More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Lessons from Musicals: Overture

Reseda Vocal Ensemble 1976-77This is the first installment of a series, Lessons from Musicals.

Forty years ago, I performed in my first high school musical. Actually, we did excerpts from several musicals including Oliver and Plain and Fancy. I went from Mr. Bumble to Papa Yoder and experienced stage makeup for the first time (and the massive amounts of cold cream to take that stuff off).

But my experience with musicals started long before I took the stage at Reseda High School in 1977.

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What I learned from earning Eagle Scout

From my Eagle Scout invitationForty years ago, I earned my Eagle Scout award. It remains one of my greatest personal achievements. I learned many valuable lessons from Boy Scouts. In addition to life skills from first aid to paddling a canoe, I learned how to overcome mediocrity and that you can leave unsupportive situations to reach your goals.

The most important thing I learned from Boy Scouts was how to be a man.

Masculinity is not an easy thing to talk about these days. It stirs up perceptions of misogyny, harassment, abuse, and discrimination. But I believe it’s more important than ever to talk about masculinity, especially as our understanding about gender identity and sexual orientation grows. What it does mean to be a man today, especially when we see so many horrible behaviors some consider “manly”?

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Down the rabbit hole

Down the rabbit hole (image from Wikimedia Commons)I’ve never been so angered by the news as I have been these past few days. Syria. San Bernardino. United Airlines. Stockholm. Borussia Dortmund. Sean Spicer. Sean Spicer! If he had a shred of honor and self-respect left, he would resign. But he doesn’t, so he won’t. And his boss won’t fire him because doesn’t have it either.

We’ve been spending the past few months wondering where the bottom is to this rabbit hole we’re falling down. We haven’t hit bottom. We’re nowhere near the bottom. And God help us when we do hit bottom. I’m afraid that it will be the most horrific and tragic thing we have ever experienced. And we’ll have no one to blame for it but ourselves.

Resistance can slow our descent and possibly soften the impact. But it’s too late to stop our fall. We can limit the damage, but we can’t prevent it.

Keep resisting. Find something positive you can grab on to. Hold your friends and loved ones close. And brace for impact. It will take all of our strength, determination, and faith to get back on our feet and climb out of the pit.

Why you should read my new novels

My new novels, The Remainders and AmigaI have two new novels that are free to read on Inkitt for a limited time. Even though these books are free, I still have to convince people to read them. And book marketing brings up all sort of bad memories of when I tried to ask girls to date me in high school.

I am good at appealing to reason, so here are some reasons for you to check out The Remainders and Amiga. Read more »

How to deal with rejection

Sometimes, the only answer is no. Image from Pixabay.comAs a follow-up to my post about using bad writing to get to good writing, I was asked how I deal with rejection. It’s easy to be philosophical about it. I can talk about how many rejection letters authors got before their groundbreaking work got published. I can talk about how no leads us to the yes we really need, how setbacks give us opportunities to learn and grow, and how we shouldn’t take rejection personally.

But rejection is personal. We dedicate a lot of time, effort, and passion into our work. We polish and perfect our writing until we are proud to put our name on it and show it to others. It stings when our creation is rejected. Seeing it dismissed with a dispassionate “your submission does not meet our needs at this time” makes it sting even more.

We might also be in the position where we can’t accept no for an answer. If you don’t make the sale, you won’t be able to pay the rent. If you don’t publish your topical novel now, you may never get another chance. Rejection isn’t something we can be philosophical about.

How do we really deal with rejection? Read more »