Friday, November 12, 2010

The First Year in the Cave

My deadline is fast approaching to complete my manuscript for "God's Black Sheep Squadron."  My time with the Ramona Christian Writers Critique Group has been like taking a crash course in creative writing.  At last, I see how the pieces of the puzzle are to fit together.  The story, including flashbacks, is now complete in my head.  Putting the vision into words is about a three hour a day process.  I feel new energy flowing through my body as I complete the chapters.  The final step will be to get my writing friends to edit the manuscript so that it can be ready for the world on March 17th, 2011.

God's timing is so perfect.  I was thinking about how to promote the new book and my wife brought me today's paper with a front page story about a local San Diego author.  This is only the third day we have received a paper since it was one of the budget cuts we made to survive in this challenging economy.  The folks at the Union-Tribune made Helen a trial deal she couldn't refuse.  Check this preview out.  It literally fell out of the sky and has planted the seed for me to promote my book...

Missing are ninety two angels.  The seven angels that have volunteered to pray daily and support my marketing and self-publishing efforts are working overtime.  If you are thinking about joining this group of people, send me an email (  Your favorite quote will become part of the book.

The following morsel takes place in the first year after my parents' divorce and bankruptcy.  It follows the previous posts from the last two days, "The Great Sadness" and "SOS."  Consider these chapters rough drafts and feel free to comment on this work in progress.  As a blog follower, you are watching this book come together, first as fragments, then some refinements, and finally, a completed book.  Thank you for visiting...

The First Year in the Cave

I entered junior college determined to make something out of my life.  My dad kept his promise to leave the family for good.  He was already making plans to remarry.  I decided to stay at home for the next four years and fund my own college education without student aid or loans.  I tried out for the tennis team during my first semester.  The team was solid, each member a number one singles player from his high school.  It took four hours of practice a day to win a spot.

The interim coach was also my cousin's private coach.  After talking with my aunt about my personal life, he asked me, "Mike, just how many jobs do you have?"  "Three," I answered.  Each day, after practice, I departed quickly to a different job.  My mother was concerned because I was carrying a full load of classes and often did not get to my homework until about 11:00 pm.  I followed a strict regimen, sleeping only fours hours a night.  I managed to get mostly A's in my classes despite the full load and the multiple jobs. The majority of my studies centered around my accounting class due to the instructor's incentive.  A perfect score on an exam earned a free pass to get  out of class.  For me, that meant one extra hour on the tennis courts.  I worked so hard mastering this course that I decided to change my major to accounting.

During this first year in the cave, I felt far away from God.  I promised my mother I would go to Church.  This was only to be an example for my siblings.  I sat in the mother's room located in the back of the church.  It was usually empty for the Saturday service except for "Anna Banana," a friend from high school that showed up once in a while to keep me company.  The best part was turning off the sound when no one else was in the room.  It gave me an hour to just forget about the struggles we were facing on the home front and Anna Banana was a friend that made the hour pass quickly.

I kept telling my mother that I didn't need to be in a church to connect with God.  Our pastor had an Irish accent so thick that I don't think I would have been able to understand him, even if I was giving him my full attention.  No.  It was better to just tune out the noise and be quiet for one hour.  When I prayed, it was always the same, 'Lord, please send me some wisdom.  I am doing my best to develop a plan for my life.  I feel very stupid and lost.  Just send me some wisdom.  I know you are busy, but I need enough wisdom to be able to survive this difficult world.  My siblings are lost and I need help with them.  Can you please give me just a little bit of your Wisdom?  My mother is really hurting.  Can you let her know that you hear her prayers?  She needs you God.  As for me, don't worry about me, I am going to be successful even if it kills me.  Just give me some wisdom.  Thanks.'

One of my jobs was helping out with the junior program at a local tennis club.  The head pro hired college tennis players to lead the practice sessions and it was my favorite job.  She encouraged me to become a certified teaching pro.  My mother was against this.  She kept telling me I needed to get a "real job."

The girls high school tennis coach wrote a letter of recommendation for me and helped get me a job teaching tennis in Canada.  I spent three summers and a fall season teaching tennis at a place one hundred and fifty miles north of Toronto.  The job was an escape, a chance to get away from all the problems in my family and experience freedom.  Each time I returned home, I suffered a mild depression.

It was decision time for me that last summer in Canada before my senior year at Arizona State University.  The owner of the camp offered me an extension to work at his five star resort.  It would mean delaying school for one semester.  I accepted.  During that time I met some of the most successful people in the country.  They inspired me to go for my dreams.  I would return home with a new game plan for my life.

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