The Write Life

Christmas Is: an excerpt from “Walking Tall”

Chapter 14: Christmas Is

The days after September 11, 2001, I sat riveted to the images of devastation on my television like the rest of the nation. The thought of flying across the country unnerved me, but when October 17 came, I boarded a plane at LAX with enough clothes to survive autumn in New York and Atlanta, and a December in Cleveland. En route to New York, I stopped in Orlando to drop off my dog, Jack, at my mother’s his a three-month vacation.

The Write Life

“3 Things I Know” excerpt


99 Problems

If you’re living, you have, you are currently, or you will face problems, or as I like to call them, “challenges.” From newborns trying to find their way in a brand new world to teenagers battling with peer pressure and feeling misunderstood by everyone over eighteen to adults dealing with unexpected career changes or the loss of a loved one to seniors coping with the challenges of living in an aging body, no one leaves this world untouched by challenges of their own making or someone else’s. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re delusional.

The Write Life

Announcing My New Book … “3 Things I Know”

As a forty-eight-inch tall, black man, I know a thing or two about challenges. 3 Things I Know: Facing and Embracing Life’s Challenges deftly guides the reader through my unique life experiences, with which readers will readily identify, in discovering what works when confronted with challenges—and more importantly what doesn’t.

The Write Life

In Case You Missed the Interview …

Clay Rivers with friend and Fox Sportscaster, Paul Kennedy. The matching shirts and fuchsia orchid were purely coincidental.

In case you missed the March 22 interview, here’s the link to the Cathedral of Saint Luke podcast page (Interview With The Author. Book: The Raindancer: Finding Joy in the Storm).

The interview came about due to the enthusiasm and joint efforts of four people: Judi L’Hommedieu … who put me in touch with … Julie Gadbois who suggested the idea to Dean Anthony Clark (head priest at the Cathedral) who just happened to want to kick off an author interview series and roped … Fox Sports anchor, Paul Kennedy into conducting the interview.

Enjoy! And thanks to everyone who made the interview possible and attended!

The Raindancer, The Write Life

Finding Joy in the Writing


Providence set me on the path to writing my second book, The Raindancer: Finding Joy in the Storm five years ago. I never wanted to write this book. In my mind, it was someone else’s task, someone else’s burden to bear; but what I didn’t know was the heavy-lifting had already been done for me. All I had to do was continue on the path and everything would come together as planned. Providence lined up everyone and circumstances to guide, encourage, and assist me in that task.

So about those people and that heavy-lifting …

Rich Willis’ first-person account of experiencing colon and lung cancer serves as the backbone of the book. I know, anytime anyone hears the word “cancer,” it tends to suck all the fun out of the room, but hear me out. His blog posts ring with a singular voice brimming with joy, an unshakable faith, and an unusual sense of humor.

My initial concept for the book was that it would be a work of fiction, an inspired by true events story. In order to create believable fictional characters I needed to draw on real life experience or the characters would fall flat. So I interviewed the people who would later serve as the inspiration for my characters in my fictionalized book.

First there is Connie. She flung open the doors of her heart and shared freely about the rigors and opportunities of living with her husband’s cancer while raising a family and working. She also recounts surviving her own prior battle with breast cancer. And when you read the book you’ll agree that she did so with an unmatched grace and strength.

During the half a dozen times I interviewed Connie, she held nothing back as she answered every question I asked her, and on more than one occasion she was a step or two ahead of me. The same held true for everyone I interviewed. Her children, close family friends, and family members provided me with ample candid material upon which to base my characters. Two doctors gladly supplied me with insights into cancer, its treatment, and the roles different types of doctors play when partnering with patients.

I spent weeks developing throughlines, character arcs, plot points, scenes, and all the other stuff that goes into outlining a book, plus another two months cobbling together 25% of a first draft. So you’d think with fantastic source material, compelling interviews, and a great outline that writing an inspired fictional account of real-life events would be a breeze, right? No. So. Much.

A two-month long bout of writer’s block set in.

Not to worry—a gifted writer friend gave me solid advice that helped me regain my writing voice once and for all. I also realized that I was writing out of my preferred genre: nonfiction. I excelled at writing about personal experiences ranging from the noble to the naughty and everything in between.

I regrouped and wrote the first third of a nonfiction draft, I needed readers to act as an impromptu focus group. Their reaction to the partial manuscript would indicate whether or not it came across as I intended. And lo and behold a small number of people of varying ages and backgrounds made themselves available. Their responses far exceeded my expectations and prompted me to forge ahead in my new direction. Even the need for an editor was filled.

Lest you be deceived and think I was single-minded about finishing the book, I have a confession: I went looking for, found, and followed many a job lead; I even tried to force an opportunity—fortunately, none came to fruition. Then it dawned on me that all the paths I pursued led to dead ends; except those involving the book. Once I took hold of that notion, I wrote with wild abandon and project I sought to avoid became my raison d’être. And the writing took on a deeper meaning.

So. The Raindancer is done. It’s out there. And the response has been overwhelming. I attribute its draw not to any writing prowess on my part, but the uplifting spiritual truths it contains.

The Take-Away: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. —Ephesians 2:10

Announcements, The Raindancer, The Write Life

Announcing … “The Raindancer”

Here we go. After almost two years, it’s here: time to release my new book, The Raindancer, to the world!


The Raindancer: Finding Joy in the Storm takes a 360-degree look at one man’s use of unwavering faith, a positive attitude, and an indomitable sense of humor in dire circumstances and how he changed the lives of everyone with whom he came in contact.

My hope is that this story will present the world in a new light and give you the courage to dance in the midst of life’s storms.

The Raindancer is available in print at and

The Raindancer, The Write Life

Life’s Not About Waiting for the Storms to Pass

richwillis Five years ago today Rich Willis went home to be with the Lord after his battle with cancer. This family man, inspiring friend, and all-around good guy leaves a legacy of unwavering faith, positive attitude, indomitable sense of humor, and compassion for others that is lived out daily through his family and friends.

Their stories will present the world in a whole new light and give you the courage to dance in the midst of life’s storms.

(Trust me, Gene Kelly’s got nothing on this guy.)

The Raindancer, The Write Life



The first third of the second draft of The Raindancer is done! I hope to have a completed second draft by the end of July. Keep your fingers crossed.

Now I’m recruiting a few readers to take a peek at the first half before too long. I also need a couple of pairs of eyes to read the whole thing in its entirety, once I’ve completed the second draft. And even a couple more to read something a lot more polished. But there’s a catch: you’ll only get to read one version. Why? Because it’s tough for anyone to give a first impression of a second reading. So choose wisely.

Thanks, y’all!

(It’s amazing what a couple of large servings of home-brewed iced coffee and do. Now, about these jitters…)