May 16

Hot Off the Press!

Our friend, Joshua Pettit, has just published a book of amazing photos of southern Utah. Paired with musings from his struggle with chronic pain, the book is intended to be both beautiful and inspirational.

Here’s a sample:

Rhadamanthine Superciliousness:

Your words and self talk are what define you and your perceptions in life.

Change those to fit your desired point of view, that’s

all you need to do to be the most unique you.

I tell myself that I am too sexy for my shirt,

and this is how all the birds look at me.

Peace in the Paroxysm is now available on Amazon, coming soon to Kindle.

(Full disclosure: I edited it for him.)

April 16

Book Excerpt: An Easter Sermon Gets Hijacked by the Spirit

This is an excerpt from the book Steve’s Grace by D. J. Mitchell.

“Christ is risen!” I begin.  “Imagine the sorrow his mother must have felt, going to the graveside to mourn her son, whom she watched die just three days before.  But instead of a grave and a memory, she finds an empty tomb and the question, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’  What a shock that must have been!”

So begins my Easter sermon.  I perform it for my family on Good Friday, two days before I will give it to the congregation.  They seem to love it. Cindy and Zephyr both proclaim it the best one yet, and even Susan seems impressed.

That doesn’t keep me from being nervous Easter morning.  I focus on each step of the service so I don’t obsess about the moment I will stand before the congregation and preach.

After the hymn, I read from the Gospel of Luke.

Then the moment comes.  I stand before the congregation, spread my hands and arms upward, and begin.

“Christ is risen!” I proclaim.

Then I pause.  The next line won’t come out.  I know what I’m supposed to say, but I can’t say it.

I’m not expecting what happens next.

“Christ is risen!” I repeat.  “He who was dead now lives.  Christ is risen in me!”

I continue in a softer voice.

“He is risen in every one of us who was once dead through sin, yet now we live through the Grace of God and the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ!  We have been redeemed, that we may escape the death penalty for our sins and live in Grace!”

“Do we fall short of what God wants us to do?” I ask.  “Let’s be honest.  I fall short far too often.  How about you?”

I raise my hand.  About half the congregation raises theirs, too.

“Do we try to play God in our own lives, and the lives of other people?” I ask.  “I do.”

I raise my hand.  More hands go up.

“Are we sinners?” I ask.

I open my hands, inviting an answer as I repeat, “Are we?”

“Yes!” they reply.

“Yes,” I agree.  “But we found new life through Jesus Christ.  Amen?”

“Amen!” they reply.

“Did you ever have an experience when something strange was happening in your life and you couldn’t figure out why?  Then later, you looked back and realized it was God?”

I pause, and see heads nodding.

“That’s what happened to the disciples of Jesus,” I continue.  “They were walking on the road to Emmaus, and a man joined them and talked to them.  And it was only after they had walked for some time that they realized that man was Jesus.

“That’s a little odd, don’t you think?” I ask.  “They spent three years traveling with Jesus.  He was their teacher.  They saw Him after the Resurrection.  They saw the holes in His hands and feet.  Yet here is a man they don’t recognize, and it turns out to be Jesus?

“Maybe he was in disguise,” I suggest.

Some people chuckle.

“Or maybe,” I continue, “Jesus appeared in a guise they didn’t recognize at first as being Him.

“Has this ever happened to you?” I ask.  “Something in your life happens, and it seems so painful or wrong that it doesn’t even occur to you that it could be God working in your life?  But later you realize that’s exactly what it was?

“It happened to me,” I say.  “I was comfortable in an ungodly life, but God shook it up for me.  At the time, it didn’t occur to me that this could be God working in my life.  I mean, I got into a situation where I did some bad things and almost lost my family over it.  I should have gone to prison.  How could that be God?

“And it wasn’t,” I say.  “I did those things, not God.  Just like the man on the road to Emmaus who was not Jesus.  But he was.  They saw the Risen Christ in a stranger.  And I can look back now and see the hand of God even in that most despicable moment of my life.  That’s what it took for God to get my attention.  I had to fully live up to my capacity for sin in order to realize I needed God.  Because how can I ask for redemption if I don’t know I need it?

“I am a sinner,” I say.  “I was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ.  How many of you are willing to say that with me?”

“I am a sinner,” I repeat.  “I was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ.”

About half of the congregation says it with me.

“Let’s say it again,” I suggest.

This time, everyone joins in.

“Christ is risen!” I proclaim.  “His tomb is empty!”

Then, in a softer voice, I add, “And so is ours.

Steve’s Grace is available here.

August 25

Why Domino Theory?

Cover Preview1

Most of my books explore in some way the topics of spirituality and peace work. Domino Theory is different. It tells the story of a drug addict named Danny McCabe who’s been framed for murder. And it explores the workings of the brain of an addict in frightening, first-person honesty. I know this, because I was there.

I don’t want to use.  I really don’t.  For one thing, heroin and alcohol is a bad mix.  You never know when you’ve done too much.  You’d suddenly pass out and quit breathing, and if there isn’t someone around to wake you up again, you’re dead.

I remember the first time it happened.  I came to and my buddy Pete was slapping me in the face.  I was like, “What the f***?”

“You weren’t breathing,” he said.

I thought about that for a sec.  Then I told him the truth.

“So what?  I don’t care.”

I think that’s what scared me the most when I woke up the next day.  I almost died and I didn’t care.

What does it matter if I do some while I’m drinking?  Even if I died, it would just end the misery.

But the misery isn’t as bad now as it was when I kicked.  I’ve been off the sh*t for three weeks.  Well, almost three weeks.  Two and a half, anyway.  My body doesn’t ache any more.  I’m starting to be able to sleep at night, if I drink enough.  Yeah, I drink more, but I’m off the dope.  I’m clean, and that’s something to be proud of.

So what am I doing with a bag full of dope in my room?  I don’t want to use it.  Really, I don’t.  It was too hard to get off of it.

But the sh*t is calling to me.  That goddamn heroin is calling my name.

I drain the third Moosehead and reach for the fourth.  Two thirds gone now.  I’m pretty drunk, but not drunk enough to ignore the dope calling me.  I suck down half the bottle in one swallow.

Damn it, I hate that shit!  F***ing heroin.  For months I couldn’t not do it.  Now I’m clean, and it still wants me back.  It’s like an evil woman that won’t let go of me, and I can’t say no. 

That’s the thing.  I know I can’t say no.  I always go back to it.  I always have, and I always will.  Yeah, I’m clean right now, but that’s temporary.  I know it.  You know it.  The dope knows it.  It’s calling my name.  It knows that sooner or later I’m going to give in.

I drain the fourth bottle and reach for the fifth.  Only one left after this, and I’m still not drunk enough.  I light another cig.

The heroin calls.  I hate being dope sick.  I f***ing hate it.  I don’t want to go back.

But we all know I’m going to.  I can’t say no.

I chug the fifth beer and open the last one, desperate to block out the Siren’s call.  That’s exactly what it is, calling me to jump back in the dark, cold water.  Calling me to die. 

I can’t say no.

I reach under the mattress and pull out my works.  I thought about throwing it out, but I couldn’t.  I knew, even then, that I would come back.  The dope is too strong.

I could throw it away now.  I could open the window and throw the spoon and the syringe out into the alley with the rats.

But I won’t.  I can’t.  No matter how much I try to deny it, I’m a junkie.  Once you cross that line, there’s no going back.

I drain the last beer, slide the empty back into the six-pack, and reach for my knapsack.  I pull out the zip lock bag and look at it.  I feel my soul drain out of me.  Once again I am hooked.  I haven’t even opened that bag yet, but I’m going to. 

I don’t have a choice.

Why did I write such a seemingly uncharacteristic novel? The answer is simple. All my books seek to overcome misunderstanding. They seek to reconcile. For many people, a drug addict is unpredictable, incomprehensible, and not worth spending time on. I sought to show the interior workings of the addict mind in the hope of helping people understand why we do what we do.

I tried to do this without glorifying the addict lifestyle. Danny’s life is miserable. He has nothing to live for but his next fix, and the vague hope that someday things will be different. But, at least in his mind, he has no choice. Regardless of the consequences, and even though he knows it will make him more miserable, he continues to use. The lies addiction tells him are so deeply ingrained that he believes them without question.

Despite Danny’s hopelessness, I also tried to write a novel that provides hope, because there is hope. I’ve been clean over thirty years. There are millions of people like me who finally got clean and sober, and who are now productive members of society. A lot of people don’t believe an addict can change. Even Danny doesn’t believe it at the beginning. And admittedly, it usually takes a huge upheaval, usually a terrible loss, for an addict to take the chance of really trying to get clean. Sure, they make promises. There was a period when I made such promises every day, but I almost always broke them before the day was over.

But once in a while, something changes. Something gets in through the lies, and we hear hope.

Up jumps the cute girl who read Chapter Five.  She’s way too perky.  I listen to see if her name is Teresa or Shawna.

“I’m Jamie and I’m an alcoholic,” she says.  I wasn’t even close.  Anyway, she’s way to pretty to have anything good to say.  She probably sipped wine after class at the university, maybe got a DUI or something.  I don’t care what she has to say, I just like the way she looks so clean.  I bet she smells nice.

“Sixty-four days ago I was lying on the floor of a jail cell down the street here,” she says, gesturing.  “I was puking my guts out, dope-sick, and wishing I could die.  They arrested me for writing bad checks, but I don’t remember doing it,” she says.  “All I know is, I was driving down PCH, and I was driving too fast because I needed to get loaded.  This cop pulls me over and takes me in.  My car got impounded, I lost my job, and my family wouldn’t bail me out.

“At the time, I thought it was the worst day of my life.  But it wasn’t.  It got worse for a couple more days.  And I finally came to laying on the floor of that jail cell, covered in my own puke.  That was the worst day of my life.

“When the cop came to let me out, I was crying,” she says.  “I told him I didn’t know how I got that bad, and I asked him, ‘What can I do?’  He gave me some change and told me to call Alcoholics Anonymous.  He even looked up the number for me.  So I called.  They told me there was a meeting here.  I walked over from the jail.  I looked like sh*t, and I was still shaking pretty bad, and I know I must have stunk.  Clint was sitting in that chair right there,” she gestures toward the front row.  “When he saw me come in, he came over to me and shook my hand and welcomed me.  And he told me it was going to be alright.

“I didn’t believe him.  But he was telling me the truth.  Because, you know, my family doesn’t want to have anything to do with me now, and I still don’t have a job, and I can’t afford to get my car out of the impound yard yet, and that costs more every day.  But I haven’t had to drink or use since I got out of jail.  For someone like me, that’s a big deal.  I haven’t had to sleep with anyone for drugs or alcohol.  I haven’t woken up in a place I didn’t know, with a person whose name I couldn’t remember.  That used to happen a lot.  Not every day, but a lot of days.

“That cop saved my life.  I don’t know how this is going to work out, but I believe it’s going to work out.  Preston, you mentioned hope, and that’s become an important word to me.  I know some of you guys were a lot worse than me, and this worked for you.  So I know it can work for me, too.  But I have to be the one who does it.  No one is going to do it for me.

“Thank you,” she finishes.

The room applauds, as they always do.  I find that my mouth is hanging open.  I close it, and I clap too.

Somehow, I believe her.  I know she didn’t just say all that for my benefit.  She’s real.

But Danny doesn’t get struck sober. He struggles with his demons. Despite the mess he’s in, he’s terrified to give up the only thing that ever made him feel better. He knows he needs to get clean. But he hasn’t yet gotten to the point where he’s more afraid of using than he is of being clean.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to drug addicts, except one: in the absence of some kind of spiritual intervention, they will continue to do what they’ve been doing, and it will get worse. The disease of addiction is deadly, and most addicts die from it.

But there is also hope. A lot of addicts do get clean. I’m one of them.

If you want to know whether Danny is one of them, too, read the book!

June 22

Steve’s Grace is now available on Kindle

My latest novel, Steve’s Grace, is now available on Kindle!

Steve Grace isn’t a bad guy. But he’s not a good guy, either. He’s an accountant for a crooked company. He hates religious people. He cheats on his wife, but he thinks every husband does.

A trip to Las Vegas isn’t unusual, but this one goes far beyond anything he imagined. Haunted by shame and with his marriage in jeopardy, he wonders if he’s been too quick to dismiss God.

With the help of a therapist, Steve’s memories begin to return, and he realizes he did something truly unforgivable. Overcome with horror, he has a psychotic episode and loses all memory of the trip and the weeks since he got home.

A stay in the mental hospital brings his memories back. Confronted with the magnitude of his sin, he decides to give his life to God. He gives out sandwiches to the homeless, joins a church, and rescues a young prostitute. But is his newfound faith real, or is he still crazy?

March 27

Book Excerpt: An Easter Sermon

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Steve’s Grace by D. J. Mitchell.

“Christ is risen!” I begin.  “Imagine the sorrow his mother must have felt, going to the graveside to mourn her son, whom she watched die just three days before.  But instead of a grave and a memory, she finds an empty tomb and the question, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’  What a shock that must have been!”

So begins my Easter sermon.  I perform it for my family on Good Friday, two days before I will give it to the congregation.  They seem to love it. Cindy and Zephyr both proclaim it the best one yet, and even Susan seems impressed.

That doesn’t keep me from being nervous Easter morning.  I focus on each step of the service so I don’t obsess about the moment I will stand before the congregation and preach.

After the hymn, I read from the Gospel of Luke.

Then the moment comes.  I stand before the congregation, spread my hands and arms upward, and begin.

“Christ is risen!” I proclaim.

Then I pause.  The next line won’t come out.  I know what I’m supposed to say, but I can’t say it.

I’m not expecting what happens next.

“Christ is risen!” I repeat.  “He who was dead now lives.  Christ is risen in me!”

I continue in a softer voice.

“He is risen in every one of us who was once dead through sin, yet now we live through the Grace of God and the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ!  We have been redeemed, that we may escape the death penalty for our sins and live in Grace!”

“Do we fall short of what God wants us to do?” I ask.  “Let’s be honest.  I fall short far too often.  How about you?”

I raise my hand.  About half the congregation raises theirs, too.

“Do we try to play God in our own lives, and the lives of other people?” I ask.  “I do.”

I raise my hand.  More hands go up.

“Are we sinners?” I ask.

I open my hands, inviting an answer as I repeat, “Are we?”

“Yes!” they reply.

“Yes,” I agree.  “But we found new life through Jesus Christ.  Amen?”

“Amen!” they reply.

“Did you ever have an experience when something strange was happening in your life and you couldn’t figure out why?  Then later, you looked back and realized it was God?”

I pause, and see heads nodding.

“That’s what happened to the disciples of Jesus,” I continue.  “They were walking on the road to Emmaus, and a man joined them and talked to them.  And it was only after they had walked for some time that they realized that man was Jesus.

“That’s a little odd, don’t you think?” I ask.  “They spent three years traveling with Jesus.  He was their teacher.  They saw Him after the Resurrection.  They saw the holes in His hands and feet.  Yet here is a man they don’t recognize, and it turns out to be Jesus?

“Maybe he was in disguise,” I suggest.

Some people chuckle.

“Or maybe,” I continue, “Jesus appeared in a guise they didn’t recognize at first as being Him.

“Has this ever happened to you?” I ask.  “Something in your life happens, and it seems so painful or wrong that it doesn’t even occur to you that it could be God working in your life?  But later you realize that’s exactly what it was?

“It happened to me,” I say.  “I was comfortable in an ungodly life, but God shook it up for me.  At the time, it didn’t occur to me that this could be God working in my life.  I mean, I got into a situation where I did some bad things and almost lost my family over it.  I should have gone to prison.  How could that be God?

“And it wasn’t,” I say.  “I did those things, not God.  Just like the man on the road to Emmaus who was not Jesus.  But he was.  They saw the Risen Christ in a stranger.  And I can look back now and see the hand of God even in that most despicable moment of my life.  That’s what it took for God to get my attention.  I had to fully live up to my capacity for sin in order to realize I needed God.  Because how can I ask for redemption if I don’t know I need it?

“I am a sinner,” I say.  “I was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ.  How many of you are willing to say that with me?”

“I am a sinner,” I repeat.  “I was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ.”

About half of the congregation says it with me.

“Let’s say it again,” I suggest.

This time, everyone joins in.

“Christ is risen!” I proclaim.  “His tomb is empty!”

Then, in a softer voice, I add, “And so is ours.

 

November 30

Ordinary World: A Family Story

BookCover

“What’cha doing?” Gracie asks me, catching me off guard.

I glance up at her quickly.  I’m sure I look guilty.  I’m supposed to be doing bookkeeping, not browsing the news.  I briefly consider closing my browser so she doesn’t know I’ve been goofing off, but I have five windows open with various news reports and financial analyses.  It’s obvious I haven’t been doing the books.

“The news says that California is about to go bankrupt, and that New York and Illinois aren’t far behind.”

She frowns. 

“That doesn’t sound good,” she says.

“No,” I agree.  “And there’s a report that says there are 32 states in all that are technically bankrupt.”

“Is Utah one of them?” she asks.

“No,” I say.  “Actually, we’re one of the 18 that isn’t.”

“That’s something,” she observes.  “But I suppose we ought to review our preparedness supplies.”

Ordinary World is about preparedness, but it’s much more than that.  From its initial conception as a series of blog entries, I envisioned it as not just a story about facing a possible future, but about a family like mine having to face that future together.  The characters are loosely based on my wife, my stepson, and me.  The life they lead going into the crisis is much like ours was when we were still making cheese.  I wanted the story to emphasize the family as much or more than the crisis itself.

[A]s we change our clothes together, we take advantage of a rare moment alone.  I’ve pulled off my hay-covered clothes when Gracie comes up behind me and puts her arms around me.  I turn and put mine around her.

“I love you so much,” I tell her.  “You are a remarkable woman.”

She laughs.  “I think you are a remarkable man,” she says.

Then she turns pale.

“What?” I ask, thinking that she may be afraid of the dangerous baggage I’ve unwittingly brought with me.

“I’m sorry,” she says.  She breaks her embrace and runs for the bathroom.  A moment later, I hear her retching, then the water running.

When she emerges, she still looks pale.

“Are you okay?” I ask her.

“I think so,” she says.  “This has been happening a lot lately.”

“Jeez,” I mutter.  I’ve been so busy doing other things that I didn’t even know my wife was sick. 

“Do we need to get you to a doctor?” I ask.

“I don’t think so,” she says.  “I’m pretty sure I know what it is.”

“It will pass, then?” I ask.

“It will,” she says.  “In about nine months.”

I stare at her, trying to grasp the meaning in her words.  Nine months?  What kind of a disease…

“Oh, holy hell,” I say, finally.  “Are you pregnant?”

“I think so,” she says, and smiles tentatively.  “Are you happy?”

“Happy?” I ask.  I’m still trying to process this.  Gracie is pregnant?  “Of course I’m happy,” I tell her.

To myself, I think: I’m going to be a father?  My God, that’s what I have hoped for so long… and feared… what if I can’t do it?  What if I’m a lousy father?  What if I fail Gracie?

“Are you sure you’re okay with this?” Gracie asks.  “You seem upset.”

I’m going to be a father?  With Gracie?

Finally the reality begins to get through.  I throw my arms around her and kiss her. 

“It’s taking a minute to sink in,” I whisper into her ear.  “But you are making me the happiest man on earth.”

“You’re afraid,” she observes.

“Of course I’m afraid,” I reply.  “I’ve never done this before.  I’m terrified I won’t be good at it!”

“You’ve been pretty good at everything so far,” she says. 

I’m not sure if it’s a double entendre or not, so I let it slide.

“I will do my best,” I tell her.

“I know you will,” she says.  “You already are.  You are a great dad to Joe, and I know you will be to your own child.”

It’s tough to write about characters that are so close to your heart.  It was tough reading it to my family, too.  As bad things happened, and at one point one of the family members got severely wounded, my wife warned me that if I let them die, she was going to kill me!  I have to admit that I cried as I reread what I wrote, and some days I still cry when I read it.  I hope that level of emotion comes through to readers outside my family.

Lack of protein and the lack of Vitamin C have combined to make us all feel weary and slow-witted.  I’m not confident of my ability to make good decisions.  And our family meetings suggest that no one else is, either.  There’s a lot of “I don’t know” being spoken.

So here I am, ten miles or more from home, determined not to come back empty-handed.  I’m carrying the 30-30, which is a bit big for rabbits, but which is the most flexible rifle I have.  I can shoot anything up to the size of a deer with it.  Including coyotes, should they decide to try to make a meal out of me. 

If I see a rabbit, I’m just going to have to hit him square in the head so there’s something left to bring home.

But I haven’t seen a rabbit, not even in the distance.

I’m not going back empty-handed.  In my pack, I have a down sleeping bag, a tent, and some supplies.  I’m prepared to spend the night out here if I have to.  Even two nights.

Gracie is pissed at me for that.  She doesn’t want me camping in cold weather.  I’ve done it before.  Heck, I grew up in cold weather, and winter camping was one of the things we learned.  But Gracie is scared.

“Why don’t you at least take the truck?” she pleaded.

“I’m not taking the truck,” I replied, sternly.  “If anything goes wrong here, if anything happens with Kendra, you’ll need the truck.  There’s no other way to get into town in a hurry.”

“This is crazy,” Gracie said.

“These are crazy times,” I said back.  “Weylan and I have been combing the valley for days, and we haven’t seen anything we can eat.  I’ve got to go to the hills.”

“And what if you don’t come back?” she asks, a note of panic in her voice.

“I’ll come back,” I insist.  “Everything has to be wintering somewhere.  I’m going to search the canyons until I find something, and I’m going to bring it home.”

“Look at you,” she said.  “You’re tired, you’re weak, and I don’t think you’re quite rational.”

“None of us are,” I replied.  “And it’s only going to get worse.  We’re starving.  If I don’t go now, I may not be able to go at all.”

There were harsh words spoken, words I now regret.  I closed the discussion with the words, “I’m going, so get over it,” and the slam of the front door.

If I don’t come back, that’s not the way I want her to remember me. 

But I’m going to come back.  Just not empty-handed.

When I wrote Ordinary World, I didn’t have a child of my own.  My wife and I lost a baby a year earlier, and we talked about trying again, but hadn’t yet been successful.  I wrote about the birth of Bill and Gracie’s child from my imagination.  Now, with a 17-month-old son of my own, I look back and think I did pretty well.  My son Sam was born in a hospital, which contrasts markedly with the home birth scene in the story, but from the birthing itself to the emotions I felt for my brand new child, I wasn’t far off.  One of Bill’s great loves is his daughter, Kendra.  He would do anything to protect her– and does.  Now I feel the same way about my own son.

[In the bottom of the freezer we find] a bag of rice, which is perhaps symbolic of our times.  I bought the twenty-five pound bag of high-quality Basmati rice down in Las Vegas a couple of years back at an Asian store.  When I got it home and opened it, I found that the rice had weevils in it.  Having traveled overseas, I know that almost any culture in the world would have washed away the weevils and eaten the rice.  But we’re not just any culture, we’re Americans, and we don’t eat food with bugs in it.  So I put the rice in the bottom of the freezer to kill the weevils and to keep until I decided what to do with it.

Now, a couple of years and an economic meltdown later, we have no problem washing the weevils out of the rice.  Throwing it away would be unconscionable.  Just like most other places in the world.

Is this desperation, or practicality?  Was the convenience-filled world we were so accustomed to the real world?  Or is this one? 

I’ve seen too much of how people live outside our sheltered boundaries to think of this as anything other than an ordinary world.  At least half the world’s population would look at our current circumstances with envy.  Even without phones and internet and gasoline and utilities, we own our own land and home and business.  And we have physical security.  That’s something many folks in the world can’t even dream of.

At night, our daughter Kendra sleeps between Gracie and me.  We don’t have a crib, but we do have cloth diapers and rubber pants.  Gracie feeds her a couple of times a night.  Neither of us sleeps as much as we used to.  And, as I look at the two of them lying next to me, I am overcome with love.  My wife and my daughter.  Family.

Of all the things I thought I wanted in life, I never knew that the most satisfying would be the simplest and most universal.

But the chemistry that makes the family work is Bill and Gracie.  He couldn’t survive without her, and she wouldn’t want to survive without him.  As Bill says,

I know Gracie as the hardest, softest, most naïve, most jaded, most practical dreamer I have ever met.  That may make her sound like an enigma, but she isn’t at all.  At least, not more than any other woman.  She’s just, well, Gracie.  She’s hard when she needs to be, and soft when she can afford to be.  She can be the most compassionate person I’ve ever known, and then she can shoot a deer or tell me it’s okay to steal wood.  This woman who will beg me not to kill a spider in the cheese room, but to put him outside instead, can kill and dress out a chicken, or point a rifle at the chest of a biker who might be threatening our family.  I’ve now seen her point a rifle at a man and pull the trigger.

And she is my wife.

Ordinary World was my first novel, but it seems to me to be the best writing I’ve ever done.  What makes it work is the family.  And I hope my readers feel the same.