Two new titles are available on Amazon. The first is the fourth of the State of Arizona series, STATE OF CONFUSION. It takes Tan and a new Governor to new heights of trouble at the southern border along with trouble in the capital between the new Governor and everyone else, particularly Tan.

The second book is the second of the DEACON series, DEACON UNDERGROUND. The Deacon is caught up in three or four problems that all wrap around Gold. He has to go underground to get to the bottom of it all.

See posts and link here soon.

Archives: writing

The Deacon – Episode 5

“Sounds like my father. Tell me about it.”

The deputy looked around. “Let’s go in that café. I could use a cup a coffee and maybe breakfast.”

“I got a dollar. I’ll buy.”

By the time the eggs and bacon, flapjacks, honey, and a slab of beef was set in front of them to enjoy, the cups that had been filled three times, the story came out.

The elder Fount had been in a notorious saloon on the edge of Denver. The poker game was wild and high stakes. The barmaid had brought another round of drinks to the drunken Right Reverend Fount and he grabbed her, pulling her into his lap. The gambler across the table told he to let her go. He refused. The gambler got up and smacked the retired phony preacher with his gun. The preacher challenged him to a duel for his honor. The gambler provided him with a gun and then stepped out the back door. The gun was empty, the gambler’s wasn’t. Three shots were fired and only one hit preacher Fount. It was a good one, a quarter inch over his right eye. He died instantly.

Daniel felt the catch in his throat and worked hard to hold back tears. His father would never have another chance to change his ways. “I’d like to go make arrangements after we finish here. Which parlor has him?”

The deputy slurped another slug of the acidic coffee before saying, “It’s just down the block and around the corner. I’ll walk ya down there. Need a formal identification for my report on the murder. That gambler is going to swing from the county gallows, my friend.”

“If I forgive him will that change anything?”

“No. Would you really forgive the man who killed your father?”

“Yes I would. I believe I can do that and be alright with the court’s ruling.” He turned to his meal, carefully cutting a fair sized hunk of beef and putting it in his mouth.

“Don’t think I could do that, Preacher Daniel. Matter of fact, I’m sure I couldn’t do that.”

“A week ago I couldn’t have done it either. Let me tell ya why I can now.”

Twenty minutes later the deputy said, “Maybe someday I’ll think that way, but not just now.”

“Don’t wait too long. Come tonight and I’ll tell ya more.”

In the funeral parlor, the Right Reverend Lawrence P. Fount was laid out on a marble slab boosted four feet off the ground by two marble pedestals looking right peaceful and dead. His head was covered with a cloth. “He died instantly, young Daniel, instantly,” was the mortician’s opening remark.

“That’s my father? I want to see his face.” was all Daniel could say for a few moments.

“Son, when a man is shot with a .44 in the back of the head, there is no face.”

The deputy introduced Daniel to the mortician, Ev Biscotti. “He’s the best there is in this town.”

“Why thank you, Tor. I’ll put that in my next flier.”

The mortician turned to Daniel, “It’s a shame he had to die like that, shot in the back of the head is painless, though.”

“Back of the head?” It finally sunk in enough for comment by the deputy.

“Why yes, the bullet went all the way through. When I got to cleaning him up, it was easy to tell that it went in the back and out the front.”

The deputy said, “You sure?”

“Oh, yes, quite.”

“That puts a bit of a different light on the argument that Bixby has. He says they stepped off the paces and then turned and fired. The preacher here supposedly fired first, but we found the gun had no casings left in it and didn’t smell like it had been fired recently. Bixby fired three times at him.” The deputy stopped and thought for a moment or two, “I knew that was a lie, because this man bled out not six feet from the back door. Old Bixby really wanted a sure thing then, an empty gun and then shoot in the back. Ain’t never heard of anything surer when it comes to winning a gun fight. He’ll hang, no doubt of that.” Tor turned and walked outside where he sat on the steps writing his notes while he waited for Daniel.

Daniel finally came out, turning toward the caravan without even seeing the deputy.

“What that your father, Daniel.”

“Yeah, I checked the stuff Mr. Biscotti took from his pockets and the rings on his fingers,” Daniel held his hand out showing three rings, “It was him.”

The deputy jotted down his affirmation. “What you gonna do now, Daniel.”

“Preach the Word and try to live like Jesus.”

“Man, you sure do have that stuff stuck in your head don’t you?”

“Sure do. Makes life easier.” He turned and kept on walking.

The deputy went to the office to file his report with the marshal, knowing he would have to go get the gambler, Bixby. He thought of how he could set up a fake breakaway by Bixby so he could kill the man, but then the words Daniel had said to him stopped him cold. Something about forgiving those that hurt you the worst. Not his normal way of thinking. He’d have to think on it.

By sundown, the gambler was in jail, alive, Tor was sitting in row four on the aisle, Daniel was ready for the night’s service, the place was packed, and Miss Evelyn was warming up to sing, ‘Amazing Grace,’ always a favorite of every crowd. The pianist began playing as Miss Evelyn strolled onto the stage from the wings.

As the pianist reached the second time through the melody, Evelyn began singing. The crowd went quiet and listened.

Daniel got up from his knees in the wings as she hit verse three. By verse four he was ready, standing behind the wing curtain with his Bible in hand, something he had not always done on nights before. The song ended as Evelyn sang verse one again ending it with a repeat of, ‘But now I see.’

The applause was tremendous.

Daniel waited until it began to die before stepping out.

The room went silent.

Daniel began with, “Tonight we will see. WE will see.” He paused, took a deep breath, and gave them the words that God had given the world in His book about the blind seeing.

An hour later the crowd was getting antsy. He felt it. He stopped and prayed.

The piano player played slow and soft, ‘Amazing Grace.’ Daniel invited them to come to the front and speak with him or maybe even the pastor from the night before. Miss Evelyn began to sing quietly, so quietly that the back rows could not even hear her, but they knew she was singing.

The deputy was the first one to meet Daniel at the front. Daniel threw his arm over the man’s shoulders and said, “Are you ready to be God’s’ man?”

“No. I’m only here to protect you. The gambler escaped and swore he would kill you before he was caught again. He also stated he would never be put in jail again. You and me need to be careful.”

“I will. Why don’t you move up on the stage and keep your eyes on the whole crowd and then those who want to can get down here to me.”

“I’ll be watching.”

Nothing more happened until early the next morning when Daniel heard Evelyn scream in the caravan above his bed. He leaped out of bed and through the canvas curtains that gave him privacy. A scuffle was going on in the caravan. He ran to the back and threw open the door to see Evelyn being pounded by the fists of an angry man.

“Where is that lying phony? I’m gonna kill him just like I killed that phony reverend of a father,” the man yelled in the face of the cowed woman.

Daniel said a quiet tone he didn’t feel, “I am here.”

The man turned and leaped at him. Daniel ducked allowing the man to fly over him and onto the ground. Daniel spun around and leaped on top of the man. The man sliced his arm with a knife Daniel had not seen. Daniel grabbed the man’s wrist and twisted his entire arm in a direction the arm was never designed to bend. The man dropped the knife and kneed Daniel in the groin. Daniel fell back bleeding from the cut on his arm and serious pain in his crotch.

In the background, Evelyn was screaming for Daniel to kill the man. Daniel looked to see Evelyn bleeding from the face and standing in her tattered gown which left nothing to the imagination. “Go inside,” he said, swinging at the attacker.

“I’ll kill you just like I did your father, kid.” The man spit at Daniel’s face, but missed, the plug of tobacco dribbled down the front of the gambler’s vest.

“I don’t think so. I am not drunk or helpless. Surrender and you’ll get a fair trial.”

The man swung a roundhouse blow that missed as Daniel stepped inside to deliver two heavy blows to the killer’s flabby gut. The man fell back.

Daniel followed hitting him with blow after blow, continuing even after the man was on his back in the dirt as he said, “Surrender. Surrender. Surrender.”

A hand came from nowhere and spun Daniel around, pushing him to the ground away from the bleeding gambler.

The deputy said, “That’s enough. He’s out.”

The deputy walked the two steps to the gambler and grabbed his arm to pull him up. The man offered no resistance. He offered nothing. The gambler was dead.

The deputy looked at Daniel, “He’s dead. You finished him and did the city of Denver a huge favor.”

Daniel could not believe his ears. “No, he can’t be dead. I can’t kill a man. All I did was hit him with my fists. God will not forgive me for murder,” he rambled. The rambling went on even after Evelyn, wrapped in a robe, took him in her arms.

“Daniel, he was going to kill us both. You had to do it, or we both would be dead. Don’t you understand, you were defending me. The Bible says believers are to defend the weak and helpless.”

“It doesn’t say to kill the attackers. Cain slew Able with a rock and God condemned him.”

“Sometimes you have to when they offer no other way. You tried to get him to surrender and he refused. He chose to die rather than surrender to trial and hanging. Now his only judgment will be before God.”

The deputy stood up from his examination of the body, “One of your punches caught him in the nose. His nose bone was driven up into his brain. I’ll bet you never thought a punch in the face would kill him.”

“No. He died from my fist. I killed him. Killing is wrong.”

“Would you have him kill me?” Evelyn asked.

“No.”

“Do you know how many other men like your father this man has killed one way or another?”

“No.”

Free Book – The DEACON – Episode 3 – Critique requested

5

“Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, I stand here before you a humbled man. As many of you may have seen last night, I was struck down by the power of knowing that I was a sinner and needed the Christ I have been preaching. My father was a fraud and I have been a fraud for almost four years. Now I am the new man I have spoken of many times. Now, I am one transformed to being God’s man by His power. I stand before you a true, renewed man of God, convicted of the truth of the words I have been preaching by the Holy Spirit, and ready to share those same words with you in truth and power.”

The audience sat or stood in silence. Vegetables fell to the dirt. Fruit was dropped. Bags and baskets were pushed aside. Miss Evelyn began signing softly to his right. The crowd slowly gathered in the words of the song, ‘Just as I Am,’ they stood and joined in the singing. Not one verse was missed. Not one person stood silent, they hummed if they did not know the words

Daniel stood with his head hanging and his hands clasped at his chest in awe of the power of the truth.

The first rotten thing hit him, a potato. The rancid stench filled his nose as the eggs and garbage flew pelting him harder and harder until he was covered in the slime of an angry city. He fell to his knees crying from the sense that he deserved all this and they had every right to vent on him.

Evelyn sang louder as she joined him on the stage. The target became her as she joined Daniel on her knees. Words like hypocrite and liar filled the air. The venom of the words was stunning to young Daniel’s mind. How could they hate so much that another had join the Kingdom of God? How?

Louder and louder the audience raged until all became silence as if someone turned off the entire group at once.

Daniel looked up. All he could see were the backs of twenty or thirty folks leaving the building. They were done. He felt that he had only begun. Tomorrow night they would be here with the power of the message, the Gospel of Jesus, and not the sweetness of a man trying to lure the dollars from the suckered crowd.

There was no time to mourn or pout, no time to second guess, he had to preach. All that he was told him that. “This is our baptism, Evelyn. Let’s get to work.”

There was no reply.

He looked to his right and saw Evelyn lying on the stage, blood coming from her forehead.

“Oh, God, please let her live,” he cried louder than he had ever spoken before.

“You care that much?” Evelyn asked.

“Yes,” he replied, startled.

“Let’s get this mess cleaned up. We got a service tomorrow night that will be a world changer, I’m sure.” His face was bright red and it wasn’t from exertion.

The cleanup took until the small hours of the morning. The stage hand had left around midnight leaving only Evelyn and Daniel. Daniel had peeled down to his shirtsleeves and trousers. Evelyn worked in the dress she started in. “It’s destroyed anyhow. The stains and the stink will never come out. I’ll trash it when we’re done.”

As they left the building, rolling the last two wheelbarrows full of garbage before them, Evelyn started singing, ‘More About Jesus Would I Know.’

“Where’d that song come from?”

“It’s a new one I just got the music on. I kinda like it. How about you?”

“It fits, somehow. I like it.”

They arrived at the caravan with both of them singing the song. As it ended again, “Goodnight, Dan.”

“Goodnight, Evelyn.”

An hour later his father came under the caravan to join Daniel. “She won’t open the door, Daniel. Make her open the door.”

“No, Dad.” He reached up and grabbed a blanket from a shelf he had built there years ago. “Here, Evelyn and I are living a new life now. You can join us in Jesus, stay with us as my father, or leave. Goodnight.” He rolled over as a very drunk and perplexed man tried to figure out what was happening and how to wrap himself in the blanket.

Noon found Daniel walking around town in his work clothes hanging new posters all over. The posters read, “The message is the same, but the heart delivering it is changed forever” at the top of the same old poster they had used for years. “Come hear the truth” was at the bottom.

When he finished he stepped into The Grub House to get something to eat only to be received with, “Boo, go away you phony.” A cry of “The imposter had arrived, give him an egg,” followed. The waitress walked up to him and said, “How could you fake your sermons so well. Only the devil himself would be able to do that.”

He replied, “The devil was truly at work.” He handed her one of two posters he still had. “Come see the real thing tonight.”

She turned her back on him and refused the poster.

A large man smelling of blood stepped up to him, “You better get outta town, faker. Most folks don’t care much for swindles and you been pulling a swindle. You get on that stage tonight and you just likely to get tarred and feathered before be lift by a splintery rail and carried out of town.”

“I wouldn’t try that if I were you.” Daniel turned and walked out with his head hanging.

Seven PM rolled around and Daniel watched the seats in the Miner’s Hall. Only two were filled. No one was coming. He had purposefully taken the offering bucket and stashed it in the caravan so folks could see he wasn’t after the money.

Daniel nodded to Evelyn telling her to step out and start singing. She did. Amazing Grace rang through the hall like it was being sung by an angel. Her new dress sparkled in the light of the candles and lantern as if it were a piece of the dark summer sky.

The two drunks in the seats were shocked into wakefulness. The first said, “What’s that caterwauling, Roger.”

Roger replied, “Some cow’s got her teat in a ringer and the farmer’s still trying to get more milk.”

The two of them laughed themselves silly and went back to sleep by the time Miss Evelyn got to the part about ten thousand days.

She finished her two songs and walked off the stage. “Daniel, we’re done.”

“Meet me on the hill behind the caravan in twenty minutes.”

“I can do that.”

“Wear old clothes.”

“I can do that, too.”

He turned and walked to the two drunks, woke them up, and escorted them out of the building so the stagehand could lock up.

The stagehand asked as he ushered Daniel out the stage door, “You done?”

“The hall is paid for the rest of the week. I will use it for the rest of the week and maybe, just maybe, if the Lord is generous, I will pay up on the option for another two weeks.”

“Works for me. I gotta be here no matter how it’s used or it ain’t. No matter to me. I would like to hear more of what you was talkin’ off that last night before you fainted.”

“I’ll be here at noon and discuss it with you.”

“Where ya off to, Daniel?”

“Up yonder hill to pray. Evelyn and I will be up there for quite a spell, I would imagine. I got a lot to confess and get off my chest, and then there’s a lot I think needs to happen in this town and I aim to find out if God agrees.” He started to walk away.

“Can anybody come up there, Preacher?”

“You?”

“Yeah. And my wife. She thinks you’re a great preacher and a very brave man.”

Daniel flustered, “Nothing great about me. I just let God go to work on and through me. Come on up and bring a friend or two. I don’t care.”

“See ya in about an hour. Gotta finish locking up, making sure all the lights are out, and the till is in the safe. Ooops, no till, no safe needed.”

Daniel set his face toward the hill and started walking, dropping his coat off at the caravan, and grabbing a heavier jacked to kneel on and use if it got chilly. The top was empty when he arrived, but the sound of small rocks being disturbed came from behind and he knew at least one other person would be there, Evelyn.

“I’m here,” she said.

He fell to his knees and began praying silently with his face raised to the heavens. Evelyn understood and joined him five feet away. Within minutes they were both on their faces with tears dripping from their noses into the dirt. Neither of them heard the stage hand and his wife join their small group. Twenty minutes later six others joined. The Presbyterian preacher brought a few with him a few minutes later. By 10 PM a crowd of over a hundred was on that hilltop praying, yet not a sound was heard except sobbing.

By midnight folks were leaving the hilltop, many of them totally wrung out before their God. At the sound of the city clock announcing 1 AM, the crowd was half diminished. As the sun rose in the east, only two were still there. Each of them was standing with arms outraised welcoming the new day, praying harder that it would be a new day and life for many in the city below them.

Daniel looked at Evelyn, “Let’s go eat.”

Evelyn replied, “I feel filled.”

“So do I, but I am still hungry for food.”

They walked down the hill and across the streets until they arrived at The Grub House. No one said a word except the waitress. “What can I getcha this morning, Preacher?”

“Coffee.” He looked at Evelyn, who nodded, “Make that two.”

“Hey, Jim. Two cups a wide-awake for the Preacher and the Singer.”

“Comin’ right up.”

The waitress handed them a copy of their morning offering which offered eggs, side meat, steak, taters, beans, and grits in any combination cooked any way the cook cooked them.

They both knew what the place had, Evelyn said, “Load a plate for me,” and looked at Daniel.

“Same here,” he said.

They sat at an empty table and just looked at each other. Two smiles began to grow until Daniel said, “God’s gonna do something in the hall tonight that will determine the rest of my life. I really feel like He told me that up on the hill.”

“That goes along with what I felt. I feel He told me that my work was just beginning. The other side of that is, He wants me to dump your father and stay with you as your opener.”

“Dad isn’t going to like that after these past years.”

“I can no longer live in sin with a man not my husband. He refused to marry me last time I asked him. He was drunk enough to give a bar gal a twenty dollar bill, but not drunk enough to marry an ex-saloon gal and singer. I’m done with him. God said it had to be. I felt I had to sleep with him or I wouldn’t have a home or a job. My own stinking thinking kept me there. Your dad even preached that sermon one time in a camp where folks were all livin’ together without benefit of marriage because a preacher had never come to town and he found out. In his case it had nothing to do with sin. He wanted the money they’d pay for the weddings. It worked. He did 22 weddings that after noon and the least he received was a five dollar nugget which I still have in my case. It’s been my mad money for almost six years now. Well, I’m mad but I ain’t the one that’s gonna be movin’ out. I may have been a saloon gal, but I am not one now.”

“Sounds good to me.” He looked at her with new insight into the complexity of life as a Christian for a woman with a history.

The DEACON – Episode 1 – Constructive comments appreciated

The DEACON

By Doug Ball    Copyright 2015

Book One

“Boy, it’s all about the money. Never forget that. It’s all about the money. Now get out there on the road and bang that drum. We need the money they’ll bring to the show.”

The boy shuffled out of the huge blue and white tent carrying the bass drum that was almost as big around as he was tall. At twelve years old, he knew the routine well. He’d bang the drum while standing next to the sign that said, “Revival. Come for a fresh anointing of the power of God.” He’d look cute and smile as wagons and horses went past on their way to the businesses of the community his father had set them up in this time.

The routine was always the same. He’d bang the drum and his father would preach. His father’s current entertainment was a woman he’d picked up from a saloon about three months past who sang sweet enough, but dealt with life with a foul mouth and even worse heart. But, she was pretty, could sing, and dress like the pious lady she wasn’t for the meetings. After she and his father would retired to the caravan wagon to drink themselves to sleep.

The boy, on the other hand, would lie awake half the night listening to their foul conversation and plans for the money that had filled the offering plate. His only hope was that this was one of those rare occasions when his father would toss him a silver dollar and say, “Run into town, son, and buy yourself a treat.” That hadn’t happened in quite awhile.

The offerings were down.

A kid about the boy’s own age stopped and asked, “Can I hit that thing a couple of times?”

“Sure.” Daniel moved back from the drum on its stand and handed the new kid the stick with the round ball of soft felt wrapped around the end. “Don’t hit it too hard, you might break the skin and I’d get a whooping, a bad whooping.”

“Okay.” The new kid took the stick and gave the drum three healthy whacks causing the drum to tip.

Daniel grabbed the drum, “Not quite that hard and hold the edge of the drum like this when you hit it.” He showed the kid how to hold it by the tightening rod across the top side.

The kid grabbed the rod and hit the drum a couple more times. “This is fun. Do they pay you for this job?”

“Nah. My dad’s the preacher.”

“The one that was preaching in the saloon last night?”

“That would be him.”

“Never heard of a preacher that got drunk and preached for free.”

“He weren’t preaching for free. He was preaching so’s them bums would hear the Word and repent from their sinful ways and buy him a drink.”

The kid shook his head as he continued to beat the drum, “Sounds fishy to me. My Ma said that a preacher should never allow foul alcohol to touch his lips.”

“I doubt if the booze ever touches his lips he slugs them down so fast. His tongue maybe, but not his lips.”

“I’ll have to check with Ma on that.” He smiled at the thought of being able to counter his mother’s words.

“Come on by tonight and I’ll get you a seat up front. Sometimes Pa gets to preaching so loud and frantic, he spits on the folks in the front couple of rows. Specially if he’s got a snoot full.”

“I don’t want no one spittin’ on me.”

“Okay, you can sit on the side of the stage near the piano with me.”

“I could do that. Gee, thanks.”

“My name’s Daniel, what’s yours?”

“Michael. Just like the Archangel.”

“I’m named after some buckaroo that herded lions.”

“He must have been one tough hand.”

“He was. The King made him his right hand Segundo.”

Two cowboys rode by laughing at the boys beating the drum. “Ben, we gonna come back and hurrah this tent tonight?”

“Sounds like a great idea. I ain’t heard a hell fire and damnation preacher in at least five years. Might be a good time. If he ain’t lively enough, we can help him by kickin’ up the action.”

Daniel heard the conversation and told himself to remember to tell his father.

He didn’t.

That evening Michael showed up just as the ‘singer’ was belting out “Bringing in the Sheaves.” The crowd grew to fill about half the tent and its 70 folding chairs. There were about a dozen cowboys standing in the back with bottles of various varieties of booze from beer to rotgut flaunted. All of them were commenting and gesturing with volume and vigor.

Daniel remembered the two cowboys riding by and ran to his father. “Dad, the cowboys are planning to hurrah you and the service tonight.”

“Don’t you worry, son, the Good Lord is in charge here tonight as He is every night,” he said as he laughed at his own words.

“Dad, I don’t really think it’s right laughing at something like that.”

“You’re right, son, but few there are that realize that, and I am one of them.” He walked to the podium, laid out his Bible and notes, and then hit the bass drum standing in its stand there beside him with a couple of good licks just as the demure dancehall girl finished her song.

“Thank you, Evelyn, for that enlightening Word of God in song. Let’s all give Evelyn a rousing hand of appreciation.”

The audience gave a half-hearted response. The cowboys in the back were cheering like mad. One of them even called out, “That ain’t no Evelyn, that’s Miss Daisy from Wichita. I saw here there last year when I hauled beef into that burg.”

The audience laughed louder at that than the response was to the song.

“Let us pray,” said the preacher.

Two hours later after the bucket had been passed around three times, the Preacher gave an impassioned altar call for, “All you sinners that need to repent and come to the feet of Jesus. Now is the day of repentance, not tomorrow. Come, come one and come all. Now is the light of Jesus shining brightest in the eyes of your heart. Come and live forevermore with Him in Paradise just as the thief on the cross. Come and enjoy the benefits of His Salvation. No more problems. No worries. He heals, come and be healed. Come now. We will sing that great hymn of the faith, “The Old Rugged Cross. Miss Evelyn will lead us.”

Miss Evelyn stood and sang with a dozen tears in her voice.

The crowd split. One group just remained seated. The other 15 or so got up and walked the aisle to the front and was greeted by the Right Reverend Doctor Lawrence P. Fount, Larry Fount on his arrest records. The head Deacon of the local Presbyterian Church asked Dr. Fount, “May I assist you, Sir?”

“Why certainly, young man.”

Some folks hit their knees and begged for forgiveness of their sins, other cried out for healing, the rest of those up front just stood awaiting whatever was supposed to happen. All except one old cowboy. That one old cowboy began the journey to the front and passed out cold to end up flat on his face in the middle of the crowd.

The Reverend Fount screamed at the top of his lungs, “This man is so overwhelmed with the power of God that he has passed out at the relieving of the burden of all his sins. Let’s shout hallelujah in praise.”

“He passed out drunk,” yelled a cowboy from the rear of the tent.

The seated crowd laughed and catcalled concerning the issue.

“He’s a boozer and a loozer.”

“That old reprobate.”

“Somebody dowse him with a bucket of water.”

Just as the fun was really ripping through the tent, the old cowboy got up, drew his six shooter, and proceeded to put five holes in the roof of the big top. The crowd hit the floor as if they were all struck by the power of God. The old cowboy staggered to the back and exited through the door of the tent.

The Reverend Fount said, “Damn, more holes to patch before they run.”

He left the tent as Evelyn sang the first verse, the only one she knew, again for the fifth time.

By the time she finished the first verse again, the crowd was well thinned and Daniel was left to put out the lamps and lanterns hanging here and there, along with buttoning up the tent door. He noticed the Reverend Father, his Father, had not forgotten the offering which had resided in a tin bucket.

“Must have been skimpy, he left the bucket.” Daniel went to his blanket under the caravan.


2

A month and ten towns later, the tent sat in the dirt at the end of the main business section of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The wind blew as the six hired men struggled to get the tent erected until the Reverend Fount called an end to the struggle and just had Daniel set up the chairs. The weather being pleasant and the location at the crest of a slight rise said much for the outdoor, no tent set up. No one would be cold and due to the breeze, the mosquitoes would not bother the folks. There was even a convenient rock, flat on top and large enough to be the stage. The piano would not fit, nor could it be lifted up to those heights, but a simple four step ladder sufficed to allow the Reverend and Miss Evelyn an easy and modest assent to the God given platform.

With the easy site set up allowing the Reverend plenty of time before the show, he descended into the community to share the joy he felt with the folks of said community. There being five separate buildings which merchandised the nectars he sought gave him ample opportunity to spread the good word around concerning the Joy that would be available on the hilltop that evening.

Unfortunately, he spent more time imbibing in the merchandise than he did spreading the good news of joy. Come the advertised time of 6 PM, he was only semi-conscious in the caravan. No efforts of Miss Evelyn could arouse him fully. Finally, Daniel went in as Miss Evelyn took the stage to keep the masses occupied until he could wake up the Preacher.

After three verses of “We Shall Gather at the River,” Daniel threw a bucket of water on in the Preacher’s face. Of course that was not a good thing to do, it doused all the man’s clothing from the waist up and left the bed a sodden mess. The Reverend sputtered and cursed like a sailor until he gave out with the best idea he ever had, “You go preach to them, Daniel. Tell them how God delivered your namesake from the Lions.”

“I can’t preach. You’re the preacher, not me. What do I know about preaching?”

“It’s all about the money, son. Put on the show and they will drop their last penny in that tin bucket. It is all about the money.” He fell back, out cold.

Daniel grabbed his good shirt and coat from the bottom drawer, jumped into them, and ran for the stairs to the platform. Arriving at the top he found he could not see over the podium, so he tossed it aside with a crash that brought all attention to him. Evelyn ended her song at the same moment.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, my earthly father is ill.” A long period of laughter from the audience followed. “He has anointed me to speak to you tonight. If you are disappointed, you may leave and with this set up you may leave in any direction you wish.” Again laughter.

“My name is Daniel. It comes from a man of ancient Israel in captivity. He was a slave to the highest man in the world of that day.” He went on to finish the story.

“As Daniel was saved from the lions and promoted to the highest position under the king, you can be promoted to the highest position under God by using the same faith Daniel used in his stand against the evil advisors of the king. This old world will tell you that you are alright, but God says you must have faith in His Son, Jesus, to be all right. You cannot be half right and be in the presence of God, you cannot even be mostly right to be in the presence of God. You must be ALL RIGHT, and that only happens when you totally give in to the desires of God and let Him lead you to your resurrection one day.”

Miss Evelyn fell to her knees as she sang her rendition of “The Old Rugged Cross” again and again. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Between lines she cried out, “Save me, Jesus.” Everyone thought it was part of the show, but Miss Daisy (Evelyn) meant it from the bottom of her heart. As she began the first verse again, she fell to her knees and cried, “I repent. I will be your child. Bring on the lions.”

Daniel knelt beside her, “Don’t you think you are overdoing it a bit?”

“I am not acting. This is real. I have never felt like this. The happiness in my heart is smothering the pain of my life history. Oh, the joy.” She started the first verse again.

Daniel looked at the reactions of the crowd and wondered what was going on. This had never happened when his father preached. Even the cowboys from the back of the room were up front on their knees. Many of the crowd were crying, many were just sitting in their chairs with lips twitching. One man was flat on his face sobbing.

Folks had walked the aisle for his father, but never this proportion of the crowd, and never with such sincerity. There were only three left in their chairs showing no reaction. Daniel walked back to the caravan not knowing what else to do.

He father called out, “Did you do it?”

“Yes, Dad. I don’t understand the reaction.”

“What? Did they boo you or throw things at you?”

“No. They got all emotional and cried a lot.”

The man got out of his bed, stumbling over his shoes, and walked to the platform. The sight was one he had never seen before. Evelyn was on her knees confessing every single sin she could remember, the crowd was still on site in various positions of surrender, and even the cowboys were quiet, not mocking any of it.

“What did that boy do?” he whispered as he walked in sock covered feet through the crowd.

FREE book. THE DEACON brought to you live from beautiful downtown Witch Well, Arizona.

THE DEACON is the title of my NANOWRIMO effort.

I will be posting it on this blog as I write. The first three or four days will be long because I have over 8000 words written already. Once we are caught up you will get my (hopefully) daily writings IN THE ROUGH for your perusal.

I beg you to comment on this effort. Plus or minus comments are welcome. Please try to make them constructive comments. Don’t worry about typos. We are looking at a story, a narrative, so your comments concerning plot, characters, events, actions, etc. are what I would appreciate.

I will post each days writing (on days I write) the next morning.

Tell your friends and enemies about this great FREE opportunity.

Be blessed and keep writing.

Fun with National Novel Writing Month, Nanowrimo

Today is 10/17/15. Only 15 more days until the beginning of Nanowrimo, Nano for short. It has been my pleasure to play with this group challenge for the past three years and be a winner each year. That isn’t to say it has been easy.

Out of the Nano challenge has come three books which took much longer than 30 days to get ready for the press.

What is Nano? The month of November and 50,000 words. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in November. 1667 words per day is all it takes. That’s only 6 1/2 page of double spaced manuscript. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It is if you can put your butt in a chair every day and write.

November is always a horror story for me. It seems the whole world gangs up on me. The first year, a group I work with renewed some roofs up in Hopi land for six days. I would drag myself into bed every night after pounding on my keyboard as long as I could see the keys, maybe an hour. My right hand man fell off a roof and planted face first in the dirt. I spent two days with him while we found a surgeon to repair his face and another to fix a busted wrist in one trip to the OR. As he moaned on the bed in the motel, I wrote. While he was in with the doctor, I wrote. When I got home, I wrote like crazy.

Thanksgiving weekend always gets in the way. Last year I got to spend the weekend with a son and his family. We had something like 20 people for dinner, Ball family tradition is invite everyone with an emphasis on those who might have no place to go. Early in the morning, I wrote. Late into the night, I wrote. The week after my wife and I had the privilege of baby sitting the four kids while mom and dad went on a retreat. I wrote sitting in the car after school, outside the dentist office, in the parking lot at the ballet studio, and the most fun, during a recital.

Two years ago November ended with a crash. The 29th was an open day on my calendar. I wrote. I wrote over 7,000 words to finish my 50,000. I took my wife to the ER the next morning and spent the day in peace only because of my faith and the fact that I wrote the day before.

There is a common complaint among writers. “Where can I find time?” I wrote on the highway up in Hopi land awaiting a load of materials. Got a couple hundred great words done in the hour I waited. Boy, did they need editing.

Sign up at Nanowrimo.org and get to writing. I challenge you.

New Writers Beware

New writers beware.

Because I write both Christian non-fiction studies and think pieces, and fiction westerns, adventure, and political alternative history, I decided to split my author pages on Amazon, Createspace, and Smashwords. The great gurus of indie publishing will not let you. I cannot cancel out a book in one place in order to set it up in another. They say it is because they want to keep the IN PRINT list full of everything that’s ever been written. I say, “Phooey.”

The books are mine and if I want to discontinue that book I should be able to.

And, I am not taking the book out of circulation. I am only rearranging my sales platforms for the benefit of the readers, YOU.

It should be that the indie author has the right to say, “Let’s put these books together over here,” and have it done.

Oh, well, I say all this for you if you are just beginning. If you are going to write in more than one genre and might have the idea of separating them, do it up front. If I had it to do all over again, I’d set up at least three, if not four author pages to cover my books. I might even use a pseudonym for each genre.

BE BLESSED.

PS: I really do thank the above named sites for their making available the opportunity to be an indie author even if I am whining. But, maybe its something you need to look at in your services. A beginning indie cannot think of everything that could come up down the road in their business.

Something you should never do, but I did

My most recent book, WHAT OUGHT TO BE, went live a month ago. It is a poor excuse of a book.

Why? I published it in a hurry because a friend, a good friend, asked me to get a pamphlet, that I had copy machine published for a youth group years ago, republished for a conference he was hosting. I had no digital copy of the pamphlet any more, sooooooooo I scanned it and spent hours untangling the mess before adding some other pertinent materials and comments to make a book out of the whole thing. Consequently, we gave it away at the conference to rave reviews and an upswing in demand from my stock with cash going directly into my wallet.

Amazing.

I will be revising the book over the next few months and smoothing it, along with many typo errors, and one or two formatting farbles. It is available only in print as yet, but once it is updated it will be up on KDP, kindle.

In the meantime, I now have six works in progress, along with four or five projects in other fields of my life. WAY TOO MANY.

How’s your writing, your life, your bank account?

Keep on keeping on.

Blessings.

A palk in the wark

Life just isn’t as easy some days as it is others. Now and then the gently falling slope of time remaining turns into a wild slide to the end. The days of reaching new heights disappear and all around you is negative.

Well, that just hasn’t happened in this kid’s life, yet.

This past week I was privileged to take four long walks in the parks of the Kiabab Forest and Grand Canyon National Park, north rim. The beauty of God’s creation still amazes me like the birth of a child or the slashing of the lights in the heavens of a meteor shower. Those trails were much like life. The ups are tough, the steeper the harder. The downs are nice if they are gentle, but when the downs become slides they are terrible. How is it the nice gently falling trails of life can turn into the slide for life and be so uncomfortable?

Got home Saturday and trashed, as in moved to the cut file (a file I use to hold previously written passages that I may use later), 20,000 words of a story. Why? I realized it needed to be a sequel and not a first book. Hence, the beginning of my new series “The Deacon.” The Deacon is a Bible toting Paladin in the west of the 1880-90’s. The conflict of being a fighter and a man of peace makes for a palk in the wark. It’s an uphill climb all the way.

Be blessed and write.

Doug

MARKETING

Every author I know and read says that their marketing takes up much of their time. I can agree to that without reservation. Every one of the blogs, newsletters, and websites I follow are discussing marketing as we approach the bloated commercial season that begins the end of this month.

I don’t know what has worked for you, but the only thing that has worked for me is word of mouth. I have given away about two thirds of the printings of my books and even the really commercial books (Westerns and other fiction) have slowly, very slowly been getting read and reviewed and then beginning a market.

One thing that has really helped is donating copies to my local library. I live in a small town of basically non-readers. BUT, the word has gotten out that my books are in the library and due to being a local boy the library leaves them on the new books shelf for a longer time than all them high dollar books written by them foreigners. Word of mouth is causing them to be checked out frequently. Those who like them have bought personal copies and gift copies.

Read a book, tell a friend.

WHY I WRITE IN SO MANY GENRES

I had never given that question much thought. I was born a while back and done many things since then. My grandkids think I fought in the Revolutionary War, but it was really the evolutionary war. My wife thinks I sits too much and need more exercise, but when I ask ‘pretty please’ to go on a hike, she tells me to sit down and stop such foolishness. Goin’ hiking anyhow. I dug ditches before shovels were invented. When God said, “Let there be light,” I was the electrician that threw the switch. I was in school when world history text book was only three pages long and those pages were of stone. I’ve done a lot and learned a lot and failed a lot and now I’m having fun a lot. Having ridden a rank horse and pushed cows on the trail, I write westerns. Having met Christ face to face at the ripe old age of 14, I write Christian materials. Being a natural born liar, I write political stuff. Basically, I write from where I’ve been, always lookin’ at where I want to go.

Be blessed and enjoy my books. Buy one of each, they’re great. Or at least my wife tells me they are and Amazon won’t let her write a review. Ya gotta love’m

© 2017 Doug Ball – Author