Help Me Decide: To Prologue or Not to Prologue?

I’m stuck on whether or not to use a prologue for my book. Maybe you can help me decide by taking the following two single question polls.

My first question for you: Do you ever read the prologue to a book?

Now, to get more specific. Should I put the following information in a prologue or in the first chapter? Before taking the poll, here’s some information and excerpts to help you understand the decision I need to make.

The following is my prologue. I can’t decide if I should leave it as a prologue or make it the introductory paragraphs for the first chapter. The reason I have it separate for now is because the first chapter is actually a flashback to when my main character is a child.

Here’s the prologue:

Newman got up from his desk and stretched. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been at it, but sometime during his studying and writing, the sun had come up.

He twisted and rubbed his neck as he walked into the living room. He stopped when the bloodstains on the window frame caught his attention. He shifted his gaze to the stains on the grey damask sofa and then up to the ceiling, zooming in on the bullet hole.

Most days now, he could pass by without noticing these reminders of his past. It had been five years. He knew some people thought it strange he never patched the hole or removed the stains. But he didn’t want to forget where he’d come from – what he was saved from.

Shhh, man, I wish I could put all that in this sermon, he thought as he made his way into the kitchen.

Back at his desk with a fresh glass of water, he tried to get back to work. If I did tell that story, they’d probably kick me out of the church. He looked at the giant sticky note papers on the paneled wall to review the outline and thoughts he’d worked up so far for Sunday’s message. The title of the sermon was written in bold blue marker – From the Pit to the Palace. Lord, I want them to know you didn’t just do that for Joseph. You did that for me.

A few minutes later, he was thinking of another Bible passage. It was one he wasn’t planning to use in that week’s sermon. Am I my brother’s keeper? He pressed his fingers to his eyes to take away the sting of tears and hold them back.

After several more attempts to focus, he closed his Bible. He switched documents on the computer to work on the book instead. The truth has got to come out. There’s been too many lies. I’m tired of people not even knowing my real name. The feds already know I don’t want their protection from those in my past. And I’m tired of worrying about protecting my secret from those in my present. Twenty years has been long enough. His stomach churned as he started typing.

And here’s how the first chapter currently begins:

1 LITTLE MAN LEARNS THE HUSTLE

He was shy until he learned he could hustle. When he was a child, it was just a game. He never imagined it would become a game of life and death.

Newman “Little Man” Barton was known for walking the streets of his neighborhood with a newspaper or two under his arm. People said, “If you want to know what’s going on, ask Little Man. He’s always in that paper.” He also had a reputation for being charming and helpful. Newman’s love for the newspapers and his desire to be of assistance were traits instilled in him by his mother.

. . . He strolled along on his own more often than with his mother these days. The old heads on the bench outside the convenience store usually asked him to run inside and grab something for them. Honey buns were their favorite. They’d let him keep the change for his effort.

From there, he’d head over to the barbershop. It was just one of the places he was often called upon to help settle a bet by answering questions about the latest news or sports stats. The men always got a kick out of him being able to answer almost any question in the deep voice which had earned him his nickname.

“Hey, Little Man, how many field goals did Dr. J attempt last night against the Boston Celtics?”

“Dr. J was 10 of 25 from the field last night,” he’d answer with his broad, whole-face smile. That smile would usually make its way from his thick, broad lips into his cheekbones, causing them to round up toward his brown eyes, which in turn squinted almost shut … but not so much that the smile wasn’t still radiating out of them as well.

“Heh, I told you. Now, pay up,” the winner of the bet would chuckle to the loser. When the money was handed over, Newman was given his cut and he moved along to the next spot on his run. Making his hustle with the newspaper was one of his favorite childhood activities. Besides the fun of it all, he was glad he could bring home money to his mother who was struggling to raise six children without the support of a father in the home.

So, what do you think? Should I leave this as is or change it?

Thanks for your input.

Sharing a Letter to Young Christian Feminists

While I’m on hiatus finishing up the editing on my book, here’s a great read from Cheryl Bridges Johns at The Junia Project. Beautifully written and spot on. With my book off the to-do list soon, I hope to be writing on several of the topics she so eloquently summarizes. Until then, blessings to you.

A Letter to Young Christian Feminists

Hearing the Plea from Those Who Need Encouragement – January Encourager’s Devotion

Make it a year of encouragement.

Pull Up a Chair

Paul to TimothyPaul to Timothy (NKJV)

Image Source

 Welcome to The Encourager’s Devotional Series. I’m so glad you took the time to see what it’s all about. Before we dive into the devotion, here are a few notes about this devotional series:

Since this is the first post in a series that will continue throughout 2015, you may want to take a look at the introduction to the series (if you haven’t already) for information regarding the schedule for posting and what you can expect in the weeks to come.

Throughout the devotions, I will present many ideas on how you may apply what you’re learning to minister encouragement to others. I pray you will see the suggestions not as a list of “to do’s” (who needs any more of those?!), but as “prompts.” Let the Spirit stimulate your thinking, but don’t let it stop with just thinking. As you…

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Just a Thought – On Gender Issues and the Church

If we are going to take The Curse as our guide for male and female roles, women should never have been allowed to work in the fields of agriculture – in any capacity. That would be the man’s role.  It would emasculate him to have her take over any of his duties in that God-assigned arena, just like her taking a job outside the home would today.

The Meanderings of an Extrovert on the Introverts

I’m on my annual writing retreat. As one of the introverts mentioned in this post by a friend here with me, I’m staying on task and not blogging yet. 🙂

Ordinary People Extraordinary God

This week is my annual get away for a writer’s retreat.  I find myself looking forward to it each year.  It is a time when a group of my friends who love to write gather together in solitude. I know that does not make much sense–but in actuality we each have our own room where we write to our heart’s content and only come together for an evening meal. Some of us are night owls and some are early birds. The flexibility of only coming together for dinner allows us the freedom to work in our own time frames.

My friends (who are all introvBasic RGBerts) are great at getting right to business and accomplishing many of their goals during the week.  They write goals and state their BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal). They are good at eating frogs. Which means they get the hard things done first and then …

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Encourager’s Devotional Series – December Bible Study Answer Guide

Here are the answers to the Bible study that corresponds with the December Devotion for The Encourager’s Devotional Series.

Information

They saw ~ Look up Psalm 119:18 and write it out as you use it for a prayer prompt for your study time. ~ Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

They rejoiced ~ Fill in the blanks for the following texts, looking for keys to maintaining joy in the Christian life.

John 16:24 – “…  ask and you will receive, and your  joy will be full.”

So, we can say that prayer is one key to maintaining joy. Now, go back to the previous chapter in John to look at some guidelines for prayer, to give some context to the promise, and to find another key to maintaining joy.

John 15:7-12

Verse 7 reveals what should motivate our prayers. “If you  remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

Verse 8 reveals the intended purpose of our requests. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” 

Verses 9-13 give us yet another key to maintaining joy. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my  joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Notice that Jesus said we are to love one another as He loves us. The next verse hints as to how Jesus would ultimately show His love. Write verse 13 down. – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

1 John 1:4 – “We write this* to make our  joy complete.” * Read 1 John 1:1-3 to see what “this” was. Note that it was in sharing “this” message that John and his fellow Christians found joy. Summarize in your own words what was being shared in John’s writing.

(Answers may vary.) They had witnessed the life of Christ Jesus (the Word of life) and knew Him to be the key to eternal life. The sharing of this good news brings us into fellowship with God and with one another.

To recap these keys to finding/maintaining joy:

  • We experience joy when we pray, especially when our prayers are inspired by His word and motivated by a desire to bear fruit which brings glory to God.
  • We have joy when we remain in His love and demonstrate that love relationship through obedience to His word and modeling of His sacrificial service to others.
  • And finally, we maintain joy when we share what we know about Christ with others.

Psalm 16:11 also says God fills us with joy when we are in his presence, so we must explore how it is that we experience His presence.

They came ~ While we, as Christians, are assured that Christ is with us always, Scripture does indicate that there are means by which we can make ourselves more aware of His presence. We are also told to come to Him to experience the benefits of His presence more fully.  Continue reading

Encourager’s Devotional Series – December Bible Study

This Bible study corresponds with the December Devotion for The Encourager’s Devotional Series.

Information

They saw ~ Look up Psalm 119:18 and write it out as you use it for a prayer prompt for your study time.

They rejoiced ~ Fill in the blanks for the following texts, looking for keys to maintaining joy in the Christian life.

John 16:24 – “…                                 and you will receive, and your                 will be                     .”

So, we can say that prayer is one key to maintaining joy. Now, go back to the previous chapter in John to look at some guidelines for prayer, to give some context to the promise, and to find another key to maintaining joy.

John 15:7-12

Verse 7 reveals what should motivate our prayers. “If you                      in           and my                      remain in                   , ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

Verse 8 reveals the intended purpose of our requests. “This is to my Father’s                       , that you                    much                   , showing yourselves to be my disciples.” 

Verses 9-13 give us yet another key to maintaining joy. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you                       my                                  , you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my                    may be in you and that your                         may be                               . 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Notice that Jesus said we are to love one another as He loves us. The next verse hints as to how Jesus would ultimately show His love. Write verse 13 down.

1 John 1:4 – “We                                     this* to make our                                                .”

* Read 1 John 1:1-3 to see what “this” was. Note that it was in sharing “this” message that John and his fellow Christians found joy. Summarize in your own words what was being shared in John’s writing.

To recap these keys to finding/maintaining joy:

  • We experience joy when we pray, especially when our prayers are inspired by His word and motivated by a desire to bear fruit which brings glory to God.
  • We have joy when we remain in His love and demonstrate that love relationship through obedience to His word and modeling of His sacrificial service to others.
  • And finally, we maintain joy when we share what we know about Christ with others.

Psalm 16:11 also says God fills us with joy when we are in his                              , so we must explore how it is that we experience His presence.

They came ~ While we, as Christians, are assured that Christ is with us always, Scripture does indicate that there are means by which we can make ourselves more aware of His presence. We are also told to come to Him to experience the benefits of His presence more fully.  Continue reading

Hope – by Anonymous

Patriarchal institution keepers – please, hear her story.

wmyn4wmyn

My education had mostly ended after eighth grade. So when I was sent off to college I was less than confident. I was informed not to worry about failing. I could go back home.This was no doubt said as a comfort, but to me it was a painful reminder of my inability. If I was to fail at college, I was to be sent to Alaska to find a husband. Not kidding.

This was repeatedly said to me. Followed by a laugh. Followed by a, “No really, I’m serious.” I would have to work as a hard as possible to maintain a C average. To my surprise, working as hard as possible produced A’s instead. Yet before I could receive my report card, I had been proposed to. I tentatively accepted on the advice of my Father.

I was hopeful to get out of it swiftly. Yet a series of…

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Wise Men Do More than Just Seek Him – December Encourager’s Devotion

Background image V. Gilbert and Arlisle F. Beers

Background image V. Gilbert and Arlisle F. Beers

Do you really have a revelation of who Jesus is, of the significance of the Christmas event? I emphasize the word “really” because it seems many claim to understand the message of the Gospel, and may even have taken first steps in response to it, but do not live in a way that shows true, convicting, life-changing comprehension. Those who do truly see the significance of the King of heaven coming to live among us, and eventually die for us, are driven to respond to that revelation.

Like the wise men (or magi) in the Christmas story, the response of a true believer will include more than just an initial understanding. The story of the magi is short, but as the picture accompanying this devotion highlights, the few short verses devoted to them are packed with emotion and action.

We’re going to take a look at all those action verbs in that short verse, but before we do, I invite you to stop and say a quick prayer with me: Lord, help me to see You today, to really experience Your presence, to really grasp the meaning of Your birth, to really see – as they saw.

From the story of the wise men, we first see that joy accompanies the revelation of Christ – they rejoiced. Many at this time of year toss around the word joy, but real evidence of the joy in a Christian’s life should be seen all year. The believer’s joy is “exceedingly great.” It is the type of joy which overflows into action. The wise men were so stirred by joy they were willing to take a long trip to see Jesus – they came.

We can not visit the Christ-child as the magi did, but many opportunities are given us to experience Christ’s presence. Worship services, communion, fellowship with His people, His word, prayer, and even acts of service (Mt 25:35-40) are all ways to connect with Christ. Those who really believe the Gospel will avail themselves of these opportunities as much as possible.

The magi took advantage of the opportunity to see Jesus. When you read the full text of Matthew 2 and consider what we know of transportation in those days, you’ll see this was not a convenient trip for them. They had to search to find the child. Indeed, they sacrificed of their time, their energy, and their material resources to get there.

The next action of the wise men is significant. It shows they really did comprehend the importance of Christ and His mission. After they made the effort to come into His presence, they were humbled by the experience to the extent that they fell down before Him they worshiped.

I started off by asking if you really get the message of the Gospel. The posture of the magi at this point in the story shows what it is like to fully understand the work of Christ. It is such a deep experience that it causes you to humble yourself, to fall on your face before Him and offer yourself to Him in worship. It is only when you get to this point with Christ that the next action has real meaning – they gave.

Many people give gifts, and for many reasons. We see this especially at Christmas. Some give out of obligation, some out of love, some out of guilt, some to show appreciation, some to impress others. Some motives are good, some not so good. Some gifts are good, some not so good. But even the best of gifts, given from the best of motives, will never compare with any gift – great or small, store-bought or handmade, an act of service or a word of encouragement – given in response to Christ. This is because any gift given in response to Christ actually helps to accomplish the mission of Christ.

Right after the magi leave, Mary and Joseph had to flee into Egypt to get away from King Herod. We know from the type of offering which was required of Mary and Joseph (Lk 2:24), and from their travel arrangements when they came to Bethlehem, they were not wealthy. This sudden relocation meant loss of income, as well as travel and resettling expenses. The gifts of the magi were surely a blessing which helped get them through that rough time.

The magi’s example of giving has inspired many to also give to Christ’s kingdom. As October’s devotion highlighted, giving to the kingdom will always have some kind of multiplying effect. In our first devotion in January, I used the text “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Prov 11:25b). The beginning of that Proverb is quoted in 2 Corinthians 9:6,7 when it speaks of sowing and reaping. Verse 24 of that same Proverb says when we scatter what we have, it increases. Remember, this has both material and spiritual connotations. We are promised material blessings when we give, but more important are the spiritual rewards. The Proverb (v. 30) reminds us that the real fruit of the righteous is the winning of souls. We must remember that all of our giving in response to Christ has eternal significance because it contributes to His purpose of reconciling sinners to God.

Let us be people who really understand the significance of Jesus birth, His death, and His resurrection. May we really rejoice in His message, with exceeding great joy! May we really see how important it is to be in His presence, taking advantage of the means He’s provided to do so. May we really worship and adore Him, all year long. And let us really open up our treasures and offer them to Him, and to others in His name.

Let us be people who really understand the significance of His birth … AND respond accordingly.