Good news!

How do people announce the birth of a child? Usually it’s letters or notes or someone standing up in church. I know someone who recited a poem to announce that his wife was pregnant . . . and it would have been great if he’d been any good at poetry, but he wasn’t. So it was just funny. But when Jesus was born, God had a unique way of letting everyone know about it.

Today’s passage comes from Luke 2 again, this time verses 8 through 11.

8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

Talk about a really exciting way to announce that a child has been born! Wow.

This is another well-known passage, and there are a lot of practical applications that can be drawn from it. Most notably I think is the fact that the angels came to shepherds, who were the dregs of Jewish society, to announce Jesus’ birth. I think that says something about God.

God wanted everyone to know about Jesus’ birth. It wasn’t some secret that He wanted kept. It wasn’t some club that only members could know about.

I mean even the angel said that He brought good news that would bring great joy to all people. Not just some people.

So if the birth of Jesus is something that should bring joy to all people, why does it seem like people are scared to talk about it? I know there’s the whole issue about being offensive and about sharing the holidays, but let’s be real here, folks. If we want to have a politically correct holiday, we need to get rid of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa too. It’s not just Christmas that should get the boot.

Religion has turned Christmas into a tradition that only “Christians” celebrate, and that’s wrong. That’s one of the reasons I really hate religion. Religion says it’s all right to be a club. Religion encourages cliques. And it doesn’t matter what your religion is. They’re all the same.

Jesus has never been exclusive. He came here for all people. And maybe announcing that offends people. I don’t mean to offend people, but that’s what Christmas is about. Celebrating the birth of Jesus. Celebrating the Hope that God brought into our world.

And that’s something that all people need to hear, whether it offends them or not. After all, it’s good news. So don’t be afraid to tell people why you celebrate. Do it nicely, of course. Thumping people on the head with a Bible has never been effective in helping people understand what Jesus did for them. But don’t shrink back either because you’re afraid.

Jesus birth is good news. And if people would listen, they would receive great joy from it, no matter who they are and where they come from.

How do you make a room full of published authors gasp collectively?

Answer a question about your latest novel’s word count honestly.

I have never been so embarassed. Well, I take it back. I probably have been more embarassed, but it’s been a while since I’ve turned THAT red. Since I’ve felt the burning start up my neck until my whole face is on fire. Three hours later, my face was STILL red.

It’s not really a big deal, I guess. Katie and I went to a writer’s meeting this afternoon. We did get a lot of really good conference information and stuff. It was pretty interesting. But of course we all had to go around in a circle and talk about who we are and what we write and what we’ve had published. Ick.

And of course we had to be sitting right next to the club’s “most prolific” author who produces 150,000-word manuscripts at the drop of a hat. They went on and on about her being so prolific and Katie just looked at me. (We’ve perfected the art of significant glances, by the way.)

So you can imagine what happened. My lovely Katie introduced herself and then it was my turn, and I did my darnedest to steer away from word counts. I didn’t want to talk about it, and all I said was that I had finished revising a novel. And of course they ask, “How many words is it?” And so–honest person that I am–I say, “It’s 377,000 words.”

From the collective gasp of shock and horror, you’d think I’d said I assassinated JFK.

Oh well. =) I realize that it’s a monster. I’m taking steps to cut it down — or apart — or serialize it or whatever. So I guess that counts for something.

Maybe I just need to learn to stop having so much to say all the time . . . .  This isn’t a new development though. I produced a 140,000-word manuscript when I was around 15 years old. In high school full time. Working during the summers. Granted, it sucked (You First Fan Club people, you know which one I’m talking about; the first ginormous monster of a story).

The next huge one was 193,000 words when I was 18 and I wrote that whole thing from July to October. Also working over the summer and finishing up high school. It sucked too, but it was a little better than the other one.

They just keep getting bigger . . . . I mean even the latest re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-rewrite of that same old series is 152,000 words . . . . and it’s definitely quality for publication but everyone at this meeting is saying that publishers won’t even consider a new author with a book over 100,000 words . . . . and that I should aim for a more realistic number like 70,000 or 80,000 words . . . . It’s definitely possible, but wow . . . talk about pulling teeth.

Maybe I should just forget the whole publishing route and do it all myself. Amazon has a pretty spectacular digital text platform for Kindle publishing . . . .

If I went that route, would anybody out there buy them? You guys weigh in! =)

Random Afternoon Realization

I need to go to Galveston.

I was just sitting sorting through my 23,000-line Excel file of email addresses and I suddenly had this massive longing to hear the gulf and feel the sand being sucked out from under my toes. I want to eat shrimp fresh cooked after buying them off the pier and search the shore for whole sand dollars.

Anybody want to go?