Update

Well, our novella is working to some degree. After two chapters my visits have gone up. Special thanks to the real life Denton Wood for sharing the blog on his facebook page. Anyone can invite facebook friends to follow me and I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks to everyone who is reading along. Hope it is fun for you. We will be intorducing several new and interesting characters in the next three chapters.

I want to keep doing flashback scenes because I think it enriches the story. We dont need to just kill a guy and solve it bang bang. We want to know these characters. My grandpa had a fascinating life. Here is the one and only store that made up his little north Florida community. It is still there and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

This is the Fred Woods store and post office and it is not only there it has been in continous operation since 1884. My grandpa (whom I called Pop) was best friends with the store owners son Robert Woods. There was once a waterbody very near this store of nearly 100 acres called Fish Prarie. Pop told me that Fish Prarie should have been one of the natural wonders of the world. I will be describing if for you in detail in our book. What is fascinating is that just across Fish Prarie is a community called Cross Creek. Google Cross Creek and you will see an excellent movie by that name. The most famous resident of Cross Creek was the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. She wrote The Yearling which was made into a movie the same year as Wizard of Oz. My Pop met Miss. Rawlings on multiple occasions as his sister was good friends with the author. Rawlings wrote many short stories about the “Florida Crackers” an affectionate term for the dirt poor farmers (including Pop’s family) that inhabited the area and fought the tropical conditions there.

You have already met Cebe Leonard. Cebe was a real person although I have used a different name (also in tribute to a later friend of my Pop’s).  Cebe was a tall black man but racial lines were easily crossed by the two and they shared a mutual love of the outdoors and hunting. Pop told me of him and Cebe running through the swamps after a coon many times. I asked him once if he didn’t fear snakes or gators running around in the dark like that. I shall never forget his reply, ” Worried about snakes and gators? Aww naww. I didn’t have good sense anyway and I was about half wild.” Don’t you just love that? It was that love and skill with the outodoors that made my Pop love his work as a revenue officer. More on that to come in the book.

Escape

I have been holding back a bit on the political blogging. Just finished a column for Patriot Update which will have a political/philosophical bent. (Titled: Is Healthcare a Human Right?) It will be a two part column.

But I have held off blogging about politics lately. Granted, there have been things I have wanted to blog about every day: Obama’s blatant pandering to gay rights groups (there is that word rights again), his campaign’s tone, the great night last week when we ousted Dick Lugar, passed two marriage amendments, and watched with glee as a convict took 40% of the Democratic Primary vote in West Virginia to name a few. Still, I get a sense that people are at a saturation point regarding politics and all the scary bad stuff that is happening in the world.

After that author appreciation day last week (see prior blog post) something became apparent to me. With all the werewolf, vampire and wizard books doing so well, it must be that people want to escape. I can do that as a writer. I can transport the reader to another place and time. Only I don’t do fantasy. Never read it. Have never written it. Am not interested.

I can however take you to a different place starring realhuman characters. So I thought about trying something. What if we temporarily turned the blog into a place for short stories. Everyone is busy. Few have time for a full novel. So what if I do a little serial here on the blog. I will make it entertaining and give you a chance to escape for a few minutes a night or two a week.

Here is the deal. I will try one no matter what. But I am going to watch my numbers. I track how many hits or visits I get. I am looking for a number. I will keep the number to myself. If, after my first story installment, I get a certain number of hits then we will continue the story. If I don’t I will move on to something else.

The way that you can help, is if you like the first story segment, share it. Invite a few friends to read it as well. If I can get more than a handful of people to follow the story I will keep it up for awhile.

I will try to commit to one story per week beginning next week. Hope I can pull that off. So lets’ see if I get any response. I will prompt you here on the blog when the first installment of the story is coming up.

Skates On Writing

I am discovering that writing is no different than any other passion. Once it becomes business, it is difficult for it not to loose something. Today I was at Marshall County Library for an author appreciation day. The event was very well done and my compliments to the Library staff. They put on a first class event.

The bad news is, hardly anyone showed up. Granted it was a sunny Saturday afternoon but you have to pick a day and go with it and I assume people would prefer to get out on a day like today than a snowy or slushy winter day.

There were 20 authors and, excluding author family members and library staff, about 10 interested readers. I sold two books each at a discount to another author. It took me roughly 4 hours to prepare for drive to and participate in the event.

Unfortunately, this event is not an outlier. This is closer to the norm for writers. And that leads me to the business aspect. Writing for me, stopped being about just writing about three novels and a couple of short stories ago. You have to write, get published, market your fingers to the bone and then try to write anew.

The marketing part is the most frustrating and incredibly time consuming. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, calls to media and follow up calls, and follow ups to those follow ups, and about 100 (literally) emails per interview opportunity, all take up time and energy.

I have been trying to write a sequel to Going Green and quite frankly I am doing a TERRIBLE job this time. I write a weekly column now. That gives me exposure which is good, but it requires research which is bad. Word limits can be a challenge. It takes me much longer to write 750 words on a topic than it does 1500 words on the same topic. I can usually explain a concept in great detail. Trouble is, nobody has time to read that much explanation. So editors like word limits. To write succinctly is much more difficult for me and more time consuming. All that being said, writing time on my new novel suffers.

Today was….shall we say interesting. Of the 20 authors, 10 were writing on the occult, vampires, werewolves, wizards…not my bag. But BOY is this stuff popular now. If only I had made Ashley a wizard. Meanwhile, one author had just signed a 6 book deal with Simon and Schuster. I have to wonder if I will EVER sign one of those. Yet I would not be interested in that authors type of stories. I cannot come to terms with why so many people are into this genre but it is a multi-million dollar genre so I guess I am the oddball.

I sense that people want to escape. It’s enough to make a writer want to go back to writing humor. I have felt so serious lately I am not sure if I have a whole book of funny in me anymore.

A quick note. Two people were out of place today. I say that in that they were above the rest of us. Their stories were higher. Their stories were greater. Missy Jenkins was there, courageous survivor of the Heath Shootings, as was Beth Baker.

Missy wrote a book titled “I Choose To Be Happy”, Beth wrote, “Giving Him Back To God” about the loss of her little boy Caleb. I was honored to appear with these authors and have written them both a note of encouragement. No one moved any books today and that can be depressing. But these ladies in particular deserved better.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone was extremely nice and the library staff was wonderful. They have no control over public interest. MAN this is a tough business.

Shennandoah

This is submitted as a column on Patriot Update. I am not supposed to post it yet because they have not ran it. But I am going to go ahead here on the blog. Please dont copy or forward so that I don’t cause them problems.

Shenandoah!

This was supposed to have been romantic. Instead not much had gone right and we were riding as far apart as we could possibly get without falling out of the car. We were both thinking the same thing, “Isn’t this typical of our lives?” Neither of us had said much but my wife and I were thoroughly annoyed with one another. And yet here we were, returning to the scene of the crime.

We were driving along the Shenandoah Skyline Parkway in Shenandoah National park. Twenty-two years prior we had camped here on our first vacation. My wife was six months pregnant at the time with our daughter. It was a camping vacation, not because we loved camping in a tent, but because we couldn’t afford hotels. That vacation had culminated in a miserable night of a torrential downpour, a soggy bologna sandwich, and a tent invasion perpetrated by what we thought was a bear but turned out to be a raccoon. It took a long time for us to reach the, “we will laugh about this someday stage,” but we eventually did.

Now, we were in Shenandoah once again for the first time since that night. The day was bright and sunny with only a few fluffy white clouds. I was pleasantly surprised that my wife, not an out-doorsy kind of gal, wanted to go for a hike. As we walked we held hands for balance. We did so reluctantly. Finally we reached a beautiful waterfall. However, just as we began to enjoy the view, a menacing rumble of thunder drew our attention skyward. A threatening black cloud was coming over the nearby peak where moments before only blue sky had been.

A soft mountain shower that evoked nostalgic stories of our raccoon adventure rapidly became much more. First, the rain came down harder, and then the lightning began. Lightning would strike seemingly right beside us with horrible claps of thunder following instantly. The deep valley we were in created an echo affect and magnified the intensity.

One particularly terrifying strike elicited a scream from my wife. She began to cry.  She was beyond frightened at this point. And in that instant, in that peal of thunder, a spell was broken. Suddenly gone were thoughts of, “Oh great, typical for us, another trip turns to disaster.” Gone was my frustration. As my wife clasped her hands to her mouth, I could see that they were shaking. In that moment reality hit me hard, “This woman is my wife, she gave me my daughter and son and I love her very much.” From that point, my entire focus was to nurture her through this and help us get safely back to the car.

I prayed silently, for it is beyond my power to protect us from that which is so much larger than ourselves. Now I held her hand tighter than before. Unfortunately, with the rain, each step on the trail was steep and slippery. Despite wanting to run madly from the lightning we had to be careful and methodical.

On and on we walked, step after careful step and as we did, I came to a realization. This hike was a metaphor for life. In life’s journey, we only see the steps as we are taking them, some more hazardous or frightening than others, some quite easy. Then, suddenly it seems, we reach a point where we look back and only then realize we have climbed a great mountain.

As a couple, our journey began twenty two years before on that soggy night in a tent and then… step-a few weeks later our daughter was born. Step- we worked hard and bought a house. Step-(this one is really steep and slippery) our son was admitted to Intensive Care with a life threatening respiratory illness. He was only eight weeks old. Step-he runs track now and will enroll in Seminary soon.

Life is like that and our hike was like that, one careful step followed by another. After four hours and with both of us soaked, we finally heard a car. We were within yards of the parkway. It was only after we completed the long treacherous “step-at-a-time” hike that we reached the mountaintop. Only then were we able to look back and see what we had accomplished together.

We turned and took in a breathtaking view. The fog was lifting down in the Shenandoah Valley and though it was still dark and cloudy at our elevation, the sun’s rays were bursting through to bathe the valley below.

And that is where we are now, fellow patriots. Our nation truly is in crisis. We are all, each of us, on a socio-political path that is unfamiliar and treacherous. If we are not careful, the challenges ahead will embitter us. They will drive us to forsake that which is truly important. We must resist this.

Perhaps we have never walked this trail before but we have walked other difficult trails many times. Now, with God’s guiding hand and unyielding diligence and dedication to the principles of liberty and freedom we must walk step by step in the direction that we know is right. Sometime, perhaps soon, we will look back and see clouds lifting, bright sunshine breaking through and we will be amazed at the mountain we have climbed.

 

This and That

I didn’t mean to be gone this long from the blog. It seems lately that time management has been a challenge.  With my work on articles for both The Cornwall Alliance and Patriot Update I just haven’t had much blogging time, even though there is much going on in the world that I would like to comment on. A few brief comments:

A week ago I did the Wednesday evening service at my church. I spoke on Christianity in China and the Chinese Communists rejection of Christianity. I highlighted some atrocities toward the Chinese people. One of the things I talked about was the one child policy. Now just a few days later we see a blind activist seeking asylum. He was in conflict with the Communists because he had protested this policy wherein more babies are aborted each year than are born. As this administration so often does, it looks like the cowardice will blow this for him and his family. I will be shocked if we see him alive past Friday. If we do it will be because the Communist Regime does not want bad press in America when we are spending 350 billion dollars a year on Chinese made products. It certainly won’t be because of Courageous diplomacy. Hillary never should have let this man out of her site once he sought Asylum in our embacy. Now we have no control over what happens to him and we look like a fool.

I posted more pictures of our Shenandoah adventure on Facebook. Here are two. Then below those is one of Nathan at the end of a great hunt we enjoyed together.

I am working a little more diligently lately on what will be my fourth manuscript and hopefully my fourth novel. To date we have not been able to get The Tower published. This current manuscript will be a sequel to Going Green. I don’t have a title yet and really have not developed the story, but stay tuned and I may post some teasers.

 

 

Shenandoah!

Twenty two years ago, Tracy and I had one of our greatest misadventures in the Shenandoah National Forest. She was 6 months pregnant and the adventure involved torrential rain, a tent, and a bear. (sort of)

Now all these years later we returned to the scene of the adventure. Writing this from a hotel in West Virginia. Suffice it to say, history repeated itself. I am too tired and the stories are too good to short change them here. Pictures and possibly video to follow.

Regarding the Cornwall Alliance dinner, it was a nice event. Not only that, I do believe the Lord was at work once again as it relates to possible future growth for my writing. Time will tell.

It’s Mitt

This time last year I was sitting in a packed auditorium in Phoenix AZ watching Herman Cain walk out to a rousing ovation. I was in attendance at the first National Tea Party Convention. At that time, with all that enthusiasm, At that time I was certain that THIS TIME we would surely get a strong conservative as our nominee. I never would have imagined that Mitt Romney would be our nominee.

But he is.

That being said, we had better all put out of our mind now, the attitude of “I won’t hold my nose and vote for another moderate.” Romney was my next to last choice in the field. I didn’t want him. But we have got him now and he has one giant thing going for him….he is not Barack Hussein Obama.

I have really wanted to blog more lately. But time has just not permitted me to. I have two more articles being published this week and writing and researching these takes time. I would like to articulate here why it is absolutely critical that Obama be defeated at the ballot box. Suffice it to say for now that we must support Romney.

If we can get Romney in office and along with that a Conservative controlled congress (we must win the Senate back) we will be infinitely better off than we are now.

As soon as I have time, I will post a list here of Senate candidates that I am excited about. Maybe we can send them ten bucks or so apiece.

We can turn this nation around. But it starts, like it or not, with Romney.

It’s Easter, So What’s the Big Deal?

This morning the World asks us, “What’s the big deal with Easter for you Christians?” We might answer, “The big deal is, He is Risen.” Their response would likely be, “He is Risen….so what?” How would you answer?

You see, out of all the other religions all over this big world, not one other leader of those religions even dares CLAIM to have conquered death. Christ, the Prophet, Priest and King, not only did it. He told everyone that he would do it. The Pharisee’s knew he had claimed it that is why they posted a guard. They expected some type of ruse so that Jesus’ disciples could not move the body and “claim” he had risen. I am not going to play Perry Mason with you. I am not going to talk about the seal around the stone, or how heavy the stone was, or how diligent the guards were. If you are reading this, you know all that. You know in your heart that it is true. Christ is Risen!!

I believe that Christ didn’t just rise in the Spring because nature was such a fitting metaphor, with all its new blooms, brilliant greens, baby birds, and new births this time of year. I believe that Spring itself was CREATED as a methaphor for Christ’s resurrection which was foretold in the garden. I believe that Spring is Spring precisely because He is Risen.

If He be Risen then he really did conquer death.

Because he conquered death we can too.

If He be Risen then He was and is EXACTLY who he said he was. ALL that he said he was.

If He be Risen then there is a reason for the Old Covenant and the Law.

For if he had not been risen then there would have been no need for God to give the law because there would have been no need to show us the futility of the law. All would have been hopeless.

But because He is Risen then thereason for the law is validated and because He is Risen the law is fulfilled!

Because He is Risen every word he spoke, every lesson he taught…IS….TRUTH!

He is Risen, therefore we can be reconciled to the Father.

He is Risen, so in the final analysis elections, economies, crime, wars, famines, pestilence,and yes even death,  all have one thing in common, They are beside the point for the Christian. They hold no power over us. Not because we are so great or better than anyone but because He is so great.

He is Risen!! So What…..

SO EVERYTHING!!!