Saturday, February 16, 2019

Stepping Out of the Boat

I'm in the middle of a three-day fast, leading up to a special corporate prayer meeting at my church this Sunday evening.  I'm being silent, reading, praying, journaling and waiting on God.

Since I feel like writing is something God is calling me to do, as an act of obedience, in a disciplined manner, I'm going to begin posting some of my journal thoughts this week around the idea of spiritual disciplines. 

Regular blogging, for me, takes discipline. So these posts will be a response to that call of God. They will be (somewhat) unedited and (somewhat) random, since stopping to plan and think would probably keep me from doing them at all.  (Discipline in writing is a challenge to me so I need to keep it simple at first!)

I'm scared. I've told you I'm going to do this and now I have to do it.  My lack of discipline in the past has resulted in a number of well-intentioned plans to blog that have petered out into nothing.  I may fail again.  But my strong impression, as I've been silently listening this week, is that this time I need to step out of the boat (as per Matthew 14:22-33) and so translate my faith and love for God into action--disciplined action.  So here goes.

Random thoughts from my journal on February 13, 2019:

It's a snowmaggedon day today, so I'm going to spend it reading and praying.

Reading a variety of things: Jeremiah first; then some escape reading of Joel Rosenberg and Randy Ingermanson; then some serious stuff by Dallas Willard.

Oh, and a little C.S. Lewis thrown in. I'm enjoying a book about C.S. Lewis called C.S. Lewis: Mere Christian.  (It's out of print. I stole a copy from our church library and it's so good I'm tempted to keep it.)

Thinking about the wayward Israelites Jeremiah is yelling at and wondering if we could be wayward and not know it. There are signs in the Old Testament that the Jews thought they were pleasing God, even though they were worshiping pagan idols. What does it actually mean to worship God? God said that worshipping Him meant following His ways, not theirs. He said their hearts were far from Him, so truly following Him obviously involves a heart thing. 

I think my heart is soft toward Him. Lots of tears when I think of how lovely He is. But is that just an emotional thing? Is it possible to have a soft heart but not be obedient? . . .because of laziness, selfishness, fear, or lack of faith that keeps us from stepping out in obedience? Is the soft feeling enough?

It can't be. Emotions come and go. If we have a soft heart toward Him we need to make sure it's a sign of obedience, not a superficial substitute for it.

It has to mean to walk in His ways. Walking is an action, not a feeling.

A challenging thought.

(We'll deal with the stealing books from the church library another time.)

Monday, February 4, 2019

The message in The Message

A new reader (and new friend!) recently gave Zinovy's Journey a generous 5-star review on Amazon, but in her
review she expressed concern that the Bible passages I quoted in the book were from a paraphrase, not a translation. She felt the gospel message would have been more powerful if it had been in a contemporary translation.
She was right to point out that The Message, by Eugene Peterson, is not a literal translation. Eugene Peterson did not take each word of the original language and translate it literally into an English word. Rather The Message is considered more of a "dynamic" rendering, which takes the overall meaning of a passage, in its context, and translates the whole idea into contemporary English.
Cynthia's point is well taken. It's good to read all translations of the Bible critically, checking for accuracy and watching for any doctrinal bias the translator might be influenced by. I use several different translations in my personal Bible study, and compare verses in their context. I've done that for over 50 years now, so I know many of the passages in the Bible pretty well. If I felt a particular rendering didn't sit right with the original translated message, alarm bells would go off in my brain.
Eugene Peterson's paraphrase has the opposite effect when I read it. Instead of alarm bells, the message in Eric's little red book sets off melodic bells in my heart! Peterson has a way of communicating clearly and accurately to contemporary English speakers what carefully transcribed translations tell us the documents say. The freshness of his rendering brings the message alive to me as I read it. That's why I chose to quote from that version of the Bible in the novel.
If you're interested in doing a comparative study of one of the biblical passages quoted in Zinovy's Journey, check out the scene that begins on page 427 (in the hard copy). Compare the passage in that scene from the first chapter of John in The Message with your favorite translation. See what you think of its accuracy.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son. Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
John 1:14 in The Message

For further reading on the topic of Bible paraphrases and translations, check out Tyndale's information on The Difference between Literal and Dynamic Translations of the Bible.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Rejected by Publishers Weekly! Hooray!

Or: How to properly read a rejection letter.
Dear Ginny,
Thanks for submitting your BookLife project (Zinovy's Journey) to be considered for a Publishers Weekly review. Despite the strength of your project, our editors have decided not to send it out for review.
We hope you won't be discouraged by this, and that you'll continue to take advantage of BookLife's articles, how-tos and self-evaluations to help make your project a success. We also hope you'll submit future projects for Publishers Weekly review consideration as well.


I love this letter!  I'm delighted with it!  Encouraged, even.

Here are three reasons:

1.  I got a response! 

Booklife is the Indie publishing review branch of PublishersWeekly, so it's a big thing that I've gotten any kind of attention from them at all. According to their website, they receive over a thousand books a month for review. Wow!  That's a lot.  Yet they've responded to this one.

Oh, all right, they probably respond to them all.  They pay somebody to send these e-mails.  But still, they've written to me, and they've even called me by my first name.  How sweet is that?  It's almost like we're friends!

2.  I got a compliment! 

"Despite the strength of your project. . ." 

What a great beginning for a rejection!  My project is strong. I mean, I knew that, right?  But it's good to have my expert opinion affirmed, by Publishers Weekly, no less. 

They noticed.  They took the trouble to point out to me that they noticed. They said something good about "the project."

3.  I got encouragement!

"We hope you won't be discouraged by this," they say.  They want me to "continue to take advantage of BookLife's articles, how-tos and self-evaluations. . ."

Of course, they want my "business." They don't want me to go away mad. But I can't help but read a bit of regret in this sentence. In fact, with very little imagination, I can convince myself that the person who rejected my manuscript was wishing they didn't have to. 

And, even more encouraging, they "hope [I'll] submit future projects for Publishers Weekly review consideration as well."  How about that! They're asking me to add more clutter to their pile of submissions.  As if 1000 is not enough for one month!

No matter that I don't have any more projects to submit. This is it. This is the one I have to promote for now, and though Publishers Weekly won't be reviewing it, others will.  Others have, in fact, reviewed this "project." Readers have said good things about the story, and readers are, after all, my target market.

So how do I look at this rejection letter?  With great optimism.  Zinovy's Journey may not be at the top of Publishers Weekly's list, but that doesn't mean it's not on other lists.  As long as the story is on someone's reading list, I'm satisfied. 

There's more than one way to read a rejection letter.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Looking for a Great Escape Read? Check This One Out

Some scenes in this book contain violence, strong language, and religious ideas.

Zinovy Efimovich KoZlov is a self-made man who’s spent the last thirty years climbing the ladder of Russian military success, one rung at a time. An FSB veteran, Air Force fighter pilot, member of the elite Special Security Service, and now a cosmonaut on the global regime’s new International Space Station, he should be at the peak of his career. But Zinovy has enemies whose political power extends into space, and those enemies are determined to kill him.

Then the earth is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust and everything changes.


Gripping! Absorbing!  
Glynda Francis, pre-pub reviewer

Excellent! Excellent! I have trouble putting it down.  
Ruth Oltmann

I absolutely love it. It is such a unique story, very well written and fun to read. It was so different from anything else I have read.  
Sue Shope   

Zinovy's Journey offers a little bit of just about everything: action, intrigue, suspense, a spacewalk, relationships, revenge, philosophy, end times, a whole new world, and surprises at every turn.
Janet Sketchley, author of Heaven's Prey and Secrets and Lies

Millennium Journeys Press
ISBN 978-0-9877520-0-0


GINNY JAQUES is a high school teacher, a technical editor and a writer. She lives with her husband, Dennis, in British Columbia, Canada. Ginny and Dennis have three married children and eight grandchildren.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night"**

I've been meaning to do a post about first lines of novels for a while now.  I had successfully procrastinated until today, when, while browsing through my Facebook messages--one of the methods of writing-procrastinating that normally works well for me--I ran across an intriguing challenge by one of my Facebook "friends."

Shameless Name Dropping

Ahem:  I am a Facebook friend of Jerry Jenkins, author of the Left Behind series of books about the end of the world as we know it, which has sold a gazillion copies and made him a very rich man. 

Our friendship happened this way:  I managed to get on his "friend" list early in his Facebook career, just before he hit the cutoff mark of 1000.

Anyway, Jerry Jenkins has the distracting habit of posting a challenging question every day on Facebook that requires a response.  Most of them I manage to ignore, but this one intrigued me. 

He said:  Grab the book closest to you and share the author's name and the first line. 

He had me from the words, "first line."

Out of the first 65 comments in response to his challenge I found seven I think are great first-liners.  One is from a book I've read.  Two are from ones I haven't read yet by authors I already know and like.  And four are one-liners I wish I'd written, from books I now want to read.

How Do These Grab You?

"We only have a few hours, so listen carefully."
Rick Riordan.  The Red Pyramid  

"Jesus Christ was executed at a place so public that the sign explaining his death had to be printed in three languages, at a crossroads so well traveled that most of the people who saw him tortured were merely passing by."
Stephen Mansfield.  Killing Jesus

"My parents absolutely ruined me."

"Before He called me forth from the grave, Jesus wept."
Bodie & Brock Thoene.  When Jesus Wept
"Prayer is the divine enigma--that marvelous mystery hidden behind the cloud of God's omnipotence."

"It was mid afternoon in New Babylon, and David Hassad was frantic."
Jerry Jenkins & Tim LaHaye.  The Mark

"What if I said, 'Stop praying?'"
Francis Chan.  Crazy Love

Sigh :-(

More books to add to the stack by my bedside.  Yes, this picture is of the actual stack.  I'm pretty sure I won't get through them all before I die but I'll work my way down the pile, one by one.  It will be good for my writing-procrastination goal, at least.

What are your favorite first lines?  I'm not totally against adding to the pile.

** The title of this post is the most famous first line of all time that begins A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle