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Category: News (Page 1 of 10)

Industry news on publishing, contests, book awards and other interests to writers.

The Great Wylie Apocalypse

It’s been a rough month! I’m ever so thankful for everyone’s concern and support. Here’s a quick recap on the notable apocalyptic events of recent weeks.

March 24

I live in Wylie, TX. My wife Janine and I wake up around 10:30pm to hear what sounds like a freight train bearing down on us. Hail was coming down in various sizes, much of it quarter or golf-ball sized. Entire ground was white with hail. Was so loud we did not realize till after the fact that we had double-paned windows both upstairs and downstairs that were shattered as a result. Some hail bounced across the gameroom and was at our stairwell — traveling over half the width of our house inside.

The next day there were dead birds everywhere, victims of the deadly, large hail.

In the aftermath, we took stock of the damage. We’ll have to:

  • Replace our roof
  • Replace our gutters
  • Replace several windows
  • Replace most of our window screens (it looks like werewolves were clawing to get inside)
  • Replace many of our blinds
  • Replace our pergola (it was twisted and damaged and we had to tear it down for safety reasons)
  • Sandblast and refinish our wood fences (looks like someone took a machine gun to them)

All this work is underway and our insurance is paying for almost everything, but it’s still exhausting to work with so many contractors, etc.

hail3 hail2 hail1

March 31

A head cold was making the circuit among my sons, and I eventually got it around March 31. We have plastic sheeting duct-taped around our many broken windows, but despite that the outside air flows freely in the house around the edges, which is really bad for my allergies and asthma. I think that was a contributing factor to what happened next. It couldn’t get any worse, right?


April 4

April 4 my cold turned into pneumonia. Spent most of the week in bed just trying to breathe.

April 11

Mostly over pneumonia at this point, not contagious but will still take a few days for my lungs to clear up. Then we had another round of hail! Our house was unscathed, but my sons got caught in it.

My oldest son Matt was driving (with my son Paul in the passenger seat) in Wylie about 5 minutes NW of his place (10 minutes SE of my house). Rain had not yet hit, but on the edge of the impending storm, BASEBALL-sized hail started raining down on them. One piece of hail hit and knocked completely off the rear-view mirror. Another few hard hits shattered the rear windshield. The front window was a spider-web of cracks at this point. It was a pretty dangerous situation.

Matt knew if the front window gave way they’d be in a world of hurt. They were in a rural area and visibility was near zero, but Matt knew there was a school nearby, so he did some crazy driving (including hopping a concrete curb and possibly damaging the car) in order to get to safety. They ended up in the lee (non-wind) side of the school and escaped further baseball sized hail. Their car looks like someone took a baseball bat to it, but aside from Matt having one cut on his arm from broken glass, our boys made it through this safely.

Boys Rear Window

Boys’ Car Rear Window

Boys' Car Front Window

Boys’ Car Front Window

Neighbor's Picture of some of the Hail

Neighbor’s Picture of some of the Hail

April 12

My friend Jeff from my gaming group who also lives in Wylie found his trampoline over in his neighbor’s yard — tossed around by the wind! I believe he’s otherwise unscathed.

Jeff's Trampoline

Jeff’s Trampoline

Wylie schools are closed due to the latest hail damage. But, everyone is safe! I hope our family is done with adventures for a while!

Now adding dealing with a totaled car to our long list of repairs. :-0

Drawing the Line

In order to carve out time for writing, sometimes you have to draw the line and cut off the email spigot. How?

How? As this 43 Folders article says, this include finding automation and economies of scale. Some examples:

  • add info on your Contact page explaining what people can expect from you
  • use auto-responses and email template sstating when you are away or can’t be reached
  • where necessary send short responses to clarify when you’ll be available again

It’s all about setting expectations.

Writing Full-Screen in Google Documents

full-screen-google-docsRead below to learn about gDarkRoom — a Google Documents tweak tailored to provide a full-screen writing console with these features:

  • Full-screen editing usable from any computer
  • Automatic backups of your documents
  • Write full-screen on the road and sync your document back up once you reconnect to the Internet

I have long used full-screen text editors for banging out fiction. Having the old-school dark full-screen — free from distractions — makes for the ideal writing environment. Some of the full-screen editors I have used in the past:

I like to store my writing in Google Documents. The portability can’t be beat (you can log in and read and edit your documents from any computer). And best of all, Google Documents provides built in version control so you can always go back and find old text you’ve (perhaps accidently) deleted. So in the past I’ve used one of the above software packages to write my fiction, and then pasted it into Google Documents after the fact.


Google has recently added a Full-Screen mode. (Hint: it’s under the View menu, or you can click Ctrl-Shift-F). They have also added a feature called ‘Edit CSS’ (CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet — a feature to change the look and feel of web pages). This, combined with the Google Gears software allows you to write full-screen from any computer with or without Internet access.

How? By using the ‘Edit CSS’ feature, you can add CSS code.

Note this part in particular — this is monitor size specific. You may want to increase or descrease the “260pt” to change the side margins and make corresponding change to the “520pt” width until you get the settings right for you monitor:

.pageview body {
background-color: #000000 !important; /* Make the background color black */
width: 520pt !important; /* Page width */
padding: 0pt 260pt 0pt 260pt; /* Side Margins */
margin: 0;


To the right is the resulting look and feel. In full-screen mode you no longer have access to the menus, so it’s useful to know Google Documents’ keyboard shortcuts and to remember that Esc brings you back to the normal mode.

To style the search bar at the bottom of the screen black, you can download and install the NASA Night Launch Theme for FireFox.

Here is the full CSS code I use to achieve these font effects:

/* Full Screen Editing Style (for 1240×1024 resolution monitor) */
body {
background-color: #000000 !important;
font-family: Garamond !important;
font-size: 18pt !important;
color: #D0A000;

.pageview body {
background-color: #000000 !important;
width: 520pt !important;
padding: 0pt 260pt 0pt 260pt;
margin: 0;

h1 {
padding-top: 26px;
text-transform: uppercase;
font-family: Garamond;
font-size: 22pt;
color: red;
border-bottom: 3px double red;
h2 {
background: url(‘File?id=ad8wdwbvms_905cwjztrfc_b’) no-repeat top left;
padding-top: 12px;
padding-left: 32px;
font-family: Garamond;
font-size: 18pt;
color: #003300;
border-bottom: 2px solid #003300;
h3 {
background: url(‘File?id=ad8wdwbvms_906cb8g4mgj_b’) no-repeat top left;
padding-top: 0px;
padding-left: 32px;
font-family: Garamond;
font-size: 14pt;
color: #003300;
border-bottom: 1px solid #003300;

2008 Evangelical Book of the Year

The winner fo the 2008 Evangelical Book of the Year–

Is not a book.

For the first time in the awards’ 30-year history, top honors go to an audio Bible —- The Word of Promise, a 21-hour New Testament read by performers including Jim Caviezel as Jesus. Caviezel played the role in Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ.

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association announced the award Sunday at the International Christian Retail show in Orlando.

Last year the top honor went to a novel — Ever After, by Karen Kingsbury. It was the first time a woman has won and the first fiction winner.

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association award winners in the six categories:

  • Bible: Discover God Study Bible, Tyndale House;
  • Bible Reference & Study: An Old Testament Theology, by Bruce K. Waltke, Zondervan;
  • Children & Youth: Teen Virtue: Confidential by Vicki Courtney, B&H Publishing;
  • Christian Life: When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, by John Ortberg, Zondervan;
  • Fiction: In Search of Eden, by Linda Nichols, Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group;
  • Inspiration & Gift: Step into the Bible, by Ruth Graham, Zondervan.

Read more about this here and here.

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