Cafe Del Rio – Mesquite Finally Has  Great Mexican Restaurant Again

If you’ve been longing for great Tex-Mex in North Texas and you’re fatigued with the more popular chains, your taste buds are in luck. Cafe Del Rio is open in Allen and Mesquite. More importantly that means that Mesquite, Texas has a great Tex-Mex restaurant again. And Lord, it’s about time.

Best place for Tex-Mex in Mesquite now is Cafe Del Rio.

Best place for Tex-Mex in Mesquite now is Cafe Del Rio.

Yes, we still have Posado’s at 635 at I-30, but even it seems to have gotten a little flat lately.

And don’t even mention On The Border to me. (Notice, I didn’t even add the URL). The food and the service in early December was so bad I won’t ever go back.

Cafe Del Rio is housed in the former shell of The Jalapeño Tree, a place that put many in Mesquite out their Mexican culinary misery when it went out of business sometime in mid 2013.

So What’s So Great About Cafe Del Rio?

For starters, kind of like Chuy’s, they bring you three kinds of salsa–a habanero/Ranch Dressing mixture that doesn’t set your mouth on fire, a regular salsa and one they call “firehouse,” but even it isn’t too hot.

Regular queso is nice and cheesy and has a good spicy mix. The chips are fresh. They’re actually making them fresh when you walk in the door.

The Menu

This is Tex-Mex. You can get most meals bathed in queso, Tex-Mex chili or sour cream sauce–like for sour cream and chicken enchiladas.

The Service

A familiar face graces the place–it’s bearded Bill, the former field marshall and friendly manager of Posado’s. He left in November to open three stores for Cafe Del Rio.  (For those of you living in Corinth, Texas, he says there’s one headed your way. )

Bill ran Posado’s like a top. One of the bartenders tonight says he’s running this place the exact same way.

What does he think can be improved?  The service and if this store is anything like how he held court at Posado’s, well, that won’t take long to fix. Heck, they’ve only been open a week and a half now.

Friday Night 

When I pulled up tonight there wasn’t a space available in the parking lot.  Along the back of the store is a fire lane. It was full of cars save for the last spot out by the main road.

Dining alone tonight, I’ve wound up sitting at the bar under the care of Hayley and Lacey.

Oh yeah, the conversation with Bill the manager started with him saying he was glad they’d put WiFi in. I’m glad they did that, too.

Cafe Del Rio – It’s Worth It

Want to take the family some place different?  You know, like a Tex-Mex place in Mesquite where the food is warm when it gets to your table and tastes good when you eat it?  You’ll love the music selection if you’re over age 30–it’s a mixture of ’70s, ’80s and maybe a song or two from the ’90s. The price of the food, for the amount they bring you, is excellent.

This is a great place to eat.  Load up.  It’s time to eat.  And bring your appetite. You’re going to be glad you did.







It’s A New Day – My Walk With God And Maycee

Yesterday at the vet Maycee, our new Great Pyrenees, weighed in at 16 lbs.  She’ll double that in about six weeks.

Last night before bed, we took her on an extended walk. She didn’t whimper for a potty break in her crate all night. This was her fourth night in it.

At our selected time this morning, she was up and ready for her a.m. potty break and our morning walk.

Life has changed so much for me in just seven days.

My Morning Walk With God

July 24, 2014 sunrise over Mesquite, TX.

July 24, 2014 sunrise over Mesquite, TX.

This morning’s sunrise over Mesquite, Texas as inspiring. Whispy bluish gray clouds were scribbled across a plain of gradient orange and pink and night blue. The moon was in a crescent and a planet, not sure which one, drifted close by.

On our morning walks, I’ve found myself reconnecting with God in a new way. I’m more relaxed about life and focused on what’s important and what isn’t.

And Maycee is growing on this family as we are on her.

It was quiet outside this morning. Lots of ways to open up with God and commune.

And I did just that.

My Great Pyrenees Molly & Maycee – Letting Go And Letting In

When my twin daughters were on their way, my mother-in-law at the time told me that loving the new daughters would be done in a special way–not replacing the daughter I had, but making way a new space in my heart for the new babies. This weekend has been something of the same exercise with the addition of a new Great Pyrenees puppy into our family.

But I’m struggling with letting go and letting in.

For much of the past four years plus now, life has been a series of painful events. I won’t go into the litany of transgressions that have been cast against me, but there admittedly have been times when I wished God would have just let me go home. But such thoughts immediately were countered with the reminder that I have three daughters who very much need me in their lives and will for years to come.

My Dog Molly was taken from me in March 2010 through the manipulations of some very dishonest and mean people. I never got the chance to say goodbye. She was just gone.  A dog like I’d never had before, one I’d longed for all my days, was up and out of my life.

There’s been a wound in my heart about this most every day since.

Thursday as Chandler and I found ourselves driving south on Interstate 35 to Caldwell, Texas to pick up our new 9-week-old Great Pyr, I was relieved in several ways that the drive was shaping out to be 3.5 hours in length. With each mile we moved southward came a little more ease in my mind that this was in God’s plan or it wouldn’t be happening. Too many things came to be on Thursday saying “Get down there and get this new dog! –God.”

I’ve talked before about when God has said “NO!” in my life and He meant it. The message in those minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years, was a firm, NO! Countless times this has been the case. (My search for my dear friend Julie off and on throughout the years, just to find out whatever happened to her in large part, is an example.  God said no in middle and high school. He moved me clear to the other side of the country for most of my young adult years. Then to Texas. Through bad and hard times. When things got bad, I’d cast an eye back in her direction in California via the Internet and she was no where to be found. That is until 16 months ago today. But that’s another story.)

When Chandler and I arrived at the home of the people with the Great Pyrenees, a peace came upon me. And doing a good job to choke back tears, I said what you’ve read above. It was hard being there; but a hole in my heart was being fulfilled by this new dog.

The lady said, “And no matter how this dog turns out, there never will be another Molly.”

Meeting Maycee

Meeting Maycee

Meeting Maycee

My last three dogs have all had names beginning with the letter M. I don’t know why.  They just have.

Getting back home with Maycee proved to be quite an ordeal. About 20 miles from where we got her, the car died. Right in the middle of Rosebud, Texas. We got it towed to Waco by the most curious of characters. He was one of the most kind, at ease and understanding men I’ve ever met. (Three hours later when we got home, he even called to ensure we’d arrived safely.) We got the car dropped off and he took us over to a restaurant where he knew the manager and they had an outside eating area. Before long we were sitting at their tables and our waitress was loving on the dog. My friend and mentor, Ron Rose, drove down from north of Fort Worth to get us and drive us home since the car was dead.

Throughout it all, Maycee was calm, peaceful and slept.

Upon our return home, we’ve come to spend several hours this weekend between work, sleep and eating tending to our new baby.

There are times I call on her and hope to see the spirit of Molly. I have to let that go. But admittedly, it’s been hard.

The exterior of the two is near identical. The temperament and heart is different. Like for all of us in some respects.

On this Sunday eve, I can honestly say I’ve still not been able to let go of Molly, but I have been letting in, Maycee.

Yesterday, Chandler left the apartment for the first time and Maycee was running free. When Chan went out the front door, Maycee ran into her room to look out the window. I heard the blinds moving. Now how does a dog that’s been here less than 48 hours know to do that when it’s just nine-weeks old?!

I’ve slept better the past two nights as well. The past several months have been spent tossing and turning at night. When I’ve gotten up and worked, my focus has been sharper. Internally, I feel much more at peace than I did Wednesday, or much of the way south Thursday. Come to that, much of the way north without my car.

I don’t know what the meaning of all this is. God is clearly at work and I have come to learn that he’s driving the bus of life, not me. A good weeping session may still in the offering over Molly; tears that no doubt will be absorbed by Maycee as she licks my face like I’ve got cap nip on it and she’s a long tail cat.

Life has brought so many loving and good people and pets in and out of it. Why can’t it eliminate the liars, manipulators, abusers and addicts and free up some space for good? Too many have been hurt because of them these past four or five years.  And there’s no doubt more to come….

But I have a hole in my heart that’s healing in a new way. She’s called Maycee. I’m thinking A. Maycee Grace … because that’s truly what God has brought into my world as chaos rains down all around still. Onward….









The Road Taken Along The SMU Writer’s Path 

The exciting thing about life is we really don’t know where we’re going to wind up next. Honestly, we can plan, we can arrange, we can have goals, and we can strive to get somewhere, but there are no guarantees and life and the Lord have this wonderful way of showing us we needed to veer off the course a little here and there to actually get to where we were going.

That’s where I am with the SMU Writer’s Path. Classes began last Monday evening under the tutelage  of Carmen Goldthwaite who in a matter of minutes nudged me to thinking about concepts I’ve been weighing the past few months about the construction of my first novel, but in a more fundamental way.

As noted previously, my walk prior to last Monday included the works of Robert McKee and his tome STORY. Then there are dozens of other works that have peppered the thoughts of my mind from a handful of authors whose names I do not recall. Clearly, I’ve been significantly moved and influenced by the works of Jeff Gerke in his two books–The First 50 Pages and Plot Versus Character–because I have done so much study now with Myers-Briggs temperaments and how they affect my characters and more importantly, ME.

But with Ms. Goldthwaite, we set sail in a different boat last Monday evening in the class Creative Writing Foundation. Now for someone who has been writing actively for nearly 40-plus years, one might think taking a class that starts again at the foundations to be, well, insulting. But I honestly have never gone there in my mind. Being a life-long learner, I’ve come to know and understand I don’t know everything and the past few years, I’ve come to find my mind as something of a sponge when it comes to the knowledge spilled about me. I soak it up, contemplate it, and if it’s “logical” (I’m an INTJ according to Myers-Briggs and David Keirsey), I adopt it wholeheartedly.

Books suggested and required for the SMU Writer's Path Foundations class.

Books suggested and required for the SMU Writer’s Path Foundations class.

New Books To Read

Ms. Goldthwaite’s reading materials for her class include Gary Provost’s Make Your Words Work.  The assignment for the first week has been to read chapters 2, 3 and 6, which included style, grammar and description, respectively. Many good suggestions and tips have come from reading this book the past few days. This book isn’t like McKee’s STORY, where you’re into the fundamentals of the structure of a story. This is about the building blocks that make up the foundation of telling a story–largely picking the right and fewest words possible to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. The book is full of good stuff, including sections at the end of each chapter called “Coffee Break.”

The Elements Of Style

Ms. Goldthwaite also recommended William Strunk, Jr and EB White’s Fourth Edition of The Elements Of Style.  (Amazon has been good to me this week.)  Now having spent so much time in the AP Style book over the years, it’s hard to look at some of the things in The Elements Of Style and to me, worse, The Chicago Manual of Style 16, because to me, in particular about capitalization of headlines, I go with Up Style, meaning every word in a headline/title gets a capitalized first letter.  (Chicago says to capitalize the first and last word, and all other “major words” but not to cap conjunctions, and prepositions when they are used adverbially or adjectively, and don’t cap articles like a, an and the.) Provost’s book talks in the Coffee Break about description of being aware of “what a word or an arrangement of words will bring to the reader besides meaning.” I wish the fokes in Chicago would do that again.

Back To Class

Three hours with Ms. Goldthwaite disappeared quicker than the sands of time in the hourglass before Dorothy in the Wizard Of Oz. My fellow students were equally engaged in the conversation, eager to learn and it was refreshing to be in a room of so many like-minded foke.  The assignment for tomorrow night is to bring a 500 to 1,000-word character description that introduces a reader into a place or time but has no dialogue and doesn’t contain a scene. We are to show the character’s movement, thru clothing, hair, when they are, and let our readers see how emotions cross their lives and their values.

On Sunday mid-day, that’s still something of a challenge. So much of the past two months has been spent around formulating the world of my novel’s characters, figuring out who they are inside, even having bought some clay to begin molding one of them into a physical shape to better see who they really might be. Now comes the time to do the inevitable–ascribe them to paper and laser ink.

And so I must conclude this writing to begin another. And there’s client work that must be done today as well.

Ready to do some serious thinking and writing of your own? SMU soon will be opening up this class for August. It’s highly recommended.





My daughters are growing up. It’s a daily event, but there seem to be certain waypoints along the way.

These days, my eldest is soon to begin her senior year in high school, while the twins are beginning their sophomore year.

Two of the three now have entered the workforce. Dabbled in it.

One is taking two courses at the local junior college for credit.

The twins turned 15 just Monday. The eldest is ready to turn 18 in December.

Oftentimes, as their Dad, I wonder where the time went. Maybe that’s something of my Myers-Briggs’ INTJ temperament coming thru, but in many ways it isn’t.

As parents we often get so caught up in the daily grind, we don’t notice how the kids are changing, maturing into young ladies and men on their way to being adults. Some parents coddle. INTJs like me want to give them the freedom to figure out what this world is all about, largely on their own, without hovering or “helicoptering.”

My parents raised me similarly. Not sure what Myers-Briggs Mom or Dad are. And while there are additional life lessons I wish they’d not shielded me from, I have to say I got a lot out of my youth in large part thanks to the USAF, which moved us around like ping pong balls on a pool table with no pockets. But I have to say, it worked out the way it should have. God’s way, clearly.

So as the eldest ponders colleges–she wants to get out of the South and go north–like to Indiana University, I keep reminding her that she’s free to go to any college she wants so long as it’s Auburn. I understand the desire to get as far away from home as she can. There should be enough written between the lines on this site to explain.

Typical view of the UP in September of each year.

Typical view of the UP in September of each year.

Many are the days when I wish I could pick up and get out of the South myself. Dreams fill my head at night of returning to the woods of Northern Michigan, where we were stationed three or four times when I was a child. I often drift to sleep with memories of the sounds of the wind racing through the evergreen pines and Birch trees that make up the deep woods of the North. I hear sounds of my footsteps echoing through the wood as I trounce on fallen leaves, step on and snap dead branches, inadvertantly kick rocks, and even the sounds of boots that slip or trudge into the dirt upon each step.

Hidden across our family land are natural springs that bubble up from the forest floor, trickling with an icy cold flow of crystal clear mana one could put a water bottle or soda can in and chill to perfection; no additional ice required.

And during the winter months, wow, do I ever miss snow. Visually, there is so much ugly in this world that I truly think the Lord created snow just to give Northern foke a break from much of it for months at a time each year. Johnny Mathis records have made immortal the sounds of him singing about that “mantle of white shining down from the night” as he’s walking in that Winter Wonderland. Few sights in life beat the shroud of freshly fallen snow, pine boughs weighed down with large clumps of white, and miles of it for as far as one’s eyes can see.

For me, many of those memories remain alive in my heart, much as this child once longed for a Tyco train set at Christmas.

Here in Texas, my daughters only vaguely know of snow and it’s allure. They’ve journeyed into my wooded playgrounds of Michigan once but need to return again. This time for longer. Someday.

September is but around the corner and in it’s third week, the leaves will be changing in the UP of Michigan. Maybe then the four of us, and guests, can once again walk into the woods ablaze with the colors of fire.

For now, I must leave you with these thoughts. My girls grow closer to becoming women each day; each with their powerful names to encourage them to prosper and seek out the best of what this life is all about. I’m proud of each of them, my darlings, Chandler, Reagan and Haley.

As the autumn of my life draws closer each day, late spring blossoms for my children and life races onward with us all ensnared its infinite circle…..


As a life-long fan of The Beatles I was excited to learn of The Rutles in the early 80s when I was in high school.

Firehouse Subs

Firehouse Subs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my favorite songs of The Rutles was a parody called “Cheese and Onions.” For those of you who are Lennon fans, you’ll get the significance of the #8 Dream, he did a song #9 Dream, (another of my favorites) but my favorite sandwich at Firehouse Subs is the #8.

This whole post stems from an online argument I’m having with Firehouse Subs because they’ve stopped carrying Lay’s sour cream and onion potato chips. Yes, silly, I know, but sometimes in life you have to take a stand.

So, without having time to rush into a studio this morning, I’ve included the original video here, but re-wrote the lyrics just for my friends in Jacksonville, FL who need to hear this very important message. Please, play the video and read the new lyrics, imagining Lennon or The Rutles singing them to you…

Sour Cream And Onion


From the Soundtrack LP “#8 Dream, the Firehouse Sub Sandwich” 7/3/2014
Lead Vocal: Bago Chips

I have always wished Firehouse Subs would bring back
Sour cream and onion.

I have always thought
that taking them away was unkind
Sour cream and onion.

Do I have to spell it out?

If you bring em back now
I’ll come back somehow
And eat at your store
Several times more…

Got a device
For everything nice
Please think about this twice
at least once more….
(repeats, fades)


Heck, even the Onion recognizes the importance of sour cream and onion chips.


The Myers Briggs Temperament For Character Development

Sometime in 2013, I began reading and rereading Robert McKee‘s tome, STORY, to better understand what I was doing in helping authors get published, but now, I’m all into writing my own work.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon two books that have gone beyond, well beyond, what I learned from McKee and they’re both books by author Jeff Gerke. The first book was entitled The First 50 Pages. The second was Plot Versus Character.

Reading these two books was like getting hit by lightning.  Flashes of ideas exploded in my head. Why?

The Myers Briggs Temperament

I’d heard of Myers Briggs before, but I’d never taken one of the tests. As I noted last week, I’ve taken several of them now and hadn’t been able to land on anything consistent. Then with several talks with Dr. Harold Duncan of Preston Place Counseling in Dallas, and a review of my MB score sheet, it became apparent that I was having alternating scores because on all but the I (introvert or extravert) I’m pretty much mid-line for each of the three remaining categories. (I’m an INTJ).

But what Gerke says in Plot V. Character is that an author should start with deciding what the MB temperament of his/her characters are going to be and then adding layers onto them. What Love Language do they use? What tragic events happened in their lives that affected who they became as an adult? Those all are important to Gerke in his character development.

So for about three weeks now, I’ve been engrossed in my “spare” time learning about Myers Briggs, figuring out who I am in it, but also, figuring out what my protagonists needed to be. And if one was an ENTP and the other and INTJ, then my bad guy antagonist needs to be an ISFJ. Two other prominent characters that help get the story going are an INFJ and an INTP.  And then there are opposing characters for them to play off of. IMG_7360

It is taking a lot of time to figure all this out, but that’s okay. When I began to tell people I was doing this in late March or early April, mentor and friend, Ron Rose cautioned me, “This is a LONG process,” he said.

In 2010, I drove from Dallas to Houston to pick up fellow dad blogger Ron Mattocks and we drove to Atlanta for a conference.  Along the way we talked about the importance of the first book. He said then that the first book defines you.

I continue to keep that in mind. I want this to be a solid and positive experience as I go thru it. It has become mentally exhausting at times, but the more of this I do, the more I can see how my characters are shaping into “real” people. They’re going to do “real-ish” type things in the work. When they react to situations the way they do, they will be doing it true to the temperament of an ENTP, and INTJ, and ISFJ and more.

Gerke pointed me to the book by David Keirsey called Please Understand Me II.  I’ve gone forward and backward in this book and continue to do so by the hour as I work.

Yesterday I printed out a notebook I’ve constructed through this process and included the Myers-Briggs Temperament characteristics for each of the characters in it. I started with a 1-inch binder. Today I increased it to a 1.5-inch binder, there’s that much information.

Myers Briggs classifications for my main characters, plus helpful info on who gets along with whom, and not so much.

Myers Briggs classifications for my main characters, plus helpful info on who gets along with whom, and not so much.

Last night I used the binder to make a spreadsheet that includes each character, their MB type, and who they’re likely to get along with and who their not. This has made starting the next step, doing a 15-page character interview, easier to begin because I can flip thru the pages of my notebook, find a particular point about a character and then jump back into the questionnaire.

I’ll let you know in a few days how that’s going, but this has been a big organizational step for me and I wanted to share.



Firehouse Subs Social Media Handlers Have Lots To Learn

It’s time to step back from the computer.  That’s what I’d advise the person(s) at Firehouse Subs who are doing their social media.

Firehouse Subs

Firehouse Subs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They’re making matters worse each time they tweet me.

A few weeks ago, I sent out a tweet asking what was up with the disappearing Lay’s sour cream and onion potato chips at their stores in Mesquite and Rockwall, Texas.

They responded telling me that “change was good” and they I should try these two other kettle brand chips I’ve never heard of, nor have any desire to try.  I like to get a certain sandwich there and it goes with sour cream and onion chips. Period.

Yesterday, I went to Subway and got the Philly Steak and Cheese sandwich and the chips I desired to go with the meat. I sent out a tweet saying I was there and Firehouse Subs was losing business because of their corporate decision to stop carrying the very famous and widely consumed Lay’s sour cream and onion potato chip.

A friend then playfully tweeted that I was being “picky.”

A few minutes later, @FirehouseSubs “favorited” that tweet.

They then later sent out a smart assed tweet about how “change is the one constant” in human events.

I took it as nothing but arrogance in what was sent. To me they were saying “They’re right in their chip decision. I’m not. So screw me.” Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 3.39.06 PM

Except that’s not how a free market works.

As I said yesterday, I AM DONE WITH FIREHOUSE SUBS and because of their smartassed Twitter handler, I’m now spreading the word about what’s happened.  (Linked to yesterday’s post.)

The latest text I got from them at 2:55 today was this: Would it be okay if I gave them my address so the VP of PR for Firehouse Subs could reach out to me.

(Why didn’t you send that as a DM? I’m following you. Do you really want such a tweet out there? I see it has since been deleted.)

Now, if they’d looked at my blog, which has had readers from all over the country today on just this one story, they’d see already, even from my twitter profile, that I myself am a PR person of many years.

The last thing I want is a letter from the VP of PR saying, “Dear Donny, we are so sorry that our social media person made you so upset about sour cream and onion potato chips. Hey, let’s be friends and we’ll send you two coupons so you can get two more sandwiches on us! We still won’t have any sour cream and onion chips, but hey those kettle jalapeño chips are so good you should try them cos they’re just that good. But hey, we don’t want to lose your lost business nor have anyone else see we don’t know WTF we’re doing with social media, so could you pull those two posts down? — Sincerely, Fireman Joe.

FIREHOUSE SUBS, you obviously do not understand social media.  You don’t flippantly tweet someone or Favorite another tweet when a follower of yours is clearly pissed and has 13.7 THOUSAND followers of their own and another 1,000 friends from all over the country over on Facebook.

We are done.

Maybe you don’t lose any business because of this. I don’t care. That’s not my objective in writing this. But you have lost my business and for me, that’s the only important thing.

And here’s a small example of how widely the previous post has spread today.

Instead of going to this Four Alarm fire, I suggest you guys send the social media truck back to the station. It needs to be out of service for a spell. And just a hint, they might want to put the ladder on the truck down before they back in….

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 3.40.42 PM



My Myers Briggs is an ISFP, IXFJ, ESFJ and an INTJ DC Personality 1

In my quest to write my first novel, not as a plot-first venture, but with a balanced character-first/plot-first approach, I came to read Jeff Gerke’s book Plot Versus Character. In the opening sections of his book, he says he stumbled upon David Keirsey’s book, Please Understand Me ii, and it has made all the difference to him in the creation of his novel characters. Gerke says he works from the four common temperaments of human beings, and then adds layers to each to make for real-life characters in his works.  So for the past few days, in my spare time between work projects, I’ve been reading Keirsey and taking Myers Briggs personality tests.

So far, I’ve taken four tests–one done with about 10 questions on my iPhone–I was an ISFP–The Artisan-Composer on that one. The second was done using the 70-question assessment in Keirsey’s book–that one came out with my being an IXFJ-A Guardian-Protector or an Idealist-Counselor, and I say X because I had a 10/10 score for S/N. The third test was via–I turned being an ESFJ-The Guardian/Provider there. And then I took an extensive 248-question assessment at–where I came out as an INTJ-The Strategist/Mastermind.

So basically, after four tests, I honestly don’t know what I am, but I’m going to use some of my logical talents suggested in the INTJ to deduce first and foremost, that I am not so much an E (Expressive) as in the ESFJ.  What is equally disturbing was that not until the test did I have an N (Introspective) anywhere, as in INJT.  Up until that time, F (Friendly)  and S (Observant) had been common, and J (Scheduling), too.

What I’ve been able to accomplish in all four tests is wind up in each of the temperament camps, which I would say makes sense to a degree, but we’re trying to firmly categorize people here, not leave wiggle room. (See, the INTJ is coming thru?)


You may think, who cares?

In many ways, I do. And not just because I’m writing a book. At 48 years of age, I’ve been doing a lot of introspection over the past few months. My counselor says that by writing this book I appear to be “unstuck” finally from the mess I’ve endured the past four years. This is cathartic.

But it is also important to me as I begin the process of constructing an intelligent story/novel, that I’m not writing just a plot-first peace where the plot drives the whole story with just explosions and very little substance to get through. My story demands some strong and intelligent characters to make it more compelling reading.

I’ve made my counselor laugh when I have told him recently that I understand now why God had to rest on the seventh day of creation.

Creating your own universe, characters and the like is DRAINING. It’s exhaustive. And it’s a very involved process. I can sit and seek to develop the characters, plot points, scenes, themes and more for where this story is going to go, but I can only do it for hours at a time before I’m virtually brain dead. But it has been exciting as I can now move my hands and almost shape these entities that are becoming characters in my mind almost as though there was imaginary clay in my hands and I was shaping them into figurines. (More INTJ there with a dose of ISFP….)

Myers Briggs

I’m fascinated by this subject and the study of the topic and will post more in the days and weeks to come as I continue through the process of penning my first book. It’s been almost four months now that I’ve been working on this (almost daily) and I have yet to seriously begin writing the first of anything in the book. I’d begun to play around with the opening sentence and opening paragraph. Then as I read another of Gerke’s books and discovered his book on Plot Versus Character, I came to fully realize, I’m just not to that point yet. There’s still so very much more I need to learn about myself before I can begin to develop the people who are going to bring my story to life.

Myers Briggs is going to provide my characters with their core personalities. But there’s a ton more that has to come with each of them beyond that. I recommend the Gerke books on writing and Please Understand Me ii, whether you’re writing a novel or not. You’re going to be amazed with how much you can learn about yourself.

My INTJ report from is available for you to read here.  It’s pretty interesting stuff…. Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 8.06.28 PM


My Dad–Lt. Col. Bernie Claxton, USAF-Retired 

Happy Father’s Day 2014.

My Dad has the distinction of being the only person I’ve ever known who got thrown out of a little league baseball game. Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 11.03.06 PM

It happened in 1974 or ’75, perhaps’76, but he was our coach. The umpire was making calls that Dad felt weren’t being evenly distributed, and he said something to the effect of, “you should call things the same way for both teams.”  I didn’t hear what he said cos I was standing out at shortstop. But I will never forget seeing that big umpire come up out of his stance, take his mask off and say, “All right coach, that’s it, you’re out of here.”

And so the lesson stuck in me. If you feel that an injustice is occurring, regardless of the consequences, you speak up. I think I’ve lived that out fairly well throughout the years that have followed. It’s brought about good things and bad.

In the 8th grade in Atwater, CA, I got an F on an assignment in our Journalism/Yearbook class. The maternity leave substitute, Mrs. Reid, decided we needed to write a fictional story in our journalism class. I resisted. I protested. I wrote my “story” about how we shouldn’t be writing fiction in a journalism class. My grade for the six weeks was a D. But I didn’t get in any trouble from either of my parents.

My senior year of high school, the DECA advisor at Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, AL was $2,000 in the hole because her students had been stealing candy money out of her classroom closet. I found out about it and wrote about it. Anne Hubbert, Paul Hubbert’s wife, was my anatomy and physiology teacher and in the middle of class one day was taking me to task cos the paper was “writing about things we shouldn’t be.”

My senior year of college, I got the one copy of the AIDS list being allegedly kept by the Montgomery Police Department and reported on it. It became a national news story. At the same time, I was outlining why Larry F. Chapman, the coach of the AUM Senator basketball team, shouldn’t have signed as a surety on an ROR bond for three basketball players because it was a violation of NAIA bylaws. I had baseball team members wanting to do me harm, let alone basketball players. But my Dad and Mom, stood by me.

In tribute to my dad, who thankfully, is still alive, I want to say thanks for all you’ve done for me and taught me throughout my life. The past four years have been horrific for me and they’ve been the most painful, but from all the pain, losses and injustices imposed upon me by dishonest and crazy people, I’ve learned a lot more about me, life and people than I think I have the other 44 years of life.

It’s also forced me to learn new skills like video editing, graphic arts, audio work, development of books for iPad, etc. And I’ve learned new boundaries that I simply won’t tolerate being violated ever again.

And through it all, my Dad and Mom, (I don’t want to create any unnecessary animosities) have stood behind me.  Dad and I were discussing an option to pick up and move to Florida a few weeks ago and he said, “It’s your life, you need to decide, but I will support you either way.” You just don’t know how amazing that was to hear.

But that is my Dad, and that’s the way he’s taught me to live. I’ve tried to be that kind of father to my daughters. I don’t micromanage their lives and I offer them encouragement and support. But ultimately, they are the ones who have to live their lives and make the decisions about what they do with them.  (And they all know, they’re free to go to any college or university they want, so long as it’s Auburn.)

I wish I had been able to spend more time with my Dad when I was young. But dad was in the Strategic Air Command and flew B-52s. When we were stationed in Northern Michigan at KI Sawyer AFB from 2nd-6th grade, Dad spent a lot of time, at least a week a month, over at the Alert Facility, just 13 minutes away at any time from taking off into the wild blue yonder to go attack targets inside the Soviet Union. During the beginning of my kindergarten year, he was in Viet Nam flying in an elite helicopter group where he even got shot down just two days shy of my fifth birthday.

It’s hard to imagine what life would have been like had the bullet that went up through the floor, between my Dad’s legs and up through the roof of the Huey, had hit him instead. Sadly, his gunners that day both got hit, and one of them died. Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 11.13.23 PM

My Dad has taught me to love this country and has shown me what it’s like to risk life and limb to protect it. Admittedly, I get choked up when I hear the National Anthem played. For years of my life, I was on air force bases at 5 p.m. when it’d play on loud speakers and everyone stopped their cars. If you were in uniform, you got out of your car in the middle of the road and stood at attention and saluted in the direction of the music.

With my asthma, the USAF kept me from following in Dad’s footsteps, but it was like God had another path for me all along anyways. Dad may not could always be there at sporting events or school programs or for a game of catch in the front yard, but there were many times when he was, and my mind is full of memories of some of those times. In the late 1980s when Field of Dreams came out, I bought two gloves and a ball so even in my 20s, Dad and I could still “have a catch.”

Dad’s in Indiana these days. I’m here in Texas. It’s been a couple years now since I’ve even seen him. We don’t talk as much as I’d like to on the phone but we still talk. Damned Cat’s In The Cradle….

I love my Dad. I love my Mom, three brothers and sister.  I’ve been lucky. I know it. And I’m thankful. Lord knows I’m thankful as I can be. Happy Father’s Day to one and all.

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