My eBook has been published

Amazon book coverHi fellow bloggers, you haven’t heard from me lately because I’ve been working on my book.  I’ve finally got the EPUB, PDF versions and Kindle versions published.

You’ll see I’ve put a Facebook widget on the blog.  It will take you to the book page.  You can like me there, but I can’t return the compliment.  I’ve built an ordinary Facebook page to link to it, where I can interact with you.

There are also links to Amazon if you want to buy the eBook.

I’ve made a video of the story, based on the book synopsis, which I’ve been told is awesome.

If you haven’t seen it on the book Facebook page, here it is.

The Kingdom – Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams

Thanks for following me, and I look forward to hearing from you.


KThe Kingdom is an inspiring story about a journey along the narrow path.  The story is in a unique genre all of it’s own, somewhere between an epic fantasy quest, supernatural adventure and memoir.  It’s a tale about good versus evil. 

If you are interested in how God can reveal Himself and speak to an ordinary person, this story is for you.

To begin with I wrote my story “The Kingdom” as a journal and map of the journey.  It kept a record of the Lord’s rhema words and revelation he gave me.  When the things he told me in the Kingdom worked out in real life I realised I was receiving the Lord’s guidance and counsel for real.
If you do not know the King, or the Bible, here’s a brief explanation of some concepts the story deals with.

spiritual-warfareRevelation

    A revelation is defined as;

  • An enlightening or astonishing disclosure,
  • The communication of knowledge to man by a divine or supernatural agency.

Revelation comes from the Holy Spirit.  Do you believe that God will speak to us in the last days?  “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”  Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:18.

DragonsSword of Spirit

We all have dragons to slay.  It is written in Revelation that they (the believers) defeated the dragon by the word of their testimony.  (Paraphrased from Revelation 12:11)

The Kingdom is my personal testimony.  The words of the King to me as Joanna are true.  It’s about how God guided me along the path, and helped me deal with my dragons.  If you are interested in spiritual warfare the story may appeal to you.

Dreams

Are you interested in dream interpretation?  In my story, I was given dreams.  The story served as a context for the dreams.  Knowing that revelation comes from the Holy Spirit, I would ask the King to explain them.    When I was writing, the King would give me a verse from the Bible that went with the dream.  The prophet Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar after he was asked to interpret his dream that there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. (Daniel 2:28).

Life can be a mystery.  Think about coincidences for instance.  Do you notice signs that appear at just the right time?  That’s God.  He wants us to seek Him out, and find the things He has for us.

Some things in life are hidden, but God can bring the concealed things to light through the great words of the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.   Proverbs 25:2

The Lord will bring revelation if you seek him.  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7.

JesusThe King, the Holy Spirit

The King in my story is the Holy Spirit, who works as one with God and Jesus.  He is the comforter, teacher and guide of Joanna.  He is the one Jesus promised He would send after He went back to God.  Jesus explains how He was sent to us in John 14;

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”  John 14:15-17

The final scene in my story

batonI ended “The Kingdom” with a scene where Joanna is handed a baton from Anna, her ancestor.  There is a race to be run. Sometimes we run alone, sometimes in a group.  At times the path is hard to see but there are signs.  The signs Joanna found along the path are recorded in the story.

The Kingdom story is my testimony.  It shows what I did with the words the Lord spoke to me as personal revelation.  God will speak to us all personally if we seek him through Jesus, the King.  I hope my story will inspire you to seek the King yourself.

If you would like to know more, please ask me questions.

I’ve taken a photo of one of the places where I walk.  The beach is at the bottom of my street.  The island off the beach is called “Kawau Island”.  It’s an island with no roads, where the residents get around by boat.  I’ve made a photo gallery so you can see other scenes from my story.

Habbakuk 2:2

Snells Beach and Kawau Bay

The book journey

I’m getting ready to publish my manuscript about ‘The Kingdom Within’ as an eBook.  I haven’t settled on the title yet.  My plan is to self-publish as I don’t think traditional publishers will be interested.  This book is in a unique genre all by itself.

I’ve been told in my book appraisal that the manuscript is so different that it may struggle to find a market. The blend of memoir/fantasy fiction/devotional theology is extremely unusual. Despite what has been said about publishers looking for fresh vibrant voices, they don’t actually want too unusual a book, since it is too great a risk for them in a marginal market. 

I understand that and look forward to the self publishing adventure.

Cath Dunsford, my publishing consultant, really helped me kick the ball off.  I gave her the first three chapters on paper whilst working on her computer.  Then she asked for the rest, saying “First impressions are always important when considering a text for assessment for publication as well as subsequent readings of the full manuscript. 

I have read the text you left me already – so gripped I could not put it down.  Many have written memoirs and about abuse but none, in all my 40 years of work, have ever related the close guidance of the Bible to finding a way forward in quite the way you have.  The writing is utterly beautiful and very moving. It is compact and powerful.”

Her feedback got the book going as I really respect her.  She is a published author and literary associate of Witi Ihimera, the author of “The Whale Rider.”

I’ve had the manuscript edited.  There’s a bit of a back-story finding Marie Anticich, my editor.   She’s a journalist and editor for some Christian magazines.  I got led to her through learning the sound desk at church!

The back-story:  Why, oh why did I put my hand up for a job best left for the boys?  That’s what I asked myself when I started doing the sound.  I’m a computer technician, so buttons and knobs don’t frighten me. I thought the sound desk would be easy enough to learn.  I also thought the Lord wanted me to volunteer for it!  Well you know what ‘thought thought.’  Sound practise was okay – but I made all sorts of mistakes during the church service the first few times.  Anyway it’s all good because the church has survived my efforts on the sound desk, I’ve learned a new skill, and it led me to the book editor.

Marie is a bit of a sergeant major, but I really appreciate her and the manuscript needed her criticism.  Marie told me about the Caleb award, a book competition that Omega Writers were running in 2013.  The competition fee included a book appraisal.  That was the next piece of the puzzle.

The book appraisal said “the constant reference to ‘the Princess’ actually detaches the readers slightly from the story, instead of allowing them to walk in her shoes.  Instead of the massive emotional punch certain scenes should carry, the real conflict is muted because of this detachment.”

So I’ve changed ‘the Princess’ to ‘Joanna’, keeping the viewpoint in the third person.

I was advised to tell the reader more of who I am and aim for reader sympathy.  Taking Marie’s advice, I changed the first chapters with that in mind.  Then she said I was too sad and no one likes a victim!  So it’s been back to the drawing board; and now (hopefully) I’ve got the mix right.

Here’s the overall comments so far:

Omega Writers: “This is a really awesome story with a fabulous blend of unusual elements. It has the potential to wield a strong and powerful impact if the issues of ‘show don’t tell’ are addressed.”  (I hope I’ve addressed those issues.)

Dunsford Publishing: “The quality and beauty of the writing in the preface really draws the reader in and it issues a warm invitation to come ad share this amazing journey. You have really achieved a stunning work of writing, here, Jo.”

 

Stormy beginnings

calm-before-storm-1We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in 2014.  Married life began in a storm, and what a storm.  It was a one in 20 year weather event, apparently.  It had gone on for a week and shown no signs of abating.

The month of February is full on summer in NZ and we thought the weather would be good for our wedding.  Wrong!  I think it was because we had a big  evangelistic crusade in New Zealand at the time, and it had gone to Wellington, our capital which was only two hours away.  The campaign, Impact World Tour was brilliant because all the churches of different denominations came together and worked as one to reach people for the Lord.  We were all involved in different ways.  The devil didn’t like it and tried to rain out all the venues.  It was a spiritual battle.  The only problem was our wedding was being affected by the weather too.  I should have thought about it more when we chose the date.

Everyone asked us what plan B was for the weather.  There was no plan B.  My fiancee decided to go ahead with having the ceremony in the garden.  It had a strange calm about it, even though the wind blew through the trees around this place named Homestead Garden.

There is a scripture in Isaiah 25:4 that describes God as being a refuge in the storm. 

Homestead Garden b&w

Homestead garden

When we got married we invited God to the wedding, which went off without a hitch in an island of calm, with radiant sunshine.  Our guests  got sunburnt.  All the other outdoor weddings that day got rained out and blown out.  People were amazed that the storm didn’t touch us.  I’ve never known such favour.  As we were saying our vows, two Monarch butterflies fluttered their way across the lawn in front of us.  It was a beautiful sign to be given.  The butterfly has turned up at different places in the story.

 Chapter 25 The Solitary Path
Chapter 29 The Butterfly

Chapter 74 Shelter in the storm tells the story of the wedding of Isaac and the Princess.

Windy wedding 2 Our wedding at Homestead Garden 3 resized Windy wedding 1Here’s a few photos of our wedding in the storm.

The lost lamb

The lambing beat, Sharon & Jo Dassler

Sharon & Jo Dassler, back from the lambing beat

There is nothing more endearing than a lamb.  This is me in my earlier life when I lived and worked on our family farm, bringing in a lamb we found next to its dead mother.  We did a lambing beat each day to check the ewes and bring in any orphans.  We were really happy when one was found.  We did our best to search for the little ones and save them.

In the same way the Lord goes out of his way to search for and save us.  Jesus said;

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?

And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.

In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”  Matthew 18:14

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11 (Old Testament)

This shepherd loved us so much He laid His life down for us.

Jesus said I AM the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  John 10:14-15 (New Testament)

The gate, and the sheep that went astray

NZ lambsSplattered with mud, I threw myself at the ewes and lambs that were dodging past me. 

I tried to stop one charging ewe, only to stab my hand on a thorny stick of gorse hidden in her fleece.  Another jumping ewe hit me in the chest, ran me over and kept on going.

This was our first muster, in late August, the end of winter and the first month of our new lives on the sheep farm.  Our arrival coincided with the lambing and docking season, one of the busiest times of the year.  We didn’t know what we were doing, and lacked the experience to see that the  docking pen was in an impossible place.  It was stuck right in the middle of the long boundary fence we shared with Mt Zion, the sheep station in the next valley over from ours.  I don’t know what the previous owners were thinking.  It was a stupid place to put the pen, as there were no corners to herd the sheep into.

Ewes and lambs were launching themselves in every direction, with us six inexperienced children, aged 11 down to 5,  trying to hold them.  There were no dogs for that first muster, we were the dogs.  Our father, more used to cows than sheep, shouted at us in frustration.

That first dock took all day.  Wearily trudging home in the dark, I decided to ask for a crook for my birthday, a staff with a curved end.  It would make life easier mustering those sheep.  I thought of the pictures I’d seen of sheep trotting after their Shepherd.  What a contrast.  Nothing could be further from that idyllic image. These sheep weren’t tame.  We were strangers to them.  There was no way they were going to follow us.

In Jesus day, the sheep were led in smalsheepfoldl flocks by their Shepherd.  The pens were for the sheep to lie down in peace.  The Shepherd would lay his own body across the gate of the sheepfold.  Jesus was thinking about that when He said “I AM the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.

These are His words;

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:1-10

I know that the Lord has chased more sheep than I have.  He’s run after me, before I knew Him as my Shepherd.  We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.  Isaiah 53:6.  He wants us to follow Him.  May you hear the voice of the true Shepherd calling, and enter by the gate.  Here is good pasture, and you will find rest for your soul.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

Sheep of his pasture

The light shines in the darkness

Mangaehuehu, Mt RuapehuPanting harshly, we hurriedly left the river to scramble up the steep bank to gain the top of the ridge near the Mangaehuehu hut on Mt Ruapehu. 

Fog rolled down the mountain’s slopes just as we’d finished washing the last of the dishes in the clear mountain river, touching us with its damp fingers.  It conquered the evening sun that lit the folds and ridges of the land, leaving us disoriented and lost.  Dropping down to our hands and knees, we crawled down the ridge hoping to find the hut.  No landmark was visible, nor could we discern the track. We were caught out.

When we reached the ridge we stood to our feet in the grey void, unnerved and too afraid to move.  The feeling of fear was clammier than the air.  Our packs and sleeping bags were in the hut.  The majestic volcano that crowned the hills near the land I lived was my friend, a great playground for skiing and tramping, but it was complex and had rules.  Confident of the mountain’s good mood, we’d gone out clad only in our shorts and T-shirts.  Even though it was mid-summer, we knew the peril from exposure if we were forced to spend the night in the open.  How were we going to get back to safety?

Just as we were debating what to do, a light appeared, beckoning us to safety.  That light that someone, recognising our peril, had put in the hut window, was our salvation.

That is what Jesus, the Light of the World, is for me.  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:2

He promises that “whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.

The King, the great ‘I AM’, is mightier than the light in the hut, mightier than the cyborg robot played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2, who reached out his hand saying “Come with me if you want to live.”

New Year 2013

Our quiet street at National Park, with Mt Ngarauhoe (Mt Doom) in the background.

Happy New Year.  NZ shuts down this time of the year, its our summer holidays, and the best time to get away.  We spent most of our holiday at National Park, the highest township in NZ at 825 metres (2706 feet), population 240.  We rented a cute little bach on a very quiet street with a view of the volcanoes. and soaked up the peace.

We decided to do a Lord of the Rings thing this year, visiting some of the locations in the North Island, since we are both fans.  I like it because its an epic journey, a bit like the Kingdom, and the movies were made here.  I hadn’t factored in the release of the Hobbit, making Hobbiton a very popular location to visit this year – or Mount Tongariro, the volcano next to Mt  Ngarauhoe (Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings)  erupting in the last few months.  That’s life.  Man proposes, God disposes … OR  “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.Proverbs 19:21.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Me near “Mordor”, Mt Tongariro

We decided to go ahead and do it anyway, and I’m glad we did.  On the first night of our holiday we stayed at hot springs outside Matamata, near the location of Hobbiton.  The first movie of Lord of the Rings was on TV that night.  Now we didn’t plan that.  My husband thought the happy coincidence was a Kingdom thing.  I believe it too.  I have heard it said that a coincidence is a happening or small miracle where God chooses to remain anonymous.

I hope 2013 brings you good things, and may you see beauty, pattern and order in coincidences.

Us at Hobbiton, on the Lord of the Rings themed holiday

At Hobbiton