Saturday, June 28, 2014

The End

Nearly ten years ago, I sat down at my computer and started writing. I'd been dumped unceremoniously by a long-distance girlfriend who simply chose to stop answering the phone, rather than telling me it was over. I wrote about it because I didn't know what else to do. That's what I do, I write.

Sort of. A few months later, a second girlfriend broke up with me, and I had abandoned writing to be with her. In fact, I genuinely believed I was going to be a musician for the rest of my life. That breakup, in retrospect, showed me some terrifying facts about myself. I WANTED to be "that guy" who harasses and stalks an ex until she agrees to get back together with him. I DIDN'T do that, mostly because my parents raised me to not me a jerk. But co-dependence was close at hand, and by the Grace of God (and, yes, I mean the literally) I got my life turned around. I didn't because a loser, a predator, or even a selfish jerk.

Okay, I've had fits of arrogance and selfishness, but those have never led me to target other people. In fact, I use those opportunities to reevaluate myself and see how I can become a better person. For the sake of the people around me as much as for myself.

After a few years, I finished writing my first book. Actually wrote it, edited it, sent it to beta readers, then reedited it and revised it and so on until it was as good as I could make it. Then I started querying for the first time in my life, transforming this blog from a personal journal into an attempt at building an audience and sharing my thoughts on writing.

Meanwhile, I wrote another book. By the time I got done with THAT book, I realized (after about 80 rejections) the book I'd been querying REALLY sucked. So I threw it out, got beta readers to go through that second book (which was actually my fourth), revised, edited, revised again, and then WENT TO A CONFERENCE. I pitched it at the conference, queried agents, did more querying, etc. 70ish rejections later and one full request from an editor/founder of a small press, I realized THAT book sucked. And, no, I didn't send the book in to the editor. She wanted it as a middle grade novel which would have taken such a major rewrite that, in it's unpublishable state as a YA novel, would've been like trying to crop faded, washed-out wedding photos with pruning shears to make them "beautiful."

Take 3. I wrote another novel, still YA, but instead of fantasy (or urban fantasy), I switched to Sci-Fi. Actually, back up a bit to The Senator's Daughter (in the tab above this post). I was gaining readers on this blog. I wanted to write fiction for them to read. Something this blog could display. And my critique group told me to turn it into a novel. I said, "No. It's a short story for my blog." But the thought nagged at me. So, that lead to Take 3. A novel about a young woman who accidentally steals a military battleship and has to fight pirates, invading aliens, and the boy who brought her on board to impress her on their first date.

I'm querying that novel as of this post and writing a new YA sci-fi. If you're reading this, chances are good that you Googled me. This blog comes up as one of the first hits. Which, after ten years, isn't as significant as it might once have been.

This blog, regardless of how much effort I put into it, never attracted much attention. From me or any other readers. And most of that is because I have a full-time job, a wife, and a writing career that I'm trying to jump-start. Every word I write on this blog is a word that COULD go into a book. I don't have time to wander from blog to blog, writing simple "I agree" comments in all the posts, and moving on from there in the hopes that they'll return the favor and comment on my blog. I've found that my opinions in the writing world generally conform to what the "industry insiders" are saying. So commenting (adding NOTHING of value to the conversation) seems like a waste of time, especially when I have so little time to actually write.

With Denver Comic Con 2014 behind us, Beyond the Trope is moving forward with momentum we couldn't have imagined. We're lining up new interviews, putting together awesome content, and collaborating on projects that will help all three of us put together a platform. Which isn't what the podcast is about, but it's a (hopefully) convenient side-effect.

What does all this have to do with the title of this post? My aspirations are as high as ever. But this blog is dragging me down. I feel guilty when I don't blog, and when I do, I have nothing to say. I've changed in the last decade. So has the internet. My blog is one of MILLIONS. I'm screaming into the storm, and I have nothing left to say. Not here. Not in this format. That's what books are for. I'm not done blogging. I'll still be at the Beyond the Trope blog every Wednesday. In the future, I'll put together another blog, I'm sure. When I have an agent, a writing contract. Something to say and people who want me to say it.

I'm done pretending that someone is going to drift by, read this blog, and ask me for samples of my writing. If I'm doing my job with my novel and my query letter, that'll be enough. I'm not controversial, notable, or engaged in every minute of every blog post on every writing topic in the universe. So my writing has to speak for itself.

Random posts may appear now and then when the whim takes over, but don't count on it. This blog is, probably, dead. And this post is the epitaph. Beyond the Trope is my future, and writing novels. I wouldn't be where I am without this blog, but holding on would be an exercise in futility.

Thank you for stopping by. Feel free to read the archives, post a comment if you want me to get your message (I WILL respond!), and read The Senator's Daughter.

The End.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Querying for this project is so different from the last projects I queried. As I've said before, I'm taking my time. I'm reviewing the market, and I'm keeping an eye on the responses I get. If a query letter gets form rejections too often in a row, I rewrite it. If a partial gets form rejections, I consider ways to improve it.

I'm going to classes, strengthening my craft, and going out of my way to make sure I do this right. Which isn't easy. I'm passionate about writing and reading. I want my books to get published, and for personal reasons, I want that to happen the traditional way.

I've gone through bouts of "desperation," where I'm obsessed with getting published NOW! That drove me crazy. I don't want to be lazy with my work, and I WANT this work to be my full-time gig. Despite how quickly I WANT this to happen, I refuse to take shortcuts.

So I took two months off from querying. To reexamine my work, my query, and my direction.

But more importantly than that, I'm also writing again. With excitement and purpose! I am energized, ready to move forward, and back in the saddle.

With everything that happened this weekend with Beyond the Trope, I'm actually surprised that I got so much work done on personal projects, too. With Denver Comic Con at a close, I'm excited for the future. I met people who inspired me. I interviewed people who work hard and encouraged me to step up my game. Opportunities may arise out of the weekend, but more importantly, I grew as a person.

What did you do this last weekend, and how are you moving forward with your career?

Friday, June 06, 2014

Charity of the Month: Wounded Warrior Project

In honor of D-Day, I want to take this month to remember everyone who braved the beaches in Normandy.

So many soldiers have fought and died for our country, and many who survived need our help. Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to helping those vets. Along with so many other great charities.

Please hop over to the Wounded Warrior website and give them some help so we can help those who gave so much for our freedom.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Odd Turn

My current WiP took an odd turn for me. I reached a point, after having outlined, where I don't think there's enough substance to the story. For those of you who know me, outlining is something I do to extremes. It helps me get a handle on what I'm doing with the story, reminds me where character development and emotional insight need to show up, and then I can move forward with a roadmap that will get me from point A to point B without getting lost.

Well, turns out that if I keep going at the rate I've been traveling, point B will show up a good 15k-25k earlier than it should. There's simply not enough in the outline to count as story. There are events, and there are characters who need to deal with those events. But the two things combined seem to be moving too quickly.

In his book ON WRITING, Stephen King mentions the concept of writing a first draft all the way through as quickly as possible, without taking breaks or working on another project. This way, the characters don't grow stale, and the excitement and ideas stay fresh in the mind of the writer.

Well, for whatever reason, that happened with my WiP. At first, I thought this post was about how I needed to take a step back and reevaluate what this book was going to be about. Then, as the day wore on, I realized this post is about how how this isn't the right book for me. It's a lot like a relationship. I stayed in a relationship longer than I should have, and in the end, it turned into something broken and painful. I knew, about two months before it ended, that it NEEDED to end. That's the way this book is. It's not right. It's not what it should be if I'm going to dedicate my life to it (and presumably, I should be willing to dedicate my life to any project I commit my time to).

More than that, I only have a limited amount of time. Why should I spend it writing something that's less than my best? This isn't a matter of giving up because it's hard, or moving on because it's "beyond me." This is a simple case of "this book isn't going to go anywhere, and trying to make it happen would be a painful waste of time that could send me into oblivion." Not to be dramatic, or anything, but that's a possibility.

I'm not a quitter. But I'm not excited about this book. I'm just not. I want to write something fun. Something that gets my engine revving. A book that I can take to parties and say, "That's MINE! This arm-candy is the second-best thing to happen to me."

For me, reading is fun. Harry Potter, The Dresden Files, The Parasol Protectorate: these are all fun. They inspire me to write. The book I'm querying is fun. I loved writing it, I still like reading it, and the idea of possibly writing a sequel is exciting to me.

I'm not going to write a book because I "have" to. Life is too short. I'm going to write a book that I WANT to write. And that's that.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Surprising Progress

I'm shocked at how much we at Beyond the Trope have been able to do in the last four months. Sure, we're not building an empire or even serving two or three hundred listeners (our numbers appear low, though there may be some things keeping us from seeing all of the numbers), but we'er doing stuff. Yes, that's vague. But there is STUFF happening! Rather than just sitting around, making up topics, and then recording them, we're putting together content, reaching out to authors, and getting ourselves out in the world.

As some people may know, we're going to be at Denver Comic Con this year. This is a big deal because, if for no other reason, than I almost decided not to bother signing up for a place at Podcast Peak. Why? Because we're too new. We only had three episodes released when I filled out the application. I ASSUMED the would turn us down, and ALMOST followed that assumption to it's foregone conclusion. Then something nagged at me in the back of my mind. I figured, the worst that would happen is they'll say "No" this year, giving us a year to get ourselves some "credibility," and we could try again next year. All I would lose is the five minutes it took to sign up.

Yeah. They liked our first episode (Literature in the Classroom), and whatever else led them to offer us a table isn't as relevant as the fact that THEY GAVE US A TABLE! We get to record at Denver Comic Con! And that's surprising to me.

There's so much that surprises me these days, and so many things that have remained the same (like the state of my career). It's been distracting. I don't know where the future will take me, but I'm going to embrace this progress and push for something greater than what I'm doing today.

I don't know where the podcast is going. I'm getting ready to investigate what it would take to turn it into a business, what the options are for monetizing, and how that would affect the three of us.

I'm embracing short stories more than I ever have in the past. My "goal" for this year is to get enough stories published to allow me entrance into the SFWA. I don't know if my writing will get me there this year, but I have to try. If I don't, it NEVER will. And if I do, eventually I'll get there.

Saturday, I'm going to submit my novel to the RMFW contest again. Second year in a row, complete with improvements made from so many suggestions.

Life takes turns we never expect. And when we focus on the things that "didn't happen," it gets painful. I'm embracing progress, especially progress that surprises me. My best-laid plans may never amount to anything, and I need to learn to be okay with that. Or else I'm going to give up.

And that mindset is one of the most surprising changes that I've seen in myself in a long time.

I'd like to say that this blog is going to remain strong and consistent. But my day job is taking more and more of my time during the week, and my relationship with my wife and writing take up the rest of my time. This blog was meant to be a way to "journal" when I started it. Then it turned into my "web presence." Now? I don't know. Beyond the Trope is going to be my web presence in the future. It's where I can present myself in a professional capacity. It gives me focus and drive.

I'm not opposed to getting personal on the web, but there's a time and a place. This blog has gotten less personal over the years because it needs to. It's where I develop my professional face. That's why I don't talk politics.

Overall, life is going to move forward. This blog will remain up and a part of who I am on the web, and I'll continue to put together content for it.

We'll see where I go.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Out of Words?

I seem to be short on words for this blog. Most of my "quality" ideas are getting pushed to Beyond the Trope because that's a site where I want my best writing to appear. When I started this blog almost a decade ago, I genuinely thought it would spring-board me into the publishing world. Several high-profile bloggers got "discovered" through their weekly wit and engaging content.

Not so much over here. I keep up with it in any way I can to make sure I have a web-presence any time an agent or editor or random person interested in my thoughts happens to stumble by.

The truth, though? I honestly think that the best thing I can do with my life is to focus on my work, develop relationships in the real world, and keep putting as much content on Beyond the Trope as possible.

I'm so rarely home anymore, and when I am, I try to focus on my writing and my wife (prioritizing where I need to depending on the evening). Social networking doesn't work for me because every minute I spend trying to force myself into the conversations is another minutes I'm NOT developing and improving my craft. While my web-presence may help my chances of getting published some day in the future (if my writing is strong), I'm of the opinion that my writing needs to take much more effort.

When I have a writing contract, my web-presence will probably increase quite a bit. Until that day, this blog is going to take less and less of my time. And I'm going to write more and more books and short stories.

And, of course, Beyond the Trope will receive a good deal of attention, too. That's not going anywhere any time soon.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Creating Opportunity

I still can't believe how blessed I am to have the opportunities that I have. As some of you may have seen and/or heard, Beyond The Trope, the podcast I co-host, is going to Denver Comic Con to record several episodes. We approached them about the opportunity (they had a sign-up page on their website, so I filled it out), but it goes to show one major fact about life: many times, opportunities have to be created.

Now, there are opportunities that "show up out of the blue," and it's important to pay attention to those circumstances so they can be taken advantage of. This opportunity, however, would NOT have happened if I didn't take an active approach. At first, I didn't even think it would be worth the effort, either. I thought to myself (when I found out that DCC had the sign-up page), "There's no way they'll accept our application. We're too new, and it's Comic Con. They're going to pick the big, well-known podcasts who have a sizable following. And even if they DO pick us, they're not going to give us a table. Which means we won't be able to record on site."

Well, guess what? Not only did they accept our application (which you already knew because I told you in the first paragraph), they ALSO gave us a table. That's why we'll be able to record and interview people on site. And I can't stop jumping with excitement. Inwardly. Because my legs are tired and I'm writing this on my lunch break. But still jumping!

The same goes for other factors in our lives. I never honestly thought my wife would even CONSIDER starting a relationship with me. And I almost didn't ask her. But we've been together for seven years, married for six and a half.

As a writer, I have to approach agents with my manuscript. Sure, sometimes an agent will still approach a writer based on something that agent read in a periodical, but even if I published a dozen short stories a year, I don't expect that opportunity to come out of thin air. If I did, I would remain a short story author for the rest of my life (or a lot longer, at least), which would make it VERY difficult to become a full-time writer.

By querying agents, I'm creating opportunities. By going to conferences, I'm creating opportunities. No, I can't afford to create as many opportunities as I'd like, and I could spend my time griping about how it's unfair that people with lots of money and/or time can go to six or eight events a year that bring them face to face with editors and agents, but by complaining, I do nothing to advance my career. I just get whiney.

Chances are, the only way I'll be able to go to any events outside of this state (and more than one a year, for that matter) is if some of my debt goes away. But if I wait for that to happen, I'll be forty, bitter, and still working the same day-job that, while fulfilling in its own way and GREAT at paying the bills, isn't something I'm passionate about.

So I create opportunities. Not as often or as well as I'd like, but I'm still not giving up.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Charity of the Month: St. Jude Research Hospital

I love the research St. Jude does for children's cancer. I don't recommend them often enough, but I think they do some of the most important work any organization can do.

I don't have kids, but almost all of my best friends do. They're not wealthy, and even with insurance, they would owe a debt to St. Jude because of how much research the hospital has done over the years. However, with children's cancer so poorly under-funded, I think it's important to give as much as we can to help make sure that a cancer diagnosis isn't a death sentence for the future of our globe.

Join me in celebrating young life, and help preserve it throughout this beautiful May.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A bit overwhelmed

There is a LOT going on right now, and most of it is good. But with work and other projects, this blog is going to have to take a backseat for a while. Keep up with me over on Beyond the Trope, though, and I'll be back here as regularly as possible.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Big and Small Life Choices

Every day we're faced with choices. Will I get up early, or sleep in until I have to go to work? Will I have coffee or tea with breakfast? Do I need to prep dinner in advance, or is there something I can throw together when I get home?

As a writer, the choices I have to make are changing almost as fast as the landscape of the publishing industry. That's one of the reasons I'm writing short stories for a couple of weeks before I jump back into my book. It's not just a chance to try to get my writing out into the world, it's a chance to sit back and look at the publishing industry and create something that SHOULD be able to find a home without worrying about whether or not the medium of publication will even be around in three years.

There are other choices to make, too. Like, should I stick with the genre I've been writing? Should I move to a different age-group? How should I approach publication?

I'm in a constant state of reevaluation, and if I hope to succeed in this industry, I need to stay aware of what's going on in the publishing world.

Of course, I can't obsess over the business side of things at this point in my career, but I need to keep an eye on what's happening out there.

What questions do you ask yourself every day? And how do those questions change as you evolve in your process?

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Challenge

[This post originally appeared on Beyond the Trope.]

My friend, Aaron, has been talking with me about this challenge that he found somewhere on the internet. It has to do with collecting "nos." Basically, that's the game. The person with the most rejections is the winner since getting a single "yes" is quite hard, but sticking it out through rejection after rejection is, in many ways, much harder. At least, that's how I'm reading the challenge.

At first, I didn't know how I felt about the challenge. And as someone who's gotten a surprisingly high amount of rejections lately, I didn't exactly know how to approach querying in a way that would lead to a "yes."

But I've accepted his challenge. And here's how I'm rewarding myself: I'm going to brew a barley wine and age it.

I've never attempted a touchy beer that has to stand up to time. And I'm still in the middle of "finding representation" in my writing career. So rather than dwelling on rejection letters, I'm going to give myself a reason to collect them. A reward for continually striving for that one "yes." I'm sitting somewhere over 200 rejections on three books and several short stories combined, so I'm going to brew this beer, age it until I reach 500 rejections, or until the release day of my first novel. Whichever comes first.

That's how I plan to move forward with Aaron's challenge, and while I'm doing all of this querying, I'm also going to continue pursuing education opportunities to improve my writing abilities.

So what do you think? Do you agree with the challenge? Do you have something to reward yourself with when you reach a certain amount of rejections? What about successes?

Friday, April 04, 2014

Charity of the Month: Paralyzed Veterans of America

PVA is one of the greatest organizations I've had the privilege to donate to. They're doing great things for vets who have lost limbs and/or mobility.

Our vets are important, and the ones whose lives are forever changed as a result of a tragedy on the battlefield deserve our support. Long-time readers of this blog will know how important the U.S. Military is to me, especially with friends and family who serve. These men and women are there for us when we need them, and if they get hurt serving this country, I believe it's important to take care of them in return.

So please head over to pva.org and help support our wounded vets.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Failed Words?

I keep hearing the saying that every successful writer must write one million failed words before they have their first success. I think that's one of the reasons I'm working on short stories right now. It's easier to tell whether or not an idea is going to pan out within the first few paragraphs of a short story, but sometimes, I get all the way through an outline and two chapters into a book before I realize it's just not something I want to write.

And when writing fiction, it's important to enjoy what I'm writing. There may come a day when I'll be contractually obliged to write a book in a story-line that I'm "over," but that's still years away. Many years away. If it ever happens (and for those of you who may read that as self-doubt, it's not. I'm simply stating that I don't expect to have to write something I don't enjoy).

So what are failed words?

As far as I can tell, they're simply words that make it to the page but never make it beyond the first or second draft. I gave up keeping track years ago, so I have no idea where I am on the trek to a million, but I'm going to try to make my first success happen long before then, anyway.

What about my short stories, then? If they're not part of the trek to a million words, what's the point?

To learn. To smooth out my writing style. I need to become a better writer, and that means learning how to paint pictures with words, but in as short a space as possible. My goal is to learn how to shorten my imagery while livening up my story-telling. To make the emotional impact of each passage more powerful. Make the colors brighter and clearer. To draw the reader in so deep that they forget it's just words on a page.

I don't know how well I've done that in my novels, but if I want to get better at my writing, I need to do something challenging, like trying to get short stories published. There's an art to creating a short story, and I can definitively say that I'm far from mastering it. But master it I will. Or die trying!

My goal is to write and edit and polish four stories by June 10. I don't know why I picked that date, but it's a deadline that I set, and I'm going to push to reach it.

I already wrote one story that's waiting for revision, and I'm working on another one today that I'm probably going to scrap (one more for the pile of failed words, I guess). But I'm 15% of the way to my goal already!

Friday, March 28, 2014

More Shorts

I'm working on a few short stories, now. Not because I give up on novels, but because it's a great way to practice my writing. And I think I need practice.

One of the stories is intended for submission to periodicals, and another is going up on the Beyond the Trope blog. I'm excited for both of those!

Tomorrow, I think it's time to start another story, too. Maybe I'll write about an android girl who needs a firmware update so she can go on a date. And save the world from the loser who wants to take her to dinner.

What else?

Oh, yes. We interviewed Aaron Michael Ritchey for the podcast on Tuesday, and we're going to give away a copy of his book. So keep an eye out for that on Beyond the Trope's twitter feed!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Focussed Distraction

The past few days, I've felt like I need a focussed distraction again. I'm trying to get several projects put together, and I'm having trouble managing my time in a way that makes it possible to get any of them done. I think this is because I'm scatter-brained at the moment.

So my plan is to sit down, make a real schedule of things I need to do in order of most important to least, then get it done. Around that schedule. And to break things up in a way that will keep me from getting overwhelmed, I'm going to find things to do with my wife. Fun stuff around town.

And I'm going to brew. Because that's fun.

What are your focussed distractions? What do you use to keep yourself from getting stressed, and how do you make sure your schedule stays consistent and productive?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gratitude

I'm grateful for my friends. I'm grateful for the opportunities that I have. I'm grateful for my family, even though I rarely see them. And most of all, I'm grateful for my wife.

I've been blessed beyond measure, and when I feel despondent or alone, these people remind me that there's more to life than disappointment.

So thank you everyone who's helped me along over the years. I'm looking forward to a long future of shared burdens, joys, sorrows, and life-changes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Facing My Fear

I realized that over the past few years that many of the choices I've made are based solely on fear. I avoid discussions for fear of being judged. I avoid certain writing choices for the same reason. And, lately, I've been lax in my writing for fear of failure. Which, ironically (to the point of cliche), will eventually lead me to actual failure.

Authentic, genuine discussions are something that I enjoy. Discussions that build up the people engaging in them. Even when there isn't agreement. The problem is, people have very personal opinions, and society seems (from my perspective, which I admit could be skewed) to teach us that when someone disagrees with us, it's a personal attack. We have TV figures from Glenn Beck to Bill Maher getting up on TV and spewing their opinions in a way that overtly suggests that their way of thinking is the ONLY right way to think, and anyone who disagrees with them is OBVIOUSLY a hate-filled MONSTER. And when that inundates us every day, we start to believe that if anyone disagrees with us, they hold the same belief about us.

At least, that's the fear that's driven many of my choices lately.

In my writing, I don't discuss societal issues as a means of driving change. That's not why I write. I write to entertain in an authentic manner. Any character that I decide to create is a choice based on the BEST way to tell the story, not a means to preach some political, moral, or societal issue.

But I live in fear of some of those decisions. The book I'm pitching features a platinum-blonde, female protagonist. I'm not afraid of being accused of writing a female protagonist to sell books because a male protagonist COULD NOT have accomplished the feats described in this story. My fear (in my darkest moments) is that someone will accuse me of racism because she's white.

It's a sci-fi story. Her friend (a hispanic male) isn't the strong leader she needed to be to accomplish what she does. But I hear the critics (even though I'm nowhere near publication on this book) screaming, "Why is she white?"

The answer I have is because that's the image I had when the character popped into my brain. And changing it would have been inauthentic.

Now, I'm writing a book where the female protagonist is the daughter of a black woman and a white man. Both of those characters are extremely successful (because that's possible, and anyone who says it's not is a racist!). For the sake of making the character come alive, I mention this fact in the story. But it takes place 300 years in the future, so I'm not going to focus on it as a social issue. Societally, it's not something that matters as much, especially with the people she's going to be interacting with. It's a simple fact of appearance, and beyond that, she's a person deserving of respect and equality just like EVERY other person in the galaxy.

But, again, fear makes me want to stop. "Why is she half-black?" I hear the critics cry. And as I typed those words I hear the P.C. fanatics scream at me, too. I am afraid. I am afraid of being judged and hated when all I want is to show real people in real situations (however fancifully created in sci-fi and fantasy settings) living life to their fullest. Because I love people. Dividing people up into groups actually bothers me, and not in that hippy-dippy kinda way that makes you want to burn down every hemp field in the world.

What drives me more than fear is Matthew 22:37-40 (from the Bible): "Love God with every fiber of your being, and love your neighbor as yourself." (paraphrased) To me, that means that every person I meet should be treated as equally important as I am. I haven't spoken of my personal beliefs so openly on this blog in years (though way back in the archive you can find tons of it), again from fear. I'm not afraid of being judged for them, but more afraid of being misunderstood. But what I want everyone to know is that, no matter how much I may disagree with one opinion or another, I believe that God created every man, woman, and child, and that He loves them very much. And if I claim to love Him, then I need to show it by loving others.

I know this is a rambling post, and a lot of it is the type of thing that I would shy away from under normal circumstances. I don't know why I'm saying it today. Maybe it's just so that I can be honest. Maybe it's because I'm tired. Tired of bottling things up, putting on a strong face, and pretending that everything is okay.

But also know that, no matter who you are, someone out there loves you. I may not like or approve of what you do (especially if it causes harm to other people), but it's not my place to judge. It's my place to love my neighbor.

And in case that's confusing, Google the story of the Good Samaritan.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Art of Critique

Over the past couple of months, I've really stepped up my study of the English language and the writing process. I already finished one book on writing, and I'm well on my way toward finishing a second for the year.

For those who know me, they know I don't have a lot of time for reading, and (as a necessity), I have to spend a good deal of time focussing on fiction since reading fiction is one of the best ways to understand the art.

Anyway, these books are giving me a new perspective on writing, which means my critiquing methods are changing and becoming more focussed on ways to improve my friends' writing. In many ways, I feel bad for pointing out things that come across as failures in the writing. I don't want to be a know-it-all, and I know that my critique group knows that my suggestions are just suggestions that they can ignore or take under advisement as they see fit.

And that's where the art of critiquing comes in. I'm not an "authority" on proper writing. My word is not gospel. It's simply my perspective based on things that I'm reading and things that I think work for the writing in front of me. And when I make notes, I try to make sure that it comes across as my opinion. I don't attack the writer or say that something sucks, I say something like, "This feels wordy, it slows the narrative (with a 'for me' implied)," and then I make a rough suggestion on a way that might help them brainstorm ideas to reword it. "Maybe say something like , only do it well." And I say that to make sure I'm being helpful, but also because I'm not putting in as much effort as they need to to make the writing polished and enjoyable to read.

The flip side of that is when I sit down to GET critiqued, it's important to remember that they're showing me the exact same courtesy. They're not attacking me or my writing, they're picking it apart to help me make it better.

The only thing we do differently in our group is that, when appropriate, we're allowed to speak up for our work. But not to defend it! When someone says something doesn't work, we're allowed to (when the critiquing member is finished speaking) explain what we were going for with that particular passage. And at our group, we recognize that this is each other's way of trying to brainstorm ways to make sure that scene works AS INTENDED. We're not defending bad writing, we're trying to understand how to FIX bad writing by working WITH the other members of the group. And the biggest reason we jump in in the middle of a critique to ask those questions is because, even with note-taking, waiting until the end opens up way too many opportunities to forget the most important questions.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

This, the second book in Gail Carriger's FINISHING SCHOOL trilogy, is an amazing read! As with her previous novels, Carriger builds on a well developed world, adding new gadgets that feel real as well as imaginative. The characters add more depth to the story universe, and they dance across the page in a manner that convinces the reader that they are real people.

This is Sophronia's second term at Mademoiselle Geraldine's, and she faces new challenges that stretch the limits of her training, natural instincts, and (more importantly) her ability to engage with her peers and potential "targets."

Carriger weaves the character-arc into the plot so seamlessly that it's difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. And even though the action and pacing are reminiscent of classic genre novels, the style and voice bring to mind classic literature in a way that only an expert can manage.

If you like spy novels, political intrigue, romance, humor, and/or fast-paced action, this book is for you! So go to your local bookstore and buy the first novel in the trilogy, along with this one, and pre-order book 3 so you have it in hand on November 4, 2014. You won't regret it. And if you do, just donate the books to your library for other readers to enjoy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Laid Back

I know I missed my post on Monday, but today I discuss Hamlet over at the Beyond the Trope blog. I'll let you check that out today, and then on Friday I'm back here with a review of Gail Carriger's Curtsies and Conspiracies!

So enjoy my laid back week and have some fun today and tomorrow.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Charity of the Month: Safe Passage

I love kids. It's one of the reasons why I write YA. I think kids should be brought up in a safe environment, taught and guided through life, and protected from evil people.

Safe Passage helps to get kids away from evil people who do horrible, wicked things to children. What these monsters do to destroy a child's innocence is intolerable. And any help that can come to children should be sent out as soon as possible.

So please consider giving to Safe Passage and help them protect children and help restore some innocence in the world.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Adulthood

Sometimes, I look at my life and wonder when I'll grow up. Not in a negative way, but just wondering what it looks like to be an adult.

I don't feel like I'm living under my parents' rule or authority, and I don't feel like I have to live by anyone else's guidelines. But I don't feel much like a "grown up," yet. Which is odd because I've been married for six years, lived on my own for seven years, payed rent on three different places (including two in a state where I didn't grow up), bought my own car, my own home (yes, I have a mortgage payment), and I even pay my own taxes, though I make the incredibly adult decision of paying a professional to do those taxes for me.

But when do I start to feel like my parents must have felt when they made that sudden and magical transition from kids to adults? When do I stop feeling like a fun-loving kid who gets to do things that make him smile and face the world as an adult who must sigh and do his chores, pay his bills, and go to work on time? When does my "free time" become time that is consumed by things that HAVE to be done? Things that didn't get done because I was working? Is it when I have kids? Or do I get to have fun when I'm a parent, too?

It's been a weird couple of years. I'm less than a year from thirty, I live in my own home, and most of my friends are married, divorced, and/or parents. I'm still trying to figure out this "career" thing, and part of me wonders if I should go back to school, though with all the "free time" I bragged about earlier, I don't actually have the time to go back to school. And if I did have the time, I certainly wouldn't have the money.

I wonder, though: is THAT adulthood? Making choices for the future, even if they're not necessarily the ones we want to make? I don't want to go back to school, so that's an easy decision. But what about Beyond the Trope and my constant attempts to get up before work to get writing done? I'm seeking education in places that WILL move my writing forward. And I'm forging friendships with people who I get along with. People I enjoy working with.

It just seems like Adulthood is supposed to make me have less free time to pursue those goals without quitting my job, or something. But I don't have to quit my job. As much as I'd like to write full time, I like what I do for a living. And it pays better than anything else I'm "qualified" for. Even though my qualifications include almost twenty years in the same industry.

Anyway. I don't know where I was going with all of that. I just know that I've been thinking about it a lot, lately. I have found that I like the idea of working somewhere with people I consider my friends. People I can play games with. People who don't hate each other. A community more than just a place of business.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Week Continues

On the Beyond the Trope Blog, I discuss C.S. Lewis. He's a big reason why I write.

If you haven't done it already, go check out our website (linked above), and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes. If you don't HAVE iTunes, you can always subscribe through FeedBurner. PodBay.fm also has some options, including embedded listening.

Monday, February 24, 2014

This is the Week!

I'm excited to remind all of you that the Beyond the Trope podcast goes LIVE tomorrow!

Wanna know a secret? You can already subscribe on iTunes and get the first episode. It's official tomorrow, but today it's already there.

So rather than sticking around here and reading something random that I wrote, go check out Beyond the Trope, maybe comment on the blog, and listen to our debut episode.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Date Night!

Date night is incredibly important, especially for couples who have been together for more than two years. As time wears on and lives get more complicated and busier, it gets harder and harder to keep a relationship "fresh" and "exciting." And date night is a great way to keep building on that relationship.

I'm actually taking my wife out tonight because with sickness, podcasting, day jobs, and trying to get writing stuff done, we haven't spent much quality time together. We're not going to do anything super fancy. We're just going to head downtown and eat at one of our favorite (low-moderately priced) restaurants. Then we may go to a local beer bar we enjoy, or we may hop over to the arcade/bar that's for 21+ customers only.

There are many other things we could try to do, too, and we're both excited to see what the evening holds. It's important, and I'm overjoyed at the idea of doing this on a regular, or even infrequent basis, for the rest of my life.

Anyway, that's what's on my mind. Check out the Beyond the Trope Blog and see what our halfling-cyborg had to say about community.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Learning Curve

Over the last few months, I've been working on self-improvement. It's not just because I want to be a better person. I love learning, too! And along those lines, I'm learning that there's a lot that I can pick up quickly, but then it takes a long time to start progressing from there. And in other instances, there's a LOT that I have to learn right away before I can even think about moving beyond the "beginner" phase of a project.

For example: I'm learning HTML5 and CSS3. Unlike music (where I learned a few notes and quickly translated that into learning songs, then translated that into writing songs), coding is going to require a lot of bookwork before I can sit down and design my first website. In a practical sense, anyway.

But I'm working on several writing projects, too, that may move me closer to getting published because they're making me figure out new ways to write. I've already learned a lot about writing, and since I have that base to work from, the progression on these other projects feels smooth and relatively straightforward.

The takeaway from this should be that when someone (you or I) sets out to do something, success will only come from sticking with it. How easy or hard it is should have no bearing on whether or not it's going to succeed or fail. In fact, some of my biggest successes came from some of the slowest-starting projects in my life. School, for example. When I started college, I'd been out of school for three years. I had no idea what I was doing, and I had to figure stuff out on the fly. I genuinely thought, based on my initial struggles, that I was going to do poorly in college. Turned out, I maintained a 4.0 until I decided to move on to other things.

And over on the Beyond the Trope blog, Michelle discusses a similar idea. She talks about how important it is to NOT let our current conditions dictate our future plans. Go check it out and maybe leave a comment!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Great Food: SPAM 'N Eggwich

My best friend and I joke around a lot, and we both love great food. He's actually a chef and makes some of the best food I've ever eaten. But we both love a childhood classic: the SPAM 'N Eggwich. It makes us laugh, and we love to tell everyone else around us when we're discussing this savory meal that "You know you grew up poor when the SPAM 'N Eggwich is one of the best meals you've ever eaten."

So cringe if you must, but if you enjoy great flavor try this recipe:

1 slice (approximately 1/8" thick) of SPAM—MUST BE SPAM! EXCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!!
1 egg, scrambled
1 slice cheddar cheese
1 english muffin, toasted
Salt and Pepper Egg to taste (though you won't need much salt because the SPAM has plenty)

Throw the SPAM on a skillet. Get a light sear on both sides (slightly brown and warm to the touch since SPAM is pre-cooked).

Scramble the egg is SPAM runnings. If there's not enough, add a thin slice of butter. When the egg is almost done cooking, scoop it together to make sure it remains in a smallish circle shape.

On the english muffin, stack eggs, then SPAM, then cheese, then top of the muffin.

And enjoy your freaking heart out!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Announcement!

Today I can finally make THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

A few weeks ago, two friends and I got together and recorded a podcast. We've been working tirelessly ever since to get it up and running, and with the few snags we hit along the way, I wanted to keep the info on the down low just to make sure we didn't put out a release date before we were ready to launch.

Well, our soft open begins as of today! To on over to Beyond the Trope and look around. Our first episode will be out in two weeks, but keep an eye out in case I manage to get something up early for the "out of town preview."

We have a blog set up, too, and my Wednesday posts on this blog will be replaced by a weekly post on the Beyond the Trope blog.

So that's it. That's what we've been working toward, and it's something we hope to pursue for years to come.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Great Food: Chili

A few years ago, I shared my first chili recipe with all (three) of my readers. Over the years, that recipe has changed a lot. It's more complex, has a broader range of flavors, and tastes SO much better. To the point where I get super excited about chili day at my house!

So here's what you need:

1 lb. of Ground Beef (Hamburger), browned
1 can of Chili Beans
1 can of Kidney Beans
1 cup of Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup of Tomato Paste
1 cup of Diced Tomatoes
1-1 & 1/2 cup of Frozen Corn
1-2 Diced Jalapeños (remove seeds and ribs for a milder chili, leave them in if you like hot chili)
1/2 cup of BBQ Sauce
2 cloves of Garlic
1/2 cup of Brown Sugar
1/2 cup of Diced Onion
1-2 Tbsp of Chili Powder
1/4 tsp of Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp of Red Pepper Flakes
1 14 oz. can of Beef Broth (or chicken if you don't have beef)
1 cup of Wild Turkey Kentucky Bourbon

Mix all of the ingredients in a slow cooker, cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Joy of Creating

Every time I sit down to write a book, after I've outlined the entire thing, excitement sets in! I love writing. It's something that gets me up in the morning (with the help of an extremely loving wife).

Trying new methods is great, too, and as an unpublished author, I have the freedom to experiment and expand my talents. Writing a book from two POVs is proving to be an interesting endeavor, and it's challenging my brain. It a good way!

Doing something new and creative is important, especially if I want to learn. I don't think I can get more excited about writing a new book. It's thrilling to send out queries for a finished book while putting together the next manuscript. It makes me feel like I'm actually serious about this.

Sometimes, I just have to sit down and remember that this is fun, even when it's 5:30 in the morning, and all I want is another hour or two of sleep. At least the coffee keeps me warm.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Charity of the Month: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Cancer can be a devastating disease. When someone hears they have cancer, many times, they fear the end of their life. But thanks to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, survival rates for blood-born cancers are going up, to the point where it's not necessarily a "death sentence" anymore.

Please head over to their site and donate a few bucks to further the research they perform. Your donation could save a life!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Great Food: Nachos

I have a great recipe for simple nachos that I love more than most other comfort foods that I can think of. It's kinda like a layer dip or casserole, and it's simple to make. Here's what you need:

1-14 oz can of Fat Free, Reduced Sodium Refried Beans
1-Pound of 97% Lean Hamburger
1-14 oz can of Reduced Sodium Black Olives, sliced or roughly chopped
1-Cup of Thick Salsa (the thin, liquidy stuff will make it too runny)
4-6 oz (by weight not volume) of Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Meanwhile, brown the hamburger, and spread the refried beans evenly over the bottom of an 8"x8" or 9"x9" (either size will work) baking dish (glass is preferred). When hamburger is browned, spread it evenly over the beans. Then sprinkle the olives over the hamburger, followed by an even coat of salsa. It may be easiest to loosely pour the salsa over the entire dish, then spread it out with a rubber spatula.

Finally, coat the top of the dish with cheese, making sure to get cheese all the way to the edge of the baking dish so that it will seal in the other ingredients. Then throw it in the oven (not literally, of course) for 25 minutes. But check it after fifteen to make sure the cheese isn't burning (it shouldn't at 325).

Let cool for ten to fifteen minutes, and enjoy with tortilla chips and a beer.

Now what beer should you choose? Since this is going to be slightly salty and very savory (despite the low sodium ingredients), I recommend something light and refreshing to cleanse the palate. Something like Ska Brewing's Mexican Logger or Oskar Blues' Mamma's Little Yellow Pils. If you like Corona, go for it! But that's not my preference, so I don't recommend it.

Enjoy!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Physical Health

I'm not a health nut. Not by any stretch of the imaginations. I love bacon, bacon, cereal for breakfast (and not that fiber crap, sugar-filled cereal), coffee, bacon, beer, pizza, and did I mention bacon?

But that doesn't stop me from trying to be healthy. Now, I know some people may say that it's IMPOSSIBLE to be healthy with all of those foods. And if that's all I ate, I might agree with you.

Exercise alone won't balance out that diet. And I don't exercise as much as I should. But I work in a warehouse. I spend entire days doing nothing but exercise.

So how could I possibly stay healthy? I moderate my intake of the unhealthy stuff. Good food doesn't have to be bad for you. And most of what I've been eating these days is EXTREMELY healthy for me (from the pages of Cooking Light Magazine). I don't eat pizza or bacon every day (though I do have one cup of coffee every day, and a beer several times a week). But I'm cutting back on my candy intake, trying to drop it to nothing except maybe once a week (there's a candy dish at work that's easy to graze from). I have a soda once every six or eight months, not because I think they're unhealthy, per se, but simply because it doesn't refresh me as much as water, and doesn't quench other thirsts as well as beer.

What's my point? Good question. Mostly, I think it's important for people to feel well (and yes, I mean well, not good, though feeling good is important, too. Just another topic for another day). This isn't a judgement post. This isn't about guilting people into changing everything to look a certain way. I've just found that when I'm eating well, I feel well, both physically and mentally. And when I'm feeling poor, mentally, my physical health doesn't cause me any problems.

Do whatever it takes to feel well. And know that every day is an opportunity to do things that make you feel well. With a few exceptions, of course (like physical illness, and so forth).

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Truth About Life

No one likes a whiny-pants. That person who's always moping for one reason or another.

I'm not talking about the person whose life is genuinely tragic. Like, they graduate high school the same day their dog dies, then get rear-ended by a drunk driver and spend the next year in physical therapy, only to find out they'll never be able to get that soccer scholarship they always wanted. Then, to make matters worse, grandpa dies. But at his funeral, they meet the person of their dreams, fall hopelessly in love… I see I'm rambling. I'll stop because I'm sure you see where this is going.

My point is, life is hard. No matter who you are, there are difficulties you will have to face. As a writer, one of the biggest difficulties I face is dealing with self-doubt that turns to loneliness. It's never crushing for me, but it makes parts of my day difficult at times.

And I try not to whine about it. Because that won't help anyone. Especially me. Yes, writing is tough. Getting published is even harder. But as a writer who sought out other writers, at least 30% of my connections (both online and in the real world combined) are writers. And they're struggling through similar circumstances. And some of them are going through very real and painful situations in their personal lives on top of trying to juggle jobs, family, and writing.

A friend of mine from Borders recently told me that he's sick of all of the inspirational quotes he sees on Facebook. People pretending to be upbeat about their lives but doing nothing to fix their problems (at least that's how I interpreted his comment). He made this comment on a Facebook post I made about the struggle of getting an agent. I'm not always upbeat about the process, but I'm not whiney or quick to give up. I've pointed out several times over the past year that writing is an emotional and mental struggle for me. But I always make a big deal out of how determined I am. Not because of what I want other people to think of me, but because of what I want to think of me.

It's easy to get defeated. It's easy to give up. But the truth is, giving up sucks more than fighting harder and trying to succeed.

The truth about life is that struggle will surround us forever. It's impossible to escape. And the harder truth is that perseverance doesn't always produce the results we want. Yes, that sucks. A lot. But it's a truth that MUST be faced. The good news is that perseverance DOES produce results. And eventually, with the right attitude, it will help produce results that we can learn to be content with.

Life is going to change a lot for me over the next year. In a good way, but it's going to take a lot of effort. I know I keep talking about some of these big changes, and I promise I'll let you all know about them soon. For now, enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Where to Start

My last book started very easily. The entire book was inspired by one little line. One little idea. This new project feels different because it is different. I had one idea, but the idea was the beginning of one of two stories in this book.

The problem I'm having is that I don't know where to start. I know many authors (especially new authors) struggle with beginnings. And I don't want to fight with something that's probably going to be rewritten two or three times anyway. The problem is, without the proper beginning, I feel like I'm taking over someone else's half-finished job.

So where do I start? With the story. The character. The internal struggle. The tugging of her heart that makes her love her mom and miss her dad. The longing to stay with one and see the other. The childish need for them to be together, but the realization that that's not possible anymore, and as a growing young person, she's in a position to make choices for her future. And she has to start thinking about her own life.

I want this story to start on a high note. I look books that start out optimistic. Maybe I'm sadistic when dealing with my characters, but I don't like putting miserable characters into miserable situations. There's no fun in that.

Anyway, I guess I should get to my writing. Thanks for letting me ramble to get my mind moving!

Have a good day, and I'll see you on Friday.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Big Things!

I have SO many things I want to talk about, but I CAN'T! Secrecy is important.

Which might make some people wonder why I'm even bothering with this blog post. Well, that's because it gives me the opportunity to discuss the importance of discretion.

I know. Tons of people (including myself) talk about this topic all the time. But that's because it's important. If you plan on putting yourself out on the internet, shining a spotlight on yourself, you need to make sure that parts of your life remain private. This isn't simply about figuring out how much to share, it's vital that some things STAY PRIVATE.

Sure, bowel movements are definitely inappropriate topics to discuss. At all times. All times.

I can't express this enough. NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE SIZE AND SHAPE OF YOUR POOP! NO ONE! So keep it off the web.

More importantly, if you're (for example) getting ready to publish a book, parts of your contract are confidential. What does that mean? It means DON'T SHARE IT. Be discreet.

There are details that can be shared in time, and keeping those secrets (while teasing them) is actually a great way to build excitement and generate interest. And in the case of book contracts, it can keep you from getting in a lot of trouble with your publisher.

And in case you're wondering, I'm not working on a book contract. I'm actually working on...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Strange Things

I had a great post ready to go for today, but a few things came up that made it inappropriate for me to post today. So rather than posting a long, thoughtful blog entry, I'm just going to say, "Have a great weekend."

I WILL get the other post up some day, just when the timing is better.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Life Changes

Over the past few years, I've been steadily making changes to my life that have gone a long way toward improving my ability to write and forge a future beyond my current day job. Some of these changes were easy, like joining a writers' organization and finding a critique group. Going to conferences has been fun, and I've been challenged quite a bit in ways the improved my writing even more than simply sitting down to write.

Now, I'm taking another step: I'm going to read at least five books on writing this year. That may not sound like a lot, but I rarely read non-fiction. And most of my reading about writing comes from articles and seminar handouts. I'm saying five books because I don't honestly know how many I can get through while pushing myself to read more fiction.

I'm excited, and as I work through my first book, I'm already learning a lot. And by learning a lot, I mean that I'm remembering some of the fundamentals that I generally take for granted.

I'm going to start freelancing soon, too, if I can. I need experience in the writing industry if I'm going to make it my full-time job. For those two reasons, my first two books are WORDS FAIL ME by Patricia T. O'Conner and THE ELEMENTS OF EXPRESSION by Arthur Plotnik.

After that, I think it's time I finally read Stephen King's ON WRITING.

What other books should I read? I have one more title to work through that I can't share yet for secret reasons, but any suggestions are more than welcome!

And what are you reading right now?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

The final installment of Revis's debut trilogy did nothing less than excite my enthusiasm and hope for the future of Sci-Fi writing, especially for Y/A readers.

Over the years, I've had an odd relationship with Sci-Fi, and I can say Revis went a long way toward drawing me into the fold of future über enthusiasts.

Every stray thread left dangling at the end of books one and two (of which there are only a few) are neatly tied up, along with the engaging plot arc of this novel. The characters find new depths, explore more complex relationships and ideas.

And most of all, it's fun! I stayed up WAY past my bedtime for four nights straight trying to reach the end simply because I couldn't stop reading. It was THAT good.

I won't spoil the story for you with descriptions or summaries, but know that the characters come across as real people who I can very closely relate to. By the time I reached the bottom of page 1, I felt like I'd returned to a familiar world, and I got to spend time watching my friends grow and change from teenagers suddenly in over their heads to mature adults, still in over their heads but way more capable of handling the world around them.

Revis has a great career ahead of her, in my opinion, and I think Sci-Fi might be my new favorite genre BECAUSE of her!

Go buy the entire trilogy, follow her on Twitter, and have a blast in the future.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

No Excuses!

Throughout life, goals that we set come and go. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for missing those goals (a death in the family, car accident, lack of funds, etc.), but often times, it's easier to simply make excuses as to why those goals are simply unattainable. Then we give up altogether. For success to occur, however, we must face those legitimate possibilities of failure, dare them to make us fail, and then try our hardest to overcome those difficulties, even if that means reaching goals later than expected. Or even adapting to circumstances to change those goals into something better than the originally planned "end" to our efforts.

For me, I've found that I have the most motivation and inspiration for my writing at about 7:45 am, Monday through Friday. When I'm on my way out the door for my day job. It would be easy to say, "I can't write at any other time, so I just need to figure out how to get myself into a position to stay at home and write all the time. Until then, I'll stop writing."

The truth, though? I've found that I WRITE best (regardless of inspiration and motivation) when I SIT DOWN AND WRITE! No excuses, no whining, and no sitting back and wishing my life were different.

That's my advice to anyone interested in succeeding ANYWHERE in life. Figure out how to make something happen, and if you never "have the time," go out and make time.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Charity of the Month: Compassion International

Well, the problem with being on vacation and completely zoning out is that I forget some of the most important things I need to do. Including a prompt COTM post.

I will not be discouraged at my own laziness, instead, I bring to you: Compassion International.

I've talked about this group many times before, and I've been privileged to stay involved with them for more than seven years. They do so many great things for people around the world that it's tough to pick one program to recommend. I love that they allow me to sponsor a child who might otherwise starve, but I also love their HIV/AIDS relief program, the disaster relief they work on, and a relatively new program that helps young adults leaving their sponsorship program to get a college education.

All in all, they are one of my favorite charities, and if you have the ability, please pop on over to their site and donate a few bucks. It's a great cause, and they can always use more help.

Have a great week, I'll see you all on Wednesday, and Happy New Year!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Now, Vacations are for Relaxing

Sure, I got my outline finished. It's been a tough slog this time around. And as a result, it's time to relax. I have a few days left on my vacation, and since I had waaaaayyyyy too much stuff to do on the first three quarters of my vacation, I'm going to spend the rest of it working on my wonderful relationship with my awesome wife.

My advice to all of you? Relax when you can, and spend as much time as possible working on your dreams.