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“Dad, I feel normal for the first time in years.”

This one statement drove me to tears. My daughter feels normal. My daughter acts normal!

I haven’t posted in weeks. My family has been in survival mode for so long. Life happens and it is not always good. My son and his wife made a major move to a new town and new job situation. My daughter finally agreed to have some testing performed thanks to her two best friends who agreed to accompany her. The stress level has been beyond 10 for so long I don’t know what it feels like to be normal. But, I will try and become familiar with the feeling again.

My daughter, Casey, in her long protracted battle with migraines and seizures has finally found the perfect medication combination and over the past three weeks my wife and I have watched her blossom and bloom. We have our daughter back! Sorry, but I have to keep the tears off the keyboard. I’ll be back in a moment.

Okay, so I want to thank my blog readers for their thoughts and prayers during this time. Casey is back to her normal self, something we haven’t seen in years.

Through all of this, I have continued to work on my next two books. For the readers of the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel (both books are great summer reads if you haven’t tried them!) I will have the third book available by the end of October, first of November. I am keeping my promise to you, my readers, of having a book out once a year in this story arc.

I am also finishing the final manuscript chapters for the update to “Conquering Depression” with my co-author, Mark Sutton. More on that in the near future, but I am so excited about the opportunity B&H Publishing is giving us to update this book and bring it into the 21st century!

That’s all for now. I’ll be blogging again very soon. I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. God is so good!

 

Just a teaser:

The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos

 Just when Jonathan Steel thought he would get a break, he discovers that his mentor, Cephas Lawrence has purchased the house once owned by the evil Robert Ketrick, once in league with the thirteenth demon. And, trapped within the walls of the house’s basement is a dark secret that threatens their existence. When Vivian Darbonne Ketrick arrives in Shreveport to locate the Ark of the Demon Rose, a new evil organization appears to rival the Council of Darkness. Soon, Jonathan, Josh Knight, Cephas, and Theophilus King find themselves involved in government conspiracies, evil powers, and in the clutches of not one, but two powerful demons! What is in the Ark of the Demon Rose? Why is Vivian looking for it? And, who are the mysterious white eyed minions of evil who make Vivian look like a Girl Scout? Find out in the latest installment of the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel in “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”. Available this fall.

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Stranded in the Sargasso Sea!

In 1964, a cartoon premiered on Friday NIGHT called Jonny Quest. I was only 9 years old but I was instantly hooked. I can still recall sitting on our green Naugahyde* couch with a glass of chocolate milk and a miracle whip and mustard sandwich, eyes wide open watching a boy not too much older than me fighting lizard men in the middle of the haunted Sargasso Sea. Those images of rotting hulks of lost and abandoned ships covered with mold and sargassum seaweed still haunt my memories. Here is what Wikipedia says about this area:

The Sargasso Sea is a region in the gyre in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is bounded on the west by the Gulf Stream; on the north, by the North Atlantic Current; on the east, by the Canary Current; and on the south, by the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. This system of ocean currents forms the North Atlantic Gyre. All the currents deposit the marine plants and refuse they carry into this sea.

Sargasso_sea

A gyre of refuse and rotting hulks; the ultimate graveyard of ships unwarily trapped in the doldrums; ships and sailors who drifted into the Sargasso Sea and were trapped forever! Here is a perfect description of a maelstrom of misery; a whirlpool of weariness; a prison for those who lose their wind; let their sails luff helplessly, rudderless — lost forever!

 

Well, I have been trapped in the Sargasso Sea for months now. And, there is no laser wielding boy scientist and his father on the horizon to save me. “What do you do when you have writer’s block?” I have been asked. Always, I have been able to answer this question by claiming that writer’s block has NEVER been my problem. But, what about life block? What happens when everything grinds to a halt and you can’t seem to get anywhere? What happens when crisis after crisis throws roadblocks and speed bumps before you? Life happens. Writer’s block is a symptom far down the line from a life that has been drawn slowly, inexorably into the Sargasso Sea!

It is no coincidence that in the midst of this time in my life, I am trying to finish a new manuscript on depression. I can officially announce that Mark Sutton and I have signed a new contract for an update to our depression book, “Conquering Depression”. Our hope is to launch a new website by July 1 showcasing our current book and helping those who are deep in the doldrums of depression. I guess I need to read my own book!

But, where I am right now is far more complex than depression. I once thought idealistically that there was a point in my adult life when my children would be grown up and on their own and my wife and I would have time for all of that traveling together; golden years of maturity and joy as a reward for a lifetime lived well and fully. I thought of this “golden” time as the years before retirement when we would still have the health and the energy to do whatever we wanted and the freedom to pursue decades of postponed dreams.

Instead, life has grown increasingly more demanding and complex. Aging parents demand more attention than our young children every did! Our grown children face challenges of their own my wife and I never had to deal with at that age. Life continues to happen, unrolling before us as a road with potholes and unexpected detours and roadblocks. How naive I was to think that life would ever be truly uncomplicated and simple. Life is not.

Here is why. Life is change. Life is growth. Life is pain. Life is joy. Life is NOT static. Life is dynamic. The only time when there will be no change; no growth; no pain is when we are dead. This is a startling revelation for me. To live is to face pain AND joy. The two cannot be separated. For, it is in the triumph over these challenges that we find the sweetest joy; the greatest contentment.

As my family journeys forward into the unknowable future, we have to cling to the concept that the Sargasso Sea can trap us, but there is a Navigator, a Pilot, a Captain who can lead us out of the doldrums. His breath is our wind; filling our sails with life and movement and joy.

 sails_wind

I cannot even begin to imagine what life would be like trapped in the Sargasso Sea on a rotting hulk of a broken life totally alone without God. In the deepest, darkest moments of despair, God is still there. I may not be able to see Him but the defect is mine, not His. My glasses are clouded by the smears of angrily swiped tears. My eyes are closed against the pain I see in my life. But, if I open them; if I dare to look UP and away from the maelstrom of misery around me, I will see my Redemption is drawing nigh. My sails, though tattered and torn, can still fill with the breath of life and my ship can move out of the dead water into the living Water of life.

ingodslight032711

As my wife tells me, “Breathe!”. Yes, breathe; inspire; pause and let the breath of God renew you. Today, right now, this moment stilled and frozen in time — reach up with open hands, open arms, open heart to God. His warmth, His breath, His life will renew you as it renews me with each drawn breath.

Today, I choose to sail my broken, scarred ship out of the Sargasso Sea; out of the rotting hulks of depression and despair and defeat. I set my sight on a far shore with a fair sunrise and a promise of unconditional love! Join me and leave the Sargasso Sea behind!

 

*A marketing campaign of the 1960s and 1970s asserted that Naugahyde was obtained from the skin of an animal called a “Nauga”. The campaign emphasized that, unlike other animals, which must typically be slaughtered to obtain their hides, Naugas can shed their skin without harm to themselves. Naugahyde also was known as plastic leather or “pleather”.

 

For fun, check out this ‘redo’ of the intro to Jonny Quest in stop motion animation:

Good to be Alive!

I am in Orlando, Florida meeting with my co-author, Mark Sutton. We are working on building a platform to promote our book, “Conquering Depression”. While I am supposed to be excited, I am also somewhat sad because my wife could not be with me. She is staying at home to take care of her mother. And so, I sit alone in a hotel room looking out over the grounds of the Disney resort, Port Orleans: Riverside. I have been her for four days now and the loneliness is telling at night. During the day, I have had the opportunity to spend time with Mark and his wife, Donna. But, now, I face another lonely evening with just me and my laptop.

Odd that I should feel this way when working on a book about depression. For depression is the beast that hounds me, that breaths down my neck, that perches on my shoulders with steely claws waiting to dig into my muscles. If you suffer from depression, you know exactly what I mean!

But, just now, I listened to one of my favorite songs by Jason Gray, “Good to Be Alive”.

 

Hold on, Is this really the life I am living?
Cause I don’t feel like I deserve it
Every day that I wake, every breath that I take you’ve given
So, Right here, right now
While the sun is shining down

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love, like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive
Yea, yea

Hold on, If the life that we’ve been given
Is made beautiful in the living
And the joy that we get brings joy to the heart of the giver
Then right here, right now
This is the song I’m singing out

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love, like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love, like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive
Yea,

I won’t take it for granted
I won’t waste another second
All I want is to give you
A life well lived to say, “thank you”

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love, like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be, it’s good to be alive

I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow
Love, like I’m on borrowed time
It’s good to be alive

I won’t take it for granted
I won’t waste another second
All I want is to give you
A life well lived to say, “thank you”

 

In September, 2012 my son, Sean and I attended Hutchmoot 2012. During one of the most moving breakout sessions, Jason Gray shared his struggled with a depression so deep and so profound, he considered ending his life. His friend and colleague, Eric Peters also shared his struggle with depression. We were sitting in a room with about 35 people most of whom were in their 20s and I was shocked at how many of these young adults with their entire life ahead of them echoed these two singers’ struggles with depression.

Right now, I should be on top of the world. I am on the verge of a new contract for a new book series. But, at the same time, I have been released from a five book contract and I don’t know what the future holds for my fiction. It is a time of difficulty decisions and uncertainty while I wait patiently for my agent to give me advice regarding the future of these books and my career. It is so easy to forget the positive and dwell on the negative.

But, I must continue to remind myself the reason I write. Not only is it cathartic, but it is revelatory. God speaks to me as I write and the words that show up on this page are a reflection of God’s working in my life. They are an echo of the work that God has for me to do. In that respect, it is “good to be alive”. Because I want to live like there’s no tomorrow. I want to love like I’m on borrowed time. I won’t take my life for granted another second. I will not waste these moments that God has given me. I will wait upon the Lord for He knows the plans for my life. And, I am grateful that God has given me a tiny piece of His Story to write!

 

Live today for God!

The Shadows of Depression Falling, Falling, . . .

The days are growing shorter and night flies across the world in record time. These are the dark days; the cold days as winter and its death grip tightens across the land. As wonderful as the holiday season can be, for some of us, the lengthening shadows bring the cold, hard press of depression to our souls. In a time when we should be thankful and happy, sadness tinges our every thought.

I understand. I have been there and I battle the teasing touch of depression every day. But, I have developed a plan that helps me battle depression on a daily basis. This plan was born out of my two years of counseling and with the help of my Lord. Today, I spoke at length with Armstong Williams on the coming epidemic of depression that is sweeping our land, particularly our young adults. How do you combat this depression?

Let me share some thoughts.

First, invest some time and effort into a creative endeavor. Write a song. Sing a song even if the only person in the audience is the shower nozzle. Write a poem, a letter, a blog post. Pick up some crayons and a coloring book. Find a way to give a special gift of your own making to that loved one this Christmas. Creativity utilizes a totally different part of our brain than that part which is more cognitive and intuitive. Exercising creativity brings a balance to brain chemistry. And, its fun. When you are depressed, you seldom do anything that is fun. Now is the time to indulge yourself. Even if it is to make a cool, colorful ice cream sundae with lots of colorful sprinkles!

Second, take a technology fast. Turn off the cell phone and tuck away the ipad. Don’t message any one for an hour. Go outside and take a walk in the cold sunshine or read a real book. Better yet, try a REAL interaction with someone instead of a virtual interaction. We are becoming increasingly isolated from real contact due to Facebook and Twitter and texting. But, we need to touch and talk to and listen to real people in real time in person. Scary, but I suggest you try it before you forget what it is like to sit at a table with your best buddy and talk over coffee.

Third, invest your time and energy in something that transcends your life. Find a cause that helps others. Serving others can be the best diversion from depression. And, when you invest in a cause that is greater than yourself; that will have lasting impact beyond your life; it gives you perspective. You will find others that may be worse off than you and a smile and a helping hand is what you are looking for so give that to them. Find someone who is suffering from depression and help them out by sharing and talking to them. They might have good advice that will help you. And, vice versa. Turn your “tragedy” into “triumph”. Redeem your depression!

Finally, turn loose of that grudge or that unforgiving attitude. In my book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” the character of Raven is an assassin who started out as a little girl in love with God. Because of some tragedy in her life, she moved into a life of crime, killing for a living. In the process, because she could not forgive, she died inside. Like the vampires in my book, she is the walking dead; dead inside; dead spiritually; dead emotionally. Until she meets up with Jonathan Steel, a man from her past who reminds her that there is a Love that transcends hurt and death and evil. Being unforgiven has left her numb and depressed. Can she ever find forgiveness? Is there some deed so horrific; so heinous that God cannot forgive? Can you ever find peace?

Like Raven, this question is true for all of us. There are always those in our life we should forgive. And, there are always those in our life who should forgive us. Think about that and if you can find it in your heart, forgive. If you can find the strength, ask for forgiveness. You will find the sudden rush of holy wind that floods your soul will rejuvenate your dying spirit; it will fill you with new life; it will blow away the dregs of depression and leave you healed and restored.

Don’t spend another day as the walking dead. Start conquering depression right now!

 

This holiday season, check out “Conquering Depression: A 30 Day Plan for Finding Happiness” available in all bookstores and through all ereaders. If you’re looking for a good fiction book for someone, check out my first book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” and the newest book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”.

 

Final Post on Hutchmoot 2012 — Conquer Depression!

I have seen the hand of God this summer in ways I have never seen before in my life. He reached out to me from the utter blue and totally changed my direction. I am the co-author of “Conquering Depression” published by B&H Publishing way back in February 2001. We had given up on producing a new book and I had decided to move on to my fiction. But, God started stirring things up.

First, I did the RIGHT thing back in May. I said, “God, I am giving up on any future with a new depression book. It is in your hands. Show me the work you want me to do. I will no longer worry about this book. Instead, I will focus on my fiction books.” The next day, an email arrived from our agent telling us we should write a brand new book on depression. Well, I wasn’t completely convinced. I was working on the prep for my fiction books with another publisher. But, I reached out to my co-author, Mark Sutton. Turns out he was in the worst depression he had in years! The last thing he wanted to do was write a new book on depression. He just wanted to see the sun rise again!

I won’t belabor the details, because I can’t really go into them but in July, we were offered an opportunity to do a new book and possibly an entire series! Out of the blue! With no input or planning on our part. Literally, an editor walked up to me at a publisher’s meeting room and recognized me and asked to meet regarding a new book on depression. I mentioned it earlier in my previous post that I felt at that time God might be telling me depression was my top priority instead of fiction. And, that came to pass while I was at Hutchmoot!

Now, here is what I want to share. I don’t know what each person took away from Hutchmoot. I am convinced it was totally different and totally unique for each of us. God told us exactly what we needed. And, I would bet that it wasn’t exactly what we WANTED! I needed to hear that a new depression book was essential! That it was needed! I had decided that only older people suffered from depression. Imagine my shock to learn that many of the under 35 crowd (the majority of Hutchmoot attendees) are churned under by depression. In fact, I would say we are on the cusp of an epidemic. God showed me this as I have said in the previous posts.

God told me in no uncertain terms, “Bruce, get with the program. Don’t just do a halfway job on updating a depression book. Give it everything you’ve got. Now! Today!” I heard God speaking.

And so, I met with my co-author yesterday. We spent six hours going over the tentative plan for the book. But, I showed him some really important things. I told him about Eric Peters and Jason Gray’s “Recovery Through Song” session. I had made copious notes and now several phrases that both men used will become brand new chapters in the depression book. I played Eric’s “Voices” for him. He wept and we will be doing a chapter on the voices that can lie to us. I played him some of “Light for the Lost Boy” and we talked about a mutual acquaintance of my son that Mark Sutton knows well who has lost his faith. We talked about all the “lost boys and girls” who are alienated by our culture. So, we will have a chapter on that! We will be building a website as a platform for this book and we are VERY excited about it.

And here is what I want everyone who attended Hutchmoot 2012 and everyone who planned and worked at Hutchmoot to know. God used this simple gathering for a huge purpose. I walked with God into that meeting and, as Phil Vischer said, God showed me the work He wanted me to do. I could NEVER have seen this without Hutchmoot. So, Pete and Andrew and Eric and Jason and all of you wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, one day someone will send us an email and say, “Your depression book saved my life.” and you must understand that you had a hand in that. Your love and compassion and devotion to God will play out in ways we can never know. People will come to find hope and peace and joy again because of the influence of Hutchmoot.

So, here is what I’d like to offer. We want to begin to build a database, if you will, of testimonies regarding depression. When we launch our new book in the summer of 2014 (tentative plans) and open our website, I’d like to have as many video, audio, or written testimonials as possible to put on the website. So, here’s the deal. If you would like to be a part of the “Conquer Depression” project, simply let me know. Drop me an email through the form below. I will send you a link to my Dropbox account and you can put anything in there you want — a video, an audio recording, or simply something in writing. And, I have about 50 of the current “Conquering Depression” books as promotions. They are hard to find, but you can order them online and book stores will order them for you. But, I’d like to offer you a copy FREE of charge. Now, this is the current book and the new book will be ten times better thanks to Hutchmoot! But, if I send you a book, and it helps you, we would love a follow up testimonial for the website.

Mark Sutton and I struggle daily with depression. Remember I said he was in the deepest depression in years? Once the ball dropped in July and we were offered a possible new book deal, he changed totally. Turns out his current episode was due to chronic illness, a simmering infection. Once treated, he was different man and now his on fire to write this book! Satan is already after us and attacking both of us. Satan is the father of lies and his biggest lies are the ones that discourage us and send us into his darkness. Help us fight that! Join us in “Conquering Depression”.

 

In the form below, note it is NOT FOR COMMENTS. Simple fill it out and send me your email and I will get back to you with more information.

Weekend Roundup!

Now, this is a week to remember!

It started out with two incredible days at the International Christian Retail Show. I was able to meet Mr. Strang himself, the founder of Charisma Media and to see my mockup of “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” at the Charisma Booth. I met Ted Dekker, Tosca Lee, Charles Martin, Os Guinness to drop a few BIG names as well as singer and songwriter Matthew West. I learned that the future of publishing, at least in Christian retail outlets, is NOT dismal but is HOPEFUL. And, of course, the BIG development is the one I cannot speak of yet that has to do with future books by yours truly. Here is a picture with my Charisma editor, Deborah at the ICRS:

Saturday, my good friend and financial adviser, Kevin Murphy of Ameriprise held a brunch featuring my book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”. Sherry and I were expecting maybe a dozen people to show up but the room was full with around 50 attendees! I was stunned.

Kevin asked me to speak and answer questions. I talked about the development of my writing career to date and the process of writing “The 13th Demon”. And, I brought along a copy of that old reliable book I had co-authored, “Conquering Depression”. I was stunned when over half of those there wanted a copy of that book! Kevin took names and agreed to purchase copies and send them to those who signed up. I am continually amazed at how this little known book continues to change lives everywhere I go!

Last Sunday, Mark Sutton and I spent six hours working on a plan for a future upgrade to “Conquering Depression” and the developments of the week at the ICRS impacted the future of that book!

And, just now, I finished putting the final touches and making the final changes to the galley proofs of “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”! That book is now on its way to the printer with the cover and back design in place and the book endorsements tucked onto the first page. I am now making plans for the book launch.

For now, the book launch is planned for Friday, October 19th at the Well, the coffee shop of Brookwood Baptist Church in Shreveport. Like last year, we will have refreshments, giveaways and I hope we have another huge crowd. I have also scheduled a book signing at First Baptist Church Orlando for October 27 and 28. If you know of a book store that might be interested in having me for a book signing, just contact me and let me know. Get me the contact information and I’ll turn it over to Charisma. God is SO good. He is in charge and His plans are so much grander and more satisfying than we can ever imagine!

Here are some pictures from this weekend.

Pump up Your Writing by Speaking!

Here is a copy of one of my “how to” blogs for “Just the Write Charisma“. I thought I would reproduce it here for those of you interested in the writing life.

Recently, I was listening to an interview of a Christian speculative fiction author. A blogtalk radio “station” out of Canada with a listening audience in the hundreds of thousands had granted this author an hour long interview to talk about his book. As I listened, I was appalled. Was this man a communicator? Didn’t he write a novel? How was it he was such an inarticulate speaker?

I began to listen to other podcast interviews and online interviews and I discovered something. As authors, we are the masters of the WRITTEN word, but often we are abysmal with the SPOKEN word. That author I mentioned above? That was me, Bruce Hennigan, in an interview for my first self published novel.

My journey since then has been totally unanticipated. I am an apologist, or one who is trained to defend the truth of the Christian worldview and since that interview, I have become part of a local organization, SBCAN or Shreveport Bossier Christian Apologetics Network, producing seminars and mini-retreats on how to defend the Christian faith in an increasingly hostile culture. I sat down and asked myself, “Why has God chosen to make me an apologist AND a novelist? What do the two have to do with each other?”

Well, God has shown me an answer. And it is simply this. One way we as authors can promote our WRITTEN word is by becoming SPEAKERS and communicating, with clarity, the message that underlies our novels. From a strictly utilitarian point of view, speaking in public can afford us the opportunity to promote our works. So, how is this accomplished? Let me give you four suggestions:

ONE — REFINE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS

I enrolled in the Certified Apologetic Instructor program from my denominations North American Mission Board under the direction of one of the most awesome speakers and generally all around wonderful brother in Christ, Mike Licona. [link] As part of this intensive training program, Mike required us to attend the Dynamic Communications Workshop (Now known as the SCORRE Conference). Now, I have been a public speaking since high school. I am producer, director, playwright, and actor in church based drama. I have spoken at dozens of writer’s conferences on writing plays as well as dozens of regional and national drama festivals. Why would I have to attend a communications workshop?

While DCW isn’t the only workshop out there, I can tell you unequivocally that it changed my life. Really! It changed my life! This Christian based program showed me where I was going wrong and taught me invaluable skills in communication. I cannot recommend this program highly enough. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, it is intensive. But, as authors, we must master the skill of selling ourselves in interviews and podcasts and videocasts. If we stumble and mumble and “UMM” our way through an interview, who in their right mind would want to read what we write!

I had to humble myself and realize I can always be taught something and let the wonderful people at DCW teach me how to promote my novels; how to take my “commodity” of writing and turn it into a “product” that people will want to purchase.

TWO — SPEAK ON WHAT YOU KNOW

But, Bruce, I am NOT a public speaker. What do I know? I’m not an apologist!

Stop, just a doggone minute! You are too an expert. You didn’t just pull the words out of thin air for your novel — well maybe you did. But, you did research for you novel, right? There is a definite message there; a genre; a “hook”. It might be historical information. It might be technical information. But, there is information there. And, you’ve written about it which makes you an expert. So, talk about it!

An old adage goes, “write about what you know”. As novelists we KNOW about something. If we can write about it, we can talk about it. If nothing else, we can talk about the process of being published authors. Think of all the aspects of the writing life we have had to become experts on. Marketing, publicity, social media, editing, research skills, etc. We have something we can bring to an audience. And, in that process, we promote our novels!

Now, this is not for everyone. Not all of us are comfortable in front of an audience. But, we should at least be articulate enough to pull off an interview or a podcast. Find that subject or subjects you can speak comfortably about and then PLUG your novel!

THREE — SPEAK ON WHO YOU ARE

I was so touched by Mike Dellosso’s accounts of his struggle with colon cancer in his blog. The man is a hero in my book. As a physician, I work with dying patients all the time. We will all face that medical crisis that might end our lives. And, how we face death is determined by our character; our faith; our strength. It also takes guts to speak about our weaknesses; our battles; our losses. But, it also gives us an opportunity to speak about our triumphs! And, as a Christian, I have found that EVERY triumph is ultimately due to the supernatural intervention of my God.

Years ago, I battled depression. After two years of struggling through counseling and changing my life completely, God led me to develop some tools to keep me from getting depressed again. My pastor approached me about writing a book on the subject. Out of my pain, “Conquering Depression” was picked up and published by B&H Publishing in 2001. For the next three years, Mark Sutton and I offered a three hour seminar on “Conquering Depression”. We required that every participant (or, at least, every couple) purchase a copy of our book and that was included in the price for the seminar, a reasonable $25 per person. We spoke about who we were and we sold lots of books. The downside was the constant need to expose my very soul to my audience; to reveal my inner most secrets and struggles. But, God ultimately received the credit!

Every good novelists writes out of some corner of pain and suffering. Everyone of us bleeds onto the page because of the circumstances of our lives. Find that angle. Be willing to talk about it. Help others struggling with the same issues in life. And, in the process, you can promote your books!

We may end up speaking on something totally unrelated to the subject of our novel. But, people will check out our books because of WHO WE ARE!

FOUR — TIE IN YOUR SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT WITH YOUR WEBSITE

I was invited recently to speak to our state’s Evangelism Conference on apologetics. I chose to speak on the six most commonly asked questions from skeptics. I was anticipating about a dozen for each of my two sessions. I was shocked when over 100 showed up!

I provided a business card with my web address and contact information. And, I told the attendees they could download the pdf version of my notes and resources from my author website under the “Apologetics” tab. I mentioned in passing that I was an author. I even told them that my book, “The 13th Demon” was “apologetic fiction” and an exciting, scary read they could give to their skeptical friends. In one presentation, I guaranteed a possible 100 hits on my website during the next week. The presentation went well, thanks to my DCW training, and out of this presentation I received a dozen more invitations to speak!

Last night, I spoke to a seminary class for my friend and co-author, Mark Sutton. Check out his website for his Haiti ministry: Mark Sutton Ministries. I gave away six copies of “The 13th Demon” and had a wonderful conversation with my Christian brothers and sisters. The week after, I am speaking to our church congregation on apologetics. That following weekend, I will be speaking at our state drama festival. At each one of these venues, I will be passing out contact information and directing listeners to my website. I am hoping for a snowball effect. In fact, I want this to be so successful, I will have to turn down invitations. Although these presentations have very little to do with my novel, they still afford me the opportunity to promote my writing. Don’t know where to start? Ask your agent.

But, as exciting as this all sounds, my one goal is to glorify God through all that I do. God, and God alone is providing for my writing and speaking career. As Mike Dellosso so eloquently put it last week’s Just the Write Charisma blog:

 If you expect to reach just one person through your writing then success is within your grasp. If you expect to glorify God with the best you have to offer then success is within your grasp.

So, consider adding a speaker career to your writing career. Start by polishing those communication skills and start turning your “commodity” of writing into your “product”!

Awake my Soul! A Story of depression

The holidays are very hard for those of us who suffer from depression. I know. I have depression. My pastor and I wrote a book about it. I recently wrote this short, short story for storypraxis and posted it on the ink*well website. I want to share it with my readers. I hope you find it comforting or possibly even inspiring. If you suffer from depression, the holiday season can be devastating. I am praying for you. If you are the fortunate ones who never suffer from depression, there is someone you know; someone you love; someone you can help who is suffering from depression. Pray for them this season.

 

Awake My Soul!

 

I do not move.

I am quiescent and still.

Movement for me is pain. Life is pain.

The trees outside are harsh and bare. Winter has stripped them of vigor and life. Gray fingers claw at the even grayer sky. Even the clouds do not move. The air is still. No wind. No breeze. No life. My daughter has placed me here on the porch. I feel the sting of cold on my cheeks but I can ignore it. I have ignored all feeling for months now. Since Tom died, I have had no reason to move; no reason to feel.

My daughter has wrapped a scarf around my neck and tucked it into the woolen sweater Tom gave me last year for Christmas. I can still smell him on it when I choose to acknowledge my sense of smell.

“Why is she out there on the porch?” That is my son-in-law inside the warm house.

“I’m tired of her, Richard. I can’t take this anymore.” My daughter has tears in her voice. I cannot feel them. I cannot touch them. The tears mean nothing to me.

“She’ll freeze to death.” Richard says.

“That’s the idea.”

There is a profound silence. And then, subdued sobbing; quiet, subtle. A white flake shimmies down the still air and lands on my nose. I choose not to feel it melt. So intricate, so beautiful in its design — one of a kind — it dies on my cold skin. It dies on the already dead. For, she has left me to die out here alone; cold; still; frozen.

The sliding door opens behind me and a waft of warm air bathes the back of my head. I cannot feel it on my neck for the scarf. Richard’s shadow falls over me from the lights inside the house; lights that try in vain to chase away the gray.

“You’ll have to forgive your daughter, Mom.” He says behind me. “She is very frustrated and wants to leave you out here to die.”

“I’m already frozen.” I whisper and he leans over me. His breath touches my forehead.

“Did you say something?”

“I’m already frozen.” I say more strongly. “Let me finish dying.”

My lips pull apart and I realize they have frozen together. I feel the pain as the first real sensation I have experienced in months. Richard squats beside my wheelchair and for a second, I choose to notice the strong profile of his face; his angular cheekbones; his gently stubbled chin; his clear eyes. He is watching the trees.

“Winter is hard for all of us, Mom. Spring is coming. I want to tell you a secret. It is a deep and abiding secret that no one can know.”

More flakes are falling now and caressing my cheeks. I choose not to feel their gentle touch. One lands on my cornea and I blink involuntarily. I must not do that again. But, try as I might to ignore his statement, the attraction is there. What secret is he talking about? “What secret?” My voice is a bare whisper.

“Virginia is stressed out because we have chosen to take a journey. It is a long and tedious journey and we will be gone for weeks. She doesn’t know what to do with you during that time. She can’t leave you alone. And, she isn’t going to leave you out here to die.” His breath streams away from him, a living thing full of warmth and moisture and the snowflakes eddy and swirl.

“Journey?”

“Rawanda. In Africa. There is a little girl. She needs a family.” He turns his head to me and his gaze is full and hot on my face. Tears mingle with the snowflakes. “She needs to know her grandfather. She needs to know what he was like. Only you can tell her that.”

Another snowflake hits my eye and melts. The moisture runs along my eyelid and I feel a hot tear trickle down my cheek. No! I cannot let this happen! I cannot feel!

“Will you come with us to Rawanda? Will you come with us to get your granddaughter?” His eyes are full and round and wet and the snow is covering his bare head, peppering his shoulders.

I feel something deep within stir from a slumber of unforgiving anger and frustration. The black dregs of my depression begin to drift away as the warmth stokes itself in my heart. No! I want to scream. No! I want to hold onto the stillness; the inertia; the coming of winter’s death. I try to ignore Richard’s gleaming eyes and his warm breath and when I subtly avert my gaze a flash of bright red burns my retinas. A lone flower dares to challenge the grayness from my camellia bush. The snowflakes are covering it now and it wants to be seen; it wants to look upward to the hidden sun for life and warmth; it wants to live.

The chair creaks; the ice breaks across my knees and I push, push, push up and out of the heaviness of my crypt of sorrow and I stumble to the flower. I brush away the snow with shaking hands and my tears anoint the petals with life. With life!

Awake my soul! Awake!

I turn to my son-in-law who is standing with his mouth wide open and the snow covering his head and my daughter stumbles through the open door with her hands pressed to her tear streaked face and I feel the ice crack as I smile. “When do we leave?”

 

 

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