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Posted on: May 3, 2013

Our Wyoming son, who’s been experimenting with cheese making, sent a text saying I Imageshould read a book titled “Goat Song.” He even looked online to make sure the book was available in our local library system. And it was. So, even though I didn’t have a whole lot of interest in reading about goats, I checked out the book—and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Brad Kessler is a great writer. I’m hoping to read one of his novels soon.

What interested me most in “Goat Song” was Kessler’s comparison of cheese making to book writing. “Tomme” in French means “volume” or “tome” as in “book,” and can also mean “a wheel or round of cheese.”

Kessler writes: “I like that my cheese is called a tome, because making a cheese is somewhat like making a book. Both take raw material from the world and transfigure it into art. Both are the products of rumination—animal and human. When you make a cheese you do a little work with the milk then wait and come back later and do some more, and wait again. It takes months to make a cheese. A book takes even longer. You can’t make either in one go. Time is the essential element. Time cures the imperfections, one hopes, in both.”

I’ve heard some writers, usually women, compare writing a book to birthing a baby. But that, in my opinion, is an inadequate comparison. When a woman is pregnant, all she has to do is take care of herself, and some don’t even do that, for a mere nine months. Yes, delivery can be challenging (I’ve been there, done that); however, following a few short hours of labor, out pops a beautiful baby.

In contrast, book writers labor for months, sometimes years. Complete, perfect books don’t just pop out of our heads. They’re pulled out word by word, inch by inch, like dragging a cow out of a tar pit. You pull. The cow twists and resists, and the tar sucks the frantic animal back down. Eventually, you dislodge the cow and begin scrubbing her hide.

In the same way, once writers drag words out of their heads and place them on paper, they must clean and polish those words. Then they let the manuscript rest a couple days—or weeks—or months before they edit and revise some more. Similarly, cheese makers scrape off mold—let the cheese rest—wash it with salt water—and then let it rest again. So, yes, creating quality cheeses and good books takes a long time.

I emphasize this point because in our day of easy publication via the Internet, many authors are cranking out books in a matter of days and weeks. Maybe someone more brilliant than I am can create something beautiful without pause for reflection and correction, but I hear there’s a lot of junk floating out there in cyberspace.

In “Goat Song,” Kessler wrote about the author Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk: “They made cheese at the Trappist monastery in rural Kentucky where Thomas Merton lived. Merton himself was not a cheese maker—he wrote books. The monastery’s abbot encouraged his bookmaking, and Merton wrote more than two dozen volumes of poetry, journals, and books of contemplation. While some monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani made volumes with milk, Merton filled his with verse. [But]He didn’t believe his particular craft was better than the other; they were both in the service of God.”

I think that philosophy is the key. No matter our occupation, whether it’s making books or cheese, teaching children to become good citizens or building a business, we must take time to do a good job and work “as unto the Lord.” The phrase “as unto the Lord” is found Colossians 3:23 in the King James Version of the Bible. The New International Version reads: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

One last quote from Kessler: “A book is like a key that fits into the tumbler of the soul. The two parts have to match in order for each to unlock. Then—click—a world opens.”

Our Wyoming son, who’s been experimenting with cheese

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Aside

Posted on: May 16, 2012

ONE DAY BLOG TOUR! 

MAY 17th!

Michael, book two in the Airel Saga, is live on Amazon TODAY ONLY for a discounted price!!

To promote Michael I’m hosting a contest where you can win a FREE copy of Airel and win a free Kindle Fire.

To take advantage of this awesome deal, head to Amazon and check out the eBook version of MICHAEL at its promotional price, then see below to enter the contest. Also, leave me a comment on this post. The blogger with the most comments will win the Kindle Fire! If I win, I’ll also get the chance to be part of a special giveaway in the next few months.

Praise for Michael

“Move over Twilight! Here comes Aaron Patterson!”
–Joshua Graham, bestselling author of Beyond Justice and Darkroom

“I was surprised by how much I really, really liked this book. I have not jumped on the whole “fallen angel” bandwagon, just as I didn’t jump on all of the vampire stories that came out after Twilight. This is not your typical fallen angel story. It is one that has left me breathlessly waiting for the next one in the series. Hurry up please!!!”
–Sandra Stiles

Description of Michael

Michael did the unthinkable to save Airel from death, but now he must live with the choices he has made–both good and evil. Tortured by his past and haunted by what he believes might be his future, Michael seeks redemption–but will the past prove to be too strong? How can he break free of it and be the man he longs to be for Airel? If only he had never…

Airel. Michael’s one true love. He had forced her to drink in new life only to find that old wounds and deep scars do not heal overnight. Can she truly forgive Michael, can she truly love him? And can he accept that forgiveness? Or is it all for nothing, and has he gone too far already? As the darkness of past choices closes in on them, chases them, intercepts them, coming at them from everywhere at once, how can their love possibly survive?

Aaron Patterson is the author of the best-selling WJA series, as well as two Digital Shorts: 19 and The Craigslist Killer. He was home-schooled and grew up in the west. Aaron loved to read as a small child and would often be found behind a book, reading one to three a day on average. This love drove him to want to write, but he never thought he had the talent. His wife Karissa prodded him to try it, and with this encouragement, he wrote Sweet Dreams, the first book in the WJA series, in 2008. Airel is his first teen series, and plans for more to come are already in the works. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his family, Soleil, Kale and Klayton. His daughter had an imaginary friend named She.

Chris White has an award for reading 750 books in one school year — from the 3rd grade. So yes, he’s more of a nerd than Aaron. Chris loves history, Sherlock Holmes, and anything that’s not virtual, like old motorcycles and mechanical typewriters. He also doesn’t get why we have these things called “smart phones” when all they do is make people dumber. Chris recently celebrated 10 years of marriage with his wife, April, and has two boys: Noah, age 8, and Jaden, age 3, who inspired the Great Jammy Adventure series; the OK-to-color-in picture books. Chris is working on a short story called The Marsburg Diary that will further explore the prologue to Airel, and he is finishing up his first novel, entitled K: phantasmagoria, due out in 2011. Chris has a major crush on Audrey Hepburn, who is now dead. His wife is okay with all of this.

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“Michael” Blog Tour Freebies Tomorrow!

Aside

Posted on: May 15, 2012

Today, I’m privileged to host guest author Nikki Arana on widgetwords. Nikki is an award-winning author of women’s fiction, essays, poetry, and magazine articles, whose work has been published in the United States and Canada. She’s won several national awards, including the American Christian Fiction Book of the Year for Women’s Fiction – twice, and the Beacon Award. Her novel, The Winds of Sonoma was named “One of the Top 20 Books of the Year” by Christianbook.com. You can visit her website here.

Outside of writing, Nikki, what are your greatest passions?

My greatest passion is helping persecuted Christians who are under the threat of death. I have a ministry called A Voice for the Persecuted that connects to them in a very personal way through avenues we’ve developed. We assess their needs and seek solutions tailored to their situation. Our goal is to provide all resources necessary to sustain life until a safe refuge can be found. It is all about developing resources. I’m trying to raise public awareness about this through my upcoming novel, The Next Target, which is scheduled for a June 1st release.

What’s your worst nightmare?

This is easy because I’m having it now. Being asked if I’d like to appear on national television. I’m pretty fluffy and the thought of being in a situation where I look at least 10 pounds heavier is truly a nightmare.

A national television appearance – very exciting! I hope it’s a great experience for you. Another question for you: What makes you laugh?

Of course there are lots of things, but one in particular is a cat named Channo. We had a persecuted Christian living with us and he got a cat. A free barn cat. The cat was part Siamese and part human. I’m sure of it. He did everything he saw us do. If we opened a cabinet. He would watch and then do it. If we got our medicine out of it. He would wait until we left the room then open it and knock the pills off the shelf to the counter. Really! He would hide around corners and when we passed by he’d leap out and grab our legs. Mean both front “arms” locked around our calves. Then tear down the hall and out of sight.  He was a four-legged human. He’d used his front paws like hands to eat. One day we watched him sit at his food bowl. And instead of crouching down to eat . . . he took his left paw and scooped up some food and put it in his mouth!! It was hysterical. We loved him so much. But he moved with his owner and helped him start his new life.

Do you write daily, with a set schedule? 

My life has been very difficult for the past two years. I am the only caregiver for my 90-year-old mother who has Alzheimer and my 94-year-old father, who is in heart and kidney failure. It is hard to set a schedule. I typically get up at about 4:30 AM to write, and I stop when I get called to help them in some way, or have to take care of my husband’s landscaping business, or go to the bank, etc. Then I return to my desk and work until about 10PM on my WIP, interviews, promotions…you get the idea.

But I am not complaining because this has been a wonderful time of intimacy with Christ. The pressure just makes me lean on Him more and He provides for me in extraordinary, miraculous ways. Just this past month, my mother had a massive stroke that left her unable to speak or use her right side. When she was in brain surgery to drain the fluid off, the surgeon saw a tumor and biopsied it. Two weeks later they called and told me it was cancer. I didn’t tell her or my father. I just couldn’t bear to add to their burdens. She was recovering use of her right side and beginning to speak. They were feeling hopeful. Last week the doctor did a second scan. I went to meet privately with him to find out how long she had to live. Before I went, I felt so overwhelmed and discouraged. How much longer do I have to struggle through the days to be strong for her? How much longer can I? I prayed just two words to the Lord before leaving the house, “Help me.”

When I got there, the doctor reviewed the scan . . . There is no tumor. There is no cancer. I will never forget the tremendous weight I felt fall from my shoulders. The surgeon said he can’t explain it. But there is no cancer there. And as I stood just looking at him, God whispered to me, “Your help is at hand.”

Wow! What a miracle, for your mom and for you. PTL! One more question: Have you ever written yourself into a corner? If so, how did you remedy the situation?

I can’t remember the specifics, but once in The Winds of Sonoma, and once in The Fragrance of Roses, I got stuck. It was like having writer’s block. I couldn’t think of anything to move the plot forward. I tried to figure something out for hours. I finally just took a break and read my Bible. After a short time I returned to my computer. I went back about 20 pages and read through the text leading up to the problem spot. And as I read, I realized I had missed a great opportunity that would improve the story. First the idea came, then as I looked back in the manuscript, I saw that everything I needed was already written in! It was as if I had been writing to create the plot twist from the beginning. That was the case both times I got stuck! It taught me something very important. For me at least, it isn’t writer’s block. I believe it is the Holy Spirit stopping me. trying to show me something that He wants me to do. Now, when I get stuck I immediately go back and review the chapters leading up to the problem. It works every time!

Anything else you’d like to say?

If God has called you to write the books of His heart, rest assured, He will prosper what He ordains. Face your writing future with excitement and anticipation for what He is about to do. Watch for the opportunities that are surely before you. My life experience has taught me that He never performs His will in the way I expect, and it is always a thousand times better than anything I imagined.

You can learn more about me and my books by visiting my website, or by following my new blog, Words for the Journey. If you would like to help raise awareness about persecuted Christians here in America, you can get the code to put a banner about The Next Target on your website, Facebook, or any place you think is appropriate, from the Media Kit on my website.

Thank you, Nikki. May God richly bless your writing and your wonderful ministry to persecuted Christians.

If you’d like to sample Nikki’s writing, she’s offering The Winds of Sonoma free on Kindle May 16 through May 20. Just click here.

Go to Nikki’s Facebook Author Page today through June 4 for a chance to win a free Kindle. And while you’re there, “like” her page for her.  😉

Nikki Arana: Wise Words, New Release, Free eBook, Kindle Giveaway


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  • Steve Lyles: looks good:) Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:41:06 +0000 To: tieguy1@hotmail.com
  • Renee Blare: What awesome stories, Becky. I can't wait to read them. :) Thanks for participating. Love ya! Nee
  • Hilarey: I guess I didn't realize that you were still involved in post prison ministry. Very cool. And yes--Winds of Wyoming is very unique that way. I've neve

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