My First Book is Out!

My first book is finally out!!! It’s taken about five years to write, revise, cleanup, format, edit, and publish, but Giraffe Tracks is available as of today! I’ll have it on its own webpage soon, but the webpage isn’t ready yet, so for now I’m linking to straight the store from my blog.

So far, it’s available in:

Softbound book

Hardbound book

PDF download

Kindle book

or you can Read a Sample

I was hoping to release the audio book at the same time as the book release, but couldn’t have it ready in time.

If there is a format that you would want to buy it in that is not listed above, let me know. I’d like people to be able to buy it in whatever format they want, even if it’s .doc, .jpg or even .mov (that would be interesting). If you’re willing to buy it in a certain format, I’ll make it in that format and sell it at the same price as any digital text format.

I’m publishing it through Willowrise Press, which is my family’s independent publishing company.

Anyway, please buy it!

Here’s the blurb from the back of the book, so you can get an idea what it’s about:

By the late 1990’s, South Africa was in the midst of heavy political and social turmoil. With the ending of Apartheid in 1994, which was a legalized system of racial segregation which heavily curtailed the rights of the black population, the country was left in a dangerously challenging situation. The white population, who had enjoyed relative wealth, government protection, and exclusive employment opportunities, were now forced to share those resources with the massive majority population of native black Africans.

Native Africans, who had been socially, economically, and physically oppressed for centuries, were now allowed to leave their reservation-like townships and come into the cities and suburbs. Having been held back for so long, black Africans continued to experience severe poverty. As new opportunities were thrown at them, poverty-driven crime rose to a frightening level, leaving sour feelings in the hearts of the country’s general population. It became a time of anger, reunion, bitter feelings, fear, and hope.

Giraffe Tracks is the true story of an LDS missionary serving in the Johannesburg, South Africa Mission only a few years after the ending of Apartheid. Using compelling stories, humor, and spiritual insight, the story demonstrates that even in a land overflowing with crime, poverty, and racial hatred, peace and joy can be found through the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the powers of evil shake the foundations of human society, the truth and light carried in the testimonies of the Lord’s missionaries can change hearts, heal minds, and turn fear and hatred into faith and love.

Episode 12

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Alice sat down behind the information desk, exhausted at the end of a full day.  In the early afternoon, a school class had come on a field trip to the library, and Alice was the only one available to give them a tour and read to them.  Then after school let out, one of the local scout troops had come for some merit badge… something.  Somehow it felt like she was catching up on everything else for the rest of the day.  But now it was 8 pm, the library was closed, and the doors were locked.  She slumped back in the chair, tempted to fall asleep right at the computer.

She looked down at a paper next to the keyboard.  She had nearly forgotten about her research on local history.  The sticky note had the names of the books Matt Robinson had brought in.

There was something strange about Matt.  When he had come in the library that morning, he had been dressed in an outfit that Alice would have described as being appropriate for a mountain-man, and he was accompanied by a young kid of ten or eleven.  His attitude had been very direct and determined, though she had assumed that he was a foreigner.  He acted like he’d never seen the inside of a library before, and was very conscious of everything happening around him.

But when he returned in the afternoon, he was Continue reading Episode 12

I Need a Writing/Critique Group!

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——–THANKS EVERYONE!!! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!  We got a writing group together and we are now full.  But if you’d like, we can start some kind of system for helping other people group into writing groups.  Just let me know.  At any rate, I’m leaving the original article up anyway.———

talltab1 Hey, all you writers out there, I have a favor to ask!  I need to be in a writing/critique group, and I’m not sure where to start.  I would be happy to either join one that already exists or start a new one.

talltab1 I’m kind of out in the boonies of Sanpete, Utah, so I can’t meet in person very often.  Most correspondence would have to take place online.  I mainly write LDS nonfiction, so it would be good if it were an LDS group that can help me keep doctrine pure, but most of what I have so far is memoir type stuff anyway.
talltab1 I have done a tiny bit of fiction, but not much.
talltab1 Are you in a writing group that needs another writer?  Do you know other LDS writers that are looking for a critique group?  Please let me know!  Either comment or email me.  I know there are a lot of opportunities for writers living near the city, but it’s hard for me to get up to Salt Lake or Utah county, so your help would be appreciated!

Thanks!

– Chas

chashathaway@gmail.com

I Live in a Mansion

moon

talltab1I live in a mansion.  There are so many rooms, and so many doors, that it would take more than a lifetime to explore what is in them all.  From one room, I can explore the sciences, and watch the progression of the stars and planets.  I can chart the known universe and discover things that it has taken mankind centuries to understand.
talltab1 From another, I can learn the religions of the world, make connections with things divine, and come to a deeper understanding of why people are the way they are.
talltab1 From another, I can become my own symphony, and follow the practices of the master composers.  I can perfect the principles they have learned and carry them on to new levels.
talltab1 There is a room in my house where I can practice medicine and learn how the human body works.  In this room, I can also learn how to strengthen the powers within my own body through exercise, activity, proper nutrition and rest.
talltab1 In one of the larger wings of my mansion, I can enter a fantastic world with creatures and people that most people only meet in dreams and movies.  I can converse with them, and in essence, leave the world entirely through time machines and spaceships.
talltab1 I have rooms that bare the perfect resemblance of locations all around the globe.  I have been to Egypt, China, South America, and Africa without having to leave my home.
talltab1 In my favorite room, I have met the Savior and His prophets.  I have come to know God, and converse with Him regularly.  I have met Adam, Enoch, Abraham, and John the Baptist.  I have met the reformers and those who took part in the great restoration of the Gospel.
talltab1 I have visited many of the rooms in my mansion, and plan to visit many more.

talltab1 My house is small, and my means are meager.  But in every room, there are books.

Song of Middle C

song-of-middle-ctalltabIf you have ever performed in a talent show, concert, or recital, you know how much stress it can be.  And if it’s scary for adults, imagine how terribly frightening it must be for a child.  They take piano lessons, practice their little hearts out, and then do what few adults will agree to do – perform.
talltabThat’s the subject of Alison McGhee’s picture book, Song of Middle C, illustrated by Scott Menchin, and published by Candlewick Press.  It is about a little girl preparing for her first piano recital.  The poor kid works her heart out committing the music to memory, and prepares in every way she can imagine, including bowing in front of the mirror and wearing her lucky underwear!
talltabThen when she gets up to play, she freezes – the whole piece erased from her mind.  She sweats, she worries, and she nearly panics.
talltabPerhaps the story would have come to a rough ending if the girl didn’t have such a fantastic piano teacher, who taught her to not be concerned about length of time, to recognize the value of middle C, and to use her imagination.  With these tools, the little girl finds that the music itself can carry her through – even if the music she plays isn’t the music she planned!

talltabOne of the unique things about this book is that it goes into the more enjoyable parts of music.  Rather than simply following the typical pattern of ‘learn your sheet music and then play it right,’ Alison McGhee illustrates the value and power of improvisation, and how music itself can be the guide in deciding how to play and what to play.  This is a great lesson to learn – and the earlier a person can learn it the better, because when your memory fails you on stage, your emotions are still in tact (though seared slightly!), and can guide you to still make beautiful music.  Music is a thing of the heart, and Song of Middle C demonstrates that well.
talltabSong of Middle C is a fun read, and a must have for parents with young children in piano lessons.  It will help them prepare for their own recital, and teach them the power of music itself when guided by the imagination.

woodelf

talltabEven Lunch Bucket, who is only three years old, loves the book, and insisted after our first reading of it that she needs her own pair of lucky pannies!

Learn more about Song of Middle C at http://candlewick.com/cat.asp?browse=Title&mode=book&isbn=0763630136&pix=n

Song of Middle C

song-of-middle-ctalltabIf you have ever performed in a talent show, concert, or recital, you know how much stress it can be.  And if it’s scary for adults, imagine how terribly frightening it must be for a child.  They take piano lessons, practice their little hearts out, and then do what few adults will agree to do – perform.
talltabThat’s the subject of Alison McGhee’s picture book, Song of Middle C, illustrated by Scott Menchin, and published by Candlewick Press.  It is about a little girl preparing for her first piano recital.  The poor kid works her heart out committing the music to memory, and prepares in every way she can imagine, including bowing in front of the mirror and wearing her lucky underwear!
talltabThen when she gets up to play, she freezes – the whole piece erased from her mind.  She sweats, she worries, and she nearly panics.
talltabPerhaps the story would have come to a rough ending if the girl didn’t have such a fantastic piano teacher, who taught her to not be concerned about length of time, to recognize the value of middle C, and to use her imagination.  With these tools, the little girl finds that the music itself can carry her through – even if the music she plays isn’t the music she planned!

talltabOne of the unique things about this book is that it goes into the more enjoyable parts of music.  Rather than simply following the typical pattern of ‘learn your sheet music and then play it right,’ Alison McGhee illustrates the value and power of improvisation, and how music itself can be the guide in deciding how to play and what to play.  This is a great lesson to learn – and the earlier a person can learn it the better, because when your memory fails you on stage, your emotions are still in tact (though seared slightly!), and can guide you to still make beautiful music.  Music is a thing of the heart, and Song of Middle C demonstrates that well.
talltabSong of Middle C is a fun read, and a must have for parents with young children in piano lessons.  It will help them prepare for their own recital, and teach them the power of music itself when guided by the imagination.

woodelf

talltabEven Lunch Bucket, who is only three years old, loves the book, and insisted after our first reading of it that she needs her own pair of lucky pannies!

Learn more about Song of Middle C at http://candlewick.com/cat.asp?browse=Title&mode=book&isbn=0763630136&pix=n

The Makeshift Degree: Adlibing an Education without Going to School

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Okay, so obviously the most ideal way to get an education in most fields is to go to college, and for many jobs out, it is required.  But let’s face it, there are so many fields out there.  If you’re like me, you have so many interests that it is impossible for you to get a college education in all of your interests.
Also, many people are not in a position to go to college at the moment.
Here are a few ideas for getting an education outside of the school system:

Internet Sources:

The Internet has an endless supply of phenomenal information in thousands of fields.  You’ve just got to know where to look for it.  Here are a few sites I like – (maybe not Ph.D material, but interesting stuff nonetheless):

  1. http://google.com – good ol’ Google search.  You can learn just about anything with that… *
  2. http://www.youtube.com/edu – you know about Youtube.  Well, this is a branch of Youtube that specializes in good educational material.  Not just anyone can get stuff on here, so it’s a big step up from regular Youtube, and it’s a fun source of learning in all kinds of fields.
  3. http://www.ted.com/ – again, not a place to earn a degree, but if you want to get excited about learning, this is a fun place to go.  TED is a collection of fascinating lectures (yes, lectures CAN be fascinating!) that give an interesting perspective on various fields.
  4. http://www.openculture.com/2007/07/freeonlinecourses.html – if you prefer getting your information from reputable colleges, here’s a directory of podcasts that are done by colleges such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, etc.  Just putter around the site to find the subject you’re looking for.

Books

  1. Check the Thrift Stores: As soon as a book becomes obsolete (by college standards that can mean the book has been published for a year and a half and now the photos in the book need to be reorganized), the thrift stores such as D.I. fill up with college textbooks.  After I paid nearly $100 for an astronomy book in college, I found a stack of twenty of them at D.I. the next semester for two bucks a piece.  Ugh… but that’s good for people who are wanting an education outside of school.
  2. Libraries:  They’re still around, believe it or not.  In this “Google any question” era that we live in, this is easy to forget.  Pick a topic, go to the library, and read all you can on the subject.
  3. School libraries: Most school libraries are open to the public.  You may not be able to check things out without a student card, but you can read what you want while you’re there, and if you take your digital camera, you can get instant copies of pages you want to read more about.

This is NOT a comprehensive list.  Fill us in!  What ways have you found for educating yourself on different topics?

* Clearly there is a lot of junk out there, and one of the great purposes of education is to train you to recognize credibility and bias.  You need to learn to check the sources on information.  Just because it sounds legit, or the information is worded in an educated manner doesn’t mean the content is of any real value.  The best lies are coated in great disguises.  So check your sources!

Read more entries with tips and ideas!

Childrens Story: Mr. Johnson

I’ve mentioned my aspirations to write a Childrens book or two – well, here’s another go at it.  This one would portray a small child talking with a very old man named Mr. Johnson.  Thanks to Ezioman on flickr for the borrowed photo!

Old Man and Child

Mr. Johnson

“Mr. Johnson, I declare, haven’t you got any hair?”

“I’ve thought hard, my little scout, thought till all my hair fell out!”

“Why then are your eye’s so crinkly, why is your whole face all wrinkly?”

“Skin can slowly fold in half, each time I smile or start to laugh!”

“You don’t walk, you only hobble, when you try you start to wobble!”

“You can see all things are holy, when you try to walk more slowly.”

“Why then do your poor ears ring, so you can hardly hear a thing?”

“Greater voices that I hear, speak from the heart, not through the ear.”

“Even when you look at me, your eyes are much too dim to see.”

“The greatest things will always be, the things we do not hear or see!”

“Mr. Johnson, please reply, are you so old that you will die?”

“My child, my child, I think I might,
but everything will be alright.
Little one, come close and hear,
for death is not a thing to fear.
There came one once who made a way
so all will live again someday.
‘Follow me, and live’ He said,
and He Himself rose from the dead.
He taught us how to love and give,
he showed a better way to live.
And if we do the things we ought,
and live to follow as he taught,
then when our death comes beckoning,
our death will be a joyful thing!”

“Mr. Johnson, I don’t know, I will miss you if you go!”

“Yes, my child, I’ll miss you too, but I will still watch over you,
and when you come to join me then, we’ll be together once again!”

– Chas

The Making Moments Six-monthiversary!

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Though I have been blogging for about a year and a half now, today is my six month mark on the Making Moments project.  Just to let you know, I’ve diligently kept a record of each day in that six month time.  I have recorded some of these moments on this blog.  I was hoping by now there would be some grand awakening that would open my eyes to a whole knew approach to spending time with family.

There hasn’t been.  I’m the same guy, and though my kids have grown a little, they haven’t changed beyond typical child development.  I still haven’t found any secret discovery or key to perfect parenthood.

But really that wasn’t the intent.  The intent was to Continue reading The Making Moments Six-monthiversary!

The Clockmaker

While Jenni was pregnant with Lunch Bucket, I decided to write a collection of childrens stories to read to our kids.  This was one of the stories I wrote.  It’s a little long – but it was intended as a childrens book.  I just thought it would be fun to share here:

theclockmaker

The Clockmaker

Once upon a time there was a clockmaker. He could make large clocks, small clocks, blue clocks, green clocks, and just about any kind of clock you could think of. Whenever someone wanted a clock, they would come to the clockmaker’s shop, knock on the door, and say,

“Clockmaker, clockmaker! Where could you be?

I need a clock that is made just for me!”

And the clockmaker would come to the door and respond,

“I am the clockmaker, for heaven’s sake!

What kind of clock would you like me to make?”

Then the person would describe a special clock, such as one that chirped like a bird, or crowed like a rooster. Some would ask him to make a clock that grew out of the ground from a seed. Others would ask him to make a clock that sang, or danced, or laughed, and the clockmaker could always fulfill the request.

One day a man came to the clockmaker’s shop, pounded on the door, and said, Continue reading The Clockmaker