Dear reader, do you have coffee stains on your desk?

I do.

I don’t think about the stains much, except that they’re pretty easy to clean away with Windex.

Everything is pretty easy to clean away with Windex, right?

But you know, I kind of like them there, those brown rings on my desk…some of them to the right of where my laptop sets, some of them to the left…remnants of long mornings staring at my screen, wondering what to write next, what to do next, what to imagine next.

Most mornings I drink a cup or two before the third gets cold half way through as once again I’m lost in the process of writing.

Are you a creative?

You don’t have to be a writer to have cold, dry coffee stains next to your workstation.

You could be a painter.

A carpenter.

A businessman.

A nurse.

A doctor.

A waitress.

A computer geek.

Coffee stains around your work space testify to your dedication and your heart to do whatever it takes.

But what…or whom…are we doing it all for?

I found this verse (below) in Colossians, and was convicted (((again))) about committing my work, and my words, to the Lord.

Things that last are hard to come by these days. Lost in a computer blip, a soundbite, a performance review, a harsh word from a customer…

…maybe the writer of Ecclesiastes was right when he lamented that there’s nothing new under the sun and besides that, everything is just dust in the wind.

But I don’t think so.

Not if what we do, we do for the Lord.

A brush stroke,

a leveled frame,

a balanced ledger,

a fevered brow cooled,

an infection fought,

a coffee cup filled,

a computer code cracked…

…all of that lasts forever when done for the Lord.

What are you doing today?

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Dear Reader, do you ever wonder about book cover design?

As my upcoming third novel continues moving through the editing process, we’re starting one of my favorite stages: the book cover.

Seeing the “face,” if you will, of the creation that’s been rumbling around in my lonely, half-crazed noggin for a couple of years is (((almost))) as marvelous as seeing the face of a newborn baby.

Publishing houses are all different when it comes to cover design.

Some don’t let their authors have any say or even see samples before the cover design is set. Both of my publishing houses have asked me to send them my ideas and covers of other books I like. That doesn’t mean I get to tell them what to design–it just means they at least consider (which they’re not obligated at all to do) my thoughts and ideas.

The other reason I love, love, love the cover design stage is because–little known factI used to be a graphic designer.

I had my own consulting business, if you can believe that. And so as much as I like writing, I am enamoured with graphic design. In fact, I think graphic designers are amazing. The artists who designed the covers of How Sweet the Sound and Then Sings My Soul showed me not just one, but three outstand-incred-amazing choices for each of those books. They ultimately picked the “winner,” but I would have been equally proud of any of them.

Designers really have to know their stuff.

They have to consider how a book looks to readers at all angles, front, back and spine, as well as how it might best catch someone’s eye when it’s and mixed in with a bunch of other books on a shelf. They research what appeals to readers, market trends, and study new design techniques. Not to mention the fact that they have to try to capture the heart of 300+ pages in one single image.

That’s amazing, if you ask me!

Take this upcoming third novel of mine, slated for a summer, 2016, release, for example. I’m still not revealing much about the story, but I can tell you there’s a couple of guys, a couple of girls, a small Indiana town, and a lot of cows involved.

My editor asked me to send them some cover ideas, so here’s what I collected for them:


Do any of these catch your eye? Grab your attention? Whet your whistle?

What about her? 

She REALLY wants to be on the cover, but I don’t think they’ll let her…

And what about you, dear reader? 

Do you have any favorite book covers? Any you don’t like? Anything about a book cover that tends to make you pick it up to see what’s inside?

Introducing “Dear Reader,” posts just for YOU! 

Have you read my books?

Then this post, and others like it in the future, are just for you!

I’ve been thinking about better ways to communicate with folks who’ve read my books, and although I already have this blog, I’m not the greatest about “talking” specifically to my readers. Sure, I write poems and post photographs and stuff, but I don’t really TALK to you.

Shame on me, right?

YOU, after all, are the reason I do what I do!

So, while the rest of my posts are sporadic (sorry!), on Tuesdays I will try my darndest to write posts just for you.

I hope to write about things like what it’s like to work in the traditional publishing industry, insider information into different pieces of my books, personal writing habits and quirks, background research, and whatever else I can think of that might interest folks who’ve read my books.

Which reminds me…

…what would YOU, as a reader, like to hear about in “Dear Reader” posts?

Today, I’ll just share a little bit about my third novel, tentatively titled, Lead Me Home, and which will be published next summer (2016) with Tyndale House Publishers. I am so excited about this novel. As different as How Sweet the Sound and Then Sings My Soul were from each other, Lead Me Home is different still. The setting is small town Indiana, and the main characters are a pastor with a dying church and a young man, forced to grow up too soon, who runs his family dairy farm. Each of them struggles with their place in the world…where they are, versus where God wants them to be.

Do you ever struggle with that?

I know I do. It’s the great temptation of most Americans, if we’re honest, don’t you think? We’d rather have our neighbor’s home, job, money, looks…life. Wouldn’t it be nice to know for sure that we are right where God wants us to be? And to rest in that assurance?

This next book, as with the others, is an attempt to reconcile the way the world is with hope and assurance from God. At the end of the day, I think this is the task and motivation of all writers, all artists…we throw words and color and images out of our minds in frenzied attempts to rearrange them into some sort of sense, into something that matters, into something that shows that we can overcome tragedy and pain and the craziness of this world and find hope.

So, dear reader, let’s connect!

Tell me what you’d like to hear me write about.

I can’t wait to visit with you again soon!