Friday, October 28, 2011

"Summer Breaks" Reviewed

I asked Rod Richards, author of "" and fellow card collector, to write up a review for my debut novel, "Summer Breaks."  I respect his thoughts and insights and have enjoyed reading the reviews of the many other books he has posted to his site.

One of the advantages to having Rod on my Facebook friends list: direct discussion.  He let me read the review before posting, and I was able to explain some of my thoughts on his responses.  He then had some follow-up comments, and the whole process showed me where certain weak areas might exist in the novel.

The two main issues he had with the novel: time and age. 

I wrote the story without a particular time in mind because it was meant to have nostalgic feel without limiting the setting to a particular decade or specific year.  I can see where that might actually detract from things in retrospect.  In one scene, Decker opens a pack of baseball cards and tosses most of them away.  As a collector, knowing just what cards (and what year of the cards) is a piece of information we basically thrive on.  Did he throw away a rookie card of some guy named "Eddie Murray?"  Was it Nolan Ryan?  How about Derek Jeter or Albert Pujols or, heaven forbid, Mickey Mantle?  Okay, well, the songs referenced in the story would prevent some of those names being opened in a fresh pack of dime-store cards, but hopefully you get the gist.  The date is probably more important than I had given thought.

The ages of the kids in the story, I thought, were self-evident.  But, after reading back over it again, I can see where a reader might not quite be sure just how old these kids are.  I did have one reader ask me, "Are you sure ten year olds would do this?"  I then explained that though this tale was fiction, some of the episodes in it were based on actual adventures I had myself... when I was about eight.  I figured no one in their right mind today would believe such things could happen to eight year olds, so that is why I made them all around ten.  As an aside, the original story was called, "Summer of Seven" and was about a group of seven kids who were all seven years old.  Again, I figured no one today would believe seven year old kids would be doing these things.  Truth is stranger than fiction.

There were a couple of editing errors as well.  They are the kind that we make when we insert words mentally we know should be there physically.  They even got by my editor.

What I really enjoyed about the review, especially when connected with the follow up conversation, were the afterthoughts I had because of it.  The story will eventually be included in a compilation of the "Decker Stories" once I finish the series, and some revision/reworking will certainly be in order.

The review can be found here:

Thank you, Rod, for the review and the thought-provoking discussion!

Two asides:
1) Yes, there will be a series for this novel.  The next book, "Lost Summer" is already in the works (meaning I have started writing it and will use it for my NaNoWriMo entry this year).
2) I always wondered by authors re-released some of their books.  And now I know why.  After a story has left an author, it takes on a life of its own, and just like real life, as the story ages, it gains new character, deeper personality, and age lines.  Sometimes, an author feels like they need to do a little plastic surgery to keep the story fresh - not really changing its appearance completely, but just enough for readers to see a slightly different side of it.  I don't plan on going all "Michael Jackson" with it.  But, maybe more like "Jennifer Grey" - just a nip to make the reader look twice.

Friday, October 21, 2011

2011 Fall Gathering of Authors!

Want something fun to do this Saturday?  Want to help the kids at St. Jude's Hospital in the process?  Want to win some VERY cool door prizes?  Would you like to meet some local (and some not-so-local) authors? Want some food to eat?  Want some cool things for kids (of all ages!) to do?


When: Saturday, October 22 from 10am - 4pm (come and go, or stay the day!)

Where: Four States Fairgrounds, Fine Arts Center, Texarkana

Who, What, Why? For those answers, jump on over to here: 

I will be there to sign books, chit-chat, and have a good time! Come on by and say "HI!"


You can also have a chance to win a signed copy of one of my books!

Books I'll have on-hand include:

ALL THIS DIGGING and other stories

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A new project in the works!

I haven't posted on my author page lately.  Sorry about that, but I try to save posts on here for things pertinent to my writing (or writing in general), publishing, appearances, etc.

Well, after more than a year's searching, I finally found the songwriter responsible for "Jesus Saves" performed by Hannah Blaylock and Eden's Edge waaaaaay before they were famous (or on the verge of stardom!!).  Last Fall during the 2010 NaNoWriMo, I started a story based on the song, but wanted to be sure I had his okay before moving toward publication.

Today, Steve Smith gave his okay and I hope to have the new story ready for this year's Gathering of Authors in Texarkana!  This is my first "derivative work" venture and I am very excited to bring the characters from the song into life through the stories of their lives!

Thanks so much to Mr. Smith!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Inbox had bad news (Borders Goodbye)

The letter from the CEO was actually a series of images in my Yahoo! mail:

Monday, July 4, 2011

STARSNSTRIPES - Gets you 20% off my books!

Wow! is offering a special for the 4th of July!  If you're looking for a fun summertime read, check out my book, "Summer Breaks!"  And, if you use the coupon code STARSNSTRIPES when you check out, you get 20% off!  PLUS, I am offering it at a 40% discount!  That is a total of 60% off!! Wahoo!

Get your copy here:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Let It Not Be Said - A poem of sorts

Our preacher, Perry Johnson, examined what would be worse than going to Hell after we died.  The answer: taking someone with you (or causing someone to go).  That weighed on my heart pretty heavily.  After all, I happen to believe that after we pass on from this world, our spirit (or soul or whatever word you choose) passes to either Heaven or Hell.  I also happen to believe that the deciding factor into which place one ends up is based on the belief that God sent His son, Jesus, to the earth in order to teach and lead us to Heaven, then die on the cross and rise again.  Jesus, and God through Him, also made it clear that those "playing church" were an abomination to God and Heaven.  I have a lot of friends and family on many of the social networks I hang out on, and I never want it said that I did not tell them about the way to Heaven.

Oh, I know a lot of my friends and family are not believers and will most likely never be.  But, if there is something I say that happens to cause even one to stop and think, maybe even reach the same conclusion, then posting this and sharing my belief is worth it.  I am not one to force my beliefs on anyone.  In fact, I have quite a bit of enough "well-rounded education" to live by the creed: Question Everything.  Why question everything?  Because, only by examining various angles and aspects of anything anyone tells you, can you truly know what it is YOU believe and WHY you believe it.  No one should believe that Jesus is the way to Heaven just because I say so, or because they read "John 3:16" plastered all over the walls of the world.  By the same token, no one should suffer an eternity in Hell because *I* neglected the simple act of TELLING it.

That is where this "poem" comes into being.  Let it not be said that I never told my friends, family, friends-of-friends, or anyone else that happens upon this post, that I did not tell them about Jesus.  And, if you want to know more about what I believe and why, or you want to talk to someone who is much smarter than I am about these things, let me know and I'll pass along your info to my pastor or our youth minister.  Whether you agree or disagree, love me or hate me, if you've read this far, you cannot truthfully say that I never told you that believing in Jesus and His resurrection was the way to eternal Heaven.
"Let it not be said" - David Henderson

Let it not be said
From here on out
That I did not say
Or scream or shout
That the way to Heaven
Is an easy route.

Let it not be said
From this day forth
That I did not make
A stand of worth
That the way to Heaven
Is there from birth.

Let it not be said
Of my own blame
That I did not share
What is ours to claim
The way to Heaven
Is by Jesus' name.

Believe in your heart
That God loves you
And He sent His son
To show it true
And that His son died
And rose anew.

Though the way to Heaven is easy
The path is hard.
Salvation is not
An "easy life" card.
Troubles and triumphs lie in wait,
For even Jesus' hands are scarred.

Let it not be said
Of me in this life
That I did not tell
My friends, or family, or my wife
Of the way, the truth
Or of the Life.

(copyright 2011, David W Henderson. All rights reserved. Please contact me: for info, interviews, usage, etc)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Fall Gathering of Authors!

Wahoo!  Just got the word yesterday that the 2011 Fall Gathering of Authors will be held on October 22, 2011.  This will be your chance to head to Texarkana and meet authors from the four-state region as well as some nationally-known writers! 

The night before, there will be a benefit dinner for St. Jude's hospital and all money raised at the Gathering (through raffle ticket sales) will go to benefit St. Jude's.  Many authors also make a portion of their book sales a donation as well.

The event is tentatively scheduled to be held at the Four States Fairgrounds in Texarkana like last year, but we'll know more as the time gets closer.  Of course, I'll keep you posted!  Looks like some fun changes are in store, too!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gimmie Five!

Five Minutes.  How long is that?  Not long at all, right?  I mean, come on.  Five minutes is probably about the amount of time you spend in the restroom.  It's the length of about two commercial breaks.  It's about the amount of time it takes to go from laying in the bed to falling asleep for some folks.

So, what else can we do in five minutes?  I found out while reading "Immediate Fiction" by Jerry Cleaver.  Heck, these days, the book is even available on Kindle!  I digress.  In the book, Cleaver gets the writing juices flowing with a Five-Minute daily exercise.  The agreement one makes with oneself is that for 30 days, the writer promises to take just five minutes to write something. Anything.  Actually, when first starting out, the writer isn't supposed to write anything - just relax and let go for five minutes.

So, I am taking the challenge.  Each day during my lunch hour at work, I am taking five minutes to write.  So far, nothing of substance has materialized, but that's okay.  I am jotting ideas, exploring characters, writing jibberish in some cases.  But, I am writing.

I challenge you to try it yourself.  As Cleaver says in his book, by a year's time, you could easily have written 100-150 PAGES of text.  For someone who "can't" write or who "doesn't" write, you may find yourself face-to-face with the start of a novel or a collection of short stories or a book of poetry!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Word Play: Six-Word Headlines

If you enjoy writing, there's a pretty good chance you've heard of things like "The Six-Word Challenge." The most famous of these is Earnest Hemingway's "Baby shoes for sale, never used." It is amazing how just six words can bring such immediate and heavy emotion.

As a twist on that, I thought I would jot down a six-word headline in which the acronym tells a different story. This has three components to it: It must be six words, It must create a "non-jibberish" acronym, and The acronym must contradict the headline being touted. Don't ask why. This is something I do when the urge pops in my head.

So, quickly, I came up with this one:

Hero Escapes Deadly Ice-Encrusted Dagger

So, now you give it a try! Make up your own or feel free to improve on mine using the same six letters in your acronym!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


This past Sunday, our pastor talked about "hope" and used the men hanging on the cross on either side of Jesus as part of his illustration.  I thought I would share a story I wrote that's included in the collection "All This Digging."  This story is called "Forgiven:"

“Forgiven” (copyright David Henderson)

“Did you hear that, Jak?” Markus asked. “They're calling out to crucify someone, Jak.” Markus pressed his head against the wall. The crowds outside the cramped little room shouted and screamed as loud as humanly possible. Markus ran back and forth between the wall and Jak. He grew more and more excited the louder the crowd yelled. He pressed against the wooden door, but commotion on the other side prevented him from hearing any actual words. The whole building was in an uproar. From what Markus could tell, the whole town was in an uproar.

“Stop with yer fidgetin' afore I knock you one.” Jak made a fist at Markus, who cowered at the sight. Jak's massive frame took up most of the space in the room. It was only a room in the sense that it had a floor, four walls, and a ceiling. In reality, a prison cell. The only light came from a window high above their heads. Jak looked like someone had hung him out on the clothesline and forgot about him for years. His body and his face were heavily scarred, deeply bruised and severely beaten. He wasn't happy to be sitting in that cell, wasn't exactly sure how he got there, but knew he had to get out soon. He looked through furrowed brows at Markus, and shook his head. Markus bounced from wall to door and back again. He was much smaller than Jak, in both height and width. A simple-minded man, easily amused and easily controlled, which is why Jak liked him.

Jak and Markus met each other in a tavern not long ago. Jak convinced Markus that they should sneak into a neighboring town at night and take enough food to feed themselves for a whole month. Markus didn't like the idea of stealing the food, but the idea of getting the life beat out of him was much worse. They made a plan and hid out until dark. Markus went ahead of Jak to check for passersby and guardsmen and when he reached the shop where the bread baked, he signaled to Jak who burst the door open and the two of them took everything they could carry. Before either of the men knew what had happened, they were attacked. When they woke, they found themselves in this cell.

The crowds outside the small room continued to yell and scream. Markus strained to hear the words they chanted.

“Barabas! Barabas? It sounds like they're calling for Barabas, Jak.” Barabas had killed many people before the guardsmen finally caught up with him. He stole from anyone and gave to no one. The people of the town held a celebration on the day Barabas was carted off to the prison. Now, it seemed the crowds wanted him freed. “Free Barabas, Jak. That's what they say, Jak. Free Barabas!” Markus scurried back and forth, twisting his hands together over and over, a mad scientist in search of a lab. His pacing made Jak nervous.

“Would ya stop that? Yer drivin' me nuts!” Jak picked up a handful of dirt and threw it across the tiny room. Markus cowered as if the specs of dust weighed hundreds of pounds. “Yer hearin' it wrong, boy. No one in their right mind would free Barabas.”
“No, Jak! That's who they want. They say 'Free Barabas' all the time, Jak. Now they are shouting 'crucify crucify,' Jak. They want someone crucified!” Markus made stabbing motions through the air as if murdering an invisible foe, then suddenly raced frantically back and forth in the tiny cell.

Frustrated and tired, Jak waved his hand at his cell-mate.

“So be it. Let 'em have whoever they want. They won't get me! We gotta get outta here! Do you hear me?” Jak raised his voice, and Markus stopped in his tracks, looked around, and then up to the window. He shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the light coming in from the outside and shook his head.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Window's too high. Door's too strong,” Jak pounded his fist against the wall. “Walls are too hard. I won't go down, Markus. They can't keep me!” Markus shook his own hand in reaction to the pain his friend should have felt. The crowd roared with approval then suddenly seemed quiet.

After a few moments of silence, Jak finally asked, “What's goin’ on out dere?”
“They're goin'. The crowd's leavin'. It's over, I guess. They've freed Barabas, Jak. He's a free man. I don't like it. Not one bit.” Markus sat in the corner opposite Jak, hanging his head in his hands. Jak spent the rest of the day planning a getaway, while Markus spent the day pressing his head up against the wall and the door. Finally, night came, and both men slept.

As morning light filtered into the cell, the lock on the door came to life. Markus leapt to his feet and cowered in the corner. Jak balled his fists and pulled back his arm. As the door swung outward, he ran to the door and forced it fully open. A scream and a grunt came from behind the door, but the door didn't open into the wall the way it was designed. Instead, Jak had pinned a guard between the door and the wall. Unfortunately for Jak, three more guards stood ready and immediately subdued the prisoners. The guards whipped them many times with leather straps sporting stone shards imbedded within, beating them until they were both just one gasping mass lying on the cell floor. Two of the guards grabbed Jak's arms and dragged him through the prison, the dirt on the floors filling his open wounds. Markus lay paralyzed through the power of his own mind so the other guard grabbed him, raised him up off the floor and pushed him down the corridor as the leader kicked open the door leading outside.

The bright sun blinded everyone coming out of the dark hallway and if Jak had been more fully aware of his surroundings, he probably would have gotten away from the stunned guards. Markus, recovering from his self-induced paralysis, cowered from the intense brightness but the guard behind him pushed onward. After a few moments, the two guards with Jak dragged his body up a steep embankment. Pools and streams of fresh blood painted the dirt road in front of the prison as they stumbled along the worn trail up the side of a hill. Many had come to this place long before these two prisoners and many would most likely come long afterward. Two young boys, in training to become guards themselves, carried large pieces of wood fashioned into a cross up the hill behind Jak. The third guard from the group, which had charged into the cell just moments ago, threw Markus on the ground and whipped him twice as he curled into a ball trying to protect himself.

“Get up! Get up and carry your cross!” The guard whipped Markus a third time and then a fourth for good measure. “Get up, I said,” and Markus stood wearily, reaching for his cross then falling under its weight as onlookers laughed and mocked him. He stood, stumbling as he dragged his cross up the hill.

“Jak! What're we gonna do Jak? Jak?” Markus barked out, but the only response he received was another shot of the whip.

“Shaddup! Keep movin', boy! Now Git!” The guard whipped him again and as he fell, the crowd erupted with cheers.

At the top of the hill, the two boys placed the cross they had carried onto the ground near a deep square hole. The two guards dropped Jak near the cross, rolled him over onto it so that his back was against it. Once his hands and feet were tied tightly, a guard grabbed a mallet and three spikes. He placed a spike at the place just below Jak’s wrist where his two forearm bones joined. He struck the spike once, twice, and it was through the arm and into the wood. The pain caused Jak to cry out loudly from his whip-induced stupor.

Despite feeling like a magician’s assistant in a trick gone awry, he tried wrestling himself free from the cross. The more he struggled, the more it hurt and the less he could move. The guard then repeated the not-so-delicate procedure on the other arm and finally at Jak’s feet. Several guards and the two boys lifted the cross and set it into the hole, and once again Jak screamed in pain.

Markus witnessed all of this and decided he wanted no part of it. As he turned to run, however, his guard whipped him several more times such that Markus was bleeding from every limb and from his back. He fell once again, and the other guards and the two boys picked him up and carried him to the place he would die. Two more boys charged up the hill and carried Markus' cross to the top. Markus twisted and turned, fighting the guards pinning him down. Despite struggling, he was finally attached to the cross just as his friend had been. And like Jak, he screamed and shouted in pain and horror as the boys picked up the instrument of death and plunked it down in its hole. The crowd lined the path to the hill as guards brought out yet another prisoner.

“It's the ‘Christ!’,” the horde yelled out.

“Save yourself!” They yelled.

“You're supposed to be from Heaven. Why don’t you call your 'father' down? Where are your angels now, you 'Messiah'?” The multitude continued to call out, dancing around, raising their hands toward the skies, mocking him as he struggled up the hill.

Blood ran down his face leading from a crude crown made out of ring of thorned vines that had been pushed down into his head, and his clothes had been ripped and torn on every inch by the guards’ whips. He looked as though he had been trampled by a thousand horses on their way to a watering hole. Markus called to Jak as best he could, barely above a hoarse whisper, “Jak. Jak. That - that's the one.”

The words hardly escaped his lips and above the noise of the crowd, his friend did not hear him. Jak, with sweat and blood in his eyes clouding his vision, struggled to see the man dragging up the hill. Exhausted from trying to breathe, he dropped his head and closed his stinging eyes.

When the other prisoner reached the top of the hill, the guards stripped off his clothes and tossed them aside. Some of the crowd raced over and began fighting over the torn fragments. Someone in the group yelled, “Cast for ‘em!” and another person tossed a couple small ivory-colored squares on the ground. The crowd quieted in anticipation and the procession halted until one man leapt to his feet, grabbed the pile of blood-stained clothes and danced around with the prisoner's clothes trailing through the air behind him. As he twirled his prize in the air, drops of blood splattered the faces, necks, and clothes of those standing nearby.

A few moments later, attention turned back to the activities at hand. The new cross was placed on the ground between the other crosses on the top of the hill as guards attached this captive just they had the other two. As the prisoner cried out in pain, another man bent over and nailed a large wooden plaque to the top of the cross. It read, “This is Jesus, King of the Jews.” Three guardsmen slowly raised the cross to a standing position and a moment later it dropped into the hole. The crowd surged forward.

Jesus, as he was called, tried to lift himself by standing on the spikes driven through his shins just above his feet. His neighbors on either side of him could have told him it was no use, that it wasn’t going to work, but they were too exhausted themselves from their own struggle to fight impending death. His chest heaved rapidly as he struggled and his face contorted in a mass of confusion, pain, terror and sadness. When his legs could no longer bear the weight, he relaxed his muscles and hung loosely by the stakes dividing each of his wrists like stumps in the middle of an open field.

Passersby held their arms out and hung their heads as they passed by the three men, mocking their gestures. Jak tried listening intently to the voices floating above the sounds of the crowd. He heard one woman cry, “He is Lord! He is Lord!” A deep voice bellowed, “Praise you, Jesus!” Jak hung there concentrating on this newcomer and his friends so as not to think about his own pain. Markus simply watched as the crowd yelled, his breathing labored and heavy, like a spear ramming through his lungs with every breath.

“Come down from the cross, if you’re a god! Save yourself!” The crowd yelled at the middle prisoner as they pressed onward.

“Come down if you're the SON of God,” others barked.

A solitary voice belonging to a boy of about ten years old called out, “He saved other people, but he can’t even save himself!”

Markus’ eyes darted around, taking in the scene of the crowd while sweat and tears rolled down his face and crossed his parched lips. He licked at the salty drink, hungry for more in the tension building around him, enjoying the crowds and the sneering laughter of the people. Despite the pain in his legs and arms and lungs, he drew a deep breath and called out, “Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself,” then quickly added, “and save us, too!” He stared wildly at Jesus, eyes still darting from left to right, to the crowd and back again.

But, Jak, swooning in and out of the periphery of consciousness, shook his head slowly back and forth, his chest feeling like it would burst outward or suddenly collapse inward, and his arms were tearing at the shoulders and the wrists. The salt from his tears and sweat ran down his body in streams which converged on the wounds near his ankles. He thought of the prison cell, the night at the tavern, the stars in the sky, and of wide open grassy fields with deep pools of crystal clear lake water, and of his mother; he thought of life and he thought of death. For a moment, his eyes focused on Markus.

He drew in a deep breath, battling pain and fear and anguish, then yelled louder than a child riding a coaster for the first time, “Don't you fear God!? We are the crucified!” The crowd cheered, not taking in any of the words except ‘crucified,’ and Jak released his breath.

The crowd hissed and threw rocks at him and he coughed and arched and spit a mouthful of blood at the crowd. Although he had no strength left and losing the sense of his surroundings, with one last raspy breath, he whispered, “Jesus, remember me.”

Jesus drew a deep breath, and despite the throbbing, answered, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Then Jak's head dropped to his chest and the crowd roared with approval.

Somewhere, a woman called out, “One down, two to go,” and the mob cheered. Markus drew in a great breath and gathered all the blood, sweat, and saliva he had in his mouth. Turning to the man hanging next to him, he spat on the “King of the Jews.” A roar of applause filled the air causing Markus to straighten himself on the cross and yell with all he had left inside, “Where is this Jesus?” The crowd pushed forward and Markus' body slumped but he refused to leave the ceremony.

Two guards came forward and struck his friend’s legs with a large club-shaped chunk of wood. Jak’s body, now devoid of any support, dropped from the cross, ripping his hands off at the wrists. Blood gushed and sprayed the crowd as his arms fell down and forward in front of his limp body. Then, the guards turned to Markus and did the same. He tried holding himself up by his arms and again the crowd cheered him. He felt proud and actually managed to spread his lips in a bloody smile, but weakened and beaten, he breathed his last. His lifeless body hung from the cross, suspended by his limp wrists.

The guards moved back toward Jesus, but his body was already limp, remaining on the cross only by the spikes piercing his wrists and feet. One of the two guards took a spear and stuck it into the side of Jesus. Blood and water and something that smelled like vinegar spilled out of him onto the ground. He made no sound and did not move any muscles.

“This one is done,” the guard shouted over his shoulder to the crowd.

After a brief applause, the crowd of onlookers turned around and started their journey back down the hill, slapping each other on the back for the job they had done so well. A small group of people remained at the top of the hill. They sat, wailing at the base of Jesus’ cross. They leaned on each other, held each other, and consoled each other. There were fewer than a dozen people gathered there. Except for those few, no one showed any sorrow for the lives lost or sadness that the ritual was over. For they knew tomorrow would once again bring others to the top of the hill.