Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best First Lines and Chapters_the Novel

Dostoyevsky's notes for Chapter 5 of The Broth...

Image at right is from Wikipedia -- "Dostoevsky's notes for chapter 5 of The Brothers Karamazov"_note the planning and detail!

Jean Purcell
Twitter @opinaripeople
Opine eStore and Book Cafe
Twitter @OpineBooksCafe

"May THIS DAY OF THE NEW YEAR be a day of thanks continuing for you!"

"In the beginning, God..." of Genesis 1 is the best first line ever. That is the first expression of the written Truth of God. It is not intended as a writing lesson. Most of the world knows that divine beginning because of its inspired expression and its meanings, from scientific mysteries to the Creator's plan for all of heaven and earth contained in the first and following chapters of Genesis.    

We do non-scriptural writing, yet we aim to write as succinctly as those who wrote the inspired scriptures. Also, we learn from each other. We are readers, too, and highly critical. 
Is there a novel, for example, by a little-known author that drew you in due to an
intriguing first line or chapter? 

Like a new gate someone discovers and stands, deciding whether or not to enter (who will be there? what will be the tone of the place? will it be worth the time?), a novel's first chapter must invite, even draw, the reader to enter. The author  and everyone helping the book in publication want readers to decide, and quickly, to enter the story. Therefore, hints whether soft of jolting of the lives, experiences, meanings, and insights must appear at the gate of the first lines of the first chapter, and all the way through to the satisfying end.

First impressions count in writing. 

Happy, Harmonious New Year 2012 to you! 

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blessed Christmas Eve!

Blessed Christmas Eve to You and Yours. Those who went into the temple or synagogue to worship and to pray on that day long ago, soon learned that the world had been changed by the God they trusted. Among them perhaps were Peter, James, and John, and the other disciples that became the apostles of the Lord and Among them perhaps was Paul, the persecutor of the church who became another aposble of Christ.

How great are the works of God. His works of grace are still being made ready every evening and morning!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Taste and See": Free Book Chapters in One Book/Smashwords

Jean Purcell
Opine eStore and Book Cafe
Twitter @opinaripeople

Author and writing mentor Lorilyn Roberts founded a creative and efficient marketing network for Christian authors a few years ago. She continues to innovate through a recent advance for Christian authors and readers. Taste and See serves up chapters from selected new books. Maybe you'd like to taste samples from any of the many choices. Free copies are available until December 31 through Smashwords.  
   All reviewers quoted below* gave five-star rating (out of five). Published by" represents the company, organization, or individual reviewer. * From recent Announcement/Press Release.  sent to me by e-mail via Constant Contact (logo above). Here is a link to the Taste and See cover.

What a few reviewers have said about Taste and See 
*A savory array of great works. One will find a savory array of great works, or powerful messages, riveting stories and profound insights...all included in Taste and See....Published 8 days ago by Inspirational Books

*A library in one book As a contributor to Taste and See I'm excited to be part of this compilation. What a wonderful way to introduce readers to new authors and their works... Published 13 days ago by K Payne

*A Smorgasbord of Delight! Taste and See is truly a smorgasbord for the reader. There is something for everyone here, including Fiction, self help, devotionals, and even poetr... Published 14 days ago by Tracy Krauss

*Taste and See is a banquet of the soul-"Taste and See" is an innovative way to discover if you will like a new book, all in one place. From children's literature to adult suspense, history, humor, you name it. Read more Published 15 days ago by Sally Franz

*Innovative Idea…15 days ago by Theresa Franklin

*Savor the Taste and See... Whet your appetite! This is a lovely little book, filled with first chapter vignettes written by an assortment of talented authors, all with a common goal of bringing the joy of Christ... Published 15 days ago by Sherrill S. Cannon

*If you hunger for God - you'll love this book! Taste and See, A Sampling of First Chapters by the John 3:16 Marketing Network Authors is a wonderful way to preview a variety of Christian authors and their books...Published 15 days ago by God Mission Possible

That’s the review taste here. And here's the link for Press Page for Taste and See. The above review parts are from Taste and See site/press page e-mail sent to me via Constant Contact

I'm downloading my free copy of Taste and See today!

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Accurate Prayer Times of Servants and Prophets

Rebecca at the well
Image via Wikipedia-Rebecca at the Well
When is the accurate time 
to pray?
I treasure the books of the Torah and the prayer times of the prophet Moses. I treasure the story of Abraham's servant praying for divine help to fulfill a duty; his assignment was to identify God's choice for Abraham's son's wife-to-be. Recently taking a look at prayer in Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, thanks to BibleGateway on-line, I found specific verses about accurate times and reasons to pray

The accurate time to pray is when asked to help.
Numbers 11:2 - When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. Numbers 11:1-3 (in Context) 

The accurate time to pray is when others need intercession before God. 
Numbers 21:7 -The people came to Moses and said, We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us. So Moses prayed for the people. Numbers 21:6-8 (in Context) 
The accurate time to pray is when there is a duty to perform.
Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, 'Please give me a drink.'

The accurate time to pray is after a meeting with a powerful person or persons.
Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. 
Exodus 10:17-19 (in Context) 

The accurate time to pray is anytime.
Deuteronomy 4:7
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them 
the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

How shall we pray accurately? Abraham's servant prayed "from his heart." Surely that pleases God. Jesus began by thanking God outside Lazarus's tomb. He thanked God for hearing and answering prayer. Jesus taught disciples where, how, and what to pray:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
   But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
   Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
   This, then, is how you should pray:
  "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
   your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us today our daily bread.
    Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
    But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Surprised Me about Helping Mogama's Refugee War Journal

Mogama, Refugee Was My Name
Jean Purcell
Twitter @opinaripeople

I have been wary in the past about helping personal narrative writing projects. So it surprised me when I agreed to take a serious look at a recommended author's personal story of life as a refugee.
     It became a life-affecting experience to let down my editorial guard of doubts and to enter into another writer's life experience once again. 
    I knew about refugee needs and issues when we started working together, because my husband has been involved for decades in this area. I began to think that God, in His great Providence, might truly have been part of bringing Mogama and me together as collaborators. 
   The more I realized that the time seemed right for the author and as I began to trust his character, then his personality and faith helped me relax, pray, and trust. 
   That kept me going with a long and testing process for a marvelous writer. Mogama loves his homeland of Liberia, and from the U. S. he keeps up with events there and is now helping with a new mission undertaking. 
    In the process of over two years, Mogama's patience and graciousness helped me. My personal and family considerations drew me away from our work for a while, as my dear mother-in-law was ending her life in home hospice with my husband and our family. The steady patience and caring that Mogama showed helped me there, as well. 
     In the situation of continuing to work with Mogama, I found an author of Christian discipline able to work toward a meeting of minds and frank discussion. I began to want our families to meet, as well.  
     It is about lives, in the end. Does this mean that I will work on another personal narrative book with another author? I have no idea. I leave that in God's hands. He will show the way.  
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Friday, November 25, 2011

Bea Gaddy Changed Baltimore


"Bea Gaddy, 68; City Councilwoman Fought for Poor, Homeless"

Bea Gaddy, 68, a former housekeeper who rose from poverty to become Baltimore's leading advocate for the homeless and poor, died Wednesday of breast cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Gaddy, a member of the Baltimore City Council, organized Thanksgiving feasts that served thousands of the city's homeless for more than 20 years.

Using fewer than 70 words, the L. A. Times began its obituary of October 11, 2001 for Bea Gaddy and covered the essence of one lady's huge impact upon a complex American city. This Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2011, marked the 30th Anniversary of Mrs. Gaddy's now famous Thanksgiving Day dinner for the poor in and around Baltimore, Maryland. "Whosoever will may come," has been the invitation, and many have come with numbers growing through every year.
     Those blessed by Bea Gaddy and her home-cooked Thanksgiving meals in the beginning years and those eating the meals cooked in later years by volunteers have been the poor of Baltimore. Also fed, in other ways, have been those who volunteer every year to cook and to serve. "People care about you," the meal says to the overlooked poor of Baltimore at least once a year. In the other times, the Bea Gaddy Center reaches out to the poor of the city.  
     One woman with a huge compassion for others became a byword for gracious service and compassionate sharing. She served the poorest every Thanksgiving and more, from her limited personal means. The harvest grew like the proverbial tree that flowers from the tiny mustard seed.  

Jean Purcell
Copyright (c) 2011 Author Support

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reality: Reader Comment about Christian books today

Karlskirche - Old Testament
(Photo credit: laz3rphea)

Twitter @OpinariPeople and @OpineBookCafe

I heard or read this provocative comment: "I think that there needs to be more realistic Christian work from authors who are perhaps failing and trying to get better with their faith..."

The operative word in that thought is...realistic or faith? Faith can be a trying or tormenting word that seems to escape adequate definition or description. How can we dive into the depths of faith?
     And what do we think of as "realistic" in matters of faith and other spiritual matters?

What is "realistic Christian work"? 

I wonder if the commenter meant "believable because true and without embellishment or coverage. The Bible is an example of unvarnished stories, recounting human flaws in sometimes stark terms. Hebrews 11 contains lots of names, laying out that these were people of faith. To lay out their falls or foibles, we must go to the Old Testament record of their lives. "Realistic" Christian work avoids Hagiographa, or haloed writing of human lives. The full record of our lives includes flaws. Struggles with God and faith are real.   

Copyright (c) 2011 Jean Purcell-post revised
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Christian books, small press niche for The Web

World wide webImage via Wikipedia
Dear book likers and lovers, 

I am preparing a new and special Christian small press niche eStore Books Opine, History, China, others on The Web.
The eStore will feature books, authors, and a book review blog.    

eStore now up, running, growing
This eStore offers what we think is an appealing experience with a roomy, uncrowded, fast, easy, and enjoyable book-shopping experience. 
Plus, a blog will have frequent book reviews--
books in or not in the news. 

Categories [books and ebooks] available to buy would be numerous, growing week by week. This niche will appeal to readers, buyers, and givers that look beyond the latest bestseller, as well as buying a few of those from time to time.
It will reach Christian groups and organizations, plus free Book Review blog, with free subscriber option. 

Your thoughts? See comment box below and share.Welcome!. 

This message is from:
Jean Purcell
Author Support blog manager

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Think, Reason, Believe...Pray

(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
prayer.. (Photo credit: aronki)

Jean Purcell
Follow on Twitter @opinaripeople
and @OpineBookCafe

The Latin word opinari means "to think, to reason, to believe." It is the root of the English word "opine," a favorite of Sherlock Holmes. Opine is the word my husband and I chose to name a place we once had, where we went to reflect, read, and discuss..."Little Opine." At Little Opine we mainly worked on the overgrown land, made repairs and trips there to take trash-bins-on-wheels to the end of the drive for pickup days.

We visited Little Opine on weekends for a couple of years. In winters, we made wood fires in its little alpine stove. Little Opine is where I started to plan for the first book of our start-up publishing company, named Opine Publishing. Exhausted Rapunzel by Deirdre Reilly became our first full-length book, a humor book by a newspaper columnist we know very well.* 

Opinari, being the root of our name and ideas, continues to resonate with us. Think, reason, believe. Those words lead me to think pray. Writers of books for thinking readers need a life of prayer. The Psalms are a good start for those not yet practicing this.

I agree with the view that when one can hardly think, reason, or pray, we still believe. Faith remains because love remains. The times when we lean intensely into prayer for strength, steadiness, and love...are the times when it is most difficult to pray. Here is also where selected psalms can help us to pray. We can read and pray anywhere, sitting or kneeling, walking, enjoying the outdoors...

Everything done through Opine Publishing has been covered in prayer. We are human and Opine is a small publishing house. The new eStore features other publishing houses' books as well as our own. "And crown our efforts with success"...the pleasures, insights, and refreshment of memorable books.    

Not All Roads Lead Home/UK/original edition/Study Guide(out of print)/2000

Not All Roads Lead Home by Jane Bullard/UK/original edition/1996 

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Christian Writers and Spiritual Needs

Speed-the-Light Sunday at The Rock Church, Val...Image by Old Shoe Woman via Flickr--Christian group at church in Valdosta, GA, USA.

by Jean Purcell
Follow on Twitter @opinaripeople


We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God...  (2 Corinthians 10:5a-New Living Translation).

As I read from 2 Corinthians 10 this morning, I thought, "Believers face obstacles too," although the context was how to help others that seek God. You and I, as Christian writers, need reminders to destroy every proud obstacle, which is anything that prevents or tries to prevent us from knowing God. God helps us in our writing efforts if we seek Him, our dearest and wisest Guide:  
     When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, O LORD, I shall seek" (Psalm 27:8-NASB)
     Many obstacles appear through that "terrible thing to waste," as a popular slogan says of the mind. The mind is fertile ground open to good or bad thoughts; the bad and negative ones make barriers to knowing God and to the whole-health mental life that comes from God.    
     As Christian authors, let's be aware of our thoughts, intentions, and actions. We are subject to the same kinds of temptations that Jesus faced. The disciples and others were, too; yet like us they lacked Jesus' perfection. John the Apostle said to acknowledge and confess our sins and to repent. This is required obedience (e.g., read 1 John).
     Are we aware of proud obstacles? The psalmist prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if  there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-25).
     Let us daily seek God in such a way, God who made us. Let us enjoy the writing work clear of obstacles, in the light and freedom of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Dear Lord, I offer deep thanksgivings and praises to You for Your salvation. Search my heart and my thoughts so that I may be with You day by day, nothing between us. Enable me to see, discern, and destroy every proud obstacle to knowing You. Amen. 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

LinkedIn Talk

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBaseby Jean Purcell
Follow on Twitter @opinaripeople (Opinari People)

Three top professional networking places on the Internet are Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The  LinkedIn groups directory lets members find like-minded groups.
     One current favorite is the LinkedIn group Tools of Change for Publishing. Current discussion is about's recent move into publishing and the pros and cons for authors. You might want to take part.
     Writer or Author, if you are not a LinkedIn member, think about joining and building your network. It's a great place for resources if you spend some time there, learning the site and the kinds of groups you can try. You can move in and out of groups, as you like. 

(c)2011 Author Support blog
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Do You Have a Blog?

by Jean Purcell

Coming soon, more blog and blogging information, with advice about LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter networking. Recent e-mail exchanges with another writer, Ken McCreless, who has a new book available digitally and soon in print, got me to thinking again about writers and blogs. 
     Every writer needs a blog, I opine. This is a theme I return to because many writers are thinking about creating their first blog and yet, they hesitate. Where to begin?
     My first tip is to create a Google account (free) and then sign up to create a Google blog through (all free). Start simply with a simple Template that appeals to you. The rest is a learning experience. You can begin to learn about widgets, Google ads (free to post; just don't click on the ones on your blog!), and Twitter/Facebook links, as well as LinkedIn.
     P.S. Once-Told Tales, by Ken McCreless mentioned above and cover image by Nook, is available for Barnes and Noble's Nook and's Kindle. . 

Copyright (c) 2011 Author Support blog and Jean Purcell
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Being Edited: Quote from Bestselling Suspense Writer, Philip Margolin

Supreme Court IMG_1062Image by OZinOH via Flickr - U. S. Supreme Court Bldg.I don't know about other authors, but I need a good editor to take my first draft and make it into a book that can be published. 
     Sally Kim did an excellent job cleaning up my mess. Thanks also to Maya Ziv, her assistant...

A quote from book by Philip Margolin, New York Times bestselling author 

Source: Acknowledgments (page 311), Supreme Justice, suspense novel. Copyright 2010 by Philip M. Margolin. HarperCollins Publishers, New York. Brief quotes permitted.
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Friday, October 14, 2011

Professional and Entrepreneur Networking for Writers and Authors

Using Facebook to increase website trafficImage by johnscotthaydon via Flickr
Facebook and Traffic

by Jean Purcell
Follow on Twitter @opinaripeople

Writers should think of themselves as professionals. I urge this, and also urge published writers to think of themselves as entrepreneurs or business people. Writing and publishing are professional areas that mix for every author. Most authors today need to be more than skilled, artistic, literary, knowledgeable, and creative. Conceptualizing, planning, and writing (full of multiple layers of skills) are followed by interpersonal matters, like dealing with editors, publishers, and...the public.
     Many if not most writers not only love but prefer communication via written and/or taped or videoed words. Shy or introverted writers tend to deliver the best flow and ease with words and thoughts on paper, screen/monitor, or behind a video home, of course, or in the privacy of an office...or a public podium. 
     As a mentor and publisher, I have met many interesting and talented writers through this digital world we inhabit. E-mails were the beginning, and an e-mail-delivered newsletter I started for writers and for Opine Publishing, Opinari Newsletter now known as Opinari Quarterly. Now, add blogs and text messages. 
     Writers have contacted me about works in progress, and their personalities and talents have amazed, pleased, challenged, entertained, and informed me. Their backgrounds cover a broad spectrum from parents full time, to nursing, teaching, and even astro-science (I don't even know the correct terms for those who work on U. S. space projects!). Each person leaves an indelible place in my memory, all good. It is a way to continue learning, even while helping or consulting. I love this work!

     Here are some ideas for those of you ready to think "business" regarding your book or books, whether already published or under publishers' consideration. I placed years by each, and I think all have good ideas to choose from, or at least experiment with, for your professional networking: - Sign up or add names you intend to follow; publish blog post links on Twitter

12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally (2007)

How To: Use Facebook for Professional Networking (2009)

32 Ways to Use Facebook for Business (2009)

How to Use Facebook Professionally and for Marketing (2010)

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Personal and Professional-the Edited Author

Opine authors: outstanding and edited
Not every author is edited, and when no editing happens, it shows. The work that editors are supposed to do to help and improve a book's design, development, and writing adds up to significant improvement for the author, and also can help the author's next book. So, when editing is missing, it shows, often glaringly.
     On the other hand...when editing happens and yet is not well-done, that shows, too. I cringe for the publisher when I read outstanding book reviewers, such as Jonathan Yardley for example, opine, in effect: "This book and author would have benefited from better editing."
     A good editing process includes the author's focus and mission, and assesses the writing's faithfulness to that focus and its reading audience. Clarity includes exceptional use of language. However, ten-dollar and more expensive words will not add value, if used carelessly or to impress. Most readers appreciate readability, interesting style and flow, and an approachable writing voice. These interests are guarded, along with basic book requirements, by good editing. 
     Perhaps you've read academic or scientific works, including research summaries, full of technical terms not familiar to the general public. Use of such terms fails if it spills over into general market books. The general market reader recognizes when a writer is trying more to impress than to inform, explain, or enlighten. 

At a book distributor's sales conference, I heard a German publisher (children's books in English for the U. S. market) gave a good example of what makes books popular with readers: Even experts in publishing are never sure. His company's first book of a series was expected to sell a few thousand copies; instead, it quickly sold tens of thousands...and in the especially tough market that is children's books.
     Trends and interests can shift overnight, changing the climate away from one publishing focus to another. What was expected to be a big seller can lag behind a title not expected to make much impact, in numbers of sales. Good editing cannot ensure success. It is a must, however, for getting a book into the market with a favorable chance. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Author Support: Karen Kingsbury, Best-selling Christian Author of ...

Author Support: Karen Kingsbury, Best-selling Christian Author of ...: by Jean Purcell If you have not yet read any of Karen Kingsbury's books, then you and I are in the same b...

Karen Kingsbury, Best-selling Christian Author of Unlocked, about Autism

by Jean Purcell

If you have not yet read any of Karen Kingsbury's books, then you and I are in the same boat. I do not usually gravitate toward bestselling fiction. However, I want to pass this info along to you, and to make a note to myself, about Karen Kingsbury's NYT best-seller: Unlocked. The author's name appears in a list I published earlier, of best-selling Christian books of 2010.
Author Karen Kingsbury/PRWeb
     Unlocked came about from the author's experience, as many books do. Kingsbury observed the struggles of a young friend considered to be "autistic"; she saw his condition as a "locked in" situation. Her close proximity to autism issues led her to learn more about autism and what was called "the autistic community"--parents, extended family, friends of family, and doctors and teachers.     
      If you want to know more about autism and the sub-topic, very important, of bullying, you can go to YouTube for "special behind-the-scenes insight into the writing of the book and Kingsbury's personal connection to the disease, through family friends who inspired Unlocked" (PRWeb,  Thursday, October 6, 2011).  
     I'll ask for the book at my local library in Howard County, Maryland, where my husband Jim and I borrow fiction books. Unlocked is also available through brick-and-mortar stores and on-line booksellers.