Emerging From the Tunnel

I haven’t blogged in a while. There is a reason for that. In addition to writing, I also manage a number of websites. It’s all volunteer work, do I don’t get paid for it. But I love doing the work, so I don’t need pay.

Recently, one of the sites I manage requested a wiki. After doing some research, I decided to install MediaWiki. This is the same software used by Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, Wikipedia is a programmer’s app. The documentation is written by programmers. The app install is designed for programmers. The configuration is programmer friendly. IOW, it was difficult to deal install and configure, and difficult to troubleshoot.

I started that install early last month and just finished two days ago. Well, I’m not really done, but it’s stable enough now that I can step away and return to other activities. Like writing.

I started my second book a while ago, ran into some issues on background research and stalled. Now, I’m ready to get back to it  I hope you, my followers, will forgive me for the absence.

During the time I was “away”, I also proofread a book for someone and edited another one. I will be writing a review of the edited book shortly, now that it’s been published.

I hope this upcoming holiday period turns out to be the best you’ve ever enjoyed, and I hope you’ll take time to remember the reason we celebrate Christmas. If you don’t know Christ, or don’t believe in God, I pray that this year will be the one in which the scales are removed from your eyes and you will see.

Nothing is more pleasurable than a life lived with God. I know. I’m seventy years old and God is my constant companion. He has blessed with with health and wealth (not so much materially as spiritually) and a wonderful family. How could a man ask for more than that?

Cathleen Townsend Blogs About Prayers Were No Help

Cathleen Townsend decided to blog her review of my book. As a published author, she had some very nice things to say about my book.

this volume has superb writing in a line-edit sense—I didn’t have a single wince as I read,

That’s high praise coming from someone who edits professionally.

She also had this to say.

Pacing-wise, the story moves right along, and that is also a rarer thing than I could wish. If you’re looking for a faith-based narrative without a saccharine aftertaste, Prayers Were No Help is a worthy read.

I found the latter sentence especially pleasing, since the goal of my writing is to do that. Rather than smack people in the face with religious doctrine, I try to introduce them to godly living through all-too-common human trials and tribulations that find their resolution in spiritual healing.

Good For One Ride

This is an interesting book. The author makes good use of language to convey the thoughts and feelings of the main character, who is portrayed as an engineer in a support function yet exposed to the terrors of war. The writing is confusing at times, but a strong sense of time and place carries it along. Overall it conveys a clear vision of what it’s like to serve in a combat zone and the effect that has on a person’s mind.

The Kindle edition suffers from massive problems with formatting. Chapters begin in the middle of pages, some paragraphs suffer from what appears to be paragraph returns in the middle of sentences. The book also suffers from a lack of editing, which exacerbates the difficulty of reading through the disjointed formatting.

Here are three examples of the formatting problems:

The first letter of the first word is on a separate line from the rest of the letters in the word. The early paragraphs are formatted oddly as if returns were inserted in the middle of paragraphs. Finally, new chapters begin in the middle of pages.

The Preface

The Shack

I’m currently reading The Shack. Frankly, I never even heard of the book until my editor stated that my manuscript, Prayers Were No Help, reminded her of it. I thought I should read it to understand what she meant and so I would be prepared to answer questions about my story if they were asked.

The writer is certainly descriptive in his use of language, and the premise of the story is a good one, in my opinion. It is, in fact, similar to the premise of my book—a man suffers a devastating loss and struggles to deal with it until heavenly intervention turns his life around.

Without giving away the story, in case you’ve not read it, there was a place in the story where I almost stopped reading the book entirely. The main character is introduced to three celestial beings. One is an African-American woman. The second is an Asian woman. The third is a Middle Eastern man. The device seemed so trite to me that I literally stopped reading, shook my head and put the book down. I’m all for diversity, but in this case, it was so patently obvious it smacked you in the face.

If I ever use a device like that in one of my books, someone please slap me.

UPDATE: I”ve finished reading the book, and I have some things to say. However, they would be spoilers for those who have not read it (or seen the movie), so I will hide them from view. If you read past this point, you’ve been warned.

I’m very disappointed in this book. I can’t believe that it’s a best seller. First, the device of using an African American woman as God, an Asian as the Holy Spirit and a middle-eastern man as Jesus (although that at least makes sense) smacks of a desire to deliberately inject diversity into the story. Then, as if to convince you of his message, he adds a Hispanic woman as another spirit later in the story. Really? Could you be more obvious?

And then there’s the scene where God, Jesus, the Holy Spirt, and Mack drink wine and break bread together. Seriously? Your main character has communion with the Trinity? The devices the author uses are so transparent they take away from the power of the story. Each time I came across one, I had to moan, put the book down, shake my head in amazement and force myself to keep reading.

On top of that, he ends the story by revealing that it never really happened. It was all in the main character’s (Mack’s) mind. At the end of the book, as he’s leaving the shack, he’s t-boned by a drunk driver and ends up in a coma. When he regains consciousness, he finds out from his wife that the accident occurred on the way up to the cabin, not as he was leaving.

It’s a little like toying with a cat. As the cat approaches the moving ball, you yank it away and laugh at him.

In short, the story isn’t believable, the author’s use of contrived devices works to make it less believable, and his theology is questionable at best.

On a scale of one to five, I would give the book a two. Its descriptions are vivid, and the writing is well done. The story is a mess.

Prayers Were No Help

Prayers Were No Help is available on Smashwords, your favorite ebook retailer, and on Amazon.

I was starting to understand what he was saying. “I thought about that, yesterday. Did I miss a miracle because I did not really believe it when I asked for it?”

“Yes! Exactly. God’s still in the miracle business. Always has been. So few people really believe in him now that he’s been put on the back burner. He’s been turned into a fire extinguisher when he should be the reason the house never catches fire to begin with.”

Puzzled, I probed him further. “How do you turn him into the reason the house never catches on fire?”