Everybody has them. Nobody has to tell us that some are useless. But here are a few things where your opinion doesn't matter, but it's fun to give it anyway.
1. Do you think e-readers have become so popular because of the convenience factor or the price of books often being offered for free or cheaper than a print book?
2. Do you prefer reading a print book or an e-reader?
3. Do you think too many books are published each year?
4. Approximately how many books do you read in a year?
5. What is the proportion (in your reading) of novels to non-fiction?
Harmless opinions if you care to express yours.
Father, you've created some of us to be outspoken and others to be shy or withdrawn. We know your ability to love all kinds. And we know we need to love more and better. Only you can help us to do that. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I happen to do a fair amount of each, although I confess lately I lean toward more of the crying than laughing. The world right now is a sad and ugly mess, and sometimes the circumstances of all earthly endeavors crush against my heart. As a Christian, I recognize who to seek for refuge and how to use the weeping in prayer for all the many needs of others.
I love to laugh, but it's been difficult to find funny things. I'll keep looking and listening because I would love to laugh until my stomach hurts.
Father, you bring joy, laughter, hope, and promise. Thank you for being my refuge and strong tower. I'm always desperate for you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
To understate the obvious: I'm an emotional person. Driven by passion. If I'm not into it, chances are it's not in my life.
As a result, I want to write stories that move people. Force them to address their deeper emotions. Ask them to confront what makes them who they are. Lead them into epiphany situations that require them to feel something real, haunting, or thought-provoking. The only way I know to accomplish this is to create characters who connect with readers.
Above is the picture of characters Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) and Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) of the popular CBS spin-off series NCIS LAproduced by the ultra-successful Donald Bellisario. They're partners in a foursome of NCIS investigators/operatives that include former SEAL Sam Hanna and "G" Callen, played by LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell respectively. Marty Deeks is a detective from the LAPD, originally appointed liaison to NCIS but now a secure part of the team.
Relationships play a huge role in Bellisario dramas which is probably why his series are so successful. There's always the UST (Unresolved Sexual Tension), but romantic relationships are never the only kind addressed. I don't know how he continues to manage it, but his writers are superior to most who write for television, and the characters are developed over time with near perfect casting.
I don't know how other writers create their characters, although I've heard some cut out pictures and post them near their computers or on story boards. Other authors do full work-ups in notebooks for their individual characters. For me, I get a general sense of what they look like, I hear their names, and I know their "voices". I learn who they are at their cores as the words fall out on the page or screen. I have to feel who they are, their emotional makeup, their fears and hopes, hates and wickedness. It's a complete experience to create them and their stories. They have to fit for me.
Kensi and Deeks finally got to a place of closeness - their growing attachment to each other slow and steady as only Bellisario characters can accomplish. Their boss, a shrewish tiny woman (Linda Hunt), who used to be a top espionage operative, spotted and diffused it by reassigning Kensi to a "need-to-know" venture indefinitely. The heartbreak on Deeks' face when he was told was priceless, the music queued to "Landslide" by Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac. Made me cry, I can tell you that. Powerful.
Yes, a viewer or a reader has to engage the process. Has to want to enjoy or invest in the characters. But if the writer of a series episode or a full-length novel can capture their interests and fulfill their desires for emotional satisfaction and whatever level of intellectual stimulation they require, the writer can label the work a success. And this is done by making them "real". That's the only way the genuine attachment to characters can happen.
Father, thank you for your divine inspirations, the multiple talents and giftings so generously bestowed upon people of all kinds. Thank you for the opportunities to bring you pleasure by using those things you've given to us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
For me, one of the greatest pleasures of Christmas is shopping for gifts. I guess I inherited this joy from my dad. He was a major giver. His humble upbringing - and "humble" doesn't quite cover it: they were poor in those days - made it important to him to be able to give gifts in a generous outpouring of his love. Year-round he would hand out dollar bills to miscellaneous children and watch their eyes light up. He really wanted to savor the smiles and oohs and aahhs of the recipients of his careful shopping. Mom was often embarrassed by his lavish selections for her. They both had very little growing up in the Depression in Butte, Montana. I guess in today's "profiling" giving gifts was my dad's love language. It's mine too.
This is one reason it's so important to use what God's given you. I know some of you are tired of the football posts, but football is big in our city and gargantuan in our house. It's one of life's simple pleasures where we can escape the world for a few moments during the week. By now some of you football fans recognize the name Russell Wilson who is the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. Recently in an interview he said something poignant to all of us who write, and of course to all of those who find themselves loving an activity, job, or creative release and doing it well. He said something like he didn't need to be afraid of being good with what God has gifted him, but he needed to keep studying and preparing and learning to do it the very best he could, to continue to excel.
In his few words, he proclaimed he'd been gifted by the Creator to do certain things well, that God had given him the ability to perform at a high level, and that in order to continue to use that gift he had to persist in learning to do it well.
After a point, people learn specific things about their giftings. Those things cement themselves in the mind and become routine as other less conspicuous details present themselves along the way. We discover those as we devote ourselves to improving what God has set forth for us to do. Stagnation won't cut it if we want to do what God has put upon our hearts to do.
So whether you love or abhor buying people gifts for Christmas, you can't ignore your gifts from the Creator of the universe. Designed just for you, selected with precision and a purposeful intent, God gave you just the right gifts. Don't frown when you open them or wonder if you can return them for something "better". It's not possible. These giftings speak of who you were meant to be. Use them and dedicate their production to the One who gave it all. To you and for you and for His pleasure.
Father, there are never enough words in any language to thank you enough. I try to make the words I say to you real and somehow meaningful. They're always full of thank yous, but they're still never enough. Thank you anyway, precious Lord. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Die-hard football fans can be accustomed to having a party while watching their favorite team play. Not at our house. You won't be invited over to watch the game. It's strictly immediate family only. Why? Because at this house when the Seahawks play, we're all a bunch of "Ramseys". If you don't know who Ramsey is, sans the supertitious element and the Bud Lite, we're the fans at home who shout, yell at the referees (maybe mostly me), high-five, jump and celebrate, and generally embarrass ourselves.
I've been a Seahawks fan since their inception in 1976. We've had many years without good teams. So it's something very special to this football family to watch this team play. We can't help our fanaticism, but we can spare others from experiencing it directly. No invites to our home when our team plays. We don't want to frighten you.
Father, thank you for the joys in life. You know we face enough sorrows. It's a blessing to "get away" for awhile and immerse ourselves in the gifts of others. Thank you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Strait of Hormuzis the third novel in the Marc Royce adventure series written by Davis Bunn and published by Bethany House. Beginning with The Lion of Babylon and progressing to Rare Earth, Strait of Hormuz is supposed to be the final book in this series although the ending left the door open for more.
Marc Royce is no longer officially working for the United States government, but that doesn't stop the requests for his clandestine services from the ambassador who fired him for staying home with his wife when she fought and lost the battle with cancer. From the Middle East to Africa and now to Switzerland and beyond, Marc Royce is assigned to uncover a plot involving the sale of masterpieces and other art to fund possible transport of Iranian nuclear material via containers which have disappeared.
Introduced to the operation through an explosion in an art gallery, Marc barely escapes. Without authorization in Switzerland he is led to the ambassador's "friend" who will assist him in the confusing ordeal to discover who's doing what and how it all fits together to move the containers to wherever they're suspected of going. From fake masterpieces to authentic Rodin sculptures, there are millions and millions of dollars involved in the transference of different pieces. At the head of this dark plot is a man with a manufactured past.
Marc is reunited with his love interest, Israeli Kitra, from Rare Earth, and the romantic tension from their separation brings them both sadness and discomfort. Before long there are several very different personalities involved in this critical endeavor, one of whom must feign continued assistance to the mysterious man who has heretofore terrified her even though she felt forced to work with him to eventually accomplish her own agenda.
Uniting international characters from very different cultures and religions under the banner of Christianity, this clever, ingenious group uses their faith and wit to pursue the dark goals of the mystery man and his lot transporting weapons. Will the evil scheme lead them through the Strait of Hormuz to ignite a war with the USA or will the wicked schemers find another alternative to decimate their arch-enemy Israel?
A complex plot of international terror, Strait of Hormuzby Davis Bunn is a contemporary thriller/adventure with a likable, accomplished former military man and intelligence operative who vacillates between the requirements for the love of duty and being in love.
Father, continue to provide the storylines for Davis, leading him on the path you have just for him. Encourage him as only you can do. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.