I Feel Good, no I Feel Great!

THE END were the last two words I wrote during my rewrite/editing this AM. All is left to do is finish the chapter synopsis. The final count is: 70,950 words, 293 pages, 39 chapters. After four edits/rewrites I have finished writing a Christian historical fiction novel. I expect one or two more rewrites/edits from the agent and publisher. The title? “Honor and Jealousy in Texas”. The only other item I  written have of comparable length was my doctoral dissertation over twenty-five years ago. I feel great. I know there is still lots to do, but the feeling I have now is one of accomplishment.

Jeff Shaara, The University of Texas at Arlington, and Writing

Author Jeff Shaara
Author Jeff Shaara

Today is Sunday June 23, 2013. it is 8:15 PM. I am at home at my desk listening to Author Jeff Shaara being interviewed by Ed Tracy on February 4, 2010 at the Pritzker Military in Chicago. He is discussing his book “No Less Than Victory”.

Speaking of Jeff Shaara … I posted fourteen pictures of Jeff Shaara at PICTURES. The photographs were taken on November 11, 2009 during a private dinner with a meet and greet I attended with author Jeff Shaara. He spoke later that evening to the public at The University of Texas at Arlington promoting his book of “No Less Than Victory”. It concluded the World War Two trilogy of historical fiction that Jeff Shaara began with The Rising Tide and continued in The Steel Wave. The evening ended with him being interviewed on stage with a question-and-answer session with the audience. Jeff Shaara has written twelve New York times bestsellers.

Speaking of The University of Texas at Arlington … I attend this fine university from August 1971 to December 1975 graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in history with minors in English and military science. On December 19, 1975 I not only graduated but was commissioned a second lieutenant, Infantry, United States Army Reserves. I was selected for indefinite active duty (career status). It was at The University of Texas at Arlington I developed a deep love for history, reading, and writing.

Speaking of Writing … I am 99% finished doing my third rewrite/edit of the historical fiction novel “Honor and Jealousy in Texas”. This weekend I worked on rewrite/edit of last chapter in book and wrote the first draft of a nonfiction article. The target audience of this article is unusual as it directed at suicide prevention of adult men. This is for a national suicide prevention organization that has a website getting over 50,000 people visit a month from people who are considering suicide. They do a web search on suicide and through the magic of Goggle search people thinking of suicide are directed to a Christian site focusing on stopping suicides. I was given the assignment when at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference. I pray that God will direct my thoughts as I write this article and He will use it to save lives.

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Photo credit: Author Jeff Shaara by Photographer Jimmie A. Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

The Clifton StrengthsFinder

As you may know, the Clifton StrengthsFinder measures the presence of talent in 34 categories called “themes.” These themes were determined by Gallup as those that most consistently predict outstanding performance. The greater the presence of a theme of talent within a person, the more likely that person is to spontaneously exhibit those talents in day-to-day behaviors.Focusing on naturally powerful talents helps people use them as the foundation of strengths and enjoy personal, academic, and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.

About eighteen months ago I read Strengths Finder 2.0 and took the test. I was a required day job activity. Below are my top five themes of talent, ranked in the order revealed by my responses to the Clifton StrengthsFinder.

How well do you think these themes describe me?

1. Context

People who are especially talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.

2. Learner

People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

3. Strategic

People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

4. Achiever

People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

5. Responsibility

People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

I think they are correct.

To learn more about the Clifton StrengthsFinder and how you can discover your top five themes, visit http://strengths.gallup.com

March With Me


Master storyteller Rosalie Turner makes the top of the best books I have read in several years list with “March With Me”. Her writing transported me back in time where I felt I was in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. I lived through the era as a middle school student and remember it well.

Turner has crafted two brilliant characters. The story is told through their eyes. Martha Ann (a white girl) and Letitia (a black girl) have you experiencing the Civil Rights movement. They meet briefly at Martha Ann’s sweet sixteen party where Letitia reluctantly helps her mother who is employed by Martha Ann’s mother.

The electricity reverberating throughout the black community when Dr. Martin Luther King and Reverend Ralph David Abernathy visit and speak is communicated in a way that gave me goosebumps.

We see the fear of the black adults as the Civil Rights movement grew. They were realistic and wanted no part of the protests or marches. They knew the whites would retaliate. We see them also working hard to watch over keep their children as they keep them in their neighborhood where they would be safely isolated from the whites.

The local radio disc jockeys and the use of the code words like picnic and party and message songs enlightened my understanding.

We encounter Bull Conner and the Birmingham Police and their use of fire hoses on Letitia and her older brother Sam. Sam is arrested and spends 12 days in jail.

The importance and influence of church and faith in the black community rings throughout the story. I obtained an amazing look at what it was like to grow up as a middle-class black family in the 1960s.

The tragedy of the 16th Street Baptist Church being bombed and four innocent young black girls dying drives home the ignorance, anger, rage, and misunderstanding as well as stupid actions of some during this pivotal time in US History.

Other events from the Civil Rights era fill the pages as we read of the march from Selma to Montgomery, the signing of the Civil Rights Act, the assassination of Dr. King and of the disproportional number of black men fighting in Vietnam.

Ironically, Martha Ann and Letitia become teachers. Martha Ann gets her education at the University of Alabama. Letitia gets her education locally at Miles College. Both end up teaching in the same high school.

Rosaline Turner is one of the best storytellers writing. This book is must reading. Do yourself a favor and order it online now. It should be incorporated in the curriculum of public and private schools and used as a tool to teach about those historic days of fifty years ago. The book would make a great feature film or television movie.

Review: Silas Soule: A Short, Eventful Life of Moral Courage

As I read “Silas Soule: A Short, Eventful Life of Moral Courage” by Tom Bensing I was thinking who would be a good audience for this book? The answers were found in the pages of the book. The book will appeal to a diverse group of readers. The person with an interest in United States history during the 1850s to mid 1860s will walk through those years with snapshots of selected events of the time. The Civil War buff will enjoy a different perspective on the battle of Gloreita. Those with an interest in Colorado before it was a state will get an interesting look at the state.

You get a look at abolition and the Underground Railroad. You see how a passion for abolishing slavery motivated Silas Soule’s family to move to Kansas. You experience what it is like and what happens to people who aided slaves. You will relive the days of bloody Kansas and see firsthand the fallacy of the Stephen Douglas compromise allowing Kansas to decide if it was to be or not to be a slave state.

John Brown is brought to life as we see his actions in Kansas and later at Harper’s Ferry and how Silas Soule participated in an attempt to rescue John Brown’s men after Harpers Ferry.

We see a friendship between Soule and the poet Walt Whitman as well as learning of an interesting connection between Brown and Whitman. We go gold prospecting to Colorado and also get a good picture of the state during the late 1850s to mid 1860s. We make the trek with Silas and the Pike’s Peakers as the head to Glorieta Pass to fight the Texans in the Confederate Army who invaded New Mexico.

We see his moral courage when he not only refused to take part in the massacre of Native American women and children during the Sand Creek Massacre, but was the first to testify against Colonel John Chivington who led the attack. Surprisingly to me, the author gives great detail of Silas Soule’s killer, Charles Squier life.

The book was well researched. It started slow for me, but I’m glad I stuck with it. After making it through the family history and finally getting to Silas Soule, I found a well presented and interesting story. Yes, I recommend the book. Historian Tom Bensing did a good job of presenting “Silas Soule: A Short, Eventful Life of Moral Courage”. The publisher is Dog Ear Publishing.