Cooking now, then and way before then.

cooking, assembling spices

Cooking is now quite a challenge for me. Oxygen and flames don’t mix. This means being organized. Assemble everything beforehand, turn off the oxygen and light the gas. That is what I was doing earlier this week, a bit miffed that I could no longer multi-task and continue my preparations while the gas burner was lit.

As I was working, I was thinking.

Cooking a curry

Now – I buy ground spices. (I used to have a small grinder, but now I buy the spices.)

Then – In my mother’s day, I don’t remember eating a curry, but if curry flavoring was needed, this is what was on option.

Way before then – I doubt the Biblical cooks made curries, but they certainly made spicy meals. 

spices for cooking curry

They would have had to walk to the market, buy what they wanted, bring it home and grind it… probably with a hand mill. Spices were expensive so only a small quantity at a time would be bought.

Cooking Then

Growing up in the cold climate of Scotland, my meals as a child were starchy. Bread, bread rolls (they were a treat) and potato soup. (It was made with root vegetables, primarily potatoes.)

(Now, if I am able to keep the oxygen off, there are a lot more options.)

Cooking way before then

I did a great deal of research about this so that my books were as accurate as possible. Primarily, people of the New Testament ate vegetables, usually cooked in a stew, and often flavored with spices.

Most people probably ate meat only a few times a year, generally when animals were slaughtered for religious sacrifices, weddings or other special family celebrations or visits.

(In Hold the Faith, the celebratory meal after Benjamin’s baptism was chicken. What was left over was added to the next day’s vegetable stew.)

Cleaning and preparing the vegetables.

They were washed, but homes back then did not have indoor taps. Water had to be fetched from a well, so people would have been ‘water-wise.’

When vegetables were cleaned, they were cut, or chopped and put in a clay pot. Meals were generally cooked in clay pots in either clay ovens, or ovens made from earth. The most common way of cooking food was by boiling.

ancient cooking pot

Cooking was time consuming

Bread was a staple food.

It took possibly 2-3 hours of hard labor every day to make enough to feed a family with five. (In Hold the Faith there were six adults living in the home.)

Once the dough was made, it was cooked in different ways. One way was to cook it on the hot stones of a cooking fire.  Then there was the ‘jar’ oven.’ This was a huge clay pot that was smaller at the opening in the top; a fire was started on the inside to get it hot, and the dough was put against the outer part to cook. The pit-oven was a pottery lined hole in the ground that was heated with a fire that was put aside, and the dough was baked on top of the hot clay.

cooking bread in jar oven

Cooking now

So, by the time I pondered all of this, I realized how blessed I am. I have a gas cooker, a refrigerator and a freezer. I also have a microwave.

All of these, plus a telephone (even a land-line one) would have been very useful to warn of unexpected guests being brought home. (Again, as happened in Hold the Faith, and other books in the series.)

More musings

Susan

Hold the Faith is the first in a series of five Christian, historical fiction novels. They are set in the late 1st century AD and are followed by four novellas, (only three finished.) The novellas follow the lives of some of the ‘side’ characters.

I am asking people to buy, or recommend these books as I am currently fundraising for a Portable Oxygen Concentrator. Please ignore the Amazon review status. Many of my reviews have fallen victim to the unknown bot that Amazon uses to remove what they consider reviews from friends, family, or purchased reviews. Some people who have told me their reviews have been removed, I have never met, nor am I likely to meet them. Still, I think even Amazon does not know how this algorithm of theirs works.

Link to the fund-raising page, so that you may read about my current setup and my goal.

Thank you.

Fund-raising page for POC

Trials are par for the course

Trials come in relationships

Par for the course… why? If we are trying to live by faith why do we have trials?  

On this subject, I came across a video clip on the site of someone who followed my older blog. It was an interesting song. ‘Before the morning’ (I will link to the clip at the end.)

It begins with questions about why ‘you’ are suffering if there is a loving God Who cares. Questions like this are quite common.

rose garden

Remember the old song “I never promised you a rose garden’? Well God does not promise us a life without pain and trials if we accept the sacrifice His Son made for us.

Trials never end – while we are alive.

As it was in the beginning of our faith…

  • In Hold the Faith, book one of the Apostle John series, Benjamin faced a faith-testing trial. Ours trials are different to those of the fictional characters, but some of ours are ‘faith-testing’ too.
  • In The Light of Truth, book three, I wrote about the trials of a background character who has moved to the foreground. Then someone who left in book two, Grow in Grace, made a re-entry in this third book.
    Here things are moving toward another arrest of the Apostle John.
  • In book four, Keep the Flame, one of my favorite characters dies.
  • Book 5, Hell Shall Not Prevail, completes the series, and it was not the end of trials.

The books are fiction but the trials and challenges are similar to those we face.

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

So why am I talking about these books? Why mention the song? Because, although my book series is fiction, my primary resource book has been the Bible, and in writing this series I have learnt a great deal about why things happen.

Take for example Jesus’ words...

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Many people are told that because Jesus said “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’, that He has done it all for us. Not so.

Trials did not stop with Jesus’ resurrection

Look at the lives of those first disciples… only John survived into old age. The others, according to legend, were all martyred. Also, according to legend, John was put in boiling oil. That does not sound like ‘Jesus did it all’ to me.

And what about these scriptures...

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
James 1:2

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
1Peter 1:6

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

These writers, who were Apostles, make it clear that we will have trials, and as we plod through them, our faith and trust in our Saviour grows.

Have you read this one?

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1: 3, 4

The trust in His Father that Jesus had to exercise must have been enormous, and another scripture says that He learned obedience through the things He suffered. (Heb 5: 8)

Jesus was schemed against all throughout His ministry. He must have been one of the loneliest, most lied about, most misunderstood person who ever lived. Not to mention the most cruelly punished. He was scourged, mocked and crucified.

plotting against Jesus

Our trials

never leave you quote

Although what Jesus and the early Christians went through makes what we go through seem ‘mild’ by comparison, our trials are horrendous to us.

Sometimes all we can do is ask God for help…

and try to recognise the help when it is given.

You might enjoy this song if you are going through a painful trial…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=New8i_eX3x8

Just thinking again,

Susan

Piracy Three Ways

piracy flag, image of skull and crossbones on flag

What is piracy?
Anything from piracy on the seas to piracy of books, records, movies.

Piracy on the Seas

SINGAPORE — The Ai Maru steamed alone under night skies on June 14 when a speedboat slipped in from the darkness and overtook the tanker about 30 miles off the coast of Malaysia. At 9:15 p.m., seven men with handguns and knives clambered up over the side, smashed through doors, tied up crew members at gunpoint and bashed the Ai Maru’s communications equipment.

The attackers stripped the 13 crew members of their personal belongings, locked them in a room and spent the next hours getting to the real work at hand: stealing the cargo. A second tanker, this one piloted by more pirates, pulled alongside. The maritime robbers siphoned a total of 620 metric tons of marine gas oil from Ai Maru to their own ship.

https://www.cnbc.com/2014/09/15/worlds-most-pirated-waters.html

Dictionary.com defines a different kind of piracy as…

“The unauthorized reproduction or use of a copyrighted book, recording, television program, patented invention, trademarked product, etc.”

If we are honest… we will admit that at some time in our lives most of us have been guilty of this kind of piracy.

Common reasons I have heard for burning, copying for a friend, or lending a book are…

“Well, that company makes millions anyway.”

Yes, usually that company does – but it is still theft. The big company can write off these debts, but the recording artist or author only receives a small portion of the price – he or she is the one most hurt by this kind of piracy.

The shipping company in the first example probably was insured, might have had to pay a larger premium, but people in the second category have no such protection. A royalty payment is lost.

There is another kind of piracy…

When piracy is a scam.

piracy. Unauthorised download offered

Every now and again I am informed of Hold the Faith being available free in any digital format. This was the case a few days ago – I decided to check it out. 

I am sharing this – not because of a huge loss, but because of my discovery of the  enormity of the scam.

I know I have excellent antivirus and security software, so I clicked on each of the buttons in turn.

Each button went to a different site – all had the same sign up free page. So, I did an online search.

GoMediaz, PlayJoltz, and Pepplay were the three sites, each linked to one of the buttons. Google listed each of these, and a page (maybe more) of scam warnings.

It saddened me to read of how many people who had signed up for a free account, and had to provide a credit card number, found their card had regular deductions from the company although no purchase had been made.

piracy, Google alert of unauthorised download
Note: This is an old version of Hold the Faith

All three had identical ‘sign-up’ forms…

reply from piracy company

But I did not want to sign up for anything. I wanted a contact address.

Eventually, I did find addresses for two of them.

I found email addresses for two of the ‘companies’ and sent a short email asking them to remove my book from their database.

Identical email replies were received…

 

After hearing comments from other authors in some groups I am a member of I decided to write this blog – as a warning to save some from being scammed.

In order to take screenshots I found the ‘alert’ and clicked on the buttons again.

To my surprise, they now linked to another set of three websites.

See the images below.

piracy, warning by a scammed user
Scam alert

The extent of the piracy/scamming astounds me.

I decided to contact Google and ask why the addresses from the same alert now led to a different set of websites. (All, like the first three – scammers.)

It was hard to obtain an email address for Google, and I didn’t want an American phone number. Apart from the cost, it is night time there when I am writing this.

I found a link to an Australian Google address.

It was blocked by my antivirus software.

When I was a computer trainer, if I had a class of newbie users, I used to take examples of scam emails from various banks, PayPal, and credit unions to show the class how to identify the scam mails, show them the real sites, as well as tell them what to do.

“Is it safe to go online?” some might bemoan.

A    Only if you keep your wits about you.

And remember the old saying… ‘If it Sounds Too Good to Be True, it Probably Is.’

With these free sites – who offer books, music, movies… always remember that not everything is as it seems.

Sadly, it seems to be ‘human nature’ to want something for nothing. For hundreds of people that desire ended up costing them a great deal of money as well as frustration.

I have written this post to raise awareness and so that some, perhaps you, might be spared from these traps.

Troubled by the piracy,

Susan

piracy cartoon image

What is the best book review?

book and flowers, book review blog

What is the best book review? – An honest one that a reader took the time to write.

As authors and avid readers know, book reviews are important!

I read what others have said before making up my mind about a book.

Blurbs, at least nowadays, are designed to be more of ‘teasers’ than an overview of the story.

What is a book review?

e-reader image for review blog

Quite simply – it is your opinion of something you have read.

Some visibly squirm when ‘book review’ is mentioned. May I say again? A book review is your OPINION of something you have read, be it good or bad.

Some people write a synopsis of the story, or a critique, but a review can be one line long.

Where do you write book reviews?

Where you bought it from
(Free counts as verified on Amazon.)
Verified is important to Amazon on the latest purge.

Unverified reviews and ARC reviews are being culled.

This is not necessarily fair because an author might be trying to increase reviews on Amazon – which is where many people look – other than Goodreads.

However, the reader might have bought the book at an author event or from another retailer.

Amazon declining some book reviews

In another attempt to rid their site from ‘fake’ reviews anything that raises ‘ a warning flag’ to Amazon and a book review is refused.

Someone recently reported that a review had been refused because of ‘unusual activity’ about a book. The author had been advertising the book at an author event and a number of people who bought, read and liked the book decided to review it, around the same time.

The author was understandably upset.

Warning:

From a member of a Facebook group…

“Guys, make sure your FB settings are all set to private or you might run into trouble. Amazon won’t let you post reviews if they think you are affiliated with the author! Do not link your Amazon account with Facebook, they’ll know instantly & might block you from reviewing anything!

And when posting in groups, check settings as well.”

A couple of recent book reviews of Hold the Faith

Hold the Faith by Susan M B Preston, cover image

If you’re an atheist, you probably would want to avoid reading it. But you’re missing out on something that is a well-written piece of historical fiction. The author has taken great pains with her research into the times. Maybe it’s one-sided. But many works are, and each has a right in our society – whether we like it or not.

It covers a time when Christianity was still a fledgling cult. When compared to known cults of modern times, it reflects how their members struggled against the authorities and public opinion at the time. For that, I found a great reflective insight into how people act and react to each other, how their faith and beliefs are challenged, how family and friends can react to someone for what they think.

If you’re a Christian, you will love this, and I recommend it. If you’re a non-believer, that’s fine too. I completed reading this as a non-believer, a free-thinker, and I am far from converting myself (or others)… so put your fears aside, open the book, and I believe you could enjoy it as I did.

What a lovely surprise this book was! I started thinking it may be heavy on religion, but it’s more historical than anything else, a really good insight into what living a Christian life would have been like. I’d definitely read more if there was another.

You can find both of these – and others on Amazon.com

Hold the Faith reviews

But a book review can be one line… like this

“Love this book.”

Along with a five-star rating it says a lot with a few words.

Book reviews are…

  • Informative –to future readers.
  • Encouraging – to authors

In this world there is a lack of encouragement. So many people are busy, struggling, or time-poor.

bouquet for book reviewers

With this in mind – I would like to thank everyone who has written a review of any of my books! I appreciate that you have taken the time to write a book review.

And yes… I DO write reviews. I know how much work goes into researching, planning, writing, then checking multiple times before sending the manuscript to beta-readers then for editing. After that comes fixing anything they found that needs alteration.

Just thinking,

Susan

P.S. If you want some review hints I have a free PDF cheat sheet.

You can grab it here
Downloading does NOT add you to a mailing list.
If you want to join my VIP Readers and receive the monthly newsletter etc you can fill in any of the sign-up forms on this website, or go to the
VIP Readers’ page.

What was the Significance of a Betrothal?

Sunrise, Princeton Circle, WA

A long time ago when I was young, in school I read the story in the Bible of Mary and Joseph going off to be counted in the census. I puzzled over “…to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”

Betrothed I understood to mean ‘engaged’ to be married. The teacher did not care to explain it. Since then, well, comparatively recently, I discovered the significance of what this meant.

Joseph, with his betrothed wife, Mary
Hold the Faith cover
Covers of books in the Apostle John series with awards

When I was researching for Hold the Faith, which I thought would be one book but turned into five, I needed to find out what betrothal entails.

One of the people in the book was about to become betrothed. What I found out explained such a lot, and even more about commitment to Christ. (The account of the full betrothal was moved, but the understanding helped in the five books in the series and in the free 1st novella.)

Betrothal in the Bible

Probably the most common way is for the fathers – the groom’s and the bride’s fathers agree when their children are young. Well, more accurately when the girl is young, because men did not seem to be considered ‘ready’ for the responsibility of marriage until they were older.

The agreement between the fathers could have been as soon as the girl was born. Some betrothals were part of business ‘deals’ between fathers.
The ‘formal’ betrothal was not held until the girl ‘showed signs’ i.e. started menstruating. Heirs were necessary.

Contrary to the beliefs of some ‘women’s rights’ groups, a girl was not generally forced into marriage. (Although in one instance in one of the books, pressure was exerted on the girl to agree.) It was necessary for the woman to agree in my story.

The Betrothal Ceremony

Several variations of this ceremony were researched, but the simplest one was what I used.

In front of the father (or the mother if the father was dead) and/or in front of witnesses, the groom offered a cup of wine to the bride. He asked her if she would drink of his cup. In this way he was asking her to share his life.

Sometimes I added the words, for clarity. If she drank from his cup, she was accepting the offer to share his life, marriage to him.

pottery cup, betrothal cup

Betrothal was binding. It was considered a marriage. (Which is why Mary was sometimes referred to as Joseph’s wife.)

The only way to end a betrothal, other than by marriage was divorce.

Matthew 1:19 (NIV) Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Barnes notes says…
The law of Moses gave the husband the power of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1. It was customary in a bill of divorce to specify the causes for which the divorce was made, and witnesses were also present to testify to the divorce. But in this case, it seems, Joseph resolved to put her away without specifying the cause; for he was not willing to make her a public example.

Although the betrothal was as binding as marriage it was not consummated.

The bridegroom went to ‘prepare a place’ – it may have been an extension to his parents’ home, or he may have wanted to build a home.

The bride ‘made herself ready.’

There were no stores where she could buy a dress for her wedding, or the linen for the household she would be forming. She had to sew everything.

She purchased the material – probably at a market stall.

sewing by hand

She brought it home and sewed it, – by hand. There were no sewing machines.

For that matter… no electricity either.

When the bridegroom had prepared a home for his wife, he returned to claim his wife and take her to her home with him.

This is a significantly ‘potted’ version of  a betrothal, but if you are a Bible believer, perhaps you have noticed the significance.

Christ said – And since I’m going away to prepare a place for you, I’ll come back again and welcome you into my presence, so that you may be where I am. John 14: 3 (ISV)

His bride was making herself ready while waiting…

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Rev 19: 7 (NIV)

So the entire betrothal analogy has great significance for Christians, but for many the meaning is lost.

In the ‘throw-away’ society of the world we live in, not even marriage is binding, so – sadly, much of the significance is lost.

Perhaps though, this will help you understand something that is not often talked about in our time.

I hope so,

Susan

Gentle Jesus

Other than in the children’s hymn does the Bible mention anything about Jesus being gentle?

Isaiah prophesied of him –

A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
Isa 42:3 (ESV)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.
Ps 34: 18 (ESV)

These suggest someone considerate of those who are hurt, damaged, and/or ‘broken.’

Gentle

According to dictionary.com an obsolete meaning of ‘meek’ is gentle, kind. Nowadays it is sometimes seen as synonymous with ‘weak’.

Strong’s 4239 says the Greek word from which the English translation is derived is ‘praus’

HELPS Word-studies says this… “This difficult-to-translate root (pra-) means more than “meek.” Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.

[The English term “meek” often lacks this blend – i.e. of gentleness (reserveand strength.]”

I remember when in Bible college this subject was discussed the lecturer explaining it was ‘power under control’ – that was a long time ago and I might not have quoted it as he did, but that is the general idea. Jesus had the power, He chose not to exercise it.

One of the synonyms of meek is ‘docile’ – which means ‘easily managed or tractable – easily shaped.’

Perhaps that is why some encourage us to see the helpless Babe in a manager.

You will not find Him there.

Nor will you find Him in the Christmas tree. (That is pagan anyway.)

Gentle Jesus, a manger setting

Where will you find Jesus?

In the Bible. Bilble, open

Some of His comments were far from gentle

Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
(Matt 10:34).

Some of His actions were far from gentle

Two times He ‘cleansed’ the Temple

Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple is described in John 2:11–12 as having occurred just after Jesus’ first miracle, the turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. John makes it clear that it was “after this” that He went to Capernaum, where He “stayed for a few days.” Then in the next verse (verse 13), John tells us that the “Passover of the Jews was at hand” (NKJV). These verses trace Jesus’ movements over a short period of time from Cana in Galilee to Capernaum and eventually to Jerusalem for the Passover. This is the first of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple.

The second cleansing of the temple occurred just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem the last week of His life. This second cleansing is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke but not in John. There are differences in the two events, aside from their being nearly three years apart. In the first cleansing, temple officials confronted Jesus immediately (John 2:18), whereas in the second cleansing, the chief priests and scribes confronted Him the following day (Matthew 21:17–23). In the first event, Jesus made a whip of cords with which to drive out the sellers, but there is no mention of a whip in the second cleansing. So there are two recorded occasions when Jesus cleansed the temple—the first time at the beginning of His public ministry, and the second time just after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem shortly before He was crucified.
https://www.gotquestions.org/temple-cleanse.html

Hold the Faith, cover

This is not the only place these instances are mentioned, but it is much simpler than the sources I used some years back when researching for Hold the Faith.

Jesus in the Gospels is the Jesus of Revelation

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Revelation 5: 5

And with the opening of the scroll comes the ‘plagues’ (bowls), then the trumpets, and ultimately the woes.

Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the One who unleashes all these things on the world.

Jesus is straight, true and faithful. Yes, he punishes… those who have had many ‘chances’ and not chosen His way. But Jesus is also the One who said…

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me…
Matt 19: 14 (ESV)

Jesus knew when to be firm, and He knew when to be gentle. But He is not a helpless Babe in a manger. He grew up, lived a life that we are to imitate (as best we can) and see Him as the multi-faceted Man He was.

Just thinking

Christian persecution

Coliseum, Rome

In most Western countries we are fairly free of Christian persecution and this is the theme I am writing to, here.

Where did this thought start?

I have been asked many times, “What are your books about?”

Basically, they are about life in the late first century AD – in many ways not so different from today, except for all our modern inventions. So, I decided to look for the dominant theme in each book. I did not plan ‘themes’ when writing– the characters found themselves in situations, much as we experience today.

Hold the Faith, cover

In Hold the Faith (book 1 in the series) Benjamin, brought up in the faith, discovers he cannot rely on his parents’ faith and decides to seek baptism. Adult baptism was the practice at the time.
(Remember, the Apostle John Series is ‘story-telling’ not evangelizing.)

Persecution in Hold the Faith

Excerpt from Hold the Faith, when Benjamin and some other young men attended a ‘class’ on baptism, they were warned.

“Looking at each young man, all about the same age, he [Joshua] repeated, “Mature decisions. You need to be able to understand the seriousness of the commitment you are asking to make. Could you die for your faith? It is something you must consider. If you are taken by the Romans on suspicion of being a Christian as they call us, and order you to make the offering of incense to the emperor and proclaim him as god what will you do?”

“But we know that is wrong now…” interjected Stephen.

“Yes, I know all of you have been taught well by your families, or you would not be here. The consequences are about to be different for you than they have been for brethren for some years. If you refuse, it is no longer only prison you will face… or if the governor is kind, exile. No, if you refuse when this new governor arrives, you will go from prison to the arena to face lions.” He paused to allow his words to sink in.

Although they did not speak, their thoughts were similar. It was one thing to be chased by a mob and murdered as their relatives had been, or to be run through by the sword of an impatient Roman soldier, but to be imprisoned with weeks or months to think about walking into the arena to face lions…”

Joshua watched them carefully. Satisfied that they were facing possibilities, he suggested that they meditate on that during the coming week and if they wanted to continue, come back for another preparation lesson.”

One reviewer of Hold the Faith wrote,
“I found myself thinking about my own faith in Jesus Christ. What sacrifices would I make? Would I be strong enough in my faith to stand before persecution?”

Along a similar line, another person said,
“It really makes you think deeply about the level of Christian commitment in the tense and troubling times of the first century church and wonder if it would be matched should we ever face similar circumstances.”

Have we Christians ‘gone soft?’ Would we compromise the faith we profess?

 People who ask similar questions to those mentioned in the quotations above are aware of the potential cost of professing the name of Jesus Christ as Savior.

Persecution today

Almost unreported are the many cases of persecution for holding the Christian faith.

Like many other Christians, I was vaguely aware that in some countries Christians are persecuted. When deciding to check it out – I was staggered by the scale of persecution.

Christianity Today reports that there are fifty countries in the world where it is hardest to be Christian. 

http://bit.ly/2wcakwP

Compelling Truth, on the subject of missionaries, reports

“Missionaries face danger, as well, since most places in the world are not welcoming to Christianity. Missionaries can get ignored in Denmark and killed in India. As Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:16-18). Paul testified to the truth of the hardships in Romans 8:36 when he quoted, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
https://www.compellingtruth.org/Christian-missionary.html

So, I guess, for these people – compromising what they believe is not an option. Not only missionaries but ordinary believers are kidnapped, raped, and/or murdered. Space does not permit me to list all the instances but you will find pages and pages of instances of the cost of Christian beliefs.
https://goo.gl/nNwrGf

As it was at the start of the Christian faith, so it continues. King Solomon was correct when he wrote
‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1: 9

Persecution of Christians is increasing

(But to report on the reasons given would be to target a group, not all of whom agree with what is being done.)

As I discovered writing Hold the Faith, and the other books in the series, Christianity was not called the ‘Way’ for nothing. It truly was a way of life for the believers, persecutions and all.

Is it for us?

Susan

The eBook version of Hold the Faith is free on both Amazon and Smashwords.

If you have a Kindle click HERE  to download from Amazon

For other eBook formats, or if you prefer Smashwords, click HERE

 

Readers’ Favorite Award Ceremony, 2017

The Readers’ Favorite Award Ceremony began, on time, at 7 pm, Saturday 18th of November. The ‘featured image’ shows the stage before the start. Basically, it looks the same as last year… the difference being it says 2017 on this year’s banner whereas (to state the obvious) last year’s banner said 2016

Some of us met on Friday morning at the Readers’ Favorite Booth at the Miami Book Fair.

Readers' Favorite Award winners

Readers' Favorite Award Ceremony

It is an awesome feeling to be in a room brimming with talent. There is a buzz in the air as authors, their guest/partner, the Press and the VIPs mingle before the start. It is a time when authors who have been here previously, greet other repeat award-winners.

It is also a time to meet and talk with first-time winners.

Did you see that hilarious Facebook Live Interview by Jo Dibblee?

I met her last year, bought her book – and reviewed it – also in the backseat is Brenda Hammon, first time award winner.

https://www.facebook.com/100001230672256/videos/1645226162195057/

We all have stories...

Not only the ones we write about. There are struggles, there are disappointments and hurts. Conversely there are also joys.

Authors encourage each other, some of us write to each other.

All of us, have a ‘hall of fame’

…People who have helped and encouraged us on the way. Writing a book is a huge investment in time and resources and although the writing part is solitary, it is not done in isolation.

I have a hall of fame – support of many people. Most know who they are… don’t you.

However, with the physical production of the books in the Apostle John Series, there are some team helpers.

There are many others who have encouraged me, supported me and kept in touch with me when I have felt isolated. Although unnamed here, I thank God for each and every one of you.

Readers...

Then there are the folks, most of whom I will never meet… readers! Without you where would any author be?

Whether you read on an electronic device, or prefer to hold a printed book – thank you!

And a special mention to those readers who leave reviews so that other readers know what you think of the book.

So, the Readers’ Favorite Award Ceremony is over for 2017. I attended because of all of you, and your support.

Take a bow – you are special.

Where you will find my books…

Hold the Faith – Readers’ Favorite Award winner. 2016
1st in series. Free in eBook format.
http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/hold-the-faith/

Scroll down, click Buy on Amazon – and you will find it is free!

Grow in Grace – 2nd in series, not entered for award.
http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/grow-in-grace/

The Light of Truth – 3rd in series. Award from IAN
http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/the-light-of-truth/

Keep the Flame – Readers’ Favorite Award winner 2017. 
4th in series
http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/keep-the-flame/

Hell Shall Not Prevail – 5th and final in series. eBook due for release in December 2017. Print version, next year. Available for pre-order as an eBook.
http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/hell-shall-not-prevail/

To save you searching through Amazon’s database all books in the series are linked directly to their page on Amazon.
Preview the book, or buy the book by scrolling down and clicking the appropriate link.

 

 

The official photographs will be available in a couple of weeks. Till then, here is a peep at one of me with Mark, a judge and James, president.

You could be a winner next year...

Click the image above, and start your journey to a Readers’ Favorite Award!

Till next time, take care

Susan

The Bridegroom Comes

sky for bridegroom comes blog

Following a recent post where the ten virgins were mentioned, the Bridegroom came and they were not ready.

The Bridegroom comes and the virgins are not all ready
10 virgins when the bridegroom came

This is an analogy the people of the time would have understood far more easily than we do. It is based on a custom of the time.

After a betrothal was arranged the man and woman were considered married but the marriage was not consummated.

The only way to end a betrothal was by a divorce.

By the way, this knowledge answered a puzzlement of my young years when reading of Mary and Joseph.
I had not understood that betrothal was as binding as marriage itself.

After the betrothal the groom went to prepare a home for his bride. In some cases, it was a room he built on – added to – the family home. While the groom was preparing a home for his bride, she was making herself ready.

There were no sewing machines then, no dress shops where she could buy a gown to wear when her husband came to claim her and take her to the home he had prepared. There were no department stores where she could buy bedlinen or any of the furnishings needed. She sewed everything herself. This was her part of being ready for the bridegroom.

A date for the final part of the marriage, the time when she would be claimed from her family, was not arranged. Generally, it was approximately a year after, sometimes sooner depending upon what had been arranged in the marriage contract agreed before the formal betrothal took place.

According to my research into the period, the friend of the groom was the one who checked up to see how arrangements were progressing, and to ensure the bride was making herself ready. He was the one who gave warning to the family that the bridegroom would come in the next few days.

In those days it was usually something that happened at night, possibly because of the work hours.

Here is a possible reason why the ten virgins… or however many attendants the bride had, were to be ready to light the last part of the way to where the bride would wait.

“Behold the bridegroom comes!”

This was the signal that it was time for the virgins to take their lamps and run to light the way.

Image is of the Negev in Israel.

Imagine, only starlight… only moonlight – depending on the phase of the moon. If it was cloudy… neither.

There were no street lamp Is, no electricity in fact. Only oil lamps.

Of course, there is an analogy. Christ is the Bridegroom, His church, the Bride and He has gone to prepare a place.

I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14: 2 b

In researching for Hold the Faith… which became the Apostle John series, all these customs of the time revealed the spiritual meaning that was then applied to them in the parables. In fact, understanding the customs of the times made the gospels a lot more meaningful.

I must admit that when writing the series I often wished for even a landline telephone, so that Naomi had warning of ‘surprise’ guests.

A modern cooking stove would have made life easier, too.

Guess, thinking about what they needed to do, as well as the threats they faced, makes us appreciate what we have… or it should do.

Till next time,

Susan

P.S.

The cover is not updated yet, but The Light of Truth (book 3 in the series)  has won a Finalist Award in the Independent Authors’ Network Book of the Year Awards.

Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished… but

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

As often happens a minor waking in the night, becomes the end of sleeping.

Why?

Because my brain wakes up and clicks into gear.

Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished - but...

at four am it occurred to me there were more stories waiting to be told.

Although Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished, not edited yet, but finished… I could think of three ‘novella’ type stories rising out of this last book in the Apostle John Series.

Therefore, rather than start the new series (on a different subject) just yet, I am thinking of picking up the stories of three of the characters and giving them a life beyond the final book in the Apostle John series.

Although I did not like ALL of the characters… 

  • Each served a purpose
  • Each was necessary
  • I ‘lived in the skin’ of each of them for a while.

 

Hell Shall Not Prevail cover option 1

I know the possibilities of their lives after Hell Shall Not Prevail. 

However, their lives went in different directions and it was not possible to continue this in Hell Shall Not Prevail.

 

Look out for more in the Apostle John series

So, look out for news on these novellas…

  1. Esther’s story – which involves some of the other characters but focuses on her future.
  2. Giannis’ story. Is there hope for him? Will there be a new love?
  3. Naomi. (Cannot say where this goes without it being a ‘spoiler’ for events in Hell Shall Not Prevail.)

All these characters have had a role in the series since book 1 Hold the Faith… but deserve a life after

Must not say anymore for the present.

 

Btw – Did you know the eBook version of Hold the Faith is free on Amazon? 

Use the link on the book page. Scroll down and click the ‘Buy on Amazon link
http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/hold-the-faith/

Just sharing ….

Susan

P.S

If you want to be first to know about these new novellas, sign up for the VIP Reader’s group

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