As a reader, do you skim? Why?

Authors, newbies in particular, are repeatedly cautioned about certain basic writing requirements:

Write tight.  Trim the fat.  Cut word count.  Eliminate unnecessary words.
Does it advance the story?

As a reader, I find I’m prone to skim. For me, it’s the invasion of dirty words into our literary culture. Oh, and gratuitous sex.

couple-love-people-romanticDon’t get me wrong. I like a sexy romance as much as the next person, but it’s enough to leave the action at the door. I know the mechanics of the act. My imagination works fine, thank you very much. I don’t need step-by-step instruction.

So, let’s apply the list from above to the prolific sex scenes romping through our books today:

Write tight. fail  Trim the fat. fail  Cut word count. fail  Eliminate unnecessary words. fail
Does it advance the story? double fail

Now, let’s talk about profanity. Um, er, uh … Wow. Just wow.

ProfanityFour-letter bombs and worse fill almost every page these days. I get that language can aid in establishing a character’s quirks and personality, but please. A little moderation would go a long way. 

So, once again, let’s apply the test:

Write tight. fail  Trim the fat. fail  Cut word count. fail  Eliminate unnecessary words. fail
Does it advance the story? triple fail

Exclamation markIt is commonly understood in the writing world that an exclamation mark is a lazy writer’s shortcut. A good writer relies on words to convey the excitement of the scene, the fear, happiness, anger, etc. – not punctuation.

This same concept can be applied to the overuse of gratuitous sex scenes and abundant profanity. True skill is hidden by these “unnecessary words,” and like me, your reader may not  be able to get past them to finish the book.

Data rules.

With the ease of self-publishing today, not all authors bother with the basics, opting for quantity over quality. Sales are up, but profits are down because the content has been cheapened and purchase prices degraded.

eReadersBeware. Digital readers tell the tale.

According to emerging statistics, readers finish less than 50% of eBooks purchased in certain genres. There’s even talk of online retailers creating a new category for “eBooks Actually Finished.”

My advice? Let’s get back to the basics. Perfect the art of good writing. The author’s self-esteem will soar, and readers will thank you.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – Part 1

The human body is an odd and vastly complex creation.

It comes with an amazing variety of systems to keep it working. These include a circulatory system that moves blood, nutrients, gases, and hormones around the body; a digestive system to ingest food, break it down into usable nutrients, and remove the waste byproducts; and a DNAurinary system that aids in the removal of waste and digestive byproducts.

We have an immune system, the body’s first line of defense against disease, injury, and harmful pathogens; and a lymphatic system that works hand-in-hand with the immune system to help in the fight against infection and to stabilize body fluids in the tissue and cells.

Our nervous system controls both voluntary (conscious movement) and involuntary (like your heart beating) movements, and directs signals to the rest of the body; the muscular system aids in movement of blood and some body functions, but also works closely with the skeletal system which allows the fundamental structure for physical movement.

The respiratory system brings vital oxygen into the body, infuses it into our blood stream for distribution to all cells, and removes harmful carbon dioxide byproducts. The integumentary system is the body’s largest organ—the skin. It protects our internal workings from the outside world, is a barrier against bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens, helps regulates body temPregnancyperature, and assists in the elimination of waste through perspiration.

And let’s not forget the reproductive system that allows the creation of life-a miracle in itself.

All of these systems have to work in concert with all the others every second of every day. No time off. No vacation. And sick days means overtime work.

Now let’s take this a step further. In addition to the complex machine described above, these delicate creations require five things to survive:

  1. Water dropletsOxygen – The most essential need. After a mere 15 minutes without oxygen, brain damage will be so severe most cannot recover.
  2. Water – a human body cannot survive more than 3-4 days without it.
  3. Food – protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids, fiber; certain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium; and vitamins A, Bs, C, D, E, K. And this is only a simplified list.
  4. Protection from the elements – We require a constant core body temperature in a very Temperaturespecific range. At 104°F a body begins to hallucinate; at 107°F the central nervous systems begins to break down; at 111°F the brain overheats and causes death. Conversely, if the core body temperature drops to 94.1°F the body will fall unconscious; at 86° the body loses its ability to control body temperature; and at 82.4° there is complete muscle failure.
  5. Sleep – Extended lack of sleep will eventually result in headache, temporal and spatial distortion, memory and cognitive impairment, hallucination, loss of muscle control, and if paired with any other system failure, could lead to death.

BANG! It all just happened? Riiiight! I think not.

Computer codeYou could as easily throw a million lines of code into a paper bag, shake it up, and come out with a complex software that will calculate the necessary thrust for a rocket trip to Mars, pass twice around the moon, make a fly-by of Venus, give a nod to the sun, and then land safely at home again. On earth.

Again I say … riiiight!

Yes, I’m a Christian. No, I’m not trying to persuade you to my way of thinking. All I want is for you to start using that amazing computer in your head to figure things out for yourself …

Why you believe what you believe?

Ask questions. Don’t settle. Find the answers for yourself regarding what you believe or don’t believe. Stop accepting what the world is dishing out.

Imagine …

Imperfect Bonds FRONT COVER smallBook Three in The Imperfect Series, IMPERFECT BONDS, is due to release on July 30, 2016. Light, funny, and a little bit sad, it also touches on the edgy topic of Human Trafficking.

https://www.amazon.com/Imperfect-Bonds-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01J6E0K5U

July 30th is also “World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (#wdatip), as declared  by the United Nations. 

Human trafficking. Slavery. Bondage. Servitude. Enslavement. Oppression. Loss of everything you know, everything you have, and everything you are. Whatever we call it, Human Trafficking represents identity theft in the worst, most heinous way possible, much to mankind’s everlasting shame.

I am reminded of the story in the Bible of when the Israelites were taken into bondage by the Babylonians, specifically the tales of four teens, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. I find it interesting that Daniel, who was given the Babylonian name, Belteshazzar, kept his “Daniel” identity all through history, while his three friends are better known by their Babylonian names—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Thousands of Jews were taken captive and transported far from their homeland in Judah. These affluent boys were reduced to no more than slaves with no civil rights and no say in anything that might affect their lives. They had to adapt to a new culture and learn a new language if they wanted to survive. 

helpSlavery continues in our world today, but without respect for life. In fact, this juggernaut industry profits more than $32 billion annually, and affects between 20-30 million victims – children and adults, male and female. (Authorities believe these numbers are low  with most of the criminal activities hidden.)

Take a walk with me for a moment. Exercise your imagination:

Imagine you’re a young woman working on a deadline. The project runs late and you leave your office well after everyone else. The walk to the parking garage seems longer in the semi-lit darkness. Every shadow is sinister, every sound amplified. You hurry your steps, knowing there is safety inside the locked doors of your car.

Imagine as you approach the driver’s side, a van comes around the corner. Nothing special about it. Just another work vehicle with scuff marks and a few dings. And yet, fear zips through your body. Do you turn around and race back to the building? Or hurry to unlock your car?

Imagine in the moment of hesitation as the van picks up speed. It draws near. Panic grips you when the sliding door flies open. A man jumps out and rushes toward you.  You scream and turn to run … but it’s too late.

Imagine rough hands grab you. A nasty rag is crammed in your mouth. You’re lifted and tossed bodily inside the van. The man scrambles in behind you and slams the door. Darkness envelops you as the vehicle speeds away. The panic becomes gut-wrenching terror.

Imagine having all your possessions taken away — purse, money, jewelry, phone, clothes, even your name.

chains-19176_640Imagine being tossed into a cold, dark cell with only a blanket on the floor. You’re dressed in the thinnest of rags with no one to hear your cries for help.

Imagine being ridiculed for your tears, beaten for your screams. You soon learn not to complain, but to beg instead for the meanest comfort —  a toilet, food, water, or perhaps a simple scrap of information.

Imagine being told you’ll never see your family, home, friends, or anything familiar again. That your life as you know it is gone forever. That now, you’re a commodity.

Imagine being forced to do terrible, shameful, demeaning things because that’s what your captor demands, and your performance determines if you’ll receive another beating or whether you get to eat or drink. Or possibly even live to see another day.

Imagine you’re forced to take addicting drugs that leave you fuzzy, delirious, incapable of clear thought or logical decisions, unable to control your body movements or speech. You can’t fight or deny your captor anything.

Imagine losing all hope.children-788782_640

This is but a single scenario that a victim of Human Trafficking might face. Everyday children are snatched from shopping malls and playgrounds while under the watchful eyes of parents. Young men are abducted from bars and nightclubs. Young women are lured away with promises of … whatever. Boys and girls are snatched from schools, sporting events, skating rinks, right off the street. And the list goes on. 

Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from falling prey to these monsters. Educate your children. Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Website:  Human Trafficking 101  http://ow.ly/wW7O302Ayip

Support The Blue Campaign    https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaignBlue Campaign

Imperfect Bonds Releases on July 30, 2016!

IMPERFECT BONDS, Book 3 of The Imperfect Series, will be released on July 30, 2016!

Imperfect Bonds FRONT COVER small

 

She’s come home to mend fences with her twin sister.

He’s an ex-Navy SEAL just doing his job.

A serendipitous encounter on a deserted highway and a seemingly innocent cell phone picture plunges Cassie Cameron into the crosshairs of a shady organization with ties to organized crime, illegal arms sales, drug running, and the terrible world of human trafficking.

A daring rescue. A risky escape. Kidnapped children. A race up the mountain.

Published by Write Integrity Press

The Imperfect Series and Other Books by Elizabeth Noyes

 

 

Peace in the Valley

“There will be peace in the valley … one day.”

I woke this morning with a song playing in my head. It was like I was a child again, sitting on the floor of our living room on a Sunday afternoon while my father settled a stack of 45s on the record player. He loved music, but preferred two types—Western and Gospel.

Now when I say Western music, I’m not talking about the country twang of lost dogs, wrecked trucks, hangovers, and cheating lovers. Not the banjo-picking or bluegrass stuff either, though they each offer something special. He loved Western, the smooth, mellow outpouring of the soul we heard from the likes of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and The Sons of the Pioneers.

He also loved gospel music—The Blackwood Brothers, George Beverly Shea, and his all-time favorite, Tennessee Ernie Ford. It was Mr. Ford’s rendition of Peace in the Valley that rocked me awake today. My first conscious thought was, “Yeah, our country needs this reminder more than ever.”tennessee-ernie-ford

Which brings me to the point of this blog: Politics suck!

The news has been filled with negativity for as long as I can remember, this week even more so. Next week will likely follow the same pattern.

Yes, I worry about the state of our country. I fret over the BLM violence, the police-hating, the race-baiting, and all the political posturing. I grieve even more over the terrible things happening in the world. Evil has a foothold, but I have a higher hope.

“Concerned yes, but I refuse to let it consume me.”

I know that nothing happens by chance. Not kismet, not fate, not happenstance, luck, accident, or destiny. The two candidates vying for the role of President of the United States may not be ideal, but they’re what we have, and I don’t believe for a second they’re in this position by happenstance. And though the journey be long and difficult, as my grandma used to say, “Things don’t just happen, sweetie. They come to pass.”

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  ~Romans 13:1 (NIV)

I don’t like my choices, so I will pray. And listen. And then I will vote for the one who best supports a return to a God-fearing America. To not vote is to abdicate my responsibility as an American.  It is an admission that I have no value as a citizen of this country, and a declaration of my failure as a Christian.

I will do my part. And I will trust God to work things out according to His great purpose.

Peace in the Valley Picmonkey Collage

‘Nuff said. Listen to this oldie and let it soothe you, for I know that one day, we too will find Peace in the Valley.

 

Exciting news about a fantastic sale and a new release!

I have 3 very exciting announcements to share with you today!

*  The kindle edition of Imperfect Wings, the first book in my Imperfect Series, is on sale for a limited time for only 99¢!      What a steal!

* Book 2 of the series, Imperfect Trust, has also been discounted and is now available for only $2.99.

and ….. (can I get a drum roll please!!!”

* Book 3, Imperfect Bonds, is on schedule for an early August release! Yay!3-book collage

Bonus: Here’s a YouTube link to a short video trailer with a sneak peek for what to expect in the latest book: http://ow.ly/Xphw302kCEJ

Help me spread the word! Share this information with all your friends, neighbors, co-workers … all book lovers.

Better yet, help them complete their summer reading list by gifting a copy direct to their Kindle device. Amazon makes it so easy. (Here’s a link to my website explaining how: http://ow.ly/ttcU302kBMT)

Thanks so much for supporting me through this journey. Happy reading!

Yeah, but what if I’m right?

I woke this morning to the terrible news of another shooting, this one in Dallas where law enforcement officers were targeted and killed when they answered the call to duty.

My heart broke even more when, only hours later, a ‘spontaneous’ march sprang from nowhere to parade down the streets of MY city, MY Atlanta in support of– not the fallen heroes, but the Black Lives Matter movement. Similar marches occurred all around the country.

Think about it. Spontaneous marches don’t just happen. An event of any size requires a great deal of organization and communication. While I have no doubt the vast majority of the protesters had no idea of the violence planned – yes, I said planned – going forward, they have to realize how they’re being used for nefarious purposes.

Black Lives Matter, BLM for short, is formally postured as an international activist movement originating in the African-American community to campaign against violence toward black people.

I wholeheartedly agree. Black lives do matter, but NOT MORE than Whites, Asians, Hispanics, Slavs. Males and females. Adults and children. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists. Politicians, farmers, soldiers, stay-at-home moms, teachers, rich men, poor men, homeless men, and COPs.

The truth is …

all-lives-matter

Think about it. We have to look beyond these individual tragedies, look at the overall picture, profile what is happening in our country, ask the hard questions, and follow the money trail. These are not random acts of violence. They are too well-orchestrated. And I fear more are planned. I fear we face a summer of violence meant to further a bigger agenda.tears

Think about it. When the policemen grow tired of being set up like sitting ducks, when they refuse to step forward in your defense, when the protesters riot out of control and come for you, when the government has confiscated your guns – who’s going to protect you and your family?

As Mahatma Gandhi so eloquently stated…eye-for-an-eye

“You’re just another right-wing conspiracy nut,” some will say. Maybe so. Maybe not. But to repeat my lead in question … what if I’m right?

To quote a favorite Yogi-ism, “It’s déjà vu all over again!”

A modern day David v. Goliath story … with a twist.

I hear Baxter!

I hear Baxter!

My dog, Daisy, has an ongoing battle with another dog in the neighborhood. Every morning, from two houses away, the little yapper comes out in his backyard and issues a challenge. And every morning, without fail, my Daisy accepts it. At the first yip, she bursts through the doggy door like a circus clown shot from a cannon, and the ‘bark wars’ begin with the mighty Baxter.  Try to picture it — a (maybe) 10-pound dust mop throwing down against an 80-pound hound dog.

I’ve chastened, reprimanded, scolded, chastised, reproached, and rebuked Daisy so many times. While all my fussing hasn’t stopped her natural inclination to protect her territory, she has improved. Now, after five barks — no more, no less — my big old hound dog tucks her tail and heads back inside, ears drooping, head hanging low, sad eyes filled with remorse.

Please forgive me!

Please forgive me!

Yes, remorse. (Anyone who says dogs don’t communicate has never lived with a pet!) She just can’t seem to help herself.

Does this sound familiar? Aren’t Christians the same way? Just as the Apostle Paul described in Romans Chapter 7 how way down deep in his heart and his soul, he wanted to do what was right, but his sinful nature kept getting in the way, kept overwhelming all of his heartfelt, good intentions.

Like Daisy, as much as we want to please our Master, we too succumb to our innate instincts.

The world sneers at Christians. They see us struggle with the same moral dilemmas they face, except that Christians are convicted when we do wrong. We admit our failings. We ask for forgiveness and mercy … and we receive it from a righteous God.

The image we present to the world is a mirror for them, one where they see in themselves the same failings—but not the forgiveness, or the peace that accompanies it. They want what we have – but without the price of submission.

Our assignment here on earth is to demonstrate the way to life everlasting through how we live. Our job is to talk the talk AND walk the walk, so be kind to unbelievers. Be gentle. Be earnest and understanding because the human spirit is drawn to sincerity. And for heaven’s sake, don’t judge others; that’s above our pay grade. That job belongs to Jesus.

Novels, “Brexit,” and the Bible

One of the keys to good novel writing is to plunge your main character into a pressure cooker of trouble and keep piling it on until they think they can’t take anymore.

Overwhelm characters memeThis might come in the form of physical danger, mental pressure, or emotional turmoil. Whatever, you really lay it on. Of course, you also throw your hero or heroine a rope once they’ve reached their darkest point, when they’re about to lose all hope and give up. But then they escape and, oh the sweet relief! Maybe they don’t get away unscathed. Most likely they’re changed forever, definitely scarred, humbled, and much wiser, but they get to go home.

Great Britain’s recent vote to withdraw from the European Union (EU), popularly called “Brexit” (or Britain’s exit), seems to provide such an example. Once a man tastes freedom, he will fight tooth and nail to keep it. Keep nibbling at his sovereign rights, and the pressure builds.

This vote was an historic event, a mandate issued by an unheard of 78% voter turnout. The powers that be—those who deem themselves the leaders and governors of the world today, whether in public positions or behind the scenes—don’t get it. They can’t believe what happened. They’re still spluttering. “How can this be? It’s not according to our plan.”

(I have to interject a funny here. It always amazes me how creative and witty people can be, regardless of the gravity of circumstances. While I would love to take credit for this ingenious meme, I can’t. I’m just not that imaginative. There’s a ton more out there, too. It does, however, prove yet again how much truth there is in humor.)

Brexit

Chuckles aside, the bottom line is the people of England are in rebellion, plain and simple. They’ve had enough. This same sentiment is rising in the United States. By the people and for the people seems to have been lost somewhere along the line. The new mantra is by the politicians and for the politicians. I suspect we’ll see a similar adventure in our November presidential election.

No one knows what repercussions will stem from this momentous event, but if you take a good, hard look at the greatest novel of all time – the Bible – well, I think the pressure is just beginning.

Yes, I likened the Holy Bible to a novel. It’s the PRE-historic story—meaning a history of the world before the world had history. Which leads to a conundrum. If history is written before it actually occurs, does that make it fiction until the events happen?

Too deep for me.

Prophecy defined by Merriam-Webster:  a statement that something will happen in the future; or the power or ability to know something will happen in the future.

Prophecy defined by me as a Christian: Belief in the Bible as God’s promise of what has happened, what is happening now before our eyes, and what will happen.

Belief is very comforting for Christians. Years ago, my old grandma lay dying in the hospital. She said, “I’m going home today … or I’m going home. Either way, I’m going home.”

Wake up, America!

The news you choose to ignore, those reports coming out of Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia, South America – the killings, mutilations, rapes, beheadings, genocide, famine, pestilence, epidemics – they exist. And they’re growing in frequency. Just because you find the words and images disturbing, distressing, upsetting, bothersome, and distasteful doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Just because they upset your sensibilities, make your nose wrinkle with repugnance, and don’t touch you personally doesn’t mean they’ll go away if you ignore them.

News Flash: Terrorism has already come to the United States. Terrorists have breached our defenses. Heinous acts are being perpetrated on our own soil, and we’re playing the stupid, foolish game of political correctness.

Look at this list of terrorism acts that occurred inside our borders since 9/11, all of them with ties to Islamic extremists. Remember the headlines? Note also the deaths reported DON’T include the even larger number of victims injured in these attacks.

September 2001 – New York City, Washington, DC – terrorists attack the Twin Towers and Pentagon killing 2, 974; July 2002 – Los Angeles – gunman kills 2 at LAX airport; June 2009 – Little Rock – gunman kills 1 in attack at military recruiting center; August 2009 – Fort Hood – gunman kills 13 on military base; April 2013 – Boston – bombers kill 3 at Boston Marathon; July 2015 – Chattanooga – gunman kills 5 servicemen at military recruiting center;  December 2015 – two gunmen kill 14 at office Christmas party; and the latest,  June 2016 – Orlando – gunman kills 49 at nightclub.

This list is far from inclusive. Many more attacks than those listed above have occurred on U.S. soil, but didn’t quite make headlines because the impact value didn’t measure up to the news media’s drama quotient. You see, Shock & Awe sells. The problem with this tactic is that after a while, Shock & Awe no longer shocks. Or awes. After repeated exposure, it loses its impact, becomes mundane, commonplace, ho-hum. Which means the news outlets have to up the ante, raise the bar in a constant search for the sensational, the higher death tolls, worse atrocities, more depravity, evil and wickedness that assaults our hardened senses. Anything to achieve enough outrage to draw viewers and readers.

Where does it all end? Well, the end may be closer than you think. Ever hear of The Tytler Cycle? It dates back to the 1700s.

Tytler Cycle

I’m afraid, so very afraid. Our forefathers in 1776 paid a precious price in blood, paid with their lives to leave bondage behind and live in freedom. The Roman Empire lasted 1,400 years from rise to fall. Today, in 2016, in just over 200 years, the United States is about to come full circle. We’re staring in the face of a government bondage, one of our own making because of lethargy, indifference, and laziness. We’re already well down that path, a slippery slope that will be nearly impossible to reverse.

Christians have claimed forever that “The End Times” are here, so why hasn’t this God of Judgment zapped us by now?

Let me put it in a way you can relate. Don’t we want the best for our children? Don’t we love them and forgive them over and over? Don’t we give them every chance to do right? To conform? To obey?

God the Father does, too. God is patient and long-suffering, far beyond what our flawed human minds can comprehend. He wants no one to perish – not the murderer, the terrorist, the rapist, the liar, the thief; not the Jew, the Christian, or the Muslim; not even the “good.” For the same reason He promised in the Old Testament to give Abraham’s descendants the land of Canaan forever … but said they would have to wait for 400 years.  Why?

For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” Genesis 15:16.

(The Amorites, who no longer exist, were a wicked people who occupied the land at the time of God’s promise to Abraham.)

God wants no one to perish, but there is a Day of Reckoning. At some point, a time only He knows, enough is enough.