Major feeding accomplishment!

He ate a whole pancake! Daddy told him to leave one piece at the end, or he’d roar. His lion, Zamba, came along to help in case Daddy did decide to roar at people.


Overcoming a micropreemie’s feeding delays, one microstep at a time

Macaroni and cheese at a restaurant! First time he’d asked for that.

Sometimes when you’re trying to get your former micropreemie to advance with a life skill, it pays to try something weird. For example, putting banana in your ear.

I brought his favorite stuffed toy, Blue Bear, to the table and made him say, “I’m going to chew banana pieces. I’m going to put them in my right ear, because that’s how you chew.”

“THAT’S NOT HOW YOU CHEW!” Gabriel bellowed… [click here to read the entire post on]


Excerpt time! Fish, toilet paper and bad puns

This excerpt is from my unpublished manuscript, Too Young to Save: Our Premature Baby, My Weakness and God’s Strength. This section appears about two-thirds of the way through the book. Here, we’ve been in the NICU for about three months, and things are looking are starting to look up, well enough for me to go on a 204-mile bike ride with my brother Patrick while my wife stayed in the NICU for the weekend. Every book needs a “crisis” at the two-thirds / three-quarters point where things really go off the rails before the climax, so this light-hearted banter is meant to lull the readers in to relaxing a little so they can be shocked 10 pages later. I’d love to hear your comments.

At the rest stop at mile 80, we had to stand in line for abo1280px-Toiletpapier_(Gobran111)ut 10 minutes to use the port-a-potties. We had learned from years past that this was better than the 30-minute waits you’ll have if you start the ride later in the morning and go in the middle of the pack with the people who intend to do the ride in two days.

As we came out of the port-a-potties, Patrick said, “You know, this reminds me of an app I’ve been wanting to create.” Patrick is a software developer. At that time, he’d recently gone from a company doing search-engine optimization to a company writing scheduling software for dentists. “I’m going to call it CrapChat. A location-based app that you log in to anonymously and you can chat with other people nearby who are also on the toilet. You can send emojis and memes, and rate the bathroom that you’re using.”

“Can you ask for extra paper to be brought if you run out? Can you recommend places to go buy laxatives if someone is uh… unsuccessful?” I asked.

“No, but it will collect data and make predictions for which bathrooms on which floors are mostly likely to have empty space. That was actually the reason I came up with the idea. In a big office with hundreds of programmers, it’s often difficult to find an open stall.”

“I think you should call it ShextChat.”

“Shext? What’s that mean?”

“Texting on the potty. Like drexting is drunk-texting.”

Patrick let out a quick, startled laugh and then glared at me, a little annoyed.

We got on our bikes and continued. A while later, we passed a grocery store that was advertising fresh Atlantic salmon fillets for $6.99 a pound on a sign outside.

“Did you know,” I asked Patrick, “that when you buy pen-raised Atlantic salmon, about 40 percent of the cost goes to pay for an additive dye in the food that the fish eat?”


“Yes, if the dye wasn’t there, the flesh of the fish would be an unappetizing gray. Apparently wild salmon get their color from a variety of shellfish that they eat, but for the pen fish who eat pellets, it’s dye. The formula for the dye is a proprietary blend controlled by the company that invented it, so they charge a huge amount to the fish farms and then you have to pay that. I read this in a book called Bottomfeeder, about seafood sustainability.”

“But wild fish eat food, too. So you buy a wild salmon, and you’re paying for its color and the food it ate.”

“I think that would be considered a sunk cost.”

“Oof,” Patrick moaned. “That was bad, even for you.”

“But seriously, the fish dye is a variable cost for a pen-netter, but there’s no choice to be made for…”

“Ok, ok…”

Meeting with the agents

This past weekend was a writers’ conference for me, a time to both learn and to have the incredibly nerve-wracking experience of pitching the book to agents. There were several agents there who have made book deals in my genre. And, I was able to have 15-minute appointments with three of them.

  1. She was my first choice, with the most book deals in this category, and she was quite engaged and said it sounded like I’d done my research and that I was quite active as an advocate on the topic of preemie issues. (Yay!) She took the prepared packet with sample chapters. (Double yay!)
  2. She was my third choice, someone who’d done a little in my genre. She said she wasn’t going to take the proposal packet. She thought the writing needed to be smoother, and she recommended I look for an agent who does more in the memoir genre. Sigh…
  3. He was my second choice, someone who does sell titles in my genre. He said it was a powerful story, but that he was representing an author right now on a similar topic (adopting a frozen embryo left left over from stem-cell research) and it seemed like a slam-dunk for a deal, and… no sales. So he didn’t want to represent another author trying to do the same thing.

In the world of agents, that’s actually pretty good, getting one who wants to read it.

Northwest Christian Writers Association conference!

0602181157aHere’s an obligatory picture of me at the selfie stand of the Northwest Christian Writers’ Association conference this week. Had a great time there! We were continuously reminded of the importance of having fresh material on our social media as agents and publishers do look at that when they’re looking at how well an author engages with people. So it’s time to catch up a little on that.

Also, if you’re a person from the conference checking my sites out to see what I do, by all means, leave a comment, send me a message, tell me about your blog, as I would love to stay connected!

Progress on the manuscript! But not on the blog…

I haven’t blogged much lately because I’ve been working on a new manuscript about my time in Ukraine in the Peace Corps. It’s actually an old manuscript I’m re-writing…
I’ve reached that point in the manuscript where I’ve written 70,000 words, but I’m just getting warmed up, ready to develop more characters, and get the conflicts cooking and have lots of amusing subplots providing comic relief.
Thing is, the limit for this kind of book is in the 50,000 – 70,000 word range. So, do I write it all just for the satisfaction of getting it on paper, or do I start to think about the audience (gasp!) and what it is they really need to know to understand the story, and focus my attention on those plot elements?

WaPo: When will we stop killing humans with Down Syndrome?


When Karen Gaffney’s mother found out she would be born with Down syndrome, the doctor said Karen probably would not be able to tie her own shoes. Instead, as Karen explained in a moving and eloquent TEDx talk, she has become an accomplished open-water swimmer who has crossed the English Channel in a relay race and completed the swimming leg of the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon… [read the rest on the Washington Post]