Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Correcting the Bible

I have a Bible with really big margins, perfect for making notes transferred from Bible to Bible over the years as I have studied it and listened to sermons and Sunday School teachers. Yes, at 68 I still go to Sunday school, teaching a little when I can. When I wear a Bible out it can take me weeks to move into the new one, transferring all these notes.

On a recent visit my grandson saw me studying and making notes and asked me if I was correcting it. The way he said it made me think he was expecting me to mark the errors that I saw and maybe mark a big grade in red letters at the top. I laughed, of course, then told him no, that it was the Word of God and was perfect. I said the notes were for me, that even though the Bible is without error, my understanding of it can be faulty. When someone told me something or I found something that helped me better understand, I wanted a note to help me remember it and I wanted that note right where it could be of the most use to me.

Oh, over the years I've had people complain when they saw me writing in it, people who consider it too sacred to desecrate in that manner. I understand where they are coming from, but I don't worship the Bible, I worship the one whose words it contains. Besides, which shows a higher regard for it, someone who has a pristine, unblemished Bible held in high regard, or someone who considers it the ultimate textbook and guide for life using it and working in it and taking any means or method of finding greater understanding?

I tried to explain this to my grandson, that making such notes didn't show a lack of respect for the Bible, but an intense desire to more and more make it a VERY PERSONAL book.

I hope he got it.

This big Bible is my main repository even if I am using other resources in my study. But it isn't my favorite. I have s small Bible given to me by my mother on the day I was baptized over 50 years ago. It is a full Bible, but is scarcely larger than most New Testaments. Needless to say the print is very small, very hard for these old eyes, but I have always carried it, and usually have it with me as I still carry it each day. It is an old friend and has seen me through a lot.

So if you see me over there writing in the margins (when I can find room) don't bother to chastise me about it. I'm not doing it out of a lack of respect, but out of a strong desire to get closer to the Word.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving thoughts

Shortly before her death at the ripe old age of 96 my mother, Ruth Burns, said of her life: “I’ve never been hurt, never been abused, have had pretty good health, and walked with Jesus all of my life, I just don’t see how anyone could ask for more.”

What a great testimony on a wonderful woman and what a great way to cut through to what is really important in life. During the election coverage someone, I forget who, was talking about the fact that there are two kinds of people in this world, givers and havers. The givers are concerned with what they can share with others and the havers are involved with collecting as much as they can. The one making the point said that not many years ago there was no such thing as self storage units and now it seems they are on every corner. Clearly most of us have become havers.

Mother was a giver, always concerned more with others than herself. She grew up in times when they didn’t have much, but they didn’t want much, so they always felt their needs were met. Saundra’s family was the same and we were raised that way. We don’t have much by worldly standards but consider ourselves immensely blessed. When we find we no longer need something, or when we were dealing with Mother’s possessions after she passed, we sold very little. Instead item by item it went to people who needed it. We love knowing that she was still having an impact on people’s lives and we were as well. And so many people have a little something they can remember her by.

This is the time of the year when everybody writes notes about how we should be thankful, that it is the real reason of the holiday, not just eating turkey and watching football. But are we just parroting the words? When we count our blessings the big ones are not what we have but how we have been allowed to share our lives and our faith with others. Mother didn’t just talk about it, she lived it, and we are trying so hard to live up to that example.

We are indeed blessed in so many ways, and like her, I just don’t see how anyone could ask for more.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Register today to attend this live webinar from Writers Digest by Joyce Hart.

How to Get Published in the Inspirational and Christian Markets Live Webinar

By Guest Speaker: Joyce Hart Item No. #W1474
Format: Live Webinar Registration

Price: $79.00
Session date: Thursday, December 2, 2010
Starting time: 1:00 pm Eastern
Duration: 75 minutes
Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 1 year. If you are not able to attend the live webinar but sign up beforehand, you still receive the critique as well the archived recording. For more information CLICK HERE

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing at the Ranch

Saundra and I just returned from spending most of the week at the "Writing at the Ranch" Christian Writer's Conference at the Ghost Ranch outside of Abique New Mexico. It was a wonderful experience. No cell service and limited email service so it is more of a retreat. It seemed an inconvenience at first but then I came to understand that it was a blessing.

For me the zenith of the event was visiting with Bruce Wilkerson and hearing him give an awesome presentation. It was based on his book "For This You Were Made." Opened up our minds to new avenues in our lives. This is a picture of him signing a book for my wife Saundra.

During the course of the week attendees were teamed up with mentors and worked each day on a short piece for inclusion in an anthology that will be published following the conference. I had three writers in my group and the quality of their work was exceptional so I am sure the others will be as well. There will be material in it from some well published authors as well as be the initial publishing credit for some very talented new people. Great project.

During the event I decided to retire one of the programs I have been offering but as a result of meeting with a number of people have launched a new one to take its place. It is titled "It isn't my job to sell your manuscript," but quickly goes on to say it will be much more successful if it is 'OUR' job. I go into my 'team approach' concept for representing authors. I wrote the basic course outline as Saundra drove on the way home and it has already been booked into two conferences. Life is fun.

The quality of the pitches that were made to me were very good as was all of the content of the various programs and workshops.

I was pressed into service to read some of my cowboy poetry at the Friday night event and it was pretty well received. By that I mean nobody pelted the stage with anything.

If you are looking to get a conference on your calendar for next year I strongly recommend this one both as conference and as a retreat. There is a limit to the number they can take so you might want to get it on your schedule. You can find out more at http://classeminars.org/Events/Writers-Conference/

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What's Up with Louis L'Amour?

Creative writing classes study writers, discuss them, pick them apart to see what makes them tick. But I've never heard them give such attention to Louie. Dismissed as a paperback writer, not worthy of such discussion, I think they miss the point. The man died in 1988, and twenty years after his death continues to dominate the western fiction bookrack.


A lot of the writers of the classics that continue to be discussed and dissected ad infinitum, wrote books that today would probably not be picked up by an editor. They were beautifully written, I'm not saying they weren't, but in today's fast paced world and short attention spans they open far too slowly and often have much more detail than modern readers want to wade through. But Louie remains popular.

What's the deal?

I have a full set of his books, leather-bound, and I've read them all multiple times. I've heard a number of theories on why he is successful, but to me the answer is simple. Number one, he connects with the common man, and I mean that generically as I know a lot of women who love his books. He writes on our level. The other major secret is the fact that within a scant few pages into the book we have already identified with one or more characters and care about them.

The books open fast, get us invested in the characters, and they never whirlpool into a section where the story ceases to advance for the sake of explanation or description or setting or anything else that stops the forward motion of the tale. I won't go into a debate on how good of a writer he was, but he was one of the best storytellers America has ever produced. There's a difference, you know, a writer is concerned with the plot and structure and formatting etc. but a story teller is concerned with the story and keeping the reader entranced.

I think the people who do critical analysis of literature sell old Louie short . . . but it looks like the readers aren't fooled at all.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Are traditional books on their way out?

Probably. But if so, when?

Scribes sitting in dark rooms transcribing books and writings finally went away, but it took how long? The Gutenberg press was invented about 1441 and the Chinese had a printing press as early as 593, so it took thousands of years for the handwritten version to go away.

The paperback book was supposed to kill the hardback. I mean. The price alone is enough to do it, right? No, they continue to sell and will continue to as long as libraries and textbooks exist and as long as people who have nice personal collections prefer them. The paperback turned out to be a new but separate market.

But then came audio books and surely no one would want either version of the printed word if all they have to do is sit and listen to them. Truck drivers, vision impaired people and on the road salesmen embraced this technology eagerly, but wow, again it was a separate market and did not affect the other two.

We’ve seen DVD’s come and who would read a book when they can have a movie of it right in their own house. Actually I know people that want to read the book a movie is based on either before or after they see it. Different markets.

Now it is digital, and e-readers, the ability to have hundreds of books with you all the time. After the investment in the reader the books are cheaper but in many cases going up to rival the mass-market paperback price. I said a number of years ago that the e-book would not take off until a reader base was trained to read them and comfortable with them. I thought it would be when textbooks got so expensive that the electronic media would be the obvious solution. I’m starting to see some school systems doing just that, but it turns out that readers started getting comfortable with the devices without that happening. I have a book sitting on my iphone right now that I’m reading. They are different markets and while they may have impacted the other markets some each market continues to be strong.

We haven’t seen the last of it. The hallmark of our generation is exploding technology. More and better innovations and each will find it’s place. But every time this subject comes up there are those who say they still prefer to go off with a cup of coffee or chocolate and enjoy a printed book. I read constantly material being submitted to me on my computer. In fact, I wish I had more time to read for pleasure than I do. But the fact remains that if I am reading for pleasure I like to curl up with a book though for convenience I will read them electronically.

Will they go the way of the handwritten scrolls? Maybe someday. Will it take a couple of thousand years as they did? I don’t know, but it it does I expect the Lord will have come back for us before that time so the question is academic. I am pretty sure it isn’t going to happen in my lifetime although as writers it does behoove us to keep up with the new, developing media and to try and take steps to try and get product into it. Regardless what that media is they will always need to have people to produce the stories to fill it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A new beginning?

I hope so. I do know I am greatly relieved all the political ads are over.

I seldom talk about politics online, it can be too polarizing, but after staying up into the wee hours of the morning and now back up early to see how some of the things shook out that I was still watching with interest, it's still very much on my mind.

I have said over and over that I am a life-long independent forced to vote Republican as the only viable alternative I could see to stop an expanding and out of control government. Did it work? I was very encouraged last night to hear the new majority leader, Rep. Boehner, say he knew they were not being handed a mandate as a party but knew they were receiving a message about what the American people wanted and expected.

The message came from across the board, a major win in the house, narrowing the senate to virtually a deadlock, taking governor's mansions in 60% of the states and a huge number of legislative positions on the state and local level. Did the White House get the message this time? Or will they continue to push the agenda that the people clearly do not want? We will get an insight on that before the President goes jetting off again.

I believe people clearly want Congress working together, but they want them working together to reduce spending and reduce the size of government, plus the message on Obamacare was pretty clear to me as well. How do we go forward from here? We have a tendency to vote and then go away until it's time to vote again. This time we need to stay engaged and to try to have an impact on the way we are governed.

The Bible says we are supposed to submit to our leaders, but in a system of government where we select our leaders I believe a Christian has an obligation to be guided by their faith principles in selecting and then working with their selected representatives. "Separation of church and state" means the government can't mandate a religion, it doesn't mean Christians have to give up their voice in the government.

I'm a realistic optimist. I know what our track record is, but I am hopeful that this new crop of people going to Washington will not be changed by Washington but instead will change the way things are done themselves. I am hopeful that those who are returning will embrace this change. The clear message is "we are tired of government not listening to us" and I genuinely believe that failure to get this message will result in an even stronger message in 2012.