The Storm

The storm roared in at 1:02 in the morning. Rain, hail, wind, lightning. lighteningEnough to wake a person from a deep sleep. In the end, we received nearly an inch of rain, but no real damage. That is significant because we live in the middle of a forest and such storms often leave with trees on the ground, and quite possibly no electricity in our house.

But what is significant about this particular storm and its arrival at 1:02 in the morning is that Mark Scirto, meteorologist from KLTV, had predicted that the storm would reach our area about 1:00 a.m.. And, he had made that forecast 31 hours before the storm actually hit. Impressive. I ignored the two minute discrepancy.

As I thought about this the next day, I remembered a student I had many decades ago when I was teaching a computer science course at the University of Oklahoma. He was an Army officer sent back to school for additional training. Each student in my class had to undertake a major project. His interest in weather forecasting led to his project: produce maps of isobars. This would be a map with lines connecting points having the same atmospheric pressure.

That far back in computer history, instructing the computer to draw a map was difficult. There were no packages to facilitate such a task. The student had to write the code to position and guide the plotter.

The army officer worked hard and produced a commendable project. isobarsBut he could only get data that was many days old, much of it a week old. To gather data from more than one weather station was not straight forward.

Today, we have an app on our smart phone and can get such a map accurate within the last five minutes. Of course, we can get many other types of weather information, showing the conditions over the last hour or five minutes ago. And we are not limited to our local area. If we want to know about the weather where one of our children is living, be it Pennsylvania, or Kansas, or California, we can get it. Quickly. As fast as we can type.

Of course, we are very interested in the weather this time of the year when thunderstorms and tornados are born, raised, and wandering around. But as an author, it reminded me of the rapid change in the publishing industry. Amazon, Print on Demand, and digital book readers have changed the atmosphere for authors and readers.

Amazon was created on July 5, 1994. It’s difficult to know exactly when POD first became commercially available, but not very far back.

Living in the woods of east Texas, I find it important to keep track of the weather. Ignoring it could be disastrous. Disregarding the rapid changes in the publishing industry could be dangerous to an author.

James R. Callan

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Insight into Sight


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Today’s guest blogger is Mary L. Hamilton.  She claims she grew up at a youth camp in Wisconsin, so when she writes her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series, she knows what she is talking about.  Thus far, there are three … Continue reading

The Wild Side of Writing


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Today’s guest is Deborah Dee Harper, a writer from Tennessee who graduated from Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild where Misstep was a finalist in the 2009 Operation First Novel competition.  She will be giving away a copy of Misstep … Continue reading

Because Writing is About More Than Just a Story

Today’s guest blogger is Karin Beery.  She is an active member of American BerryChristian Fiction Writers, the American Christian Writers Association and Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network.  She is represented by Steve Hutson of Word Wise Media.

Patience is a virtue, it’s just not mine.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that, I could retire tomorrow on my own private island. It was fun to say – people laughed at my cleverness, but it also gave me a way to jokingly explain my impatience. For years it worked. Then I started writing.

I started my career with a novel. When I realized how little I knew about publishing, I started to explore other forms of writing while I revised my manuscript. I knew it needed a little work, but I had high hopes and expectations – a tweak here, an edit there, then I’d be ready to sign a contract. But life happens.

You end up taking a fulltime job, so your part-time writing job fills up your spare time, and the novel gets pushed aside. You quit your job to stay home and care for your aunt, but then your health declines, and for two years you can barely function. When you can function, your novel doesn’t even make the top half of your to-do list. One thing after another lands on your calendar, filling your days and novel-writing hours.

It doesn’t take long for depression to join you. You see your friends’ names appear on books and watch them win awards while you struggle to finish a chapter. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like you’ll finish anything.

But you keep writing.

And what you don’t notice is that while you’ve been struggling, you’ve been learning. And growing. And strengthening. And when you’re manuscript is finally cleaned up, you suddenly have an agent who enjoys working with you. And that’s when you realize it – you’ve become a writer.

Writing isn’t for the faint-hearted. You can’t be sensitive or emotionally attached. You need to see your work for what it really is – a product that you created. It’s not you, and how people respond to it isn’t a reflection of you. There are rules, guidelines, and techniques that need to be understood, mastered, and sometimes broken, but understanding that doesn’t come with writing one manuscript; it comes from years of hard work, studying, practicing, and writing.

When I started writing, I thought all I needed to do was write a good story. Yes, you do need a good story, but you need to become a writer too. You need to become someone who can take the criticism, put in the effort, and dedicate yourself to the cause of not just writing a story, but creating the best manuscript possible. For some, that happens quickly. For others, it takes time. For the dedicated, however, it doesn’t matter – keep learning, keep going, and keep writing.

JIM:  Now’s the time to throw in your two-cents worth. Add your thoughts on the writing journey.  Just click on the “Replies” button cleverly hidden below.  Thanks.

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Her website is


Come Join this Murder


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I didn’t want to get involved in murder. But she made it sound like an exciting thing.  It was going to be big.  There were some names behind it; names I would know. It would be noticed.  The press would notice.  … Continue reading