Book Review — Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg

Do you ask yourself why you never feel satisfied, fulfilled or content? What is the problem? What is keeping you on edge and frustrated? Constantly Craving looks at many of the things that keep us from experiencing true inner peace and the realization of the person God created us to be. Our relationships with other people and our relationship with God all play important roles in our personal satisfaction and joy of living. Marilyn Meberg examines many of the facets of our personal profiles that work together or work against each other to shape our vision of successful living. Each is expressed as a craving that must be satisfied in order for us to feel complete.

I almost gave up on this book before I finished Chapter 4. I’m glad I kept going. The quality of the book improves dramatically in chapters 5 and 6. After that, the value escalates and peaks in Chapter 15 – Craving Heaven. I know I would have been much more enthusiastic about reading the book to the finish if the first chapter had set more appropriate expectations for the book’s content, and I would have preferred to read about contentment, happiness and friendship before dealing with romance. Just keep that in mind as you plow through chapters 2, 3, and 4.

In Chapter 5, the author examines the life of the apostle Paul, quoting his statement, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” After she develops the notion that we can learn how to be content, it is a small step to the realization that we can learn to deal with all our cravings. No matter what we crave, as long as we still crave it, we cannot be content. This teaching alone is worth the price of the book, but there is much more.

This book is a valuable addition to the library of any Christian who “craves” to become mature in the faith.

  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Review — You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins

You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins is an affirming read for any writer, beginning with the title. Anyone who writes or claims to want to write needs this book. There is plenty of negativity in the world and if you have a dream, there is somebody waiting to squelch it. If you write already, or if you dream of being a successful writer, then you need this book.

 Affirmation is a central element of the book. Jeff Goins shares his own experiences and uses them to reassure his readers that being listed on the New York Times best-seller list is not the only possible definition of success for a writer. Writing is one thing. Publication is something else. Fame and prizes and guest spots on Oprah and Today are completely other. Unless you write, you are not a writer. If you write, you are a writer. This theme weaves its way through all parts of the book. Just as you weary of any of the more mundane topics, Jeff will give you another shot in the arm to keep you moving.

 To say this is not to give away his whole book or even his most important concept. Writing is the key that unlocks the door to success. Jeff’s book explains how to craft the key, how to use the key, what doors you need to unlock, and a few hints at what will be on the other side of some of those doors.

 For example, in the second chapter of the book, Jeff says, “there must be a life behind the writing.” As you explore this chapter, you will start asking yourself some important questions about the way your life shapes your writing. By the time you reach the third chapter, you should be energized about writing and about your place in the writing world.

You will need that energy, because this book delves into the greatest bugaboo for all the writers I know: marketing. That isn’t where he starts, because you cannot market a product you have not created. Jeff begins at the beginning: a product that is true to its creator. You cannot market with integrity unless you are writing with integrity. Starting there, the book leads you in an orderly fashion all the way down the road to publishing success. Yet Jeff does not permit the budding writer to forget that the writing product that is for sale must grow out of the character of the writer or any success is hollow.

 A cook who created something akin to this book would have made a rich flavorful sauce by reducing the liquid components to dense layers of flavor fine-tuned with herbs and spices for a unique gustatory experience. This is not a lengthy book, but it is dense. You can read it in a few hours. However, you will immediately realize that in order to savor it, you need to go back and read each section more slowly, unpacking the density and applying the principles to your unique artistry as a writer.

You can get better acquainted with Jeff Goins and learn a few more new tricks for writers at his website http://goinswriter.com.

 This is not the only book a writer needs, but every writer needs this book.

 I received this book as an advance copy for review purposes from Jeff Goins. I was not asked to give a good review nor was I offered any compensation for the review. This review is my honest appraisal of this book.

Meet Marcia Lacock, author of newly-released novel “A Tumbled Stone”

I am thrilled to introduce my readers to Marcia Laycock, winner of the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. As her newest book, A Tumbled Stone is released, I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions.

  

Katherine: Marcia, both of your books examine a major contemporary cultural issue. One side of the issue calls it “A woman’s right to choose.” The other side of the issue calls it “The human right to life.” It is a prickly subject both politically and socially. Why do you want to write about this subject?

 Marcia: I believe this subject is close to the heart of God. He is always concerned about those who cannot speak for themselves or defend themselves. An unborn child is the epitome of this demographic. Unfortunately it is a subject that is too often swept under the rug, to use a cliché, and the innocent continue to suffer. I also wanted people to try to understand the stresses and difficulties a person with an unwanted pregnancy feels. I hope that after reading A Tumbled Stone the reader will have more compassion for these women. 

Katherine: How did you come to be a writer?

Marcia: 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 was recently 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. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was just released by Word Alive Press.

Katherine: Tell us how you come up with characters.  

Marcia: 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.

Andrea, the main character in A Tumbled Stone, developed slowly as the book unfolded. She too is a composite of many people I’ve known, young women in search of their own identities who struggle to make the right choices in their lives.

Katherine: Where do you write?

Marcia: I share an office in our home with my husband who is a pastor. 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 as we sit back to back at our computers. 🙂

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

Marcia: 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 and now two great sons-in-law continues to amaze me.

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

Marcia: 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.

Katherine: Why did you choose to write this book?

Marcia: To be honest, initially it was because I had to write a sequel! 🙂 But then as the book and the main character began to take shape in my head I got excited about what I could do with it. I wanted to write a book about a young woman struggling with an unwanted pregnancy and this gave me the opportunity.

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

Marcia: 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.

Katherine: Tell me a little about A Tumbled Stone.

Marcia: Andrea Calvert had to run away. She couldn’t stay on the farm, shaming her parents. She couldn’t face being pregnant and alone. She would take care of this on her own. As she struggles to make life-changing decisions, Andrea discovers a diary and the wrenching story about her family’s dysfunction.

Katherine: How does this book minister to readers?

Marcia: I hope A Tumbled Stone will prove to be a healing book both to those who may have had an abortion or are considering one, as well as to those who feel passionately about this topic. I hope the readers will come to a deeper understanding of God’s grace and mercy that is extended to all of us.

Katherine: If I met you in an airport where we shared coffee over a table in a crowded food court, what would you want me to remember about you as we hurried to our separate gates to board our flights?

Marcia: I guess I would hope that you would remember me as a gracious person willing to listen and understand.

+ + +

The more I learn about the author of A Tumbled Stone the more I see the way scripture shapes her work. Marci’s favorite scripture is “Let us consider therefore how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds.” (Hebrew 10:24) This verse inspired the name of her blog and much of the direction of her books.

You can learn more about Marcia at her website www.vinemarc.com or email her at Marcia@vinemarc.com

View the book trailer for One Smooth Stone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz1VG59-Aiw

                                       

         You can purchase Marcia’s books at www.vinemarc.com or go to http://tinyurl.com/7xun8nv where you can also purchase any of her books.



Interview with Tom Blubaugh, Part 2

I’m very excited about the opportunity to continue with Part 2 of my interview with Tom Blubaugh. When he told me that he offers training for authors who need to learn about building a platform, I wanted to know more. Every author prefers writing to marketing, and each of us knows that we cannot possibly know too much about marketing. Each of us wants a ready answer when a publisher says, “Tell me about your platform.”

In Part 1 of Tom’s interview I learned that he had business experience that included marketing business services. My first reaction was to assume that he had simply been able to work that experience into a marketing plan for his book. I should know from my own life that it is not safe to assume anything.

Tom, when did you start working seriously on your platform for marketing your work?

I didn’t start until after my book was published, which put me under a lot of pressure. This happened for two reasons—I didn’t plan on publishing Night of the Cossack, I wrote it for myself, my children and grandchildren and I thought I already had a strong platform.  Unfortunately, when I analyzed it I found it to be very weak. Although I have been doing business on the internet since 1998, it was all under the name Grampa Tom’s Timeless Treasures—very few who did business with me knows my real name.  I was also in business for myself some 22 years, but when I sold my business in 1995, all of the records went to the new owner—I have no access to them. Even though I have been a public speaker for 40 years, I didn’t know where all of my audiences were so I couldn’t contact them about my books. It was very frustrating to have to start from scratch.

 

Do you think an author who has self-published a book already will benefit from taking your workshop?

Definitely yes. Those who self-publish are a publishing company themselves. They must develop a market for their publications. Book selling is very competitive. The first place most authors place their book is on Amazon. There are between 5 and 10 million books listed on Amazon. The public has to know a book is there somehow.  It isn’t likely that anyone would spend hours at a time searching through all the books to fine one to read.

 

Why did you decide to offer a marketing workshop?

Everywhere I go I hear authors talking about how hard it is to sell their books. An author platform is a new term, less than five years old, and there has been a lot of confusion about what it really is. The publishing business has changed rapidly in the last couple of years. Publishing companies and agents want to know how an author is going to sell a thousand books fast if they publish one. All authors have to market their own book whether self-published or published by a house. The only difference, for the most part, is who is going to pay to have the book published.

 

There are a lot of marketing workshops. What sets your workshop apart from all the others?

I was in financial planning for 22 years. There is nothing more difficult, from my perspective, than discussing financial problems with people under pressure. I learned to talk in simple terms and use concepts to help people understand. A lot of workshops are one hour long, which isn’t long enough to really get into the details of building a platform. My workshop is six hours. I break it down and example each aspect thoroughly. This allows time for questions.

 

What will an author take away from your workshop that will feel like a great return on the investment of time and money to attend?

I believe she will take away a plan with a clear understanding of how to implement it. A strategy, if you will. I like to think I partner with each person by encouraging emails and phone calls if necessary until the platform is built.

Do you schedule workshops on weekend? Nights?

Since this is my full time work, along with writing, I’m very flexible. My plan is to present my workshop as an online webinars, which will give me a lot of flexibility. Notice that webinars is plural. I thinking of doing a session a week and giving my participants to work with each session for a week before going to the next. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a continuing process.

 

What do you charge for your workshops?

I’m not trying to get rich and I want everyone to be able to attend my workshop. I’ve found that if there is no investment by my clients, what they receive is of no value. $50 is a very small amount for what they will receive over a six-week period. Using this format also allows be to speed up or slow down the process depending on my participants.

How can a writer contact you in order to learn more about your workshop?

Thank you for interviewing me. I hope your readers will contact me at tom12345@tnblu.com with questions.

 

Find Tom at 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.

Amazon Author page.

Amazon reviews.

ebook for Nook available at Barnes & Noble

Night of the Cossack Facebook author page. Be sure to like my page while you’re there please.

Personal Facebook page

Visit My Blog. Be sure to sign up as a follower.

Twitter @tomblubaugh 

Author’s Den. A great Author/Reader site.  You can join free.  Look me up and be sure to become a fan while you’re there.

Check me out on Goodreads.

Co-author of The Great Adventure published by Barbour Publishing. (out of print).

Genesis Project 

Jericho Commission, Inc. 

 

 

An Interview with Tom Blubaugh

When I joined the John316 Marketing Network, one of the first names I saw in my mailbox was Tom Blubaugh. I quickly discovered that Tom is a very active member of the network. He welcomes new members, responds quickly and enthusiastically to member requests of all kinds, and contributes new ideas to make the group more effective. I barely had my feet on the ground when I decided that I would like to get better acquainted with him, because it was obvious he was someone who could help me grow as an author.

This is Part 1 of 2 interviews with Tom. This interview concerns his work as an author. Part 2 , scheduled for next Monday, April 23, looks at his marketing workshop for authors.

Hi, Tom

I have read your materials and cruised your site with great enthusiasm. I never knew anyone before who had a Cossack for an ancestor. You must have thought about your grandfather for years before you ever wrote Night of the Cossack. What inspired you to put pen to paper? Or maybe I should say, to put finger to keyboard?

I did think about my grandfather for years. What brought me to the point of writing about him was the death of my mother. I only had one living relative on my mother’s side and I decided I had better spend some time with her getting as much information as I could before she passed. I recorded a two-hour interview of her, but gained very little new information. She has Alzheimer now. The inspiration to write was to get to know my grandfather even if it was mostly fiction.

On the Barnes and Noble site where your book is available, your author bio indicates that you love macro photography. I share that love, calling my explorations tiny worlds. What subjects do you like to photograph using macro settings? Why?

I like anything in nature that blooms, flies, crawls or swims. When I import the images into Photoshop and start working with them I become fascinated with God’s handiwork. It increases my faith when I study the detail of his creation.

Since you worked in insurance and financial planning, I have to believe that you love people. I’m more a recluse. Tell me what you think is the secret to making happy connections with people that bless you and them alike?

This is a tough question. I’m a contradiction. I’m both a loner and a people person. I can develop a relationship with a person if the common ground is spiritual, financial, writing, computer, literature, or photography. I tend to go deep in thinking and conversation. I liked financial planning because I delved into people’s financial problems and helped them work out solutions. I received a great deal of satisfaction when I saw the stress leave their face and hope come into their eyes. On the other hand, I can spend hours by myself writing, reading, working with photography or looking at pictures from the Hubble telescope. I’m not a sportsman and I don’t like small talk. I usually end up sitting with the ladies talking about ‘relevant stuff.’

I’m a Missouri girl, born and reared in the bootheel. What made you choose Springfield as your home?

In my first marriage, we would come through Springfield when traveling from Kansas City to Mountain Grove, MO. I came from a small town in Kansas with a population of 10,000. After I joined the navy, I was stationed in San Diego and Long Beach. Afterwards, I lived in Los Angeles, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Minneapolis. In 1975 I was living in Kansas City when I heard a news broadcast of a multi-car wreck with deaths and injuries. The reported sounded like he was broadcasting a sporting event. The next morning I picked up the newspaper and it had its usual headline of how many homicides had occurred for the year. I felt like they were keeping a score on crime. I decided I didn’t want to raise my sons who were 8 and 5 in that city and moved to Springfield. I’ve been here since.

On your Genesis Project site, you recount a love/hate relationship with the Bible for many years. What do you think of the Bible today? What is different about the way you read it today from the way you read it before 1998?

It was actually a love/hate relationship with God. I was sexually molested by a member of the clergy when I was 12. By time I was 15 I was out of control. When I was 28 I went through a divorce. All of the anger I stuffed came to the surface and I directed it toward God. I’ve been working through that since. I started reading the Bible when I became a Christian in 1970. Even though I had anger issues, I never stopped reading the Word although I read it filtered—I mean I read Christian books that quoted the Bible rather than reading it direct for a period of time when I became anti-church. That was from 1998 to 2007. I’m now involved in a nondenominational church and I’m simply a Christian. More than you asked for, but you pushed a button.

I very much enjoyed reading your blog post about time. You talked about time and eternity, and you said you keep careful records of your time. What is the value of planning and documenting your time? Do you feel that your life has a current dimension in eternity?

I don’t actually document my time as on paper, but I spend very little time doing nothing. I know I have 24 hours a day and I’m to use it wisely. I’ve finally come to the realization that everything I do can be an act of worship because God is interested and involved in every part of my life even when I’m taking a shower or sleeping. I quit compartmentalizing God. I used to get a headache thinking about eternity—being alive a trillion years from now with no end—ever, until I realized there would be no time. God created time, but He doesn’t live in it. He sees everything in the present. Of course, I can’t really comprehend this, but I do understand he sees the beginning and the end of my life here and beyond. I believe my life here is a preparation of what I will be doing after my body dies. I believe I’m actually in eternity now as Scripture says I am in Christ and where He is—I am. As you can tell, I am somewhat verbose.

 You are very open in sharing your faith in Christ. Your faith has clearly led you to your work with offenders and addicts. How has your faith shaped your career in writing?

Scripture tells me that I’m to do my best at whatever I do—to do it as unto the Lord. I try to do this no matter what it is. Night of the Cossack is a very spiritual book. My grandfather was a Jew as am I. My novel is a book of faith and trust in God. Most of what I write, whether fiction of nonfiction involves God. In 1994 I came across two verses that changed my life regarding God’s will for me—Prov. 16:9 and 19:21. I leave it up to you and your readers to look them up. I walk between those two verses.

If I met you on a plane traveling from Springfield to St. Louis, what would you want me to remember from that encounter?

That you met a man of God and you could clearly see Jesus in me.

 

It was a privilege to meet Tom Blubaugh and get to know him better. His novel, Night of the Cossack is a compelling adventure about a teenager who is forced to grow up quickly. The main character, Nathan Hertzfield faces many life or death situations during his saga. Join Nathan on his exhilarating journey through parts of Russia and Europe during the early 1900’s. Don’t miss the adventure and suspense in the riveting story, Night of the Cossack.

Follow the links below to find Tom Blubaugh:

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.

Amazon Author page.

Amazon reviews.

ebook for Nook available at Barnes & Noble

Night of the Cossack Facebook author page. Be sure to like my page while you’re there please.

Personal Facebook page

Visit My Blog. Be sure to sign up as a follower.

Twitter @tomblubaugh 

Author’s Den. A great Author/Reader site.  You can join free.  Look me up and be sure to become a fan while you’re there.

Check me out on Goodreads.

Co-author of The Great Adventure published by Barbour Publishing. (out of print).

Genesis Project 

Jericho Commission, Inc. 

 

 

 

Book Review — The Book of Esther by Deborah Bateman

 

Scroll of Esther (Megillah)

Scroll of Esther (Megillah) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always loved the book of Esther since about seventh grade when our Sunday School quarterly had her picture on the cover. It was an exquisite, very oriental image, showing the moment she touched the scepter of the king. I later learned what a courageous moment that was, and it stayed with me. Deborah Bateman brings this amazing moment to life in her day by day Bible study of the book of Esther, as part of a thorough look at the whole book. Each day’s study is short enough to be completed at the beginning of a busy day, including her excellent comments, the text for study – very handy, because you don’t even need to have a Bible with you – and three or four thought questions. You have time for this Bible study.

I appreciated the fact that Deborah spread her study over the entire book. Some people would have thought it necessary to avoid the gruesome executions or the terrible battles at the end. I have read studies that simply ignore those truths. Deborah clearly accepts a basic truth: God preserved the whole Bible for us to study and grow. The hard parts are just as important as the easy parts. It is exciting to read about the parties and the fine dress and decorations, but bloody, vicious executions are challenging for twentieth century students. She handles the challenge with grace, and every student will be blessed by the way she covers the entire story.

Deborah demonstrates that you don’t need hours every day in order to study and grow in faith. You simply need to promise yourself to complete one study each day and then keep your promise. You can do this Bible study in less than a half hour each day, although you may find it so interesting that you will want to spend more time in prayer and thought. If you have not yet found a way to make time for Bible study every day, I recommend Deborah’s book.