What’s Stopping You????

I am sitting at my small desk, quite a departure from my previous “office” of my last house. I now live on the second floor of a three story condo. Two bedrooms, two and a half baths. Small in comparison to the four bedroom, two car garage home I left behind. This past year, life has changed once more and it gave me an excuse to put down my pen for awhile. Too busy with the move and the changes that have come hurling at me as fast as a wayward hockey puck. have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll.

Before, in my large office, my windows faced a sprawling, peaceful field of gold. Rarely did I notice anything more than a fleeting butterfly or bird. Now, I have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a tightly coiled spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll. To say I am distracted would be an understatement. Another excuse.

I close my eyes and say a little prayer for the wisdom and guidance I need to push myself   into the world I love. Suddenly, the words and thoughts start to flow! My fingers rattle over my keyboard and my words begin to come to life!

So it goes as a writer. One moment we are empty and giving ourselves a thousand reasons why we “can’t” write today. Then the next moment our minds are so full of stories, characters, and endings that we cannot be dragged from our desk for hours.

It is then I realize that the biggest enemy to my writing is ME! I am the one making excuses! I am the one putting my work out there! I am the one scared of rejection!

And so I pull down the shades on my windows and plod on. How about

How about you? What’s stopping you?

 

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STAY AT 17 INCHES..a note on Our Nation

I just came across this post by Chris Sperry. I don’t know where it was first published, but the message is powerful and right for our nation today! Enjoy!
STAY AT 17 INCHES

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment – “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the hell is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung – a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally…

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?” more of a question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear.

“How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide is home plate in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”

Pause.

“Coaches…”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him. Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We simply, widen the plate!”

Pause.

Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence.

He replaced the flag with a Cross.

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that, which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to…”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.”… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players-no matter how good they are-your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself, ALL, at seventeen inches.

Written by Chris Sperry
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For Valentine’s Day, show a writer “a little love!”

Valentine’s Day is rapidly descending upon us. A plague of sorts brought on by greed. Millions of crazy-eyed men will rush, last minute, into florists, jewelers and grocery stores to pick up some costly trinket, fattening treats, expensive flowers and balloons to appease their starry-eyed wives and girlfriends. The women will expect a fancy dinner and a card that should aptly express the undying love of their partner in words only Shakespeare could possibly write. No matter what the man comes up with, the lovey-dovey moment will probably last a nano-second, replaced  by a snarky remark as quickly as the flowers fade.

Sound a little caddy?  It’s not. It’s the reality of a writer’s life, only you replace the man with the writer and the woman with everyone else.

As writer’s, we often are crazy-eyed, rushing to and fro, trying to please everyone with our work. We edit things out, add things in, and move things around as we work to please the reader. Just when we think we have given our best, BAM, someone gives more advice and makes us realize how much more work must be done. It is a never ending battle. Poor writer’s. They need a little love!

So…..I thought of a great idea! This Valentine’s Day, why not take a moment to write a review for your favorite author or artist. They work their tails off to give you enjoyable reads that entertain, encourage and motivate their readers.  It’s time to show them you appreciate it! What a great way to show an author you love them! It won’t cost you a dime and takes just a little bit of effort! Think about that as you are rustling up a last minute present for your sweetie!

And as a reward, just for today, you can download The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance FOR FREE!!!!

Now, get out there and show a writer “a little love,” won’t you?

 

 

Are Book Giveaways Worth It?

When a writer has a “giveaway” program, it seems as though it defeats the purpose of “selling” our work. We are actually giving away the product we slaved over for months or even years. Yet, I’ve learned a thing or two about todays’ new world of marketing that makes me understand the value of a giveaway. Giveaways promote sales.

This is how it works. You download a book for free. You read it and like it. You tweet about it. You Facebook it. You Instagram and Pinterest your thoughts. You post a review and tell your friends about it. By then, the giveaway is over. They buy it! The author becomes a best-seller! Wow! All of that from a free giveaway!

A promotional “giveaway” is a way to get readers to notice your work in the overcrowded world of published books. Overcrowding is a reality. Traditionally published books vie for attention alongside self-published books. Any writer, whether they have learned the craft of writing or not, can self-publish. Most, not all, self-published books are rarely well-written, nor do they display elements of understanding the craft of writing. When they are placed side-by-side with those who understand the elements of craft, they stand like lonely soldiers in a long gone war.

The sadness to this is that well-crafted books are often lost in the noise. The competition to be published is fierce. So what is a writer to do? Mark Twain says it well. “Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.” My addition to Twain’s quote would be…”and scream until someone notices you!”

So, I’m screaming! The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance is free for today and tomorrow in the first of two giveaways. Download it and if you like it, write a review, and use all social media avenues to tell your friends!

The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance is a simple story and a good family read for those who seek heartwarming tales. It centers around the surprise arrival of an old tin button box to the home of Emily Evans, a box of buttons that unlock memories of Emily’s youth. The read is quick and takes the reader on a wonderful journey where one man’s legacy to his granddaughter is passed on through the stories he told through buttons. Each button holds a memory and will take even the most cynical reader back to a time where actions mattered. Here’s the Book Trailer.

Enjoy the read. Share it with your friends. On this end, I’ll keep shamelessly promoting and watching the Amazon charts to see where you will take me.

In the end, I’m still going to write. I’m going to continue to hone my skills and learn how to enhance what I know about the craft of writing. Every manuscript I create will be better than the last and every story I tell will be more powerful than the one that preceded it. After all, the next “giveaway” might be my bestseller!

One More Time, Folks!

I just got notice that The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance WILL be available as a free download on Amazon on January 20,21 and 22, 2015. After the December issue of not being available when it was expected, I am certain that this time it will be a go!

So, tell your friends once more that the book WILL be available for a free download! Thank you all for your patience! Enjoy!

The “Free Book Download” Glitch

Seems that all things don’t go as planned. We thought the Amazon free download was to go live December 25-29, 2014 only to find out it had not been scheduled as planned…..SOOOOOOO….there will now be TWO chances to download The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance for FREE!

 

Tell your friends that The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance can be downloaded for free on…

*January 20, 21 & 22

AND

*February 9 & 10

 

Take advantage of sharing this with your friends and family! When you are done reading it, please take a moment to write a short review, as it so helps the author! Thank you!

“Keeping Kindle” posted to Digital Books Today!

I received a nice little surprise when I found out that Digital Book Today posted my article “Keeping Kindle.” Stop by and read it here and leave a comment!

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Ginger