A Dual Update – Personal and Publishing

It has been a while since I posted here.  It has been an interesting couple of months. In my November post, I told about my accident.  As of today, the foot is still dead weight and I have to behave as if it will remain an eggplant on the end of my leg for the foreseeable future.  I am exploring ways to drive with my left foot, and seem to have found a device that will let me do just that.

I had wonderful plans for writing on John-3, thinking that I would have all this downtime to put fingers to keys.  I did not account for the several weeks of having the attention span of an ADHD gnat.  I did start a short story as planned, but the character is more mercurial than I expected. I do think I have a bead on him know, so hope to add more to his story.  I have taken a much-needed scythe to the previous outline of John-3.  The people in Frontier, as I refer to John-2, made much of the sequel outline invalid. Have rebuilt an appropriate schema so will begin John-3 within the next few days.

The mistake was that I uploaded and published Frontier to Kindle from the bed in my rehab facility.  Apparently, that was not a wise decision.  To my horror, I discovered I used some shaky chapter files and left one chapter out altogether.  I uploaded new files to Kindle Direct that should be available in 24-48 hours.  For those of you who have purchased a copy, Amazon will probably notify you that there is an update. If not, check in a few days and download the clean version.  My apologies. Thank you for your support.

So with that mea culpa and repair, I can enter the world of conflict and war during the American Revolution.  See you on the other side and know that I #amwriting.


Some thoughts In Keeping With the Season

Sharing two contemplations for this time of year.



A Gift Freely Given

Daniel R. Vertrees

© 2011

 In Christianity, we hear of the “Gift Freely Given” which is usually a description of God’s Grace:  Salvation freely given to humanity through the person of Jesus Christ.  In our usual human way, we contaminate the gift.  During the Christmas Season, we are called to celebrate the gift freely given, and we do so through our traditions of gift giving.  Ah, but there is the human rub.

I gave you that gift and if you don’t use it right I can take it back.”  Variations on that threat are common whenever a gift is given.  We do not give gifts freely – they have a price, a string or two, an obligation attached.  Even something as mundane as Christmas Cards, about as human a concoction as is possible to splice onto a holy time, are given with strings. 

Did we get a Christmas card this year from George, honey?”

No.  We most certainly did not.”

Well cross him off the list for next year then.”

Even in something as meaningless, in the overall scope of creation, as a Christmas card is laden with costs.  It is not a gift freely given.

When a gift is freely given, it becomes the possession of the recipient.  It is theirs to do with, as they will.  If they want to grind it up into paste, it is theirs.  It may not be in keeping with your expectations, you might mourn the loss, you might be angry, but the reality is that if it is freely given, then you can have no say in how the person uses the gift, nor should you want to.

I gift that comes with conditions is a loan.  It is the recipients to use, but under your conditions.  It is a gift that is never truly theirs.

I was once in conversation with the Marc Andrus who was Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, and now serves as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Francisco.   I was asking the old concern of why we send people to mission out of our area when there are so many in need close by.  He explained that when you do something for people far from you there is no bond of obligation formed.  Bond of obligation – “well I helped them now why are they not helping (me, you, others).  Bond of obligation – a condition placed on a gift given.

I am hard pressed to remember receiving (or giving I suppose) a single gift that did not have an implied bond of obligation, a string, a condition attached.   God’s gift freely given was given without strings, the sole purpose was to provide salvation and, if there can be said to be a bond, it was a bond of love, support, reconciliation, and life.  His was a gift freely given full of hope, opportunity, love, commitment, and support from God to us.  His gift freely given, combined with the Freedom of Will to do with that gift what you wish, is God’s model of a gift.

Just once this year, try to provide a gift freely given to a friend or loved one, or stranger for that matter.  See how you respond to the receipt and use of the gift.  Then ask yourself – are we capable of the gift freely given?


And the corollary: 


A Gift Truly Received

A Corollary to The Gift Freely Given

Daniel R. Vertrees

© 2011


Most of us were raised with the expectation that we would follow some form of proper etiquette regarding the response to a gift.   A “thank-you” in person with a follow-up “thank-you” note at a later (but not too much later) date.  We are imbued with the automatic obligation attached through tradition to receiving a gift.  It is just plain “good manners” to thank someone for a gift, a stipulation of receipt, a validation of the magnanimous nature of the giver.

Aunt Millie would give and then expect acknowledgment.  Sometimes the message was, “if you do not thank Aunt Millie, she will not send you any more gifts.”  Therefore, we are bound in our own strings that we place on gifts. If a gift is freely given, the sender will not expect or demand even a thank you.  The gift comes with no strings. 

It seems an impossible task for many of us.  We try to figure out how much the gift cost so we can match it in return.  We try to figure out that if we are invited to a four-course meal that we must reciprocate with at least five courses.   If we work under the assumption that the gift is given freely why do we struggle with the concept of a simple acceptance of that gift.

We respond in such strange ways.  “Oh you shouldn’t have,” we say.  What is it that they shouldn’t have done?  Given you anything because you are unworthy?  Do you believe that or is it some convoluted, perhaps false, modesty.  Perhaps they shouldn’t have given you anything as tacky as that. Well, somehow they thought it was appropriate for you! 

The most tragic, in my opinion is to follow the “you shouldn’t have” with the decline of the gift.  “You shouldn’t have – I just can’t accept a gift for the paltry thing I have done.”  The giver may hear that the gift is unworthy, or inappropriate, or that no matter what they give it is insufficient, or that you allow little worth to the person making the gift.  It also moves the recipient into a superior place of power – “I don’t need the gift, and I will choose what gift is appropriate for me.”

I saw an advertisement prior to one Christmas that was a metaphor for our social mores.  A woman asked a young girl how it was that her Dad always seemed to get the right gift for her Mother.  The girl responded, “Mom goes to (name of store) and puts what she wants on layaway.  Then Dad pays for it, wraps it and gives it to her.  That way everyone is happy.”  

I guess we have evolved past the gift-as-thought stage and are deeply embedded in the gift-as-appropriate-possession stage.  Even the church is compelled to send out an accounting of all the ways are gifts are accounted for. 

What to do?

Perhaps just say a simple “Thank You”.

Consider:  the parable of the Widow’s mite is not so much about “cheerful giver giving all she had” (guilt, guilt – you hold back on your gift), but it is about a gift that holds no bond of obligation, freely given to the depth of her wish to honor the recipient. 

Go and sin no more” is not an obligation; it is a release, given freely, in reconciliation and love, accepted without a word.

Put that on layaway.

November Saga – Good, Bad, and Ugly

November has been a saga all unto itself. In fact, the saga has carried over into December with a probability of limping into the new year.

The good part of the saga is that I complete and published the second book of the “John” series. It appeared first in paperback format and then the Kindle version later. The story of why the releases were not simultaneous comes under the Bad heading.

A friend of mine has been trying to sell her house and some of the repairs that needed to be done were, of course, going to cost her several thousand dollars. Now those repairs were in my own experience and so after much cajoling, she agreed with my proposition of doing the labor and saving her those dollars.

Now comes the Bad.

During the demolition of an old shed, I dropped the roof on myself. Dislocated hip, broken sternum later, I ended up in trauma center and then a physical rehab center.
The hip is fine, recovery is slowed because it is difficult to use upper body with a walker when the sternum is in a couple of pieces. However, I have had the hips replaced years ago and the rehab protocol is old hat.

Now for the Ugly. 

In the process of being folded up under the roof, the ankle of the dislocated leg was wrenched around and the nerve damaged. The result is right foot is dead to the world. I can’t feel when it is on the ground – sort of like walking on an eggplant.

Back to Good.

I finished the formatting of the Kindle files and uploaded them from a bed in the rehab center. I have plenty of time to start the next John novel. And, I have a series of shorter novels planned with a spin off character who showed up in the second book.

Available now on Amazon – the first two book of the Man of Kentucky Series.
John: The Making of a Long Hunter  Kindle Edition  Paperback Edition
John: A Man of the Frontier                 Kindle Edition  Paperback Edition
Each available in paperback and Kindle formats.

LAUNCH – John: A Man of the Frontier

I have uploaded the Kindle Edition of John: A Man of the Frontier.  It should be available within 12 hours on Amazon.com.

Paperback version is already available.  This launch is a bit scattered since I just uploaded files from a bed in a physical rehabilitation establishment.  Be at least 6 more weeks before I can travel or drive, given the return of the use of a wayward foot.

Meanwhile – Have Computer Will Write….. Starting John 3 and some other exciting writing projects tomorrow.

I will give the link when it is live, or you can visit my listings  or Author Page on Amazon.  Hope those of you who choose to get the book will enjoy it.

Back to PT…..

Is it Time to Catch Up?

John: A Man of the Frontier, the second book of the Man of Kentucky series, is poised for release. No longer known by the nondescript John 2, the interior files and cover are in place, and all that remains is to see the physical proof copy of the paperback. Since this is a continuation of the first book, John: The Making of a Long Hunter, perhaps you would like to read it first, if you have not already done so.

John: The Making of a Long Hunter is available in Kindle Edition, and as paperback. If you are a member of Kindle Unlimited it is one of the offerings available for you to read at no charge. So now you have about ten days to immerse yourself in John’s world so you can continue unfettered in the continuing saga of colonial America.

Access Amazon for options:  John: The Making of a Long Hunter


John 2 – Going past the draft

Draft for John 2 is finished. Callooh, Callay!  Wait. Now what?

With John 1 this is the point where I turned the rough 100,000 word thing over to my editor. However, this time I am in a better place than last time.  I paid attention to what she told me. I worked to incorporate the points she made during the dissection of John 1 into the writing of this draft. This 117,852 rough thing is in better shape than John 1 was at this point so it is revision time.

I found I did not have a feeling for some important issues: Did it flow? Was it true to a timeline? Were all the characters accounted for (fleshed out or killed off)? I remembered a technique from reading Roz Morris’s Nail Your Novel that seemed like it would be a useful tool – the Beat Sheet. When I first read about the Beat Sheet I thought I would never be able to do such a thing.  I thought it would take me months, and I wouldn’t be able to read it when I was done anyway – wretched handwriting when going fast. But since I have found many of Roz’s insights useful, I thought I would, as Roz would say, have a go. Nope, did not use paper, pencils, markers, stickynotes, because I know me and I would just make a mess and then lose it.  Instead I decided to take the Beat Sheet concept and find a way to set something up in Scrivener – my writing organizing, storage, and saving program.

Ta Da – I went through all the chapters, answered questions like “What is the purpose of the chapter” and found that there was more to it than filling the space between the chapter before and after. Then the timeline! I now can see what day, date, month, and year of every chapter and event. If I am jumping a month I can let the reader know to pack their hiking boots.

I found a character that evaporated after being part of the conversation for a hundred pages — ooops, must have lost interest in that guy. Another character was fighting again while still laid up from another wound. And I found a character I had great hopes for that will either have to be taken out or fleshed out. I prefer that latter. Seasons? Who needs ’em. And then there are the parts that just don’t make sense because  someone obviously snuck in and changed what I wrote.

After I made all the notes and observations, I could compile it into a printout and NOW make notes with colored pencils, draw arrows and exclamation points and have the whole thing in a binder that has become a revision bible . . . no not a revisionist bible, that is another topic for another day, given Jefferson and all.

Now I am going to take a break from 1700s for a bit, write sci-fi short story(s), or some such, and then hit the revision.  I am still shooting for December 1 release date, but I might get caught in a quantum vortex and be off by a century or two….