Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Introducing Christian Author Cheryl Rogers

I would like to introduce a very talented Christian author, Cheryl Rogers; she is not only an author, but an artist and musician.

My friend Cheryl likes to write for children because they usually are very open to God. "Children have a special place in my heart. They have so many years ahead of them ... so many years to enjoy getting things right," she says.

Her latest children's ebook is I Can See Christian Storybook Treasury, a unique book that helps defeat doubts about God that develop as a child grows. It begins with I Can See God's ABCs, a story that should be read to the child as he or she is learning about the world. From there, the short stories become increasing complex, dealing with questions like how can we find a God we cannot see, why did Jesus come to Earth and why did Jesus have to die.

I Can See Christian Storybook Treasury is meant to be used through the years with each child and grandchild in the family," Cheryl says. "It can be used with younger and older children at the same time."

Her other books include Making Choices: Life is Like Acorns, a Bible study aimed at children 5 to 10 years old. This ebook is being given away free at http://www.songsfromtheword.com/NewChristianBooks/ through mid-August and through Smashwords.com during the month of July. The story is about a baby squirrel named Peepsy who is learning how to hunt for acorns. His mother teaches him not all acorns are good to eat -- things are not always what they seem to be.

Just Like Jonah Wail Tales, a storybook aimed at preteens and teens, teaches there is a price to pay when you disobey. The modern-day Jonahs make bad choices and land in a whale of trouble, just like the prophet Jonah in the Bible. But when they return to God, He is faithful to change their circumstances.

Her devotions book aimed at new and young believers, Fast Track to Victory, A Christian Guidebook, contains 40 short lessons that enable us to live the victorious Christian life, helping us really love and forgive others, set aside pride, deal with tragedy, and death and lots more.

Cheryl knew she wanted to be a writer as a child. She earned a journalism degree in college and honed her skills as a newspaper reporter, but it took a devastating illness for Cheryl to realize what she was supposed to write about. In 1993, she succumbed to a severe immune disorder, Environmental Illness, to which there is no physical cure. After undergoing extensive treatment to no avail, she surrendered her life to Christ and he miraculously healed her.

"My life was in shambles, but God gave me my life back. I learned he was real and well able to handle my problems," Cheryl says.

A Miami native who lives in Tampa, Florida, with her family, Cheryl currently publishes http://www.songsfromtheword.com/NewChristianBooks, a magazine featuring announcements about new kingdom-building books as well as book excerpts, a Bible-based living column, author marketing tips and other features. She has authored a number of Christian titles as well as a couple of ebooks about self publishing.

In addition to her Christian books, Cheryl designs Christian posters, mugs, cards, tees and other products using her nature photographs and Scriptures from the King James Authorized Version. She also has self produced three Scripture song CDs.

"It never was my idea to write Scripture songs," says Cheryl, "but when the first song was sung into my spirit on the second anniversary of my father's death, well, it got my attention. My father wanted my sister and I to write a song as children, but I couldn't come up with a melody. All I could do was the lyrics. And here I was getting a complete melody. I couldn't ignore it."

She discovered a music studio two blocks from her house and was able to complete the CDs with expert help and the knowledge she gained through childhood piano lessons and college voice classes.

"I realized I had better use the talent I had been developing for His purposes," she says, "and so I began sharing the lessons he taught me through Bible columns. These become the basis of my devotions book, Fast Track to Victory, A Christian Guidebook."

Cheryl's books are being discounted during the blog tour at http://www.songsfromtheword.com/NewChristianBooks/ for special discounts at Smashwords.com during the month of July. 

Confessions on The Brothers Karamazov, Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

by Lorilyn Roberts

Lorilyn:  I feel humbled and chastised – things that bothered me about The Brothers Karamazov make more sense now, as the meanings are so much deeper than my superficiality; i.e., I didn’t like the ending. There wasn’t the redemption I was looking for. Dmitri was found guilty; thus, the court system failed.

I wanted to know what was going to happen to him. I felt like Dostoevsky didn’t know what to do, so he just left it open for the reader to conjecture—a cop-out. I didn’t agree with the theme of the book, that we are responsible for other’s people’s sins in the sense that he was so emphatic.

I felt like there were a lot of extraneous people in the book that served no real purpose; i.e., why did the little boy have to die?  What did that add to the story – you get the picture. I did like the book, it’s just I wanted it to be nice and tidy, and it wasn’t.

So now I am confronting my own set of doubts – maybe I am my brother’s keeper.  But you know what? I don’t want to be my brother’s keeper. That means I have to love some people that are quite unlovable. So that means I am a fake. I apply my own beliefs to loving those I choose to love, and that means I am no different from Ivan or Dmitri. That is disturbing.

Ken (my professor), I think I am having a crisis – sure, I can write a nice little script for the course that will satisfy the powers that be for the school certification, but suppose I don’t want to? Suppose I want to risk being real? Maybe I am in search of something that doesn’t exist and I have just been kidding myself. I felt like Alyosha was weak and Zosima was a dreamer out of touch with reality.

And freedom – Christ set men free, the opposite of that is totalitarianism. Perhaps the fight is greater than we realize. Maybe we really are so enslaved to sin in our thought process that we don’t even realize it.
I shall have strange dreams tonight.

This was Professor Ken Kuhlken’s comments back, with some personal references omitted.

Ken:  This is wonderful. If Dostoyevski could wish that his readers would come away with one message, I would bet it would be that if we want to see the world as a tidy place, we had better buy into the Grand Inquisitor's theory (which would soon, in Russia, be essentially the theory of communism).

I'm awfully proud of you for confronting yourself and your beliefs. 

The world truly needs more writers who are willing to tell what they see as the truth whether or not it fits into a comfortable package. And it needs fewer writers who tell comforting lies. 

About being our brother's keeper, for the past year I've been reading Soren Kierkegaard who argues convincingly that Jesus called us to love without distinction all whom he puts in our way....... I start to find that the resentments and all simply don't matter. I hope to gradually learn to treat everyone this way. Partly because it sets me free from my self-centered emotions.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Analysis of The Grand Inquisitor

Analysis of The Grand Inquisitor
by Fydor Dostoevsky
Lorilyn Roberts
The Grand Inquisitor by Fydor Dostoevsky is a parable in his novel, The Brothers Karamazov. The story takes place in Seville, Spain, during the time of the Inquisition, when heretics were routinely burned at the stake. The first time I read The Grand Inquisitor I found it disturbing. There had been, according to Dostoevsky, during the sixteenth century, chatter among the masses about the fact that Christ had not returned, and many questioned if His miracles were real.
According to the parable, Christ came back once again, briefly, and appeared quietly in the midst of the people, healing those who came to Him. The crowds recognized Him and clambered to be near Him. Christ healed the blind and the needy bowed down to Him. But Christ was too good, too powerful, and the guards came and took Him away. The Inquisitor came to the Prisoner and asked, "Why, then, art Thou come to hinder us?"
There followed a conversation between the Prisoner and the Inquisitor which was disturbing. Christ’s thirty-three years on earth was distorted. The Inquisitor implied that Christ had failed at His mission; that He didn't set men free, for example, and therefore it fell on the church to set men free. According to the Inquisitor, freedom meant bondage. The Inquisitor believed that men couldn’t be free, that they needed to be told what to do, and the church saved the masses by forcing them to cower in submission.
The Inquisitor twisted the meaning of Christ's three temptations in the wilderness; speaking as if he (the Inquisitor) was Satan incarnate, using twisted logic with a kernel of truth when carried to its logical conclusion.
The parable encompassed more than a spiritual meaning and made a political statement; i.e., referencing the notorious conquerors of Timours and Ghenghis-Khan, who subdued men in the name of unity. The Inquisitor valued submission.
When one contemplates the ideology and the two choices presented in the parable—freedom versus bondage—and the Bolshevik Revolution that followed a few decades after Dostoevsky’s death, I wonder what Dostoevsky had in mind—who was The Grand Inquisitor? And surely he gave the Russian people more credit than what he opined. Did Dostoevsky not believe they could live in unity and freedom? Was the great experiment of American democracy in the 1800’s not sufficient to persuade him?

Or was he prophetic? Did he believe the populace would be unable to handle the same freedom if given it? Or was he equating the Inquisitor simply with the time of the Great Inquisition and the depravity of mankind; that even if Christ had returned again, He would have been rejected? Did he accuse men after sixteen centuries of being just as wicked, concluding that Christ had failed once again? Could one surmise that the Inquisitor was Satan himself?
I read The Brothers Karamazov to understand the context in which the parable was written. The parable was told by Ivan, an intellectual, to his Christian mystic brother, Alyosha. Alyosha, in my opinion, was too weak, but represented a moderating influence on the otherwise dark story that covered much of the book.
Toward the end of the parable, Alyosha stated to Ivan, "You don't believe in God." Those who don't believe in God take the most loving aspects of Christ—His salvation and death on the cross—and belittle it. Perhaps Alyosha was comparing his brother to The Grand Inquisitor. Alyosha kissed his brother Ivan on the lips, reminiscent of Judas's betrayal of Jesus with a kiss. But representing the opposite meaning—a feeble attempt at best.
Dostoevsky referenced the Masons in a less than glamorous way, accusing them of possessing the same "mystery," perhaps in conflict with the Catholics' pursuit of unity.  
Dostoyevsky raised more questions than he answered. I felt a sense of hopelessness in the parable. Perhaps if Alyosha was more assertive and less passive, he could have countered the progressive mindset of Ivan—who attempted to intellectually provide answers to questions that did not require belief in a higher being.  Ivan’s tone was over‑reaching and intolerant. The two brothers represented types‑‑the intellectual versus the mystic (I will include the third brother when I analyze the entire book).
The parable provides no easy answers to the accusations of The Grand Inquisitor. Did Dostoevsky have an answer? Perhaps that's the point—to give the reader the freedom to ponder, unlike the accusations of The Grand Inquisitor, who didn't give people enough credit to even do that.

Perspective is everything. Having had more time to consider the book, The Brothers Karamazov, I wonder if my early thoughts were flawed. Upon further reflection, I don’t believe Alyosha was weak. He was humble. His responses were much like Jesus’ response to those who criticized Him. He never lashed back, except at the money changers. And perhaps Dostoevsky was making a broader statement about life. Communism followed in Russia shortly after his death. Is that what will happen here in America? Do people really want to think for themselves, or would they rather have the government or some other entity tell them what to do?
If you cherish your freedom, don’t be like the masses who expect the government to take care of them. Don’t take that government handout. Don’t expect the government to do for you what you can do for yourself.
God gave us freedom in Christ. He knew there would always be tyrannical governments, like the Romans, and Alexander the Great, and Hitler. If each person takes a leap of faith, trusts God, and become his brother’s keeper, we can prevent our country from going the way of others.
As my mother says, our country is going to hell in a handbasket. Little by little, The Grand Inquisitor will have his way in America because as a nation, we have turned our eyes away from God. And because God is love, He has given us the freedom to be conquered—and I ask, what or who will conquer us?


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Special Piece about Author Thomas Blubaugh and His New Home-School Friendly Book Night of the Cossack


I met Tom through the John 3:16 Marketing Network, and discovered a most unusual way to be prompted to write a book.  Enjoy this short interview and learn what (or who) a Cossack is.

Question:  What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

Tom:  I have self-published a book, but it was many years ago and was for use in my ministry, but not publically marketed. The Night of the Cossack was traditionally published by Bound by Faith Publishing, a new, small independent. I'm treating Night of the Cossack as a self-published novel. I thought I had a pretty good platform established, but found out I was kidding myself. One has only so many friends and family members. Even with Facebook and Twitter, it has been a real challenge.

I will be talking to book clubs and writing groups about the tremendous importance of establishing a strong, deep platform well before a book is published. In my opinion, a well- developed platform is necessary regardless of the publisher, large or small, new or well-established, independent or not. The market has changed with the fast developing ebook distribution, the economy, and the problems in the publishing arena. The only difference seems to be who finances the publication.

Question:  What have you found to be most effective in marketing your newest book?

Tom:  There isn't just one particular thing. It takes a lot of activity working together--interviews, Facebook, Twitter, book signings, talking to books clubs, writer groups, creative writing classes, press releases, web sites, and the support of other authors.

Question:  Can you tell us a little bit about your book Night of the Cossack?

Tom:  Both of my grandfathers died before I was born. I had a big hole in my life that most of my friends didn't have. As I got older I felt a longing to have a grandfather so I took what little information I had about my mother's father and started writing a story--actually creating a grandfather for myself.

As the story developed I found myself writing it for my children and grandchildren. An author I met online thought it was worth pursuing publication. I joined a local critique group and they agreed. It wasn't until then that I realized I was actually writing a novel. Even the publisher came to me. It has been a phenomenal journey and I still have a ways to go to get it into the hands of readers. I've heard from readers 12 to 86 who have enjoyed my book.

Question:  As a home schooling parent, is this a book my daughter would enjoy as well as learn a little bit about history? What is the historical setting of your book?

Tom:  This is an excellent book for a home schooling parent. The story takes place in Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Italy and France in the early 1900s. There is fear, separation, adjustment, relationship issues, violence, love, faith and lots of decisions in the adventure. All of these are talking points for healthy conversations between parent/child and teacher/student regarding real life and moral decisions. I have considered writing a workbook, but haven't had the time.

Question:  What is a Cossack?

Tom:  Cossacks were members of any of several groups of peasants, chiefly of Russian and Polish descent, that lived in autonomous communal settlements, especially in the Ukraine, until the early 20th century. In return for special privileges, they served in the cavalry under the czars. They were well known for their horsemanship. They raided villages for supplies, woman and young men to increase or replenish their ranks. Eventually they became a part of the Russian army.

Tom Blubaugh is a freelance writer living in Southwest Missouri with Barbara, his wife. They have six children and fourteen grandchildren. Tom has written non-fiction most of his adult life, but has recently written a historical fiction titled Night of the Cossack, published by Bound by Faith Publishers.

This is Tom’s first novel. He co-wrote a devotional journal in 2009 for Barbour Publishing titled The Great Adventure. His other writings include articles for a denominational magazine and an insurance publication. He also self-published Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry in 1974.

Tom started writing poetry at the age of fourteen. His vision of turning them into lyrics for rock and roll songs for popular artists didn’t develop. He considers writing to be a God-given talent and feels led to develop it. His first novel was published at his age of 69. Tom says it’s never too late. He is now writing a sequel.

Tom spent twelve years as an insurance agent and eleven years as a financial planner. He is the past president of Jericho Commission, Inc., and still serves on the board of directors.

Tom Blubaugh, Author of Night of the Cossack--Read the first chapter get a signed copy by ordering here. FREE shipping in USA. Published by Bound by Faith Publishers.

ebook for Kindle available at Amazon.com. Be sure to like my page and do a review when you finish, if you like my book.

Tom Blubaugh, Author of Night of the Cossack--Read the first chapter get a signed copy by ordering here. FREE shipping in USA. Published by Bound by Faith Publishers.
ebook for Kindle available at Amazon.com. Be sure to like my page and do a review when you finish, if you like my book.
ebook for Nook available at Barnes & Noble
Night of the Cossack Facebook page. Be sure to like my page while you're there please.
Visit My Blog. Be sure to sign up as a follower.
Check me out on Goodreads.
Co-author of The Great Adventure published by Barbour Publishing. (out of print).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Enjoy My Interview of Author Marcia Lee Laycock

Marcia’s novel, One Smooth Stone, won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006. Marcia is also a sought-after speaker. Visit www.vinemarc.com

How did you come to be a writer?

I started writing short stories and poems for my dolls. They didn’t complain so I kept it up. :) Then my aunt gave me a copy of Emily of New Moon for my eleventh birthday. I discovered you could call yourself a writer and determined that someday that’s what I’d be. It took many years but I published my first short story in 1990 and began writing articles for a local paper about that same time. I self published a compilation of my column in 2002 (a second edition has just been released), a second devotional book in 2005 and then my novel, One Smooth Stone won me the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award and was published in 2007. The sequel should be available sometime this spring.

Tell us how you come up with characters?

Characters often grow out of something I hear or see. For instance, the main character in One Smooth Stone developed after a woman asked me a profound question – “Can you imagine what it would be like for someone to discover that his mother had tried to abort him?” I did imagine and the character of Alex Donnelly emerged. He’s very much a composite of many people I knew while living in the Yukon, in Canada’s western Arctic.

Where do you write?

I share an office in our home with my husband who is a pastor. Our office chairs are literally back to back. When he shifts I feel it! We’re church planting right now, so we don’t have a church building where my husband would ordinarily go to work each day. It’s been an interesting adjustment and a challenge for us both!

What are you currently writing?

I just finished working on the sequel to One Smooth Stone and am hoping it will published this fall, which means I'll be working on the final edit soon, if all goes well. At the end of One Smooth Stone the main character discovers he has a sister. The second book, A Tumbled Stone, deals with his struggles of faith as he searches for her. It is also his sister’s story.
I also just published two ebooks - one a devotional for writers called Abundant Rain and the other a devotional for travellers called A Traveller's Advisory. They are both at www.smashwords.com along with a few short stories and devotionals that can be downloaded for free.

 What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?

I’m probably most proud and humbled of the fact that my husband and I, in spite of all our flaws somehow managed to raise three wonderful daughters who are a joy to us in many ways. God’s grace is evident in their lives and I’m very thankful for them. There was a time when I believed I would never have children (see my website for the story) so to have three beautiful daughters continues to amaze me.

Also, I’m quite proud of the fact that I managed to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge – 50,000 words in one month - and I now have five books available to readers.

Favorite scripture and/or quote:

Scripture - Hebrews 10:24 – “Let us consider therefore how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds.” I titled my weekly column The Spur – from this verse - it also seemed a good fit because I live in the heart of Alberta cowboy country.
Quote – “Writing is not a performance. It is a generosity.” Benda Ueland.

What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?

Very little. My stories usually come to me in scenes. I outline a bit as I go, just a timeline of sorts, but when I sit down to write I usually have very little idea where the story will go. I find it exciting to see it unfold. I do research along the way as needed.

In your opinion, what is the greatest danger or pitfall in the life of a writer?

Believing that it’s your talent that changes lives. I’ve had many people tell me amazing stories about how something I wrote changed them in some way. It’s important to remember that only God can do that. He uses our words to affect His purposes. We’re just being obedient in putting the words on paper. It’s an incredible privilege and blessing to be used in that way.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I’ve met many people like the main character. In fact, at one time I was a lot like him. I know the kind of prison people like Alex are trapped in – one partly of their own making and I also know the joy of being set free by the love of Christ. My prayer is that many more people will understand that no-one is beyond the reach of God and no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been or what’s been done to you, God loves you deeply and unconditionally God has already been faithful in honouring that prayer. The very first book I took out of the box I gave to a friend whose daughter was raped when she was a teenager. She called her mom in tears, after staying up all night reading it, and told her that now she does believe God loves her, in spite of everything. It’s that kind of response that makes it all worthwhile and that’s what keeps me going.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That writing is a ministry. It’s a hidden ministry that takes hours of sitting in a room alone but the end result can be lives changed for Christ.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do go to writers’ conferences and take courses to sharpen your skills. Find a good critique group where others will give constructive criticism. Don’t let the rejections stop you. Keep writing.

How can readers get in contact with you?

My website – www.vinemarc.com

E-Mail – MarciaATvinemarcDotcom
One Smooth Stone can be ordered from any Christian bookstore or online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble or the publisher, www.castlequaybooks.com

My devotionals can be ordered on my website and my ebook for writers can be downloaded from www.smashwords.com/books/view/58017

Here's a link to the book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz1VG59-Aiw


Marcia’s inspirational writing has won awards in both Canada and the U.S.  Her devotionals are distributed to thousands and her novel, One Smooth Stone, won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006. Marcia is also a sought-after speaker for women’s events. Visit her at http://www.vinemarc.com/