Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Victory!

I reached a major goal yesterday when Armchair Interviews award my short story, An Unexpected Dream, second place in their Thanksgiving Short Story Contest. I'm excited because, not only is their website is an award winner, but I set a goal to be recognized by published authors as having talent. I've been so fortunate to have people encouraging me in my writing, my wife Pam, Cec Murphey, my dear friend, and Matt Jones, my critique partner.

Today, I still have two goals unfulfilled. I still need an agent, and I'm still not published. But, I'm pumped. I'm entering three manuscripts in the Genesis Contest next year, and I have hope for success. My motto is: Kept Writing And Never Give Up!

Friday, November 14, 2008


Finding myself with some discretionary time on my hands, I have begun to experiment with backyard activities. Now, to some, that could mean gardening, landscaping, bird watching or any number of other fun activities. But I have started Fluffy watching.

Now you may ask “Who is Fluffy?” A name normally selected for the master cat in your home. And, as a matter of fact, Fluffy is a great name for a cat. But for me, Fluffy is a rogue squirrel bent on stealing my peace and home.

I first met Fluffy over a year ago. He was hanging up side down on my bird feeder, with both of his hands in the seed. He ate for over ten minutes while my guard dogs, Bailey and Barkleah watched, poised to attack. Then he casually climbed down from the feeder and challenged my dogs to a run across the yard. Of course, both dogs were game but had no chance to catch Fluffy. He climbed up a tall tree while the dogs jump up and down at the bottom.

At first, I thought my goal was to keep Fluffy out of the birdseed. After all, this seed was custom seed purchased for the Cardinals and Bluebirds, not for a Squirrel. I tried installing a Squirrel baffle. It was to frighten him away. He only saw this as an addition to the game he played with us daily. I tried putting out Squirrel food; he laughed and moved on to the feeder for the gourmet bird seed. He tormented my dogs and me for months.

Then one day, I heard him in the attic. Oh no, not inside, Yes. Now we had a real problem He was setting up house for the winter. I called a professional Squirrel hunter. He sealed the hole in my house, and we hoped for the best. The scratching in the attic stopped. I felt I had won. But no. Fluffy was back the next spring day and chewing a new hole. Now it was all out war.

After contacting several experts, my crafty grandson installed peanut butter into a two-ended cage. This cage was placed on the roof in a path to the new hole made by the squirrel. In just one hour, Fluffy was eating peanut butter in the cage and we were traveling to a beautiful park four miles from our home. What a win - win for us all. The dogs could rest from the teasing. I could get back to working on my books, and Fluffy would be living in a new resort with many other beautiful squirrels. After all, he was a bachelor and needed a fine spouse.

Within one short week, my grandson heard familiar sounds coming from atop my roof. Could it be? The next morning, I inspected the attic. No squirrel was inside. But out in the lawn,Yes, Fluffy was back, or someone resembling him, with three more companions.(A beautiful new wife?) Now what? I give up. He can have the gourmet bird seed. He can live in a nest in the trees. But two traps are in my attic. He can never, never, live my attic. We will learn to live in peace. He is the master Squirrel you know.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Writing In Retirement

I've had a few requests to learn more about the novels I'm writing. Presently, I'm marketing a political, called Standing Firm. In it, a third political party rises in America, a conservative Christian party, and a congressman from Oklahoma runs as its first presidential candidate. The story is about the campaign, told through the eyes of his wife and the candidate himself.

The novel follows the candidate's wife, through a nasty campaign filled with an assassination attempt and international intrigue. She provides the stability to play off his crusader, "I can win against all odds," attitude. Will see how editors react to it. I'm working on three other novels, and I'll review those in future posts.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Time To Retire

As of October 3, 2008, I will officially retire from Wolters Search Group. It's a bittersweet time after twenty-five years. I'll miss the search business and the dealmaking that goes with it. I'll miss the day-today-day friendships, although my co-workers will always be friends. But on the positive side, I can now devote full time to my wife and my writing, in that order. So retirement really isn't the right word. Career change might better describe it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Last year, about this same time, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference and had the pleasure of gaining the interest of a very well known agent. As you can imagine, I was thrilled. My manuscript was complete and in the hands of a professional editor. Her job was to provide a comprehensive edit of the book. After a final rewrite, based on the editor’s feedback, I was ready for print. But the agent was no longer ready to represent me. What a let down.

With a finished manuscript, my next stop was the Writer’s Edge Manuscript Service. A resource used by many publishing houses today for screening purposes. The Writer’s Edge reviews your proposal, author profile, an outline of the book, and some of your manuscript. If they determine the book qualifies, the Writer’s Edge features your book to the publishing houses. Mine was selected as one of those to feature resulting in two inquiries. After a few weeks of “chatting” with both houses, one gave me the best rejection letter I have ever seen. The other offered a contract with a financial obligation that I rejected.

Okay, it is time to get back to finding an agent. Clearly, an agent can assist me in successfully maneuvering in this confusing world of publication. So let’s get started.

ü Locate the current publication of Sally E. Stuart’s Christian Writers Market Guide

ü Review the entries listed in the guide to identify agents who are willing to accept unpublished authors.

ü Verify the requirements for submission by going to the agent’s website

ü Capture in specific detail the submission requirements

ü Research the web to ensure that none of the agents on the list have bad press with previous users

ü Finalize the list; do you have any contacts that may know this agent? If so, be sure to mention that in the cover page

As of today, I’ve e-mailed queries to five, and I work the list daily, qualifying others. We will look at the results in thirty days. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Wow, what a wonderful experience it was to meet Cecil Murphy and be a part of his clinic. I had heard that he was a man of great kindness, gifted in his craft of writing, and open to share himself with anyone who asks. Having spent four days with Cec, I can say that this is true and much more.

Six authors attended. Half of them were published and desired to hone their craft. The other half were not yet published, but dedicated to polish their craft of writing. The authors were both writing fiction and non-fiction. All were focused on learning as much as possible from Cec. Cec was at their side challenging, praising, and teaching each day. His focus was on each individual, as if no one else was in the room. What a gift he has.

Bill has captured the following points as shared from Cec.

Cecil Murphy’s Writers Clinic
August 2008

Taking your craft from good to great

The power of a single word:
Every sentence needs to end with the strong word, and not only the strongest word, the right word.

When characters are going from place to place, get them there with minimum interruption. Don’t break the flow of the movement with thoughts. You can pause the movement at points, but the object is to get the characters where they’re going.

Back-story should be woven in small snippets. You shouldn’t stop the flow to tell the reader a lot about why what’s going on is going on.

Weather, rooms, and things, add depth to a story, but too much clutters up a storyline, and like back-story, stops the flow of the plot. Don’t make the surroundings more important than the storyline.

When you have a character do something without showing the reader why, character appear out of pace with the story. The reader can’t identify with the action unless a motive is shown.

Emotional scenes:
Once the character connects with their emotions give the reader enough to feel for the character. Here you can reveal snippets of back-story and delve into why the emotions are so strong.

Less is more:
Remove unnecessary words and replace them with a powerful word or two that conveys the message. Every word that can be taken out without losing the sense of the sentence should go.

Stay tuned for our next publication. I will share some of the great things I learned from Cec while he spoke to the Tulsa Chapger of Writers of Inspirational Novels.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Say, where have you been?

Bill and I have been working hard to get ready for the Cec Murphy conference on August 6th. It is so exciting to have a noted author staying in our home. But the real thrill is all the writing craft Cec will share with all of the writers at the conference.

He gives each writer as much individual time as if you were the only one there. Cec offers growth to those who will head his teaching and he does it all in the love of Christ. If you are not sighed up for this conference, please check his web site for one coming up. It will be well worth it.

I will keep many notes to share with you next time I publish. Stay tuned.

Did I tell you we have a new member in our home? His name is Barkleah James and he now runs all of us around like he is in charge. He is a Toy Fox Terrier. All ten pounds of him are Alpha Dog and he demands our attention, love and keeps our Black Lab on her toes.

I will be adding fun stories from the Barkleah and Bailey Adventures going forward. Pictures will add to the humor. If you are not a dog lover, perhaps you will become one. They are very special creatures.

Poor Barkleah was not neutered when he was a small puppy. Now as he approaches two years of age, it is time to correct that omission. He does not want the surgery and has maintained a high liver count for over six months trying to eliminate the surgery. But as fate would have it, he is now well now and the time approaches. He will attend his surgery during the writer’s conference. I hope he understands. I know the attendees will be grateful that this guard dog is out of the home for a few days. He is always on alert and announcing every squirrel he sees in our backyard. Not too cool if you are trying to write.

I look forward to our next publication. See you soon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Writing On The Edge

I took a leap of faith and submitted Standing Firm, my WIP, to The Writer's Edge. I'm excited for two reasons. First, the reviewing editor liked the work and complimented me on my progress as an unpublished author. The Writer's Edge included a synposis in their monthly publication. Second, I've received interest an inqury on Standing Firm from an editor from Moody Publishing, as I'm holding my breath.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cec Murphey Clinic

August 6th seven writers from around the country will gather in Tulsa to attend a Mentoring Clinic with Cec Murphey. I’ve agreed to host the clinic at my house. We have ample room. Cec devotes 100% of his attention on aspiring writers at these clinics, and I grew as an author from the one I attended with him last January.

For two full days, the eight of us will work while Cec critics. It’s up close and personal. You send five page to him a month before the clinic. He critics and sends them back. You may do this up to three times. Then at the clinic, you work with a computer and a flash drive, writing, being critiqued, revising, and so on. On Friday night, we’ll do and overview and end. The time will go by in a flash.

See his official web site at www.themanbehindthewords.com

Monday, February 4, 2008

Be Open To Critique!

Well, I've finished a romantic suspense. They say men have a difficult time writing romantic suspenses, but it was fun for me. Now I have two completed novels to enter in the Genesis Contest. I pondered whether to go to the ACFW this year. It's in Minneapolis, and that's a long way to drive. But Pam and I have decided to go.

I was asked at the WIN meeting how I found the time to write. I force myself to make the time. The more I write the more I learn, so it's critical to keep working the craft. Every agent and editor I talked to at last year's conference wanted to know if I had finished the novel. So I'm going to be sure I have both these novels ready to deliver within two weeks if requested. Time does not make an agent's heart grow fonder. That mean substantive edit and line-by-line done.

Since my former critique group has disbanded, I'm looking for another. Every writer needs to expose their work to critique. Cec Murphey will be doing a mentoring clinic in my home August 7th and 8th. This is my second clinic with Cec. He's tough, but I learn.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Long Road To Publishing

Unpublished authors need to fight the urge to quit. And believe me; it crosses my mind a lot. Attend conferences, join critique groups, and work on the craft diligently. Editors and agents give of themselves during workshops and interviews, even when they aren’t interested in your work. My writer’s organization of choice is the American Christian Fiction Writers, and I learn, learn, learn, at every conference that I attend.

Another must for unpublished authors is to read and glean from books like Characters and Viewpoint , by Orson Scott Card and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. Before you submit your work to an editor or an agent, you should have critiqued it alone and with others until it is the absolute best it can be. Since I’m an unpublished author of fiction, I opted to have a professional substantive edit done. Yes, it will cost you. But it will also show you are serious about the craft.

I devote uninterrupted time to writing. That’s hard to do, and I think it’s particularly hard with fiction because of the added element of inventing storylines and plots. I’m working on three different storylines, and only one, a futuristic political suspense, is at the point where I’m presenting it to agents and editors who requested seeing a proposal and sample chapters at the conference. I’m researching others to send query letters to who I did not have a chance to meet. Wish me luck, and I’ll do the same for you.

Finally, let God guide your hand and mind.