In each of us, a hero

The evacuation of lower Manhattan

The evacuation of lower Manhattan on 9/11, the largest sea evacuation in history

When do we see the nobility of men and women? In the most tragic circumstances of life. It is then that we step up and show that we are, indeed, created in the image of God.

To honor the heroes of 9/11, today I am sharing this video with my students. I was raised in a sailing family, and it warms my heart to see how hundreds of skippers rushed to help.

In each of us, there lives a hero. This short video shares some of their stories.

When the need arises, will your inner hero step up to the call? Yes, I think so.

How to Write 3000 Words

This summer I have been in Turbo Writer Mode. Basically, I have July to finish my comic novel, Darcy By Any Other Name. It’s a wonderfully funny romp. But it won’t write itself.

So Mondays through Wednesdays I write 3000 words a day. The rest of the week I’m also writing, but not new material. I tell you what, by week’s end my brain feels stretched like a wrung-out sponge! But the chapters are mounting up. Definitely worth it.

Here are some things I’ve learned about pumping out words.

1. Set aside time. You need time for writing. And for thinking. Ah, but remember this: You will do your best thinking as you write.

Set aside time to work

Quiet, dedicated time is important.

2. Don’t forget that morning cuppa. A hot drink both comforts and empowers. But too much caffeine is not your friend.

Caffeine helps.

Some is good. A lot, not so much.

3. Gather your tools. For me, this means finding my best pair of reading glasses. And then not setting them down “somewhere.”

Find your glasses. And the backup glasses. And the backup to the backup glasses.

A backup. And a 2nd and 3rd backup.

4. Stay on task. It takes time to warm up the flow, so keep throwing words on the page, willy-nilly. Make lists of ideas, walk through a scene “telling” it. No editing, no backtracking.

Yes, sigh, I use a timer.

Sigh, I often use need a timer to stay focused.

5. Carry a notebook everywhere. Words beget words, and ideas can strike at any time. If you’re not prepared, you’ll write on scraps and napkins. Try not to make notes while you are driving on the freeway…like I did here (the receipt!).

Be prepared for ideas.

Be ready for ideas…or else you’ll do this.

6. Accountability helps. Fellow author Susan Kaye and I check in every single work day. Same with my pals at My 500 Words. Because time is not yours to waste, not when there’s a book to write. Find others to help you stay productive and growing.

Give and receive encouragement

You don’t need to go it alone. Join us!

7. Above all, keep your sense of humor intact. As you write, entertain not only your future readers but also yourself. The first draft is all melodrama anyway, so dare to go over the top.

The Foster Farms Chicken Impostor.

My very own Foster Farms “Chicken Impostor.” Because I need a smile.

8. For heaven’s sake, back up your work. Daily. And don’t lose the flash drive like I did. (I have no idea why I wrote “2 of 3″ on this one. There must have been a reason.)

Back up your work.

Back up your work. Just do it.

“Never give up, never surrender! Words of wisdom from Galaxy Quest, right? Don’t lose heart. Writing is all about stopping and starting again. You only fail if you quit for keeps.

The Old, the New, the Remodeled, the Working

The tools, they are a-changing!

My tools, they are a-changing! Am I becoming an Early Adapter?

Something Old: One loved-to-death Kindle
It’s stuck on The Hunger Games. And because I took no other books on vacation, that’s what I read on the train. Three times.

Something New: A Kindle Fire HD
(Displaying one of my books, of course.)
Can it be that I’m an Early Adapter?
My sons say I’m a Laggard. Oh, sigh. They’re right.

Something Remodeled: this blog
Now that I have a tablet, I need a blog theme that adjusts in size.

And Something working.
Namely, me!
And, see, there’s my Camp NaNo calendar to prove it.
X stands for victory!

Yes, I am making progress on my new novel, which is why you haven’t seen me online much.
I’m writing Chapter 20 today, and by month’s end the entire book should be finished.

I live, eat, breathe words.
I am greatly in debt to fellow author Susan Kaye, to my Beyond Austen readers, and to our My 500 Words NaNo Cabin.

Back in the saddle and writing!

Isn’t this the best comic? When I’m up and writing, this is exactly how it is.

So I’m home from my travels. This means I’m free to return to the bewitching online world. Hooray!

But there’s a catch. I can stay here only as long as I write. No words, no Internet.

Because it’s summer and none of my pitiful excuses hold water. I have not one but two books to finish. What good are 30,000 words (and 20,000 words) of half-finished story?

So if you see me here and on Facebook and on Twitter, I’m writing. 2,000 words a day. Before I can get online.

Hey, it’s Snark Monday. How about some strong encouragement? Can we say, “Ouch” and “Oww” and “Oi” together? Oh, yes.

“Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.” (Plutarch)

The pen is mightier than the sword, but not if I don’t use it. Word by word by word.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” (Louis L’Amour)

Getting started, the hardest part. One word leads to another.

“Two questions form the foundation of all novels: ‘What if?’ and ‘What next?’ (a third question, ‘What now?’, is the one an author asks himself every 10 minutes or so; but it’s more a cry than a question.) Every novel begins with the speculative question, What if X happened? That’s how you start.” (Tom Clancy)

So we keep answering these questions and a novel grows.

So here I’ll be through the summer months. Let’s write pages and pages together!

Comic used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at

What I have learned about being a novelist – 7


Peter, William, Trevor

Peter, William, Trevor

Today we have William’s words of wisdom.

Over the last year, I have learned quite a few things about writing and the novelist’s life.

1. It’s not easy. Writing isn’t a hobby once you make it a job. You learn to resent your stories for existing, and the love of writing goes away.

2. There is no right way to do it, and there’s a reason why opinions exist. Your story to some will be brilliant, to others it will be horrible.

3. You get better if you practice. The more you do it, the quicker you will learn. True statement.

Overall, I can say that this class has helped further ingrain the concept of a good story into my mind. And hopefully this will have long-lasting benefits in my writing “career,” even though being a professional full-time author would suck.

I’ll miss this class. Thanks for the memories.

William is headed for George Fox University as a psychology major. In December he published his first novel, A Time of Peace, which is available at Amazon. Thanks for the memories, indeed, William. How I will miss this class!

What I have learned about being a novelist – 6

girlsread-3Here is Melissa’s take on this topic:

Melissa2014I have learned many things this year about being a novelist. The main things that I learned are that it takes hard work, free writes help, and you can find inspiration everywhere.

The first one is that it is hard work. Oftentimes the story does not just come to me. I have to struggle through the writer’s block and just try to get something on the page. It would be hard to be a writer out side of the class because you don’t have classmates or teachers to help you along the way.

Second, free writes help a lot, especially when you are in that writer’s block that I mentioned before. Often stories just come to you. By the end of the free write, you somehow come up with a story that actually makes since. Sometimes stories just need to be forced out of you.

Third, I really learned this year that you can find inspiration everywhere. Some of my characters have characteristics that I based off of my friends. Some of the places I have written about I have been to myself. That is shy I have really tried to keep an eye out for my stories. They often come out when I’m writing my free writes.

I have learned so much about being a novelist this year. I probably won’t ever be one, but I really do have a respect for people who follow their dreams and tell people the stories in their lives.

Melissa will be attending Portland Community College / Portland State next year. It has been a pleasure to watch her grow as a storyteller and artist!

What I have learned about being a novelist – 5

guys2-2The working author faces a number of challenges. Most students who love to read don’t give these a thought—until they take my fiction writing classes!

Today Ben shares what he’s learned:

Ben2014Writing is hard work. I have learned much besides this, but that fact rings truer every second I spend writing. No matter how much fun the process is, it will always be work.

Besides that, I have learned 30 pages is much harder than I had originally thought. Because of this, I have a newfound respect for authors who write books of 100, 200, 400, 1,000 pages! To be able to carry a story for that long without losing your audience is a skill not yet known to me.

A last thought I have would be on procrastination. Sometimes the best ideas come at 4:00 a.m. when all you want to do is sleep. Other times, in fact for most of the time, a better idea will come when you do the work before the last day. That way, you edit before you turn it in so there aren’t any blatantly obvious mistakes.

Ben is heading to Biola University, majoring in biochemistry and mathematics. His specialty is comic writing, and how we have enjoyed his funny stories.