My Favorite Local Hero

My daughter graduated from Patrick Henry High School in Ashland, Virginia. My wife and I go to the Patrick Henry Y to exercise.

Patrick Henry’s home is almost within spitting distance of Ashland. His father helped to defend several of our church’s pastors, who’d been arrested for preaching in a non-Anglican church.

(Winn’s Baptist Church was founded on July 4, 1776, although that had nothing to do with the Declaration of Independence; because of limited communication, Winn’s founders wouldn’t have known that day about the signing of the Declaration. But they declared their independence against the law forbidding any but Anglican churches to exist in Virginia.)

You might say people in this area almost have Patrick Henry in their blood. And of course everyone knows the famous words Patrick Henry spoke more than two hundred years ago in a church in Richmond.

“I know not what others may choose but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

But those aren’t the only important words he spoke.

Although we may not be facing another bloody American Revolution, there’s little question that today’s ultra-liberal forces are putting all of their effort into taking away our liberties and making us dependent on them for everything.

Our founding fathers would be horrified at America’s current state of affairs, and Patrick Henry would undoubtedly be ready to give his “liberty or death” speech once again. And to say a lot more than that.

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

Whoops! That’s becoming less and less the case in America with every passing day.

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”

Oh, my! That’s not the case nowadays.

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”

Does he mean we should be ready to fight if necessary to remain free–even from our own government?

No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”

Hmm. When’s the last time we thought of our government as being just, moderate, temperate, frugal, or virtuous?

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”

And there’s the problem. We’ve allowed America to slip away from Christian values. And to no longer be a primarily Christian nation.

Your comments are welcome.

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

Best regards,
Roger

     

Links you might be interested in:

 

Seniors on the Move: Why Your Loved One Should Join Adult Swimming Lessons (conclusion)

Thanks once more to Chris H of backyardpoolsuperstore.com for this interesting and worthwhile guest post article. If you missed part one, you’ll want to go back and read it to get the complete picture.

 

Increasing Flexibility

Stretching and extending the body can be a challenge as we get older. Joints and limbs don’t seem to stretch as far as they used to after a certain age. But seniors can get in touch with their bodies and increase their flexibility by participating in swimming lessons and classes for other water-based exercises. Swimming forces you to use the body in new ways as you kick and extend your limbs in all different directions. Learning a new stroke or how to hold their bodies in the water can lead to some surprising results as seniors learn how to be more comfortable and confident in the water. With the help and support of a class, elderly people can learn from their mistakes and discover how to use their body in new ways without worrying about injuring themselves.

Improving Balance and Control

As we get older, we tend to struggle with balance issues and tend to be more prone to slips and falls. Just one wrong turn can lead to a lifetime of pain if the person isn’t careful. But instead of watching your loved one’s physical condition worsen over time, you can help them improve their balance and control by enrolling them in adult swimming classes.

Learning a new stroke and helping them perfect their swimming abilities shows them how to steady themselves in the water. They’ll learn to work their core muscles as they move through the water, which they can use to help them stay upright as they climb the stairs, get in and out of the car and other accident-prone situations where older adults might be at risk of suffering a fall. They’ll be more independent, and you won’t have to worry about them injuring themselves when you’re not around to supervise.

Staying Social

Making friends can be difficult as we get older. If your loved one is feeling lonely and isolated from the community, enrolling them in adult swimming classes might be just what they’re looking for. They can meet other members of the community, learn a new skill in a group setting and create shared experiences with people they might not have gotten to know otherwise. Staying social also helps improve the person’s mood, physical health and cognitive abilities, so they can continue developing these relationships after the class ends. Getting old is so much easier when your loved one can depend on the love and support of their community.

Reducing Chronic Illness

Seniors can experience all kinds of chronic illnesses later in life, including arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. That’s why water-based exercises like swimming can be so beneficial. These exercises can reduce their pain and improve their functionality without worsening their symptoms. Overall, this improves your loved one’s overall quality of life, helping them ward off the unpleasant aspects of aging like chronic pain, fatigue and lack of independence.

If you’re looking for a surefire way to boost your loved one’s mood, physical abilities and reduce their chronic pain, look no further than adult swimming classes. Trying something new and learning a new skill can be difficult for some older individuals, but if they stick with it, it’s only a matter of time before they see the benefits.

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Thanks again to Chris for this interesting and worthwhile guest post. I hope this won’t be the last of Chris’s articles we can use.

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

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

How Much Charity Is Enough?

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Jesus was very specific in saying that His followers need to provide for and protect those who can’t take care of themselves. And He also pointed out that whoever does something good for someone else in His name is effectively doing it for Him.

A good reason to be charitable, don’t you think?

My wife and I contribute a percentage of our income to our church, and part of the church budget helps provide for people having special needs. In times of death or severe illness, we’re also apt to sign up to bring a meal to a family in need. And we have many needy people in our individual prayer lists.

Richmond has a special program called CARITAS. While I can’t remember what the acronym stands for beyond “Churches around Richmond,” I understand their purpose. To try to break the cycle of homelessness for as many people as possible.

Our church is one of many that participate in CARITAS. One week a year, we host forty to fifty homeless adults–sometimes men, sometimes women–in the church fellowship hall. Various Sunday School classes sign up to prepare and serve an evening meal and fix a bag lunch for each of our guests for the next day. Other volunteers come in to fix breakfast.

The Sunday School class my wife and I belong to ministered to our CARITAS visitors last week. As heart-breaking as it is to think about these people being homeless, it’s a real pleasure to extend Christian love to them through our meager efforts.

My wife and I recently spent a long weekend in Washington, D.C. Although I’ve seen an occasional street person in other places I’ve visited, never had I seen such prominent homelessness as I did in our nation’s capital. (See the two pictures above.) It seemed as if many of the benches in every public park–D.C. has a number of them–was occupied by a street person with all of his or her belongings stashed within easy reach.

Nobody asked us for money, and we didn’t feel endangered. But I can’t say that we felt entirely comfortable, either.

Kathleen and I are just average middle class Americans, but to the folks in CARITAS and the street people of Washington, D.C., we probably seemed wealthy.

Jesus’s words about providing for those who can’t provide for themselves are disturbing. Even if we gave every cent we have to help others, it would hardly make a dent in the world’s needs. Yet is it right for us to enjoy so much that so many others don’t have and may never have?

How much charity does Jesus expect us to provide, anyhow? Alas, He’s not here on earth to answer that question, but God’s Holy Spirit is. I suppose we’ll have to pay closer attention to the Spirit and let Him lead us to give when we ought to give and to serve where we ought to serve.

What’s your take on helping the homeless? Have you been involved in any ministry to them? Please share with 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 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

“What Do You Write?”

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“What do you write?” That question is asked of and by each attendee dozens of times at the annual Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at the Ridgecrest Lifeway Center near Black Mountain, NC. That’s just a little east of Asheville.

And what a variety of answers! Novels in a variety of genres, screenplays, non-fiction, Bible studies, children’s books, blog posts, greeting cards. If something can be written, the conference has at least one person who writes it.

Uh, with the notable exception of porn, of course. Not appropriate for Christian writers.

A conference like the BRMCWC is a wondrous thing to attend. Not only do we hear inspirational keynote addresses by a variety of speakers, each group session includes a time of worship, conducted by special musical worship leaders. (More on that on Wednesday.)

And then there are the classes themselves. Dozens of classes to choose from. One-time workshops, continuing classes (they meet each day of the conference), and practicums that not only meet every day but involve homework! The daily schedule includes one class time in the morning and two in the afternoon.

An experienced conference attendee comes with some sort of agenda. Often, it’s to meet with as many publishers as possible (we can sign up for two appointments the first night and as many additional ones as we can the next morning). Published authors, publishers, and agents are exceedingly good at accomplishing a lot in a fifteen minute appointment.

The faculty also have assigned tables in the dining hall (did I mention they have pretty good food at this conference and serve it cafeteria style?), and it’s not only acceptable, but expected that conferees sitting at a specific person’s table will have a chance to pitch his or her work then or to ask questions.

I’ve been going to the Blue Ridge Conference off-and-on since 2005. Never has it failed to meet my needs of the moment, and I’m determined now to make this my every-year conference.

I can’t do the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference justice in one blog post, but I realize not everyone is interested in writing or in reading about something that benefits writers–and consequently benefits readers as well.

But if you have questions about the conference, please leave a comment.

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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 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

Vinyl What? (part two)

IMG_20150403_142356046If you read my post from this past Wednesday, you already know that I’m talking about record albums, which I recently discovered are being made again and found some of for sale at my local Barnes & Noble store.

As an adult, I especially enjoyed my parents’ college graduation present, a subscription to the Columbia Record Club. Are you old enough to remember that? By signing up to buy a certain number of albums over a certain period of time, the subscriber could select a huge number of free albums starting out. That really got my album collection going strong.

My musical interests became more eclectic over the years. I fell in love with the music from Windham Hill’s multitude of talented artists, although I’ve always regretted–no, actually, I’ve always resented–the fact that the music industry labeled that kind of music as “New Age.” I preferred the designation of “Yuppy elevator music.”

My record collection outgrew the available indoor storage space, so I moved a number of albums to the shed. A shed that wasn’t leak-proof. Many of my favorites were ruined when the covers got soaked and stuck to the records themselves, but some were salvageable.

When my first wife and I divorced, I helped her move some things to a storage facility–a water-proof one! Since most of my albums were in the way at the time, I put them in storage along with the things my ex- was taking to Illinois.

Only too late did I realize I’d failed to rescue them before the move. Almost all of my albums went to Illinois, where she gave them to her uncle, who sold them at yard sales. Gone forever were my seventy or eighty Windham Hill albums.

Although I missed my records, I was joining the CD craze, so it wasn’t that much of an issue. Not until I found out how many of the old albums weren’t available on CD–oh, do I miss the Charlie Bird album, Delicately!–did I realize the extent of my losses.

Fortunately, I still had some of my albums, and one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten was a record player that connects to the computer and allows mp3 files to be created from records. It does a fantastic job.

Tell me. Will I return to Barnes & Noble to spend two to three times what albums used to cost? And would you? How about leaving a comment?

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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 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

Photography–from Hobby to Ministry

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The pictures above are three of my favorites.

I started developing a real interest in photography–no pun intended with “developing”–around 1966 or 1967, when my church had a friend of my parents for a revival preacher. He was in and out of our home several times, and he became interested in my Zenith Transoceanic shortwave radio, something that had given me hours of pleasure over the years, but which I was no longer using at all then.

And he had a camera he no longer had a need for. An Argus C-3, if I recall correctly. Of course, that was a long time before the advent of digital photography. As a college student, I didn’t have much money for film and processing, so I focused (no pun intended here, either) on black-and-white photography. I didn’t go crazy taking pictures, though. I still couldn’t afford to.

But then–that summer or the next–I was working at a summer job in North Carolina at a Baptist conference center that produced a yearbook of and for summer staff. I don’t recall how the editor of the yearbook came to see some of my photographs, but I was asked to be the yearbook photographer. That meant taking as many candid pictures as I could–not the individual staff pictures–at no cost to me personally.

In fact, they not only borrowed a light meter and a tripod for me, they allowed me to keep all of the prints they couldn’t use. How could things get better than that?

Although I still glance through that yearbook occasionally and take pride in a number of my pictures, I can’t help feeling embarrassed over duds they had to include because no better pictures were available.

Skip ahead a number of years to my first mission trip–Australia. By then I was lugging around a good-sized video camera that used VHS tapes–and not a film camera. It took several more mission trips for me to realize that–although being able to show certain activities “live” was desirable–it was a poor substitute in other ways for good  photographs that people could peruse casusally.

After several years of doing both videos and still photos, I gave up the video recording. I moved slowly through a progression of increasingly nice film cameras until I finally made the move to digital.

I was hooked. I could finally take as many pictures as I wanted to, delete the duds, and print only the ones I needed prints of. I could even doctor them up electronically. How wonderful!

For a number of years I adorned my living room walls with 24×30 inch posters of some of my favorite pictures. (I’ve since downsized to ledger-sized prints in order to include more.) And I’ve posted many of them on my website as well. Check HERE for a page of them. (The pictures OF me are NOT selfies, however.)

Sometimes I’ve felt a little funny about having so much money invested in camera equipment. Not that a professional photographer would look at my gear with more than mild curiosity.  But it’s turned out that God had a purpose in providing me with the interest, the talent, and the equipment .

I may not have an official title like “Church Photographer,” but I’ve become one of several people they always ask to take pictures of special events. Events like the yearly Family Fishing Day. The Shoebox Party. Special choir events. And numerous other occasions. Being useful that way not only makes me feel good, but encourages me to keep sharpening (okay, pun intentional this time) my skills.

I’m thrilled that God has chosen to turn my hobby into a ministry.

What about you? Do you have a hobby that has turned into a ministry to other people? How about sharing a comment?

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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 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

 

 

Happy to Be Me

At sixty-eight, I’m finally learning not just to be satisfied with the way God made me, but to be happy about it. He’s the Master and I’m the clay. He wouldn’t have let me turn out to be anything less than He’d intended—not as long as I was trying to follow His will. Of course, He had to keep smushing me together and remolding me during the process to make sure I turned out right.

Sure, I’d love to have been better looking. And to have had more hair. I couldn’t even have a Beatle-ish hair style in high school when the Fab Four first came to the United States to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show; my hair just didn’t grow prolifically in the right places. For that matter, what if He’d given me a body that stayed permanently trim—no matter how much food I ate or what kind.

And a lot more energy. When friends at a summer job nicknamed me Flash, it wasn’t because I was serving as the staff photographer. I was slow then, and I haven’t gotten any faster. “Hurry” isn’t in my dictionary.

Okay. Those things weren’t in God’s plan for me. But how could I miss something I’ve never had?

What if He’d led me to the perfect vocation right after college instead of taking me through six-plus years of teaching junior high English, ten years of helping economically disadvantaged folks find appropriate federally funded training, and almost nineteen years of computer programming?

Of course, I’d thought the programming was the vocation He’d been leading me to all along. Only when I was downsized unexpectedly did I realize I’d grown weary of keeping up with the changes in information technology. But He knew that would happen.

That downsizing led to a temporary at-home job, and when that ended it led to a part-time job at Target for three years. And it was during that time that I had both the time and the inclination to write my first novel. The first of eleven so far.

What? Did God have that in mind the whole time?

I believe He did. Looking back on various parts of my life—and the characteristics that make me me—I can see His hand placing those puzzle pieces on the board. They’re making more sense than ever. And I’m starting to appreciate the fact that I’m the me I am.

What about you? Do you like being who you are? What would you change if you could, and why do you think that would be important? Have you finished becoming the person God wants you to be? Please leave a comment.

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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 latest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

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Best regards,
Roger

 

When Should an Older Adult Quit Driving?

I’m smiling as I think about my father’s driving. For just about as far back as I can remember, he drove as creepingly slowly as any stereotypical little old man. That started years before he became a little old man, although his driving got appreciably worse as he grew older. He continued to drive until a few days before his death. Probably up to the day before he had to be hospitalized for the last time.

As a widow, my mother was in a quandary about driving. Her health wasn’t good, and she readily agreed that it probably wasn’t good for her to continue driving. So on the condition that I would drive her when needed, she let me trade in the Crown Victoria along with my car of the time and get a new car. One that we could conveniently put her walker–and soon thereafter her wheelchair–in.

My parents were in their eighties when they died. My mother had quit driving when she realized she could no longer do it safely. My father probably should have quit, but hadn’t.

What about me? I’m only sixty-eight and in good health.

But a year or two ago I drove through a wire barrier I didn’t see, and a few months ago I backed into a light post I couldn’t have missed seeing if I’d been more alert. I’ve always hated night driving, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to feel even vaguely comfortable doing.

Last night I rode to a meeting with a friend. And I’ve asked my wife to please start being the driver for Wednesday night and Sunday night church activities.

But I’m far from needing to give up driving completely. I’ve never hit anyone or even been in an accident with another vehicle. I don’t feel uncomfortable with daytime driving in familiar territory.

So what’s the big deal? Why write this blog post?

Honestly? I think I just needed to think all of this through and realize that I simply need to be more careful. Especially in parking lots!

What about you? What’s your opinion about or experience with older drivers? How about leaving a comment?

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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.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out . If you’re interested, here’s the Amazon link.

Best regards,
Roger

A Weighty Idiosyncrasy

If you’ve been with me even a short time already, you know I have my share of idiosyncrasies. I hope you do, too. I’d hate to be all by myself that way.

I describe the idiosyncrasy I’m talking about today as “weighty” because it has to do with my weight. See? That’s not very complicated, is it?

I’ve been in a battle with my weight practically my whole life. Don’t ask me why I remember this so vividly, but when I was in the sixth grade I weighed 148 and was a lot shorter than my adult 5’6″ height. The folks at church thought I was cute being so fat. I didn’t.

My parents finally decided to do something about it, and I trimmed down quite a bit

But–doggone it!–weight loss never seems to be permanent. I’ll bet I’ve gained and lost a thousand pounds over the years, although it’s felt more like I only gained a thousand and kept it.

When I started teaching school, I was always eating something I shouldn’t have had, and I managed to gain a good twenty pounds or so. A “good twenty pounds”? I don’t think so!

My clothes didn’t fit and I felt miserable. But I cut back on my eating and starting bicycling a lot. I bought some great looking clothes that wouldn’t fit until I reached my goal. I went from at least 177 down to 148 or less, and I was proud of myself. That was my first weight loss effort as an adult.

But, alas! it snuck back on over the years. It’s hard to pick a weight at which I would automatically decide I had to lose weight again. But it happened. Over and over again.

About three years ago I was diagnosed as being diabetic, type 2. The doctor told me to watch the scales, not the carbs. Huh?

Hmm. I’d made it up to 208. Not good. So I took Dr. Ashe’s statement seriously. I worked slowly and carefully. It took a year-and-a-half to lose fifty pounds, and I was determined that–for once–I was going to control my weight and never have to diet again.

But I’d been equally determined far too many other times, although not motivated by health needs, and I’d always backslidden.

Okay, you say. You understand. Maybe you’ve had an ongoing battle with your weight, too. Or ought to be concerned but you haven’t been motivated to do anything yet. Or maybe you’re close to someone who has a weight problem. Who isn’t?

So where’s the idiosyncrasy?

I keep a datebook in the bathroom and record my weight on a regular basis. I accept the fact that there will be minor fluctuations from day to day, but I make myself aware of those and fret whenever the figure goes up more than seems reasonable.

But that probably still doesn’t qualify as an idiosyncrasy.

How about the fact that I consider the first day of the month a crucial time–and even more so the first day of the year?

Seriously.

I keep an Excel spreadsheet of my weight; it goes back a number of years, although for a while I only kept track of the January 1 readings. I’m already fretting about the likelihood that I’ll probably weigh three pounds more on January 1, 2015, than I did the first of this year.

Fretting. I mean big-time fretting. Here I did so well so long, and I feel like I’m losing the battle. Starting to, anyhow.

I can eat the way I need to forever if I can avoid temptation. But add a week’s vacation away from home to dinner out with friends at a Cheesecake Factory and another dinner out with friends at a Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant (at least I didn’t have the buffet, which would’ve required me to fully pig out to try to eat my money’s worth) and I’m in trouble.

Yes, I know. Three pounds isn’t that much. But every successful diet has always concluded with failures like those. And they’ve always led to more.

I HAVE to keep it off this time, though. I refuse to buy bigger clothes again.

What do you say? Is weight your problem, or is something else equally frustrating to you? 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 use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. 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.

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

Best regards,
Roger

YA Novels Aren’t Just for Teens

When Barbour Publishing released my first two Young Adult novels in 2011, I soon discovered that most of the positive feedback would come from adults. Not teens.

Since then I’ve learned that’s the norm. Adults love well written Young Adult novels. And I don’t mean just the Harry Potter books or The Hunger Games.

I’d like to believe that’s partially because conscientious parents want to make sure their kids are reading decent books. But I’m realistic enough to know that probably isn’t the case most of the time.

Why then?

I believe adults enjoy teen stories because we remember our own teen years sufficiently well that we can relate to them. And I believe far fewer teens enjoy (decent) adult novels because they cannot relate. They haven’t lived long enough or experienced enough of adult trials and tribulations.

I periodically agree to become an “influencer” for someone else’s new novel. Among other things, that means I receive a copy of the book–sometimes a print copy, sometimes electronic–and read and post reviews of it.

When I volunteered to become an influencer for Marissa Shrock’s YA novel, The First Principle, I did so because the brief synopsis sounded interesting.

Can you imagine a futuristic time (not too far in the future) when the United States as a nation has been replaced by a nation made up of the former United States, Mexico, and Canada? Freedom as we know it is a thing of the past, and the more affluent are in control. People must trust the government to know what’s best for them under all circumstances; that sounds too much like today.

Christians are enemies of the State and the Bible as we know it is illegal. The government has issued an authorized revised Bible meant to appeal to the members of every religion.

Teens are not discouraged from having sex. That, too, sounds too much like today. Every teen girl is vaccinated against pregnancy, but since the vaccine doesn’t always work, girls must take a regularly scheduled pregnancy test. Any teen who gets pregnant automatically faces abortion, and no one thinks of it as murder.

But there’s trouble in paradise. A rebel faction has been building for years, determined to restore the former United States and the freedoms people used to enjoy. And Christians play a huge role in the conspiracy.

What really grabbed my attention when I first opened the book–a print copy–was the fact that Marissa didn’t have the usual list of endorsements by other authors. Instead, she listed seven or eight brief endorsements by teen readers, giving only their first names and their ages. If I were a teen girl, that would probably have sold me on the book right there.

I’m not going to give away any of the story today. But, if you read the back cover, you learn that Vivica, the teen protagonist, faces some drastic decisions when she becomes illegally pregnant. One thing the author did especially well was to portray Vivica as a well-intended but imperfect teen.

The further I went in my reading, the more drawn in I became. The story was wonderfully suspenseful and the ending quite satisfying–and obviously paving the way for a sequel.

I could’ve live without all of the details about the new country and how it came into being, especially as an information dump at the beginning of Chapter Two. I’m just not sure all of those details were necessary.

But if that’s my biggest criticism, I have to still say that The First Principle is a teen novel well worth reading.

What have you read recently? Any teen books? Care to share with a comment?

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

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

Best regards,
Roger