"Tis the season, when we begin to reflect upon our lives and the
merits of helping others - at least it is for me. There's no doubt
in my mind of how fortunate I am to have lived this long and
find myself in reasonably good health, a nice roof over my head, a
beautiful (and lenient) wife, and the ability to write stories and
the good fortune to be able to publish them. For me, life is good,
but for many others life is a struggle.
Halloween gets the holidays kicked off, then Thanksgiving, and
finally the year wraps up with Christmas. I should also include
other celebrations such as Chanukah, Bodhi Day, Yule, and Kwanzaa -
all occasions to think about giving consideration to others. Have I
mentioned that I joined Rotary after moving to New Port Richey?
Well, I did, and I'm grateful that this organization provides me
with many opportunities to help others. But we don't really need
holidays as an excuse to lend a hand when we can.
The recent hurricane, Ian, created disasters for many people in
southwest Florida. The Rotary clubs from all around Florida got
together and collected donations of money and material for the
victims. Groups of clubs then banded together to package the goods
up and load them into trucks to be taken down to the disaster
areas. Rotarian volunteers from our area also teamed up with
Rotarians from the affected areas to distribute the relief where
needed and to physically lend a hand in the cleanup and
I've signed up to help prepare and distribute Thanksgiving meals
for 1000 needy families here in Pasco County. I also took part in
putting together a Halloween party for a group of children without
parents here in New Port Richey, providing them with much needed
toiletries as well as treats and a fun afternoon of activities.
Of course, there's always more that needs to be done. There's a
lot of suffering throughout the world, in our own nation, and much
more than most people realize in our own backyards. It seems that
no amount of philanthropy can eliminate all the misery. People like
Gates, Bloomberg, Ackman, and many others pump billions of dollars
into good causes, but millions still go hungry, are persecuted,
abused, or homeless. It's kind of a bummer, I know. But we can
still make small differences - one good deed at a time.
Since becoming a published author, people I meet often tell me
that they always wanted to write a book. For some, it's just a
whimsical notion they want to share with me, while for others their
desire is more wistful. I often tell these people that they should
just start writing, that they would probably be surprised at what
they could accomplish.
I often suggest they write a story about their lives and life
experiences. They typically laugh, "Oh, there's nothing interesting
about my life. I wouldn't have anything to write about."
"Au contraire," I say to them. Everyone has a story. It may not
be the stuff of high adventure, but life everybody's life is a
journey, full of joys and sadness, triumphs and failures,
satisfaction and disappointment. Those things are the foundation of
For those who appear more than superficially interested, I
recommend they begin with a written story premise describing the
theme of your story. You should decide story's beginning, middle,
and end. Create a structure outline that fills in the essential
components of the structure you choose. This part takes a little
work in learning about story structure, but it's not rocket
I personally always develop a biography reference for each of my
characters and keep it up to date as I evolve the story during
writing. I find that this helps me keep track of my characters.
Okay, it's not easy, otherwise everybody would write a book, but
it's not impossible. If we include self-published books, somewhere
in the neighborhood of 4 million books are published EACH YEAR. I
know - unbelievable. No wonder I'm having such a hard time becoming
a best-seller author.
I think that everyone who has always thought they should write a
book someday should just sit down and begin writing. It's cathartic
and a very rewarding experience. I started my writing career by
writing a fictional memoir based on my own life. I made it
fictional so that I could embellish or omit as saw fit in an effort
to make it (hopefully) a good story. Go ahead - try it.
The picture for this month's My Blog is a picture of us, Paula
and me. I know - scary. Paula and I went to a Halloween party
on Saturday dressed for Dias de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) using
the traditional calavera (skull - or sugar skull) as the theme.
Paula's dress and makeup were amazing - she's not wearing a mask.
That's a face painting she did on herself, taking two hours!
We have lots of costumes to choose from. We've always been big
about celebrating Halloween. We hosted haunted hayride parties when
we had Hellanback Ranch, and collected several different costumes
as a result - cowboy, pirate, Robin Hood, Indiana Jones, boatman on
the river Styx, crazed author...
Although I entitled this section "National Pumpkin Awareness
Month", it is also "Native-American Awareness Month". It would be a
good excuse to purchase Journey to Eden or Trouble in
Choctaw County, if you haven't already done that. Both
books are about native-Americans.