Back in the Saddle

It’s a little chilly in Central PA today, After a week of 60 degree weather, we’re back in the 40s. That’s okay. Warmer days are coming. I know it’s been weeks since I’ve posted, but I’m back in the saddle. However, the horse isn’t out of the gate yet.

I’ve spent the last month fighting COVID. Nine days in the hospital and the quarantine time makes for a long, slow, yet necessary recovery. I’m feeling stronger every day. But I‘m still not where I need to be.

One thing I find frustrating is the brain fog that accompanied the virus. My memory is not as sharp and my creativity seems to have temporarily disappeared. I have stories and articles that are left undone. Hopefully, as my strength improves, so will the things I love.

So this is just an update to let you know I’m still here. My brain hurts too much to think – lol. I will be back to normal (whatever that is) soon and we’ll get some discussions going. Have a great week and stay COVID free. See you next week.


What Do You Do with Overstock?

March came in like a lion. Maybe that’s a good sign. She’ll be leaving like a lamb. Well, we’ll see. One thing is for sure. Each day is getting us closer to warmer weather and sunny skies. As a matter of fact, as I sit here typing away, I can’t keep my eyes off the cloudless, blue sky outside my window. Okay – enough of the weather report. Let’s move on.

Ellie sat at the dining room table staring out through the French doors as a gentle, September breeze filled the room. Autumn’s golden garb was just beginning to clothe the mountains in the distance. She wondered how life ever got so complicated. Her gaze shifted to the note in her left hand. It read in part -“Dear Ellie, . . . I never meant for this to happen. I don’t know how it all went wrong. I know I’ve caused you so much pain, and I can never make it right. Life has gotten to be too hard too fast. I’m leaving, and I won’t be back.”

Thus begins, Dear Ellie. Ellie Branson’s perfectly pieced life is forever changed by the kidnapping of her daughter. But it’s not what you think. The cost of fighting to find Carrie-Anne carries a tremendous price tag. The question is – will it be worth it?

Hey, guess what! I’m overstocked with Dear Ellie. So what do you do with overstock? I don’t know about you, but I give it away. I know. I know. That’s bad for business, but honestly, it’s not doing anybody any good sitting in storage. So here’s my offer to you. Send me your address through the Contact page, and I’ll send you a free copy of Dear Ellie. Don’t order it through the Books and Resources page as it will ring up as full price. That’s about as simple as it gets.

If you have old books you no longer use, whether it be overstock or just unwanted books, you may want to check out I just discovered it so I don’t know much about it, but it may be just what you’re looking for. On the other hand, it may not. I’m neither promoting or recommending it – just something I came across. Anyway. . .

Next week is just around the corner, so I’ll see you then!


Is It Ready Yet?

Is it ready yet? It’s happened to every serious writer. You start a novel or even a short story. You have a good idea, and maybe a great ending. But that’s all – and nothing else is coming to you. If you’re just starting your outline, that’s okay. But what if you’re 50 pages in? You’ve worked hours upon hours working on the next bestseller, and then . . .

Well, there’s nothing. What do you do? I can tell you this much. I will finish it If I’ve invested enough time to write 50 pages. I will not waste those hours.

Take a break – Don’t waste time agonizing over what you don’t have. I’ve found you can’t force storylines. Sometimes you just have to let them marinate. Take a walk. Watch TV (well, maybe not). Go shopping. Do whatever you have to do to get your mind off the story. That sounds counterproductive, but it may just surprise you when you get back to the keyboard.

Read – Maybe reading someone else’s material will kick-start your creative process. Reading another’s inspiring work might just lead you to your own inspiration – and your next chapter.

What if – After you’ve had a break and have refreshed your mind, try playing the “what if” game. What if this happened? What if that happened? What if he did this? What if she said that? What if they went here? What if they couldn’t go there? The possibilities are unlimited. Eventually, you’ll be able to break the ice and the story will flow again.

Hey, did I mention after a week of temperatures in the teens, it’s going to reach 52 degrees. Spring is getting closer – I think. See you next week.


Just a Quick Note

Just a quick note to let you know there will be no Wednesday update this week. I will be involved in a very special project at our church all week. I’ll be off the computer as well, so if you need to email me, just know I will get back to you as soon as possible, but it won’t be for a few days. Sometimes things come up, and this is one of them. See you on the 24th.


Video Games and Writing


We’ll skip the weather this week. Let’s talk politics – no, let’s not. How about video games? – no let’s not. Wait a second. Maybe there’s something to learn here. I’m not into video games even it helps my writing, but I did come across an interesting article at Inkitt. I never thought about it before, but there are actually games out there that can help you develop your writing. Anybody use video games to spark your writing? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you’re into video games, you might find these interesting. Check them out. Here are just a few.

Among Us:

Crazy as it sounds, Among Us is based on one’s ability to lie and get away with it. It may not send a moral message, but it might be a trait to infuse into one or more of your characters. Inkitt puts it this way,

“Learning to spot lies and invent your own is a priceless talent for any writer. Honing your focus by minding not only your own business, but everyone else’s can improve your character-handling skills. Ever have a side character disappear halfway through the book? Among Us may break you of that curse. Best of all, Among Us will teach you how to write villains, especially the nefarious, back-stabbing variety. Just listen to your friends lie and watch how they sway crews to vote out their saviors. It’s a primer on treachery.”


If horror is your game, then perhaps Outlast is literally your game. The Inkitt take –

“Horror is a messy, broad genre. Many doors lead to a night awake with the light on, but not every door serves every reader. Essentially, different thrills chill different readers. Outlast is worth playing because it gets just about everyone in the end. While there are plenty of other brilliant horror games, none sustain dread quite as well as this one. It’s deeply disturbing, frightening, tense, and even gag-inducing at times. The game juggles so many horror tricks its impossible to see where the next blow is coming from until it’s landed.

“Consider Outlast a shortcut to the screaming depths of your animal brain. If you can manage not to have a heart attack, it’s worth taking notes on the imagery, scares, and set pieces you hate the most.”

Red Dead Redemption:

Into writing a series? Check out Red Dead Redemption. As I said, I don’t play video games much, but the idea intrigued me. I have no first-hand experience. You’re left to do your own research, but this is what Inkitt says.

“Ever wanted to write a series? This game isn’t just a good story. It’s a good story plus a few more. The overarching plot, dotted as it is with full-storied side missions, lays the groundwork for what could serve as a perfectly functional collection of episodic novels. Plenty of other open world adventure games do this, too, but I would argue Red Dead Redemption does a better job telling its main tale.

“The story’s end isn’t just an objective (kill the dragon, beat your rival, rescue the princess). No spoilers, of course, but the story is everything at the end of the day, no matter how much players enjoyed their side quests, and that’s ultimately what makes or breaks a series.”

You may also want to take a look at Death Stranding and the Bioshock Collection. Death Stranding is said to be “one of the strangest AAA games to ever hit the market” – a mix of psychology and horror. If that’s your bag, go for it!

Inkitt says of the Bioshock Collection, “All the Bioshock games do at least one thing very, very well: they use the environment to tell the story. This includes critical world-building and game mechanic tips, but the closer players look, the more they discover.”

Okay. Enough on the games. Just something to consider. Whatever you can use to improve your writing, use. If the games help – wonderful. If not, move on to whatever does. Either way, just write, and I’ll see you next week.


What’s with the Weather?

I’m not sure why I always start my blog with a weather report. Maybe it’s just the first thing I notice when I awake. I peek out the window to see what’s happening. Maybe I can feel the weather change in my bones. Maybe it’s just part of my writer’s psyche. Who knows? All I know is the winds are high. The temperature is in the low teens. And the snow accumulation has reached about 15 inches. It makes for a wonderful day of writing. I hope you all are safe and healthy as we’ve hit the mid-week mark.

Last week I mentioned some editors that I find helpful, specifically ProWritingAid and Grammarly. Let me say I am not paid a dime for recommending any products on this site. They are just products I use and find to be extremely helpful. Your experience may be quite different. This week, I’d like to introduce you to FreeWriter, if you’ve not already met. You can get more information by going to the website at, but here’s my take.

FreeWriter is not an editor in the same line as Grammarly or ProWritingAid. It is more of an organizing tool to help you develop, organize, and write a clean manuscript. It’s similar to Scrivener, but the name says it all. It’s free. I’ve not used Scrivener regularly, but from what I can tell, there isn’t much difference, except for the price.

FreeWriter allows you to break down your productivity chapter by chapter. The word count is always accessible and comparable to the other chapters. It makes it easy to plan the length of a story or article. It is especially good for creative writing. You can keep a character file on as many characters as you like and watch them grow as you write your story. Places and things can also be developed and updated in the same way.

What I find to be helpful is the Thoughts tab. From there, I can outline the next chapter or scene quickly and get on with the writing. I’ve always been a pantster, but what I’ve found is by keeping a chapter ahead in my planning, it is actually easier to write when the time comes. I can also store passing thoughts to add to the manuscript later. It connects to the web making research easier. It’s all right there. To make writing even more organized, there are labels, sticky notes, and index cards. The card holder allows you to keep things in order making it easy to just flip through as you write.

Okay. That’s my take on FreeWriter. Take it for what it’s worth – Free. Try it. It may work for you. Then again, you may not want to bother with it at all. Either way, I’ll see you next week with more. If you’re in the northeast, enjoy the snow, freezing temperatures and high winds.


Finally Finished

Typical Pennsylvania winter weather – cold, sleet and/or snow; cloudy, threats of storms in the air. All told, it has been a rather mild winter, not like the ones I remember from years ago. It’s a good day to write.

The Marisol Deception is finally finished. For sure, this project was the longest I ever worked on. I started it in November of 2019 and it is now available through the typical outlets, but . . .

If you go to the Books and Resources page here, I’ll throw in free shipping on anything you order. Go for it!

So let’s get to what’s involved with finally finishing. This is my process. I’d love to hear yours. You can lay it out in the comments section below.

I do all my rough drafts on You can read them there. HP used to be a great community, a lot of nice, supportive people. The nice, supportive people remain (at least some of them), but HP has really dropped the ball. My chief complaint is even though I can still read others’ articles, the comment process has gotten to be too complicated and too time-consuming. Even though I still enjoy reading the articles, the social contact has dwindled for me. My primary purpose for posting on HubPages is to have an online backup. Enough said about that.

Contrary to what is usually recommended, I do a lot of editing as I go. I use two editors, ProWritingAid and Grammarly. I write a chapter on one, make the necessary corrections, then paste it into HP. Once there, I can use Grammarly as a double-check. I make whatever corrections needed, then paste it into a template to begin the final draft. Problem – the editors don’t catch everything, so . . .

Once the story is complete. I go back and reread from beginning to end, adding some here, taking some out there. I check for clarity, missing words, punctuation, organization, and whatever else needs fixed. Once I’m satisfied with the manuscript, I submit it and wait for my proof.

Here is where it gets really interesting. I’ve run it through two editors, reread it and made changes at least one more time before I do the final draft, then when I get the proof back, I go through it with a fine-tooth comb. When it’s in book form, the mistakes really show. I can’t believe there is still so much to correct. One more read, and hopefully, it’s ready to go.

When I’m finally satisfied with the project, it’s off to the printer, and ends up in somebody’s hands. I hope they’re happy with it. This process may not work for everybody, but it works for me. Now, I start the same thing over again with Black. I can already tell this will take me some time to finish. I have it scheduled for September. We’ll see how close I get.

Okay, so that’s it for another Wednesday. See you next week.


On Transfer of Power

At 12:00 noon today, January 20, 2021, there will be a transfer of power from the Trump administration to the Biden administration. We know what the last four years held. What we don’t know is what will the next four years hold? The bottom line is neither Trump nor Biden have charge over this nation. God is still in control, no matter what the circumstances seem to show. You may think things will improve. You may think things will worsen. Only God knows. In the end, it will all work out for His purposes, not ours as we move closer to Armageddon.

It’s all in The Marisol Deception. Although it’s a fictional account, it’s based on the prophecies of Revelation, and it’s now available (in ebook form) at Within a week yous hould be able to order from the website on the Books and Resources page. Over a year ago, before COVID, before the riots, before the national unrest, I conceived the story outline based on the biblical book of Revelation. It amazed me to see parts of the story actually happening in the news. These are exciting times as we watch Bible prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes.

Seeing the end-time approaching should sober us. Where do we stand in relation to the true King, Jesus Christ? The days will become more difficult as we see our freedoms being taken away one by one. Who else can we turn to but Christ? I could be wrong, but I doubt America will see another president after Joe Biden. The prophecies are being fulfilled at an astounding rate. The end is coming quickly.

For a more thorough explanation, get your copy of The Marisol Deception, or better yet, read the book of Revelation. I wish you the best in the new year under the “new” administration. Remember, the ultimate power comes from God.

See you next week!


Wrapping Up Marisol

Weather Report – cloudy, cold, rain. Enough said. I long for the warmth of the Arizona Desert. But then, I’d come face to face with Marisol’s minions from lightyears away as they search for Kinsley and Tony. I’m not about to take that risk. I just finished proofing the manuscript. A few minor changes and Marisol will be born – from my imagination to the written page in paperback and e-book. That means you can still preorder the book before its publication next week.

I’ll be glad to finally put Marisol behind me. I started the story in November of 2019 – 14 months ago. The plan was to have it out by September of 2020. Such are plans. I have never come across so many distractions and interruptions. As a pastor, the church keeps me busy and that’s my first priority, but anyway, that’s all behind me (I think). One last read and it should be good to go. In the meantime, my new project, Black, has been put on hold until The Marisol Deception is completed.

I don’t like distractions. I don’t like interruptions. But they do happen. Let’s talk about it a little bit. Do you have ongoing distractions or just one time big hits? Can you control your interruptions or are they beyond your control? When they come, how do you handle them? What do you do? Help me here. Let your words of wisdom fall in the comments below. We can all learn from each other. Until next week –


Suspense is What You Make It

I’m in suspense. I haven’t checked the weather channel yet. Do I need an umbrella? How about a snow shovel? A sweater or a heavy coat? Hey, this is Pennsylvania. They’re all possible at any given moment. Only time will tell. And so should it be with our writing – possibilities, but only time will tell. Throw in a twist here and there and mix thoroughly with suspense, and you have a good start for your tale. Let me give you some thoughts on suspense. What do you think? How do you build suspense? Let me know in the comments below.

1: Raise the Stakes

Two basic questions you need to answer are 1.) What does your protagonist want or need? 2.) Why does it matter? Let your character show your readers the answers to those questions? Although difficult to write at times, first person POV may be an excellent opportunity to allow your audience to see the goal through your character’s eyes.

2: Keep the End Zone Just Out of Reach

I love to watch football, but it irritates me when my team gets close to the goal line but fails to score. I feel all kinds of emotion from upset to anger to frustration. Isn’t that what fiction writing is about? To get your readers to react emotionally? Let them feel the “so close, but so far away” feeling that your character feels. Offer hope. Then take it away. Of course, we can overdo it. So slide in some minor victories along the way.

3: Throw in a Surprising Limitation.

Think the Nancy Kerrigan/Tanya Harding ordeal. Both were excellent skaters ready to compete against each other until the enemy crushed Nancy’s leg, eliminating her from competition. Her hopes were dashed, at least temporarily.

4: Raise the Fear Factor

Reveal what could happen should things not work out. Sometimes a quick detour into hypotheticals can be a way to scare your audience into sympathizing with the protagonist.

5: Morality and Cognitive Dissonance.

Give your protagonist a potential solution, but make it an unfavorable option. Could s/he accomplish the goal but at an exorbitant price? Maybe the death of a loved one? The demise of a marriage? Questions of morality can spellbind and hold your reader captive. I say, “Go for it!”

Well, gotta check the weather channel. Maybe we’re in for an ice storm. Enjoy your week whatever the weather brings, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!