Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Chinese Fortune

Blue Bay Asian Cafe - good food, invitingly priced and a lyrical name that breezily floats past your tongue. We eat there a lot. It's close. We can walk from our townhome, gorge ourselves on Asian delights, take home as much as we ate and still and call it exercise. My fortune cookie dispenses a lucky lottery number, a Mandarin word-of-the-day and sage advice like "I see a cookie in your future."

But recently my fortune cookie advised,
I saved that one.

Soon after, I received an email with bad news.  The Namibian government denied our application for permanent residency. We were shocked. We were sure we'd done enough to gain that coveted residency status. What now? My eyes wandered across my desk and spied the slip, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams."  That's what we're doing. We're applying for short-term business visas and will travel back to Namibia in a few weeks.  Then we'll apply for a renewal of our work permits.

Our African tale marches on. Shortly after the book ended, we received a two-year work permit and applied for permanent residency to stabilize our future. It seems God still loves trust more than stability.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Radio Chat with God

Steve Brown hijacked God's voice, or so it seems. His deep, calm, reassuring tones conjure up an image of how I want God to sound. I recently chatted with Steve on his radio talk show, Steve Brown etc.

Steve first read my book in manuscript form.  His exuberance over a bowl of oatmeal couldn't have come at a better time.  I'd been ignored by several publishers and snubbed by dozens of agents. I was discouraged.  But he loved the book and strongly urged me to continue my quest. His encouragement kept me moving forward.

Steve refers to himself as "the old white guy, a broadcaster,  and seminary professor who's sick of religion." He's a refreshing breeze in a desert of holy people who think too much of themselves. Chatting with him was a joy I'd like to share with you.

Here's the link.

I hope you enjoy the chat as much as I did.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Good Life

Good Life 45

A few days later I taped a TV interview with Channel 45, WTGL in Orlando for their show, The Good Life.  The host, Barbara Beck, even wore a zebra print in honor of my visit. It never ceases to amaze me how interested Americans are about African topics, especially about animals. I wanted to talk about the book and our ministry in Africa.  Barbara wanted to talk about cobras in our garden.  Still, it was good exposure for the book. You can view the video by clicking on the link below:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lemonade - 5 cents

Once again, I leapt into lion country without a whip or chair. I had a product, but how should I sell it? I needed a lemonade stand. I decided on a book signing at Northland Church. It's been my church home since 1978.  I've been an elder since 1984 and a pastor since 1990.  People know me and most even like me.  Even better the church asked me to preach at several services the week before the official launch. For anyone interested, click here to view the sermon I preached about God's view of the rich and the poor:

I set up my lemonade stand in the church foyer.  I had books, a pen and a PayPal Here gizmo for taking card payments.  What more could I ask for?  I preached and then sold books.  All told, I hosted 8 book signing events over a two-week period and sold hundreds of books.  I was off to a good start.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Delivery

My baby beat me by 15 minutes. When the publisher learned I was speaking in Orlando on March 9, he rushed me an advance shipment of books a week before the official book launch.  I came from Denver. My books came from Illinois. We met in Orlando on March 8, but I missed the delivery by just a few minutes. So I held my baby for the first time in a warehouse.

The camera failed to capture the moment.  It was several years from conception to birth. It had been a tumultuous, cancer-filled labor. Still the baby arrived safe and sound, and quite lovely in the father's humble opinion.

For the first time, I held the physical manifestation of my dream. Photos can't show the joy of a life-long dream coming true.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

2 Minutes till Showtime

"Let's print it." Those words came as a shock. It was time to show the world my up-till-then invisible dream. After years of thinking, shaping, stalling, writing, editing and polishing, it was showtime.

"Wait, wait, let me look it over one more time." I'd read the book a hundred times. Several others had edited it to the bone. Still, the thought of others reading an imperfect presentation urged me to read through it one more time. I was shocked to find 33 typographical errors.  How could that happen?  Worse, if I found that many mistakes, almost certainly other blemishes were hiding in plain sight.

But I took a leap and sent it to the printer anyway - with a nostalgic sigh, almost like releasing your child to her first day of school. You knew all along the day was coming, but you fearfully wonder if the rest of the world will love and care for her as you do.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Birth Announcement

The wait was over; birth was imminent. The printer would soon deliver 3000 books.  People need to know! Kudu Publishing would handle ads and press releases for the normal distribution channels, but I wanted to sell books directly through my own social and professional networks. But how?  How could readers buy directly from me?  I needed an online presence for taking orders and payments.  Should I hire someone to build a website? Should I outsource the sales to an established online bookseller?  Should I start a blog?  I had no idea, but I had to do something. Lots of options with lots of trade-offs. As you can see, I settled on a blog and began learning how to build one. Bloggone it, the first day was frustrating.

Pages?          Posts?         Templates?        Feeds?      Page Views?

Even the help pages and tutorials were filled with new jargon. The learning curve reminded me that my imagined brilliance was just that - imaginary.  Taking payments presented more options and more confusion:

ACH?   Merchant account?   Payment gateway?   PCI compliance?

But I persevered and sooner than I thought possible, my book's birth announcement was floating through cyberspace.  Now I needed to create a buzz to draw folks to my blog.

Name  -  The Leap: Living the Life you Dream About

Weight  - 12.2 ounces

Height  -  8.5 inches

Born  -  March 18, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Birthing classes

I met Matt at IHOP.  What better place to discuss The Leap than a place with HOP in it's name. I felt like Dorothy standing before the Wizard.  She knew nothing of wizardry other than the wizard knew the way back to Kansas. I knew nothing about publishing but Matt and Kudu Publishing did. He held the key to ink. Matt was a regular guy. He patiently answered my questions and established credibility. I'd found a partner willing to co-publish The Leap.

Finding a publisher felt like birthing classes for me.  I'd been dreaming of having this baby for years, but the process was scary and potentially painful. Like birthing classes, Matt explained what was about to happen in a way that alleviated my apprehension. In the ensuing weeks, we dealt with contracts, costs, book covers, author biography, back cover text, type fonts, photos, textual corrections and a myriad of other publishing details occurring after the author thinks he's done.

My first peek at the book cover design was like a baby's first sonogram.  Until then, it was still a dream.  Seeing the cover breathed life into my manuscript. My decades-long dream was about to happen.  I loved the cover at first sight. It oozed Africa and at a glance, summed up the message of the book.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Don't Cruise the Amazon

Amazon River Taxi
The Amazon's a great river.  It's an even better bookstore.  I love it. I shop there all the time. But please don't buy my book there.  At least not yet.  When you buy on Amazon, Amazon gets paid. The distribution house they buy from gets paid. The publisher gets paid. Several shipping companies get paid. Others I don't even know  get paid.  Many months later, I'll get something if there's any left. When you buy the book directly from me (in person or on-line), I get paid. You pay the same either way, but I'll get many times more if you buy direct.

I've personally foot the bill for the publishing costs. I cleaned out savings, checking and my cookie jar to help my book find ink. After Mom, family and my friends buy the book, I'll be delighted for strangers to buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and dozens of other retail book outlets.  But for now, please don't cruise the Amazon. Buy from me online.

Here's how.  Go to my blog. You're probably already there. There's a menu bar below the acacia tree.  No it doesn't serve drinks. Click on BUY. Click on the PayPal "Buy Now" button. It's that simple. If you aren't yet a PayPal member, you can sign up right there. It's easy and quick. As a PayPal user, you're much more secure as an online buyer.

I'm delighted Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores sell my book to those who don't know me. But you're my friends and I need to get my investment money back. Thanks for understanding and get ready for an African adventure. You want to read The Leap. I know you do. Right now.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Down at the Waterhole

Now what? Was my book-writing dream just a pipe dream? Hardly. I'd told the story well and its message was significant and timely.  Once again, I went looking for advice.  Rob Andrescik fed me pig and suggested self-publishing. I'd need a book cover and interior proofs; I knew people who did that. I'd need an ISBN and eBook formats. The design person did that too. I'd need someone to help me find a printer and negotiate costs. I knew an excellent book broker. About that time I listened to Robert Young's story of self-publishing The Shack. He'd sold 6 million copies and the book was still climbing. Let's roll.

Months later, I was still stalled.  The people I needed weren't available. Once again, Rob's encouragement got me going.  Had I considered co-publishing?  Consider it? I didn't even know what it was.  He explained I'd still have to fund most of the production and printing costs, but the publisher would guide the process and help me market the book once printed.  It sounded fine since even traditional publishers rely heavily on the author to promote and sell his book anyway.

Rob sent me to Matt Green and Kudu Publishing. What could be better; an African antelope for an African tale. After many obstacles and delays, the path toward publication opened before me. Who knew.  I went thirsty to the waterhole and found a kudu.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In Search of Ink

Now what?.  I'd written the manuscript and scrubbed it squeaky clean.  Now I needed a publisher. Thousands of books die at this point each year. The unpublished book cemetery is huge: so many writers, so few publishers. Don't bother sending unsolicited manuscripts. Their recycling bins are already full. Unless an agent recommends you, editors won't give your work a first glance.  I went looking for an agent.

I wrote a book proposal.  I emailed it to dozens of potential agents.  I pondered the sounds of silence as my mailbox rusted shut. I knew this rejection was coming, but it still hurt. My only response came a year later from an agent who advised a complete rewrite before she would consider representing me. What now?

I signed up for a writers conference.  That felt good. Communing with fellow writers might reveal a new plan.  I'd learn more about the book industry.  I'd receive valuable pointers for finding ink.  Agents also come to these conferences.  They let you practice pitching your book to them.

My first conference was a disappointment. Successful writers tell hopeful writers why they haven't much chance being published. They attempt humility, but it sounds like gloating. Agents advise not wasting their time with unmarketable offerings. Before agents salivate, writers must build a solid marketing platform : speaking engagements, website, blog, social media, newsletters, media interviews. Holy macaroni! I thought the publisher did that for you.

The only consolation was meeting lots of budding authors, all in search of publishers ink.  We cried in each other's beer and went home discouraged.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Walking the Dog

I finished my editing while recovering from surgery. I’d not only completed a life-long dream, I was proud of it. I was ready to take my book puppy for a walk in the park.  People would tell me how cute and handsome he was.  I’d smile humbly on the outside and feel like a genius within.

I sent my friend, Eva Marie Everson, the first few chapters.  She’s an accomplished writer with a long string of published works. “What a cute puppy,” she remarked politely.  Then she reminded me puppies make messes and messes require cleanup. She pointed out my bad writing habits.  “Go through the manuscript and surgically remove the word ‘that.’ Most sentences don’t need it; excess baggage.”  So I spent days performing ‘that-ectomies.’

Then I showed the manuscript to Dave Greek.  He’s an English professor and a good enough friend to be brutally honest about my puppy.  Since I’d removed the thats, he blistered me for over-using the word ‘it.’  He claimed that lazy writers say ‘it’ when they should be more descriptive.  So I spent several more days performing ‘it-ectomies.’

And on it  (editing changes) went for weeks.  My manuscript contained more red than a pitcher of Kool-aid.  Genius fled; I started feeling like the amateur writer I was.  Every page reminded me that my puppy needed a bath.

My book and I both underwent surgery. I lost a tumor and became a better writer.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Freeing the Engineer

Writing Sunset Roma Italy Italia - Creative Commons by gnuckx (4276946305)
I didn't edit as I wrote. I just kept planting new chapters.  I feared the loss of momentum. Even more, I feared the loss of creativity. The unfettered artist writes in a wild flourish, but the meticulous engineer cleans up the mess.  They have completely different brains.  I feared the engineer would kill the artist if I tried to shift hats along the way.  I valued passion over precision.  So I tied and gagged the editor and threw him in the closet.

When the artist finished his canvas, he loosed the engineer and fell into bed.  The engineer rubbed his unused muscles and sprang into action. He'd been planning while the artist splattered words. He sharpened his knife and whacked away at word fat. Less is more when constructing a sentence.  He shook his head at awkward phrasing and tightened the prose. He re-engineered paragraphs to help the reader understand.  He fixed typos and bad grammar while marveling at the artist's sloppiness.

He fixed words faster than the artist had created them. The engineer fixed a chapter a day and declared it very good. The artist shook his head and took another nap.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Go Ahead and Peek

August Müller Tagebucheintrag
 Remember when diaries were private? It was bad form to peek.  Now we publish our secrets in blogs and invite the world to stare.  That's what a blog is; a peek-able diary. Some blogs - mine included - even invite people to leave comments.  So go ahead - peek in my blog and then leave tracks. How cool is that?

I'm currently blogging about writing my first book; shamelessly begging my friends to follow my blog by entering their email address in the box to the right. I'm secretly hoping they'll buy the book when it comes out, but for now I'll settle for followers who comment. I mean, really, even TSA leaves a note when they rummage through your undies.

So far, that hasn't happened much. A good friend called yesterday with a possible reason why:

FRIEND:  Your blog is unfriendly. It says "No Comments" at the bottom of each post.  Why not?
LON:        Why not what?
FRIEND:   Why won't you let me comment?
LON:         You can comment; I want you to comment.
FRIEND:   But you clearly state that you don't want any -  see it says "No Comments"
LON:        That just means no one has commented yet.
FRIEND:   Why didn't you just say so?
LON:         Sigh

Maybe it isn't as clear as I'd hoped. Here's how you tell me what you really think.  Point your mouse to the word "Comments;" then left-click.  A very friendly little box will pop up and let you comment on my latest craziness. Of course if I think you're being too nasty, I might just censor you. I have that power.      (Smile)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Books Need Titles

I can't name things.  My first puppy arrived in the mid-60's.  I held a contest and the winning entry was Ringo. What can I say, the Beatles were the craze.  I later got a cat and named it Kitty. Then we adopted a dog mainly because he already had a name.  If my wife let me name the kids, they'd be A and B.  I know my limits.

Still my book needed a title.  Titles are huge for books.  Without a title how could the library file it? How could the New York Times dub it a bestseller?  Something has to go on the cover. Honestly, without an intriguing title no one but your mother will give your book a passing glance.  You've got 3 seconds to sell your book. If the title doesn't hook potential readers, your book is dead-on-arrival.

So titles are huge and I can't name things.  Great combination. I'm a reader. What do I like?  I like short, intriguing titles, like The Shack.  How about The Jump? The book encouraged taking risks.  It encouraged readers to jump off the porch.  I had a working title.  It wasn't great, but a beginning. Eventually I realized the book wasn't asking readers to jump off the porch, but leap off a cliff.  The Leap - a title I could live with.

Google revealed many other authors liked that title too.  I needed a subtitle.  The book was about walking by faith into an adventurous, but uncertain future.  So I dubbed it, The Leap: One Man's Journey into Faith.  It wasn't quite there. Maybe that's what publishers do; replace your crappy title with something that snaps.  Then it hit me.  My title broke writing's cardinal rule: it portrayed the writer's point of view rather than the readers.  What benefit will the reader get from reading my book?  The Leap: Living the Life you Dream About. That's been its name ever since.

Hope you like it; otherwise I'm calling it Book A.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Everyone knows the writing process 'cause writers love to write about it.  When creative juices are flowing, words pour out like flood waters. It's quite a ride.  Then some damn beaver dams up the word stream. Most call it writer's block; I call it "Beaver Season."  The river dries up. Nothing worth reading flows downstream. Until cancer, I'd been locked in Beaver Season for years.

Then Gollum showed up.  What better name for a gray, slimy tumor who lurks in the dark regions of your body. While he hated me and wanted me dead, he also came bearing gifts.  One of the most "precious" was beaver dam dynamite.  I could no longer wait for the dam to disappear, I had to blow it up. Healthy people can postpone dreams for decades; sick people better Get-R-Done. With Gollum's involuntary assistance, I blew up the dam and started writing like there might be no tomorrow. I had my deadline.

"I don't feel like writing today."  Boom. Get-R-Done.

"The words won't come; try again tomorrow.  Kaboom. Get-R-Done.

"I need to do something else today."  No you don't; Boom - KaboomGet-R-Done.

Writers fail to realize they build their own dams and blame it on the beavers.  Gollum blew up my beaver dam and taught me the discipline of writing.  Writing is hard work, even for gifted writers.  Words don't come easy.  On a good day, I can only write 6 pages that I've got the guts to ask someone else to read. On a normal day, I'll crank out 4 pages of worthwhile prose.  On bad days, I'd produce zilch. But not any more.  Gollum showed up with more dynamite and whoops there goes another beaver dam site.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Alternative Therapies

Cancer is crazy.  Since there's no medical cure, alternative therapies abound. I crafted a few of my own; not as a cure, but rather as an emotional coping device.  They both worked wonders, keeping my mind off of death, surgery, and its nasty after effects.

Writing Therapy
Writing the book distracted me.  I love to write and lose myself when writing.  Everything else disappears including my cares and worries. So I got up early and worked on the book for six or seven hours each morning and early afternoon.  But I also blogged about my cancer. Blogging helped me find the funny side of cancer and laughing about it soothed me.  You can read my musings at:


Baseball Therapy
I love baseball.  I was 6 when I fell for America's pastime and I still swoon at the sound of a bat hitting a ball.  The Cincinnati Reds are my team.  But being in Denver for treatment, the Colorado Rockies were more accessible.  At least they share the same initials as the Reds.  So I attended baseball games in the afternoons and evenings. It helped that my son-in-law works for the Rockies. I watched the Reds online when the Rockies were out of town.

All things considered, it was Lon's excellent adventure.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Unwelcome Blessing

The pain I'd been experiencing turned out to be cancer. The Namibian surgeon who discovered it strongly advised I return to the States for treatment. So I traveled to the States a month earlier than planned. As I contemplated the after effects of chemo, my plans for a writing retreat appeared to being evaporating. I left immediately and Val stayed behind to prepare the team for our extended absence. The stateside biopsy revealed GIST (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor), a rare form of cancer that doesn't respond to traditional chemotherapy, but does respond to a targeted chemotherapy pill that I began taking with minimum side effects. Eventually the tumor would have to be surgically removed, but the immediate plan was to let the pill shrink my tumor as much as possible.  (Read more about GIST)

I jumped into writing with a vengeance. I finally had the necessary deadline, with "dead" being more than figurative language. Finish the book before cancer kills me. I no longer had years or decades to finish my dream. I had to finish now; I no longer had the luxury of procrastination.

In a strange way, cancer became a blessing. It gave me:

  • Reality check. - life is tenuous; squeeze each day for all it can give. 
  • Motivation - to write, although not in a way I would have wished. 
  • Urgency - write now; tomorrow may never come.
  • More Chapters – my already interesting story just got bigger. 
I used the cards God dealt me to build discipline into my writing. I buried myself into my book. It was therapeutic.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Fizzle Factor

I stopped writing.  I don't know why. I gave excuses, but I knew they weren't valid.  My stimulus in starting petered out before my fire for finishing kicked in.  I began with power in my pen, but it fizzled before I developed a writing discipline. I write best in the morning, the time when other work also comes calling.  My  shared office was a pregnant passageway without doors. If people weren't interrupting me, I distracted myself by eavesdropping on them.  My habitat discouraged creativity, and I wasn't doing anything about it.

Months elapsed between the second and third chapters.  Then months grew into years.  The story continued unfolding, but I wasn't telling it.  In 2006, we started adding staff members.  I filled my time with training and oversight. Other staff left, leaving work that needed attention.  Then 2008 became the year of many crises, including some nagging pains that wouldn't go away.  In fact, they got worse.  It's all in the book, but I couldn't write about it then.  I struggled physically and emotionally.  I had nothing left for writing.

I convinced myself that 2009 would be the Year of the Book, but by April, I hadn't penned a single word. I needed a writing retreat away from Africa where I could focus on writing the book.  I planned to spend June and July in Denver.  I would write every day as a discipline, without interruptions.  It was perfect. I was excited.  It seemed too good to be true  . . .  and it was.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Keep the End in Mind

My German genes require a structured approach to everything, including writing.  I can't meander aimlessly down a path; I need to know where I'm going.  I need to write with the end in mind.  I needed  structure for my book, a detailed outline.

Before the outline, I had to wrestle with a basic structural decision.  I wanted to tell the story of our life in Africa.  But I'm also a teacher to the core of my being, and I wanted to teach about destiny, purpose and faith.  Should the story be inserted as illustrations in the midst of a teaching, or should the teaching be inserted into the flow of the story? Ultimately I chose story as the skeletal structure upon which I hung some suggestions about finding and following one's purpose in life.  Why?  Everyone likes a story, but few people enjoy being told how to live their lives.

So with that decision made, I tore up the outline I'd originally jotted on my way to the Congo. I started anew. I broke our story into bite-sized chapters and gave each one a short title. It served as both structure and motivation as I approached the discipline of writing.  Twenty chapters.  Write the first chapter; check.  Write the second; check.  This is easy.  The book will be finished in record time. Or so I thought . . .

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spurt of Creativity

I quickly wrote the prologue.  I was tempted to edit it, but resisted.  I didn't want to stifle my creativity.  Instead, I plunged into chapter one.  Again, I faced the first-sentence challenge.  I wanted more intrigue than the prologue's "I love adventure." And I wanted punch.  

Inspired by Dickens,  I penned "Everything was fine, but nothing felt right."  I liked it; much later I still like it.  It depicted my emotional state on the threshold of my adventure, and it created the cognitive dissonance needed to push the reader into the hearing of it.      The rest of the chapter spilled onto the screen as thoughts and emotions tumbled over each other. Don't edit, keep writing.  I described my inner turmoil in much detail, the yearning for more of life than I was getting.

My search for identity and a larger story led me to Africa.  Another good chapter start. It was a bit long (I like to keep opening sentences to 10 words or less), but for some reason the word Africa intrigues people. The words still flowed like a river filled with Spring rains. I was writing about a pivotal time in my life, and the memory was still fresh many years later. Maybe I could write a book after all.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Imaginary Roadblock

Fear is a dream killer.  Your dream sits fine as long as it stays a dream.  But as soon as you commit to putting feet to your dream, fear sets in.  What if I really can't do this?  Writing a newsletter is an easy sprint, but writing a book is a marathon.  What if I don't have what it takes? Dreams in action are dangerous and scary.

So I waited several months before writing the first sentence.  After all, the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first chapter are the most important parts of the book.  If the first sentence is boring, the reader may never taste the second.  If the first paragraph is predictable, the reader fails to turn the page.  If the first chapter isn't inspiring, the reader quits and finds a movie.

So I searched for the perfect opening, calling it "waiting on inspiration" rather than fear of failure.  The first sentence has to have punch, interest and intrigue.  It is the hook in the reader's mind.  Short sentences that say something interesting have power.  I wanted a short, powerful opening. Look at the first sentence to this blog for an example.  I wrote and rejected hundreds of them.  All of them fell just short of perfection.  I was stalling.

I love adventure.

It wasn't perfect, but it was short.  It might make the reader wonder what kind of adventure I loved. Would that be enough for motivation for a second sentence?

Several years ago, our family drove the bushveldt of Etosha National Park, in search of African game.

Americans are intrigued with African animals, right?  I even used the Dutch spelling of bushveldt to add more spice.  Voila!  I'd started.  Two sentences and the book felt like it was half done.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Conception

The book was conceived on an airplane somewhere between Johannesburg and Kinshasa.  As a boy, fueled by Tarzan and Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the Congo represented the ultimate adventure.  I was going to teach a leadership workshop on the banks of the Congo River, but more than that, I'd be walking into fantasy land, the source of many boyhood dreams.  Even more, Val and I had been living that adventure for several years in Namibia.  I realized that I'd accumulated enough stories.  It was time to write my book.

In an instant, my book-writing dream morphed into a concept.  I'd  invite readers into the drama and emotions of the African adventure my wife and I'd been experiencing for several years.  But I'd also share the lessons we'd learned from that fairy tale existence.  I'd share the excitement, the humor, the tears and the terror.  Late in our lives, we'd traded the safety of the rocking chair for an adventurous uncertainty, falling headlong into our destiny.  It was a story worth telling.

I put away the book I'd been reading and began outlining chapters for what turned into The Leap: living the life you dream about.  My wishing star no longer just twinkled; it blazed a trail across the sky.

The Wishing Star

"I can write."  It wasn't a sudden epiphany, but rather an emerging realization. I had the ability to put words on paper in such a way that people understood and enjoyed them.  It didn't take long for a dream to emerge: "I want to write a book someday." I had no idea what the book would be about. It didn't matter. I had talent and I wanted to display it. Dreams don't have to be specific.  Novel? Memoir? It didn't matter. I wished upon that star and it kept me warm at night.

Then came college, marriage and the baby carriage. The star still twinkled in the dark regions of my mind, but practical realities, parenting,  and career screamed for attention.  Over the years, many who read my musings would comment, "You should write a book" and the star would wink at me.  Maybe later once I'd learned something about life and gathered enough stories.

Then we moved to Africa.  Life became scary and exciting, and the stories mounted.  People kept saying, "I hope you're writing this down.  It would make a great book."  I was. Writers write, it's what we do.  We record life in journals just in case ...