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All of it, Looking Forward

I am delighted with all of you as a Launch Team!

There are 20 Amazon 5-star reviews and about 5 Goodreads reviews of the same level. Some of you wrote them. Thank you, thank you!

I’ve had sales we don’t even know where they come from! Probably from your efforts, good people.

Now, I gotta push a little.

Tut tut.

Some of you have not written a review yet, though most of you promised me you would do so early-on.

I know life happens – sometimes it happens to me, ho ho.

But I’m thinking something. I’m thinking that now would be a good time for those who have not filed a review – and who still want to – now would be a good time to finish the book and to determine what you think of it … and to shoot off a few cherry bombs into the Maine sky (as I used to, while of course heeding my mom and remembering that cherry bomb fuses burn very quick).

Word-of-mouth helps a great deal. Word-of-review helps a great deal. Word-of-social-media helps a great deal.

In recent days, I spoke with one friend who had a second baby shortly before the book appeared. I spoke with another friend who had a 10th grandchild shortly after the book appeared. Two other friends had forgotten and had left the book in their other bedroom on the other coast and were considering going back to get it (or you could just order another one for your present location, is what another friend and I suggested in our collective heads). Yet another friend – who did file a review – is re-reading the book because she wants to steep herself all over again in the minor characters, especially Enoch Warren, whom she imagines she might meet sometime on the Maine coast.

I’m in favor of all these gettings-back-into-it.

But I’ve got a new idea to help us set up the publication timing of DOWNEAST – This Blessed Assurance.

Everyone on the team should tell me in advance about any baby timing around which they need to circle in July or August. That second book is pretty darned special. I can assure you, there are scenes, even single lines, that make me cry!

Just you wait! Bet some of you will cry, too!

One of those lines, the most important one, I didn’t even anticipate or make up. As I wrote through a few paragraphs before it, I promise you I had NO IDEA what was about to be said. Then, a woman simply spoke – two sentences. That’s all. At two in the morning – in my Virginia morning, not a Maine morning – I was bawling when I turned off my laptop and went to bed.

But I’ll try not to throw Percy and Starr at you and – and wait! – who’s that other person? What in the world? Who’s that? Sitting with her back to us on the love seat in front of the Mitchell’s study’s fireplace? Sitting so we can’t see who she is.

Who is that?

I’ll try not to throw any of those persons at you while you have babies to burp and you need to fly off to the other coast to get the book again. Your encouragement after the burping? Your encouragement is that the babies let go of the table edge and wobble, with agonized intensity, three feet into your welcoming arms.

Let’s organize your fifty or so lives around my writing of other Percy Black books. How hard could that be?

I know you want to know what’s going on with Arsinoe Adel, and how Abornazine and Garden Bagay are faring in the DawnLand and what Petal’s doing with her colored pencils and why Damon suggested you do – what? – with your Klondike Bars.

Certainly – and I know this, too, about you – you want to know why Laura’s husband, teacher Jack, needed a criminal lawyer. And also, back in the day, when Percy was truly mastering his color wheel, and when he ran into Lauren Donovan and Noah Carmichael, and cute little Kate holding her mom’s hand – back in the day, when Percy first perceived that something happened on some of Miss Donovan’s masterful canvases, you want to know about that, too, don’t you?

Further, what about Percy tying himself to the mast of his Dark Harbor 17 during that blizzard fifteen miles off shore when, at age seventeen and singlehandedly, he was searching for ‘Tit Manan, wasn’t that quite a time?

Oh, but wait!

You don’t actually know about any of these events, or even about most of those people, do you? Even though Noah wrote a whole novel about how he and Lauren came to be … good novel, too, which was displayed for weeks in the front windows of Harvard Square bookstores, and was highly praised by James “Jim” Dickey and by Robert Penn “Red” Warren.

So, here’s what let’s do, you fifty review geniuses.

Take control of your lives! Don’t fill July and August with new babies and new grandchildren at random and with trips to the other coast to pick up your forgotten copy of the first Percy Black book. Don’t even throw yourself into characterizing Percy’s Marston and Martha painting called Float. How does it compare with Miss Donovan’s beachscapes where every few hundred yards or so something happened?

Sit back and … just wait. There’s more to come.

Okay, you can crunch a Klondike Bar if you must. But do it out at the end of the dock across the greensward from Breezy Shores. Make certain you have your Colt 1911 next to you. You can never be certain when Huritt might show up.

Don’t shudder. He’s not there right now. If he comes, something will happen. Someone will happen.

That’s why Someone is there.


Don’t worry.

There’s an answer to that question, but it’s a Holy Spirit thing.

I love you all. Please file your review. Thank you.


Click here to purchase Egg Island: Death is Your Choice

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The Chosen - Yes or No?

Today, I am writing about two people in my life, and I am finding their types in the disciples of Jesus … and in Jesus’ mom.

“But look here,” said my friend, who is the first of the two people above. “I am worried about the TV show The Chosen. It presents many back stories about the disciples. That back story approach may mislead some viewers into doctrinal errors. That could threaten their reach for salvation.”

I love The Chosen.

Clearly, my friend has his doubts.

This friend is a longtime leader in the field of Christian apologetics; he manages an institute devoted to that work. His job is figuratively to drop pebbles into the shoes of doubters. That is, to alert them, to make them uncomfortable, and to make them think…and, ultimately, to decide.

One way or the other; this is what Jesus offers them. Heaven or hell.

The Chosen explores the disciples’ back stories and also the conflicts among them. It personalizes the twelve disciples in ways the gospels cannot. The gospels are gospels and inerrant; The Chosen is fiction. But the writing, acting, directing, and cinematography in The Chosen are exquisite. They raise this TV series into the realm of holy art.

That said, I was troubled after my conversation with my friend. He is a perceptive man. Perhaps he is right to be worried. I, on the other hand, do have a tendency to over-enthuse. Others have pointed to this weakness in me.

Nevertheless, here’s what happened next.

Please meet the second person I am writing about.

That very afternoon, at church, I fell into conversation with a woman who has two sons, one nine and one four. She speculated about how her sons, when they should reach their late teens and early twenties, might disappoint her. She told me that, now, they need her – they really need her, and of course she provides.

But what would happen, she wondered, when her boys reached an age when they might, for example, forget her birthday, or otherwise make it plain that she was not foremost on their minds? How hurtful to her that would be, she worried.

I understood and commiserated. We parted ways.

That evening, as it happened, I turned on the TV and came across The Chosen – season two, episode three. If you are already a viewer, perhaps you’ll remember.

On the screen, it’s evening. The disciples and several women are gathered around the fire outside. Jesus is off in a hut healing his way through a long line of Samaritans who have gathered for his help. One of the women around the fire is Mary, Jesus’ mom. Mary Magdalen persuades her to recount the moments of Jesus’ birth, and so Jesus’ mom narrates that story.

Mary fondly recalls how much the baby Jesus needed – really needed – his mom thirty years ago when he was so small. Now, she says, he is kind to her, but she lacks the impression that he really needs her now. At that moment, Jesus stumbles by the circle beside the fire, wordless, exhausted, having healed the sick during all that live-long day. He makes his way to his tent and tries to remove his cloak but can’t.

Mary sees his difficulty and goes to him and removes his cloak. Then she washes his feet. She washes his hands. She washes his face. He mutters, “Imma, I am so tired,” and she helps him to lie down. She covers him with a blanket.

As we watch these moments in the almost darkness of Jesus’ tent away from the nighttime fire, it is a scene of breathtaking, quiet power. Here we see Mary blessed by the Son of God, by her adult son who once was so small and who needed her then – really needed her – and whom she serves again now, as a mother does, in his need right now.

Moved, I froze the frame, dialed the woman I had spoken with earlier that afternoon, described to her what I had just seen, and then learned from her later, the next day, that hearing of that scene had blessed her and had made her weep with joy.

Next day, I wrote to my apologist friend and described my encounter with that scene as being my own God moment from my previous day. Nowhere in scripture is that scene depicted, I wrote. No issue of doctrine is threatened by that scene, I wrote. But here’s where the artistic rubber meets the road, I wrote.

Bible truth and artistic truth differ. And it was artistic truth which had made that mother of young sons cry.

Bravo, to The Chosen and to its creators.

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Dikkon Eberhart

One man could sail around the world and not hold a single reader with his memoir. E.B. White could describe a row across Central Park Lake and hold a reader breathless.

It’s not the events of your story. It’s the story of your events--in you.

Scene One

Location: a party at a house by the harbor.

The conversation: it might go something like this.

One of the men turns to me—about my age, getting grey—we’ve been chatting boats. “You’re the one who’s just published that memoir.”


“You retired?”

“Yes. I enjoyed doing the book. But I only had the time after retiring. Lot of work. I suppose not everyone could do it.”

"You know, I’ve tried to write a memoir. People say my life is amazing. Can’t seem to make it into a book though. I could use your advice.”

“You’ve sailed across the Atlantic, right?”

“Three crossings. Once solo in a 28-foot sloop. France—Azores—Cape Verdes—then downwind to the Caribbean.”

“So what’s the point of your memoir?”

He looks puzzled. “I just said.”

“I don’t mean to be argumentative, but no, you didn’t.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve told me what happened, not what the point is.”

“People say I tell what happened very well.”

“I expect you do. There’s a lot to tell about. All that sailing. I’m sure you’ve done a good job at what is not the job.”

He looks, perhaps, offended. “What do you mean it’s not the job?”

“What I mean is you’ve begun the job—to tell the story—but that’s not the real job. You’ve got your story so one event flows into the next event. That’s good.”

“Thanks.” And then, “I think.”

“But the real job is harder.”


“Because the real job is answering my question—what’s the point?”

“Why can’t I just tell the story and be done?”

“Because no one wants to read a sequence of your events. ”

Scene Two

“I don’t understand. Why do I do this then?”

“What someone wants to read is what that person needs to read.”

“How am I supposed to know what that person needs to read?”

“One thing everyone needs to read is the truth.”

“The truth about what?”

“About you, and about the point.”

“But the truth about me is what I wrote down already.”

“No, it isn’t. What you wrote down is a sequence of events, which you have ordered so they flow. That’s not the truth. That’s a sequence. And nobody wants to read a sequence of your events.”

“Then what am I supposed to do?”

“Tell the point.”

“What is the point?”

“Ah, that’s the big question, is it not?”

“Oh, come on. We’re going around in circles.”

He steps aside and pours himself another drink. I think he may have left the conversation, but he circles back. “Anyway, the truth right now is that I hate my boat as much as I love her. Maybe I’m too old.”

I pause, thinking there's truth right there if he developed it, but I ask, “What’s the point of your nautical life—of this sequence you have written down?”

“The point? I’m just trying to tell my story here. People say my life is amazing. That’s what I’m trying to tell about.”

“You really want my advice?”


“Take the sequence, each chapter, just as it flows now, and go back and rewrite it again. By the third or the fourth chapter I'll bet a new conception of your story will begin to emerge in your writing. Your concept of your story will have matured. That new concept is the point. Or at least it will be a new step toward the real point."

“Ah, that point thing….

“Yes. That point thing. Then, when you're all done, you'll need to go back to the beginning and do what I just said all over again another time."

"Oh, man."

"Eventually, you'll know what the actual point actually is. And that's what leads to the truth about you. The truth is the reason why people will need to read your book. So they can have truth in their lives. They need to have truth in their lives, and your book gives it to them.”

He muses. “It’ll take a lot of pages to write it again and again.”

“It takes a lot of days to cross the Atlantic. What’s the point of doing that? Just to get to the other side?”

"No." He pauses. “It’s being out there on the ocean and in tune with the ocean—for me, that’s in tune with God—and even more so when I’m alone.”

“So that’s the truth you need to talk about. Your focus needs to be on the truth, not on successive positions at noon. People will read your book, if it contains the truth about you and about your soul, so they can have the truth in their lives.”

“But what do I do with all this mass of paper? By now, I’ve got maybe a thousand pages on my desk!”

Scene Three

“Yes, you do have lots of pages. Now cut every sentence from the thousand pages that does not reveal the truth.”

“But what if I love those sentences by now?”

“You will love them. But your love is self-indulgent. You’re in love with your love of your sentences. Cut anyway.”

“Not easy.”

“In the Caribbean, did you ever take on board a huge bunch of green bananas and hang them in the rigging and, when they ripened, need to eat them as fast as you possibly could before they rotted?”


“What happened when they rotted?”

“Threw them overboard.”

"See? Even though you loved them?”

“Even though.” He smiles. “Okay, I cut.”

“That’s what you’ll do if you want someone else to read your story.”

“I thought I wanted that.”

"Don’t back away now. Now people will read your story—and will value it—because now you are telling the truth.”

“Anything else?”

“Yeah, one more thing. Just go through and make every paragraph a pleasure to read—vivid, humorous, whatever it takes to make each paragraph a pleasure to read.”

He rolls his eyes. “Then am I done?”

“Oh, sure,” I smile. “Then you’re done.”

We shake hands.

As he turns away, I say, “But when an editor gets hold of it, you’ll have three or four more rewrites yet to do.”

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