Neither Moth nor Rust

Neither Moth nor Rust

 

Philippians 4:12-13- I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

My father was a starving musician for over 60 years. Probably the most gifted violinist I’ve ever known, he gave up fame and fortune to raise his six kids. Sacrifice. I understand what God did for me and would never minimize it in any way, but my father’s forfeit of a lucrative career is a standard for me as well. As the cliché goes, we didn’t have much growing up, but I remember one special Christmas that helped me appreciate the things I did have more than the things I didn’t.

At 13 years-old and the baby of the family, I asked my dad to buy me a guitar for Christmas. You know, something a bit more sophisticated than a dime store version that almost never stayed in tune. Even though I’d asked for it, I knew money was tighter that year because my mom had been in and out of the hospital, so I wasn’t counting on finding it under the tree.

As it turned out, I didn’t. I remember a few pairs of underwear, a flannel shirt or two, and some candy in my stocking but no guitar. Disappointment hounded me most of the day. In fact, for a majority of my Christmas break, I’d sulked around the house.

It seemed to me that Dad had been away a little bit more playing a few extra jobs over the holidays trying to make extra money, so the denial of my request befuddled me. I was the only one who showed any interest in pursuing music and following in his footsteps. I sang in the choir at school and wrote poetry and lyrics all the time. Why wouldn’t God honor my wish?

I think it’s in these moments of doubt that God truly shows up and teaches us what’s really important. My birthday was around the corner in January, and although Christmas had come and gone, my disappointment lingered like a musty basement stench. I stopped writing and even listening to music, and that’s when everything changed.

Dad woke me up early on a Saturday morning with a big grin on his face. He wanted me to go with him to meet one of his musician friends; he didn’t want to go alone. So I jammed a couple of pieces of toast in my mouth and ran out the door. I had no idea his friend owned his own music store on the east side of Cleveland. There were several guitars just calling my name, but I picked one labeled Aria (a long accompanied song for a solo voice). My father chose the same guitar for me and had been making payments on it for over a year, but it wasn’t paid off at Christmas.

All in all, what did I learn? “Every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Light…” My timing and God’s don’t always line up. He knows that sometimes we settle for the mediocre, trying to do things ourselves, when His best gift is yet to come. Now every time I want to force God to respond in my favor, I catch myself. I could have had a bargain store variety guitar, but He wanted me to have something much better.

I taught myself how to play and went on to write many songs to touch other’s lives, including winning a GMA national songwriting competition with a song entitled “Daddy, Where’s the Lamb?” Ironically, a song about Abraham and Isaac. Halfway up Mount Moriah Isaac stopped his father and asked, “Daddy, where’s the lamb?” He was completely unaware that he was the intended sacrifice. But just like He always does, God tested Abraham’s faith as He tested mine.

My dad sacrificed so much to buy me that guitar, and I’ll always remember it. Whatever we perceive to give up when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior is replaced by what truly matters. Things never satisfy because joy has one eternal source. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I seek more of now. I loved the guitar, but embraced the joy on my father’s face when he heard me sing and play my first original song. And that’s something that neither moth nor rust will ever decay.

SNEAK PEEK…

For those who have finished NINE, my debut YA/Sci-Fi novel, I have a sneak peek at the book blurb synopsis for SOULLESS, book two in the trilogy. Feel free to comment with questions, but keep in mind one thing: I won’t give you any spoilers. 🙂 Tentative release is December. So excited to reveal the cover as soon as it gets finished.

Book Blurb Synopsis:

SOULLESS Book Blurb Synopsis:

Faith and Rico have escaped the crash but peril is lurking. Stuck in the mountains with no weapons but themselves, the bears aren’t their sole obstacle. It’s the pod people or podders, as Faith likes to call them. Soulless human creatures who have reverted back to their animal instincts to survive. Getting their real souls back and exposing Azuna’s takeover plans may have to be put on hold as Faith combats the elements and herself. Both pose enough of a threat to keep her from her ultimate goal. She’s changing, and not for the better. More powerful than ever, but that’s not a good thing. Or is it?

For the rest of the world, accepting a Niner influx is drastic but what choice do they have? The day Chancellor Stevens gave Azuna and Demas the keys to the Cadillac was the beginning of the end. Add the on-going threat of a diabolical Niner invention known as the Pro-Em, and the only possible result will be tragic.

In this sequel to NINE by D.M. King, Faith’s choices seem clear, but there’s more to lose now than ever. It’s no longer just about regaining the best part of who she is. It’s about saving humanity without losing any more people she loves. Living minus her soul is one thing. Living without the truth is another.

 

FREE 500 word critique

I admit it. I’m BIG on having the first pages capture my attention forcing me to read on through the night or day. So–I want to help out THREE lucky YA writers with a FREE 500 word critique.

I know what you’re probably thinking…who is this guy that he thinks he can say anything about my baby? I am a published writer, which doesn’t mean as much these days, but I also have over 20 years teaching experience reading amazing, semi-amazing, and really good writing from my 8th grade students/high school as well as thousands of YA books over the past ten years. I know for me, sometimes it takes a different set of eyes to see your baby from a new perspective. I’d LOVE to be those eyes and voice for you.

So how will I pick the winners? The first three people who follow me on twitter, Facebook, and on this blog will win. Pretty simple. I will contact you if you win with information on how to email me your sample page.

What will I critique? Hook–did you make me want to read? Plot– is it unique or something I have seen many times before? Characters–do they live and breathe and sound like real people? Style–do you show rather than tell? Are there enough details and a true voice? Pace–does the pacing keep my interest?

Good luck! I look forward to reading and reacting to your babies. Remember; from one writer to another, take what I say with a grain of salt because I’m NOT smarter than you. However–if there’s ONE thing I say that helped, PLEASE let me know about it.
Blessings,
DM King

Define Surreal…

Surreal–strange, freakish, bizarre? Or dreamlike, having the qualities of the uncanny or unreal.

I remember having an infatuation with Salvador Dali, the artist all through high school. I doubt any of my friends or family even knew of my obsession with his surrealism. To this day when I stare at his paintings, I am not sure what drew me to them. Many of them resembled a bad nightmare or a reflection of someone who’s lived a tortured or nightmarish life. I’d like to believe it was Dali’s choice of colors or, to use a thousand dollar art term, his juxtaposition of things that just didn’t seem to go together. For instance, bananas lounging in a hammock between two trees. Why? Well–I guess the real question is why not?

So, what does any of this have to do with writing or the writing process? I don’t have a ton of experience yet, having just published my first novel, but I’m sure I’ve dreamed up some rather odd characters or scenarios, thinking they were way too freakish, bizarre even. However–it’s in those times I must ask the same question. Why? If I can’t come up with a legitimate answer, I follow it up with why not? The sky is most definitely the limit when it comes to characters, plots, settings, and creativity in general.

Let me toss a tidbit your way for the 3rd book to my NINE trilogy. What does it take to create the perfect villain? All the easy stuff’s been done before. Make him or her so evil they’re hated yet cause readers to develop some sympathy as well. There is a formula, right? So–let me hear from all of you on what it takes to break that formula. I want you to go all Salvador Dali on me. Juxtapose and brainstorm traits and concepts not usually explored. Some might think I’m attempting to get all of you to do the work for me, but that’s where you’d be wrong. I KNOW where my new villain is headed, and I can’t wait to put him in a hammock in between two oak trees to confuse the bejeebers out of all my readers. So much fun. Kind of surreal. Like the fact that it took me four trunk novels to finally get published. If it’s all a dream, and I wake up soon, I’m going to be ticked. 🙂

Finally…

Shock. Awe. I’m still trying to digest the fact that someone believed in my writing enough to offer me a publishing contract for my YA/Sci-Fi novel NINE. Thanks to Marc Estes from Snow Leopard Publishing who found value in what I’ve been doing for the past four years. I’m grateful for the chance to begin a journey I always knew would come one day.

I’d been trying to find an agent all summer, entered contests, had moderate success, but to no avail. Just the thought of having my imagination available worldwide along with right down the street is a dream come true. How many books have you sold? Well–I’m not exactly sure how well it will sell, but can anyone really predict their success? Maybe if you were Stephen King, your chances of success would be easy to predict. I have some goals, of course, but no preconceived notions about making a Best Sellers list or winning any awards. I just had a story to tell, and I wanted to tell it. Faith, my main character, has a blood disorder. Rare.Why did I give her this flaw? 

Well–around 9 years ago now, my oldest brother passed away from leukemia. Ironically, he beat the cancer but died due to complications of Graft Versus Host Disease. I knew my brother had faith, but he also had so many questions, doubts, and things he wasn’t sure of when it came to the afterlife. I remember him asking me a day before he finally passed if all this God stuff we’d talked about for years was really true. I assured him it was. Hope filled his eyes. Tears flooded mine. 

So what does any of that have to do with my main character? Simple really. Faith’s not sure of where she fits in the grand scheme, and she blames herself for not doing enough to help her mother. Not being able to save her. That was me. I gave my platelets. Spent a week getting four shots of neopogen in my stomach just to increase my T-cells. Then another week of lying flat in a hospital bed waiting for a machine to separate my cells, so I could give them away to him. Nurses had to massage my arms afterwards, scratch my face when I itched, and feed me because each time I moved it made an alarm go off and the process got interrupted. This meant I’d have to stay there even longer. Six hours a day for five straight days, and I’d do it all over again for him.

He made it to my wedding as my best man as a result. Two months after, and he was dead. Faith’s power? She can heal others, but she can’t heal herself. I did what I could, but it wasn’t enough. Hours after he died I remember asking God why He didn’t heal my brother. His answer? I did. 

NINE’s all about aliens assimilating human souls in order to survive on earth, but Faith’s not too willing to give hers up quite yet. She may not have been able to keep her mother alive, but she can save the world. Maybe there’s hope for me too.

Enjoy the book. It was a blast writing it. I’m almost healed now too.

D.M. King

 

My Blogging Skills?

My Blogging Skills?

I know, I know…I don’t seem to ever have enough time in my days to keep up with this aspect of my site. I get it. When curious people stroll by, I’m sure they might say things like, “Whoa…he really doesn’t have much on his blog, does he? He must be just a part-time writer. Not really serious about getting published.” Of course, those people would have every right to say those things, but they’d be wrong.

For instance, though I’m new to the YA writing adventure, I’ve recently competed in some twitter contests. While they can be a little stressful, they’re also an awful lot of fun. Not to mention that you meet so many other writers who are kayaking down the same highly competitive rapids as you. I WANT to be a published writer one day. I WANT to have a really cool website with amazing links and run contests. Help as many other writers as I can. But right now? I don’t mean to be self-deprecating, but I’m a nobody in a sea of somebodies when it comes to writing. I have published a play, with one currently pending, but as far as novel writing goes, I’m an infant. I’ve also written a movie script marketed by 20th Century Fox studios for six months before they finally gave up, having not found a director willing to take it on and produce it. I’ve had moderate success in the Christian songwriting biz, but that was ions ago. What have I done lately? Not much. I query a little at a time. Rejections pile up, but I don’t get too discouraged. Why? Writing and traditionally publishing a novel is hard work! My time is coming. I need to make sure my craft meets up with the high standards of the industry FIRST. So if you don’t see me adding much to this blog, I’m probably writing, learning about how to write better, spending time with my wife and grandsons, and waiting for that phone call.

One day you’ll be floating around on twitter and come across my website again, and it’ll look a lot different. Trust me. And if you’re a new writer who needs some valuable insight and direction? You’ve come to the right place. Be blessed!

Here we go again…

Been a while since I’ve added anything. School year keeps me really busy, especially since I’ve been relegated to writing teacher now instead of just Language Arts. I miss teaching reading so much because I was able to get non-readers reading once again. So…I have officially started the querying process again for my YA/Sci-Fi entitled NINE. I believe in the novel’s potential. It has a cinematic style that some agents like but many hate. So I guess doing my research is really going to matter on this one. I’m learning a valuable lesson each time I go through this process. There’s an incessant voice in my head reminding me just how difficult it is to get a book published the traditional way. Writer after writer attests to the fact that it can take way over ten trunk novels or more before you get the “call.” I’m looking forward to that day, when God thinks I’m ready to handle it. Until then, it’s all about learning more about what I think I know but don’t really. Battling the cliche demons who fight their way into my brain, even though I’ve put up the garlic outside my office. Amazing writers still inspire me to believe that one day somebody might be saying that about me. Here we go again… a long and winding road that’s always worth it, even if you get fifty rejections. All it takes is ONE yes!

Peace,

Don

Wisdom…

Just when you think you have this writing thing figured out, someone comes along to prove you wrong. Let’s here it for all the CP’s out there in the universe, especially the ones who are successful writers who offer their time to edit and make suggestions. Like many writers, I have heard a few horror stories about writers sharing their work only to have it stolen from them. Heck, Many years ago, I was a victim of such thievery. I had a song lyric stolen by a famous producer for Olivia Newton John. Not easy to prove, and the cost to fight it wouldn’t have been worth it, so I get it. It’s a scary proposition to let the world see your baby, but if you’re serious about your writing career, it is also ESSENTIAL. Multiple eyes are better than two. We’re way too close to the novel and sometimes refuse to see it any other way but OUR way. I have great respect for those established writers who have been down the editing pathway numerous times and understand exactly what publishers require and want. THOSE are the people I want to learn from and emulate. A special thanks to Brenda Drake for her awesome Pitch Wars and workshops for new and used writers, My analogy? You go to the doctor who tells you that you have a weird disease. You have a choice. Ignore him and go on with life, or get a second opinion. I’m always happy for the second opinion, even though I know I don’t have to change EVERYTHING they suggest. Get a CP or two you can trust! You won’t be sorry.