My Heart Is In Everything I Do!

Maybe you’re like me.

My heart is in everything I do. Whether that means being a sibling, a son, a boyfriend. A baseball fan, a football fan, a lover of great theater and art. As a writer, my heart is in everything I write. If it’s not–or if I find out in mid-composition it’s not–I won’t write it.

Why continue something whose only end is sure doom?

Doom, in what sense? you may be asking. For a writer, doom is incompletion.

Writers write to be read. We work every passage so that everything we want to communicate is there on the page to read and comprehend. Most of the time, after I’ve finished drafting something new, it’s still not all there yet, what I wanted to say, and I need an editor or a compassionate reader to tell me so.

“I meant to say this!” I’ll scream. “That’s how it reads in my head.”

“Well,” says the reader, in a tone much softer than my own, “that’s not how it reads on the page.” And, as a writer, how it reads on the page is all that matters.

 

Why am I going on about this today? The answer, like most answers beyond the most elementary, is simple yet complicated.

Simple in that I have done the complicated part. I have written the novel that speaks my truth better than any memoir ever could. Through drafting, it now speaks louder and clearer than ever. My heart is in every page, paragraph, passage, punctuation mark.

Complicated in that, in order to reach readers in the way I want, I must convince someone who doesn’t know me and who–as yet–has no vested interest in my success to take a chance on me, to give themselves over to the possibility that this relative unknown might actually know what he’s doing.

My novel would sit firmly and happily on the shelf next to the books of  Richard Paul Evans (his Christmas Box was an inspiration for a kid in the fifth grade) and Mitch Albom. His first best-seller, Tuesdays With Morrie, is a book I treasure, and Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven showed me that Heaven could be discussed without its having to be “religious”.

Also on this shelf would be the beautiful memoir When Breath Becomes Air. Or the newest of this crop, The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs. (That being said, my book’s genre has always been something of a quandary. Is it inspirational? I hope so. Is it the kind of book you’d want to read in your book club? I deeply believe so.)

No, I don’t know what it’s like to die as the previous two authors do. Because, thankfully, I haven’t had to experience that eventuality yet. But I’d like to think that being born with the cerebral palsy I have, living with it, and experiencing life in the “I want to do everything but know that some things are off-limits to me, and that’s just the way it is” way I must has given me a perspective with which readers will identify.

My main character, Terrence McDonald, must learn two lessons in the afterlife, those lessons gleaned from the life he’s just left. What are these lessons, and why is his learning them a must?

I hope you’re intrigued and want to find out more, whether you’re a reader, an agent, a publisher. I love what I do. My heart is in it fully. And I’d love to find a team of people who want to be in it with me!

And, dear reader, know that such a team begins and ends with you. Without you, writers would just be weirdos who wander the streets aimlessly with something to say and no one to hear them.

 

 

 

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Why You Should Think Of My New Book As Our New Book!

The day is new and still dark. My favorite writing time. The house quiet, its dogs (they really do own the house) not yet awake and barking at everything, yet nothing in particular, at the same time. I think about how I came to be a writer while I sit at the appliance that allows me the vocation. It happened in my childhood, before I knew what my life would be.It gave me a freedom nothing else could match before I ever fathomed being or felt trapped in my body.

Before I wrote, I read. In this regard, I am my mother’s son. I freely admit I don’t read as widely as she, but it is from her I garnered a love of words. We particularly loved The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, which we read together, about the battle of Gettysburg. If you haven’t read it, you should. His use of internal dialogue showed me how it was done and would be a part of the road map for my own style. I enjoyed Hemingway (“The Sun Also Rises” perfectly captures that time, that place, those bulls, those people) but always thought him a tad too spare with his prose. Richard Paul Evans, best known as the author of a short story turned novel (you can do that, if you have a publisher willing to be liberal in their typesetting) called The Christmas Box showed me that anyone with something to say could write a book that could touch people’s lives. That’s what I want to do, I told myself.  Mitch Albom showed me an author could write about God and spirituality without openly bowing to God or religion. My friend Jenny Milchman–author of such wonderful books as Cover Of Snow, Ruin Falls, and As Night Falls, suspenseful stories all–showed me how I could engage readers by talking to them and being kind and real. I had been afraid that no reader would attend a “book signing” of mine in the future, since I can’t physically sign books. When I have my signings, I will talk to each and every reader. Everyone has a story, and I will be interested to learn what, in their story, brought them to my book(s).

A book takes a long time to gestate. Even longer when you type it using two fingers, my preferred method. I considered several titles. In the end, I happily settled on Even God Makes Mistakes. The title is not a comment on religion as much as it is a statement about the character of God that I created. Although religion and I have never quite seen eye to eye; I will admit that.

Seven years after its initial keystrokes, my book is ready. It’s ready to be read, seen, enjoyed, discussed, understood. And its main character has the same cerebral palsy I do, something of which I am immensely proud,  because, in all the books I read, for all the years I’ve been reading, I have not come across a character that I could look at and say, “That guy could be me.”

But please don’t think that means it’s a book solely for people with palsy. Even God Makes Mistakes is a book for everyone. If you’re a reader, I want you to read it. If you’ve never sat down to take in a novel before, I want this to be your first. A writer’s purpose for writing anything is to communicate. I want to communicate with you. I want to show you something you’ve never seen before. I want you to read and tell your friends about that novel in which God is imperfect and the afterlife is just as much a journey as the life preceding it. And I hope you’ll get lost in the characters.

Though it hasn’t been published yet–so some might say this particular blog post might have been composed a tad early–I believe in it with everything in me. I believe the god or gods governing words wanted me to write it, and I hope my fingers have done it justice.

And I believe it isn’t just my new book. It’s ours. Because once a writer has finished composing, editing, and putting the finishing touches on his work, there comes a point when it is no longer his, when it ceases to belong to any one person but can be shared by everyone.

Come visit me to learn more about my upcoming novel. http://www.facebook.com/evengodmakesmistakes. Tell anyone you think might be interested! We are going to change the world, one reader at a time!

Who Do You Write Like?

I know, it’s a strange title. But it’s a question I get a lot (my high school English teacher would bristle at that use of a lot: “A lot is a place where a house is built, ladies and gentlemen!”). Often. It’s a question I get often. There. Much better.

Some people write mysteries. Others write thrillers. Suspense, perhaps. Then there’s literary fiction, where the use of language is almost more important than what that language actually says.

There are so many different genres—YA (young adult), magical realism, fantasy (which differs slightly from the broad sci-fi designation)–that to pigeonhole a writer into one, and only one, is not fair to them. Yet it’s done all the time.

I write stories I would want to read. I think every writer does. Mine do tend to land in the fantasy genre (though rarely, if ever, do they contain mythological creatures).

A conversation I’m very used to having when I’ve just met someone:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh. That’s great! What do you write?”

“Fiction. Short stories. I’m working on a novel.”

“Ah,” says the interested party. “Who do you write like?”

I write like me. My books are my books. But the potential reader doesn’t know my work. So I have to take a shot in the dark that they might know the work of someone else.

“Do you know Mitch Albom?” I ask.

“The Tuesdays With Morrie guy?”

We’re off-track just a bit. “He’s written novels, too. The Five People You Meet In Heaven?”

“Oh, sure,” says the bookworm. “I like that one. So you write like that, huh?”

“Kind of.”

It’ll be confusing if I tell the guy, “I have cerebral palsy. You might have noticed I walk a little differently? I write stories about people who are just like you. They experience life just like you, and have wants and hopes and dreams like you. Only, like me, they have palsy.”  He might think my stories are only for people with palsy, as opposed to what they really are: Stories I–and hopefully many–would want to read about interesting characters in fantastical situations, one of whom might just happen to have what I have and walk like I walk and experience life the way I experience life. I’ll just let the Albom comparison stand.

When It was suggested that I keep this blog, I gave a firm “no” at first. I feared blogging would be like shouting into a dark void and hoping to hear my words echo back in the mouths and minds of actual readers. But I changed my mind when I realized that, through this blog, people who were truly interested could discover “who I write like”.

I write like Mitch Albom, preferring his secular slant on things to another of my favorite authors, Richard Paul Evans’ more obviously religious style. That is not a comment on either writer. I enjoy both. Personally, I believe in a higher power (though I know people who don’t), and I would like to believe that, when the time comes, I’ll be able to ask Him (or Her) why I was given my exact obstacles in life. God’s plan might be enough for some. It isn’t, for me. There has to be more.

I write with just a bit of the sarcasm my grandfather gave me. I write with humor that isn’t mean but can be biting sometimes, if it’s done right. I write characters who aren’t perfect, because no one is perfect. I do prefer Frank Capra films over scary movies that stay with you at night, and that preference leaks into my words and work.

Put simply, I. Write. Like. Me. And I’m as proud of that now, as a novelist seeking representation, as I will be should I find it. I hope you will want to read what I have to say, because I’ve got a lot to tell you!

*Grin.*