Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Taste Of The Bizarre

Last weekend I had a signing at Bookmans in Mesa. It went well. Sold 8 books in three hours. This signing felt much easier as far as my nerves were concerned. I'm getting used to approaching people, talking comfortably about my book, and promoting myself as an author. It's taken a bit to get me out of my shy, introverted ways, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of things.

I've noticed, no matter where I have my book signings at, I always meet some interesting people. Or should I use the word diverse. Either way, I am always entertained and full of stories when I get out of my signings to tell friends and family. My brother told me just the other day that I should write a book about the interesting people I've met at my signings. We'll see.

This time was no different. One of the interesting people I met I already mentioned in my last post. She was a doozy. I met a girl with a pet rat she kept on her neck, and had one guy tell me his bizarre story idea that had something to do with a dinosaur, hover boards, and the moon and, after he was all done telling it to me, said I would probably end up stealing his idea and using it as my own. The Cat in the Hat was roaming around the store and a Greyhound adoption was taking place. Girl Scout cookies were being sold outside (as they are at almost all of my signings) and then you can top all that off with my family visiting me. Never a dull moment. I love it!

My highlight at the last signing I had a couple weeks ago was having the store put my book on their shelf. The highlight for me this time was having someone who purchased my book ask to have their picture with me. Yes, I 'm sure I blushed. It was an honor and it was, frankly, the first time I've had someone that I didn't know ask me for that. Her name was Beverly. She was awesome.

This coming Saturday I have my last book signing of February at Bookmans in Phoenix. I wonder what interesting things are going to happen there...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Garbage In, Garbage Out?

I had an interesting interaction with someone this weekend at my book signing at the Mesa Bookmans. I was handing a postcard with information on my novel to a woman who was standing about ten feet from me. She took it and said nothing at first. Then her eyes turned up at me and she smirked, proceeding to ask me what my angle was, what point was I trying to get across with my writing.

I wasn't sure how to answer that so I told her that I wasn't really trying to make a point, just write compelling fiction. I described my writing as a mix between the Christian symbolism that was evident in some of C.S. Lewis' works and the edginess in Stephen King's style of writing. Apparently she didn't like that. She told me those two things contradict each other and that they can't coexist successfully. I motioned to my books and told her to buy one, read it, and find out for herself if I was successful in pulling it off.

That's when she said, "Garbage in, garbage out." Then she told me she was extremely careful with the types of books she reads. I told her I understood and once again pointed out that she could purchase my book for only $10 and tell me what she thought. She asked me if I had read any of C.S. Lewis' books like the Screwtape Letters or Mere Christianity. I said no. I tried to be more clear and explained to her that my writing held a lot of the Christian symbolism that C.S. Lewis has in his Chronicles of Narnia. Then she said she was going to challenge me to go deeper into my faith and that I really need to take a harder look at C.S. Lewis before I go comparing myself to him or his works.

I realized at this point that she was trying to start some kind of religious debate with me at my table. I wasn't going to have any of it. I figure if someone wants to discuss theology and the angles that my book presents, then we can, but if someone is going to call my writing garbage before they've even read an excerpt of my book, then they are only out to prove their own points, in this case how evil Stephen King is or how evil I am...not sure exactly which one.

I handed the woman an excerpt and told her to read it while she browsed the store, just to get a feel of my writing. She took it and walked off. A woman nearby had overheard the conversation and told me that she too was a Christian and didn't understand what the other lady was getting so upset over. I explained the story to her and she told me she enjoyed Stephen King's writing and that my novel synopsis sounded intriguing. Then she told me that I handled the other woman's attempt at debate quite well.

How strange I think it is that some Christian's can be so close minded about things. I'm not attacking Christianity - because I am a Christian - but I have started to notice those that are so closed off from the world that they isolate themselves from anyone or anything that could deepen their faith or relationship with God. I completely understand that some people are very careful with what they read, but it seemed that just because I was comparing myself to Stephen King's writing style and C.S. Lewis' Christian allegory, she took it as me comparing Jesus to Satan.

I'll admit I was raised under a somewhat sheltered roof. There's really nothing wrong with that. But even now, at 30 years old, when I tell my mother that I am reading the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, I get a whole lecture on how evil and satanic his writing is. Please people, let's be a little more mature. I understand that we as Christians are called to separate ourselves from the world, but at the same time, I think we only push everyone else away by pointing our finger and calling out everything that doesn't sound Christian as evil. Stephen King may very well not be a Christian, but it doesn't mean he isn't gifted and it doesn't mean I can't learn a few things from him as a writer and apply it to my own work.

I love the fact that I've found a style that can incorporate the lessons of faith I have learned while walking with God, and mesh them with the edgy writing style that Stephen King offers up, especially in his Dark Tower series, which is a wonderful blend of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

That woman eventually came back to me and set the excerpt down on the table. Then she said it was exactly what she thought it was. She said I was part of a cult. I told her to have a nice day and smiled as she left the store. Never a dull moment in this writer's life. Never.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Siren's Call

The past few days I've been cooped up in my office, working on projects, telling the rest of the world to go away. Trying to catch up on a few things, I decided to become a hermit, attempting to get situated with 11 1/2 hour days to try and get something finished or at least make some progress with my writerly tasks. Cabin fever begins to settle in before too long. The same apartment, the same setting, starts to wear on the mind. Fresh air is needed.

So last night, my wife and I had to pick up a friend from the airport. We decided to get there a little early and wander around and people watch before my friend's flight came in. This would give me a chance to take a break and hopefully fall back in with society. Fall back in with the living.

As I wandered the airport with my wife, cup of Starbuck's brewed coffee in hand, I began to hear it. It was a sound I've truthfully never heard before. A sound that is unmistakable and haunting. It was my novel. My work in progress. Calling to me. Asking me to come hither. To open up the Word document, to scroll through the story, to finish piecing together what is soon to be a finished novel. It was a Siren, issuing out a sound that went straight to my core, a sound that I cannot push from my memory. Not that I'd want to.

The adrenaline kicked in. I turned to my wife and told her that I felt the need to work on my novel. I told her it was calling to me, that it wanted my attention. A strange thing, for an inanimate item to want so much of me. But is a novel, even a work in progress, all that inanimate? Lines of text to tell a story. Characters to move it along. That is all it is. Ridiculous to think it was calling to me. Right?

I realized at that moment that no novel I have worked on - and I have worked on many - has ever called to me like this before. Was I not that interested in those other works of fiction? Were they not so entrancing as the one that sits before me, pulling me into its grasp, devouring whatever is left of mind and spirit? I have felt the absolute necessity to open up my laptop and feed into this mistress of literary passion. Strange. Enchanting. Haunting.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Green (Book Review)


So, when I finished White - Ted Dekker's third book in the Circle trilogy - back about a year ago, I figured Dekker was done with the circle trilogy altogether. He seemed to wrap things up nicely, not really giving any cause to start another book. Then came Green, the fourth book in the Circle series.

Referred to as Book Zero, Green is advertised as being able to be read either as an introduction for new readers of the circle trilogy or as a nice continuation for those that already read the first three books. In essence, the series is a full circle. Quite concept.

Before I go any further, I would like to state that I have nothing against Green as a story. It was superbly written, as Dekker's other Circle books are, and kept me captivated to the very end. However, I strongly feel this is the wrong book to start out the Circle series with. Anybody who hasn't read Black, Red or White should go back and read them - in that order -  and then pick up a copy of Green. I assure you, it will make a whole lot more sense than if you pick up Green and try to get into Dekker's world.

Saying that, I admit there are spoilers ahead. You've been warned.


My brief synopsis of the circle series goes like this: A deadly virus is spread in our world, threatening to kill off the world's population. Thomas Hunter, after being shot in the head one night, begins to dream/travel of another world, our world, but 2,000 years into the future. A world after the Apocalypse has already taken place. A world where God (known in the series as Elyon) has started things over so to say. But evil still resides in the form of a strange bat-like creature known as Teeleh. Teeleh poisons the minds of Elyon's followers, casting them into the desert. The series goes from there into the dynamic relationships between those that have a scabbing disease, known as the Horde, to those that have decided to drown in Elyon's waters - waters that cure the scabbing disease. These are known as albinos. There are also those that have drowned, then turned Horde and then fled into the forests, taking the name of Eramites.

The tension between those that aren't Horde and those that are mounts up in Green, setting the stage for a well-laid Christian allegorical layout. Thomas, by the time Green starts, is trapped in the future world, now the leader of those who have chosen to drown. Many are getting tired waiting - many years have passed since White - for Elyon to fulfill His promise and return to claim the albino as His bride. Bickering and complaining abound while Thomas and his wife, Chelise, once Horde herself, try to keep everyone on track to loving the Horde, avoiding bloodshed. It is Thomas' son, Samuel, who decides to stand up and move everyone to pick up arms to kill the Horde, convincing those that would listen to him that Elyon isn't ever coming back for them and that the time for hiding from the Horde is over with.

These matters escalate when Thomas finds the Books of History that allow him to go back in time, to our world again. Thomas manages to change history as a war between Horde and albino and Eramites begins, facilitated by Teeleh, the source of all evil. Another epic battle between good and evil commences, told in spectacular fashion.

What Dekker began in Black, continued in Red, and ended in White, he only made better in Green. The characters in Green are all older and some have moved on in their lives. It seems that Dekker raised the bar of emotional strife and struggle in this book and even deepened the series' portrayal of faith. The book seems a bit gorier and even a bit more sensual in some areas. Most of it adds to the story though. And I'm glad to see that a book that falls under the Christian Fiction category has taken a few liberties with worldly viewpoints. I’m not saying we have to litter a Christian fiction book with sex and violence, but too many times nowadays I see Christian authors shy away from taking things to an edgy level that might bring about the contrasts of good and evil in a much more profound way instead of sugar-coating everything so it’s easy to swallow.  Bottom line: Dekker doesn’t really pull many punches, which pays off for making a great series.

Dekker, as always, does bring about strong values through the story. Faith, friendship, sacrifice and love all play an important part. As does the worship of Elyon. The book doesn't sound preachy and really did a good job of telling a story instead of preaching a sermon. That's what I've always loved about Dekker...well, from what I've read from him, which at the moment is only the Circle series.

Another unique thing about the Circle series is that apparently characters and plot elements from the entire series leak into Dekker's other books, like the Paradise series and the Lost Books. I have yet to check those out but they will definitely be on my list in the coming months.

Now come my ponderings and issues with Green.

By the end of the book, which loops into the beginning of Black, I had a slightly confused mind as to why the book loops to begin with. At the end of Green, before Thomas is sent back to our world by Elyon, he requests Elyon to save his son, Samuel, who ends up dying at the hands of his mother's father, Qurong, the leader of the Horde army. Elyon grants his request, sending him back, but I'm not sure how that resolves how Samuel could be saved. I see how it could give Thomas another chance at saving Samuel because he is starting things - the series - all over again, but he has no memory of what happened before he was sent back, meaning he would more than likely follow the same path that he did the first time around, still resulting in his son's death.

My overall feeling on Green is that it is a great book, especially if you have already read the first three in this series. Ted Dekker's writing style in the Circle trilogy lives on in Green, however fans may find that Green is a bit more violent than the three books prior. The novel goes into great detail to chronicle the blood sacrifices that Teeleh demands and it doesn't shy away from a gore factor. The book even makes connections to vampirism, which I’ll admit threw me off a little. I understand the connections that Dekker makes to vampires, but didn’t understand why he made those connections in a book like this.

I also found that Green seems to be aspiring to a lofty goal trying to bring readers who haven’t read the three books prior up to speed on what is going on in the entire series. It does an okay job of glazing over the more dominating plots, but I fear that readers new to the series are going to be more confused than drawn in by reading Green first. This book is more of an ending that wraps into the beginning, not a starting point so to say.

I think in the coming months I am going to sit down and read Black, Red and White once again. Then I’ll pick up the Lost Books and the Paradise series and see how everything really ties together. I’m hoping Dekker comes out with another book that maybe explains how things loop, but until then, I’ll cough this up to a great series that is definitely worth reading. In order.

Official website of Ted Dekker

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


One thing that I have found since I started blogging is that the actual process of writing a blog isn't the most time consuming for me. The act of cutting and pasting it into different social network applications is. To resolve this, I did a bit of googling and found a really good - FREE - application called HootSuite.

HootSuite allows you to set your feed address (your blog) and then set up what social network avenues you would like it to be fed to whenever you post to that blog. It will create a tiny URL and send a link to your Facebook, Facebook Pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, and WordPress.

Another great thing about HootSuite is that I don't have to go to my Facebook, Facebook Pages or Twitter on different occasions. I can check their feeds all from HootSuite's interface.

I'm still exploring the application to see what other ways it can help me out, but so far HootSuite seems to be a good solution for helping me get the word out about new posts to the people in my social network.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cutting Out The Fat

I've noticed something lately: I'm getting a lot more serious and determined about my writing. That's not to say that I haven't been serious about my writing this whole time, but I've noticed a change in the air in the last week. I've noticed that my determination has become a bit more rock-solid. My resolve to run this race and cross the finish line of my goals has gotten as strong as titanium. I've noticed that I am naturally starting to treat my writing as a job instead of me having to force myself into it.

Sitting at a computer for 10-11 hours a day can be overly daunting, not to mention boring. But I find myself sinking into my projects easier. I find my brain switching tracks to work mode with a smoother transition. I'm not sure what to attribute it to. Maybe that our rent was still $200 short an hour before it had to be turned in the week before last. We made rent. God came through in the eleventh hour. But the whole situation broke a vial of determination in me. Maybe that was the purpose for things to come down to the bring forth my true potential. Maybe my new passion can be attributed to God instilling in me a stronger sense of purpose. Writing is who I am. It is what I do. It is what I was created to do. Maybe I'm just tired of going in circles with what I want to get done...getting a little ahead, running out of steam, and then circling back around to the beginning again.

Whatever the reason, I found myself cutting more nonsense out of my life over the last week. I'm not getting caught up dinking around on Facebook while I'm trying to get my projects done. I am finding it easier to say no to those that want some of my time - not because I don't want to give them my time, but simply because I have rearranged a few of my priorities. Drama is creating a detestable taste in my mouth now. I realize how it can easily rob me of time and energy and leave me with nothing but regret and even some resentment toward the person or persons that caused the drama in my life - if it was a person that caused it.

I like that I am naturally evolving into this creation. A writer who takes my writing a bit more seriously. Not that I don't make time for fun or spending quality time with family and friends. But I am learning when to say no. When to cut off the fat of the day and get down to business, and when to relax and take a breather because I've gotten so much work done. Everything has a time. Everything has a season. And now is the season to till the ground, to get these projects off the ground. I can ease up a bit once things start snowballing. But until then, a little elbow grease won't hurt anyone.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Successful Book Signing

Last weekend I had the privilege of doing a book signing at two different Bookmans bookstores. Both were in Tucson, one at the Speedway location and the other at the Grant location. I had initially received an email from the Grant location stating that they usually don't have much success with book signings at their location. The event coordinator, Travis, was more than happy to have me at the store though, and I figured since I was already in the area that day doing a signing at the Speedway location, why not? Why not indeed.

First off, the promotional materials I brought with me were a step up from what I had on hand at my Borders signing in November. I had postcards made, with my cover on one side and the back-of-the-book description on the other.  

These were done pretty well and at a very affordable price from Then I decided to print my prologue on single sheets of paper with my name and web address at the top and offer them to customers as they passed by the table. This would give them an opportunity to get drawn into my book right off the bat instead of me waiting for them to pick up the actual book. Both tools came in handy and were successful in their own rights. I found people standing in front of my table at times reading through the whole prologue and then taking that and a postcard with them as they browsed through the store.

The signing at the Bookmans Speedway location was great.

I sold 4 books that day in a two hour timeframe, one of them to a store employee who looked at one of aforementioned postcards and decided he had to have a book. Originally being positioned off to the side of the double entrance, it took me a bit to get out of my comfort zone and get reacquainted with being an outgoing author. Once that kicked in, I realized that I would be better off setting up my table in front of the giant stone sphere that was propelled by water that stood in the center of both doors, greeting everyone that came into the store. Once I moved the table there, I had much better luck getting the people that came into the store. It helped that the girl scouts were outside doing cheerleader maneuvers to pull people closer to the store, though they would have been better suited helping me sell my books.

The signing went well and my brother and my wife and I traveled to McDonalds, grabbed a quick bite, and headed off to the second signing at Grants. The outside of the store was my first indication that this was no ordinary Bookmans, not that Bookmans is ordinary in any capacity.  

After entering the store, I was greeted by Travis, the person I had only emailed briefly about my event there. He was pretty laid back and already had a table set up for me in prime location in the front of the store. The first thing he asked me was if he could get me something to drink since he was going to Walgreens. He nabbed my wife a Dr. Pepper and me a Mountain Dew, seeing how I was losing a bit of steam from the drive to Tucson that morning and the first signing.

From there, it was an experience. The people that came into that Bookmans that day were as diverse as the world itself. From a man that tried to explain the plots in my book as alien infiltration phases to the kid that kept coming back to the table and stealing all of the chocolates I had laid out, I was never bored in the whole 2 hours that we were there.

Midway through the signing, a stack of pizzas was delivered, a promotion that Travis had set up to get people interested in the Love of Reading month that Bookmans was having. He offered us pizza as well. I sparked up some conversations with customers and even with the friendly staff in the store. There was even a dog adoption going on in the store. My brother turned to me at one point and told me the place reminded him of the music store in Empire Records. Truer words have never been spoken.

At the end of the signing, Travis told me he would buy 5 books off me and put some on the shelves as new sales. I had to nab a picture of that...

...and of the man who had made my experience so memorable...

He gave me a discount on my purchase there in the store (I couldn't be at a bookstore for that long and not get something), and he even sent us home with a whole pizza as a token of appreciation for us coming out there.

Once again, that was the store that I had expected to have the least amount of success at. In all, I sold 11 books between the two stores. 4 at the Speedway location, 2 to customers at the Grant store, and then the 5 that Travis bought. I had a great time at both Bookmans. Their stores are clean, friendly and full of life. But having my book put on the shelf...near Kevin J. Anderson and Piers Anthony...priceless!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Remember...The New Radicals

Back in the late nineties after I had just graduated high school and was bouncing between California and Arizona, not really sure what to do with my life but having so much fun along the way that I didn't really care what the future held, I remember one particular band that really contributed to the soundtrack of my life: the New Radicals. Blending upbeat pop and rock with a little bit of funk, the New Radicals album Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too hit the airwaves with a passion and caught my attention with their song, "You Get What You Give", a tune that pushed the idea of not giving up on your dreams but also took a stab at celebrities and real issues that were playing in the world at the time such as health insurance and cloning. The music video for this song was by far one of my favorite, showcasing a bunch of teenagers taking over a mall and terrorizing the adults there. Who doesn't fantasize about running rampant in a mall?!

Most of the New Radicals' music was known for taking slams at Western commercialism, religion and corporate entities, but what I really pulled from their songs was the idea of being your own person and not conforming to everyone else. I think the most intriguing tune that I found on the album was the title track, "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too". Scoping out the lyrics cover that came with the CD, you'll notice that the lyrics that were written for the song are not the lyrics that are in the song. Instead, there is a trance-like pop melody with words I could never really figure out. Didn't bother me though. The song was played in my CD player in overkill when I was living a careless and adventure-filled life in California, and really put a capstone on what I believed to be some of my greatest memories for that period in my life.

I miss the New Radicals. I've always questioned what happened to them and doing some quick google searches or diving into Wikipedia, you'll find that Gregg Alexander, the frontman for the group, ended up leaving the band after the first album to work on other projects. A little fun fact is that Gregg coproduced "Game of Love", the popular song that Santana and Michelle Branch teamed up to do in 2002.

I don't think anything really beats the late nineties in terms of music, and I think the New Radicals earned their place in my memory. When youth was restless, the sky was the limit, and there was nothing to hold us back, their tunes displayed a sense of rebellion, of fun, and of originality.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Getting Back to Basics

Over the last couple of weeks, I've really taken a serious look at where I want my writing career to go. Seeing how I'm writing in place of a traditional 9-5 job, I need to make sure I'm being productive with every single minute I have. That being said, I also need to make sure I'm staying focused on what my goals are. To become a well known author? Of course that's one of my goals, but what about the path leading up to that?

I'll admit that there are some days that my thoughts and my projects are scattered like a bag of marbles someone dropped on a tile floor. I don't end up having any real direction with any of them, but I'll try to balance them all on the same plate, never really mastering all or any of them. Evaluating this issue is key to my success.

After the family drama, our financial pressure, and all of the nonsense that comes out of life is scraped out of the way, what is it that I want to focus on? Where do I want to go as a writer, and not just a writer, but a self-published writer? I have to take into account web design, marketing strategies, book signings, cover design, editing and networking. It's a barrage of stuff that needs to be sorted out.

The first conclusion I've come to is to get rid of my email newsletter. As much as I love the look of the newsletter each month and my giddiness at sending it out to the 30+ people on my newsletter mailing list, I can really do without the $10 fee each month. Most of the people on the newsletter list are those that I talk to on a regular basis anyway and I figured that I could just update people on what I'm doing via this blog.

Second, I really need to crack down and start branching my skills out to other areas of self-publishing. The two most important areas are ebook and podcast. I'm not all that skilled in the arena of the audio world, but I have the tools I need to get started, so I may as well get that off the ground and see where it goes. Some of my ideas with that are to have a monthly podcast updating people on what projects I am working on. I have some cool story ideas I'd like to publish via audio as well, so that really needs to become a priority of mine.

Ebooks are an ever changing, ever evolving and ever popular entity and one that I need to get better skilled at. Black Earth: End of the Innocence needs to be turned into an ebook and I need to get better acquainted with the different device formats so I can cater to as many readers as I can.

Another item of interest is my Expired Reality series. This series has already been redone once, when I thought I knew where my writing was going. But now with the publishing of Black Earth, I finally understand the direction I want to go in with my stories as a whole. To this end, in the next couple weeks I am going to pull the Expired Reality series down off the web and out of print and make sure it is put in sync with where I want the series to go. This doesn't mean it's going to be completely rewritten, because I think the story as a whole is fine the way it is. But new content will be added and there will be some deeper character development put in. New covers will grace the books when they are published and along with the re-release of the first two novels, the long-awaited book three will be unveiled as well.

If Expired Reality was just one book, I would cough it up to my beginnings as a writer. But it's not one book, I plan on the series to span at least 12 books and it ties in with Black Earth, so I have to make sure everything is in sync to make it the very best it can be. I hope to have the new Expired Reality editions available by the end of this coming July.

With all of these projects on the table in front of me, I need to focus my efforts and get them done. I think they will benefit me as a writer and enrich the fans of my work. I plan to release the second novel in the Black Earth series late spring, early summer. I am also working on getting signed copies of my book available for purchase through my website via Paypal.

These and many more projects are in the works and I know that I will need an extra ounce of dedication and motivation to get them completed and out to the public. These are simply the building blocks to my career as a writer and a soon-to-be well known writer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WebEasy Professional

Being a self-published author, I know that the Web is one large arena that can be used to my advantage...if used right. A website is one of many important tools in a self-published author's marketing bag and can also be one of the most daunting if trying to do it yourself.

With books to write and people to network with, I don't have time to learn HTML to build my own site from scratch. So years ago I found a nifty little program called WebEasy Professional. Created by Avanquest Software, WebEasy is a drag and drop website builder that allows you to build a website from scratch without having to known HTML or any other type of coding.

WebEasy makes things fairly easy with a point and click, drag and drop interface. You can choose font colors and styles, add images and import sounds. The program even has a Custom Script Assistant that helps you include HTML properties into your project. Your page limit is pretty much unlimited. There are rulers and point grids to help you line things up correctly, and you can preview what the individual pages or the whole site looks like before you publish it. There is a fairly easy guide that helps you connect to your FTP server to upload the website to your domain.

WebEasy also comes with loads of clip art - 85,000 web-ready graphics to use in your website, all part of the program. This makes putting buttons and banners, borders and pictures a fairly simple task, assuming the program has the graphic you're looking for and that it fits the style of your website.

At an affordable price - $49.95 at the time of this posting -  and with a convenient and easy-to-learn interface, WebEasy is a decent pick for those of us without the technical knowhow to build a website from code.

There are some drawbacks that I have noticed in the years working with WebEasy. One is the poor technical support. On many occasions I have written emails to their technical support teams and gotten responses back asking me what it is I am requesting, as if they don't understand basic lingo in regards to their own program.

Another minor drawback is that the program doesn't allow you to turn off link colors, meaning you have to have the links in your website set to show up as a certain color, whether that be black, white or one of the colors in between. This can be annoying and frustrating when you are trying to design a website that has a specific color scheme on a white background and you don't want your link to be a particular color different from the color of the website's text. I am sure there is a way to alter that in the HTML coding, but isn't there a reason I'm using a program to create my website?

Those things aside, WebEasy has helped me over the years to design and sustain a decent looking author website. I am constantly finding new caveats to the program that help me to make my site the best it can be.

Check out my website to see what I have done with WebEasy so far.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Eleventh Hour

At the moment, I am in my office, glancing at the calendar. Tomorrow night is when rent has to be in the drop box or else late fees will begin to accrue and the path to eviction begins. Though every fearful thought that could run through my mind about this situation wants to come to fruition, I hold them back. I make my stand. I decide to stand firm in the knowledge and faith that God will come through, as He has for the last six months. Am I to worry because He waits until the last minute to do things? Should I be fearful of being put out on the street or having to break our lease when God has taken care of our other bills, our car repairs, and put food on our table? If He is not faithful in one thing, is He not faithful in all things?

For those of you that have been following my blog, you know that my wife and I have been walking a very narrow path, one that we don't always understand. I'll admit that I am human and that I have my doubts when it comes to trusting in God for my finances, especially when the economy around me is crumbling, my bank account is in the single digits and I have bills that, when stacked, are thicker than a Shakespeare novel. It's okay though. Though it's easier to trust God with one of my smaller bills than my rent, money is no object to Him. $5 is the same as $5,000,000. He uses the dollar as a tool to teach us faith and responsibility. But that's a topic for another blog.

If there is one lesson that I have had to learn this last six months, it's that God is faithful. He will come through on His promises and sometimes he will make us wait until the last minute to test our faith. I must trust that His timing is perfect. I must have some degree of faith that allows me to open my arms wide and allow God to take control of the whole situation. I really have no choice at this point but to stress over this or leave it in His hands, where it belongs.

I walked a similiar road months ago when I worked for an unscrupulous company and I was called to take a stand, to set the bar of where we should all be at. To stand for what we feel is right, to not fall into complacency with our purposes or beliefs. And now, once again, I stand and wait. I wait for rent to come through. As others watch and wait with me to see what God will do, I find anticipation running through my veins more than fear. Excitement more than dread. Joy more than sorrow. This isn't some pipe dream where I wish to mooch off those around me for money to pay my rent. This is a destiny that God has called me to, and He will provide in His own ways. He has been faithful for six months and he will be faithful for another six. 

Miracles do still happen. Every day. Every hour. Every second. Just watch...

Micah 7:7 (NLT) - As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.

Monday, February 1, 2010

How I Stay On Task

I had a really good friend ask me a while ago what my writing process is. How do I sit down and stay on task with all of my projects during the day, especially since I am doing this writing thing for a living? Well, after months of tweaking the system, I found a way that works for me and may be the inspiration to help you get something structured – if you’re not already.

Essentially I started out trying to follow a schedule for the day. From this time to this time I would shower, eat breakfast and get to work. Then from this time to this time I would write and from this time to this time I would work on the website, etc. But following that structure didn’t seem to really work for me. I would go to coffee with a friend or meet up with my wife for a break and my whole schedule would be out of whack.

So I tried an alternative. I went ahead and took the time to figure out how much time I would (realistically) like to spend on certain projects. Then I would just make sure that I devote that much time in each day, morning or night, for that particular project. There didn’t have to be a certain time I would start certain things, I could roll with what I felt like doing. For example, if I felt like writing after I got ready in the morning, then I would do my allotted hours of writing first, then I could move on with my other projects.

Since this is my job, I try to give myself 10 hour days, 5 days a week, and then I use Saturday to catch up on anything I might have fallen behind on. I try to give myself 4 hours to write (that includes my novels and blogging), 4 hours to work on miscellaneous projects (including web design, logos, cover design and marketing), an hour for lunch, and an hour for reading.

This process works quite well for me, especially if I am called to something else during the day, because then I can just use my evening to make up the difference. This also acts as a good discipline for the use of my time. If I goof around too much during the day, then I know I'm going to be working through the night to get my projects finished. Either way, stuff gets done using this method.

One really good tool that I use to keep me on track with this method is a digital stopwatch on my computer. I grabbed mine from and I use it to keep tabs on how much of my time is actually going toward the projects I am working on. I stop the watch if I have to use the restroom, take a phone call, or get a snack. Because let’s face it, I know if I get up to get a snack, then I’m going to end up watching the television or start organizing something in the living room and then everything goes south from there…