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God’s Autonomous Zone

In the late 17th century, Catholic theologian and scientist Blaise Pascal authored a book titled Pensées. In it, he wrote:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.

This concept evolved over the years to become the commonly used quote, “We all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts only God can fill.”

While not specifically from Scripture, the sentiment is generally true. God originally made us to be in perfect communion with Him, and anything short of that is a void. Sin destroyed the original order.

There are a lot of bad things going on in the world today. But there have been other times when the world convulsed and wrenched in violence, discord, and anger. Too many times.

But this time seems to be a little different. There’s a spiritual component of all that is going on which is hard to ignore.

Really?

If you listen to the underlying sentiments of all the different voices, there’s a desire for a better world altogether. All political parties, social-justice groups, identity groups, religions, everyone want a world without the problems we have now.

In the last book of the Bible, John wrote a description of this world:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children” (Revelation 21:1-7 NIV).

Unfortunately, the next verse says not everyone will be able to live in the new earth. But that doesn’t mean all of mankind doesn’t desire the idea of it. They seem to have a “new earth” shaped hole in their hearts.

In the new earth, there won’t be any police, since they wouldn’t have anything to do.

No racial conflict.
No relationship conflicts.
No food insecurity.
No need for any sort of healthcare.
No slavery or human trafficking.
No trade or any other kind of wars.
No climate issues.
No need to worry about anything.
No viruses, anger, crime, hate, death, crying, or even pain.
No sin.

The entire world is convulsing, and I am saddened so many people don’t know they are looking for something that has always been there. Unlike Dorothy in the land of Oz, we don’t click our heels together.

Instead, we confess our inability to solve our problems, ask forgiveness for our own sin, and acknowledge the very God who created this world as our Savior and Lord. He will make us new from the inside now and eventually make an entirely new earth.

Jesus died with holes in his hands, side, and feet so the holes in our hearts would be filled forever.

Hey, world, Christian writers have what you want.

The new earth … God’s autonomous zone.

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Banned Books

January was a really bad month for Protestant reformer Martin Luther, 500 years ago in 1521. In fact, the entire year was the wurst. (He was German you know.) First, he was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by Pope Leo X after refusing to recant his writings. That was …

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Bring the Books (What Steve Laube Is Looking For)

“Bring the books, especially the parchments,” is a sentence in 2 Timothy 4:13 that has teased readers for 2,000 years. What books did the Apostle Paul want to read while waiting for trial? Theology? History? How-to? (Maybe a little escape reading? Pun intended.)

Another writer chimed in a while ago by saying “Of making many books there is no end.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) And if we read the statistics he wasn’t kidding. 300,000+ published in the United States alone last year.

And yet there is an allure to the stories of great novelists and a fascination in the brilliance of deep thinkers. It is what drew me to the book industry in the first place having been a lifelong reader and a burgeoning collector of my own library.

I can safely say that the allure and fascination remains unabated. I’ve had and continue to have the honor and privilege of working with some of the finest minds and talented writers in our industry. The photo above is from my office showing every book represented by our agency. Hundreds of amazing books by amazing authors.

Meanwhile I am still searching for the next great story, the next great concept, the next great writer. So, to answer the question, “What are you looking for?” I will attempt to clarify a few things.

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The Industry Changes but Seems Unchanged

I recently came across an article I had saved from 2004 predicting “Book Trends 2005” by Sally E. Stuart in an issue of Advanced Christian Writer newsletter. Reading through the article makes one realize how different things are but also how much they are still the same! Isn’t that a …

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Saving the World, One Romance at a Time

Often I will receive submissions of novels tying in an element of mystery and suspense with romance. Writers targeting the romantic suspense market will find difficulty in placing this type of story. Why? Because romantic suspense readers have certain expectations that won’t be met with a mere element of mystery and intrigue.

In my experience trying to sell and market romantic suspense, I have found that the readers of this genre want all-out adventure and crime solving along with compelling romance. The suspense is foremost, with the romance being tied in so deeply that the story won’t survive without it.

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A Year in Review: A Look at 2019

It’s that time of year to reflect on the past year, to learn from our experiences, and to count our blessings. Here are some thoughts on the last tumultuous twelve months. The Industry The publishing industry seems to survive the bad press that loves to find the negative in everything. …

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How Do You Measure Success?

by Steve Laube

A few years ago while talking to some editors they described an author who was never satisfied (not revealing the name of course). It this author’s latest book had sold 50,000 copies the author wondered why the publisher didn’t sell 60,000. And if it sold 60,000 why didn’t it sell 75,000? The author was constantly pushing for “more” and was incapable of celebrating any measure of success.

Recently there has been much ink spilled on whether Indie authors are better of than authors published by traditional publishers. Pundits have laid claim to their own definition of a successful book using number, charts, and revealed earnings. Following this dialogue can be rather exhausting.

I understand the desire to measure whether or not my efforts are successful. It is a natural instinct. If it is any indication, one of our most popular blog posts has been “What are Average Book Sales?” with thousands of readers.

In one way this is a wise question so that expectations can be realistic.

In another way it is unwise in that the cliff called “Comparison” is a precipitous one. I’ve talked to depressed authors who are wounded by numbers. I’ve talked to angry authors who are incensed by a perceived lack of effort by their publisher. I’ve talked to highly frustrated authors who wonder if it is all worth it.

Ultimately I can’t help but think this is all an exercise in determining a definition of success for the individual author. If you can measure it you can define it. That is as long as we know what “it” is.

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What Were They Reading?

In attempting to declutter, I am culling my book collection. Parting with beloved tomes is one of the hardest parts of decluttering for me since I enjoy books so much! I’m keeping copies of all the books I’ve written and the many I have had the honor of representing. Because …

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