incandescent man walking: a book of poetry

Unknown-1My first book of poetry is now ready and available at Amazon.  

Incandescent Man Walking has been about three years in the making.  I started writing poetry on my blog from the onset in the spring of 2011.  In the spring of 2013, I had written enough poetry to put together a collection.  With the exception of the title poem, all of the poetry in Incandescent Man Walking was written in the two-year period between spring of 2011 and spring of 2013.

About the poetry: I don’t claim to be a poet in the classic sense.  I mostly write free verse in a slice-of-life style.  If you’re looking for rhymes you might want to check out my songs, although I do include a few poems with rhyming schemes in the book.

The poetry covers a variety of topics: love, patience, youth, aging, music, nature and God are all recurring themes throughout the book.  I like to use metaphors to describe and explain what at times seem to be indescribable thoughts and feelings.  I like to ponder our place in this world and ask important questions through my poetry.  For examples, you can read much of my poetry on this site by going to my poetry category.

You might ask, “Why should I purchase the book if I can read the poems on your blog?”  My answer: Don’t buy the book!  Feel free to search my site and read all the poems here for free.  However, I do offer a few valid reasons for buying the book:

1. The book includes improved versions of many of the poems on my site.

2. Poetry lends itself to a paper format.  Having a hard copy of a poetry collection speaks comfort and tradition.  I will not be creating a Kindle version of this collection.

3. To support my creative writing.  Artists and writers struggle to make ends meet.  You can show your support by purchasing a copy of Incandescent Man Walking.  

4. To give as a gift.  This book might be the perfect gift for someone special in your life.

About the title and the cover: Incandescent Man Walking is dedicated to a dear friend, artist and colleague, Gordon Ligocki.  Gordon and I worked together at Ancilla College in Donaldson, Indiana from 2002-2004.  Gordon taught art.  I taught communication.  We shared many ideas and values and had many in-depth conversations about art, music, politics, religion, and life.  Gordon passed away unexpectedly in January.

Gordon and I shared the love of “The Walking Man” as a universal symbol.  In fact, an artful rendition of walking man is the last profile picture on Gordon’s Facebook page.  I added the word “incandescent” to the title to represent the light that Gordon shared and continues to share with the countless people he’s touched in this life.  I switched “walking man” to “man walking” to represent a continuing action.

The cover picture has an interesting history.  It was actually taken accidentally.  I was at Mt. Rainier National Park with my daughter, Annie, in the summer of 2012.  I had been taking pictures with my phone and slid it back into my pocket.  Later, I found the picture of walking man.  I posted it on Facebook and Gordon immediately commented that he loved it.  After Gordon passed it just seemed like the right picture for the cover of the book.  I hope you enjoy the poetry.




Smashed, trashed, cut, slashed,

beaten, bruised, cheated, used,

thoroughly abused.

We’ve seen pain multiplied by

pain, fear, hate, blood, stain,

murdered by Cain.

Who could blame us to retreat,

to crawl into a shell and harden

our hearts for all eternity?

That would be easy.

It’s much harder to remain soft,

supple, hot lava, wind, water,

liquid gold.


unshakable, bendable,

shapable, hard to hold,

yet always ready to love

without drawing lines in the sand.

launches are for rockets not books

Okay, today I’m going to vent a bit.  I have a few pet peeves about blogging and some of the terms we use to do what we do.  One thing that drives me nuts is “the book launch.”  And it’s not just the term either.  It’s the entire concept.  We write books.  We publish them.  We don’t blast them into space.

I am proud to say that I have never “launched” a book and I never intend to.  I write my books and I publish them.  I may lightly promote them, but I won’t ask you to be part of a team to do so.  Here’s why: My time is precious and therefore I know yours is too.

Although I’ve participated in a couple of book launches in the past, if you ask me to be on your launch team I will likely turn you down.  Taking the time to be on your team takes away from my time with my daughter.  It takes away from my time writing books.  It takes away from my home time.  It takes away from my poetry and songs.  I know I’m beginning to sound selfish, but hold on.  From what I’ve seen, most self-published book launches don’t really make much of a difference in sales.

First, after helping out with a couple of book launches I asked the authors about their sales.  What I discovered is that in some cases their books sold less in the initial release period than my first book, A Train Called Forgiveness did without a book launch.  I don’t want to waste my time creating a book launch to only boost sales by a small percentage.  I have more important things to do with my time.  

Second, many of the books that are being launched are not really books.  I hate to be a critic and a snob, but I don’t consider manuscripts under 50 pages, released primarily as ebooks to be in the same category as 200+ paged titles that are released in a variety of formats.  If you’re going to call what you write a book, write a book, not a pamphlet.

Third, the whole thing seems a bit redundant to me.  I understand the concept.  I help in your book launch and then you’ll potentially help with mine.  That’s great.  There’s just one small problem.  Most of the people who take part in the book launches I’ve been a part of all work within the same blog circles.  It’s like preaching to the choir.  It doesn’t really get the word out to those who might really make a big difference.  If you want to sell lots of books you should probably look for a literary agent or a publishing deal.  That’s a route I will likely take in the future.

Finally, if we have to request of others to comment, review and critique our work in exchange for free books and prizes, what does that say about our writing?  I want my writing to speak for itself.  I don’t want to buy reviews and fans.  I want to grow my reputation the old-fashioned way through solid and consistent writing.  For those who have done book launches, I have a simple question: How many reviews do you think you would have received if you had not asked people to review your books in exchange for free materials?  I would never pay someone to write a good book review for me.  I don’t care if it would make my book a bestseller.  It’s just not the way I roll.  Book launches are just a small step below paid reviews from my perspective.

So there you have it.  I don’t like book launches.  I will never launch my own books.  And I likely won’t be on your launch team unless I really believe in your writing.  If I want to review and promote your book I’ll decide when and where I’ll do it.  As for launching, I’ll stick to rockets.

Question: Have you “launched” a book?  Have you been on a launch team?  Do you like the idea of book launches?

we are platinum

I’ve been working on writing and recording a dozen songs this summer.  The project is called “Our Land” and all the songs are written on guitar, banjo, and mandolin.  I’ll be posting those songs in the fall.  But in the midst of that project came another piano song.  This one is called We Are Platinum.  It’s short and sweet so take three minutes and give it a listen.


 We Are Platinum

Some people are silver

Some people are gold

Some people shine like diamonds

That story’s all been told

We’re the ones who never fit

Into the labels that they’ve made

Timeless and beautiful

Our light will never fade

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update on the cult trilogy

Some of you may be wondering when I’m going to release my third book to the cult trilogy.  But first, for new visitors, let me tell you about the first two books.

A Train Called Forgiveness

51TpDyGZsuL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_The first book, A Train Called Forgivenessis a fictional depiction of my own childhood.  You see, I was the child victim of a cult.  I was basically a slave from the time I was 10 until I was 16.  I worked 8-14 hours a day.  If I didn’t work hard enough I was given the two-by-four of education.  I had to live away from my family in a house that was overcrowded with young men.  I was forced to attend indoctrinating meetings until wee hours of the night.

But I found a way out.  I helped plan and initiate an escape.  It was dangerous, but I knew I had to get away.  Years later, I looked back on my childhood as a young adult struggling with paranoia and symptoms of post-truamatic stress disorder.  A Train Called Forgiveness revisits my childhood and my struggles as a younger man through the character of Andy Burden.  The book is written in a fast-paced, creative and captivating style.  You can read two chapters for free: click here.

At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy

41skUh6XgeL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_My second book jumps ahead nearly three decades.  At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy is based off a possible reality.  A few years ago, my brother and I were researching the cult leader of our youth.  We knew he had died.  But as we researched we found some evidence that led us to consider the possibility that he may have faked his own death.

At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy follows a 50-year-old Andy Burden on a journey to discover the truth.  Did cult leader, Peter Smith fake his death?  Andy travels across the country to investigate.  What he discovers will keep you on the edge of your seat.  You can read the first few chapters for free: click here.

The Track to Redemption

So what about the third book?  When will it be published?  Well, my original goal was the spring of 2015.  But I might be postponing that date by six months to a year.  Here’s why:

First, I recently bought a house and I’ve been focusing on some home improvement projects.  You can see what I’m doing at my other blog: Hip Diggs.  Second, I’m working overload classes at my teaching position to try to get ahead on my house payments.  Third, I’m a full-time single dad.  Finally, and this is the most important reason, I want to write the best book that I can.

The first draft of The Track to Redemption is only a couple of chapters shy of being complete.  I hope to complete it this summer.  The second writing of the third book will be the most involved of the trilogy.  I need to spend some time doing some research and making sure the whole trilogy lines up.  When it’s complete it might just be the best book of the three, and there is a spiritual theme throughout the trilogy that will make you ponder the way you think about Christianity.  I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

What about you?  What are you writing these days?

please don’t be offended if i don’t call you friend

I’ve been shaving my friends list again.  Sorry if you didn’t make the cut, but let me explain.

First, here’s a little history about the list: It started out as a blogroll a few years ago, in my early days of blogging, but it started getting too long and the list cluttered my sidebar.  So I created a page called “bloglinks.”  At that point I included links to a variety of sites, including blogging sites like Copywriter and Michael Hyatt, writing sites like Write to Done and Jeff Goins, self-help blogs like PIck The Brain and The Change Blog, faith-based blogs, leadership blogs, and a plethora of blogs of those I’d personally connected with.

The list grew.  And grew.

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incandescent man walking

When the heartbeat stops,

ending life as we understand it,

the drum beats on.

When the eyes fade into

absence of light as we see it,

something brighter is revealed.

He would not have wings.

His was the salt of the Earth.

He would prefer to walk,

spattering color around

lonesome prairies of Indiana

through collected refuse

littering the streets of Gary.

Taking the old, the unwanted,

the used, he would wander

this land, returning the glow.

No, he would not have wings,

but would rather remain among

the lowly: teaching, sharing, loving,

burning with passion, an

incandescent man walking.

Look closely.

You will see him.

He is everywhere,

within each artistic expression

along this living path.

no funeral for my fan pages

Last week I talked about cutting back on my social media accounts.  I slashed Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and several other accounts.  Do I regret it?  Hell no!  If fact, shortly after I deleted half a dozen social media accounts, I started evaluating my Facebook fan pages.

I had two fan pages: Dan Erickson – Author and Hip Diggs.  I’d spent nearly two years and probably somewhere between $50 and $100 on silly Facebook ads on Dan Erickson – Author.  I had only operated Hip Diggs fan page for a few months.  But after some careful analysis and deep thought, I decided to let them go.  Here’s why:

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why i killed half my social media

When I first started blogging, I combed the Internet for advice.  It was conclusive: if you want to drive traffic to your blog, you need to get active in social media, and lots of it.  I took that advice.  I created many accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Squidoo, Goodreads, and more.  But I discovered something.  It’s a trap.  The time commitment needed to develop successful profiles will suck you into Internet hell.

Trying to maintain more than two or three social media accounts by yourself will only lead to wasted time.  And time is precious.  I have a daughter.  I have a job.  I’m trying to complete the writing of my Cult Trilogy.  I recently bought a house.  And I enjoy my time outdoors.  I’m taking it back!  All that time that went needlessly into trying to build too many social media profiles.  I’m taking it back!

Here’s why:

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why we should live lightly

IMG_0715So my summer posts are going to be less often.  They will also be simple.  The underlying theme is that we should live lightly.  Buy less.  Do less.  Blog less.  Cut back on the things that steal our lives out from under us.

I’m not proposing that we become lazy and complacent.  In fact, I’m going to be suggesting just the opposite.  Perhaps when we keep ourselves overly busy we are missing the point.  We are avoiding the more important parts of life.  When we aim for becoming more productive, something else will suffer for it.  And that goes for so-called Christian productivity, too.

It’s okay to have dreams.  It’s okay to have goals.  But when your dreams and goals get in the way of your faith, your family, your health, and your livelihood, you need to reconsider the path you have chosen to achieve those goals.  And I hate to rain on the parade of all the well-intentioned Christian bloggers and writers, but even you can become so caught up with what it is your blogging, writing, or promoting that you become more self-serving than God-serving.  I know.  I’ve been one of the you of which I speak.

I’ve spent the last six months reevaluating my life and how my online presence fits into things.  First, I must say that I’ve been bamboozled.  And so have many of you.  I was told that if I just tried hard enough, joined enough social networks, shared enough posts, etc., that my blog numbers would increase and my products would sell.

But that’s not true for the average blogger.  It’s a model that will keep you going back to read articles on the blogging guru’s sites and maybe even spend money on their products.  But in the end you will likely wind up feeling defeated and unsatisfied because your traffic increases very slowly if at all.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s something to be said for consistency in our efforts, but spending hours on end, is in my humble opinion, a waste of precious time.  So my intention this summer isn’t to try to teach you how to get more traffic, write better headlines, or create stronger content.  My goal is to share with you how eliminating the excess can help you live more freely.  In turn, living more freely will allow you to become a better writer.

Some of the topics I’ll be covering over the coming months will include:

Why I deleted my Google+, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon accounts

Why I deleted my Facebook fan pages

Why I continue to cut back my friends list

Why I’ve pushed back the publishing date for my third book

How I’m minimizing my time spent online

How I’m minimizing my outgoing monthly payments

How minimizing certain things in life leads to maximum benefits

And more… or less.

So why should we live lightly?  Because when we spend our time trying to be a heavy-hitter, our lives become heavy.  I for one don’t want to burden myself with all the excess.

I hope you’ll join me for this summer series.  But don’t spend too much time on my blog, or your own for that matter.  Go out and enjoy life.