The Right Age (a guest post by Cecil Murphey)

Cecil Murphey, known to his many friends as Cec, is an amazing eighty-five-year-old. I’ve lost count of the number of books he’s authored, co-authored, or ghost-written, but the one most of you are familiar with–at least by name–is Ninety Minutes in Heaven, which he wrote with Don Piper, who experienced the astounding visit to Heaven the book and the movie are about.

Cec isn’t selfish about sharing his talents. Years ago I had a private meeting with him at a Christian writers conference (when we were both a tad younger and I was a lot bigger), and I’m still attempting to apply his gracious advice. When I asked for his permission to share the following article, this was his response. “Roger, I’d be delighted and feel honored… ”

He meant it, too.

Enough from me. Here goes…
The Right Age

“I’m too old for that,” my 53-year-old friend said.

I regularly hear such comments from those who have hit the big zero years (50, 60, 70). Once-attractive women complain, “When women reach a certain age, men ignore them.” When I hear that, I think, So what? Do you need approving stares to be happy?

I’m tired of hearing friends cringe at the mention of aging. I have no desire to be 30 or 60 again and am grateful for the years behind me.

Just because we reach “a certain age” doesn’t mean we stop living or enjoying life. Instead, we have an opportunity to add to our lives, to explore new ideas, and take pleasurable risks.

This year I turned 85, and I’m delighted to admit it. Here are a few things I say about my age:

  • “I’ve earned every wrinkle and creak in my body.”
  • “This is the cost of living longer.”
  • “I’m happy being who I am right now.”
  • “This is exactly the right age for me.”

Getting older isn’t only a downhill slide; we can always find positives. No matter how dismal life seems, we can choose to stay positive.

For example, my faith has grown stronger and my attachment to others is deeper. I’m free to say no. The older I get, the more I know the relationships I want to maintain and those I want to let go.

Regardless of the number of my years, I’m exactly the right age to increase my joy and appreciate all the goodness of life. I relish the freedom and the joy of life instead of thinking how terrible it is to get old. I regularly say to myself, “This is the life I’ve been preparing to live. Now I’ll enjoy it.”

What about you and your age? Can you say these words below?


Cecil Murphey


Thanks to Cec for permitting me to publish this article from his most recent monthly newsletter. He has said what I so often think (or realize I should think), but he’s done it much more eloquently.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,


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Two Different Kinds of Writing Conferences

My wife and I have spent most of this past week at a Novelist Retreat at the Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, NC.

Ridgecrest is a beautiful place, situated in the mountains. It’s like home to me, and no wonder. I don’t know how often I used to go there with my parents when I was a child. And then I worked on summer staff from 1967-1972. It’s where I met my first wife.

I returned several times during the 1990s to play guitar or bass on the praise team for the International Mission Conference. And then during the mid-2000s I started attending the BRMCWC (Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference).

The Novelist Retreat is a relatively new event. Just five or six years old, it was started by romance novelist Yvonne Lehman (pictured above), who lives just a few miles from Ridgecrest in Black Mountain. Yvonne had been the founder and director of the Blue Ridge Conference until turning that over to suspense and speculative novelist Alton Gansky.

He also writes military thrillers and non-fiction books. Some of you read my post about 60 People Who Shaped the Church; that’s one of his books.

Both conferences are for Christian writers and wanna-be authors. The BRMCWC hosts as many as 400-500 people who write everything from poetry to novels to greeting cards.  The Novelist Retreat is limited to 50 participants, all of whom have written, are writing, or want to write a novel.

Both conferences allow participants to schedule fifteen-minute appointments with the faculty. The Retreat, however, doesn’t ordinarily have agents and acquisition editors, the two most important kinds of people to help get writers’ manuscripts into print. The BRMCWC does, which helps to explain its popularity.

Both conferences hold a number of helpful classes, taught by top-notch writing professionals. And both have  outstanding keynote speakers. Past BRMCWC speakers include Fox news commentator Todd Starnes, Maj. Jeff Struecker, who was a key person in the real action the movie Black Hawk Down was based on, and Cecil Murphey, who co-authored the amazing best seller, 90 Minutes in Heaven.




This year’s Retreat featured best-selling author Robert Whitlow.




And up-and-coming actor, comedian, and author Torry Martin. Torry will be appearing in a Hallmark movie sometime around Thanksgiving.



I recommend both conferences. Highly.

If you’re a writer who’s serious about doing his best, you’ll never stop learning. And you’ll always be striving to do better. A writer never “arrives.” The struggle to have the next book published and do everything possible to help it sell never ends.

Perhaps you’re not a Christian writer. And perhaps the Christian elements of the two conferences at Ridgecrest wouldn’t appeal to you.

I understand.

But you would do well to research other writing conferences. Perhaps you’ll find one somewhere in your general area, one that’s not terribly expensive. You can Google “writing conferences” or check Writers Digest magazine.

What do you think? Have you ever attended a writing conference? Do you see the value of going to one? How about leaving a comment?


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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

On Being Recognized

IMG_2870   IMG_2906   RogerJim

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One of the interesting perquisites (did you know that’s what “perks” stands for?) of being a published author is the possibility of being recognized when going out in public. I’m not famous enough—okay, make that “not famous at all”—to have a problem like that, but it’s an interesting prospect.

At a writers’ conference a year or two back, I was talking to an unpublished novelist—someone I’d never met before—about my two novels. “Oh,” she said. “My daughter has read those. Loves ‘em.”


At church some months back, a fellow I’d known for a while was introducing my wife and me to a couple of his adult kids. “Roger is a writer. What’s the name of those books again?” I told him, and one of his daughters got so excited. Again, she loved the book, but had no idea her dad went to church with the author.

Then there’s the time more recently when a fellow choir member stopped her mid-teen daughter while they were walking through the sanctuary one evening. “Meg, did you know Mr. Bruner wrote Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams?”

This super-quiet girl was thrilled to meet one of her favorite authors, and I was just as thrilled to meet her. This gal has got one heck of a lot of hair, and I’m jealous.

But what would it be like to be out in what I’ll call the “real public”—places where I wouldn’t expect anyone to recognize me?

I’ve met any number of well-known Christian novelists. That is, they’re well-known to people who’re up on Christian fiction. Despite the fact that it seems to be a growing genre because so many readers still want clean, decent books to read, I’m not sure many of them have encountered a privacy problem.

Let’s face it. We writers are not pop stars. How many authors—even in the secular market—would you recognize if you ran into one of them in an elevator? Definitely a different matter from someone I once knew who ran into Mick Jagger somewhere.

And maybe the lack of facial recognition is appropriate. After all, many writers—perhaps most of them—are intensely introverted. Our words represent us, and we’re happy to leave it at that. I am.

But you know what else? My three favorite Sonic employees know me. The folks at the bank do, too. And let’s not forget the manager at the local Sweet Frog. And a handful of checkers at the grocery store. People in my neighborhood may not know me by name, but they know me by our miniature dachshund, Happy.

And those folks don’t care whether I’m a big-time author or not. They know me just because I’m me.

That’s not such a bad thing, is it?

What do you think? How about leaving a comment?

Oh, and just in case you’re curious about who I’m with in those pictures…

From left to right on the top row are  Deb Raney (author of women’s lit that even a man would like), Terry Burns (my agent), and Jim Rubart (probably the best author of speculative around).

Bottom row is Jenny Rogers Spinola (excellent writer of women’s lit and someone I consider my little sister), Brandilyn Collins (“Seatbelt  Suspense” writer extraordinaire), and Cec Murphy (did the actual writing of Ninety Minutes in Heaven).


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”check it out here—to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,