Tag Archives: mystery

Join the Search to Quench the Thirst

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Book 4 of the Great Thirst Archaeological Mystery serial is now available in ebook format, and soon will be in print as well. Book Five should be available sometime this fall. This is one continuous story broken up into segments of around 100 pages each, but each book has its own story arc and conclusion, while whetting the readers’ appetites for more. It is a fictional account of a near future time when the Word of God might become so rare people will be searching for a way to preserve and share it. The idea is based on these verses:

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“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, But they will not find it.”
Amos 8: 11-12, NASB

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The story centers around a science teacher in a small town school, Keith Bradley. He meets Talia Ramin, who drives a red Tesla and becomes his co-teacher in a Bible as Literature class. They seek to teach the students the authority and truth of the Scriptures while earning grants to help update the school. Talia is a bit of a mystery to Keith at first, but slowly he learns about her archaeologist aunt and uncle, the Drs. Nader and Sophie Ramin, and their quest to find an ancient copy of the entire Scriptures on golden tablets. They have been in need of a science expert, and Talia is convinced Keith is the man to help them.

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The government never gives anything without strings attached, though, and the Bible as Literature project forces Keith and Talia to wonder what price they will have to pay to teach the Word in a public school. The archaeological quest turns dangerous when they are attacked by enemies and distrusted by potential allies. Keith becomes the key to connecting ancient technology to the quest to find and share what may become the last remaining copy of the Word on earth.

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Find the series here on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0145H54DQ/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

And Part One on Kobo:

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-great-thirst-one-prepared-1

Part One: Prepared, is free at all major ebook outlets. Part Four is only 99 cents, but don’t count on it to stay that way forever. This series can be enjoyed by all ages, and anyone who likes a mixture of history, mystery, and adventure. Check out this video to see a few highlights of the series.

https://www.facebook.com/Elkjerkyforthesoul/videos/vb.149992491693629/1191538034205731/?type=2&theater

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Chapter Twenty-three – What Do You Want from Me?

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Talia dragged Keith away from the windows of a travel agency with posters of Greece and Turkey destinations. They were spending the day in the “big city” shopping and finishing up preparations for the trip. “We’re going there,” she laughed. “You don’t have to look at pictures.”

“The history of these lands is like a huge press,” Remmy explained as they climbed into a rental car. “Wine, olives, cheese, words, all are squeezed, and the faithful were squeezed, by war, by persecution. Sometimes they flowed out to other places. Sometimes they went into hiding. Sometimes they hid in plain sight.”

“They hid in plain sight? How can you do that?”
“So many ways. Let me give you an example from Europe. The Jews, the Marranos, as the Spanish called them, publicly claimed to have converted to Roman Catholicism under the threat of the Inquisition. Jews have the Mezzuzah, the little box on the doorpost containing Scripture. They would still have that box, but it would be part of a whole design, carvings around the doorway, and none would notice that one part which contained the treasure. Even for the Moors, the Moriscos, it was so. In a country where one ruler proudly displayed no less than five severed Moorish heads on his coat of arms, these people lived and served another faith, but very cautiously.”

“I’m glad Christians don’t have to do that in America,” Keith said.

“Really? You think you still have religious freedom in America, do you?”

“Sure we do.”

“Nonsense. How many people have been fired from their jobs for such trivial things as wearing a pin with the Pledge of Allegiance, containing the words Under God?”

“What? Nobody.”

“You are wrong. How many teachers have been disciplined for having a Bible on their desks – not even showing it or reading the Word to students, just reading it themselves during times when the students have seat work?”

“They can’t stop you from doing that. How do you know this stuff? You don’t even live in America.”

“In America you have a saying, ‘to keep the ear to the ground’, I believe it runs. I have been a long time keeping my ear to the ground. I listen, I watch, I see the chipping away that goes on. Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek, to bear all things, to be longsuffering, to always be loving. You see, the enemy has used our own Scriptures against us, just as the evil one used them against our Lord in the wilderness temptation. I read of someone who pointed out that Satan used more Scripture in one conversation than many faithful use in hours of ‘fellowship’.”

“I never thought about that. We get together for a youth activity and we play basketball, eat pizza, and at the end we have a devotional.”

“Exactly. Even when we have a choice, it is divided into tidy packages. Why do we not ourselves always try to press the word stored in our hearts, to make it flow out into all our lives, not just the ‘devotional’ parts? Do we regard it so lightly, that the basketball and the pizza, they are given more time? What do the Scriptures say, over and over and over again? They call for meditation. They call for prayer. They call for tucking the word into the heart. They do not call for the basketball or the pizza.”

Keith laughed uneasily. “Right. But look at our Bible as Literature class. That’s spilling over into the kids’ lives, into their families’ lives. We had no idea it would take hold like that.”

“It is the Word. That is what it does, if we truly let it. What do you think will come of this archival project they have taken your Bibles for?”

“It could be the greatest thing that ever happened. So many people use computers and the internet for Bible study already. You can meet people all around the world. You can study with them. Getting school students involved in it can only be good, right? And you saw it yourself. They didn’t take anything. They gave it all right back. Didn’t even bend a page out of my Bible. I checked.”

“Are you trying to convince me, or yourself?”

“But they said they respected our faith. They thought it was important.”

“I respect the huge dog with many shining teeth who guards my neighbor’s yard,” Uncle Remmy smiled, pointing out a ferociously barking animal as they pulled up alongside a bistro. “But what if I persuade that man that I cannot sleep for the barking, that I do not feel safe. He must build a high, strong fence. He must get a chain. He must put a muzzle on his dog. These are reasonable things, already laws in civilized countries. But his dog can no longer do what he obtained it to do. ‘Oh, look, what an admirable dog he has’, we can say, when it is restrained and silent and troubles us no more.”

“Wow,” Keith said. “But everyone whose opinion I value, everyone I love, said we should do this. I mean, you two were right there helping us carry the stuff out to the church van Sunday night.”

They ordered coffee and pastries. “I think maybe Uncle Remmy’s just playing devil’s advocate with you,” Talia ventured, shooting some sharp looks at her uncle.

“Talia tells us that you are ‘safety man’ at your school,” Sophia said. “She says how much you and your father care for these children, and for your beautiful sister and mother. We just want you to keep on doing that, to think ahead and to plan for the safety of these you love and honor.”

“Okay, so, are you saying we’re being too short-sighted? You’re giving us that van for Grandma and Joana, because you thought we weren’t considering their safety enough? Maybe you don’t realize that my mother and father spent everything they had taking care of Grandma, and then Joana got sick. My mom worked sixty-or seventy-hour weeks, and my dad still has two jobs.

“I just took off like some oblivious teenager, because I had scholarships and grants for college and no debt, and got my own place and my own car. When my mom dropped dead from a heart attack, I realized that I’d quit being Mr. Safety and started being Mr. Selfish. Dad and I sold everything we could possibly do without, and we have done the best we could. I don’t know what you want from me, but I’m just a guy trying to do what’s right. I don’t need this kind of grief.”

Keith jumped up and took off running. The others called out to him but he was in no mood to stop. He had gone to college here and knew the city fairly well, but finally ran out of breath in the park. He collapsed on a bench and tried to get his breathing back to normal.

“No way,” he muttered as the familiar rental car pulled up alongside the black wrought-iron fence.

“Please don’t be angry,” Talia said as she ran up to him. “They do it to me too. The new cellphone we just got you for the trip? Uncle Remmy can track the GPS.”

“Why do I keep feeling like I’ve suddenly become part of some super-secret spy mission, and that it’s up to me to save the world?” Keith demanded. “Who are you people? Why did you come to our town? What are we to you? Why did you even need our participation in this trip? What’s really going on with these Golden Testaments, and why in the world would you need our school’s help, or my help, to get them?”

“Get them all out in the open, Keith,” Sophia said. “Every question you want to ask. We promise to try to answer anything you want to know. Anything we can, at least.” Remmy and Sophia sat on a bench across the footpath and Talia sat next to Keith.

“Well, okay, then, did you or didn’t you know that this Repository Project was going to demand that we get all our Bibles and materials scanned?”

“We knew nothing about that part of the project. We asked Talia to become involved in it, frankly, because we wanted to learn more about it, and could get no information from the outside. We did not specifically choose your school or you. Talia sought the teaching job there, because we wanted to learn about the project from the perspective of a small, conservative school and community where the program would be new. We wanted to see the implementation from the beginning.”

“What about these new families?”

“We have no connection to them, and no specific knowledge of where they came from or why they chose this town to push their agenda. But this is a pattern, which I am sure you and your father and grandmother have already noted, to extend government control and extort compliance in places where they would likely find great resistance. These small towns require special handling. It took us a little time to realize that the Bible as Literature grants would first break down the resistance, and then create obligations, and finally force obedience.”

“So who are you people, that you feel like you need to get involved with us? Talia was the one who told dad about the program. Nobody showed up from the government. None of those parents brought it up.”

“We are just people, Keith, who want to try to preserve the Word of God and slake the Great Thirst. We know that many governments, not just the American government, are trying to stifle reliance on the Scriptures. They don’t want them taught. They don’t want them to exist. So of course we assumed this program must seek to do the opposite of what we would wish it to do. Talia wanted to make a stand, to make their plan, whatever it was, what is the expression? – backfire. She wanted to teach truth as truth, not as just another mythology. The two of you have succeeded beyond our wildest hopes, especially in the memory aspect of the class. Your memory clues have been simply brilliant!”

“Well, I just remembered all those crazy memory cues we had to learn for Science. Mnemonics, I mean. Especially for Chemistry. Like ‘Leo says Ger! or Leo the lion, Ger!’ T stuff like that for the Bible memory, especially the references. That’s what I always mess up on.

“Grampa used to say, ‘If the Scriptures are your best friends, why don’t you know where they live?’ So I told the class; here’s Galatians 2:20: ‘They only asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I also was eager to do.’ Think of two gals who ate two hundred and twenty peanuts. These gals weren’t much like Paul, which starts with a P, because they didn’t care about the poor, which also starts with p. So the gals help you remember the reference, and the P in peanuts reminds you of Paul, plus the P in poor, and then we’re ready to start working on the verse itself.’”

All three of his companions exploded with laughter.

“But to get back to the nasty now and now,” Keith continued, “How’s the trip connect to the Bible as Literature Class, anyway?”

“For over two years now, we have believed that we were being followed and spied upon in our work to discover the whereabouts of the Golden Testaments. We thought we were getting very close with the information we had that was leading us to search in the Levant or Anatolia. Things began to go wrong with our research contacts, our travel plans, our equipment … All of this convinced us that we must be on the right track, but that we must try to misdirect those who wanted to stop us. So we arranged for Talia to offer this trip to for the school.

“Who would suspect that we would take forty-five high school students along with us on a quest that has brought us more and more into danger? It was our hope that they would think we have given up, or were aimlessly fishing and no longer a threat. Indeed, recent events nearly persuaded us that we had to stop, when we learned that people would kill to stop us, and even those we would want to be our allies did not think us worthy.”

“Oh, so this is that ‘honorable man’ who said that you shouldn’t ‘play with defilement’?”

“We have promised to be candid with you, Keith,” Sophia said. “So we must tell you that Talia did not have pneumonia. Please do not think that she intentionally lied to you. We had an emergency and needed her to come to us in Naxos, so we had contacts here arrange for her to appear to have fallen ill and be hospitalized. Poor Talia did not even know what was going to happen.”

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Coming soon from Findley Family Video Publications

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The Great Thirst — Archaeological thriller coming in February

the great thirst scuba 25

 

Chapter One – “Mr. Safety”
“Hey! Watch where you’re going, and what kind of car is that, anyway?”
Keith Bradley jumped out of the way of an incredibly red and shiny thing that didn’t seem to make any noise at all as it tried to slide past him into the van lot at Bradley Central.
“You’re the one who stuck your great big foot into the street, doofus!” The driver was even more incredible than the car. Her highlighted brown hair framed a face that looked about sixteen and she pulled off some designer sunglasses that didn’t look like knockoffs. But who says doofus, anyway? “And it’s a Tesla.”
“A whatsla?” Jermaine Tufo gawked around Keith’s shoulder.
“A Tesla?” Keith repeated. “You’re kidding me, right? As in, the most awesome electric car ever made? Are you a new student?”
“Student? Are you hitting on me, kid? I’m the new English Lit teacher. Ms Ramon to you.”
“You? A teacher?” Jermaine asked. Keith pushed him out from in front of the car and pointed him in the direction of the side doors.
“Cafeteria, Jermaine, until 07:50. You know the rules.” Jermaine ambled off. “I’m a teacher, too,” he said to Ms Ramon.” Keith Bradley, Science. By the way, the teacher parking is up at the other end of the building. Only the vans come in this way.”
Keith hated parking lot duty. Somehow he’d been pegged as “Mr. Safety” since junior high, when he’d made the mistake of thinking it was a big honor to be appointed to the “Junior Safety Patrol.” Twelve years later he was a Science teacher at Bradley Central, a charter school and homeschool and umbrella school resource center his parents had formed after his tiny hometown school property had been left empty by district consolidation. The building had been renamed in honor of his late principal grandfather.
They still taught traditional classes and programs on a smaller scale. Vans brought in kids for tutoring, “clubs” introducing courses the county vo-tech taught, sports, enrichment classes, or other subjects, some of which homeschool parents had asked for help with. Bradley Central offered everything from all-day traditional programs, live video from the classrooms, individual subjects, PE, Drama, and Art classes. It did not limit itself solely to Christians or homeschoolers but tried to be of service to all parents and students. Keith still stood out in the parking lot, breathing diesel, shouting at kids to get on the right van or get out of the way of …
“Oh, crud. Sorry. Thanks. See you later!” Ms Ramon pulled a tight U-turn right in front of the last van pulling in and the car buzzed away. Yeah, buzzed, Keith repeated to himself for emphasis. A Tesla? That’s like a $100,000 car, minimum! Who is this girl? I mean, woman? First time I miss in-service and look what I miss.
“Who was that crazy woman and what was that crazy car?” Veronica James, the driver of the van the Tesla had almost pasted itself to, hollered out to Keith.
“New teacher, Mrs. James,” Keith spread his hands out helplessly. “Ms Ramon, English Lit. The car is called a Tesla.”
“Some new Japanese thing, huh? Anyway, she ain’t settin’ a very good example for the children, drivin’ like that. And you’re the Safety Director. I hope you’re going to speak to her.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Keith saluted and Mrs. James pulled her van into the offload circle, much to Keith’s relief. Yeah, like I’m ever going to talk to … to … that! He glanced toward the student entrance to make sure all the kids got into the building as the warning bell rang.
A squeal of tires sent Keith sprinting back toward the street. Up at the car parking lot end he spotted a tall black van with dark windows narrowly miss the Tesla as it turned in at the upper lot. The Sprinter van spurted past the school, ignoring the reduced speed limit.
What just happened? Keith stared at the vanishing tail of the Tesla. That Ramon woman might be kind of a crazy driver, but Keith could have sworn that Sprinter was trying to hit her, not avoid her. He shook his head and headed inside.

Fourth period, Keith led his Earth Science class into the auditorium for the usual “Welcome to Bradley” assembly. He cringed when he saw Ms Ramon and her class already seated in the section where his bunch were supposed to sit.
“Mr. Bradley, Lit class is in our seats!” hissed Sonja Gray.
“I see. I see. Hush, Sonja.” Keith counted rapidly. “Just go in here.” He waved them down another row of seats, the ones the Lit class should have taken. A dozen students felt compelled to make comments about these being the wrong rows, as hard as he tried to hush them up.
“The sign’s right there by her elbow,” grumbled Tim deLuca. “Man, I thought English teachers could read.”
He said this as he plopped down beside Keith, right in front of Ms Ramon. She appeared to come out of a trance and looked over at the sign next to her that said, “Science.”
“Oh, crud!” she exclaimed, jumping up and windmilling her arms. “Class! Everybody! We’re in the wrong seats. Get up! Get up! We need to move to – ” Her eyes flicked over to the “Literature” sign at Keith’s elbow. “Up there. Come on!”
“Ms Ramon, it’s okay,” Keith said. “It’s fine. Look.” He reached out with his long legs, hooked the signs with his ankles, and shuffled them until the “Science” one stood next to him. “Sit back down. It’s fine.”
She collapsed back into her chair, redfaced. “I lost a contact,” she confessed. “I have no idea where – ”
Keith risked a look into that little almond-shaped, almond-colored face and found some really big, brown eyes staring back at him from under her soft, gold and chestnut bangs.
“Oh, I see it,” Keith almost shouted, forcing himself back out of the depths of those eyes and taking a breath. “It’s the right one, right? It’s back up in the top corner there.”
“Really? I can’t feel it!” She whipped out a very expensive-looking, lighted, magnifying mirrored compact and peeled back her eyelid. Keith heard and felt rather than saw the reaction of the eleventh graders. He gave them The Eyeball, a look perfected and passed down through three generations of Bradley educators, and they subsided into relative silence and motionlessness.
“Yeah, no, it’s right there – You got it!” Keith crowed. Ms Ramon nipped the contact out of her eye, pasted it to her tongue, and popped it back in.
Every kid for six rows said, in unison, “Eeewww!” But not very loudly, and shut up instantly with the application of another “Eyeball” treatment.
“Thank you so much, Mr. Brady,” she said. “I have been trying all morning to find it. All my classes tried to help, didn’t you?” She batted her eyelashes at the kids from her class.
How can that many kids all roll their eyes at the same time? Keith somehow managed to keep his expression bland, between Ms Ramon’s downright ditziness and the students’ amazing self-restraint.
“It’s Bradley!” muttered someone.
“What was that?” Ms Ramon asked.
“It’s not Mr. Brady, it’s Mr. Bradley. The school is – y’know – like, named after him or somethin’,” a voice supplied.
“Oh, wow, you’re Mr. Bradley? Everybody said at the in-service that you’re the go-to guy if anybody needs help, and they were so right!” Ms Ramon stuck out a hand, rattling twenty or so metallic bangles and displaying no less than eight rings, plus what appeared to be a diamond-chipped manicure – Keith stopped looking her arm, her fingers, her perfect little hand, and shook it. He turned back around as a voice boomed over the feedback shriek that always signaled an assembly getting underway.
“Welcome to Bradley Central!” Keith’s father, the administrator, called out. “Returning students and teachers, no falling asleep. Don’t care how many times you’ve heard me give you ‘Bradley’s Best’, you still might miss something, especially this year, because this year we have something brand new and very special for our high school students. So pay attention. If you miss that very special announcement, well –– You will miss out on an opportunity to make history.”

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“Why Are You Just Sitting on the Side of the Road?” — What Will You Die For?

Excerpt from my WIP “What Will You Die For?” by Mary C. Findley

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“Two weeks? You can’t tell me anything more – ?” Talia’s phone gave a bloop and she saw the message satellite signal lost flash on the screen before it went dark.

Talia pulled over to the side of the road and sat with her head on the steering wheel, praying with all her might for her aunt and uncle, and for clarity in this craziness. After all, they weren’t involved in some international spy mission. They were just digging holes in the ground! This couldn’t have anything to do with the Testaments, could it?

Talia realized suddenly that he felt really, really hot. She started to roll own her window, but the switch didn’t work with the engine off, of course. She started the car and cranked all the windows open. She pulled at her scarf and yanked down the zipper on her coat, but it didn’t help. Her vision started to blur.

“Ms Rodriguez? Are you okay? Why are you just sitting on the side of the road?”

Talia turned her head, so … so … slowly. Her neck hurt, and it felt so heavy. “”Oh … Clark ..I mean, Officer Johnson. I don’t know. I’ve had this cold, but I just … I feel so weak, and I can’t see straight … “

“Sit right there. I’m calling an ambulance,” Clark exclaimed.

“Oh, no …” Talia’s tongue felt so thick, she could hardly talk.

“No arguments. Don’t you move. We’re seeing lots of these cold things turning into serious cases of pneumonia. It’s nothing to mess around with.”

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At Fagin’s Final Rest Mortuary

The walls were patterned like glittering silver and black marble, with slender pillars spaced along the sides. Niches held blue flames behind ornate silver gratings cast in the shape of openwork doves.

Black benches cushioned with blue velvet, very like church pews, were arranged facing a black velvet curtain fringed with silvery tassels. We took seats at the direction of the same two assistants who had accompanied Jessica Fagin to get the body. At least, to my eyes they appeared the same. Fagin appeared from behind the curtain a moment later and the men faded off to the sides.

“Welcome,” Fagin said. “This place is for you. Grieve, celebrate, pray, praise — The official time when others may come has been published widely in newspapers, by wireless, and by posted bills. After the time of the public visitation has expired my attendants and I will leave. We will set the doors to lock automatically and unlock from the inside only, so that you may remain protected here or leave at any time you wish. Stay through the night if you desire to keep vigil.

“You will not be disturbed or interrupted before dawn, as the locks will be timed to deny outside entry. In the morning, my attendants and I will return to lay your friend to rest.” Fagin herded her attendants toward the back of the room. Two hours had been advertised for the visitation this evening. The curtain at the front opened of its own accord and we saw the barrow carrier behind it, curtains drawn to the back, fully exposing the fragrant, wrapped body of Charley Bates resting on it.

To our surprise, people began to arrive. Charley Bates had evidently been a popular fellow in London, but the class of people who began to trickle in paid no compliment to his own character or the company he kept. We of the Legacy Company immediately went on guard as these filthy, shuffling, shifty-eyed mourners filed in and passed by Bates’ body before finding seats. We managed to spread ourselves out among them and kept a careful watch.

Madame Phoebe stepped to the lacquered black podium and began to sing as more people entered the auditorium. Her glorious voice poured out prayer and praise and we saw wonder, discomfort, all manner of emotions, flicker across the faces of the newer arrivals.

We of the company had to force ourselves to remember that we were in this place, after all, for more than just the solution to a mystery. it was not so difficult, however, hearing this angelic voice reminding us that God controlled what seemed like madness and mayhem to our weak human vision. To their credit, this rabble quieted their whispers and cackles and snorts upon entering. Reverend Ferrars pointedly greeted and shook the hand of every stranger in that strange assembly, producing much more discomfort. After a half-hour the stream of mourners seemed to stop.

“We welcome you all here,” Madame Phoebe said. “This is not a church, but we who believe in Christ have brought Him here in our hearts. Do not harden your own hearts, but let Him do a work here tonight.” She seated herself. Edward approached the podium and set his Bible upon it. When he adjusted his half-glasses into place and opened the Book before him, some even bowed their heads as he began to pray.

“Gracious Heavenly Father,” he said in a clear, carrying voice, “You brought Charley Bates to us, though he thought he came of his own will, to do his own will. Instead he found Christ. You have now brought these others, people who thought they came of their own will, for their own reasons. May we see these find Christ as well. You have not taken Charley from us, but merely brought him home to yourself. In Christ’s name we have come, and in His Name we say Amen.

“The book of Job always comes to mind when I think of funerals,” Edward said, looking up and beaming innocently around on that very mixed multitude. “Think of the horrible incidents where Satan attacked Job. Think of all that he lost and all that he suffered. But remember that God said to Satan, ‘Spare his life’.

“And God did protect Job’s life. Not that it mattered to Job about his physical life. His wife nagged him to ‘Curse God, and die’, but Job said, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust him’. We who take every precaution to protect, nourish, and cherish our physical bodies and lives cannot comprehend this. ‘Though this body be destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God,’ Job assured us.

“In the New Testament, Christ says, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?’ He said this on his way to the tomb of a dead man. Do you know what He meant?

“Stop thinking you must serve a wicked master because only he will feed you, shelter you, protect you. Let God free you from domination. Charley Bates fell into our company from a great height and no doubt thought his life was over. Understand that you must lose your life to save it, by falling into the everlasting arms of God. Those arms are always underneath us, and they will catch us.”

Edward looked around. I put my arm around Kera because she began to tremble beside me. Madame Phoebe laid a comforting hand on Oliver Twist as he began to weep, overcome by his memories, his pain, and perhaps truly at the thought of Charley Bates having been so briefly his brother in Christ.

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How to Write a Book Review the Author Will Love

I am a big classics fan. I have, however, recently begun reviewing book by modern authors, and especially Indie writers, some of whom I’ve become friends and acquaintances with through author and reader sites I have joined.

I have gotten good responses from the authors so far, even if I gave them the dreaded “three out of five stars.” One who was at first very unhappy with her three stars admitted that it was a very good review, she liked it, and she quotes from it as she promotes. Another author said she loved my review so much it made her cry. It’s the only five star I’ve given so far, and she really deserved it.

I’m going to use Tale of Two Cities as an example of how to write a book review by reviewing it. Mr. Dickens won’t mind.

First, an author wants you to find out the solution of his book’s mystery by reading it, not by the reviewer giving it away. In Tale of Two Cities, why in the world does that drunken lowlife Sidney Carton get to hang around sweet Lucie the whole book, almost?

The author does want the reviewer make readers interested, though. So I will just mention that Sidney has a much bigger part to play than just standing up in court looking remarkably like Charles Darnay, thus saving his life.

Second, the author wants the reviewer to get readers to like the people in the story. For this example, let me introduce you to Mr. Lorry. Mr. Lorry represents an ancient, trustworthy, boring bank, but Mr. Lorry is hardly boring. He’s vain about his fine calves, though he’s past sixty. He rescues a parentless child although he says he is “merely a man of business.” He warns off a most unsuitable suitor, protecting a young lady from an arrogant and disgusting predator. He goes along with an unknown plot for an impossible rescue. This can hardly be a service to the bank he has served his whole life, but is an extraordinary example of compassion and courage.

Third, the author knows his book isn’t perfect, though he loves it as his own child. He doesn’t mind if you tell people imperfections, as long as you are honest and have good reasons. Tale of Two Cities, like most of Dickens’ works, is very wordy. I don’t care how many people say he wasn’t paid by the word, he was. He wrote serials. He had to pad out the work to fill a certain amount space in a magazine and make a cliffhanger out of every installment to get people to keep reading. That’s a guaranteed recipe for wordiness. Some of Dickens’ books are much longer than this one, but a modern editor would certainly be chafing to trim it down. I know as a former editor I would.

Fourth, a reviewer needs to warn readers if there is material not suitable for certain ages or groups. Dickens describes people in grinding poverty virtually starving to death before our eyes. He has a careless nobleman run his cart over a small child. The noble gentleman cares nothing about it except to try to throw a coin at the father and ask why he makes such an infernal noise. People are beaten and beheaded and described as blood-covered and murderously enraged. Sometimes just the sheer callousness and indifference toward death is hard to take. However jaded young readers might be today, it’s still not the best thing for very young readers. There is no real sex. Reference is made to breasts but only for nursing children.

In conclusion, I give Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities a four out of five, because I think he could have written a better story without so many words. Otherwise, it’s probably my favorite fictional work of all time.

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A Simple Plan for Christian Romance

3 romance sale

Make it an element of the story, not the main focus. Adventure, suspense, mystery, or some other focus helps keep the story balanced. Focus on purity, privacy, and married intimacy rather than oozing emotion and sensuality between unmarried people. Fidelity, self-sacrifice, and playful fun help round out the romance. Keep it within the context of adults and near-adults and get them married as soon as possible or prevent the constant tug of physical temptation.

I have used the device of having the hero disabled in the second chapter and literally unable to move for most of the book. He is too busy wrestling with his self-pity, acknowledging his need to depend on others, and facing the danger of a second assassination attempt to worry about his romantic issues.

Another device I have used is to force the romantic characters into “arranged” marriage before they even acknowledge their love. The rest of the book describes their growth together in love, loyalty and dependence on each other, and some intimacy is expected.

A variation of the arranged marriage is one in which secrets and lies make love and trust impossible, keeping the characters apart until they can tell each other the truth and discover they are involved in solving the same mystery, at which point they can marry and work together to solve it.

Plenty of interaction with other characters and plot elements keep the focus off the attraction and strengthen the bond and commitment as the main characters go through the hardship or danger or mystery-solving together.

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