No More “C” Word

Back in the beginning of the year when I posted the above picture,I had no idea of what was on the way. COVID-19 has changed the face of everyday life. I don’t see things being much different after the virus leaves. People will be accustomed to social distancing. It will be natural. I can see most intimate relationships being replaced by Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Of course, the economy is changing and will be greatly affected. $11 for a dozen eggs? How far can this go? It may change the face of world currency.

The American church will have a different look. Most people are content to stay at home and watch a service on TV or the internet. When the church doors reopen, few will attend because they enjoy not packing up and traveling to a building. It’s become too easy and is not seen as an important issue although it is.

“C” for COVID-19. I’m going to do my best not to mention it again. It’s an everyday occurance and our senses will become numb to it. “C” is for Change. Change that has and is bound to occur. Change can be good, but it can also be bad. I wonder what we’ll choose?

So as it has been addressed by so many writers, use this time to write. There is a world that you can influence for good. There is a world out there that needs your creativity. There is a world out there that you can ease their stress and pain through the written word – if only for a moment. Just do it!

Oh, but please keep your personal relationships intact. Don’t write to them. Don’t text them. Phone them. Speak to them. Spend time building the things that really matter. No more COVID-19. Bring on positive change for all who call themselves human.

Where Are We Going?

There’s no self pity here, just the facts. I’ve been taken over by pneumonia for the past six weeks or so. That being said, my writing has been somewhat limited.

This post has nothing to do with writing. I’m just asking the question (and only you can answer), where are you going? What have you accomplished that will last after your time on earth is up? Where will you be after your time on earth is up?

In short, I’m going back to the three main questions we all need to answer. First, where have I come from? Second, Why am I here? Third, where am I going? There is something in the human psyche that demands answers.

So I ask again, where have you come from? Why are you here? Where are you going? I’m just asking the questions. Feel free to discuss it in the comments, or email me. I’d love to talk more about it.

Short and sweet – see you next week.


Lockdown? -Yeah, Right!

America and the world have experienced something we have never dealt with before. COVID-19 has everyone running for cover. Certainly we need to use common sense and use good hygiene. I’ll leave my political views out of it except to say I believe it’s an overactive media at its best – or worst. I can see how the current events fit neatly into Bible prophecy. I’ll save that for another time as well.

So the country is in lockdown. Does that mean you can’t accomplish anything worthwhile? Nope! This may very well be a blessing in disguise for writers. So few places to go. So few things to do. It’s the perfect time to devote yourself to your next writing project. Or if you don’t write, curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and ten books. Don’t waste the time we have – and don’t complain about it either.

Now, on to something practical. Well, I’m not sure. I’m always looking for new things to try, new techniques to use, to keep the creative juices flowing. I came across something interesting today. Have you ever thought about copying a finished novel? I don’t mean copying it and claiming as your own. I mean taking pen and paper and writing it word for word. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is. But here’s the payoff.

  1. You learn commitment – Taking time to handcopy a great work is a great work. You’ve chosen to place yourself in lockdown as you undertake many hours of scribing. You risk writer’s cramp. The sacrifices you make and the commitment you claim will go miles as you set out to work on your new manuscript.
  2. You learn the hidden, internal structure of the manuscript. How does the author structure his/her sentences? Are they short? Long? What about the cadence? You’ll see things you never thought of before, and I believe in the long run that will help shape your writing. (But you have to use a quality text to copy. It works both ways. If you use an inferior manuscript, it will pull your writing down just as easily).
  3. You strengthen vocabulary. There can be no doubt, left to ourselves, we have a tendency to overuse certain words. Think about the word but. What other words could you use in its place? Maybe however. How about in contrast? It might even be possible to change it up by using the word and.

    There is much more that can be said. however, I think you get the point. I’ve never done this before so I’m hoping to try it in the near future. Let me know what your thoughts are.

Until next week, keep healthy and busy. Don’t let the lockdown get the best of you.


Welcome to Wednesday



Welcome to our new day – Wednesday! I don’t have much to say this week as I’m under the influence – the influence of influenza. I’m just chillin’ if you know what I mean. The old flu bug has me tight in its grip. At least, it’s not COVI-19. With that being said, just to let you know I said a prayer for you, and plan on giving you something worthwhile next week. Right now, worthwhile escapes me. Have a great week!

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!!!