Can This be Patched?



It’s gone!

Nothing to do now but pick up the pieces.

In its day, this workboat plied the Chesapeake Bay with pride.  Its skipper took it out in all sorts of weather.  Sea gulls played in its wake.  Its crew dredged oyster beds.  The comradery of watermen sharing laughter, anger, anticipation, disappointment, triumph, and brotherhood echoed in its timbers.

One day, probably all too soon for its owners, the boat gave up its seafaring days. Propped up ashore to fade away with dignity, it is remembered by many.  Some will never see it again.  Few will know what it was like to walk its decks, man its equipment, or store fish in its hold.  It has made its contribution.

Life goes on!

This old boat that I photographed decades ago came to mind two weeks ago when I opened an email saying my publisher had suddenly gone out of business.  Tate Publishing and Enterprises is no more.


Like the old boat, it can’t be patched up and refloated.  The watermark of its presence in the publishing and music world is left to fade into the background.  Hopefully, its authors and artists will not!

I have been a Tate author since 2013.  I signed on in 2012 when I had polished up a manuscript I had worked on over a twenty-year period.  In the confusing world of e-books, self-publishing, and predictions that print media was outdated, the editorial staff at Tate showed me how to lose 40,000 of my 122,000 words, ending up with my first novel, A Change of Heart.   

Since then Tate enabled me to develop my Dinkel Island Series, which includes book two, Return of Bliss, and book three, Secrets at Lighthouse Point.  When my wife, Sharon, and I had gone through the neurological sidetrack of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH), Tate published the book we wrote together:  NPH Journey into Dementia and Out Again.   

So, what does Tate’s closing mean for us?  Is it the end of our books?  

We don’t know what’s next, but we’re not ready to have our writing propped up on shore to fade away.  Several publishing houses have contacted us.  I don’t know if the Dinkel Island Series will continue, or simply be allowed to live on as a trilogy.  Sharon and I both have other writing ventures underway.  One of my goals is to finish the biography of my mother’s life, Dairyman’s Daughter:  Story of One Woman’s Enduring Faith and Courage.  I also have another novel partially written.

Once we find a new publishing boat to board, we’ll be underway again.  Meanwhile, we have books available for sale.  Amazon has both paperback and kindle editions up on their site for all our books.  Barnes & Noble has them all up in Nook editions.  Soft cover books are still available at Book People in Richmond, and Buford Road Pharmacy in Bon Air.

Sharon and I are grateful to all the people who have bought our books.  We also extend our prayers for the Tate family, former employees, and our fellow Tate authors.  As we move on from here it’s good to remember that my books are about redemption and hope.

That’s our centerpiece!


A Conversational Door


I’ve had a lot of fun at book store signings asking people as they walk by, “What are you reading these days?”  As you can imagine, I get a lot of different answers.

Some will stop with an expression that lights up their face. They’ll mention a book title or an author.  Usually that’s enough to strike up a conversation that is mutually satisfying.

When I asked one man what he was reading, he looked at me as though with x-ray eyes, searching for my thoughts behind my words.  He countered my question without looking at the books or display.

“What are you writing?”

“Christian fiction.”

His brow clouded.  “What does that mean?”

“It means my faith is central to how I understand life, people, things that happen.  I build a story around that, offering it to folks for entertainment, and maybe more.  Maybe someone will find encouragement or hope through my faith perspective.”

“Ah, that’s not for me.  I’m an agnostic.”  He waved his hand as he started turning away.

I shrugged.  “That’s your faith perspective.”

He turned back toward me.  “No, I don’t have a faith.  I don’t believe in a god or any of that.  I’ve tried, but it just doesn’t work for me.”

“Then your faith perspective is that life is hopelessly confusing and without purpose.  It’s all pure chance, or maybe unknowable.  I don’t believe that, so I write from a different perspective.”

He picked up a copy of A Change of Heart and thumbed through it.  “Nah, that’s not for me.”  He put it back on the table.

I reached to shake his hand.  “Maybe not.  Maybe it will be later.  Have a blessed day.”

As he walked away he said over his shoulder, “You, too.”

That was a surprise, perhaps to both of us.  It’s one of the fascinating conversations when I asked “What are you reading these days?”  There have been responses quite the opposite.  Some people have answered very quickly, without even pausing, “The Bible!  That’s all I need!”



If given a chance I might mention that each of my books is built around a Bible passage.  Sometimes in conversation I reveal that I’m a retired pastor and an artist.  I write from the worlds I know from my own experience.

I believe a book is always a form of conversation.  I write fiction because it gives me the freedom to structure interaction with people around situations, personalities, circumstances, and often decisions that are deeply personal.  All my life I have found in fiction a pathway for validation of my own experiences and reflections in life.  I hope I can help that happen for others.

“What are you reading these days?”  I think I’ll keep asking the question.  There’s nothing like sharing a good read to open a conversational door.  Oh, and often the conversation sells a book or two!