Thursday, September 4, 2014

Uhauls and used cars, or How I Got Started in Writing!

After moving through six states before the age of thirteen, is it any wonder that I picture myself some sort of story teller? HA, it is no wonder that two of my first three novels feature moving vans and old beater cars, a staple of my growing up years as a church of christ preacher's kid.
My first novel was started on a Royal manual typewriter in the summer of 1985. I earned the money from cutting grass, which I hated, so I decided to turn it into something that I loved, books! Unfortunately for the world, that particular literary masterwork was never to appear in print, since a technical glitch in the form of a broken ribbon, stopped me cold on page 48. I have since lost the pages, but from what I remember it was pretty epic.
I kept writing. My next venue was a Wednesday night youth group, where we wrote comedy and drama sketches as a team. It was one heck of team, with guys like Christopher Jennings, Dave Lewis, Marty Taylor, Ryan Hackworth, Jennifer Haggard, Derek Graves and too many others to count. It was a great learning experience. You found out what worked and what didn't right away.
Then there was a musical called Boxcar Limousine that never quite saw the light of day, about the prodigal son, set in the old west. It was inspired by a piece Wesley Brainard and Mark Taylor cooked up for a Metro Church day at Frontier City. It was probably better than I would give it credit for, but since I never got the music past humming the tunes and writing the lyrics, we'll never know, will we?
Then there was a long dry spell, during which I directed about thirty stage plays and musicals and didn't have time to write. When it ended, I was walking home from my theater one night, and I told God, either give me the money for the rights to the piece I wanted to produce, or let me write my own. So, he did. It took me all of ten minutes to outline the plot of what was to become “What Goes Up” a play I produced at Family Theatre Warehouse with my friends Chad Anderson, Tim Morris, Dawn I cannot remember her last name, but she was funny, Michelle Howe, Tim Burgess, Michael Morris and some others. From there, I just kept going, “Advice From a Busboy” was next with Tom Sawyer, Peggy Hoshal, Sarah Nilson, Roger Redden, and I am sure a few others. We had a blast.
But, unfortunately, theatre is a very expensive way to share stories, and we couldn't keep it going.
Fast forward through two years of online writing for a content mill, which taught me a lot about writing fundamentals, a year and a half in social media marketing, which made me a mad skilled blogger, and down to today!
So, towards the end of Family Theatre Warehouse, I wrote this little novella, or so I thought. Turns out it was actually long enough to be a novel. I first published it on to see it in print, I was so excited! I think Stephen Anderson, and Jenny Dunning were the only ones to read it at the time! HA!
Now, I have decided, no one who has ever read my work said anything like, “needs a lot of work”, or that they even did not like it. Even my friend, Rene Gutteridge, author extraordinaire, who allowed me to crew on her awesome screen translation of the novel Skid, which she wrote, told me it was time to find an agent.
Well, I don't think I'm up for it, and after reading as much as I have about indie authors, I have decided to become one. I hope all of you will be patient with me, as I will unabashedly promote my stuff, without being obnoxious, I hope, until it sells, A LOT! So, if you want me to shut up, help me get it started! Lol. Anyway, here is the plan, Wishmonger got a facelift and is up for download, next up is The Sons of Thunder, a story about a pastor who drops out of traditional church in favor of following the teaching of Jesus, yeah, it's a comedy. Anyway, here's a snippet from it. Hope you like!
Let me set this up, Tru, our hero, has just found out that he is losing the pastorate of a church he started. He goes on a morning news show to do an interview with his ex-associate pastor along for the ride, this is part of what happens.

The anchor was sweating bullets, this was good TV and he knew it, but he felt like he was walking a tight rope, “Pastor Jensen, was this vote a ploy to get the votes against Pastor Proffitt's wishes?”
Bill Jensen looked directly into the camera,“Community of Christ cares deeply for the homeless and the destitute of this city. That's why we are building this coffee shop. Not only will it raise much needed funding for homeless programming, but every Monday evening, from 5 to 6 PM, the cafe will be open to those very people for a Bible study, directly geared to them and designed to help them in their daily struggle. We also care about our former pastor in his time of grief. What my friend here is failing to mention is that the profits from the coffee shop and the book store would be put right back into our relief missions. In fact, we project it will more than double..”
The combination of sleep deprivation, hanging with strippers, a sleepless night at the hospital, and his general disdain for Bill Jensen boiled over in an instant. Even as he spoke, Tru felt a sense of dread. This could not end well,“When? When will that happen, Bill? At least two years and you're borrowing money from a fund that should be helping people right now..”
“Tru, I know you're upset, but this is not helping, you know that we are busy helping the poor and the disenfranchised. We serve breakfast twice a month at the rescue shelter and we sponsored six families last Christmas which is a lot for a congregation of our size...” Bill Jenses seemed to be enjoying this.
“Look around Bill. It's not enough, whatever we're doing is not enough. You think people need a Bible study in your damn coffee shop? You can walk four blocks in any direction from this studio and find people who could've used that money today, last night, last week, not two years from now!” Tru stood up from the sofa and walked over to the street side windows a camera man following close behind.
Bill turned toward the camera on his right, away from Tru and smiled smugly into the camera“You know you're crazy, right?”
“So, what? That's supposed to disqualify me?" Tru headed back toward Bill Jensen, somewhere alarms were going off in his head loud enough to keep him from launching himself on top of the man,"All of the Biblical prophets were a little nuts. John the Baptist lived in the wilderness wearing camels hair and eating bugs, Balaam talked to a donkey, Jonah was swallowed by a whale, Elijah called bears out of a forest to consume children who made fun of his hair and Ezekiel communicated with extra terrestrials. You think just because we haven't seen a real prophet for a couple of generations that they're gone? They'll be back and when they do come back it's going to be the kind of carnival sideshow that only happens once in a millennium.”
Tru walked off the set and down the hall toward the dressing room where his jacket was. He was done. The intern in the jeans and Tshirt followed him with his clipboard, “Sir, we need you to come back for the next segment, they told me they have some follow up questions.”
“No,” Tru stopped and turned to him,”Tell them I apologize, but I will not sit out there and pretend not to be outraged by what this man has done to the Church that I loved and my wife's memory. Here is your microphone, good day.” He carefully pulled the microphone from his pocket and handed it to him, un-stringing the cord from his shirt.

The book takes place in Oklahoma City, which should be fun for a lot of my friends, and it is funny, if I do say so. I am planning to launch it on Sept 19th, so stay tuned!