Archives For dreams

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Tim Gallen is friend of mine. Working as as a journalist, he dreamt of being an author. That dream has come true for him with his first published novella, Niscene’s Creed. He lives in Phoenix with his wife, Nicole, and dog, Stella.

1. How long have you been writing?

Well, I knew I wanted to be a writer since high school. And I did some in college, but I suffered from a terrible lifelong case of perfectionism, so I hardly completed anything I started. Long story short, though, in more recent years, I’ve been writing fairly regularly since 2012.

2. Did you always know you wanted to write?

I remember always enjoying writing time as far back as second grade, but I didn’t really consider being a writer until high school when I wrote a novel for a project. So, to answer the question: I didn’t really think much about it until I was a teenager.

3. Is fantasy your favorite genre?

Yes, fantasy is my favorite genre. It’s kind of a funny thing because I didn’t really read too much fantasy until the past decade or so when I fell in love with the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. But I always have kind of dabbled in the fantasy genre when I’ve written. I also enjoy young adult novels. Kind of crazy combination, I know. But I think it’s because most of the time, I still feel like I’m 18 and trying to figure out the world.

4. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’m kind of weird in that I don’t really have favorite authors, per se. If the story is compelling and sounds interesting and is written well, I’ll give it a try. That’s not to say there aren’t a few authors whose work I’m fond of and will pick up something by them just because it has their name on it: George RR Martin (naturally), Robert Jordan (though, you know, he’s dead), Orson Scott Card (one of the greatest writers ever) to just name a few.

5. Where do you get your ideas? (Kidding!)

I know you said you were kidding, but I’ll answer anyway. I get most of my ideas from reading other books, honestly. Steal like an artist and all that.

6. What is the genesis of Niscene’s Creed? When did you first get the kernel that germinated into this, your first novella?

Niscene’s Creed has its origins in a few places. I first met/created Niscene about four years ago when I had begun reading George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I set out wanting to write a story with an ensemble cast of characters, but make all of them members of this shadowy league of assassins. Well, as things tend to do, the story evolved and changed and I discovered another non-assassin character whom I fell in love with. But I always liked Niscene. Namely because she’s so vicious. Then, when I started blogging in 2012, I started a weekly fiction serial on Fridays, and I started with Niscene and telling the story of her first kill as a member of this assassins group. So, essentially, that serial grew into the novella. And it serves as an introduction of sorts, not only to Niscene but to this fantasy world of mine and this evolving epic story I wish to tell. I could keep going but I probably wouldn’t stop then.

7. Understanding that Niscene’s Creed isn’t a religious work, what made you use that title/name specifically? You are aware that the Nicene Creed is a well-known, historic profession of faith used in Christian liturgy, right? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed) Are you concerned that theologically conservative readers may confuse your book for something other than it is?

Being a pastor’s son and church-goer, I’m well aware of the Nicene Creed (I believe in God the father, almighty, creator of heaven and earth…). But that familiarity has nothing to do with the title of my novella. It’s just a funny coincidence and a slight pun. Though, in the world of the novel, it’s not a pun at all, since, you know, it’s a fantasy world. The title actually was kind of tough. But the story begins with Niscene reciting this oath. Essentially, she’s being sworn into this group of assassins. And the words of the oath kind of haunt her throughout the novella and serve as a motivating device to push her to certain actions. In essence, the oath is her new creed in life. Thus, Niscene’s Creed seemed like a decent title. As far as if overly religious people come across my book, see the title, and think it is something to do with Christianity, well, I’m not too worried about it. I mean, the cover has a woman kissing another woman’s hand and, while they’re not particularly scantily clad, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory that this particular book has nothing to do with espousing one’s belief in the Holy Trinity. Of course, if someone does happen to read it thinking it was something else, I look forward to the undoubtedly hilarious email or review on Amazon I will receive.

8. What’s ahead for Tim Gallen? Any future works you can tell us about?

What’s ahead? Well, I’ve always got like a billion things going on in my head at any one moment. Seriously, it’s all kinds of crazy up there. I’ve a few snippets here and there of what may become the direct sequel to Niscene’s Creed. The ending serves as a pretty good lead-in to a second book. And as I said above, NC serves as the introduction to these characters and this world. And there’s a lot more to come. But I also have another story about unicorns that I’m working on that I’m totally psyched about. Yes, unicorns. And it’s gonna be awesome. Honestly, I am likely going to finish that before any direct sequel to NC, though anything can happen.

You can find Tim online at TimGallen.com, and his debut novella, Niscene’s Creed is available on Amazon in both paperback, and ebook, formats by clicking here.

'Dysfunction Junction: Cold Spring NY Photowalk' photo (c) 2010, Nick Harris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I don’t want you getting the wrong idea–I wasn’t beaten as a child. The spankings I got, I earned (helping your buddy try to burn down his grandmother’s garage, anyone?). I wasn’t a battered child, but I’ve got come to the conclusion that abuse is never just physical.

There are psychological, and emotional, abuses, too. And if I was abused, it was in this way:

I was ignored. One of my earliest memories is being told to go away, relax, unwind, watch T.V. And then later, when she checked on me, my mother was aghast to find me drinking a beer in front of Sesame Street. Why? “Because it wat daddy do.”

When I fell, got hurt, got a boo-boo, there was precious little soothing; instead, I was indoctrinated with the mantra “I’m alright.” Even though I most decidedly was not alright. They say the lessons learned earliest go the deepest.
And are hardest to overcome. I’ve been alright far too many times when I shouldn’t have been. Been okay in places I never should have been…

If my mother’s chiefest failing was practiced indifference–emotional diffidence, my dad’s was indifference followed by the bitter wash of sarcastic chasers. I would go from being ignored to verbally masticated, spit out, left to put myself back together…

And I had to be alright.

After their inevitable divorce, the neglect only deepened. My mom, of course, didn’t share her pain; instead, losing herself in work, she hoped (I think) to give others something she couldn’t give herself: an intact family.

And my dad? Our relationship was as defined in the divorce decree: I saw him twice a year. His second wife hated my brother and I…

Divorce touches millions of families. And my life, seen from the outside, may have appeared to be, while perhaps less than ideal, a privileged one. I was white, lived in Scottsdale, had a roof, clothes  food. In short, the basics.

It has taken me years to pin down just exactly what I didn’t have:

A sense of love.

Part and parcel with growing up latchkey was, I guess, a sense of parental guilt. There were precious few boundaries, and even fewer consequences. I was left to my own devices, to indulge in whatever I wanted.

It’s a wonder I just got into smoking, and not drugs. My interest in porn was labelled “healthy curiosity.” If my childhood was defined by anything, it was these three things:

Neglect

Pornography

And Stephen King

I turned inward because there was nowhere else to go, no one to go to. My mom eventually had a live-in boyfriend, who’s example, and idea of culture, consisted of pizza, cigarettes, and “martoonis” in front of the T.V. This was my exemplar of manhood.

I wanted to escape, but had nowhere else to go. My dad didn’t want me, my mom was too busy, and this is “white privilege?”

None of this was talked about. I had to navigate a broken family, adolescence, on my own.

Habits developed then have not always been conducive now to  building healthy attachments. I’m almost 45 years old, and still bitter about what I didn’t have. Why couldn’t I have a normal, loving family? Why don’t I have meaningful relationships with my parents, brother, etc?

For years, as a growing Christian, I thought it was my job to put up, shut up, keep the peace. I allowed so many unhealthy things to happen, so many hurts to go unaddressed. I want to let my parents off the hook, say they did the best they could…

But I don’t believe it.

That’s why I want so much to be done with them. I can’t seem to get past the things which they’ve done, or I’ve done in relation to them. I want to say there’s too much water under the bridge. I don’t feel listened to.

I want to be done, but can’t. Because…

Because God.

He’s the God of second, third, thirty-third, and seventy-times-time chances.

Because He’s given me chance after chance, though I’ve blown it time and time again, I can do no less. I have to try.

If there’s a lesson I’ve learned in life, it’s this: the things we like least in others are usually the things which dislike about ourselves. That hurts to admit.

I’m not perfect (far from it), and neither are they. They dealt with their own demons, as I’ve dealt with mine.

God help me, I’m willing to try.

That’s the best I can do.

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Hi! This is my daughter, Bella; she’s a Daisy Scout. This is her, and our, first year involved with scouts. We’re heading into cookie season, a fun time for the girls (and their families). Cookie sales fund a number of scout programs, such as camp, troop activities, etc.

Ours being a brand new troop, expectations aren’t very high for sales. Even so, her mother and I always try to encourage Bella to dream big.

You have a dream; you might be pursuing it now. Or maybe you had a dream, and have forgotten how. You remember what it is dream–what it feels like to see it out there, shimmering on the horizon before you. It’s so sweet, you can almost taste it.

It’s right there at your fingertips.

You didn’t get there alone. You had a lot of help, a lot of encouragement, along the way.

My little girl has a dream, too:

She wants to sell 1500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

If she can, she’ll earn a one-day trip to Disneyland (one of her favorite places). 'Take that, Girl Scouts!!' photo (c) 2012, An Mai - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

From the Girl Scout’s website:

“When a Girl Scout sells you cookies, she’s building a lifetime of skills and confidence. She learns goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—aspects essential to leadership, success, and life.

By putting her mind and energies to something, a Girl Scout can overcome any challenge. There are no limits. She can be anything. She can do anything. Help her build a lifetime of skills and confidence.”

The Cookies

Can I count on you to order cookies, and help a little girl’s dream come true? They’re only $4.00 per box. Contact me at: Chad Jones, and we’ll work out the details.

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I wrote the above to myself in response to a challenge. If you’re like me, you’re afraid to launch into that next thing. It’s good that you’re afraid, because it tells you something: you’re onto something. If it weren’t important, there would be no fear–nothing to be afraid of.

But there are no gains without risks. That next thing you do might well fall flat. Yet you can’t know that.

It might well soar!

The only thing you have to do is try. And failure isn’t failure if you’ve learned something from it.

I’ll leave you today with a paraphrase of something I heard John Eldredge say:

Don’t veil your glory anymore. Let people feel the full weight of who you are, and let them deal with it.

Now, go! Blaze that trail!

I have put off writing about Packing Light for some time. Reading it, for me, was like the frigid splash of a mountain stream to my slumbering face. It represents the antithesis of how I have lived. For somehow, rather than packing light, my life has been one of encumbrances; both the emotional, and the physical.

I hold onto things.

God knows why. Perhaps it’s growing up a child of divorce, having my family sundered, that compels me to hold onto the things I think which will make me happy. Yet, it never seems to work. Not the books I buy (I have hundreds sitting on the shelf unread), nor the gadgets–phones, tablets, computers, televisions, what have you–not the clothes with which I try to regain my lost youth (“Dad,” my son says, “stop dressing like me”).

Nothing, not one blessed thing, has been able to fill that gaping void left in my soul.

And yet how I’ve tried. How we’ve tried, my wife and I. The house we moved into twelve years ago, the one we called our “dream home,” came with the reality of a mortgage, maintenance, upkeep, stairs that we we tire of climbing…

The dream has become a reality. And expenses multiply. Yet, we hold onto it, for where else would we go? We have family here, friends here, our kids have lives here. But when the air conditioner needs work, when the carpets need replacing, when the garage is full to near capacity with clutter–it feels far more burden than blessing.

The weight of the quotidian obligations weighs far heavier on my shoulders than I ever thought they would. And this Atlas can’t shrug: a family counts upon him to provide: basic necessities, stability, love.

There is (it seems) neither time, nor energy, for the kind of journey which Mrs. Vesterfelt’s book describes.

All the energy goes to holding on…

It is into this life, this mind and heart, that Packing Light came as a slap in the face. I wanted to hate it, to vilify, and excoriate it. But I could not.

First, because the prose was so lithe and supple–beautiful in a way that I was both jealous, and couldn’t stop reading: “Your starting point matters when you go on a trip. It is your only frame of reference for what to bring, and what to leave behind. It is your foundation, your beginning. If, along the way, your realize you’ve been heading the wrong direction, you might change your trajectory, but you can’t change where you started. You have to leave home to go on a journey, but you can’t leave home without having a home.” Second, because I knew she was right: it is not the things to which we should cling tight, but rather the people:

It’s relationships, and shared experiences, that are to be savored.

None of things will take us–take me–anywhere in life. And I certainly cannot take any them with me when the faith shall become sight. This deeply personal tale of a trip across America was a deeply convicting read. Which, if I’m at all honest, is reason number three why it’s such a necessary tonic:

The book made me uncomfortable.

I do not presume to speak for you, but I’ve seen–particularly in conservative, evangelical America–uncomfortable is not something we like to be. It’s far easier to call down fire from heaven upon our neighbors (or family) than it is to traverse the dark rivers of our own hearts. We don’t want to go there.

We want, and know we need, to cast off our baggage. But we don’t want to do the work.

Because we’re afraid of what we’ll see there.

In Packing Light, Allison Vesterfelt takes our hands on this inward journey, and says in a gentle voice (redolent of Another’s voice), “You can do this. I’ve been there. It’s not easy. But it is worth it. Come along. You’ll see.”

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How are you, or are you not, packing light?