Category Archives: books

Still Learning Book Covers and G.I.M.P.

A print book cover is much more difficult than an e-book cover. You have to consider the quality of the graphics, and having things in exactly the right place is extremely important.
A print book cover is much more difficult than an e-book cover. You have to consider the quality of the graphics, and having things in exactly the right place is extremely important.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I hate dealing with book covers. I should just hire this done, to someone with more artistic talents who is also learned in graphic arts programs. Alas, I don’t want to have my writing activities indebted to the family budget, so I’m on a pay-as-you-go basis. Right now, that means that, with a few exceptions, I make my own covers.

Here's the print book cover for "In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People". I want the "Headshots" to be as good as this, which was a cover I did based on the e-book cover my son did.
Here’s the print book cover for “In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People”. I want the “Headshots” to be as good as this, which was a cover I did based on the e-book cover my son did.

But I hate it. That also means I have to use a free graphics arts program, rather than expensive programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator. That means G.I.M.P. I believe I’ve also written about hating G.I.M.P. I hate it because it is difficult to use. That’s partly because I don’t understand some of the graphic arts terms, but also because the documentation is poor. I’ve found some third-party help with G.I.M.P., such as article, or videos on YouTube. But, to be honest, they all do their thing by assuming the reader/watcher know more than I do. They’ll say “after you’ve selected the layer” or some such thing, assuming I know how to select a layer, when I don’t. It’s maddening.

Here's the e-book cover for "Headshots". I wanted to improve the font some, and, of course, add the spine and back cover, making it all the right size in the right place at a good quality.
Here’s the e-book cover for “Headshots”. I wanted to improve the font some, and, of course, add the spine and back cover, making it all the right size in the right place at a good quality.

In terms of creating the cover for a print book, however, I’m starting to get more comfortable with the whole process. I didn’t say I was proficient, or that I enjoyed it, or was good at it; just that I was more comfortable. I have come to learn the basic steps needed: figure the exact size of the cover wrap; create a canvas that size; create a “size overall” layer; create a front cover layer; create a back cover layer; create a spine box layer; position these where they need to go; add words and graphics to each. Piece of cake, right?

Several times I’ve gotten something to work, but didn’t really know how I did it, and thus couldn’t replicate it for the next cover, or even for another part of the cover I was working on. For the last cover I asked one of our landscape architects at work to help me to understand what I had to do to move layers into the right place: centered, left, right, whatever. We got it to work, but didn’t really know why—or at least I didn’t.

Here's what I've got so far. I still need to improve the font on the front. But, overall, not bad. I'm not unhappy.
Here’s what I’ve got so far. I still need to improve the font on the front. But, overall, not bad. I’m not unhappy.

Last Friday, I was working on the cover for the print edition of Headshots. I want to have it out for the end of baseball season, which is fast approaching. I had begun this cover about three weeks ago, but got bogged down and left it. I started on the noon hour, but had little luck, so was continuing into the afternoon (guess I’ll charge that time to vacation). I went to the break room for coffee, and ran into our corporate CADD trainer, who I supervise. He asked how it was going, and I said “Great if I could figure out how to use G.I.M.P.” He said that was something he could help me with.

Back to my office we went, and I said I was having trouble 1) placing layers where I want them, which G.I.M.P. calls “Align” or “Distribute”; and 2) filling a layer with color. He showed me how to do the latter, though I don’t think I remember it today; I’ll see at noon. But he couldn’t figure out the G.I.M.P. commands for alignment. He’s a wiz at graphic arts, so I didn’t feel too bad.

But while he was there, I tried something. I wanted to center the “spine box” layer on the “overall size” layer. That assures that the spine will be in the right place. I tried something. I made the Align command active. Then I chose “Active Layer” as the target. Now, the program doesn’t say that drop down menu is to select the target, but when you hover the mouse over it, the words “Select target” appear. Then I went to the list of layers on a side panel and chose “Overall size”. Then I moved the mouse over the spine box on the canvas and clicked it. At that point the arrows in Alignment command box went from grayed-out to active. Aha! I clicked center, and poof! the spine box moved to the center of the overall size, just like magic.

I quickly wrote those steps out, so I wouldn’t forget them. Then I did “undo” several times, until the spine box was back out of position (I saved the file first). I looked at the list of instructions I’d written, and followed them. Again, the spine box moved to the right place. It didn’t seem like magic that time. It seemed almost logical, and replicatable.

I have a long way to go on creating covers. The graphic arts program is the mechanics. I’m slowly but surely getting to know that. The whole artistic thing—what looks good, what looks professional, what will attract a buyer to a book—is something I have to still work on. But I’m getting there. I’m almost at the point of knowing enough to be dangerous.

Getting Things Done

It’s really hard for me to sit down and write when I have other things to do. I don’t really want to bore my readers with all that I have to get done right now, but it’s a substantial list. Some of them major. There’s one, two, or even possibly three weekend trips coming up. Although, my wife has said she really doesn’t want to go to the 50th reunion of her high school class, so maybe scratch one of those trips—unless she changes her mind at the last minute.

The schedule for one trip is finally set. Although, we have to make arrangements for Lynda’s mother, who can’t really be left alone much any more. We started the process, but haven’t heard back yet. I’m formulating a plan b, just in case.

I’m still dealing with the IRS over the 2015 tax year and the ID theft we encountered. I have more than $1000 refund due that hasn’t been paid. I thought this was taken care of more than a year ago. Alas, not. I started the ball re-rolling on Wednesday, and it looks like maybe this time it will happen, and I’ll have my money before the end of the year. I hope so, because…

…getting a new car is another big thing we need to do. I started looking in mid-August, which got Lynda going, since she was afraid I’d make a deal on it, a deal she probably wouldn’t like. We are in agreement on what to get (though she’s a bit more restrictive than me), and which old vehicle to trade or sell. So this ball is rolling. Fortunately, we have a spare vehicle right now, and can afford to wait a while if needed.

Then, we were having a leak from the kitchen down to The Dungeon. I couldn’t tell what it was, or even where it was since there aren’t any pipes above where the leak was. I had the plumber come out Tuesday, and he isolated the problem as the dishwasher. It’s 30 years old, and we knew we were going to have to change it. Today I went to Lowe’s, where we got the replacement fridge from, and began the process of looking. The cost won’t be as bad as I thought it might. Although, there’s that finished ceiling to repair.

Add in a few things such as the genealogical research I’m obsessed over right now (soon to be at a wrapping up point, for now), trying to finish reading a difficult book (and finally being down to near the end of it), being asked by a friend to read another difficult book (and making early progress on it), trying to get an e-book ready for publication, and stumbling on making the print book cover (but maybe having figured out a way), and four or five other things, and, well, I just haven’t felt like writing.

Wednesday I felt awful. I think it was tension building up over all these balls needing to be pushed or juggled, one or the other. Getting the IRS thing taken care of Wednesday didn’t do much for me. Even getting the one weekend trip scheduled and the other (potentially) cancelled didn’t do much. I was dragging at work and at home. Finally, yesterday, getting a couple of minor things done, things not even significant enough to mention here, and the weight seemed to lift off me. I also stopped by Lowes and started looking for the dishwasher.

Just as it was an accumulation of things-to-do that built up, causing the stress, so it was the adding up of getting a few things done that relieved it to a large extent. I feel like I can see light at the end of my tunnel.

I’m still not going to write yet. I want to get the one book finished, and the e-book published in print, before I’ll spend any significant time on writing. But, at least last night and today, I know I’ll get there. It also helped to sell a couple of books yesterday!

Author Interview: Paul Lawrence

Today’s blog post is an interview of author Paul Lawrence. I don’t remember exactly where I met Paul on-line. Probably at a blog for writers that we both read and post at from time to time. I checked out him and his writing. Time for you all to know about it.

DAT: Your website bio indicates you were a computer security analyst, and that you wrote articles in your professional field. How does someone make the jump from writing computer articles to writing creatively?

Paul in a casual pose, no doubt with the gray cells churning out a scene or some dialog.
Paul in a casual pose, no doubt with the gray cells churning out a scene or some dialog. And, while I’m at it, thank you, Paul, for your service to our country.

PL: For many years, I dreamt of writing fiction. In fact, my wife bought a wood name plaque with Paul Lawrence (my pen name) on it about fifteen years ago for my birthday. She said, “Maybe this will motivate you.” But I stayed so busy with my work and keeping up with the changes in my chosen field, that there was little time even for reading outside my profession. I was asked to write an article for, because another writer had declined to at the last minute. Once I had written the first one, they kept asking me to write more. That helped me believe in myself as a writer.

When I retired, I decided it was time to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a novelist. But the two fields are so dissimilar that it’s quite a leap. In nonfiction, you write about facts but try to do it in an entertaining way.  With fiction, you have to stir the readers’ emotions and make them feel like they are living the experience.

The first thing I started writing was a crime story with a Christian
detective. The first fifteen pages were what is known as “telling”. I was writing the story as if it was nonfiction, describing the detective and his accomplishments without any emotion or action. (I may go back to that one day, but it will be dramatically different than the way I started it.)

DAT: Your book is titled “Prayers Were No Help”. It’s a provocative title. Tell us something about it. And how did you come to write it?

A novella, "Prayers Were No Help" is available both as an e-book and a print book.
A novella, “Prayers Were No Help” is available both as an e-book and a print book.

PL: It’s a story about a guy who is flying high, enjoying life and success, and thinks the good times will never end. Then his wife is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and his world comes crashing down. Like many others in similar circumstances, he sinks into depression and begins drinking heavily.

Realizing that he has to either end it all or find a way out of the
darkness surrounding him, he travels to his family’s lake cabin to be alone with his thoughts and the bottle. But he meets a mysterious man named Toby, who’s persistence and patience lead to his healing and a positive outlook on life from a God-centered perspective.

One day, he decides to return to the lake and thank Toby and finds out Toby was not who he thought he was at all.

I was inspired to write the story, because I have been touched by cancer personally. I lost my best friend to pancreatic cancer, and five years ago my wife was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Then, while she was waiting for her surgery date, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Both of us believed she would beat cancer, and she has. She has been cancer-free for five years now. The experience, dealing with the doctors and learning about the treatment modalities, informed my writing.

The title was suggested by my editor. I had tried similar ones but liked her suggestion so much I decided to use it. I think it speaks to the questions we all have when we think our prayers aren’t being answered and we don’t understand why. I love the Garth Brooks song, Unanswered Prayers, by the way.

DAT: Why did you decide to self-publish this?

PL: Since I’m new to the business, I began by doing a lot of research. I knew it wasn’t easy to publish using the traditional route, but I tried. I was told that no one reads Christian fiction and no one wants to publish novellas.  (My book is only 23,000 words, less than half the length of some novels and less than a quarter the size of many sci-fi novels.) I knew the story was complete. Adding more to it would have made it worse. So, eventually I decided to self-publish. Even if only one person reads it, it is my prayer that that one person will be inspired.

What’s next for you? I assume you’re working on a second book, if not  even more than that.

Actually, I have three in the pipeline.  The first, which is nearing completion, is a story about a young man from Iowa who volunteers to go to Vietnam, to carry on the family tradition. His experience there, and upon returning, shapes his life and causes him to endure a great deal of emotional upheaval. In the end, God’s love will save him and heal his heart. The title is Some Wounds Never Heal.

The second and third are in the germ stage; a story about a woman who is abused by her husband and how she finds the strength to believe in herself and God to escape from that prison, and a story about a girl who is kidnapped by a serial killer and a female FBI profiler who desperately wants to catch him before he kills again. The two together will solve the case and bring closure to many grieving families.

DAT: So there you have it, folks. Check out Paul’s book at Amazon, as well as his website.

Writer Interview: A.D. Vick

Al VickEvery family probably has a writer or two in it. Previously I’ve interviewed a first cousin who is a writer and who’s published her books. Today is an interview with another cousin, in this case a second cousin, A.D. Vick. A.D.’s dad and my dad were first cousins. They spent a lot of time together growing up, and were in touch regularly as adults. It helped that our two families attended the same church, the Vicks sitting right behind the Todds on the first and second pews, left side.

A.D. is the oldest of three children, and three years ahead of me in school. We saw a lot of each other before college years, even at the shore in summers. I remember visiting his grandfather (my great-uncle) a number of times while his family was there also.

A.D. was from Providence, Rhode Island. In the late 1970s he moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and has lived there ever since. I got to northwest Arkansas in 1991, but didn’t know he was 30 miles down the road from me, something I learned in 1997. It wasn’t until May 2016 that we saw each other, though through the miracle of Facebook we had reconnected earlier than that.

At some point I learned A.D. was a writer. His tales could be considered part of the goth subculture, that…well, I think it’s best now to let this be in his own words.

You state you are part of the Goth Culture. But many people don’t really know what that is, or they think of it as a teenage phase. Can you give us a quick summary of what it means to be Goth?

Vick: Modern goth culture grew out of the post-punk movement during the early 1980s in Great Britain. The music that came to be called goth rock and dark wave had a darker feel to it than the better-known new wave that enjoyed a lot of popularity at the time. If the goth culture has a theme song, it would have to be Bela Lugosi’s Dead, by Bauhaus.

Goths in general, see beauty in darkness and accept darkness as a part of life. Yes, many enjoy the macabre, like to spend time in cemeteries (as do I) and enjoy dark fashion, which exists in great diversity. We are a harmless lot however, and would rather spend time reading, watching horror movies, drinking tea in graveyards, or writing poetry than causing any trouble.

Contrary to belief, there is no age limit to goth. While there’s little doubt that for some teenagers, goth is just a phase, many embrace the culture for a life time. It’s who they are.

Al Vick book thumbnailYou have a book out, Tales of Dark Romance and Horror. Tell us a little about it. How did you come to write it?

Vick: I see Tales of Dark Romance and Horror as sort of a documentary on my writing style. The book contains 12 short stories and one novella. I’m a romantic at heart and most of the material in the book reflects that. Still, I can look at the work contained within its pages as a reflection of my evolution as a writer.

My greatest literary inspiration is Edgar Allan Poe. I can vividly remember being stretched out on my bed reading his fiction as a child, and I firmly believe that it was he who inspired me to stay firmly in the realm of the short story. Other inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, and Charles de Lint.

I can still remember being taken somewhere with my parents as a child and at times, sitting and writing fiction to amuse myself. I always enjoyed writing and have indulged myself in many different aspects of that craft over the years. Still, I really like using grammar and punctuation creatively, which is something you simply cannot do if you’re doing technical writing, for example. So, between my love of fiction, my enjoyment of the macabre, and my love for romance and the creative use of language, I decided to write the book.

Are the stories stand-alone, or are they part of a series?

Vick: Some is part of a series and some is stand-alone. Three stories comprise my Raven series. Raven is a dead woman who comes back to this reality from the land of the dead to meet with her love, who still lives in the flesh, and to play violin in a metal band. Then, there’s my Sea Haven series, which I place on North Carolina’s outer banks. These two stories center around a couple of goth women who are best friends and the last of what was once a thriving culture in their locale. There are two other stories contained in the book that belong to my A Fall From Grace series. This is vampire fiction.

Even though the other stories are stand-alone, there are ways in which some of them intersect. For example, both my Raven series and the novella Rosalie center around a fictitious town I call Fox Grove, which I place in Newton County, Arkansas. The characters differ but I like using that locale.

Give us an idea of a typical plot. Take one story and walk us through it.

Vick: My style seems to be evolving and I’m not sure that there is a typical plot. The one constant, however, is that most of my material involves a mix of both romance and horror. So, I would like to use Night of the Harvestmen, which made me the 2014 Writer’s Workshop winner at Horror Addicts Dot Net.

The story, which is told in the first person, opens with the protagonist shouting with glee as he watches his house burning down. After the opening scene, the plot flashes back to a seemingly chance encounter he has with a young woman on a street in North Charleston, South Carolina. The lady has an incredible effect upon him and it takes days for him to get over her; this, even though nothing of significance took place between them.

Our hero returns to his rural home to find that he must deal with an infestation of harvestmen (daddy long legs), which seem to be gaining control of his house. After a week or two of battling with them, his abode is finally free of them. A friend reminds him that there is a goth music festival coming up on the weekend; and after battling the harvestmen for so long, he’s excited about attending. Upon his arrival, he spots the same lady he’d briefly encountered in North Charleston. They hit it off and she goes home with him. Our hero has found the love of his life and is in bliss until something goes terribly wrong.

What’s in store next? Are you working on more stories, or another book?

Vick: I’m currently working on a story called The Arrival of Narkissa Laveau. This is to be the last story I’ll  write for a new book. This new publication will be smaller than the first and will contain seven stories. Still, I feel that it would be advantageous to get a second book published. While I haven’t settled on a title for this upcoming publication, I’ve arranged for someone to do a bit more art work for it and I have a picture that I believe will serve as an excellent cover photo. I hope to publish by the end of winter or early spring.

Al’s book can be found at

Tales of Dark Romance and Horror [at Amazon]

Author Interview: Lori Ericson

I may have two college degrees, but sometimes I have trouble putting two and two together. I’ve been Facebook friends with author Lori Ericson for a couple of years (I think), having “met” through some FB writing groups for this neck of the woods. I was also aware of Lori Ericson, city planner for the City of Rogers, Arkansas. Since I don’t deal with cities much any more, in my capacity as corporate trainer, I hadn’t actually worked with Lori the planner. But I knew about her, and knew others in our company worked with her.

Lori Ericson
Lori Ericson

Well, we had Lori and some other people in to our office a couple of weeks ago to hold a panel discussion for us on the city planning process. While everyone was here, having lunch right before the session, I heard someone say something about Lori’s books. As an civil engineer who hopes to be a writer when he grows up, my ears perked up. While the panel discussion was going on I looked for Lori the author on my phone, and found her. I discovered we were Facebook friends. I’d just never realized this is the same Lori. And, checking her out in Linked In, I discovered we live kind of close to each other.

Okay, that’s much too long of an explanation/introduction. Lori has two novels published, and has had some short stories anthologized. But she has many more writing credits than that. So on with the interview.

Lori, your bio indicates you held positions as a print journalist for a number of years. Now, however, you work as a city planner by day and a creative writer by night. Why the change?
I saw changes in the newspaper business that didn’t match the type of journalism that I wanted to do. As a newspaper reporter for 20 years in Northwest Arkansas, I had covered planning issues in both Benton and Washington counties and knew the basics of the field. So, it was a good fit for me when I saw the opening. The change also gave me a chance to concentrate on my dream of becoming a novelist. It was hard to come home and write at night or on the weekends when I’d been writing all day as a journalist. 
So, the bug to write creatively bit you, as it did me. I was diagnosed incurable around 1999. You?
I wanted to be a writer when I was a child. I read a lot and wrote short stories since I was in elementary school. Then in junior high they did some testing, asked us about our dream job, etc. I said I wanted to be a writer. The school counselor pushed me toward journalism, saying I’d need to make money. I didn’t know how true that was! I joined the school newspaper and then majored in journalism and English in college. 
Tell me about your first novel, A Lovely County. What is the genre? Give us a teaser of what it’s about.
a-lovely-county-frontA Lovely County is a thriller/mystery. It’s about a reporter in the Ozarks who has moved back to her hometown after being fired at a statewide daily newspaper. Now working for a weekly paper, she stumbles across a big story when a young boy’s murder turns out to be at the hands of a serial killer. Reporter Danni Edens struggles to beat the competition to the story and redeem her career while she’s out trying to sort out the facts of possible corruption at the county jail. All the while, she’s also dealing with her mother’s mental illness and rumors that could hurt the reputation of her family-owned cemetery. 
And now, you have a newly released novel, A Lovely Murder. Is it a sequel? Tell us about it.
lovelymurder_front-copyYes, A Lovely Murder is a sequel, but it can stand alone as well. Here’s the jacket brief on it: 
Life is finally coming together for reporter Danni Edens. Her mother’s mental illness seems to be under control, her career is taking off after a major setback, and she’s found love.
But a mistake from her past comes back to rob her of that newly found happiness and possibly more.
As Danni struggles with the biggest loss of her life, the challenges start piling up. She fights to keep her grief at bay while searching for the killer who took her fiancé, but soon realizes the culprit wants more blood. Her vehicle is deliberately sabotaged causing a wreck that injures her best friend. Then she’s accused of murder and forced to defend herself. All the while, more bodies are piling up.
How can she prove her own innocence, protect her family and friends, and rebuild her life when a killer lurks? Will she lose all she holds dear, including her dream of a happy future? Or even her life?
What’s in store for the future? If you’ve released novel 2, you’re probably well into novel 3, and planned novel 4.
A Lovely Grave is in the works and set for release late 2017. It involves the investigation into the disappearance of young women, most of them students at the state university. Danni Edens has finally made the leap back to a daily newspaper, but struggles with some sexual harassment may have her wishing she was still working at the weekly, even though she’s proving her worth as a reporter by beating everyone to the punch on the facts of biggest crime spree to hit her Ozarks hometown in years. 

Lori’s books are available at Amazon and other places, including directly from her publisher. Be sure to check them out. Here’s a link to her Amazon author page:

And here’s a link to her web page:

It rains! It rains!

Today, Friday, we are having band after band of thunderstorms pass over us here in Bentonville. As I’ve mentioned before, I like the rain; it does my heart good. So, on a Friday afternoon, I’m upbeat. I have completed a number of miscellaneous tasks this week, including today, and am ready for the weekend. If the storms continue (as, I believe, they are forecast to do), I shall read and write, file and discard, clean and organize to my heart’s content. If the rain holds off, I have plenty of outside work to occupy my time.

My writing work has been slowly progressing of late. I add a little every now and then to Preserve The Revelation. I do the same to Thomas Carlyle: A Chronological Bibliography of Compositions. Almost every day I review and add to my Bible study titled “Entrusted to My Care”, which we are scheduled to study in our adult Life Group beginning in four weeks or so. Of poetry, I add nothing. The villanelle I wrote last month I hope to get back to in a week or so, tweak it, then submit it to the anthology; the deadline for submittals is Oct 31.

Then, the other major task I have at hand is the cover for the print version of In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I’ve been waiting for two talented cover artists/creators to get to it. For a variety of reasons, some legitimate, some not, they haven’t gotten to it in over a month’s time. So, my top priority is to get it done this weekend, uploaded to CreateSpace, a proof copy ordered ASAP, and the book published ASAP. It won’t be as good as if a pro did it, but it will be done, and the book will be available before the Cubs win the World Series—if they do.

My cell phone just gave me a severe weather alert, the first one I’ve received on this. Yet, the thunder has about quit. I may not go by Home Depot on the way home. We’ll see.

Author Lori Stanley Roeleveld

Lori Roeleveld publicity photoYou can take the boy out of Rhode Island, but you can’t take Rhode Island out of the boy. Even 42 years after leaving there, I keep up with news from the state (as best I can in fly-over country), with old friends, and occasionally make a new friend or contact. Lori Roeleveld is one of them. I “met” her, the self-proclaimed “disturber of hobbits,” if I recall correctly, from an on-line writers group at Yahoo. Seeing she was from my home state, I made contact with her. We’ve attended the same conference, but I don’t know if she was there the year I was. If she was, we didn’t meet in person. I asked Lori if I could interview her for a blog post. Here it is.

Oh, but first, here’s a link to Lori’s author’s page at

DAT: “Disturber of hobbits”? You’ll have to explain that one.

LSR: Why Disturber of Hobbits? I care about hobbits, ordinary people, common Jesus followers like me just trying to survive from the ground to glory. Hobbits are all of us who like to be comfy and cozy, eat our meals on time, and who resist unsettling adventures. The problem is that settling in interferes with traveling on the narrow road to the heart of Jesus Christ, our true home. I write posts about faith designed to disturb the hobbit in all of us and inspire us to forget second breakfast long enough to join the adventure. I write to incite the faltering believer to join the ancient adventure.

The adventure is upon us. We are those who refuse to skim across the surface of faith. I write for all of us who have been unsettled from comfortable places and moved to follow Jesus into the adventure of our times. We may be common souls from small places and simple lives, “But, we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:39 ESV

DAT: When and why did you begin writing creatively?

LSR: I’ve always written, as long as I can remember. When I was in first grade, back in the sixties, I could read on an 11th grade level. I sped through my classroom work and my teacher would send me to the library to “read a book and write about it.” That went on through my elementary years until by high school, I was writing book reports about books that didn’t exist. My first published work were two poems in American Girl Magazine when I was fourteen.

DAT: Your first book, Running From a Crazy Man, was published in late 2014. Tell me something about it.

LSR: Running from a Crazy Man (and Other Adventures Traveling with Jesus) is a siren call to the modern believer that the God-adventure can happen even when, like King David, you’re running from a crazy man. Some Christians leave their relationship with God in a sealed box like a collectible that will be worth something “someday.” I write for believers who exercise their faith and break open the box, those who wholeheartedly answered the call to follow Jesus. But then, something happened and now they’re gasping beside the narrow road. They thought they were on the God adventure but suddenly it feels as if all they’re doing is running from a crazy man. Still, they seek the strength to continue the journey.

Crazy Man is a series of short, non-fiction chapters adapted from my most popular blog posts. It isn’t reading for the happily comfortable. These are words for the restless Jesus lover, the long-suffering disciple, the openhearted believer. Be forewarned. The challenges inside are designed to unsettle as well as to incite readers to relish the narrow road even when trouble is their travel companion.

DAT: What is the main takeaway you hope readers will have from RFCM?

LSR: I want readers to walk away convinced they can continue walking with Jesus even though they’ve encountered trouble, trial, or tribulation, and they can live the adventure they dreamed, even in the midst of trying circumstances.

DAT: How has the reception been for it?

LSR: Running from a Crazy Man has received all five and four star reviews on Amazon and I’ve heard from many readers who are in their second or third reading. Some use it as an unconventional devotional. Many are sharing it with their small groups or book clubs.

DAT: I see that your next book was Red Pen Redemption, which was published in late 2015. What’s that about?

LSR: Red Pen Redemption is a novella that takes place entirely one Christmas Eve, much like A Christmas Carol. What would you do if God took you up on a dare? Helen Bancroft’s led a good life and feels no need for her daughter’s Savior. When God accepts Helen’s dare to edit her autobiography and prove her righteousness, she’s in for a lesson in her own history. One woman’s journey from unbelief to acceptance turns into the Christmas Eve adventure of a lifetime beneath the red pen of Christ’s mercy and grace.

I wrote this story with love for all my friends who pray for unsaved parents and hold out the hope of Christ to them even into their eighties and nineties. God has surprises for us even when we think the adventure is close to an end. If you love history or could use a new perspective on your own history, you’ll love Red Pen Redemption!

DAT: Was it difficult to switch from writing non-fiction to writing “holiday” genre fiction?

LSR: Not at all. I like to choose the genre or literary vehicle that is best for each message or story I want to tell. Red Pen’s theme is most engaging through fiction.

DAT: You have a new book coming out in September. Tell me about that.

LSR: Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life) is my second non-fiction book. I started by asking the question, What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?

We live in a world populated with giants. Giant obstacles to sharing faith. Giant barriers to godly lives. Giant strongholds of sin. We come from a long line of giant-killers so, why aren’t we dodging more fallen giants? Jack and the Beanstalk could hold part of the key.

Jesus and the Beanstalk explores 2nd Peter 1:1-10 using fairy tale, humor, and modern culture to show today’s believers how to unleash that promise of an effective, fruitful life. Designed for both individuals, discipleship, small groups, or ministry retreats, readers will find this fresh take on spiritual growth engaging and motivating.

DAT: What do you see in the future for your writing? Since book 3 is in the publishing queue, I imagine you’re well along, or perhaps even finished, with book 4.

LSR: I have several fiction projects I’d like to write (or rewrite) and I’m developing a follow up non-fiction book in the vein of Jesus and the Beanstalk – right now titled, “Jesus through the Looking Glass.” And, of course, I keep on blogging. This summer, I’m taking a master class in screenwriting, so, who knows?

Author Interview – Faith Blum

HotWest - The Solid RockFaith Blum, who is a fellow member at an Internet writers site, has a book out that I suspect some readers of my blog might be interested in. It’s The Solid Rock, which is available at Amazon: DAT: The Solid Rock sounds like a title for a non-fiction Christian book. But your book is a novel How did you come up with that title? Faith: All of the novels in my series are named after hymns and the hymns are woven in throughout. I chose The Solid Rock because the theme of the song fit the theme of the book so well. I didn’t know exactly how well until I finished the rough draft, though. It was perfect! DAT: Give us a 60 second tour of the book. Faith: The Solid Rock is a Christian Western Mystery about a talented detective with a mission to find his kidnapped colleague who ends up working undercover with a heinous outlaw who has more plans than first meet the eye. DAT: The description of the book at Amazon gives no hint of any romance element. Is there one? And if so, tell us a little about it. Faith: There are a couple of slight romance subplots in the story. I’ll try to tell you about them without giving spoilers away. One is between the daughter of the missing detective and another young man. He’s been waiting for God’s leading to ask her father’s permission to court her and finally gets it. There are also five mail order brides in the story, although their romances are mostly told in the three novellas that will be coming out this summer. The other romance subplot happens mostly in the final chapters and epilogue, so I can’t really tell you anything about it without major spoilers. DAT: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Faith: I hope readers will see that Christians aren’t perfect and that’s okay as long as they continue to let God guide them.
DAT: This is book five in the Hymns of the West series. What are your plans for this series? When might we expect the next book in it?
Faith BlumFaith: For now, I plan to end the series with The Solid Rock. My spin-off series, Hymns of the West Novellas, still has three novellas coming this summer, though. And I am currently writing a series called Orphans of the West about some of the orphans who have been introduced in either a novel or a novella. I am also planning to write two other series’ about the descendants of characters from either the novels or novellas leading all the way up to current times, and possibly a slightly futuristic novel or two. That will depend on how long it takes me to write the other series’. So even though this particular series is coming to an end, the characters will live on.I hope some of you will buy Faith’s book. Check out her website: her series page on Facebook:, and Faith is doing a giveaway: a full set of paperback books! Fill out this form to earn entries to the giveaway. Each entry gives you one point, plus there are opportunities for bonus entries.

2015 Book Sales Report

Well, let me start right off with the 2015 sales table, then I’ll break it down. You might have to click on the table and view it full size to read it.

DAT Book Sales 2015

So in 2015 I sold 83 books. That’s one more than I sold in 2014. A few outlets I sell at via Smashwords haven’t reported all of 2015, so it’s theoretically possible I’ll have a couple of more sales. However, I never sell any books at those outlets, so I feel okay posting results now. Here’s some breakdown

  • Titles published in 2015: 51 sales
  • Previously published titles: 32 sales
  • Print books: 63
  • E-books: 20
  • Personal sales: 24
  • Sales through retailers: 59
  • Items with at least one sale: 13
  • Items with no sales: 8

So, I had a better year with print books than with e-books, a complete turnaround from prior years. But that’s not an accurate picture. Two of my news books, Daddy Daughter Day and Seth Boynton Cheney: Mystery Man of the West , I published only as print books. Since they were my two best sellers, naturally that would skew my results toward print books.

The Seth Cheney book was my best seller, at 29 copies. This was a book for members of my wife’s family, prepared prior to a family reunion in Dodge City in the summer. It had about 100 pages of narrative with photos and maps, and 200 pages of genealogical data, also with photos and maps. I completed it a month ahead, had time to market it to the family, and they bought it. I have only one unaccounted for sale that may have been from a non-family member. Sales of this will not be repeated in 2016.

So, was it a good year, or a dismal year? I suppose any time your sales increase, even if the increase was less than 2 percent, you should consider it a good year. On the other hand, selling only 4.17 copies per book published is rather dismal.

Oh, well, onward into 2016. Next post will be goals for the year.

And, I’ll link a smaller image of the table for linking at Absolute Write.

DAT Book Sales 2015 smaller 298x130

Book Sales through August 2015

Book Sales Graph 2015-08Oops! I’m a day late making a blog post. I had planned on something else, but instead I think I’ll give a book sales report. Excuse me a moment while I check my posts and see when is the last time I did that…

…I’m back. It looks as if I’ve not made a formal sales report at all in 2015. If that’s the case, the easiest way is for me to simply post a table from my spreadsheet. There it is above, through the end of August.

I’m on track to sell more books than last year. Sitting now at 71 sales, which equates to a yearly rate of 106. However, my sales this year are mostly driven by my issuing Daddy Daughter Day in April and Seth Boynton Cheney in September. Both of these are print-only books, and have sold mostly hand to hand. Without those, I’d have less than 20 sales this year. But, then, I’m up to over 400 sales all together in 4 1/2 years. I’ll take them.

Of course, that’s with almost zero publicity or promotion. I still don’t know what type of promotion would be effective for the books I publish. Perhaps next year I’ll do more promotion. Or perhaps not. Osmosis isn’t very effective I’m finding out, despite what some of the self-publishing gurus say.