On Writing...

12/01/2015 01:41 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2016

Does a writer ever know what is next? Beings writing is not my day job, I don't ever set aside writing time as some authors do.

"I write from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every single day!" I have heard.

Not me! I need a thought or an idea to trigger the writing side of my brain, and then the faucet is turned on and away I go.

"Hey, Joe or Joseph, we need a short commentary on the rutabaga shortage in Uganda."

All right... blank page... The Rutabaga in actuality a turnip and the recent wars in Uganda have been responsible for... See what I mean?

I need a direction or a storyline or an event to push me into writing. Here is an example.

While dining in a restaurant I once saw an old man get lost and separated from his wife who was sitting very nearby. He began to tremble in fear, as he didn't realize where he was or why he was there. He began to drop food from his tray so I rushed to him and tried to be of help. His wife saw what was going on and ran to his side as well. She guided him back to their table, nodded to me, and said, "I am so sorry, he is going through a very tough time right now... so sorry." She retrieved a flip phone from her purse and called her daughter. She looked so very tired.

I went back to my room and wrote about Big Jim Tolefson in the short story "Big Grin" which appears in my Christmas Miracles book. As an aside, I got the name Jim "Big Grin" Tolefson off a mailbox while walking in a town in Minnesota one day. I actually wrote it down. So there! Another trigger. The story begins... James "Big Grin" Tolefson had once been a Naval Destroyer Commander.

My process for beginning On the Road with The Oak Ridge Boys started with a reflection of my wife calling the Oaks a phenomenon just before leaving time once evening when she and I were sitting at a restaurant across the street from our office. After writing An American Journey I had no idea how to approach a new book on the Oaks, as requested by Harvest House Publishing, but that reflection gave me an idea for a start, and I just kept going.

I remember sending the first five chapters to my editor to confirm the direction I was taking was all right, and that we were on the same page so to speak. He loved the course I had taken so I just kept writing. The end result is a fun book. The Harvest House team also allowed me to share my faith. In fact, they had hoped I would, as Harvest House is a Christian publisher. I didn't let them down. Just wait until you read my final chapter, "A Final Personal Note from Joe" Some great Jesus in this chapter, and we all could use a little more of Him in this day and age.

I had lunch with some of the Harvest House folks the other day, and we discussed what I should write next. It will likely be another non-fiction book, but I do have a novel almost finished. I started it about four years after 9-11. It's called The Miracle of White Tail Hollow.

My protagonist is a character named John Barlow, a member of a very special, under the radar group called The Patriots. These men are the best there are in what they do. John must constantly juggle his love for his family and his dedication to serving America. He must also come to grips with his faith in Jesus Christ and how it applies or not to that which he does so well. Along the way there are miracles--and some vicious warfare. I love this book, and I hope you get to read it one day. But for now it has just been a good exercise in storytelling.

I do love to write, and I hope to inspire on many levels with the words that flow. Just like singing, I want to entertain you, but I also hope that something I say or do or write will touch your heart. That is really what all of my writing is about.

Thanks for reading...