Free Chapter From My Next Book: You’re Still Here – Surviving the Death of a Child

holding handsI’ve mentioned on Twitter that I’m working on a new ebook for people who have lost a child, or know someone who has. I’ll also release the book through CreateSpace as a paperback. It’s not going to be terribly long, and I’m not a doctor or therapist or big name celebrity pastor/author, so it’s not going to be terribly popular. But what it will be is honest. Perhaps too honest.

But as I’m writing for hurting people, that’s not a bad thing.

See, there aren’t a lot of resources out there for people who’ve buried a child. Be it a stillbirth, a miscarriage, SIDS, an early childhood illness or just the injustice of a fallen universe, a lot of people are hurting without many resources to comfort them. I don’ t know if it’s because those resources have a limited audience and therefore remain unknown or if companies and writers are simply unwilling to publish on the topic. It also may be that there are tons of resources available and I just don’t know how to Google search them.

I doubt that last point, though, because every time someone I know experiences a child’s death – be it personally or via friends and family – one of the first questions I get is always, “I’ve looked online for resources on this, but there don’t seem to be that many. Can you recommend something?”

The thought of writing something for hurting parents and family and friends has been in the back of my head for a while. I’ve put it off because A- I don’t have the platform to effectively write and sell such a book, and B- I’m not an official expert in the matters of grief. But I got a message from my cousin the other day on Facebook asking about resources for someone who’d just lost a baby. I gave her a couple of books that Rachel and I had read that kind of helped, and gave her some advice on what not to say or do around the grieving parents. And I realized: I don’t have to write the definitive book on surviving the death of a child. I don’t have to be psychologist or counselor or mega-pastor to speak from a place of wisdom.

I’ve lived it. And if I keep it short and sweet, and tell my story as a way of offering advice and insight, then that would be enough.

Part of writing is offering help to the people who read what you write. Whether it’s escape or insight or just a momentary sense of camaraderie, giving something to your reader is an essential piece of being a good writer. I know that enough people come to this blog on a search for information on stillbirth and child death to know that even a short book on living through such a horrific life trauma might help someone else grieve better. So I’ve put my other projects on hold for the moment in order to get this book done.

If you know someone who might benefit from this book, please be on the lookout for it’s release. I’m hoping to get it done relatively soon, with sections for both the grieving parents and the friends and family of the aggrieved. It’s not going to be lengthy – maybe 30,000 words all told, but it will be sincere. If you work for a funeral service or maybe as a grief counselor or hospital chaplin, I’d love to send you a manuscript file before I publish and get some feedback and a review for the book. You can fill out the form below if you’re interested.

For everyone else, you can have a free chapter from the book by simply downloading the sample via this link: Sample Chapter_You’re Still Here. The chapter is titled The God Dilemma and it’s a quick look at how the question of God comes into play after the death of a child. The file is read-only.

If you know someone who’s coping with the death of a child, please share this post with them. I’d love for them to know that someone understands, and that a resource is being developed to offer some help in their time of need.

Summarizing Yourself

Getting set up to succeed as a writer isn’t easy. I’m doing a lot of reading, a lot of research, and while I sometimes feel hopeless, I’m slowly learning. One of the things that I learned today was the need to be able to sell myself quickly (it’s not as bad as it sounds), or what many people call “an elevator pitch.”

Here’s mine:

My passion is translation – taking ideas and making them accessible for my audience. With over fifteen years experience in diverse fields, I know how to turn a complex thought into an “a-ha!” moment. Whether I am on a stage or writing for the page, my goal is the same: to make sure that my audience comes away understanding.

That’s it. That’s what I want do, be it online, in print, or on stage. The writing part is taking care of itself – there are some exciting things in the works – but the speaking part is going to require some work.

But what about you? How would you pitch yourself, your dream for life, if you had only a few seconds to do it? What drives you? What inspires you? What is it you want to achieve?

Let me hear from you in the comments below. I’d love to know how you summarize yourself.

Together We Go

ImageI’m fortunate to be married to an exceptional woman. Case in point: I had to re-submit my book manuscripts to Amazon and Barnes & Noble because I accidentally misspelled my son’s name in the dedication (the curse of typing too fast and arrogantly thinking you don’t need to proof the stupid dedication; let that be a lesson to you writers out there), and I noticed that for $25, Amazon would add your book to the distribution list for bookstores, libraries, and academic institutions. I mentioned that fact to Rachel.

“Let’s do it!” she said.

I looked at her. She was smiling. She was serious. I laughed and told her I would rather spend the money on getting my own website.

“Let’s do it!” she chirped.

She is the world’s greatest wife. Polish the trophy, engrave her name, hand it to her tomorrow. Game over.

It’s funny because a lot of people have only heard my side of the story lately; that we stepped away from everything that we knew because I felt strongly that now was the time to focus on my writing career. But we also stepped away from the familiar so Rachel could pursue her dreams, find her purpose. She’s an exceptional administrator and manager, a bold yet kind voice in the midst of chaos who can take the swirling vortex of creative ideas and pull them down into the corporeal world, giving them form and weight and substance.

In short, she can take the poop storm you and I encounter everyday and turn it into a sensible, productive reality. It’s darn near a superpower.

She’s been doing this her whole life, of course, but she’s always followed a different path, because she believed her purpose was teaching. Seven years in public schools and even more in church settings have taught her that teaching is a great skill she possesses, but it’s not her purpose. And that’s okay, because it means that she’s on the verge of something great herself.

Which brings me back to the happily married part. Most people would be freaking out during times like these, times when neither of us have a secured job, when we’re both waiting on God to deliver something amazing instead of chasing something average. And that’s the key: we’re both waiting. We’re both searching. We’re both in a position to make this leap of faith, so wherever we go, we go together.

Together, no matter where we land. Like it’s supposed to be.

Hopefully, you can say the same.


Bulldawg: How I Published a Book in a Day

ImageYesterday, I had a sudden burst of energy and a surplus of time. The end result? I now have a new book available on Amazon (both Kindle version and in paperback).

Before you get all impressed, let me clarify:

The book is a collection of short stories that I wrote a few years ago. I labored over them quite a long time, enjoying the act of creation, enjoying the chance to invent and inhabit a new (though familiar) world. They’re detective stories, inspired by the works of Raymond Chandler, creator of the famous P.I. Phillip Marlowe. Set in Athens, Georgia, they’re about a detective who comes back to the last place life made any sense – UGA – trying to start over again. Through five different, strange cases, he discovers that being a detective in a crazy college town is very interesting. They’re dark, gritty, punchy and, for better or worse, some of my most favorite things I’ve written.

Are the wholesome? No. They’re hard-boiled detective noir. They’re not for kids, people who dislike detective stories, or people who object to the use of ugly language and uglier portrayals of life.

Are they good? We’ll see. I wouldn’t have published them if I weren’t proud of them, and if a friend of mine didn’t convince me that they were worth putting out into the public sphere.

Are they cheap? As cheap as I could make them. Well, I suppose I could’ve given them away free, but they were the perfect set up for testing the digital marketplace as an independent author. If you don’t have to go through the gatekeepers, why should you?

Do I expect to make a lot of money? Not a bit. But I hope to be able to get some good feedback as a writer – I want to know what the people who read this blog might think of the experiment in fiction. I want to know if I have the kind of range necessary to tell bigger stories than just my own (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I’ve already sold a few copies (thanks to my brother, my friend Ashton, and my friend Sarah) and that’s a nice feeling. It helps with the transition from my old life to my new one. God is sovereign, and He’s able to do more than I would’ve imagined.

Heck, He might even be pleased that I’m trying to stretch more than I’ve ever done before. Who knows?

So, as any self-published author is required to do, I’m gonna remind you one more time that my new book, Bulldawg: Detective Tales from the Classic City, is now available for Kindle or in paperback at Amazon. If you’re a Bulldog fan and know anything about Athens, especially Athens circa 1994-2000, then you’re in for a treat.

Help a fellow Dawg out by getting your copy, will ya?

For My Fellow Writers

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 8.37.45 AMNormally I don’t post twice in one day, but as this will be short post that will only appeal to a select few people out there, I figure it won’t hurt anything. This is for all my fellow writers out there. Today, I was the featured article for – which I got because they happened to read a blog I guest posted on Ed Stetzer’s website. It may not be a Pulitzer prize, but it’s progress in my career. Another credit. A wider audience.


You know how sometimes you sit over the keyboard and sweat blood trying to think of what exactly it is that you’re trying to say? You know something’s inside of you, dying to get out and onto that computer screen, but your fingers and your brain aren’t speaking to one another so you just sit there and stare at a tauntingly empty screen. You pray. You offer mental bargains to yourself. Nothing works. You despair you’ll ever make it as a writer.

If you identify in any way with the above paragraph, I would just like to encourage you today. It’s worth it. Every little ounce of time and sweat and energy that you put into a piece is totally, completely worth it. Because someone, somewhere, reads it. And someone, somewhere, cares.

Keep writing. Keep believing that your words matter.

Because to someone, somewhere, they do.