In the World of Make-Believe

I’m baaack – after some time off to celebrate my 41st wedding anniversary with my wife. She deserves something special. She’s put up with me for 41 years.

I’m not sure how I came to start my blog with the local weather report, but here goes. Central PA is experiencing rain and temperatures in the high 40s. So who really cares, right? Okay, let’s move on to why we’re here. Today’s topic is sci-fi and fantasy.

Before we begin, I’d be the first to tell you, sci-fi is not my genre. The closest I come to it is the book, The Voice, where Peter McClanahan takes a trip into the future to hunt down yesterday’s killer. I’m fascinated with time travel, but that’s as far as my sci-fi or fantasy writing goes.

Here’s the thing. If you’re going to build a fantasy world, it has to be believable. Consider:

Was your world always the way it is now? If not, what changed it. How was the world before? What caused the change in your fantasy world?

How much of your world do you need to show to support the story?

What about the lay of the land? Mountains? Deserts? Forests? It’s your world to create. Just make it believable. Don’t get carried away. Just add enough to give the big picture.

How about the weather? Does the weather play a part in the reshaping of your world? If so, how?

Where are the borders? Maybe they exist here on earth, or on another planet, or somewhere in deep space.

What do your characters have for resources? These can be things known to us now or something from your imaginary world.

In presenting your new world, please show us, not tell us. And we don’t want to just see it and hear it. Let us smell it, touch it, taste it. Bring your magic to life.

Okay, some things to think about. Now, get busy and see what you can do, and as always, I’d love for you to leave your thoughts in the comments below. Until next week . . .


Time for a Break

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It’s time to shut things down for a bit. Every October I take a break in honor of many years of being married to the greatest girl in the world. This year we celebrate 41 years of marriage.

That being said, I’ll be away from the computer. That means no Wednesday updates for the next three weeks. My next scheduled post will be October 27. Sorry for any inconvenience, and you can always order from the Books and Resources page.

Have a great October! I’ll see you the 27th.


Just Curious

Weather Report: Pennsylvania should find its Indian Summer in about two weeks. Until then, it’s autumn all the way. I was out for an early walk this morning. The stars were gorgeous, the air so fresh. The temperature, a brisk 45 degrees. I love this time of year. Enjoy today with me!

Okay, so I’m curious. What motivates you? I’m not talking about just writing. I mean, what motivates you in life? What is it that gets you up in the morning – maybe to take an early walk underneath the stars?

It could be writing. But it could also be several other things. Look at it this way. Symptoms tell us we have a disease, or at least, that something is wrong. The symptoms are not the disease, but they result from a disease. Or to simplify it, the fruit is not the root.

What I’m asking is why do you write? Where does the fruit of writing come from? Writing is a symptom, but the root goes much deeper. We all have unique experiences. We travel life’s path on different roads. Yet for many of us, the path leads to writing.

So I’m curious about your road. Where did it all begin, and what stops have you made along the way? What detours have you taken? What moves you on? I think these are questions worth considering because no one just sits down and writes. Consciously or subconsciously, our writing comes from the path we have taken. It comes from the root of our lives. It’s a symptom of something much deeper. Look at yourself. Where have you been and where are you going? In one way or another, you’ll see it in your writing.

Enough for now. I’ll see you next week. Same time – same channel.


Common Inspiration

It’s a rainy day in Central PA, but autumn has finally arrived. Another month and the leaves will be full of color. The air is fresh and invigorating. The clear night skies reveal the Milky Way in all its glory. I love the fall.

The change in weather inspires me every year. What inspires you? Let’s be specific. What inspires you to write? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below.

We can find inspiration in many common places. One of my favorite places to look for inspiration is music. Depending on what I’m writing, I can always find some music to go along with it. In the novel, Pinpoint Analysis, the story line came first. The book is about a marine biologist, Les Griffin, who finds himself beneath the Bermuda Triangle in an attempt to save his daughter, who has been abducted by the devil. The song Ready for the Storm by Dougie MacLean inspired me to write the chapter where Les comes face to face with the evil that holds his daughter captive.

Sometimes the music comes first, as in Machan’s Tale. I love Celtic music and the history of the Celts. When I heard the song, Ghost of a Rose, by Blackmore’s Night, it was a no-brainer. I had to write a story based on the Celtic tune. The song inspired the entire first chapter.

In another of my Celtic stories, Cadeyrn’s Tale. the song, Ride On inspired the chapter where Cadeyrn loses his love. Several songs paved the way for Stage (f)Right.

Ideas can come from TV shows and movies, from every day experiences, from strangers on the street. A true story I read inspired Peter McClanahan’s character in The Voice. Inspiration can and does come in many forms from various sources. If you’re looking for inspiration, just keep your ear to the ground. It will be there.

Okay! Leave me your thoughts below and I’ll see you next week.


Writing and Schedules

The sun is shining in Central PA today. A gentle breeze is blowing. Fall is in the air. This is my favorite time of the year. Soon the Appalachians will be ablaze with color. Love it! Okay. Okay. So what about writing and schedules?

I would like to recommend that writers follow a set schedule – but I can’t. Usually, in the life of a writer, there is more than just writing to be concerned about. There are families that need to be added to the schedule. Outside work frequently takes precedence. We must allow time to take care of our bodies and spirits. In short, life can become terribly busy, and often it is busier than it is meant to be. So what’s the solution?

I have none.

Because of several other responsibilities, it is impossible for me to schedule my writing to the minute, or even the hour. I have a weekly schedule, however. Like right now. Wednesday is my day for adding to my blog. Thank you for being a part. Friday is my day for working on my Sunday sermon. And of course, Sunday is my day for giving the sermon. Except for my Sunday schedule, I set nothing in stone.

Sure, Wednesday is my day for the blog, but what time? It could be 6:00 am. It could be 3:00 pm. Who knows? That is not necessarily a bad thing. It just works for me. It allows me to get the writing done, but still take care of the things in my overly busy life. The important thing is that I write. And the important thing is that you write. If you call yourself a writer, that’s what we do.

If you can stick to a schedule, that’s wonderful. Just write. If you can’t, that’s wonderful – just write. Just write because that’s we do. See you next Wednesday.


Welcome, Ida!

Well, the remnants of Ida hit Central PA. Rain and wind everywhere. I am thankful I don’t live in Louisiana. My prayers go out to you folks down that way. I know this is a writing blog, but sometimes other things just become more important. This is one of those times, and I need to vent. If I offend you, I apologize in advance, but I’m not sorry for what I’m about to write. Regardless of your political affiliation, we need to admit that our beloved country is in serious trouble.

My heart breaks for my fellow Americans and those who stood with us who are trapped behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. It should never have been. Our leaders have shown carelessness, a lack of planning, and a complete disregard for human life.

We have transported to the USA at least one hundred men listed on the Terrorist Watch List. Our borders are wide open for other terrorists to enter, not to mention the drug and sex traffickers. Another 9/11 attack is being planned as we speak. In eight short months, our nation has fallen, almost to where there can be no recovery.

Our enemies and allies mock us. The crown is slipping fast from the head of the once-great America. I still love this nation, but I’m also embarrassed for her.

I could feel hopeless, except I know how the story ends. What is the eventual outcome for America? She will be destroyed at some future point. Today’s current events have been foretold in Bible prophecy thousands of year ago. A look at the daily news confirms once again that God sees all and will right all wrongs at His soon return. Before Him, no one will stand on their own merit. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ – not in a government, not in a religion, not in ourselves.

Whether you choose to believe it, the fact is Jesus Christ is the only way to peace and the forgiveness of sins. Praying doesn’t cut it. Church attendance doesn’t cut it. Baptism, communion, trying to keep the Ten Commandments don’t cut it. Jesus said, “. . . I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The only way of salvation is to have a personal relationship with Him.

If you’re not sure what I mean, please allow me the privilege of talking with you further. Just email or message me, and I’ll get right back to you. In these ugly days, your eternal destiny is something you can’t afford to overlook. Thank you for allowing me to rant. Until next week . . .


PS – If you’d like more information on the destruction of America, I’d be glad to send you a free copy of my book, The Death of America. Just let me know.

Busy! Busy! Busy?

Unfortunately, I have nothing new to report except that I have nothing new to report. Each year in September, our church hosts The Great American Fast, and this year is no exception. It is a major undertaking, and there is so much involved behind the scenes. So I’m busy, busy, busy. So I need to hurry.

But before I leave you for another week, let me ask you, are you busy? Or are you just busy? I mean, in your busyness, are you accomplishing your goals, or are you just wasting time, filling it with action but not really going anywhere? It happens. So investigate what’s going on in your life and make every moment count.

Okay – gotta get going. Have a busy and productive week. See you next week. Maybe things will have slowed down.


What a Character!

Welcome to my Wednesday – and yours. Here’s hoping you had a great week! The weather for today? Pouring down rain. At least maybe it will cool down a bit. It’s been very humid lately.

So, let’s talk about characters this week. Nothing holds a reader’s attention like an intriguing plot. But truth be told, the plot won’t be intriguing if the characters aren’t believable, if they aren’t three dimensional.

Give them a name that fits the story. If you set your story in the present, you probably wouldn’t give them the name Bertha or Gertrude. Nothing wrong with those names, but mostly, they were popular in a different era. If you’re writing a piece of historical fiction, you no doubt would not use names like Paisley or Nova. Perhaps Eleanor or Grace would fit better.

Be clear about their age. Is he an elderly man or a teen girl? That sounds a little obvious, I would think, but all too often, age can be confusing and the plot ruined, especially in a short story.

Describe them physically. We need to picture your character in our mind, but please show, don’t tell. Use action and dialogue to give us that clear picture.

What about backstory? Think about their hometown, their type of home or neighborhood. How about relationships, either past or present?

What kind of job do they have? How do they dress? What kind of friends do they hang with? How about their religion? Hobbies? Favorite sports? How do they perceive themselves? How do others perceive them? Are they humorous? Serious? Fearful? Self-confident?

Don’t apply these thoughts to your protagonist alone. Build a life-like backing cast as well.

Okay. We’re done until next week. See you then.


Everyday Life – What’s Your Story?

Well, so much for the fall-like weather. The scheduled real-feel for the day is 100 degrees. There is always something for everyone in Pennsylvania.

For sure, some of you are older than I. But also for sure, I’m older than many. I can honestly say as I enter the winter year of my life that life’s been good. There have been times there was extra money in the bank, and times I didn’t have two nickels to rub together. There have been periods of near-perfect health and many nights spent in the hospital. I’ve experienced love and I’ve faced rejection. There have been moments of success and moments of dire failure. My emotions have run the gamut from exuberant joy to extreme pain. I feel complete.

So, what about you? What’s your life’s story? What have you learned from everyday life? Tell us about that one defining moment that changed your life forever – that point of no return.

That’s the beauty of the written word. You can literally share a part of you with those who are in need. Write about the hurt, the loss, the victory, the overcoming. There is someone that needs to hear from you. You can help a floundering soul gain strength from your experiences. Share your rejection, your determination, your courage.

Someone needs you, so don’t hold back. Maybe it’s time to write your memoir or maybe you’d rather put your story into fiction form. That’s what I did in my book, Jacob’s Ladder, but either way, get it out there.

Transparency is what it’s about, and transparency can make some very good reading. Your life’s experiences may be someone else’s answer. Go for it! Until next week . . .


Things Are Getting Tense

What’s up with the weather? Lately the days have reminded me of September and October. Color has appeared in some of the foliage. That’s okay. I like the fall, but I wonder what October will bring. Regardless of what it’s like in your area, I hope you are continuing to use your God-given gift of imagination. Whether you write or just read, your imagination is a necessity, so use it wisely. Now on to our topic – tension.

I don’t doubt that what every writer loves to hear from their audience is, “I couldn’t put down the book.” There may be several things that enter that mix to cause that reaction, but one of them certainly is tension.

When you think about it, most fiction carries the same plot. Your protagonist needs or wants something and sprinkled throughout are obstacles attempting to prevent his/her attainment. Yes, your characters have unique personalities. The twists and turns may different from other books. Particular obstacles line your pages. But is that enough?

Probably not. It’s tension that keeps the pages turning. Consider the following:

  • Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? Then deliver. Put your character in an impossible situation that only gets worse as the plot progresses. Let the bad guy temporarily win. A hostage is held at gunpoint. What’s the worst that could happen? Remember to show, not tell. But remember also that if the hostage is your protagonist, you need to create a way for him to escape.

A peeping Tom appears at a window. What’s the worst that could
happen? Keep it clean, but be sure to bring out the emotion of that
terrifying moment.

A child is abducted in a supermarket. What’s the worst that could happen? You decide, then make it happen.

  • Create tough situations. You may love your characters, but put them in some uncomfortable circumstances.

    Your protagonist’s boss just fired him and the bills are piling up with no relief in sight.

    An arsonist burns a homeless shelter to the ground. Tough situation – now what’s the worst that could happen?

    A coworker flirts with your character and wants to spend time with him. The problem is, he is happily married, but the pressure is getting heavy. Is he willing to risk it all, or remain true?
  • Raise the Stakes. It’s not enough to just add tension. Things have to be getting worse for character as the story progresses. It may even be a they lose all hope situation. Perhaps the villain kidnaps your main man to get him to cooperate with his evil plan. When your character doesn’t give in, your antagonist reveals he also has his wife and family locked away in another room, and anything but complete obedience will bring them death as well. Keep it going. Fill the pages with tension, and your readers will read.

Okay, that’s enough. I’m going to go enjoy some of this fall weather. See you in seven.