Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How I Hit a Home Run With My Front Cover

The search for a front cover graphic illustrator for my new novel was like Indiana Jones seeking the ark of the covenant in his first movie.  He traveled far and wide and his prize was elusive.  My detective skills kept coming up short.  Emails to journalists who published photos of the caveman I was seeking went unanswered.  Then I found him, the artist who painted the perfect caveman drawing.  He was on the other side of the world in Spain.  I emailed a request in Spanish.  The rejection hit me harder than a Trevor Hoffman fastball at my gut in the bottom of the ninth when time was running out for publication.  No way, Jose.  The caveman belonged to the academic world and I was at a dead-end facing a giant eight ball coming right at me with giant spikes sticking out of it.  The solution was five miles away.  I could have walked to their doorstep from my home.

The journey reminded me of my younger years when I met my future wife.  We both lived in the same apartment complex at the same time but never met.  How could I miss someone so stunning?   And that's what happened with Elite Sports.  I searched the world over looking for my ark of the covenant and it was right in front of me the whole time.  These guys never made a front cover before.  They really didn't know what the rules were.  I didn't give them much direction.  Sometimes it's just better to stay out of the way and let people work their magic.  So, I got my home run.  Let's hear it for the local team at Elite Sports.  Thank you!  And if you want to see the caveman they created for me, Go to Amazon and search for The Caveman in the Mirror.  It's right next to the ark of the covenant.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Are You Up for a Blind Date with a Caveman?

Bedrock was born yesterday.  He's a fictional character with a shady past and he's old.  He's seeking new readers and hopes someone will go on a blind date with him.  He prefers online dating.  You can meet him for coffee at Kindle Books or, if you're old-fashioned and nostalgic, he's available at Amazon.  Just type Caveman in the Mirror and he'll show up neatly packaged at your front door several days from today for a blind date.  Have a great day.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Born Today on Amazon.com – 6x9, 429 Page Caveman in the Mirror

He arrived this morning, twelve days past his due date.  The birthing process was complicated but everything is fine and the author is in the recovery room recuperating.  Click here to visit The Caveman in the Mirror on Amazon.com.  A Kindle version will be available within the next twelve hours.

Thank you for your continued prayers and notes of encouragement.  Have a great day.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Update

Last evening at 4:30 pm I got the news from Createspace, the company that publishes books for Amazon.  They received the files for The Caveman in the Mirror and notified me that I met all technical requirements for printing.  The final step in the publishing process is to proof the book.  It's already on order.  The book will be available in paperback and online versions early next week once I receive my proof copy in the mail and do a quick final review.

The last forty-eight hours have been hectic.  I made three phone calls to the help desk to figure out why my files weren't uploading.  They sent me troubleshooting information but nothing worked.  I traced the problem back to formatting errors I made related to my new and unfamiliar writing software.  My wife came into to the kitchen to check on me at 1:30 AM.  I had been working eighteen hours without any breaks except for food and water and I still wasn't done.  She saw the look on my face and knew I was in trouble.  I took her advice and went to bed.  Five hours later I woke up to finish reformatting my book.  It feels so good to be done.  What a relief!

If you are interested in getting a copy, please check back early next week.  I'll set up a link to Amazon for ordering.  I'm not planning any book signings until the next book, Break the Chains of Debt Bondage is published less than one hundred days from today on the 4th of July.  The good news is I already hired an artist for the front cover and I'm feeling much more comfortable with Scrivener 2, the writing software I now use.  We have become very close friends these last several months.  Have a great day.  Thanks for all your support during this adventure.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Soon and Very Soon

The good news is I acquired a new head for my novel, complete with a back cover and a spine yesterday afternoon.  The bad news has to do with the internal organs.  They need help before visitors are allowed in.  I'm not stopping today until Amazon tells me the files meet their standards.  Have a great day.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Last Leg of My Book Writing Triathlon

There's an eerie common thread connecting my writing activities with my younger years as a triathlete when I dreamed of one day competing in an Iron Man Triathlon.  My two entries in half iron man races ended up short of the finish line.  In Arizona, I breezed through the 1.2 mile lake swim and felt great on the 56 mile bike ride somewhere in the middle of the pack of about 700 competitors.  Then, my chain broke at mile thirty while I was shifting gears.  I was disqualified.  Undaunted, I made a second attempt in Hawaii.  The ocean waves were huge and the rip tides were nearly impossible to escape.  I remember clinging to the ocean piers near the end of the swim while the fierce undertow tried to suck me back out.  I could see the triathletes behind me being plucked out of the water by rescue boats.  I refused to acquiesce to Mother Nature and made it out of the water barely in time to beat the deadline for the first leg of the race.  The fifty-six mile bike ride was hilly and exhausting but I paced myself, conserving energy for the half-marathon at the end.  When I got off my bike, one of the officials told me I was done.  I missed the deadline by one minute and I was disqualified.  "Sorry," he told me.  "They need to open up the highway and you're too late."  I never made it to the run segment and I never saw the finish line.  The experience was devastating.

Most writers never make it out of the water to publish their first book.  Mother Nature refuses to let go of them while they clutch the sand with worn out fingers and fatigued bodies.  I know I wouldn't have published God's Black Sheep Squadron without my writing mentors to teach me how to swim.  I can't even count how many hills I needed to overcome to write my second book.  The Caveman in the Mirror didn't cross the finish line on time on March 17 due to technical difficulties but I see it limping in from the horizon and this part of the challenge is about to be in the books.

The last leg of my book writing triathlon officially begins today.  It's a one hundred day sprint to the finish line.  Everything I've done with my life up to this point, including two failed attempts at crossing the finish line in my half iron man races, has prepared me for what lies ahead.  Race officials are watching the clock and Mother Nature will do her best to interfere with my date with destiny on the 4th of July.  The only broken chain on this adventure will be from Break the Chains of Debt Bondage.  I plan to blow out the candles on my fifty-fifth birthday cake on Independence Day and pass out autographed copies of my third book at the finish line.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

My Next Challenge – 100 Day Lightning eBook

The number one complaint I hear from people who can't get things done is, "I just don't have enough time."  What they're really saying is, "I don't have enough discipline."  My best friend from high school, a chemical engineer, came up with a theory about the relationship between time and tasks.  "Time expands to fill the job," he told me over thirty years ago.  I'm putting his theory to the test with my next project but I'm doing a little reverse engineering before I begin.  My idea is to shrink time to fit my next book into a one hundred day lightning eBook.  If the theory works, Break the Chains of Debt Bondage will be available on the 4th of July, one hundred days plus one from today.  Here's my plan:

Day 1.  Design the cover and send it to my artist for completion.  Decide approximately how many chapters to place in the eBook and make an outline using Scrivener 2.  Send an email request asking a law professor to say a few words for the back cover.  Write the book credits.  Write chapter one.

Day 2 thru 24.  Write five hundred words per day.

Day 25 thru 32.  Take a family vacation to see our son graduate from boot camp.

Day 33 thru 60.  Write five hundreds words per day.

Day 61 thru 90.  Edit and re-write all chapters.  Send manuscript out for editing.  Order proof copy from Amazon.  Post a message on FaceBook to let friends know I'm still alive.

Day 90 to 99.  Complete editing process.

Day 100.  Celebrate my 55th birthday.  Plug the TV back in.  Release my third book.  Call my best friend and tell him his theory works.

For those of you wondering if I'll be be taking a break from blogging during this challenge, the answer is no.  I'll be here every morning at 8:08 to keep in touch and hope you will be my accountability partners.  Thanks for visiting.  And if you're wondering what I'm doing with that extra day in the one hundred days plus one challenge, I'm using today to follow up with my new artist for The Caveman in the Mirror so I can send the cover to Amazon and release my first novel.  The St. Patrick's Day deadline didn't work out as planned.  It looks like my time target ideas still need some fine tuning.   See you tomorrow on day one of the 100 Day Lightning eBook Challenge.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

No Baby Yet

Everything seems to be moving in slow motion while I wait to hear from the artists designing my front cover.  Elevator music is playing in the background.  There are no highs or lows.  I can't believe it took me one hour to write five sentences.  Have a great day. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Waiting Room

flickr commons, Daquella Manera
The labor and delivery process is complicated.  I've been asked to remain in the waiting room and stay out of the way while the specialists work their miracles with my breech baby.  The manuscript defects have been successfully repaired and a local group from Elite Sports is doing reconstructive surgery on my baby's face while it's still inside the womb.  All I can do is wait.  The experts assure me everything will be okay soon.

I want to take some time this morning to thank all the people who are making this birth possible.  As much as I would like to be in control of the publishing process, I realize I'm not.   Thank you for your patience.  Have a great day.  Come back soon to meet The Caveman in the Mirror.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Connecting the Dots

It's a good thing I hit a roadblock with my front cover.  The first person to review the manuscript found one of the dots was out of order and pointed out the glaring error late last night.  My new writing software makes it easy to move chapters around in one simple step and that can be dangerous if you're not careful.  Fortunately, I was able to fix the mistake and re-align all the dots in time for publishing by the end of this month when my front cover is finished.

There's something else interesting about connecting the dots.  It has to do with all the people in my life.  I received an email last week from a reader who wanted me to know he's read every blog post I've ever written since day one.  Thank you, MB.  I'm surprised there are at least two people out there taking the time to check in daily.  It helps me on my journey to know I'm not alone.  The greatest fear artists have is that no one will pay attention to what they create.  I'm thankful for every dot I'm connected to.  Thanks for stopping by today.  Have a great day.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Inspiration From Fairy Tales

One of my FB friends posted this quote on his page yesterday.  It resonated with me because not only do I write fairy tales, I'm living one.  Dragons find a way to get inside your head no matter where you live or what you're doing.  They seem to have a sixth sense and show up at critical times in your life when you're on the verge of doing something that may make a difference in the world.

I'm going to slay a big dragon next week.  My fairy tale is about to be published.  And I'm living proof dragons can be beaten.  Have a great day.

Friday, March 20, 2015

False Labor Prepares You for Real Labor

The labor pains I was experiencing leading up to St. Patrick's Day appeared to be false.  My book was scheduled to be born on March 17.  Things got complicated when the head didn't show up on the ultrasound.  My heart dropped.  I learned something every parent already knows, babies have their own schedules.  Books are no different.  The birthing process is complicated for novelists and often extends well beyond the typical nine month pregnancy period.

There's a difference between false labor and real labor for writers.  False labor occurs when the doctor tells you to go home, it's not time yet.  This process gets you ready for the real deal.  Your senses are heightened.  You get a surge of energy.  Then, everything falls into place and you head into the delivery room knowing you are ready.

The most important lesson I learned during my book writing journey is the Serenity Prayer.  It helps you get through the false labor pains and comforts you during real labor.  I memorized it.  It's a great breathing technique to use when the doctors tell you your baby novel has no head...

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
the courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference.

By the way, I located my baby's head in Spain.  It turns out I can't have custodial rights to the photo for my front cover.  A new cover is under construction from some talented local artists in my community.  The revised due date is the last week in March.  Have a great day.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

In Pursuit of a Front Cover

Today is day two in the labor and delivery room.  I officially beat my wife's record of thirty-four hours with our first-born.  Unfortunately, I'm now forty-eight hours past my book release deadline and I'm still in pursuit of a front cover.  I thought writing the novel was the hard part.  I'm one yard from the end zone.  The fans are restless.  It looked like the game was finally over when I tracked down the artist who created the blue-eyed caveman I wanted to use.  It was a day-long adventure that ended in Spain.  My request was written in Spanish.  Louis wrote back at 10:30 pm, Spanish time, that the art was for academic purposes only.  I asked him if his team could create an original caveman for my cover.  His teamed is all booked up.  He said no.

One interesting note about my book writing and publishing journey is how similar it mirrors my own personal life.  I'm not worried about the last yard.  My coach knows the right play calls.  All I need to do is be patient.  The One I follow is about to do something truly magnificent.  I'm staying in the game and  I'm going to find my receiver in the end zone as soon as the graphic artist suits up and joins the huddle.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

If You're Gonna Do It, Do It Right

I heard my dad's familiar words of wisdom in my head yesterday while sipping a green beer in his honor with my family on St. Patrick's Day.  The wheels fell off my novel just before it was to be released on Amazon and I was busy cleaning the green eggs and ham off my face.  Customers were already standing in line at my chocolate factory but I had no sugar in stock.  Ouch!  I carefully considered my options to correct the problem - a missing front cover.  The quick fix was to add a generic book cover.  The other options were more complex and time consuming.  One FaceBook friend urged me to go generic and get it done.  It was tempting.  Then I heard my dad's voice in my head.  He whispered, "if you're gonna do it, do it right."

There have been many times in my life when those words of wisdom paid dividends.  Job interviews.  Choosing my spouse.  Raising children.  Deciding to follow Jesus.  I've never "gone generic" during moments of truth.  I'm following my dad's advice.  I'm going to do it right.  If you're one of my readers waiting in line for your chocolate bar, don't worry.  I'm ordering sugar.  My goal is to have the cover done by today, submit it, and order the proof for a taste test.  If it tastes right, you'll be able to place your order on Amazon.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Caveman Front Cover Still Stuck in the Birth Canal

Hold the cigars.  If you're waiting to order your copy of The Caveman in the Mirror from Amazon.com today, the birthing process is not going according to plan.  The front cover is stuck in the birth canal.  The picture you see above is only a rough draft I put together using a picture I do not own copy rights to.  I have three choices – secure permission to use this photo, hire an artist to come up with something similar or do a c-section and give my new baby a generic cover.  Unfortunately, my top creative peeps are MIA and I'm having trouble locating the artist who created the blue-eyed caveman I feel so drawn to.  I would rather keep working on the first two choices than settle for a generic cover just to meet my self-imposed release date of March 17.  I'm not going to let this ruin a great day.  We are celebrating our daughter's twenty-second birthday with a St. Patrick's Day parade.

I spoke with my favorite doctor last night after he emailed his endorsement for the back cover.  John's words were delivered on 3/16 and he put everything in perspective with the following verse:  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life ~ John 3:16.  I'm thankful Jesus was born on time.  Bedrock may be a little late but that's okay.  We have eternity to celebrate all the blessings in our lives.

Thank you for your patience.  Once the cover is finalized and I review the final proof from Amazon you will be able to order your copy.  Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Birthing Pains are Getting Stronger

Oh, doctor!  Those who say your second delivery is easier than your first don't know much about the publishing process.   What if the stork shows up and there's no head on my baby?  My book could end up stuck in the birth canal while I try to figure out how to properly attach the missing front cover.

I remember when I held my wife's hand her first time in the delivery room.  "Haw, hee, haw, hee" I reminded her.  Thirty-six hours later our son was born.  The second time in labor she told the nurse, "drugs, please."

"Too late," she responded.  "Your too far along."

I'm looking at the clock.  It reads, 8:08.  Hmm.  It's exactly twenty-four hours to go until the c-section tomorrow morning on St. Patrick's Day.  My anesthesiologist peeks inside at the manuscript while offering comforting words.  "Don't worry, I've got your back," he says.  "Just breathe."  I'm wondering if I'm going to endure the pain.  Thank God no cameras are allowed in the delivery room.  I really don't care if it's a boy or a girl.  I'm just praying my baby is born with a head.  See you tomorrow at 8:08.  Have a great day. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Introducing My Fictional Peeps Featured in The Caveman in the Mirror

There was a point during our relocation three years ago where my family was pretty much convinced I had lost my mind.  They were right.  My SHS classmates learned of my craziness long ago when my English teacher asked me to bring in what I like to read and I showed up with a cereal box saying, "Mikey likes it."  I believe I needed to lose my mind in order to find my creative place located somewhere over the rainbow.  Dorothy had her Scarecrow, Tin Man and her Lion.  I had Wilson, Umbro, Chara, and a naked caveman.  What I didn't have was a yellow brick road to follow so I took Interstate 80 and ended up somewhere northeast of Kansas.

The pictures you see in today's blog are fragments from my reality/imagination zone where I go every morning to piece everything together.  They won't make much sense to you until you read The Caveman in the Mirror.  Mikey hopes you like it.  Come back on March 17 for the rest of the story.  Have a great day.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Oh, What a Relief it is

The book credits are in.  The files are at Amazon.com.  And my sanity is intact.  Sort of.  I'm not really qualified to speak about my state of mind except to tell you I survived the experience of writing my first novel.  In order to accomplish my mission, I spent three years of my life inside the head of one of my fictional characters – a crazy man.  It was mind boggling.  The lines between reality and fiction are blurred.  That's okay.  I'm finally entering a stress free zone which lasts for three days.  Then The Caveman in the Mirror will be released on St. Patrick's Day.  It will be a day to celebrate with the family and go to a parade.  The morning after I will be back at my laptop working on my next writing project, Break the Chains of Debt Bondage.  It will be about a one hundred day adventure ride.  And when the roller coaster stops, I will finally say, "oh, what a relief it is."

Have a great day.  And remember, you are now entering a stress free zone.  Enjoy.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Caveman Book Credits, Thanks Mom & Company

Top credit for this book goes to my mother, Gloria Delores Mulligan.  I would like to recognize her own faith journey, her daily commitment to prayer and church attendance, and her constant encouragement.  There were those few times growing up when she chased me and my unruly brothers around the house with a shoe in her hand, yelling, "I don't mean maybe!"  It was hard to take her too seriously.  In my adult life, I look to her for guidance.  I trust her 100% and I trust the One she follows 100%.  She is one special lady.

I would like to recognize my loving wife, Helen Marie, who holds my hand and keeps my heart warm, especially on cold winter nights in our new home state of Iowa.  She supports my calling to write daily and graciously gives me the moral support I need to accomplish all God asks of me.

To my children, Ryan, Nicole and Shane, I thank you for all the sacrifices you endure putting up with my writing deadlines.  Each of you inherited the writing gene prevalent in our family for countless generations.  I encourage you to nurture the talent you have within you and to write compelling stories with life lessons for future readers in the generations yet to come.

To my extended family, my ancestors and to the lost members of our family tree who have been recently found, thanks for sharing your lives with me.  Thank you, cousin John, for endorsing this book and for encouraging me to keep stretching out of my comfort zone.  A big shout out goes to cousin Mark, founder of Castaway Kids, and author of The Three Miracles.  Thanks for bringing your music to my new home state and for being my first visitor after my relocation.  I will keep encouraging my readers to send a couple of pesos your way in support of your charitable works south of the border.

To the Angels in the Outfield who believed in me when I wrote my first book, I say thank you.  You will always be in my heart.

And to those who are reading this book, I say thank you.  All of us in this world are filled with questions.  We each have our own journey and our own purpose.  Thanks for sharing the road with me and for taking the time to read this book.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

It's Heating Up in Iowa

The expected high today in Iowa is 67º and I'm dancing in the sunshine.  The last vestiges of snow should be gone by sunset.  Besides the great weather, there's one more reason I'm feeling good today.  My manuscript is complete.  I'm in editing mode now.  If all goes according to plan, The Caveman in the Mirror will be available on Amazon.com next week on March 17th.  For those of you who like to read your books on your phones, I'll have an e-book version for you to download.  The celebration is on hold until the 4th of July when I release Break the Chains of Debt Bondage.  I challenged myself to publish three books by my 55th birthday and the clock is ticking.  I feel like I'm playing lightning chess against by brother-in-law.  He's yelling, "lightning, Mikey, lightning."  It won't be easy to publish a book in a hundred day time frame but I'm not one to take the easy road.

Enjoy the sunshine and don't forget to check in on St. Patrick's Day.  I'm making a list of all the people who helped me make this novel possible and the names will be released here on March 17.  Have a great day. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Where's Your Secret Chord?

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
 ~ Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah

I keep telling myself, "Don't look down.  Focus on the summit.  Keep climbing.  You're almost there.  You can do this."  I'm composing my own hallelujah sans the music.  The lyrics are filled with broken chords discovered on the back trails where few hikers dare venture.  The one thing that drives me to complete my novel is knowing that somewhere out there is a lost hiker who may get a major lift when I play my secret chord.  I know how tough it is to get out of bed after a minor fall.  I understand the baffled feeling that chills my bones when I realize my compass is broken and the map blew away in the wind.

Anna Clendening is one of those people who decided to play for millions of people even though it was a struggle to come out of her bedroom.  Her parents worried about her.  She got the courage to share her secret chord.  Watch her video...

Where's your secret chord?  Decide today you will share your passion with others.  Climb the mountain.  Let the Holy Spirit be your guide.  I'm planning to reach the summit next week on March 17.  My hallelujah will no longer be a secret chord.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

One Word Synopsis of My Upcoming Book: Heartfelt

The nest has been empty since the beginning of the New Year but a new baby is on the way in our household.  The labor pains are strong.  The contractions are getting closer together.  The final pieces of the puzzle are about to be placed.  The front cover is ordered.  I can't help this overwhelming feeling inside me to birth this my new book one week from today.  The best way I can summarize my feelings in one word is "heartfelt."  It's about connecting.  I found the missing link last night in the eyes of my caveman.  My hope is that when you see the cover and look into the eyes you will feel what I feel.  If you feel drawn to my baby and desire to unwrap its swaddling clothes then my mission will be accomplished.  Have a great day.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Other People's Stuff

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  And the ice cream cones are bigger, too.  It's just not fair.   The little girl in the picture had to show up and ruin the little boy's day with her over-sized vanilla ice cream cone.  Eve did the same thing when she munched on the forbidden fruit in front of Adam.  He couldn't resist even though Adam had full access to everything in the garden except one thing – the apple. 

Wars are about other people's stuff.  Burglaries are about other people's stuff.  Affairs are about other people's spouses.  God warned us not to covet other people's stuff for a reason.  It's simple.  If we can't keep our eyes and hands off other people's stuff, the fighting will continue.  All we have to do is stop looking at the ice cream on the other side of the fence.  Try it.  Have a great day.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

3 Novel Ideas Concerning Your Writing Budget

There are three necessary elements you must budget in order to complete any writing project – time, talent and treasure.  I admit my old life without a budget looked a lot like Porky the pig playing slip and slide on greased up hundred dollar bills from the federal reserve.  Yep.  Too much time at recess when I should have been in the classroom, a complete unawareness of my purpose and no desire to live within my means.  Budget?  What budget?  The situation became magnified when I decided to write my first novel.  The wrong tools were in my writer's kit.  All I could find were excuses and broken promises.  If I wanted to keep my sanity I needed to come up with a new plan and learn to budget my resources. 
  1. Time.  We all have the same amount of it.  Champions learn clock management.  This is a disciplined process.  If you don't have enough time, keep a log of everything you do on an hour by hour basis for one week.  You may be surprised to discover how much time is wasted on useless activities.  One easy solution is to pretend your work is your veggies and your leisure time is your dessert.  When you wake up, eat all your spinach before you treat yourself to banana cream pie.  No rewards until all your chores are done.
  2. Talent.  Everyone has talent.  I didn't find my knack for writing until I wrote my first love letter to my wife.  Now I know how Michelangelo felt the first time he picked up a chisel and looked at a slab of rock.  Search your tool box for unused tools at the bottom and grasp each one until you find the one that makes your heart skip a beat.  That's your talent.  Use it like a hammer and pound nails until you can do it with your eyes closed.
  3. Treasure.  It's easy to offer someone a fish so he or she can have food for the day.  It's better to invest your treasure in your community by teaching others how to fish so they can have food for life.  The more you give, the easier it will be for you to make your own budget work.  In my life, the hour a day I budget for others on this blog helps me to refine my writing talent.  Giving is rewarding.  It's like getting extra credit on a test.
Sit down today and put your budget together.  If you stick to it, you may end up with something the world will look at and say, "how did you ever find the time to write that novel?"  Tell them, "I threw away all my excuses and my broken promises and I made my own budget and stuck to it."  This may not be a new concept for many readers, but for me, it's a novel idea I discovered while I was chiseling in my basement.  Don't forget to budget some time on your calendar to visit on March 17 when I release my first novel.  The hammering is almost done.  Have a great day.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

10 Things I'm Doing This St. Patrick's Day

Several of the items listed below have been on my bucket list for a long while.  St. Patrick's Day is extra special for me because it was my dad's favorite day of the year, my bride of twenty-five years is 100% Irish and we have a daughter born on St. Patrick's Day.  Here's my list:
  1. My wife and I will attend a St. Patrick's Day parade.  (Bucket List Item).
  2. I'll send well wishes to my former business partners who founded Zoomautos.com on St. Patrick's Day, ten years ago.  I will always cherish great memories of building a new business from scratch.  
  3. I will be saying extra prayers of thanks for the one hundred angels in the outfield who came together to help me launch my first book on St. Patrick's Day, 2011.
  4. We will celebrate our daughter's 22nd birthday.
  5. I will drink a green beer in honor of my dad, Patrick John Mulligan.  May he rest in peace.
  6. I will celebrate over 2,000 consecutive days of blogging with a special post dedicated to my loved ones.
  7. I will officially start writing my third book, Break the Chains of Debt Bondage, to be released on Independence Day, 2015. (Bucket List Item).
  8. We will visit the cemetery and pray for those who came before us.
  9. I will write a letter to my son who will be graduating from boot camp in April and thank him for choosing to serve in the army so that we can enjoy our freedom and live in peace.
  10. I will release my first novel, The Caveman in the Mirror, on 3/17/15 on Amazon.com.  (Bucket list item).
What are your plans for St. Patrick's Day?  If you are in the Iowa City area and want to join us for the parade, please email me.  Have a great day.

Friday, March 6, 2015

My Writing Spin Cycles

I wish the writing experience could be more wrinkle-free but there aren't any shortcuts.  All projects need to go through the appropriate spin cycles.  Novelists rely on the heavy-duty setting for over-sized loads.  The rinse cycle is used for editing.  I'm still trying to figure out why my washer is always thumping around like a car with a flat tire.  Some may say I have balance issues.  Maybe the washer's not the problem and it's my head that needs to be examined.  That will have to wait.  I'm putting the final chapters in the machine and setting the timer for March 17th.  Please stop by and visit when I air my dirty laundry in public.  I promise, you won't have to fold any clothes.  Have a great day.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Let it Ripple

Most of us never see the other end of a ripple.  Don't let that stop you from doing something today that may create an endless ripple in the world.  Never underestimate the value of your smile, your encouragement or your act of kindness.  No matter how insignificant it may seem to you, it may be a game changer for someone else who may be hurting today.  Let it ripple.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Embrace Vulnerability

Vulnerability is not a weakness.  No one can see who you really when you're encased in heavy metal.  Sure, your heart may never be pierced, however, you will never feel love without coming out of your shell.  Is it scary?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  One of my greatest lessons in life is learning to embrace vulnerability.  In less the two weeks I'm sharing my first novel with the world.  I hope you like it.  It may be labeled fiction but I can tell you there's a part of me in the story.  Come back on March 17th and check it out.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ice Follies

I learned something new about ice during our latest winter storm – when it rains on your car and then freezes, it's almost impossible to open the door, especially when your driveway is frozen solid and you can't get any traction.  That's when the average person says, "oh yes, I have the perfect excuse to call in sick and crawl back into bed."  The problem is I'm not your average person.  I'm that guy two standard deviations to the left of average your mother warned you about.  I come from a long line of "interesting" people, like my grandfather on my father's side who put skis on his airplane so he could make house calls to his patients in weather like I'm experiencing right now.

Nothing says I love you like telling your wife you'll follow her to the ends of the earth and she holds up two one-way tickets to Yakutsk.  The Yakutski's live quite differently from your typical American.  They don't go overboard with two-car garages and they live within their means.  I'm slowly adopting their customs.  That's why I have a blanket of ice on my car this morning.  The Mrs. parked her car in the one-car premium indoor parking stall and I used my Honda to make an ice statue.  My neighbors may look at the frozen shell and think, those poor California people stayed home today.  They can't hack it.  Nope.  I'm keeping up with the Yakutski's.  It's almost time to go outside and seize the day.  Have a great day.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Failure has a Flip Side

I found the secret to success.  It's the willingness to belly flop over and over until you get it right.  Most people have no desire to see the flip side of failure – that unknown monster who resides on the dark side of your dreams.  That's right.  Success is like a coin toss.  Heads, you win.  Tails you lose.  When winners see tails, they ask for another coin toss.  Losers play the game once, get tails and quit.  Some quit playing even when they get heads.  Their coins are a double-edge sword.  Fear is on both sides.  They fear success just as much as they fear failure so they refuse to play.

The best way to take fear out of the coin toss is to play the game.  Take chances.  Learn from your mistakes.  Laugh at the big splashes when you belly flop.  Play the game and stay in it until you reach your dreams.  Have a great day.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Do Something

I heard this song by Matthew West on the radio for the first time last week.  It's from his album, Into the Light.  My wife says it's been around for a while.  It's more than a song – it's an action call.  Take a look at the YouTube video below and have a great day.