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Slow and Lonely Work

Monday, February 16, 2015

Writing a book is hard work. There is absolutely no way to get the instant gratification I crave.

I’ve been compiling bits and pieces, blog posts, articles, and pictures over the past eight years since we adopted Allie. I pulled together 66,000 words from various sources and condensed them into a 75 page manuscript of about 21,000 words to enter into a contest where the top three prizes were different flavored publishing contracts.

The result was a finished product that was not a finished product. This was a difficult conclusion to come to, but come to it I did. I decide to send what the contest officials rejected to friends for feedback. I picked a range friends who have different relationships with me. Some are friends that are close now and some were close during another season of my life. Some walked through the early days of our story with us. One of the guys I tapped for feedback doesn’t know me or my story at all which is helpful. He doesn’t have a dog in this fight and I’ve received invaluable and knowledgeable comments.

I’ve tried to keep my work away from people who will tell me I’m awesome. I have this recurring nightmare where I’m standing in front of Simon Cowell and he’s telling me I suck and my friends aren’t really friends to send because they’ll allowed me to go onto national TV to get shot down in front of millions of viewers.

I’m not even half way done with my book. I might only be a third of the way there. To a man, every body that read what I’ve written so far says that the book needs to be longer. Also, people want to hear more from the Charming and Beautiful Susan, as do I. They also want to know how things are going taking care of Allie now. Which, by the way, is getting better every day. Finally, people want to know more about Charity. So we’ll work all that out.

I’m looking forward to working more on it and bringing it all in to completion.

Three reasons why I hate this ad about a dead kid

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

This is the creepiest ad I’ve ever seen that wasn’t a trailer for a B rated horror flick.

First Fail: Alienated Audience

Nobody wants to ever think that a little kid dies and spends the afterlife in a state of perpetual regret and loneliness for childhood choices. That, in my humble opinion, is the reason for the blowback about this ad. This is why you, yourself, hate this ad. You instinctively think all little kids should go to heaven if they die.

Second Fail: Disconnected Narrative
Nationwide also was not thinking about the audience they were pitching to. People were watching the Super Bowl to be entertained. This was not an entertaining commercial. It wasn’t even sad. It was twisted.

Third Fail: Scare Tactics

Progressive, Gieco, and Esurrance are having fun selling insurance. They tell entertaining stories and where we can’t wait to see what they do next. We love the cast of characters including type A personality Flo, a gecko with a British accent, and lovable senior citizens reimagining tech and social media. These insurance companies are not using old school scare tactics to sell insurance.

To Nationwide’s credit, the website is a great idea with useful and shareable content. But Nationwide would have done themselves a huge favor if they found a more user friendly way to roll this out as a public service announcement. But when I see those kids pictured on the website, I get the heebie-jeebies because I think they're all trapped in limbo with unbaptized babies.

After huge social media backlash, in a statement, Nationwide said, “The sole purpose of this message was to start a conversation, not sell insurance.” This was definitely accomplished, but Nationwide has morbidly tainted it’s brand with an image of a dead kid telling people to be careful from beyond the grave.

January Daily Devotionals for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale

Sunday, February 01, 2015

I'm really happy to be part of a team of writers posting daily devotionals on Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's website. In January, our church's teaching team launched a weekend series about family, relationships, and being created in the Image of God called Interconnected. Our team of devotional contributors write pieces daily based on topics being taught from the pulpit to reinforce and supplement the principles being taught.

Here's a list of January's devotionals along with the authors that wrote them. Enjoy!

1/1 »The Initiator of Relationships by Bryon Mondok
1/2 »Living in Community by James Seawell
1/3 »God Knows You by Danny Saavedra
1/4 »A Transforming Glory by Bryon Mondok
1/5 »New Man in Town by Danny Saavedra
1/6 »Children of the Lord by Mike Miller
1/7 »The Good Wife by Danny Saavedra
1/8 »Forsaking All Others by Charlie Halleran
1/9 »A New Way to Live by Bryon Mondok
1/10 »An Inconvenient Moment by Kelly Nothnagle
1/11 »Finishing the Divine Task by Jeff Denis
1/12 »What Really Matters? by Steve Carlson
1/13 »Simplicity of Purpose by Michael Rust
1/14 »Reconciled Through Redemption by Jessica Busboom
1/15 »Beautiful Redemption by Anitra Parmele
1/16 »In Christ: Redemption by Fidel Gomez
1/17 »Somebodies and Nobodies by Bryon Mondok
1/18 »Letting Go of the Past by Nia Arnold
1/19 »Playing Favorites by Luann Doman
1/20 »Parental Solicitude by Greg Anderson
1/21 »When You're Called to Pick One or the Other by Bryon Mondok
1/22 »A Parent's Prayer by Chris Baselice
1/23 »A Loyal Heart by Duane Roberts
1/24 »Take Care of Your Soul by Greg Anderson
1/25 »The God-Infused Life by Luann Doman
1/26 »Every Day, All the Time by George Sayour
1/27 »Stories Change Behavior by Bryon Mondok
1/28 »Raising Children by Rod Pearcy
1/29 »Be Present In Your Present by Melissa Presser
1/30 »A Quiver Truly Full by Ashley Ruiz
1/31 »To Let Them Fly by Ashley Ruiz


How to make your friends cry

Friday, January 30, 2015

You may or may not know, but I work in web and social media and I really like it. Some people treat me like a real wizard. Not my wife. She thinks I'm just a nerd. She's like, "When I met you, you were a tough Marine. Now look at you. You're a nerd. You're king of the nerds."

I don't know if king is correct, but my hands are a lot softer than they used to be when I was working construction or falling trees in the Redwood Forest in my younger days.

But now I'm king of the nerds. So all my friends at work ask me about how to make a web site and how to use the Facebook and should they get a Tweeter thing. And I try not to be condescending, and I usually fail at this. And they ask me how I know all this stuff because, says they, "you're, you know, old." And I tell them I learned this from years of blogging. And they say, "Oh you have a blog. Let me see it."

So I Google my name to get to my blog and they see pictures of Allie. "Who is that," they ask. And I say, "Get ready to cry." And then I show this video:

Congratulations New Look Writing Contest Winners!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I accomplished something I've had as a goal for a number of years. I wrote a book. I submitted a manuscript about adopting Allie as a contest entry to Westbow Press's New Look Writing Contest last November. First, second, and third prizes were publishing contracts valued at $2,999, $1,899 and $999. Congratulations to the winners.

I was disappointed to learn I didn't win the contest as I had fantasized through the Christmas holidays about doing the book tour rounds on Good Morning America, Conan, and the Steve Colbert show, as my book was, no doubt, destined for the New York Times bestsellers list.

I'm super happy that I finished the book. Actually, I'm not totally done. An editor friend of mine has read it and has made some suggestions to punch up the content and timelines a bit. Stay tuned.

Manuscript sent!

Friday, November 28, 2014

I talked about it a lot over the past couple of years but I did more talking than actual writing. But today, after pushing hard over the past six weeks, I submitted a manuscript to publisher advertising a contest to its cadre of bloggers. 

I've been blogging, on and off, for Thomas Nelson's BookLook Bloggers initiative for a few years. This started in 2008 when Michael Hyatt was still CEO of the publishing house. It was a marketing strategy to increase online visibility for their books in a time when shelf space in brick-and-mortar book sellers began to trend downward. 

At the end of October, I received an email about a contest a subsidiary publisher of Thomas Nelson was having and was actually halfway through. The contest began in September and ends the last day of November. I jumped in pretty late. But I had already started and stopped working on a book for the past few years so I had a bunch of stuff written, it just didn't make sense as a book yet. So since the last few weeks since the end of October, I've been working at night after Allie is in bed and early mornings before anyone is up to hammer out a manuscript to enter into the contest to get published. Winners will be announced in January. Fingers crossed. 

Back at it

Monday, November 03, 2014

I've been at work again on the book I've been working on for the past five years. Starting and stopping, getting momentum and losing it has been a discouraging process. I haven't wanted to say anything because it's been really difficult to carve out the time. But for the past two weeks, I've worked every day on it. Here's a piece I wrote this morning (I probably won't blog too much more about it til I'm done) that evoked some emotion as I read it outloud toe the Charming and Beautiful Susan.
I checked in with a hospital volunteer and found my way up to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). I was not ready for what I was going to see. Apparatus on shiny chrome stands surrounded Allie like a crude protective fence. She was in a hospital bed that looked much too large for her. Her head was completely wrapped, turban like, in gauze to hold the electroencephalography (EEG) nodes glued to her scalp in place. She lay under a heating lamp with feeding tubes in her nose, breathing tubes in her mouth, and intravenous (IV) lines running from her little hands to a bag on a stand. A little cube shaped machine on a pole pumped liquid nutrition into her stomach through the tube threaded through a nostril. On one side of Allie was a machine that monitored her temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate. Next to the machine that monitored her vitals, the heating lamp stood to keep Allie’s temperature at 98.6. Allie’s little body was not maintaining the proper temperature on it’s own. On the other side of Allie was the EEG monitor. Finally, there was a machine that pumped air into Allie’s lungs. She hadn’t breathed on her own in over 36 hours.
“Here, I am, honey,” I said. “Papa’s here.”