Books I Read in 2013

Besides Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Nutcracker, and the hundreds of other books that I read to my kids this year, below is a list of grown up books that I read in 2013.

  1. Baghdad without a Map - Love you Tony. Great Read.
    Baghdad without a Map – Love you Tony. Great Read.

    The Old Man and The Sea – Ernest Hemingway

  2. The Fire Chronicle – John Stevens
  3. The Man Who Was Thursday – G.K. Chesterton
  4. Baghdad Without A Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia – Tony Horwitz
  5. The Graveyard Book – Neal Gaiman
  6. The Last Apprentice – Joseph Delaney
  7. The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  8. Leave No Doubt A Credo for Chasing Your Dreams – Mike Babcock
  9. Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer
  10. Artemis Fowl The Arctic Incident – Eoin Colfer
  11. Artemis Fowl The Eternity Code – Eoin Colfer
  12. Artemis Fowl The Opal Deception – Eoin Colfer
  13. Artemis Fowl The Lost Colony – Eoin Colfer
  14. Artemis Fowl The Time Paradox – Eoin Colfer
  15. Harold and the Purple Crayon
    Harold and the Purple Crayon

    Artemis Fowl The Atlantis Complex – Eoin Colfer

  16. Artemis Fowl The Last Guardian – Eoin Colfer
  17. Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
  18. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  19. Dad is Fat – Jim Gaffigan
  20. The Magician’s Elephant – Kate Dicamillo
  21. Big Fish – Daniel Wallace
  22. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  23. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neal Gaiman
  24. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K Rowling
  25. Quitter – Jon Acuff
  26. All Quiet on the Western Front
    All Quiet on the Western Front

    Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett

  27. The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett
  28. The Children of Hurin – J.R.R. Tolkien
  29. The Last Battle – C.S. Lewis
  30. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
  31. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  32. Start – Jon Acuff
  33. Finding Atlantis – David King
  34. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle



Favorite Holiday Reads

Snow has fallen in piles over the last few weeks in southern Michigan. We had an ice storm. Power outages. It was a cold and white Christmas.

As winter comes and snow falls my mind wanders to certain writers, books, and characters.

Michigan Winter
Michigan Winter

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes pacing his study on Baker Street while glancing out the window at the bleak snow covered London streets comes to mind.

I think of curious Lucy Pevensie walking through the columns of fur coats in a wardrobe when she suddenly hears her feet crunch on the powdery snow of wintry Narnia in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Anything that has to do with Charles Dickens. The Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and of course, A Christmas Carol.

And lastly, and most importantly, chapter 2 (NIV translation) in the Gospel of Luke telling of Christ’s Birth.

It’s not often I get in a reading mood. More often than not I’m in a writing mood. But now I want nothing more than a cup of peppermint tea and a nice steady snowfall coupled with a blanket and my comfortable couch illuminated by the white Christmas tree lights.

So readers, I turn to you. What sort of books, authors, and characters do you think of during this time of year?

Thank you in advance for your comments below.




Focus On The Long Haul

We live in a microwave society. If you want something you can have it now. Right now.

We sit down to write a novel and after the first page or maybe the first sentence we get stumped. We had this grand idea and suddenly it evaporates before our eyes. We’re left with drivel. And writers hate drivel. We scrapped the idea whip up a fresh one and start anew.

This idea turns out the same as the last. It is garbage. Pure garbage! It is then we get mad. Our novel isn’t good. We wasted our time and soon decide we’re not cut out for it. So we start a different dream. We’re going to open a bakery!

MicrowaveBut we need to focus as amateur writers on the long haul. We need to focus on the slow plod step by step. Writing a novel and becoming a novelist does not happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in a day. Or a month. Or year. Or two years.

But what happens over those days, months, and years if you stay faithful to the path? You become better.  You find one sentence you can love. And a page! And 90 pages!!

And soon a few years down the road we have a novel.

If you’re frustrated today and your idea is just not working out. If you’ve been haunted by that same sentence for the last month. Keep things in perspective. As a novelist, we’re in for the long-haul. Not something quick and easy. We aren’t making this out of a box. We’re growing our own vegetables. Creating our own recipes. This is going to take some time. Let’s just hope we have the gumption to continue on. Because in the end that’s what matters.

If you’ve taken your eyes off the prize of finishing your novel, keep going. Understand this isn’t happening in a second. Understand we are going to have to reference books and reread the things and take classes and edit our work countless times.

Writer, I hope you can find some encouragement in this. Good novels do not happen overnight. If you’re still working on yours and it’s been over a day, perhaps yours will turn out to be a great one – if you keep at it.

Keep writing and take advantage of your weekend. Elbow out some time to write!



Delete Your Darlings

Be careful my friend.

This past Saturday night I sat down to check another chapter revision off my list. I even had my good friend Ben studying next to me for accountability. All told this would be a great night of writing. The stars were aligned. It was then I was struck with a grand plan. I was going to insert a new chapter. I could not believe I did not think of the idea sooner.

After struggling for an hour and a half and moving on to try and rewrite another chapter, I deleted everything I just created. That rabbit trail ended with — a dead rabbit.

Now, this could be considered time wasted. Would I like to have that hour and a half back to work on my simple plan of editing a chapter? Sure.

I do not believe this writing time was wasted. I just found two ways not to write my book. Writing is a maze. Some days the work is easy, other days let’s just say you end that writing time looking forward to making it up to your novel later.

Keep Writing. Be honest about your work. If you think a portion of your book doesn’t fit quite right, don’t just let it be. Sharpen your sword, grab a dozen red pens, and have at it. Blaze a new trail and don’t give up fighting (editing) your way through your book.

Writer 500 words today!



Don’t Hate Your Blog

There are times I love to post because it means I get to interact with other writers. I also get to contribute to the wide world of writing immediately. But that might be one of the reasons a blog and a novel don’t get along all that well. They fight for time and one is instant gratification. Which one wins?

I was hot and cold with my blog over the last year, like a teenage relationship.

Blog Bubble“You’re pretty cool, let’s be friends.”

Next day

“You’re gross, I hate you.”

Next day

“Want to get hang out?”

And so on.

Seriously, it was exhausting. I’d write on here for a week straight and celebrate the comments and the stats! Yeah! But then I’d come to the realization that I had not worked on my novel in a week and I’d immediately be crushed. I would stop blogging and shift gears and loose readership along the way.

So how can we end this cycle?

If you are a beginning blogger take this advice, find some rhythm. Find something that works with your novel and your schedule.  Post once a week or twice a week on the same days each week. If your writing time is limited and you are a fiction writer focus on your book during your writing time. You need something to share from that platform once created.

There are many advantages for creating a blog from which you can one day rule the world. It can foster relationships, lead to a book contract and, most importantly, help your mind work on small writing deadlines. But it can also be a distraction from your writing aspirations, so tread lightly!

Write 1000 words on your book this weekend! Seriously, don’t doubt. Do it!







My Book’s Afraid of Rejection

A few months ago I was talking with Josh Mosey, a member of my writers group the Weaklings, about my novel. I had just talked with an acquisitions editor which turned out to be a very shady experience and I was ready to look for another place to submit my novel.

About a year previous, I submitted my work to agent. She loved the idea but said it needed a lot more polish. Between now and then I ran into her at a few writing events and she would always ask if I was still writing and to send her my stuff when I’m done revising.

I would tell her I’m working on it and I’m still plowing ahead. And I was. I wasn’t lying. I was Really.

Recently, having after having a discussion with Josh, he encouraged me and basically said; look it’s time to send it to her. You need to do it. I emailed and asked if she would take another look.

After a few weeks, she contacted me and asked me to send my manuscript. Two things happened in that moment. One, I was unequivocally exhilarated to pursue my writing career with everything that I had in me. Two, I began to be afraid.

Night SkyThis is every writer’s dream, right? The moment of truth. But, I didn’t look at it that way. Instead, my mind started to race. I got to the point of sending it and relented. I knew deep down that it needed another good edit. It’s not every day an agent gives you the green light to send over your work and I wanted it to be great.

After doing some soul-searching I replied saying that it wasn’t ready after all. There are a few more things to tweak. She replied saying to send the best book possible when I’m done.

Right now my book is about 93% done. I’ve drafted it about ten times. Some parts even more. There are little nooks and crannies that I still need to shine some light on as well as a few pages that I just need to kill.

Though I’ve been writing for years, I honestly don’t know when a book is done. I constantly tweak and pick at it to make it more polished. However, I realize that some point I am stalling. I’m worried about what lies on the other side. What if the agent says no? What if they say yes? Either way it is a road to a lot more work.

Be brave.

Keep writing.



Write When You Don’t Feel Like It

I’d much rather be sleeping right now. In fact, I would like to read or watch a movie or TV or even do housework, yet here I am writing. I don’t write these things because I am about to give up, it’s just how I feel at the moment.

Sooner or later writing can lose its luster and fill us with an unappetizing melancholy. Our former story that was once clever and came surprisingly easy, suddenly becomes work or we don’t have the gumption to begin a new one.

This happens to everyone. Then in our frustration, we make a huge mistake. We stop.

We put that project on hold for a month or take a break and watch some football. What we are really doing, when we admit it deep down, is giving in to our inner voice of doubt. We start to believe the lies we tell ourselves, or lies told to us.

We aren’t good enough. Our ideas are stupid. No one in their right mind would try to make it in life as a ____.

Then all of a sudden we don’t think something is hard, we know it is impossible to finish this book or story. We wasted our lives being delusional and following our dreams.

If you’ve been here or this sounds familiar, I have three words for you – Don’t give up.

A Well Tended Novel, er Garden.

These three words might sound trite or lame, but if you truly want to do this thing, If you want it more than anything, how about showing a little tenacity? How about sacrificing an hour of sleep or TV to rekindle the love?

Like any untended garden our dreams can become riddled with weeds. These can choke and pull us down. If we aren’t out there every day or once a week working on our writing, our love for it will die.

If you are here now and still have that small kernel of hope to finish, I have three steps I would like you to take below.

1. Write down your dream on a note card. Put it by your desk or workspace or in your car. Put it someplace where you can see it and be reminded of your end goal every day.

2. Then, look ahead to your week. Find an hour. Find a half-hour. Find some time throughout your week to commit to writing. Do not compromise it. Use that time to work and focus on your project and don’t get distracted.

3. Repeat.

If you have done something that reignited your passion for writing and got motivated about your story again let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure the other readers would benefit as well. Thank you in advance.

Write 500 words today!!