Sunday, September 30, 2018

‘Tis a Season

     What is your favorite season?  I have to admit that Fall is not mine.  That title goes to Spring, with its new life and lengthening days.  Still, there are many things that make Fall special.

     I’m not talking about pumpkin spice, although I love a good pumpkin pie.  I’m talking about a little bit more significant things like the fact that all my daughters were born in Autumn.  It was in the Fall twelve years ago that I moved to Colorado.  My second book takes place in the Fall (and just a little in Winter).  

     I will admit that I am a sucker for Fall festivals and a nice big Thanksgiving dinner compete with parade and football watching.  Watching the kids jump in a big pile of freshly raked leaves also warms my heart.  It is with childlike joy that I spend the latter part of Autumn putting up as many lights as I can find on the outside of the house to shine forth the joy of Advent.

     Despite all these wonderful things I find I must fight a little depression in the Fall.  I thrive on daylight and the fall steals a little of that each day.  I am reminded that it was in the Fall 13 years ago that my first wife announced that she was leaving me.  It was also in late Fall that my amazing current wife lost her first husband to a heart attack.

     The one constant in Fall, and all the seasons for that matter, is change.  Some good, some not so good.  In the not so good, I remember that Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever.  

     This Wednesday I get to teach our church’s youth group, The Refuge.  We will be studying the 8th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  It is one of the most encouraging chapters in the whole Bible.  I highly recommend it, especially if you are struggling.  It reminds us that, no matter our problems, God can make good come from them.

     I wrote a short piece of fiction to read to the students.  I will share that with you later this week along with a bit of my autumn history.  Until then, sit down with your pumpkin spice latte and watch the brightly colored leaves fall as you enjoy the benefits of fall.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hard to Write Hard Knocks

     Tonight, I tried out my new writing nook.  The board above me will support the town of Kerryville on the Kerryville & Pacific (HO scale model) Railway.  I made the platform above me high so I could have this little writing space.

     It is nice to have a quiet private spot to write, especially tonight.

     I am in the process of refining Wil Clarey: School of Hard Knocks in preparation for writing the last several chapters during NaNoWriMo.  Tonight, I rewrote much of the chapter entitled "Hard Knocks".  It has been a hard chapter to write.  I hope it will be a hard chapter to read.  

     I have heard it said that if there are no tears in the author, there will be no tears in the reader.  Honestly, I am taking these few minutes to write this so my eyes aren't so red when I go back upstairs (my nook is in the basement).

     I have been fortunate to not have to live through what I just put Wil Clarey through, but we all have our Hard Knocks.  At this point in the story, Wil has to decide how to deal with his.  How do you deal with yours?  Do you wallow in self pity?  Do you burst forth in anger?  Do you seek healing?  

    I know of one local family who lost their child through murder.  I will forever be impressed at how they not only sought healing, but offered forgiveness to the murderer.  I hope I never find out what that is like.  I also hope that I would have that strength of character!

     Don't worry, Wil does not go through the same situation.  I just recall it as being an amazing example of forgiveness.  I will not be sharing that chapter apart from the whole book as it is pivotal (hence the chapter and book titles being so similar).  Let's just say that Wil may have to draw on some of that strength of character.  May we all be that strong when hard knocks come our way.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Blazing Urge to Write

       Thirty years ago, I ran sound for Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center.  In that capacity, I met a number of amazing people.  During their annual Christian Writer’s Conference one year, a familiar face stood out. 

I had already met this person through one of his sherpas.  He led an expedition program in the Sierras and my friend Danny worked for him.  One day, while visiting Danny up at Bass Lake, CA, he introduced me to Tim Hansel.  

I did not realize that Tim was a writer.  At the time, he had a popular book call “You Gotta Keep Dancing” (still available on Amazon).  In it he explains how he can keep choosing joy in the midst of chronic severe pain.  That book has brought encouragement to thousands of people, including myself.

As a speaker at the conference, he related his story.  Then he explained that, in the midst of his pain and his busy schedule, he had a “blazing urge to write.”  He HAD to write.

It has never been that way with me.  Writing has been an outlet for my overactive imagination.  For me, writing can be hard.  I enjoy writing, but it is work.  As you may have guessed by the length of time between my blog posts, I do not write everyday.  In fact, this post has taken me two days of writing between other tasks to complete.

I do read almost everyday.  Well, at least I listen to a lot of books since I drive a lot.  Recently, Overdrive, the library app that I use to listen to library books, suggested “The Forgotten Road” by Richard Paul Evans.  It was riveting.  For many, I am sure it was life changing.  It is fiction.

As a writer of fiction I can’t tell you how encouraging that is..  It is my hope that my writing will influence people.  Wil Clarey was created to encourage and educate.  That now drives me to write more and to pursue publication.  I am closer than ever to having that “blazing urge to write.”

        Do you have that blazing urge to write?  Or paint, or sing, or any other form of expression?  Join me in fanning that flame to a blaze.  Let’s express ourselves in such a way that we will improve our world!

That said, I will let you in a a couple of personal writing goals.  First, it is my goal to have the first draft of “Wil Clarey; School of Hard Knocks” completed by the end of November (with the close of NaNoWriMo – more on that later).  Second, I have decided to start with Kindle publishing for “Wil Clarey: A Kerryville Summer.”  I don’t have a timeline yet for that.  I am working with an artist for the cover.  Once that is done, I can upload everything but I want it to be as good as possible before it goes public.

Thank you all for your continued support!  Please pray for me as I pursue this growing urge to write.  I will pray for you as express your passions through your writing and other forms of art.  Let that fire in you grow and blaze on!


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Random sample from School of Hard Knocks

I know that my writing time is going well when I look up from my laptop and notice that I am sitting in the dark.  I sought the quiet and fresh air of our sun porch this evening to continue my polishing of Book 2 - Wil Clarey: School of Hard Knocks.  I had such fun with the scene that I didn't notice night fall around me.  I thought I would share most of it with you tonight.  I will admit that I left the ending of the chapter off (insert maniacal laugh here).  I didn't want to completely spoil it for you.

Here you go: (warning - I have not edited it for errors so be patient if it is not perfect).

Chapter 12 - Towing the Type Three

“What’s going on here?”  I looked at my grandparent’s driveway, crowded with a big flat trailer attached to Mr. Vaughn’s big pick up.

Mom got a funny smile.  “Good question.  Let’s find out.”  She squeezed her new car, a small Chevy SUV (a “cute ute,” she calls it) around the truck and parked by the back door.
I had been working on the farm Saturday’s and Grandpa was paying me!  I now had a savings account with quite a few dollars in it.  At least it seemed like a lot to me.

It was the Saturday before my birthday.

Hannah came bounding out of the kitchen with a big grin on her face.  “Hi Wil!”

Even as dense as I could be, I could tell she was hiding something.  Her smile was way too big.  “What’s up?” I asked.

“You’ll see,” was all she said as she led me into the kitchen.

“What’s up?” I asked Grandpa.

He was at the kitchen table drinking coffee with Ken Vaughn.  “We have a big clean up job for you today, Ken and I are gonna help this time.”

“Hey, don’t forget me, I get to help too!” Hannah put her hands on her hips.  “I already filled the air tank.”

“Huh.”  My confused look must have been amusing because Mr. Vaughn and Grandpa chuckled.

“You get the first part of your birthday gift today.  We planned on doing this next weekend, but Ken wasn’t available then and we need his trailer.”

A light bulb started to light in my head.  Could it be?  Is Grandpa giving me the old car in the woods?

Grandpa confirmed my thoughts, “There’s a 1972 VW Squareback sitting in the woods with your name on it.”

Hannah came up close to my ear.  “I told you that you need to start working on it for our first date when we’re 16.”   

My mind was a whirl.  Part of me was a little weirded out by Hannah’s whispered comment (just a little).  Part of me was excited about getting the car.  Part of me was overwhelmed by the thought of getting that pile of rust running.  If nothing else, I could sit in it if we brought it to our house.  “Where are we putting it?” 

“You have that little garage below your mom’s room.” Grandpa explained.  “Your mom and I discussed it.  She doesn’t mind you keeping it in there as long as you actually work on it.” 

“Are you kidding me?  I’ll work on it every day!”

“You can start by putting some air in the tires and see if they’ll hold air while we get the trailer in position.  Make sure you put a rock or a log in front of it in case it wants to roll away on you.” 

Hannah and I headed to the woods carrying the air tank with us.  Grandpa had already cleared the berry bushes from around the car.  I put a little air at a time in each tire.  I had a feeling that the tank did not have enough air to completely fill all the tires.  It turned out that there was just enough to get each tire about three quarters full.  That was enough. 

I sat in the driver’s seat and put my foot on the brake pedal.  It went straight to the floor. 

I rolled down the window as Grandpa approached.  “I don’t think the brakes work.”

“Pull the parking brake and see if it works.”

I did, and it stopped halfway up.  “I think it works.”

“Let’s give it a try.  Do you want me in the driver’s seat or are you feeling brave?”

I was feeling bold.  “I’ll do it.”

“Okay, I’ll pull the log.  Are you ready?”


“Wait!”  Hannah climbed in the passenger side.   “Now we’re ready.”  She had a huge smile.

Grandpa pulled the log from in front of the front left wheel.  The car didn’t budge.  I slowly released the parking brake.  The car still didn’t move.  Grandpa started pushing.  It moved an inch but settled back into place when he stopped.  Then he started rocking it – pushing, releasing, pushing, releasing.  Something popped.  The car started rolling.  Grandpa walked alongside directing me where to turn and when to start pulling on the handbrake. 

I can handle this.  I was practically giddy.  I’m actually driving. I felt a confidence and sense of responsibility like never before.   A glance at Hannah told me that she was enjoying the ride too.

POP!  The brake handle popped straight up!  I slammed both feet on the brake pedal.  Nothing happened.  I pumped the pedal over and over.  The car started speeding up. 

“The brake broke!”  I yelled to Grandpa.

He yelled something back, but we were quickly rolling away from him.  I was close to panicking.  The trailer was straight ahead.  If I hit it at this speed, I would go right over the trailer and into the truck.  There was a little bit of space to the left, so I aimed that way.  At least the steering works.

“Watch it.”  Hannah’s voice was unsteady.

“I am watching it!”  I managed to miss the trailer and the truck but scraped along a pine tree.  I had to duck to the right to avoid getting whacked by the branches.  They scraped the car, but they also slowed us down some. 

Now the pond was straight ahead.  I yanked the wheel to the left.  I could feel the wheels sliding on the wet grass.  In the space of a couple seconds, in my mind I saw me pulling Hannah from the sinking car and us swimming to shore.  God help me!  I screamed in my head.  We continued to slide towards water, the car leaning dangerously to the right.

               POW!  The right front tire blew.  We leaned even more.  We’re gonna flip into the water.  Now would be a really good time to help God!

Don't worry, Wil doesn't die.  If you want to know how the chapter ends, I'll make you a deal.  Share this page with two friends and I'll send you the end.  The more people who want to hear about Wil and his adventures, the sooner they can be published!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Normal is just a city in Illinois

                I once heard of a child psychiatrist who started his practice with four theories and no children.  Ten years later, he had four children and no theories.  I have four children and only one theory – Everyone is different.

                It is no secret that my passion for writing the Wil Clarey series comes out of my love for my son Nathan.  He is on the Autism Spectrum or what I prefer to call HFA (High Functioning Autistic).  You will not find the term ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder in my books.  I honestly despise the term.  His condition brings him some difficulties, but also brings special abilities.  As a parent, my hopes for him are the same as each of my other kids.

                I tell people that Momma always told me, “Remember that you are a totally unique individual different from anyone else on earth – just like everyone else.”  Okay, she didn’t really say that, but she taught me that principal.  I see it at work in my kids.  Felicia is mature beyond her years and passionate about what she values; Hannah, a true, caring, loving, and faithful friend who is afraid to meet new people; Nathan, brilliant and logical but unable to relate to other people; and Grace, full of life and mischief and heir to my sarcasm.  They are four completely unique people each of whom I love beyond what words can express.

                Like each of my kids, every person I have ever met has had their unique qualities, both good and bad.  I hate to stuff anyone in a box and label it “normal.”  We are each unique.  We each have our strengths and each harbor our mental abnormalities.  I say, celebrate that uniqueness.  Yes, we should each strive to improve ourselves, but I don’t think that means striving to be normal.

                This concept is not new.  The Apostle Paul wrote of it in his first letter to the Corinthian church.  In chapter twelve he writes of the body of Christ having many different parts working together as a whole.  “The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’  The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’” (verse 21, NLT) 

                Maybe my son has ASU – Autism Spectrum Uniqueness.  I am confident that he, like many before, will find his unique spot in this world.  We will try to help him and his siblings hone their strengths and bring those to a world that needs them.  What would it be like if we each strengthened our unique abilities and brought them together into an amazing diverse community?  Let’s try it!