Monday, December 31, 2007

First Take . . .

A few years ago, I bought a software program that is basically a digital 32 track recorder. Well . . . I just figured out how to convert the recorded files to mp3 format.

This is my first shot at making a recording ( in other words, it's a little rough). I'm playing two guitars here-dubbed of course.

No pressure - I'm not fishing for compliments here. But I would like some help in naming this piece. So if you listen to it and a title comes to mind, please leave a comment.

Friday, December 28, 2007

For Writer's Only . . .

One problem I've had with my manuscript is explaining Cajun sayings and unique aspects of the setting without violating p.o.v.

For example: Louisiana has Parishes, not Counties. I decided that since my characters would have no reason to ponder this fact I would not explain - beyond the context - to the reader what a Parish is. However, a publisher who - God bless 'em - read my entire manuscript has suggested that I explain to the reader what a Parish and other unique aspects of the setting are. So I did. But I can't help but think that it violates one of the "Don't's" of writing. Of course, if the publisher wants it - they get it.

Consider this excerpt from Dean Koontz's The Darkest Evening of The Year:

----"How did your parents meet, anyway? Working on a whaling ship? Blubber and ambergris and love at first sight? Hey, did Mookie meet with Janet Brockman yet?"
----Mukai Chiboku--Mookie to his friends--was Dani's husband and Golden Heart's attorney.
----"He's going to handle her divorce pro bono," Dani said. "The little boy and girl half broke his heart."

Would you consider this (the second paragraph) author intrusion?

Btw, notice that he uses italics and the word "was". Both of which I find completely acceptable. Without the italics, that sentence reads differently. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holydays!

I noticed that more store employees told me "Merry Christmas" this year. That gets two big thumbs up from me.

Now I know some Christians don't think we shouldn't get so worked up about this issue. So what if they want to say "Happy Holidays"? We shouldn't force Christmas on anyone. Well, I certainly agree with that. But there is something deeper going on here that does bother me.

It doesn't bother me if someone tells me "Happy Holidays". What bothers me is that they are purposefully not telling me "Merry Christmas".

You see, in reality, this is not about Christmas. This is about Christ. Christmas means Christ's day or Christ's Mass.

There is a strategy of incrementalism in play. Those who want to push Jesus out of our culture know they can't do it in one fell swoop. They have to do it one seemingly unnoticeable small push at a time. They are exceedingly patient. It works because on each small issue the response is "so what? Why quibble over this?" And, after a thousand 'so what's, they have their fell swoop.

Today, they want to do away with 'Merry Christmas'. But they won't stop there because that's not their goal. They are thinking long term. Their next target will be 'Happy Holidays'.

Don't believe me? Just remember - Holiday means Holy day.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Nativity Story . . .

If you haven't seen the movie yet, I highly recommend it. I'm surprised it didn't do better at the box office.

One of the things I took away from it was the importance of having the mother of John the Baptist (Elizabeth) and Mary be related.

Elizabeth's miracle (she was barren) was obvious. This not only gave Mary comfort, but an ally who believed her claim. I'm sure no one else did. An Angel had to convince Joseph. But, how could Elizabeth deny Mary's virgin miracle while her own miracle was growing inside her, not to mention leaping in her womb at the presence of Mary.

side note: John the Baptist's strength to fulfill his role has always impressed me. He seemed much stronger in his faith than the disciples did. Well, there's a reason:

". . . Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. " -Luke 1:13-15

That's right - John the Baptist had the Holy Spirit from birth. The disciples did not receive until the day of Pentecost. These men could do nothing alone but doubt. And they lived with Jesus. Saw His miracles. When Jesus was taken and crucified, they ran from Him and even denied Him. But with the gift of the Holy Spirit, these ordinary men changed the World.

Aren't you glad the Holy Spirit is ours for the asking? Aren't you glad we don't have to do anything alone?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Creative detour . . .

I took a much needed mental break from writing and finally got around to painting again.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

On the pain of losing a loved one . . .

Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.

Excerpt from Dean Koontz's The Darkest Evening of the Year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Another note on The Mist . . .

I thought I was going crazy. During one scene a firetruck passed by. On the door it read "Caddo Parish Fire . . ." It couldn't be. Caddo Parish is in Louisiana. The movie is set in Maine.

Well, sure enough. I wasn't seeing things. The movie was filmed in Caddo Parish. (near Shreveport).

I guessed they figured only people from Louisiana would notice, but it wouldn't have taken much to put a magnetic sign over the Caddo Parish part.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

2 hours and 5 minutes of my life . . .

. . . I'll never get back. What a waste. I can't help but think of all better ways I could have used that time.

I could have . . .

1. . . . worked on my second novel.
2. . . . put together another care package for the troops.
3. . . . run a chemical analysis of Spam.
4. . . . stared at that weird stain on the ceiling.
5. . . . watched the paint on my living room wall get old.
6. . . . reorganized my sock drawer.
7. . . . appealed the restraining order issued at Sandra Bullock's request. (I'm sure she didn't mean it.)
8. . . . shoved bamboo under my fingernails.
9. . . . nibbled on a Krispy Kreme donut for 2 hours 5 minutes.
10. . . . finally informed the world I've solved the Unified Field Theory which Einstein tried unsuccessfully for decades to find. My new theory model finally incorporates Einstein's theory of general relativity with quantum physics and quantum electrodynamics into one unified framework using nothing more than a matchstick, a bottle of Rogaine, and a video tape of a specific MacGuyver episode.

What did I do instead? I went see film: The Mist.

Easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Horrible script. Bad acting. Bad dialogue. The characters made some incredibly weird, unbelievable, odd, and stupid choices. The reason for the "mist" was never adequately explained. Terrible ending. I cannot overstate this enough.

Most of the movie consisted of the characters standing around engaging in some of the worst dialogue I've ever had the misfortune to sit through. I had to convince myself not to leave several times. "Wait till the ending." I told myself. It'll save it.

Well - - - It didn't.

Wanna watch a better, similar movie? Rent Dean Koontz's Phantoms. It ain't great, but it's a masterpiece compared to this garbage.

I want a refund.

It's okay to give up . . .

Isn't that what Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino are teaching with their example.

How can they convince their college players (students) not to give up in the face of adversity? I wouldn't want my son playing for either one of these quitters.

"Hey coach, I don't think I can do it," demoralized player said.
"You want to succeed? It takes hard work and commitment. Now, you get out there do your job. Your teammates are counting on you," Coach Saban or Petrino said.
"Why? You quit your job. You didn't work harder or follow through on your commitment. So why should I?"

I know this is a little off the norm for this blog, but this is a good reminder of what reveals character. It's easy to handle success. Saban and Petrino get A's there, but most of us would. But true character is revealed in how one handles adversity. Personally, I give them both an F.

Monday, December 10, 2007

An Argument Against Arguing . . .

Did you like the alliteration?

There is a such thing as genuine confidence but most of the time confidence is a purposeful exudation-acting sort of like a defense mechanism. This mechanism is ignited and morphs into pride when someone is challenged in a debate. But the unfortunate truth is all debate inherently falls into this category. That is why no debate ever results in one side affecting a change in the other side. Debates are meant to sway the audience, not the participants.

In other words: debating an atheist will never result in winning him over to your side. And vice versa.

You can't argue someone to change their position. The only way to convince someone to change their mind on an issue is to present the information in such a way that they can claim to have come to the conclusion on their own.

This can only happen if there is a respectful exchange of ideas. And most importantly, there can be no perceived judgemental or superior attitude.

I have known a couple of Christians who did not understand this. I call them angry Christians. They tell homosexuals in a less than socially agreeable disposition: "You're a sinner and your going to hell." Do you really think the homosexual will reply "I see your point. Please help me develop a relationship with Christ."

I know this is an extreme example, but almost any comment will ignite the same defense mechanism. Please note that I'm speaking of face to face interaction. You can certainly write a book where you present the case that the Bible does preach against homosexuality. It still must be done with respect and love toward those who engage in that activity. It should also remind them that Jesus loves everyone and gave His life so that no man shall perish. Even atheists and homosexuals.

The angry Christian should realize that they have something in common with everyone they focus their intense scowl on -- all have sinned and all are sinners.

Want to help bring a homosexual, atheist, or ANYONE to Christ? Become their friend. Show them the same love and understanding that God afforded you. Despite your sins. Despite your continuing sins.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Need a professional editor, but . . .

don't know who to trust?

Well, it ain't me.

But, I highly recommend my friend, Donna Fleisher. Besides having four published novels, she's also a freelance editor. Check it out here: I'll Read It.

I can personally testify that every word you read on her site is true. How do I know? Because I'm not just pretending to be the president of her company for this joke, I'm also a client. She delivers exactly what she promises and the best part is you won't have to mortgage your home to pay for it. But don't let the very low price fool you. This is a quality edit - not a hit and run. Not only does she edit your manuscript, but she also records her impressions and explanations on tape for you.

I have been to two conferences and read ten books on fiction and I can honestly say I learned more from having my work critiqued by Donna Fleisher than all of those combined.

While you're there check out her CD set: Bringing Fiction to Life. Also highly recommended by yours truly.

**side note: Don't worry, she will not try to change your voice.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Consider this . . .

Catholicism dominates South Louisiana. Our state is divided into Parishes, not counties. The ones that have Catholic names: St. Mary, Assumption ( as in the Assumption of Mary ), Ascension ( as in the Ascension of Jesus ), St Landry, St Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, and St. Tammany.

Think about how many government buildings, cars, documents have these names plastered all over them. Imagine how silly it would sound if the ACLU sued the St. John The Baptist Parish School Board for having religious references in their schools.

So much for Separation of Church and State.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Show me the Numbers . . .

It seems the biggest secret in publishing is # of copies sold.

Here's my theory: When compared to music CD's or movie DVDs, book sales are embarrassingly low. It seems the publishers take this embarrassment to heart. As though if the public found out that 40,000 books sold is a hit while 40,000 CD's sold is a bust the publishing industry may lose some of its mystique. If this is true, I find this view to be shortsighted. I believe this hurts sales.

Here's the problem: The general public believes that every name in their local bookstore is a millionaire. This is far from the truth. Most authors must keep their day jobs. Sure Stephen King and Dean Koontz are multi-multi-multi millionaires, but they are the exception not the rule.

This perception leads to the same customer apathy now running rampant in the music industry. Customers don't mind stealing "reads" because they think every author is already rich. Keep in mind - most consumers actually believe that most of the 16 bucks they spent on a book actually goes to the author. Why not let them know that this is not true?

I recently read a comment thread where a couple or more CBA authors complained about being asked how many copies of their book they have sold. They equated to being asked "How much money you make?" I don't think this is a fair analogy and I don't think the reader intends the question that way. Most readers don't know the pay structure of the publishing industry.

Besides, 40,000 copies sounds like a number I'd be proud to announce. N0, it won't make me rich, but it's 40,000 more than I've sold now.

So after I'm pubished (warning: positive thinking at work) I'll be glad to tell you how many copies I've sold.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Any book but the Bible . . .

We've all heard the scenario: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have one book, which would it be? Of course, most people say the Bible.

But let's put a twist on it. If you could only give one novel and one non-fiction book (excluding the Bible - Let's assume they have it.) to someone who's stranded on a deserted island, which would they be and why?

Here's mine:

Non-fiction: The Case for Christ by Lee Stroebel. One of the best books I've ever read. A comprehensive, very readable look at what Christians believe, the evidence for Christ's existence, the evidence for the validity of the Bible, expert and scholarly refutation of Christ's greatest detractors.

sidenote: I had a very similar idea for a book before 'TCFC' was published. I'm glad Lee wrote this one. It's far better than anything I would have done.

Fiction: Demon - A Memoir by Tosca Lee. One of the best novels I've ever read. Demon is not only entertaining, it is the clearest, most cohesive, and understandable telling of "our story" I've seen in novel form.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Adopt a Soldier Part 2 . . .

I just spent some time on This is a great site. Thanks Donna.

When you go there click on the Where to send tab. You can read e-mails from soldiers giving specific needs and request their address to send your package. Don't forget our Female soldiers. And it seems like socks are in definite need.

They also tell you how many people have asked for the address. So take some time and look for those who haven't had many responses.

I already purchased the stuff I'm sending so I browsed until someone needs matched.

There also seems to be an emphasis on personal messages. They love stuff but they also love knowing that we're behind them and we're thinking about them.

Adopt a Soldier for Christmas . . .

To my dismay, the military will not allow you to send a care package to: "Any soldier in need." You have to have a name.

The problem is I don't know anyone in Iraq. The only one I knew personally was: Sgt. Bradley Bergeron, who was killed by a roadside explosive on January 6th 2005.

I'm trying to raise money to send a few care packages during this holiday season. A care package in this case consists of things our soldiers need but normally has to pay for. Such as:

AT&T phone cards
Baby wipes and body wipes
Batteries (AA)
Dental floss
Waterless hand sanitizer
Eye drops
Saline nasal spray
Black sunglasses
Foot powder
Disposable razors
Soap (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Shampoo (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Baggies with Zip Lock
Tube Socks
"Gold Bond" type anti-fungal powders
fleece gloves, scarves and blankets
lotion (non-scented because bugs like scented items)
Lidocane 4% cream

I managed to pick up most of these items at a Dollar General for less than 30 bucks. It only costs $8.95 to ship in a flat rate box you can pick up at the post office. $30 to $40 bucks is nothing compared to the price our heroes pay in time away from their families, living in desert conditions, not to mention risking their lives.

Make this a family event. It would be a lot of fun and a great lesson for kids. Let them write a personal letter and maybe send a Christmas card and of course a big "Thank You".

***Post Addendum: Go here for info on how to help: Donna Fleisher's What we can do for them

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Books for Troops . . .

I came across this information on J.A. Konrath's website:

"Remember Doug Hansen, my friend in the military stationed in Iraq?

He's received enough books to open up the first US Library in the Middle East.

Doug thanks everyone for their generosity, as do the hundreds of troops who have gotten books thanks to your efforts.

But, believe it or not, they could still use more books. They could also use things like notebook paper, pens, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, eye drops, sun glasses, sunscreen, etc. Don't send food--it gets thrown away."

Please help bring some entertainment to our troops by sending some of your books to the following address:

Soldiers of C Co / 163 MI Bn
c/o 1SG Hansen
COB Speicher
APO AE 09393

According to J.A. Konrath's site, the postage is considered domestic so the shipping shouldn't be outrageous.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Take a Moment to Relax . . .

404 ft. Hickory Nut Falls. Chimney Rock Park, North Carolina.
Click on the photo for a closer look. To get a better idea of the scale - Look for the walkway at the foot of the falls.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Giving thanks . . .

No, this isn't really about the holidays, but it is about giving thanks to those who have supported you.

After reading Demon - A Memoir by Tosca Lee, I sent her an e-mail telling her how much I loved it. I told her Demon is now tied with Dean Koontz's Watchers as my favorite novel ever. And, to me it is a perfect example of "Christian Fiction". Demon is also the perfect example of what I hope to do with my writing. To take a Christian concept and present it in such a way to make it more understandable or reaffirming, while entertaining at the same time of course. Presenting the gospel with no condescension or patronizing tone.

She responded with a wonderful e-mail thanking me and expressing to me how my words have encouraged her. I'll never delete that e-mail and I'll never forget that she took the time to thank me in such a personal way. (Believe it or not, I have written other CBA authors to praise their work and haven't gotten even a generic response. )

But she has now gone further than that. On her blog, she has taken the time to thank those who have supported and encouraged her.

And, guess whose name is among them. That's right--Little ole me. I feel a little unworthy, but I am grateful.

Please go to this link and read the following: Toscology. If you're reading this late, you may have to scroll down to the November 18th entry.

On Being a Writer . . .

I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.

- Peter de Vries

Now that's funny.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Bible speaks . . .

Perseverance . . .

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

-James 1:2-4

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love them."

-James 1:12

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Advice for New Writers . . .

Don't worry. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the craft of writing. But I do feel I have something important to convey to those who have never been to a conference.

I have read many a new writer profess extreme anxiety at the thought of meeting with an editor or agent at a writer's conference. I totally understand this fear, but it is completely unnecessary.

I have now sat in six official meetings and a few unofficial ones with E's and A's and I can tell you that they have all - (with one exception) - been polite, easy to talk to, and very respectful. Want names? Okay, here they are in no particular order except for the first:

Becky Nesbitt - (Okay I was a little nervous for this one. How would you feel if your first encounter with a professional in the industry is the Co-Director of Fiction for Tyndale House Publishers.) But she quickly cured my nervousness with her warm personality and infectious smile. She showed genuine interest in my manuscript. We had a great conversation and she (big sigh of relief) asked for a partial.

Steve Barclift - Managing Editor - Kregel
Rod Morris - Senior Fiction Editor - NavPress
David Webb - Executive Editor - B & H
Terry Burns - Agent - Hartline
Katie Sulkowski - Agent Creative Trust
Kelly Mortimer - Agent - Mortimer Literary
Luke Hinrichs - Editor - Bethany House

If you have a meeting with any of the above - do not fear. Remember, they share your passion and they're waiting for you to talk about it.

There was one exception to the above. I sat at this one particular editor's table at a conference. He was snobbish, arrogant, and passively rude. Not to mention that he came across as an elitist. The others seated at the table all agreed on this issue. That's right, we spoke about it afterword because the experience was unusual. Want me to name him? Sorry, I can't do that. The point is: he was the exception, not the rule.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Sin - Your Sin

By Guest Blogger - Todd Dufrene

There are two types of sin in this world. Any one reading this who is a Roman Catholic would say "of course there are two types of sin, mortal sins and venial sins". I don't know about that, I've never been Roman Catholic, and I'm not much on splitting theological hairs. None the less, in my world there are two types of sin, my sins and your SINS.

You see, my sins are cute and cuddly. No big deal really. Sure they are a nuisance occasionally, but God understands. He winks at them and says "come on, you know we need to do something about this, right? Ya knuckle head". Then He sighs and rolls His eyes at me, musses my hair and grins that bemused, knowing, Ward Cleaver, 1970's-TV-sitcom-father grin. Then He goes about His fatherly duties (reading the paper and and commenting on how good dinner smells) confidant that I have learned my lesson.

Then there are your sins. Ugly, hideous, hellish atrocities that, by all rights, should bring down God's immediate wrath. Seriously, there should be a big, smoldering crater where you now stand. How dare you escape unscathed. You should be scathed ... or smote ... or something. In the Old Testament, you probably would have been stoned, or cut off from your people, or at least struck with leprosy or blindness or halitosis, or some other really nasty malady.
And yet, there you stand, apparently unmolested. What was God thinking? Did He let you off on some technicality? Was there a clerical error? Did you put one over on Him? Did His all seeing eye blink?

I can't quite wrap my mind around this one. My understanding of the coexistence of God's justice and God's mercy must not be quite perfect yet. I would love to help you see more clearly just how horrible your sins are, but I seemed to have misplaced my spectacles.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

On Writing . . .

There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are.
- Somerset Maugham

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Reflection . . .

I've always admired great poetry. To take a few words and arrange them in such a way that they speak beyond their meanings borders on tangible magic. It is a talent which I do not possess. I find my novel lacking all but a hint of poetic prose. A by-product of my "to the point" personality I guess. I have tried many times to capture a little of that magic and have fallen woefully short. The closest I've ever come is the following. Hope you enjoy.

My Reflection . . .

My reflection is someone I do not know,
my pains and anguish do not outwardly show.
Through stoic looks and smiles of joy,
the face of a man masks a little boy.

Like the hair of Sampson is the essence of I,
cut from the Spirit, my soul may go awry.
So to gather the pieces of my broken life,
I kneel before God, I call upon Christ.

And when I am made together as one,
Then my reflection I will become.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Defending Women . . .

There is a theory floating about that women will vote for Hilary Clinton simply because she is a woman and this will ensure her victory.

This is ridiculous and insulting. This implies that women don't think. This implies that women are an oppressed minority which they are not. This implies that women are not capable of being individuals, but rather they are part of a group-think, Borg-like hive waiting to blindly follow their queen. This implies that men and women are so different that they don't share the same values and ideologies.

Fact is: Women are the majority. If the group-think theory was true, Elizabeth Dole would be the most recent of a long line of women presidents. But America hasn't found its Margaret Thatcher yet. America will have a woman president when a viable candidate emerges-not because she's a she.

Something I've noticed: Most of the women I've spoken with actually prefer to have a male president. Now, this is purely anecdotal at this point, but it is an interesting dichotomy. I'd love to see a poll on the issue.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Defending the innocent . . .

I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.
~Ronald Reagan,
quoted in New York Times, 22 September 1980

Only half the patients who go into an abortion clinic come out alive.
~Author Unknown

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Talented Shall Overcome . . .

Writing a Christian novel is hard. In fact, it is the most difficult thing I've ever done. Writing a Christian worldview (or secular) novel is a lot easier, but still hard.

We are imaginative beings. Just because I'm Christian does not mean that my thoughts are infallible. I could easily write a novel full of curse words, graphic sex, and gratuitous violence all from a neutral or even anti-Christian worldview. I have an Imagination and the human mind is capable of great deprivation. I have several novels in me, but I'm not sure how many Christian novels I have in me. They are extremely difficult and require a greater talent. Time will tell if I have that greater talent.

Purposefully writing a novel that entertains or touches while carrying a Christian message while not crossing certain lines of indecency is extremely difficult. But if you intend to write Christian novels for the CBA, you are accepting the role of a ministry by default. The Bible says those who choose this path are held to a higher standard. The CBA publishers are not just publishers. They have mission statements. They view themselves as a instrument of the Gospel. As a result, they have standards. A pastor has to live and conduct himself in a manner becoming of his chosen path. He is held to a higher standard than his flock. If he fails he will be held accountable to that higher standard.

There are Christian writers who spend most of their time lamenting this fact. "The CBA are too stringent. They're not REAL enough."

I take offense to the idea that my novel isn't REAL, because I don't have the characters cursing or taking their clothes off in every scene. My novel contains implied child molestation, abuse, and murder. But I don't have to go into explicit detail to make these situations REAL. The reader will get it.

In comparison: Ellen DeGeneres is, in my opinion, the most talented comedian ever. Why? Because she is the funniest and she does it clean. No cheap jokes. But, clean does not detract from her realness. Bill Cosby is another example. He holds himself to a higher moral standard. Yes, it's harder to write clean material. Most comics probably wouldn't be as funny if they used his standards. That's because they are not as talented as he is.

And the Talented Shall Overcome . . .

Thursday, November 1, 2007

To Halloween or Not . . .

Actually, I'm not going to enter this debate. It's been done to death and both sides have legitimate points.

By the way, you think this argument is bad, here in South Louisiana, we have the "To Mardi Gras or Not" debate. The comparisons are uncanny. My opinion fits both situations. The kids have the answer. The kid's parades, which run during the day, feature cartoon characters and tailgating. The adult parades feature fights, rampant underage drinking, and lewd conduct.

As a child, I enjoyed Mardi Gras. After age 13, I hated it. Still do.

Same for Halloween. For a few years, after our accident, (age 4-8) my family lived with my uncle on basically a small farm. Every Halloween, my uncle would make a huge bonfire and rig up the tractor for hay rides. We roasted marshmallows and hot dogs, bobbed for apples (which I now realize is disgusting. It's bad enough that everyone is sticking their head in the same washtub with their mouths open. Talk about worse than double dipping. But, who knows what that tub was used for the rest of the year. We had animals.). It was a lot of fun. So much so in fact, that I usually skipped trick or treating. I wanted to stay where the action was. Besides, the fire was warm, there was plenty of candy, and I hated wearing costumes.

I guess my point is: I would like to do the same for my future kids. Of course, I don't have to wait till Halloween to do it.

If you're looking for a way to 'Christian up' Halloween next year, check out what novelist Eric Wilson's family did:

The best Halloween we ever had as a family, we set up our lawn as a graveyard. Each tombstone had one of the seven deadly sins named on it. Trick-or-treater's came up the path, through "The Graveyard of Sin," then entered the open garage where we'd made a happy, cheery place for gathering goodies. We had the VeggieTales' "God is Bigger than the Boogie-Man" playing in there. We never said anything beyond that. And the neighborhood flocked to our house the next year to see what else we might come up with.--Eric Wilson (Nashville, TN)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween pet peeve . . .

Coincidence? I think not.

Almost every television show which does the yearly obligatory halloween special always has one of the kids in a devil costume.

Is this necessary? For starters, there would be outrage if one of the kids dressed as Jesus or Moses. That would be deemed intolerant and offensive to other religions. But the devil is just a harmless little character which represents the season.

So let's get this straight: Christmas episodes are now devoid of Jesus, but Halloween episodes are full of devils. - -- - - - Wake up America!

Also, isn't this a little abusive to the child. "Hey kid you're gonna be the devil. Isn't that exciting. Okay act like the devil for us. Isn't he a cute little devil."

Post addendum: Another point - ask a kid what costume he wants to wear. I gaurantee you it won't be the devil. It'll be someone good - spider-man, batman, or when I was a kid: The Lone Ranger.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Heart's in Tennessee (and North Carolina). . .

Usually this time of year, I'm planning another trip to the Smoky Mountains.

But I've already spent this year's vacation budget on writer's conferences. A week in Colorado and a long weekend in Dallas.

So for the first time in 4 years, I won't be heading to the Smokies. So, pathetically, I spent the last hour in my home office looking at past vacation photos.

If you'd like to donate to the Send Dayle to the Smokies Fund, just send an e-mail and I'll give you the address and the pertinent tax forms.

Would it help if I told you I'm part Cherokee and going there is kind of a spiritual journey to my homeland?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Defending the Faith . . .

It's true. Most Christians have a hard time defending their faith. So much so, that the non-believers in this country - particularly the left and especially the militant atheists - wrongly conclude that most Christians are rubes - simple minded hicks who were taken in by some fancy talking preacher. They believe that if you simply enlighten these bumpkins, they will see how silly it is to believe in all these fairy tales and Christianity can finally go the way of the dodo.

Of course, this is a grossly incorrect assumption. As far as intelligence goes, Christians run the gamut. But the question remains: Why do most Christians have trouble defending their faith?

Contrary to popular belief, most Christians do not come to their faith as the result of an intellectual decision. They don't spend years researching the mysteries of the universe, comparing religions, and piecing together scientific evidence before deciding to accept a set of philosophical teachings to live their life by. Most Christians take a leap of faith and ask Jesus to come into their life. Faith comes first. Once Jesus comes into a person's life, faith is no longer blind.

Christians don't believe in Jesus as a child believes in the Easter Bunny. They believe in Jesus because his love touched their soul. Once that happens, they could no longer deny His existence as they could deny the sun is shining while the rays still warm their face. Once Jesus warms your soul, there is no reason to search for evidence of His existence. Because there He is. As bright as the sun, with rays of pure love.

The reality of Jesus is written on the hearts of all mankind. You simply have to choose to stop ignoring it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

On Being a Writer . . .

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil - but there is no way around them.

- Isaac Asimov

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Athol Dickson asks "Should we Give up?"

In next year’s elections, it looks more and more like we will be presented with a presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani, both of whom are “pro-choice.” Any third party option virtually guarantees the Democrat will win. Think about that. Then think about the fact that two Supreme Court justices will likely be replaced by our next president. We were so close to overturning Roe v. Wade. Now it looks like that hope might be lost for another generation. With a growing sense of desperation, my wife and I have been begging the Lord to raise up someone to lead this country. We will never cast our votes for a politician who thinks killing unborn children is a basic human right. That means we may not in good conscience be able to vote in the next presidential election.

Over a quarter of a century ago in A Christian Manifesto, Francis Schaeffer said when there are no true ideological differences between candidates, democracy is dead. I fear that day is very near.

Please follow this link to read the rest: Should We Give Up?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Scruples . . .

If I was an actor (and married), I could not do a love scene (even a kiss) with an actress who wasn't my wife. To me, this is cheating. The just acting defense doesn't work for me.

I have often wondered how married men stand there while their wives are not only kissing another man (and more), but filming it so millions can view it.

Ladies, do you really want your husband kissing Sandra Bullock? Guys, do you really want your wife kissing Brad Pitt or Russel Crowe? Many actors marry the married women they starred with.

The question gets a little foggier when someone says "What if they offered you a lot of money and you lose the role if you don't do it?" On some things, we all have our price, right?

You will notice that in Left Behind, Christian actor - Kirk Cameron never kisses Chloe.

Is it just me and Kirk?

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Case for Tell Don't Show . . .

I may be in the minority here, but I think everyone has gone overboard with the "show, don't tell" rule.

Sure, you don't want to tell the whole story, but some telling is okay. In fact, some telling is mandatory.

To me, it is unrealistic to assume that every character shows his "feelings" through a physical or physiological manifestation. Some characters are stoic by nature. This is the purpose of interior monologue-to let the character tell his feelings from the third person p.o.v.

Not every character "shows" his feelings by a pounding heart or a tightening chest. Sometimes, in fact, many times they just think about it. How will the reader know these thoughts? The character will tell them.

Now before you write me off as a deranged lunatic, consider the following excerpt from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers ( second edition ):

We have noticed since the first edition of this book came out that a lot of
writers have taken our advice about showing and telling too much to heart. The
result has sometimes been sterile writing, consisting mostly of bare-bones
descriptions and skeletal dialogue. Yet fiction allows for marvelous
richness and depth, and nowhere more so than through interior monologue.
You have to be careful not to go overboard, but interior monologue gives you the
opportunity to invite readers into your characters' minds, sometimes to stunning

Show don't tell was originally championed to stop the barrage of amateurs who were telling their stories instead of presenting them in Novel Form.

But some telling is necessary. It is okay to write: John was disoriented or John felt confused. In fact, it is mandatory if the character - John - handles disorientation or confusion with only conscious thoughts.

Got a Writing Question?

Author, James Scott Bell, has offered to answer a few writing questions. Just go to Keep Me In Suspense, read his interview and leave a question in the comments.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A New Reason to be Proud . . .

In 1991, I decided that Louisiana would not be my home much longer. Why?
Because in 1991, The three leading men in the Louisiana governor's race were Edwin Edwards (local political icon, Clintonesque, smooth talker, known womanizer, and generally accepted to be crooked and corrupt--he is currently in prison), David Duke (ex-grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan), and Buddy Roemer (a flawed but fairly honest and decent man).
Of the three, Roemer came in third. There was a run-off between Edwards and Duke. To defend the voters of Louisiana, I must say that Duke did not run as a racist, he ran mainly on welfare reform and other populist issues. But it saddened me that my fellow Louisianians would vote for a former KKK grand wizard.
So, in 1991, me and many of my conservative friends, held our noses and voted for Democrat Edwin Edwards. We didn't care what Duke said, we were not going to vote for a nazi-racist.
Saturday, Republican Bobby Jindal was elected Governor. His real name is Piyush Jindal. He is the son of Indian migrants and the first minority elected governor since Reconstruction when (believe it or not) Louisiana had a black governor--a Republican named P. B. S. Pinchback.
I voted for Jindal four years ago when he narrowly lost to Blanco, who I blame for the Katrina fiasco. Believe me if Jindal were governor during that crisis, the outcome would have been far different.
So, we went from the state that almost had a KKK governor to the state that elected a minority-because he was the best person for the job. And, that's a reason to be proud.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Few More Real Names . . .

Alan Alda - Alphonso D'Abruzzo
Pat Benator - Patricia Andrejewski
Charles Bronson - Charles Buchinski
Albert Brooks - Albert Einstien
Mel Brooks - Melvin Kaminsky
Michael Caine - Maurice Micklewhite
Cher - Cherilyn Sarkisian
Elvis Costello - Declan Patrick McManus
Rodney Dangerfield - Jacob Cohen
Jack Palance - Walter Palanuik
Jane Seymore - Joyce Frankenberg
Natalie Wood - Natasha Gurdin

What's in a name?

I like to fret over everything. Take my name for example. Dayle Arceneaux. Weird right?

First of all, my first name could be confused for the opposite gender. Don't believe me? I have a female first cousin named-you guessed it - Dayle. That's right. Same name, same spelling. So, for writing purposes, I threw in my middle name. Dayle James Arceneaux.

Not bad. But a little long. I thought about James Dayle as a sort of real pen name. But that would leave out the Cajun connection. And Darn it, I want to use my real name because I want people to know it's me. But, what about that? Tom Cruise doesn't care. His real name is Thomas Mapother. Want more real names?

Bea Arthur - Bernice Frankel ------------------ Lauren Bacall - Betty Joan Perske
Robert Blake - Michael Gubitosi -------------- Patsy Cline - Virginia Hensley
John Denver - Henry Deutschendorf Jr. ---- Bo Derek - Cathleen Collins
Bo Diddley - Elias Bates ------------------------ Kirk Douglas - Issur Danielovitch
Morgan Fairchild - Patsy McClenny ---------- Redd Foxx - John Sandford
Whoopi Goldberg - Caryn Johnson ----------- Harry Houdini - Ehrich Weiss
Ben Kingsley - Krishna Banji ------------------ Michael Landon - Eugene Orowitz
Lee Majors - Harvey Lee Yeary 2nd ---------- Dean Martin - Dino Crocetti
George Michael - Georgios Panayiotou ------ Chuck Norris - Carlos Ray
Tony Randall - Leonard Rosenberg ---------- Ginger Rogers - Virginia McMath
Roy Rogers - Leonard Slye -------------------- Mickey Rooney - Joe Yule Jr.
Martin Sheen - Ramon Estevez -------------- Danny Thomas - Muzyad Yakhoob
Tina Turner - Annie Mae Bullock ------------ Conway Twitty - Harold Jenkins
Stevie Wonder - Stevland Morris

So, am I just more egotistical than these guys? I don't think so. Different business. So, the point of all this is: What's your opinion? Dayle James Arceneaux Ditch it or not? If so, any suggestions?

By the way: For the purpose of this post, we'll assume that I will be published.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

On Writing . . .Well, Sort of . . .

I finally got around to reading Fahrenheit 451, the classic by Ray Bradbury. About half way through I came across this passage spoken by the character named Faber:

"The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a
quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies."

I haven't quite gleaned the full truth or scope of this quote, yet. -- But I love it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Best Christian novel I've read so far . . .

Demon - A Memoir by Tosca Lee.

Truly Brilliant. Not to mention well written, enlightening, engrossing, entertaining, en . . . well you get the idea. I am stunned that the publisher chose not to release it in hardcover.

In my opinion, ( and ironically ) Demon is the new Gold standard of Christian fiction.

Novelist Eric Wilson said it best:

Tosca Lee uses wonderful sensory details and similes to add texture to this story, drawing us into a world that is beyond our own eyes, yet right before us. Even readers who don't believe in the biblical elements of this tale will have a difficult time not being coaxed into this struggle of intellects. This is not an action novel, yet it moves along nicely. While strong in its theological angles, "Demon" never pounds the reader over the head with doctrine. It does, however, give some razor-sharp commentary on religion, church, and the American pursuit of happiness. Lee pulls it all together in the end with subtle yet powerful ideas, which a few reviewers seem to have missed inexplicably--"Were you paying attention at all?" Lucian might ask.

There will be comparisons. ( to C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters and Rice's Interview with the Vampire) They are inevitable. But Tosca Lee avoids many of the pitfalls that present themselves with such a book, instead offering a tale that feels fresh, yet older than time. Years from now, we may find other books being compared to this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My First Novel - Chapter 1 . . .

Dancing with Butterflies

Chapter 1

-------“Who do you say that I am?”
-------The familiar voice lured Shannon from her disoriented state. As her senses returned, so did the memories of the past evening. She had been awakened by the sound of three men entering her bedroom. Darkness concealed their faces. Speed and purpose allowed no time for resistance. Hands stronger than her own left her unable to move.
-------A cloth over her mouth and nose muted her screams. During the struggle, she managed to free one of her legs, but her kicks only produced glancing blows. She struggled for air, but found none. Desperate for oxygen, her body became weak. Despite this fact, she continued to struggle until her senses faded. Then …
-------A bright fluorescent light now burned her eyes. Still, she recognized the man in front of her. Those eyes. She didn’t dare look at them. For within those eyes dwelled a powerful presence, a hypnotic force displayed for her many times in the past.
-------But, his voice also possessed power. Gentle and compassionate, yet stern and frightening. “Who do you say that I am?”
-------She glanced around the room, assessing her surroundings. A small room. An empty room. As her eyes adjusted to the brightness weighing upon them, the scene slowly became clearer. Everything was white. Pure white. The walls, floor, ceiling, even the bare table in front of her and the chair that now imprisoned her. A nylon strap on each armrest held her wrists firmly in place, burning her raw skin as she fought their hold.
-------Recessed in the center of the painted cement floor, positioned between her shoes, was a drain. The smell of bleach saturated the air, stinging her senses. But there was something else in this air. A tinge of something she could only describe as … impure.
-------Her lungs struggled against the increasingly heavier air, fighting for every breath as though the atmosphere had been transformed into a viscous liquid. Her eyes froze upon the figure standing before her. The same handsome face that had once been the object of her schoolgirl fantasies, now only terrified her.
“Who do you say that I am?”
-------“Please—just let me go. I—”
-------“Go where? Back to the world that abandoned you? Have you forgotten that I am the one who gave you life? I rescued you from the hell outside these walls.” He walked behind her as he traced his hand softly across her throat, then around to the back of her neck. “No one wanted you. No one cared about you. The world that you want to go back to … has already cast you out.”
-------“Please, I just want to go home.”
-------“It was no accident that you came here.” His voice softened. “Your destiny was to be with me.” He circled back in front of her. “And after all I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me. I … am the giver of LIFE!” He pounded his fist on the table. His eyes fixed on her as though trying to bore into her soul. He smoothed out his tie as he leaned back and stood tall once again. “And what I have given, I may also—”
-------The door burst open. Two men escorted Shannon’s brother into the room.
-------Derek.” Shannon leaned forward in her chair ignoring the straps as they dug further into her wrists. “Please. He’s going to kill me. Get me out of here.”
-------“Ah, Derek.” His eyes remained locked on Shannon. “I’m glad you could join us.” His finger dug into her chin forcing her face toward his. He studied her for a moment, tilting his head slightly before allowing her to pull free. “We are finished here. You may free her now.”
-------She leaned back in the chair finding a comfort that she previously believed could not exist there. This time she thought he would kill her. This was the third time they caught her trying to leave. But he would never allow that to happen. After all, she was one of his special ones. But that’s exactly why she had to keep trying.
-------Derek stepped toward her. She almost managed a smile as their eyes met. When she saw the knife in his hand, she could almost feel the straps being cut free. He then stepped to his right and walked around her. She turned her head as far as her restraints allowed her. “What are you doing?”
-------“I tried to warn you, but you wouldn’t listen,” Derek whispered from behind her.
-------“I know, I know. Please, just cut me loose.”
-------His hand flashed before her, covered her mouth and nose with a cloth, and gently forced her head against the chair. She tried to plead with him, but only produced muffled sounds.
-------“You just wouldn’t listen.”
-------A sharp jab in her back forced her to inhale the fumes that had penetrated her nostrils.
-------“I am sorry,” he whispered into her ear.
-------The pain of the knife sliding out of her back couldn’t compare to the agony that now tore her heart apart. The agony of knowing the knife was in her brother’s hand.

- Dayle James Arceneaux

A little about the plot:

Freelance journalist, Jonathon Cole, agrees to write what he later discovers will be the gospel of religious cult leader Daniel Meyers, who claims to be the first coming of the Messiah. While discussing the project, the cult leader demonstrates supernatural powers and proclaims that Jesus could not be the Messiah because he loved his enemies—the real Messiah will destroy the enemies of Israel.

After years of abuse, Kayla Domangue has finally decided to escape the Meyers cult and the arrival of Jonathon Cole provides the perfect opportunity. But Daniel Meyers won't just let her go--she is one of his "special ones".

Author's note: ALL comments are welcome (no matter how old - I read them all) . Negative or positive. I'm a criticism junkie. I thrive on it. To see what others have said go here: Into the Fire

Monday, October 8, 2007

Would you walk through the Valley?

Anytime I get a little full of myself, I think about the martyrs. It's easy to stand for Christ in America - we have freedom of religious expression.

But would I be so bold in the parts of the world where Christians are persecuted? Could I be a bold Christian in Iran, where death or imprisonment is a real consequence? China? the Gaza Strip?

Compared to those Christians, I am nothing short of a coward. In America, we worry about what our neighbors will THINK of us if we express our faith - not if they will kill us or imprison us. I am in no danger of being stoned, decapitated, or thrown into prison. Yet everyday - in other parts of the world - Christians boldly stand for Christ in the face of these dangers. Wow.

So, would I walk through the valley - NO. At least not alone. Not without the Holy Spirit. But, that's okay. Even the disciples denied Jesus when He was crucified. They were afraid of the consequences - afraid of suffering His fate. But Jesus said this:

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot cannot accept him, becuase it neither sees him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14: 16-18.

Once they received the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the disciples then boldly preached the Gospel seemingly unafraid of the consequences and in some cases they even seemed to look forward to their eventual demise as an honor. One last tribute to the One they knew and loved - Jesus.

So why did Jesus fret so much about His fate. So much so that He asked God to spare Him if it were possible. He said that his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. The Gospel of Luke describes Him as being in anguish. The reason - Jesus had to face the cross alone. As He bore the sins of the world even God had to look away from Him. Matthew explains that at about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

In that single greatest act of love, Jesus didn't deny us. And yet, everyday we deny Him with our silence, our lifestyles, our compromises, our stinginess, and so on and so on.

There is a beautiful song I used to feel apprehensive about singing along with because I wasn't sure if I could truly mean the words - so I'd sing it as a prayer. But I don't think about it that way anymore. If God wants me to walk through a valley, I'll never have to go alone.

If you want me to . . .

The pathway is broken, and the signs are unclear. And I don't know the reason why you brought me here. But just because you love me the way that you do, I'm gonna walk through the valley if you want me to.

'Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step. And I'm clinging to the promise you're not through with me yet. So if all of these trials bring me closer to you, Then I will go through the fire if you want me to.

It may not be the way I would have chosen. When you lead me through a world that's not my home. But you never said it would be easy, You only said I'll never go alone.

So when the whole world turns against me and I'm all be myself, And I can't hear you answer my cries for help. I'll remember the suffering your love put you through. And I will go through the valley - If you want me to.

- Ginny Owens

From her album - Without Condition

More real talent . . .

**See last post.

Two I've shouldn't have missed.

Jack Nicholson and Jim Caviezel

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Now the real talent . . .

My list of the top Actors:

(in no particular order)

1. -- Morgan Freeman
2. -- Liam Neeson
3. -- Ben Kingsley
4. -- Anthony Hopkins
5. -- George C. Scott
6. -- Gene Hackman
7. -- Denzel Washington
8. -- Patrick Stewart
9. -- Paul Giamatti

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Wanna read my first chapter?

Go here: Into the Fire


One thing that continues to bother me is how some people with very little talent continue to get roles in huge blockbuster movies. I'm not saying I don't like some of their movies. I'm only saying they either can't act or they are extremely overrated.

Here is my list of overrated actors/actresses in no particular order.

1. -- Nicolas Cage.

2. -- Kevin Costner.

3. -- John Travolta.

4. -- Keanu Reeves.

5. -- Julia Roberts.

Disagree? Care to add anyone?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Posting my work . . .

I have long pondered the pros and cons of posting samples of my writing on-line.

The cons: someone might steal my brilliant idea, my opening line, or my title, turn it into a best seller, become a superstar, and then when I threaten to sue - put out a hit on me thus forcing me to live the rest of my life wearing silly disguises and moving from town to town doing odd jobs to support myself.

While doing these odd jobs, I would change people's lives a la "Highway to Heaven". Reports of my exploits would gain me enough notoriety to inspire Tom Hanks to write and star in the movie depicting the true story of my life. But since, I have to remain anonymous, I would receive no compensation and Tom Hanks would just get richer.

The pros: I might get some reader feedback.

Nicole Petrino-Salter of Hope of Glory has invited me to participate in her Saturday Sample feature on her blog. I will be posting chapter 1 of my completed manuscript. Please take a moment to visit her site, look around, maybe read some of the other author samples and leave some feedback. Writers do appreciate feedback. Even the negative.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pet Peeve . . .

One of my favorite shows is Everybody Loves Raymond. Terrific cast. Great writing.

But, Ray Romano, who happens to be a very funny stand up comic, plays a writer. Well, a sports writer. The problem is - his character is dumb. There is no way a professional writer could be that stupid, that simple-minded, that uncouth. Right?

That particular part of his character is, at least as far as I'm concerned, not believable. Of course, it didn't matter. The show was a huge success.

Maybe I'm being too defensive now that I consider myself a writer.

Am I the only one to notice this.

Monday, October 1, 2007

On Writing . . .

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.
-------------------- Ray Bradbury
I love writers who have achieved mega-success as Mr. Bradbury has and still don't feel they are above encouraging others. If I had to guess, it's probably because Mr. Bradbury worked very hard to earn his success and feels a connection to those who believe that hard work = improvement.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More A.C.F.W. thoughts . . .

During the first general session Q & A, a couple of people asked the agent panel about elevator pitches. Maybe it's just me, but I cannot bring myself to pitch to someone without an appointment.

You should have seen the look of sheer terror on Chip's face when I stopped in the hall to just tell him 'Hi and how much I enjoy his blog.' I can't blame him. I'm sure he gets accosted all the time. He was cordial and friendly--especially after I assured him I just wanted to say Hi. He even looked at my name tag and informed the people around us that we were "Chip & Dayle."

I can't even bring myself to pitch at the meals. That is unless the host ask me to. At the Christian Writers Guild conference, it was obvious some of the editors did not want to hear pitches over lunch or dinner. One even said as much. Personally, I'd rather take the opportunity to ask questions and get a conversation going.

I must say that David Webb of B & H was a true gentleman. I sat at his table during one of the meals. He kindly asked each of us about our work in progress and even asked further questions and even gave some feedback. Above all, he seemed genuinely interested in each of us.

Kelly Mortimer was the first agent-hosted table I've sat at. She is um . . . she's something. Lots of energy. She wanted to know about each of us and made sure we were given equal time. Before my turn came the band started to play. She told me to stay after if I could and she would speak to me then. I did. And true to her word, she did also. Thanks, Kelly. (like she's ever gonna read this.)

I know several books encourage the elevator pitch, but to me, it reeks of desperation. Of course I am desperate, but that doesn't mean I have to reek it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A.C.F.W. Conference medley . . .

For those of you who don't know, the ACFW stands for American Christian Fiction Writers.

I drove to the conference in Dallas with only a few modest goals:

1. meet 2 of my future ex-wives.

2. cause an impromptu bidding war on my manuscript.

3. get an agent to agree to represent me and then inform them in front of the rest of the conferees that they are not "Dayle James Arceneaux material"

I learned that I have an accent and received a couple of request to "say something". I also learned that being outnumbered 60 to 1 by women isn't so bad, but I did find myself longing to watch football and speak in a deeper voice.

On to the serious . . .

I met with three agents who all asked for a submission. My 1 editor appointment resulted in a request for a full.

What moved me . . .

I often joke about my disdain for the human race. "People are the worst." This joke is rooted in some truth. During the daily grind, I come across a lot of people for whom the kindness of others is simply an opportunity to take advantage of them. The world seems full of selfish, self-absorbed, narcissists who believe the rules only apply to others. They feel life is a game of I have to step on you before you step on me.

It is such a joy to be with a group of people who don't live that way. This was my second Christian Writer's conference and I am so proud to be a part of them. These people are genuine, warm, kind, and above all - giving beyond expectations. From the big publishing house editors, elite agents, multi-published authors, volunteers, to the first time attendees. The world could use more people such as these.

I heard no unkind words - only encouragement.
I saw no hints of jealousy - only joy for the success of others.
I saw no arrogance - only humble graciousness from those who have achieved.

I am honored to be counted among their peers. And, I look forward to the day when I can give to others at least as much as I have been given.

-dayle james arceneaux

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Finally home . . .

I just got back from Dallas where I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. More on that in the next couple of days.

I had intended on posting from the conference, but the Marriott was the first hotel I have ever been to that charges for internet connection. $10 a day. That is sick. I refused to pay that much on Principle.

Now, before you accuse me of being a cheapskate - - Keep in mind: This is not a cheap hotel. I have stayed at economical hotels in the smokies that had free wireless in the room. The Marriott only had it in the lobby and you had to pay.

Scratch the Marriotts off of my list of hotel destinations. You felt that? That was the trembling of Marriott executives.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Unexpected Discovery . . .

I was hiking an unmarked trail in The Smoky Mountains when I came across this beautiful scene.

Sometimes it is a wonderful thing to expect the unexpected.

Monday, September 17, 2007

On Writing . . .

Resist the temptation to try to use dazzling style to conceal weakness of substance.

- Stanley Schmidt

Great content will shine through the veil of mediocre prose, but great writing cannot hide the stench of a bad story.

- Dayle James Arceneaux.

I figured I'd try to come up with one of these quotes. What do you think?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Just wondering . . .

Is anyone gonna buy the O.J. book?

I predict a flop.

update: I just checked's bestseller list. It's # 1.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

America the Promise . . .

Remembering 9-11 made me think of this photo I took in North Carolina. It was a gorgeous, peaceful, autumn day and I remember just standing there and reflecting on America.

There are a lot of Americans who hate our country. And we have certainly had our faults. How could the bastion of Freedom explain the treatment of the Native Americans, slavery, and the continued denial of equal rights to Blacks well into the 20th century?

No, we're not perfect. But, when compared to the rest of the world, we are the ultimate defender of freedom and the light of hope for mankind. Our wonderful friends, such as Australia, Poland, Britain, and others wouldn't last too long against the forces of evil in this world without America. In fact, fascism and communism would dominate the planet without the U.S.

Imagine a world where the Nazi's won WWII, where communism had no limits, where men didn't step foot on the moon, where millions, maybe billions of people never received medical aid or food from America. Where free nations were not defended against tyrants.

If it were not for America, the Jewish people may have been exterminated. There certainly wouldn't be an Israel. And, Christianity would be confined to the dark alleys of the world.

Many forget that before WWII, Democracy was on its last legs, considered by many to be a failed experiment. Socialism, Communism, and Fascism were the dominant forms of government.

Yes, we have our faults. But please don't confuse our government with our nation. Governments will always be flawed. Power corrupts. It took a 185 yrs for the U.S. government to finally deliver the promise of freedom to the Black population. But, America recognized their right from the beginning. All men are created equal. Endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. It took a while, but we finally got there.

As a student of History, it is clear to me that despite our faults, America is the pinnacle of human achievement.

How dark would our world be without this shining city on a hill?

My fear: that shining light is starting to dim. The promise of America is still there. But, by pushing God out of our nation, we are slowly turning out that light. How can we recognize our God given rights, if we don't even acknowledge there is a God?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Two Scents - episode 1.

Prologues - Necessary element of a story? Or scourge of the earth?

I'm about to post my opinion on prologues. I have thought about this for many minutes. The subject of prologues is something I would like to share my opinions on. So stay tuned for my thoughts on prologues. Are you ready to hear my thoughts on prologues? Don't worry, I'm about to begin. But first, let me tell you about the first time I considered posting my thoughts on prologues. It was about an hour ago . . .

The above is why I don't like prologues. Valid or not, the net effect is that prologues are perceived by my brain to delay the story. The story starts at Chapter 1. Get to it.

When I buy a book, I want to immerse myself in that world. A prologue says "Hold on. Before you get to the exciting part, read this."

There are exceptions of course, but they are few.

I will definitely read an afterword. Somehow, they interest me because they might shed more light on the world the author created or why he created it or who knows what might be revealed. But, most importantly - since they are at the end of the book, they cannot delay the story.

Need to write a prologue - - - call it Chapter 1.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

To Kill a Manuscript . . .

Ever have doubts about your manuscript? Ever wonder why you can't write one in 8 months like everyone else? Ever wanted to throw your manuscript in the garbage?

Consider This . . .

It took Harper Lee at least five years to write To Kill a Mockingbird. Including not less than 2 1/2 years of re-writing.

On one particularly frustrating night in 1958, she threw the manuscript out of her apartment window. Fortunately, she called her editor who then convinced her to go outside and round up the pages.

From all that frustration, doubt, and hard work came 88 weeks on the bestseller list, a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar winning movie, and over 30 million copies sold in 18 languages. It makes everyone's top ten of the century and is considered by many to be the best novel ever written.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Considering my last post . . .

In February, an editor requested my manuscript at the C.W.G. conference in Colorado Springs. I spent the next three months working on it hoping to polish it as much as possible before submitting.

Three months later I received my SASE expecting to find a rejection. Lo and Behold, it contained an evaluation memo, a page of editor notes, and a request for a rewrite and resubmission.
Since sharing this good news, many have asked if I agree with the notes. The answer is: It doesn't matter if I agree. If I want this particular publisher to offer me a contract, I must acquiesce. If I feel that they just don't get it and refuse to compromise my . . . uh . . . artistic integrity ( insert giggle here), then I must pitch my manuscript elsewhere.
How does this tie in with the last post? A year ago, author and freelance editor Donna Fleisher
told me the publishers won't like the fact that a background character in my book was killed by a drunk driver.
Now, I assume most would say "What's wrong with that? It happens all the time." That is exactly what's wrong with it. It's too common. Fiction is escapism. It is the peculiar and the extraordinary that interests us. Real life is boring-Don't write about it. That is unless, someone has an extraordinary or peculiar life.
Even though I agreed, I left it in. The reason: I had not yet thought of the perfect demise for that character yet. I decided that it wouldn't be a deal breaker and I left it in pending a spark of imagination leading to a change at a later date.
Well guess what one of the notes said? "We have another drunk driver killing a . . . . . . Argh!" They actually used the word "Argh!"
Would they have offered me a contract if I had changed it? Probably not. But, my story would have read a little stronger and who knows. But that's okay. I've been given a second chance and that spark of imagination has arrived.

Monday, September 3, 2007

On Writing . . .

Use your imagination. Trust me, your lives are not interesting. Don't write them down.

- W. B. Kinsella

Friday, August 31, 2007

On Writing . . .

A good novel tells us the truth about it's hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
-G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ever wonder why . . .

Athol Dickson asks:

Did you ever wonder why God allowed the Devil in the Garden of Eden? Obviously, God knew what would happen, and He knew it would be bad, so why not keep that old snake out in the first place?

To hear his answer go HERE.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Writer Stuff . . . The Books

Like most new writers, I read a lot of the recommended How to Books: Browne & King's Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Stein on Writing, Stephen King's On Writing, Jenkin's Writing for the Soul , and a few others including my personal favorite-How to Write Best Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz.

Here are my not so humble opinions.

Stein on Writing is very good, but very advanced. I wouldn't recommend it as the first book a new writer should read. Think fourth or fifth.

Stephen King's On Writing is . . . Did you think I would actually criticize this book. It's not as good as Koontz's, but hey, if Tiger Woods offers to give you a lesson, shut up and listen.

Jerry Jenkin's Writing for the Soul is basically a regurgitation of Koontz's book minus Mr. Jenkins personal stories of course. I'm not criticizing, he admits that he borrowed heavily from Koontz's book. It's definitely worth the read. Mr. Jenkins is very honest and his Christian Writer's Guild conference is fantastic.

Self-Editing . . . is the most highly acclaimed, but I don't share my fellow writer's absolute devotion to this book. Don't get me wrong - It's Good. But, I don't think it's for the true beginner. The first person writing samples were not a good idea.

How to Write Best Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz should be mandatory reading for anyone who writes fiction. Oh how I wish he would write a new edition. It is entertaining, presented in an easy to understand fashion, and surprisingly encouraging to new writers. Mr. Koontz believes that if you're willing to learn and work hard -- you can do it. For some reason, it is extremely hard to find, but it will be well worth your efforts. I purchased a used First Edition on Amazon for $85, which is the cheapest I could find. Some sell for as high as $249. Don't want to spend the money? Check out your local library. You will not be disappointed.

For the true beginner, try:
You can Write a Novel by James V. Smith, Jr. I couldn't use the incredibly organized system he details in the book, but that's just me. I'm sure it would help most. The only drawback: he doesn't warn newbies about head-hopping.

Ready to pitch? Try
The Sell Your Novel Took Kit by Elizabeth Lyon and Your Novel Proposal: From Creation to Contract by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook.

Can anyone recommend one I haven't read?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ted Dekker stuff . . .

The movie version of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti's joint venture novel House was set to release next month - just in time for the Halloween movie season. I enjoyed the novel and was eagerly anticipating the movie. The clip looks great.

But, to my great disappointment, the release of the movie has been pushed to Spring of '08. This is not good in my humble opinion. I think they are going to lose some of the Halloween-season overflow business.

If you're a Dekker fan, check out this video-interview. It might just be me, but Dekker comes across a lot better in person than he does in print interviews.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

When I'm elected Emperor . . .

My first ten acts after I'm elected Emperor For Life will be . . .

1. Ban Soap Operas.

2. Award Morgan Freeman 71 Oscars and rename them the "Morgan's".

3. Decree that Keanu Reeves become Morgan Freeman's personal assistant until he learns how to at least recognize good acting when he sees it.

4. Further decree that Keanu Reeves never be permitted to co-star with or kiss Sandra Bullock ever again.

5. Revoke Madonna's citizenship, have her declared an enemy of the state, file a request with the British government to have her extradited, then deny the extradition out of spite.

6. Chocolate cake, Ice Cream, Oreo cookies. Need I say more?

7. Get an autographed picture of Salma Hayek. (deep breath and sigh)

8. Put Ronald Reagan and Billy Graham on Mount Rushmore.

9. Force Keanu Reeves to clean Mount Rushmore with a toothbrush.

10. Take a picture of Keanu Reeves cleaning the inside of George Washington's nose, put it on every billboard in the nation, and have his name legally changed to snot.

Disclaimer: These are just jokes. While it's true that Mr. Reeves can't act and he is either the luckiest man alive or has the greatest agent on earth--my disdain for Keanu is just for laughes and stems from my own childish jealousy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Separation of Church & State? - I Agree.

I often surprise my non-Christian friends when I inform them that I agree with them: There should be separation of Church and State.

What I don't believe in is separation of Christ and State. I don't say God & State because then you have the whole generic god argument. But when you say Christ and State, the Judeo-Christian God -- the real God, is implied. Jesus said when you see Him, you see the Father. So, case closed.

I don't want a theocracy where you're told what to believe or how to worship. One of the tenants of Christianity is freewill. In a Christian state, which I believe the United States used to be and was set up as, each individual is free to make their own choice and cannot be subject to unfair coercion or prejudice.

I find it hard to believe that most atheists are offended by prayer. Really? If I pray for your child's safety in the high school football game, who cares if you don't share my faith in Christ. Would you rather I didn't care about your son so much that I don't bother to ask my God to protect him.

Personally, I would never ask someone not to pray for me. Be it a Muslim, Jew, whatever. I would thank them.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Looking for a great Bible study?

River Rising author Athol Dickson is currently posting a weekly commentary on the Gospel of Matthew on his blog. You can find the link to the left. . . Keep Looking . . . Oh, I'm sorry, scroll down a little . . . in the links list . . . there you go.

I find Mr. Dickson's perspective to be utterly fascinating and completely, and therefore wonderfully new to me.

Once you're on his blog you can just hit the Bible studies link on the sidebar. Or, scroll through all of his posts-they're all good.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Typical South Louisiana Cemetery

This one is in my next book.

I pray that God brings comfort and peace to his family.