Did you know that there’s an effective way to create a new website and do an effective launch campaign for your first book? Yep, there sure is. And at the expense of feeling like a dweeb, can I just say that if you want to know what not to do then you’re in the right place. My website’s been up for about two months now and I have been so busy with work and home stuff that I haven’t been able to follow through with creating my newsletter or regular blog posts. So today I’d like to fill you in to keep you in the loop.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

Since I returned from my foot surgery, work has been rather exacting. I’ve been learning some new fire alarm software and it’s really caused me to grow professionally. Just when I thought I had a good handle on electronics and troubleshooting (after 14 years), last Friday I fried a brand new fire panel. And our acceptance test with the state fire marshal was Monday morning! Needless to say, I learned some new things which I will never, ever, ever forget. I should add a few more “evers” to that.

And with getting ready for my foot surgery, I had a variety of things that needed my attention before I found myself laid up and medicated. I think I got two of them done. Last week we celebrated my little boy’s 8th birthday with family and a few of his friends. Which made me think: what a blessing it is to be a Christian at age 8 and have good Christian friends. While I often feel like a bonehead dad, I know God is using my mediocre obedience to shape this kid into a soon-to-be godly man. It’s all happening way too fast.

What I’m reading and writing

I am terrible about starting 1,000 things and finishing three of them. Honestly, it usually takes me a few months to finish reading one book. And many are the books which I’ve abandoned due to distraction alone. But I am hooked on Erin McGraw’s wonderful collection of short stories titled The Good Life. I seriously love this book so much that I emailed her to let her know. Once I finish I will probably do an in depth review/analysis here on the blog, so keep an eye out for that. If you’re on Goodreads I’ll be leaving a review there as well, so be sure to connect with me.

If you are a fan of flash fiction, and there are many of you on WordPress so don’t be shy, I am a HUGE fan of the Rose Metal Press Field Guide for Writing Flash Fiction, edited by Tara Masih. If you haven’t read it then go buy it right now. I’ll wait. I borrowed it from the library last year and read it through, then I got my own copy as a birthday gift in April. It stares me down every time I lay eyes on it, begging to be read and studied again. So while I’m not reading it yet, I do plan on it once I finish The Good Life.

I have three reasons for bringing up the Field Guide. First, along with The Good Life together, it’s offered me inspiration for several stories, both flash and standard-length short stories. I recently entered the SixWordStoryChallenge and had a fun time with that, so thanks also to Nicola for the inspiration. Second, Tara Masih has a new YA novella coming out this fall, I believe about a Jewish girl hiding in Ukraine during WWII. And Third, see below.

Writing Plans

Before I get carried away about what else I want to read and write (without finishing any of it), let’s talk goals and plans. I can accomplish a ton when I plan and organize. Except I haven’t been good about planning for like 15 years, so… With several ideas for writing/blogging/publishing, and with a recent laziness that’s been creeping up in me, I figure it’s time.

Here are a few ideas I’ve had. I’m not making any promises here, but these really excite me. I have a lot I want to accomplish, but how can I fit it all together? Introducing my new reading and writing schedule! Here’s a peek.

I personally need a strong balance between spiritual and fiction reading and writing. I’ve gone off the deep end with fiction to the detriment of my faith in God, and I’m done with that. My main plan is an alternating course of daily Bible reading for about a month followed by a month of study, then back to just the reading.

Beyond that, the idea is to read a work of fiction for two months and blog along those lines during that time. Then I’ll switch to a Christian book I’ve wanted (needed!) to read and blog about that and related themes for a couple of months. The next couple of months I’d read something instructional like Tara Masih’s Field Guide and lead some prompts and stories on my blog.

What I’m really excited about is this idea I had the other morning to lead a community story. Right now I’m calling it “Let’s write a story” or “community flash fiction.” It could be a flash piece or a standard length story which I’ll start and others can participate in. This won’t be a whip-it-together piece where we just throw up lazy ideas and be done. The idea is to create a really nice story that we begin and edit together. It’s something you might do in a fiction workshop. But if it pans out, we could submit our stories or anthologize them and have them published. It’s an idea at least. WordPress is full of flash fiction prompts, but I haven’t seen a single short story prompt (1,000+ words).

Publishing: Essential Meditations Update

I expect to have Volume 1 of my series available later this summer. My friend Jonathan is working on the cover for both the ebook and the print copy. In exchange for this, I’ve set up a blog for his artwork which you can find on WordPress at JPM Paintings (still under construction). All of his oil paintings are available for purchase, but until I get his site loaded with images you can connect with him on Facebook and while you’re there scroll to his May 6, 2017 painting called “Bad Apples.” He painted this specifically for my book.

I mentioned dealing with some laziness. While I was off  for my foot surgery, I had major plans to begin writing Volume 2 of Essential Meditations (stay tuned for the topic which I’ll reveal in another post). I got a start, but it was hard to get motivated while taking painkillers. I managed to set up and tweak a lot of things on this website, so at least I accomplished that. But I also made a start on my newsletter which I’ll be setting up on my front page real soon. I’ll have some special treats for newsletter subscribers, so check back soon.

There are plenty of other ideas, but I’ll reveal those later when I’m ready to roll them out.

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