Friday, January 23, 2015

Brian Dickinson: Must Blind Descents Be Made Alone?

Everyone's Story welcomes former US Navy Air Rescue Swimmer, and now author, Brian Dickinson. I've always been fascinated by people who can brave the elements of nature and take chances on exploring where some of us can only dare participate via books or movies. But, that's what I admire about this week's guest: Brian encourages us all to honor the unique gifts that God has blessed us with, whether it's mountain climbing, writing, or helping to make a child smile. Please take the time to visit with Brian this week as he shares about his experience on the world's highest mountain, as told in his non-fiction book, BLIND DESCENT, a Tyndale House publication. Do check out his amazing BookGiveaway! Both Brian and I look forward to hearing from you.

Brian is offering 1 hard-cover edition of his true-life account, BLIND DESCENT to 1 randomly drawn commenter (U.S. residents only). The winner will be announced here on Friday, January 30th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment

Surviving Blind and Alone on Mount Everest by Brian Dickinson

On May 15, 2011, I soloed the top of the world.  It took over a month to properly acclimate to the extreme altitude in the death zone, consisting of a 38-mile trek to basecamp and multiple partial climbs up and down Everest (climb high and sleep low).  This process allowed my body to produce additional red blood cells, which in turn carried more oxygen so I could survive higher on the mountain.  I never intended to climb to the top alone, but I had to make a serious decision at 28,000’ when my climbing Sherpa, Pasang, felt ill and went back down.  We had a conversation there, calculated the risks and decided it was safe for Pasang to wait there (he ended up descending to high camp), and for me to head up alone.  In the mountains you live and die by the decisions made based on the information you have at the time.

Those last few hours alone, putting one heavy foot in front of the other, were filled with peace and satisfaction.  Around 6am when I pierced the top of the 29,035’ summit with my crampons I felt everything from joy and relief to exhaustion.  I made a quick radio call down to some lower camps to let them know I had made it and then took some pictures.  I then gathered my gear to head down and a couple steps into my descent everything went completely white.  I dropped down, grabbing the rope I was attached to and assessed the situation.  I was snow blind.  Due to a goggle malfunction the previous day on Lhotse Face, as soon as the sun rose and banked onto the ice, it fried my cornea.  At that elevation there’s only a third of the air and ozone protection as there is at sea level.  With snow blindness it typically takes 24 hours to heal, I wouldn’t fully regain my eyesight for over a month.  At that moment I didn’t panic, I thought of my navy training to never panic but to focus on the mission at hand, so I got up and slowly started making my way down the mountain.  Everest has fixed lines, which are ropes anchored to rock / ice and I was attached to that rope with safety devices attached to my harness.

As I made my way down the mountain I felt a calming presence around me.  It’s as if I wasn’t alone.  I never spoke to anyone, but I just felt that there was someone beside me during the descent.  I slid down the famous Hillary Step, took a major fall down the South Summit and eventually ran out of oxygen at 27,500’ after continual climbing for over 30 hours.  As my mask sucked into my face I ripped it off, dropped to my knees and surrendered to God.  I simply said, “I can’t do this alone, please help.”  At that moment I felt unexplained energy enter my body and was lifted to my feet.  I blindly attached a spare oxygen bottle, which had previously failed and I got a positive flow of air.  Without overthinking it I made my way down the remaining vertical 1,500’ to high camp where Pasang helped me back to the tent.  In total what should have taken 3 hours to get to high camp, took me over 7 hours. 

I’ve always been a big goal setter, pushing my limits beyond what seemed possible.  To me, that’s living.  I grew up very adventurous in a small town in southern Oregon and then served 6 years in the US Navy as an Air Rescue Swimmer, stationed in San Diego, Ca.  After getting married and moving to the Pacific Northwest for graduate school, I took to the mountains.  I worked in technology firms like Cisco Systems and Expedia, but escaped into the Cascade Range to fulfill my need for adventure.  Having two kids changed my perspective on life, but it didn’t change the way I was wired.  I definitely had a new sense of responsibility, which factored into the calculations of my risk taking.  To most, climbing high peaks is an insane invitation to certain death.  To those closer to the sport it couldn’t be more opposite.  God created us in a unique way and we must understand and utilize our uniqueness to truly live life to the fullest.  The key is to identify your God-given talents then use them in a way that honors God, fulfills your life and helps you create a legacy to inspire others.

Brian's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Imagine snow-blindness on Everest? Meet author & former US Navy Air Rescue Swimmer @BrianCDickinson (Tweet This)

Everyone has a story: What did @BrianCDickinson do when blinded and alone on Mount Everest? (Tweet This)

#BookGiveaway of BLIND DESCENT by @BrianCDickinson (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Brian Dickinson served for six years as a US Navy Air Rescue Swimmer before he moved to the Pacific Northwest to get his MBA and pursue his passion for extreme sports and mountain climbing. He has climbed in expeditions on the highest peaks of the seven continents, including Mount Everest, with the majority of climbs in the Cascade Mountains, near his home. He uses his climbs to help raise money for charities such as the AIDS Research Alliance, visit orphanages and as an opportunity to share his faith with others around the world. Brian, his wife, JoAnna, and their children, Jordan and Emily, live in Snoqualmie, Washington. Brian is the author of Blind Decent.

Places to connect with Brian:

Friday, January 16, 2015

Braxton DeGarmo: On Letting Your Babies Grow Up To Be Writers

Everyone's Story welcomes fiction author  Braxton DeGarmo. I've been intrigued by Braxton ever since we've met, especially due to his edgy fiction. Knowing my viewers, I believe you will also be interested in Braxton's stories. And, like me, you will want to know what inspired Braxton to write the type of story he does and what message he hopes to convey to the reader. Check out Braxton's Giveaway offer and take a moment to visit his website to read the first chapter (preferably after viewing the words he shares here first and leaving a comment--wink, wink). We're both looking forward to hearing from you.

Braxton is offering 1 copy of INDEBTED to 1 randomly drawn commenter (for a printed copy only U.S. residents, outside the U.S. will receive an eBook edition). The winner will be announced here on Friday, January 23rd between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment

If you'd like to read the first chapter of INDEBTED you may check it out on Braxton's website.

As a first-time guest posting here, I’d like to thank Elaine for this opportunity. By way of introduction, I’m a retired Emergency Medicine physician who writes what I call “true life” Christian suspense and thrillers – “true life” because I have no objection to using mild profanity if it fits the character. My stories also involve current-day issues such as racism and human trafficking, issues that can show the worst side of humanity. In addition, I live in Ferguson, MO. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Writers … 
by Braxton DeGarmo

With apologies to Ed Bruce, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, I’d have to say that writers are the cowboys of the creative arts. For (some) writers, it’s a lonely life – immersed in a world of their own creation – and hard on those who love them. We’d rather write you a book than give you diamonds or gold, but maybe that’s because few writers actually make a living by following their passion. And every night starts a new day … as we often toil long into the wee hours of the morning, in our faded blue jeans.

Yet, have you ever asked a cowboy to give up his lifestyle? The handful I’ve personally met over my lifetime would say “no.” There’s something about working hard in the wide, open ranges of a ranch that permeates their very being and becomes part of them. They’d no sooner give up that sense of freedom and gratification of a job well done than to give up an arm … or their favorite horse.

Writers can be like that, too. Give up that freedom of creating a world full of intriguing characters, wondering what kind of trouble they’ll get into next? Never. Abandon that sense of fulfillment in completing a story that entertains and touches others, perhaps keeping those readers reading well into those same wee hours the author works crafting his next tale? Not only no, but … well, you know. They’d rather give up that arm, as long as it’s not the one they use to write.

I know firsthand how writing can become a passion that seeps into your soul. I can’t say I always wanted to be a writer, but I always wrote. I wrote technical papers, journal articles, and manuals. I even tried my hand at magazine articles. However, the craft of creative writing was never something I had aspired to. I’m not sure why, but I think it had more to do with not having been exposed to it in school than anything else. 

And that’s where my “Mamma” came in. You see, she let me grow up to be a doctor and such. And yet, she kept at me, urging me to write. I guess my seventh grade English teacher first saw that spark of creativity in me and convinced my mother that I could be a great writer. However, I kept rebuffing her suggestions that I write a book. You see, there was med school, military service, getting married and starting a family, starting a civilian career, and all of those “real life” time demands that we all face that limited my view of a horizon that she seemed to see clearly. She eased up on me for a bit, but began to hammer away again when our children went off to college and the nest emptied. After yet one more of her “reminders,” I happened upon a writing contest and decided to give it a go. Placing in the top five was enough to ignite something inside. Seventeen years and multiple novels later, I can honestly call myself an author and not only has that passion for writing soaked in, it now oozes out.

So, Mammas (and Papas) remember that you can and will influence your children’s lives not just in those “formative” years, but well beyond. There will be times when you can see a hidden talent in your child that you know beyond doubt could change his life. As parents, we’re a lot like God in this way. He sees in us the talents He gave us and He gently pushes us to utilize those gifts. It seems that most of the time, though, that His timing does not correlate to our timing, and sometimes He has to give us a swift kick to get us back on course. So, if your child doesn’t see it right away, maybe the timing isn’t right. Stick with it, just as God perseveres with us. Oh, and it’s okay to let your babies grow up to be writers.

Braxton's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Meet Braxton DeGarmo, author of “true life” Christian suspense and thrillers. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: Author @BraxtonDeGarmo’s message for parents of creative children #BookGiveaway (Tweet This) 

Like to read Christian #suspense & #thrillers? @BraxtonDeGarmo’s #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Braxton DeGarmo, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician who lives in Ferguson, MO with his wife and garden. He is the author of “true-life” Christian suspense and thrillers, whose titles include: “The Militant Genome,” “Indebted,” “Looks that Deceive,”  “Rescued and Remembered,” and “The Silenced Shooter.”

Places to connect with Braxton:

Special Presentation: Susan F. Craft's Newest Release

Everyone's Story is celebrating with award-winning author Susan F. Craft on her newest release, LAUREL, with her newest publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. This is definitely a novel to soak up and enjoy: an exciting time era in U.S. history, plus a theme that resonates with any time period--the angst of a missing child. Please check out Susan's Giveaway offer and blurbs of her amazing novel, as well as a special Facebook invitation from Susan. 

We're both looking forward to hearing from you.

Susan is offering 1 copy of LAUREL to 1 randomly drawn commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, January 23rd between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment

Searching for their toddler and her Cherokee aunt kidnapped by slavers, Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos trek from their North Carolina vineyard, through South Carolina backcountry to Charleston, a tinderbox of post-Revolutionary War passions. There Lilyan, a former Patriot spy, faces a grand jury on charges of murdering a British officer. Once free, they follow Laurel’s trail by sea and are shipwrecked on Ocracoke Island. Will they be reunited with their dear child or is Laurel lost to them forever?

Full back cover copy:
Desperate to rescue their kidnapped daughter, Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos trek two hundred miles through South Carolina mountains and backcountry wilderness, fighting outlaws, hunger, sleeplessness, and despair. When the trail grows cold, the couple battles guilt and personal shame; Lilyan for letting Laurel out of her sight, and Nicholas for failing to keep his family safe.

They track Laurel to the port of Charleston as post-Revolutionary War passions reach fever pitch.  There, Lilyan, a former patriot spy, is charged for the murder of a British officer. She is thrown into the Exchange Building dungeon and chained alongside prostitutes, thieves, and murderers. Separated from her husband, she digs deep inside to re-ignite the courage and faith that helped her survive the war.  Determined to free his wife at any cost, Nicholas finds himself forced back into a life of violence he thought he’d left behind.

Following a rumor that Laurel may be aboard a freighter bound for Baltimore, Lilyan and Nicholas secure passage on a departing schooner, but two days into the voyage, a storm blows their ship aground on Diamond Shoals. As the ship founders, both are swept overboard.

Will their love for each other and their faith sustain them as they await word of their missing child? Or is Laurel lost to them forever?

Susan will be hosting an Online Book Launch Party on FaceBook Saturday the 17th from 2-4 EST. Come by, chat, and leave a comment for a chance to win some fantastic prizes. The Party will be on Susan’s author page, Susan F. Craft,

Susan's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Meet award-winning author @SusanFCraft. #BookGiveaway of new release LAUREL (Tweet This)

Author Bio:
Susan F. Craft writes inspirational historical romantic suspense. Her Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile, won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick.  Susan recently retired after a 45-year career as a communications director, editor, and proofreader.  To assist authors to “get it right about horses in their works,” Susan worked with the Long Riders’ Guild Academic Foundation to compile A Writer's Guide to Horses (also known as An Equestrian Writer’s Guide) that can be found at Forty-five years ago, she married her high school sweetheart, and they have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog. An admitted history nerd, she enjoys researching for her novels, painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on her porch watching the rabbits and geese eat her daylilies.  She has two post-Revolutionary War novels being released in 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas—Laurel, was released January 15, and its sequel Cassia in September. She is represented by Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency.

Contact Susan at:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Edie Melson: Life Lessons For Writers

Everyone's Story welcomes author and blogger extraordinaire Edie Melson. Edie is my go-to expert when I need advice on blog kinks or other related social media dilemma. I'm a fan and subscriber to her blog, The Write Conversation. She has a generous heart, which I'm grateful for. It's my pleasure to host Edie this new "blog week" and I'm sure you will enjoy visiting Edie as well. Please check out her lovely BookGiveaway. We're both looking forward to hearing from you.

Edie is offering 1 copy of either her FIGHTING FEAR: Winning The War At Home or CONNECTIONS: Social Media and Networking Techniques For Writers to 1 randomly drawn commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, January 16th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment

Life Lessons—14 Things We Do To Keep From Being Successful In Writing and in Life by Edie Melson

I’ve never met a person—writer or otherwise—who didn’t want to be successful. Sure everyone’s definition of success is different, but we all want to succeed. And a lot of blogs offer advice on how to find that success. And while it’s vitally important to learn how to write well, network, and market. Often those aren’t the only things that stand between us and our goals.

The one thing I’ve discovered on my own writing journey is that I’m often my own worst enemy. I’m the person who has—most often—stood between me and success. So today I’m sharing 14 things we do to KEEP from being successful.

1. We spend too much time watching TV. There are some great television shows out there right now (Castle, Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D, Bones, are some of my favorites). And while they can provide inspiration, they can also stand between me and writing time. I have to decide which is more important, writing or watching TV.

2. We spend too much time reading about writing instead of writing. You’ve seen this one a lot on my blog lately. But the reason is that I’m running into this a lot with wannabe writers.

3. We don’t track our time online. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re surfing the web. Social media (can anyone say Facebook?) is a big sinkhole for time. Because of this, I pay very close attention to the clock when I’m online.

4. We don’t follow a schedule. I get a lot done during my writing day, and the primary reason is that I follow a schedule. I’ve learned that it’s the best way for me to stay productive with my ADD tendencies.

5. We don’t set goals. It’s really hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going.

6.  We don’t have a plan or track our progress. Just like #5 above. If you don’t have a plan, it’s hard to tell if you’re actually making progress. Beyond that, if you’re not tracking your progress, it’s much easier to get discouraged and give up.

7. We rely too much on inspiration and motivation. Inspiration is great, but perspiration is gold. The transition from writing as a hobby to serious writing comes right here. It’s when a writer can and will put words on paper even when he doesn’t feel like it.

8. We make too many assumptions. Making assumptions is rarely a good idea, and that’s especially true in the publishing industry.

9. We aren’t willing to wait. Waiting is never fun. And patience isn’t in my arsenal of super powers. But I’ve learned how this business works and waiting is part of it. If you’re willing to wait, good things will come.

10. We don’t listen to the experts. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come to me as a freelance editor and paid me to edit a manuscript. Then, completely ignored my advice. I get that it’s our work and we’re in charge, but don’t ask my advice if you’re just going to argue with my expertise. That’s a waste of my time and your money.

11. We take the advice of EVERYONE. No this isn’t contradicting #10. Choose the people you take advice from and realize that not every piece of advice is the right thing for you.

12. We read passively. Words are our business. Don’t waste an opportunity to learn. Look at the book or article or blog you’re reading as an opportunity to improve. Why do you like it? Why did you choose that book? Don’t pass up what amounts to a free workshop when you read.

13. We don’t believe in ourselves. Ultimately my success and my failure rests with me. If I don’t believe in myself, in the calling and gift that God has given me, then no one else can help me.

14. We give up too early. This one is related to #9. When I started writing seriously, I was part of a group of women and we were all about the same level. Today, I’m one of the few left. I’m not more talented than the others, I just refused to give up. Talent will only take you so far. Success comes from pig-headed diligence.

Well this is my list of things that stand between me and success. What would you add to the list?

Edie's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Edie Melson @EdieMelson: 14 Things We Do To Keep From Being Successful (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: What did author & social media pro@EdieMelson discover on her writing journey? (Tweet This)

Don’t miss this: Check out social media expert @EdieMelson’s #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author's Bio and Places To Connect:
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, including the devotional for military families, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, and Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers. She's also a well known freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine and the Senior Editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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