Tag Archives: books

Maundy

A new command was given on Maundy Thursday – a mandate – mandatum – hence the name. And in honor of “loving one another,” priests wash parishioners’ feet, kings and queens give coins, and altars are stripped ready to remember that giving of it all.

The story below comes from my Bible gift book: Easter, Creation to Salvation in 100 words a day. And if you want to know what happens next (the end of the world perhaps), look for Revelation, from Easter to Pentecost in 100 words a day. Enjoy.

(And if you want a writing prompt, write about the wonder of the season – Easter, spring, whatever season this means to you.)

44. Maundy Thursday

bread and wine

The streets were quiet. Night had fallen, everyone sleeping or praying, except for them.

“Strange about the bread,” said James, still tasting forbidden matzos eaten after lamb.

“And the blessing”—“This is my body,” the master had said, reminding them of something they were too full, or too tired to remember.

They stopped at a garden, sat on rocks, lay on grass, their bodies weary with food. And they barely noticed when Jesus left to pray with Peter, James and John.

Matthew looked up. “Huh? Where’d they go?” then, “Wonder what happened to Judas.”

Voices whispered. Armor jangled. Footsteps approached.

Mark 14:22 “…Take, eat: this is my body.”

 After they’d eaten the Passover meal, Jesus blessed and broke another matzo. He prayed over the third cup of wine—cup of redemption, blood of the lamb—and the feast drew to its end.

Maundy Thursday evening begins a three-day celebration of Easter: Maundy pennies to the poor; priests washing the people’s feet. But it’s communion that matters most—bread and wine shared in remembrance of Him. We file out from church, leaving the light shining in a tiny garden—shrubs and flowers, a place of Easter prayer.

And through the night, people visit, to watch and pray one hour.

45. Good Friday

crucifixion

It didn’t seem so long ago she carried her baby to the Temple, and an old man prophesied, “A sword will piece your heart.”

She hadn’t known what sort of sword. There were all the little swords of childhood, watching and caring for the boy, losing and finding him. There was the sword of his leaving home, and the day he addressed the crowds: “These are my mother and brothers,” as if she hadn’t left everything to follow him too.

This sword was a soldier’s spear, piercing her dead son’s heart.

A mother shouldn’t have to watch her baby die.

John 1:29 “…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

 Good Friday’s service is the long one. We stand and kneel and sit on cue, and pray for all times and all peoples.

The priest holds up the crucifix—“Behold the wood of the cross.” And all other symbols stay hid under their purple cloths—statues in mourning. The congregation marches forwards to bestow our reverent kisses, quickly wiped.

It must look strange—we fools for Christ; irrational kisses in remembrance of God’s salvation. I touch my lips to plastic, and my heart touches mystery.

Returning home we celebrate with hot cross buns, sweetness and spice, pleasure and pain together.

46. Holy Saturday

death

“They tell me Judas has killed himself. I doubt I could even do that right.

“Remember me, Jesus? I’m the one that betrayed you; told them I never even knew you. I stood there, and I saw you look at me.

“Remember me? I’m the one that couldn’t walk on water after all; can’t even walk right on land. You said you’d build your church on me, called me a rock. Some rock. Some church.

“Remember me, Jesus? And you tell me to remember you.

“I remember seeing you dead and buried, so tell me, now what do I do?”

John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches…”

 We left the church in silence on Good Friday, the altar bare—no candles, no flowers, no music, joyful or sad. On Saturday evening, we’ll meet together in the parking lot, beside the Paschal fire, the air filled with excitement and smoke, shouting “Alleluia” instead of “Crucify.” On Holy Saturday evening we’ll all stand forgiven, and the grave lie empty.

New light, new life, new hope tonight. My brother, the priest, sings “Lumen Christi” and we answer “Deo Gratias”—light of Christ; thanks be to God. Beautiful music, beautiful prayers, and beautiful hope.

This night, our Savior is risen.

47. Easter Sunday

resurrection

“King of the Jews.”

“So they say.”

“D’you think he’ll stay dead?”

The older man laughed. He’d been a soldier long enough to know, the dead don’t walk. “We killed him son.” And if they could keep the body guarded, maybe peace would return to the violent province.

They sat around the fire, telling war stories to flames, cursing the land, scorning people who might be foolish enough to try to steal a corpse.

Then they saw what they could not see, and heard what they could not hear. In the morning, the grave stood empty; the dead had walked.

John 11:25 “…I am the resurrection, and the life…”

 Jesus walked the earth again for forty days. His disciples saw Him. Huge crowds ate and talked with Him. And those who chronicled events wrote their tales, while eye-witnesses still lived to disagree. Like newspaper reporters today, each stressed his own version. But together they tell one story, one the authorities couldn’t suppress, though it would have been so easy to disprove—if there’d only been a body.

After the forty days, Jesus disappeared. After fifty, at the Jewish Pentecost, the Holy Spirit turned frightened fishermen into Fishers of Men. And two thousand years later Christians still follow the carpenter.

New Year, New Edits, New Words?

I don’t make New Year resolutions on the grounds that I’ll always break them. But I do make plans, and this year I plan to work harder on writing and editing, read more productively, spend less time looking at or wishing I could create advertisements, and write fewer book reviews. 200+ reviews is just too many for one year, and too much time spent not writing.

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Peter’s Promise on Amazon

With all this in mind, and with my mum – my greatest fan and my best editor – still staying with us, I decided to start each day by editing a section from my upcoming children’s book, Paul’s Purpose. (It’s the sequel to Peter’s Promise, above.)

Of course, I know Paul had many purposes, and so do I: in writing children’s Bible stories I want to:

  • Show the stories of the Bible are set around real people in a real world,
  • Show that the world of history and saints wasn’t so different from the world of siblings and friends,
  • Encourage and entertain middle-grade readers – I want them to think, laugh, and turn pages; I want pre-school listeners to enjoy being read to as well;
  • Encourage and entertain middle-grade educators – I want them to be ready to give and find answers – to model looking for answers on Google, in the dictionary or in the Bible (or anywhere else);
  • Encourage and improve reading and language skills – I like to include some words my readers may not have used before, because the real world is filled with words we all might misunderstand, and
  • Encourage and improve critical thinking skills – I like my readers to ask questions, because without questions, the answers can’t make sense.

So …

After talking with Mum, I’d love to know your opinions.

  • Can I use such words as “erudite” “persistent” and “single-minded” in a children’s book?
  • Can I refer to “virility-fertility rites” (with no further explanation) when my characters complain about what goes on in pagan temples?
  • Is “God’s mark hurts” a sufficient explanation of why a boy might not want to be circumcised, or should I just avoid the whole question, though it seems like it was a pretty big question at the time?

Meanwhile, since I always turn these blogs into writing exercises, here a

Writing Prompt

  • Think of something in the natural world – a bird, a stone, a river…
  • Imagine how it came into being – evolution, hatching from an egg, rain-clouds with dried fish-eggs waiting to hatch…
  • Then tell its story, from its own point of view:
    • One paragraph (or sentence) for the beginning
    • one for the middle, or the present day
    • and one for the end, or end of the world, or “Help! It’s raining fish!”

It’s raining ice here. Keep warm.

 

My Most Singular Venture

If I’ve been absent from the internet, or only minimally present, this last few weeks, I’ve had good reason. I embarked on a brand new venture, you see – in fact, “A Most Singular Venture,” which just happens to be the title of a wonderful new novel in the Elizabeth and Richard Literary Mysteries Series by Donna Fletcher Crow.

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As you’ll see from the cover, Elizabeth and Richard (a couple now pleasingly approaching my own age) are in London as this story begins. Elizabeth is researching locations visited by that well-known classical author, Jane Austen, while Richard is about to start teaching a summer class on Golden Age mystery authors. It’s a great combination, with tasks, characters and mysteries all dove-tailing into a plot that pulls the reader along: Explore London, learn literature, and look for a murderer, all within the covers of a single, enticing book.

But where do I fit in? And how did this singular venture keep me from the internet? Well… that’s where my own most singular and delightful venture starts, with author Donna Fletcher Crow inviting me to reawaken my editing dreams after reading my review an earlier novel in the series:

JaneAus

How could I resist? I didn’t even try. The chance to read Elizabeth and Richard’s latest adventure before anyone else? The chance to get to know one of my favorite authors better? And, yes, the chance to call myself an editor again… I spread those wings with eager delight and had a most wonderful time.

Watch out for A Most Singular Venture, coming later this year to a bookstore near you. And get ready for the adventure with a thoroughly enjoyable Jane Austen Encounter. Then spread your writing wings and feather your quill for a writing exercise:

Get Ready

  1. Think of a famous person and a place that person is connected with.
  2. Think of reasons why a group of people might visit that place?

Get Set

Make a list of ways you can connect their visit with the person

  1. Do they go to sites your famous person frequented?
  2. Do they get involved in the same sort of business?
  3. Or perhaps they see a ghost?
  4. travel in time?
  5. read a book?
  6. endure the same problems?
  7. etc.

Now Write

A story, a paragraph, an essay, or even a novel… whatever you have time for. Enjoy!

 

Wagging their tails behind them

Do you remember when Little Bo Peep lost her sheep?

Do you remember the blind mice whose tails were chopped off?

Then tell-tale tit told a lie, and such troubles ensued.

I’m hoping for good news, good tales, good sales and good reviews on the release of my latest book, my first from Linkville Press. Tails of Mystery is a book of animal stories for kids of all ages, about dogs of indeterminate age, the occasional cat, many tails, some raccoons perhaps, and more, all set in a neighborhood near you. Can you resist those smiling doggy faces?

So open the door. If you don’t, small doggy paws might maneuver their way around the latch. Here come Fred and Joe.

Tails of Mystery by Sheila Deeth

Tails of Mystery by Sheila Deeth

Alfred

He’s brown, white and furry, barks crazily at passing cars, lawnmowers or postal vans, and likes long walks in long wet grass. He probably prefers long walks in green forests. But he came to stay with us for the weekend, so I was frequently persuaded to take the other end of his leash while he introduced me to the pleasures of lampposts and trees.

Alfred
Alfred

He’s called Alfred, and while on those long, damp walks he’s surprisingly silent. He does stop and stare at me adoringly, when I unguardedly call him a “good boy.” He seems to believe those two words placed together mean “Look, I’m going to give you a treat.” I guess he’s got me well-trained.

Meanwhile, apparently, he’s also very good at training imaginary characters. Those wonderful folk in my current work-in-progress became progressively more voluble as Alfred took me for walks. Maybe they just liked the fresh air and exercise. Or maybe they like dogs, though they seem to keep seeing cats. Anyway, Subtraction’s now up to nearly 40,000 words and growing.

If Alfred stayed another week or so, perhaps I’d get it completed. But he’s gone home, my computer’s going crazy because I installed a new virus scanner, my Mum really wishes I’d finish installing same so she can listen to the Archers (BBC Radio 4 for the uninitiated), and my husband wishes I’d figure out how to install it without driving the computer insane, since my next job is to install the virus scanner on his machine.

Actually, talking to those characters in Subtraction is really rather fun. Perhaps I’ll go for a walk. Has anyone got a leash for me?

Feeling authorly, and writing Bible stories

Last weekend I went to the Oregon Christian Writers’ Conference and suddenly felt like an author. Perhaps it was the way my books were displayed with such care. Perhaps it was the keynote speaker, Jane Kirkpatrick, welcoming me with her usual open arms. Or perhaps it was hearing my name mentioned in her talk! Whichever the cause, I came home walking on air.

Photo of Sheila and Jane
Sheila Deeth and Jane Kirkpatrick at Oregon Christian Writers

But our Coffee Break Bible Study group was coming to an end and I needed a story to shape the summer while we wait to meet again. I had nothing to say. Until my proof copy of Galilee’s Gift arrived in the mail, and opened, by chance, to the page headed “The Bent and Beautiful Woman.”

Cover photo of Galilee's Gift
Galilee’s Gift

The hand of chance belongs to God, they tell me. And Coffee Break is a women’s Bible Study group, filled with women, all beautiful to God, however the world might bend us. So I read the story, my story, and suddenly knew what I had to say. This bent and beautiful woman, like us, was healed by Jesus; but better than that, she learned that she was precious in God’s sight. What better reminder for us in the summer break?

Gift basket for an author
Gift basket for an author

Meanwhile those wonderfully supportive Coffee Break Bible Study ladies gave me a gift, with coffee mug, pens, mouse-pad, and even a bag to carry all my books to my next conference, everything decorated with website and publicity photos of me. Suddenly I felt like an author again!

Thank you ladies. Thank you God!

Transatlantic Computing

Galilee's Gift
Galilee’s Gift

The phone number always comes up as “out of area.” Sometimes it means it’s a telemarketer, but I always have to answer because it might mean the caller is seriously, transatlantically out of area, in which case a family member is probably trying to contact me from England. So I lift the receiver. I say “Hello.” And the reply from my brother is, “My computer needs some help.”

I suspect, having just had to call in the services of our local Friendly Computers when my hard drive died, I may not be the best person to call for computer help. But my nephew was out, my other brother (the technological one) was about to go out, and I came in as third choice.

They’d already tried the “switch off and wait a bit” option. It didn’t help. They’d tried typing in a wrong password to confirm the one they were using was definitely right. But the user account wouldn’t load, and they couldn’t get into a windows screen.

Technological brother had suggested safe mode, so now I guided the pressing of the dreaded F8 key until the right screen appeared. We found our way to the control panel, repair and restore, and various ok buttons. We agreed this would be better than nothing and we let the computer do its work, close down, restart… and my brother (the non-technological one) was back online!

My first transatlantic computer repair job is successfully completed, but will it stick? Perhaps if my brother can’t log on tomorrow the nephew or technological brother will be more conveniently located. But I did feel a pleasant buzz of success as he surfed the internet. I even went on to complete the read-through of Galilee’s Gift, finding typos and feeling guilty, and sending my heartfelt apologies to the publisher. Still, that set of four books will look really cool when they’re finished, and I really hope they’ll read well too. Then I’ll write some more… assuming my computer holds up.

Screams of panic and joy

My computer screamed at me the other day, which is odd, because usually I’m the one doing the screaming. Can’t find that picture; lost the file; my Easter blogpost disappeared (it did)… But “odd” is in the eye of the beholder, or ear of the listener I suppose. My computer screamed at me. Then I screamed back.

I had good reason to scream. My computer was failing, failing, failing, while a fearsome black screen declared there was a hardware problem. Memories of that mechanical scream gave me fearful thoughts of what might ensue.

My hard drive had fried. It was totally, completely, irrevocably, irredeemably dead. So I screamed even more. However, I promise, I swear, I even cross my heart; I will never ever again complain when my husband tells me it’s time to back up my computer. He’d nagged me on the Monday night, and the drive failed on Friday, so all I lost was three day’s work.

Sadly, it’s now more than a week later and I’m still catching up. But I’ve learned my lesson. I’m also backing up vital files onto a thumb drive, every night, just in case disaster strikes twice.

One of those files is the pdf print version of Galilee’s Gift, coming soon to a bookstore near you. But if you can’t wait, here it is in ebook form: http://www.amazon.com/Galilees-Gift-Five-Minute-Testament-Stories-ebook/dp/B00JWYO3IU/

Third New Testament entry in the Five Minute Bible Story Series
Galilee’s Gift cover

And here are Bethlehem’s Baby and Nazareth Neighbors, already in print! A fact that causes me to scream more in joy than in panic–my Five Minute Bible Story Series (TM) is definitely growing!

http://www.amazon.com/Bethlehems-Five-Minute-Bible-Series-Volume/dp/1494861690/

http://www.amazon.com/Nazareth-Neighbors-Five-Minute-Stories-Series/dp/149745719X/

First New Testament entry in the Five-Minute Bible Story Series
Bethlehem’s Baby cover
Second New Testament entry in the Five Minute Bible Story Series
Nazareth Neighbors cover

Playing with the birds

I think spring sprang to life today. Lots of little green shoots appeared in our garden. And a gorgeous springer spaniel, who just happens to be visiting for the weekend, sprang over them with delightful agility. Meanwhile the local birds, perhaps unconvinced of said springer spaniel’s goodwill, sprang into song.

Birdsong: the sound of tweeting birds.

Twitter: light-hearted nonsense chatter.

Tweet: The highly recommended, up-and-coming (or already here–why am I always behind the curve) form of advertizing your books.

Easter! Creation to Salvation in 100 words a day
Get ready for Easter. Read the whole Bible story in 100 words a day

So here I sit, like a twit, composing 140 character tweets that include links (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords perhaps) to my Easter book, and realizing before Ash Wednesday would have been a better time for them (but it was still winter, wet and soggy, and lacking in birdsong back then). Still, the tweets will go out (as will the dog), and maybe I’ll even check to see if they generate any interest, or lead to sales.

I’m told real authors check their sales figures as frequently as real marketers tweet. But I’m still behind the curve–I probably have to figure out how to check them first.

For my tweets, visit: https://twitter.com/sheiladeeth

for a growing collection of Twitter stories and poems, try: http://sheiladeethdrabbles.blogspot.com/

and for a book of 100-word Bible stories and Christian ponderings, just click on the links above.

 

 

What price kindle free?

Genesis People (#1 in the Five Minute Bible StoryTM Series) is free on kindle from now ’til January 14th. And I sold over a hundred copies today!

Pause while I do a happy dance with my Mum…

Wouldn’t you want to dance? Over a hundred new readers cared enough to download copies. Over a hundred new readers might write reviews. And over a hundred new readers might choose to buy Bethlehem’s Baby (#6) in print soon… so very soon. The first print copy’s already in the mail from my publisher!

Of course, my husband saw my happy dance and asked why. Being a practical kind of guy, he answered my triumphant tally of sales by demanding to know the price. When I answered “free,” he said “Then you gave them away. That isn’t selling.” But perhaps it’s marketing.

I’ll get back to you later on whether or not it’s successful marketing. Meanwhile I’ll hope my readers might get back to me for more. And I’ll rejoice in the fact that I’m enjoying writing #8, Galilee’s Gift.

Five Minute Bible StoryTM Series, for bedtime, nap time, family time, Sunday school and more: Five minutes stories based on the Bible and grounded in faith, science and history.