Tag Archives: a message to my readers

Byron: the Next Comment Contest

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G’day! Byron the Quokka here. Cousin Jupe and me once found a whole package of Big Burger Taste just left there for anyone who might want it. There’s a lesson to be learned from that! And if I ever find out what it is, I’ll tell you.

So I’ve been talkin’ to the Big Mango here–oh, all right! he doesn’t like that nickname–I mean, talkin’ to Lee, and finally got him to let me run another comment contest.

Just now we have 54,602 comments, so the goal for this contest will be 56,000. Whoever posts Comment No. 56,000 will win an autographed copy of Bell Mountain No. 12, His Mercy Endureth Forever, when it comes out sometime early this year. I’ve read some of it already–wow!

He still won’t let me offer a bicycle as the prize. Sometimes the poor chap has no vision.


Lunch with Sir Walter Scott

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I received a copy of Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, for Christmas. The edition they forced on us in high school convinced me that Sir Walter was an idiot. I was not aware that the editors had done him a mischief, tearing all the guts out of his book and leaving only the hollow shell of a rather silly story. So it was decades before mere curiosity–could it really have been that bad?–moved me to read it again.

And it blew me away. Ivanhoe is a truly great novel that richly deserved to be a classic.

But there’s another thing to love about my Christmas present. They’ve included all of Scott’s notes and footnotes on Ivanhoe–how he came by this or that tradition, this or that old song, what he was thinking when he had a character perform a certain action, etc. It’s the next best thing to having Sir Walter sitting across the room from you and talking to you.

How I would love to sit down with him over tea and cigars, for a nice long natter! He had a gift for taking the reader along with him as he wrote the story. He had a gift of self-deprecating humor. I’ll bet the two of us together could talk the sun across the sky.

Well, of course I can’t do that, unless it’s one of those things the Lord has in store for us in heaven. But what I can do is always be available to my readers–and friends!–right here, on this blog. Ask me anything about my books, or how I write them, whatever. I love talking about stories, and how they come to be told.

Wouldn’t that be cool, if some famous writer read this, and replied?

I’m Editing ‘His Mercy Endureth Forever’


Bell Mountain No. 12, His Mercy Endureth Forever, is just about ready to be published. I’d rather it came out sooner than later, in hopes that it might pep up sales of the earlier books in the series. Meanwhile, there are final edits to be made, including mine–at Chalcedon we always try to weed out all the errors. It’s impossible, of course; but no one comes closer to achieving it than we do.

Editing one’s own book is hard, because you always know what you meant to say and the errors don’t jump out at you until after the book is printed and it’s too late to fix them. “How in the world did I miss that?” is a Frequently Asked Question. Fortunately, we have other editors working on it at the same time.

I still love that cover by Kirk DouPonce. Will Ellayne and Dulayl escape the jaws of the Ice Age hyena? Will First Prester Orth make it back to the city without being murdered by the bad guys? And so on–I’ve really packed this book. And waiting in the wings is Book 13, The Wind from Heaven.

Is anybody out there who has read the whole series so far? Your comments are just about the only advertising we have, along with this blog.

Bell Mountain is also available in Portuguese. No kidding.

The Blog That Went to Mars

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The headline is a figure of speech. We haven’t really gone to Mars.

We did manage to crack the 100,000-view mark, though–122,005 views during 2019, an increase of 23,000 and change over last year. That excited me, but I have to admit that that’s a pretty boring sentence. If I read a bunch of numbers, my eyes start to glaze over.

Last year we averaged 269 views a day; this year, 334.

(“Stop that!” Byron the Quokka shouts from offstage. “Nobody comes here to read a bunch of numbers!”)

Well, I just wanted you all to know that, thanks to you, this blog is doing well. WordPress used to do these year-in-review pieces for us, but they don’t anymore. They also used to have this nice little falling-snow-effect around Christmastime. They got rid of it two years ago. I always liked it, although one of my readers, the first time she saw it, thought there was something expensively wrong with her computer. I asked a WordPress engineer if he could reinstate the effect. He said, “You can get it back, but you’ll have to do it yourself. All you have to do is write some simple code…”

Belay that! The last time I was even suspected of writing code–and it would have had to be by accident–I wound up with light-blue print on a light-grey background. Some of you might remember that–wasn’t it awful? I mean, it was just about impossible to read! You could go blind, trying. Somehow my tech support expert at Chalcedon, Jill, restored it to normalcy. So, no code! And sorry, no falling snow on the home page.

Well, so much for my year-in-review report. See you later with a cat or dog video.

Birthday Greetings: Joshua

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Break out the party hats and noisemakers, boys ‘n’ girls! It’s Joshua’s birthday today! He is eleventy-five! Check out his blog, “Spread the Word,” at http://www.joshuamankatoswanson.wordpress.com/ . Tell him Byron the Quokka sent you.

Here on Rottnest Island the quokkas are all whooping it up. We love the readers on this blog! And Joshua is sort of a hero here, for translating Bell Mountain into Japanese. Maybe someday he’ll translate it into Quokka, too.

P.S.–Anyone of you who’d like to get a birthday greeting here, just let us know the date so I can put it on my list. We say it enhances our fellowship.

P.P.S.–Oh, fap! The link we gave you doesn’t work. Try this instead–


Should We Have Another Comment Contest?

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G’day, folks! Byron the Quokka here: that’s me, sleeping in this morning. But I’m up now, and trying to talk Lee into starting another comment contest.

Just now, we have 54,049 comments. The Christmas Carol Contest is over, and I think we need something to balance out all the bad nooze out there. How about a race to 56,000 comments? Anybody up for that? Maybe this time I can get him to award a bicycle to the winner. There are bikes parked all over Rottnest Island; they can’t all have rightful owners.

Well, we’ve got to find the measure of the popular demand, so let’s hear from you. Lee thinks it’s too soon to start another contest. But that leaves me without a job around here, so let’s see if we can get him to change his mind.

Tomorrow I’ll Announce the Winner!

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G’day, everybody! Byron the Quokka here, with the last of some special pound cake my aunts had for Christmas–and some news.

Tomorrow’s the day we announce the winner of our Second Annual Christmas Carol Contest. We quokkas already know who it’s gonna be, but I’ll be in big trouble if we let it slip.

The winner will get an autographed copy of Bell Mountain No. 12, His Mercy Endureth Forever, which should be published sometime very soon, everything is ready.

Now, does this mean we won’t post any more Christmas carols until next Christmas? Perish the thought! We are committed (I heard that in a commercial once, and it sounded great!) to posting the hymns that you, the readers, wish to hear. If you ask for In the Bleak Midwinter in July, we’re only too happy to post it for you.

Tune in tomorrow for the awesome climax to our contest!

Byron: ‘Last Call for Carol Contest!’

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G’day, everybody! Byron the Quokka here; and that’s me up there, singing, but I can’t tell you what carol I’m singing because that might skew the contest. (Note the bicycle in the background! I keep telling him, offer a bike as the prize, if you want people to play. But does he listen?)

Well, Monday we’re wrapping it up, our Second Annual Christmas Carol Contest. And the carol that got 44 views on Dec. 9 is still way out front in the lead. No, I can’t tell you what it was, or who posted it. Everybody here on Rottnest Island knows, but we’re not talking.

Things are mighty quiet around this blog today. I guess a lot of you are tuckered out from New Year’s. My family spent New Year’s Eve wearing party hats, blowing on noise-makers, and playing Clue. Poor Uncle Pottsy. He was Professor Plum and wound up having to accuse himself–and it turned out to be wrong. He felt like such a doo-dah.

Well, look, I’m supposed to get you folks excited about this contest, and can I help it if there’s only so much excitement to go around? Can’t be excited all the time!

The winner will be announced on Monday. Be there, or be square!

Can I Make It to Midnight?

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Gone are those New Year’s Eves of yesteryear, where we used to run outside and bellow “Happy New Year!” at the top of our lungs, plus booze, fireworks, and the rest. Now I’ve got 45 minutes to go and I’d rather be in bed. Patty has already fallen asleep on the couch. Our cats are sleeping, too.

A prayer: O Lord our God, we are the sheep of your pasture, and we need our shepherd. Stay with us throughout the year 2020: equip us for your service, give us what we need to hang on. May the name of our Savior Jesus Christ be exalted, this year, in every corner of the earth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Top Post of 2019

This was a record-setting year, here, with over 120,000 views. And the top view-getter was a Welsh hymn, Hyfrydol, by the Black Mountain Choir, with a total of 576 views.

The day I posted it, Feb. 26, was the all-time record-setter with 849 views, including 396 views just for Hyfrydol–just in one day! I wish I knew what it was that made Feb. 26’s blog such a hit with viewers: then I could do it on purpose. Be that as it may, it’s a gorgeous, glorious hymn, and one of my very chief favorites, even if I don’t understand a word of it. I don’t think you have to!

The most successful new prose post of the year was “Bell Mountain Movie Contest, Take Two,” with 234 views. The contest itself turned out to be a bust: a very few readers played enthusiastically, but everybody else just liked to read about it. At one point it was a contest entered only by half a dozen people.

WordPress used to do all the end-of-year wrap-ups for us, but hasn’t done so in several years. I’d love to know what were the most-viewed reader comments. There are always so many good ones, I’d never be able to guess.

Thank you to all of you who tuned in and made this blog grow! Can we grow it some more in 2020?

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