Meet the Poets: Carl Sandburg – 1919 and 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1940 Pulitzer Prize for History

“I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do. After hundreds of experiments, I decided to go my own way in style and see what would happen.” – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and another for his history, a biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Sandburg was almost unknown to the literary world when, in 1914, a group of his poems appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry magazine.

Two years later his book Chicago Poems was published, and the thirty-eight-year-old author found himself on the brink of a career that would bring him international acclaim.

Sandburg published another volume of poems, Cornhuskers, in 1918, and wrote a searching analysis of the 1919 Chicago race riots.

More poetry followed, along with Rootabaga Stories (1922), a book of fanciful children’s tales. That book prompted Sandburg’s publisher, Alfred Harcourt, to suggest a biography of Abraham Lincoln for children. Sandburg researched and wrote for three years, producing not a children’s book, but a two-volume biography for adults. His Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, published in 1926, was Sandburg’s first financial success.

With the financial success, he moved to a new home on the Michigan dunes and devoted the next several years to completing four more volumes, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.

Sandburg continued his prolific writing, publishing more poems, a novel, Remembrance Rock, a second volume of folk songs, and an autobiography, Always the Young Strangers.

In 1945 the Sandburg family moved with their herd of prize-winning goats and thousands of books to Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Sandburg’s Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951. Sandburg died at his North Carolina home July 22, 1967. His ashes were returned, as he had requested, to his Galesburg birthplace. In the small Carl Sandburg Park behind the house, his ashes were placed beneath Remembrance Rock, a red granite boulder. Ten years later the ashes of his wife were placed there.

Source:  Pulitzer Awards 1919, Pulitzer Awards 1940, and Pulitzer Awards 1951

For more on Carl Sandburg see: http://carl-sandburg.com/biography.htm

One Great Way to Discipline Yourself for Success

Below is a little guide I put together. I call it “One Great Way to Discipline Yourself for Success.”

1. You must master your moods.

Proverbs 25:8 – Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

2. You must watch your words.

Proverbs 13: 3 – He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

3. You must restrain your actions.

Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

4. You must stick to your schedule.

Ephesians 5:15-16 – Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

5. You must manage your money.

Proverbs 21:20 – The wise person saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.

6. You must maintain your health.

I Thessalonians 4:4 – Each of you should learn to control his own body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect …

The above Bible verses offer a Bible-based, common sense approach to success.


Photo Source: Pixaby

Kepler’s Aphorism #2 – Don’t Plan on Earning Enough Money Writing to Live On

I was sixty-four years old before I was able to write full-time and I don’t make enough money off my writing to support myself solely on my writing income. I required having multiple streams of income to achieve this goal. It also took my being debt free.

Even with my simple lifestyle, my combined earnings from my writing income, interest received on savings, and earnings from a 403B, my income is about what an hourly employee at a big box store earns. I am only able to write full-time through frugality, lack of debt, and a very modest lifestyle.

I have been writing full-time for twelve months. The plus is I have earned money from my writing every month. The minus is the monthly income from just writing has never made me four figures in a month. It helped that I understood the business, have been writing and regularly publishing since 1981, and had multiple books and articles published.

The late Ray Bradbury was one of the first who said don’t plan on making money writing. Bradbury and his wife, who “took a vow of poverty” to marry him, hit thirty-seven years old before they could afford a car. For years he sold newspapers on the street corner to get enough money to pay the rent. He even used a pay typewriter in the UCLA library that charged him twenty-five cents per thirty minutes of writing before he earned enough money to buy his own.

You can be a working writer and earn a modest income. According to BookScan, the average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.  With average royalties that’s less than $5,000 a year for a book and less than $60,000 over a book’s lifetime for an Indie author, you cannot survive on just that income. The earnings figure is significantly less for traditionally published authors.

You can see detailed information on author earnings at Author Earnings.


Photo Source: Pixaby

Creativity and More: The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

21125468_928510490624749_1164724228870962338_o

Albert Einstein said, “The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

My undergraduate education is a liberal arts education. My major was history and my minors were English and military science. My Master of Arts degree is in Christian education. My broad-based liberal arts education did more than prepare me for a job. It provided the foundation that allows me to compete in the marketplace of ideas. I also completed the core curriculum for a computer science degree.

It has been 43 years since I heard the University of Texas at Arlington President Dr. Nedderman say I had met the requirements for my bachelor’s degree. Within minutes of his pronouncement, I raised my right hand and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army through Army ROTC.

I did not make the military a career. Three years later I headed to graduate school. I was amazed at how prepared I was. I knew how to read, write, study, do research and write research papers, and most importantly how to think.

My UT Arlington liberal arts education taught me how to think independently and make sound judgments. I learned how to expand my horizons, discover new perspectives, and acquire the tools to defend my point of view. My education helped me learn to reflect on life, have a moral and historic compass where I can distinguish good from evil, justice from injustice, and what is noble and beautiful from what is useful.

I have been employed over the years as an officer in the US Army, a minister, educator, corporate trainer, Internet Coordinator, IT Support Analyst, IT Systems Administrator IT Application Engineer, and writer. These have been my day jobs that have supported my 38 plus years of freelance writing. When working in IT it is interesting to see how many persons have undergraduate degrees in the liberal art disciplines. These are the people that know how to think outside the box. These are the people with excellent critical thinking skills. These are the persons that embrace change and know how to successfully deal with it.

What have I done with my history degree? All the above plus I have published hundreds of magazine and trade journal articles. I have published poetry. I have written book reviews. I have a website “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews.” The site was named a 100 best websites for history buffs. I read and review military history books published under more than a dozen different imprints.

I get asked often by younger adults how I know so much about so much. They say I am a modern renaissance man. My answer: I received a liberal arts education at the University of Texas at Arlington.

How committed am I to a liberal arts education? I have three grown children – all three were liberal arts degrees.


Photo Source: Image created and shared by Jerri Kemble, assistant superintendent at Lawrence (KS) Public Schools, after reading Scott Hartley’s “The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World.”

Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams

Have I mentioned I’m writing my fourth novel?  Oh, I know, everyone is either writing a novel, plans to write a novel or has the next great story idea.  So, with that in mind, I’ll start over.

Writing My Fourth Novel

Did I mention I am writing a novel?

Yes, I am. While I’ve published a science fiction novel, a historical fiction novel, a short story anthology, a poetry collection, and have a second unpublished science fiction novel, I have never published a literary fiction novel. Novel number four is literary fiction.

Even though I have hundreds of paid writing credits over the last 40 years in dozens of trade journals, magazines, literary journals, and science fiction magazines, few people view me as a writer.

Response of Family and Friends

Have you ever noticed the response of family and friends when they learn you are writing a novel?  You know the responses I’m talking about.  You’ve seen them.

There’s the rolling of the eyes up toward the sky.

There’s the bobbing the head up and down while shaking it in disbelief.

Sometimes they will express condolences to a spouse that you’re using your time in this way.  other times they will say “That’s nice.  Everyone needs a hobby.”

When I get responses like these I want to put my hands on their shoulders, look them directly in the eye and say, “Hello, did you hear me? I said I am writing a novel.  That’s because I am a writer!”

At this point they usually repeat, “That’s nice or I thought you worked with computers.”

I reply “Working with computers paid for my passion for writing before I became a full-time writer.”

It’s sad. They still don’t get it.  Oh, I can send them running out of the room in a hurry if I say, “Would you like to hear a chapter?”  Those words are like saying “FIRE, RUN, FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE!”

Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams

I mention all this to say, don’t let anyone steal your dream.  If you’re like me, you have to write.  You can’t help it.  It’s part of who you are.  So write!  And, tell your friends and family that you’re working on a novel.  Let them the progress you are making.  And you can drop me a note from time to time in the comments section.  I’ll understand.

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.

Tuesday Morning at Starbucks

My Favorite Coffee House

Coming Here to Write

Howdy yall. It is Tuesday morning, November 28, 2017. I’m sitting at my favorite table at the Starbucks at 2201 Preston Road in Plano, Texas. Located next to the Barnes and Nobles Bookstore, I’ve been coming here to write in the morning for years.

I wake up every morning just before 5:00 AM. I do the personal hygiene stuff, dress, and drive the ten miles from my cookie-cutter suburban house to my favorite coffee dispensary. I usually arrive between their opening at 6 AM and 6:30 AM. I have a cup of their blonde roast or Pike’s Place coffee most days.

Why This Coffee House?

I know what you are thinking. Why this coffee house?

The bottom line is I like it. It is small, does not have a drive-through, has excellent customer service, and doesn’t get upset if I take up my table for 3 to 5 hours.

When I started stopping at this Starbucks, my motivation was two-fold. First was the location. It is located about halfway between my home and my now retired from the day job. Second, my goal was to write for 60 to 90 minutes before continuing my trek on to the day job. You see, I am a writer.

Give the Best Part of My Day to Writing

Over the years I was able to write a book every 9 to 12 months in this coffee house. I would give the best part of the day to my writing. Because of my regular attendance “the muse” knew when and where to find me. I started this near-daily routine when I was in my late 40s. Now in my mid-sixties and retired from the day job I return each morning to the same table.

I’ve also encountered a half-dozen store managers, over a hundred baristas, and learned there is a core group of regulars. A running club meets here every Tuesday and Friday morning. They arrive about ten minutes until 6 AM. At 6 AM sharp they start their morning run. It is a group of 12 to 15 with ages spanning from the thirties to the early seventies. They run for an hour and then have coffee and fellowship. I can call by name more than 50 regular patrons of this Starbucks. Most days you can set your clock by the time they arrive to get their daily caffeine.

Solving the Problems of the World

I write first drafts of books, blog posts, magazine articles, short stories, and poetry while ingesting my daily two cups of caffeine.

After writing I often solve the problems of the world in discussions with some of the men and women. I have built relationships with people. From time to time some of the people have called, texted, or shared spiritual needs with me. I have prayed with some of the patrons before their surgeries or when they are hurting from family relationship issues.

A Christian Worldview

I am a Christian and see things through a Christian worldview that many don’t have. I have been allowed to share my Christian testimony many of these same people.

No, I am not a perfect, in your face Bible thumper. I am far from it. Too often I am a hypocrite and fail in following God’s principles. I just get up each day, confess my sin and try again.

What Do I Write?

What do I write? I write religious nonfiction and religious science fiction. I also write historical/literary fiction under a pen name.

Most mornings after writing I either head to the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve or The Shops at Willow Bend shopping mall and walk for 45 minutes to an hour. Afternoons find me doing the business of writing with marketing, editing, etc.