God is good, and so is His timing, even when we’re too impatient to realize it. The entire writing process, from conception, first draft, revision, querying agents and publishers, and finally being in print and on bookstore shelves takes a long time. Longer than most first time writers know as they’re putting their story down on paper.

Like most, I was starting to grow impatient after so many years, and I began to doubt for the first time in seven years if Rocky would ever be published. I attended a writers’ conference in the autumn of 2007, and had the pleasure of meeting agent and editor-in-chief of the Christian Writers Guild newsletter, “Wordsmith,” Les Stobbe. It was a nice conversation, but it did not lead to anything for either one of us that day.

As it turns out, Mr. Stobbe and I have a mutual friend, and I reintroduced myself to him once again vis-á-vis email. I made reference to the 1998 study conducted by Dr. Garth Rosell of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which played a significant role in the story, and Mr. Stobbe noted that he not only knew Dr. Rosell, but also participated in the same study! I found myself in awe of God’s timing and placement of people in our lives. Here is a man who contributed to the study in 1998 that led to my novel five years later in 2003, and now found him representing in 2009! It is small-minded to dismiss this as confirmation that Walt Disney was right, it is “a small world after all.” I believe this to be confirmation that God wants the story He gave me to write is supposed to be published and read. I believe it.



It's been said (so much so that it's a cliché) that time heals all wounds. It's true, but just don't say it to someone who is really suffering a terrible loss or tragedy, as they're likely to punch you in the nose. Be that as it may, I find that the rejection I felt at the writer's conference has actually benefited me in a number of ways, and thus, like Garth Brooks once wrote, "Thank God for unanswered prayers."

Firstly, the novel simply wasn't ready. Had it actually been accepted, I would have been embarrassed by it, as it wasn't through revision. It reminds me of the time when I was a senior in high school, and I wanted to give a speech at graduation. The process required anyone who was interested to submit a speech for consideration. I worked as a senior at the North Canton Public Library, and due to my schedule, I put together a speech during my lunch break. That was all I had time to do at that point in my life. I was a busy fellow. Anyhow, the good news was that it was accepted, and that I was chosen to be one of four students to give their speech at graduation. The bad news, I was horrified to learn, was that the school would not let me edit or rewrite my speech. I had to read what I submitted. I didn't want to read what I submitted. I thought it was not my best effort. They in turn told me that if I deviated from my speech at all, that they'd pull the plug on me. Given my activist reputation with the administration and school board, I was already a perceived threat for such an action. That story ends with me giving my speech, but not before adlibbing a few lines along the way. They didn't pull the plug, and my parents didn't suffer any public humiliation. So, getting back to my actual point, I'm happy that Rocky wasn't accepted as it was, because it is so much better now than it was then.

Secondly, I have had the sincere thrill of falling in love again. No, I'm still married to the same wonderful woman, but I did rediscover Ernest Hemingway. I read the Old Man and the Sea, and was moved. Sincerely moved. I was also humbled by his style and genius. I had used so many unnecessary words, and abused adverbs to the point where I was physically ill after reading just a few (per page). I'm not claiming to be in his league, but I can honestly say that I am a better writer for reading him. Thanks, Papa.

I was knocked down, and had experienced the failure that Walt Disney once said everyone should experience at least once in his or her own life. I resent that Walt Disney was right, but am humble enough (now) to admit that he was right...



Walt Disney once commented that "everyone should experience failure early in their career." He was a man after all who had suffered terrible setbacks, only to bounce back and create the Magic Kingdom and Disney entertainment empire that my kids love. Sometimes just surviving a failure is considered a "success," such as the Apollo 13 mission. There are occasions when a particular failure is the end of the road, as was the case with the Titanic. It's tempting to pessimistically anticipate the worst case scenario, perhaps as a self-defense mechanism, and assume that "it just wasn't meant to be." However, it's hard to discount the successful failures that overcame and learned from their defeats like Walt Disney did.

People who suffered failure and rejection include:

-The Beatles were turned down flat by Decca Records A&R executive Dick Rowe in 1962 who famously informed the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein that "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein." To be fair, Dick Rowe was the only A&R exec. to even allow the Beatles an opportunity to audition. The Beatles had already been turned down by most of the record companies in London during this time. The Beatles are the number one selling music act history, and their critically acclaimed songs have influenced generations to follow.

-J.K. Rowling's colossolly successful and incredibly influential Harry Potter book series was not well received by publishers, as it was turned down by all twelve publishing houses in which it was submitted. It has gone on to break records and create a reniassance in reading among our youth.

-Tom Brady, NFL Quarterback for the New England Patriots, was picked 199th overall in the 6th round of the 2000 draft. He was passed up by EVERY team in the NFL on multiple occasions. He is now considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and is assured a spot in the Professional Football Hall of Fame

-George Lucas shopped around Star Wars, and it was turned down by many studios, including Universal Studios and United Artists. Star Wars would become the most successful movie in Hollywood history at the time, and spawn the most lucrative movie franchise in history

Naturally this list could go on and on in many different fields. The point is not to place myself in the same league as the ridiculously successful, but neither is it to echo Salieri's proclamation of being the "patron saint of mediocrity" as seen in Amadeus.

It's regrettable that many talented people have not been able to reach a large audience that could appreciate their craft because of gatekeepers. The irony for the gatekeeper is that his or her decision is usually motivated by profit margins, but look at who has been turned away in the process (or how many billions of dollars)? How many other incredible books, amazing films, gifted athletes, and inspirational music has been lost for all time, like a lone desert rose, which lives out its entire life having never been seen and appreciated by anyone? The problem here is much larger than me, as it's an institutional problem. The solution to this problem it to follow the advice of my grandfather's hero, Sir Winston Churchill who said, "Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense." It's worth noting that the greatest man of the 20th century also said, "Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." Amen. I've only just begun...


Despite the writers' conference starting tomorrow, I have not been able to be single-mindedly focused on the event, as life outside of art does continue. It was John Lennon who wrote, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." How true! Unlike Rocky, I have responsibilities as a husband and father, and like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, I have my duties as a professor as well as a writer (was my associating myself with two of the greats too over the top?). Mike Kunze and I have both been working in our "spare" time on the website, both its content as well as its layout. I am blessed to have someone as gifted as Mike as a creative partner.

I must now continue with the website and my presentation for the conference. Perhaps this conference will simply be an opportunity to learn more about my craft and the business of books; or maybe it may lead to a vital contact and endorsement that may pave the way for my manuscript to become a published novel. As excited as I am at that prospect personally and professionally, I am equally anxious to introduce The Rocky Raccoon Revival in the public square, which so desperately needs the Gospel more than ever...




Journals typically used to be private and only read after its author had passed away, but now in the "Information Age" and the blog driven, voyeuristic media of the day, I suppose it was just a matter of time before we had public, private journals.

Today I'm focusing primarily on my preparation for the Wesleyan Publishing House Christian Writers' Workshop this weekend. In some respects, I've been prepared now for several years, given that the original manuscript was completed in August 2003. However, the first draft is hardly the final step in the process. Actually, it's probably not even in the middle to second half of the process...

My enthusiasm for this event stems from my respect of the craft, and my desire to learn more about the Christian writers' market. There's a lot to be said about an author's art and embrace of his or her craft, but the marketing and sales of the aforementioned art is another creature entirely, and one that is not easily tamed, if ever. The cynic might say, "Well, Richard Paul Evans or Stephen King can simply write their name on a telephone book and sell millions based entirely on their name recognition." I agree that there have been authors who have received passes from critics and readers alike for sub par work that would never be accepted if submitted by a new, upcoming author; but those established authors have also earned that name recognition, and have learned how to market their work just as much as they have learned to create it. It's my sincere prayer that I will find a champion for my book and my future writing endeavors, who knows the system well enough to get me onboard this merry-go-round we call the CBA that seemingly never stops to let anyone new get on.

The website, the business cards, the proposals, query letters, etc. are all excellent tools to get into the front door, but may not ultimately make me stand out from the crowd of authors who all own the same Christian Writers' Market Guide or the same Writers' Digest books on how to format a manuscript and proposal. I'm not trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge, or a good or service that I do not believe in, but rather, I'm seeking to promote a book that was not only written by me to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but ultimately came to me in a dream, which is why I believe it to be of God Himself...