His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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“We Called Him Yeshua,” Chapter 2

In the weeks leading up to the launch of my novel, We Called Him Yeshua, I’ll be posting the first several chapters. Last week I posted chapter 1. Today I give you the second chapter…

Before the Beginning

 

Anna—two months earlier

I imagined myself resting in the shade of my sandalwood tree, surrounded by soft waves of crocus flowers blanketing the rolling hills. Those flowers, gentle and free, distracted me from my ugly reality, distancing my thoughts when I didn’t want to be with my body. It was only temporary. Reality soon struck back.

The straw of my bed poked out from under the rumpled blanket, scratching my breasts. The stench of sweat, rotting teeth, and dead fish choked the air in my small hut. At least the man was quick about it, soon collapsing on top of me, gasping for breath. A moment later, he pushed himself off, grunted, and pulled down his tunic as he rose to his feet. I buried my face in the blanket, trying to fight off the tears.

I opened watery eyes as two small coins landed on the dirt floor—standard payment. Quietly, the fisherman peered around the blanket hanging in the doorway, again grunted, and crept away down the dark alley. He took less time than it takes me to shit, a typical visit for that customer. Easy money? Never.

 

(read the rest of Chapter 2 on my cjpenn.com website, and it gets more cheery from here)


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We Called Him Yeshua – Final Lap

Last Sunday my editor gave me the first 80 edited pages of my novel We Called Him Yeshua, cheerily marked up with red and blue ink, with a few post-it notes where more explanation was needed. Well, it was a bit of a strange feeling realizing I was about to delve into the world of my novel for maybe the last time.

My hope has been that We Called Him Yeshua will not only prove to be a gripping story, but also show people a side of Jesus they may not have fully understood before—his human side. And in coming to know his humanity, I believe people will naturally feel closer to him. For it’s easier to feel close to the human, than to the divine.

Anyway, Monday morning, 5:00-ish am, work began on the FINAL draft. Wow, hard to believe I’m using that word “final” after working on this book for over four years. How’s it feel? Well, my innards are filled with a mixture of excitement, fear, and a bit of sadness.

To me, writing sometimes feels the way carving marble felt to Michelangelo—he said carving was just a process of removing the extraneous marble until the image that slept inside the block was revealed. And believe me, I’ve piled on lots of extra words and garbage that has been gradually chipped away. And now I’m down to the final polishing.

I can’t express how exciting it is to have the final draft of this book slowly reveal itself as I go through my editor’s mark-ups and do the polishing. And the more revising I do, the more excited I get, for my editor is a gem and she’s come up with improvements that, I think, are taking this book to a whole new level.

But yes, there’s fear. Maybe fear of all the work still to do, in finishing the book as well as all the marketing and self-publishing and navigating Amazon, and on and on and on. Lots of unknowns along the path ahead, this being my first novel. But I think there’s also fear of the day when I set the book free, and let it go out alone into the world. Almost feels like those painful days each time my wife and I drove off and left one of our sons to go forth alone into their first days of college. A weird feeling when applied to something like a book.

And I think that’s where the sadness comes in. I will soon say goodbye to the characters I’ve lived with these past four years. At least in my head, they’ve taken on their own unique personalities, and I’ve grown to really care about some of them, and also despise a few of them. Have you ever felt this way about characters you’ve written?

Anyway, my journalist niece continues to spin out gold as she edits her way through the rest of the book. And my artistic niece will soon produce some sketches of her cover design ideas. I love the family project feel of this. My hope is to have a final draft ready to launch a paperback and Kindle version on Amazon around the middle of March, 2020. In some ways, I’m not looking forward to that.

If you want to know more about the book, or sign up to be notified when I post sample chapters on my cjpenn.com site, please go here. And by signing up, you’ll receive a link to any chapters that have already been posted.


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New Novel, New Website

In support of publishing my first novel in a couple of months, I’m now launching my new author website, at cjpenn.com. The site went live late yesterday. This is a big step on my writing path, and I’m a bit nervous about it.

Working cover – final cover in design

Regarding my novel, I had previously posted a little something (link), and now I’d like to tell you a bit more.

We Called Him Yeshua

You know him by his Greek name, Jesus Christ. We see a lot in the Bible about Jesus’ story and his messages, as written by some of His closest disciples. But we rarely see the point of view of those outside the inner circle, whose lives Jesus changed with his acts of love and compassion. This soon-to-be-published novel tries to see Jesus and those times through the eyes of such people.

They knew Jesus by his Hebrew name, Yeshua. (read more on my new website)

In the weeks leading up to the book launch, I’ll be posting sample chapters on my cjpenn.com site. Once the book is live on Amazon, I’ll post a notice for a promo week, where the Kindle version will be free, and the paperback will be priced as low as Amazon will allow. If you’d like me to notify you about these upcoming events, please follow the link (cjpenn.com) and sign up to receive book launch email notices.


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The journey of my first novel, step # … um, I lost count

[Look, something brought you to this blog post. If it was a mistake—sorry. But if you’d like to see something that is probably more worth your time, please check out the blurb about my soon-to-be-published novel on my new website. It’s basically about seeing a different perspective of Jesus, through the eyes of some background characters in the Bible. New website: cjpenn.com]

After four years and a visit to the local copy store, my first novel is now printed and ready to send to my editor. How does it feel? Well, I’m excited, terrified, wondering if I have any idea how to write fiction, filled with doubts and thinking maybe I should shelve rev 10 and give it one more good going-over before letting anyone else see it, and on and on. But in the midst of all these confused emotions and thoughts, I’ve decided to grab some courage and just let it go. I think maybe this experience is a small foretaste of what it will be like when I actually publish this thing–now that will be terrifying.


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Silence Outside – Racket Inside

Even though I’ve been rather silent on my blog the past few weeks, the rest of my life is loud with activities.

For example, I’ve been building a new website. I bought myself a crispy new URL… http://www.cjpenn.com. Don’t bother going there – it’s not live yet. But when it does go live, I’ll shut this website down. I’m hoping to make that cut-over in about a month.

I’m also in the middle of a crunch with my newest book, “Oh… Jesus!” I recently received the manuscript back from my editor. She filled it with lots of fantastic red mark-ups. I felt a bit of pain with my first glance at the large amount of suggested changes. But as I’ve worked through it, I’m now embracing all those edits. This book will be greatly improved thanks to my editor.

Here’s a random image for you. Consider an author is like a gardener. You plant a seed, water it, fertilize it, and nurture it to grow into a lushes bush. But not all the branches are even, and it’s a bit scraggly in places. The editor is like a hedge trimmer, who skillfully cuts out the scraggly parts and smoothes over the uneven patches.

Anyway, though I may be silent on my blog, there’s a ton of racket going on elsewhere in my life.

Cheerio


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Stress – It’s an Epidemic… But with a Cure

Stress Time cover

Check out this small sample of statistics from The American Institute of Stress:

  • 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did 5 years ago
  • 1 in 5 Americans experience “extreme stress”
  • 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful;

Follow this link (http://www.stress.org/stress-is-killing-you/) to even bleaker statistics on the effects of stress. Or maybe don’t – the data just might add to your stress.

I read somewhere that stress is considered an epidemic in the United States, and probably all over the world. After all, humanity has a talent for creating stress-inducing situations. I sure suffer from it, though not as often and not nearly as intensely as I used to. In fact, feelings of stress are getting rarer for me.

Several months ago I made a decision to escape the stress in my life, without actually escaping life. And I kept a journal of what I learned and felt as I eventually found a way out of the stress pit I had dug for myself. And I’ve turned that journal into a book which I’m giving away for free. (more on that here: Not for the Money).

Now to be perfectly candid, if you don’t think you could ever be open to believing Jesus Christ is who he said he is, then my book won’t help you – you’re on your own in dealing with your stress. But even if your thoughts on Jesus amount to only a mild curiosity, it’s possible this book could lead you to true peace, and freedom from the stress pit that may hold you prisoner.

Now I’m not quite finished with the book – it’s currently at my editor for final fixes. Just a few more weeks and then it will be ready to release. Would you like to check it out? Why not? After all, it’s free. So if you’re interested, sign-up to receive your free pdf copy by clicking on the link below. And then when the book is released, I’ll send you an email with a link to download the book.

And whether you try out this book or not, I wish you the best of luck in your own journey to escape stress.

(Sign up here)


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Not for the Money $$$

dollar

I’ve shaken up my purpose for writing… or one of my purposes anyway. My dream for a long time has been to make enough money with my books to quit my day job and be a fulltime author. Common dream. But I’m giving it away.

While in the midst of my current book project, I discovered a better purpose, a better dream. I no longer want to sell books. Instead, I want to give my books away for free, to as many people as possible. Why? Well, the detailed answer is within the pages of the book I’m about to start giving away. You can check that out if you like when the book is released in a few weeks – more about that on my Home page.

But the effects of this decision are unexpected, and really cool.

Oh, I had studied up on all the popular book marketing techniques intended to maximize sales. Growing my email list; building up my “tribe” of followers; asking followers for help in selecting book titles and cover designs (I like this idea); leveraging all forms of social media to draw people to my website and build my “platform” (I’m tired of that word). Anyway, it all made sense, but it was getting complicated and stressful.

But that stress is now gone – I gave it away. Yet if I really want to give my books away to as many people as possible, the techniques are similar to selling books. But by removing money from my purpose, it’s all a lot more fun.

I’m still asking people to give me their email address, but not so I can send them some funky newsletter and periodic sales pitches to buy a book. I never liked that newsletter idea – I don’t want to contribute to email inbox clutter. But I will send an email when I have a new book ready to give away. And I may send an email when I need help on a book project, like selecting a title or cover design.

Anyway, I’ve discovered that by removing one of the foundational purposes for my writing – selling books – there’s much more room for the real purpose: to help people discover a better experience of life in their growing intimate relationship with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And, to help people see and accept that the solution to all of life’s problems is found in a personal relationship with the Spirit living within them.

Look, Jesus turned my life around. Without Him, I’d be miserable. Okay, not totally miserable. My wife is very special to me; I love her intensely, and her love gives me purpose. But Jesus’ love gives me a higher purpose, and a fuller life. I want to share that with other people – that’s why I write. NOT for money. This feels great!