Sonnets For My Savior 50

Sonnets For My Savior 50

Giving Father

Praise the Lord, who never fails to answer prayers.
Praise the Lord, whose mercy is endless.
For He knows and listens to all your cares.
His steadfast love is boundless.

Be persistent,
for God gives justice to those who cry out day and night.
God is never inattentive or distant.
He never fails to care for his chosen or do what’s right.

He has heard my pleas.
He has answered my heart’s calls.
His generosity brings me to my knees.
His power has raised up kings and thrown down walls.

I’m not worthy to receive such kindness,
so I offer my praise with a heart full of gladness.

 


 

The Other Brother

What did he serve for?
Was it because his heart longed to do good?
Or did he hope his work would earn him more?
Was his anger over not getting what he thought he should?

Does correct behavior make a good son,
or is it the heart that brings truth to light?
No amount of good deeds lead to God’s heart being won.
Service offered in love is the practice that is right.

How much better was the one than the other?
One demanded then while the other hoped for more later.
But desire led one to be jealous of his brother.
Wouldn’t it be better to set one’s eyes on something greater?

Don’t become envious of those who return to your Father’s door,
for you are with Him always, and all He has is yours.

 


 

Compared to

Compared to other men,
I may seem righteous.
Compared to other men,
I might be considered pious.

Compare to a killer,
I am peaceful.
Compared to an adulterer.
I may not seem lustful.

But compared to our perfect, holy God,
I am filthy.
Compared to a perfect, just God,
I am guilty.

Rather than glorify yourself with your comparison to humanity,
Look up to the LORD and see the need for humility.

 


 

His Gentle Rebukes

Praise God for the guilt I feel,
for I know this is how His spirit speaks to me.
One way to know my salvation is real
is how detestable sins grow to be.

I feel remorse when I realize
how empty sin really is.
Fear of His wrath is what begins to make me wise.
Each sin I turn from helps me know that I am His.

When I feel convicted,
I know he is calling me back.
His rules no longer make me feel restricted.
His gentle rebukes are what keep me on track.

I pray to always avoid temptation’s seduction.
Instead help me to listen for His Spirit’s instruction.

 


 

And 70 Times More

Time after time, I’ve stumbled.
Time after time, You’ve forgiven me.
Your mercy has me humbled.
Your grace has changed the man I used to be.

Time after time, I’ve been sinned against.
Let me reflect the patience you have shown.
Why should I become incensed,
for my sins prevent me from casting a single stone.

Let me forgive regardless of the offense.
Let me forget any amount owed.
For my debt to you was so immense,
but still, from You, forgiveness flowed.

If I’ve forgiven my brother 70 time before,
let me forgive him still 70 times more.

 


 

His Love For Us

We break every rule He has set.
We only call to Him when we have a want or are in need.
We demand of Him anything we can get.
We’ve no interest in His will, only our own greed. 

If we were treated thus?
Would we not feel frustration?
Would we say such people love us?
Would we not demand compensation?

Even as we committed these acts,
Christ died for us.
Even as our sins are piled in high stacks,
Christ paid the price for us.

His love for us is shown in this:
Despite our wrongs, Christ gave himself up for those He calls His.

 


 

Who Will Be Exalted

Sit at the lowest table seat.
Let the host come move you to a higher place.
Pray as if Heaven’s place your eyes can’t meet.
Let the loving finger of God lift up your face.

Kneel and pray for forgiveness.
Do not stand and justify yourself with comparisons to man.
Let your Father, who sees in secret, offer you his kindness.
Let your Father, who hears in secret, lift you up, for only He can.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who seek,
for they shall find Christ, and receive more than their worth.

Those who humble themselves will be raised high.
Those who exalt themselves will be cast down by their own pride.

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Betrayed’s First Draft Is Under Way

Betrayed’s First Draft Is Under Way

Greetings all,

As you can see in the title, I’ve started the first official draft of Betrayed.

caught-front-coverMy Process: Just last week, I talked about getting that first draft down. I’m so aware of the issues with mustering up the courage to put a story on paper that I’ve developed what I call the discover draft. It’s my way of cheating the system. When I’m writing this draft, I’m just getting the story down, and I’m not held up on anything because I don’t really think about it as a draft. That discovery draft is a very rough version of the story (some are more rough than others).

So what I did was get Betrayed’s general story down. Then I started re-reading the story. I made notes. Some were just me telling myself to check certain details. Most, because this is an area I struggle in, of my notes are just me telling myself how much more description I need. I also take a close look at the plot points and the characters to be sure everything is satisfying.

So without giving too much away, my biggest (non-description-related) notes were about making each scene more satisfying. There’s definitely one character who needs more screen time. I also need to push in on  some of the relationships and how they’ve evolved.

I’m pretty happy with this draft, and I’m excited to see what people who liked Caught think of how the story progresses.

The horror element is dwindling, but that’s by intent. This is much more action and drama oriented than Caught. The struggle is making the opponent seem worthy when Oneiros is a group of psychically enhanced people. I think I’ve done that.

Betrayed features Dom. Sal is still there, and Kaitlyn begins to take more of a lead role. I explore the relationship between those three characters and Kira. There’s a lot of friction in there, and poor Brandon and Chris have to try and keep things together. The government has finally decided to react to Oneiros and its vigilante operations. An old friendship gets shattered, and (as always in this series) more secrets are uncovered.

Betrayed currently has a prologue and 31 chapters, so I expect it will take 1-2 months to get this draft done. Then I’ll put out the call for Alpha Readers. With my family life, it could be some time before I finish the final draft. I have to take the time it requires to make this a quality story for you, but I promise I’m dedicating whatever time I can to the project.

Repressed_ACX_CoverIf you haven’t read Caught, I’m hoping you’ll give it a shot. Repressed is a short story based on Kaitlyn, and it’s a nice little update on things. I have free Audible download codes if you’d like to give one or both a try (seriously, I have 100 for each). You can email me for those.

I’ll get Betrayed out as soon as possible, and I’m outlining Discovered, which will complete the trilogy.  Please be patient as I continue to adjust from being a single guy with little to do but write, to a married man and a father. I will figure it out. Things might not get out as quickly as I’d have liked, but they are coming.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Pipe of Wings by Sarah K.L. Wilson

Book Review: Pipe of Wings by Sarah K.L. Wilson
Cover
The book’s cover image was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Pipe of Wings by Sarah K.L. Wilson  is the fifteenth book in the Dragon School series.  Amel gets tricked into obeying her new prince. This new leader has her reaching out to old friends for aide. The mysterious pipe she’d found holds a secret that my prove to be a move valuable weapon than she imagined.

Character:  Right up front I need to state that this is Book 15 in a series that’s designed (based on my reading) to be read in order. On one hand, it’s unfair to judge on book in the middle of a series. On the other hand, most authors of a saga should realize that people are going to jump into their series in the middle, and those readers will need some help catching up. I’m not going to be too hard on Wilson, but it’s a challenge to get into a story when you came in on the 15th part. Why did I do this? Well, this book was a Book Cover of the Month winner back when I ran those brackets.  

That said: Amel is a sympathetic character. I’m fascinated by her disability (something about her leg, though I’m unclear what it is). As sympathetic as she is, she didn’t strike me as very proactive or competent. Now, this is YA fantasy, so there was bound to be a lot of decisions an older person like myself doesn’t necessarily feel were the best. Amel was interesting enough that if I had the time, I’d probably go back to book one and check things out, but she wasn’t so cool that I feel compelled to go back. For me, that’s telling. Heck, I didn’t even really know Amel’s name until the last third of the book. (I listened to the audio version, and she didn’t leave a lot of tags for readers to track who was who or even who was saying what.)

Exposition: Honestly, this might be the first book where I feel I didn’t get enough exposition. I was clueless through pretty much the whole book. Sure, I came in late, but readers who come in late don’t have a chance at gaining enough context to enjoy what might be an amazing story for those who started in book one. I think it’s a shame because every book should be an opportunity to invite readers to your other books.

portrait1
Image of Sarah Wilson was taken from her Amazon author page for review purposes.

Worldbuilding:  The pipe was an interesting element as is the relationship between the dragons and their riders. I don’t understand it too well, but it was interested. I’ll assume the world, politics, and societal issues I was lost on in this book are a result in my ignorance.

Dialogue: This felt pretty rough. This doesn’t have anything at all to do with context or what book I was in. The conversations felt a bit formulaic. There were points of conflict that I felt deserved to be dealt with that were instead glazed over or even just ignored, which made the scene hard to believe.

Description:  This was very good. While I didn’t know who was who, I still saw and sensed a lot. I like picturing dragons of different colors flying around. This was easily the strongest area of the book for Wilson. One reason I’m not such a fan is probably because its best attribute is my least-favorite story element. That said, the worldbuilding and description in Dune were also amazing, and I didn’t very much care for that book either. Dune is mandatory reading for SCIFI fans and Wilson is a best seller. I wouldn’t let my singular opinion stop you from checking this series out, but I would strongly urge you that, to give it a fair shot, you start on book one.

Overall: While this is obviously part of a series, this book doesn’t provide any context or background to help readers starting in the middle. If you’re going to give this series a try, start at the first book. That may seem obvious, but some books do a fantastic job of helping the reader (or listener) catch up. The story is fast paced. The characters are hard to connect with, but the premise is very interesting. This series as a whole has a very interesting premise with a lead character with the opportunity to be inspirational.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Sonnets For My Savior 49

Sonnets For My Savior 49

Why I Need Him

I can’t do enough on my own.
I dive into the mud every time You wash me.
There is nothing good in my flesh or bone.
This is why your sacrifice is the key.

Born into an imperfect body,
I could never claim or attain perfection.
However, the flawless grace You embody
is what gives me justification.

By myself, wrath is all I deserve.
By Your side, forgiveness is what I will receive.
I am alone, if my self is all I serve.
I gain life if in You I trust and believe.

His righteousness is the cloak I wear.
Alone, all of my deeds done without Christ wouldn’t receive a single care.

 


 

My Desperate Need

They pile up on me;
another comes even as I cast the first out.
I’m drowning in a filthy sea;
I can’t find any pure water in this drought.

Like skittering insects they crawl over my skin.
Sin seeps out of every pour.
I realize there is no way I can win.
For every sin I avoid, I commit a hundred more.

Indeed I do do everything I hate.
I fail to do that in which I would take delight.
My sin piles up on me, and I can’t bear the weight.
There is no part in me that is right.

Only Christ can take it all way,
which is why I seek him each and ever day.


 

The Distance

The sun is closer to the moon.
A flower’s petals are closer to the top of a tree.
Midnight is closer to noon
than your glory is to me.

A deep sea fish is closer to a vulture in flight.
The street is closer to the top of a tower
than my ability is to your might
or my strength is to your power.

Filthy rags are cleaner than I am
when compared to your holiness.
The worst criminal is more blameless than I am
when compared to your righteousness.

But you still sent Christ to die and pay my price
so that I might be saved and worship you in paradise.

 


 

Wonderful Gifts

A wife who loves and respects me.
Sons who listen to and obey me.
A roof to offer shelter to me.
Food and water to sustain me.

Family and friends who love me.
A job I enjoy through which, You provide for me.
Brothers and sisters in Christ who offer fellowship to me.
A church home to educate me.

Your Holy Word to feed me.
Your mighty power to protect me.
Your Grace to forgive me.
Your Glorious Son, who bled and died for me.

All these good gifts, You have given me,
but the greatest is the last, for it is what set my soul free.

 


 

My Safety

My sprit is secure, Lord, in your mighty hands.
My body is safe, Lord, for it is where you live.
Where others build on soft sands,
my home is built on the foundation you give.

You are my shelter, and with You, I am secure.
I fear nothing, for You are with me.
No matter what happens, I can be sure,
You will never leave or forsake me.

Creator of nature and man,
my trust is in Your sovereign plan.
The things I fear I can’t do, with You, I know I can.
You walk with me no matter how far my journey may span.

Whatever trials or threats come to me,
I can be brave, for You are my safety.

 


 

The Low Door

The door to Heaven is low.
One must crawl to enter.
To the humble one, God’s blessings flow.
The door won’t permit those who feel like the world’s center.

The haughty and prideful don’t understand.
They can’t compare to God’s righteousness.
They think they can earn inheritance of the land.
They are blinded by their foolishness.

Only God is truly good.
All fall short of His perfection.
None who would justify themselves to God could.
The only path to life everlasting is confession.

The high door leads to destruction.
But the humble who enter the low door will find salvation.

 


 

All I Need

I do not pretend I don’t desire more.
There is much I’d like to see.
But I have already received so much that I’ve asked for.
I don’t know how much happier I could be.

The Israelites were taken from Egypt and set free,
but they grumbled and complained so quickly after.
Their hardened hearts had a brief time of glee,
but they demanded and rebelled thereafter.

I pray that won’t be the course I take.
For I seek to remember what I’ve been given.
The LORD God filled my heart, which was empty with ache.
With him to provide, I need not be so driven.

Dear God protect me from a heart of greed.
Let me remember always that I already have all that I need.

Your First Draft Will Never Be Perfect

Your First Draft Will Never Be Perfect
stuck
Stock image from Pixabay.

Something that slows down or even completely stops an aspiring writer is the idea that the book is finished when he or she completes the draft. I see it with my students. They spend far too much time trying to make the first draft their last draft.

That’s an unfortunate misconception that only serves to devastate someone. I’m not saying it never happened to me. The first thing I ever wrote, I proudly presented it to a few friend’s and even a published author. I wanted them to lavish me with praise and compliments. That’s just not how it went.  

My friend pointed out all of these plot holes, and the author I showed it to just told me why it didn’t work. I was absolutely devastated. I had just spent about a month typing some thousands of words, and the story wasn’t any good.

What saved me in that moment was my sheer stubborn nature. All my youth spent having to do something over and over again until it was right instilled in me the determination to keep at something until it’s done. I’ll admit, that same youth put me in a mindset to completely hate having to do something again. I still do.  The thing I learned, and the thing I want others to know, is that the first draft is only a draft.

If your stuck because, “I just can’t get this chapter right,” rewrite your definition of “right.” A first draft should have the general plot and major character events in an order that makes a pretty good amount of sense. I overemphasize this statement. JUST. KEEP. WRITING.  First of all, there is no such thing as a perfect story. Someone is going to find a plot hole you didn’t think of. Someone is going to find some copyediting error you didn’t even know existed. For the first draft, don’t even worry about it. Write to get the story out. Hunger for people to point out the holes. Crave criticism.

Now those are things that are still against my nature. “I love this story! I couldn’t bear it if someone didn’t like it!” Do yourself a favor: Never publish that book or show it to anyone. Someone is going to hate your book. It’s the world, and the people in the world will find things they don’t like. Use that feedback to make the book better. By all means, stand behind decisions you make, but do so knowing what some readers might think of those decisions.

Bob CoverThe Journals of Bob Drifter was my first book. I have six reviews that are two stars or lower between Amazon and Goodreads. That mans six people just flat didn’t like my book. It hurts to think that. I really want people to enjoy my book. However, if I really did let that stop me from publishing, I would have missed out on the 50 four-star-or-higher reviews. At least 50 people loved the book! That’s the nature of entertainment. (I have 63 reviews for Bob between its two editions and the review from Amazon and Goodreads.) However, the final draft of that book looks very different from what I originally wrote. The order of the book was very different. Some of the decisions were different (particularly with Richard). The criticism from editors and beta readers truly helped shape the novel into what it became, and I still love it.

Every single one of my titles has the same story from that point of view. Sure, when I get criticism, I feel defensive. Who wouldn’t? But a published author has to push through the fear of criticism and see it for what it is, a valuable tool to get better.

When I sit down to write my discovery draft, I have zero regard for anything. I just pound the story out. Sometimes I leave little letters to myself. However, nothing keeps me from finishing the draft. Nothing stops me from getting the story out.

breaking
Stock image from Pixabay.

You can’t revise an incomplete story. Anyone who tells you otherwise has figured out something I’ve personally never seen. I’ve heard the same from Brandon Sanderson and James Patterson. I do know that Sanderson had written about 13 books before an agent he’d been soliciting flat told him, “I’m trying to get this book where it needs to be,” or something to that effect. Sanderson said he didn’t want to revise and that he’d prefer to just move on to another book. He eventually came to understand the value of revision.

I type this bit of advice to convince aspiring authors to forget about what people may think or say about your first draft. Just get it written. Embrace the feedback. Don’t ever stop drafting until you’re done with that draft. Then, and only then, you can revise, and revise, and revise.

Don’t be afraid. Some people might not like your story. There might be many more times the number of people who love it. Sure, there is a universe where everyone who reads your work hates it, but it’s statistically unlikely. But in my days of doing conventions and talking to aspiring writers, I continue to hear the same set-back. I just keep going back to rewrite it. Sure, rewrite it after it’s complete. But if you never finish the book because you’re revising it, realize that you’ll never finish your book because you’ll never be done revising it.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Heyshayol by Joshua Robertson and J.C. Boyd

Cover
The cover for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Spoiler Free Summary:  Heshayol by Joshua Robertson and J.C. Boyd is the second book in The Blood of Dragons series.  It’s been a thousand years since Tyran and Drast have killed the Horned God, but their actions didn’t bring them eternal life; they brought the brothers imprisonment and the world in chaos as the old gods have returned. To remedy the situation, Tyran and Drast embark on a quest to recover the Horned God from the underworld.

 

Character:  Tyran and Drast are why I enjoyed the first book in the series. While I didn’t get the same connection to them in this book that I got from the first, they’re still the stars of the show and the strongest part of the book. Their dependency and dedication to one another adds a degree of sympathy a lot of fantasy stories lack. I’m not actually sure why they have made the decision they made (rescuing the Horned God).  This element of confusion is something I tried to understand throughout the book. Yes, it’s a question I had, but it didn’t ruin the story for me because Tyran is pretty headstrong anyway. Whatever his reason, he won’t let anything stand in his way once he’s chosen a course. 

Exposition: The bulk of exposition that slowed this story down was actually in the dialogue. I think there was a bit more in this story that I’d like. Any time a story feels slow to me or I catch myself losing focus, I suspect exposition to be why. The story does slow down a time or two, but the authors offset this with compelling, well-written action scenes.

Boyd
Image of J.C. Boyd from Amazon.com for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Worldbuilding:  This is another strength for this series. This particular series is part of a deep saga called the Thrice Nine Legends. The meticulous attention to detail and deep mythology make this story a wonderful one for any who like expansive scope in their stories. While the pace might be slower than I like personally, people who want to study and immerse themselves in a different world will love this book.

 

Dialogue: This was better than the last book. Yes, above I mentioned a lot of loosely hidden exposition, and there was. However, there was also some adorable and witty exchanges. One of my favorite parts of the book was Drast’s interactions with another character (spoilers). I don’t remember much of the dialogue from the first book, but this book had some wonderful banter that built on the characters and revealed them even more.

Description:  I know this book had solid description because I have a clear mental picture of the characters and some of the scenes. In this case, if I think there is a bit too much, it’s probably just about right. This book has several cinematic scenes that the authors really bring to life with solid, punchy description.

Robertson
Image of Joshua Robertson taken from his Amazon page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Sure, it slowed me down a bit as a reader, but that’s because I personally hate description.  No, the book isn’t as well pictured as some other books I read, but it definitely activated all the senses.

 

Overall: This is action packed. I’m not such a big fan of the cliffhanger ending, but I liked seeing the characters. I think the first book was better, but this was fun to read. The action kept my attention, and I really wanted to learn more about the characters. The overall concept is pretty interesting, and I’d recommend it to any fantasy fans who like deep worlds and epic battles.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Stealing Freedom is Officially Available for Preorder!

Stealing Freedom is Officially Available for Preorder!

Greetings all,

StealingFreedomI’m happy to announce that Stealing Freedom, the novella originally published in The Power of Words anthology, is officially available for preorder in its own ebook edition.

Here’s the book blurb:

Ardelia Sabine is about to attempt the most legendary heist in the solar system. The anti-communication laws that have been ruthlessly enforced for the last five years have gone too far, and the collar around her daughter’s neck, which shocks anyone if they try to speak, must come off.

The one time monitor of law enforcement has now assembled the greatest collection of thieves, con-men, and hit men in history. Together, with her husband, once the greatest hacker on the planet, must take on a job that will surely get at least one of them killed.

Survival is not the objective. The goal is to shut down the servers that operate the entire system. Can they get into one of the most guarded areas on the planet? Can they steal back their right to speak from the government that silenced it?

END BLURB

This title will be only 99 cents from today until Oct. 16, when it will go up to its normal price of $2.99.

I’d say this book is a Scifi cyber heist version of Leverage. So if you like stories like that or Ocean’s 12 and you also like scifi, I think you’ll love this story.

You can get to the preorder page either by clicking the link all the way at the top or right here.

Thanks for reading,

Matt