Mur Lafferty: Six Wakes

An excellent review of Mur Lafferty’s “Six Wakes.” I read and loved the book. Mur Lafferty also wrote, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” which is out on September 4 and available for preorder now.

shigekuni.

Lafferty, Mur (2017), Six Wakes, Orbit
ISBN 978-0-316-38968-6

I’m behind on reading all kinds of lists and books – and this year’s Hugo shortlist is no exception. For whatever reason, the first book I picked off that list is a novel I had never heard of by a writer I had never heard of: Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes. It was an excellent choice: Six Wakes is a very good science fiction novel. For some reason, reviewers of science fiction – and genre generally – are obsessed with the question of ‘transcending genre’ – can a book be more than ‘just’ a genre novel? It is a bad question and the books that ‘transcend genre’ can be quite dull, to be honest. And it is applied more often to science fiction and fantasy novels than to crime novels, for example. And while it’s true that certain novels, mired in genre…

View original post 1,663 more words

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Seven

Extending Life

Tafinlar and Mekinist were Miss Benita’s chemotherapy prescription medications. The prescriptions are used for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic Melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations. These were the mutations of Melanoma she had. Sadly, I know more about Melanoma than I ever wanted to know.

Metastatic Melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations were detected by an FDA-approved test as the specific type of Melanoma mutation Miss Benita battled. The Tafinlar and Mekinist were also used because of involvement of the thirty-four lymph nodes, following complete resection. Tafinlar and Mekinist were used as an adjuvant treatment. 

What is an adjuvant treatment?

In Miss Benita’s case, it was using a pharmacological agent that modified the effect of other agents. It changed the immune response by boosting it such as to give a higher amount of antibodies and longer-lasting protection. It was used to enhance the efficacy of the Tafinlar and Mekinist by helping to modify the immune response to particular types of immune system cells. 

My Story

One Monday Benita shared, “Woo Hoo! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!!! I got word from the oncologist today (Monday) that there was no sign of Melanoma in my CT scan. Thank you all so much for your prayers. That’s the good news of the day. The bad news was my cholesterol is up, and my primary doc said I need to have fish oil and recheck the blood work in a month. So pray I can swallow those giant fish oil pills.”

I recall how Benita was confused when friends and acquaintances responded saying it was great she had been healed. A few commented they were glad she no longer required their prayers. Others mentioned how wonderful she was cured.

She said they don’t understand. I still have Melanoma. All the scan means is at present the Tafinlar and Mekinist have the Melanoma under control. The prescriptions don’t cure cancer. Only God can do that. They just help extend my life. I can’t take the medicines forever. Sure, cancer might go into remission short or long-term but from what the oncologist says unless I have a miracle it will recur within six to nine months once I have completed the chemotherapy treatment using the Tafinlar and Mekinist.

Eight months after completing the Tafinlar and Mekinist treatments she was diagnosed with a recurrence of the Melanoma in a brain tumor. She lived four months and five days after the brain tumor was found. She lived twelve months after completing the Tafinlar and Mekinist treatments.

God is Jehovah Rapha – God our healer of all our diseases. 

No, God did not let us down by not healing Miss Benita’s illness. I believe when she passed away she was instantly in heaven with God. She was cancer and disease free. I know because of her faith in Jesus Christ she believed this too.

The Bible Says

Isaiah 57:18 (KJV), “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

I like how Barnes Notes on the Bible explains the passage. 

“I have seen his ways – That is, either his ways of sin, or of repentance most probably it means the former; and the idea is, that God had seen how prone his people were to sin and that he would now interpose and correct their proneness to sin against him, and remove from them the judgments which had been brought upon them in consequence of their crimes.

And will heal him – That is, I will pardon and restore him. Sin, in the Scriptures, is often represented as a disease, and pardon and salvation as a healing of the disease And will heal him – That is, I will pardon and restore him. Sin, in the Scriptures, is often represented as a disease, and pardon and salvation as a healing of the disease.” 

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for caring enough to see our ways.
  2. Lord Jesus, thank you for the provision of restoration – be it through healing or even better, through salvation.
  3. Let your Spirit teach our spirit how to live to Your honor and glory each day.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Have you ever accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Ultimate healing comes through confession of sin and trusting Jesus as your Savior.
  2. What areas of your life do you find yourself facing struggles? Trust God by asking Him to help you through these issues.
  3. It’s hard when you pray for healing, and a disease isn’t cured. Growing tired and weary as you care for a loved one is normal. Realize you don’t have to do everything in your own strength and power. Ask God to help you. 

Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Six

It’s Scary

Facing a chronic illness is a scary daily challenge for the person with the disease as well as the family and the caregiver. Through Jesus Christ, we can be strong and courageous. How can we do this?

We cannot do this by ourselves in our own strength. We are only able to do this in God’s power. We must remember that daily the Lord Jesus, our God, goes with the Christian. We need to remember He goes with us and is with us today.

Today’s Scripture tells us the Lord will not leave or forsake the Believer in Jesus Christ.

My Story

Late in my wife Benita’s battle with cancer, she suffered confusion and disorientation. It was mid-March. Only three months earlier her Melanoma Cancer had spread to the brain. She had been diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of an egg. She had surgery. The tumor was removed. She had completed three weeks of radiation treatment in February. 

Following the treatments, she had a brain scan. No sign of cancer was detected. She and I had talked at length cherishing every moment. We could feel the sands in the hourglass of her life quickly running out. Daily and at times hourly I told her how much I loved her, how blessed I was to have her share life with me. 

We openly discussed how scary cancer was. Benita made me aware of her wish that if cancer recurred in the brain to not let the doctor do another surgery. She did not want to be operated on again. She did not want another brain surgery.

Our faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ was strong. Her Christian faith and trust in God were the strongest I have ever seen. And then the confusion and disorientation hit her like an express train. She did not know who she was, where she was, what date it was, what month it was and could not answer my rudimentary questions. I’m not a medical doctor, but I knew her situation was terrible, very horrible.

With the help of my children, I took Benita to the emergency room of the hospital where she had had the original tumor removed the previous December. I knew from the emergency rooms physicians’ initial responses and reactions this was serious. 

I was awake thirty-nine consecutive hours during this time. The ER doctors deferred talking to me about the details of a recurrence in the area of the original tumor. They left the difficult conversation with me to the brain surgeon. The surgeon was straightforward in his talk with me. The cancer had recurred with a massive blood clot. The operating room was available in fifteen minutes if I gave the okay. They needed an answer now. Time was critical.

I asked a few questions. I was told the surgery would only extend life two months on average. I was reminded of the recovery time for this type of surgery was six to nine months. It was pointed out that due to the location of the tumor that surgery may leave her totally blind, with the possible loss of speech, and unable to care for herself. Then I was told we need a decision. He said if you say no to the surgery, your choice cannot be reversed because of her critical nature. The other option was for her to go on hospice care. If I selected the hospice option, the doctor gave her days to weeks to live. He could not guarantee she would regain consciousness. 

I asked the doctor for ten minutes. I left the room and called two of our children. Our oldest child was with me. I did not ask for their opinion. I told them what was going on and that per their mother’s wishes we would not have surgery. I next called my wife’s sisters and told them the same. I returned to the intensive care unit and informed the doctor. He agreed with our choice. They started her on massive steroids to stop the swelling and on morphine for pain management. 

Within a few hours, she regained consciousness. A few hours later her brain function had returned where she realized where she was, what was going on including understanding she was going to die, Benita thanked me for honoring her wishes.

She was moved from ICU to a room to stabilize her. She then went to an inpatient hospice hospital for a week before being transported by ambulance to our home. Benita’s wish was to go home. Again, I was honoring what she wanted.

I was scared to death wondering how we would manage. Could I get her to and from the bathroom? Then it was could I get her on and off a potty chair? I worried about lifting and turning her in bed. I wondered how I would handle watching her die.

God was faithful.  We had a caring team of hospice nurses, her sisters, our children, and even me that managed to make it through the twenty-three days from when I took her to the emergency room until she passed away with family and friends surrounding her. I was holding her hand, had just kissed her goodbye and told her it was okay to go on to heaven when she took her last breath.

No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, God was there with us each step of the way. He went with us and did not forsake or fail us.

The Bible Says

Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV), “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

Because Christians have God with them, they should be of good courage. The courage comes from their confident assurance in God. It is this certainty comes to abound as a result of their faith. This sure faith in Christ allows Christians to bravely face each day knowing through Him we shall have the ultimate victory. 

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, please help our family to continue to be strong and courageous in the face of this illness. Help me as the caregiver to continue to trust in You and have faith in You.
  2. Lord, we ask for Your comfort. Help us to not fear or be in dread of the challenges we are living through. Help us to not grow weary. Thank you for letting us know it is the Lord our God who goes with us and that You will not leave us or forsake us.
  3. We pray our family and loved ones would confess faith in Jesus Christ where they too can experience the comfort available to Christians.

Applying The Verse To Receive God’s Hope For The Caregiver

  1. What challenges are you currently facing as a caregiver that has you scared and wondering if you can handle the problem? Have you turned this challenge over to God through prayer? Why not do that right now? 
  2. The verse is not positive thinking. It is not an if you believe it you can achieve approach. Instead, it is asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit to strengthen you. It is realizing the same God that created the universe, that knit you together in your mother’s womb at conception is there with His angels to lift you up, sustain you, and help meet your every need.
  3. Have you asked God for the needed courage to face today? Whatever the challenge you face as a caregiver, He is big enough to help you through the situation. 

Photo Source: Pixabay

Anyone Ever Laugh When You Say You’re a Writer?

You Need a Real Job

Summoned to my high school guidance counselor’s office, I learned not everyone thinks being a writer is a good idea.  I still recall the meeting as if it were yesterday.

“Why can’t I be an author?” I asked. I wanted to be the next Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth, or Ray Bradbury. They were the best-selling authors of the day.

Her career choices for me came from the father role models on the popular television programs of the era. She wanted me to be the next Mike Brady (the architect dad on The Brady Bunch) or an aerospace engineer like Steven Douglas (My Three Sons).

“Jimmie, you’re a boy. You need a college degree in engineering, math, science, or accounting. You have to earn enough money to support your future wife and family. Forget your silly notion that a man can support himself by writing. It is okay to write for a hobby, but you will need a real job. With your grades you could even aspire to be a medical doctor or dentist,” she said.

I was heartbroken. Raised to believe I could do anything, now I wasn’t so sure.

Has anyone ever laughed at your vision of writing? Perhaps you have been told you lack life experience or you don’t stand a chance because everyone is writing now that they can simply self-publish on Amazon.

You may have feelings of doubt, thinking if only you had an MFA. If only your family and spouse supported you more. If you could quit your day job. Maybe you are in your sixties like me. You think it is too late. You say I am just too old. If only…

We all experience self-doubt. Friends and family do not always understand our passion.

Everyone faces such challenges. My faith as a Christian also helps me overcome such thoughts. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned.

Some people will never understand your passion for writing. Don’t bother trying to explain. Just let them watch as you write.

Read

Reading is necessary for writing. Not only is reading the fodder for writing, it is fun. It also helps me relax as well as grow.

Write

I know it sounds silly, but to become a writer you have to write. I have heard for years that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. 10,000 hours is five years worth of forty-hour weeks. Maybe that is why it takes ten years for so many to get that first traditional book deal. Do not be a want to be a writer. Write.

Edit

This includes proofreading, rewriting, and polishing. No one is perfect. Critique groups help as well as reputable professional editing services. Rewrite as needed.

Submit

To your surprise, someone may like and buy what you wrote.

Rejection

Being rejected is not personal. Your writing may be bad. It may be good, but just not meet the publisher’s or editor’s needs. You may have submitted to the wrong market or not followed the submission guidelines (both guarantee a rejection). Every writer gets rejections. The photo is a rejection I received from the New Yorker Magazine. I’ve been rejected by the best.

Acceptance

Selling a book or an article doesn’t guarantee success. Many times it means the real work is only beginning. Having your work accepted by a publisher feels good. It feels very good.

Writers’ Groups

Consider joining a writers’ group. I have belonged to three over the years. I have changed groups as I have changed. Some groups I have belonged to were for critique. Some have been to learn the business of writing. Some have been for the encouragement.

I know the thoughts I have shared are all items you have heard many times before. Sometimes a reminder is good.

We all have people like my old high school guidance counselor in our lives. Do not let their negative words keep you from writing. If you have the urge to write, write! It’s not too late.

The formula really is simple. It is read, write, edit, rewrite, submit, and repeat. If your writing is good enough and if what you write matches the publisher’s need, you just may see your story in print.


Photo Source: Pixabay

One Great Way To Write A Book Review

Keeping Track of What You Read

Over twenty-five years ago I read Louis L’Amour’s book, “Education of a Wandering Man.” L’Amour kept a journal recording the books he read year by year.

About the same time, I attended a writer’s conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Christian author Dr. Calvin Miller was the featured speaker. He also mentioned keeping track of what you read. He suggested writing a one-page summary and your thoughts about the book. I thought L’Amour and Miller’s ideas were good. I added a twist of my own. Instead of just a summary, I wrote a brief book review.

An Editor Approached Me About Writing Book Reviews

In the late 1980s, a magazine editor approached me about writing book reviews. At the time, I was an associate pastor and Christian school principal at First Baptist Church in Jasper, Texas. I edited our church newsletter. In addition to writing a weekly column, I wrote and included reviews of Christian books from time to time. The book review became a popular feature. It significantly increased sales of the reviewed book at our local Christian bookstore. The magazine editor received my church newsletter and read my reviews. He asked me to write reviews for his publication. I started receiving review copies of books in the mail. Free books! For a reader like me, it was wonderful.

Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews

In 2003, I started Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews. Since then I have read and reviewed hundreds of military history or military historical fiction books, about 22 per year. The website was named a “100 Best Book Blogs for History Buffs” by OnlineSchool.org in 2009. I receive over 25 requests a month to read and review books. I accept very few of the requests.

What Do I Get Out of It?

First, I get the satisfaction of reading the book. I love reading and history. This is a great way to read new material and get review copies of the books.

Second, I share my love for history in general and military history specifically.

Third, I try to be a good finder in what I read. I will read the entire book. Sometimes it is a struggle, but I look for the good.  I do not say it is wonderful if it is tough to read, but I do not read looking for the bad.  I am blessed getting to review the books. A few times, I will not post a review, instead of giving a one-star review. Most authors prefer no review for a bad review.

In recent days, the newspapers and the Internet have had negative articles about some book reviews. Regarding any review, I have written on Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews; I received no payment. The only compensation was the book that I read. The publisher, author, publicists, or media groups sent it to me or I purchased it.

One Great Way to Write a Book Review 

Read the book.

I know; it seems obvious, but read the book! You might find out the author did a very good job. He or she probably invested one to four years of their lives in the book project, so read the book.  Do not even think about writing a review of something you only skimmed or only partially read. Reading the book is critical to a good review.

Know what you are reading.

If you don’t understand the book or subject area you are going to write about, you cannot write a good review. If you are reading a nonfiction book on a topic you know little about, make some effort to learn something about the topic. I write military history book reviews.  I have a formal background in history with a bachelor’s degree in the subject. My emphasis was in military history. I am widely read in history with a general background in all areas of English History and United States history. I am a serious student of US Military History.

Make notes about what you read.

You may want to make note of key phrase or sentences as you meet them. You can quote them in the review. As you read, ask yourself:

Who is telling the story? Is it in first person or third person?

What is the book’s genre? Narrative history, historical fiction, memoir?

What about the style of writing? Is the author a good storyteller? Is it serious scholarship with footnote after footnote? Is the style conversational or is it full of big words that need a dictionary at your side? Does it paint a word picture in your mind? When was it written? Was there a ghostwriter or co-author?

Does the book touch your heart and mind? Does it move you to an emotional or volitional climax about the topic?

Keep track of the story-line or chronology of the book. It will help you when reading long, complicated works.

Know the author and his or her works.

When you finished gathering the information, and you have enough notes, then you are ready to write the article.

Start with an introduction. The way you start will depend on your target audience. Consider beginning with a paragraph that describes your first impression of the work, or an interesting story that you had experienced through the book, or a more technical introduction where you briefly state the author, title, publisher, and any other information about the book you see pertinently.  I like to ask a thought-provoking question. An example is “Have you ever wondered what it would be like being a marine in Iraq?” It gets the reader thinking. Give a brief history of the author with some relevant information such as earlier works and awards.

Cover the structure of the book without giving away the plot or ending.

Explain your opinion of the book and give a summary of the review.

Finish by recommending the book. State who would benefit and enjoy the book, using general terms (students, veterans, seniors).

I like to tell the reader where and how they can get the book.

Include your full name in the end with the date of the review. On my book review site, I allow feedback. I have had a few authors contact and challenge me. I have had some authors point out grammar or spelling errors I have made in the review.

An example of the most frequent comment is in the words of David Laskin of the University of Washington. He wrote, “The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War.” He thanked me for reading the book. He said concerning my review that he had no doubt I had read the book. By the way, the book was amazing.


Originally Publication: Author Culture
Publication URL: http://authorculture.blogspot.com/2014/10/one-great-way-to-write-book-review.html
Date Retrieved: July 31, 2018
Original Publication Date: Monday, October 6, 2014
Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Five

My late wife, Benita Kepler. The photo was taken after she had been diagnosed with two cancers, both Stage 4.

Your Attitude is Important

Learning to care for a loved one with a chronic illness includes discovering how to laugh. Our attitude is crucial when caring for a person with a chronic disease. Our view is also contagious, infectious.

The cheerfulness of mind does good like a medicine for the body. Our attitude contributes to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and vigor. Medical science tells us the red blood cells, most white blood cells, and platelets are produced in the bone marrow, the soft fatty tissue inside bone cavities. A poor spirit/attitude ‘drieth the bones’ and remember it is the bones which produce the needed cells.

We can learn a lot if we read our Bible.

My Story

Anyone who ever saw or knew my late wife Benita in her last three to five years would almost always comment on her smile. Her attitude would match the smile.

The July before she passed away the next April was one of the few times when I saw her spirit nearly broken. She shared with me a visit she had with the dermatologist. The young dermatologist told Miss Benita she was surprised she was continuing to work her day job. 

The physician stood facing my wife, looking her directly in the eyes. She had placed a hand on each of my wife’s shoulders to make sure she had her attention. She commented, “We, that is me and the rest of your medical team (the managing oncologist, surgical oncologist, primary care physician, gastroenterologist and the radiologist are all concerned that you don’t understand that you have Stage 4 Melanoma Cancer and Stage 4 Neuroendocrine Carcinoid. One or the other of these cancers is going to kill you. They are incurable.”

Benita told me that upset her said she took the lady doctor’s hands off her shoulders and told her. “I know I have cancer. I know without Providential intervention they will kill me. I am not just going to sit on my couch in my living room and wait to die. I work because I need the medical insurance and because when I work, I don’t think about cancer.”

“That had to be tough to hear,” I replied.

“Don’t patronize me. You know it was hard to hear even when I knew it.”

I nodded.

She added, “I told her that God had my days numbered. I was going to smile and keep my trust in God. It was my hope in Jesus that allowed me to smile, to have hope, and keep going.”

She hugged me and then thanked me for supporting her approach to handling the illness.

She lived about eighteen months longer than the doctor’s original projection of life expectancy. I am sure attitude added to both the quality of her life and the length of her life.

The Bible Says

Proverbs 17:22 (KJV),  “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

The attitude of the sick person is crucial when dealing with a chronic illness. Their cheerfulness of mind does good like a medicine for the body. Their mental approach contributes to the restoration or preservation of bodily health and vigor. Their outlook gives them hope. As caregivers, our attitude is equally critical. The one we’re caring for with catch our state of mind. Caregivers need more than a positive attitude. We need the joy of the Lord in our heart.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help us to enjoy the funny things that happen in life. Let our joyful attitude be caught by our loved one and other family members.
  2. Lord Jesus, help us to take life one day at a time. Allow us the ability to enjoy today instead of worrying about tomorrow.
  3. Almighty God, help our family and friends to not dwell on the seriousness of the illness, but rather help us to live life to the fullest as we know You hold the future of the loved one we are caring for and our future.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. How’s your attitude? Being down is normal. Allow the joy of the Lord to fill your heart and lift your mood.
  2. How’s your outlook? Remember, that in the Lord’s strength you can care for your loved one.
  3. How do you get a merry heart? You get one by knowing Christ as Savior. You get one by spending time in reading the Bible, being in fellowship with Christians, and you just ask the Lord through prayer to make your heart merry. For the Believer in Jesus Christ there is the ultimate destination of heaven and being with Jesus. That knowledge alone should fill your heart with joy.