The Real-Life Guide to Writing (2022 Edition)

Introduction

How often have you said, “One day, I’d like to write a book?” Instead of one day, how about 30 days? The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is almost upon us once again.

Every November from the 1st to the 30th, millions of writers, from all over the world participate in writing 50,000 words. For more details on this event, check out the official website by clicking here.

In this article, I want to help you manage your time in writing as much and as often during the entire month. I’ve previously participated in many NaNo challenges over the years; my first in 2005 and I’ve both won and lost.

But what I learned is how to deal with Real Life when it comes knocking on your door in various forms. Keep in mind these are not fool-proof but just some suggestions to help you reach your goal of 50K words by November 30th.

This can also work for any time of the year as it is standard guidance for all writers of any level. With that in mind, here’s my advice.

But I Don’t Have Time to Write

The main problem that a lot of people have told me, in regard to writing, is that they don’t have time to write. My response has always been the same; it’s not a matter of having the time but finding the time.

Even if you give yourself a two-hour window to write, you’ll find every excuse not to write during that time. Suddenly the laundry needs folding, the dishes need to be washed, the dog needs walking, and so on. By the time you’ve finished with all of that you have maybe fifteen minutes left to write and you spend that time staring at a blank screen. Then, the next day, you’ll complain, once again, that you don’t have time to write.

Your month may look like this, but you can still find time.

Here some ways to help you find the time to write:

The Family

Getting the family on board with the idea of your writing for an entire month is a task in itself alone. Most of the family won’t understand why you want to do this siting it as a waste of time. There is no clear way you can explain this to non-writers; at least I haven’t found one.    

One suggestion would be to encourage members of your family to join you in the frenzy-filled madness of writing for thirty days straight. If they decline, the next step is to help them understand why you need to do this. Let them know how important this is to you and that you want them to respect your space and privacy.

Ask them for moral support, perhaps you can get them to read some of your manuscript and offer suggestions for where the story is headed. Perhaps they can help you name a character, create a fictitious town, or share a personal anecdote that can happen in your story.   You can also have them give you a random fact or idea that you have to incorporate into your story

Above all, do not avoid your family altogether. Whether it just be you and your spouse or a household of children, make sure they remember what you look like. Purposefully set aside time to do something with the family; a dinner out, a movie, or a simple walk around the neighborhood. Getting away from the story will help you clear your mind and allow the ideas to keep flowing in your head.

Meetings and Appointments

We don’t always have control of our time when it comes to doctor visits; whether it’s a checkup or a weekly counselor’s session. However, you can try to schedule these appointments as close together as possible and get them out of the way ASAP.

When an appointment is coming up, make sure you write a little extra to pad your word count for that day. Not every appointment eats up a lot time but, if little Johnny is rushed to the hospital from the school with a broken arm, you may find that a few days of writing will disappear while you tend to this emergency.

Naturally, I’m not telling to ignore your family, or obligations, when it comes to these sudden changes, but stay ahead of your word count goal for any eventuality. And if you are a church-goer do not ignore your responsibilities for the purpose of writing. Your congregation might understand, though doubtful, but God will not.

Meals and “That” Holiday

If you are the cook in the household, you may find it difficult to do the evening meals for the family. Don’t just shove the yellow pages at your family and tell them to, “Figure it out for yourselves.” Pizza, on occasion, is nice but no one wants takeout every night of the week for an entire month!

One of the ideas that someone came up with was cooking several meals in advance and then freezing them so they can be thawed and reheated during the month. This is a great way to make sure your family not only gets enough to eat but is eating healthier than what they’d get through a drive-thru window.

Another idea is to get your spouse to do some of the cooking during this time and an even better idea would be to get the kids to help. Regardless of their age, they can help out Mom or Dad to get things ready for the evening meal. Plus, it’s a way to teach them how to cook without letting them know they are learning. Recipes are readily available all over the internet as are cooking videos that give you tips and hints on how to prepare certain dishes.

Of course the biggest event of November is that holiday called Thanksgiving. It falls on the fourth Thursday every year which is one of the few holidays that you can always keep up with.

One way to prepare for this is to have your story completely written before then. It’s not impossible but for some it may be more challenging; depending on how early or late that Thanksgiving falls. Some years it’s as early as the 22nd and others as late as the 28th. Either way, remind yourself it’s the fourth Thursday of the month.

If you’re hosting the big dinner at your house, prepare as much of the food in advance before the day arrives. There are some grocery stores that sell an entire turkey dinner with all of the trimmings so that all you’d have to do is heat everything up in the microwave or oven. Check your area and see if this option is available. There are also websites that give you a day-by-day preparation list for things to get ready leading up to the dinner.

Another idea is either have it earlier or postpone it until later depending on everyone’s availability that will be a part of your dinner. Nowhere is it written in stone that says you have to celebrate Thanksgiving on the actual day.

If you’ll be visiting someone else’s home for the meal, perhaps you can do some writing on the way over to the location. Whether you are travelling by car, train or airplane; you should be able to snag some extra words prior to the meal. Provided that your hosts understand your writing challenge, you might be able to get in some writing while waiting for the meal to be served.

Don’t ignore them especially if you only see them once or twice a year. If you’re spending the weekend there, there’s always time to get some writing in on Friday and Saturday after the meal.

Of course, by the time Thanksgiving arrives, your spouse might say, “You’re still writing?” or “At least take the day off from this”. In the long run you might just give yourself the entire day off. Pad your word count the day before and then resume on that Friday while everyone is out shopping. If you’re finished, help yourself to an extra piece of pie to celebrate.

Some Time-Saving Tips

As I stated at the beginning of this article; it’s not having the time, but finding the time to write. Here are some ideas to help you get some writing done:

  1. Rise 30 minutes earlier or go to bed 30 minutes later, and utilize that time to write. Even if you’re just putting ideas down on paper (or on the screen), write. It doesn’t have to make sense just write it.
  • Pre-record all of your favorite shows and then watch them at the end of each week or after you’ve finished the entire project. With technology today, you don’t have to watch an episode the night it is broadcast.
  • Reduce your e-mail viewing. Either utilize the vacation mode on your account or limit the number of times you read them. Twice a day should be the maximum if you usually do it more often.
  • Limit your presence on Social Media. For some, this is like depriving a person of water or air. If you are a social butterfly, let your peeps know that you won’t be on as often but make sure you check in so they know you’re still alive.
  • Write during your lunch hour at work. If you can’t take a laptop, using the ol’ pen and paper to scribble your story. You can get a good amount of words finished this way and it will count towards your final total.

Conclusion

Whatever you do, do not totally neglect your spouse or family during your writing session; be it a week or an entire month. Spend some time with them, eat meals with them, and celebrate each milestone that you cross. Remember my mantra: 5K, every 3 days; if you write 5000 words every three days that will get you to the goal of 50K of the NaNo challenge. Or whatever goal you set yourself for your story.

What about you? What are your secrets to dealing with everyday life and writing? Share any hints or tips of what worked and what didn’t. I’m looking forward to hearing your comments.

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

The Gamer’s Guide to Background Music

Introduction

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” ~William Congreve

The world of music has been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Whether buying the latest album of our favorite band, singing along with the radio in the car, or singing in the shower, music is always with us.

Most of us grew up with music playing in the background during the family meal or doing homework. The same idea can be used to inspire your story writing if you’ve never considered it before.

It’s Quiet…Too Quiet

Growing up, I never listened to music while working on homework. Though we did listen to it while eating dinner. The drawback on that is that if you’re listening to the radio, you have to tolerate the DJ’s voice and commercials that seem to scream at you.

Since I moved into my current residence (in 2018), I’ve found myself noticing that my days off are too quiet. I was used to hearing children and animals on a daily basis but, now it sometimes seems too quiet. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the silence but there are days when the silence is too loud.

I discovered Ambient music a couple of years ago and have begun playing that in the background in the mornings while working on articles for my blogs. Here’s a link from Wikipedia to tell you more about Ambient music.

Entering the Dungeon

Setting the Mood

Back in my early days of gaming, my friend, Bob (our DM), came up with the idea of using Monk chants for the background music for our gaming sessions. Music like this and other classical compositions are really inexpensive and add to the mood as your character moves through the dungeon.

Since then, whenever I was gamemaster, I incorporated music to set the mood for our sessions. Usually, I would just pick one song to play during a certain part of the game. I didn’t have music constantly in the background.

The same idea can be utilized when writing your stories. Sometimes you can pick standard music; to serve as “noise” while your write, or you can create a playlist with specific songs to fuel your mood while writing your stories. Whether you write Fantasy, Sci-fi, or mainstream fiction, you can find the right type of music to keep the creative wheels turning.

Music Suggestions

Here are a handful of groups/performers that I’ve used to serve as either background music or inspiration for my stories. I hope you can find something useful in this collection. All of them can be found on Spotify, the links provided are where you can purchase them.

Midnight Syndicate—this group became known to me late last year (2021) when I noticed that they have an album titled, Dungeons and Dragons.

Nox Arcana—this group was recommended by a good friend who said, “If I like Midnight Syndicate, I love this group.” They were right!

Putomayo Presents—This organization has all of your World Music needs if you’re looking for music heard in a French Café or on the streets in Rio de Janeiro, this is the place to look!

Hewers of Caves—This is a solo creator who creates atmospheric music perfect for a gaming session or writing about a dungeon crawl.

Friendly Donut Shop—Another solo creator who uses pastries and other donut-themed names for their songs. Great to play in the background as you are having that first cup of coffee.

Blind Guardian—This German-based band has fueled my creativity for several years. Their song, Imaginations from the Other Side is what I used to write book one of my Askinar Towers Trilogy.

Nightwish—This symphonic metal band, from Finland, has also fueled my creativity with their powerful song.

Conclusion

Regardless of the type of music you listen to; for background or inspiration, take the opportunity to find what works best for you. Writer’s block can be easily solved, sometimes, with a little music.

If you have any further suggestions of groups or songs that I might not know about, feel free to comment about them below. Let me know what you listen to in the car or just in general to keep the words flowing.

Until next time,

Happy Adventuring!

Linktree site

The Gamer’s Guide to Story Writing

Introduction

As I stated in a previous article, I began writing fiction in 1981. Around 1989, I began role-playing with some friends. It wasn’t until much later that I put both of these ideas together to create some of the stories that I have available. Some of my PCs (player characters) became story characters in my books.

I’ll share with you my journey from gamer to writer and share some ideas of how gaming can help your stories. There will be quite a few links to click on.

My First Character

I was first introduced to the world of Dungeons and Dragons when Advanced D&D 2nd Edition came out. It was suggested that I play a halfling who was a thief. Being a fan of David Eddings series, I named the character Ambar; one of his characters’ many aliases.

As I got better with the game, my character got better as well. When I started to write stories, I took this character and changed the name, so as not to infringe on copyrighted material, and he became Denbar Karma. He also had several aliases (as thieves would) and, eventually created the thieves’ guild called, The Deadbeat Alliance.

He became the leader of the legendary adventuring group, The Hooded Heroes which also featured: Ravenkeep the Warrior (a weredragon); Tiano, The Living Ghost (a wild mage); and Brother Trueheart (an elven priest).

He also traveled as a medicine man called, Dr. Holloway, then went into semi-retirement when he opened several taverns called, Quenchers. He now appears in several of my stories as a supporting character.

Returning to The Table

When I became a Christian in 2001, I couldn’t see myself gaming anymore. Not that it was considered a satanic game, as some would have you to believe, but because it suddenly felt pointless. So, I walked away from our table. My wife, at the time, and her friends, continued gaming without me and I didn’t have a problem with it. It wasn’t like I was going to make them stop because I stopped.

In 2006, I briefly returned to the table to take up gaming again. Mostly because my creative well was running dry and I knew that when I role-play, the ideas start flowing. My wife was the Dungeon Master (DM); I originally taught her how to play and she plays better than me. She created a forum site on the internet for us to post character backgrounds and a summary of the gaming sessions from our character’s point of view. The idea was to earn extra experience points (XP) by doing this. As a writer, I couldn’t say no.

This is how I was inspired to create an adventurer’s diary for my NaNoWriMo entry for November 2006. Although I never completed the story, or the challenge, my creative well was filling up and, eventually I walked away from the table for good.

Once a Gamer…

It’s been about 15 years since I last took up the dice and sat at a gaming table, but I still think about it. I have purchased sets of dice (because I like the style and quality) and recently purchased some minis (miniature figures) which I can use on gaming maps.

The game still appeals to me even though I don’t play. But there are many ways that the ideas of a gamer can morph over into those of a writer.

One of the reasons I bought the minis was to position my characters against the villains so that I could have a clear visual of what a battle would look like. I could then better describe it in any story that I was writing. Sometimes, it’s easier to visualize when you have figures and maps or buildings in front of you.

Gamers’ Sites to Encourage Writing

Here is a small collection of websites dedicated to gamers but can also be utilized by writers to keep the ideas flowing. Incidentally, some of these were discovered via the YouTube channel, Mann Shorts.

Fantasy Name Generator—To me, this is the mother of all name generator sites. In my current WIP, I’ve come to this site to name music groups, restaurants, mountains, currency, ships, and other things. If I need a name for something, I’ll come here first!

Seventh Sanctum—This is one of the first name generator sites that I frequented. It still has some good stuff in it and, recently, I discovered more sites when I clicked on The Nexus at the top.

20,000 Names.com—This has both male and female names and is divided up based on countries or ethnic backgrounds. Also gives the meaning of the names if you’re looking for something specific.

World Anvil—This site has a lot of good stuff on it. Things for writers and gamers alike. Click on the Features button and you’ll get excited for what’s available.

DUNGEONFOG—generate your own maps or get one that’s premade. Perfect for Tabletop gaming or to get a visual for your stories.

DriveThru RPG—This download site has a large collection of adventures and ideas that are quick to download and just pennies in price! I’ve found adventure hooks, guild names, and other items that have kept my creative well full.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to come up with a new adventure for your gamer friends or looking to write that next story, these sites should help you get started in that direction. Hopefully, these will keep your creative well full for years to come.

Until next time,

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

The Real World Vs. My World

Introduction

My passion for writing began in my freshman year around 1981. Since then, I’d been trying to write stories; mostly for my own amusement but also to share with others.

My interest in Fantasy stories began when I read the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, followed by David Eddings 10-book saga featuring The Belgariad and The Mallorean.

When people find out I’m a writer, they ask about my stories; what I’m working on, where they can buy my books, etc. But another request had surfaced over the last several years from people knowing that I’m a writer. I’ll discuss that request in this article.

You Should Write My Story

There have a few times that people have approached me, knowing that I’m a writer, and telling me that I should write their story. This has happened on three different occasions.

The first was a co-worker who left her native homeland and came to America and wanted me to write her struggles of crossing the border and starting a new life here.

The second was a friend whose shady past was “worthy of being a TV movie” or so he told me.

The third was a girl who had harassed a couple of guys online and wanted me to side with her, writing her story, wherein she is portrayed as the victim.

I never gave a direct response to any of them as I really didn’t know how to respond to them. Fortunately, all three have since dropped the suggestion and I don’t have to worry about it.

Why I Don’t Write Non-fiction

The main reason I don’t write non-fiction stories is because of the need of research and keeping to the facts and details of any story. Research is not my strong point and, if you’ve read my article on research, you’ll see why.

In the matter of the third person’s story, I would have to get facts from all parties involved and, I’m sure, she wouldn’t like what I would find out. Basically, it would come down to her story vs. their story. That’s enough for me NOT to get involved in her, or anyone’s, story.

I Only Tolerate Reality

Groucho Marx once said, “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.” I’m inclined to agree with Groucho as reality is too real sometimes to want to be out and about in it all of the time.

This is most likely the reason I’m such an introvert. The real world is too peopley and I can’t only tolerate so much.

In my fictional worlds, I can control what happens and what doesn’t happen. Well, most of the time; provided my characters go along with my ideas. See my article, The Writer and the God Complex. I still do research for ideas and settings but in Fantasy settings, it’s easier to put my own cities and locations where I want them.

I have written fictional stories set in modern-day America, Dream Girl and For the Love of Cassie. Both have non-fictional settings and real lifelike characters, but both stories have an interesting twist to them that is definitely fantasy. Even my book, God Gives the Increase is about a fictional character, and his story, which is loosely based on my life.

Conclusion

I will, at times, take real-life situations and utilize them for my stories but that’s as far as I’ll go into non-fiction writing. The real world is just too real to want to write about it. I’d rather write fiction and create my own worlds to escape that realism even if for just a few minutes.

Don’t ask me to write your story, because I’m just not interested. Don’t take offense to that statement, there are other writers out there who would be better suited for the task than me.

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

Unconventional Research Methods

Introduction

One of the first things writers are taught is to become a reader. The more you read, the more you know, and the more it will help your own writing.

Another thing writers learned is to write what you know. But, if you want to write a historical fiction story set in The Victorian Age, you’re going to have to do some research and that means study.

However, there are those of us who have trouble studying history or information in general and for those people, I have some alternative suggestions.

Learning Disability

For as long as I can remember, I grew up with a bit of a learning disability but didn’t know it until the same signs showed up in my oldest daughter when she was in school.

For the majority of my life, I was an average student, and I might have been better if assistance was available when I went to school. Nowadays, they have teacher’s aides that help with children who are struggling in class. They pull them aside and help them to understand the material better.

You see, I learn better by seeing images of what is being talked about or, actions that are carried out by individuals. Pictures in textbooks only show you so much and the rest is tons of words you have to comb through.

This is, most likely, why I prefer to write Fantasy stories as I can create my own worlds and apply the rules as I see fit. I’m not bogged down in semantics of this happened in this year and this person was over here at that time. Even when you write historical fiction, for example, you need to know your history to be able to insert your characters into already established timelines.

Unconventional Methods

Here are some methods of research and/or inspiration to help you establish ideas for your stories.

Movies/TV Series—This the easiest method of research for those of us who prefer to see things unfold right before us. I wouldn’t recommend these if you’re shooting for accuracy as some directors go for the creative angle and place certain scenarios in a different order for dramatic effect or action. It’s best to stick with textbooks on your subject.

Documentaries—Like TV series, this will be closer to textbook and research books as you will be given facts. In addition, some documentaries might have reenactments of the events being talked about.

Magazines—In addition to having articles, there’s quite a few out there with lots of pictures. The two magazines in the top picture, are ones that I recently purchased and also sparked the idea for this article. These could make for some interesting backdrops especially is you’re writing a dystopian story.

Virtual Tours—For most of 2021, I spent a lot of time doing virtual tours and seeing numerous sites around the world right in my own home. An official tour guide takes their phone; connected to a platform and shows you the local area (live and in person). I’ve knocked many places off my own bucket list and it’s a great way to see certain cities if you don’t have the money to travel. Here are a couple of those platforms: Heygo and Viewpal. I highly recommend both of them.

Conclusion

Not all research has to be dull and filled with facts and figures. If you expand your horizons a little, you can find fun and interesting ways to get the information you need to create the world of your story.

The Author’s Road Map

Introduction

When I took my car in to a local garage to have it serviced, numerous things were found wrong with it. I had the mechanic work on the most pressing issues first and leave the others for another time.

When I went to pick up my car, the mechanic showed me what all was done to my car and a list of things yet to be fixed. He called it, A road map of repairs. Essentially, it was various things that either needed attention in the near future and those that could wait a while.

The writing life of an author is like a road map. We have our starting point, we have our destination, and there are bumps and detours along the way. Here’s my road map of where I’ve been and where I’m headed through 2023.

My Last Destination

In June 2019 I published my previous book; the second in the Floor 17 Café series called, A Café Mystery. One of the challenges that I have, that I’m sure many have, is which project to tackle next? I had several in mind including a third book for Floor 17 Café; of which I wrote a few chapters but couldn’t get it to gel like I wanted.

I also had my Ryan Hoover project that was ongoing; an e-mail exchange between myself and a fictional character concerning spiritual things. And I had a Fantasy diary project which had stagnated. There’s always the thought of, Am I finished? Should I hang up the author concept? And the answer is, No! Regardless of how many books I sell or not, I need to keep writing as it’s in my blood.

Real Life Distraction

When the pandemic hit, and everybody quarantined themselves, I took the opposite initiative. I began hiking with a friend of mine on regular basis. Hiking had always been a passion of mine but rarely did it for one reason or another.

When 2020 began, I decided that I was going to hike more frequently and choose to start then and end by 2030. Not that I’m going to quite hiking altogether by then, but I wanted a goal in mind and thought 10 years was reasonable.

I’m not giving myself any kind of challenge in regard to number of hikes per year or types of trails. But I am trying to find a new trail or place to hike as often as possible.

Getting out of the house and into the fresh air and sunshine is good for any writer and Arizona has numerous trails to explore. Plus, since I am a Fantasy novelist, I can imagine my characters on the trail heading to the next city or adventure.

The Year-long Detour

In December 2020 I saw an ad on social media that asked, would you like to see Paris at Christmastime? I thought, “Yes, please!” Not sure what I was going to see; Photo album, video tour, or something else. When I clicked on the link it was for a virtual tour platform. The idea was that an official tour guide, from that specific city and country, would stream LIVE and take us on an actual tour of the area.

I fell in love with the idea and immediately signed up. My one goal, at the time, was to see Machu Picchu, Peru and, after that, considered myself finished with the platform. I figured it wouldn’t be until Summer of 2021 or so.

In the meantime, I travelled all over the world, week after week, knocking places off of my personal bucket list. I made numerous friends with the guides, and fellow tourists, and simply immersed myself in the platform.

As far as writing goes, I hit upon the idea of putting tour guides in my Fantasy story. Since my travel diary was my most recent WIP (work in progress), I put the guides in there. Essentially the idea is an extension of the local thieves’ guild giving them access to castles, theaters, and other places that would give tours. Although the tour companies are legit, not all of the tourists are.

This became my new catalyst in finishing this project. I wrote with renewed vigor, hoping to finish this book. However, I skipped over a whole section just to get to the end of the story (I write like that sometimes) but never returned to the part I left out.

I did manage to see Machu Picchu in April, but I was fully invested in the platform that I couldn’t stop. This, unfortunately, led to problems in my personal life. As the saying goes, “I went further down the rabbit hole.”

Crash and Burn

By September, the platform was taking up most of my free time. Every morning, on my days off, I would start my day by stating, X number of hours until my next tour. Writing became a distant memory for me and I wasn’t really even thinking about it at all.

Then I made a huge mistake! I got involved with someone that was part of the platform and got into their personal business and, ultimately, was banned from the platform for harassment. In my defense, I believe it was a case of misunderstanding being that we were from two different ethnic backgrounds.

Anyway, as December arrived, part of me was relieved and part of me felt lost. The relief part was that these tours were no longer eating up my life. I wanted so badly to walk away from it but knew I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t choose to end it that way, it just fell into that consequence. But the banning did save not only my life, but my soul and so I thank that individual profusely!

The “lost” part came when I suddenly realized that I had all of this free time and didn’t remember what I used to do with it. Part of my existence had disappeared, and I wasn’t sure what was missing. Then I realized that I was a writer, and that storytelling is what I did!

A New Road Map

By the end of December, I got myself a new road map. My new destination was to complete two projects and publish them by May of 2022. Actually, the idea was to complete a third by December of 2022 but I’ll share the update on that in just a moment.

Available here on Amazon Kindle

Going through my files, trying to figure out what to start with, I came across my bedtime stories idea featuring my characters Zak and Hector from the Floor 17 Café saga. I had three short stories written and, originally, planned to write six. Instead, I wrote a fourth story, a prequel to introduce the idea, and then intros and outros for each. I finished that project at the end of January 2022. Amid that, I ended up getting dentures for the first time and suffered COVID for a week or so.

My second project was to complete the Ryan Hoover WIP and publish it by May. This is a somewhat autobiography about how I became a Christian and the challenges I faced through the eyes of my fictional character and his family. Not everything in it happened to me, personally, but stories told by the brethren over the last 20 years.

Out of Gas?

Having completed both projects, and by the deadline I created, I was trying to figure out my next project to complete by the end of the year; most likely the beginning of December, 2022.

I wanted to complete the travel diary idea which had the tour guides in it. But I wasn’t sure if I was going to get back to it or not. I had a new Fantasy detective idea in the works but it wasn’t panning out very well either. I also had a project featuring short stories, poems, and bible articles on the subject of Death. That seem to be the next choice but then it stagnated as well.

I thought to myself, since I already had two books published; and in 5 months, that I shouldn’t push for the third by the end of the year. Making that decision eased my mind a little bit and I finally settled on returning to my travel diary idea.

Refilled with a New Destination

My current WIP is the travel diary featuring a pair of bards who are doing a multi-city tour across several domains and encountering interesting events and fellow entertainers. The subtitle of this WIP is, “The Travel Diary of Melkiah Chanter.”

The bard duo is known as Banter and Chanter and they are working their way along entertaining people and learning that, although they have their best tour planned, not everything goes according to that plan. Yes, I do have a second book in mind which will follow them and some new characters that they hook up with in the first story. I won’t say more but I hope to complete this story by the end of the year and have it ready for publication by Spring 2023.

I also hope to complete the death series currently titled; Death is Not a Side Effect by late next year (2023). That, of course, remains to be seen.

Conclusion

This is where I’ve been and where I’m headed. With my new map in hand, I hope to continue this path for the next several months. I hope to bring more writing articles, in general, to my blog as well.

I’m still hiking and doing the occasional virtual tour (on a different platform) plus writing new bible articles on my other blog, The Christian Caravan. Hopefully, the rest of this year (2022) will be profitable for me in many ways.

Do you have an Author’s Road Map? If so, share your ideas in the comments below. Take care and we’ll see you soon.

Happy Adventuring!

Chris

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Remembering Dad on Father’s Day

Introduction

On February 9, 2019, my father passed away at age 83; Mom died in January 2015. I made the trip home to Ohio both times to attend funerals. For my father’s funeral, though, I preached a short sermon to reach out to those who were in attendance. If you’d like to read that sermon, you can find it here.

Since Father’s Day is this coming Sunday, I thought I would share a few stories about my father; one of which I shared at his funeral. I hope you enjoy them.

Chicken Hattie

This is a story my father related to us a long time ago. It was always in the back of my head and, when I was trying to figure out what to say about my dad for the funeral, I suddenly remembered this story. This isn’t word-for-word, but the similarity is there.

Robert Mentzer, Richard Mentzer, Jim Birbeck

Many years ago, my father, his brother, and some others went fishing up in Canada. They were gone for about a week. After a few days of catching fish, cleaning fish, cooking fish, and eating fish, they decided that they wanted something different.

Driving into a local town, they found a restaurant and went inside. This particular place didn’t have menus, instead the waitress would recite everything that they had; including specials. The girl they had as a waitress must have been new as she mumbled some of the items available.

At one point, they heard her say, “Chicken Hattie”. To them, that was great! So, they order that. When the meals came to the table, they found that they had ordered fish!

Ice Cream from Nowhere?

Since was father was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland, OH, we spent many-a weekend visiting his parents and shopping downtown. On one occasion; I was about ten and my sister, 8, we went to Stouffer’s Inn on the Square (circa 1978). In addition to a hotel, there were also department stores and the RTA station underground.

During one visit, we were wandering through Macy’s Department Store; most likely looking for clothes for us for the upcoming school year. At one point, Dad disappeared through the racks of clothes. When Mom inquired what happened to him, he reappeared with an ice cream cone in his hand!

Naturally, we all wanted to know where he got the ice cream from and he told us of a stand that’s right in the center of the store. He’d gotten ice cream there, before, as a child and wondered if it was still there. If memory serves, we all followed him over to stand to get ice cream for all of us.

The D.D.S.

One thing I know for sure is that my father was always there for me and the whole family. He was the bread winner; went to work everyday and came home every afternoon. He spent time with us on the weekends and we would help him in his garden.

At one time, he had a total of 300 rose bushes that he cared for and maintained. We got involved; whether we wanted to or not.

At the start of every year, he would map out his flower beds and figure out how he would place the drip system so that each bush got some water. It wasn’t always the same every year as he would buy new bushes and lose others. After a few years of doing this chore, and believe me it was, I nicknamed the process; The D.D.S. or the dreaded drip system. It was very tedious work to snake the hoses through the rose beds making sure the spouts were aimed at the bush and the hose was properly staked down in place.

In the fall, we pulled up the D.D.S. from the beds. We’d drain the water out of the hoses and carried them into the basement to be stored until next Spring. Dad would heap piles of leaves around the bushes to protect them from the winter cold and snow. He even had the city deliver bags of leaves to our house so he could surround the beds like a fort.

Conclusion

Thank you to everyone who stopped by. I hope you enjoyed these stories I shared about my father. Don’t forget your own fathers, grandfathers, etc. on this coming Sunday, June 19th. Take care and I’ll see you soon!

New Book and Cover

My latest publication is to be released on May 9th. This is my 11th project and something a little different from what I usually write. I used to write bulletin articles for the local congregation since 2002. One of those became a series of articles, in the form of an e-mail conversation, between me and a fictional character named, Ryan Hooever. I stopped writing the articles in 2009 but, as a personal project, I resumed the series of e-mail articles in 2019. I have since completed the series and have put them together in a book for encouragement. There are additional bulletin articles in the back.

Here’s the blurb I used to introduce my latest book…

Chris Mentzer became a New Testament Christian in 2001 and, with the help of fictional character; Ryan Hoover, he wrote bulletin articles to share his transition of leaving the world of denominations to that of the true church as stated in scripture (Romans 16:16). Through a series of e-mails, Chris helps Ryan to develop himself as a true Christian and improve his own life in learning from the many mistakes made along the way. The variety of subjects referred to in the series of articles either involved Chris himself or was told to him by local brethren. In the back of this book, you will find a handful of articles to help you get started on become a Christian just those you read about in the scriptures. There is also contact information available as well.

The title is referenced in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

To keep up with my latest activities, follow me on Linktree.

And, as always, Happy Adventuring!

Chris Mentzer

Zak and Hector’s interview with Candace Haberdasher

Hello Blog readers! This is Zak LeManz. Hector and I have officially taken over our author’s social media pages for today. And, oh! Say hello to the people, Hector.

Bonjour à tous! We have control!!

Since we have control, we decided to do an interview of one of our best friends, Miss Candace Pendragon-Haberdasher.

Hi guys! Hello to all subscribers out there in blog world, or whatever you call it.

Candace, at the end of our first book, Zak and Hector’s Bedtime Stories, you hinted at telling a story of your own. Would you like to share anything about that now?

I don’t want to give too much away but, the story is about how I first met my brother, Samael Pendragon.

Were you in dragon form at the time?

Actually, Hector, I was.

Can you show us the dragon form now?

Sure! [transforms]

DC: How’s this?

You look adorable.

It’s a computer filter. I’m actually more fierce looking.

Whoa! Let’s not get rambunctious in here.

Mom, we’re just having a little fun.

I understand that Zak, but let’s not destroy this realm room. You must be careful as there are other people who live in here besides us.

Especially Cassendra. Wait, why do I look like a cartoon?

The image of your model doesn’t really look like you.

But this is the original image from when the author had his blog for the Floor 17 Café. Surely, there is one better.

Father, how about we transform into a cartoon instead? Zak?

How’s this, Dad?

How does that make things any better?

All right, what’s going on out here? I’m trying to—Chuck, this is the best look for you.

Cassendra, not helping.

I think it’s adorable as well. Should we get Gretchen out here and ask her opinion?

Gretch: Patty, you want to ask my opinion of—Chuck, that’s just darling!

*sigh* If anyone needs me, I’ll be hiding in the Floor 68 Public Park.

That’s all the time we have for today. Check out our author’s social media pages!!

Zak and Hector’s Interview with Hanna

Hello Blog readers! This is Zak LeMans. Most of you know me from the Floor 68 Public Park. Hector and I are park greeters. Say hello to the people, Hector.

Bonjour à tous! It’s so nice for us to be here and share this interview with all of you.

Those of you who are subscribers might have noticed that we posted this on a different day. That’s because we are on a secretive mission to do a social media takeover of our author’s pages on February 28th. He’s usually out hiking on Mondays which is why we chose that particular day.

Now, to get ready for the takeover, we have a special interview and that is with Miss Hanna Kontinaho of Finland. She is the cover artist of all of our author’s books. And she’s done a great job portraying us on two of those covers. Hanna, it’s good to have you here.

Hello Zak! I’m happy to be a part of this project of yours. Hello Hector!

Bonjour mademoiselle!

Hector, you don’t have to be so formal. She’s a friend.

Oh! Sorry. Hi there.

Okay, let’s begin the interview. Tell me Hanna, how long have you been an artist?

Pretty much all my life but I became a professional about ten years ago.

Ten years. That’s how old I am. Guess you’ve been drawing all my life as well! Ha ha!

I guess you say that, yes!

Next question. What is your creative process? How do you prepare to draw?

Well, first I have to get an idea of what to draw. I usually begin by doodling. Then I spread rest of my art supplies on the table and draw whatever I have managed to design onto my sketchbook.

That process must take up a lot of time. What hobbies do you have? What do you do in your spare time?

I ride horses and play with my dogs. Sometimes I photograph, too.

Did you say, “play with dogs”?

That’s right, Hector. I have two female dogs: Amanda and Lita.

Are they single? Are they, how do you say, in a relationship?

No, they’re both single.

Hector, that’s the wrong kind of question to ask.

I am sorry, mon ami! I’ll be right back. [Leaves room]

Where are you going?

[from another room] Just keep doing the interview

Sorry about that, Hanna. Now back to the interview. Tell me, what was your inspiration for the design of the second Floor 17 Café book?

Available on Amazon Kindle

It’s been a while since I designed it, so I don’t remember too well… But I tend to listen to my clients carefully and design based on that. I think that’s where I got the inspiration for that book, too.

It’s the Mystery one that has me and Hector in the background. I think you captured our likeness perfectly!

Well, I try my best with each design that I do. Chris, your author, is pretty open to what he wants from me as far as covers go.

Now for a few general questions. What is your favorite show to watch on that thing called a television?

I don’t watch TV that much to be honest. I like a Korean TV series, but they don’t show those on TV here where I live so I have to watch them on a computer.

I’m not fond of the television myself. I think seeing things take place in person is so much better. What is your favorite music?

I listen to pop and rock the most. They keep me in a good mood while drawing.

If you like rock, you might try listening to Cajun Rayne. You can catch them sometimes on channel 100 of the Askinar Towers radio station.

I don’t think I could access that from my home.

That, then, leads to my next question. If you could live anywhere in the four towers of Askinar, where would that be and why?

I would travel in them before deciding where to stay. Knowing myself I think I would choose some peaceful and beautiful place to live more permanently.

We could recommend some places if you’re interested.

Sure!

One final question, would you consider visiting us at the Floor 17 Café? The Floor 68 Public Park? Or at Frozen Tundra?

I’d love to! Anytime!

Hector! The interview is over. Get back in here.

Coming! [bounds in] Hi again!

What were you doing?

I booked us a flight to Finland to see Hanna’s dogs.

But I don’t want to go to Finland.

That’s all right, because I’m planning on taking my cousin, Joubert!

Joubert, his human; Amber, and Hector

Why?

Double date, of course!

That’s all for our interview today. Thanks very much to our lovely guest, Hanna. Don’t forget, our social media takeover is on February 28th. Check Linktree for details. We’ll be mostly on InstaGram and the Author’s Facebook Page. To find out more about Hanna, check her website.