Nothing Routine About The Writer’s Life

Today is Wednesday, December 6, 2017. It was a chilly 45 degrees on my front porch this morning.

My Wednesday schedule is different from other days of the week. I arrive at my favorite coffee house a little later today. It was after 7 AM. They barista poured my tall cup of blonde roast coffee for me and I retired to my cold weather seat. On colder days I sit in the back of the coffee house away from the windows and door. This table has me away from the cold.

I connected to the Wi-Fi and launched Facebook. I write a reply to fourteen posts. If I respond to the posts and comments of people, they are more likely to engage my future posts and comments. The Bible says if this way in the book of Proverbs, chapter 18, verse 24a, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:”

Two acquaintances stopped by my table to visit with me. One asked me about retirement preparation. He retires the end of this month. The other man engaged in causal small-talk.

Since yesterday morning I attended a webinar on social security and medicare which my financial services provider hosted. It was informative. They explained complex and unfamiliar topics in simple, understandable terms.

I listened to Joanna Penn’s interview on “The Alliance of Independent Author’s Indie Author Fringe Podcast.” The subject of the podcast was How to Be An Author Entrepreneur. A transcript of the podcast is at https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/11/29/how-to-be-an-author-entrepreneur/. The bottom-line of the podcast was the hearer answering the question, is your writing a hobby or business? If it is a business, Joann Penn gave practical how-to steps on how to manage your writing business.

I also listened to Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn Podcast. The episode I heard was Estate Planning For Authors With M.L Buchman. A transcript of the interview is at https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/12/04/estate-planning-for-authors-with-m-l-buchman/. The bottom-line was your intellectual property rights are valuable – both to you in your lifetime, but also for 70 years after you die according to copyright law. So what happens once you’re gone? Have you ensured that your heirs and successors can still benefit? Having several books published plus being in my mid-60s, I found the podcast interesting as my work will outlive me.

I also worked on a poem I’ve had in my head for a while.

Today I have walking for my health at the mall, lunch with my best guy friend, some afternoon walking, and writing, and then Wednesday night church on my agenda. I will also write another draft chapter in my forthcoming book with the working title “In Jesus’ Name” though I am thinking of titling the book “How to Pray for the Chronically Ill.”

Have a good day and remember, if you write one page a day (that’s about 250 words), Monday through Friday, at the end of one year you will have a 240-page book!

As you can see, there is nothing routine about the writer’s life. Each day is a new adventure.

Meeting My Muse

Today is Tuesday, December 5, 2017. It was a cool 42 degrees on my front porch when I departed to meet my Muse at my local coffee house. She knows to meet there every morning at 6:30 AM.

Let me talk a little tech geek to you. Did you know after I order my tall blonde roast coffee I turn on my Google Chromebook? The computer boots up quickly (yes, I used a word ending in ly). I then use an application named “Chrome Remote Desktop” to connect to my Apple Macintosh (it’s a mini Mac) that sits on my desk in my office back home.

Why do I do this? I am working on a book titled “In Jesus’ Name.” It is the follow-up to my book “Thy Will Be Done.” Both are nonfiction books dealing with the subject of prayer and the chronically ill. My youngest son is co-writing “In Jesus Name” name. Did you know my youngest son will be graduating in May 2018 with a Masters of Theological Studies degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary?

In the days ahead I’ll be asking for your help in selecting the book cover for “In Jesus Name.”

A Rocking Chair with a Warm Plaid Blanket

August 31st I retired from my day job as a full-time information technology professional. Amazing coworkers, an ever-evolving workplace that had more changes in my last three years than I had experienced in the previous forty-five years combined, and me, the baby-boomer, thriving with a Millennial skillset working as a Salesforce admin and data integrity analyst filled my last few years.

So … I transitioned to a rocking chair with a warm plaid blanket and shuffleboard at the senior center. Hold it; I did no such thing. Instead, I took off Friday, September 1 through Labor Day Monday, September 4, and then started a new job on Tuesday, September 5 as a full-time writer.

No, writing isn’t my “retirement job.” It is my job.

Writing isn’t something I always wanted to do. To the contrary, I have been writing the 1970s. I had been selling my work and publishing regularly since my first professional writing sale in September 1981.

Since the first fall of the Reagan Revolution, I dreamed of someday transitioning to writing full-time. Through the 1980s 1990s, and 2000s I wrote and sold dozens of magazine and trade journal articles to Christian publications with names like Deacon Magazine, Church Leadership Magazine, Discipleship Training Magazine, Baptist Program, Baptist Standard, and Sunday School Leader Magazine. Weekly newsletter and newspaper columns, as well as secular publications like Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination, Poetry & Prose Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and scholarly journals with limited circulations, also house my thoughts and essays.

By 1997 I was writing online on my Geocities website and had moved on to LiveJournal May 1999. In June 2003 I started blogging using WordPress. https://Jimmiekepler.com, https://prayersforthechronicallyill.org, and https://keplersreviews.wordpress.com are my primary places I blog. Over the years I have also written for several blogs and websites. Just Google my name, and you will find more than you ever wanted to know.

I started writing and publishing books in the last ten years. I am the author of the books Thy Will Be Done: 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill, The Rebuilder, Miss Sarah’s Secret: A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in Texas, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, Charlie’s Bells: A Short Story Anthology, The Cup, The Paintings, and Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection. Google the title and my name and you will find out more about them as well as where you can buy the books.

So now I write. Monday through Thursday morning I get up and go to my favorite coffee house before sunrise. While there I usually write about three hours. Next, I walk for forty-five minutes to an hour before returning home. I have lunch around eleven thirty. I’ll do household chores like dishes and laundry.

Next, I will either read or study. I sometimes attend webinars in the afternoon as well. I do the business of writing tasks and some marketing in the midafternoon. By three-thirty, I am back to walking to complete getting my 10,000 steps for the day.

Tuesdays this fall I attended a grief workshop. My father passed away last summer. The grief counseling workshop has helped me. Some Wednesday evenings I attend church. On other Wednesday’s I visit my writer’s group at night.

Several Wednesday’s a month I have lunch with my best guy friend. Friday morning I start with attending Men’s Bible Study at my church at six thirty in the morning and then write.

On Saturday mornings I attend a Men’s Bible Fellowship coffee where we solve all the world’s problems. On Sunday’s I go the church and Bible Fellowship Class with my wife. Sunday afternoons are blocked off for lunch with her and anything she wants to do.

How is the writing going? I am glad you asked. Since the first of September, I finished writing “Thy Will Be Done: 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill.” I came out in print and Kindle versions November 1. I am working on a large print version of the book as well as a sequel “In Jesus Name: 60 More Prayers for the Chronically Ill.” February 1, 2018, will be its release date. I also am writing another fiction book under a pen name. It will be out in early 2018.

You won’t find a rocking chair with a warm plaid blanket and shuffleboard at the senior center in my future. I have too many stories to tell. Besides, I am finally living my dream as a full-time writer.

Exercise and The Writer

I found it at the used bookstore and couldn’t resist taking it off the shelf. It’s just the kind of book I would love to have in my library. And the collection of words was half-price!

Yes, I’m a book junkie and was in a “book house” feeding my addiction to hold, caress, and smell a print book. Even in the age of Kindle and ebooks, I love the feel and aroma of a print book, even an old book. I’ll never forget the wonderment I felt when I first saw my name on the spine of a print book.

On Monday I walked six miles with other aging walkers at my local climate controlled shopping mall. I am walking five to six miles a day since my retirement the end of August. I guess I have earned the title of mall walker.

It was fun watching the mature and motherly do their daily workout. They seemed to be the only two groups walking at the mall. I bet you can guess which group I belonged to.

Yes, I know walking is a lot of work. It took me two hours and twenty-five minutes to walk what I could run in thirty-six minutes only forty-one years ago when I was a US Army officer jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. When I gazed at my feet I thought of the nearly one-thousand dollar investment I had in my custom made prescription orthotics from the podiatrist that was inside my SAS walking shoes.

As I write working on a nonfiction and fiction book daily I know I already have more to do each day than there are hours in the day. Exercising was an afterthought. After a  scare with my heart and by my cardiologist in July and August that was underlined by a recent survive I completed for author Joanna Penn on writers and the writer’s health, I am making exercise a major priority in my life.

The Apostle Paul taught in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (The Living Bible), “May the God of peace himself make you entirely pure and devoted to God; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept strong and blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes back again.” I’ve often imagined Jesus and his disciple talking and laughing as they walked along the dusty roads of Israel. I can see the disciples shaking their head trying to understand and Jesus laughing with a contagious laugh when they did not understand the master teacher’s parable and were begging for clarification.

I’m sure their walking helped them to relax and have a clear mind. My walking is doing the same for me. Yet, like the disciples, I sometimes have to ask for the Father to help me understand the teaching found in his holy word, the Bible.

Are you making time to exercise? As the verse says we need to keep our spirit, soul, and body strong. Exercise will help. And with a strong spirit, soul, and body you will have the clarity of thought to write and maybe one day see your name on the spine of a print book.

 

Ten Thoughts to Encourage Others

Ten Thoughts I Use to Encourage Others:

Over the years I have noticed people who have the ability and skill to do a task or assignment often lack the confidence to tackle the job before them. If they are a writer they may fear putting words on paper. If an analyst, they may hesitate or question themselves before solving a problem or recommending a solution.

I have found that a little encouragement helps them achieve their goals and do their job. Here are ten thoughts on how I encourage other.

1. Show real interest in the person.

  • Listen to what they are saying.
  • Be interested in what is happening in their life, the challenge they are facing.
  • Let them know you care.

2. Concede what’s important to them. 

  • When you acknowledge what’s important to others, you offer a form of verification and support about who they are and what they’re doing.
  • A good technique I use is simply to restate their question or challenge and then allow them to talk it through,

3. Say “congratulations.”

  • These magical “Words of Encouragement” at the right time can make all the difference between “keep going” and “give up.”
  • Congratulate them on a job or task well done.

4. Be there for them. 

  • Sometimes the “ministry of your presence” is all they need.
  • Just being there for them is encouraging.
  • Many times all they need is a listening ear to talk through the issue or task.

5. Say “Thank You.”

  • Saying thank you is common courtesy.
  • It is good manners.
  • People like a little reward for hard work.
  • I have done it for years.
  • A simple thank you will make others aware that you know what they have done worthwhile and find it meaningful to you.

6. Return the favor.

  • If someone does something nice for you, an excellent way to show your appreciation is simply to return the favor.
  • It will both shock and encourage them.
  • Note: don’t ever do something expecting someone to return the favor for you.

7. Answer with something unexpected. 

  • I have a phrase I have used for years … love them from where they are to where they need to be!
  • Even when others let me down or they know I know they “dropped the ball” I don’t tell them so, I usually pick the ball up for them.
  • It is amazing the long-term results this can have in encouraging someone.

8. Be a “good finder.”

  • A good finder is a person who looks for the good, not the bad in a person or a situation.
  • An example would be if a person is always late to meetings, but makes in on time to your meeting instead of saying “About time you attended a meeting on time” say “I really appreciate the extra effort you made to get here on time” without any reference to their normal tardiness.

9. Smile.

  • Have you ever experienced the magic of a simple smile?
  • Have you ever noticed how when you smile at someone they smile back?
  • Share an encouraging smile.

10. Offer to lend a hand. 

  • You can offer to lend a hand.
  • Sometimes a person feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders and no one cares.
  • Show them you really care.
  • You can be there for them.
  • If a person gives me an excessive workload I usually ask them if there is anything else I can do for them when I finish the job. I do not complain about the amount of work.

What are some ways you encourage others? Please share your suggestions in the comments.

 

Photo Source: Pixaby

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.

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. 

My First Story and First Professional Sale

B-52D_dropping_bombs_over_Vietnam

My First Taste of Writing

I have been writing for over fifty years. Yikes, that means the years are adding up quickly. The first story I remember writing was in 1965. It was a fifteen-minute story we turned into a play. Along with the other military brats in my neighborhood, we performed the little skit to the joy of the other children and our parents.

It was written in November 1965 with the Battle of Ia Drang Valley on the evening news. I was in the seventh grade. What was that play about?

The story written during the battle was about an imaginary rouge B-52 bomber crew flying in to save the day by blowing the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong Communist back to the stone age. The story was set in a B-52 with the crew communicating during its imaginary unauthorized mission to rescue the US Army’s 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 7th Cavalry from the evil Commies. I remember thinking someone has to do something to save those brave soldiers.

I was living in base housing at Biggs Air Force Base (AFB) in El Paso, Texas. Biggs AFB was the home of the 95th Bombardment Wing which flew B-52s. And Biggs AFB was adjacent to the US Army’s Fort Bliss, Texas.

My school mates and I watched US Army basic trainees march to and from the rifle ranges past our school yard almost every day. The military was our family, in our blood and always on our minds.

My First Professional Sale

From 1965 until 1981 I wrote many stories. Some were published in school and community newspapers. Others were published in my part-time job’s newsletter. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I had my first professional writing sale this month in 1981. that Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I had my first professional writing sale this month in 1981.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I had my first professional writing sale this month in 1981. What is a professional sale you ask? It is being paid professional wages for the writing. I sold a magazine article to a religious trade journal.

Since then I’ve sold many magazine and trade journal articles. I have sold book reviews, short stories, and nonfiction articles.

My Regular Writing Routine

For the last twenty-years almost every morning I wake up about 4:45 AM. I get ready for work and head out the door usually by 5:30 AM. I arrive at my favorite coffee shop, a Starbucks, at 6:00 AM. It located halfway between my home and my day job. I order my coffee and write for an hour. I normally write between 250 to 1000 words. That’s one to four pages. This writing routine has produced the first draft of a book every six to nine months. After writing, I head into the office normally arrive between 7:15 and 7:30 AM.

Tomorrow I’ll share what I’m currently working on.

Photo Credit: A U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52D-35-BW Stratofortress (s/n 52-669) dropping bombs over Vietnam. This aircraft was hit by SA-2 surface-to-air missile over North Vietnam during the “Linebacker II” offensive on 31 December 1972 and crashed in in Laos. The crew of six ejected, but only five were rescued. USAF – National Museum of the USAF photo 110224-F-XN622-007. The photo is a Public Domain picture.

A Baker’s Dozen

I was listening to the Shipping & Handling Podcast today. The podcast is hosted by two literary agents who talk books, fandom, writing, and beyond. The hosts? The hosts are Bridget Smith of Dunham Literary Inc. & Jennifer Udden of Barry Goldblatt Literary.

They mentioned when being interviewed for a job as a literary agent they were asked what were the last ten books you read. The question got me thinking. I came up with the last twelve books I read. I read a few of the concurrently. I recommend them all.

  1. Once They Wore the Gray by Johnny D. Boggs – Western
  2. Arkadian Skies: Fallen Empire, Book 6 by Lindsay Buroker – Science-fiction
  3. Midair by Kodi Scheer – Literary fiction
  4. Cleon Moon: Fallen Empire, Book 5 by Lindsay Buroker – Science-fiction
  5. Relic of Sorrows: Fallen Empire, Book 4 by Lindsay Buroker – Science-fiction
  6. Starseers: Fallen Empire, Book 3 by Lindsay Buroker – Science-fiction
  7. How to Make a Living with Your Writing: Books, Blogging and More by Joanna Penn – Non-fiction (Reference on Business of writing)
  8. Honor’s Flight: Fallen Empire, Book 2 by Lindsay Buroker – Science-fiction
  9. Successful Self-Publishing: How to self-publish and market your book in ebook and print by Joanna Penn-  Non-fiction (Reference on Business of writing)
  10. Business For Authors. How To Be An Author Entrepreneur by Joanna Penn – Non-fiction (Reference on Business of writing)
  11. Star Nomad: Fallen Empire, Book 1 by Lindsay Buroker – Science-fiction
  12. The Age of Daredevils by Michael Clarkson – Non-fiction (history)
  13. Plot (Elements of Fiction Writing) by Ansen Dibell – Non-fiction (Reference on Business of writing)

You can leave in the comments the last books you’ve read. I have read these since January 2017.

Photo Source: Pixaby

Writing: Yea, this post is about writing.

I’m going to try an experiment over the next few weeks. On Wednesdays, I will write about writing and how I got where I am.

Let’s see, let me begin with my bio. Just kidding, who cares about a personal biography except for the bio writer and maybe his or her mother.

Just like the bio, that I am not sharing, we all share some common experiences. Before we’re even born our mother, and the baby daddy gets these wild dreams for our lives. The mom and dad have visions of us becoming a physician or lawyer or even president of the United States of America. We know their dreams are wild because they visualize that kind of future for us when we have their genes and DNA. About this time we should expect a song from the Man of La Mancha’s soundtrack to start playing in the background. The song’s title? The Impossible Dream.

Come on folks, be realistic!

As if our parents weren’t bad enough we head off to school. It matters not if it is a public school, private school, or Catholic school. The teachers and counselors chime in and try to direct us to the job that matches our interests and aptitude. People we date or marry follows suit trying to get us to the right job with the best income. Ultimately, we find a day job employer telling what to do, how to do it, and when to have it done.

Welcome to Life 101. And it’s because of the above that those chasing the writer’s life rarely reach their dreams.

The sad truth is most of us only set our own hours on the weekend or if we’re lucky enough to have paid time off. It’s the way of the world.

From what I read and hear from going to writer’s conferences people trying to make it as a writer are their own worst enemies. The want to be writers can’t manage their time or get the work done because no one is managing their schedule or setting their priorities for them. Rarely are they capable of being self-managed.

This post is about the organization and structure most writers must have. Without the secret ingredients of organization and structure, few want to be writers will ever finish even the first draft of their memoir or whatever book they are working on. They will never see their byline or name on the spine of a book, even an indie published book.

Let me add that organization and structure doesn’t make you a robot. It doesn’t take away your creative freedoms or suck the life out of you. What it will do is decrease but not remove panic and worry from your life. It gives you purpose and direction.

I can hear you mumbling about now. You’re saying but I have a life and a family (this might not be your biological family but the people you live and play with). Exactly. I understand you have a life. So do I.

Organization and structure help you set your priorities which include family, leisure time fun, taking care of your health, and paying the bills. In simple terms, most people want to be paid for their work, to have played in their leisure time, and from time to time to get laid to meet their emotional and physical needs. They also want to be healthy enough to participate in the three aforementioned activities.

While I have been freelancing and selling my work since the first year of the Ronald Reagan presidency, only in the last couple of years have I seriously considered supporting myself by writing. And the baby-steps that I have been taking to move in that direction are what I’ll share in the next post.

Photo Credit: Pixaby


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a military brat. In his youth, he 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. He has enough degrees to use as wallpaper and even served his country in the US Army for a few years. Working in IT has paid the bills the last two decades. He’s been freelancing since Ronald Reagan was president. He’s even won an award for short story writing. Google his name. You’ll find his work and can even buy a few novels with his name on the book’s spine. He lives with his cat and cancer-battling wife in north Texas.