Where do the books, and novellas come from?

Books

Books and novellas come from the writers’ minds.  I can only tell you about my books and the process of writing them.

If you arrived here via the ‘welcome’ page you would have seen the cover and part of the blurb for the latest novella – ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’ I change the page for each of the new books and novellas I publish. There is a third novella coming. (Stay tuned.)

My books and writing

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

I have been asked before about how I write, but that was a long time ago, and now there are more. The Apostle John Series is complete, five books in all. Originally, they were inspired by a detailed series of Bible studies that set me wondering… and researching. Then, as I have seen other authors mention, the characters take over, so, I have to ask if I will ‘allow’ that, or if it takes the book in a different direction. Writers are often asked if they are ‘plotters’ or ‘pantsers.’ In other words, is each book plotted out chapter by chapter, or written by the ‘seat of the author’s pants?’

Mine are a mixture. I know what will happen, and key points on the way to the end, but the bits in between are the result of inspiration, research and sometimes a bit of correction. (The characters have to remain consistent over the book series, and in the case of the first novella, to the way they were in the books in the series.)

Please allow me to explain

After the Thirty Days is the completing of Esther’s story. This novella picks up some threads from the middle of Hell Shall Not Prevail (before we join John on Patmos.) Her cousin, Judah, heir to their grandfather, ‘Old Simon,’ and the workers in ‘Old Simon’s’ shop are also carry-overs from the series to this novella. All of them needed to be consistent with where they appeared in the books in the series.

No Evil Shall Befall You follows After the Thirty Days – loosely. Simon, son of ‘Old Simon’ returns to Egypt where he has lived for many years to an unpleasant situation he must deal with before he can act on his plans.

In the third, and final, novella, Simon returns to Ephesus.

(Any more at this point would be a ‘spoiler’ and although it is written in my head, it is just over halfway in the manuscript.)

I check everything from the start each time I write.

Making the books authentic

book research

It takes a great deal of research to make the books true to the times. Someone once commented that it would have been better if there had been a kiss in one of the books in the Apostle John Series between a couple whose betrothal was being planned. This would have been totally inaccurate to the time and culture… unless the young woman had been a different ‘type’ of person.

 

I knew this type of information because of extensive research, but my readers do not necessarily have these facts.

This is why I have added ‘Marriage in the 1st Century, AD’ to the ‘Starter pack’ of background information for VIP Readers.

For current VIP Readers a link to download this new PDF will be in the next newsletter, together with ‘Death and Mourning in the 1st Century, AD.’ There is another planned – background to the Egyptian aspects in the second novella. ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’

Biblical Fiction Books

All the books in the Apostle John Series, as well as the novellas are Biblical fiction. (Spoiler alert – the characters in the novellas are not Christian, but the fiction is Biblical.)

My aim with all of them was, and is, to tell the story of the times. I have been told that through the characters I succeeded and I am grateful to my readers for their feedback.

Remember, you can always ‘pay it forward’ and leave a short review where you bought the book and help other readers make up their minds if it is for them.

Hope you enjoyed the ‘peep behind the scenes’

Till next time,

Susan

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

The Gallipoli – Asia Minor Connection

Statue of soldiers at Gallipoli

In the early stages of writing the Apostle John Series, I used to print out my research materials. Sometimes it has proved handy with a ‘hard drive’ failure. The other day I was hunting for something that wasn’t on my computer, so I went to my filing cabinet.
Guess what I found.
LOL.
Of course, you cannot, and it was probably only interesting to me.
I found a laminated sheet showing Gallipoli right on the edge of the map I used for Hold the Faith. (For walking around the seven churches.)

What so interested me about Gallipoli?

Well, on the 25th April each year, it’s ANZAC Day.

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”

Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Wikipedia says it better than me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day

When I found the map showing Gallipoli in conjunction with the Roman province of Asia Minor I remembered I printed it out and laminated it for the Perth book launch of the first print edition of Hold the Faith. I put one on each side and laminated them together.

Gallipoli on the same map as the setting for the Apostle John Series

Being curious, I wondered what the history of the area was, other than the Roman occupation of the country, and the World War 1 battle.

“After Israel, Turkey has more biblical sites than any other country in the Middle East. For this reason Turkey is rightly called the Other Holy Land. Many Christians are unaware of Turkey’s unique role in the Bible because biblical reference works usually refer to this strategic peninsula, bounded by the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas, as Asia Minor or Anatolia. The land of Turkey is especially important in understanding the background of the New Testament, because approximately two-thirds of its books were written either to or from churches in Turkey. The three major apostle—Peter, Paul, and John—either ministered or lived in Turkey.”
http://sevenchurches.org/biblical-turkey/

Important - why?

Its strategic position was important to all who warred here. However, it was not called Turkey at the time of the battle of Gallipoli. Turkey was ‘formed’ in October 1923.

Part of what became Turkey was Thrace, which comprises southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace) and the European part of Turkey (Eastern Thrace.)

 I discovered ‘Spartacus’ was from Thrace.

If you are too young to have seen the movie Spartacus, this is what it is about, well, ‘film license’ of course.

“A Thracian by birth, Spartacus served in the Roman army, perhaps deserted, led bandit raids, and was caught and sold as a slave. With about 70 fellow gladiators he escaped a gladiatorial training school at Capua in 73 and took refuge on Mount Vesuvius, where other runaway slaves joined the band. After defeating two Roman forces in succession, the rebels overran most of southern Italy. Ultimately their numbers grew to at least 90,000. Spartacus defeated the two consuls for the year 72 and fought his way northward toward the Alps, hoping to be able to disperse his soldiers to their homelands once they were outside Italy.”
Read more here: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Spartacus-Roman-gladiator

Thrace

“Thrace was united as a kingdom under the chieftain Sitalces, who aided Athens during the Peloponnesian War, but after his death (428 B.C.) the state again broke up. By 342 B.C. all Thrace was held by Philip II of Macedon, and after 323 B.C. most of the country was in the hands of Lysimachus, a general of Alexander the Great. It fell apart once more after Lysimachus’ death (281 B.C.), and it was conquered by the Romans late in the 1st century B.C. Emperor Claudius created (A.D. 46) the province of Thrace, comprising the territory south of the Balkans; the remainder was incorporated into Moesia. The chief centers of Roman Thrace were Sardica (modern Sofia), Philippopolis (Plovdiv), and Adrianople (Edirne).”
http://www.allaboutturkey.com/trakya.htm

The region benefited greatly from Roman rule, but from the barbarian invasions of the 3d century A.D. until modern times it was almost continuously a battleground. As mentioned before, it was a strategic area controlling significant land and sea borders. The area benefited from its strategic importance on the main route between Europe and Asia, as well as from its control of the shipping route from Crimea.

Why were the ANZACs at Gallipoli?

The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-16, also known as the Battle of Gallipoli or the Dardanelles Campaign, was an unsuccessful attempt by the Allied Powers to control the sea route from Europe to Russia during World War I.

The winners of the Gallipoli battle

The Ottoman Empire.

The death toll was high for all combatants.

Nowadays, both the Turkish dead and the ANZAC dead are recognized at the dawn service in Gallipoli. 2018 was the 103 anniversary.

Gallipoli - 3 nation's flags

Over the centuries how much blood has been shed in that region?

A sobering thought.

           Susan

 

 

Polycarp or Bucolus?

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

Recently one of the readers of my book series and I had a discussion on Polycarp. (She had recently started re-reading the Apostle John Series) and in book 1 – Hold the Faith, Polycarp was ‘introduced.’

First bishop of Smyrna - Polycarp or Bucolus?

Polycarp was a fascinating person to research, and as it Polycarp of Smyrnaturned out, June. the reader I was talking with, had also studied into Polycarp, Bucolus and some of the other people mentioned in Hold the Faith.

A video clip I saw some years ago said he had been born in 70 AD. 

Other sources put him being born in 80 AD
(I had found 69 AD the most preferred option.) The clip says that legend has it that he was anointed bishop of Smyrna by the Apostle John. I had read that too, but further research led me to the first bishop of Smyrna being a dedicated man by the name of Bucolus.

So, as can be seen, Polycarp is someone about whom there is much contradiction in writings.

Now, as to whether the Apostle John was the one who ordained him as the first bishop of Smyrna – bishop meaning overseer, let’s examine what else is recorded…

Legend has it that the Apostle John was taken captive to Rome, and, because he persisted in his refusal to acknowledge Emperor Domitian as lord and god, was plunged into a vat of boiling oil.

When he survived, he was sent to the Isle of Patmos, where he is generally considered to have written the book of Revelation. (He was released from Patmos, most likely after the murder of Emperor Domitian, in 96 AD)

I needed to check who was overseer at that time. Whilst it is not impossible for Polycarp to have been anointed as bishop by John, I considered it unlikely, given the Bible’s guidelines about not appointing young men to the office of an elder… a bishop is an elder. Then, as mentioned at the start, I discovered another source that stated that the first bishop of Smyrna was a well-loved and respected man named Bucolus. According to some sources, he was the one who passed the fellowship in Smyrna into the care of Polycarp. I will put some links in at the end of this post so you can read it up for yourself if you want.

Polycarp had ‘humble’ beginnings, some of which he ‘discussed’ with Benjamin in Hold the Faith.

Some 'figurings' about Polycarp

Polycarp          born 69 or 70 AD

John                taken to Rome 94 or 95 AD

Polycarp          would have been 24 – 26 years old then

Had Polycarp been born in 80 AD he would have been 14 or 15 years old when John was taken to Rome.

I favor the opinion that Bucolus was the first bishop/overseer of Smyrna.

Nevertheless, both men have interesting ‘histories.’

An overview of Bucolus – https://oca.org/saints/lives/2016/02/06/100441-st-bucolus-the-bishop-of-smyrna

And of Polycarp… 
http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/st-polycarp-hieromartyr-of-smyrna-and.html

Well, that’s the wondering for this week. Hope you enjoyed them.

Susan

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

Hate Your Enemies – Really?

What did Jesus mean when he said, “You have heard it said ‘love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  I have always thought of this as Jesus correcting an Old Testament ‘law.’ Not so!

I was astounded when I heard a preacher say that Jesus was correcting a ‘tradition’ not a law.

Hate your enemies - or love them

So, I checked it out.

I ‘ran a search’ of the whole Bible seeking another instance when ‘hate your enemy’ was mentioned. There was none. The closest ‘match’ was a scripture in Leviticus 19: 18 – the command to love your neighbor as yourself.

‘Hate your enemy’ … a tradition?

One site mentioned that Jesus might have been correcting a saying among the zealots that had become a tradition.

Checking out Zealots, I found the following in Wikipedia –

“The Zealots objected to Roman rule and violently sought to eradicate it by generally targeting Romans and Greeks. Another group, likely related, were the Sicarii, who raided Jewish habitations and killed Jews they considered apostate and collaborators, while also urging Jews to fight Romans and other Jews for the cause.”

Hate your enemy could fit their practices, but let’s look at traditions.

How come traditions become so entrenched we see them as laws?

I guess it is the ‘old saying’ that if something is repeated often enough we end up believing it.

Keys to understanding the Bible

In 2017 for the subscribers to my Reader’s Circle (now VIP Readers’ group) I produced a PDF series called Keys to Understanding the Bible in which I had included a great many Pharisaic traditions.

From Part 4 this might further clarify ‘traditions’ and their acceptance…

“It has been said that in an effort to prevent this [captivity] happening again, the sect of the Pharisees ‘arose’. Their original purpose was to prevent people from breaking God’s laws, including the Sabbath.

It developed into Judaism. Judaism is not the ‘religion of Moses’ as is generally assumed.

From ‘A history of the Jews’ by Paul Johnson – Judaism dates from the time just after the Babylonian exile.

American Rabbinical scholar Stephen S Wise stated, ‘The return from Babylon… marked the end of Hebrew-ism and the beginning of Judaism.”

Over the centuries for the most part, the traditions became accepted and incorporated into the Code of Jewish Law.

Jesus said...

“They worship Me in vain; they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.’ You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.” He went on to say, “You neatly set aside the commandment of God to maintain your own tradition.…”
Mark 7: 7 – 9

traditions of men

He would know!

Traditions were very important to the rulers of the Temple in Jesus’ time.

One small section in the gospel of Matthew…

Then some Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem came to Jesus and said “Why do Your disciples violate the tradition (religious laws) handed down by the [Jewish] elders? For Your disciples do not [ceremonially] wash their hands before they eat.” He replied to them, “Why also do you violate the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition [handed down by the elders]?
Matthew 15: 1-3 (Amp)

These traditions and attitudes were very much alive and practiced in the late 1st Century and contributed to the hatred of the Jews for the Christians.

It Takes Courage

courage to face mountains

It takes courage was an interesting comment I received about coping with persecution. It was an excellent observation.

As mentioned in last week’s post, in Hold the Faith the young men in the pre-baptism class were warned of what they might face… death in the arena,  it took courage for them to come back the next time, and to take the risk of being baptized in the river.

It took Benjamin (in Grow in Grace) courage to return to Ephesus after running away, after being overwhelmed by a trial. He was embarrassed and fearful.

Nowadays, we might think of courage as facing the ‘big’ things, like rescuing someone from a burning house, or saving someone from drowning, or a car wreck, there are many small act of courage in everyday lives.

Everyday courage

There are many people who face beginning each day knowing every movement will be painful. A great number of those will not have had much sleep. However, they face each day… and do their best.

The scoliosis pictured below was painful for the sufferer, and there are all too many like him.

moving with scoliosis takes courage
X-ray of spine with scoliosis

Would these people suffering this pain say they were courageous? Probably not.
But they are. Daily.

The strain on parents whose child has a life-threatening illness is horrendous. Yet they carry on. Would they say they are courageous? They probably do not even have time to think about it. One parent was quoted as saying,

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

Sometimes facing the stress of going to work each day to an environment where there is strife takes courage. Even if there is no open bullying there can be such negative ‘vibes’ that make a workplace a source of anxiety. Yet many people have no choice but to face their reluctance and go to work – they need the money.

Courage comes in many guises.

Have you ever thought that the person who is struggling to give up smoking needs a great deal of courage, not only willpower?

And what about people who suffer from agoraphobia? The symptoms can include fear of open spaces, public transport, shopping malls, or simply being outside the home. For someone with this fear, even with help it takes a tremendous amount of courage to venture outside their front door.

shut-in

I have friends who are blind. They go to work, travel on holiday, and go to restaurants… without seeing. For some, it takes courage to trust that they will be safe and not miss a plane.

Yes, there are a great many people showing courage in the simple things in life… things most of us take for granted.

Unless we walk in their shoes we will never know how much courage it takes a person to face each day.

Let us ‘walk softly’ with others.
The mountains shown in the main image represent only a fraction of the challenge many people suffer daily.

They have courage!

Susan

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.

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.
https://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.
https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/grow-in-grace/

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

Keep the Flame – Readers’ Favorite Award winner 2017. 
4th in series
https://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.
https://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.