Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Season

This is a poem I wrote shortly after my son finished his flag football season. I think one of the hardest things to do as a father is to see your children try so hard and come just short. After writing this, I think I really came to realize that there are much more important things than touchdowns.

The Season
I paced along the sidelines, watching every game
Looking for my chances, to cheer out loud his name
I watched him run and dive, grabbing at a flag.
Sometimes he came up empty, sometimes he came up glad.
And every game once or twice, they'd let him run the ball
He'd twist and turn and run with might, sometimes he'd even fall.
And when the final whistle blew, to end that final night
I looked upon his face again, but saw no smile in sight.
Although he'd tried his hardest, and left the season sore
He hadn't met his goal that year, to cross the line and score.
My heart it started breaking as I searched in vain for words
To comfort him and tell him, "Ah scoring's for the birds."
But as I sat and thought that night, still feeling for his heart
The Savior reached inside my own, and whispered this to start,
Well done thou faithful servant, tell him this for me
He'd done just what I'd asked of him, let him know you see.
It really doesn't matter, how many points you score
What really counts in my big book is something worth much more.
Let him know I watched his games, each and every play
I saw his hands were clapping, his voice would always say,
"Good job, great catch Noah, nice try, good effort Brent
Great hands, nice grab Jackson, almost, we'll get 'em Kent."
He even stopped to help I saw, his foes across the line
Who'd fallen hard and wrenched too far, their tender little spine.
Now when at last his day is done, he'll stand before my face
My words won't turn to touchdowns, for points don't win this race.
You my servant Harrison, who didn't get to score
You spent your life in service, lifting others off the floor.
My hands will grab his shoulders, and pull him in so tight
And at that moment he will see, he'd played the season right.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Is there a sequel?

This is by far is the most frequent question I get when it comes to my book Seventh Earth. I both love and hate getting this question. I love it because I am excited that people enjoyed the first book. I love writing. It was pure joy to write Seventh Earth and I am ecstatic that people have shared in some of that bliss. However, I hate, or rather cringe, when I get that question because I am saddened by the fact that it is taking so long to complete the sequel. I would love nothing more than to be able to hide in the crook of a tall redwood in the middle of an enchanted forest and produce page after uninterrupted page of the (soon to be named) sequel. But alas, my days are consumed by a day job where I courageously plug away at deciphering the cryptic language of legal minds. Thus, I am not always able to devote the necessary time to capture onto paper the continuation of story that haunts my mind. Fear not however, the story must and will continue, for the characters that survived the first book lay in wait, desperate to tell their story, their tale of survival, to live again within your thoughts and to whisper in your minds.

To help me along this overdue quest I must ask two favors. First, I ask that you spread the word. Spread the word of Seventh Earth. Help others come to know Aura and Zack. Give others the chance to witness Aura's power to look into her soul as she fights against the gods of fate. Allow others to hear Zack's voice, to look into his eyes as he catches his first glimpse of love. Let someone else live vicariously through the characters as the characters live through them. Provide someone else the experience of staying up until three in the morning lost within a book. Second, I ask that you not give up on me. I lay this promise before your eyes that I will complete this sequel. I will give you a chance and all willing, to strap back in and enjoy part two of the ride that is Seventh Earth.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wide Right (Part 1)

The following is a true story taken from an experience I had in high school. This is part 1 of a story I often share when I speak at high schools. I offer this glimpse into my life for those writers and non-writers alike who may be feeling the pains of discouragement.

"Bradford," coach yelled as he held up three fingers. I knew this moment was coming. I could see the clock ticking down 20 seconds, then 15, then the whistle stopping the clock at 9 seconds. Just enough time for me to run onto the field and do what I had practiced a hundred times. Three steps back, two to the side, wait for the snap, then run and kick. I should be able to do this in my sleep. After all, this was my life. This was who I was, the kicker for the JV football team. I was my brother's successor and the one who would eventually make varsity and then help take Arlington back to the state championship.

I jogged onto the field and chewed nervously on my tattered mouth piece. It was a cold night and I could see the stadium lights shining off the damp grass. I handed the black rubber tee to my holder who set it on the ground and tapped it twice for luck. I placed my right foot against the tee, took a deep breath and looked to the uprights a mere 24 yards away. It was a straight shot, an easy three points for the win--so I thought. Soon after I had counted my steps and set my feet the ball was snapped. I charged forward and swung my leg hard into the leather ball. I felt my left foot connect and instantly knew it was amiss. My plant foot was too close to the tee causing the ball to hit the inside of my foot as I kicked. The ball careened far to the right in an awkward horizontal spin missing its target by several yards. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the clock tick 3, 2, 1, 0.

The adrenaline raging through my body was not nearly enough to mask the pain, and frustration settling in my stomach. I had failed again and as I jogged back to the sideline I knew a thousand eyes were centered on me. I could sense a thousand expletives being thrown in my direction by a thousand people who were now plotting my destruction and where to hide my body. I was living another nightmare, another game lost because another kick was missed.

There is nothing that can prepare someone for the experience of changing in a locker room full of muscular teenaged boys, reeking of testosterone who want nothing more than to separate your limbs from your body. Who could blame them? They had offered up a sacrifice of sweat and blood to the football gods only to lose the game in the final seconds because some some puny kicker wearing peewee shoulder pads and a spotless uniform couldn't do the one thing he was there to do - kick the ball through the uprights.

When the final whistle had blown that year I walked off the playing field having missed more kicks than I had made. In fact, I had missed at least one kick in every game and three of our losses were a result of missed field goals and extra point attempts. Stating that my performance was a disapointment would have been a severe understatement likely to land one in jail for obstructing the truth. I had become the poster child of how to fold under pressure--the new standard for failure. I walked out the locker room for the last time that season with a decision to make. The season was over and the lines marking the field would soon fade with the coming months. Was I going to allow my horrid experience to be my last mark on the field eventually fading into time or, like a determined boxer not knowing when to quit, was I going to step back into the blood soaked ring and keep on fighting?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

6:17 p.m. - I am finally heading home. I have been at the office since 6:30 this morning and I am exhausted. I try to focus my attention on my driving, try to push the last bits of the crafted chaos of spreadsheets and calculations from the day's work out of my head. My drive is quiet but short.

6:28 p.m. - I arrive home and am greeted by the spicy smell of simmering taco meat and warm buttered tortillas. My youngest is the first to greet me. He is two and wearing a faded pair of his older brother's Buzz Light Year underwear. It hangs loosely around his waste and I'm sure that with the slightest tug this image would quickly turn R rated. My wife is next to greet me and informs me that it's not two but rather three times that she has had to change the underwear of my youngest--a trend that won't soon end.

6:40 p.m. I finish my last taco, head to my room to change and realize I have three followers. I usher them to the family room and find a pair of shorts and a T-shirt with a paint stain. I finish changing just as my followers return. I am quickly bombarded. "Dad can you help me find my soccer ball?" "Dad can you pull my loose tooth out?" "Dad can you come look at my puzzle?" I am a wanted man.

7:02 p.m. I walk into the kitchen where my youngest is sitting on the floor. Two things catch my eye. He is leaning far to his left at an awkward angle, and he is playing with the dog food. I soon spot a brown smudge between his legs and realize why he is leaning so far to the left. I quickly inform my wife that it is now four times that his underwear will be changed.

7:10 p.m. My two oldest are arguing for the sixth time over who is winning Connect Four. I begin to curse the game and those who invented it. I grab the ipod and select a dancing play list. Soon the family room is awash with little giggling bodies. I feel my lips tighten as a smile settles in. After a few minutes of twisting and shaking I sit on the couch and enjoy the show. All four kids jump and jive as we are serenaded by the sounds of Cold Play and Taylor Swift.

7:34 p.m. My two dogs are suspiciously sniffing around--a sign that they are either looking for food or looking for a place to do their business. They soon follow me outside. I stay outside while they do their business as I have learned that if I don't see them do it, they won't - until they get back inside.

7:38 p.m. After going to the pantry I notice that one of my dogs has reclaimed the trash can as his territory. Once again I am wishing he was neutered.

8:02 p.m. The ballet of putting kids to bed begins. As usual, it is a tough performance. My wife and I move from room to room getting drinks, reading books, getting toys, taking toys away, carrying kids back to bed, getting more drinks, getting more toys, reading more books. I feel as if I am being cast in a keystone cops remake.

8:41 p.m. I sit down on the couch and again realize the TV doesn't work. I watch as my wife walks down the stairs carrying another set of poopy underwear. She gives me the look as another request for a drink of water rings down from above. I realize it is my turn to fill the request. Again I read a book and get another toy.

9:01 p.m. I sit down on the couch again. My eyes begin to burn as the lack of sleep from the night before makes itself known. I soon hear the soft tap tap of footsteps coming down the stairs and I prepare to give a stern reprimand. My oldest pops his head around the corner. I ready myself to give a historic lecture on the importance of being in bed. Before I can commence he walks over to me and wraps his arms around my neck. "I love you Dad. Good night." I lean back on the couch and once again a smile finds its way onto my face.

9:02 p.m. I am content.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

And I'm Back

This last week gave me a glimpse at what life might be like if I’m ever to make the transition into the realm of full-time author. I felt somewhat like Scrooge led by the “Ghost of Christmas Future” able to gain a rare view into what the future may hold. Only for me, it was a most pleasant experience filled with excitement and success, one that I dove head-first into and loved.

Although undeserved, it was surreal for me to see my name displayed on hundreds of glossy pamphlets, 10-foot tall banners and hear my name announced throughout the day on the store’s intercom. I enjoyed every moment sitting at the table talking with readers from all over the country—some who walked away empty handed and some who left with my book tucked beneath their arm. I loved speaking at the local high school, sharing my experience with writing and offering informative bits that had been passed down to me by brilliant editors.

For a second, I even thought that I had met my first fan outside of a book signing. I was sitting on a chair in the Salt Lake airport waiting for my flight to return home when a young woman looked over, spotted me and made a beeline in my direction. It caught me completely by surprise. My heart started racing and my mind went blank as I tried to think of what I was going to say and how I was going to thank her for being a fan. However, just as I was preparing to open my mouth, she lifted her hand, tossed her empty drink cup into a trash can inches from my head and walked away. That happened to me four more times before I finally got up and moved to another seat. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t move because I was upset that people had no interest in me. I moved because every time someone tossed a cup into the trash I found myself dodging the occasional spray of coke or coffee as the cups hit the side of the trash can and released a fine, sticky mist.

Alas however, my trip is over and I’m back in the flat-lands of the Lone Star State, back amongst the sunshine, cedar pollen and wild flowers. Waking up this morning to the familiar yet painful sound of my alarm clock, I half wondered if last week wasn’t merely a dream. Maybe I had been led by the hand of a ghost through the realm of time, offering me a glimpse of a future I could only dream, a future filled with mystery and adventure neatly wrapped in paperback and hard-cover.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Upcoming Events

My big trip to Utah is drawing close. By this time next week I will be standing in the baggage claim area in the Salt Lake Airport wondering if and when my bag will emerge from the black hole and onto the safety of the rotating carousel. It seems like lately when I fly its a crap shoot on whether or not my bags are going to arrive at the same destination I do. I'm crossing all my fingers on this trip as I will be toting along several extra copies of my book. It turns out I may have a few extra stops to make while on my journey to the Wasatch front. At this point I know that I have the book signing at BYU and then an author visit to Orem High. But there is also a chance I may be visiting another school in Orem and doing a second book signing at another store in Tooele, Utah. This could turn out to be quite a whirlwind of a trip. Regardless, it should be a great experience. I am excited to see friends and family and hopefully a few fans.

For those who are wondering, I will be at the BYU Bookstore on Thursday April 29th from 4-6 and on Friday April 30th from 11-1. I believe there will be several authors at the BYU bookstore siging books. So for those who don't know what I look like I will be the guy that looks like a perfect cross between Robert Pattinson and Zac Effron (17 Again Zac not High School Musical Zac), or just look for the guy sitting at the table with all the Seventh Earth books.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two Firsts

Since my last blog I have had two firsts concerning my book--my first book signing at a bookstore and my first author visit to a high school. Both of these activities turned out to be fantastic.

I wasn't sure what to expect for the author visit to Rudder High School. The librarian had arranged for me to do a two hour presentation followed by a luncheon with the students. The presentation was to a book club at the school that had previously purchased and read my book. The prospect of getting up in front of a group of students who had read and discussed my book in a book club setting was quite unnerving. However, the presentation went great. In fact, it went so well that we didn't even get through the whole presentation. The students had so many good comments, questions and insights that I was overcome with awe. The depth of their understanding of the book amazed me. They were bringing up points about the book that I hadn't even thought of. At the end, one of the students walked up to me and pulled out a very worn copy of my book and stated that she had read it three times already. She also mentioned that my book was way better than Twilight--her words not mine. I walked away from the school that afternoon feeling very good about myself and my future as a writer.

The book signing went great as well. The store manager at Hastings placed me right at the front of the store so every customer who walked in was either forced to make eye contact or walk into the store with their eyes closed. I was actually surprised at how many customers went out of their way to avoid looking at me as they walked in. One customer even tripped over a display he failed to notice because he had so overtly directed his eyes in the opposite of my direction. But, there were quite a few who did make eye contact and came over to my table to find out what Seventh Earth was all about. Before the day was over I sold all but one of the store's copies. The store manager was also quick to offer another signing opportunity when I had another chance. I think I will hold off on this until Parents Weekend at A&M in the fall. That week College Station is so full of Aggies and their parents that you can't throw a stone in town without hitting maroon.

Later this month I will be flying out to Utah to do another book signing and another author visit to a high school. This time I will be visiting Orem High on the 30th of April and will be doing a book signing at the BYU bookstore on the 29-30th. If any of you are in the area on those dates I would love for you to stop by the bookstore and see me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Again I am finding little time to write. It seems that all my spare time is either spent chasing my four kids around the house or marketing Seventh Earth. Again I am surprised at how much time and effort it takes to market a book. And again I can see why so many good books fail. I used to think that all I had to do was write a good book, get a few people to read and like it and sit back while word of mouth spread and sold my book like wildfire. That is so not the case. The massive efforts however are starting to pay off. Recently my book has been featured in three publications--The Willits News, The Meridian Magazine and the Bryan/College Station Eagle--you can see a link to these articles on my website at This new publicity has thankfully lead to a decent increase in sales. However, I am far from being a bestseller, but I have my fingers crossed.

Next week I will be doing my first author visit at a school. I will be visiting Rudder High School in Bryan, Texas. I am both excited and nervous. I'm excited at the opportunity and nervous about the 1 in 3 chance that I might bore the kids to death. Yeah, that would make a great headline, "Local Author Bores Students To Death With His New Novel Seventh Earth--Authorities Beg Him Not To Finish The Sequel." I will be giving a one hour presentation about my book and my writing process, followed by a one hour writing workshop, followed by lunch. I am hoping that school lunches have improved since my time in high school. I seem to remember eating burgers that I swear contained less meat than a PETA board meeting, tater tots that were swimming in a thick mixture of aged cooking oil topped off with a brownie that tasted suspiciously like play dough and had the density of uranium. I'm sure it was all very healthy.

The success or failure of the author visit will be short lived as I will be doing a book signing at the local Hastings Bookstore in College Station the following Saturday. This prospect has my nerves on edge as well. I used to feel bad every time I went to a book store when an author was signing books. They always seemed to be stuck way in the back somewhere between the WWII and Home Improvement sections--back there all alone. I never understood why those two sections were near each other. Like some guy is going to be flipping through pictures of Omaha Beach on D-Day and then all of a sudden think, "Hey, I wonder how hard it would be to build a deck." Hopefully I will get a better location at Hastings. Right in front of the check-out stands would be nice.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Just some random inspiration while listening to DJ Earworm's United States of Pop 2009. For fun try listening to it while reading this.

I look out into the world before me. But my eyes see only a false reality that doesn't exist beyond my frontal lobe. I wonder how a world filled with the talent to create music, to write novels, build cities and express true love is encompassed with so much hate. Are we not all brothers born from the same dust? Do we not share the same breath? Do we not lie on the same earth?

Why must one think ill of another? Why is it that so many think they can be taller by standing upon the backs of those who have fallen? Do we not all look upon the same sun? Do we not all cast a shadow before the light of God? Do we not all hunger? Do we not all thirst?

I see colors in this world--blue, red, green, black, white, yellow and brown. I see differences that aren't afraid to be cast into the light, aren't afraid to be found upon lips, to be spoken by borrowed breath. I see variety that forms a symbiotic relationship of life and love, of celebration and yes, sadness. I see a hand rising from a destruction that has created a bond between life and death. I see one stepping forth from amongst the dust of his skin to emerge into a greatness he will hold with him for an eternity.

I wonder how a world secluded and alone, unique among the void and desperately clinging to life can offer so much death. I see an earth in patient defiance, an earth with a gentle hand filled with flowers, trees and beasts pointing toward heaven, pointing toward the son. I hear soft whispers from the ground offering the way. I see many with their ears pressed against trees, listening but not hearing as whispers wander past and fall back to the earth.

I am listening. I am a traveler with foot placed before foot on a narrow path, watching as the eyes of the world bore into my soul. I am scarred with the stains of the fallen who grab at my feet and dream of a life never known. I push forward with a hope, knowing that the darkness will soon give way to light. Speak to me dear earth. I will catch your falling breath. Speak to me, I am now ready to listen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Marketing the Necessary Evil

This last week I finally reintroduced my fingers to my keyboard. I took some time off this last month from writing the sequel to Seventh Earth so I could work on marketing Seventh Earth. I didn't anticipate how much time it would actually take to market a book. Working with a small publisher with a limited budget much of the marketing of Seventh Earth has been up to me. I knew that would be the case and I accepted it. Even if I had been picked up by a larger publisher for this first release I would have still been tasked with marketing my book. Sure a larger publisher would have the resources to arrange and pay for major ad and release campaigns but still, even with a large publisher the author has to put forth a great deal of effort to make the book a success. I read recently that many authors think that once they find an agent and publisher that they can sit back, relax and let the royalty checks flow in. Now if you are an established author with a good following that may be the case. However, for us first-timers that is not the case. To be successful an author must be willing to market. This is often a difficult and somewhat daunting prospect considering that many authors seem to be introverts.

To give you some idea of some of the marketing I have done I have created the following list. Now keep in mind that this is just some of the marketing I have done.

Hosted a book release party
Set up and attended book signing events
Created Seventh Earth T-shirts
Designed and printed bookmarks
Contacted public schools to set up author visits
Designed posters
Developed and continually update the website
Run a blog
Contact the media
Give away free personal copies to the media
Write press releases
Write news articles

I am always looking for, and thinking of new ways to market. To be honest I would much rather spend my time pounding away on the keyboard engrossed in a gripping story, but in order to afford to continue to write, I must sell.

Now don't get me wrong, I do love marketing my book--probably because I believe in it and because so many have said how much they love it. But its tough pushing a book when you have several others bursting from your fingertips begging to be the next.