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When do you know that you’ve got it right?

Is it a feeling?  Is it an accolade from a stranger with no vested interest in your well being?  Is it tangible?  Fame, fortune?

Of course I’m talking about happiness …

I believe each of us on this planet is searching for it, in one form or another.  If you’ve made it this far let me tell you a story.

A few years ago I had reached a low point in my life where I was lost without direction or a plan.  I remember the exact moment when I made the decision not to accept the rut I had put myself in.

It was when I woke up on my fifty-first birthday and said, “no more”.  That day I sat at a desk and began to write my first novel “Twisted Fate”, and my life has not been the same since.  You might ask why; many people write novels.  I agree it is not a feat like coming up with a cure of a disease that will better mankind.  What it was for me was just as important on a personal level, because it brought life back into focus.

Before that day I’d never written anything longer than a love letter to my wife Mariana, and to her chagrin at times they were too short.  I never had a desire to write a book before that day.  In fact if you’d asked me the previous day if I ever I would, I’d have told you your crazy.  Not me.  No way!

That day I sat down and began to write a story with paper and pencil as my weapons, and I’m sure critics will probably say assaulted the English language.  But I didn’t care what anyone thought, it was mine.  I didn’t begin to write that first novel with anything in mind but completing it, then putting it away.  I had no expectations because I’d never done anything like that before. I was venturing into the unknown.

The day I finished it I did exactly what I said I’d do and put it away exhausted and empty.  I went to sleep that night sure I couldn’t write another, I’d given the task my all.  In the middle of the night I shot straight up in my bed, and a second tale appeared in my head. And then it hit me.

I had just completed a story of one hundred thousand words and no one else in the history of mankind had ever placed those words in the exact order I had before, no one!

The feeling of accomplishment and happiness that moment gave me is the reason I’ve now completed twelve novels, and getting ready to start the next.  That’s my; When you’ve got it right moment.  What’s yours?

A Bulldozer, A Catholic Priest and a Blow Gun

I was asked recently what differentiates me from other authors in the action and thriller genre of bestselling novels. It was tough to answer that in a few words, or even paragraphs. I’m sure there are responses that would make a pretty sound bite, or copy to promote me as an author. But that’s not me – a sound bite!

I decided to answer the question longwindedly, as the people who know me best will tell you that I’m capable of … What I know for sure is; to describe who I am, and let you decide the differences between me, and other authors.

I’m part philosopher, and recorder of memories and experiences. For most of my life I’ve told stories; never bothering to write them down. I was sure that would be impossible. or too time consuming. So I just lived, gathering those experiences and sharing them with friends. Never thinking they would be of interest outside my circle. Until one day I decided to take the leap, and see if I could pen a story from my experiences. Weave it around some fiction, and tie it together so hopefully it would make sense to more than just me.

Here’s a story that I haven’t included in a novel yet, but just might!

Plaza Santo Domingo, Manila PhilippinesAbout fifteen years ago I was living and working in the Philippines, heading up a construction division there. We were tasked to build an apartment development next to a Catholic church in Manila.

We had started the project grading and clearing the site, when I received a frantic call from a project supervisor. He said we had major problems on site, and he couldn’t describe them to me over the phone. I told him to come in and we would deal with it, whatever it was. I had built other projects in the Philippines, and was sure I’d seen it all! It was a young Filipino project supervisor, and I was sure he was just being cautious.

A couple hours later he made it to the office. He was absolutely shaking from nerves. I sat him down and asked what the problem was. We told me on the building site we were to demolish four existing houses to make way for the new buildings, and that knocking down the first three was not a problem. I patiently allowed him to go over the situation. But I was clearly frustrated with what I sensed was not a big deal.

The fourth house still had people inhabiting it, he explained. I prodded him, and he told me that the dwellers refused to leave. He’d tried everything; even running one of our bulldozers to within a couple feet of the structure – to show them we meant business!

I thought that was good.

Then I asked, “what happened”? He now had tears streaming down his cheeks and responded “They shot our bulldozer operator”!Bulldozer Philippines

I shot to my feet, “What do you mean they shot our guy? Is he alright?” At the time I remember thinking; police, hospitals, dead bulldozer operator! How was I going to explain this one to the home office?

Then he answered, “He’s alright,” and some of my fears went away.

“Where did he get shot?” I asked thinking it a fair question.

“In the ass”, was the reply.

“The ass?”, I asked thinking how can a bulldozer operator be shot in the rear end when he sits for a living.

“Yes, in the ass as he was running away”!

“What did they shoot him with”, I asked. With visions of shot gun pellets having to be picked out from his rear.

He hesitated before answering, and I asked this time raising my voice. “What did they shoot him with?!”

Blow Gun Philippines“A blow dart”, was my guy’s response.

Well he had me there. That was a first. And I chuckled, “Who exactly shot him?”

He now was sweating, and answered, “The Catholic Priest.”

I sat back down stupefied, and asked one last question. “Why did the priest fire a blow dart at our guy?”

“Because we were knocking his house down of course,” was the response I got. “The surveyors made a mistake and we knocked down the wrong houses”, he finished.
Now I understood why he was upset. He thought I was going to fire him for knocking the wrong house down!

I stood up and put my arm around him. And said, “Let’s go; we’ve got a priest to talk to, and you better pray he’s out of darts”!

I believe that we are everything we have seen, touched, tasted, heard, or smelled. That is what makes each of us different. What other author in my genre has experienced that story?