Wednesday, February 15, 2017


(Author photo on the couch:  ready to write, ready to sleep . . . take your pick)

I have enjoyed several speaking engagements, interviews, and book signings of late. But, although I have been a public speaker for over thirty-five years, these things still make me uncomfortable, especially TV and radio interviews.  I hate speaking into a microphone in a vacant studio, for example, and I've never grown comfortable in front of a camera lens.

Where I am most comfortable is here . . . in front of a blank page of paper or a Word.doc screen with a flashing cursor. 

Having said that, it is always an interesting and engaging experience meeting the public.  I do enjoy people and the conversations, and some are, to say the least, fascinating.

At a book signing last week, for example, one lady approached the table at Barnes & Noble and studied the various books/titles that were displayed between us.  She looked at my name on the book covers, looked at me, and then said, "I've never heard of any of these book titles, but I have heard of you." 

"How so?" I asked.

"Well," she answered, "aren't you that guy who never sleeps?"

I laughed and then said, "I can assure you that I do sleep.  But I do write late into the night and often rise early of a morning to write . . . and there are times when I do work all night to meet a deadline.  But that's most writers.  I do sleep."

Of course, she wasn't interested in purchasing one of my books, but she was fascinated by the moniker.  Guy who never sleeps.  Gotta remember that one.  Perhaps I should use that as my handle--GWNS.  It would make an easy business card or a text handle.  


A lot easier to remember than the book titles and my name.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Missing Old Friends & Old Pages

Thoughts today turned to old friends and past publications and I found myself mourning the loss of The Wittenburg Door . . . a magazine that I began writing for back in my Duke Divinity School days, back when Mike Yaconelli was holding court in those pages of parody and speaking truth to power and privilege.  I hitched my star to that wagon for many years.

I still miss Becky Garrison, Joe Bob Briggs, Bob Darden and the rest of the crew . . . and I miss writing my religious parodies most of all.  These kept me honest (or at least a bit more so).  Religious professionals, and especially the vast army of televangelists, are like shooting fish in a barrel.  It's easy to parody what is, in essence, a cast and crew of zany personalities and fundamentalist wackos.  

Some of the pieces I wrote were classics.  The Three Stooges Bible Study.  The Theology of SpongeBob Squarepants.  Christian Singles Ads.  The Prayer of Jezebel.  I could go on . . . 

I still pray that someone, some how, will revive this much-needed magazine of Religious parody and bring it back to health.  God knows we need it.  I certainly do.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017


(Photo:  the young author and his dog, Tippy, 1964, Robinson, Illinois)

I am currently at work on my memoir, Tippy's Nine Lives:  A Family Memoir in Dog Years.  It's been fun going so far.  But a memoir, unlike fiction or a book of non-fiction, is tricky business . . . a no-man's-land of real life stories that may yet impact the living.  As I write, I continue to ponder how my family and friends will respond to my memories of situations and events.

As I told my brother not long ago . . . I can't make this stuff up.  Our lives were too zany to create out of whole cloth.  

But memoirs are tightropes . . . a dangerous journey across mind and memory, trying to stay the narrow course of events, stepping lightly upon secrets and private conversations while maintaining enough humor and dignity to make the realities readable for others.  

I've been wanting to write the memoir for years, and I'm so fortunate to be able to do so.

But I'm not sure about the outcomes.  Once the book is published, I may discover that I am an orphan . . . abandoned by family and friends.  I can only hope I tell the story truthfully.  

So please stay tuned.  Tippy's on the way. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

In Between

It's been many moons since I wrote a blog post, but here at the apex of 2017 I decided to re-up my commitment to writing "Between Pages".  And although I've not written a blog for six months, that's not to say that I have been lax in my commitments to the written word.  I've written plenty of pages, and a few forthcoming.

Last week my latest book hit the shelves--my first children's work--a reader entitled All About Martin Luther King, Jr.   I am always excited about new titles--but this one, in particular, is dedicated to the Ten Point Coalition of Indianapolis.  In case you are not familiar with this work, it is a movement dedicated to keeping peace in the streets and working for the improvement of young people, offering hope and purpose to those whose lives, otherwise, might be defined by poverty, crime and violence.

It is only fitting that this book have a place in helping the Ten Point Coalition's work.  In the coming weeks I'll be speaking in schools and libraries, talking on a few television and radio shows, and scheduling in a few book signings . . . all to help raise awareness and pledge support.  You can help, too.

First, let's all celebrate the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday--a day not only to remember Dr. King and his words, but perhaps more importantly to remain firm in our commitment to equality, social justice, and civil rights. This is an American holiday reminding us that the work of social equality and justice is ongoing. 

Secondly, we can pray for the work of Ten Point and other ministries that are addressing poverty and lifting up the needs of our young people.

Thirdly, we can be involved in peace-making and peace-building.  

I especially enjoyed writing this book on Dr. King because I knew he was, first and foremost, a pastor--a preacher of the gospel, and one who believed in the power of Christ's words to transform, both personally and socially.  His legacy, and the struggles of Civil Rights, must always be told to a new generation of children.  If we don't tell the story, we are doomed to repeat the past.

So, thanks for reading.  And thanks for helping to spread the word about the Dr. King reader and the work of Ten Point Coalition.  I hope my little biography of Dr. King might touch a few young lives and make the work of social justice evident, all the while holding out the hope of a better future for all Americans.  Let justice roll down like waters . . . and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream!  Amen.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lost and Found

Many years ago I recall reading one of Garrison Keillor's essays about a lost comedy piece--a story he had worked on in a train station, composing on yellow legal pads.  After boarding the train, and several miles down the track, Keillor suddenly realized that he had left the yellow legal pads in the train station restroom where he had washed his hands prior to departure.  In that moment of losing his work, Keillor was certain that he had forfeited some of the best work of his life, and he moved on down the track feeling lonely and dejected.

I tell this story because, as I have talked to other writers over the years, it is obvious that most have encountered this lost feeling at one time or another.

A few years ago, when my PC crashed, leaving me with only the blue screen of death, I realized that I had several great stories, essays, and book proposals that I had not backed up.  They were lost.  And for some weeks I walked around in a stupor, a writer's funk, a purgatory of the soul.  I just couldn't get going again, certain that I had also lost some of the best work I had ever produced.

I try to do a better job now of backing up my work . . . lingering doubts always in my mind as to the trustworthiness of memory chips produced in Japan.  I write, but always with the fear and trepidation, however distant, that someday the lights might go out and I'd lose, say, an entire year's-worth of work.

Toward that end, I have always appreciated my 1993 Compaq PC (with Windows '95 operating system and three fans). This computer still runs.  But some years ago I had apply named it "Old Sparky" due to its tendency to suddenly leap into flame (which is why I also kept a spray bottle next to the keyboard).  

Last night, in a post-midnight apocalyptic fit of locating some old stories I knew I had written (again, certain that these were some of the best material I have ever produced) . . . I fired up Old Sparky and set about navigating through a few hundred floppy discs to see what I could find.

In particular, I was looking for a horror story entitled "Up in Jacky's Treehouse". And low and behold, after perusing more than 50 floppies, each holding a myriad of essays and poems and whole book manuscripts, I finally found "Jacky".  In addition, I also found four other stories that, for the life of me, I can't remember writing at all. It was like reading another person's work . . . but I'm looking forward to reading these again, and seeing how well I did writing the stories--some, perhaps, twelve or thirteen years ago.

I love finding these types of gifts.  I'm sure there are more that I have not yet discovered among the hundreds of other floppies that I have stored in boxes and closets.  Losing a story is depressing.  But locating old ones, and, even better, finding homes for them with a publisher, is pure gravy. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Sheer Poetry

(Training for the Camino)

Having just completed (walking) the Mini-Marathon last Saturday, I now feel that I am "in shape" to make my way down the Camino de Santiago in Spain . . . or at least the last 100 km.  I'll be ready.

But I've also been in training, of sorts, as I've worked diligently on several projects . . . including writing the final touches on my book for InterVarsity Press, to be entitled The Seven Deadly Virtues.  Readers can look for this one as we roll into 2017.  Some months ago I also completed the 2nd book in a projected 12-book series of novels written under my nom de plume, R.L. Perry.  This one, Bleak Midwinter, should be out this fall, with a third novel, Cold Snap, nipping at its heels. 

I was also having a conversation with my wife, Becky, the other night (on those rare days when we actually talk) and noted that I seemed to be writing with some poetic interest these days.  Or, at least I've had some success in recent months placing work in university journals and literary magazines.  But I've also written some verse representative of my personal best, for which I'm grateful.  And in between the flavorful poetic cookies, I sometimes manage to sandwich some lighter verse that my wife might actually read in her spare time (a commodity of which she has little as the school year winds down).  

Anyway, thanks for reading . . . and I'll close by sharing this little piece of gray matter on a gray subject (parody courtesy of Robert Frost). 


As hair succumbs to gray
So nothing dark can stay
And though her dye is power
It only stays an hour
As white trumps her brunette
Her roots cannot forget
That age will have its day
So nothing dark can stay 

~Camino Todd

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Camino de Santiago

Mid-May I will be travelling to Spain to make pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago--the traditional French-Way leading to Santiago de Compostella, cathedral and revered burial place of St. James.  As a pilgrim, I have my shell--the traditional symbol of pilgrimage, identifying me as one making journey, and my Camino passport, a document that, stamped along The Way, will mark my completion of the journey (at least in Spain).

I expect this pilgrimage to be many things . . . and many have asked me about my purpose and the outcomes.  But here are a few of my thoughts.

First, I am going on this pilgrimage with an open mind and a willing heart. Whatever I encounter, and whomever, I expect much of the journey to be serendipitous, as I depart with few possessions, my Bible as sole reading material, good socks, and a few other pieces of gear that will protect me from the sun, the rain, and the elements. I hope I will be prepared to just "be" in each moment, each day, and allow God to open to me whatever sights and relationships and insights are in store. 

Secondly, I go to pray for others. I will carry with me at all times the relationships of parish, friend and family--either expressly stated or in spirit.  I expect, on my shorter-walking days in particular, to pause along the countryside, in small towns and villages, to reflect and learn.  I plan to eat no food along The Way (only breakfasts and dinners) but do plan to enjoy water and good Spanish wine as I discover it.  I also plan to lose at least ten pounds on this pilgrimage, and my energy through the day will be taken from the sun, the conversations, the soil beneath my feet.  

Finally, some have asked me if this pilgrimage will lead me to write other articles or books about the Camino.  My short answer is:  There are already hundreds of books about the Camino experience, dozens of memoirs, even movies.  I have no such plans per se . . . but I am keeping two options open as sidebars:

A book proposal that I have been working up, tentatively entitled, Twelve Roads with Jesus, and this idea will form the basis of a 3-part sermon series I will do in June upon my return.   I may also keep my palate primed to write an article, or series, on some of the Spanish wines.

Until then, I walk to prepare.  A few miles to go before I sleep.  

Buen Camino,