Seasons is complete!

photo (14)

 

My poor mini van is riding on it’s rear axle due to the weight of 1000 copies of Seasons sitting in the back. In case you are wondering, that’s 867 pounds of books! I should probably get those out.

I must say it feels pretty good to get the finished product in my hands and start mailing them out to the people who helped put it all together. It will feel even better to mail them out to people who buy them!

SeasonsFinalFrontAmazonSeasons was written with the college athlete and the high school athlete who has dreams of playing in college in mind, so if you know someone who fits in that category be sure to get them a copy or point them to it. If you’d like to read an unbiased perspective, a guy I found on Goodreads.com wrote this helpful review.

You can buy Seasons at ryansprague.com and Amazon.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My new book is ready to print! Pictures of the process.

After lots of writing, lots of editing, and lots of formatting, my second book is going to press this afternoon. It’s called Seasons: What College Athletes Need to Know About Their Future. I went by Rose Printing to sign off on the proof and let them get to work. I love having a big time book printer right here in Tallahassee and I recommend them highly if you’re looking for someone to produce your book. (I’ll support that “big time book printer” assertion with a picture below.)

First of all, here’s a picture of the front cover. My friend James Barnett designed this and it was his very first book cover. He did a pretty incredible job! James runs a wonderful non-profit called Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself which you’ll learn a little more about below.

SeasonsFinalFrontAmazon

Here’s the written content sitting in front of the cover proof. This cover is gloss but the final will be a matte finish. Seasons’ trim size is 8.5 x 5.5 in case you were wondering. You have to sign of on both parts before they will start the print run.

photo (3)

This is just a picture of the book’s spine. The content is wrapped inside but no glue or anything. The book is 262 pages. James made a great spine, too!

photo (4)

This is just a glimpse of the interior. I hired the team at TLC Graphics to format the book and they used James’ cover design as their inspiration. TLC was great to work with! They even helped me in ares beyond what I hired them for to help make sure Seasons was the best it could be.Now the book flows seamlessly! (This picture is a bit dark do to my phone not the design.)

photo (5)

Remember how I said Rose Printing was big time. Well I submit the following as exhibit A.

photo (7)Yeah, they printed both The Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban. Maybe Seasons will sell like Harry! You can pre-order a copy or four and help make that happen.

Finally, this is a picture of the last page in the book. CYNY is working hard and efficiently to providing clothing around the world, clothing that often allows a child to go to school and begin to set a new direction for their life. Their mission is “Saving the World, One Naked Person at a Time.” Is that great or what? Check out their site and pick up a T-Shirt so they can clothe one of those naked people. They do great work all over the globe. I hope people buy Seasons and find this little ad and get connected to Clothe Your Neighbor.

photo (6)

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Writing would be easier if…

You don’t have to read many books on the craft, be they memoir or how-to, to find out writing is hard work. And it is. As a married man with five young children and a full-time job I sometimes envy the amount of time the full-time authors devote to their work. (That sounded bad; I wouldn’t trade my life with one of them, but I think you know what I’m getting at.) Other priorities competing for our time is just one of the myriad obstacles a writer must conquer to get the job done. Which got me thinking…

Writing would be easier if:

  • I didn’t need sleep
  • The internet weren’t to my time what a black hole is to light
  • My writing was grammatically perfect as if flowed through my fingers
  • I could spell
  • I didn’t enjoy movies so much
  • I always knew exactly what I wanted to write exactly when I woke up
  • Other authors hadn’t written such compelling books (I’ve finally updated my 2013 Bookshelf if you’re interested)
  • I didn’t blog (I’m pretty sure that’s irony, but the fact that I’m not absolutely certain is another reason writing is hard)
  • I could finish writing entire books in one sitting
  • Or at least an entire chapter
  • I wasn’t concerned with marketing or selling my books (Number two will be out in less than two months)
  • Had more confidence
  • Every day was rainy
  • It didn’t sometimes feel like work
  • Everybody loved what I create
  • I didn’t care if it was done well… or good… or maybe it is well, I don’t know (Okay, that’s another one)
  • My computer would beep, or say, “Atta boy!” or maybe shed a tear whenever I crafted an excellent sentence.
  • And would intuitively know when I finished a book and instantly play the Hallelujah Chorus
  • I hated Facebook
  • There weren’t a swarm of idea bandits living between my brain and my fingertips (I’m convinced they can fly and are somehow related to Swiper the Fox)
  • The eloquence I imagined in my head looked the same when that idea appeared on the screen
  • My ideas had better timing, instead of popping up at 3:00 AM, or while I’m upside down on a roller coaster, or when I’m throwing my kids in a pool, or when I have nothing to write with or on, and for a moment it’s as if mankind hasn’t invented said technology because there is nothing to be found for miles, and by the time I do find a bit of charcoal and a bubble gum wrapper, an idea bandit swoops in and flies away with my thought, laughing like the Wicked Witch of the West. I hate those guys.
  • Did I mention comma rules? Because I have no idea, where to put commas, so I just guess, and hope one of my proofreaders fixes, all my mistakes,

What about you? What would you add to this list?

Posted in Writing | 1 Comment

Unglamorous: Act 2

Cause him to suffer – our words, the Father’s will
Righteousness personified… and rejected
Upon him? The punishment that brought us peace
Crushed not for what he did, but for our iniquities
Innocent blood for the guilty – hammers in our hands, souls spattered
Father, forgive them
Into your hands I commit my spirit
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?
Death

If you’re interested, you can also read Unglamorous: Act 1

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Are you scared of flying? A poem of comfort.

My wife is off to Colorado today and she’s a little apprehensive about the flight, so I wrote her this poem. Maybe you’ll find comfort in it too.

You’re Going on a Plane Today

You’re going on a plane today
but on the ground you’d like to stay
I know you’re scared, so hear me say
You’ll be okay. You’ll be okay.

The plane goes very high, I know
and we’ll seem small down here below
you’re fearful of mankind’s ego
Your faith must grow. Your faith must grow.

Sure, man attached your plane’s two wings
He copied birds – God’s flying things
God makes both soar – kites on their strings
He is the king. He is the king.

There’s lift, and thrust, and force, and speed
they keep planes in the air, indeed
the laws of physics share a creed
It’s God we heed. It’s God we heed.

You must place not your faith in man
you’re safely held in God’s strong hand
the winds obey the Son’s command
Just trust his plan. Just trust his plan.

In case you’re wondering, this poetic form is a monotetra. I discovered it from a post on Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides Blog over at Writer’s Digest called Poem Types: A List of Poetry Forms.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment

How many books do you read in a year?

I read about thirty to forty books a year and numerous magazines, but usually not the personal-experience type of literature.” -Gary L. Thomas, from “Sacred Marriage”

When I ask about key principles for becoming a good writer, I almost always get the advice to read, and read, and read, and read, and read some more. Unfortunately, I’ve let that advice become an excuse for me to avoid the work of writing. I do not advise this. But I do read quite a bit, at least I thought I did until I came across this quote from a book that wasn’t even written to make me feel guilty as a writer.

I keep a record of my reading on this blog, you can check out my bookshelf if you’d like. Chances are I missed some in my recording because I’m far from diligent, but the 2011 Bookshelf says I read 22 books where the 2012 Bookshelf shows I read 19 and partially read 3 more, so let’s call it 20 for the year. That gives me a pace of 20 per year and I’m pretty much on pace for that again this year. I’m reading 1.2 books per month. Gary Thomas, on the other hand – the golden hand that reminds me why he wins awards for his books and I don’t – is consuming almost 3 books per month. I’m still deciding whether I’ll feel guilty or inspired.

How about you? How many books per month or year are you reading? Maybe a better question would be, how many of those words and ideas are you comprehending and retaining? Do you have a routine? Do you have reading goals? 

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Where do my story ideas come from?

The not quite final manuscript of my second book is being, or has been, read by a few different people to give me feedback and improve the final product. I’ve received some great thoughts and some absolutely necessary corrections. For example, I had a character who died in 1982 that used a facebook Facebook account – woops! Anyway, in the process of reading it, a friend sent me the following email,

We just read the chapter of the couple whose son died in college and my son said, “Are these true? How does he think these things up?” I told him that many were probably based on some truth. What say ye?

Just a little background for you. The book is a non-fiction, narrative written for student-athletes. It’s the story of a man taking the time to instill wisdom into his grandson. The grandson is set to play college football in the fall and his grandfather invites a group of men to talk to the kid about life. The chapter in question involves a couple talking to the grandson about the poor choices their son made that lead to his untimely death. He died of a drug overdose due to the stuff he ingested being laced with anti-freeze. So, here’s the answer I gave to my friends, with a little more detail than originally included. (The parenthetical statements were not in the original email; those are just for you!)

Without sounding aloof, I believe God does the inspiring, but there are certainly traces of my past in the book. For example, one of my best friends drove a 70’s Land Cruiser with a brushed paint job (this vehicle appears in the story) and I grew up in Columbia County (the character’s high school is Columbia County). But the idea for the book and the ideas for each character and their story came from that creative place I believe God indwells.

On that particular chapter, like the ones before and after, I sat at my computer with the topic in mind and maybe the basic concept – parents who lost a child – and began to type. As I wrote the chapter I tried to listen and let the story come. I know it sounds a little loopy, but it’s truly the way it went. I had picked out names for the parents, but imagined their appearance and described them in the moment. Their careers, hobbies, etc. arrived in the moment. Even the concept of the car (their son had a passion for tinkering with cars and eventually fixed up a ’70s Land Cruiser) burst forth in a moment of inspiration. I remember pushing my keyboard away to hand write how the car would become a key element of the macro-narrative after the idea arrived. Once I scribbled that down I went back to the keyboard and resumed typing. Now I did search for an image of a ’70s Land Cruiser on the internet to help with my descriptions.

The anti-freeze bit was an example of an idea that arrived literally as I typed the sentence. I had heard of dogs being poisoned with anti-freeze and knew it was supposedly sweet, so there was latent information floating in my subconscious,  but applying it here was an unforeseen development. After I typed the idea, I researched its plausibility and discovered it actually happens. I was surprised to learn people actually do this, but who wouldn’t be? I did a little more digging to add detail and increase the account’s believably and accuracy.

This combination of latent information and creative inspiration is one of the reasons it’s so important for writers to read. All that information and all those ideas lurk in our mind waiting for just the right moment to sneak into one of our stories. It would probably be a good practice to take time and reflect on our own past to mine for personal nuggets that could enhance one of our characters or the story in which the reside.

Is this how the creative process looks for you?

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

facebook & twitter or Facebook and Twitter???

A friend reviewing my forthcoming book kept marking the words “facebook” and “twitter” in my story claiming both should be capitalized. Before you assume I’ve written a novel full of social media cliché, it’s actually a chapter where a member of the media is advising a high school student about social media use. Anyway, I wrote both words in all lower case intentionally, because both brands utilize lower case in their branding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See what I mean?

I figured the appropriate way to write it would be to honor their brand and use the lower case. I thought wrong. This is directly from the Facebook (see what I did there?) webpage titled “Brand Resource Center,”

5) When referenced in text, Facebook should be capitalized.

I couldn’t find a similar page for Twitter, but I did find this interesting note from Grammar Girl,

Verbs are capitalized when they are derived from proper nouns. Since Twitter is the name of the company, and therefore a proper noun, it makes sense that “Twitter” would be capitalized when it’s used as a verb, but I thought “tweet” should be lowercase because it’s not directly derived from the company name. It turns out I was right. Mark Allan, known as @editorMarkonline, alerted me that the AP had issued an update. The AP editors meant for “tweet” to be lowercase, and I’m not the only one who noticed the error.

I had no idea we were supposed to capitalize verbs when the derived from a proper noun!

But this got me thinking about all the “i” stuff out there. They have intentionally started their product names with a lower case letter as well. Here’s what I found,

Respect any words with inherent capitalisations [sic??]. Some nouns have odd capitalisations [sic??], most commonly brand names, websites, etc. For example, this includes Apple Inc. products, often titled things like iPad, iPod; software like MediaWiki and websites like deviantArt and even wikiHow! These words are always spelt thus regardless of other rules. wikiHow can go at the start of the sentence without capitalising [sic??] its first letter, because it is always spelt [isn’t that flour??] with a lower case w.

Where possible, do your best to avoid placing an unusually capitalised [sic??] noun at the beginning of the sentence, and that way you can avoid writing “IPod” or “WikiHow”.

For example, change “IPods are used by high school students for learning purposes” to “High school students use iPods for learning purposes”.

That was a pretty simple way to understand how to write iPad, etc. As far as how the wikiHow people chose to spell “capitalisations” and “spelt” it must have been a contributor from across the pond providing the knowledge. See the wikipedia page on American and British spelling differences.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Unglamorous: Act 1

Entered the world’s stage dependent on another
Mothered by an assumed harlot, fathered by a perceived weakling
Manifestation of promised pain – reminds us why he had to come, hints at what he came to do
Authority, like his teeth, present but hidden deep within
Near to his beloved. Nearly murdered by them. Night escape
Unable to provide – nursed. Unable to survive – coddled
Exactly what this world needed –
Light

If you’re interested, you can continue with Unglamorous: Act 2

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

What I learned: Maggie, by Charles Martin

MAggie2.0I’ve read almost everything Charles Martin has available. Chasing Fireflies is my favorite, and I shared what it taught me in a previous post. Maggie is his second novel – a sequel to The Dead Don’t Dance – and I enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed his other stuff; Mr. Martin just writes good books.

If you haven’t read him, I started with When Crickets Cry and haven’t looked back. He writes with warmth and depth of emotion, but also with masculinity and some good old-fashioned action as well. Which leads me to the first thing this book drilled home.

1) You can write a book that resonates with both men and women. In this era of hyper-specific genres, it’s tough to find a book two differently interested people will enjoy. A book must either be violent, crass, and lewd in an effort to appeal to some form of male, or it must be sappy, conversational, and melodramatic to appeal to some form of female. (Sorry for the generalizations, but I think you know what I mean.) But in this book, along with Martin’s other works, my wife and I have found an author we both enjoy, and books we can appreciate for distinctly masculine or feminine reasons. I think it’s awesome, and it gives me hope. If I ever get around to novel writing, I’d like to think I would produce similar stories. I would love to write stories that aren’t afraid to delve into the deepest parts of us, but also aren’t afraid to include a good chase scene through a swamp with an ex-Navy Seal. Martin pulled it off in Maggie and taught me I might be able to do the same.

2) “Making it” is hard, but it might be just around the corner. If you are a writer, or someone who aspires to be, the acknowledgements section of this book are almost worth the cover price. He offers a glimpse into a season of his life when the dreamer was almost defeated by the pragmatist. He and his wife were on the verge of giving up the idea of being a full-time writer, but he rounded the bend and now he has no-name bloggers hoping to be like him one day. He allows you to see what chasing the dream meant to his wife and to him. You get to see what sacrifices were necessary and what dedication looked like. Ultimately, it was about his wife believing in him with both word and deed. Here is an excerpt,

Neither my talent nor perseverance got this book in your hands.. I’m neither that good nor that strong. The miracle of our story is not me. It’s a girl who, with a single kiss and six words, reached down beyond my fear and doubt, down where my love lives, and gave me a gift — she stood beside me and believed.

Those six words were, “You’re not a reject to me,” and I have a wife who would say the same to me. So maybe I can keep at it too.

By the way, if you are a fan of Charles Martin, you might enjoy this interview I found.

Keep Discovering Writing.

Posted in What I learned, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment