Dear Diary

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Social Media Outback


I resisted social media for a lot of years.  I was dead last in my family to get a Facebook account, and everyone had a great time at my expense, reminding me that I was behind the times.  There was no shortage of dinosaur jokes, caveman jokes, rotary phone jokes.... it was like everyone related me was living on a diet rich in clown. 


Finally, I relented.  I signed up.  I was suddenly on the social media super highway, traveling down a road I thought was designed for teenagers, cyber bullies, and internet trolls.  Needless to say, I was very wrong.  Facebook was not the digital world of Mad Max like I thought it would be.  Oh sure, there are plenty of Master Blasters out there, but there was more.  Much more. 


Over the years, I was able to settle deeply into my favorite topics.  I was able to make a ton of friends, some, whom after seven years, I still haven't met face to face.  And yet, I pray for them, cry with them, laugh and fight with them, just like traditional friends, all from the comfort of my couch, or yes... toilet.  (don't judge, you know you do it too) 


When I began exploring the writing world, it was easy to connect with other budding writers, experienced best sellers, and everyone in between.  There was a huge, thriving community of authors out there, all at the tap of a touch screen.  It was in this community, that I found my mentors.


Years later, I finally found myself poised to become a published author.  I had everything I needed:  a manuscript, a publisher, and a contract.  Let the good times roll, right? 


WELCOME TO THE THUNDERDOME!!! 


Turns out, I needed to get a Twitter.  You know Twitter, where bad spelling goes to die?  I actually stressed out about it for a solid week.  I didn't want this! Not rude, raunchy, "hey wanna see my boobs?" Twitter!!!!!


I sucked it up, and signed up for a Twitter. 


It's been almost six weeks.  I occasionally have to block someone because they are just every shade of wrong, but other than that, it hasn't been horrible. But, it's ridiculously fast.  If you're not paying attention, you're gonna miss stuff.   But, like Facebook, I discovered another community of writers, publishers, editors, bloggers, you name it! And just like Facebook, they are a community that supports each other. 


However, I am still a little nervous.  I know what to expect from Facebook, the kind of people who live in Facebook, what I can (and can't) get away with in Facebook.  But, Twitter has its own rules, its own traditions & etiquette... and as a cyber road warrior, I am racing through it with my eyes wide open.  With any luck, Mel Gibson will follow me.  It could happen...     




  

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Before I first began writing my novel, I had no idea there was a thing called self-publishing. It was always my understanding, that you sent your big, bulky manuscript off, to be scrutinized by some portly editor, who sitting at his three hundred year old desk, smoking fat cigars, and sipping brandy, would pick every page to pieces. Of course, my fantasy always ended with him jumping up from that desk, convinced he had found the greatest novel in the history of the written word. Then I would be whisked off to Hollywood, where my novel would become the highest grossing blockbuster of all time, I would become a gazillionare, and they lived happily ever after.


Yeah, riiiight.


I had been submitting my masterpiece to publishers for about a year when I went to my first writer's conference. That is where I first heard of this thing called self-publishing. There were lots of pros and cons to publishing without a publisher. The few people there that published their work this way were happy with their choice.

It's been years since I attended that conference. I have met hundreds of writers, published and not. I have also read several books in that time... most published in the traditional way, but some self-published as well. Instead of launching off into a tirade about the evils of self publication, I want to first, list for you some pro's, because there are some.

  1. Authors own all of their rights, ISBN #'s and have total control over every aspect of the book like cover, content, price, format, etc.

  2. Authors get to make all of the decisions about when, where, and how to market their book.

  3. Authors are under no pressure to fulfill contractual obligations that may interfere with life, such as appearances, conferences, or book signings.

Sounds pretty sweet! And this isn't even a complete list. All you need is a super awesome story, and your off to the races... right?


No, not quite. Self-publishing is a TON of work. All of the above pro's, can quickly turn into con's. The behind the scenes legwork that is usually done by a publisher, is suddenly all on you. Not only do you become your own "gopher", but you are also your checkbook, your own chauffeur, your own art department, your own post office, your own secretary, and yes, you are making your own coffee, unless you send yourself to Starbucks.


Now, maybe I haven't scared you. Maybe your like, "Hell yes! Where do I sign?" I'm totally ok with that. Some of the best, most meaningful books I have ever read were self published. The flip side is, the absolute worst book I ever read, was not because I didn't like the story, it was because it was badly self-published. Remember, you are the publisher. Once you sign off on that manuscript as done, it goes to press... as is. Which could be a serious problem, if your work is full of spelling mistakes or bad grammar. This is your baby. You have put a tremendous amount of time and effort into crafting a grade A manuscript. And if you are a first time writer, or one of those people who have horrible spelling (in other words, if you're me), the best thing you could do for your book is have it professionally edited. Yes, it can cost money. But, it's totally worth it. A second set of eyes, trained to spot the flaws will make the difference between a great book, and great big disappointment.


At the end of the day, before you make the all important decision of how to publish your book, take my single piece of advice... DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Research your options by talking to other writers, join critique groups, go to conferences, subscribe to writer's newsletters, PRAY, do whatever you need to do, to get the most information you can. Then you will know, which option is right for you and most importantly, which option is right for your book.


    

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paws
Cats have had a colorful life throughout human history. Worshiped as gods in ancient Egypt, cats enjoyed all the privileges and rights of Pharaoh, even in death. In India, cats were believed to be spirit guides that led the souls of the dead to one of the Seven Heavens. Yet, half a world away in Celtic Britain, it was thought that if a cat were born in the month of May, snakes and disease would plague the household it lived in. And stranger still was the colonial American belief that cats were actually witches, transformed by black magic and in league with the devil. Cultures from every corner of the globe have called them genies, ghosts, demons, and even vampires. But do cats have a place in Judeo/Christian traditions? For us humans, even bad publicity is good publicity, but is Fluffy going to Heaven? Let's start with what's not in the Bible to find out.


Interestingly enough, domestic house cats are never mentioned in scripture. One reason could be that the Jewish men that penned the Bible despised their Egyptian rulers. They would naturally want to leave out their Egyptian pagan gods. Another reason could simply be that Jewish people were too nomadic to keep pets. In fact, there is no biblical record of Jews keeping pets at all.


 


That's not to say that they didn't love animals. Teachings throughout the Old and New Testament tell us exactly how God feels about the creatures of the Earth and how man should treat them.


For example, Proverbs 12:10 says, “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals.” Both Psalms 104 and 136 make special references to feeding and caring for God's creatures. Even Jesus himself compares us to sheep in Matthew 18:12, telling us that a Shepherd who has lost a sheep will leave the rest of the flock just to find the lost sheep. The message is that God will do the same with His people. This parable teaches us not only how much our Holy Father loves us, but that every soul, every living thing, is treasured by Him.


But to find out how God feels about the mysterious feline, we must look to the Rev. G.J. Ouseley, and the controversial Gospel of the Holy Twelve. Originally written by Saint John, The Gospel of the Holy Twelve is also known as The Gospel of the Twelve Apostles. Although it is believed to be the master source for all four of the Gospels, it was left out of the original Bible by Constantine in 325 AD. Due to its repeated vegetarian themes, the emperor feared that the meat-eating world would shy away from such a restricted diet. So it was hidden away in the Vatican archives, until Rev. Ouseley's translation in the early 20th century.


The book tells the story of the life of Christ, from His immaculate birth to His passion, and is not much different from what you find in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. But special attention is paid to animals from the very beginning. In the stable with Mary and Joseph, the gospel lists six breeding pairs of animals: oxen, horses, donkeys, sheep, doves, and cats. It goes on to say that Jesus was born amidst animals to redeem man from ignorance and selfishness, and that the animals were to there bear witness to God made flesh. If this Gospel of the Holy Twelve is authentic (as many believe it is), then that means God chose the humble and misunderstood feline to witness the birth of our Savior.


A wonderful legend connecting Jesus and the humble cat can be found in the tale of The Tabby and the Manger:


                                                                                                                                                        


The baby Jesus lay cold and fussy in his manger. Mary tried everything she could to comfort the child, but it was no use. Ready to give up, she calmly walked to the door of the manger, looked up at the sky and said to God, “Lord, I cannot stop His cries, will You not help me?”


Then Mary heard a rustling sound behind her in the hay. She turned, and saw a small gray tabby cat emerge, stretch its legs, then suddenly leap into Jesus's bed. Mary watched with awe as the cat nestled down close to the babe, and began to purr.


Within moments, the baby Jesus was sound asleep, His breathing keeping time with the purring cat. Mary leaned down and gently stroked the cat's head.


“Thank you, little cat,” she cried gently, “you have a gentle heart. I bless you this day, that all mankind may know you for your nurturing spirit.”


When she lifted her hand away, Mary saw that the tabby now had the letter “M” marked on its forehead. Tabby cats have had that marking ever since.


 


Further evidence of Christ's connection to cats can be found in this tale:


As Jesus passed through a village, he came upon some men abusing a stray cat. Jesus demanded that they stop, but instead the men threw insults at Him. Making a whip of knotted rope, Jesus chased all but one man away. Because the man defied Him, Jesus reached out His hand and withered the man's arm.


Great fear came upon all of the people in the village. The next day, the man and his mother went to Jesus and prayed to Him that He would restore the withered arm. Jesus spoke to them about love and unity for all life. Then He said, “As you do in this life to your fellow creatures, so will be done to you in the next life to come.” The man confessed his sins, and Jesus restored his arm.


What makes a legend proof of God's special love for cats? The fact that stories like these come from men, who get their inspiration from their love of the Lord, and because as it is written in Matthew 19:26, “With God, all things are possible.”


So, if the legend is true, we need to ask why. Why did Jesus take such a special interest in a common stray cat? Maybe He defended the cat to demonstrate the fact that it is cruel to needlessly harm animals. Perhaps it's because He spent so many years in Egypt that he had sympathy for an animal so loved in His childhood home. Or was it simply a demonstration of His greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Whatever the reason, this legend makes the case: cats do have a special place in Heaven.


 


The order in which God created the Earth and its inhabitants was carefully planned. First, light and darkness, sky and earth, animals, then people. It was only after God created man that He decided to rest. He gave Adam and Eve authority over all living creatures. They in turn, have handed that task down to us, placing the lives of all beasts in our hands to love and care for. The Lord expects us to plant the tiny mustard seed, to give shelter here on Earth, while He is preparing a special place for each of us in Heaven, filled with the loved ones we held so dear in life. This Heaven will include family, friends and our beloved pets. God's message through Jesus is simple. Love all living things on this Earth, and no living creature is hidden from the Lord's Grace. So, is Fluffy going to Heaven?


 


Of course.



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I Wrote a Book With My Heavenly Father

Three years ago, I decided I wanted to write a book. I had grown up surrounded by the printed word, so it made perfect sense that one day I would transition from a reader, to an author.

I took some writing courses, nothing fancy, just the basics. It was important to me, that I learn about the process of writing, and of course the climate of the writing world. After a year of classes, I had turned out the first draft of a young adult (YA in the business) novel, and eagerly began mailing off queries to potential publishers.

My manuscript was a labor of love. I was in constant contact with God the whole way. He helped me finesse the writing and enrich the overall story. It was stunning how easily the pieces of my story fit together, how quickly my prayers were answered when I asked for help. I could feel God's hand in every edit. It became obvious that I hadn't written a novel, WE had... me, and my Father.

I had laid a deep Christian foundation into the story. And my first instinct was to submit to Christian book sellers. But, my heart wanted more. My heart wanted a secular publishing house to publish it. What a victory for the Lord, to spread the Good News to such a large audience.

When the first rejection letters came in, I wasn't surprised. My friends and mentors had warned me that submitting to publishers was tedious and slow. That I should expect many rejections. So, I took them in stride, knowing in my soul, that God would get this book published.

A year went by. I got a handful of hopefuls, but they all turned out to be self publishing services. That simply would not do. I had written a book with the Lord! It deserved to be published in the traditional manner. I doubled my efforts, and pressed on.

Another year went by. Still nothing. Of the near two hundred queries I had sent out, eighty six of them had turned me down, and all but three of the rest hadn't even bothered to respond. The joy I had felt during the writing of the book was beginning to fade. And I questioned whether I had made a terrible mistake in writing the book at all.

Finally, on July 13, 2015, I had had enough. All day, I felt my heart sinking deeper into a depression. I pushed it down, finished my work day and went home. When I got the mail that afternoon, rejection letter number eighty seven was waiting for me. When I logged into my online writer's group, the poetry prompt for the day was "write a poem about fears and disappointments." The day had officially hit the bottom. Trying to publish a book wasn't fun anymore. So, I fell into the trap I always fall into: I decided to give up.

That night, I prayed. Well not really, more like, I gave my notice. I told God I was done trying to be a writer. I was tired of being rejected, of being let down every time I went to the mailbox. I told Him I felt like the money and time I had spent were wasted resources. Then I apologized for being a quitter, and went to sleep.

The next two days passed by quietly. Then On the third day, there was a letter in the mailbox. I rolled my eyes, knowing what would be inside. The usual, "Thanks, but no thanks". I opened it up. Inside was the acceptance letter I had been waiting nearly three years for! The letter expressed how they were delighted with the book, and that it filled a need for the age group it represented.

Then I noticed God's signature, up at the top of the letter. In simple type, was the date:

July 13, 2015. The day I decided to give up, was the very day God had chosen to send my book out into the world. I was convicted. My Lord had never left me. He had never forgotten me. He had heard the prayers my heart was praying, in spite of what my mouth was saying.

I learned the lesson of patience. The lesson of God's timing, and how He is NEVER late. My novel will be released by Black Opal Books in early 2016. My picture and bio are already up on their website. I owe it all to the Lord. He once again, Blessed me, and filled me with His Grace. And because of that Grace, I will be able to share the Gospel with others.

May the Lord Bless you all

Molly Neely

 

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Titans, children of... The Heavenly Host?


It's said, in the apocryphal Book of Enoch, that 200 Watchers, or Angels, were dispatched to Earth to watch over mankind. But, soon, the angels gave in to lust, and before long, had taken human wives. Not only did they get hitched (that in itself a huge no-no), but they also instructed man on technologies they were not ready to know, ie. weapon forging, cosmetics, glass making, mathematics, etc... Humans weren't ready for all this knowledge. Nor were they ready for the nephilim, half-breed, giant children born of the angel/human marriages.

It could be speculated, that these "giants" of the Bible, are also the titans of greek myth. Certainly their stories are simular, giants, full of rage, causing waves of destruction.

And what would that make Zeus? His mother Rhea, is traditionally considered a titan,  but never called a god like the others. Why? Was she actually a human, and ultimately not worthy of worship? She's never referred to as a god, and though she's traditionally called the sister of Cronos, Rhea is usually depicted as a lovely human woman.

These are legends and stories that date back to 700 bc. and earlier. Perhaps we'll never know. It would certainly explain Goliath. But, if the titans were in fact nephilim, then the legends of the Greeks become more than Crete tradition... they become mankind's legacy.

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Some Books...


Why does it seem like some books almost dare you to read them? It's like they know you're apprehensive about their content, worried about the nightmares contained within their pages. So, they taunt you.

I first felt the shame of biblio-hazing with the so called classic The Catcher in the Rye. I was enticed by the reputation of the book, the allure of all those serial killers that held Holden Caulfield in such high regard. 

When I finally answered the call and read it, I was, well..... angry. Holden was whiny, weak, and quite frankly, in desperate need of a butt kicking. I was not moved by him, and thankfully, not moved to go out and serial kill.

Years later, I was called by another book. But this time, I was prepared (or so I thought). Bribed by its sinister origins, I purchased and dove into 120 Days of Sodom, by The Marquis De Sade. I made it exactly 4 pages. Nothing could have prepared me for the atrocities in this book. No wonder it was banned in France for so long.

It's been a year since I bought it. I'm only about 40 pages in. But like Catcher, I will press on till the end, inspite of wanting to use it for firewood.

Why? Why keep reading it? Why put myself through the disgust? Because every book was written by a person. And all people are capable of being De Sade, or Holden Caulfield.  Reading books that make us uncomfortable, can be the very therapy we need to be a better race. If we must learn, let's learn from the mistakes of the past, the mistakes of fiction, instead of learning from the mistakes we make ourselves.

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Created by Molly Neely