Merry Christmas!!!

As a child, I remember Charlie Brown reciting the appearance of the angels to the shepherds and their subsequent trip to Bethlehem to worship the Christ Child. There is so much more to the story. I’ve poste it below. All quotations are taken from the King James Bible..

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 

And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God . . . And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 


But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.   And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 

Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:  And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,   Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.   And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 
 

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.   When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. . . .

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 

There is so much more to the story. We’ll look at that next week as we prepare for the New Year. Then we’ll get back to some writing tips. In the meantime, Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas!!!

WFK

Feels Like 13

Pennsylvania’s predictable unpredictable weather strikes again as we await the arrival of winter storm Gail – well named as the winds are expected to reach gusts up to 60 mph. Piles of the white stuff (that would be snow) will reach up to 18 inches before it’s all over, and the temperature rests at 23 degrees but feels like 13. I’m just relaxing in the calm before the storm which will hit in about three hours. Oh well. It happens. Let’s move on.

I continue to work on my newest project, Black. June 30th is the completion date. You can read the rough draft at https://letterpile.com/serializations/Black-Part-1. Actually, I need you to do that. I want this book to be the best yet, so I need your constructive criticism. That’s negative feedback in a kind way. You can leave your thoughts in the comments below or contact me through the Contact page.

This is another one of those busy weeks. Holidays seem to do that. So, I’ll leave you with that. Gotta get bread and milk before the storm hits. Have a great and safe week!

WFK

Nearing Completion

Alien invasion at Area 51 – The Marisol Deception

Another week has come and gone. Soon we’ll be able to say that about another year. Time travels on -sometimes without me. As each moment passes, I become acutely aware of the fact the moment will never return, that it’s gone forever. Each breath we take is truly a gift from God. Make each breath count today. You may not be here tomorrow.

That being said, my goal is to have The Marisol Deception published by the end of the year. The final draft is almost complete, and I have some work to do on the cover. Other than that, she’s ready to give birth. You can pre-order it today on the Books and Resources page.

The Marisol Deception is an apocalyptic thriller based on the book of Revelation. Marisol, the physical presence of satan, has invaded and taken up residence in the underground city beneath Area 51. Appearing as a representative of peace, her purpose is to rule the world. There is more than one obstacle in her way as Kinsley Oliver discovers the plan and tries to intervene. But the powers of darkness are too strong – or are they?

My latest project, Black, has slowed down while I finish up The Marisol Deception. I hate working on two projects at the same time, but more often than not, that’s how things end up. I guess I just need to suck it up and get on with it – and get on with the rest of the day. After all, time travels on – sometimes without me. See you next week!

WFK

A Shadow of William D. Holland

Welcome to my Wednesday! The holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving 2020 is gone. Christmas 2020 will be gone soon. As you approach December 25, don’t forget the reason for the season – Jesus Christ.

I have something special for you this week. Author William D. Holland has just published his new book, Shadows Across the Pond, and I had the opportunity to pick his brain about his writing process. Thank you, Mr. Holland, for sharing your thoughts with us. For the rest of you, be sure to get the book!

Author William D. Holland

I’m looking forward to this interview with author William D. Holland. I first came across his writings years ago in the writing community of hubpages.com. He has written many informative articles along with his ever-popular Mailbag series of questions and answers. He has published several novels as well, and he has just released his latest book, Shadows Across the Pond. It is indeed my pleasure and privilege to spend some time with him and learn about his writings, goals, and purposes. Won’t you join us?

WFK: Bill, let’s start at the beginning. When did you catch the writing bug, and when did you know it would never leave?

WDH:  My earliest memories of a writing passion are as a teen. I had an English teacher in high school who said I had some talent. That encouragement meant a great deal to this introvert. I guess it started then. I began writing short stories for my own pleasure, and entertained thoughts of following that passion into college.  That, however, did not materialize.  Life got in the way my junior year at Seattle University when my dad suddenly died and my mother needed me to support her, so I followed a business path.

WFK: When you first began your writing career, did you ever imagine you would be doing what you’re doing now – several novels and the Shadows series? What about the Mailbag? The way that grew – was that a surprise to you? Can you tell us a little about that?

WDH:  I didn’t really get started, in earnest, until I retired at 62. I was looking for a way to make a supplemental income but at the same time do something which I enjoyed. My wife suggested I write for a site called HubPages.

Like anything else I do, I dove into the deep end of that pool with gusto. I wrote an article each day. I became a constant face on HubPages. I realized I loved being a member of a community like that, and within six months I was fairly well-known on that site.  Am I surprised by the growth of the Mailbag, or by any success I’ve had since starting? I’m still surprised anyone reads anything I write, so yes, I’m surprised . . . and very grateful.

WFK: How about the Shadows series? You just published book six. I have trouble completing one book with one set of characters. How do you manage to come up with six? What was the inspiration behind the series?

WDH: The inspiration was from my childhood. The infamous Ted Bundy, serial killer, was our paperboy in Tacoma, Washington.  Once his deeds become public, I was fascinated by the fact that Evil could appear so normal. There was no way to look at Bundy, back then, and suspect there was anything evil about him.

So he was the inspiration for the series. The entire series is a battle of Good vs Evil, and I love writing that series and developing the characters.  I found, after the first in the series, the rest were easy to write, and most of the credit for that goes to the characters. I find them fascinating, and I enjoy developing them.

WFK: How can we get it?

WDH:  All of my books are available on Amazon under the pen name William D. Holland, but the latest in the series can be found by following this link.

WFK: What’s your secret to staying disciplined? It seems that most writers struggle with a regular schedule. With life happening all around us, how do you manage to stay focused on your goals?

WDH: Well, I think it’s considerably easier for me since I’m semi-retired. I have more “spare time” than a lot of writers I know.  Having said that, though, it also should be noted that I am a disciplined person. I’ve been this way my entire life. I’m a planner, a schedule-follower, and probably about 75% anal in the way I approach any day. I’m most comfortable when I have a schedule to follow, and almost every week day is scheduled by the hour.  I’m sure your readers are laughing right now, but it’s the way I rock and roll, and it works for me, so there you go.

WFK: Most authors I know, including myself, hate to market. What are your thoughts on beating the marketing blues?

WDH:  I wish I had some.  Laughingly, one of my college degrees is in marketing, but I hate it when it’s marketing for myself. Consequently, I really don’t do any. I write my books, I publish them, I tell my followers about the new book, and then I move on to the next.  I just can’t find it in me to toot my own horn.  People can read my books, or not read my books, it makes no difference to me. The joy, for me, is in the writing.

WFK: I could be wrong, but it seems to me writers write because they have something to say. It’s not just for entertainment. What’s really behind your writing? What really is the driving force behind what you do?

WDH:  What a great question!  I guess, if I strip away all of the protective layers, my writing is a way for a shy little kid to be noticed by the big, scary world. It’s my way of shouting to the world that I exist.  It’s my way of establishing some sort of legacy, some way for the future world to know that I had value as a human being.  I will never be famous, but it would be nice if I was remembered.

WFK: You’re also a successful writing coach. Can you tell us a little about that side of your work, and for anyone who is interested, how can they hire you?

WDH:  Anyone interested in a little coaching help can email me at holland1145@yahoo.com.  I work cheap. It’s the teacher in me. I love helping people. I give suggestions, toss a little aid to someone struggling with the writing process, and I try to give them the tools which will help them to succeed.  It’s pretty painless. I am encouraging every step of the way.

WFK: Well sir, that’s about all we have time for. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before you get back to the keyboard? And how can we contact you?

WDH:  The best way to contact me is via email, which I’ve given you. I have this weird quirk, I hate talking on the phone, always have, but I’m very good about returning emails.

Any final message?  If you are a writer, write first and foremost for yourself.  The passion has to be there, enough passion to sustain you even when no one else is supporting you. Writing should be about passion. It shouldn’t be about making a living or pleasing other people. Creatives create! That’s what we do, and the reward is in the creating.

WFK: Thanks Bill, for giving us your time today. Thank you also for touching your readers in a very special way. I wish you success, health, and happiness as we continue the journey. 

WDH:  Thank you, my friend!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This time of the year is very busy for a pastor/writer. There is so much to do to prepare for the holidays. So I simply say, Happy Thanksgiving to you all. God has blessed me by allowing our paths to cross and I don’t take it for granted. That’s just another way of saying I’m thankful for you. Enjoy the holiday!

Picture This

It’s that time again! Time to kick around some writing ideas as the clock continues to tick nonstop. I hope you had a great week, as did I, but with the holidays not far away, things are getting busy. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so tell me, what are you most thankful for this year? It’s been a hard year, a unique year, but dig deep. There is as bunch of good there, too.

Black

Finally, the rough draft of The Marisol Deception is finished. Now, the fun begins – editing, rewriting, formatting, all the stuff that needs to be done before publication. Give me a couple of months. You’ll be the first to know when it’s ready. While I’m finishing up the details of Marisol, I’m also working on my next project, Black. You can read Part One of the rough draft here.

Dwell on the above picture for a moment or two. What kind of emotion does it create for you? Think about the detail. Notice the man, the tree, the light, the weeds, the total darkness of the edges. Then ask yourself some questions. Who could the man be? Who might be hiding in the tree – and why? Where is the light coming from? What deadly creature might be crawling in the weeds? What lies beyond the total darkness?

Now, how do you get the emotion from your brain to keyboard? I think the best way to do that is to envelope yourself in the scene. YOU become the person. How would YOU react to the light in the darkness? What would YOUR reaction be in the black of night, sensing someone was watching you, but you couldn’t see them? Are they in the tree? Are they in the weeds? How would YOU handle the situation? YOU hear a noise in the bushes. What do YOU do?

I’ll leave you with the questions to answer, and I’ll see you next week. Write on!

WFK

What’s Holding You Back???

I can hardly believe it! Central Pennsylvania is experiencing a late Indian Summer, as they call it. The middle of November rarely affords us temperatures in the mid-70s. Color is still on the trees that are usually bare by now. But I’ll take it. On another topic, yesterday (November 10, 2020) was the 45th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The fated iron ore carrier sunk 535 feet beneath the waters of Lake Superior near Whitefish Bay. They lost all 29 crew members.

Moving on to happier things, let’s look at some things to avoid when writing, things that may interfere or slow you down.

1. Realize there is no definitive playbook you need to follow. Another way of looking at it is to do what works for you. No two writers are the same. No two methods work the same for different writers. Keep the general rules in mind, but never be bound by them.

2. Don’t get bogged down with “to outline or not to outline”. I’ve written books using detailed outlines, and others I’ve written without. Let your “feel” be your guide. You may or may not need to use an outline. Allow the story to determine how you will handle it.

3. Keep your creativity flowing. When it’s time to market your book, continue to work on ideas for your next project. You may need to work on your pitch, your book cover, or several other post-writing endeavors, but keep the new ideas coming. Rest. Reward yourself with some time off – but not too long. Creativity dies quickly.

4. Be open to criticism – especially if you ask for it. Every agent, publisher, or beta reader will have a different opinion and criticism of your work. Don’t plan on pleasing everybody because it will never -and I mean never- will happen. Take what you can. Improve on the areas you need to improve and let the rest go.

5. Don’t lower your guard with the basics. It doesn’t matter how wonderful the story is. The twist might be the greatest ever, but if the grammar stinks and the punctuation is terrible, it just won’t fly. Spellcheckers aren’t that difficult to use and take very little time. Grammarly or ProWritingAid can be a tremendous help, and there are free versions. There’s no excuse for sloppy writing. (So my question is this – Is spellcheckers” one word, two words, or hyphenated?)

Okay, chew on that awhile and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

WFK

Post-election Thoughts

Welcome to another Wednesday! Please forgive me. This post isn’t about writing. It’s about responsibility. Well, maybe that is part of writing. Let me explain.

As a patriotic American, I took my turn at the polls yesterday. They heard my voice. How about yours? It surprises and saddens me at the same time to know thousands of Americans who could vote, simply didn’t. At the time of this writing, I’m waiting for the race to be called. It’s anybody’s guess who will lead this great nation for the next four years.

And it really doesn’t matter. Of course, I have my preference, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that I exercised my right to vote. As a nation, we have given away far too many of our rights. We can’t afford to lose this one.

The thought has crossed my mind: – do we really elect the president or are the results already decided by something much bigger? Can you say Illuminati? Maybe they choose two candidates. They would be content to have either win. We just get to vote on which one, but either way, they win (maybe that’s a story prompt). Honestly, I think that’s a possibility, but it doesn’t release me from the responsibility of voting.

Maybe the results are decided by Someone much bigger (and they are). The God that owns and rules the universe also rules over the election. Ultimately, the one He chooses will win, but that doesn’t free me from my God-give responsibility, and yes, privilege to vote.

So what about responsibility and writing? You have a responsibility to your reader to write quality material. You have a responsibility to give them uplifting material to read. You have a responsibility to entertain them at a high level. You have the responsibility to educate them with facts. You have the responsibility to leave them better off than before they read you. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice who you are as a writer. If you write with the reader in mind, it will improve your writing tenfold. I promise you, give to others first, and it will return the blessings over and over.

Don’t run from your responsibilities. In the end, they will catch you. Until we meet again – see you next week!

WFK

What’s Prompting You to Write?

I had a wonderful surprise last night. My youngest daughter showed up unexpectedly from Connecticut. She’ll be here for a couple days, so I’m sure we’ll have some time to catch up. The kids grow up and move. I guess that’s what they are supposed to do, but it doesn’t seem too long ago they filled the house with noise and chaos – in a good way. Okay, let’s move on.

“The summer sun is fading as the year grows old
And darker days are drawing near
The winter winds will be much colder . . .” – Jeff Wayne from War of the Worlds

That pretty much sums up Central Pennsylvania this time of year. The removal of daylight savings times this weekend will even more emphasize the point. Anyway, we need to get to the point on this Wednesday Update. And the point is – writing prompts.

We all know about them and use them from time to time. A typical definition of writing prompt goes something like this. “A writing prompt is a word or two, or a very short phrase that sets your mind off on a journey that inspires your creative energy.” That may be true, but does it have to be a word or two, or a short phrase?

I relate more to visual prompts than to words. Take a look through Google Images, Pixabay, or any of the other online photo galleries. I think you’ll find a wealth of material to get the creative juices flowing. There has been more than one scene I created from a picture, so take advantage of the gift of photography.

But my favorite prompts come from music. Machan’s Tale results from the song, Ghost of a Rose. Cadyrn’s Tale is the result of the tune, Pilgrim, with lyrics by David Byron. The lyrics above from War of the Worlds inspired my story, Forever Autumn – A Short Story (https://letterpile.com/creative-writing/Forever-Autumn-A-Short-Story), and Scarborough Fair – A Short Story developed from the English folk tune by the same name (https://letterpile.com/serializations/Scarborough-Fair-A-Short-Story).

So continue with your writing prompts, but don’t neglect music and art as possibilities. You may find some things that move your story dramatically forward. Hey – that’s it. I’ll see you next week. Have a great one!

WFK

Why Write???

Here´s hoping you´ve had a great week! Mine has been rather peaceful. Peaceful is always good, don´t you think? Have you noticed how some stories seem to write themselves and others are almost painful to write.

The Marisol Deception is one of the painful ones for me. It´s been almost a year since I wrote the first words, and I´m still not done with the first draft. Ever run into that problem? It can be annoying, but yet I know I have to work through it. Give me another year and a computer that works.

So let me ask you. What´s that story that keeps nagging you and keeps you awake at night? Over the next few weeks I want to give you some things to think about before you ever put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard.

Fundamental and foundational to your book is why are you writing it at all? If you don´t know, you can bet your reader won´t either, and they probably will not get past page one.

It´s important to know why you can´t let go of the idea. Why does it drive you? Why is it pushing to get out? Why is it more prominent than other stories that pop into your mind? It´s insisting to be told, but do you know why? If you can put into words, it will show up on every page. Your reader may not be able to point to it, but it will drive them because it drives you with a solid purpose. So often writers write without a clear answer to the question why, and it shows.

So how can you find the why?

Before you write your tale, take time to write out the why. Is there an injustice you want to set right? Is there a hurt or loneliness you want to bring to life? Has something angered you? Do you want to linger on the days of innocence? Why? Why? Why are you writing the story? If you don´t clearly understand why, it will never fly with your audience. Take the time to write a page or two explaining why you are writing. Seeing it in your own handwriting will help to reinforce the idea in your mind.

Also, before you begin to write, you need to know what your goals are. We will look at that next week. For now, dig deep into the why.

WFK