Interview with Mike Ehret, Author and Jokester Extraordinaire

Could I live in a tiny home? I think I could, but I have questions. What are they? Read this guest post on Linda W. Yezak’s blog. How about you? COULD YOU LIVE IN A TINY HOUSE?

Linda W. Yezak

I’d love to take credit for the design of this interview, but it’s all from the mind of Michael Ehret, the only male contributor to our new release, Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection. The guy’s a riot—I get a kick out of him, and his novella “Big Love” is one of my favorites in the collection.

Me? Live tiny? But what about … ?

Today, I’m talking with one of my co-authors for the Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection about whether he could live in a tiny house or not. And when I say “he,” if you’re familiar with the collection at all, then you know I can only be talking with Michael Ehret, author of “Big Love,” since he’s the only man in the tiny house.

But, before we get to whether Mike could live tiny, I have another burning question:

What was it like to…

View original post 809 more words

Lying and Integrity–What We Say Matters

Personal integrity is key for me. See what I mean with my guest post today on Jennifer Slattery’s blog, “Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud.”

Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

Our culture says certain lies are okay, that motive rather than content matters, and, well, everyone fibs once in a while. But God doesn’t take our words quite as lightly because truly, what we say matters. As believers, we’re telling some pretty outlandish stories. We know this Guy who died then rose again. This same Guy walked on water, gave sight to the blind, and brought the dead back to life. Oh, and yeah, this Guy, this God-became-man, He lives in us.

Truth, yes, but truth that may be hard for some to believe. So why muddy the waters by adding sometimes-fibs, sometimes-truth into the mix?

Lying and Integrity–What We Say Matters

by Michael Ehret

I’ve never told a lie.

And that’s where my smile would give me away if we were face-to-face. Truthfully, I’m one of those guys who can never play poker, but not because of any theological aversion…

View original post 965 more words

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a collection?

renew-book-912724_1920I was asked this question by the author Lena Nelson Dooley in a blog interview yesterday for her site. Here’s what I said:

“Truthfully, finding the time to write is the hardest thing. My job is very demanding, and I have other commitments that are important to me. But when God personally invites you into “a new season of writing” it’s hard to say no.”

Read more of that interview. Enter to win a copy of the book there, too.

 

Are You Looking for Big Love?

white 450x450My soon-to-be-published novella, “Big Love,” from the Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection from Penwrights Press, caught me a bit by surprise. In so many ways.

I wasn’t expecting to write a novella for a collection with six of my writing friends. Heck, I wasn’t expecting to write a novella!

But the idea was floated for a collection themed around the tiny house phenomenon and it seemed like fun. Then came deciding what my story would be about and how to incorporate the theme.

Not as easy as it may sound. I’m a Seat Of The Pants (SOTP) writer. I sit down at the computer, open a Word document, and start writing.

However, when we decided we wanted to do this collection, my wife and I had just finished touring the Tiny House Road Show (photos above) when it stopped here in Indianapolis. On a subsequent weekend trip to Cincinnati, we brainstormed a couple of ideas about how it could be approached.

What if?

What if the man in the story was a writer for an architectural journal who thought himself too sophisticated to do a story on tiny houses? What if the woman was the president of a company building tiny houses with the idea to use the proceeds to battle homelessness? Then, what if both of these people had experienced homelessness in different forms and it had drastically affected their lives, but in different, opposite ways?

TimberlyDrive

Found on the Northside of Indianapolis. The spark for my main character.

But I still couldn’t seem to get the story started. One day, I’m driving around the Northside of Indianapolis and I spot a street sign for Timberly Drive and the voice of my female character just pops into my mind and starts talking.

I’m just going to put it out there. My name’s Timberly. Yeah, Timberly. Get over it. I did long ago, okay? What can a girl say? My father, the dealmaker, cut what he called a “win-win” with my mother. Trouble is, there were three people in the deal and only two of them “won-won.”

From there the story began to unfold. A theme paragraph emerged: Homelessness expanded her world and constricted his. Now she needs his help, but he only remembers the pain. Can they find big love in a tiny house?


“Big Love” is one of seven novellas written around the theme of tiny houses. It is included in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection coming soon from Penwrights Press. Available in e-book and print mid-May, 2017. Cover design by Ken Raney.

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 11_Fotor

Visit my co-authors: Ane Mulligan, Linda Yezak, Pamela S. Meyers, Yvonne Anderson, Chandra Lynn Smith, and Kimberli S. McKay.

Shared post: Write or type?

The other day I found this interesting blog by Chris Hilton (follow the link at the end to read it) about whether those who use a computer or those who write longhand are more creative.

I found many of the arguments persuasive, but for me it boils down to the physical. My hands, arms, and shoulders are so abused after a lifetime of making my living with a computer keyboard that writing with a pencil (or a pen) would cause me some fairly significant pain.

And I’m not sure my handwriting would be fast enough for the little man who drives my creativity.

Plus, I’m not even sure I could read my own writing anymore and I’m absolutely positive that no one else could.

But enough about me. What do you think? Do you write longhand? Or do you use a computer? Are there times when you might do both? Would you ever try longhand?

Read Hilton’s post: Write or type?

Mike-9Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as the editor of CHEFS Mix Blog for CHEFS Catalog he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for seven years. He also plays with words as a freelance editor and has edited several nonfiction books, proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Pencil image courtesy of ponsulak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Sabbath Life for a Writer

This may seem counter-intuitive, but here it is: You can improve your writing by taking time off to not write.

Those of you who are jumping up and down right now because you think you’ve just found a new excuse for your lack of writing this week, this month, this year—“Hey! I’m on a writing Sabbath!”—calm down. You’re misunderstanding.

First, let’s define the term: Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word that means “to cease, to stop working.” As Peter Scazzero writes in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, it refers to “doing nothing related to work for a 24-hour period each week.”

Sabbath, as Scazzero is referring to it, “provides for us … an additional rhythm for an entire reorientation of our lives around the living God. On Sabbaths, we imitate God by stopping our work and resting.”

Reorientation

For many years, I saw the Sabbath as a day to rest after working, working, working for the previous six days. I have used it as an excuse to work more and more throughout the week—if I worked hard enough I could enjoy the Sabbath without feeling guilty. But that’s backward.

A biblical Sabbath isn’t a reward for hard work; it’s not a time to unplug. Rather, it’s an opportunity to plug into God and recharge in anticipation of the coming week. It’s a retreat, yes, but not to inactivity. It’s a retreat into relationship with
God.

So should a writing Sabbath be. Don’t retreat into inactivity, but retreat into activities that build your relationship with your creative self. Some writing Sabbath possibilities:

  • Instead of writing five chapters of your current manuscript, pick up one of those long-neglected books on your To Be Read pile and submerge yourself in it. Suspend your inner editor and your inner learner. You’re not looking for typos or trying to analyze how the writer created that unique feature. Your goal is simply to be carried away.
  • Instead of spending time “marketing” on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, turn off the computer, call a real friend, and take in a local walking or bicycling path. “Pin” the memories of the beauty you see and experience in your Emotions Bank—you can withdraw them later for use in your WIP.
  • Instead of printing your latest chapters and grabbing your red pen for corrections, visit a local nursing home, homeless shelter, or school and volunteer with the aged, the invisible, or the young. Your investment could “edit” the course that person’s story takes forever.

Re-Engage

Best of all, when you do return to your desk and computer, you’ll return energized—and may even have a couple great plot points to flesh out as you move your story forward.

The important thing when taking a writing Sabbath is to remember Scazzero’s four principles of a biblical Sabbath and apply them to your writing Sabbath:

  1. Stop: Stop writing. Stop social media. Stop editing. Lay it all down, knowing that it’s temporary and will still be there when you return. (Deadline exemptions available.)
  2. Rest: Step completely away from writing and writing-related activities. Your creativity needs it.
  3. Delight: Experience “joy, completion, wonder, and play,” as Scazzero puts it.
  4. Contemplate: Before returning to your keyboard, think about the experiences you had and what they might mean when you begin writing again. Seed your brain with the “what if” possibilities and allow them to germinate.

Consider the writing Sabbath—not as an excuse to not write, but as an opportunity to enrich and deepen your well. See if it doesn’t help you recharge for the next session of writing.

One last thought from Scazzero: “Sabbath is like receiving the gift of a snow day every week. Stores are closed. Roads are impassable. Suddenly you have the gift of a day to do whatever you want. You don’t have any obligations, pressures, or responsibilities. You have permission to play.”

Writer image courtesy of Phaitoon/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friends in water image courtesy of adamr/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mike-9Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as the editor of CHEFS Mix Blog for CHEFS Catalog he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for seven years. He also plays with words as a freelance editor and has edited several nonfiction books, proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Originally posted on Novel Rocket

The Summer of Success

Facing a crossroads at the moment—what step to take next and all that. I’m not all angsty over it, but I have been thinking a lot about the late Donna Summer lately, as a result.

Donna Summer? The Queen of Disco?

First of all, thinking about Donna Summer is not new for me. I’ve had a long time interest in her career and in the singer, herself. I’ve even been known to be a defender of Summer (she’s so much more than disco), because I think her talent was far overshadowed by her persona and by the Super Storm known as Disco that came in and tried, unsuccessfully, to obliterate the Rock and Roll shoreline.

Variety defined her career

Still, I’m more interested in Summer’s genre-hopping than in her music, per se. For instance, did you know she was nominated for 17 Grammy Awards in eight different categories (sort of like fiction genres)? Further, did you know she won five times in four different categories—twice in Inspirational? That’s right, Inspirational. The singer of 1975s 17-minute+ disco moan-fest, “Love To Love You, Baby,” won two Grammy Awards for Best Inspirational song (1984 and 1985).

Conventional wisdom is to not genre hop in the publishing world. There’s greater freedom in music (Linda Ronstadt also played the field, musically). But in publishing, writers are often advised that if they start in romance (or speculative or historical or suspense) then they should stay in romance (or speculative or historical or suspense).

But, I must have a little Donna Summer in me because I don’t want to be constrained in that way. Before we get all crazy, let’s remember that no one is knocking down my door for my next book—or, for that matter, my first book.

But—again—we can look to the diva for guidance. Because “conventional wisdom” isn’t called “conventional-sort-of-good-advice,” you know?

Summer made her mark in one genre—disco. It was the red-hot genre of the time and she rode that horse for all it was worth.

But when the horse started to get hobbled, she made the smart move of wrapping up that era with a Greatest Hits collection, changing record labels, and then came roaring back in 1980 with a rock-pop disc without even a whiff of disco, The Wanderer. And a song from that project earned her one of her Grammy nominations.

What are the lessons for a writer?

  1. Do your homework. Summer worked in Germany and Europe in various touring companies of shows like “Hair” and “Godspell” before connecting with Giorgio Moroder for her first major album, Love To Love You Baby.
  2. Establish yourself as an excellent writer of (choose one: romance/historical/suspense/other) and then, like Summer, work your butt off to make your mark. She released seven disco albums from 1975 to 1979—that’s four years—three of them in a row were blockbuster double albums.
  3. Keep your nose to the ground and your face forward. If you pay attention to the market and publishing trends, you’ll know when it’s time to change genres. If you’re a big enough success, you’ll get your opportunity. When you do, show the same quality, perseverance, and dedication to craft that got you where you are.

That’s the way to build a Hall of Fame career (Summer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013) and do all the things you want to do.

Summer died May 17, 2012, at age 63. At her death (from cancer) she was working on two albums simultaneously—a collection of standards and a new dance music collection.

For the record, Summer’s Grammy wins were for:

  1. Best R&B Female Performance, 1979, for “Last Dance.”
  2. Best Rock Female Performance, 1980, for “Hot Stuff.”
  3. Best Inspirational Performance, 1984, for “He’s A Rebel.”
  4. Best Inspirational Performance, 1985, for “Forgive Me.”
  5. Best Dance Music Performance, 1998, for “Carry On.”

Additionally, she was nominated four times for Best Pop Vocal, twice for Best R&B Vocal, twice for best Rock Vocal, once for Album of the Year, once for Best Disco Vocal, once for Best Inspirational, and once for Best Dance Music.

Not a bad career.

Your turn: So, do you have a little Donna Summer in you?

Mike-9Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as the editor of CHEFS Mix Blog for CHEFS Catalog he is enjoying his playground. Previous playgrounds include being the Managing Editor of the magazine ACFW Journal and the ezine Afictionado for seven years. He also plays with words as a freelance editor and has edited several nonfiction books, proofedited for Abingdon Press, worked in corporate communications, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Originally posted on Novel Rocket