Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Forty. I woke up this morning, greeted by the reminder of what today is. While I know its significance--my 40th birthday--I don't feel that it should be different from any other day. On a day like today, however, one can 't help but to consider the number 40; and for me, I could not help but to look at it in terms of literature. One thought was that Ali Baba had forty thieves. As amazing as that sounds, always looking over your shoulders because you have forty dirty-rotten scoundrels hanging around, any one of which could slit your throat as easily as he could pat you on the back, is probably not a good thing. Just going out on a limb there.

My thoughts turned to the Bible, where I know of several examples. Consider this:

  1. It rained for forty days and forty nights in the great flood.
  2. Moses was on the mountain for forty days to receive the law.
  3. The spies were in Canaan for forty days prior to the Hebrews rejecting the Promised Land, which lead to...
  4. A forty year sentence of wandering in the desert because they rejected God's promise.
  5. Through Jonah, God gave Nineveh forty days to repent before He would destroy them.
  6. By the Spirit of God, Jesus was lead into the desert for a forty-day fast, after which he was tempted.

When you look at the number 40 in that light, most occurrences were not positive. However, in further researching the significance of "40" in the Bible, I also found this little nugget on Wiki:

"A 40-something time period, whether days, months, or years is ALWAYS a period of testing, trial, probation, or chastisement (but not judgment) and ends with a period of restoration, revival, or renewal."

Restoration, revival or renewal. I like that.

As for me, I'm not walking around, acting morose. Maybe it's because I still have goals to accomplish. I felt this way about my 30th birthday, too. At that time, I had just passed the CPA exam and was on course to earning my license. So turning thirty didn't bother me. This year, I have already been published, with more stories sent for submission, and I feel the road ahead is brighter than ever. So why be glib about something like a 40th birthday?

Besides, forty sounds a whole lot better than fifty.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Christmas is just a few days away now, and I'm only a present or two short of completing my list. And no, I am not talking about Alvin-ing the gift giving ("A present from me to me..."). One thing about this holiday, with all of the hustle, gift buying and gift wrapping, the cards, the touring of lights, the parties, the cooking, it can take the life out of you. And to top things off, another snow-less cold front blasted across the South Plains this weekend--just in time for the the fat man in the red suit to pay his visits. I've said this before, and I'll post it here: there should be a law that requires at least a foot of snow when it gets this cold. In Lubbock, though, all we seem to get is a blistering wind to chap our lips and cheeks.

But I digress...

As part of my contribution to the season, I am planning to mix things up a little in my reading list. Instead of reading Lisey's Story by Stephen King, I'm going to first read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. After all, 'tis the season to be jolly, right?

Saturday brought an interesting piece of mail to my house. I have posted a picture of it here for your appreciation. During 2008 I signed up on Joseph Finder's website to receive regular bulletins. This last weekend I received a nice card, signed by Mr. Finder himself. While the scanner turned everything to black-and-white, the card was crafted with a glossy finish and his signature was penned in a nice shade of Sharpie Green. My first thought was, "I can't believe he actually took the time to sign a card and have it sent to me." My second thought was, "That's a great idea." In a day when writers are struggling to build their readership, as well as a platform, this is an excellent way to keep the troops connected. I don't know how much it cost Finder to have this done, but I believe it was worth every penny. After all, I've posted it here for you, thus contributing to his advertising campaign.

I also found it interesting that Finder used the book cover from Paranoia to set up his Christmas card. It was a simple way to remind some readers where they've been. It also entices other readers to pick up Paranoia if they haven't already. I have read Paranoia, and I recommend it to anyone who likes good thrillers. There are issues in that book that still scare me a little. I also have a signed copy of Finder's Killer Instinct in my reading stack, and I am eager to crack upon the pages, smell that new-book aroma. I suspect that I'll get to it after the first of the year.

On the writing front, I've decided to start over on Arturo. I've thought more and more about him lately. I've also taken J.M.'s advice (see my last posting) to consider how I can create more conflict. Hopefully, the additional twist and conflict will help keep things moving through the Middles and keep me on course toward the conclusion.

Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope you have a blessed holiday. Spend it with the people you love, and drink up every moment like it was your last drop.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Life has been dry out here on the South Plains. Lately, my days have been filled with the constant snapping and popping of static electricity. In fact, some of the jolts have packed enough punch to curl the peach fuzz on the top of my head. Life has also been cold. A Northerner blew through here over the last couple of days, dropping the temperature so low that the remains of yesterday's coffee, left in the cab of my truck, turned into slush. I've said this before, and I'll write down now: there should be some natural law that mandates at least a foot of snow on the ground when it gets this cold!!!

Life has been dry in the writing front lately as well. At least, it feels that way right now. Beyond this posting, I haven't penned one sentence related to my writing life in the last week. Prior to that, I did finish my work for the Holiday Story Exchange, involving a few members of the Writer's Digest Forum; however, the small success there seems trivial compared to the long desert road ahead for Arturo and my novel, The Wind Blows Hard. I can see some images clearly for my novel, but they are still far off in the distance and getting there feels like trying to swim through scorching hot sand in a Speedo. And it's days like this--moments like this, actually--when I wonder just what the heck I was thinking when I launched into this novel. Poor Arturo is kicking dirt in my face and saying, "I don't need no stinking writer telling my story. Not like you anyway!"

Oh well... For his sake, and mine, I'm going to force myself to sit down, stick one word after the other and see where it all goes. Hopefully, I'll stay out of the bar ditch. And hopefully it won't be as painful as some of the Snaps! I've taken lately--all thanks to the dry, winter air which makes my skin itch and my hair (what I have anyway) stand on end.