Beyond the Politics, Check Your Heart

I figure it’s time for me to pause and say something to my blog readers, and anyone else who’s listening.

In general, I’m an upbeat kind of person. Yeah, I have a passion for books, so I post about them a lot. I’m in the middle of writing my own next book, which takes a healthy helping of my time. And with July coming up, I fully intend to have myself a merry little “Christmas in July” on my blog.

Still, while I’m busy writing and joyfully posting about stories and movies and all, I don’t want anyone to think I don’t very well see what’s happening in the United States right now. Not just what’s happening in America but what’s happening with Americans.

A country isn’t merely a place. A country is the people in that place. And, no, things aren’t just a little heated or uncomfy in America at present. We’re in a crisis. Not only does human crisis bring out the best or the worst in people, but it sets the stage for what kind of people they’ll be, going forward.

Trust and believe, you don’t become something deeply and drastically different overnight. It happens little by little—a day by day process. It’s a good thing when you’re aware of how you’re changing, how you’re evolving, when you’re intentional about it, and you wake up at peace with what you’ve become and are becoming. But it’s a sad thing when you wake up one day, look in the “mirror,” and realize there isn’t much true honor in what you’ve turned into. When you realize, somewhere along the line, in the middle of all the noise, you became too accustomed to tuning out your conscience.

With every discussion or dispute you hop into, you’re becoming something. With every catchy meme you jump on and share around on social media, you’re becoming something. With every voice you choose to agree with, every voice you choose to disagree with, and every voice you choose to disregard, you’re becoming something.

So my encouragement to everyone reading this is to stop and check to honestly see what you’re becoming. Not merely the person you say you are or want to be, or who you are when your friends are around to concur with your opinions, or who you are when you’re busy arguing with folks to prove a point. I mean for you to check on you. Not just to check on the immediate or loudest stuff in your brain, but to check on your heart. Deep down.

Don’t blindly allow this time of crisis to turn you into something you’ll regret or be ashamed of, years down the road. Don’t get so caught up in noise that you miss the present opportunity to work on your character, to become a better human being.

Don’t just know your politics. Check on that heart of yours.

 

Rough Days for Reviews, and My Encouragement

All the Book Love

As it happens with anything and anyone else, some days are harder than others for an author. On the marketing side of things, there’ve been some recent rough days in many an author’s neck of the woods, particularly where one crucial area of book marketing is concerned: book reviews.

There’s been an uproar (a recurrent one?) and much speculation as the online book reviews of more authors and reviewers have been disappearing. (Here are samples of the uproar and speculation, in case you’ve been out of the loop.)

I understand what all of the fuss is about, particularly for independent authors who work hard to get book reviews. Yes, the couple of handfuls of precious reviews I’ve been able to gather for my own books are the result of hours and hours, months and months of searching and querying, reading the review policies of anywhere from 600 to 700 book reviewers and bloggers, individually contacting about 300 whose preferences and requirements I met, getting “Yes, I’ll review your book!” responses from about half of those, and resulting in what I have so far.

Please excuse my inexact numbers. I’ll admit that the closer I got to 1,000 reviewers, fatigue set in, and I started losing track of the count, even with my recording all the data. 🙂 I had to get back to reading and writing to regain my strength.

And speaking of reading and writing, reviewing parameters have the potential to get sticky for a bookworm who loves writing books as much as reading and reviewing them. I mean, once someone writes a book, any other book that person reads from that day forward is “another author’s” book. That’s a whole ‘nother subject.

Anyway, in the midst of these rough days, I’ve had to recall the dear memory of once finding a novel that saved my life. The author wrote it long before I was born, and there’s no way she or her publisher could have known anything about Nadine C. Keels and what Nadine would be going through when she happened to find the book on a shelf, decades down the line. And I have no idea what difficulties the author or publisher may’ve had to overcome to get that book out into the world.

But God and the orchestration of His universe had a way of making sure the right book from the right author got into this reader’s hands at just the right time. I believe I’m not at all the only reader that has ever happened to, and it makes me trust that the same will ultimately happen for the books I’ve written for others.

Nope, this encouragement isn’t very scientific, but when I’m putting everything I am and everything I’ve got into writing and planning and publishing and marketing and all, and another uproar or obstacle in the process arises, I have to remind myself of why I think it’s worth it to keep at it, even when favorable results are hard to come by and seem minimal. There are so many uncontrollable factors anyway, factors that go into when, where, and why a book sells, and once it’s sold, if it’s actually read.

So, as a reader and an author, I’ll keep doing what I can, change or improve what I can, try not to stress too much over what’s out of my hands, and remember all the books that have gotten into my hands at the right time, despite what the obstacles may have been.

*Oh! And if you’re a reader, do know that the reviews you write mean so much and are a great help to the authors you love to read.*

 

The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

biblical-books-3

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Four Silver Stars

The Pharaoh's DaughterThe Pharaoh’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“Hope can’t be lost or stolen. Hope is a choice we embrace for ourselves each day.”

Many know the ancient story of a man named Moses through biblical as well as fictionalized accounts in books and films, but what might have been the story of the woman who found the infant Moses floating in a basket on the Nile River and raised him as an Egyptian prince? In The Pharaoh’s Daughter, author Mesu Andrews brings together history and mystery in a novel of beauty, savagery, political intrigue, intricate family dynamics, romance, and faith.

Through Anippe, the novel’s heroine, the author paints a convincing picture of what it’s like to live with one’s deep-seated fears and of the limits that love and dread can push one to—or past. Andrews thoughtfully, and creatively, brings out personal, familial, and national complexities in an empire’s critical period, showing how something like a king’s decree to murder the male newborns of his slaves would affect everyone concerned, from the throne on down to the Hebrews’ households.

There are different dimensions to the novel’s characters, sometimes to the point where I had some trouble following the swift changes in their moods and such, but their unpredictability kept the reading interesting. There were places during the second of the novel’s three parts where I lost the sense of a connecting plot behind the story’s events, and on a minor note, I thought crying was overused and lost the effect it might’ve had, as it seemed that Anippe was either in tears or struggling to hold them back in so many of her scenes.

Yet, all in all, it’s an intense story well-woven, and the way hope ultimately shines through has put me in anticipation of the next novel in the Treasures of the Nile series.

_______________

Miriam

 

“A Novel Saved My Life.”

Hope, Inspiration, Genius

A particularly meaningful author interview of mine is no longer available where it once was. So, I’m sharing a part of it here.

Why did you start writing, Nadine?

I often call fiction my “first love.” I’ve been a bookworm all my life, and my love of writing stemmed from my childhood reading adventures with books by authors like Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and L.M. Montgomery. Hence, I’ve been writing stories since I was about seven or eight years old. Then, during the few days of a horrific experience I had when I was thirteen, a novel saved my life: John Nielson Had a Daughter, by Ruth Livingston Hill (Ruth Munce.) Recounting that experience would take a whole separate interview, but suffice it to say that my purpose for writing books was first awakened there. I now write to help people: to bring hope, to change minds, to expand imagination, to provide entertainment, and to save lives, all of which other authors’ books have done for me.

Fueled by the purpose awakened in me when Munce’s novel saved my life, I wrote my first novel, Yella’s Prayers, when I was seventeen, with the hope of saving someone else. Interestingly enough, I only recently learned that Munce, who lived to be 103, lived all the way until I began the first work I seriously planned on publishing. Munce passed just days after I started writing Yella’s Prayers, in May of 2001.

________________

It’s important to know why you do what you do…