You can watch my interview with Tony Featherstone of the ASX at YouTube. We discussed what’s new in Top Stocks 2016.
Top Stocks 2016 went to the printer today, and should be in the bookstores in a few weeks. My publisher tells me that, for those in a hurry, the Educated Investor store – which for many years has been actively promoting the book – should receive copies a little ahead of other outlets. The store offers a mail-order service, and I see that it is currently offering, for a “limited time”, a 20-per-cent discount on the book.
Here are the opening paragraphs of the new Top Stocks:
Our stock market is volatile, the currency is weak and there is talk that the country might fall into recession. Yet the new edition of Top Stocks presents as many exciting companies as I have seen in 22 years of compiling this book.
Most of these are smaller or medium-sized companies. Some will be unfamiliar to investors. Yet all meet the stringent Top Stocks criteria, including solid profits and moderate debt levels.
I am a fan of the Seventh Dimension series of Christian supernatural thrillers from Lorilyn Roberts, and her latest, “The Castle,” is the best.
He finds himself in first-century Palestine and a witness to events surrounding the arrest and trial of Yeshua (Jesus). These scenes occupy roughly the first half of the book, and in many respects they are the most gripping part of the whole drama.
Though we know of course that Yeshua is going to be betrayed and convicted, we still share the profound sense of apprehension and horror experienced by Daniel as he watches the events unfold right before him.
At the same time, extra tension is injected to the proceedings because we are aware that Daniel himself is in danger, as he is wanted by the Roman authorities and has escaped from prison.
And in this superbly written multi-layered book there is even more. For overshadowing everything is our knowledge that present-day Daniel is searching for his father, who disappeared while on a business trip. It seems that perhaps he is being held in a mysterious castle, somewhere far away.
I enjoy historical fiction, and was impressed by the skilful way in which the author brings Palestine to life. One moment we are in a Roman prison, then we are in the temple in Jerusalem, watching Yeshua argue with the merchants. We are in the Garden of Gethsemane when the guards arrest Yeshua (and almost arrest Daniel). We are at Golgotha as Yeshua dies on the cross.
I was happy that the author resisted the temptation to hurry the action along. So we have time to look around, to hear the sounds and smell the fragrances. We feel we are there.
The book becomes darker towards the end, and without giving too much away, there are further encounters with Yeshua that are straight from the Book of Revelation. And here Daniel learns something about his father, and understands that he has been chosen for a special mission. It is a dramatic ending that sets us up for the next book in the series.
For self-published authors, Amazon reviews are important. Much of our business is done through Amazon, and it is a simple fact that readers check reviews – both the number of them and the average rating.
In the early days of the self-publishing boom there were even services that – for a fee – would arrange dozens, or even hundreds, of reviews for your book.
But Amazon soon realized what was going on, and took steps to remove such reviews. The company even started removing reviews written by the writer’s friends and relatives, though I don’t know how they discerned which these were. But I do know they removed some reviews that family members had written and posted for me.
I have never paid for reviews. But when I published my first book with Amazon I went to several writers’ forums and sought out authors who would like to swap reviews – I review their book and they review mine.
But I found it tedious reading books that, frankly, I found boring. They weren’t badly written, and in fact they weren’t bad books at all. But they were not the sort of novels I would normally read.
And then one author, with whom I had arranged a review exchange, wrote on Amazon, concerning my thriller “Military Orders”: “It is interesting to see that North Korea is now a Christian country.”
North Korea is of course not a Christian country, and I had never written anything remotely like that in my book. I do not know how she got that impression. But to see it in an Amazon review made my book look stupid. I contacted her and politely asked her to remove that sentence from the review.
Since then I have not tried in any way to arrange reviews for Amazon. I just take what comes, and they are very much a mixed bag.
So I was thrilled to receive recently one of the best unsolicited reviews ever for any of my books.
It is a five-star review for my thriller “Brother Half Angel,” from someone called simply Kindle Customer, and is titled “A new fan of Martin Roth!”
Thank goodness I have discovered Martin Roth! Just the kind of excitement I enjoy in a novel exploring covert protection of modern day Christians around the world. The storyline and characters were so real with a smooth flow from one action event to the other. Prone to keeping abreast of Christian headlines in the daily news, Martin Roth makes you feel as though you are living some of those headlines just read this morning. His sharp eye for detail allows me to appreciate my freedom and the blessings of my Savior. How often I do not thank Him enough when the God given talents of those such as Martin remind me how much harder I need to work to share the word of Jesus Christ. Fabulous story without being preachy. (Big smile….isn’t that just like Jesus to make it simple for us?) Buy this book today! On my way to download more adventures by Martin Roth.
Who needs to pay for reviews, or do review exchanges, when – quite unsolicited – I can get a review like that?
We hear horrific stories of how ISIS in the Mideast has been working to dehumanize children by forcing them to watch torture, beheadings and other gruesome activities.
But similar scenes occur in another place which also puts the lowest priority on our common humanity – North Korea.
I recall a television documentary about North Koreans who had fled their homeland and were now living safely in South Korea. At one point the interviewer asked a group of children if they had witnessed any executions. All responded that they had.
Sunhee witnessed her first public execution when she was nine years old. It was an exhilarating experience, like watching a movie in real life, and she recalled it often, especially when it came time for her own execution.
In a country where the primary entertainment was the cinema, mainly featuring movies about North Korea’s triumph over the imperialist United States, the Great Leader had added public executions as another means to keep his population docile. These provided drama while engendering fear.
Sunhee recalled that, a few days before the event, posters went up around town to announce that the condemned man had been convicted of stealing state property and had been sentenced to death. On the day itself kids skipped school, and Sunhee even spotted some of her teachers in the crowd. The location was a disused strip of rocky land between the railway station and the seafront.
First the man was paraded through the main thoroughfare of Kyongsong, the only paved street in the town. The excited crowd followed, growing larger as the time of the execution drew near. Sunhee recalled that at one time during the procession she was close enough to the man to look into his face. He was quite old. And in his eyes she saw not fear but indifference.
At the site a hole in the ground had been readied, and soldiers pushed a thick pole into this. The man was made to don a specially designed padded execution suit, intended to absorb his blood.
Then the soldiers tied the condemned man to the post in three places, at his eyes, chest and legs, and placed a large open body bag at his feet. Sunhee was near the front, with the other kids, hoping that after the soldiers had fired their rounds they might retrieve the spent shells as souvenirs.
Now the drama began. Three soldiers raised their rifles and aimed. Their commanding officer gave the order. They fired first at the eyes. The rope snapped and the man’s head collapsed, as if he were bowing to the crowd. At the same time his head exploded with a burst of steam and his brains cascaded into the body bag. A second volley at the chest sent him crashing head-first – or what remained of the head – towards the body bag. A final volley at the legs snapped the ropes there, and the entire body fell into the bag. A couple of young soldiers then swiftly dumped the bag onto the back of a truck, for later disposal in the mountains.
As intended, it was all quite theatrical. Sunhee’s two brothers later told her that this quick execution was reserved for relatively minor crimes. Those convicted of significant offenses against the state received a public hanging, which in North Korea meant a rope around the neck, then being hauled slowly upwards into the air and left to die a lingering, kicking, screaming death.
Father Douglas Bazi of Iraq was once kidnapped by Islamists. They used a hammer to break his teeth, his knees and his back. The torment only ended when his Chaldean Christian church paid a ransom to win his release. But he was forced to spend a year in bed, recovering from his injuries.
He is now working in a secure part of Iraq, in Ankawa, a Christian suburb of Erbil, which is the capital of Kurdistan. Though just 50 miles from ISIS-controlled Mosul, the region is well protected and ISIS is not deemed a threat.
“My people are still struggling,” he told me in a Skype interview. “I do not find peace.”
In fact, the sprawling church garden has become home to 120 caravans, most of them occupied by desperate refugees who were forced to flee when ISIS launched its campaign of subjugation and genocide against Christian towns. (Though when I refer to them as refugees Father Douglas gently tells me, “I always call them my relatives, never refugees.”)
It is among the caravans that he has launched a new school, staffed by volunteers and aimed at giving education – and hope – to some 200 youngsters, and to their parents as well.
Several caravans are classrooms. One is a computer lab. There is also a library. He wanted to take the children to the cinema, but it was expensive. So he was able to acquire a large television set, and now another of the caravans is a cinema.
“I want to give the children a future,” he said. “I want them to be creative. We must not transfer our hatreds to them.”
His programs seem to be working. Youngsters who arrive angry and aggressive have become happy, enthusiastic learners. Their parents – often just as angry – have found a sense of community. Some have refused to leave the caravans when given the chance to be resettled in apartments.
The students learn English, among other subjects, and Father Bazi has a request.
“I need books,” he told me. “Especially picture books for the younger children, but also books suitable for older children and adults.” Rather than novels he would prefer collections of short stories, as well as non-fiction titles with lots of illustrations.
If you feel you have suitable books that you could donate please email Father Douglas at email@example.com.
And if you are feeling especially adventurous, he also needs English teachers for two or three weeks this summer.
If you want honesty, then talk to some prisoners.
That might sound paradoxical. People in gaol have often been locked up precisely because of crimes that involve dishonesty.
But once inside they have little to lose. That is why I always appreciate the reviews I receive regularly for my novels from the inmates of Wakulla Correctional Institution in Florida.
I am part of a scheme run by the John 3:16 Marketing Network – a group of Christian authors – to supply the prisoners with our books, to be read and critiqued as part of a writing skills program.
The reviews are brutally honest, and certainly several of the inmates have not taken to my books. (See here, for example.)
But most of the reviews are generally favorable, and the latest two are quite encouraging.
Here is William K, writing about my thriller “Festival in the Desert,” part of my Brother Half Angel series:
Once again Martin Roth has accomplished an enjoyable and exciting read. The Brother Half Angel thrillers have been able to entertain and provide some education. The Christian population is always in need of both.
I enjoyed this book and the series. There is always a personal challenge to overcome and this book helps make the lesson enjoyable.
And an anonymous inmate on “Brother Half Angel,” the first in the series:
Brother Half Angel is the leader of a military order started in a South Korean church. The order is to help Christians around the world who are under attack. This leads him to a small seminary school in China. His methods are somewhat un-Christian, yet serve the purpose in the end.
This is fairly well written. The story is entertaining and I enjoyed it for what it is. There are a few interesting situations in the story that make you think and reflect on what others must endure in their faith. I would recommend this book to others that enjoy adventure stories.