Friday, December 29, 2023

Perspectives on 2023

 Here's a bit about some of the transitions that have happened in my life this year. It's been a year of big changes. 

In my personal life, Lisa has been the most amazing change. We got married in March and she moved out to my farm. Sharing life with her is such a joy. Of course, that kind of major transition is pretty disruptive. We have had to transition her out of life where she was, and into life here. I've been able to build relationships with her wonderful family, and she with mine. It's so good. 

Under that heading, we're in the process of buying a house that will be moved to the farm. We're very excited about it. That process requires lots of logistical details like digging a basement and all the rest. So we are very much occupied with that process. 

The farm itself is a lot of fun and a lot of work. Last spring we planted a couple hundred trees, and that was a little bit like adopting a couple hundred infants. We have high hopes for them thriving and growing this coming year. Horses, fences, hay, and such are all ways of keeping busy. Throw in the big windstorm we had at the end of July. We've been cutting and clearing trees ever since, and have more to do. 

We are both working our day jobs, and that's good. We've been intentionally putting a lot of energy into my writing. As I've written before on this blog, my goal is to take the projects I've puttered with for years and get them published. Getting Death on Disappointment Mountain in print was a big step forward. This is the first book I've published that sold well enough to cover my expenses in creating it. Well, if you don't count the hours I've put into it. Thus far I'm still a volunteer writer, but that may change. 

Hopefully we can develop my writing in such a way that it can start to be a legitimate source of income within a few years. Once upon a time I thought if I could just write a book, that would be a huge life goal accomplished. And it was. But I published my first book (From Slavery To Freedom) in 2009, and it was largely a frustrating and disappointing experience. I feel like I've learned a few things since then. So I reissued that book in 2020, and published New Wineskins (a commentary on Luke's gospel) in 2019. 

In the coming year, I have several titles I plan to publish. Wait for the Lightning is a look at Genesis 1-12, and that is very close to being in print. I've been working with the cover design for that one lately. Altered Vows is a fantasy novel I've been writing for a couple decades. It's in the editing process now. I'm working on a sequel to Disappointment Mountain. And there are a few other books that are in various stages of being written: A sequel to Altered Vows, a book on Revelation, and a book called Making Change that puts into writing the class by that name that I've taught in a few different places. 

I'm looking forward to 2024. 

God is so good, and so faithful. It can be a hard world and a hard life, but God is still good. Thanks for reading this, and I hope you're as excited about the coming year as I am!

Friday, December 22, 2023

On the verge of Christmas

 Christmas is almost here. December has been mild this year. The horses aren't consuming much hay. A dusting of snow comes and goes on the ground here at the farm. We thought about spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day up at the shack, about an hour north of Bemidji. I don't know if anyone has ever spent Christmas in that remote place. The forecast is looking like rain, though, so I don't think we'll go. 

Instead we will have a couple quiet days at home. We have one more big Christmas gathering this Saturday. Then the plan is to relax. 

One goal for those days is to get a temporary studio set up to start narrating audio books. I've had a few requests for Death on Disappointment Mountain in audio form, and I'd like to get started on that process. My early Christmas gift from Lisa was a technology package to make that process possible. Excited to get that set up and learn to use it well. 

Writing these days is a business of pushing little things forward. I've got two manuscripts complete and in the editing stages. Wait for the Lightning is a non-fiction book on Genesis 1-12. Goal is to publish that this late winter / spring. Altered Vows is a novel I've been working on since the mid-1990's. That's being read and edited, and then I'll have significant revisions to do. I had hoped to have it published this winter, but we will see how extensive the revisions are. 

Two sequels are in the stage of working on a first draft. I'm about 25K words into a sequel to Altered Vows already. And I've mostly finished an outline for a sequel to Disappointment Mountain. I'm excited about both those projects. Also I've got several concept pieces I'm outlining that will take shape during 2024. 

There's plenty of work to do; I just need to set aside time to do it. 

I find myself in kind of a strange place. I'm writing in three distinct genres. The non-fiction biblical books are totally different from the fiction books. And Disappointment Mountain is  literary fiction while Altered Vows is a medieval Christian fantasy. So very likely each of those genres will appeal to a completely different audience. That's okay, it just makes it challenging to focus in one direction. 

More important, I've been circling back to the whole reason why I'm writing lately. As a bedtime story, I finished reading Tolkien's "Leaf by Niggle" to Lisa a couple nights ago. That fun little story is such a good reminder that using our God-given gifts in a way that serves him is an important kind of stewardship. In his small way, Niggle contributed to God's new creation by using his art. In some small way, I hope to do the same thing in my writing. Or as I say it in my Amazon author bio, I want to connect people to the story of God's love for this world. 

It's that story that drives us at Christmas. We put out lights and buy gifts and prepare food because in Jesus, God shows his love for us. He makes it possible for us to love one another and to love him in return. May you know his love in a full and fresh way this Christmas!

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Happy Saturday!

 Welcome to a delightful December. Minnesota is enjoying a mild fall up to this point. We haven't had any really cold weather yet, and little snow to speak of. The horses have still been picking at grass out in the pasture, and this morning for the first time I'll put out a round bale for them. 

They'll be camping out tonight (sleeping in the pasture instead of the barn) as Lisa and I will be up north for a quick overnight. We're going to visit the shack, which is what we call the old hunting cabin my dad and his buddies built back in the 50's. It's about an hour north of Bemidji, way back in the bog country. It's great territory for bears and wolves and a handful of moose and deer. The boggy trails will be frozen, so hopefully we can walk a few miles and see some grouse. Sleeping in the shack shouldn't be too chilly. There's a small woodstove, and the temperatures are supposed to stay in the 20's overnight. We'll see!

We are resisting the push toward Christmas carols and decorations just yet. We both have a sense that those things are better enjoyed mid-December and onward. And with the lack of snow, that feels right on the outside as well. 

As far as writing, I've been editing a manuscript on Genesis 1-12 that I wrote about a decade ago. When it's finished, it will be a biblical interpretation of what Genesis says about the foundations for so many things. It's a more personal reading, not quite like my book on Exodus. But a similar way of reading the Bible, letting this word speak into our lives. 

And there are still a couple novels on the burner. I've been having fun thinking about sequels to Death on Disappointment Mountain. Lots of exciting potential there. Altered Vows is with an editor right now, and hopefully I'll be able to get that one in print and available late this winter. And we are working toward audio versions of both those novels. 

So life is full and good. Hope yours is as well!