Category Archives: My Writing

78 Years Ago, a Day That Will Live in Infamy.

Four elderly men stood before me. They had asked to talk to me and I was very, very nervous. One of them was shaking with emotion and all I could think of was somehow I had offended them with something I had written in the play they had just seen.

My Father in 2005

Let me explain.

In 1993, I was the director of the drama ministry at Brookwood Baptist Church. We produced four dinner theaters a year and my staff liaison requested we sell season tickets for the 1994 season. I was growing tired of writing, directing, and producing plays with a rural flair. I wanted something more modern and urban. I decided on the three plays leading up to our holiday dinner theater for 1994. Then, I wrote down a simple explanation for the fourth play, “The Night Gift”. It would take place in an urban setting, a newly constructed high rise in downtown with a penthouse office.

The members of that office would find themselves stuck in the penthouse office on Christmas Eve and in the process discover they didn’t get along as well as they thought. That was it. A simple story. I would worry about the details later and write the play sometime during the summer of 1994 in time for the holiday dinner theater.

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Where are Stories Born?

In 2011 I was in the midst of delivering on a five book contract with Charisma Media. During the year, I worked on three books at once. The first book was already in Charisma’s hands and I went through the months long process of editing with a professional editor, designing a cover, and approving the final book. The second book was the one I would turn in at the end of the year in its final format. I was editing and writing the final manuscript. The third book was the next book in the series and I was outlining, researching, and writing the rough draft.

So, why in the midst of this would I decide to write two short stories a week? Simple. I had to keep my creative juices flowing and to do so, I availed myself of a wonderful website no longer around called “Storypraxis”. My editor, Andy Meisenheimer was involved in the website and the premise was that every couple of days or so, a story prompt featuring a word or a phrase was released. You then had about 36 hours to free write a short, short story based on the prompt. No editing. Just free write and get it down on the screen. Then, you uploaded the story and if it was “good” enough, it would be featured the next month in the site’s digital magazine.

I recently ran across all of my short stories from that brief time. From the stories I wrote over a year’s time, I chose 63 stories to share with my readers. I have put them together in a short book entitled “Praxis Makes Imperfect?: Prompting Your Story” available at this link.

If you are interested in writing, I challenge you to take a look at the writing prompts. They are listed in the front of the book. Sit down and just let your imagination flow and see what comes out of the inspiration from the word. Then, if you are at all interested, check out the story I wrote from that prompt. Some of the stories are ridiculous. Some are almost sublime. I used this process to explore characters, ideas, what if questions, and possible novel ideas. Some of the short stories ended up in my novels. Others are waiting in the wings impatiently, the characters tapping their toes with arms or tentacles or appendages crossed waiting for me to unleash them into the world of my stories. Patience beings. I will get to you!

So, enjoy this little book. See what stories the prompts inspire in you and write, write, write! Bleed all over the page! Let your imagination soar! And, then judge for yourself I managed to soar. Or to crash and burn!

Now, back to that hunchback wandering in the catacombs looking for that certain book of arcane secrets . . .

Upcoming Book Signing!

I never dreamed of becoming a publisher.

I just wanted to get my books out there for people to read without all the hassle and delays I have experienced in publishing four books through traditional publishing.

It started with “The 11th Demon” and I’ve managed to publish five books through my 613media,LLC. And now, Mark Sutton and I have published “Hope Again: A Lifetime Plan for Conquering Depression” through our LifeFilters, LLC company and its imprint Hope Again Books.

There are two stories I can share about this new book. Mark and I had the honor of holding a book signing at First Baptist Church Orlando and Oasis Church in Daytona Beach. We sold almost 200 books between the two events but that is not what drove me to my knees in humility.

At one of the events, a person approached Mark and said he had come to church that day to tell God goodbye. He would then end his life that afternoon in total despair. Now, Pastor David Uth’s sermon was absolutely amazing and powerful. But, the sermon combined with the encouragement to purchase our book helped him to overcome his despair. He is now doing much better!

At the other church, a parent purchased a book because his middle school child, yes, his CHILD asked him to buy him a copy of the book. A week later, the parent shared his child was devouring the book and it was helping them deal with depression. A middle schooler!

Only God can take credit for this! Our traditional publisher had given up on our book and had taken it out of print. As I shared in an earlier post, an email from a woman in South Africa found our book and it “saved” her life and that email prompted us to publish a third version of “Hope Again” on our own. And, I am so glad we did! God is still using our stories of depression to help others.

Now, Hope Again Books is releasing another title! Mark Sutton has written a powerful and exciting work of fiction based on the wars in heaven that led to Lucifer’s fall.

Entitled “Pitfall”, this new book will be released in a special event on December 7th at Brookwood Baptist Church in the Well, the church’s coffee bar/book store. You can come and go from 3 to 6 PM. The address is 9014 Brookwood Church Way, Shreveport, LA 71106 and we are at the corner of Bert Kouns and I49.

Hope Again Books will be sponsoring free coffee drinks and snacks. Mark will be signing copies of his new book and we both will be there to sign copies of “Hope Again: A Lifetime Plan for Conquering Depression”. I will also have copies of all seven of my books.

So, come on by and celebrate the release of Mark’s new book.

Holiday Update

As we move into the holiday season I want to remind everyone of a book that would make one of the best holiday presents. “The Homecoming Tree” is set in Shreveport, Louisiana at the beginning of World War II and features a powerful and moving story of a young boy coming of age and a man who has lost touch with his morality. Filled with historical references of northwest Louisiana’s involvement with the war effort, this story will not only educate readers but will entertain readers. Let me just say if you like “It’s A Wonderful Life”, the movie, you will like “The Homecoming Tree”.

So, check out the “Books” tab on how to get your hands on the ebook or the printed book. And, stay in touch as Mark Sutton and I are planning a book signing before the end of the year when he releases his new fiction book, “Pitfall, Book One: Angel Wars”. More on that soon!

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The Holidays are Here?!?

I’m facing major surgery on December 4th. That’s just three days short of the anniversary of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Whenever this time of year approaches, I jump into full Christmas mode beginning on November 1. But, this year will be different. Christmas celebration for us will be dialed back a bit.

So, I have already put up our “Homecoming Tree”. It is not yet decorated and sits in our living room waiting for its mantle of shiny decorations. This year, Sherry has decided to dig out all of our vintage Precious Moments decorations. Some of these date back 40 years! Decorating the tree will be quite nostalgic!

I guess it is fitting that this is the year I release my novelization of “The Homecoming Tree”, a play I wrote and directed at Brookwood Baptist Church in 2005. In looking back through my photographs of that play, I found one of my father. Sean, my son, took those photos on black and white film and when we developed them, yes, developed them — not digital, the developing process left artifacts on the photographs. These artifacts resembled what you would see on a genuine old film. Here is the photograph of my father as he is looking up at the set for the play.

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The Homecoming Tree

In 2005 Brookwood hosted the play, “The Homecoming Tree”. The story of a 13 year old boy faced with the tragedy of his father not returning from the attack on Pearl Harbor set the stage for a powerful drama. The story centered around the Collinsworth boarding house between Thanksgiving and Christmas 1941. Since that time, I have been working hard to complete a novelization of that story. I finished the final draft of the novel today! I hope it will be available for purchase by mid November. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2 when the ruthless businessman, Roy Anderson, finds himself catapulted back in time to 1941 and his memory erased. In this scene, Daniel Collinsworth has found his father’s hidden book safe containing the medal his father won and a surprise.:

Frank picked up the wax paper. He studied the dark shreds of tobacco and then lifted them to his nose. He inhaled, and a contented look came over his face. “I wouldn’t mind taking a bite or two myself. But, I promised you, mother, I would quit. That’s why I put it here in my hidden treasure box.”

Daniel’s eyes widened in surprise. “But, if you quit, why didn’t you just throw it away?”

Frank lowered the tobacco and reluctantly closed the wax paper around it. “Let’s just say I was hoping one day she might change her mind.”

“Why did she make you quit?”

Frank put the tobacco back into the book and put the papers on top of it. “Ever kiss someone who’s beenchewing tobacco?” Read the rest of this entry

The 9th Demon Final Edit is Done!

Tonight, I completed the final edit on the next book in the Jonathan Steel Chronicles, “The 9th Demon: Time of the Cross”. Yes, I changed the name. This novel is as long as the last one and now I am entering into the final phases of book cover design and line editing (grammar check, oh fun!)

Today, I met with Luke Lee who designed my last book cover and we decided on a basic design. So, hang in there. It will be just a few more weeks and the book will be available.

Oh, for fun, here is a part of what will appear on the cover:

Oh, and for fun, here is my first stab at the “blurb” on the back of the book:

Jonathan Steel’s partner, Theo, had been kidnapped. The trail leads Steel to a mysterious island where the media mogul, David Boone, claims to have built a machine capable of taking his movie making team into the past to film the last days of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Steel must follow the team through the machine’s Portal to rescue his partner from certain death at the hands of the Ninth Demon. Where will Steel end up, in the past, or in an alternate world created by a madman? 

Jonathan Steel is Returning!

I have just finished the rough draft for the next book in the Jonathan Steel Chronicles. Tentatively it is entitled “The Ninth Demon: Cross Time”. It will still be a couple of months before I hope to get it into press but for those of you who have been waiting patiently these past two years, here is the Prologue to give you some idea of what’s going on. (Or, not!)

 

PROLOGUE

It was time to die. The man standing at the window did not want to die. But, neither did he want his two girls to die. The window looked out over a vast cavern filled with sunlight streaming in through the far opening. A transport airplane appeared in the distance, touched down on a dirt runway and pulled into the huge cavern. Workers converged on the plane like ants to honey.

“Are you ready to die?” Someone said behind him. He had not heard the man enter the room.

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Hope Comes With the Dawn

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Sunrise over Napier, New Zealand March, 2014

Sometimes I stand in the darkness and feel its power. It is smothering; dampening; oppressive; crushing all hope. Today near dawn, I stood in the darkness and felt the power of that hopelessness. This is not the world I anticipated. Gone are the tenets of unselfish love; of benevolence; of respect for others — religious beliefs included; of manners and kindness; of true love. Gone is my God, seemingly erased and eradicated by a new god that looks back at me each morning from my own mirror and from the countless perfect snapshots of a billion selfies. Gone is kindness and empathy and warmth. Gone is dialogue in the face of endless monologuing.

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I am not worthy.

I work in the darkness. I am a radiologist and in order to view the diagnostic images on my monitors, I must keep the room dark. I am surrounded continually by shadows. It is my world.

For the past few months, those shadows have slowly, inexorably moved into my world outside of work. They have slowly and quietly slipped along the floor and the walls and the ceiling with cold tendrils of blackness. The shadows have embraced me.

When I am strong; when I am attentive to the moving of God in my life, my mind, and my soul; when I pay attention to that still, small Voice; when I am seated at the foot of the cross the Light presses back the shadows. But, when I am weak; when I am troubled; when my attention is captured by the immediate and the urgent instead of the important I am distracted. I fail to look over my shoulder at the creeping darkness. I take my eyes off the Source of Life for my every breath.

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