Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dog Lessons...

Hi! Just a note about a recent experience and some thoughts.

My neighbor was walking his dog in the woods out back of our place. A very cool dog,Lab-Pointer mix. My neighbor created trails through 80 acres for this purpose. A few days ago on a morning walk the dog, Maggie, chased after some some stray dogs. He thought nothing of it as she always returned home after these ventures. But then a day went by, then two, and then three.

Out here in the country, during hunting season, it seems impossible that she would return. Dogs get stolen regularly, shot, or ran over. He still did all he could do with postings in the area, online, and word of mouth in the community. And many friends of his were praying for him in this.

Late last night I felt compelled to walked to the furthest part of my property and yell for her.  I yelled her name across another neighbor's vast field and the name echoed into the woods beyond. I prayed that God would supernaturally carry these calls as far as they needed to go to reach her. That they be a beacon for her somehow.

As I walked back to my house I thought about this prayer. About belief. Here is this person that even some who do not believe - but understand the concept of him is..big. That should God exist he would be...big. For believers he is known as the Lord of Hosts, Almighty, Alpha and Omega, Lord of Lords, King of Kings. And much more. Big.

But then I looked to my own faith and found how little I had in such a person to simply...return a dog home? I determined with all I could manage to believe him for this simple task. I refused to enter my house until I had settled this with him at least to my satisfaction. 

This morning I woke to a call from my neighbor telling me that a man, a pastor, had found Maggie and was bringing her home. He lived just on the other side of that field I yelled across.

I truly don't know anything or understand anything. I keep coming back to that know what I mean?

Have a great weekend.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bigger than a Breadbox...

I had a great time last night speaking to the North Wake Homeschool Honor Society. They all stayed awake! ;-) And the questions were so good. We talked about the novel Land Run but also about creativity in general.

There is a scene in the novel when one of the older characters asks a younger character - 'is man a machine or a creature?'.  The answer is 'creature'.

Much hinges on this understanding because the message of society is 'machine' and that is contrary to the reality. So we talked some about this and other places it might be appropriate to adopt counter-cultural views today. We also discussed the importance of the arts in the development of our creativity. Much of the important matters of life are managed by 'flying by the seat of our pants' it is good to get hold of an understanding of who we are as people and where we stand - literature, history, philosophy, and the arts all help us to do this.

This got me thinking today about some very strong themes in Land Run.

Cultural clashes
Multi-Cultural community
Teenage pregnancy
Corporate Statism

Research that provided descriptiveness:

Oklahoma history
American Indian history (Seminole and Creek)
Construction (home developments)
Eminent domain policy

Experience that provided descriptiveness:

Having lived in the region (understanding their specific challenges)
44 years of looking at people ;-)
Volunteer work in a nursing home

Monday, October 17, 2011

VERY FUN Interview tonight

Just want to post a big thank you to the book club of McAlester public library in McAlester Oklahoma. I was invited to call in and speak with them towards the end of their meeting about Land Run. Great questions by the way!

This coming Thursday evening, Oct. 20, I will be the guest speaker at the North Wake Home School Honor Society in Raleigh, NC. I am looking forward to that as well. My daughter Caitlin will be in attendance so I hope to spice it up a bit to avoid the perception of dad just giving another lecture. ;-)

Have a great day!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Hey folks! Okay, I am a little excited. I just found out that Land Run is on KINDLE!

So many people have asked me about this since Land Run was released in May. There were some things the publisher had to square away with Amazon.

But It's here!

Click here to check it out --- LAND RUN KINDLE

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hard or Easy...

I know it is not wise to speak in good company (and you all are) about religion or politics. But on one level the novel Land Run does seek to bring them together. Not to offend, but only to observe.

I have started to watch the news again (busy with new novel of the American in Ukraine - possible title is Borderland).

Wall Street protests and the Tea Party...agree and meet over the problem of Corporate Statism. That is, the deep ties between the corporations and government seems to have come to a head. First, the Tea Party has been upset over their retirement plans (for the most part). And the Wall Street protesters are very concerned about their working future (rightly so).

But what seems to be missing from both camps (to a high degree - but not completely, of course) is a concern and discussion of their common values. I would contend that would force a very real reversal of the state and direction of the country.

LAND RUN addresses this on the local level. The bank, government, and business work together to manipulate local opportunities for their shared gain (via eminent domain).

Personally, I believe we will all be okay in the end. That is, we can go hard or easy...but ultimately we will have to come back together on our shared values. That is something that corporations and governments cannot stand against. Example: child labor, women's right to vote, slavery, civil rights, etc.

These values always happen to be in line with the constitution and gets things back in line. Hard...or easy ;-)

Money and the desire of it are not values. And are likely not to be found or supported by the constitution. The Tea Party and Wall Street Occupy groups seem to have this as their focus. So that is just fighting the corruption of corporate-statism...with the same corruption. They need to come together over better and real freedom, privacy, responsible and accountable government and corporations, etc. Seriously, if the Tea Party knew what has happened to their food supply, land-use, and global job exports...and the Wall Street Occupy folks knew what really results from big government and their checks (see American Indian reservations).

Anyhow - back to writing novels... ;-)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

FREE Short Story - Pulled From New Novel

I won't take up too much time on this blog for my new novel. But it is currently in a pretty good state. It still has some stages to get through. First, my best (and best looking) editor will be reviewing it (see the dedication of Land Run for her name :-) Then I will have another copy-editor check it out and test my knowledge of basic grammar, etc.

Eventually I will have to spend some time to decide how to best shop it around. With Land Run, I have gone the route of a great literary agent which was very cool. But in the end I chose to go directly with a mainline publisher located where the novel's setting was, Oklahoma. That just seemed appropriate - and I am very glad that I did. :-)

For now, the title of the new novel is 'Borderland'. It is of the adventures of an American in Ukraine who stayed much longer than he ever intended to. One of the main characters, a taxi driver, is developed early in the novel, including a section of 8 pages that also works as a short story. I want to point you to the link at the top of this blog called 'Fun Short Story'. It is a straight section ripped from the novel Borderland but can stand alone as a short story. The short story has also been featured in Goodreads and Authorsden and in England at Lost In Fiction.

An interesting thing about Land Run is that in some ways the novel is experimental - there is no direct protagonist. I wanted to write the most realistic novel possible, where everyone at some level is an antagonist. I hope I succeeded. Let me know. :-)

Borderland, though very realistic, will have a very definite protagonist and antagonist. And it is infused with certain Russian and Ukrainian literary influences. That is, there are twists and turns and unexpected events - but the realism includes some very interesting supernatural and spiritual phenomenon. I believe readers will have a great time reading it. You know, whenever and however I manage to have it readers :-)

Please check out the Short Story and tell me what you think. Oh, the title of the short story is 'The Patriot'. But it is really just 8 pages ripped from the new novel.

Click links below:

Authors Den - short story

Goodreads - short story

Lost In Fiction (Britain) - short story

Monday, October 3, 2011

WOW - Power of the Pen

Well, a farmer/builder in our area happens to own a great cabin in the Mountains near Ashville, NC.  (See Ashville photos in earlier post). My wife and I really wanted to get away and knew that they sometimes rented their cabin to folks. When asked how much it would be the man told her he needed to think about it and would get back to her. 

When he called back with the answer it was this, "ask Mark to please add us in his newspaper article about the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour event. I have some new solar panels." That was the rental price! :-)

Well, we went to and returned from the long weekend in the mountains. The next weekend I went to interview him about this new project of his and then went home that night to write the 350 word article for our county newspaper.  Here is the interesting results:

- The article came out just before the annual county farm tour and even though it was raining, his farm got more business than ever.

- The Emmy award winning TV news station then came out and did an interview and segment on their nightly newscast.  WRAL News of Raleigh, NC.

- Our county newspaper did a full front page follow-up article with photos and State government officials present for the interview. Written by a real journalist - not just a fiction guy wanting to rock on a mountain porch and stare at trees. ;-)

- Now I hear that members of the Obama administration is visiting his farm. I will update you if this thing keeps growing.

So I know this man is an entrepreneur. But wow, now I know just how much creativity goes into business decisions. Someone like me would have just listed the cabin for $20 a night to cover power and whatever.

Click here to see RAY FAMILY FARMS

Clean Renewable Energy in Franklin County

I had the opportunity to start my discussion with Chad Ray of Ray Family Farms while he unloaded Snap Pea leaves where the chickens congregated. "Nothing wasted," he told me. I learned of his new plans to install a solar panel PV system atop his barn while riding with him as he tilled different areas of his farm. It would seem that Mr. Ray considers time as among the things not to be wasted.

Ray Family Farms is known locally for their many teaching programs. Interested folks learn to start with simple things such as fixing drafty houses, purchasing local food from where they live, minimizing short car trips into a few highly productive ones, having your own backyard chicken flock, and much more.

Recently the USDA, Farm Bureau, and the NC Tobacco trust fund worked together to make this dream of energy conservation a reality. He feels blessed to be living in North Carolina where grants are available for local farmers. He believes these improvements will not just help in his goals to maintain a local farm. It will also invest in the future of his community; creating local jobs, reinvesting in the local economy, creating clean renewable energy for the grid, and supporting a smaller environmental imprint for his farm within his community.

Ray said that he knows that his chosen direction in farming is not for everyone. He noted that at this time his unconventional farming incurs additional risk in an already risky business. But that makes his efforts so much more important for him. He wants others to know sustainable farming as a real viable option for them. And in his business every success is celebrated. That is one reason why they can’t wait for the installation of the new solar panels. And why they keep an open invitation for folks to come by the farm anytime. So if you come out for the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, Sept. 17-18, be sure to stop by Ray Family Farms. He will sit still for crowds…I think.