Keep On the Sunny Side, Always On the Sunny Side

AR Neal at One Starving Activist has nominated me for a “Sunshine Award”, which I very humbly and gratefully accept.  It is nice to know that my naturally rather dark disposition hasn’t fully gotten in the way on my blog, that someone has noticed rays a brighter Spirit shining through.

The terms of acceptance are as follows –

  • Thank the person who nominated you (thank you, AR).
  • Answer ten questions (see below),
  • nominate ten fellow bloggers, link to their blogs and tell them that they won the Sunshine award (see further below).

10 Questions

1.  What inspired you to start blogging?

In December of 2012, I started looking for work in the field of writing and my job coach Joseph Smith-Biddie recommended a create a blog as a sort of portfolio and a way to network.

2.  How did you come up with the name to your blog?

Actually, the original title of the blog was Will Write For Food (and maybe dental).  As my confidence developed, I decided one day I was not so desperate, that what I really had to offer was A Way With Words.

What is your favourite blog you like to read? 

I follow over 150 blogs and read many of them regularly.  If I had to pick one that offers consistent quality writing, it would be – russell boyle: Russell Boyle’s Favourite Poetry.

Tell about your dream job.

I would like to be an adjunct professor of creative writing and a writer-in-residence at a small town Christian college.

Is your glass half empty or half full?

From a human perspective, my glass is completely empty – but by the grace of God, my cup overflows.

If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?

The Adirondacks, with my children.

What food can you absolutely not eat?

Food that bounces when you bite it – like octopus.

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

When I focus on my health – dark chocolate.  When I give in to addiction – milk chocolate (as in peanut M&Ms).

How much time do you spend blogging?

Currently, quite a bit.   Maybe 6-8 hours/day.  Soon I hope to be gainfully employed, however, so this will likely be reduced.

Do you watch TV, and if so, what are some of your favourite shows?

The TV is often on in my household, but I don’t really watch it.   “The Andy Griffith Show” is far and away my all-time favorite.

10 Nominees

A is for a-muse-less (ah myooz lis) adj  1 bored with the state of everyday life, lacking something truely enjoyable and having to pull the absured and inane forwards from what we’re given.

The Equiatic Bind  Always speak the truth, think before you speak, and write it down afterwards – Lewis Carroll.

Marisa D. Lyon  Daydreamer. Passionate Writer. Music Lover. Spirituality seeker. Sarcasm Master. Travel enthusiast.

Gina Orlandi  My musings captured in words.

Iridescently Writings, Etcetera by Gina Marie.

mattthewriter  Travel… experience the world.

The Play’s the Thing  Reading Shakespeare’s Plays with Dennis Abrams.

Fide Dubitandum  Faith, Science, and the Meaning of Life.

Notes From the River Bank  A Pilgrim’s Journey (via a few bird hides)

MetaRealist Parables

For Allison (my former muse)

Just a beautiful young woman by *katz
When I was a senior in college (before Al Gore invented the Internet), I set out to write a book.  To accomplish this, I needed a muse.  I had three requirements –
1)    She had to be beautiful.
2)   She had to be smart.
3)   She had to be passionate about creativity.
As if by divine decree, along came Allison.  Allison was a lively young woman with wavy shoulder length hair, an athletic build, and a wonderful smile.  Her eyes sparkled with hopeful curiosity as we talked about God, music, and mostly writing.
Every night after dinner I would turn to her and ask, “Can I follow you around like a puppy dog?”  She would smile.  We would walk to the Point (overlooking the Ohio River) and I would tell her about my story.  Her body reacted with each scene, she listened so attentively.
Some nights we snuck into the chapel and lay on the floor looking up at the ceiling.  I wanted  to reach out to her, but she was already touching me with her soothing words, her boundless energy, her hope-filled faith.  We lay beside each other and let the light between us fill the darkness.

With Allison as my muse, I finished Life (in obvious places) on the day we left for Winter Break.  I handed her the first copy.  She was eager to go.  I was looking forward to coming back from break, spending long nights together wallowing in her admiration for my work.

The next time I saw her, a serious expression had replaced the smile on her face.  She reached out and handed me a note.  “I want you to read this,” she said simply.  And she walked away.
It was a note about love.  She said she wanted to break off our relationship.  I was crushed.  We never once talked about my book.
One day, I found Allison on Facebook.  She is still smiling, now beside her adoring husband and two beautiful children.  Her oldest looks just like her.  There is so much joy inside her.
Some weeks back, Allison sent me a message to thank me for introducing her to the music of folk singer John Prine – who is now my muse.  I figure it’s much safer to have a muse who is as close as a button on my keyboard.
P.S.  I sent an earlier draft of this reflection to Allison for her blessing to post it and perhaps a picture of her in college.   She wrote back while her youngest was making a delicious fruit salad.  She couldn’t oblige with a photo, but she did offer her blessing and had some very nice things to say.  In spite of our mutually selective memories, I think we can agree that ours is a fond one.

(image above – “Just a beautiful young woman” from *katz, some rights reserved)

Nomination #3 (will it be assassination or failed revolution?)


I have been nominated for this “Very Inspiring Blogger Award” by Veronica of charlottesville winter.  I accept this award with much fear and trepidation.  It is my third blogging award, so it puts me right up there with “Lincoln” and “Les Miserables” – and look what happened to them.  Assassination.  And a failed revolution.  Nonetheless, I accept (both this award and my fate).

The conditions for acceptance are –

1. Display the award logo (see above)

2. Link back to the person who nominated you (also see above)

3. State 7 things about yourself (see below)

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them (see further below)

As for 7 things about myself, I thought it would be good since this is about being inspiring and my blog is about writing if I were to mention 7 persons who have inspired me to write.  (There have been and continue to be many more, but I’ll limit myself now to 7).

1.  Larry Roberts.  Growing up, we would visit my Uncle Larry and Aunt Linda (and their daughter Leah) in Chicago.  Larry would often break out his guitar and sing songs.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the music, but my favorite songs were the ones he wrote himself.  I hope to convince him to let me publish a sample in upcoming posts.

2. Ivan Lancaster.  Mr. Lancaster taught 5th and 6th grade English at Nineveh Elementary.  After lunch, he read to us from classic books (I remember Johnny Tremain).  He also encouraged each of us to write our autobiographies and this 30+ page bound notebook with line sheets written on in ink was my first sustained piece of writing.

3.  Robert Waldon.  (Joe Rossi on “The Lou Grant Show”) I was captivated by the character of Rossi – his persistence, his commitment to truth, his courage.  He made me want to become a journalist.  One episode was about book banning.  Rossi was appalled that his favorite book – The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger was on the list.  Immediately, I checked it out of the library.  It became my favorite book and redirected my focus from journalism to creative writing.

4.  Kevin Ballard.  Mr. B. filled in in the English department one semester and I took his class on “Contemporary Drama.”  He wasn’t the best lecturer, but he was very accessible and showed an interest in my ideas and writing beyond class.  He introduced me to a good friend from his college days – Jim Leonard – a playwright who has won awards for “The Diviners” (which he wrote while at Hanover College).

5.  Buran Phillips & George Love.  I list them together because together they helped keep my creative juices flowing while at seminary as co-creators of our satirical newsletters – “The Institutes” & “Rude Dogma”.  While we wrote most articles separately, we developed concepts together and I was inspired just by our shared laughter.

6.  Alice Roberts.  The woman who would become my wife of over 20 years was for many of these years my most prayerful and careful editor.

7.  Veston & Connie Roberts.  A few winters back, my dad and step-mom offered to type my up 500+ sermons and catalogue them on the computer (and on CDs).  Dad in particular has been my most devoted blog follower.  As I write my new novel (on their computer), I debrief after every finished chapter by telling them what it was about (then Dad goes to read it).

Now, to share the “Inspiring Blogger Award”, I nominate the following (in no particular order)…

russellboyle posts classic, inspiring poetry that helps soothe the troubled soul.

Defeat Despair offers inspiring quotes and brief reflections that lift your spirit.

Teacher as Transformer suggests insights on education, leadership, life, and transformation.

larrywtrimm writes on the blessing of being a Christian author.

Confessions of a Bookworm celebrates the inspiration found in reading good books.

The One Thing I Know for Sure presents thoughts and pictures intended to inspire deeper reflection.

writing young adult lit… and the occasional face plant explores the creativity behind a writing life.

liveconsciously publishes inspiring, life-enhancing, mind-altering books and media.on

Write here, Joel reflects on life, faith, and laughter.

The Twenty Something: An Ordinary Girl Serving an Extraordinary God shares her faith passionately.

Dreams Will Catch You provides refreshing perspectives on life and faith.

todaysdailyword brings God’s Word to life in fresh ways.

hankrules2011 provokes thought for an examined life.

I’ve Got This Friend reveals the personal side of a relationship with Christ.

a surrendered year looks at what it means to give in to God.

Check these out and see let them know they have “A Way With Words” on their side.

A Beautiful Blogger Award (am I blushing, or is my blood pressure going up?)


I just received word that Cathy from Expattery nominated me for this “Beautiful Blogger Award”.  I questioned her whether the nomination was for the quality of writing on my blog or the irresistible pensive expression in my Gravatar image.  She hasn’t responded yet, but I’m going to take my chances.  Either way, I could use the hits.

As with all human endeavors, this love in conditional.  Here’s what I have to do.

  1. Place the Beautiful Blogger Award in your post. (see above)
  2. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. (done)
  3. Tell 7 things about yourself. (see below)
  4. Pass this Beautiful Blogger Award on to 7 more bloggers. (see further below)

Since my blog is about writing, I’ll make the 7 things about myself relate to my writing life.

1. The first poem I ever wrote was entitled “Ode to My Pet Rock”

2.  In high school, I wrote a parody of my senior class called, No Biggy.  This was before the days of blogging.  I hand-wrote the chapters and passed them around during class.

3.  I published a short story about a suicidal non-published author.  The last page was splattered with blood (actually red food coloring).  The problem was, the journal printed the page in black-and-white and it looked more like something from a Rorschach test.

4.  I co-wrote a collection of stories and poems with a friend under the influence of various substances.  It was entitled The Week That Was (Almost 10 Days).  My favorite poem was “How to Make Instant Pudding”.

5.  For my senior thesis, I wrote a collection of stories called Life (in obvious places) that combined family stories with quasi-fictional characters.  A lovely young woman named Allison served as my muse.  After I handed her a copy of the finished manuscript, she dumped me.

6.  In graduate school, I co-produced and wrote two satirical newsletters “The Institutes: A Publication of the John Calvin Men’s Society” and “Rude Dogma”.  They were short-lived, but one more radical professor deemed  “Rude Dogma” – “better than the book of Leviticus.”

7.  My current manuscript is a collection of meditations on mental illness.  It’s called From Sheol to the Highest Heavens: 101 Devotions for Persons with Bipolar Disorder and Those Who Love Them.  I am currently considering my publishing options.

Now, for my 7 nominees (in no particular order), I decree –

charlottesville winter – a nifty collection of poetry, poetic prose, and prosaic photography.

Peaceful Partings  – spiritual reflections from a seeker for truth and beauty.

Julie Israel – a writer who reads (and reviews) classics to write even better.

Sky Saiyou – various writings and edited photos that looks as good as it reads.

Jessica Wretlind – humorous (and hip) takes on just about anything in the world.

Allen Fiction – contemporary (and refreshingly clean) fictional forays.

One Starving Activist – hungry for inspiration, and finding nourishment to inspire.

What’s In a Name?

Tony - Note


It’s official.  “Will Write for Food (and maybe dental)” is now “A Way with Words”.  Why, you ask?

Well, it happened like this…

I was in church this morning (a different church than I usually attend), standing and swaying to some contemporary Christian music I didn’t know.  At my usual church, I really enjoy the music.  They have stringed instruments for accompaniment (no drums – there will be no drums in heaven) and though the melodies are often upbeat, the lyrics have deep meaning.  Sometimes the lyrics are new, but they almost always have a depth of theological meaning and are aesthetically pleasing.

The songs we sang today, however, were different.  They are within a genre known as “Praise and Worship” songs.  They are meant, I believe, to foster reflection and meditation on particular words and phrases that repeat a lot.

Some time ago, I went to a “Worship Music” conference (that was actually promoting “Praise and Worship” music) and they jokingly shared what a “Praise and Worship” song would be like if you substituted secular words.  It would go something like this…

The cow.

The cow is in the corn.

The cow is in the corn.

The corn.

The corn.

The cow is in the corn.





You get the point.

So, I was standing there, listening and swaying to the music and I found my mind wandering a bit to my blog.  I’m not really using it to look for work anymore (my search for work is leading me to other avenues).  Instead, I am using it to hone my abilities as a wordsmith (and encourage others to do the same).  I like the original blog title, but it is more self-deprecating (and desperate) than I really want to be.

I’m not a great writer, but I do have “A Way With Words”.