Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What makes Love last forever?

Today is my 15th anniversary and I’ve spent a good bit of the day pondering what made our marriage survive this long, and why I feel so confident it will last forever. I’ll start by telling you a little secret. My wife, Regina, and I met through a valentine personal ad. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. These things aren’t supposed to lead to marriage, and definitely aren’t supposed to last, so what’s the trick, what have we done that so many others have failed at?

It could be that we don’t throw the D word (divorce) around like it could happen at any moment. We’ve argued, we’ve slammed doors, we’ve made each other furious—that’s bound to happen in fifteen years—but we ALWAYS meet back in the middle. Maybe we’ve just been lucky, if you believe in such a thing. Some might argue that it’s all just blind luck whether your marriage works or not. I like to think a higher power is in charge of it. My wife and I ardently believe God has his hand on our relationship. So what about other “faithful” followers who fall prey to the D word? It takes more than faith in God. You have to have that same faith in your relationship.

I know you’re wondering, Regina and I must be a perfect match, right? Sort of. Truth is, we are total opposites in personality. She’s aggressive, strong willed, says what’s on her mind. I was a very shy child and carried that into adulthood. I don’t like conflict, prefer instead to solve problems as quietly as possible. You could say I’m soft spoken. Or at least, I was. You see, over the past 15 years, something odd has happened; we’ve rubbed off on each other, in a very good way. Sometimes we are two peas in a pod, though. Like when we go to a restaurant and I’ll order the exact same thing she does. We never have to disagree about food, or movies, or travel. We love to get out and see the world. We can both compromise and get what we want at the same time.

My wife is an amazing woman, and I like to think she married an amazing man. What are the odds?

So I think I’ve figured out why we’ve made it this far. Are you ready for the secret? Here it is. It has worked for us so far.

Kiss each other good morning—no matter what—and kiss each other goodnight—no matter what.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


 “Please hold while I connect you with your party.”

There’s a click then a booming male voice on the line.

“This is Father Time. How may I help you?”

“Uhhh . . . ,” I hesitate, feeling my resolve running into my shoes.

“Come on young man! I don’t have all day.” He chuckles at his own joke.

“Well, the thing is, I’d like to request, if it’s not too much trouble. Four extra hours in the day tomorrow!” There. I said it.

“Who is this?”

“It’s James Tate, sir. We’ve spoken before.”

Shuffling paper. “Yes. I see here where you called just two days ago. And now you are asking for another EOD?”

“A four hour Extend of Day, that’s correct. Just four hours.” I cross my fingers.

“You know we have a strict policy about how many EOD’s you can have in a year.” More paper shuffling. “Says here this is the fourth time this month. Not sure I can give you another. You can get addicted to these, you know?”

“But sir, you don’t understand. It’s not for me.”

“Well, who’s it for, Mr. Tate?”

I take a deep breath and just say it. “It’s for my wife, sir. She’s been very busy. I know she could use it and our anniversary is coming up and I just thought . . . “

“Whoa there. You know that is against policy. You are not authorized on your wife’s account. I don’t think I can help you without her consent.”

“Please, Mr. Time. Just this once?”

“I’m sorry. But there’s nothing I can do. What if I gave EOD’s to just anyone who called up? It wouldn’t be long until I wouldn’t have a job. She’ll have to call in herself.”

My heart sank. But then an Idea came to me.

“What if I give up four hours of mine?”

What do you do with your time? 



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stephen King


My wife and I just came in from an evening at the movies. I talked her into seeing OBLIVIAN with Tom Cruise. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail here, but if you like SCI-FI, or seeing Mr. Cruise shirtless—a lot—spend the money and see it at the theatre.

What I really want to do is give a big shout-out to my favorite author; Mr. King. Saturday my sister and her husband were in town for a family event, so we spent our morning at a flea market. The ladies wanted to go see arts and crafts, but the brother-in-law and I wanted to go hunt bargains, in other words, sift through junk looking for a misplaced jewel.

While looking through a shelf lined with misc. books, I came across a copy of The Stand. I’ve read most of Stephen King’s books but wasn’t sure if I had read this one. Besides, I collect his hardbacks. I’ve got quite a collection going, including a first-edition of The Shining. So I spent three dollars and bought the book. I’m glad I did.

There is an interesting introduction in the front of the book from the author. He states that the original book published in 1978 had to be cut by some 500 pages to keep the price of the book down. In the copy I purchased—labeled “For the first time complete and uncut”—the last page carries the hefty number 1153.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lot of reading for one story. And here lies one of the reasons some say they don’t read Stephen King: His books are too long.

Here’s my take on the matter. Take it or leave it. I have yet to read one word written by Mr. King that came across as fluff, or filler. What I see is depth of color, setting, and character. I’ve read many of his stories and have been left wondering what happens next for the hero (if he lived). It’s like a trance. He pulls you in so quickly, you don’t know what hit you. Can his stories be told with fewer pages? Absolutely. But that’s not to say they should be. I love the winding road he takes me on. I can’t get enough of a writer who puts me smack dab in the middle of a different world every time I read one of his books, and has me believing every word of it. I am immersed in the workings of a master story teller. Besides, what’s the hurry? You can get back to the other garbage on your Kindle soon enough.

Any King diehards out there?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013



Okay fellow bloggers, I’m willing to admit I acted a little irrational the other day. It is NOT my blog keeping me from getting my writing accomplished. Seems like I made a vow not to make excuses. Didn’t work out so good. But back on the horse I go.

The new manuscript I’m working on deals a lot with the transition from life to death, and the spirit world beyond. The working title is THE DITCHMASTER.

Like a lot of people, I can’t say for sure exactly what happens the moment you pass on. There are those that were pronounced dead but were brought back, and returned to recount stories of bright lights and even touching the hand of God. Do I believe this? Well, I can’t NOT believe it if I haven’t experienced it myself. No one can prove it DIDN’T happen.

Do we pass through the tunnel of light? Or is it just the left over static in our brain leaching out?  

So what are your thoughts on the subject? I’ve been doing some research and have come across a few interesting stories. Do you have anything you could share-either direct or indirect knowledge?

Happy writing!

SUBNOTE-I have two short stories ready to submit and finally finished my BLURB for the Ditchmaster. Hope to have it plotted within the week and back to work on it!   

Monday, April 8, 2013


Gee! How many words might I have written if not for trying to keep up with my blog?

Anyone else out there trying to work full time, find time to do a blog, and work on their current WIP?

Yesterday I started asking myself, "Self? If I pressure you to write every day like the A-Z challenge does, how much could we accomplish on our current book, or short stories? Hmmmmmm.

The answer astounded me. I've written over three thousand words on this blog since the challenge started. That's a short story, or two or three flash pieces, or a chapter in a novel.

Just doesn't seem like I have time for everything, but desperately want to work on my stories.

Any thoughts? Am I alone in this thinking?

Saturday, April 6, 2013


To this day, at 48 years-129 days-and 42 seconds old, wait. . . 43 . . .44 . . .Oh! Never mind. My point is, to this day, one of my greatest accomplishments has been to finish my first novel. I even went so far as to spend a few years rolling it through edits, THEN even published it. Wohoooo! It was a great feeling. But that feeling has faded to black. I’m working on a new book now, and am failing miserably in getting to the finish line. As a matter of fact, I can’t even see the finish line.

So today, class, the lesson is about finishing.

Repeat after me: I WILL FINISH ____________

You fill in the blank with whatever project has you stuck.

And since the internet has taken us to an international scale, I’ve compiled a list of languages translating the above sentence. See if yours is in the list.

French—je vais finir

German—i wird beendet

Swedish—vag kommar att avsluta

Spanish—voy a terminar

Danish—jeg vil slutte

Swahili—i atamaliza

Redneck—git er done

If I didn’t include yours, it’s because I’m not intelligent enough to make my computer translate the different letter characters yet. Maybe next time.

Whatever you are working on, repeat the above phrase as often as necessary to do the job. Push forward. Use whatever motivation needed; rewards can’t hurt.

Translations provided by

*Except the last one which was provided by Larry the Cable Guy*




Friday, April 5, 2013



Tony flicked the cigarette lighter to life and held it under the spoon. The drug soon began to boil, beginning its new life as an escape pod from reality. He felt his heart racing, begging for the fix, wanting more than anything to feel the drug course through his veins, wanting more than anything to disappear. Sometimes, in the moment right before he jabbed the needle into his arm, he thought about death; maybe a self-imposed sentence of destruction by lethal dose, maybe just drive off a cliff. Something told him he was headed down the right path. He didn’t care.

He cinched the belt around his arm, pulling at the loose end with his teeth. The leather reminded him of the belt his father used, the one for removing the demons from his body, the ones still chasing him. It tasted like something old, like his mother’s bible cover, the one indented with an impression of his forehead. No matter how many times she hit him, God’s words stayed in the book. Tony found himself wishing they had found a home in his head, maybe in his heart. He thought a lot about the words written in red. What did they mean?

His heart felt empty. Drugs filter the blood, leaching out anything that is good, leaving only a dirty, rotting stench of rage, disgust, and self-loathing. Nothing could wash it away. He knew nothing could cleanse his soul. It was too late for that. Wasn’t it? The drug bubbling in his trembling fingers held the only truth he knew, the power to go somewhere else, to escape from here.

The drug had him now, the belt loose and forgotten, reality nothing but a hazy fog in the back of his brain. He saw his father working at the mill, his mother preparing a dinner of fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits. He could smell them in the oven even with his eyes closed, the fresh butter sitting on the table, tea brewing on the stove. The drug allowed him to forget about the stench of his own urine pooling in his lap, of the decay of dirty dishes in the sink. He ignored the snores of last night’s whore lying in the bed. Her name was Destiny. Destiny covered half the bed, face decorated like that of a circus clown. He doesn’t remember her, or last night, or last week.

He only remembers wanting.

Wanting the drug.

Wanting to escape.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013



Have you ever had something happen to you, heard a particular phrase, or had a scene in your life play out in a way that makes you stop and think, “There’s something familiar about this”? The popular term is Deja-vu, French for ‘already seen’.

Are we predestined to follow a certain path in life? If you’re a spiritual person, it is said that God knows all of what we will do, yet we have free will. What if the path is already laid out for us? Is it possible we are just doing exactly what we are supposed to do? I think there was a movie a few years back on the subject, with Matt Damon as the star. If someone knows of it, please post. If I remember the premise correctly, he goes against the path of his life, maybe falling in love with someone he wasn’t supposed to? We’re not talking about ‘The Matrix’, where life is an illusion. What we’re talking about is destiny; our path is already laid out. We just live to fulfill it.

I have to be honest. I’ve had many instances of Deja’ Vu. Maybe it’s just my super-intelligent mind, (Yeah, right!) or my overactive imagination. (could be) Whatever it is, it makes me wonder.

Are we pre-destined for God’s plan as a whole, but can fill in the gaps with our free will? In other words, the beginning and the end are the same—no matter what—but the middle can be manipulated?  

For many years, I have refuted the concept of time travel. My philosophy was that the past is like a never ending fuse on a stick of dynamite; when the seconds tick off they burn up, gone forever. We cannot go back. And the past is like the fuse yet to be burned. Which, if you follow my logic here, is pre-destined—yet just hasn’t happened yet. Think of a straight line. Point A and point B. That is our life. Is point B pre-determined, or can we put an S-curve in it with one decision? What about a winding road with a series of decisions—good or bad? That’s where the Deja-vu comes in. Maybe our subconscious knows where we’re going. Do we really have any control over what happens in our lives? We think we are making decisions, or choices, but ‘WHAT IF’ those choices are our destiny?

Why are some people destined to be janitors, or public servants, or athletes making mega-bucks? What would the world be like if we all had the same intelligence, the same driving force to succeed, the same DESTINY? Who would clean the windows?  

For a few years now, I have felt the constant pull of a powerful force. My heart is telling me I want to be a writer. I’ve looked into writing articles, or magazine pieces, or any number of non-fiction markets—anything to get published, but my HEART keeps pulling me back to novels. Maybe I’m destined to tell a story I’m not aware of yet. My brain says I have to keep paying the bills, contributing to the future my wife and I have worked blood, sweat, and tears for. Lately, it seems as though every decision I make fights against my destiny. I’m making decisions with my mind, not my heart. I think the heart is linked to our TRUE destiny. People always say, “Go with your heart.” I’m here to tell you, the brain LIES! Go with what’s in your heart. I’ve been put here to write a story. And someday soon, I will know that story.  

Find a way to fulfill your destiny on your own terms.     

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

C is for Caught



“I don’t love you anymore, Paul. Can’t you just accept that?” My wife of fifteen years threw a handful of clothes into the open suitcase on the bed. I couldn’t imagine her not folding them into neat little stacks, each shirt or pair of jeans categorically paired with its match. She tossed in a cluster of undergarments; all the really sexy stuff, I noticed. Where had she been hiding that?

“Come on, Jane.” I reached for her hand but she pulled away. “Can’t we talk about this?”

She stopped packing just long enough to glare at me. “What about last week? I wanted to talk then, but you just couldn’t get away from the office.”

“I was here all day Sunday. Why didn’t we talk then?” I said, feeling control slipping away.

She rolled her eyes. “Your body might have been here but your mind darn sure wasn’t. Who was she? The girl on your laptop?” Her nose crinkled up in that way I always found so cute.

“She was just. . . “ I felt my face burning.

“Paul. You’re blushing. How does it feel to be caught in your little lie? I certainly hope she’s worth it.” She sat on the corner of the bed, a lacy bra dangling from her slender fingers, the C-cups pointing up at me. A single tear rolled down her cheek.

With my finger, I touched her cheek and wiped at the tear. She closed her eyes and pressed against my palm. I felt her shaking.

“It’s not what you think,” I said. “Tina, the lady on my laptop, is with the adoption agency. I wanted to surprise you. They found us a baby. A little baby . . .”

Jane nearly knocked me over when she jumped into my arms, pulling me so tight I thought I might strangle, kissing every square inch of my face, yelling over and over, “I love you! I love you! I love you, Paul!”





Monday, April 1, 2013

B for BOLD

B for BOLD              

Since my theme for this year’s challenge is about fulfilling your dream (mine is to become a full time writer) the word ‘BOLD’ is very fitting.

But maybe not in the way you’re thinking.

As writers, or painters, or musicians, or whatever—we have to be bold. But is there such a thing as being too bold? Can we push too hard?

One of my current hobbies is checking out free or at least inexpensive e-books I see posted on twitter, facebook, Amazon, or anywhere else where these little “gems” might show up. It doesn’t matter what genre. I’m very curious to know what other newbees are putting out there. So far, it’s been a lesson in futility. Look at the following example:

After reading the first ten pages of a fantasy novel with a good premise and attractive cover, here is my evaluation.

Repetition—The author repeated a LOT of things in the first few pages. For one, he makes it a point to mention that one character is chilled as she walks down the street. Two pages later, He points out that “late fall cold had begun to set in”, and then explains how his character is trying to keep out the chill again. ALL IN THE SAME SCENE

The bad guys in the book are larger than humans. The author uses every word imaginable—several times—to describe this size difference. Mention it once or twice and let it GO, or use your action to convey the point. Speaking of action, several characters “Stopped dead in their tracks” in the first ten pages. And one guy whined several times. I don’t know about you, but my brain latches on to these things. Then I’m backtracking to confirm I just saw the same phrase a page or two back.

Tag lines—Oh my! Here is a list of tag lines on ONE page: he informed, she repeated, he whined, he sputtered, he demanded, he warned. ON ONE PAGE! Not once does the author say; he said. Lesson—Lose the tag lines or keep it simple.

Dialogue MUST fit the character speaking. In one scene, the author is describing a confrontation between the good guy and the bad guy. This bad guy (huge in size compared to the good guy, as we’ve already been told over and over) is supposed to be one mean dude. Here is a line in the book. “Stop!” he bellowed at Kale. “Or I’ll skewer your sister. I’m not kidding.”

REALLY? Skewer? Why not gut or amputate something? But he’s not KIDDING! What? Is he twelve?

My point is this: sometimes the time to be bold is not when we’ve completed our first manuscript and had our reading group critique it. Someone should have pointed these flaws out to the author. Now he/she has a book published that a knowledgeable reader will give up on after just a few pages.

Be BOLD in learning the craft and be willing to accept critique from those who know what they’re talking about. Put your absolute best out there.

If anyone would like a seasoned reader to read and review their book, I’m all ears.

Now Boldly Go!


ALL IN                           

To kick of the 2113 A-Z Blog challenge, I’m going to start from the beginning—or I should say, beginning for me. For some of you, this point of revelation may already have occurred.

Okay, let me clarify. I’m speaking of a moment of clarity in my pursuit of being happy with who I am. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m married to a wonderful woman (fifteen years come May), I have three great children, and have had a respectable career in the woodworking business. What I haven’t achieved is my life’s passion. Can such a thing ever be achieved? I pray that it can. For the sake of my sanity.

For the past ten years I have dreamed of being a writer. Little did I know, when I took that evening class in creative writing ten years ago, that my fun hobby would turn into an obsession. And that my obsession would lead to so much frustration.

How many excuses can be made not to fulfill a dream? Working a ‘real’ job?—that’s the worst. Not enough time?—just say no to Facebook and computer games. I have too many obligations?—funny how we make time for other things we want. Am I good enough?—this one is the true killer; self-doubt—lack of confidence—an unwillingness to have faith in what I can achieve.

So today, my writing brethren, I proclaim that I am ALL IN. From this day forward, I will not back down, will not give self-doubt a perch upon my shoulder, will not make one more excuse for why not!

I will write, and write some more, and write even more. And then I will submit to the keepers of the gate, but will NOT be held captive by those with the key.

I AM a writer and I will make my own key if I have to!     

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Message

I wrote this about 6 years ago and it never found a home. I guess today's the day.
It's a new perspective on a familiar story. Hope you enjoy!
Happy Christ is Risen Day!
It is an ordinary day.  People with sandal clad feet and cloaks covering their backs and shoulders scurry about on my weathered cobblestones.  Children toss polished rocks toward mud stucco walls; their bare feet patter and swish across the loose sand sifting around the alleyways.  An occasional laugh or giggle echoes through my narrow street.

I am the Via Dolorosa, the avenue to Golgotha. 

Off in the distance, shouts of discontent and agitation begin to swell.  Soon the sound fills my now quiet street.

“Crucify!  Crucify!  The voices shout.  “Take him away!  Crucify him!”  A tremendous roar of agreement erupts like the thunder of a thousand chariots. 

Distant and faint, mixed with the cheering and adulation, a woman wails in agony. 

What is going on?  My street is bare of human feet, devoid of whispers and chatter of the normal business bustle.  But wait!  Someone is coming, and with him they follow, the onlookers, the weepers, and the doubters.  He carries a cross made of timber on his back.  As his bare feet pad along on my irregular stone, he stumbles.  His cheek is mere inches from my surface now.  His breathing is labored and shallow.  A stream of sweat and crimson blood trickles down his taught cheek and drips like teardrops onto my blistering surface.   I see the crown of thorns on his head dig deeper into his scalp with every agonizing twist or turn.  I can feel his breath against me.  I wonder how man can be so cruel.   

Now I hear the whispers of the crowd that surrounds him.  “Jesus.  King of Kings,” they say.  “He claims he is the son of God.”  Disbelieving laughter and grunts of indignation now rain down on the man known as Jesus.  Behind the soldiers and the nonbelievers, many shed tears of sorrow.

Just as I become convinced this “Jesus” would not rise to walk again, would instead collapse in a lifeless heap upon my dampened facade, a man emerges from the crowd and raises the wooden cross.  I see compassion in the man’s sorrowful eyes as the Good Samaritan helps Jesus to his feet.  As they pass, I see the jagged, crisscross lines of blood streaking the back of Jesus’ robe.  Behind him, a mother sobs for her son.

The procession moves on.  The curious follow close, unable to pull away from the spectacle.  Blood and teardrops mark their path toward Golgotha. 

I hear the sound of hammers now mixed with cries of agony.  My street is bare again, with the multitude now on the distant hillside.  A murmur of activity drifts in my direction.  Soldiers agitate and call out in ridicule to the man known as “Jesus”. 

“If you are truly the son of God, save yourself,” they scoff, then laugh and slap each other on the back. 

People in the crowd cry out and begin to pray for God’s forgiveness, for themselves and for those about to commit the ultimate sin; the murder of God’s child.  Why doesn’t he protest?  His words rise above the others but I can only make out a scattering gibberish.  “Father… forsake…know not…It is done.”  Across the swaying treetops, I see his head sag in death.  The wailing begins again.

Mourning and sorrow fills the city.  Men, women, and children amble along my cobblestone path with heads hung low.  After the third sunrise, I begin to wonder if things will ever be the same.  There is no joy in the air, no hope in their hearts.  My desolate street is dirty with shame.

But then I here raised voices.  A growing chant rises from the darkness.

“He is risen!”  A crying women with hands raised to the sky yells, “He is risen!  He is risen!”  And the believers rejoice.

I am the Via Dolorosa.  I am the Street of Sorrows.