The November 2014 edition

Thankfulness

I have so much to be grateful for as another Thanksgiving holiday fast approaches.

Foremost, I thank Jesus Christ for entering my life long before I ever realized it, and leading me in the direction I am now headed. And I am excited to see where He leads me.

Some would say the string of coincidences – which eventually led to my publishing Vendetta Stone, a fictional true-crime thriller set in Nashville – can be explained away.

Believe what you will; I can only say that everything in my heart and mind and soul tells me there is only one true answer – that a divine Creator is responsible for this world and the universe and that God intercedes on behalf of mankind. Sometimes it’s a big-picture intercession, but more often it is a personal and humbling experience. And life-changing.

That’s what happened for me.

A half-dozen years ago, I was firmly entrenched in a journalism career at The Tennessean, and had no idea that I would soon go off-road and down a path that would eventually lead to my becoming an author.

But a Channel 4 newscast sparked the idea for a story about one man’s quest to find his wife’s murderer. Being a life-long newspaper guy, I wanted to tell this story from a media angle – how Jackson Stone uses the media to get his vendetta message out, how newspapers and television cover major events, how such an event affects the lives of people around him and how a killer might react if he saw Stone’s challenge on TV.

That was coincidence No. 1. It was a minute-long report that I saw on a day off, and I was at home watching the newscast with my wife. If I’d been at work, I certainly wouldn’t have seen that particular newscast – and I would’ve been too busy to dwell on it very long, certainly not long enough to spark a story idea.

Was it aired on other stations and newscasts that I might have seen at another time? Possibly. Was there a story in my own newspaper that may have brewed the same novel idea the next morning over my steaming cup of coffee? Probably. It was a big story in Nashville and all the media outlets were following it. Would my reaction have been the same?

Anyway, that is where it began. And there were many more coincidences that followed over the next few years – being in the right place at the right time, someone answering a question that I had only asked in my mind, the title of my book, etc.

And then, just as I was putting finishing touches on the book, I was offered early retirement at The Tennessean. Again, perfect timing. I knew it was the right time to make a move if I ever wanted to do something different with my life.

It has been an amazing 15 months since Vendetta Stone came out, leading to numerous opportunities and meeting lots of people.

I feel very blessed, professionally and personally.

Speaking of personal matters, I am also thankful for the safe return of my wife Bennie, who suffered through quite an ordeal and health scare while on vacation in The Netherlands. She wound up being hospitalized for 10 days and she was finally able to make it home.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving and may our paths cross somewhere down the line. I will be in Kingsport, Tennessee, this weekend at the Christmas Connection, then head to the North Carolina Writers Network conference in Charlotte. Next month, I will be in Manchester, Tullahoma and Franklin, home of the Dickens of a Christmas event on December 13-14.

Thanks for reading.

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