Insights From World of Shem Part 2

Insights From World of Shem Part 2

In this issue I will speak about the cover. Usually the cover is done after the book is written, but I am going to cover it now (pardon the pun).

The cover is one of the most important items a writer needs. And often it is approached almost as an afterthought. But it is what first captures the potential buyer’s eye.

What are the important aspects of a good cover? It seems different people have different viewpoints, so here is mine. Good covers have:

  • A picture of nature, a building, or a person relevant to the story
  • Eye catching graphics
  • A good title (in a series you want title to relate to series)
  • A brief description on back matter
  • A brief bio of author on back matter

Again different experts will explain these differently and may have additional requirements. But the thing to remember is that the book only has two or three seconds to capture someone’s interest.

Createspace Gallery

The Gallery is definitely worth considering. While limited in what you can choose, I have found that they do have pictures that can be used. However, they have few pictures that relate to biblical stories or persons.

But I always look. Why? Because they’re excellent quality and FREE! I actually used pictures from the gallery for my books Perished and World of Noah and the Ark.

Buying Existing Royalty free Pictures

This is another inexpensive way to go: photostock.

For my novel World of Shem the gallery had nothing I could use. So I went with a picture I had purchased from Dreamstime a few years back. I not only purchased the picture but the right to commercially use it. And that is a big thing. Don’t just buy the picture, buy the rights to it as well. Doesn’t cost much and it is worth it.

When buying a picture make sure it is the right size (pixels). The license is only good for the picture you buy.

Hiring Professionals

The hiring of professionals is often highly recommended. And you can find professionals who know how to create covers that are acceptable to CreateSpace. For this service you will pay a little more, but not necessarily a lot. That depends on the artist and your needs.

In my opinion I would always check out the options in the same order I listed them. Why? Because the Gallery may have just the picture for you at no out of pocket cost, or buying royalty free pictures might prove to be the jackpot.

Just remember that there are requirements to be met no matter which route you take. The problem is different publishers have different criteria. So be careful! One additional thought, think about the pixels. The recommended size is 300 dpi (dots per inch) which for a 4 x 5 picture would 1200px x 1500px.

If uploading to Createspace’s Gallery it will recommend a particular size and warn you if the resolution is too low. So experiment.

I really like the cover for the World of Shem as it shows a man (Shem?) with hands raised to heaven (praying?). That caught the very substance of what I wanted displayed. Did you like the cover?

By the way I am still (and for the foreseeable future) looking for reviewers. You can buy the book or the ebook on Amazon or you can request a PDF or Epub from me. Then you can read the book and post your review. To receive a free PDF or Epub write me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com and put “Book Review Request” on subject line.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

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Insights From World of Shem

Insights From World of Shem

In the last issue of A Look At World That Was I talked about the research necessary in writing the World of Shem. Today I’ll begin a series called Insights From World of Shem.

Consistency with the Bible

I have read, and maybe you have also, books based on the Bible that took a very casual approach to the Bible. I have also seen movies that didn’t adhere to the Biblical record. As a Bible believing Christian such actions have a jarring effect. People who read the Bible regularly easily spot inconsistencies in such books. They may or may not know why, but they instantly know something’s not right.

Such people will turn to their Bibles and compare. It is in my opinion absolutely imperative that the author keep the book in line with the Bible. This is also true of secular writing. For example when writing historical novels based on secular history it is imperative to be accurate. In my novel Dead Eye Will there were a number of historical events, places, and people that made an appearance. Accuracy was a must!

But such accuracy is even more important when dealing with a Bible subject. You are dealing with the Word of God requiring accuracy not only in fact but in application. While I hope more Christians write on Biblical events and people, I recognize that it places a heavy burden on that writer.

But it is worth it. When you are finished writing and can look back saying “my story fits right within Scripture” there is a feeling of satisfaction hard to beat. And when you have published such a book a reviewer might say, “He/she brings the Bible to life!” That’s a compliment you won’t soon forget.

So far we have covered Research and Consistency with the Bible. The next issue of Insights will cover another issue.

And don’t forget. I am looking for reviewers of World of Shem. To get a free PDF or Epub contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

A Look At World That Was

A Look At World That Was

As you know I recently published my newest novel World of Shem. Since this is book 3 of my series World That Was I thought it appropriate to take a look at the series.

World That Was is a series of books covering the Book of Genesis. While each book is strongly based on the Scriptures, I have not only added my imagination but have spent hours upon hours of research regarding such things as geography, foods, clothing, and more. Below is a summary of books both published and planned.

PERISHED

This first book of the series begins with Creation, the Garden of Eden, the Expulsion and the early lives of Adam and Eve. From those early days it continues onward until the day the Flood overtakes the world.

Readers have expressed glowing comments about this novel, such as “the author brings the Bible alive!”

WORLD OF NOAH AND THE ARK

This is the second book of the series. I wrote this because there is so much confusion about the Ark, especially coming from Hollywood. Therefore I not only depicted Noah and his family but I shined the light upon the construction of the Ark itself.

But I didn’t stop there. As an added bonus to my readers I added a Q&A section at the back of the book that is worth the book’s price all by itself. Here I answer some of the misleading claims of people who believe the Ark is nothing but fantasy. These claims include the geography of the old world as well as details regarding the construction of the Ark and its floatability.

WORLD OF SHEM

Book 3 of the series covers the Flood, time on the ocean, landing on Ararat, the sin of Ham, the Tower of Babel, the Confusion of Tongues and beyond. The book continues until Abram (Abraham) is in Haran.

WORLD OF ABRAHAM

Book 4 will cover Abraham’s life from Haran into Canaan and beyond. This novel explores his travels, his love for God, his inconsistencies, his nephew Lot and what happened to him, and more. The reader gets a close up view and understanding of Abraham and Sarah.

WORLD OF JACOB

Book 5 will cover a little of Isaac but will be focused upon Jacob and his adventures. This novel will also begin taking a look at his sons.

WORLD OF JOSEPH

Book 6 will be the story of Joseph. Here the reader will see the byplay of jealousy as it is played out by his brothers. Joseph himself has a few problems that the Bible hints at and must be addressed before he fulfills God’s plan.

As you can see I have a full load ahead for me. But I am looking forward to it. Writing these novels is far more than an exercise in imagination. Much research has already taken place and more will be required. While time consuming and tiring, it is well worth the effort.

Let me leave you with this principle: Research lends credibility to your work. No matter the genre, no matter the length of the novel, and no matter your skill level, research provides the basis for a good, credible story.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

 

Announcing World of Shem

Announcing World of Shem

I am happy to announce my latest novel World of Shem is now in print and digital format. This novel, a major rewrite of the Rise of Shem, is book 3 of my series The World That Was.  world-of-shem-kdp-11-14-17-for-kindle.jpg

All three books (Perished, World of Noah and the Ark, and World of Shem) are told in a manner that is not only faithful to the Bible but strives to bring the Bible alive to both Christian and non-Christian reader alike. Perhaps because it is a rewrite of a previous novel or perhaps because it is my latest novel, it is my current favorite.

I love to write, but there is something special about writing Bible based stories. I think the reason is that the stories not only bring the Bible alive to readers but to myself as well. In so doing I am able to dig deeper and gain an understanding of the events and people. And of God!

I imagine this is akin to any writer who bases their books on history. In the process of writing you dig deep finding out about the foods people ate, the clothes they wore, and the methods of transportation used. Such knowledge grants both the writer and the reader a greater appreciation of both the events and the people involved.

My study of the people, places, and events of the World of Shem impacted my life. I was particularly impressed with how rapidly civilization grew after the world wide flood. Everything had been destroyed. Yet within 300-500 years a thriving civilization existed again. The only explanation I have is that Noah must have taken a great many tablets (probably mostly clay) with him upon the Ark. These tablets would have contained a great deal of the knowledge of the Old World that perished.

But it was the character of Shem that attracted me the most. The Bible tells us very little about this man, but as I wrote the story I watched his character develop to the point I felt like I knew him. I don’t claim my characterization of him is 100% accurate, but I believe it is a good representation of him.

Having written the book and now published it I am looking for potential reviewers. I can provide the book in a variety of formats (Epub or PDF, for example) at no cost and no conditions, other than the reviewer reads the book through and gives an honest appraisal. I would prefer the 1 through 5 ranking system. If you are able to provide an Amazon review, so much the better.

If you are interested in reviewing the book please email me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. Please put “Book Review Request” in the subject line. That will get my immediate attention and response. It would be helpful if you would state the format desired (such as paperback, PDF, or Epub). If you have another format you’d like mention it and I will try to accommodate you.

Whether you review the book or not, happy reading!

Title: World of Shem
Publisher: T&R Independent Books
Printer: CreateSpace
ISBN: 10: 154242383x or 13: 978-1542423830
Contact for Reviews: Marketing@tr-indbkstore.com
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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Is Writing A Service To God?

Is Writing A Service To God?

Recently I blogged about my journey of faith. Today I want to get back on track and talk about serving God as an author.

Is writing fiction really serving God?

That’s a reasonable question since some people believe that it is not true service. I once was upbraided for writing novels based on the Bible because:

  • People will mistake it for the truth

  • Thereby getting wrong doctrine

There are a few things wrong with that view:

  1. The Bible is found in the Bible or Religion section of bookstores not in the fiction section

  2. Novels are found in the Fiction section not in the Religion section

  3. My books state they are novels

  4. My novels are purposely based on Biblical fact and doctrine

  5. My novels flesh out the stories rather than disagree

In other words, no person who has read my books can seriously claim they teach false doctrine. If there is any doctrine in the book it always agrees with the Bible. In fact, I have been told my books “bring the Bible alive!”

Actually one of the reasons for writing Bible based novels is to encourage people to read the Bible; to discover what is Bible fact and what is a product of my imagination. It is always a thrill when someone reads my books and their faith is either renewed or they become more interested in reading the Bible.

And that is a service!

The true test of service, any kind of service, is as follows: Does it

  • Agree with Biblical facts

  • Honor God

  • Inspire people to read the Bible

  • Inspire people to worship God

  • Inspire others to serve God

  • Inspire people to live godly lives

It needn’t do all the above but it should have at least one of the elements. Christian authors, whether fiction or non-fiction writers, have an awesome opportunity to influence people for Christ. You don’t have to be preachy. You don’t even have to write about Bible events or people. But our writings should reflect a Christian approach to life.

My books generally take place before the birth of Christ yet I strive to present a Christian view. So while I don’t mention Jesus, I do mention the Redeemer. In addition, I emphasize the Scriptures (aka the Writings).

So if you’re a Christian author don’t be shy about being one. You have a job, perhaps a calling. Trust His leading and do things His way. And when people challenge you respond in pride, “I write because God gave me the talent and because He wants me to use it for Him.”

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

What To Do About Bad Reviews?

What To Do About Bad Reviews?

I have been very blessed that so far I have had only one bad review. Some authors have had more than that, but no matter how many you get it hurts.

So what do you do about bad reviews?

A few years back I received such a review about the novel Perished. Sandwiched between 4 star and 5 star reviews it still offended me. Did I write a nasty letter to the reviewer? Did I erase the review from Amazon?

No, and no. The worst mistake you can make is to remove a negative review. Actually a negative review highlights the positive reviews. Readers will see that lonely negative review and also the positive reviews. And most will rightly decide something was wrong with the reviewer.

The young man reviewing my book actually pointed out the problem in his review. He admitted that he didn’t finish the book. Then he proceeded to tell his reasons for not finishing the book.

And this is where anyone who read the book would immediately know the problem. He not only didn’t read the book to the finish, he jumped around. His main complaint was that some of the characters did not remain true to their characterization at the beginning. I spotted this immediately.

One of the problems with writing historical fiction is that some of the characters in the book are drawn from actual historical accounts. In the case of Perished I was writing about actual Biblical events and people which required the use of real names.

Sometimes these names were identical to others. So it was possible to have two or more characters with the same name. Now if the reader is following the story as it was written, it is easy to determine which character is front and center. But if you jump around, never a good idea, then you could easily get confused as to which character you are reading about.

So the review was not only a bad rating (2 stars), but it was a poor review in approach and content. One side of me wanted to write him and point out his failings, but I didn’t do that. Why?

Because doing so is not good form. Most writers and teachers of writing will warn you not to criticize the reviewer. It simply offends others.

So I bit my tongue, metaphorically speaking, and left the review there. As I stated earlier it highlights the 4 and 5 star reviews. It becomes a plus and eventually helps the marketing.

Another response though is to take that negative review and ask yourself questions. In this case I asked myself if I could have done a better job of identifying which character was present? Most of the time the answer to that question is yes.

It’s possible that I could have eliminated certain characters and used alternate or even fictional characters instead. Sometimes when complaints come you can rewrite the book or at least certain scenes. The principle here is to treat negative reviews as a learning experience.

You can also treat good reviews the same way. Sometimes a reviewer may point out an error or a problematic tendency in the book even though they gave the book 5 stars. Once again you can take that and turn it into a learning experience.

Which brings me to another point or principle: leaving the negative review in place can serve as a reminder to you (or me) that you can’t please all the people. So don’t take it personally. Instead try to turn it into a positive learning experience both in marketing and in writing. Such an attitude will improve you as a writer.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

 

 

I Will Show Forth All Thy … Works

I Will Show Forth All Thy … Works

The last part of Psalm 9:1 relates well to one of my favorite verses that inspires my writing, Psalm 71:18b, “until I have shown thy strength unto this generation.”(KJV). Here’s all of Psalm 9:1:

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works” (KJV).

Speaking as a Christian author these verses speak volumes to me. Since I believe God called and enabled me to write I feel it is important that my writings reflect His will, plans, and strength. You might say it makes sense since I write novels based on the Bible. But it would be true no matter what I wrote. For example, my novel Dead Eye Will is based on American history not Biblical. But I still wanted to honor God.

I think it can be safely said that authors like Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, and a host of Christian authors would be like-minded. The truth is that Christian authors are a cut above the average author. Don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking of talent or even smarts. I am talking about that when a professing Christian endeavors to do anything he/she is representing God. That puts a special burden upon us.

How we react to that burden or perhaps I should call it a challenge will impact how well we perform. And the burden doesn’t guarantee success. It is simply a challenge that affects how we approach writing whether it’s a novel or non-fiction.

This principal affects whatever a Christian does, whether a plumber, artist, teacher, CEO, laborer, or whatever. God expects us to put forth our very best and when we do, we reflect His works and His strength. It is our motivation. Because of what He did for us, we want to please Him and to tell others about Him.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

The commandment is a lamp

The commandment is a lamp

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light;…

God’s Word sheds light upon us. Think about that. What a powerful statement. We Christians need not operate in darkness. Whatever is going on in our life, including our secrets, is open to God. His Word reveals our deepest secrets and needs to us!

But if that is true (and it is) then how does that affect us as authors?

Considering the trials and tribulations of writing a book I look upon this verse as a strong encouragement. When I hit a wall that stops my writing God already knows all about it and has provided the solution. When I need to be encouraged God knows that and has already prepared the perfect encouragement for me.

In other words, the Word of God is a powerful resource for us as Christians and as Christian authors. All too often Christians separate their faith and their daily lives, but God intends for us to be in His Word daily and to apply it to every aspect of our life.

One of the advantages I have in blogging on Scripture is that it requires thoughtful reading of the Scriptures in addition to my daily devotions. It causes me to actually ‘think’ about the passage in relationship to my writing career. And that makes me stronger!

As an author I also write stories that are based on Bible stories. Although similar to writing stories based on secular historical events, it has the added benefit of once again involving me in the reading and meditation of God’s Word. It helps me to picture the actual events and to bring them alive for myself. And if I bring it alive for myself, it is likely to be alive for my readers.

But back to my basic point, which is that Christians need to be in God’s Word daily. This is true no matter what their career. God has something to say to us and we’ll only ‘hear’ it if we delve into His Word. And like a lamp it sheds light upon our feet and lightens the path before us (see Psalm 119:105)!

If you haven’t begun a daily devotion I encourage you to do so. The light won’t blind you but will show you how to move forward. It may even show you the possible pitfalls that await you if you persist in going a certain way. That is the beauty of it. The light shows both the good and bad in our life and acts as a guide. You won’t regret starting your own devotions.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Bind them continually upon thine heart

Bind them continually upon thine heart

“Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.” Prov. 6:21

This verse is referencing the Word of God as the Father’s commandments. Today I want to apply it specifically to authors.

Perhaps because I am an author I am slightly biased. Since we deal with communicating to people, albeit through fiction, I think we need God’s wisdom to a very high degree.

Thousands of books are published every week and tens of thousands every year. All authors are trying to sell their books to the widest audience possible. I am no exception. And we need God’s wisdom if we are to succeed.

I’ve talked before about the principles of God’s Word and I don’t want to be merely repeating myself. So instead of talking about marketing advice seen through the lens of the Bible, I want to talk about God’s wisdom and how it helps us write better.

Every book I’ve written has been bathed in prayer. It is not enough to merely follow principles, whether they are secular or spiritual. Writing is more than that. It involves the plot of the work, the characters involved, and the cohesiveness of the story. For that to happen requires a great deal of skill. But it also demands more.

People talk about inspiration being required. I’ve talked about being inspired, but it goes beyond simply being inspired to write. We need God’s guiding hand as we write every scene and develop every character.

It can be taxing, but when we have God in our corner it makes things much easier. Whether writing Perished, or World of Noah and the Ark, or even the current writing of World of Shem I have needed God’s guidance. I seek God’s guidance. I’m not talking about formal prayer, which I do, but of communicating to God throughout the process.

This involves talking to Him about every scene, indeed every word. I approach my writing in the spirit of open prayer. Sometimes it is unconscious praying and sometimes I actually ask Him directly. I ask questions like,

  • How do I write this scene?
  • Is this scene too suggestive?
  • Is this character believable?

Sometimes I have typed several words or entire sentences and upon further evaluation have erased them. We’ve all done this, but the question is was God involved in the process.

How do I involve God?

That’s not a hard question to answer. If you are a Christian, having received Christ as your Savior and you have been called to write, then you can expect His involvement. He doesn’t call and then abandon.

On the other hand, He doesn’t force His Will upon us. According to Psalm 32:8 He will guide us. That is a two-fold promise. On the one hand, God promises to guide us, but on the other hand we are responsible to listen to Him and obey.

What a great feeling it is when we have written a story and can say that God helped us all along the way! Whatever genre you write in you can count on His help as long as you are doing it His way. And that is a source of a huge sense of confidence and peace.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me

But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me…” Psalm 3:3

Today we live in a world that is increasingly anti-Christian. They mock us and, in some cases, try to harm us. But no matter what they do we have a God who is our shield. Nothing can be done to us without His knowledge and permission. So even if they kill us, God protects our soul and we are absent from the body and present with the Lord.

But how do I apply this to my writing career?

As a Christian you have standards – Bible based standards. And when you take a stand on those standards the world attacks you. This can come in the form of writing ‘experts,’ editors, publishers, and marketeers, or just well-meaning friends.

When this happens remember that God is your shield. Look to Him for guidance and reassurance. If your stand is Biblical then He will “have your back.”

For example, let’s say that you been searching for an agent to help you get a publisher. You finally found one you like. When he reads your book he says, “Your book is too bland. You need to spice it up. Your characters need to be more realistic.” Usually a statement like that means you need to have more sex, violence, and vulgarity than what you’re conscience permits. That’s assuming of course that your characters are well developed.

Don’t get me wrong. Sex and violence are part of life. But as Christian writers we are not to exploit sex and violence. There is a big difference from inferring sex and actually describing it. As for violence we don’t need to be overly graphic. In both of these areas our understanding of Biblical standards governs what we write.

Back to the agent. The agent has given you his advice and has made it clear that unless you change things as he has described, he won’t represent you. Complicating the matter is the fact that you have not been able to find another agent. What do you do?

You stick with your Biblical principles. You need to remind yourself that God is your shield. And since God knows everything from before Creation, He already has prepared for you a safety net. That net could be the sudden appearance of an agent who will represent your work without compromises. Or God could lead you to go the self-publishing route. Or He may provide something altogether different.

The point is that if we trust God and do things His way He will work it out to be for our good (see Roman’s 8:28). And chances are you may even be surprised by how He does it!

One last comment: As a Christian writer you don’t measure success the same way the world does. The world uses sales, royalties, etc. as the measuring stick. While you certainly shouldn’t ignore such data, your real success must come from a Biblical perspective. Does God approve? Not that you’re going to hear a verbal “good job” from Him, but your Christian conscience will let you know and He may well give you a great sense of peace. And no matter the sales, God takes care of His own!

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.