Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Whirlwind Week: A note about both novels

The past week has been a blur. I'm sorry I've been absent from here. When I've had a moment, I've had to put my creativity elsewhere.

However, I've had some good feedback from Mark Gilroy (my agent) regarding publisher responses to The Runaway Pastor. Still no contract. Some publishing houses still reading it. A cool rejection though! Sorry, can't explain that comment, but sometimes we might be defined by those who don't like our slant. And this one was OK with me.

Also, I continue to believe that some news regarding the publishing of The Runaway Pastor will be coming here very soon. Stay tuned.

Another cool development today. A well known personality who contacted me recently hoping for good news regarding Runaway's. They have committed to endorsing the book and writing some stuff for the back or front cover when it is published.

One more thing, a friend in the business gave me some awesome (and gratis!) advice on BREAKERS. I am so grateful, and hope to begin doing some more work on it before long. Don't be surprised if there is some additional material included in already posted chapters.

Finally, I am a pastor. The busy-ness this week has been intense yet gratifying. I do love the people I work with and those of our community. Tomorrow I will help with a funeral service. Two little girls and their mommy are grieving a daddy and husband and community hero who died too young. I pray for the grace of Christ to bring strength and healing to their broken hearts. I would appreciate you doing the same.


Thursday, June 25, 2009


Thanks for your interest in BREAKERS. I enjoyed getting back to it, and mixing some old writing that used to be in the first couple of chapters (in my original beginning several years ago), with some new stuff.

The skaters/surfers are completely new additions in this edition, and I kind of like them. I think they give us a new way to look at Cam. I really don't know how involved they will be in the ongoing of the book, but since their personalities are in my brain now, they could show up at any time.

I've also redone the scene here with the jeweler and his wife. This used to take place at the time when Kenna first took the ring to Mr. Schultz...making Cam and Kenna's first date at Breakers--the ocean side restaurant--a much different kind of thing. Again, I like seeing the changes and the developments as they are happening.

One more time. As the few of you who know me understand, I have a more than full-time job, and so opportunities to work on this project are rare. Usually they happen late at night when I am really tired; thus I am forced to make many editions and changes the next day or week or whenever another crack of time appears. Thanks for your patience and thanks for your continued interest and kind words. They encourage me.

Well, here is BREAKERS Chapter Nine. Enjoy, tell a friend about BREAKERS if you are enjoying it, and as always please give me your feedback. You can help decide the direction of this book, because I don't know what the ending will look like. However, I do have a master plan idea for an interface between the world of BREAKERS and that of The Runaway Pastor in a future book! (You read it here first.)

Oh, you haven't read chapters 1-8 of BREAKERS? Here they are!

BREAKERS Chapter Nine is on the way!

I wanted to put this out here in case you stop by looking for another chapter of BREAKERS. I am putting the final touches on chapter nine, and I think you'll really like it. It's getting intense. I was laughing one minute and sitting shocked the next minute as I wrote. (Right, I have no idea what's coming in my stories much of the time. It's more fun to let the characters do what the characters do.)

So remind your friends to read and be caught-up on BREAKERS' first eight chapters. And tonight, or at the latest Friday morning, I'll have the next chapter up here. I think you'll like it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Giants and Storms and Overcomers

The storm rises on the sea's horizon. Guts tighten and hearts quicken, but for one-- who finds a cushion and takes a nap as the waves rise and toss the ship.

A giant steps to the front line of battle and his harassment echoes across the psyche's of his enemies. Fear grips all. They neglect offers of wealth and fame in favor of staying safe on their own side of the valley, but for one--who finds it unthinkable to fear such a certain loser.

The one from Bethlehem is aroused by the frightened ones. He stands and speaks to the roaring winds. And immediately there is peace.

The young one from Bethlehem is aroused by the fear in the frightened ones, and the blasphemy on the lips of the giant. He strides forth armed with only a shepherd's sling and fires a single river stone into the giant's forehead and the enemies' hearts. And immediately there is victory.

If the odds remain the same today, you and I live amongst and are examples of those who cower. But the one who calls us invites us to have hearts of valor and confidence in the God we serve. We are designed to overcome.

We are called to slay storms and silence giants all around us.

Peace be with you, as you speak to the winds.

Friday, June 19, 2009

An Invitation to the Mountains

Hello everyone;

I got a crazy idea last spring when I was out hiking. I always think of friends when I'm on a trail, and I thought, hmmmmmm, why not invite a group of friends to join me for some hiking and camping? So that is what I'm doing.

If you think you would enjoy some day hikes (nothing tough or technical), I invite you to consider joining me this August. Check out the opportunity at http://www.uhikealong.blogspot.com . I would love to have you join me.

Now I've just put this up online, so don't be afraid to be the first follower (besides me), and give this some thought.

Hope you'll hike along. We'll have fun!


Monday, June 15, 2009


Good news for me!

Do you remember me saying that I'd written the beginning to BREAKERS years ago, printed out some along the way, then my hard drive crashed. I lost the last parts I'd written, but I had a printed copy of most.

So what I've been doing with BREAKERS is basically inputting the old stuff when I get a chance, and editing/adding along the way.

Well, last week a friend offered to type in all of the old stuff, so I could have it in electronic form on my computer. I kind of laughed inside, because what I have typed out is in rough shape. I've edited with a pen (or now faded pencil) in margins, or in between single spaced lines; and there are arrows snaking their way from one page to another. I couldn't imagine anyone (besides perhaps my wife who typed my thesis in days before word processing) being able to face the chore. But yesterday, that brave woman saw the mess, took ownership of it, and is doing this task! I'm amazed.

I guess this means getting more of BREAKERS out there will be easier for me. I'll have fewer excuses--at least until I run out of what I've written. Anyway, I wanted to let you know there was some progress happening.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Human Touch, and Divine

There are joy-filled touches in human relationships. Hurts and joys felt so deeply, they threaten to undo us.

In a theater with family the other evening. My arm is around my wife, and my hand rests on the skin of her upper arm. The tenderness in that moment plowed through my soul with such force, I lost track of the movie, and time. I only wanted to feel and hold onto her and that fleeting instant.

Cradling my grand-daughter in my arms, then laying her in my lap and looking in her eyes. She begins to coo and speak with me. I speak and am quiet. She "speaks," then waits. Eventually, she wiggles her entire body trying to "say" what is in her. She smiles and I melt.

Sometimes when my children hurt or are sick, I'll hold them and tell them I'm leaking love into them. Or I'll say I'm soaking healing into them through my embrace. And I believe it.

What does love look like? I'm not always sure. But I know what it feels like. It stops time, it suspends my needs, it invokes deep passion for the better of the other.

I think of Jesus calling his Father, "Abba." The word is like our "Daddy," or "Papa." We are told the relationships within the Trinity are perfectly loving. I want to understand that. I want to believe that when I make my noises and wiggle with my fears and strive in my praying that somewhere, somehow God hears me and gets it. And then, I want to believe God begins to embrace and leak love into me...

Take peace in such hope.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Importance of Human Touch: The Way of Honesty

It is a difficult thing to pay attention to our conversations, relationships and simply being in the presence of others. We rely so heavily on cliche, routines and posturing. From the opening moments of human interface these relational habits kick-in with the force of the most powerful addictions. What do I mean?

"Hi, how are you doing?"

"Fine!" A pause and tilt of the head sideways. "And how are YOU doing anyway?"

"Couldn't be better," he lies.

Fake smiles--yeah I've been caught in a few. I had a guy in one church that would give me back my Guy Smiley smile every time I posed it.

Why can't we live in the real world? Why can't we truly mean what we say, interface with sincerity and truly touch one another with authenticity? You need to be seen today. Has anyone looked at you? Has anyone studied your eyes and your face and really asked about you? You need to be heard today. Is anyone listening?

Would you touch someone this day by making a real conversation--by being honest when you are with them and looking them in their beautiful eyes and expressing some form of human contact? Would you listen to someone who needs to be heard.Oh God, please help us love each other!

Sometimes when people tell me I'm special, I'm tempted to think they just like being loved. They just think it's cool being seen, or heard, or spoken to in the present tense and moment... Funny idea, isn't it?

For more on this topic click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BREAKERS: First 8 Chapters! And THE RUNAWAY PASTOR Feedback Needed.

Hey, thanks for your interest and for asking for a copy of the first 8 chapters all in one document. BREAKERS is giving us an opportunity to explore on one level the idea of a Christian dating a non-Christian. More importantly, we explore some commonly accepted assumptions regarding how we define "Christian."

So welcome. Click here to read the first eight chapters of BREAKERS! And as always, please give me some feedback on the check boxes below, or via the comment option, or email me at samshill@sbcglobal.net.

IMPORTANT!! Also, I had a nice call from my agent yesterday. Once again, a couple of publishing houses have shown interest in The Runaway Pastor manuscript. I'll keep you posted on any progress, if it comes. If you have read the posted chapters of The Runaway Pastor, then I have a request to make. I need to compile a list of comments for my agent to use. Would you send me a short paragraph on facebook, or comment here or email me at samshill@sbcglobal.net? I would appreciate it.

I'll look forward to hearing from you.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Higher Ways and A "Calling"

This morning I'll read of Isaiah having a vision of God in the temple. And I hope to wonder aloud about my own visions of the Invisible One, and the ways that One encouraged me to pursue. As a child, when I wanted to kneel in front of the sanctuary like the adults...was there something profound in that? I still remember it forty-four years later.

And then in a fifth grade Social Studies/Geography class I said for the first time what I wanted to be..."A diplomat." That vision remains a clear and distinct calling for me to this day. I represent one kingdom, while living in another--or several others.

And in church youth camp, "I want to be a missionary." And I have been, and always enjoy trips to teach or serve in other cultures. Then in college, "I want to run a retreat center and just help people be away and think about their lives and faith." Oh yes, I've enjoyed speaking at dozens of retreats and still hope a retreat director position could be a part of my future.

And in my twenty-second year, "I want to really know that I know the one I believe in. I want to be real." And those words drove me to a month of desperate seeking and a lifetime of longing.

Let me ask you: As you retrace your journey, where have you been confronted by the Holy One and desires that seem to come from those visions? Are you open to God's calling? What part of you resists? What part of you is still awake?

If you haven't read my novel The Runaway Pastor, you can see the first seven chapters by clicking the link above and on the right. And if you want to read my newest--BREAKERS--you can go to the post immediately below and find links to read it.

Grace and peace to you.

Friday, June 5, 2009

BREAKERS: Chapter Eight!

Well it's record time for a chapter, but I owed you! I wanted to go ahead and get chapter eight online--it took so long for seven.

So click here for the next installment of BREAKERS.

Give me some feedback please.


Breakers Chapter EIGHT is on the way

In fact, I have finished writing chapter eight, and am letting it sit for a day, then doing a quick edit. I hope to get it online by tomorrow morning. If not, I may not see time to even sit at my computer until sometime next week.

I look forward to launching into this portion of the book. In chapters eight and nine, I introduce you to Kenna's world in greater depth. We also get to sense just why Cam struggles with the whole "different world" thing.

Chapter nine is also on the way. At this point, I'm pretty much just entering the book as it was written several years ago, with some updates. I write a little differently than I did then, but the things I was passionate about at that time, seem to continue to bubble to the top of my thinking.

Hey, it was exciting to have Robert Benson comment on my post regarding his book, The Echo Within. Once again, if you can get hold of this book, you will enjoy it.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

BREAKERS feedback

Hey, thanks for checking out the seventh chapter of BREAKERS. (If you haven't read it yet, you can do so by clicking here.)

I'm feeling some editions and additions for the chapter, but I've enjoyed the feedback you've given me. I'm having trouble getting the word out that BREAKERS is back. Traffic was good but not great for the first 24 hours.

If you know of any readers, please make them aware that more is online. I hope to get back onto the chapter per week track.

More than a dozen people went to the chapter from the blog in the first few hours, yet, even now there is only one comment and one check mark for feedback. When a new person comes to the sight, your feedback helps them feel like something is happening. There is no visible buzz or excitement at the site without your input. So p-l-e-a-s-e....

Things are going to develop quite rapidly so far as seeing Cam and Kenna's "other worlds," and I'm excited to get writing those. Some of the next chapters are written, and some are only concept. But as I can make time, I will enjoy getting with this.

Several of you asked about Trent's spiritual disciplines (Trent is the lead character in The Runaway Pastor). Much of who Trent is comes from daily liturgical praying. In my most recent post, I mention a book by Robert Benson. Robert has been very influential in helping me with my spiritual formation. And for that reason, he has also had quite an influence on Trent, Cam, etc. Please check out that post (previous to this one) if you have not.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Echo Within: A Book Review

Book Review:
The Echo Within, by Robert Benson

Does your heart have the youthful flexibility to squeak-open and discover the beauty that God has spoken into you? While reading The Echo Within, I felt as if the author was tenderly holding my heart, looking deep into my soul and finding life there—in places I had long ago given up for dead.

Robert Benson hails from the same tradition as mine. And although I call myself a “runaway,” Benson has truly moved on toward places where his soul can find home. My journey has been much nurtured from his writing, his speaking, and from Venite—his book of prayer. But in The Echo Within, I find a text that pulls the “real me” to the surface, where I can see myself as Love created me, and learn to be myself, as Love would have me be.

Finding your true calling— That is how The Echo Within is subtitled. And it is around this theme that Benson sculpts and weaves truth, and humor and grandfather-sweet love into the reader. And it is in this style, where Robert Benson most reminds me of my favorite chapel speaker while attending a Christian University. And that speaker was a small, tender, weak-voiced gentleman who wove humble stories into my psyche that have changed me forever. His name was Robert Benson as well. He was the author’s father.

Had only this writing been available when I was beginning my educational and career journey, perhaps I would not have painted myself into corners from which I have often sought escape. Recalling his early days of much doing, Benson lights a pathway for the reader to begin being…and to be as one is wired to be. I want my son to read this book, for here he will hear better than I can say just how precious are the possibilities his Maker has in mind for him. And here, he will find hints for the journey, and reminders to be patient along the way.

Sit down with The Echo Within. Bring a tissue or two, your journal and a willing heart. You may meet yourself along the way. And in yourself, you will find a friend.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

BREAKERS: Chapter Seven

Well, here it is...click here for chapter seven of my new novel BREAKERS.

Feedback please...

BREAKERS breakthrough

Wow, it has been a long dry spell for writing on BREAKERS. However, yesterday I sensed I was somewhat "caught-up" on my real work (yeah, right). And I sat down and began to write. Soon a chapter-length chunk of writing was written.

Today I need to work on adding a few things, and doing some first run editing. And later today, I'll hope to post chapter seven of BREAKERS here.

As some of you know, I began putting this book up here because I had written it years ago and thought it would be easy just to plug-in a chapter each week. Well, the book is changing, and yesterday's chapter is a completely new addition. So, what I'm telling you is that I'm not data entry-ing an old book, I'm writing a new one. Thanks for your patience as I move forward with this project. And as always, I want and need your honest feedback.

See you later today--I hope.