Gratitude, Day 8—For The Written Word


At some point last week I thought one of my gratitude posts should be about reading. I mean, I love to read. It opens up the world, the past, God’s revelation. It’s perhaps the most awesome human experience ever. But I’m too late. My friend and fellow blogger InsanityBytes already grabbed that topic: “Grateful for Reading.”

Unlike IB, I can remember a time when I couldn’t read. My brother and sister could. So once, int the car one of my parents spelled out something, and I knew that only I was supposed to not receive this piece of information. That hurt! At other times, on Sunday mornings when we pulled out the best part of the morning paper—the funnies, also called the Comics—my brother would grab one section and my sister would grab the other. I remember that one day I pleaded with them to please let me have a section first, because after all, it took me much less time to look at the pictures than it did for them to read the whole thing. Well, that request got nowhere, so then I pleaded with them not to read, either. Yeah, that plan didn’t meet with success, either.

I have another distinct memory of not reading, too, but better are the ones of finally learning, finally being able to read. And then discovering the library and all the books available for free. Reading introduced me to new friends and old places. But reading was the key to education. Without reading I would have missed out on so much—math word problems, history, instructions on literally every assignment, science. We even had P.E. tests over the rules of the particular sports we played. At every turn, reading was a component in education.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

And now I’m a writer. So the idea of words on a page has expanded from me only being a recipient of information to being one who generates ideas for others to digest. Of course, I was doing that long before I became a writer. I mean, how many papers did I write in college? But one thing I learned back then, even when I would bemoan a professor assigning a ten-page paper or giving us an essay test: I always felt I learned more when I wrote out my thoughts. I remember them better, but I also understand them better. The writing somehow helps me to organize my thoughts better than any other way of interacting with material.

Of course, as a novelist who writes fantasy, I have a special place in my heart for creating worlds and characters that show what I think in a way that is perhaps more meaningful than simply coming out and stating the bald facts.

I may have learned that way of communicating from the Bible, because it’s a book filled with stories that illustrate. Yes, there are statements of truth, places the writers, inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, simply declared what God wanted us all to know. But even more, there are people and places and events that show.

But that actually explains another reason I’m grateful for written communication. One of the best parts of Christianity is the written revelation, the unchangeable word of God, the word that is fixed in heaven, that endures forever. What God revealed four thousand years ago, for instance, is still true today. We have it in black and white. We don’t have to wonder what God might decide to do today as opposed to what He did yesterday.

I had a principal once who changed like that. School rules were not codified. They were in his head, and he could change his mind whenever he wanted. So you never wanted to ask him for money to purchase necessary equipment if he was in a bad mood. You never wanted to do something questionable because today it might be OK, but tomorrow you’d be busted for it.

God is not like that. He gave us His word so that we can know His thoughts. So when He said, Don’t commit murder as part of the Ten Commandments, that was a Law He adhered to in the book of James in the New Testament. He didn’t wave it or qualify it or reverse it. His word is dependable.

So I love written communication. It opens up the world, history, culture, an understanding of people. It allows me to express my thoughts and ideas and even to understand what I’m thinking more completely, and it enables me to enjoy God’s revelation. In His word He’s told us about His person, His plan, His purpose. I feel privileged to be invited in to know His thoughts in this way.

For sure, I’m so very grateful for written communication—both sides of it!

Top Photo by Tamás Mészáros from Pexels

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Published in: on November 12, 2018 at 5:10 pm  Comments (1)  
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Christy Award Finalists


ReadingThe Christy Award finalists were announced today. I know that awards like this can easily leave out some of the best books—they might be independently published or the publisher chose not to invest in submitting a particular novel. All kinds of reasons.

Still, there’s no doubt these books deserve to go on a list of novels readers should consider buying. I mean, first an agent chose to represent the author, then an acquisitions editor took the manuscript to the publishing board, they decided to publish it, a substantive and a copy editor each worked with the author on it, then Christy judges chose it to be included with the other finalists. That’s a lot of people in the writing profession who believed in these books.

So why not consider adding them to your to be read list? I mean, this is the end of April, which means May is just around the corner. And we all know what follows May: SUMMER!!

You need good books during the summer to take with you on that vacation or to read when all your friends are away on vacation.

With all that in mind, here is the list of finalists:

CONTEMPORARY

Farewell, Four Waters by Kate McCord (RiverNorth, an imprint of Moody Publishing)
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House Publishers)

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert (WaterBrook Multnomah)
Firewall by DiAnn Mills (Tyndale House Publishers)
Undetected by Dee Henderson (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

CONTEMPORARY SERIES

The Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner (Harvest House Publishers)
Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney (Abingdon Press)
When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren (Tyndale House Publishers)

FIRST NOVEL

Feast for Thieves by Marcus Brotherton (RiverNorth, an imprint of Moody Publishing)
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
House of Living Stones by Kate Schuermann (Concordia Publishing House)

HISTORICAL

The Advocate by Randy Singer (Tyndale House Publishers)
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Viking)
The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot (Tyndale House Publishers)

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer (WaterBook Multnomah)
With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

SUSPENSE

The Color of Justice by Ace Collins (Abingdon Press)
A Cry from the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson, a division of Harper Collins Christian Publishing)
Sky Zone by Creston Mapes (David C Cook)

VISIONARY [Also known as speculative fiction: fantasy, science fiction, fairy tale, futuristic, etc.]

Once Beyond a Time by Ann Tatlock (Heritage Beacon Fiction)
Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)
A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes (Enclave Publishing)

YOUNG ADULT

Failstate: Nemesis by John W. Otte (Enclave Publishing)
This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof (Independently Published)
Storm Siren by Mary Weber (Thomas Nelson, a division of Harper Collins Christian Publishing)

Published in: on April 21, 2015 at 6:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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Why Morality In Fiction, Or You Experience What You Read


The best books take readers to new places

The best books take readers to new places


I know this isn’t a great hook, but I think you should know up front: this post is largely a reprint of an article I wrote for Spec Faith in August, 2011. The subject leads naturally into a look at morality in fiction, and honestly, I didn’t think I could summarize the content adequately. I’ll add a few remarks at the end, but here is the original with slight editorial changes.

– – – – –

    Stories matter. Any reader can tell you this. We cry because a beloved old yeller dog, which never actually existed, dies. We laugh at the pig’s tail applied to the imaginary greedy Dudley Dursley. We cheer when the fictitious Aslan returns alive.

    Clearly stories affect us in powerful ways. We skip meals and stay awake late at night. We “forget to breathe” and find our muscles coiled tight until our heroine is out of danger.

    Such physical effects indicate that all this pretend is very real. But how can this be?

    At long last, scientists are beginning to take note and study the power of fiction. One of those leading the way is Keith Oatley, professor emeritus in the Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto. He and his colleagues devised a way to measure the effects of literature on the human psyche. In summary

    the central assumption Oatley developed to frame their research [is this]: “When people are reading literary fiction, they’re creating in their mind a simulation of experience. It’s a simulation that’s cognitive as well as emotional….” (“Toronto scientists determine that fiction can change personalities” By Natalie Samson, accessed August 12, 2011 – emphasis mine)

    In essence, it seems these scientists are saying we readers have our own little holodecks in our minds, and consequently we mentally experience the stories we read. And that changes us.

    At least that’s the hypothesis.

    black_horseI get that. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Walter Farley books (The Black Stallion, The Black Stallion Returns, The Black Stallion and Satan, The Black Stallion’s Filly, and many more, my favorite being The Black Stallion Mystery). Somewhere during that reading phase, I decided I wanted a horse. I knew I’d bond with a horse and that I could ride like the wind.

    At that point, however, I’d done nothing with horses except ride an old nag at summer camp where we walked our mounts behind a guide for an hour.

    I never did own a horse, but my confidence around them did not wane, despite my own lack of experience. You see, I didn’t feel inexperienced.

    Years later when I visited a friend who did own a horse and we went riding, the particular mount I was on tried a clever trick to unseat me. My friend was somewhat amazed that I didn’t end up sprawled in the dirt.

    Some time later I did a “rent-a-horse” ride in Colorado. After several return visits, the guide let me take my horse out on my own. Again I had the experience of a horse trying to deposit me on the ground, this one by rearing.

    No problem. After all, I’d experienced much worse from the Black. Oh, wait. No, that wasn’t actually me. That was a character in a book. But it felt like me.

    It felt as if those experiences had become part of my acquired knowledge. Not in a conscious way, to be sure, but as I look back, I find it easy to believe that I wasn’t fearful and didn’t overreact in the real life circumstances because of the simulated experiences of my childhood.

    How many other experiences have I lived through behind the eyes of the characters in books I’ve loved? And how have those changed me?

    Oatley, whose scholarly work Such Stuff As Dreams: The psychology of fiction (Wiley-Blackwell) is now available in North America, and his fellow scientists developed experiments to “examine what Oatley calls the ‘big five personality traits’ – extroversion, emotional stability, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness” (ibid).

    I don’t know about those particulars, but here’s what Oatley’s publisher says:

    Oatley richly illustrates how fiction represents, at its core, a model that readers construct in collaboration with the writer. This waking dream enables us to see ourselves, others, and the everyday world more clearly.

    Yes, fiction matters, with readers and writers collaborating. And the end result is clearer vision.

    Always? Or can fiction lead us to believe something about ourselves and the everyday world that is not true?

– – – – –
And this is where morality comes in. Dr. Zhivago, the movie, was one of the first pieces of fiction that made me aware of the power of a story to affect my moral compass. Here was a story about a man in the midst of political upheaval who loved two different women, each love shown to be beautiful and right. Was it true that a person could love two different people with the same passion? And if so, did loving them both justify sexual involvement with both?

At some point during my reading experience, I also became aware of my tendency to mimic the speech patterns I was reading, if only in my head. Unfortunately, this bent included a variety of cuss words, and at times I found the first word that came to mind in certain situations was one I’d copied from a character in a book.

These experiences and others made the idea of reading as “a waking dream,” as a type of holographic experience, resonate with me.

If reading is a collaboration, though, between the reader and writer, at what point does the writer have a moral obligation to the reader?

I remain convinced that theology should inform our fiction, but I believe theology should also inform our morality. How do the two intersect?

Published in: on February 26, 2014 at 6:02 pm  Comments Off on Why Morality In Fiction, Or You Experience What You Read  
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Gender Matters


Recently Mike Duran brought up the issue of guys reading books with female protagonists. His conclusion, essentially was, guys don’t read girlish books because they are guys.

Makes sense. Interestingly, the majority of the guys who commented–maybe all of them–said they were fine with female protagonists. It is romance they aren’t interested in. I suspect they were using “romance” as a code word, though, for “stuff women like.”

A Charmed Life coverI have a sneaking suspicion that those guys would also not be a bit interested in reading Shelley Adina’s The Fruit Of My Lipstick or Who Made You A Princess, Be Strong And Curvaceous, or The Chic Shall Inherit The Earth. Or how about Jenny B. Jones’s The Charmed Life, even though one reader says it contains “mystery, comedy, romance, action, and drama”?

Of course, not all girls will want to read those books either, but my guess is, you’d be hard pressed to find ten guys willing to pick up one in a book store, let alone buy it and read it.

On the other hand, it’s not a stretch to imagine girls reading the latest sci fi or horror or thriller or suspense. What genre don’t women read? Men, it would seem, as a class of people, draw a line when it comes to their reading and say, Nope, I don’t want to go there and so I won’t. Women, on the other hand, seem, as a group, less inclined to lines.

Why?

Because gender matters. Men and women are wired differently.

HeteroSym2Our anatomy differences, we’re all too aware of, but we also have a different chemical make up (which is why some vitamin companies sell a multiple vitamin for Her and a different compound for Him), differences in our use of language, and differences in our brain structure which ought not to be minimized. That women more easily access both hemispheres of our brain allows us to be interested in a wider variety of things–stuff guys are typically interested in because of their left brain dominance as well as the emotive stuff, the heartwarming Hallmark Hall of Fame type stories typically thought to interest women.

Granted, I’m speaking in generalities. Of course there are guys who also have a wide assortment of interests and girls who don’t want anything to do with trucks or tanks or spaceships or footballs. But the fact remains, the generalities fit most guys and most girls

What’s my point? The fact that girls have a wider variety of fiction they read and enjoy than do guys is another indication that gender matters.

People who want to say that guys don’t like girlish books because society has programed them that way have no answer as to why girls read widely, venturing into “manly” genres with no qualms. We women are in the same society and ought to have been programmed as the guys have been.

But the truth is, women and men are different. I know that’s a radical thing to say in this day and age. But it’s true. Gender matters. It really does make men and women behave differently, think differently, and apparently, read differently.

Published in: on March 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm  Comments (10)  
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Discernment 101 Revisited


About the time you think it’s safe to return to the water, it isn’t. So, too, with reading and going to movies and watching TV. Well, pretty much everything related to culture. Western society has largely spurned its Christian underpinnings, requiring those of us who still cling to the Solid Rock to think carefully about what our minds dwell on lest we also get washed away at sea.

Mormonism is one example of this need. Are they a cult or are they Christian? Another is the murky theology of those who are “progressives” or who identify as “emergent.”

A year and a half ago we had the over-hyped discourse Love Wins by Rob Bell with its ideas that there is no hell and all will eventually make their way into God’s presence in the after life.

Before that we had Paul Young’s controversial, rambling theological discourse disguised as fiction, The Shack, which, among other things, cast aspersions on the Bible and suggested universalism.

Now we’re at the threshold of another similar “story,” complete with media hype. Mr. Young has just released Cross Roads and has begun a book tour, complete with book signings, an appearance on The Today Show, and an interview with People magazine.

Have I read this book or know its theological content? I don’t.

I’m also not aware that Mr. Young has re-examined or changed any of his erroneous beliefs peppered throughout The Shack. Consequently, when we see a book on the horizon that may contain ideas contrary to Scripture (most books) and yet purports to be Christian, we as Bible believing followers of Jesus Christ need to keep in mind some basic principles of discernment.

  • The Bible is the ultimate authority of what is True. We need to examine the things we read and hear and see to determine if they are so or if they come from someone’s fabrication of God and His way.
  • Because someone is friendly and encouraging or is a good speaker or is entertaining or . . . ad infinitum, does not increase the likelihood that they are telling the truth.
  • That someone claims Christ is no guarantee their story will reflect Christ truthfully.
  • Christians are admonished to test the spirits to see if these things are so.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

  • False teaching abounds which should make Christians more alert, not more reclusive.
  • Legalism is not the same thing as discernment.

What are your thoughts about discernment? What else should be included in a list of basic principles to keep in mind if we are to be discerning about our culture?

You might also want to read the first “Discernment 101” post written three years ago.

Genre Inquiry


I’ve been doing some thinking about the kinds of stories that are most popular with readers at large compared to the kinds of stories that some Christian publishing insiders claim Christian readers want. It’s true, of course, that we Christians do look at the world differently from others. But it’s also true that we live in this world and are wired with the same wants, needs, desires as are other people. So are we really all that different?

Tough question. We are sinners like everyone else. But the blood of Christ has cleansed us. We have become new. So does this newness mean we are separated from the rest of mankind in our likes and dislikes?

Not really. Because we all are made in God’s likeness, we all have the capacity to enjoy beauty. So Christian and non-Christian alike love chocolate, appreciate Pavarotti, glory in fall leaves, rejoice at the sight of a rainbow. Sure, those aren’t universal. A minority would choose caramel over chocolate or Justin Bieber over Pavarotti. But the point is, those likes and dislikes aren’t determined by our being Christians or not being Christians.

There are some things that are, however. Pornography is one such thing. Granted, an untold number of Christians engage in pornography, but as yet, I haven’t heard any professing Christian advocate for pornography or say that this is pleasing to God and something we should embrace. In other words, there are objects and activities that set Christians apart from non-Christians, or ought to.

Reading is not one of those things. So why would we have the culture at large interested in certain kinds of books and Christians interested in a different kind? I don’t think we do, apart from erotic books that are the equivalent of porn. But that’s my theory. What do you think? Do Christians want to read a different kind of fiction than non-Christians?

I’m not referring to stories with Christian conversions or ones with themes uniquely Christian. I’m asking about genres–romance, historical, mystery, fantasy, adventure, horror, suspense, science fiction, contemporary. Do Christians want different genres from non-Christians?

Let’s expand the genres–dystopian, romantic comedy, urban fantasy, supernatural, contemporary romance, thrillers, crime fiction, epic fantasy, cozy mystery, post-apocalyptic, space opera, cyperpunk, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, family saga, historical romance, political, coming of age, ancient history, dark fantasy. Do Christians spurn some of those genres because we are Christians? Do we choose others because of our Christianity?

Here’s a poll to measure what you all think. I’ll be eager to see the results. Please feel free to leave comments here as well.

Published in: on October 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm  Comments (4)  
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Do Christian Writers Read Enough?


You hear it all the time as part of author interviews or writing instructor advice–read, read, read, and then read. But why? Shouldn’t writers be more concerned about writing, not reading?

The truth is, reading is as important to learning to write well as listening was to learning to speak. As children, we didn’t learn to speak by going off to a corner by ourselves and babbling in baby talk. If that’s all we did, day in and day out, we would never have learned what we were supposed to say when we wanted up or Dada or more.

Not only did we learn our vocabulary from listening, we learned sentence structure and grammar. If you had parents like mine, they corrected you if you said, I seed a dog or I swinged high. But chances are, you didn’t make those mistakes more than once or twice because you never heard your parents make them. In other words, learning to speak comes from imitation.

Learning to write is similar. By reading good stories, writers imitate, unconsciously, how to structure a plot, create conflict, develop a character, enhance the mood, establish a pace, and much more.

The thing is, writing fiction is not a static endeavor. Like language itself, it’s dynamic and therefore, what worked for Mark Twain back in the nineteenth century isn’t necessarily going to work in the twenty-first century.

Hence, part of a writer’s work is to read current fiction–good books that are coming out this year or last.

We’re having a discussion over at Spec Faith about Christian speculative fiction writers, and Fred Warren left a comment that said in part,

We buy each other’s books and trade “critiques” that are mostly affirmations and then wonder why the rest of the world (or the rest of the Christian fiction community) doesn’t understand how great we are.

Ouch!

But is Fred wrong?

I’ll say this. I’ve asked questions in posts at Spec Faith before about what current Christian speculative stories people are reading, and the results have been discouraging. Sure, if we opened the question up to the classics, everyone had read Tolkien or Lewis or Chesterton or MacDonald. Beyond that, few authors came to the forefront.

Is that because there are no good Christian speculative writers today? No. I could name a half dozen with ease. But shouldn’t every Christian speculative writer be able to do the same thing? Shouldn’t we know who is writing in our genre and who is at the top?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t also read general market fiction as well. There are good, quality stories that we can learn from though we must be certain we don’t decide simply to write a clean version of those books. Christians should want more than a baptized retread, and Christian writers should want to offer the “new song” God can put in our mouths, not an old song with bleeped lyrics.

Published in: on October 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm  Comments (4)  
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Reading Discernment 101


In the past I’ve frequently talked about the need for discernment in our reading, but sometimes I think that term may mean one thing to one person and something far different to someone else.

I think most people agree as far as the actual definition: to discern means “to perceive or to distinguish between.” Of course, discernment implies a standard or some way of making a distinction.

This sweater is bluer than that one, or, That book is full of lies.

In the first instance, two objects are being compared to each other. In the second, the lies referred to exist in contradiction to an understood standard of Truth.

So what does this comparing and contrasting mean for a Christian in application to what he reads?

I believe Christians should use the Bible as the gauge by which we measure truth and error, good and evil, right and wrong, real and counterfeit. A book that twists or deviates from what the Bible lays out before us is in error because the Bible is Truth.

So far, I think most people who use the Bible as their standard and who have thought about discernment at all would agree, but there’s a next step and it is here where I think some of us might part company. If we identify a book as containing that which is in error, what do we do?

I tend to think a lot of believers might say, Stay away from that book and any like it. For some people that advice may be right, but I don’t think that should be the blanket answer. It certainly isn’t what I’m advocating when I say we should read with discernment.

Instead, I think we should read (or watch or listen to) what is in our culture, and then point the finger at that which departs for God’s revealed truth and say, That is not true.

Understand, there are limitations to this use of discernment. Sometimes a determination needs to be made as a matter of self-protection or family-protection. When I was in college, I saw a bunch of raunchy movies that led me to the decision to put some limits on what I viewed. My choice, for me, requiring discernment, meant that I stopped going to a certain kind of movie.

But there are lots of other movies I’ve seen that I would see again, even though I will also cry loud and long to whoever will listen that it contains untruth.

As I see it, lies are immediately disarmed once they are identified as lies. Lies can only hurt if they slip by as if they are true and people end up believing them. Consequently, to stay away from all fiction or from fiction that is clearly from a secular point of view, means I can’t stand up and say, Do you see the lies here?

If Christians don’t do that, then who will?

This article originally appeared here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction in July, 2009.

Published in: on June 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm  Comments Off on Reading Discernment 101  
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Books And The Value Of Reading


I can remember not being able to read. Sunday morning when the paper arrived, there were two parts of the Sunday Funnies. My brother inevitable clamped onto one, and my sister the other. (Yes, I was the youngest). I waited. And waited. And waited. Goodness, I thought, they should let me have the funnies first because I didn’t take nearly as long as they did. I mean, how long does it take to look at the pictures?

Finally, I remember one Sunday begging my sister not to read the comics because I had to wait so long. If she would just look at the pictures, like I did, she’d be done in no time at all! She looked at me as if I was off my rocker. 😆

Needless to say, I was highly motivated to read. I was the only one in my family who couldn’t spell, so when my parents started spelling things out, I knew it was me they were keeping secrets from, no one else. Yep, I WANTED to read!

Even before I could, books were important to me. All kinds of people read to me. One boy in the school where my mom taught had trouble with reading (I found out later), so he was assigned to read to me after lunch. (I went to the equivalent of pre-school in the one room school where my mom taught). On occasion, my dad read to all of us before bedtime. When I was sick, my mom would read to me, and from time to time my sister would read to me, even after I was able to read. Eventually I had teachers read to me, too.

I loved listening to stories. I could close my eyes and picture the people and places and see the action in my head. Later, when I read books for myself, it was easy for me to imagine the things I was reading. In fact, that’s why I loved books so much. I felt as if I entered a different world and experienced the things the characters experienced.

I laugh now at some of the books that were my favorites. I loved my brother’s Sugar Creek Gang books written by Hutchens. I loved my sister’s favorite book, too — Orie’s Wooden Leg. Best of all were the William Farley horse books, especially the ones featuring the Black Stallion. (The Island Stallion was OK). And then there was Nancy Drew.

Somewhere along the line I fell in love with The Light In The Forest by Conrad Richter (take a second to read the Wikipedia summary I linked to. The story is heart wrenching.

My sixth grade teacher made an impact on me and my reading. She read a number of books to us, and I ended up re-reading them because I loved them so much. White Fang by Jack London was one (I loved being a wolf0. Another was The Trumpeter Of Krakow by Eric Kelly. Then there was the lone non-fiction work — Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl.

I could go on and on — the books I loved when I was little, the ones that started me reading the classics, those I read for school, those I hated, and those I still love.

Reading, what a great invention. What a great gift. What a great privilege.

So how’s your summer reading program shaping up? Do you have some special books picked out? Old favorites, or new authors you want to try out?

Let’s talk books! 😀

Published in: on June 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm  Comments (7)  
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Are Stories Getting Shorter?


In this day of the Tweet and the Facebook status update, of texting and email, are we programming ourselves for “short”?

On one hand there seems to be some evidence that this might be the case. Short Youtube videos are as popular as TV shows. In the written media, I’ve seen more novellas in the last five years than perhaps the previous ten combined.

These intermediate stories — either a very long short story, or a very short novel — once were the stuff of collections. Now they have begun to appear as digital offerings, a way, perhaps, for an author to test the water of self-publishing without risking a more time-consuming project.

Is this a trend or an anomaly?

Perhaps it’s a replacement.

None have been seen since 1959

Short stories seem to be going the way of the Pallid beach mouse. Once populating Florida, the little creature hasn’t been seen in more than half a century.

Certainly short story collections have a hard time finding a publishing home. And magazines that carry short stories are a dying breed.

Yes, there is hope for short stories on the Internet. Online webzines continue to crop up from time to time, but fewer of these are paying markets, which means writers may as well publish their short stories on their own site, as I have from time to time, where their regular readers are more apt to find them.

Could it be, however, that short stories, rather than disappearing, are expanding? That the novella trend is not a replacement of the novel at all but a void filler for the absent short stories?

Publishing, the new Wild West

I suppose there’s no way to know. As one industry professional recently describe publishing, it’s currently the wild, Wild West.

Self-reliance was the most important ingredient for survivors in the days of land-grabs and cattle rustlers.

Or was it?

When there was no lawman in town, no doctor, and often no preacher or teacher, people learned to rely on themselves or to bond together and rely on their community. Guess which ones thrived the most.

So in the structural vacuum of publishing, with its fenceless expanses and ever increasing numbers of charlatans offering a helping hand to the wannabe writer hoping for a bargain price on choice publishing real estate, who’s to say if short will win out or die out?

Some believe the reader will finally get the say. So, what do you like to read — short stories, novellas, or novels? (Is it time for another poll, before the previous one is not even half way to completion? 🙄 )

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm  Comments (6)  
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