Mary Mary sings a song "Shackles" that offers the prayer "Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance."

There are so many layers of meaning to that plea that I am only beginning to understand.  The ridiculous fourteen hour days that so many of us maintain keep us from living the life of celebration that we were born again to.

It is so difficult to find the time or the energy to participate in our families, much less in our community.  Stress can keep us enjoying the beautiful world we live in.  It can rob us of our joy and make us bitter. 

Our sin nature has the same power. Even when we have free time, it can override our thoughts with doubt, anxiety and guilt.  Sin is deadly not because it makes  us "bad", but because it separates us from our family, from our friends, from God.

Take a moment every morning and remember the promise.  You are a child of God and He loves you!  He wants to be with you.  Pray for the strength to overcome.  In the twelve step programs, the serenity prayer is a reminder to let go of those things we cannot control and ask for the strength to change what we can.

Someday, our Heavenly Father will bring his children home to His heart.  In the interim we fall on His grace, find comfort in the Holy Spirit and pray "Amen.  Come Lord Jesus!"

 Writing can be a very enlightening voyage of self-discovery.  But, without an audience, it sometimes feels like we are just talking to ourselves.  Tonight, I found it amusing to engage in a conversation with myself while my wife was busy with a coworker on the phone

Me:  I am not really talking to anyone.  I am texting myself so that I look busy and important.

Myself:  Dude, that is really lame.  You need to see a shrink or something.

Me:  I tried that but he kept falling asleep.  After two sessions, he said I couldn't pay him enough to sit through another session.

Myself:  You should have asked for your money back.

Me:  I did.  I even took him to court.

I:  So, you got your money back?

Me:  Nah, the judge said I was lucky that he didn't sue me for wasting his time.  Then she charged me with contempt just for getting on her nerves.

Myself:  Sorry bro, looks like I am the only friend you have.

Me:  What are you talking about?  I don't like you either!

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  It has been a roller coaster ride as of late.  I have encountered many victories and many setbacks in both my personal and professional lives.  I’ve been banging my head against a wall trying to fix my daughter’s laptop, going as far as replacing the motherboard only to experience the same power-cycling problem.   I am still recovering from some recent difficult events and I’ve had a number of days where I‘ve barely written at all.

Still there are good things in this potpourri that is life.  I resolved a difficult computer challenge at work.  I’ve completed a number of chores that I had been putting off and I am working with and learning so much from a great group of editors.  One of the most important things that I can pass on to you is to slow down.  It sounds obvious, but sometimes we get so eager we jump over steps trying to get where we want to be.  Take the time to read that manuscript again all the way through.  Put it aside for a couple of days and come back to it.

Recently I have received a few rejections for some of the stories that I wrote two months ago.  In rereading some of the pieces, after the things that I’ve learned and with the distance from the time of writing, I find that I have more criticisms than the editors did.

The second thing that I can tell you for sure, now that I have half a dozen bosses, is that every editor is different.  Just because your story wasn’t quite right for a particular market doesn’t mean you can’t find a home for your baby.  So keep on driving!

If you haven't already, please take a look at my 1950s story The Last Straw then go to SoftCopy on Facebook and like me.  You have to like SoftCopy first to vote.  I appreciate your support!
Okay that is a little bit over the top, but I would appreciate your support with my latest contest entry "The Last Straw" at the SoftCopy Facebook Page

Feel free to enter yourself.  The official rules are on SoftCopy's Blog site

I have nearly finished my short story sequel to Carmilla (the story that inspired Dracula).   One of my editors insisted that, with time, I would find it easier to write longer stories. In fact, it would be difficult to stay within maximum length guidelines.  I am beginning to understand.  I have to winnow carefully to keep the story under 5000 words.

While researching, I reread Carmilla and I remembered why I fell in love with the story to begin with.  Le Fanu made powerful use of atmosphere.  That is the core of good horror writing.  By evoking rich images that the reader can relate to, you allow the reader to disappear into your world.  Within that framework, slowly revealing the inevitable danger creates the suspense that makes horror effective.

I am hardly there, but I am learning.  The more we read, the more we understand the way that writing works.  There is no magical formula for good fiction, but there are tools that we can make use of to improve our writing.  Take a look and see what I mean about building atmosphere.  Carmilla at Project Gutenberg

Keep writing friends!

Is it wrong to feel jealous of your alter ego?

Where do you get your power from?  Writing, frankly, life takes a lot out of you, emotionally and physically.  There are some days when it consumes all of my strength just to get up and go in to work, come home, do my chores and go to bed.

Where do you go when you feel run down?  When the days are too long and the night never seems long enough, it can feel like your pillow is a giant magnet.

Make sure that, wherever you get your strength, your source is a renewable supply. 
You don't want to wake up one morning and realize it is gone or that you can't afford to buy more.

Still working with a number of editors on upcoming publications, details to follow. 

Currently I am writing three stories:  a wild west ghost story, a gothic horror with a steampunk twist, and a good old fashioned zombie tale.  The research is slowing me down immensely, but I get the joys of learning and creating at the same time!

Keep writing my friends!
Whenever you are having the worst days.  Take heart.  Remember, you are not alone.  Today, someone else in the world is enduring the same difficulty you are, no matter what.  In fact, someone just might be having a worse day than you are.

A New Dawn
It is amazing what a difference a funeral makes.  As human beings, we have a need for closure, for a sense of completion.  One thing that I learned, this week, was that it is even more overwhelming to watch your child grieve than it is to grieve yourself. 

With the funeral behind us and the basement beginning to resume a normal state, we have started to get things in order for the winter and I find my writer’s block has finally lifted.  Unfortunately, a number of market deadlines passed while I struggled through frustration and grief. Therefore, I will have to move on and come back to those stories later when I have free time.

When I saw the sun rising, this morning, I remembered that every day is a new day.  We face a new dawn with the opportunity to start again.  True, we can never take some things back.  We cannot bring our loved ones back from the grave.  We cannot remove the hurt of divorce or broken relationships.  Nevertheless, we can build again.  We can start anew.

Maybe you know that you need to say you are sorry but you have put it off.   Perhaps you care about someone and he or she does not know how you feel.  Alternatively, if your personal life is in order, is there is a novel that has been sitting on your hard drive half completed , a job you’ve been too afraid to post for or a completion you have hesitated to enter? Now is the time.  Today is a new day, perhaps the last one that you have.  Make it count.

Keep writing, not just with your mind, but also with your heart!

I am busy building an internet presence for my other writing name.  It has been quite challenging to determine how to use the name effectively.

Meanwhile, I have been examining the stack of rejections in my inbox and wondering what to do with them.  As I have discovered that a number of markets are very fussy about previous publishing including writing forums and personal websites, I have put off simply sharing them with you.

Remember, every story deserves a voice; the problem is either the audience or the delivery.  Every time we get a rejection, we should review the manuscript, along with any notes the editors may have offered.  Look for things that you have learned since the time of submission.  Read it aloud and make sure you are still comfortable with the piece.  Do not rush into changing the whole story just evaluate it as carefully as you can.  Then when you are happy with the revised manuscript, dust yourself off and move on to the next market.  I promise you, there is one out there.

There are as many tastes and opinions  as there are editors and even a given editor may find a story amusing one day and too silly another or scary one day and just verbose another.  Keep posting, you will get there.

Keep writing my friends!