Time for a Change

red and green tree leaves on a sunny day

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Mondays were getting to be increasingly busy. With that in mind, I will be changing the Monday Update to the Wednesday Update. This will begin on March 18th. A new routine always lends itself to readjustment, so if I miss a Wednesday or two, please forgive me – and feel free to chew me out! I deserve it.

But there’s more than that changing. It’s a beautiful pre-spring day in PA. Not a cloud in the sky and temperatures near 70 degrees. Maybe the old weather-forecasting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, was right this year.

A change in the weather seems to bring a change in my writing habits. I tend to spend more time outdoors looking for subjects to write about than actually writing. Shame on me, but in one way or another, it’s all needed. When I want to rationalize, I can rationalize. Pretty good, don’t you think?

Actually, it’s all excuses to avoid doing what needs to be done. I am also a wonderful procrastinator. Unfortunately, procrastinating and rationalizing doesn’t accomplish much. Commitment and hard work do.

I said all that to say this. Writing is made up of more than just taking an idea from the brain and transferring it to the fingertips. There are legitimate times of looking for new subjects and situations to write about. Where would the writer be without taking time out to study the craft of writing? With so many articles and videos available on the internet these days, there is no excuse for not developing your writing skills. But it does take time – time away from forming the written word.

Time out to do research is always necessary, whether we are writing a factual or fictional piece. Good writing involves more than just typing away. Then we always have the editing process, which I hate. Anybody know what I’m talking about? Writing takes place between gathering your information and editing. Good writing takes place after the final edit. There really is no way around it. So on this beautiful Monday, suck it up, and let’s get to it! See you the 18th.


La Da Da Da De, La Da Da Da Da


As Sonny and Cher would say, The Beat Goes On. And it does. One thing leads to another and to another. In our cause and effect world that’s how it plays out. Things could be good or bad depending on our attitude. It’s our attitude that changes everything.

But for the writer, it’s more like Linda Ronstadt’s, The Beat of a Different Drum, our own drum. We set our own tempo, our own dynamics. We decide our own rhythm. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is playing. We do what we do because we must.

We see the world through different eyes and we’re driven to let people see what we see – the injustice, the evil, the unfairness of life. the cruelty, the pain . . . and the beat goes on. We long to give hope to a world gone bad, to lift up others, to keep their heads above water. And so we become vulnerable, at risk of exposing ourselves.

Such is the life of a writer.

But, back to attitudes. Regardless of the material we write, there is always an upside. We have within us an invisible sense of the flipside. We may write with all the horror we can imagine or have experienced. We can write with all the heartbreak relationships may cause. We can put our pen to paper and create a tricky mystery. Even if the villain kills our protagonist, in the end, good usually comes through.

We writers are a lonely breed. We may lock ourselves away and come out with a most beautiful piece of poetry. We may exit with a great comedic piece. We come out and have the ability to touch lives. I can’t get away from the thought that everything I have written that someone has read results in them taking a part of me. I’ve given myself to the task of writing because the beat goes on. I can either overlook it, avoid it, or confront it head-on.

But more than that, I’m thankful for the spoken word. As a pastor, I have the wonderful opportunity each week to speak words – hopefully, words of hope to a world gone bad, to lift up others, to keep their heads above water. Spoken or written, that’s my purpose. That’s my calling.

The meaning of life runs deep, deeper than most people want to face. I can only speak for myself, but I do think most writers are willing to take that look into the deep, dark crevasses of our soul. We bring it forth and put black on white. Others read and enter the crevasse with us. So, here’s my question – where are you leading them? La Da Da Da De.

Weary? – Tired? – Bored?

Image result for weary gifs

Most of my life I have felt tired – worn out. The doctor says my thyroid is fine, but every time I see him, I have to take a short quiz on depression. Nope, I’m not depressed either. Sleep apnea seems to be the culprit. The whole CPAP thing gets old fast. I didn’t use it last night and guess what! I’m once again weary. Or should I say tired, or maybe worn out, or maybe one of a dozen other words? We’ll discuss that in a moment, but first, I want to remind you that my $1.00 special on all books and resources runs out this Saturday at midnight, so grab them while you can.

One thing I’ve been struggling with in my latest project is a repetition of words. We all know that to repeat the same word, especially in close proximity, is bad writing. Yet it happens.  Take the word tired, for instance. There is no reason to use the same word over and over when there are many words you could substitute. There may be slight variations in meanings, but consider the following:
     1. Worn-out
     3. Dead-tired
     4. Asleep
     5. Weary

No doubt, you can come up with other terms for each of the ones listed above. It only takes a few minutes to check a thesaurus. Invest in the time it takes to vary your words. In the long run, it will be worth a few minutes of thought to keep your reader from becoming weary, worn-out, dead-tired, bored, or asleep.

On another note, Mondays have become increasingly busy for me. I’ve been thinking about changing the weekly update to another day, but right now I’m too tired to think about it. Any suggestions, let me know. Also, I’m still looking for a couple of pages to replace the old Featured Excerpt page and the This Week’s Question page. Let me know what you would like to see.

Okay . . . I’m done for another week. I have to take a nap. See you next Monday (at least for now).



So What Happens Next???

Is ice better than snow? I don’t think so, but that’s what this Monday has brought to Central PA. There is a certain beauty in ice as it glistens on the trees and shimmers on the mountains, but don’t let me drive in it. It’s a good day to write. So let’s get on with it!

First of all, I’m trying some new things with the website. I eliminated from this site’s navigation two pages – Featured Excerpts and This Week’s Question. I want to replace them with pages of interest for you, so let me ask you (and please contribute and let me know what you think in the comments or personally email me), what would you like to see on these pages? Give me as much input as possible.

Secondly, I’m really not about making money from my writing. It’s more important to me to get out my message, so I’ve done something totally ridiculous. Everything, and I mean everything on the Books and Resources page has been reduced to $1.00. That includes shipping and the cost of publishing itself is much more than that. So you see, I just want to get good things in your hands. There are many books and courses to choose from including the MVOWC 13-week one-on-one attention. But you must order from this website to get the deal. It’s not available elsewhere. And of course, there are no strings attached. Now, I can’t get more ridiculous than that, so take advantage of it now through the end of February.

Now, how about some practical writing tips? We all want our readers to ask the question, what happens next? If they don’t ask the question, in one form or another, the page will never be turned.

Most of my fiction would be classified as thriller/mystery. Thrillers demand suspense, but whether that is your genre or not, a certain degree of suspense should always be included to keep the pages turning. So how do we build suspense? How do we get the reader to say, “What happens next?” Let me give you some things to think about.

1. Deadlines for your characters are always a good way to build suspense. A time crunch naturally adds tension to the plot. It may be something as simple as running to the store to get milk before the store closes – or you can up the stakes with something like a bomb ready to detonate in three minutes. Heighten the tension by putting obstacles in your character’s way as he/she races to beat the clock.

2. Use ultimatums. Ultimatums can be tied to deadlines but also can be used to show your character under emotional stress. Consider the plight of a housewife whose husband is involved in an adulterous affair. She tells him he must break off the relationship, but she is giving him three days to do it – or else. Build the emotional stress of both the husband and wife as the deadline calling for an ultimatum grows closer.

3. Consider switching the POV. Not all stories are meant to have more than one point of view, but others may be open to varied POV’s. The trick is to bring a different POV in at a critical time in the story. This helps to build the tension you are seeking. I’m attempting to use this technique in my newest project, The Marisol Deception. Television series use it regularly. Notice it the next time you curl up with a cup of cocoa and your favorite TV show.

4. Use short, choppy sentences. This achieves two things. Think how someone might talk when under stress. Usually the sentences are short and maybe to some degree, incoherent. They may actually have trouble speaking the words. But that’s not all. Not only do short, choppy sentences help to build the suspense, but it also keeps the pages turning. The sentences are easier to read which allows the reader to read more in a shorter period of time. The suspense that is built will ask the question, what happens next?

Just some things to think about on this Monday. See you next week, and don’t forget to give me some feedback regarding what kind of information you’d like to see here. Until then . .


The Man/Woman in the Mirror

Lately, I’ve read of the rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest. Sometimes I don’t think Pennsylvania is far behind. Very little snow this year but tons of rain and dark skies. I have a tendency to turn inward on days like this. What’s the purpose in writing? What am I accomplishing? Can I even write at all? Am I wasting my time? Is it worth it? The list of questions continue. Ever been there?

If you have, I hope these thoughts from the Bible will encourage you. Without getting too theological, Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” The mere fact that you long to write is a desire that God Himself has given you. He did not give you that desire to fail. Oh, I may never hit the New York Times Best Seller list, but I am doing what God created me to do. If I delight in Him and follow Him as He leads, I simply cannot fail – and neither can you.

You were created in the very image of God (Genesis 1:27). He created you for success. If He has given you the desire to write, it is His plan that you do, but it really is up to you as to how well you will do that. It may take studying, reading others, tearing up manuscript after manuscript, This I know, it will take work and it will take time.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” My friend, faith isn’t just believing, but rather knowing. That faith must first be placed in building a personal relationship with God, but notice the result of that – He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. In other words, He wants to give you the desires of your heart as they line up with His will. He has given you the desire to write. His plan is to reward you as labor diligently for Him. You can’t go wrong.

Our writing may not always be what we think it should be, but know you are fulfilling your purpose. You’re meeting your reason for existing, at least in part, so . . .

Take a look in the mirror. Hold your head high. Put on your happy face, and embrace all of life. That includes all the manuscripts you’ve torn up. That includes all the rejection letters you’ve received. We learn from it all – and we grow.

Well, another Monday is in the books. See you next week.


What Happened to Monday?

So, it looks like I missed the Monday updates. Those of you who know me, know that I love to write. You also know the church I pastor is first, and lately I’ve been so busy with other things. Writing has had to take a back seat. Some things came up yesterday. There was no way around it – so here I am on Tuesday with the Monday update. Well, everybody has an excuse, don’t they? I sincerely do apologize for not checking in until today.

It has also become necessary for my latest project, The Marisol Deception, to be put on hold. Slowly, I’ll get rolling again, but for now, pretend Tuesday is really Monday. That will help develop your imagination for your next fiction project.

Enjoy your week!!!


Carrying On

Me, at my best!

As we get ready to look ahead into February, I see that January is dying a quiet death. There’s not a lot new to report. This week’s question, of course, is up and ready for your answers, and the new featured excerpt is up. My HubPages friend, Eric Dierker has been laid up in the hospital and rehab for a while and is now getting back into the swing of things. I featured a piece from his regular Sunday Sermon series which you can read each Sunday on HP. Welcome him back, and let him know how much you appreciate him.

It’s been hard finding quality time to write lately. A few minutes here. A few minutes there. Marisol is moving along very slowly. The projected publishing date is set for sometime in June so I better get moving.

In the meantime, carry on with what you find to do. There’s a verse in the Bible that say,s “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” The tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant at the age of 41 reminds us all that we aren’t promised tomorrow. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it now.

Kobe Bryant

We’ll get back to sharing some writing tips soon. Until then . . . Carry on!


Grab It and Go!

As a self-published author, I’m involved in every aspect of my books from start to finish. That includes not only the written word, but the marketing, cover design, layout, etc. It can be time-consuming but also very rewarding.

But writing isn’t my only passion. First and foremost, I am the pastor of a small church in rural Central Pennsylvania, and it is my joy to share the story of Jesus with anyone who will listen.

I’ve found over the years that these two (writing and pastoring) can often go together. Whether it’s the spoken word or the written word, God’s Word can and does go out the same. So, I have something special for you at the beginning of the new year and decade. You just need to grab it and go.

Because I so strongly believe in what I write, I’m making available to anyone a free copy of my book, Storming Heaven’s Gates, a book on Christian revival. This is not a fiction book, but I do believe it will be helpful to anyone that desires a closer walk with God. Just send me a name and delivery address and it’s on its way. Please don’t order from the Books and Resources page as this will charge you at checkout. Send the information to me at myveryownwritingcoach@gmail.com. I do not share email addresses and your information is safe. You can also use this address to communicate with me about anything.

No doubt, there will be other freebies throughout the year, so stay tuned. I hope you’re enjoying the start of 2020. It will be what we make it. Until next week.


My Worst Enemy

On this Monday morning, early in this new decade, I’ve been thinking about what holds me back – not just in writing although that’s certainly included, but in life in its entirety. Coming in at Number One is a lack of time. But wait a minute! We all have 24 hours each day to deal with, right? So the problem must not be time. It must be me. How do I spend the time that’s been graciously given to me?

I guess it comes down to organization. Is my time organized? As I always do, in the beginning of each year, I bought myself an organizer where I can track my work, set my goals, and it even has a section where I can write in rewards for myself once the tasks are completed.

That’s all fine, but there is one problem. I don’t have time to keep it up. Also as I do every year, I end up trashing the organizer because it’s never up to date. My intentioins are good, but my commitment, not so much. I suppose it goes against every rule. I suppose it makes even less sense, but I really do accomplish more without a plan.

Another thing about time – I’ve reached the point in my life when I can look back and realize I’ve spent 75% of my life. If my lfe were divided into seasons, I would definintely be in winter. More days are behind me than are ahead for me.

So the next question is, am I satisfied with the spring, summer, and fall of my life? It doesn’t really matter. The question that is important is, whay will I do with my winter?

Maybe the better question is what are you doing with your season of life? What is your worst enemy? Perhaps it is also time. Maybe haunting memories of a failed past? Could it be fear? A fear so strong it actually stops you from moving forward. Is laziness your enemy? It could likely be something else, but deep inside you know what it is. It’s time to bring it to the surface and deal with it. Add that to your Day-timer.

Well, I’ll leave it there for this week, and see you in seven. Have a great one!!!


January 6, 2020

There is only one January 6, 2020. This is it! Go for it!

Time continues to travel on. And so do we. The new question is up. Give me your thoughts. The featured excerpt is up as well. We’ll begin the year with a taste of Nikki Khan’s writing in her piece, Life Is Blessing – a short Story. She’ll give you much to think about.

Now, let’s move on. Ever have a problem getting your writing into gear? If not, you’re a rare breed. Most of us have, but did you know that neuroscience can aid you in your quest for words? Here are some things that might help.

Learn to make writing fun. Visualize the future.

Often, we think of writing as something we should do. Unfortunately, should can lead to negative feelings. Most likely, should will cause you to feel less like writing. By applying neuroscience we can retrain the brain to look forward to our time at the keyboard.

How does this work? Quickly make a list of as many positive things as you can that will take place when you’re done writing. Maybe consider these:

  • How will you feel when you see your book published or hold it your hands?
  • What opportunities might it open up for you?
  • Will you win prizes? Get a contract? Think BIG!

I’m told that envisioning future success releases dopamine into the brain that gives us a sense of happiness, thus we are more motivated.

Create a trigger to form new writing habits.

To develop good writing habits, we can use triggers to our advantage. Think about the things you do without thinking. Here are some examples and how to implement them.

  • When I get home from the school run, then I’ll do 30 minutes of writing.
  • When I have my first coffee of the day, then I’ll write 500 words of my article.
  • When I get home from work, then I’ll spend 45 mins on my book.

The neuroscience behind this – when you fuse together an action, you do regularly with an action that you want to do more of, you strengthen the neural pathways in your brain.

Break your writing into small steps

Have you ever failed at a new habit? Maybe a new fitness routine at the gym? Maybe a new study habit?

Why did you fail? You may be surprised to learn that fear can be at the center of failing. The new habit may be too ambitious or even too complicated. Such feelings can trigger the amygdala – the fear portion of the brain. The result likely could be putting off or delaying the exercise. You might even be overwhlemed by it. So what can you do?

Start small:

  • Show up at your desk once a day at a set time and even if you don’t do any writing – reserve that time solely for writing and nothing else.
  • Write for 10-15 minutes each day and slowly increase the time the over the course of two weeks.
  • Produce a piece of freewriting every day (an unblocking technique where you splurge your thoughts without judging or editing).
  • Write in a journal every morning or evening.
  • Get a timer and find somewhere you can’t be interrupted, set it for 25 minutes. Write. Then, take a five-minute break. Set the timer for another 25 minutes.

Reward yourself

So you’ve turned off the fear factor. Now, turn on the pleasure center of your brain. Reward yurself for a job well done. Small rewards will trigger the pleasure center of your brain, and by doing so, will strengthen the writing habit even more.

Ask yourself, what small reward could you give yourself after your next writing session?

Don’t make your reward too big or too tiny, make it something small that you would look forward to receiving (or eating!) after a writing session.

Be sure to reward the effort you put in, not the quantity. There is a big difference.

Well, there you have it. Go into 2020 flying, but don’t burn out. Pace yourself. Set reasonable goals, and keep plugging away. 2020 looks to be promising year. Have a happy one.