, and easier readability
* Replacing passive (boring) verbs with active (engaging) verbs, where appropriate (Example: When she
had gone [went] to the store, it was still light outside.)
* Offering suggestions for improvements, if any
* Tracking and explaining changes in the most current version of either MS Word or Open Office (your choice)
* Answering follow-up questions
(8) This offer does not include formatting for e-readers.
That’s all folks. I hope to see you among the NaNoWriMo 2018 Winners soon!
I’m not planning to post mid-week as a regular thing, but I read an interesting article about ghosts by Alexander Preston on the blog Empyrean Voyager. Since today is Halloween, I figure it’s good timing to share it with you.
The topic of the souls of the dead reaching out to the living is one that has been debated probably as long as people have left behind grieving loved ones. The linked article explores the subject of ghosts from a Biblical and Church history point of view.
Disclaimer: I do not personally agree with much of this article. It is well written, however, and seems to use sound theological study methods and research. I share it because I think it’s helpful for Christians to share their interpretations with one another and the article is genuinely interesting.
Read the article here: Halloween Special: Can Christians Believe in Ghosts?
Did you read it? What do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever encountered one personally?
Let me know in the comments.
Hey-o Voting Peeps!
Election day in the USA is nearly here. Some of you have already voted and some of you know exactly how you plan to vote. For those of you who are waiting for November 6th, I offer these non-partisan voting tips that come from many years of experience. I hope they help to clarify your choices. If you have more tips, share in the comments below. We’re all in this together.
As Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.” Let me know what you think in the comments below. I leave you with this short and funny voting video.
I'm inspired, so I inspire
Your Story. Your voice. the best it can be.
A personal blog by John Parsons, author of the Hebrew for Christians web site.
Your Story. Your voice. the best it can be.
Your Story. Your voice. the best it can be.
Your Story. Your voice. the best it can be.
Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi