Book Hoarders Bucket List Challenge

 

 

 

Hoarding Boxes Piled Up Word Collection Mess Trash

 

 

 

 

 

ARE YOU A COMPULSIVE BOOK HOARDER?

IS YOUR TBR LIST TEN MILES LONG?

 

If you answered yes to either of these questions you may be suffering from CBH, compusive book hoardom. That’s when your ‘to be read’ list far exceeds the books you’ve actually read. Go ahead and admit it. Let’s say it together, ready? I’m a compulsive book hoarder. Good, again. I’m a compulsive book hoarder. Maybe you’re not a book hoarder and perhaps you enjoy a challenge. Or you’d like to reduce the amount of books in your TBR pile. Well, have I got a challenge for you!

 

 

 

“When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out.” -David L. Weatherford 

 

 

 

 

 

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A fellow blogger, book enthusiast, Sally Allen and I were discussing reducing our TBR piles and actually reading the books that we own. We came up with a great solution. A strategy. Challenge. Fun competition.

 

I have so many books lined up I could literally read for an entire year without buying or adding another title. To make it worse I keep adding MORE books to the insurmountable mountain that I’ve built. Yikes!!

Are you like this? Am I the only one? We need to systematically target all of the juicy books on our digital and actual bookshelves! We need to go in guns blazing and take out those books mocking you on the shelf. That’s right, no more Mr. nice guy. I’d like you to meet our new mascot.

 

Allow me to introduce….

HANK THE HITMAN

OF THE BOOK HOARDERS BUCKET LIST CHALLENGE

 

 

 

 

 

action man

 

 

 

 

 

RULES:

 

  • Choose the number of books you’d like to read per month
  • Pair up with one other person
  • Determine how many books you’ll add to your TBR list per month
  • Determine a mutually agreed upon prize for the winner.

 

 

Example:)

Group 1

Person A reads 16 books/month

Person B reads 8 books/month 

Persons A & B  cannot add more than 10% of books determined to be read. So Person A can only add 2 books to read to his TBR pile a month. That’s the threshold multiplied by the total of determined books to be read. Or 10% x (Books to read) = Allowable amount to add to TBR/month. Person A’s allowable amount would turn out to be 1.6/books to add per month.  0.1 x 16= 1.6 rounded up to 2. If the number is only below a .05% then you cannot round up.

Person B cannot add more than 10% of books determined to be read. So person B can only add 1 book per month to his TBR pile. The math would be 10% x 8= .80 or 1 book per month. We get 0.80 as the answer but you can’t add 0.8 of a book, so we round it up to 1. Make sense?

 

 

  • The more books you read, the more books you get to add to your TBR.
  • The less books you read, less books you get to add to your TBR.

 

 

Example:)

If you read 25 books/month = add 2.5 or 3 book/month

If you read 35 books/month = add 3.5 or 4 books/month

 

*It is recommended that you keep the threshold percentage low in order to reduce your ‘to be read’ pile and unread books.*

 

 

Rules:

 

  • If either party fails to read the determined amount of books loses.
  • If either party exceeds the maximum threshold is automatic failure.
  • If you are the losing party you must submit a mutually agreed upon and predetermined prize to the winner.
  • If both parties read all books and remain within the threshold then it is declared a tie, unless one party tallies more points.
  • If both parties fail to meet the mutually agreed upon requirements then no books are to be added to either TBR list for the next month.

 

 

 

Point System:

 

  • No points will be allotted for the total number of books read per month.
  • Points will be added if you complete the predetermined number of books to be read in one month.
  • Points will be added if you remain within the threshold percentage.
  • Points will be added for the percentage of reviews posted according to the predetermined amount of books in one month.

 

 

Points:

 

  • 100 points for reading all of the predetermined amount of books/month.
  • 50 points for remaining within the maximum percentage threshold/month.
  • 100 points if 100% of books are reviewed in one month.
  • 75 points if amount of books reviewed falls within 75%-99%  in one month.
  • 50 points if amount of books reviewed falls within 50%-74%  in one month.
  • 25 points if amount of books reviewed falls within 25%-49%  in one month.
  • 0 points if amount of books reviewed is less than 25% in one month.

 

 

 

Prizes:

 

  • It is suggested that prizes be rewarded among two persons at a time.
  • Prizes must be mutually agreed upon by both parties.
  • It is suggested that prizes be books or bookish in nature.
  • Prizes must be rewarded at the end of the month.
  • Prizes may be a reward to the winner with a book from the winners wish list.

 

 

 

 

 

HAVE QUESTIONS OR IDEAS?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Follow this blog, or reply to this post for suggestions, ideas, comments or questions! Would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

PS

 

Don’t miss out on the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!!

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Eye Opening Interview with Historian and Author JB Richards

 

 

Everyone Please Welcome the Talented International Author JB Richards!

 

 

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“More than anything else, it is important to study history.”-B.B. King

 

 

 

 

 

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Introduction:

JB Richards is an historian and international award-winning Amazon, Goodreads, and Xlibris author. Her debut novel, “Miriamne the Magdala – The First Chapter in the Yeshua and Miri Novel Series”, was recently voted a Top 10 Best Historical Fiction Novel, Top 20 Best New Adult Novel, and Top 50 Best Young Adult Novel, and received a nomination for Best Romance Novel in the 2016 Summer Indie Book Awards (SIBA’s). “Miriamne the Magdala” has also been awarded a Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Seal and has continued to be nominated in multiple book award venues. Richards is currently a nominee for Author of the Year in the upcoming 2016 Indie Author Books Readers’ Choice Awards, while “Miriamne the Magdala” has been nominated in the Goodreads Self-Pub or Indie Books Worth Reading Awards. Her upcoming second chapter in the Yeshua and Miri Novel Series, “Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road”, is due for publication in 2017.

 

 

 

 

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Recipient of 5-Star Seal
Reader’s Favorite

2016 Summer Indie Book Awards

“Miriamne the Magdala” voted 

Top 10 Best Historical Fiction

Top 20 Best New Adult Novel

Top 50 Best Young Adult Novel

Best Romance Nominee

 

 

 

 

first-class

 

 

 

 

 

What began your love of history?

My great uncle, Antes Boudreau, was an avid book collector. He kept stacks and stacks of books, novels, almanacs, newspapers, magazines—you name it, he had it—lined up along the walls, floor to ceiling, of his tiny, single-occupancy, one-bedroom apartment. At the age of 21, he had lost his wife in a tragic fire. He never remarried, and had no children, but he considered my dad as his son. Uncle was sort of a curmudgeon. He always led a solitary life, preferring to mingle with the pigeons in the local park rather than share breakfast and a cup of coffee with a friend. But because of his special relationship with my dad, he was always present at family gatherings where he felt most comfortable sitting on the sidelines wistfully observing everyone else having fun. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that my uncle was anti-social. Certainly, a few stiff shots of Canadian Club loosened his tie to the point that he’d enjoy playing the odd card game after dinner, or even regaling present company with all the precious knowledge he gained from his beloved books. As a young, impressionable 9-year-old feminist, whom Uncle thought would either be a future candidate for president or the first female astronaut, I absolutely adored him.

So, why am I telling you all about my uncle? Uncle taught me about the Classical Era, the “Hellenistic” period, Homer and Cato, the founding of Rome, Cleopatra and Marc Antony … and I was a sponge, absorbing everything and anything he cared to share with me. As I grew older and began college, I visited him frequently, avidly engaging in raucous debates about religion, theology, and philosophy. He was a self-proclaimed atheist, and we often focused on the historical lives and the times of the great prophets and sages, rather than writings which tended to glorify them. We often honed in on the life of the Buddha and the man called Jesus, the “Christ”. Because of my uncle, I developed a passion for this era, earning degrees in both History and Psychology. Decades later, when I could no longer work a 9-5 job due to chronic health issues, I happened upon some old books of his pertaining to the missing years of Jesus. Once I reread these books, did a huge amount of research on my own, and gathered all my notes, I finally found a place to start. That’s when I began writing the Yeshua and Miri Novel Series!

 

Wow. It’s amazing how those close to us can leave such an impression. Thanks for sharing!

 

 

 

 

 

Did you read historical fiction growing up?

It’s funny, but the great majority of the books I read—and there were many borrowed from the local library as well as my Uncle’s extensive personal collection—were textbooks, journals, and almanacs. My preference was always for fact, not fiction … even when I was a little kid. I was only 7-years-old when my dad’s employer offered the Golden Book Encyclopedia for Children to their employees at a discounted fee. Each Friday evening as my dad left work, he bought one letter from the collection (A-Z) and took it home. Night after night, I loved pouring over the pages of each volume before bedtime! I was barely able to contain my anticipation as I wondered what would be waiting for me between the pages of the very next issue. My love for history, science, and nature took hold when I began to read those wonderful encyclopedia volumes.

 

That’s awesome! Your love for history and science is infectious. 

 

 

 

 

 

old-books

 

 

 

 

What’s your favorite time period and why?

I think you can pretty much tell by now which historical era was my favorite! The centuries preceding and subsequent to the 1st century CE represent one of the true apexes of intellectual and philosophical evolution in modern human beings. Five-hundred years before the Christian Era and 500 years afterward, mark an early renaissance in humankind’s development. Our view of God and the Universe shifted in a big way, and we began to question what our place was in relation to Creation. It was during this time that sages, magi, prophets, philosophers, teachers, gurus, and bodhisattvas—enlightened beings like Jesus and the Buddha—flourished. These “Great Teachers”, as they are known to History, revolutionized science, astrology (which included the study of the stars, predicting fortunes and fates, and the marking of the changing seasons along with other astronomical data), mathematics, philosophy, culture, the arts, and—most importantly—religion. Although the list of advances in various genres goes on and on, it was during these accumulated 1,000-years in the history of humankind that represented a key turning point—a great shift in attitude—that completely altered our belief system. There was a great shift in how humankind perceived the Divine—not as a bullying and judgmental God/gods who remained impassive and far removed from the world, but as an inner spiritual force with each individual manifesting as an extension of the Divine. The Buddha and Jesus taught that we each hold within us a Divine “spark” (some call it the “Soul”), and that part of our Selves exists both separated and in conjunction with the Divine Itself. As Jesus taught, we are all sons and daughters of the Divine.

 

I’m probably not your typical person. I believe human beings are inherently tripartite beings as created by God. Having three distinct parts. Body, soul and spirit. In the old and new testament there are several references, but 1 Thess. 5:23 sums it up in one verse. 

 

 

 

 

 

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What did you experience researching you first novel?

I discovered that the telling of a story is not so much a dictation of the facts as it is the interpretation of a life subjected to all the outside influences put upon it. That realization alone can make for a story that is insightful, compelling, and terribly funny! For example, in choosing to become incarnate, Jesus (Yeshua, in his native Aramaic tongue) not only gained the ability to walk among us and teach us about becoming better individuals, he learned a lot about what it was to be an actual human being—to be subjected to the laws of both Man and Nature. Think about that and put yourself in his sandals for a moment … What a revelation it must have been for Jesus when he gained a corporeal form—a body—with all its natural … functions! I can’t help but be amused sometimes when I think about the first time Yeshua suddenly realized the end result of catching a stomach-flu, or getting a cold, or simply eating a meal! I’m sure he found it all quite … fascinating.

We tend not to see Yeshua as a human being. And one thing I was sensitive to in developing the storyline for “Miriamne the Magdala” was that he, the Magdala, and certain individuals in the early Christian community are seen by the members of many faiths as sacred beings who are to remain unsullied by everyday life and an everyday existence. Many of the faithful see them as pastoral, benign peasants that had an unwavering belief in God and their religion. The truth about Jesus and his followers, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. The profile of Yeshua that I uncovered in my research is vastly different from the idealized “Good Shepherd” modern-day Christians derive from the Synoptic Gospels. I doubt many would recognize Jesus the actual man—the Galilean rabbi who wanted to change the status quo and reclaim his homeland from the Roman Empire and the Hasmonean dynasty that had been put in place to rule Galilee and Judea. In researching the “historical” Jesus, I found that Yeshua—for that was his true name—was most certainly not a Christian. He was a Jew. He was born a Jew, grew up a Jew, lived the life of a Jew, worshiped as a Jew, and died a Jew.

Today, far removed from his time, many have a tendency to view Jesus as a Christian. But Christianity never even existed until decades after his death. James, who was named as leader of the disciples by Yeshua himself should anything happen to him, strongly upheld the tenets of Judaism and Jewish culture because that was what his brother wanted. In fact, James, and the disciples who were with him, continued to worship in synagogues that were accepting of their particular manner of worship as long as it maintained its roots in Judaism. It was Paul who radically departed from Judaism to form his own idealized version of what Jesus had taught. Sure, his theology was still based on the teachings of Jesus, but geared toward the Gentiles who were flocking in droves to him and his own cadre of disciples. Shortly after he began preaching, Paul had sought to gain the approval of James to relax the rules, but James would not wander from the tenets of his Jewish faith and culture just to please a self-declared Apostle. Eventually, the disagreement between Paul and James escalated to a standoff, and caused a great schism between the two communities. This is what led to the formation of a more popular belief—Christianity—Paul’s version of Jesus’ teachings.

I also found that my own view of Jesus changed as my research continued. Yeshua grew up in Roman-occupied Galilee, and like other young Galilean men who matured under these same conditions, he yearned for his people and homeland to be free. He was not, according to our traditional view, some passive, itinerant preacher wandering about the countryside performing miracles, encouraging people to be kind to one another, and patiently telling them to wait for the coming of the Kingdom of God. No … Yeshua was a rabble-rouser, a revolutionary, and an outspoken challenger of the status quo. He, like most of the other Jews in his homeland, wanted the Romans gone—expelled from Galilee and Judea. They wanted the right to practice their religion and maintain their traditions freely—without the scrutiny of Rome, or come to mention it, the Temple Priests, the Pharisees and the Sadducees who put–what Yeshua saw as—ridiculous restrictions on the Jewish people. Yeshua was so vocal in his preaching and forceful in his choice of words, he became an outlaw—a man on the run from the authorities—and for three long years he carefully planned out how he was going to avoid capture as he went about fulfilling his Mission. This purposeful, determined, and passionate young champion of a suppressed and beleaguered people is the Yeshua that I present in “Miriamne the Magdala” and the Yeshua and Miri Novel Series.

 

Wow. Sounds like you learned a lot!

 

 

Did you almost give up after 20 years?

No way! Never!

Great!

 

 

 

 

miriamne

 

 

Goodreads

 

 

Tell us about the main characters.

Miriamne, aka Miri, is a 12-year-old entitled aristocrat—daughter of Commander Micah bar Abram, the former Hekatontarchus of the Hyperatai (the Holy Temple Guard) and his lovely wife, Salome—when she first meets her bedraggled and estranged Galilean cousin, Yeshua bar Joseph, at the Grand Marketplace in Sepphoris. At first sight, she thinks he is a simple peasant and wonders how he could possibly be related to her family. But as she comes to know the story behind their family’s estrangement, and begins to see Yeshua as a charming and sensitive boy with a keen intelligence and wit to match, she quickly falls in love.

Young Yeshua is the fifth son in line, youngest among his four brothers—James, Joses, Judas, and Simeon. His four older brothers come from the union of Joseph bar Jacob and his first wife, Miriam. He also has two younger sisters, Sali and Mara, who are both born of the union between Joseph and Mary. Yeshua’s own mother, Mary, does not consider Joseph to be Yeshua’s natural father, and this causes problems with the local villagers in Nazareth who label her son a “mamzer”—a bastard. The family has just returned to the region after a trip to Jerusalem, where Yeshua has only recently made his Bar Mitzvah. The ceremony awakens the inner soul of the 13-year-old, and Yeshua comes to recognize that His Mission is fast upon Him. Weeks later, Yeshua considers it a mitzvah—a token of good fortune—when his family is suddenly reunited with their estranged cousins from Bethany. He finds a pleasant distraction from his woes in his beautiful young cousin, Miriamne, and the two begin a friendship that binds them together in some surprising and unexpected ways. When a family tragedy suddenly strikes, Yeshua is sorely tested, and He is suddenly torn between using His miraculous powers and keeping His allegiance to His Divine Father intact.

 

This should be an interesting read. Especially from a historical standpoint!

 

 

 

 

 

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Tell us about the setting of the 1st century in the common era.

“Miriamne the Magdala” takes place in Roman-occupied Galilee, only a decade after a Jewish uprising ended in the razing of Sepphoris—the main hub of commerce near Nazareth, Cana, and Nain. In retaliation, the Romans not only burned the city to the ground, they crucified 2,000 rebels along the main roads connecting the small towns to the bustling city on the hill. The remaining population of Sepphoris—men, women, and children—were all rounded up within days of the rebellion and were sold off as slaves.

Not a stone lay upon a stone when the Romans left the hilltop burning like a bonfire that terrifying night as the villagers of Nazareth hid their children and themselves away in the maze of secret tunnels burrowed beneath their little town. By the time Miriamne’s family returns to the region, and her father, the Commander, takes over his deceased father’s huge estate, Sepphoris is a newly rebuilt city perched on the top of the hill overlooking the Kaveelah—the Bar Abram paternal family home. It is in this city—recently populated with Jewish aristocrats sympathetic to Rome, and dubbed “The Jewel of the Galilee” because of the newly-built King’s Palace and Grand Marketplace—that Miriamne, her mother, Salome, her older sister, Martha, and her 6-year-old brother, Lazarus, meet Yeshua.

 

This will be a great history lesson. Admittedly my worst subject!

 

 

 

 

 

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Can you tell us some factual elements of history that aren’t in your book?

Oh, my goodness, where should I begin? There was so much going on in Judea and Galilee during Yeshua and Miri’s childhood and early teenage years, and I tried to be as thorough as possible in explaining the Roman influence on Jewish culture during that time. One thing I might not have gone into detail about, which I will cover more extensively in the subsequent 4 novels in the Yeshua and Miri Novel Series, is the divisions that existed between the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Zealots—the three main groups who provided the Jews with an interpretation of the Law of Moses in that era. These three factions will have a more important role in the third chapter of the Yeshua and Miri Novel Series, “Thomas the Twin: The Sefer Revealed”.

Oh, that would be a good one to explore. The differences between the Jewish sects of the time. 

 

 

 

Name 3-5 customs or traditions of 1st century CE.

One of my favorite Jewish customs is hanging a mezuzah. A mezuzah is a small piece of paper or parchment inscribed with a Hebrew prayer that is sealed inside a tiny decorative box affixed to the front doorpost of a home. In “Miriamne the Magdala”, everyone touches the mezuzah and recites a short prayer before entering their home.

One custom that bothers the girls—Martha, Miri, and Sali—in “Miriamne the Magdala” is the tradition of arranged marriages. It was common in those days for girls who had started their menses, as young as 9-years-old, to be lawfully betrothed, then wedded to a man who was in his 30’s or much older. Fathers were in complete control of the arrangements, and betrothals were sealed between the father of the bride and the bridegroom with a Ketubah—a marriage contract. Once the dowry was presented, the terms of the marriage were haggled over, and a Ketubah was drawn up by a scribe. It was reviewed and signed by the fathers of both families and the bridegroom. The Ketubah could not be broken without severe and irreparable damage to the withdrawing party’s family reputation.

Another Jewish tradition that Yeshua, and all Jewish men, were careful to observe was the Shaharit—the Morning Prayer. Each day when he arises, Yeshua follows a specific ritual, donning his tallit—prayer shawl—and his phylacteries in a step-by-step, prescribed manner. He then recites the prayer, “Hear, oh Israel, the Lord our God is one!” It’s a beautiful custom, and I sometimes find myself thinking of the words of the Shaharit each morning when I arise.

I love the mezuzah tradition! That sounds quite lovely. Pass on the arranged marriages part, the Shaharit is agreeable. Prayer is always good!

 

 

 

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Tell us about the upcoming 2nd book.

In “Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road”, Yeshua and Miriamne leave their home in Galilee to join their uncle, Joseph bar Abram, and his Caravaneers on the road to the Far East. The wonders of Syria, Persia, the Sind, and the Indus fascinate and delight the young couple who, as guests of their sponsor, Prince Ravanna of Orissa, are shown the grandeur of the Far East as they are treated to the luxuries of palace life.

As a sponsored scholar, Yeshua discovers a whole new system of beliefs among Persia’s Magi, and the Brahmana of the Indus. At the Temple at Jagganath, the priests are highly impressed with their young protégé and they entrust him with their most sacred and secret teachings usually granted only to a privileged few. Yeshua, however, believes no one, including the lower castes, should be excluded from this important teaching, and he challenges his teachers, insisting that—just like the Torah—these sacred writings were meant to be shared with all the people of the world.

When Yeshua decides to leave the Temple after a heated argument with his mentors and sets out on his own, the brash young preacher brings down the wrath of the Chief Lama who immediately censors him and orders him to cease his public teaching. But Yeshua has a will of His own. And when he continues to preach the doctrine to the Sudras of the lower caste, and refuses to bow down to the Lama—even upon penalty of death, an assassination plot is hatched by the Brahmana, placing his life, and the lives of his family and friends, in mortal danger!

Will Yeshua escape the Indus unscathed, and if he does, who will pay the price for his betrayal of the Brahmana? Find out in my upcoming novel, “Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road”—due for publication in 2017!

 

Let us know when you’re up for publication and we’ll help promote it. 

 

 

 

 

coming-soon

 

 

 

 

Name 3 things you really enjoyed about writing this book.

The humorous, and sometimes farcical, situations that Yeshua and Miriamne find themselves in, particularly when the Commander or the Brothers Bar Joseph get out of hand. Writing the love scenes between Yeshua and Miriamne—that always seemed to end up in some sort of embarrassment for both, or either one, of them—was a lot of fun, too!

Dreaming up the various dishes that Haggah, the Head Cook for the Bar Abram family, would prepare for the Commander, his family, and guests were also quite challenging. But it was fun to research all the ingredients that would have been available in the region of Galilee during that time and put them together in a dish that Haggah would have been proud to serve at the Bar Abram dinner table.

Last, but certainly not least, coming up with the personality clashes between siblings; the testing of brotherly bonds and sisterly love; and the strange and curious circumstances of everyday life at the homes of Yeshua and Miri, was sometimes difficult to conceive, but writing these types of scenes was always an eye-opener! It’s nice to know that there are good days and bad days for both the Bar Jacob and Bar Abram families, but in the end they always seem to pull together, take things in stride, and carry on!

 

Oh clashes between siblings is always a good one. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Name 3 of the most difficult aspects of writing this book.

Writer’s block is a plague for most authors, but when you’re trying to come up with situations to put “the Boy who would be Christ” in, while trying to remain sensitive to the fact that—for some people, much of this material might be considered heretical—it can be downright agonizing. I spend a lot of time getting into my character’s heads, but Yeshua always seems to speak louder than any of the other characters—including Miriamne. While I wrote Miriamne, he always pointed me in the right direction, and I in the editing process, I found that he was seldom wrong. He even sent me signs! Many times, I wanted to remove certain scenes from the final manuscript because I was worried how the scene would affect my readers. Inevitably, some chance encounter with an old friend or a certain song on the radio would tell me that I was on the right track. Truthfully, Yeshua was pretty hard to ignore. Eventually, I just gave in and wrote what he gave me.

I was also very worried about the size of the novel. Let’s face it, at 850 pages, Miriamne is big enough to use as a booster seat for a toddler! I consulted with editors and several other authors, but no one could figure out where to cut the book in half, or what to take out. Believe it or not, there are whole chapters that were cut from the end product, still wasting away in a huge bin up in my attic! All those pages in “Miriamne the Magdala” explain the history, cultures, and traditions that support this story, and each is as necessary to explaining the rich and detailed tapestry that is Yeshua and Miri’s lives as they are essential to understanding their purpose and Mission. And “Miriamne the Magdala” is just the beginning of our Journey! She is the introductory chapter that will lead us through to the conclusion of Christ’s life and the centuries beyond. In essence, she’s really two books in one, and neither part can be presented without the other.

Now, here’s a True Confession … I found it a tremendous and oftentimes overwhelming challenge to understand, interpret, and explain Jewish culture and traditions to my readers. You see, I’m not Jewish. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, attending parochial schools that had little to no exposure to Judaism. I didn’t even know there were Jews in my hometown until I attended college! My second confession is that I don’t speak Hebrew or Aramaic—the native language of Yeshua and Miriamne. Although I can, now and then, adeptly turn a phrase or two thanks to a wonderful and generous young man in—of all places—Hobart, Tasmania who volunteered to translate dozens of phrases from English to Hebrew for me via online communications.

I was lucky in that I had the pleasure of connecting with some amazing people on social media who helped guide me through any cultural traditions I found confusing or difficult to understand. These individuals are mentioned in the Acknowledgements section of my novel, and I am indeed fortunate that they are still standing in the wings, ready to assist me with “Yeshua the Christ: The Silk Road”! It is to them that I owe my deepest gratitude and thanks because Miriamne would not have a single shred of authenticity without their cooperation and hard work.

 

Well, I highly commend you on such an achievement. Really, I find that utterly amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What 3 things from history would you bring into our society today?

First and foremost, I would bring forward the strong sense of family exhibited in “Miriamne the Magdala”. Too many families today are split-up and living great distances apart. I had a huge family when I was younger, and I remember family get-togethers, picnics, and beach parties that would last from morning to late at night. Those sorts of regular family reunions just don’t happen anymore, with family members so busy with personal and professional lives and homes scattered all over the country.

Next, I would bring back some form of proper etiquette. I’m not talking about the stuffy, highbrow manners authors like Emily Bronte exemplify, but a small taste of plain old chivalry and civility. There was a time when a man wouldn’t hesitate to dash out of his house in his slippers to help the elderly woman across the street drag her trash out to the curb. There was a time when a teen would cheerfully hold the door open for a pregnant woman loaded down with grocery packages so she could easily pass through. There was a time when kids went door to door offering to shovel neighbors out after a big snowstorm. Nowadays, people are too afraid to glance at one another, let alone speak to anyone. Today, suspicion and rudeness prevail. No one sees a fellow human being standing at their front door, but an enemy with a hostile intent to pillage whatever meager assets one might hold dear. We need more enmity in our world today.

I often wonder what society would look like if we had maintained, from days gone by, a strong belief in the Divine. How different our lives would be if we still believed that there was some Thing or some One greater than ourselves running our Universe (or as science seems to dictate … Universes). Considering all the scientific advances mankind has made–the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, the development of the Big Bang and the Big Crunch theories, and cracking the code for the human genome, just to name a few—we still have no explanation for what Life represents. We don’t know what the true essence of Life is, or where it comes from, or where it goes once a creature ceases to breathe. In the past, things were much simpler … Humanity seemed guided by Fate, steering mankind toward a Destiny. Today, many people shun their belief in a Higher Power. And those who do believe are often much too embarrassed to admit it. All in all, there seems to be no guidance, no dream, no ultimate goal for humanity nowadays, and it causes me to wonder whether we really have advanced as much as we think we have, or if we have lost our Selves in the process.

 

All great thoughts here. Thanks for sharing. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Would you like to be a time traveler?

Only if I could return to my own time whenever I wished … I’d enjoy taking a peek or two at life in the past or in the future, but the present is Home, and Home is where I belong.

 

There’s no place like home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

home-shoe

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite quotes?

Wow, this is a toughie! There are so many great and awesome quotes that have come down to us through history, and it’s hard to single any one of them out! But, if I have to choose, I suppose I’d have to go with Anais Nin – “There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” This one quote exemplifies my entire life in a nutshell.

 

 

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”-Anais Nin

 

 

 

 

Thanks JB!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Come back and see us on the writing train!

 

 

 

PS

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!!

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Watch “Guardians of the Galaxy 2 TRAILER (2017 Biggest Blockbuster ?)” on YouTube

SMILE IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

Have you seen the blockbuster movie trailer for Guardian of the Galaxy 2?

 

 

 

 

television-tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

 

 

Looks awesome doesn’t it? Are you a fan? Tell me in the comments!

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!!

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Watch “London Belongs To Me Review!” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS

How about some book recommendations?

 

 

 

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london-belongs-to-me

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

What do you think? Sound interesting??

 

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!!

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Watch “From Author Entrepreneur To Creative Business Empire With Sean Platt” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

With Sean Platt & Joanna Penn!

 

 

 

 

 

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So what did you learn?  Tell me in the comments!

 

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!!

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Watch “To Watch You Bleed: A Novel by Jordon Greene | Official Trailer” on YouTube

 

Behold, the best Book Trailer I have ever seen…

 

 

 

to-watch-you-bleed

 

 

 

A Dark New Psychological Horror Thriller by Jordon Greene

 

Truly creepy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available on Kindle & Paperback February 21, 2017

Pre-order Now on Amazon

 

 

jordon-greene

 

 

Jordongreene.com

Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

 

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!!

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

 

Splendid Interview with Fellow Intuitive Author Lauren Sapala

 

LAUREN SAPALA

Author of The INFJ Writer Cracking the Creative Genius of the World’s Rarest Type

 

 

 

 

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Lauren Sapala is a writer, writing coach, author of The INFJ Writer, is obsessed with all literature, and my newfound best friend.

 

Welcome Lauren!

 

 

 

 

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*Are you originally from the west coast ? 

I’m originally from Michigan, but moved to Seattle right after college. After a few years there I took off for San Francisco. I had never visited the west coast at all before moving to Seattle, and I had never been to California before I moved to San Francisco. I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl!

I hear you! Me too! 

 

 

 

 

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*When did you decide to be a writer?

Wow, this might be the toughest question I’ve ever been asked about writing! I don’t think I ever “decided.” I started writing stories and poems from a young age and it was just always something I did. I never had to think about it or choose it. However, I did choose to stop writing, right after my senior year in college when a professor told me I wasn’t very good at it and I should find something else to do with my life.

That’s awesome it feels very natural and instinctive to you, or at least until you encountered a negative influence in college. Sorry to hear that. You’d be surprised how many writers I’ve talked to that had the same experience. I find that very perplexing.

 

 

 

WRITING

“Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” -Melinda Haynes

 

 

 

 

*Who or what influenced you the most in your decision?

There are too many names to list so, in the interest of brevity, I’ll just say: Other writers. Every book I read that spoke to me had a writer behind it who encouraged me to start writing again, and then to keep going.

It’s great to receive encouragement and motivation from other writers isn’t it?

 

 

 

never-stop-fighting

 

 

 

 

*Besides nonfiction, what else do you write?

I’ve written three memoirs and two novels. The first memoir is scheduled for release in Spring 2017.

Oh nice! Yippee! Another book release! Drop me line and I’ll help you with some promotion if you’d like. 

 

 

 

*Why did you decide to become a story coach?

After I started writing again in my mid 20’s I formed a writing group in Seattle and then one in San Francisco. These writing groups were based off of the Alcoholics Anonymous format, meaning: you came and you shared your struggle with writing, but you didn’t have to participate if you didn’t want to, you could always remain just an observer. After the sharing, we settled down to do an hour of silent writing together. I found myself working one-on-one with a lot of the writers in the group, and pretty soon it was eating up so much of my free time that I decided to open a business doing this work.

Nice. I like how those begin. Organically and spontaneously. So glad you started writing again. 

 

 

 

 

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*Can you name a few benefits from helping others in their writing?

Holy cow, there are so many benefits I don’t know that I could even begin to cover them all! My first and favorite probably is that I get to hear about and share in other people’s lives. Whatever story someone is writing, it always has everything to do with them. I find human beings to be the most fascinating magical creatures, and the fact that other people trust me enough to let me try to help them with their creative process, and sometimes all their inner emotional “stuff” too, is such an honor.

There’s definitely a rewarding social aspect to helping others. Human beings are definitely fascinating magical creatures! Especially the intuitive, artistic types! 

 

 

 

 

*Tell us about your book, The INFJ Writer.

The INFJ Writer is a writing guide based on the real-world experiences of my writing clients. After a year or two of doing coaching work with writers, I noticed that almost every blocked writer that showed up on my doorstep (that is, in my email inbox) was an INFJ or INFP personality type. These writers were highly sensitive introverts who had A LOT to say about the world but no way to get the words out. I saw immediately that they were the same kind of writers who had shown up to the writing groups I formed based on the AA format—scared, creatively paralyzed idealists who were also thoughtful, compassionate, and invested with a deep sense of purpose and passion about art and writing.

They were intuitive writers. And traditional methods don’t work for intuitive writers, as I had found out through my own personal experience, and as I saw my clients finding out, over and over and over again. Outlining, plotting the entire arc of the story in advance, using checklists for character development—none of this stuff worked for intuitive writers. In fact, it blocked them even more from their own inner creative light. That’s when I knew I had to write The INFJ Writer. It’s for intuitive writers who are experiencing blocks and don’t have the money or the time to hire a coach like myself who specializes in working with intuitive introverts. The book contains exercises in every chapter to get the blocked writer’s creative energy moving again.

Thank you for taking the time to write such a book. Although my personality type if not INFJ, I can relate to all of the points that you make here. We’re not too different!

 

 

 

 

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*What led you to discover your personality type and what bearings did it have on you as a writer?

I had a desk job for a while where I had a ton of free time and unlimited access to the internet. I had always been interested in psychology so I started taking a lot of online personality tests. Most of them were just for fun, but when I read the description of the INFJ personality type it was like my whole world cracked wide open. Suddenly I realized there was a chance that I wasn’t a completely weird alien (which is how I had felt for most of my life). Finding out I was an INFJ bolstered my self esteem in a thousand ways, one of those being that I finally had the confidence to start putting my writing out into the world.

I could never have a desk job, although I’ve been blogging a lot these days, lol! Wow. You’re story sounds strikingly similar to mine. I’ve only discovered my personality type earlier this year after suffering from a long bout of depression and low self-esteem. But when I read Heidi Priebe’s book, The Comprehensive ENFP Survival Guide, It opened up mines of life changing revelations. 

 

 

 

 

*How much does our personality type affect our ability to learn the craft of writing?

Hmmm…this is an interesting question. I would say that our personality type doesn’t affect our ability at all, but it does affect the way we view ourselves and how adequately we are measuring up to what we consider “ability.” For instance, most INFP writers do not do well with linear structure. When they’re writing, they tend to write in scattered pieces. There IS an order there, but the order usually has to do with a hidden beautiful pattern that the INFP writer follows almost solely according to intuition. From the outside, it might look like a mess. And many, many INFP writers have internalized the assumptions of mainstream writing culture, which says writers should be very concerned with the coherence of the storyline, even in the very first draft. So the INFP writer will see that he’s writing in pieces and get very down on himself for it, and then the negative self-talk comes in and the INFP writer berates himself for not having any writing “ability.” Well, this writer does have ability. His ability just shows up in a different way (especially in that first draft) than it does for most other people.

I should’ve phrased this question differently, but your response is perfect! I can totally relate to this one. 

 

 

 

 

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*How can not knowing our personality type inadvertently affect our writing?

Just like in the world at large, an intuitive who does not know she’s an intuitive will tend to feel crazy or like something is wrong with her most of the time. It’s exactly the same thing in writing. If you write in scattered pieces, or you have a lot of trouble finishing things, or you go through huge amounts of anxiety and emotional turmoil whenever your stories are critiqued, and you don’t know you’re a highly sensitive intuitive writer, the first thing you’ll do is blame yourself. The second thing you’ll do is try to “toughen up” and introduce some sort of harsh discipline into your writing life, which will make you feel worse. Until you learn about your true makeup as a person and an artist—and accept that makeup—you’ll always be caught in this vicious cycle that swings between the inner critic and writer’s block.

This is all very helpful and therapeutic information. Thanks for sharing. 

 

 

 

*Have words of encouragement to all the intuitive types?

Almost every intuitive person I’ve ever met undervalues their own intuition and their own strong intelligence. Use that mind that’s so strong in you! Read everything you can about what you are, and learn everything you can about other people and what makes them tick. The more deeply you know yourself, the easier everything becomes.

I love this statement! I find it very uplifting. Do you have any reading recommendations for personality type? How about your book! 

 

 

 

 

the-infj-writer

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Website

 

According to Goodreads

After years of coaching writers who struggled with procrastination issues, high sensitivity to criticism, and crippling self doubt, Lauren Sapala realized that almost every one of her clients was an INFJ or INFP. Using the insights gleaned from these clients, as well as her own personal story, Sapala shows us how the experience of the intuitive writer can be radically different from the norm.

INFJ writers don’t think like anyone else, and their highly creative brains take a toll on them that they rarely share with the outside world. The INFJ Writer discusses such topics as:

How an INFJ writer’s physical health is tied to their creative output
Why INFJ writers are more likely to fall prey to addictions
When an INFJ writer should use their natural psychic ability to do their best creative work

Whether looking to start writing again or to finish the novel/memoir they started so long ago, any writer with the self-awareness to identify themselves as highly sensitive and intuitive will benefit from this book that helps them to find their own magic, and to finally use it to build the creative life that actually works for them.

 

 

Add this one to your TBR pile!

 

 

Reading

 

 

 

 

 

*I’m an ENFP writer. What 3-5 things would you say to this kind of writer?

Oh, one of my best friends is an ENFP! You guys are truly bubbling fountains of light and inspiration…who can very quickly turn into avenging angels when someone has been unfairly wronged. ENFPs tend to experience a lot of guilt because they are driven so strongly by their curiosity that it makes them sometimes abandon projects they cared about a lot or befriend people who can be unhealthy for them in different ways. ENFPs are very, very hard on themselves inwardly and, like all intuitives, they struggle with giving too much to others and not letting themselves receive.

Oh good, make that two of your best friends are ENFP! Tell her I said hi and give her a big high five! Thanks for sharing this. It all rings so true. Never realized how hard I was on myself either. I’m totally Curious George on steroids. 

 

 

 

 

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I always advise ENFPs:

To follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. It doesn’t matter if no one else understands why you’re drawn to that person or thing. If you’re drawn to it, it’s got something for you.

You’re way more intelligent than you give yourself credit for. ENFPs can come off as bouncy and happy and even a little spacey, but under the surface they are extremely astute observers and very quick studies. Science, math, foreign languages—all of these subjects come naturally to ENFPs who find some emotional reason to get invested in them.

It’s okay to work on a bunch of different writing projects at once. And it’s okay to abandon a writing project if the spark is gone for you. ENFPs are true artisans. They’re like sculptors with words—they like to have their hands on many different textures at once. Let yourself play and explore. ENFPs need to do that.

WOW. I love this. I want to print this out and plaster it on my forehead!

 

 

 

 

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*If you could change yourself which personality type would you pick? Or perhaps, what would change in your cognitive stack?

A few years ago I probably would have said that I wished I was an ENTJ or an ENFJ, some type that still had the intuitive piece but perhaps didn’t share the constant companion of introverted anxiety I’ve experienced for so much of my life. But now, in my late 30s, I’m actually pretty happy with what I was born with, anxiety and all.

What a great answer. I love it. Sometimes I want to be an ENFJ, but I would be a completely different bird. Having that “P” Perceiving function is a huge part of my personality. Thank for sharing.

 

 

 

*Favorite quotes?

One of my very favorites is from Napoleon Hill:

 

“It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.”

Isn’t that the truth. 

 

 

 

*Favorite writing books?

I love, love, LOVE Stephen King’s Memoirs on Writing. That man is a genius.

That he is. Haven’t read it yet but looking forward to it. 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for joining us Lauren!

 

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

Watch “Five More of the Most Unbelievable Sports Stories” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

5 of the Most Unbelievable Sports Stories

 

#Amazing Stories

 

 

 

 

 

tv-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Tell me in the comments!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

Watch “Box of Lies with Megyn Kelly” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

With Megyn Kelly & Jimmy Fallon!

#Hilarious

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Did you laugh? Tell me in the comments!!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

Watch “BOOKS I BROUGHT TO SCOTLAND!” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS

WITH SASHA ALSBERG!

 

 

 

 

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What are you reading? Tell me in the comments!!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

 

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com