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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mind Games and the Christian



"Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?"

"Have you ever in your life commanded the morning…?"

Job 38: 2, 12

You ever talk nonsense to God? Or to yourself? Or both? Do you ever angst over your salvation because you feel like you haven't "done enough" or the quality that the quality of "your faith" is just not good enough? I have. I'd be embarrassed to tell you just how often I've wasted a ton of time and mental energy consumed with such thoughts. For the record, let me state emphatically that: such thoughts are absolute nonsense. And it's evil nonsense too because the enemy of our souls has observed mankind and us long enough to know how insecure we are, how quick we are to look at ourselves as the agent of saving faith. And this enemy wants us stagnant and miserable, so he'll do everything he can to keep us thinking those kind of thoughts.

That's why I love the absolute omniscient power of these verses from Job, all of Job 38, really. When we entertain thoughts like the above, wondering if we've done enough or had just the right kind of faith—we are darkening the counsel of God. These are "words without knowledge," laced with fear. And they are withering…and stupid. Sorry. But blunt truth is called for here.





Ephesians 2: 8-9 (and a host of other scriptures) tell us: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Do you see the operative words and phrases there? Grace saves you. Unmerited favor of God, a gift, free…no strings attached. And note that Grace and even Faith is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Think about that. Grace and faith are gifts from God. Remember: what do we have that God has not given us? If you walk up the stairs, it is only because God gave you strong legs and eyes to see…and made the electrical signals pass from brain to body, etc. etc. If you learn that Jesus died for your sins, who made all the circumstances work out for that to happen?  God did, of course. If you believed, who gave you the conviction and will to believe? God did.

I suspect that we play mind games so often because we simply cannot fathom just how free a gift salvation is and we desperately scratch and claw to have some ownership of it. May I again state emphatically that such thoughts are withering…and stupid. God is the agent of ALL. Job 38 and in the NT, Colossians 1 make it very clear that everything is God's making. We won't breathe a single breath today without God's power and will behind it. So then, how does the salvation dynamic work?

The key, I believe is not at all the quality of our faith, but rather the One upon whom our faith rests. It's not: hmmm, I believed in my head, but I'm not sure my heart was in it. The question is, who are you counting on to save you? If it's Jesus, BOOM. Signed, sealed, and one day…delivered. But, it's a gift, you say. Don't we have to muster the energy and will to receive the gift? Sure, but where does that energy come from? That's right: God. Stop worrying about what you've done, can do, wish you could do…it's God. It's Jesus Christ dying on the cross and rising again to beat death down forever on your behalf.



Consider this word picture: you are a wretched vagabond. A poor raggamuffin dressed in rags and smelling of rotten cabbage. Suddenly, a bright light shines down the dank alley that you've been calling home. A mighty king, garbed in splendor and light, approaches you. He has a kindly gleam in his eyes and a ferocity of love you've never before known. And, he has a gleaming gift box in his hands. He's holding the gift out…to you. You tentatively reach out your arms to accept the gift, but you're thinking: "Who am I to deserve such a gift?" or "He must have the wrong guy. I shouldn't have such a gift." or "Wait, no one just gives stuff away. There must be a catch." In fact, your arms are trembling. You're just about to pull your hands back when–suddenly and decisively–the might king places the gift in your hands. You mumble a pitiful, meek "thank you." The mighty king smiles, and it's like all the sunrises, spring breezes, and snow-covered mountains in that smile. The king has given you a gift. The exchange is complete.

It wasn't how firmly you gripped the gift box. It wasn't whether or not your arms and hands were steady, or even the thoughts in your mind as you reached out for the gift. It's all about the Giver of the gift. He who commands the morning also gives you NEW LIFE. Mind games are pointless and wretched. God trumps those thoughts every time. The Agent of your salvation is infinitely superior to anything you might contribute. He is God, and we…are not. Turn back those mind games by thanking God for saving you and for doing everything necessary to secure your salvation forever.



Sunday, December 07, 2014

Get Off the Not-So-Merry-Go-Round

So often, we Christians get tied up in knots, chastising ourselves for not being missionaries or preachers or some kind of Super-Christian. We live on a vicious merry-go-round of self doubt, self blame, and a kind of fearful paralysis. It's when we are in that state that the unbelieving world looks at us and infers that being a Christian is dull, drab, and even depressing.

{Pulling a "Paul" here} Do you not know, brothers and sisters, that Jesus came to give us LIFE and that to the FULL? Does the above merry-go-round sound like real life to you? Hell no. And I use the word fittingly because that merry-go-round is straight out of Hell. The enemy of our souls wants us all down and depressed, looking like we were baptized in vinegar and just lost our last friend. When we are in this state, we don't do the good we could be doing. We don't love the way we could be loving. We aren't fruitful…and that makes us feel even more depressed. The merry-go-round goes round again. But, brothers and sisters, this is NOT what God wants for you.

It is for FREEDOM that Christ set you free. Sure, some are called to be pastors, preachers, missionaries, and teachers, but NOT ALL. If we were all supposed to do those callings and those callings only, who would harvest food, build homes, and…uhm write fantastic fantasy novels???? {sorry, couldn't resist that last}

Just go do what you do, but do it for the GLORY of God. Let Christ shine in you wherever you are and your life becomes the pastor, preacher, missionary, and teacher. Walk with your chin up and a smile on your face because Jesus died for you and rose for you and has been building a SWEET home for you in Heaven all these years since He left!

Sure we screw up sometimes. Sure we don't live up to God's expectations and a whole host of other imagined expectations of us. That's where God turns on the firehose of Grace, and says "I died for all that. Go, and live. Turn from sin and be fruitful."

In case you have some doubts still, recall that God's purpose for mankind really hasn't changed since the beginning. When God put Adam and Eve on earth, He told them to go be fruitful and multiply. He wanted to witness His creation LIVING LIFE. Then, after the great flood, God told Noah the same thing: be fruitful and multiply. Fast forward to New Testament doctrine, has that changed? No! Jesus came to give you life and that to the full. Does that sound like sad-sack, schlep-rock Christianity? By no means!

Can you show me the New Testament scriptures that command us to walk about in a constant state of fear, mourning, and regret? Where in the gospels are we told to hang our heads low, moaning about what we've done or aren't "allowed" to do? No, you can't because it's not there. Instead, Jesus calls us "friends, sons, ambassadors, saints, set apart, loved, and free." Go forth, be fruitful…live.

Perhaps, if we did, the world would come running to Jesus. Perhaps, if we did, Christians would be more united. I think half the time when Christians bicker it's because one side is so depressed about what they perceive as their own list of DO NOTs that they bark at the other side to make sure they are just as miserable. Get OFF that merry-go-round, people and LIVE. 

Like the loving father that He is, God wants to watch His kids play. He wants to see our hobbies, our jobs, our quirks, our dreams, our successes and failures, and all our many relationships. He wants to see us live while we're alive. Go today and live. And then, do the same thing tomorrow. Get off the merry-go-round of misery and let it rust into oblivion. Live to the glory of God.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Would you like to make Adventures with Me?

Music, Theater, Art, and Books—industries that entertain us and feed our souls. What would the quality of our lives be without them? But what you may not know is that the creators of most of the creative arts we enjoy cannot make a living at it. You read that correctly: aside from a very tiny group of privileged big names, creative artists cannot support their families based on what they get paid. The reason for the cliché "Starving Artist" is that artists are criminally underpaid for their work.

I've spoken to creative folks in other genres (music and art, esp) and they assure me that this is true in their fields. But since I know the writing / publishing world, I'll speak to that. Suppose you write a 100,000 word novel, no small feat. You've spent uncounted hours drafting, rereading, revising, revising, and more revising, editing, promoting, etc. Then, you land a publishing contract. Say you sell several hundred thousand copies of that book. You'd think the author would be set, right? Or…at least make a living? Not exactly. Not even close.





The industry standard royalty rate for published authors is 10-15%. That's it. That means, if your book sells for $9.99, the author receives at best: $1.49. That's best case. Then, the publisher holds back money against returns, deep discounts, and has a dozen other small clauses in the contract that reduces the author's take even more.

Certainly a lot of different people work very hard to publish a book, and they deserve to get paid, right? But for the creator of the book to get paid so little, well, it's exploitation, really. My wife and I went back through my royalty statements over the years to find out what I averaged per book. It turned out to be a smidge less than 70 cents per book.

I'm grateful for each and every sale. And I'm by no means starving. I have a full time teaching job and my wife works four days a week. This works for life, but it keeps all but a few of the stories I want to tell buried on a to-do list that runs to the horizon. My hope is to, one day, be a full time author. I've set a goal of 5-6 years, and I'm praying hard to make that happen. And, I'm opening up the dream to you, as well.




Maybe you've read and appreciated my stories. Maybe you'd like to see a lot more new books from me SOON. Here's how you can help: Become my Patron on Patreon.com. It’s different from Kickstarter because it’s not about one big project that requires funding, but rather an ongoing relationship with the author / creator to produce multiple works.

And, of course, being a Patron comes with privileges: sneak previews, bonus stories, custom artwork, an open-communication with the author, etc. Interested? I hope so, because I have so many stories I'd like to share with you…

Will you raise a sword with me? Click Below:
http://www.patreon.com/WayneThomasBatson

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Please Celebrate With Us: The Newest Arrival to the Batson Family!

Well, folks, several days overdue. And well, to be honest, not the smoothest delivery, but today the Batsons welcome a new member to the family. Weighing in at just under 15 ounces, please welcome our bouncing baby…

book: Search for the Shadow Key. Isn't he just darling?




http://is.gd/BIFgC6

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October thru December Book Events!

Book Events Coming Up:

Thursday, October 30th, 6pm-on:
GHOST Book Party at Oscar's Alehouse in Eldersburg, Maryland.
1438 Liberty Road
Eldersburg, MD 21784
(410) 795-7001
oscars@oscarsalehouse.net



Tuesday, November 4th, 1:30-3pm:
Fiction Presentation, Book Signing at Grace Christian School in Bowie, Maryland.
Address: 7210 Race Track Rd, Bowie, MD
Phone:(301) 262-0158


Tuesday, December 16th, 7:00-8:30pm:
Family Fun Reading Night (Dreamtreaders Book 2 Release) Folly Quarter Middle School, Ellicott City, Maryland
13500 Triadelphia Road
Ellicott City, Maryland 21043



Saturday, December 20th, 4pm:
Dreamtreaders 2: Search for the Shadow Key Release Event, Signing
His Way Christian Bookstore
8450 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, Maryland 21042

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ghost Book Release Party here in Eldersburg, Maryland!

Hey, Marylanders, are you ready to get your GHOST on? Join me for a GHOST book release party on Thursday, Oct. 30th. 6pm-10pm. It should be a scary good time! Oscar's Alehouse is a fantastic local pub that takes the original "public house" concept seriously. Great atmosphere, great food, great beer, and friendly people. It's a spooky time of year and the perfect time for a supernatural thriller booksigning. For more info, see the flyer below, and here's Oscar's addy: Address: 1438 Liberty Rd, Eldersburg, MD 21784 Phone:(410) 795-7001 Menu: oscarsalehouse.net

Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's Time to Take Things to the Next Level. But I need your help.



Ten years ago, almost to the day, I received a phone call from Thomas Nelson Publishing's acquisitions editor, Dee Ann Grand. I was in the kitchen, walking towards the dinner table. My wife Mary Lu was carrying a basked of laundry and heading down the basement stairs.

"Congratulations," Dee Ann, said. "Thomas Nelson has agreed to publish The Door Within Trilogy."

In that moment, everything changed. God had given me the desires of my heart. A dream had come true. And I was about to become a very busy beaver indeed. 



The funny thing is, when I started seriously writing, I asked God to use my stories to bring just one person closer to Jesus. As usual, God had much bigger, better plans.

Fast forward to present day 2014. Including works with other great authors like Christopher Hopper and Marianne Herring, I've published 15 novels and sold more than half a million books.

Back in 2004, no one had ever heard of an eBook. The publishing model operated pretty much as it had for a hundred years: manuscript, agent, editor, contract, book. But things have changed. eBooks and Amazon have literally revolutionized the publishing industry.

And again, I believe God wants to change things. I believe I am called to kick it up to the next level. By God's grace and YOUR HELP, I intend to do just that.

See, I've written 15 books, but that's just the tip of the imaginary iceberg. I have a file filled with story ideas. Some are completely outlined, some are a few chapters into the manuscript, and some are kernel concepts that were too cool not to write down. In fact, I have more than THIRTY new book ideas just waiting…

Waiting for Patreon.


What is Patreon? Quick history lesson: back in the days of the Renaissance, artists were supported by patrons. Patrons were people with a love for the arts who wanted to see more of the kind of art they liked come into existence. Generous patrons would actually provide a living for the artists they loved, allowing the artists to do what God made them to do: to create.

Patreon is like Kickstarter for individual artists. It allows those who love their creative endeavor to support them and get much more creative content out there to be enjoyed. I'm asking you, my readers, and parents of my readers, to consider supporting my work. Become my Patron of the Arts by pledging any amount a month you wish.

If you're interested, if you want to help, all you have to do is visit my Patreon site.

You sign up for Patreon very quickly and easily, and you can pledge any amount per month. If so, you will help me reach two goals:

I. Release two novels a year for the next five years AND 

II. Become full time author within five years. 

In return for your support, you'll receive all kinds of fantastic freebies, sneak previews, and one-of-a-kind perks. But I'll let the video and my Patreon page tell you all about that.


WHY SUPPORT?



We've all heard the cliche "starving artist," but it's often too true. And it's not because artists are lazy and won't work. From the music industry to art to publishing, the established powers that be have exploited artists terribly. Often, the creators get a pittance of the profit for anything they create. Imagine, working your heart out on a novel, only to receive 10-12% of the return! Because of that dynamic, many artists have to have 2nd and 3rd jobs or, like me duel careers. Note "duel" is purposefully misspelled. When you have two full time careers, they fight.

For many years, every moment I've taken to write, I've felt like I ought to be working on lesson plans for my students instead. If I was working on lesson plans, I felt guilty because I wasn't working on my novel. And that's on top of having a lovely wife and fantastic family who absolutely deserve more of my time.

There was a dark time, right around when I finished editing Isle of Swords that I almost quit writing. The dueling careers were taking their toll on everything: my physical health, my family, our collective sanity too. But I don't think God wanted me to quit. I think He wanted to show me what He could do when I had no choice but to cling to the hem of his robe.  

Today marks a threshold. Again, I feel called to take it up a notch. I don't know how much longer God will allow me to live on this giant spinning mudball, but I want to make sure I honor him by getting more stories to my readers. I am particularly charged to complete the SEVEN books of the Dark Sea Annals. It's a story that has been on my heart since 2004. I want you to be able to read them.

Here's a sneak peek at Dark Sea Book 3: Mirror of Souls:


Please consider being my Patron on Patreon.com.  And not only that, please SPREAD THE WORD. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blog, Kick—anything you can do to help others have a chance to support my work is huge! Here again, is the link:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Letter to Everyone...



I feel as if, for a long, long time, I had been staring from a high belfry window into a dense, enveloping fog. I felt sure there was something there, beyond the mist. I could only guess at what it was but it both attracted me…and troubled me. Whatever was there would not be, at first, altogether pleasant. But it would be real. And it would be, at last, truly seeing.






My name is Wayne Thomas Batson. And I want to apologize for…well, I’m honestly not even certain on the whole list yet. I guess I start with a little background. I was born into an unchurched, very moral but basically nonChristian family. And by that, I mean we didn’t go to church, didn’t read the bible, didn’t talk about God much except for grace at dinner or a little around Easter and Christmas. We weren’t atheists. My parents believed in God and I knew that, and so, I believed in God too. But it was a very distant view of God. He was real…and that was about it.

Even as a kid, I had a real curiosity about God and a real sense that I “ought” to be looking for more. As a teenager, I made my first profession of faith in Jesus at an all-nighter tennis tournament. Played some of the best tennis of my life that night, and I went home and wrote in a journal that “I now belong to Jesus Christ.” Then, I went my merry way, leaving that journal and God in a closet.

A few years later, in 1991, between graduating from college, a disastrous relationship, and my very first teaching job, I ran into Jesus again. And this time, I couldn’t get away.

Not that I didn’t try. I remember praying for salvation, giving my life to Jesus, trusting in Him alone for forgiveness of my sins and eternal life. And then, a few hours later, in a fit of anxiety, I called my pastor on the phone to basically tell him that I didn’t think I’d meant it…that it “hadn’t worked.”

But…it had. Or rather, God had worked. Maybe He had worked at the tennis tournament too, but in 1991, everything changed. I started going to a bible-believing, nondenominational church that emphasized teaching and discipleship and worship. It was a great place to be a new believer and to grow.

That first year, I became a legalist. If you don’t know what a legalist is, such a person can be defined as “a doofus, jerk-face with just enough truth to be dangerous who comes to believe that everyone else needs to believe and do everything just as he does—or, burn in hell.”

I quit drinking. I quit dating. I quit cursing. I tossed all of my Iron Maiden and heavy metal records in one of the black trashcans in my parents’ carport. In fact, all the story ideas I’d been working on then, I tossed those in the garbage also. It was, after all, heathen Stephen King-esque garbage.

Looking back, I think I really needed that time. I needed to distance myself from a lot of things so that I could dive into the Bible and learn. It’s not that all those things were bad, but I needed to be distraction free for a while. And let me tell you, leaving those things behind—that was a real work of God. You don’t just vow to change, and it happens. Not with the habits and history I had built. God really did change me. That’s not the problem. What God did then was beautiful. I dove into the scriptures and devotionals, commentaries, classes, church—anything I could get my hands on. 




I had a good friend who was getting ready to move away from the area for a new job, but he had been leading a decent-sized bible study. He knew I had a teaching background and challenged me to lead it. It was like Morpheus holding out the red and blue pills. I still don’t know why I said yes. I was terrified. But I took the challenge. I led the study for years. In fact, I’ve been leading studies for 24 years now.



 



To quote Heath Ledger’s Joker: “And…here…we…go.”

What God did was beautiful, but what I did…not so much. As a new Christian, I probably sinned in judgment alone more than I ever did before becoming a Christian. And, in 24 years as a Christian, in spite of any good that God has done through me, I have a lot to confess.

See, the legalism, was just part of the problem. I confess that I started looking at people as projects—salvation targets—rather than loving them. I thought I had to save the world, so I tried and probably hurt a lot of people along the way. To some, I was just a little pushy. To others, I drove them away by trying to remake them in my image. I’m sorry for all of that. Part of my behavior, I think, was due to feeling guilty because of the disparity in what I believed and what I was. I thought becoming a Christian would eliminate all my sin. Instant cure. Instant holiness. Didn’t happen. It is one of the most troubling aspects of my Christian life.

Maybe I meant well. Hard to remember from all that time, but I know that for many, I just wanted to make them MY converts. And I’m sorry.

I confess that, from time to time, I have delivered very mixed messages about Jesus. I have told you that He loves you, but I have failed to love you. I have told you that He is the only way to heaven but not always because I really cared about you. I wanted another proof that, “Yes, Virginia, you are actually saved.” People are not tick marks. People are not conquests or projects or targets. For my insincere attitudes and behaviors, I am sorry.

Over the many years, God has worked some amazing things into my life: family, teaching, books, friends, etc. But still, I know I’ve let all of the above down, repeatedly. For those times, I am sorry.

I’ve engaged in religious debates, political debates, social debates and heaps of other arguments. And I’ve cared more about being right, about winning the argument or saving face, than I did about the person on the other side. For that, I am sorry.

I’ve also found myself withdrawing from a lot of the world. I don’t want to face the conflict of different belief systems and the potential for rejection…so I hide. For that, I am sorry.

At times, in my speech, my writing, or in my thoughts, I have let on like I have all the answers. That I have it all figured out. But I don’t. Not a day goes by that I don’t question my beliefs, my motives, the reality of God even. In reality, I’m just a broken beggar telling other broken beggars where to find food. And daily, I need other broken beggars to tell me where to find food. For ever acting like I was more, I am sorry.

More than anything else, I have to confess that I have been extraordinarily selfish. I have often refused to look at other people’s points of view because I figured I had the best idea—always. I have put my own interests first far more often than serving. And for that, I am sorry.


 


I am a Christian, but I am far, far away from perfect. I’m holding onto Jesus for dear life, but I don’t have it all figured out. I have not loved as I should have, but I hope to love more each day. And, at last, the fog has lifted and I’ve caught a glimpse of that beautiful and disturbing far off country…

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Dear Hachette,

As a reader, I'm surprised to see such a large company fighting the future and, in so doing, denying itself maximum profits. Readers don't want to pay exorbitant prices for digital property. It's one thing if you can put a book on the shelf where it becomes a part of the decor, but quite another when it's one of hundred or thousands of files on a hard drive. Amazon is fighting for lower eBook prices, and that benefits everyone. The research has been done. No matter what your profit margin, you will make less money on an ebook that costs readers $9.99 or more than you will on an ebook that costs readers $4.99 or less. Why? Volume. I have never and will never purchase an ebook for more than $5.00.



I am also a published author of 15 novels, several of them bestsellers. I've sold over half a million books, and have eight more titles under contract for the future. But I'm sick and tired of big publishing companies squeezing authors as they do. I'm making a pittance on many of my books while the publisher takes far more than the lion's share. Finally, Amazon comes along and offers authors a fair royalty rate. I'm thrilled. I can actually get paid like a professional now.

Authors certainly are NOT united against Amazon. In fact the majority of us celebrate what Amazon is trying to do for us.
 
Never alone.

WayneThomasBatson
Bestselling Author of The Door Within Trilogy,
Isle of Swords, Isle of Fire,
The Berinfell Prophecies, Sword in the Stars, and The Errant King, new Thriller GHOSTwww.enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com
www.heedtheprophecies.com
www.swordinthestars.com


The preceding is a letter I wrote to Hachette book group based on the following email from Amazon.com. While I certainly do NOT support everything Amazon supports, I do support them in this fight. Legacy Publishing is simply in the wrong here. 


Dear KDP Author,

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read).  A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures.  And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.

We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch: Michael.Pietsch@hbgusa.com

Copy us at: readers-united@amazon.com

Please consider including these points:

- We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
- Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
- Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
- Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Thanks for your support.

The Amazon Books Team

P.S. You can also find this letter at www.readersunited.com

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Spider King LIVES! Eeek!

Good friend Harry in China sends a long this photographic proof that the Spider King is alive and doing his dirty work in a shoe store.

Uhm...yeah.



Beware "he who lurks among the shoes!"

Thanks for the pic, Harry! Hilarious!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Praising God in the Storm

The following was from 40 Days of Praise, a simple series of summer praises I began to remind myself (and others) how many blessings God gives us. This posting, Day 4, became a little larger than expected, so I thought it might warrant posting here as well.



Almighty God, I praise you for the storm. Yesterday, a breaking news item showed the headline: "One Killed, Eight Injured at River Valley Ranch In Carroll County Maryland." A mantle of ice formed on my neck and shoulders. My son Bryce Batson is currently at a summer camp, a camp with our church. And I thought it -might- be the one in the article. My voice thinned with panic, I asked my wife…and she told me the camp was at Frostburg State. Not the same one. My son is safe.

But it might have been otherwise. And for some family nearby, it -was- otherwise. A family now has a massive, pulsing, aching gouge in their lives. And there are questions that will never go away…at least until heaven. So why do I praise God for the storm? Isn't that cruel and insensitive? I hope not. I am grieved by the loss of this 13 year old kid. I'm grieved by the injuries sustained by the other children. I'm grieved that the storm came up so blindingly quick that the campers couldn't get to shelter.

But I praise God for the storm. In the fury of a storm, we are reminded that we are not in control of this place. We do not run the show. And we are vulnerable to any one of a great host of dangers. But for the grace of God, the storm might take any one of us. In the storm, we are reminded that our lives are fleeting. This life is short, a vapor…gone in an instant. And this life is NOT all there is. Knowing this, we ought to examine ourselves. Have we really thought about the important things? Have we considered God? What do we believe about His son Jesus? Storms can make you think. C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

As much as it agonizes us to think in this way, we must. Especially here in the United States where we enjoy a level of wealth and comfort beyond the kings of old. We grow fat and content with things never meant to be so important to us. And it is only in the wake of tragedy that we are roused from our pleasure coma. September 11th did that. Remember? Churches were bursting at the seams for weeks after that tragedy. The horrific events of Columbine High School did that. Remember?

I praise God for the storm. And I don't want to dance around the issues here or leave the objectionable questions unaddressed. Am I suggesting that God inflicts horrible tragedies upon mankind to wake us up, to draw our attention to His son Jesus, to take refuge in Him? Are the Hitlers and Pol Pots of history somehow agents of God, murdering millions so that other millions might be saved? God forbid. God takes no pleasure in the pain of his children. But what is clear is that God allows these things. Storms, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, famines, plagues, abortions, murders, rapes, child abuse—an unending list—all allowed to happen by God. For these are the consequences of sin.

People today just don't get sin. Sin is rationalized away. Sin is scoffed at as an antiquated notion. Sin is marginalized and minimized and often…forgotten. We need to WAKE UP to the destructive, deadly nature of sin. We need to see it in all its blackest, malignant properties…and we need to understand that sin is not to be played with. Let's boil it down. Sin is arrogant disobedience. It is saying we know better than God. It is saying that we are the ultimate authority. It is taking the gift of free will and throwing it back in the face of God. When earth was as God intended, there may have been storms, but they were simply beautiful to behold, not ever a danger. But. One. Sin. One sin broke everything. The scriptures tells us that all of creation was cursed in that one, original sin. Maybe an easier word to understand than "cursed" would be "poisoned." That original sin sent a shockwave through the created world. I don't know the mechanics of it, but it's easy to see the results. That was one sin.

How many sins has mankind committed since?

How many sins have I personally committed in my lifetime?

Sobering. Chilling. Because why would we believe that any one of our sins would be ANY LESS destructive and tainting than Adam's?

If Adam's original sin got him and Eve kicked out of paradise, why wouldn't each of humanity's sins also take the world farther away from paradise? If Adam's original sin pushed Adam and Eve into a world full of hardships and dangers, why wouldn't each of humanity's sins also make our world harder and more perilous? Remember, Adam's very next generation had the first murder when Cain slaughtered his brother Abel. Human nature had been changed, tainted, and perverted from its original intent. And each sin after that has done the same thing, slowly, incrementally changing people and creation more and more. The storms, the scandals, the murders—even the Hitlers and Pol Pots of the world are a direct result of mankind's sin. Our sin. Each and every sin we commit pours another drop of the blackest poison into the festering reservoir of sin-evil that corrupts people and the world we live in.

Honestly, it's a wonder that there's anything beautiful and safe left in the world. And that fact is a testimony to God's love for mankind. He wants to remind us of beauty and love and goodness. In fact, He wants us to know that this cursed, poisoned world is not the end. Tragedy, no matter how horrid, is not final. The white hot strand of hope for us all can be found in Jesus. Was there ever a greater tragedy than the perfect, sinless Son of God being tortured, ridiculed, spat upon, and murdered as a criminal? And yet, through that horrific event, Jesus beat down sin and death with a holy hammer. He rose again, and said, "World, look to me! Believe in me. I will save you!"

In the wake of tragedy, God can and does create hope. And only through God can any good ever come of the calamities of this world.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Gay Marriage Perspective...

So, Sir Elton John said recently in an interview that "If Jesus Christ were around today, he would support gay marriage." All due respect to Elton, a once-in-a-generation songwriter and singer, but his claim is based on a fictitious Jesus. Scriptures make it clear that Jesus never sinned and never knew sin. He wouldn't support sinful behavior. 








But IMHO, I'll tell you what Jesus would do. He'd walk right into a gay bar, sit down, and strike up a life-changing conversation or three. He'd walk in on a gay marriage and put his arm around each person, to tell them how much he loves them, how much he knows their rejection and pain, and the good news for their futures. And he'd walk up to protestors holding up hateful, slurring signs and tell them to get behind him. He might even storm into an LBGT rally and turn over the politicians tables for using people as political pawns. Lastly, he'd spin around at the soft pressure on the hem of his cloak, lift the chin of the broken gay man who touched him, and say, "Go and sin no more, your faith has healed you."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

life IS worth living!

I am deeply concerned for the tweens and teens of this generation. Social media and electronic affirmation has become WAY too powerful in your lives. Technology itself allows you access to information and imagery that no one needs to experience. I'm stunned by how many young people think about or perform self harm like cutting or even worse, suicide attempts. My generation had its problems but things like self harm and suicide NEVER crossed our minds, or rarely did (since I can't speak for all).

If any young person reads this, please take this and plunge it deep into your heart and mind: your life IS precious. No matter how bad it feels today, IT WILL NOT ALWAYS FEEL THIS WAY. It WILL get better!. Even if the whole world dumps on you and seems to despise you, God, maker of heaven and earth, loves you desperately. He dreamed you up out of nothing because He could not imagine His creation WITHOUT YOU IN IT. Every moment of your life is a new opportunity, a new adventure waiting for your first step. Jesus doesn't care what you've done or who posts about how horrible you are. He LOVES you enough to die for you. Jesus went to the cross to set you free. Can't make it through the month? Just lean on Jesus through the week. Can't make it through the week? Just lean on Jesus through the day. Can't make it through the day? Just lean on Jesus through the hour. 









 


Young adults, please understand, there are millions of people just like you, who have gone through tragedy, hellish conditions, depression, bullying, anxiety, eating disorders, destroyed self image, and everything else—and with God's power—have come out the other side to THRIVE in life. One of the scariest things about your life now is that you might believe that your current world hates you. But please understand your current world, as important as it is, is just a tiny drop of water in the ocean of life. Middle school is just one tiny room in a great big mansion. High School is a bigger world still, and yet, still small. College too will expand your world exponentially, and then THE WHOLE WORLD will open up for you. Trust me on this: that guy or girl you're pining away for, believing that he/she is the only one who will ever be just right for you—IS NOT THE ONE. There's a whole world of possible crushes out there. Seriously, and most of them are cuter, too.

God has thrown you the keys to life, and He wants to watch you explore His world. and LIVE. Don't listen to the lies of evil, telling you all kinds of negative things about yourself. YOU are the only ONE of YOU. And you are beautiful to God.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Amazon Blitz Prizes on the Way Soon!

Hi, greatest readers in the known universe!

The Amazon Blitz was fantastic. Thank you all very much for all the support, whether you bought a book (or 3) or Tweeted or told your buddy on the bus, or threw up some prayers, I'm grateful.

Dreamtreaders went from @36,000th all the way to 1,933rd. That's more than a 34,000 place improvement. WHOA.

So, ladies and gents, I've got to get some prizes heading your way. I'm assembling the Prize Pack now and will be emailing them in the next day or two.

Here's what you can look forward to in your Inbox:

Prize Level Four: Dreamtreaders Reaches 2,000th on the sales rank. Here's what you get:
• Hi Rez Image files for Dreamtreaders and Search for the Shadow Key (Dreamtreaders 2)
• Inspiration Pack (Folder full of images and other goodies that inspired the Dreamtreaders Series)
• Dreamtreaders Proposal (A copy of the original book proposal I sent to the publisher)
• Scans of Author Artwork from Dreamtreaders
• Dream Inc. Logo for your blog
• Dreamtreaders Writing Prayers (Before many writing sessions, I write a prayer. These are those.)
• One original unpublished Batson short story.