Testimony: Sonnets for My Savior 2

Testimony: Sonnets for My Savior 2

Six Days

With words He took nothing and created everything;

six days, and all that was done was good.

The day, the night, earth and seas did His power bring,

six days, He worked and all was made as it should.

Vegetation and plants He made, which all yielded seeds

six days, which can be measured by the stars He also made.

Then He created the fish and birds and animals of all breeds;

six days, He spoke, and His work shall never fade.

Then He made man in His own likeness,

and gave Him dominion over all other creations.

six days He worked, and all was flawless,

six days He created with nothing but His orations.

He gave man and woman blessings of faithfulness.

Six days he worked, and He needed nothing more than declarations.


The Lessons From The Master

He promised the poor his kingship;

He said those who mourn will always be comforted.

He offered the earth to the meek of his fellowship;

Let our hearts and his lessons never be parted.

Those who hunger for righteousness shall be filled.

Those who offer mercy will receive it.

Praise our Lord Christ, through whom the prophecies will fulfilled,

To you, dear Jesus, and your teachings do we, your servants, commit.

He took the things said to those of old,

and clarified them so we may know

the truth and context of what was told.

With Him we learn and hope and grow.

Let us follow his teachings and commands.

Let us follow him, every woman, child, and man.


The Glory

To Him who saved the Israelites from the Pharaoh of Egypt,

to Him goes the glory always.

He is perfect and mighty; to Him goes the praise;

For He raised His son from Death, now empty is the crypt.

To Him who delivered Jerusalem in fulfillment of an oath,

To Him goes the glory forever.

His love and mercy always endure, come whatever.

For he is the God of jews and gentiles both.

To him who gave us the profits, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Moses,

God of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham,

He who judges and has mercy, He who curses and blesses,

He who granted Salvation, His son was the lamb,

the glory goes to Him who sees humanity through its distresses.

To Him goes the glory, He who calls himself I AM.



What a glorious thing I’ve been given

from the God-man incarnate from above.

It matters not how much I’ve striven,

Only His grace, which was given from love.

Even though I am undeserving,

He paid the price for my transgressions.

His care for me is ever unswerving;

All I can give back are my confessions.

He is my Savior for what he’s done;

His substitution is my redemption.

His blood and sacrifice my soul have won;

His death the key to my adoption.

I accept you, my Savior, in my heart,

With that and repentance my new life and sanctification start.


The Armor

Let us clear away our hypocrisy that we may fight free;

let righteousness cover our hearts, Lord, so temptation can’t get in.

Let your good news grant our feet certainty, so we won’t slip by a single degree;

Let us trust in you, and let that trust cover our bodies and keep us from the darts of sin.

Let us always remember we are saved, let doubt never enter our minds;

Help us to train, oh Lord, to study your word like a blade master trains with his sword.

Help make your word a part of us, for we know that he who seeks finds;

Let us recall the right verses when we face temptation; then victory over sin will be our reward.

Let us wear your armor, Lord, and never remove it;

Let us be guarded by you always and never let down our guard.

We pray to be alert, Our Father, lest to our own natures we submit.

We pray to be alert, Our Father, lest our walk with you be jarred.

Let us stand with you always and trust in your grace.

Let us wear your armor, Lord, and let us walk in the faith.



We are able, Lord, we are able;

They spoke to him to gain his favor.

They wanted the left and right seats of his table,
but they did not understand our Savior.

They did not understand the true cost

of service and submission.

He was about to die for the Lost,

and they would suffer on his commission.

They did indeed find the glory they sought,

but not before paying the price.

The value of service is what the master taught,

and they learned so well through his sacrifice.

Now we are asked if we are willing;

let us be so for all the days we are living.


Rule Us

Let us humble ourselves to your mighty hand;

let us strive first to be righteous.

To seek to do or accomplish for ourselves is erroneous,

for you exalt, in due time, those who do as you demand.

Let us trust in you with all our hearts

and think first of how to glorify you.

For without your will, there is not point in what we do

We seek your kingdom and scripture to be our ramparts,

Our own works count for nothing beside your great plan.

The true blessing is to submit and trust in your grace.

Let us do so, oh Lord, and bring you to smile.

For we know disobedience is where our sin began,

and it was obedience of your son on earth that this original sin is erased

because our own understanding is not worthwhile.

Failure is a choice; success is inevitable

Failure is a choice; success is inevitable

Greetings All,

I’m sitting at an airport getting ready to see the family. As I considered what to talk about (I’m a discovery writer at heart, so mosts of my posts are organically conceived if not written), I came across a post on FB about George Lucas and how he had to fight to get Star Wars out to the people.  THAT post reminded me of a conversation I had with my sister recently.

I think if I die, and anyone cares to throw out a quote from me,rock-climbing-155134_960_720 I’d like it to be this:

Failure is a choice; success is an inevitability.

At any point in time, an individual is free to decide he or she no longer wants to pursue those goals. The reasons can be disappointment or a new opportunity that’s of more interest, but it is the individual who chooses to stop.

But what happens to those who decided not to give up?

Here are a few of the (perhaps a bit less known) stories of those who didn’t give up.  My source for this is storypick.com, where you can find the full story here.

Brian Acton was turned down by Twitter and Facebook before he and Jan Koum built WhatsApp.

Steven Spielberg was actually rejected by USC’s School of Cinematic Arts because of his C average.  He took an unpaid intern job at Universal  and waited for his chance.  I think it worked out.

There are more stories. I’d be interested to hear yours (if you feel you’ve arrived) or another. There are a lot I’m aware of, so I’m particularly interested in stories people may not already know, but that doesn’t preclude you from placing whatever story of inspiration you wish in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.

Why is it, in stories we demand characters who perceiver through failure, but fail to recognize the lesson that teaches us. Anything worth having is worth working for.

The Journals of Bob Drifter Front CoverI’ve published two books so far. I’m not ever going to stop writing. I’ll either make it, or I won’t, but I believe I’ll succeed in time if I just keep at it. I believe the same of you.

If you choose to let go of this path, don’t choose because you’ve decided to be a failure. Instead, choose to move on to something new. If you look at it that way, you weren’t a failure, you simply found something more worth your time.  But if the thing you’re after means everything, I implore you to be willing to risk everything to get it. That’s my point of view.

So strive. Fight. Work. Do so knowing it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. You will get there, so long as you keep working.

Thanks for reading,


Book Review: The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

Book Review:  The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

NOTE:  As this is not fiction, I will not be reviewing it as fiction.  Rather, this is more a response and musing on this work.

The cover of the book is used under Fair Use for the purpose of this review.

The Problem of Pain was a gift from Quintessential Editor.

I consider myself a christian, though perhaps the worst I know. So any chance to read a book that provides insight is a welcome thing in my world.

This book approaches the overarching question of, “Why does God allow pain in this world?”

I’ve given a lot of thought about how best to approach this review, and I feel that the most appropriate way is to simply state what I agreed with, what I disagreed with and what my reactions were.

Perhaps the number one reason I am concerned for my soul is that I believe and know that God exists, and I am never certain if I’m serving his will (more on that below).  A simple search of the book’s title will reveal a quote from Lewis, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the wall of his cell.”

person-371015_960_720I will not use this book to prove my state of mind any more than I will to dispute the book’s content. I believe a man’s actions are either in line with God’s will, or contrary to it. A man may choose to go against God’s will because God granted man the power of choice. Yes, man can choose to refuse to worship, but that refusal doesn’t diminish God, it demises and condemns the man refusing. Here I feel it appropriate to mention that it is my opinion that the best way a man worship’s God is in living out his purpose. The fear comes from the line between one’s conviction in what he’s doing is God’s will vs assuming any man can actually KNOW God’s will.  This is an issue I would greatly appreicate more elaboration on.

Lewis mentioned mental pain.  I agree that mental pain is much more difficult to bear.  I have a great many memories of physical pain, but the trails which caused me the most despair and discomfort arose not from the physical injury of a limb or joint, but  from the wounds my heart has suffered. My point? I would happily surrender any sense, limb, or physical discomfort for the simple peace of knowing I belong. This does not in any way indicate my desire to encounter or deal with physical pain.  I’m so far blessed to have avoided extreme amounts of physical pain. I don’t enjoy heartburn or cuts, but those fade. I can not speak to the degree of pain suffered through some of the injuries I fear. All I can say with honesty and conviction is mental pain endures, and physical pain fades. A man can only endure so much in either fashion, but mental pain is, for me at this juncture of my life, much more challenging to bear.

My idea of heaven is simply writing. A pen and infinite notebook would do, but I’d get a lot more done with a lap top and an infinite hard drive.

I will not transcribe Mr. Lewis’s quote on heaven, but it is the core of what I found the most encouragement in.  It is the quote for which I will always bless Corey.  Lewis spoke about the “secret signature of each soul,” and that resonated with me.  I’ve spoken a few times. I have friends who simply don’t understand why I’m willing to suffer exhaustion, sadness, disappointment and despair.  For me, writing, the process, craft and creation of writing. When I sit and write, truly create, I feel as if that is the thing for which I was made. And that brings me to my fear and where I respectfully disagree with Mr. Lewis.

May God forgive me if I’m wrong.

The premise of this book is that God speaks to us through pain. While I respect and agree with a great deal of what Mr. Lewis said, I can not in any way wrap my mind around the idea that God speaks to us in our feelings. This may be the mistake that costs me my soul, but I do so in ignorance and not defiance.

heart-742712_960_720The quote reads, “We can ignore even pleasure, but pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

For me, to believe God speaks to me in pain (especially at this point in my life) would be for me to not simply give up that for which I feel I was made, but for me to feel as though God would use pain to teach me, or pleasure to reward me. I don’t argue that God is to us as we are to animals, but I think God, in his grace and wisdom, would find more effective tools to train man than positive and negative reinforcement.  For example, I’ve done things in life in which I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of pleasure, but even I’m aware of how sinful they were. I’ve done things I knew would cause me great pain. The pain in my heart that will haunt me until the day I day, which will HURT me until the day I no longer feel anything, was done because it was right. This is my anecdotal rebuttal to the idea that God teaches me through pain.

creation-of-man-1159966_960_720What I believe in this regard is that God gave us free will, and demands obedience to His will.  What pain I suffer I do not believe is God punishing me any more than I feel that the joys I receive are rewards. The blessings and trials I receive are for me to learn and grow from. They are, in my individual opinion, not devices of training, but tools for growth. I see a distinction. As a man, I just don’t want my dogs to pee on the floor. So we spank and punish behavior to correct it. It makes sense to draw the correlation, but I feel it’s misplaced. A man just wants his dog to behave; I feel God wants man to become. Man wants animals to behave as man wishes; God wants us, I believe, to become the works of art he sees we can be. This requires more than simple training, but teaching.

As I consider the act of free will, Mr. Lewis does a great job of discussing how that self-realization led to the fall of man, I feel free will to be both the requirement of faith and the most dangerous. Here, I come to my great fear.

positives-1306282_960_720My pain, in my belief, is far more my fault than God’s displeasure with me. My choices and actions have consequences.  The religious implications of those actions are not necessarily related to the earthly ones. But I do think about it.

When my sales are lower than ever, when I’m tired and upset, I pray. I pray, not as often as I should, but I do. I pray, and I think to myself, “is this really God’s will? Am I suffering because I’m refusing to see his plan for me?”

Sometimes I feel like the dwarves from the last book of Mr. Lewis’s famous saga. God lays out all those blessings before them, and they can’t see. None can see God’s glory if they refuse to see it. Am I refusing to see what is in front of me, or am I simply running, further up, and further north, to that which I’m meant for.  I simply can not know. All I can do is what I feel God wishes for me to do.

150912-n-tk177-008At this point, I remember the most important part of myself. It is when I write, that I most feel I am doing what I’m meant to do. Writing has nothing to do with being read or selling books.

The pain I feel is in regard to my sales and reviews. The lack of earthly success and monetary gain I receive from writing. Even all of that pain is as nothing when I write.

So I leave this blog where Mr. Lewis left me at the end of this book. The feeling I get from writing is like a lock, for which I was made.  It is a world made just for me. There are other aspects that I truly don’t enjoy, but only time will tell if they are tools designed to move me where I’m meant to go or simply trials that God is giving me to show me how strong I am. I can’t know God’s will. I only know the pure, unearthly joy I receive when I write. I will not proclaim my entrance to heaven because it is not for me to judge anyone, let alone myself. All I know is, writing is the closest (and infinitely farther still) I come to feeling like I’m in heaven, and so I will continue to do so.

Thanks  for reading,




Book Shoutout: Entrepurpose, by Rusty Pang and Brian Laprath

Book Shoutout:  Entrepurpose, by Rusty Pang and Brian Laprath

I’ve always said I love it when other authors get published.  These particular authors and this particular book makes me that much happier because Rusty is a friend of mine.

Let’s start with the book blurb for Entrepurpose:

Begin blurb

14680572_349703372032090_6956008003380102308_nYou are here for a reason. So, the question is: Why?

Entrepurpose is a book inspired by 13 intense years of struggle to find the answer to the question,

“Why am I here?”

That journey took me through three depressions, alcoholism, and unhealthy weight gain as I tried to reconcile my life without purpose.

Now that I know my why, I have experienced an infusion of life and focus that I have never felt before.

This work has become my mission, and I can enjoy it more fully each day. But, it came at a price. That price was 13 years.

My story is our gift to you.

Inside these pages are the tools and principles that led me to understand what I was born to do.

If you apply these principles to your life, you will begin to see that every experience, no matter how painful, is part of your strength. If you feel different from others, a misfit perhaps, this book will show you why different is better than better. Maybe, for the first time, you will begin to accept who you are.

Whatever the reason that brought you here, know that you are here for a reason. That reason can be understood, and once you know it, you will have a responsibility to impact the world in the way only you can.

Welcome to your rebirth.

End blurb

This book is already doing well, and I couldn’t be happier for the creators.  It reached number 1 in three categories: Business and Money, Education and Education and Reference.

What’s most important about this book is, it’s designed to help people who truly feel low.  All the feedback I’ve seen and all the messages I’ve read continue to say, “This is what we need.”  Every writer wants his or her book to have an impact, and the early returns on Entrepurposve indicate this book does that.

Now let’s meet the creators.

rusty-profile-webI met Rusty somewhere around two years ago.  We both teach at the same school.  Over the last few months, we’ve been working more closely as he’s teaching the same segment of the course I teach.

There’s a bond between authors.  They don’t have to recognize it or accept it in any way.  It’s a bond of caring for your craft.  You see it when they’re a bit tired the next day because they rushed home to eat up whatever time they can with their family before they toil away at another job that takes not just a great deal of effort, but an insane amount of mental energy.  I’ve watched Rusty as he’s pushed himself to share this with you.  It’s not just his story, which alone is something compelling; it’s his passion.

Every day I see him talking to people about personality types and how they gather information.  Every thing he does as a teacher is driven to understand how the student thinks and learns, so that he can teach more effectively.  I haven’t had a chance to read the book just yet (it’s next on my TBR), but his story and his effort to find ways to reach people are already strong motivators for me.

brian-laprathI haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know Mr. Laprath.  He’s currently a reservist in the Air Force, and any time I can help out a fellow veteran, I’m going to.  You can find out more about him on the Entrepurpose website.  That site also has a blog and a ton of information worthy of checking out.

So I wanted to take a moment today and share this with you.  As most of my followers and those I follow know, I love giving shoutouts when dreams come true.  I relblog posts where authors announce they’ve finished a book.  I like it when people achieve their dreams, and I wanted to share this achievement with you.

Thanks for reading


Caught is FINISHED!

Caught is FINISHED!

Caught CoverAfter more time and revisions that I could ever count, I’m so very proud to say that my second book is ready to send off for review and, more importantly, publishing!  I don’t know that this feeling will ever get old for me, but I plan to enjoy every moment I can every time I reach this stage.  About a year-and-a-half ago, I published The Journals of Bob Drifter. I had no idea what to expect, and I honestly didn’t know what I was doing.  I just wanted to publish my book.

Caught is different. I’ve mentioned a few times. It’s darker, but I feel like it’s a step forward for me as an artist. I learned a lot from Bob, and I’ll always be proud of it, but if I’m not pushing myself to reach new levels of skill, I’m going to be irrelevant before I’m even heard of.

This process is still going to take some time, but it’s a matter of weeks now instead of months.  I want to send it to some reviewers (Kirkus and Red City) for cover blurbs. While they take a swing at it, I’ll probably address some style issues and do another proofread. One thing I regret about Bob was not doing another proofread.  It’s a problem that I’m not sure I’ll let stand for much longer, but I don’t have to make that mistake with Caught.  So there will be a lot going on here in my life. I’ll be setting up my book for publishing, waiting for the reviews to come back, and taking that time to do another read-through just because I care that much about fixing any mechanical issues that may pop up in the book.

new-lion-iconI don’t have a release date yet, but I’ll announce that as soon as I get a few things figured out. What matters to me is first that my dream has come true a second time.  That doesn’t happen without God’s help, and a lot of help from some very important mortals as well.

I’d have to start here with my mom.  The reason for that is she had a nightmare once.  She told me about it.  I filed the thought away and the result is this book.  I love my mom. I think a lot of my creativity and drive comes from her side of the family, and this book is a result of her many conversations with me about stories.

Ben is my alpha reader, editor, best friend, and pretty much whoever else I need in life.  He is and will ever remain the first person I send my books to.  If I never sell another book (I’d rather sell a million), I’ll keep writing them so long as he enjoys them.

Rosa was the first person to read this book (and a very rough draft at that) after Ben.  I’d just gotten to know her and she picked this up to read and wouldn’t put it down. She took it home and read through it.  That was one of the first times anyone just read my work for the sake of reading.  It was a big moment for me.  This was before Bob came out, and I was very nervous about sharing my work.  She’s of the opinion this book was better.  I have a soft spot for Bob, but I’ll admit I feel confident this book is, at the very least, written better, especially after all the editing.

Marco Palmieri of Otherworld Editorial took what I thought was my final draft and showed me how to make these characters even more impactful.  He did this during an incredible transition in his career and some emotional struggles as well.  Even then, he and I sat over a phone call and hashed out the character and plotting of the book to find ways to amp up the development and growth of the characters.

Quintessential Editor did a few passes on my book.  He’s my continuity editor on this project, and I’ll keep working with him as long as he keeps putting up with my random messages and Naruto interruptions.  Corey, thanks for your unwavering support.

kaitlynPeggy has become a huge supporter of mine after Bob.  She’s read a few key scenes here and there, and I can’t wait to see what she thinks of the finished product. She’s a one-person sales and celebration team who I’ve come to admire more and more since meeting her.

There are more, but these are the people who I wanted to give special appreciation to as I head into the publishing process.

So what do you do when you accomplish a life-long dream for a second time?  You start writing another story.  I’ll plow straight into Sojourn in Despair so that project can be finished by deadline.

Thanks for reading,


The Battle With Discouragement

The Battle With Discouragement

social-1206612_960_720As I type this, I’ve sold less than 300 copies of my first book.  I’m ranked 532,049th among Amazon’s authors.  My sales graph looks like a jumbo slide at a theme park.

Writing a book is hard.  It takes time and effort.  Authors shove all of their heart and souls into their work, and they care about what they do.  Here I am looking at all of this data, and it can be discouraging.

This is not a blog about giving up.  If you’re reading this, and you think I’ll ever stop, you must be on my page for the first time.

What I’m trying to share with everyone out there is how discouraging it can be some times.  I talk to my author friends about it all the time.  This, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons people never write a book.  They see the completion of a novel as a step to success (the sale of said novel).

What I want to do now is share with you all how I deal with discouragement.  I’m in NO way an expert.  But of all the things that get me down, writing isn’t on the list.  Sales, marketing, and life, oh my do I have a list!  But discouragement can only win if you give up.  I’ve spoken about this a lot.  So what keeps me going?  What keeps me typing when I’m setting new all-time lows?  What keeps me marketing?

checkmate-1511866_960_720You fail when you quit:  This is something I was taught even as a kid.  To my own detriment, I’m one who refuses to quit.  I’m fiercely loyal.  I’m ABSOLUTELY dedicated.  When I say “I will,” I do.  So when I start to feel like a failure, I try something.  I try ANYTHING I can think of that I think will help me improve.  I try a new marketing scheme.  I try a new sales tactic.

In my life, I’ve learned that if you want to HAVE something, you must, in fact, DO something.  Now…I’m a man who like momentum.  I’ll take the longer, slower way to work if it lets me keep my car in motion.  Try though other friends have, I refuse to believe the answer to getting anywhere is stop.  The downside to this is sometimes that effort is misused.  I try not to waste energy, but in this, my nature trumps my actions.  Whatever happens though, the moment I feel low, I consider what I CAN do, and I do that.

memory-1010902_960_720Remember Where You Started:  Even if I NEVER sell a book again, I’ve still written a book.  It’s not easy.  You see, in reference to my earlier statement, I see sales as sales.  I don’t consider the sale of said book to be the goal of writing.  Finishing a book is the goal of writing.  Selling said book is the goal publishing the next book.  No matter how low I get, I realize nothing stops me from writing another book.

This does a lot for me in other ways.  Bob was my first novel, and if I had it to do again, I’d have waited to publish one book until I had three ready to go.  I had no idea how powerful having multiple products was.  I would categorize the decision as a mistake, but it’s not one from which I can’t recover.   Caught will help.  Maybe 1,200 gets me an agent?  Maybe the next book gets me on the NYT Best Seller List.  Even if they don’t.  The data shows having more books out helps you sell more books.  So even if I’m the worst selling author ever, I’m still an author.  As I type this, my book is on my little trophy case.  I get all sad and whiny, and then I look to my left.  That’s MY book.  I wrote that!

cup-1010916_960_720Finding Wins:  This is a harder concept to grasp.  For me, one of my most powerful wins is that the bulk of my readers like my book.  According to Goodreads, 95% of people who rate or review my book like it.  80% offer four stars or more.  Even the three-star reviews are very kind and usually have something very fulfilling to offer an author who’s having a bad day.  Another win for me is starting or finishing another project.  I can finish edits to Caught and tell myself, “This one will do better!”

comfort-536896_960_720Talking To People:  This is critical.  We writers can be pretty miserable at times.  We’re actually very fun people on the whole (well, maybe I’m not, but I’m not all that normal a guy to begin with).  The thing is we’re artists, and we artists are emotional beings.  I’ve had several conversations with all my writer friends.

Sometimes I’m there telling them how great they are.  Sometimes they’re around to remind me the same.  This isn’t just writing.  When life in general gets me down, I have friends that I can turn to.  Don’t mistake the desire to move on as “happiness.”  This isn’t a post about how to be happy.  I’m a fighter.  I am constantly fighting the me from yesterday, and I hate that dude.  I want the me of today to be better, and that’s a very hard code to live by.  But I find the strength and will to keep going when I talk to those I love.  Sometimes we bounce ideas off of each other.  Sometimes they just sit and listen because they know that’s all I need.  No matter what though, they’re there for me, and that means everything.

horse-746635_960_720So those four things are what keep me going.  I understand that one of them amounts to, “just keep going, cause screw giving up,” but it works for me.  My friends hate this phrase I quote, “I am Orwell’s Boxer, and I will work harder.”  But that’s me in a nutshell.  I’ll never stop.  I’ll never give in.  I may end up old and in a metaphorical glue factory, but I’ll never give in.  When I feel the temptation to get too self pitying, any one or combination of these things helps me get moving again.

What works for you?  Do you have some motivation that keeps you moving when everything and everyone says you should stop?  Share it down below or post it on your blog and throw up the link.

Thanks for reading,


(AFTERWARD:  The day after I typed this, I sold a book.  I also received one three-star review and two, five-star reviews since writing this post.  So you see, just keep going.  No matter how low you are, the only time you fail is when you quit.)

I, Writer

I, Writer

There’s a magic trick to writing.  It’s a sacred technique passed on from master to apprentice since time began.  This carefully guarded secret seems to be the great barrier between those who want to write and those who don’t.

I reveal that trick to you now at great risk to my own life.  Should these be the last words you hear from me, guard this secret.  There are anti-writing ninjas in the world who seek to take this technique, not for their own misuse, but worse, to destroy it thus ensuring the end of the line of writers.

When I was but a young apprentice, I had no real master.  I had to survive watching the battles of history’s greatest.  I studied all their moves.  I watched their fights over and over again, trying to find out what made them great.

ice-cave-1198591_960_720Whilst wandering the Earth in search of more skills, I came upon a scroll.  I don’t know how it came to be under a rock in a cave I didn’t realize I’d need to sleep in until the snow grew so thick I couldn’t see, nor do I understand why I bothered to glance at it before I burned said paper for much-desired warmth.  The important thing is I read it.

I unclasped the metal pin and stretched the parchment out before me, thinking to get more heat if I burned the paper in smaller bits.  I was shocked to read the title.

The Great Secret to Being a Writer.

This was it!  The secret to my greatest question in life had just fallen into my hands.  I unraveled the scroll, eager to read its many instructions.  I revealed a foot of the scroll…nothing.  What cruel joke was this?  Quickly, I unraveled more and more, equally desperate to punish whoever played this joke on me as I was hopeful to find some hint to how to be a writer.

I’d thought all was lost.  Then I came to the end of the scroll, and found a single word.


shou kakuI re-read the word over and over.  Was there more?  Nothing.  Who would waste so much paper for a single, five-letter word?  The excitement I felt when I saw the title was replaced by the need for self-preservation.  My body was shaking from the cold at this point and my fingers were likely to become individually wrapped popsicles.

I prepared to turn the scroll into a raging heat-giving inferno when I heard something clink at the core of the scroll.  Attached to the end of a thick piece of old bamboo was a metallic and ornate bulbous endcap.  I gripped it and pulled it away finding a single pen inside.  As I held it, I found another message.

“All you ever need to be a writer is something to write with, and something to write on.”

Indeed I was impressed at whatever master engraved such words onto this pen because I couldn’t for the life of me determine how so many words could be placed on such a small object.  Whatever the case, I understood.  I had received The Secret.  Not only did I receive the wisest word I could have ever behold, but I was given all the tools I would ever need.  So I obeyed.

I took the quill (It’s a quill now, cause that’s cooler.  Don’t ask how anyone could engrave on a feather…it’s a magic feather.  If they can make elephants fly, they can hold a single prolific message.) and wrote…

(Now that I have a magic quill, I can keep going…)

…at least I tried to write.  But where where my ideas?  Indeed my mind was emptier than a bottle of Vodka in Russian winter.

I froze.  Devastated, I told myself I could not write, because I could not think.

feather-310073_960_720“You gonna hold me all day, or do you mean to do something?”

I leapt from my spot on the moist cave floor and scanned the area.  Nothing.

“Hey, down here.”

I looked at my hand and realized my magic quill had spoke to me.  (See…I knew that’d come in handy.)

“Why aren’t you writing?”

“I don’t have any ideas.”

“But why aren’t you writing?”

“Aren’t you supposed to give me inspiration or something?”

“How can I possibly do that?” the quill asked.  “I’m a quill.”

“You’re a talking quill,” I replied.

“You’re telling me you have the imagination required to hold a conversation with a quill, and you can’t write?” it asked.

It had a point.

light-bulb-1042480_960_720“I still don’t have any ideas.”

“But why aren’t you writing?” it asked again.

“How can you write without ideas?”

“Well,” the pen said, as if talking to the dumbest ninja ever, “You should probably start by putting me on the paper.”

I shrugged, thinking, “Well, what could happen?”  I placed the metal tip of the quill onto the paper and waited.

“You do know how to write don’t you?” the pen asked.

“Of course I can write!” I replied.

“Then why aren’t I moving?” the pen asked.

“I don’t know what to write?”

“I can’t help you,” the magic quill with the ability to both write and display prophetic words of wisdom said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because I’m a quill,” it answered. “If you’re truly a writer, I’m all you need.”

scroll-1410168_960_720Frustrated, I stabbed the pen onto the scroll and started writing a story about an argumentative quill destined to help an aspiring author create the greatest story ever told.

By the time I finished scribbling, I’d run out of scroll.

“You’ve done well,” the pen said.  The scroll glowed red.  It became so bright I had to step away, holding the pen in the air lest it melt in the heat. Just when I thought the scroll would explode, a poof a smoke gave birth to another blank scroll.

I stared at it.

“So, um…” the quill said.  “Do you…do you need me to tell you what to do with that, or is that a too subtle a hint?”

Well?  Is it?

I write 1,000 words  a day.  Now I define writing as drafting, editing or worldbuilding.  Whatever produces words, I call writing.  When I first committed to that goal, it was miserable.  I didn’t know what I was doing, how to work, or even what the word “predicate” meant, much less where it goes in a sentence.  (No, seriously, I was 17, and I’d lived my whole life wanting to be a writer, and I couldn’t talk about writing using the proper terms).  None of that mattered.

hands-1369316_960_720I’d decided to be a writer, and I realized all I needed to be so was to write.  I started out as a discovery writer.  I just made crap up and wrote until it made sense to me.   I kept going until I’d finished my first book.  It was awful.  The description was lacking.  The setting made no sense. The plot was trite.

It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever made with my own two hands.

Then I took the hint.  I wrote another.  I learned the language of the craft.  I visited blogs and read books about the subject.  I started reading more and more (which I’ll discuss later).

old-books-436498_960_720I joined the Navy and learned how to be a journalist.  I saw a bit of the world.  I got distracted, but I eventually recommitted to what I wanted to be.  I wanted to be a writer, so I wrote.  I tried to save that first book.  I literally tried 21 times to make that book something ready to be published.  It’s still not.  So I wrote a new book.  I joined a writer’s group.  Those words came more and more easily to me. The more I wrote, the more I wrote.  The more times I typed “the end,” the more times I started a new book.

I have a challenge for you.  I’m not a magic quill in a cave.  You’re not a dense ninja looking for warmth.  But my challenge is the same.  If you want to be a writer, where, exactly, are your words?

I challenge you to ask yourself two questions if you can’t seem to put pen to paper:

  1. Do you really want to be a writer?  It’s okay if you don’t, just don’t complain that you’ve never finished that book if you don’t ever, you know, sit down to write it.
  2.  Are you having trouble thinking of ideas, or are you just afraid someone won’t like what you’ve written?  I’ve already given my perspective on what you should do with fear.

book-863418_960_720Everyone with a dream has that moment of calling.  It’s almost never some obvious magical moment in a cave with a magical, talking quill.  It’s hardly ever some wise old traveler coming to change your life.  The real world isn’t that kind.  The real world lets you do, whatever it is you want to do.

You can choose to write, or you can choose to (in my case at the moment, play video games).   But I started asking myself, “What am I doing right now that’s more important than writing?  There are things.  Spending time with family always trumps everything.  Video games are less important, unless, of course I’m playing video games with family.  I’m still afraid the Journals of Bob Drifter sucks despite the 4.21 average rating on Goodreads.  It’s natural to be afraid.  But if you want to do something, inevitably, good or bad, you do it.

man-1465441_960_720I don’t care what you write.  Just write.  I don’t care if it’s good; that’s what editing is for.  I don’t care if no one likes it;  write what you like.  Just write.  It doesn’t have to be a thousand words.  It can be a block of time or a smaller number of words.  But every day you write, you’ll find it easier to write.  I promise!  Every day you write, you’ll find you’ve written more and more.  I promise!

I’m not a writer because I’m published.  I’m not a writer because I’ve sold my book at conventions.  I’m a writer for one very simple reason.  I write.  Therefore, I, Writer.

So consider me your magic talking pen.  I’m here, and there’s a scroll open before you.  Is this hint too subtle?



I have a confession:

I’m afraid.  I’m afraid all the time.

I’m afraid I’ll never be a better author, so I’m writing at midnight.

11411687_10152795626552142_8556923609387053801_oI’m afraid my family will never truly understand how much I love them, so I drop  everything I’m doing to pick up the phone when they call or spend time with them when they ask.


150922-N-PJ310-002I’m afraid I’ll never be a good enough teacher, so I spend every day at work looking at
every mistake my students make and consider them my own.  I look at them and try to find a way to be better.

I’m afraid the mentors in my life will never know how much of an impact they’ve had on my life, so I mentor everyone who asks me what I think, and I do everything in my power to help them be better.

13450200_10207558565216811_3399308763271495402_nThat makes me afraid I’ll never be a good enough mentor, so I pick up the phone every time one of “my Sailors” sends a text, sends a message or calls.

I’m even afraid I’ll never find that one person I was meant to spend the rest of my life with, so I have this rule to go out at least once a week because barring God’s extremely kind will, the likelihood of her delivering my next pizza is extremely low.

I’m afraid that the crew members aboard the H.M.S. Slush Brain have welcomed me to their crew and I’m not good enough to be among them.  I’m afraid they’ve asked me to contribute to their anthology and I’m not going to measure up.

12118869_10153070475562385_5683470808026635644_nI’m afraid my friends will never know how important they are to me, so I never let them go.  Even if we don’t speak for days, months or years, I remember them, and I make it a point to be there when they need.  I’m afraid they’ll need me, and I won’t be there, so sometimes I just check in on them.

I’m afraid I’ll never sell a thousand books, so I plan to write 1,000 of them and sell at least one of each.  I’ve only published one book, and I’m already 200 sales ahead of my plan.

I have another confession:

I hope none of these fears go away.  (Well, actually I could do with a few of those being resolved, but I promise I have a point.)

I do hope I never stop being afraid because – fuck fear.

I’m up today writing at 12:30 a.m. because I’m afraid of never taking the chance to be better, and if I ever wake up one day feeling like a great author, where do I go from there?

I’m afraid every day and I use my fear as a target to pursue that which I feel is impossible.

This is for you.  I don’t know who you are, but if you’re reading this, and you think I’m talking to you – I am.  I am, and I love you because you’re afraid, and it’s okay.  I know I love you, because I’ve dropped all the other things I’m afraid of so that I can tell you it’s okay to be afraid.

Use your fear.  Use that fear to chase away everything you’ve ever been afraid of.

I’m afraid there are people out there who I have loved and will love my whole life that perhaps don’t even remember me, so I wrote a book to create a universe that reminds me nothing can break apart that which love has connected.

I’m afraid of being afraid, so I wrote another book about people who find superpowers in facing their fears.

street-sign-141396_960_720I do the things I’m afraid to do because if we never dare to try the impossible, we never achieve the impossible.  I do the things I’m afraid to do because if we never face our fears, fear wins.  I understand the paradox I’ve created.  It’s true.  Ultimately, I do the things I fear most because of my innate fear of failure.  So I’m fighting a battle I’ve already lost.

Fuck fear.

There are battles worth fighting, and I’ve come to believe that some of those battles must be fought even if those fighting already know they’ve lost.  These battles are so critical that the result means less than the need to fight.  I imagine people who fight what they see as loosing battles are terrified, but they fight, and every now and then, they win – even when they shouldn’t.

Use your fear to seek out that which you want most in life.  What is the thing you won’t give up anything else for?  For me, it comes down to three things.  My family, my students and my writing.   I’ve been told I’d be happier if I gave up teaching.  I’ve been told I’d be happier if I gave up writing.  No one’s ever been moronic enough to imply I should give up my family, so that’s something.

I would be more comfortable.  I’d be less afraid if I just let fear keep me from trying to do the things I’ve wanted to do, but I’m afraid of being a hypocrite.

I tell my students a lot of things.  I’m afraid they don’t hear me, so I say it over and over again, and I find different approaches to let them know all of these things I’m afraid they’ll never learn if I don’t make it a point to show them or teach them.

Fuck fear.

There’s one thing I say that’s the most important thing I tell my students, nieces, nephews, and everyone else I can.  I share it with you now.

I don’t care WHAT you want in life.  Just WANT SOMETHING!

Want something more than you’ve ever wanted something before in your life and don’t let anything else get in your way.  I don’t CARE what it is.  I just want you to find it and chase it until it’s yours.  Then I want you to hold tight to it because you’re too afraid to let it go.

accomplish-1136863_960_720One of those other things I say a lot is, “I hear with my eyeballs.”   I invite you to try the same tactic.  Look at your life.  What’s the thing you do no matter how tired you are?  Who are the people you make time for no matter how busy you are?  This doesn’t diminish the existence of other people or other things, it simply shows you what you’re really putting your time into.  If the things you want aren’t the things you’re doing, then aren’t you afraid you’ll never get the time to do the things you’ve always wanted?

Fuck fear.

Do those things.

My family loves me.  My friends love me.  They love me so much they worry over how hard I push myself.  I’m afraid some of them don’t understand what I’m really afraid of.  I’m afraid that God will call me home (or to Judgement) before I’ve had a chance to ask The Junior if she knows how much I love her. (NOTE:  The Junior is one of my nieces.)  Years ago I invented a game with her.  I’d ask her if she knew how much I love her.  She replies, “There’s no limit to how much you love me,” and I tell her, “Don’t you forget it.”

I push myself because I’m afraid my life will end before I write the best book I’ve ever written, and I’m always afraid the next book I write will be better than the next.  I’m afraid my students won’t get the information they need or the feedback they need.

Of all my fears, death isn’t one of them because as scary as death is, I won’t allow myself to die without doing everything I can to be the man I’m afraid I’ll never be.

It’s okay to be afraid.  Just, please, don’t let fear be that which prevents you from trying.  I don’t care if you’re trying to fly , and you were born without legs.  I don’t care.  Build wings, and take flight.  I don’t care if you’ve been told it’s impossible.  For those like me who are people of faith, only God determines what it is we can and can not do.  For those who do not believe in god, explain to me how we continue to do that which the laws of science once said was impossible.

Maybe I’m too hard on myself, but I’m afraid to give up.

Maybe there’s a better balance, and I’m afraid I’ll never find it.

I’m going to keep trying, and I want you to as well.  You’re scared, and I’m afraid you’ll live your whole life afraid without ever once realizing that we’re all afraid.  I’m afraid of living without the courage to do those things I’m afraid of doing.

Fuck fear.

I have one more confession:

cat-1551794_960_720I’m exhausted.  I wake up at 6:30 and work until 6:30.  I go home, and I spend time with my niece (I have quite a few of those) and sister (and even more of those) because I’m afraid they’ll leave, and they won’t know how much I love them.  I spend time with them until they go to bed because I’m afraid to miss one moment with them.  Then I go downstairs and I write because I’m afraid I’ll never finish revisions on Caught, and that makes me afraid I’ll never start working on Sojourn in Despair.  I’m so afraid that I write as I’m writing now at 1:15 a.m.

I’m not afraid of being tired.  I’m afraid of never taking the time to do all the things I’ve always wanted to spend my life doing.  I’m afraid of waking up well rested one day and realizing that thing I wanted was just one hour away.

Sometimes I lose.  Fear wins every now and again, but fear is my rival.  Fear is my nemesis, and I’m afraid if I slow down for one moment, I’ll fail, and I’m afraid to fail.

I’m going home soon, and I’ll spend every moment I can with everyone I can and I’m afraid there aren’t enough hours in the day to account for all the people I want to spend my time with.  How amazingly blessed I am to have that sort of problem.  This makes me afraid that I’ll wake up one day with one less person in my life I want to spend that time with.  I don’t fear exhaustion.

This is for you, my wonderful dreamers, because I’m just a man with a silly little dream.  It’s mine and no one else’s, but no one else needs my dream.  I want you to dream your dream, and of all the things it’s okay to be afraid of, please don’t be afraid to dream.  Please don’t be afraid to try.

Try.  Dream.  Fight.  In those moments of your life when you’re afraid you’ll never win, and no one is on your side, remember me.  Remember me and my silly little dream to do just any random thing that makes others feel it’s okay to dream.  I’m here.

I’m here for my family, and I’ll be here for them as long as God allows.

I’m here for my students, and I’ll be there whenever they need me.

I’m here for my proteges, and I’ll be there as often as they want me.

I’m here for you.  And on the way home from a writers’ group meeting I was nearly overcome by the fear that you didn’t know.

Fuck fear.