The First of Two New Novels that “Tell it Like it Is”

If you’re old enough, you remember a wonderful expression from the 1960s. “Tell it like it is.” Of course, we English teachers officially hated it because it wasn’t grammatically correct. As much as the rules of grammar have changed, however, who knows whether it would be acceptable now?

Nonetheless, “Tell it like it is” is a very apt description of two new novels (not yet released) I’ve been privileged to read and review. Both of them deal with issues that people get really worked up about.

One is abortion. The Breeding Tree is a dystopian novel about a future society that believes that its job is the perfecting of the human race. So it uses “creation specialists” to further refine the process. Imperfections are not to be tolerated. So abortion is a common practice, even when an imperfection is only highly likely.

Abortion for them is different, though. Woman don’t have babies. They don’t get pregnant. In fact, their eggs are harvested soon after birth and fertilized artificially whenever a baby is needed. This society has perfected the concept of “test tube babies.”

While learning to become a creation specialist, Kate sees babies at various stages of development. But then she witnesses–in fact, she must participate in–the killing of imperfect babies. When she discovers that one of her eggs was used without her knowledge to create a baby that is scheduled to be terminated, she starts to see her society’s practices in a different light.

If you want to learn what Kate does, read J. Andersen’s The Breeding Tree when it releases in September. It’s available for pre-order now.

I’ll tell you about the other book on Wednesday.

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If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

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Frustration!

I probably would’ve learned this lesson years earlier if I’d read Ted Dekker’s book Black as a single novel. But my wife had given me the whole three-book Circle Series in hardback as a single volume. So I barely paid attention to the fact that Black didn’t have a satisfactory ending. Or that it was part of a series not a standalone.

The same with Red, the next book in that series. Both of those  books required the reader to proceed to the next book. White finally provided the ending I’d been waiting for and reading to reach. As if the series had just been a very long single novel.

So I failed to take in that a series is NOT the same thing as a sequence of standalone sequels.

That happened a number of years ago.

Flash forward to May of this year. I was attending a Christian writers conference near Asheville, NC. Among the many excellent features of the Ridgecrest Lifeway Conference Center was the presence of–surprise?–a Lifeway Bookstore.

If you read my recent post, “I Can’t Live without Books,” you won’t be surprised that I browsed through the Lifeway store at least once daily. Of special interest were books written by faculty and attendees. I enjoyed seeing my three  novels there, even though Lifeway doesn’t ordinarily carry them.

I couldn’t justify buying every book I wanted, though–I could’ve spent a hundred dollars in ten minutes–so one day I wandered through the “Bargain Books” section. Few of the books on those shelves appealed to me.

But there was one exception. Forbidden. A lengthy dystopian novel co-authored by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee. For $2.97, how could I go wrong?

I finally started reading it a couple of days ago. Creative. Compelling. Absorbing. A real page turner. And so much better than another dystopian novel I’d read recently.

Last night I made the mistake of flipping to the last page. Not to cheat and see how the story turned out, but to find out what the last page number was so I could figure out how much longer it take me to finish.

Uh, okay. The book cover undoubtedly said something about this book being part of a series, but I didn’t see that or take in its significance. But what I’d accidentally seen on the last page made clear that Forbidden wouldn’t be any more complete by itself than Black had been. Unlike Black, however, I didn’t have the rest of the series.

Some bargain this $2.97 book was going to be if I had to get two more books to read the rest of the story. And at a considerably higher cost than $2.97 per book.

Honestly, I was so frustrated I almost pitched the book into the nearest waste can, determined to forget I’d ever seen it. Why bother to even finish it?

I haven’t pitched it, though. Not yet. But neither have I continued to read it.

I suppose I have no right to feel gypped–I got what I paid for, even though it wasn’t all I’d expected–but I think I’m justified in feeling frustrated. I hate series and now realize I should avoid them carefully in the future!

Let me ask something. What would you do now? Please leave a comment. I’d really like to know.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

Overly Well-Fed Americans

On a trip to Romania around fifteen years ago, I was desperately trying to locate my flight to Budapest, Hungary. It didn’t help that nobody at the Paris airport seemed to speak English. Nonetheless, I got on board in time. Unfortunately, my suitcase didn’t.

In America we’re used to late luggage being delivered in as timely a way as possible, but on this trip, the best they could do was to hold on to my stuff till I returned to Budapest a week or so later. No wonder. The mission team I was traveling to catch up with faced many hours of driving to reach the border between Hungary and Romania and on to the small town we were to serve in. No way any airline would’ve delivered my luggage to Romania under those circumstances.

But that left me with a problem. The only clothes I had with me were the ones I’d been traveling forever in.

Fortunately, the team leader had some discretionary funds he could use to buy me a few essentials. The town was having a market day the next day, so I didn’t have to wait long to go shopping.

Oh, but I discovered something horrible that day. Romanian clothes don’t often come in the sizes worn by overly well-fed Americans. I had to settle for one pair of pants that was big enough–way too big, if I recall correctly–a sweater, and a couple of shirts.

When I asked my host if the pants and sweater matched–color blindness can be such a nuisance at times–he said, “Pants dark, sweater dark. They match.”

As we went about our activities that week, I’m not sure that I saw any overweight Romanians, much less any that were my size at that time. When I got home, I was all too aware of how drastically overweight too many Americans are.

I don’t agree with the Obamas about many things–and I don’t think overweight is a problem the government has any business trying to deal with–but Mrs. Obama is certainly right on the ball in being concerned about America’s weight problems. Especially among children and teens.

Every time I go to the mall, I invariably see one or more teens with fat bulging out over the top of a pair of jeans–all too often bare. And it’s not just teens, either. Do they actually think “muffin tops” are attractive?

Is it any wonder that the Young Adult (teen) novel I’m writing currently is called Project Muffintop? It deals with that problem. But it won’t help most overweight Americans.

You see, my protagonist knows she’s overweight and wants to do something about it, but I’m not sure whether most people really care. Maybe not until–like me–they find themselves diabetic when maintaining a desirable weight would’ve prevented the development of diabetes. And maybe they wouldn’t care even then. Not until a heart attack knocks them down.

I don’t know what the answer is. Americans have grown accustomed to the convenience and tastiness of the unhealthiest of foods, foods that are almost guaranteed to put on undesirable weight and keep it there. We’re spoiled.

I’ve read a dystopian novel or two–those are books about situations that have gotten as bad as bad can be. Including severe shortages of even the most basic foods. Not something any of us would enjoy having to live through. But what’s going to turn us away from the luxury of our unbridled eating, otherwise?

I’d love to have your feedback on this. Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.
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Best regards,
Roger