Feedback on a Novel Outline

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Good morning, guys. Well, I am tying my hand at writing a novel. I’ve been taking an online Master’s class on Writing A Novel with James Patterson… yep, that James Patterson. His class is really inspiring with each class assigning us additional work to create better understanding and practical application. In the latest class James requires that we start working on the outline of our novel. Now, his idea of an outline is not the old numbers and bullets style, but writing scenes without polish. Writing 1,000 words a day – telling the story. It will be re-written many times over before it is ready to write in novel form. He has spent as much as four months writing an outline of a novel… the outline is of vital importance for him. So much so that he says “You should be able to sale a good outline to the publisher.” Wow, that is big.

The idea behind sending this to friends is to get your honest (but kind) opinion of the outline. Does it make you want to read more? If so, we may be on the right track. If not, it may need a serious re-think. In the reply to this blog section please give me your kind opinion about this – does it make you want to know more? Suggestions are welcome. Thanks guys for your time. Sorry about the length of this… you know how preachers are????

An added bonus for me is that my grandson, Noah is helping me with this project. He is giving me story line advice, a younger, fresh worldview and someone to brainstorm with about the twist and turns of the story. His consultation is of great value.

The below link will allow you to see the outline in original format.

Draft (Composite) – Plot Synopsis

Grace and Peace

Steve

Stereotypes in Living Color

You are not going to believe what I saw today. We were parked in the handicapped parking space at the school – waiting for the grandkids. The person parked next to us picks up her child and leaves. All of a sudden this SUV pulls in and I do a double take. The reason for this double look is that there is a blonde driving and hanging out from under the driver’s side of the SUV is this bright orange traffic cone. I had to turn away so she would not see me gasping for breath – laughing almost doubled over. You just can’t make this stuff up… I never would have thought to set this up… but all of a sudden there it was in our midst. She told the lady parked next to us that she “had no idea where she got that traffic cone.” This got me to thinking about the stereotypes – are they valid? and do we live them out.

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One legend of his time and one out of touch with reality. Need we say more?

I am a “PK” a preacher’s kid. The stereotype of us PK types are thought to be either ones that run afoul of the law – that is we go bad – rebel against authority, and the other side is that we become part of the “God Squad.” So, PK’s are either Goodie-Two-Shoes or greasers. I have known PK’s of both types, but I have also known PK’s who were quite normal… that is regular people. In my growing up years I was close to both camps. I was a God Squad-er in that I went to church and mostly enjoyed it. I was once the president of our youth fellowship. I tried to care for and respect all people. I was near the greaser group in that I was rebelling (as a teen) against some of the so-called church authority that spoke high and mighty but actually lived low and lousy. We spoke about loving each other but it was only if you fit into my preconceived notions of what acceptability was. The way back to a real world belief for me involved becoming a Marine (discipline), serving in Vietnam (a heavy dose of reality), college and seminary (learning systematic theology – why I believe what I believe), and forty years of serving hurting people in the real setting of the church. All of those elements taught me accountability, responsibility and humility. So I was a mixture of the PK types but not solidly in either camp.

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Over the years this guy has become so good I saw him heal someone from all the way across the stage.

Preachers themselves have stereotypes… shouting their sermons, pounding on the pulpit, going overboard on some theological tangents. Television preachers are the most laughable and bring the most damage to the church. Some of these healers are so unreal it is pathetic… but people believe them, follow them and support them. I think they must go to TV Preacher’s School somewhere… cause they all seem to be reading from the same script. The two major emphasis of these charlatans are “Healing” and the “Prosperity Gospel.” We call that playing to the cheap seats… giving people what they want to hear so they will come back and support your work.  These guys hurt the church and pollute the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just because they can fill a football stadium doesn’t make them right at all… after all old Adolph filled a whole country with his speech and beliefs. You and I both know he was dead wrong.

thContrary to doubling over with laughter, bad theology and a lack of integrity in the lives of the preachers is deplorable and a sacrilege. The point we need to think about is it behoves us to know why we believe what we believe. Is it because some preacher said so… or is it because you have tested it in your own soul, mind and experience? What if the Christian stereotype became a person who grows into the full knowledge and love of Jesus Christ……… well, just maybe that already is who we are to become…

That is the essence of what Paul points to in his prayer for the Christians at Ephesus in Ephesians 3:16-21…

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Amen and Amen!

Grace and Peace

Steve

Taking The Joy Out of Life

Friday I had my four month follow-up appointment with my Kidney Doctor (Richard Mattlingly – a very cool Doc). He did his thing; checking all the numbers, asking the questions, and explaining things I needed to know about. We laughed, joked and talked about serious stuff. On the way out of the examination room, he said he wanted to send me to the lab to check out my Parathyroid.

I have become quite inquisitive in my older life… especially when it comes to my health situations, what the doctors do to me and for me. I do that because I have found that it is better for me to participate in my own health decisions. Being curious about the Parathyroid, you know I have to look up just what this Parathyroid is, what it does, and what low or high numbers might mean to me. I found on either Mayo Clinic or Web MD a description of this malady that was very revealing… they called this condition “The Stealer of the Joy of Life.” Wow! It describes the symptoms as feeling tired all the time, not interested in things which use to bring you joy, no energy, difficulty sleeping – even napping during the day is no help, lack of concentration, depression, aching or hurting joints… you just don’t enjoy life any longer. Bummer!!!

Have you ever thought what it would be like to lose all hope…lose the joy of life? It must really be a very sad set of circumstances leading to just existing and not really living. Once a person loses all hope… all joy… you have just about lost it all. I’ve been down… really down – I thought. I have wondered if I was going to live and for how long… was that time rapidly closing in on me? I’ve been down but I don’t believe I have ever approached losing all hope and joy. I have tried to imagine what that loss may feel like…. It is more than dying… we have hope even there… loss of joy and hope must be worse than death. That is deep… very deep. This loss must be kin to the dark night of the soul…. where you become void of all feelings, all dreams, all hopes, all matter – an empty void where there is nothing at all. In outer space they call it a “Black Hole” where NOTHING EXISTS – no matter – no life – nothing.

I am one of those persons who believe we simply cannot know what a person who commits suicide felt or experienced which led them to that critical moment, because if we did… we would be where they are… dead. Loss of hope and joy is passing beyond that point where hope resides. In Vietnam we called it the “Thousand Yard Stare” where you just looked out there somewhere in the distance and didn’t really see anything.

The closest I ever came… and I am not sure it was all that close… was after coming home from by-pass surgery. I was afraid to go to sleep because I believed I would not wake up. So, I would fight sleep until I couldn’t fight any longer. It started really wearing on my well being. One day I realized that I had to do something, I just couldn’t go on like this. Finally, I realized something I had preached all those years… Jesus will be with you no matter what happens. So, whether I woke in my bed or in heaven, Jesus would have me securely in His loving arms. From that point on I was able to sleep in comfort.

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I ended most every worship prayer with reference to these words: Nothing can take us from the love of God.

I don’t know what you are going through. It may be something like this loss of joy and hope thyroid deal or you may be facing some other hope and joy stealer. I know that it must be very troubling to you and your family… it changes you from the loving person you have been to someone barely able to cope with everyday life. Sometimes you take out your worries and fears on your family. I have no right to say to you; “Get a grip on yourself.” But I do have the experience to be able to say, with all the grace and compassion I can muster, God loves you in your every situation and circumstance… good, bad, horrible or indifferent. God has enfolded you in His loving arms. If you can somehow find peace in that thought, you might be able to find hope and joy. If not… I pray you will feel the embrace of the Peace that passes all understanding… Jesus, the Christ.

Grace and Peace
Steve