A Somewhat True Tall Tale: Trip to Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska –

The front half of a chopped-up, orange Volkswagen beetle sat on the front porch of the Hollywood Candy shop. Protruding from the wall across from it, a five-foot tall nose inhaled the delicate fragrance of the flowers filling both sides of the path.  Keagan and I stepped up to the door, careful to steer clear of the giant nostrils, lest a sneeze might be forthcoming.img_8596

Outside, the red brick building, cobblestone road, and vibrant plant life created a vague country charm that beckoned passersby.  But inside, oh, yes, inside the store eclectic collections of pop culture, novelties, and antique toys transformed the old industrial building into a fun-house, a maze of pathways, little rooms, and hidden passages.  The candy was merely an added bonus in the midst of the wondrous world.

Keagan snaked around bodies and chairs in the crowded, vintage dinner before sliding through a narrow opening and darting around the left.  He halted just around the corner. I nearly bumped into him before noticing he had gone still, staring wide-eyed at a large, spinning candy cane. It was a portal to the North Pole.

“There isn’t time, Keagan. We must find the hippo.” He bowed his head, turned, and shuffled down the corridor, deeper into the heart of the shop. I trailed behind.

We continued to search the store, past the PEZ dispensers playing pin-ball, winding around piles of furniture, and peaking in each alcove before finally discovering the hippo. It was now a severed head hanging on the wall, a shadow of its former glory.img_8595

“It looks like we are too late. The ringmaster has had his revenge and left the hippo here for all to see.”

“But don’t you see, mom,” Keagan said, reaching out to touch my hand. “This is exactly where the hippo should be. Everything needed to save him is here.”

“The other half of him is missing. He can’t be saved.”

“Yes, he can. We’ll fill him up with sugar. Sugar makes everything better.”

Mad-Lib Style Poetry

We homeschool.  Last year, our son did Mad-Lib style poetry with his vocabulary words resulting in some interesting poems.  Hope this one brings a smile to your face as it did ours.

I go forward, after stopping.
I proceed.
You weren’t easily approached.
You weren’t accessible.
You break away from me.
You secede.
Your tummy could be subjected to a series of actions that yield change.
Your tummy was processible.

Update: If you’re interested, you can download the details about the approach we used here: MadLibsStylePoetry (pdf).

Release Announcement

I’m excited to announce the release of my young adult sci-fi horror story, The Warehouse Tour.

Last fall, the Writers of the Future Contest awarded The Warehouse Tour an Honorable Mention in the third quarter of 2016.  This fall, an expanded version of the short story will be available on Amazon.  Look for it on October 7, 2017.

About the Story

If someone you loved vanished in a haunted warehouse, would you go in after them?

Jill Baker’s brother disappears from a haunted warehouse tour.  The police believe he ran away, but Jill knows better.  Unable to convince them to keep looking, she investigates on her own.

Will Jill find her brother or will she be the next to go missing?

An Amazon Kindle short read releasing on October 7, 2017.  Available for pre-order.

The Way of Love

In times of pain or anger, the enemy sometimes finds a crack to slip through. He infects me with a virus of unpleasant thoughts and emotions I fight to purge.  I have to remind myself, usually more than once, of the wisdom of silence (Proverbs 17:28, Proverbs 29:11).  During those moments, I cling to the Word of God, resisting the urge to say or do anything that might hurt another (Ephesians 4:26).

“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.  Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalms 30:5

My emotions dissipate in the Light of the Word and, each time, the Lord reminds me that grace and forgiveness grow from love, not equity.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant of rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Be careful not to focus on only one side of the story.   It is easy to read this verse when we are hurt or angry and see what love is not, where others have fallen short.  But in doing so, we risk stumbling over our own resentment.

God continually works in our lives.  He does not stop and neither should we.  Every day, every moment is another chance to do better, to love the way He loves us.

“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3

Today will pass away and tomorrow will bring new opportunities.

Thank you, Lord, for the wisdom and instruction of your Word.

Divine Failure

I thank God for my failures.   Each has changed me in some way.   Yes, the experience can be challenging, even painful.  But, ever so often, it becomes clear it was necessary and, yes, a blessing.

I received a professional critique of my first manuscript at the Minnesota Writer’s Workshop back in February.  In short, the idea was good, but the execution was not.  I had created more problems than I had solved with my initial revisions.

Why was that a good thing?   I had sensed a deeper problem in the first draft, but my lack of experience made it difficult to pinpoint. The problem evaded me at every turn.

As I dug into the notes from the critique, it became apparent that the problems went beyond the surface.  There were underlying structural issues within the novel.  It forced me to put the manuscript aside and approach it anew.

Doing a third rewrite was daunting.  But in the end, it transformed the storyline in amazing ways.

I have an opportunity to pitch the revised manuscript at an upcoming conference.  My days for the next month will be filled with editing, critiques, one-sheets, proposals, and prayers, lots of prayers.

I know God is with me, and this is the path He set for me, but that doesn’t guarantee success or an easy road.  Sometimes it’s just about the journey, the ways it changes you and the people around you.

Thank you, Lord, for my failures and hardships and for being with me every step of the way.