Altar Ego
Short Stories

Altar Ego

Behind every joke a preacher tells is a story he’s trying to forget. This is that story.

“So you’re not going to tell her?” Bentley asked.

Vernon studied himself in the mirror, tilting his head from side to side. “Bentley,” he said. “I’m tired of talking. I mean to do it this time.” He looked away from the mirror and into the eyes of his co-conspirator. A thick index finger emphasized his point. “And she can’t stop me.”

Bentley sighed. “Okay. When?”

“First thing Friday morning, when she leaves for her sister’s house. My appointment is at ten.”

“How long will she be gone?”

“Till sometime on Tuesday, plenty of time.”

“And you’re sure you want to go through with this?” Bentley asked, not for the first time. “Is it really necessary?”

Without answering, Reverend Vernon Vanderwalker returned his attention to the mirror. Not bad for fifty-four. Sure, he was a little beefy around the edges. But that wasn’t what bothered him. His biggest problem, the proverbial thorn in his side, was the desolate plain where his hair once dwelled. Maybe it was from age or stress. Maybe it was a tragic case of heredity. Regardless, Vernon’s head was both naked and ashamed. He thought of the Old Testament and how the sins of the fathers visited themselves upon the future generations and wondered. What kind of mess did my Daddy get himself into?

“It’s necessary,” he said.

Read the whole story at Lit Up.

How I Use Airtable to Plot Fiction
Writing Tools

How I Use Airtable to Plot Fiction

Airtable is a fully-featured online, relational database. See how I use it to plot fiction, build characters, and view elements visually as I write.

Hi. I’m Brandon, and I’m an app addict. (“Hi, Brandon.”)

I spend far more time finding, installing, and tweaking writing tools than I do writing with them. I’ve tried them all, from Scrivener to Word, ApolloPad to Novlr. I’ve HiveWorded and Snowflaked my way through so many cool tools that now, before I sign up for a new one, I have to make sure I don’t already have an account.

The Missing Link

Of course, no tool stands alone. I regularly employ a suite of solutions to fit my environment, my task, or my mood. I write with Scrivener. I brain dump and spin “what if” webs with Workflowy. I even use Voice Notes on my phone to talk out scenes while I’m in the car. What I needed was a tool that allowed me to organize and build a story no matter how it came to me.

See screenshots and read the full article at The Writing Cooperative.

A Shot in the Dark
Short Stories

A Shot in the Dark

“Hey, Johnie,” Karma said as her boss walked through the door. She tried to act innocent.

“Get out of my way,” Johnie replied. “I’ve got to pee.” Hunched over, he walked like a penguin toward the back of the salon.

“Well, good morning to you, too.” She preoccupied herself with her clipper attachments and pretended to pout.

Johnie sighed and turned around. “Karma, don’t go all Sylvia Plath on me.” He tapped his foot involuntarily. “We can be besties in a minute. But right now I’ve got a venti Hazelnut Latte springing holes in my bladder.”

He turned and hurried to the restroom. “Good grief, who put all this crap in front of the door.” He started throwing brooms and mops and boxes of toilet paper.

“Yikes,” Karma said. She ran over to help. “Sorry, Johnie. We were cleaning out the storage closet last night. I came in early to put it all up. I just hadn’t got there yet.”

“It’s fine.” Johnie was breathing heavy. “Just move this stuff. I’m dying here.”

Karma shoved the last box out of the way then stepped back and waited.

Johnie threw open the bathroom door, flipped on the light, and screamed at the man staring back at him. “Oh, mercy.”

Read the whole story.

Death and Taxes
Short Stories

Death and Taxes

Josh stumbled to the bathroom and turned on the shower. For a good five minutes, he stood with his eyes closed, willing the hot water to wash away the restless night. He felt blindly for the soap, expecting to knock over one of the fifteen or so bottles that usually surrounded it. When his hand found nothing but a bar of Irish Spring, he opened his eyes. Something was seriously wrong.

Last week, Josh started shaving his head to save money on haircuts and shampoo. His wife, however, insisted on maintaining a strict beauty regiment of conditioners, shampoos, body washes, and lotions. Now, all of it was gone. Reality dawned on Josh. Ellen had left him.

Read the whole story at The Creative Cafe.


Praying for Gospel Conversations

September 23, 2018 | “Praying for Gospel Conversations” | Colossians 4:2-6 | The Church at Station Hill

Disciple-makers should pray for God to open doors for the word to be made clear in the lives of those yet to believe. The way we pray, live, and speak should reflect the priority of the gospel in our lives. We again ask the question, Who are the lost people you’re praying for and having gospel conversations with?

Watch the full series, How Disciples Are Made.

(c) 2018 Brentwood Baptist Church. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


Jesus Glorified: The Transfiguration

July 16, 2017 | Jesus Glorified: The Transfiguration | Mark 9:2-13 | The Church at Station Hill

Peter, James and John experience a preview of the coming resurrection glory of Jesus, but must come down the mountain where they walk right into a spiritual crisis of belief. In this story, we see the importance of the rhythms of Christ-exalting worship and the spiritual warfare of prayer.

Watch the whole series, Jesus:Servant and Savior.

(c) 2017 Brentwood Baptist Church. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

A Close Shave
Short Stories

A Close Shave

Red licked his lips and eyed the aces in his hand. Peering over his cards, he watched the grimy gamblers around the table. Each of them returned his stare, keeping one eye on Red and one eye on the mound of money in the middle. Cigar haze danced with the dingy light of saloon chandeliers and played with Red’s imagination. The pot assumed a heavenly glow that whispered to him, tempted him. 

Go all in, it said. This is your ticket out of Widow’s Rest. No more watching over your shoulder. No more living under the rich man’s thumb.

The rich man watched him now, flipping his own cards with that same oppressive thumb. Jasper Tate owned the saloon and half the men at the table, including Red. But not for long.

Read the whole story at Frontier Tales.

Short Stories


Wynn hooked a mostly clean fingernail under the chrome tab of the tape measure. The internal spring tack-tack-tacked as yellow inches emerged. Six, eight, ten, twelve. He stopped, had an idea, but let it go. The metal strip zipped back into the case, rocking his hand with a thwack. He did it again, careful not to cut his already dry and cracked fingers. Tack-tack-tack. Zip. Thwack. He waited. Nothing.

The click of the punch clock on his wall told him he had just wasted another half-hour of his day. In his mind, the woman from last week’s self-development seminar accused him of “activity avoidance.” Boy, there was three hours of activity Wynn was never getting back. No avoiding that. As a rule, he did the hard things first, paid the bills before he bought the boat, mowed the yard before he hit the lake. But what he had to do now, well, how do you start a thing like that?

Read the whole story at The Eunoia Review.

The Red Brick

The Red Brick

“I see Claire signed your cast.”

“Yup. Hey, Dad. Help me find a red, four-by-four brick.”

“I’ll try. There are a lot of legos here.”

“Dad, it’s not that hard.”

“Okay. So, did you ask her to sign it?”

“No. She likes to sign casts.”

“She does?”

“Yeah. That’s what she said.”

“Oh, I see. Hey, I found a red brick.”

“Cool. Thanks, Dad.”

“You’re welcome, son.”


Moses Called

February 18, 2018 | “Moses Called” | Exodus 3:14-15 | The Church at Station Hill

In dramatic fashion, God begins to reveal His evacuation plan by calling Moses to be His mouthpiece to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God wants Moses to be sure to communicate exactly Who it is sending him and Who it is that will rescue them: I AM. God has been their God. God will be their God. God IS there God now.

Watch the full series, Exodus: The Evacuation Experiment.