Spring Time Pirate!

Yep, time has gotten away from me. At this moment, I have a few minutes to share what’s going on in this writer’s life.

If you were online and super attentive, you could have noticed a post a couple of weeks ago. When I discovered, ten minutes after publishing, that it did not post correctly, I took it down and did not have time to repost it. I’ll include most of that content in this post.

The super brief recap of the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference is:

  • It was amazing.
  • I learned a ton – especially about self editing.
  • I got home and got sick. I lost momentum to influenza.
  • Two publishers have expressed interest in Wil Clarey: A Kerryville Summer.
  • I have decided that I need to edit that manuscript further with the tools I acquired at the conference.

Then there is that “time pirate” called Spring. It has brought many good but time consuming projects. Since the conference, I have:

  • remodeled our powder room,
  • built a super heavy-duty bed to replace my son’s “heavy-duty” metal bed (that was broken in less than six months with his Autism related constant motion), and
  • started a Xeriscaping project in the backyard.
To get a bed that would stand up to a 14-year-old’s constant motion, I had to build one from scratch!
The beginning of our Xeriscaping experiment.

Blogging time was stolen by that swashbuckling warmer weather. Tonight’s sword fight with time won me back 45 minutes after editing to quickly get this out there.

The bottom line is – I am excited with how much better the novel is sounding! (better than this hasty blog). I am also a little stressed with how long it is taking. Mind you – not stressed enough to take any more time away from my family or to pay a landscaper. I appreciate your prayers and advice. And if anyone wants to come over and help in the yard… 😉

Editing the old fashioned way. It’s sounding a lot better!

There was one more part of the lost blog that I promise I will post soon. It will be a contest of sorts. Stay tuned and keep your editing skill sharp. Until then, enjoy the warm weather and family time!

Mount Hermon – Saying “Yes” to God

How do you return to your roots and move forward at the same time?

For me, the answer to that question comes in the form of the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. I write this at the end of the first day of the conference back at the desk in my room.

Coming here brings back a flood of memories as I worked here for a few years just over 30 years ago. I actually ran sound and made recordings for this conference in 1986, 87, and 88. While my professional and personal life has taken a completely different direction since then, I still cherish those memories.

Now that my writing has taken a more professional turn, returning here to attend one of the best (if not the best) Christian Writer’s conferences makes sense. Over the next few days I will make connections, be inspired, and further hone the craft of writing and editing.

Tonight we heard from prolific writer and filmmaker Bill Myers. He challenged us take a new look at our faith and to learn the exciting benefits of always saying “yes” to God, no matter how crazy His requests may seem. The stories of his experiences of saying “yes” when it made no sense both amused and inspired. You can find more info about him at https://www.billmyers.com/

The conference continues until Tuesday morning. I will endeavor to update you especially where it affects my writing.

Overwhelmed?

“Just one more thing and I’ll explode!”  Have you ever told yourself that?  Are you dealing with those feelings right now?

           While I am not sure I am quite to that point right now, I certainly feel like one of those plate spinners, running around a stage trying to keep every plate spinning for fear one will crash.  Even as I write this, I am prepping a computer for one of my daughters.  That’s after doing some clean up in the garage and a busy day at work.  Somehow, I hope to fit in a workout before I go back upstairs (from my basement writing cave).  I also need to sell an old car, remodel our powder room, hang new blinds and a few other things I am sure I have forgotten.

            Sounds crazy, I know.  The saving grace in all this is that I know that my stage is padded so if a plate falls, it won’t break.  What I mean by that is that I have taken the time this week to be with my wife and kids.  I haven’t come down here every night to write (that should be obvious by the lack of any recent blogs).  I also managed to get my pre-conference submissions completed and mailed (for the upcoming Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference).  I also know that if I don’t get stuff done, life will go on – maybe richer for the experience.

            That thought brings me back to an experience 12 years ago.  I was moving to Colorado from the Philadelphia area.  My ex-wife had decided to move away with my 7-year-old daughter.  My choices were an ugly, expensive court battle or move.  For my daughter’s sake I chose to move.

            My furniture was mostly junk so I gave most of it away and stuffed everything I could into and onto an old minivan.  I started out on a cold and wet late October evening knowing I needed to be to work in Denver by November 1st.  Five hours and 230 miles later, my world came flying apart along with the connecting rods in that poor minivan’s engine.

            Imagine, if you will, it was 10pm on a Friday night, 30 something degrees and raining, and ten miles from the nearest exit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Smoke was billowing out from the engine of the vehicle containing all my worldly possessions.  To say I was stressed is like saying the surface of the sun is hot.  By the time I got the van towed and settled into a quiet motel room, I had a simple prayer that I repeated like a broken record.  “Lord, I’ve got nothing left.  It’s all up to you now.”  I fell asleep with that prayer and I woke up with that prayer. 

            I’d like to say that God swooped in with a brand-new van and got me safely to Denver. Instead, God provided a mechanic and a used engine and 4 days of forced rest while I waited for it to be completed.  The van got me to Colorado a day late and more rested than if I had made it through on time.  I was blessed with a patient employer and landlady (I had to dip into my rent money for the van).  Then I was blessed with new friends who provided furniture (that money was gone too) and Christmas décor. 

            It was crazy for me to leave a good job to stay near my daughter.  It was crazy to try to move across the country in an old and seriously overloaded minivan.  And it was crazy good how God blessed me in the long run for making those decisions.  Twelve years later, my daughter has grown to be an awesome young adult.  I am remarried to an amazingly godly and beautiful wife who brought three kids that I have the privilege of helping raise. 

            My Christian writer friends are probably expecting me to quote Romans 8:28 and write about God working those things for my good.  That’s true, but right now life is kind of crazy.  Maybe I’m crazy – Crazy for writing.  Crazy for helping raise 4 awesome kids.  Crazy for teaching kids and youth at church with everything else going on.  That just points me to my favorite verse of the Bible – 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) – “If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.”  All I can say is, to God be the glory. 

           Let the plates fall.  Catch the important ones.  Spin the less important ones again as time allows.  And when it gets impossible, lean on the grace of God and He will get you through, bringing hidden blessings along the way.

Now to grab the plate of a workout and give it a quick spin…

Action Meets Theology: a Review of the 49th Mystic


It takes amazing talent to mix life-changing theology with page-turning action. That’s the kind of talent that Ted Dekker brings to the page in the first Beyond the Circle book – The 49th Mystic.

Set later in time than the Circle Series, The 49th Mystic follows Rachelle Matthews, a girl born blind in the isolated, highly religious town of Eden, Utah. Her eyes are opened in more ways than one when she is thrust into the middle of a battle for survival for both her world, and the world of the Circle.

I will admit that it took me a long time to really get started in this book. I was given a hard cover copy of it for my birthday (at my request). Most of my reading is done by audiobook as I drive for work. As this was a hardcover and I was very busy, it went by the wayside. I read a couple chapters here and there but, for the most part, it sat on the lower shelf of an end table in our family room.

Lately, I have had a little more time to read. Yes, I put aside writing blogs so I could read it. It didn’t take long before I was hooked and I found myself searching for those spare moments to read. In fact, I had to force myself to stop reading the second book for long enough to write this.

One thing I strive for in my writing is to be open about my faith without being preachy. Dekker has a unique way of doing this. In between the struggles and action, Rachelle hears of a way of believing that turns her world upside down. Dekker challenges both the religious and secular thinkers to open their minds to new ideas. The ideas can get a little deep at times but they integrate beautifully with the action to form the kind of genius plot line we expect from Ted Dekker.

It helps to have read the Circle series, the Lost Books, and Dekker’s other related novels, but the 49th Mystic will stand on its own. Brief descriptions are provided for the Albinos, the Horde, Roush, etc., but you may find yourself wanting to know more about them.

The finale of the book brought some parts of the story line to a dramatic and shocking close. Other parts are left so dangerously hanging that I had to immediately acquire the Kindle edition of The Rise of the Mystics.

Bottom line is, I highly recommend The 49th Mystic. It will both entertain and inspire. Like me, you may have to push through the first few chapters as the pieces of the story fall into place. Once you start to see it, the world of The 49th Mystic will grab you and not let you go until you reach its end.

Awkward Compassion

Awkward Compassion

My day job is in field service for a major copier company.  I arrived at my first call yesterday morning to the site of a fire truck, ambulance, and police cars in front of my customer’s office building.  There was no evacuation, so I went inside.  My contact informed me that someone had a heart attack and it wasn’t looking good.

What do you do at that point?  I was at a loss for words.  I somehow expressed my concern and sympathy.  I don’t remember the exact words.  I didn’t know the victim and my contact was only an acquaintance.  I tried to be sensitive yet remain professional as I went about my work.

My kids will tell you that it doesn’t take much to choke me up.  That morning, whenever I overheard sniffling and hushed words from the victim’s shocked coworkers, I had to force moisture back from my eyes.  I kept thinking about my wife’s first husband who died from a major heart attack at work.  Then I would wonder how the victim’s family was handling the news.  Some of the people around that office were not handling it well.  I wanted to reach out and comfort people, most of whom I didn’t know at all.  It was not my place in my role as technician.  It would have been rude to cross those social barriers.

That brings me to my role as a writer.  While my words may not bring comfort for specific situations like that, it is my hope that my characters bring encouragement, hope, and inspiration.  In some scenes, that could involve a strong emotional response.  I admit that some scenes I have written have brought tears to my own eyes (no tears in the writer = no tears in the reader).  My hope is that my writing stays fresh, interesting, and moving.  I don’t want to preach, but I do want to impact.

You writers out there, what are some of the ways you do that?  How do you pull at your readers heart strings?

Readers, what grabs your attention?  What moves you?  How do scenes like that affect you in the long run?

Feel free to link to book reviews that you have done that would illustrate your responses.  Let’s get a conversation going @solanowriting on Facebook and Instagram (links on the homepage).

PS: I have been encouraged to do some book reviews here (I read a lot).  Would you read them?

Learning to type again!

I could have titled this “Losing the fight with the garage door.” Yes, that’s what happened. Take my advice, don’t get your finger stuck between the sections of a garage door while you shut it. It hurts! And now I get to type with nine fingers!

Don’t worry, my finger will recover and so will my writing. I’m typing a little slower, but my mind is still churning out stories. I am having fun editing Wil Clarey: School of Hard Knocks. Keep checking my Wil Clarey page for excerpts coming soon.

Learning to type again reminds me of a time less than a year ago that I learned to write again. Okay, I never lost the ability to write. I just didn’t realize how little I knew about writing well. That’s when I attended an intensive fiction writing clinic at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park.

The tools I gained at that conference helped me to revised my first complete novel to the point where it is presentable to publishers. I am still developing my writing skills but I have real hope of publication now. Perhaps now I can concentrate more on writing good blogs.

This year, I confess that I am not going to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I still long to learn more to improve my writing. To that end, I have decided to splurge and attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. Both conferences come highly recommended.

My recommendation to writers, both old and new, is to seek training. There are several conferences, classes, and seminars available all over the country. Please share what you learn and where. I would love to hear about your journey as I share about mine.