Words to Live By

29 01 2017

readingEvery writer is influenced not only by his life experiences, but also by who he reads.

In a recent fun and fascinating interview on Carrie Schmidt’s wonderful blog, I was asked if I could only read 5 books (besides the Bible) for the rest of my life, which would I choose? Which would you choose?

After wrestling with that tough predicament, I decided to make a Top Ten List of those authors that have influenced me the most. For some of them, one sentence or one paragraph or one story has touched my heart so deeply that I’ll never be the same. And from others I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the craft of writing.

As I share my Top Ten List with you, I’d love for you to comment below if any of these authors have also influenced you. Or go one step further and share YOUR Top Ten!

Here we go!

  • Mother Teresa
  • Khalil Gibran
  • Jalaluddin Rumi
  • Rabindranath Tagore
  • Ted Dekker
  • Henri Nouwen
  • Gregory Boyle
  • Dick Francis
  • David Baldacci
  • Richard Rohr

I imagine some of these may be new names for some of you. You may recognize the three novelists: Ted Dekker, David Baldacci, and the British mystery writer Dick Francis. But if you haven’t read any of the other Magnificent Seven, you’re missing out!

These seven amazing people have given the world what might be termed “Wisdom Literature,” for the depths of their understanding of God, life and the universe. For me, the truest test of wisdom is whether or not the words inspire me to love. I can safely say that all of these seven authors have lifted my love-life to a higher plane, and I’m incredibly grateful.

Yet as I reflected on this list of seven names, I was shocked to discover that none of them are from my stream of faith. I consider myself a Protestant, but have found the sweetest water to come from the wells of 4 Catholics, a Maronite Christian, a Muslim Sufi, and a Hindu mystic.

Some of my Protestant brothers act as though we have ALL TRUTH, the Catholics may have partial truth, but the other religions have none at all. How arrogant we are! As though God would answer every seeking heart by saying, “Join the right religious group first, then I’ll begin to reveal Myself to you.” As someone who is a true Seeker of God, it’s not hard for me to recognize that same Seeking in others, no matter what background they come from. And since God promised, “All who seek me will find me,” (Proverbs 8:17), I can also recognize the Finding when I see it.

Here’s what I’m talking about—which of these quotes comes from the Christian, the Muslim, and the Hindu?

  1.  “In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” 
  2. “When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.” 
  3. “Give Me Strength–


This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.”

What is your guess? (Answers at the end of this article.)

Those Seekers of God who have gone before light my path with their words. I hope that my life and my writing, in some small way, will do the same for others.

I want to join Henri Nouwen’s questthe ongoing attempt to put one’s own search for God, with all the moments of pain and joy, despair and hope, at the disposal of those who want to join this search but do not know how.”

I welcome you to search with me! And to comment on YOUR favorite authors!

[Answers to quiz: 1) the Muslim Rumi; 2) the Christian Gibran; 3) the Hindu Tagore]





Win a Free Copy of A VIOLENT LIGHT

29 10 2016

WIN A FREE COPY OF JIM’S NEW THRILLER!

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To be eligible to win one of 3 giveaway copies of A VIOLENT LIGHT, here’s all you have to do:

 

  • Post a review of at least 2 sentences of SOMEONE HAS TO DIE or A WAY OUT OF HELL to one of the sites listed below*, or on your Facebook page or blog
  • The more sites you post on, the more chances you have to win
  • Email me at jimbaton@gmail.com telling me where you posted
  • Your name will be entered as many times as you post for a random drawing on Christmas Eve 2016

Winners will be emailed and posted on my website by Christmas Day, books shipped by New Year’s Day.

 

*Suggested sites:

If you haven’t read one of these books yet, pick up the ebook now or mark your calendar for Black FridayCyber Monday when the paperbacks will be on sale for only $8.99.

Spread the message of PEACE for the holidays!





For Aspiring Writers

22 09 2016

write-593333_1920   Everywhere I travel and speak, I meet people who are writing or wanting to write. I want to encourage you to go for it! There have never been as many tools and services available for writers as we have now. Professional editors, cover artists, formatters, and marketers are available to make sure the self-published author produces a quality book. And if you want to learn how to do everything yourself, there are tutorials everywhere.

I’ve also met so many helpful people along my writing journey who have taken time to answer my questions, inspire me, or point me in the right direction. If any of you have questions about writing, I’d be happy to do my best to answer them too.

An easy way to ask me what’s on your mind is by adding to the questions I’m already answering at:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/5813900.Jim_Baton/questions

Take a look there at what I’ve already said and add your own writing process queries.

[Please ask questions related to Christian-Muslim relations on my blog Q&A page.]

And if you’ve already written a book but can’t seem to get people to buy it, let me encourage you to not only keep learning about marketing, but to get to work on that second book! I recently read that Ted Dekker (one of my favorite authors) wrote 4 books that were never published before someone liked his 5th book and his career was launched.

I recognize that in the process of writing my first few books, I’m still learning the craft. Hopefully each book gets significantly better.

That’s one reason I’m so excited about my next book hopefully coming out before Christmas—A VIOLENT LIGHT—I think it’s the best written of my books yet. It will keep you on the edge of your seat, puzzling with the main character to figure out what is fear and what is real, with a nail-biting climax that could keep you up all night.

But more about my new book later. Today’s post is to motivate you to a) ask questions, and b) keep writing!





Entering the Writer’s Alternate Reality

23 05 2016

writing[1]I felt tremendous joy and satisfaction this week watching my second novel, A WAY OUT OF HELL, pop up on Amazon.com! Nearly two years of work finally ready to be shared with the world. But if writing a novel is difficult, for me getting the word out to people is much more of a challenge. As my daughter reminds me often, she has 10x as many followers on Facebook as I do. A huge THANKS to any readers who want to help me by passing the word along to others!!

I want to thank my wife for supporting me to write, even though she’s not a big fan of the process. When we get together at dinner, her stories are generally about comforting abused kids, hugging a prostitute, or praying for a naked crazy person on the street. My wife smells a crisis a mile away and wants to be the first to jump in and love somebody who’s hurting.

Then I tell her about my day, with stories equally dramatic, heart-felt and amazing—except they’re not real. I get all teary-eyed about what my fictional character said to her mother, or worried about how my hero is going to get out of the desperate corner I’ve written him into. My wife just stares at me. And if I talk too long, she reminds me that fiction is boring and I should engage in real people’s lives.

One benefit of these conversations is that her real-life stories creep into my book, lending it a realistic authenticity. Another benefit is that when I’m writing, she literally has no interest in bugging me so I get a lot done. But best of all, is that I actually do get inspired by her to stretch my introvert self and once in a while join her “holy, holy chaos.”

I’m sure different authors approach writing differently. For me so far, each book has started with a message I wanted to share, something I believe could truly change my readers’ paradigms. Around the message I built a story about characters wrestling with these issues.

Sometimes halfway through the story, the characters begin to take on a life of their own, and want to take the story to new places I hadn’t planned. I always listen to them, and let them lead. I may be their Creator, but it’s so much more interesting to give them Free Will and see what might happen. 🙂

In both of my books so far that phenomena has occurred, and I’m finding it even more a reality in the third book of the series that I’m editing right now. With God’s help (and some capable friends!) book #3 in the Peace Trilogy will be out by Christmas.

Whether a story is real or fiction, narrative carries the emotive power necessary to open our minds to fresh ways of thinking, to inspire us to take new risks, to envision us with what could be.

Thank you for reading my stories! Please post your feedback for me here or at Amazon.com.

(And if you ever purchase a defective book online, just let me know and I’ll get you a replacement! 🙂 )