Beyond the Smoke
Terry Burns

Terry Burns is an agent with Hartline Literary as well as writing inspirational fiction. As a writer he has over 40 books in print including 10 novels. He has a new 4 book series from Port Yonder Press entitled “The Sagebrush Collection” of his collected short works and the first released March 2010 entitled “On the Road Home.” A Young Adult entitled Beyond the Smoke won the Will Rogers Medallion and a new book “A Writer’s Survival Guide to Publication” also from Port Yonder Press was developed out of the month long course he held for ACFW. A popular speaker at workshops across the country, a bookstore of his available works as well as a regular blog is at As an agent Terry says "I'm looking for a good book, well written in a unique voice, aimed at a market that looks promising, and where I feel I have the contacts appropriate to be able to sell the book in that market. I’m pretty open as to genre but I don’t do children’s, sci fi or fantasy. He’s a member of the Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR).

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Did You Make a New Year’s Resolution?

That’s the traditional way to greet the New Year. The only time I have kept any resolutions is when I resolved not to make any more fool resolutions. In our family, welcoming the New Year and bringing us luck involves eating black-eyed peas and sauerkraut. Well, actually the sauerkraut came from my wife’s side of the family.

Actually we do these things not because we think they will bring us luck but out of tradition. I don’t believe in luck; I believe in being in God’s favor. Trusting in luck leaves God out of the equation.

All right, if I don’t believe in luck and don’t make resolutions, then starting a New Year is no big deal, right? I wouldn’t say that. Putting the old year behind us and facing the new one with hope and anticipation is a good thing. To me the mechanism for looking forward is not making a resolution, but updating my to-do list.

This is nothing new; there is always a to-do list. Life is good when we are making progress working down the items on our lists. Stress comes when the list starts mounting and we don’t seem to be making progress. When that happens, it is often because the things on the list are too big and overwhelming. Such things need to be broken down into smaller tasks that are achievable.

For example, the goal of writing a book is too big. It needs to be broken into a time period in which we write a couple thousand words. Loosing weight is too big; it needs to be losing a couple of pounds in a certain time. Those chores around the house need to be achievable, or broken down.

And some things don’t even belong on the list. I smile a lot when I look at some of the manuscripts I receive. The plot develops until the protagonist is forced to his knees, forced to admit that he simply cannot resolve the problem facing him. It is written in such as way as if the author has just figured that out for the first time. Some things we will not make headway on until we admit they are beyond us and we can only turn them over to God.

But lists themselves are immortal. We can never work them off. Just when we think we have completed our to-do lists, we only have to look around and find items we simply haven’t placed on the list yet but are awaiting our attention. A list is never gone until we die, and even then, someone else has to take what is left on our lists and add it to theirs.

As we face a New Year, I hope you have the right things on your list, meaningful and achievable things, and I hope you make wonderful progress in getting them done. That’s what makes a good year.


Survival Guide