Monday, July 10, 2017

Blog moved to WordPress

Hello, everyone. I have moved my blog over to my website on WordPress. The link is below.

Thank you for all your support!!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lessons Learned

It's been an incredible journey so far. Its December now, NaNoWriMo is over. The Five Barred Gate is complete: 70,664 words, 25 chapters, First Draft. Now to place it on the back burner and turn it down to a simmer. I have two trusted individuals who I know will read the very rough draft and take notes for when I come back to it in January. I am feeling a little anxious about it. How will they receive it? Will my thoughts be conveyed onto paper the way I wanted them to? I know, this being the first draft, it will be filled with spelling and grammar errors, plot holes, timeline issues, and boring dialogue. I have never just written without looking back and making corrections along the way. It was difficult at first, but as I dove into it and made the adjustment of throwing sand into the sandbox of my draft and remembering that I will build the sandcastles later, it became more natural. Then it becomes about reaching the goals. Which I am proud to say that I reached and exceeded.

I can't wait to get back into it in January. I miss my characters. I miss the little world I created for them to live in. Flawed as it was, for a month, it was home. I still have dreams about the town and the people. A couple of them I plan on adding to the story and give it more depth. I enjoyed being able to take those dreams and create a person and direct his path. I guess in a way Jacob is a child of mine. I spent more time with him in a month, than I did with David in "Waiting" in the year it took me to write that.

In the past month, I have learned some things I would like to pass on. Lessons on the awesome person of God. First, he can guide us to accomplish things that we look at as insurmountable. In the beginning, I doubted that I could write 50K words for a novel. I didn't think I could conjure up that much to sustain a story. I guess I should have learned from "Waiting." The original story was only 1800 words. But once I decided to go beyond the dream and to continue it, it turned into 6700 words. Three and a half times in length. And TFBG ended up being over 10 times the length of "Waiting." Challenging, yes. Insurmountable, not in the least. Once I became dedicated.

Second, I learned dedication. I have mentioned about the 21-day rule. I'd have to say that the habit set in much earlier than three weeks into it. I think it came when I signed up to do the whole NaNoWriMo event. I committed to the 50K in 30 days. The word says in Proverbs 16:3, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." And by golly, how he established my plans. I found the direction I didn't even know I had. True, there were times of severe writer's block. But to continue on, even when it seemed I was writing gibberish, I didn't give up. Dedicated to finishing. Sand in the sandbox.

Finally, I learned that I don't have to be so serious. I have been much like my main character, Jacob. He looks at things in life and finds the negative. He has a gift of perception, but as life happened to him, he became coarse. Instead of speaking his heart to avoid missed opportunities, he negatively spoke his mind, pointing out what was bad instead of what was good about a given situation. Writers are their worst critic. I have been critical about myself, my work, my attitude, who I think I am as a person, and where this new direction my life is taking me. God has shown me that it doesn't matter. None of it. As long as I am following the direction he sets before me, I don't have to be concerned about how others view it.

God has a plan for each one of us. Each of you reading this have gifts and desires to do things, and dreams. We are all in need of guidance to accomplish the things God sets before us. We all need the dedication to commit those things to God. We all need to learn to not take it seriously when others look down upon what we are trying to accomplish. I have no clue where this journey I am on is going to take me. All I do know is that I am seeking His guidance to lead me. I am dedicated to seeing it through in victory or defeat. And I have promised myself I will not take myself, or anyone else for that matter, seriously when doubt peeps out its little head out. We both can accomplish whatever we desire. Guided by Christ, Dedicated to His direction, Shunning all doubt.

A smooth path is not promised. It may be filled with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but with the Lord being the light that shines on that path, nothing can stop you.

God Bless each of you. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Short and Sweet

First of all, I pray everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I was going to skip this weeks post given that I was so busy with Thanksgiving and also trying to finish the first draft of The Five Barred Gate.Well, last night after my second plate of leftovers, I finished. After writing for 26 days and 68,270 words, it is finally complete.

I am relieved and anxious. Relieved that it's finally done. Anxious that I won't be able to touch it until January. NaNoWriMo still goes on for a few more days. During those days I plan to take some time and write out some of the ideas I had for revision. So I'm not really editing it, just jotting down things I am going to add when I get back at it starting Jan 1st. I want to be able to say that I completed the 30-day challenge. I met the 50K many days ago, but I want the other half of it. I also want to hit 70K. About 450 words a day. I did 600 today. So I will hit all three goals.

I praise God that he gave me the endurance to accomplish this. When I finally agreed to do this I was skeptical. I had only written my short story Waiting. That was 6700 words. That took me almost a year to perfect. And they wanted an entire novel in 30 days. I honestly didn't think it was possible. Mainly because of my schedule. I felt I would only be able to write on my days off because I generally work 12-14 hours a day, five days a week.

Well, Yes I wrote on my days off. But I was also encouraged, by Carolyn, to write a little bit on my work days. If it weren't for her encouragement, sometimes almost pushing me, to write, I don't think I would be where I am at today in this story. God has given me an awesome wife. She has always been my biggest supporter. Thank you, Babe!!

I don't know Gods plan for this novel. But I am excited at the potential it has. I feel He has spoken through it and I cannot wait to share it with the world. First, a few close friends whom I trust for an honest critique. Then, a month or two of editing. Then a final draft that I will submit for publication. Timeline, unknown. But I am excited about the journey.

So now what? What's next for me?

I honestly haven't the first clue. Start the next one, I suppose. I'll just take some good advice from a friendly fish, "Just keep swimming."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Setbacks and Opportunities

After a month and two weeks of anticipating a response from LitMag, I finally got the email about my short story "Waiting". A simple declination letter. The story did not meet their needs at this time. No real explanation on what that meant. I guess with so many submissions they are unable to take the time to let every writer know why, or what to do to improve for the next submission. It was a long wait, with a minor setback in the end. The good news is that there is more than one publishing avenue to take. So the first opportunity I had, I submitted to a different publication. Again, probably another four to six weeks. I guess when I am writing I should expect to do a lot of waiting. I should expect more rejections. Next time though I hope to get some sort of critique on what needs to be done to help the piece 'meet their needs'.

In terms of my novel, "The Five Barred Gate", and my endless pursuit for 50,000 words, I can say that it's flowing smoother now. I am having an issue of transitioning between scenes and creating a link to move from one scene to another. Once I find that link, though, the final scenes start to flow again. I also figured out how I want to end the novel. I am excited to get to write it. I passed the 46,000-word mark today. With twelve days left, one of which is a good writing day, I can see myself hitting the 50K mark easy, but unless I do some writing Thanksgiving night, or on my work days, I don't see myself completing this novel by the end of November. Which is okay. I will hit the goal of 50K for NaNoWriMo. That excites me. I've never written that much is such a short period of time.

I'm looking forward to completing it. I most likely have developed a habit of writing on my days off. I may just continue month to month with the goal of writing 50K a month. Not necessarily a new novel. Maybe more short stories. There are many directions to take. Many publishers who are looking for 5K or less short stories. Sheesh, with the way I have been flowing I could write one in a day. That would be interesting. "Waiting" was 6700 words. That took me months, probably closer to a year, to write and complete. To have a pattern of writing to condense that down to a week or two amazes me. And to reuse a word, it excites me.

Thank you as always for your prayers and support. I only wish I knew how many out there are going through this with me.If you are reading, leave me a comment of support or a prayer. I would love to read your thoughts and prayers. The one thing I am learning through all of this is the confidence meter swings back and forth constantly. Lord knows I've been on that rollercoaster this week.

God Bless each and every one of you. May God lead you to and help you accomplish your dreams as he is guiding me in mine. Until next week, have a Happy Thanksgiving and I will probably be in a Turkey induced coma but I will find the time to give you an update on the happenings of this would-be author.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Breathing Anxiously

Once I decided to answer the call on my life, and dive head over heels into this journey, I had mixed emotions. Feelings of concern about what I was going to write now that Waiting was completed. I had a sense of satisfaction that I finally had a completed work. I felt proud. (I am still waiting to hear about the status It's been almost six weeks. Should be soon, I pray.) The idea came for The Five Barred Gate from another dream. As I began writing it, I fully intended it to be a Short Story like Waiting was. But as I wrote, the story took on a life of its own. The next thing I knew TFBG reached the length that Waiting was. And I has just started to begin to tell the story.

That's when the idea for a novella came about. A novella is a short novel. About 30,000 words. A novel is above 30,000, generally around 50,000 words. Then a friend introduced me to NaNoWriMo. That target was 50,000 within the month of November. Knowing what I wanted to do with TFBG that journey began. Well, its been 11 days and I've had good days and bad days. Not to mention, that in all reality, I have only had 5 real days to write. During my work week, I work on average 12-14 hours per day. That doesn't leave much time in the evening to do much writing. But with some determination, and a supportive Carolyn asking me, "Are you going to write tonight?" I am much further than I could ever anticipate.

After today's writing, I'm at 35,800 right now. With 19 days left in the month, 5 more days off to finish this puppy. I am confident I will complete it. My concern now is that I will exceed 50K words. Not that it matters. There is no rule, in fact exceeding it would be better. The more I write, the more I'm falling in love with it. Sometimes the words are just flowing so well that I don't realize that time is passing. When I come across a period that I don't feel like writing I write.Then I fall into a rhythm and it's so natural. When I'm at work, I find myself driving down the highway under another load feeling anxious that I am not behind my keyboard. I came across this inspirational saying, it sums it all up:

As something Carolyn and I say to each other when we dislike, or in this case enjoy, 'I like this game'.

Friday, November 4, 2016

A correction, of sorts

Before I begin this weeks entry, I would like to take a moment and explain what you have been seeing over all of my pages. NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. This organization has been around since 1999. They challenge writers within the month of November to start, write and complete the first draft of a novel. 50,000 words in 30 days. With the new found passion I have for getting back into writing, I found the fit perfect for me. It's challenging and a way to help with accountability.

So far I have written close to 20,000 words for The Five Barred Gate. It's moving along at a brisk pace. I find myself excited at times, but also exhausted at times. Usually, around dinner time, I'm spent. I'm done writing. My shoulders ache from sitting at the computer, my mind aches with focusing my ideas and conveying them onto paper, but the sense of accomplishment is worth it. I am working on something here far beyond me. I feel that this message will grab my readers and not only teach them, but allow them to have a good time reading this work God is flowing through me. 

In this week's entry, I need to make a correction. I first stated that this journey began with a challenge from a good friend who wanted to start writing as well. I must refine that statement. While yes, his challenge was real, that is not where it started. It really started at the beginning of this year. It began with our churches yearly Vision Statement. Last year it was "Love Well, Live Well". This year it has been, "Fan into Flame".

For Valentines Day this year there was a chalk artist who came out to our church. He drew an amazing picture of the three crosses. 

He was using his gift for Gods glory. Through the next several messages we learned through the book of Romans about Paul and the gift he had of encouragement of those in the churches he was writing to. Now  we are reading through Nehemiah. He was called to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Using his gift of leadership and the ability to draw people together for a common good.  

While we all can't be encouragers or leaders, each of us has an inborn gift that God has given us. Gifts that will reach out to others and lead them to the Lord. Using these gifts is our responsibility as Christians. The Great Commission, to some, means running off to a foreign country and stand on a soapbox and holler at the top our lungs, "Repent and be saved!!". A little over the top, and for some, that may indeed be their calling. But with a calling, comes the gift to be able to do it. For most of us, being a foreign missionary is not our calling. 

So each of us must look within ourselves to find what God has called us to do. For some, they have an ability to speak clearly and convey the truth in a manner people understand. Those should look into teaching a Sunday School class. Some have an awesome ability to cook and love doing it. They could use their gift in hospitality. Cooking for shut-ins or to help those bogged down by life. 

For me, my gift has always been writing. When I saw the chalk artist complete that drawing, from a blank canvas to what you see in the photo, it amazed me. While I could never in 100 years do what he does, I'm not called to do that. It's not my God given ability to create in that fashion. Now, to put some words onto paper and to convey a message that is well received, and in some cases not well received due to a conviction of some sort, I can do that. Sign me up.  

Our theme verse for this year comes from 2 Timothy. Chapter 1 verse 6. The first part of the first says, "Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God that is in you...". Seeing him use his gift stirred up my enthusiasm for my gift. We often go through a message and get fired up by it. We say a prayer and even before we pay our check at lunch after service that fire that burned has calmed. One is often amazed to remember what the sermon was about in the first place. And yes, I was like that. And with the frequency my job allows me to attend church, it was easy enough to allow that fire to remain quenched. But it was still smoldering. It never died. This is where the challenge and the book about success came into play.

We have an amazing church. God has so many gifted individuals within it. Beginning with an unashamed Pastor who speaks the word God gives him, not a sermon he wrote. I pray those with the gifts they possess have been as impacted by the messages of this year as I have been. I am ashamed that its now November and I am only beginning to 'fan that flame'. Well, for some of us, our heads are pretty thick and it takes many different confirmations in our personal life, to get through the hard outer shell, and stoke the flame before it is set ablaze. God uses people in our lives to further confirm the calling he has on it. First, he used a Vision Statement and a chalk artist. Next, He used Jeremy and his challenge. Then he used Thomas Newberry and his book to further challenge me and help me see that the time is now.

And so I move forward with the reminder from Paul. The fire is burning, and I plan to do what needs to be done to keep it from dying out again. As always, I ask for your prayers that I lean on Gods strength, not my own, to get through this. It is exciting to be on this journey, but it's more exhausting than I have anticipated. That being said, I am loving every minute of it. Thanks again for your support. God Bless!!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dream Building

Back in 2012, our church purchased playground equipment. This was a large tower that had two slides coming out of it, a couple of poles to slide down, and monkey bars kids could pretend they were swinging over hot lava or snapping alligators. Four or five of us gathered on a Saturday to assemble this monstrosity. There were so many boards and bolts. It looked like a task that would take considerable time. As we started it didn't resemble what the box showed in any way. But the more we put those boards and bolts together, they began to resemble what we were striving to create. We didn't finish on that day and the kids would have to wait a little longer to enjoy it, but it eventually was completed.

I've experienced something of the sort this last week. I've been tirelessly clicking away on my keyboard in an effort to convey my thoughts to paper, well a monitor screen in this case. I have made excellent progress on The Five Barred Gate, the novel that I am writing. I completed two chapters yesterday and a little bit on one today. I didn't write much because I spent much of my time today building a website for Moments for the Heart. Just like those boards and bolts came together to form a wonderland for the children of our church to expend their energy on, today's website building put a few together within my dream building. Moments for the Heart Check it out!!

One other thing that put a slide on the side of my funhouse was that Carolyn helped out using her amazing talent of painting. If you have never seen one of her paintings, you are missing out. I had a picture in my mind of what I envisioned the cover to look like. The story behind the term in the title and someone searching for answers came together in one still photo in my mind. I quickly sketched it onto paper and sent it to Carolyn. She is somewhat unconfident in her ability, but I assured her she could do it. Well last night when she came home, she studied a little on how to do it. Then I could see the excitement in her eyes and she grabbed a blank canvas and her paints and went to work. This was the result, along with a little editing to only put up title:

Amazing isn't it!! It's coming together. God is blessing me with words and flow that I haven't felt before. I have a goal of completing this by the end of the year. I ask for your prayers for me to stay committed to this calling. It's pretty easy right now because the passion for writing is blazing within me. I thank you again to all of those who have commented and supported me. I look forward to the day that I can get this work out to the public.

In case you were wondering, no I have yet to hear about my short story that I submitted a few weeks ago. I'll be sure to post something the moment I receive news about it. God is soo good!! Go, my friends, chase your dreams. If God is for you, who can be against you?