2018, A Time of New Beginnings

The Dream

As 2018 begins you resolve to do more writing. Your plan on having a special writing place and using the same time Monday through Friday to be working on your craft dominates your dreams. Ideas are stockpiled in your mind and outlined in moleskin and leather bound journals.

The Reality

Then your spouse or day job’s non-negotiable expectations drop on you. External responsibilities pile up. Life crises hit you head-on and demand resolution. Your calendar fills with seemingly never-ending meetings and tasks that devour your time and creative capacity. Instead of working on your craft, what ifs cloud your mind and managing tasks which do not include writing become your new norm.

As a writer, you know regular writing is essential to developing your craft and selling your stories. It’s also what your soul demands. Yes, you must take care of your spiritual needs and your health with proper diet and exercise. Yes, you must give a spouse and children your time. Yes, you must earn money to provide for food, shelter, education, insurance. How you balance the writer’s life will be your choice.

The Goal

This tension between the daily grind of life and writing is the focus of jimmiekepler.com. As an application support analyst for a Fortune 500 privately held company and the caregiver for a mother with a kidney transplant, then aging father (in his upper 80s), and wife with two cancer and who has had three cancer surgeries, I had to work for the time to write. I’ll be providing ideas and suggestions on how you to can balance life with the writer’s life and maybe like me, manage to write books, short stories, and articles while being a responsible spouse and employee.

Even after transitioning to writing full-time, my wife including had a cancerous brain tumor removed.  Finding time to write is still challenging.

My Story

I am a military brat who grew up in a career United States Air Force family. In my youth, I worked in a grocery store, warehouse, a folk-rock band as a rhythm guitar player, vendor at a major league baseball stadium, and for a milk distributor. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with minors in English and military science.

Next, I served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army on active duty for three years and then five years in the United States Army Reserves. While in the military I graduated from the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, Platoon Leader Maintenance Management Course, The Army Maintenance Management Course, and the USAF Aircraft Loading Course. I am honorably discharged as a Captain, Ordnance Corps.

Following active duty, I went to graduate school completing Master of Religious Education/Master of Arts degrees. During graduate school, I worked as a custodian, painter, early childhood educator, and as a route auditor for a soft drink distributor.

After graduate school, I worked as a director of Christian education and private school principal for sixteen years before transitioning to the computer science field. I completed a Doctor of Education degree in educational administration in 1987. I went back to college studying computer science in the late 1990s completing the core curriculum for a computer science degree as well as earned induction in for Phi Theta Kappa for academic excellence. 

I sold my first magazine article over 35 years ago. I have sold nonfiction, inspirational,  how-to magazine articles including getting three covers and short stories in the science fiction and horror genre. My novels include Miss Sarah’s Secret and The Rebuilder. I have a short story collection titled Charlie’s Bells. The nonfiction book Thy Will Be Done 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill and Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection of 109 poems all are available on Amazon. I regularly review books in the military history genre for several publishers.

While born in Texas, I have lived in Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, Arizona, New Hampshire, Kansas, Georgia, Louisiana, California, Washington, and Texas. I have three grown children and one granddaughter. 

I am a former information technology application support engineer specializing in Salesforce for a Fortune 500 privately held company. I now write fulltime and live in North Texas with my cancer-battling wife.


Photo Source: CC0 Creative Commons  Free for commercial use.  No attribution required. https://pixabay.com/en/design-2018-to-reach-new-year-3047520/

You’re Never Too Old to Achieve Goals or Dreams

“The world stands aside,” said David Jordan, “to let anyone pass who knows where he is going.” Having a goal or dream applies to those, who learn where they are going late in life as well as for the young.

At age 40, James Michener published his first book. He authored more than 50 titles – 26 historical fiction novels, 31 nonfiction books, and 13 of his works were adapted into TV miniseries or made into movies.

At age 53, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first female prime minister.

At age 60, Jimmie Aaron Kepler published his first book. This was 33 years after his first professional writing sale of a magazine article.

At age 65, Winston Churchill became British prime minister for the first time and started the epic struggle against Hitler. Churchill received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 at age 79 for his many published works, especially his six-volume set The Second World War. He wrote the six volume set when he was in his 70s without any assistance or ghost writers. I love his comment, “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” He then wrote the definitive history of World War II. It was kind to him. The photo is of Sir Winston Churchill.

At age 69, Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States. He served two terms. He was 77 years old when he completed his second term in office.

At age 70, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. He is the oldest person to be elected to the office for a first term.

At age 70, 80 and again at 90, former President of the USA George H.W. Bush parachuted out of an airplane.

At age 72, Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel.

At age 75, Ed Delano of California bicycled 3100 miles in 33 days to attend his 50th college reunion in Worcester, Massachusetts.

At age 77, United States Senator John Glenn became the oldest man to fly in space on STS-46, the Space Shuttle. The flight was 36 years after his original flight as a Mercury Astronaut.

At age 80, Grandma Moses, who had started painting in her late 70s, had her first one-woman exhibit.

At age 80, Winston Churchill returned to the House of Commons as a member of parliament and also exhibited 62 of his paintings.

At age 81, Benjamin Franklin skillfully mediated between disagreeing factions at the U. S. Constitutional Convention.

At age 82, Christopher Plummer became the oldest Oscar winner in any acting category for his performance in Beginners

At age 85, Emmanuelle Riva became the oldest Oscar nominee ever for her role in Amour. She was nominated in the Best Actress category.

At age 96, George C. Selbach scored a 110-yard hole-in-one at Indian River, Michigan.

On his 100th birthday, ragtime pianist Eubie Blake exclaimed, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

How about you? Have you slowed down, packed it in, given up, and checked out? If I know the Heavenly Father, I know that He has something wonderful still in store for you! It’s never too late. Why don’t you call God up and ask Him what that might be? His number is found in The Bible in Jeremiah 33:3. It reads, “Call upon Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know!”

Picture Source: Churchill V sign HU 55521.jpg This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain. This is because it is one of the following: 1) It is a photograph created by the United Kingdom Government and taken prior to 1 June 1957, or 2) It was commercially published prior to 1961, or 3) It is an artistic work other than a photograph or engraving (e.g. a painting) which was created by the United Kingdom Government prior to 1961.

T minus 6 days and 8 hours = My Final Countdown to Retirement

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One week from today I retire from my day job. The next day I begin retirement and my “retirement” job.

What will I be doing you ask?

I Won’t

I’ll answer that two ways. First, here’s what I won’t be doing.

  • I will not be getting up early.
  • I will not be driving in rush hour traffic.
  • I will not be on-call or be serving computer servers and applications.
  • I will not go to Starbucks every day.
  • I will not be looking forward to retirement; I’ll be retired.

I Will

Second, here is what I will be doing.

  • I’ll have a cup of coffee and bowl of oatmeal at home for breakfast.
  • I’ll read the Bible in my recliner.
  • I hope to go a new coffee group on Monday mornings where I’ll enjoy some of Miss Benita’s former coworker’s company.
  • On Friday mornings I plan on returning to the Men’s Bible Study at Prestonwood Baptist and fellowshipping with friends after the Bible study.
  • I’ll walk each morning at either The Shops at Willow Bend (in the climate controlled comfort) or at the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve.
  • Daily I plan on writing for three to four hours in the morning. I hope to write 750 to 1000 words a day Monday – Friday.
  • I hope for a leisurely at home lunch most days.
  • Twice a month I look forward to lunch with my best guy friend Les and to have coffee with friends living in the Prestonhollow, Lake Highlands, and Richardson area on the days I go to Wednesday evening writer’s group.
  • On Monday nights I hope to attend a Men’s Bible study. I also plan on doing the majority of the cooking, laundry, cleaning, yard work, etc at home.
  • When Miss Benita is off work during the week I will either spend it with her or if I am too much in her way then retreat to my writer’s life.
  • I also plan on an early afternoon nap daily. I then will do an afternoon 30-minute walk at Nebraska Furniture before spending two or three hours a day Monday – Friday doing the business of writing work like networking, blogging, and marketing.
  • The first Wednesday evening of each month is First Wednesday services at the church.
  • Twice a month I will attend my night writer’s group. I am also planning on reading more, hopefully, a fiction and nonfiction book a week.
  • I hope to get more involved with alumni and Corps of Cadet Alumni Council activities at one of my colleges, UT Arlington.
  • I am also praying about starting a 401 (c) 3 non-profit ministry.

Retirement doesn’t look boring to me.

Photo source: Pixaby

Friday Morning Writing

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Delayed Opening

I am at the Starbucks at Frankfort and Preston this morning. My usual Starbucks Preston next to Barnes and Nobles in Plano, Texas did not open on time as their opener didn’t show. The barista present told me what was going on and that he called the manager.

Besides me, a running club was there. They meet at that location every Tuesday and Friday. The group has twelve to fifteen present most times when they meet.

The next nearest location has been closed for renovation so the morning traffic has really picked up at this location. My estimate would be a loss of at least 30 or 40 sales as once the opener shows they usually take 20 to 30 minutes to get up and going. I know this because my normal location has this happen every few weeks.

Today’s Writing

I am writing this morning. Today I am working on the religious science fiction book Ouest’s first draft. I’m working on chapter seven,

Opening Lines

Here are the first few opening lines from chapter one of Quest.

I woke up howling.

Relax. I must relax. Slow cleansing breathes. Don;’t hyperventilate. I must take slow breaths, I thought.

But I couldn’t relax. My rapidly pounding heart wanted out of my chest. It needed to get out of the room fast.

Well, what do you think? Leave a comment. I’d appreciate your input.

Photo Source: Pixaby

 

Thursday Thoughts

Thunder and Lightning

Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017. I’m sitting at my favorite coffee shop with an iced coffee with vanilla and milk. It is 6:10 a.m.  Thunder, lightning, and monsoon like rain greeted me as I left home for the twenty-minute drive to the coffee house. A weather warning with a flood warning is in effect. I am listening to a concert by First Aid Kit. Their song Wolf has my toes tapping.

Collaborative or Group Blog

The writer’s group I belong to met last night. All but one member was present. The group is looking at doing a collaborative or group blog. It has been under discussion since a late April 2017 meeting. I’m not sure anything meaningful was decided. Sitting at the table listening to the discussion my mind wandered back to 1968 and The Paris Peace talks, which opened on May 10. The Paris Peace Talks plagued by procedural questions that impeded any meaningful progress. They discussed for seven months the shape of the table and seating arrangements! In my opinion, the writer’s group is being equally unproductive. Some of the group members read this blog. Hi there. ANd that’s what I think.

Countdown

Two weeks from today I retire. I am on my final countdown. Here’s an inventory of what I am working on in my writing life –

  1. Fiction book – Quest: Book Two of the Liberator Series. I am about 25,000 words into writing the first draft. It is religious science fiction.
  2. Fiction book – writing under a pen name. It is literary fiction. I am 15,000 words into the first draft.
  3. Non-fiction – working title “Prayers for the Chronically Ill.” The first draft is finished. I  have the book proposal with the acquisitions editor of a traditional New York Publisher. Why? I want to see my book in a Barnes and Nobles. If they say no I will self-publish and make more money.
  4. Non-fiction – I have the first draft completed of a memoir tentatively titled, “The Cold War Kid: Growing up With Sputnik, Castro, Khrushchev, Vietnam and Roock ‘n Roll.”
  5. Fiction – I am turning my award winning short story “The Praire Dos Have Cold Mining Helmets with Lights into a novel.

Wednesday, Writer’s Group and Other Things

Coffee House

Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017. I am sitting at my favorite coffee house. It is a Starbucks without a drive thru window in Plano, Texas. Located in a strip shopping center with a Wholefoods, it is adjacent to a Barnes and Nobles Bookstore. I have been coming to this location for twenty years.

My Starbucks in some ways is like the old television show Cheers theme song. It has a phrase that says “You wanna go where people know, people are all the same, You wanna go where everybody knows your name.” (Where Everybody Knows Your Name Lyrics by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo). That’s the kind of place my favorite coffee house is.

When I come in they greet me by name and ask if I want my usual. It’s nice to be noticed, known and to have a usual. I see a core group of the same people at my favorite coffee house. I know their names. They know mine. I know one is a retired sales executive. Another sells medical equipment. Several lawyers and accountants are regulars. There is a group of school teachers that get their morning caffeine here. Several have become friends. They all know I write and take an interest in what I’m doing. It has become my fortress of solitude from the world. Also, the Muse knows I’m here and visits on a regular basis.

Collaboration

This morning I am working on a literary fiction book I am writing under my pen name. I have a dear friend in my writer’s group who is co-writing the book with me. Collaboration is interesting. I did the book outline, characters, the world, story arc, and she adds the secret sauce. No, you may not know my pen name.

Writer’s Group

Speaking of writer’s groups, mine meets tonight. It’s a lot like the group I see at my favorite coffee house, except a few have become more extended family. I’ve been hanging with this group for six and one-half years. They are the best.

The Muse

Structured Life

It is Tuesday morning, August 15, 2017. Those who know me well would agree that I am a disciplined person of habit. I live a fairly structured life. I love order. I love routine. I dislike surprises and emotional roller coaster people leave me confused.

When asked if I am spontaneous, I have to look up the word in the dictionary because I am the least spontaneous man alive. In my mind, spontaneous equals unplanned and disorder. I am a plotter, not a pantser.

Yes, I am an early riser, getting up before 5 AM about 360 days a year, even on weekends. I leave home by 5:30 AM to go to my favorite coffee shop for morning writing. Before I leave, I launched my Scrivener software on my Macintosh at home. It’s my professional writing software. I have the first draft of the book Quest, Book Two of the Liberator Series up and waiting for me.

The Muse

I have an appointment at the coffee shop at 6 AM with The Muse. The Muse knows where to find me and usually arrives just after I have gotten my morning coffee, taken my seat, and logged on to my Apple Mac via my Google Chromebook using Chrome Remote Desktop. Well, it is time to leave as the drive takes 20 minutes this time of morning.

Well, I’ve completed all the above. It’s time for my morning writing before heading to the day job. I have sixteen days until I retire from the day job and begin writing full-time. By the way, I am working on the first draft of chapter seven this morning.