Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflection on 2009

With 2009 closing I have a lot of things to think about. This year it was my goal to secure an agent. Mission failed. While at times I temporarily gave up so as to not be over depressed about rejection, I still hoped to find someone willing to represent me. I am still confident that I will be a full time writer, that I will find a publisher for Sureshot the Assassin and that I will have a long and successful writing career; but not this year. Thumbs down on finding an agent.

I am pleased that I have maintained a blog for this long. At times I have gone a month without a post, but as I look around the net, this seems common. I have managed to continue posting even when no one is reading. If nothing else it is an exercise in perseverance. Thumbs up for the blog.

When it comes to writing I have written a lot this year but not finished anything. This is a little disconcerting because I can't sell anything that isn't finished. I have a number of promising projects, but that's all. Aside from Sureshot the Assassin I have nothing to offer the market. I have to work on that next year. Thumbs down for finished work.

When it comes to a fore mentioned work, Sureshot the Assassin, I am pleased that it has gone through a semi-professional edit and came out better than ever. People who have read it, love it, and I think it is a good piece. Actually that is what frustrates me the most. I have a good book that I can't get anyone who could buy it to even sniff at it. Still, thumbs up on Sureshot the Assassin going through an edit.

Play writing this year was probably my biggest writing accomplishment. I wrote the Easter play "Between two thieves" which went fine, and then the Christmas play "Take me to your Leader" which in my humble opinion, was epic. I continue to get encouragement and motivation to pursue writing. I also have a vague hope of publishing my plays eventually. This in turn could lead to further writing success. So big thumbs up on play writing.

I'm going to stop now while I'm a net thumbs up. Overall, I could have done better, but then I never expected things to be easy. As long as I continue to love writing and have things to write about I will continue to have a positive attitude about it. We'll see what 2010 has in store for me. Prost.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Take me to your Leader

I wrote the Christmas play again this year and decided to write a comedy. It was a challenge but in the end came out great. I added the three Star Trek characters to the play as a parody and made them the three "wise" men, or "wiseguys" as we were. It was a lot of fun, and more importantly it worked. My church is working on uploading the play to the Internet so when it's there I hope people will take a look. I am proud of it because it was clever and yet effective. The message was there and it entertained everyone who saw. This one will be hard to top.

Christmas Vacation

With a few days off hopefully I can get some writing done. I have a few things on the agenda. I have to write the Easter program before I go back. I have a few things in mind so it should only take a couple days. I would like to finish a short story I started about Pinocchio or more specifically his conscience Jiminy Cricket. My kids have been watching it lately and he is the crappiest conscience ever, and yet he got a medal. So I decided to write a story about his performance review. It is fun. Also I would love to continue writing a story I started this year. I have about half a dozen working titles, but it has zombies. Very fun. Oh and the ever popular vampires. I know I've been playing too much Resident Evil. Lastly, I have new motivation to write the final Sureshot installment. I have the plot pretty much worked out I only need to get it done. Of course I would love to get the second one in print before that but I can only control so much. Searching for agents is on my list of things to work on as well. Shot I just realized that I only have two more weeks until school is back in session. I better get started.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving story

One of my favorite Thanksgiving stories is when Samoset the first native to greet the pilgrims does so for the first time. I decided to recreate it in micro because I enjoy it so much. I don't know the names of the men Samoset met first so I will guess. Enjoy.

It was a warm and inviting day in March, a welcomed condition given the difficult winter the pilgrims endured their first days in their new home, Plymouth. The Pilgrims were busy with their daily tasks: gathering wood, tending to soil, preparing what meager meals they could, mending and building structures. The main structure, the church, stood as a monument to God's Providence in their lives. Unwelcome in their own homeland they sought a new chance. God gave them that opportunity, as he does when a person is saved, they were given new life.

Their new home was beautiful, but foreign. Wild and untamed the land was nothing like the terrain they knew in England. It was lush but unpredictable; it offered life and threatened death. They survived there only by God's grace and they thanked Him constantly for it. Still, they looked for new assurance of his blessing so that they could rest knowing that they would not be erased from the world and forgotten like other colonies before them.

On this day just such a sign strolled into town. While everyone went about their work as they did every day a native of the tribe Abenaki walked down the only street in town as though the colony had always been there and he was welcomed their openly. The people stared in awe as this "savage" paraded alone past the homes that were strange to him in their rows toward the center of town which was of course, the church.

His name was Samoset, second in command in his tribe. He had a strong gait, striking long black hair, a mere loin cloth around his middle and he did not even bother to return the stares that the pilgrims gave him. Some hid their children though they could not be prevented from watching the visitor from windows and cracks in doors.

The men at last headed him off and halted Samoset before he entered their church which was clearly the main building. Samoset was on a mission to make contact with the leader of the colony, the normal diplomatic thing to do, but the pilgrims would have been horrified had a heathen entered their church. Once halted they sized each other up a moment—Samoset not intimidated by the Englishmen. Why should he be? He was in his land, though the pilgrims had moved in. He and his tribe had watched with interest as they erected buildings and suffered through the winter. Many thought they would not survive, as other "visitors" had perished in the new land. These somehow endured the winter, so they deserved to know who their neighbors were. With these motives, Samoset looked into the eyes of the English pilgrims and said something that shocked the socks off of everyone there, "Welcome."

Samoset knew English! He told them that they were in the land of a tribe that had died of plague a few years earlier so that none of the natives cared too much of the choice in their settlement's location. He wanted beer, having been given some by the fishermen who frequented the region and taught him some English. Samoset gave them a lot of information on the tribes nearby and later brought them Squanto, who would prove to be a gift from God because without him it is unlikely that they would have survived. The pilgrims gave the visitor gifts, a bracelet, a knife and a ring. This meeting is historic and momentous.

I am struck by the amazing events that surround the Plymouth colony. They believed that God guided them to their new home and that he watched over them carefully. Surely no other early settlement was as successful as this one, though it was not without challenges. As I celebrate Thanksgiving, the holiday that they inspired, I trust as they did that God is alive in me and has a plan for my life.


Thank you Lord for all you've given me. Help me to use your gifts to glorify you and advance your kingdom. Forgive me for my selfish pride, for my failures and my sin. Take it from me so I may be near you. On this day I give you thanks for your love, forgiveness and grace. It is all about you. Let your light shine for the whole world to see. Amen.

Friday, November 13, 2009


In an attempt to get some feedback on my query I have decided to post the gist of it here. I have written about half a dozen queries for the Sureshot 2 (as I'm still calling it) but none have secured representation. Maybe someone will have some advice on how to improve it. Still I am moving on and trying to complete another story to peddle that one in the hopes of breaking into what appears to be a tough industry.

Who is the Sureshot? Is he a hero or a paid assassin? Unfortunately even he does not know the answer.

My novel, Sureshot the Assassin is 100,000 words of adventure fantasy. It is character driven and yet full of action. At its core it is about identity and how environment and people shape who we are. Durbar the Sureshot rose to stardom because of his amazing skill with a bow. He became a champion out of isolation and obscurity. His family's history tripped him up however and through a series of events he was forced to serve as an assassin or face a worse fate. Reluctant and yet effective he eventually had to come to discover who he really was and own that identity, or risk permanently being an assassin. As he found out however, quitting is not always an option.

The story twists and turns, involves mysterious family dynamics and good old fashion adventure. It appeals to a young audience and also fans of adventure or fantasy.

I am a history teacher who studied at Fresno Pacific University and am in my third year as a high school teacher. I have been writing for years and this is my second completed novel. The first was publish with Tate Publishing, and I retain the rights to that work. Beside writing novels I had an article published in New Man a now online (was print) publication. I also take pride in writing the Christmas and Easter plays my church performs for the last three years

Monday, November 02, 2009

Record Rejection

After posting my big hurrah about how I am going to get back in the fight and try to find an agent I was rejected. Not only rejected but in record time. 40 minutes to be exact. I know…I was shocked too. It was almost depressing if it wasn't comical. I replied to the agent to try to get some feed-back as to what I am doing wrong, since I am convinced that I am doing something wrong. So far it's been four days and she has not responded. I am disappointed about the lack of response to my plea for help only because rejection was so swift. I hope that it does not become an indictment on the industry that rejection is in surplus and advice scarce. I still can't believe it…40 minutes…I am not even exaggerating.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back in the fight

Ok I thought I had given up. I was so tired of emailing agents just to wait around for a negative response or no response at all. It was depressing. I really thought I was done. It has been a full four years since The Sureshot came out and I have not found a publisher for my second book. It makes me want to give up. Then someone encourages me and I get a second (or third, or fourth, or tenth) wind. Again it was students. I sold a few books to them after some were interested and they really liked it. Of course they did. I have had very little negative feedback. Normally I would question their sincerity but with teenagers I have no doubts because they rarely spare anyone's feelings. One said I looked like Hitler today. Still it is tough shaking the feeling that all my effort is in vain. They are really excited about a story I was working on this summer, but I think it is because they all want me to create a character based on them. Tonight's goal…send more queries, and pray someone takes an interest.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Not Giving Up

It was a tough summer for me in regard to writing. I did not land an agent yet and it is bothering me more than it should perhaps. I almost gave up. About a week ago I was sitting at my computer ready to write my resignation letter. Then I was encouraged by my students. Some of them told me that they loved my book and couldn't wait to read more. This was all I needed. I doubt sometimes as I have not been blessed with endless confidence in myself, but when I am reassured by others I can keep going. Perhaps it is a character flaw, but what can I do? Nevertheless, I still feel like I have enough talent and potential to be a successful writer. I need to hone my craft, and learn to market myself better, but ultimately I still believe that I will get there. Where ever "there" is. Ultimately I know that it takes faith more than anything, and I still have some. We'll see where I am in a few more months, but until then I am going to wake up every day with the mindset that my future is in writing. That's where I'm at, and that's where I'm going. For better or worse.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Dress Up

I am an amateur psychologist. I am especially interested in child psychology having three children and being a high school teacher. They are a fascinating breed, both the little ones and the not so little ones. One topic that I am interested in is the nature v. nurture argument that I imagine will never be settled. Like most people, I think that there are strong elements of nature in children, but they are amazingly susceptible to molding it seems so I cannot deny a nurture component. When it comes to the genders I am highly opposed to the idea that we as parents and a society instill basic gender roles on our children. To further my understanding of the topic, I am conducting an ongoing case study in my home. Here is one piece of evidence.

My son is a warrior. From birth he has been different from his older sister who is a mere 18 months his senior. There is something in him that compels him to hit things, throw things, smash things and build things. Few of the toys his sister had held his interest unless they could be fashioned into something that could be used for the afore mentioned purposes. It is fascinating for me to watch. For instance I have seen him put on one of his sister's princess dresses. Naturally his older sister wants to play dress up, and since he was not really at the dress up age yet he had none of his own. Instead he came around the corner in a princess dress. Seeing my son wearing a dress, I had a serious decision to make, and one that could heavily impact the nurture side of the argument if I were to respond poorly. I chose to act as though it were perfectly acceptable because I figured he was far too young to be embarrassed about it and punishing him seemed completely idiotic. I let it be as the Beatles song goes. It turned out it was the right choice. Once dressed up, his sister handed him a magic wand. Not a magic one like Gandalf (Lord of the Rings) would have, but a princess wand that one might associate with, well…fairies. I was slightly more concerned but had already committed to seeing how this would play out without my interference. I watched…admittedly nervous. Would he twirl and spin? Would he sprinkle magic fairy dust on things? Would he hope a prince saved him and gave him true love's first kiss? The outcomes were unnerving. Alas I was spared the more controversial results. With a princess dress on and a magic wand in his hand, my son proceeded to try and whack his sister with the bejeweled wand as though it were not a wand at all but a club instead. I sighed and smiled. His sister ran in terror afraid of the savage attack. He chased her making crashing sounds with his mouth as he pretended to club her with his wand. At that moment I saw the scene from a different point of view. I no longer saw my son in a beautiful, elaborate princess dress accessorized by a jeweled wand, I saw a savage warrior in a kilt wielding a club and engaged in a primitive battle for survival. He has not changed my image of him one iota since that day. Score one for nature. You can put a dress on a boy, but he still wants to smash things.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

All You Need is Love

Just a little poem for anyone interested.

To not have to worry about money or wealth,
To never have problems with sickness or health,
If food was free, and there was plenty for me,
If the world was at peace, and there was oil in the East,
It would be nice.

But everything is literally uncontrollable.
It is a nice dream, and an immense goal.
It’s not something that will change overnight.
Hopefully someday we can live in an utopia,
But until then we must survive,
And keep our hopes alive.
So to walk down the long and winding road,
All you need is love.
Everything else is lace on the tapestry of life.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: East of Eden

Besides spending time relaxing on vacation for the first time this summer, I have been doing a little reading. I just finished East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Let me say first that I love Steinbeck. Although he has radical tendencies sometimes, and I do not always support some of the statements he makes with his writing, he is an excellent author. In this book he built an elaborate story around the creation story, but more so the story of Cain and Able. On this theme he compared and contrasted the brotherly dynamic and their propensity to sin, and their desire to be loved by God or their father in this case. It was amazing how he used believable and deep characters to retell the story so many people are familiar with, while adding his own commentary about sin, religion, family and people. I loved it. It was of course very dark as a bit depressing as his writing often is, but still gripping. I am not sure I will add it among my favorite books since Tortilla Flat also by Steinbeck already resides there, but I definitely give it a thumbs up.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Time

Summer is here and I was disappointed to count out the number of weeks I had off and come up with a paltry 6. I know I sound selfish because very few other occupations allow you that much time off, but still I was hoping for more. Besides that, this is the first summer in which having kids is going to use up much of my time. I wrote The Sureshot while watching Madelyn, Sureshot 2 with Madelyn and Elijah around. But with Madelyn, Elijah and Olivia, and them all getting older and more demanding of my time, things might be different. I am not sure what I wrote last summer except for a bunch of lessons for my world history class, but this summer is definitely going to be a struggle. So far we have filled our time with Vacation Bible School, summer reading classes for Madelyn at Fresno State, and karate (both mine and Elijah's). Next week there are swim lessons, and more reading classes. We actually made a calender and posted it in the kitchen so that we could keep up with all the things we needed to do on a daily basis. It is a bit exhausting. Still I have managed to nearly complete the Christmas play and I am way ahead of schedule on that. After that I think I will put a bit more polish on Sureshot 2 then move on to another writing project. Which one is any one's guess. I would love to write the third Sureshot story, but it might serve me well to work on something different. I have loads of stories I summarized and feel I can dive into. Maybe I will create a survey and let people help me decide what to write. That would be fun, let people help me choose the next story. I am passionate about so many things that sometimes I cannot even choose which to pursue. Anyways, I hope you all are enjoying your summer, and hopefully it is not as busy as mine. Ciao.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I don't need to say any more than....I dominated. There was a brief discussion over which game was more impressive to win at. I suggested that monopoly was the best because it represented business smarts. Then Brandi reminded me that I can't spell, so I stopped arguing. Still....dominated.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I suck at scrabble. The other night I suggested that Brandi and I play because I was tired of watching TV. It had been a while and I do not think I have ever defeated her at the game, but if I remembered correctly the last game was surprisingly close so I took my chances. My Scrabble woes are multi faceted. Firstly I am a poor speller. I feel like I am getting better but when I was in the midst of my foreign language studies I could hardly construct an English word properly. This stems from the fact that I was learning to write in other languages, and the fact that Slavic and especially Serbian has an alphabet wherein every letter makes only one sound. It is brilliant really and if there was a vote today on switching to Serbian as a primary language I would vote yeah. I can't stand the letter C for instance. C is the most irrelevant letter in our alphabet in my estimation. It makes either an S or a K sound. When combined with other letters it manages a new sound like CH but we could make a new letter for that sound, or adopt (as in the case of Serbian) C for the CH sound. I digress.

My other problem with Scrabble is that I am creative. When I get a word in my head (and I am apt to create large words) I find a way to make it work. A creative way. I will scramble letters until I find a way to make a word that I want. It may be by dropping a double consonant, or by changing vowels so that the word still sounds the same phonetically. To me that is all I want. I want the word to sound the same, even if it is not technically correct. Brandi disagrees. She insists that I spell the word correct or she penalizes me and makes me remove my word. Harsh I know. So after the third word I had rejected, I gave up, threw a bit of a tantrum and called quit. It was disgraceful really. I should have done the right thing, continued to play even though I was getting smashed, and taken the loss like a man, but I overreacted when my third word was revealed to be a non-word. All my frustration came to a head when I was trying to spell the word ghost. When I typed it just now I had no problem spelling it, but on my board I did not have an "h". So I tried to improvise by spelling it goest. Why not? It sounds right. Ultimately I knew that it was incorrect and Brandi was nice enough to confirm that before I embarrassed myself further by trying to lay goest down as a word. So then I tried to throw down the word geist as in poltergeist. I accidentally switched the center letters however spelling giest, which brought an objection from Brandi. I lost it. At now my third incorrect word I could not handle it and quit after a bit of a tirade. I admit it was childish.

So, I suck at Scrabble. Next time I am going to suggest Monopoly. Now that is a game.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Getting an A

I did a border line unethical thing. Ok it is definitely unethical and I am sorry, but in the grand scheme of things it is much better than having a relationship with a student or being drunk on the job or something like that. I wrote a sonnet for a student. I know! I shouldn't have! It was wrong! If you can find it in you to let me explain, then perhaps you can see your way to forgiving me.

There is an English teacher on campus with a reputation for being hard. He teaches seniors only and gives them a lot of work. One day a student in my Econ class was complaining because she felt like there was no way she could write a sonnet. I dismissed her complaint by stating that sonnets are not all that difficult and that I had written several. She persisted and explained how there was a pattern to them and that each line had to be 10 syllables. I reiterated my position that there were not that hard, but she did not back down and we were at an impasse.

To settle the dispute she issued a challenge. She said that if I was so good, I could write a sonnet for her. I, being a writer and confident in my sonnet writing skills, did not back down. I said that I could do it no problem. Having accepted the challenge I asked the class for topics. Hotdogs, spam, and pirates, were among the topics that made the list. I chose pirates as my topic.

I assigned my students their work for the day which involved them reading then responding to some questions about trade or something, and sat down to write a pirate sonnet. Armed with the Shakespearian sonnet pattern I began. In fifteen minutes or so I was finished. I grinned confident that I had won the challenge. I feel as though I wrote an excellent sonnet and announced to the class that I had finished. Many did not believe that I had actually created one in such a short time span having spent hours on their own. I then read it to the class. There was applause and I smiled widely brimming with pride. The girl who issued the challenge asked repeatedly if each line was indeed ten syllables so I gave it to her to verify. She did so and the sonnet was intact. There was more adoration. Then I was put in an awkward position that I myself walked into. The student wanted the sonnet.

I did not intend to actually do work for a student, but she had challenged me to write her a sonnet with the implied intention of turning in the work I produced. I did not want to allow it however finding it unethical and to complicate the situation further there were more students who then wanted me to write them a sonnet. Students were petitioning me for sonnets immediately and shouting out topics while my head spun. In the end I chose a middle ground. I gave the student the pirate sonnet and declined to write any more.

I was then anxious to know what I got on the sonnet. It had been ten years since a poem of mine had been submitted for evaluation. Eventually she told me that it received an A, but to make things more uncomfortable, the teacher took her aside to compliment her pirate sonnet. I debated telling the teacher, but did not want to put everyone involved in an embarrassing position. The student would likely have her work erased, I would have to explain the whole situation and risk damaging a relationship with a respected colleague, and the teacher would potentially be embarrassed for praising her, or rather, my work. So I kept quiet.

It was wrong, I know, but I am still rather proud to have received an A. It was like being in senior English all over again. Here is the controversial sonnet for your judgement.


Pirates swinging in the rigging up high

I'm deafened by the loud booming of guns

Cannon balls and debris falls from the sky

Battle raging on, had only begun


Swords clinging and clanging, wanting to run

All around the ship, is nothing but sea

Death all around me my body is numb

My efforts are vain with nowhere to flee


Brave sailors all dying shown no mercy

The ship over taken, the battle lost

The pirates laugh and cheer with evil glee

One handsome and tall, apparently boss


Captured and made a pirate captain's queen

Together we sail the oceans wide and green

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Getting Older

May was a busy month. My daughter turned 5, I turned 29, my wife turned...well...she had a birthday. I was rejected by another agent (3 total), we suffered two plagues (swine flu, and bubonic plague) and I guess I worked somewhere in there. I managed to do some writing. Mostly I continued to polish Sureshot 2, but I also worked on a new project.

As I get closer to thirty I take stock on what I have accomplished and I am not ashamed. I have done a lot in 29 years. I would love to add best selling author to the list, but so far that remains on my list of things to do. Still I have studied 3 foreign languages while serving 5 years in the army. I have been married 7 years (nearly 8), and helped create 3 beautiful children. I have had a book published and written another. I finished a bachelors in arts, and the teaching credential program. I have taught history and economics for two years, as well as Sunday school. I have written 3 Christmas/Easter plays, and am working on 4 and 5. I have served as a deacon, and brought a few people to Christ. Over all, not bad for 29 years of life. I have more to do, but I am trying to be patient and keep things in perspective.

Here's a toast to life, more birthdays, and more accomplishments. Prost!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I realize I’ve something lacking.
You say it is my gut relaxing.
I believe it’s my mind still turning.
That stops my heart always burning.
If you lose patience and move on,
I cannot blame you for your action.
I’m a wimp and a coward at that.
All I’ve done so far is sat.
But please remember my lack of time,
That I’ve invested in women divine.
For surely I will come around.
I just pray that when I do it’s you I’ve found.

In Flight

More old Poetry

through the dark black sky.
over the tiny world below.
Gliding ,
across huge, crushing, currents.
with the endless wind.
past great flashes of lightning.
the thin atmosphere.
on the tranquil white clouds.
everyday, one at a time.
with the unpredictable weather.

It will take you where you want to go.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Calling All Agents

As I mentioned in an earlier post I am looking for an agent. I was so enthusiastic after The Sureshot was published with relative ease that I thought I had my writing career moving. While I still think that is true, I am faced with a few new realities. The first is the real possibility that my book is not as good as I think it is. This is hard to swallow, but I am comforted knowing that it is my first work and I am young enough to polish my writing to hopefully reach a level more impressive. The second is that the world of literature is much tougher to succeed in than I thought. It seems it is not enough to write well. You need to write well, find an agent who agrees that you write well, then improve the work you already spent hours on, then your agent has to convince a publisher that you write well. Then, I think, you have made it as a write, but to be honest I am not sure yet. I definitely should not have sailed this ship with a wife and three kids aboard. As it is however the ship has sailed and I do not want to turn back yet. So I am looking for an agent. I really need an agent because I don't know what I am doing when it comes to publishers. I need an editor. I need a book deal so I can invest more time into writing. I am torn however because I do not want to settle for any agent but really want to find one who knows what the heck they are doing. I signed up for "the Writer's Market" again so I can search lists of agents and find their contact information. This is helpful, but realistically there are only about 10 to 20 agents that I think could represent me. What is they don't think my manuscript is worthwhile? Should I give up? I don't know if I can. I know that so far this has largely been a poorly rewarded use of time, but I love it anyways. (Sigh) If only I could be compensated for loving something. So…know a good agent?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why Fantasy?

I am in the process of finding an agent if one is willing. It is a laborious and slow process full of frustration and disappointment. All that and I have only been rejected by one agent thus far. I am not looking forward to doing this for long and I pray that I will find the one right for me soon. In this process however I was forced to reflect on my manuscript. One agency I scouted had an interesting page of information about why it is that they choose to represent writers. Their words were strong (in more ways than one), but made me think about my own work. I reflected on The Sureshot. Firstly I rethought (as I have a thousand times) whether it is a worthwhile piece. I still think it is. Then I thought about why I chose to write fantasy. Was it because I was young and into Dungeons and Dragons? Was I influenced by movies I watched? Was it because of some unfulfilled need deep inside me? Or was it something else? In the end, I think that fantasy offers the writer and the reader something that is hard to find in regular fiction. I believe that fantasy allows for the fantastic (hence the name). It is not constrained by reality. In fiction there is always a challenge making something believable. I read Kite Runner and although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I was a little suspicious of the events leading to the climax of the book as they spiraled into an ever more elaborate tale. While it is natural that odd or unusual stories make up the bulk of fiction, sometimes it seems to go too far. In fantasy it is a challenge to go too far. It is possible mind you, but when you are not limited by human constraints or natural laws, anything is feasible. That is what I love about fantasy. What I don't love about much of the genre is the lack of humanity. I believe that fantasy needs to be human at its core. Good fantasy says something about mankind at its core. That is what I want to accomplish in my writing. My first goal was to make The Sureshot interesting, the second was to help the reader to identify with Durbar (the main character). It was not enough for me to entertain—I want to make a statement, or at least an observation. That is what I believe about fantasy, and that is why I write in the genre. What I need to do is show agents and then publishers that I am capable of this, and I am sure that they will find it worthwhile to work with me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Going Down

Another poem. I would love to have something else to post right now, but aside from spending a lot of time shuttling my kids around and trying to get a few things of the Honey-Do list, I have been writing a novella for use in my World History Class. So...another poem...

A soft sweet rain falls on my face,
I never want to leave this tranquil place,
A breeze blows coolly through my shirt,
My damp pants are covered with dark dirt,
The sky is lifeless with gray clouds,
My bones cleaned eagerly by cows.

Sunk deeply in the thick clinging mud,
My salty tears form a small puddle
On my cheek, roots entangle my body
Turning my skin to a fine light sod;
Not yet! I climb from my hole,
You will never get to take my soul.
Too hell you will be sent to burn,
And sit there you will for eternity,
Giant rocks weigh you down,
A fate fitting for a social clown,
Still I walk amongst the living.
I will never go down without fighting.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dear Olivia

Today I sat at the table and watched you. You were wearing a cute baby blue sleeper with multi colored polka dots. I had put some of your hair in a pony tail which stuck up on top of your head and spilled over on top like water from the blow-hole of a cartoon whale. The hair at the back of your head curled up in little wisps.

You were exploring. You crawled into the playroom and spilled multiple bins of toys—sifted through them like treasure, examining pieces that fancied you, but in the end discarding them all.

Dissatisfied, you crawled over to the basket your mother filled with items to be taken upstairs. You stood at the basket and removed things one by one. Occasionally you talked to one of the items—babbling in your baby language that only you and the angels understand.

You found your tiny shoes—more like moccasins really, all leather pink with flowers. You held one of them up to show me and told me about them. I pretended to understand and said they were beautiful shoes. You were proud of the shoe but tossed it aside so you could pick up something else. A few more items and the basket was empty. A job well done.

Looking for something else to do you scurried off clicking with your tongue on the roof of your mouth as you went. I clicked back, and you turned to me clicking a few times just to please me—you know how it warms my heart when you click to me, like it is our own special language.

You smiled and went back to work. I smiled too, wide, and felt tears forming in my eyes. I held that moment as long as I could, not wanting it to end.

The tears evaporated before they could fall, but I knew they were there. When I see you playing, babbling, smiling, clicking, I love you more than I think I can bear.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

This book was pretty much what I expected. I figured it would read like many of the books of the time that warned of totalitarianism (one of my favorite topics). I was a bit unique I suppose in that it focused on the society at a micro level. One of the things that interested me was the interactive TVs. His wife was obsessed with them and spent hours in the "parlor" watching or rather interacting with whatever it was that came through the screens that were as large as the wall. I was interested in this because it turned out to be prophetic. We now have tvs that are as large as walls and we also have very interactive entertainment through computers. I imagine it will only be a couple of years before the two meet. The end was a bit weak, but the theme was challenging so I am not criticizing too much. I doubt I could write a better ending. Still the story speeds up only to end abruptly. It is almost the ending that my dad advocates for: "then the sun went supernova and destroyed the world." It is worth the read—reinforces concepts of free speech and the need for literacy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Book Review: Anthem

I read Ayn Rand because she is supposed to be an amazing writer, or at least thinker who started her own movement. I am also into the genre of writing that emerges after WWII. The challenge in reading Rand is that her two major pieces, Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, are upwards of 1000 pages. I for one do not read enough nor do I read fast enough to warrant taking on a 1000 page book. I know few who would do so, and I imagine that those who do take a certain amount of pride in themselves which only feeds into Rand's ideas. So I did a little research and found that all of her work is essentially the same in theme. So I took the easy way and read Anthem which is not even a novel but more like a novella. I bought it and read it in the car while I waited for my kids to get out of preschool. It is that short. It is an interesting piece, similar to others in the same genre including one of my favorites 1984. The thing that set it apart from other works including the afore mentioned Orwell work is that the protagonist succeeds in overcoming totalitarianism. He flees and is oddly not stopped in his flight by authorities. He meets up with his girlfriend and they find a cottage. There he teaches himself to read which is great and gives himself a name because as he declares, all people should name themselves (they all were given horrible communist type names with numbers attached). *Spoil alert* To me there is a flaw in the work that I believe was unintended. At the very end, after naming himself and explaining that it is important for people to name themselves (as Rand had) he names his girlfriend. Why did she not get to name herself? There is a chance that she slipped it in the book to suggest that the pattern would continue, but based on what I know of her, I think she slipped and showed the flaw in her philosophy. She is, to me, not really about rugged individualism (or hedonism as it sometimes appears) but about superiority. She feels that the brightest people are above others in more way than one, as she clearly thought about herself. In the end I am not wholly impressed with Rand and will not be tackling her other, heftier works.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Near Death Experience?

I consider myself a strong person, if not through physical feat, through health and resilience. I am not on any medications, do not get frequent headaches, have no known allergies, I’m in good shape, never broke a bone and aside from feeling the need to take daily naps, I feel as though I am healthy as a horse as they say. Until this January. I began to feel ill during Tuesday evening. Thinking it was gas or some other sort of minor digestive problem I pushed it from my mind and didn’t mention it. Wednesday I went to work with increasing pain, now sharp at times. I coached my soccer team to a victory and by the time I got home was in enough pain to complain. I told Brandi about my condition and was spared from taking the children to church for their Bible night. I made a complaining call to Directv and when Brandi came home she saw me wincing as I descended the stairs. She claimed to have seen the face I was making on many children with appendicitis. She asked me some questions then poked my abdomen and I nearly cried. She immediately told me that we were going to the hospital. I did not like the sound of that but trusted that she knew what she was talking about being a nurse so I called for a sub and took shower. Brandi called for someone to stay with our kids and we went to the hospital.

Once there I was subjected to much prodding and many questions, which were repeated by each new surgeon, nurse or doctor who came to see me. I was in ever increasing pain, and finally they put me on morphine. I imagined that it would take all my pains away but in reality I still felt horrible. I scan was finally done which confirmed that my appendix needed to be taken out. Some of the doctors and medical personnel were concerned because I exhibited some of the signs of an appendicitis, but not all of them. For instance I did not have a fever, but then… my appendix hurt. Neither did I feel noxious, but again… my appendix hurt. My white blood cell count was not elevated either… but one more time… my appendix hurt. Finally after being in the hospital for 11 hours, they removed my appendix.

I felt like I experienced date rape because I was merely lying on a bed writhing in agony... then they told me I was all done. When I became more aware of my environment I realized that I was in a new room all together. I was pleased notice that my appendix no longer hurt, but concerned that my pants and boxers were missing, my tummy on down was shaved, and my business hurt. All were of course natural and necessary things, but I could not help but feel a little violated.
As for feeling young and healthy, I had to embrace the fact that at age 28 I would have died had it not been for modern medicine. Praise the Lord. I was having trouble with that except that I have already produced 3 beautiful children and two manuscripts, served my country and finished college. Not bad. There are plenty of people older than me who haven’t done anything except smoke a lot of pot and drink a lot of beer, so I won’t complain if I am to die. Of course I would be dead so I imagine it would be hard to die. And after all, Dick Cheney has had four heart attacks, and still managed to serve as vice president. Doctors can probably keep me going for a while. I like my chances.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I sent my second manuscript to a publisher which I would love to see publish my work and I was rejected! It hurt a little. I have faith in my work. Several people I trust to be honest and subjective affirmed its worth to me, but alas, rejection. Sometimes I feel like it is good. After all it is really only a minor setback. Some authors have been rejected many times. My next move is to look for an agent. I am not really excited about that prospect, but apparently that is the way to do things in our modern world. It might work out well, but I am nervous. How do I know if the agent is looking out for me? Are they working for me or I for them? Too many questions. I guess I will just have to trust that it will work out. Here’s hoping…

As for being rejected, I’m a big boy. I am reenergized to reread once more in an effort to improve my work. I also have written a few chapters of the Sureshot 3. After that I have to begin serious work on some of my other ideas, or I will have a list of projects that will never get written. It is good to be reminded that I have not yet arrived and that it is not about me, but what my work can bring to the world, and more importantly to God. I have committed my writing to him… and it is good to remember that. It cannot be about me or it will not work out. That is where I am at.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have been reading like crazy lately. I do not know what came over me but as I near 30 I do not have as much desire to watch TV, but instead have enjoyed reading in my leisure time. In the last couple months I have read 6 books, having finished another last night. As part of my goal to write full time this can only help. I have heard it said that there are six things a person must do to become a writer. 1) read 2) read 3) read 4)write 5)write 6)write. If that is true, and it seems to make sense, then I am glad that I have gained such an appetite for reading lately. Mostly it is because I am reading something that I enjoy. I have also been writing a bit lately, though teaching takes a lot of time. I want to write "the day after the day the earth stood still," because I was so upset by the movie, so hopefully I can begin that sometime this week. Otherwise I am just busy with work again. Also I had my appendix out which was an adventure in itself but I will post about that later. Look for my next 3 book reviews, and a post about my appendix, also my short story about the day the earth stood still.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Book Review: Unprotected

My Grandfather lent my wife a book entitled Unprotected when we were there for a visit this break. Since we were driving to the coast after our stay with my grandparents then back home, Brandi read the book aloud in the car after I continuously asked her what was so interested as she sighed every few minutes. We finished the book before we returned home. It was very interested and supported some things that I was either aware of or suspicious of. It is written by a college psychiatrist who was apparently fed up with some things. I recommend it highly for anyone, but especially young people. I wish I could assign it to my high school students. Anyways, one of the things that is interesting is the manner in which we treat HIV/AIDS. As I have been annoyed with for some time, there is a lot of miss information out there about HIV/AIDS and it is backed by an agenda that is worried that the truth about the virus would ostracize gay men, who are one of the two main groups of people who the virus affects, the other is IV drug users. Instead then of focusing on those two groups of people in an effort to control the spread of that virus, the add campaign that was promoted was one in which the idea that "aids doesn't discriminate," was the motto. As evidence of this deceptive slogan she shared the story of a patient who was at high risk (gay man with multiple and anonymous partners) and a married woman who found out her husband had cheated on her. The gay man ignored the danger and did not get tested. The married woman was convinced she had HIV and had a nervous break down. Who is that campaign helping then? The gay man won't get tested, the straight married woman doesn't really need to get tested but nearly lost her mind with worry when she found out her husband cheated. Anyways, this and many other issues are tackled in this book from a different perspective than the one often pushed by those who above all else desire to be politically correct. I highly recommend it, and if you can get someone else to read it aloud to you, that would be cool also.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Waiting for a King

This is the Christmas play that I wrote for my church. I enjoyed it. The things that appear to be poems mixed throughout the script are my attempt at writing song lyrics. This was with mixed results in my opinion.

Christmas Program 08
Christmas Musical

Scene 1: A New King?

There are three men tending sheep. They are a motley crew of different sizes leaning on their staffs. One of them speaks up.

Shepherd 1: What do you two think about our king, Herod?

Shepherd 2, Shepherd 3: Bah! (gesturing with their arms)

S2: I could do without him.

S3: Me too. I mean sure he is building the temple back up, but does he have to tax us so much?

S2: Who decide to call him Herod the great anyway?

S1: I don’t know maybe we should call him Herod the tax collector instead.

S2: Don’t get me started on tax collectors. What an awful bunch they are.

S3: I just don’t understand how any self respecting Hebrew could work for the Romans.

S2: Oh vey! The Romans! What a bunch of pigs they are! Pt, pt, pt (spitting).

S1, S2, S3: (collective sigh)

S1: We need a new king.

S2: I hear that.

S3: God promised us the one, the Messiah. I hope he comes soon.

S2: I don’t think he is ever coming.

S1, S3: What? How can you say that?

S2: How long have we been waiting?

Song: Waiting for a King

We’re waiting
Waiting for a king (echo) What king?
Waiting for a king from God (echo) From God?
Yes God (sign)

We’re waiting
Waiting to be free (echo) Set free?
Waiting to be free from Rome (echo) From Rome?
Yes Rome (spit)

We’re hoping
Hoping for a chance (echo) A chance?
Hoping for a chance at peace (echo) At Peace?
Yes Peace Oy Veh

We’re hoping
Hoping Herod goes (echo) Goes where?
Hoping Herod goes away (echo) Away?
Far away

We’re praying
Praying for a king (echo) A king?
Praying for a king from God (echo) From God?
Yes God. Sign

Shepherds go back to leaning on their staffs.

End of scene

Scene 2: In the Holies of Holies

Zechariah enters the stage seemingly in a hurry. The shepherds stop him to inquire as to his destination.

S1: Zechariah old friend! Where are you going in such a hurry?

Zechariah: Do you not know? It is my turn to enter the Holy of Holies to pray and light the incense.

S2: It is? What an honor! You must be very proud.

Z: Of course. I have waited a long time for this honor.

S1: Well then we won’t keep you, tell us all about it when you get back.

Z: Thank you friends, I will. Zechariah turns to leave.

S3: Hey when you’re there…ask God for better weather, my joints get stiff in this stuff. Another shepherd pops him in the back of the head.

Zechariah moves to the other side of the stage where the Holy of Holies is located. He performs rituals (bows, lights incense etc.) then prepares to pray.

Lord oh Lord, you are holy
Lord oh Lord, you are mighty
Lord oh Lord, bless your people
But Lord, my heart is broken
My wife, she has no children
She weeps, because she’s barren
Oh God, we want a child
Please God, give us a child
For you, we’ll raise a child

An angel appears to him and he falls in reverence.

Angel: Do not be afraid Zechariah, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be great in the sight of the Lord and from birth he will be filled with the holy spirit.

Z: How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.

A: I am Gabriel . I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you the good news. But now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens because you did not believe my words.

He finishes his duties, then leave the Holy of Holies and travels home.

As Zechariah travels he passed by the shepherds.

S1: Hey Zechariah…how did it go in the temple?

Z: …Zechariah tries to talk but cannot

S2: What’s wrong Zechariah? Can’t even put it to words?

Z: …tries to mime what happened

S3: What are you doing Zechariah? Are you well?

Z: …Zechariah gives up and hurries home

Zechariahs wife Elizabeth is waiting with her cousin Mary. Zechariah comes in excited.

Elizabeth: Welcome home dear (Hugging him). How was your trip? What was it like in the temple? What was it like being in God’s presence?

Z: …Zechariah tries to mime

Elizabeth: What are you doing? Why don’t you answer me?

Mary: Elizabeth… I don’t think he can speak.

E: What do you mean Mary? Zechariah what’s wrong? Can you speak?

Z: …Zechariah shakes his head

E: How did this happen?

Z: …tries to mime that an angle appeared to him

M: Did you see an angel?

Z: …nods enthusiastically

E: You saw an angel? What was it like?

M: Cousin, he cannot speak…

E: Oh you’re right. Can you show us what he told you?

Z: …he mimes “pregnant” and “baby” to his wife and her cousin

E: You are not making any sense husband. Mary can you make anything of this?

M: I think he is trying to tell you that you are going to have a baby.

Z: …Zechariah jumps up and down with excitement

E: That is ridiculous I am too old and barren. I can’t have a baby.

Z: …embraces his wife lovingly then and thanks Mary and asks her to leave (in mime)

E: …aaa…cousin… I think Zechariah wants you to leave now…

M: Oh…ok…I will leave you to be with your husband… I will visit soon.

E: Thank you for staying with me while he was away… take care.

They hug, and Mary leaves. Zechariah picks up Elizabeth and carries her off the stage.

Scene 3: Good News

Mary travels home. There Joseph is waiting for her.

Joseph: Hello my bride! Did you have a nice visit with your cousin?

Mary: Yes, thank you. How have things been here is Nazareth?

J: Things have been well sweet Mary, though I longed for you to return.

M: You are kind Joseph. I too anticipate our marriage but there is much to do before we can wed.

J: I know Mary. I must go and tend to things now. I am glad you have returned. Take care my bride.

M: Take care Joseph my groom.

Joseph leaves and Mary takes to doing chores.

Mary sings a worship song while she works.

An Angel appears to Mary.

Angel: Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.

Mary: What is this?

A: Do not be afraid. You have found favor with God. You will have a baby and name him Jesus. He will be the son of the most high. He will be great and his kingdom will never end.

M: How can this be? I am a virgin.

A: The Holy Spirit will come upon you so that the one to be born will be called Son of God. Even your cousin Elizabeth is pregnant in her old age.

M: Elizabeth is pregnant?

A: Yes. Nothing is impossible with God.

M: I am the Lord’s servant. I believe what you tell me.

Mary kneels and prays. The angel leaves. Mary remains kneeling in prayer.

Scene 4: Change of Heart

Mary is praying when Joseph returns.

Joseph: Mary? How have you been?

Mary: Oh Joseph something amazing happened.

J: Really? What?

M: The angel Gabriel appeared to me.

J: An angel? What did he want?

M: He came to tell me that I was going to have a baby.

J: That’s wonderful! But we’re still merely engaged. Surely the angel means after we wed.

M: Joseph my groom, I’m afraid it is more complicated than that.

J: What do you mean my bride?

M: The angel told me that I was going to have a child of God.

J: What does that mean?

M: He said that the Holy Spirit would be upon me and that I would have a son of God.

J: But you are a virgin. Aren’t you?

M: Yes of course, that is the miracle. The angel said I would be pregnant without ever being with you.

J: I don’t know what to say. My bride pregnant before we marry?

M: I know what it will look like, and I know people will talk, but please try to understand.

J: I guess I can try, but it is pretty hard to accept.

M: Thank you for trying. I must go to Elizabeth, the angel told me she is pregnant.

J: Elizabeth? But isn’t she too old to have children.

M: That’s the miracle. How blessed we are to be favored by God.

J: Yeah… blessed…
Mary leaves to go to Elizabeth, while Joseph is left to ponder the news. He paces around uneasily.

Joseph’s Song

What to do? Lord what to do?
Oh Lord, I want to serve you,
But Lord, my Mary’s pregnant,
And she, says by your spirit,
And me, a man of merit,
You see, my troubled spirit.

What to do? Lord what to do?
Oh Lord, I want to love you,
Mary, so sweet and lovely,
Mary, my bride to marry,
Mary, you’re full of mercy,
Mary, I know you’re worthy.

What to do? Lord what to do?
Oh Lord, I want to know you,
But I, I don’t believe her,
But I, I’m not the father,
But I, I’m in a dither,
But I, I will divorce her.

When Joseph finishes his song the angel appears to him. Joseph falls to the floor when he sees the angel.

A: Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived by the Holy Spirit.

J: By the Holy Spirit my Lord?

A: Yes, she will give birth to a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save the people from their sins.

J: Lord this is too much. Why is this happening to me?

A: This is to fulfill what the Lord said through his prophet: “the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.

J: I will do as you ask my Lord. I am the Lord’s servant.

The angel leaves and Joseph falls asleep (or remains in prayer). The scene shifts to the other side of stage.

Scene 5: Blessed Cousin

Mary arrives at the home of her cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. Elizabeth is now 6 months pregnant.

Mary: Elizabeth look at you! Praise the Lord you truly are pregnant!

Elizabeth: Mary! Blessed are you among women, a blessed child you bear! The mother of the Lord has come to me!

M: How do you know of the child in my womb?

E: As soon as I heard your voice the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

M: The Lord has blessed us both. Praise his name

Mary’s Song

My soul…Glorifies the Lord
My soul…rejoices in God
For he, has been mindful
Of his, humble servant
For me, he’s done great things
Holy is his name
Holy is his name

Mercy…to those who fear Him
Mighty…the deeds of his arm
Brought down, rulers on thrones
Filled, hungry, with good things
Away, he sent the rich
Holy is his name
Holy is his name

E: Praise him cousin for he has blessed you more than other women.

M: But you too are blessed to be pregnant at your age.

E: Yes, and I am so thankful that you have come to help me.

M: Of course I would help you Elizabeth.

Scene 6: John is Born

To transition, because the scene begins in the same spot the last one ended the shepherd will sing another song to introduce scene 6.

Shepherd 1: So what do you think about everything that’s been going on?

Shepherd 2: What do you mean?

S1: Well you know, about Elizabeth being pregnant, and Zechariah being mute.

Shepherd 3: And don’t forget about the virgin Mary being pregnant.

S1: Of course. It is a miracle.

S2: Is it? Or maybe it is something else.

S1: What else could it be?

S2: I don’t know all I’m saying is… maybe it isn’t a miracle. Maybe God had nothing to do with it.

S3: Are you saying you don’t believe that God did the things that Elizabeth and Mary said he did?

S2: Something like that. I’m just saying that there are other explanations.

S1: Come on. Don’t be a fool. Can’t you see that God is at work here. He may even be sending the Messiah.

S2: Bah! I don’t believe that. I don’t believe there will ever be a Messiah.

S3: You have to have faith man! You have to trust in the Lord.

Song: Trust the Lord: He is in Control

You have to trust
Trust the Lord with all of your heart
You have to trust
Trust in him, it will be alright

But I can’t

You have to trust
Saved us from an evil king
You have to trust
Saved us from our suffering

I don’t believe

You need faith
He’s our God through thick and thin
You need faith
He’s with us when life is grim

I can’t be sure

You need faith
He’s the God of Abraham
You need faith
The father of every man

I still doubt

Open your eyes
Liz is pregnant, and Mary too
Open your eyes
He blessed them and can bless you too

I don’t know

Open your eyes
He working out his perfect plan
Open your eyes
To save each and every man

I guess we’ll see

S1: Just watch. Elizabeth gave birth recently, and Mary will give birth soon. I believe those babies will be special because God gave them to special women.

S3: There from King David’s family. The prophets said the messiah would be from David’s line.

S1: That’s true. One of these babies could be the messiah. Can you imagine? We will be free at last.

S2: Well I guess you might be right. But I am going to wait and see.

S1: Look here comes the rabbi right now. I bet he is going to perform the circumcision on Zechariah and Elizabeth’s baby.

Rabbi: Hello gentlemen. How are you?

S3: We’re alright, just having a bit of a discussion about the Messiah. Do you think he is coming soon.

Rabbi: In my prayers I get the feeling that he is. It seems that God is setting events in motion that will lead to huge changes. Can you imagine what it will be like to be free? No longer slaves to men, but free in God’s kingdom?

S2: Are you going to circumcise Zechariah and Elizabeth’s baby?

Rabbi: Oh… yes that is where I am going. I should be getting along now they are expecting me. Good bye men.

S 1,2,3: Good bye Rabbi.

The rabbi proceeds to the home of Elizabeth, and Zechariah. Mary is still there having helped her cousin birth the child.

Mary: Rabbi! Welcome, my cousin and her husband are waiting patiently for you.

Rabbi: Why Mary you are along in your pregnancy as well. Surely you should be preparing for your own child’s birth.

Mary: Yes I will leave as soon as you are finished.

Rabbi: Very well. Where is the baby?

Elizabeth: He is here Rabbi.

Rabbi: What a beautiful boy. Surely he is a blessing from God.

Elizabeth: Oh yes. He has blessed me beyond what I dared hope for.

Rabbi: Indeed. What have you decided the boy’s name will be?

Elizabeth: He will be named John.

Rabbi: But there is no one in your family with that name. Why call him John? Zechariah… what do you say the boy’s name will be?

Zechariah motions for a tablet. Mary gets it for him. He writes the words “His name is John.”

Zechariah: gasp…I can speak again… I can speak… the boy’s name is John Rabbi because he is gift from God and God asked me to name him John because he is going to pave the way for the messiah.

Zechariah’s Song

Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord
He is our Redeemer
He is our Savior

Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord
He showed us mercy
He alone rescued us

My son John
My son John
He will show the way
The way for the Lord

My son John
My son John
In the wilderness
Like a lunatic

My son John
My son John
Baptizing in the river
To show us the savior

Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord
He is our Redeemer
He is our Savior

Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord

Elizabeth: Praise God, he has blessed us.

Zechariah: Yes he has my wife, beyond our dreams.

Rabbi: Surely this child is special. He is chosen by God to bring the good news of the Messiah to the world.

Zechariah: Yes he is. The Lord has heard the cries of his people and he is going to answer.

E: I am so happy he has blessed us with a child.

Z: Yes but this is not the only child he was blessed our family with. Soon Mary, you too will give birth.

Mary: Yes and it is wonderful to me. But I must return home now to Joseph to prepare.

Elizabeth: Of course Mary. Thank you for all of your help. You are so kind.

Mary: It was my pleasure, take care.

E: You too cousin.

Scene 7

Mary arrives and Joseph greets her.

Joseph: Thank goodness you have returned. How is your cousin?

Mary: She is well her baby John was born and Zechariah can speak again?

J: What a miracle! No doubt these are miraculous times.

M: Our baby is evidence of that.

J: Of course my bride, but we must prepare for a journey to Bethlehem.

M: Bethlehem?

J: Yes. Caesar has called for a census so we must return to the town of my origin. Bethlehem, the city of David.

M: But the baby is coming soon. What if it is born while we are there?

J: Then it is God’s will and he will look after us.

M: Very well then…

Mary and Joseph prepare for a journey then travel to the manger.

The shepherds again are tending to their herds.

S1: I am so sleepy. Why doesn’t anything exciting happen around here?

S2: Because we live near Bethlehem. No one cares about Bethlehem.

S1: I guess. Still it is awful boring. I just wish something interesting would happen.

S3: Careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

An angel appears to the shepherds and they fall to their faces in fear.

Angel: Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

S3: A baby? Are you sure?

Angel: Yes. This baby is the Messiah that you have been waiting for. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

The angel leaves.

S1: Well what are we waiting for. Let’s go see this baby and sing songs of joy.

At this point the play is mostly over. There is only singing left to be done. Christmas carols or something which can include the children.

The End

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Book Review: Intellectual Morons

This was a very interesting book. The premise is that people are often blinded by ideology. The author gives copious examples of this phenomenon and they are sometimes shocking. I will spare you some of the more graphic ones and simply advise anyone to read this work. Here is a brief summary of what ideology will make people do. 1) People will lie to promote their ideology. 2) People will ignore evidence which is counter to their ideology. 3) People will attack anyone who does not agree with their ideology. 4) College campuses are rife with various ideologies.

It made me examine my own thoughts and leanings to wonder if I too follow some ideology without knowing it. After all, I went to college and could have been conditioned to believe something in spite of facts. After some interpersonal inspection however, I do not believe that I blindly follow an ideology for a few reasons. 1) I recognized and challenged several ideologies in college. 2) I loath lying and strongly value honesty. 3) I change my mind too often. If I find flaw in something I am doing or embracing I accept that it is flawed. I regularly find fault in books that I am inclined to like, people I am inclined to listen to, and especially important, my own speech, thoughts and actions.

Over all it is a good book which further encouraged me to promote independent thinking in my classroom, at whatever the cost.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Reading Zhivago

I decided around this time last year that I wanted to read Dr. Zhivago. My motivation was two fold. Firstly, I was a Russian linguist and strongly desired to read some of the Russian classics that are so famous even today. Secondly, I came to believe that this book held some sort of key to understanding the dysfunction that plagues my family on my mother's side. You see, my grandmother and grandfather are still alive, as are their three children and four? grandchildren. They are divorced, and have been since before I was born. They have not spoken to each other in decades. Perhaps that is understandable. Their three children however, also do not speak to each other. Strange. Furthermore, my grandmother does not speak to either of her two sisters. Stranger still. Of my grandparents three children, only one speaks to each of them. My uncle does not wish to speak to either myself or my sister so I have not heard from him or his two children in a while. I have never met my grandfather. Get the picture? Probably.
So how does Dr. Zhivago factor in. Shockingly, many of these people who do not talk to each other love Dr. Zhivago. My uncle implored me to read it years ago when we were communicating on a regular basis, claiming it was a masterpiece, and one of his favorite books. My mother then explained once that she loves the movie passionately. Lastly I discovered that my grandmother also loves the movie. Well that was enough for me. If three people who strongly dislike each other (I don't want to use the word hate) to the point of completely ignoring their existence, all love the same story, then I figured reading it would help me understand something about my family.

So what about Dr. Zhivago? It took me nearly a year to read it. Not because I was too busy, but because it was too slow. In the end I too came to embrace the work as a masterful, but I was not convinced until page 500 (the book is 500 pages long). The story is very disjointed early on and is difficult to follow given the Russian tradition of calling a person by the various diminutives of their name. At one point I believed there to be another Dr. working with Zhivago, only to find out it was him all along. Off the top of my head, he was called: Zhivago, Yuri, Yurochka, Yura, Yuri Andreivich, and perhaps even a couple of others. It was confusing. The prose is beautiful. Pasternak (the author) can describe a scene that had me not only visualizing, but also hearing, smelling and sometimes even tasting it. There is very little action however. So little that it made reading the book difficult. It had me wondering if nothing ever happened in Russia.

But did it help me understand my family? Yes and No. At a superficial level I could not see why they would all love the book. On a deeper level however, I wonder if it is because the tragic (and it is fully tragic) story of Zhivago in his absolute loneliness helps everyone to feel better about relational failure in the real world. Everyone Zhivago loved, and he loved a few people, were lost to him. He was left alone and he stubbornly accepted that fate. He was a character who believed himself to know what was best no matter what the circumstances or who he was with (another characteristic of my family). So maybe these things are enlightening. Or maybe I am looking for a connection where one does not exist.

Perhaps it will require reading the book again to truly understand what the connection is. Unfortunately that is not likely to happen in this decade.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Vacation is over

As a teacher I get a lot of time off. Every time, it seems, someone asked about when I was going back to work I got a sarcastic response. It got old but finally I am going back to work Monday. I am a little sad because I got a lot of things done over the break. I worked on the Sureshot some more, read four books and wrote two Easter dramas. Speaking of which, I had the honor of watching the Christmas drama I wrote which was in the form of a musical. It pushed me a bit to write song lyrics, and ultimately I feel as though I failed to write lyrics as a couple of the men at my church who are musical had to significantly alter them in order to make the end product worthwhile. Still, it was a fun project and I loved watching it. It is somewhat of an nerve racking process because I have a vision of how the play should look and yet the end product is out of my immediate control. This is the second one that I wrote then watched and both were pleasing. I even feel a bit guilty because it seems I have the easy part--writing. The acting, staging, memorizing of lines and all the other things that go into a play are far more difficult in my estimation. I can't bring myself to be honest when people congratulate me on the success of the production then inquire about how long it took me to write. I have written such things in a few hours, but I think people expect me to say days, weeks, or even months. I am not sure, perhaps I should investigate. Anyways, look for a series of posts this month as I share all of the "work" I was able to do while I wasn't working.