Friday, February 22, 2019

May This Blog Haunt You Pleasantly (Part 2) by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
In last month’s Part 1 of “May This Blog Haunt You Pleasantly,” I stated how important it is for writers to read about other writers. Whether they were trailblazers or path-wideners, each writer has his or her own story. Being as human as we are, those stories paint for us pictures of triumph and tragedy…two things from which we can learn. 

As I read Les Standiford’s The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits over the holidays, there were some things that jumped off the page for me, and I thought I’d share them here at Seriously Write.

Last time, we looked at Gleaning #1, which was:

Authors have always wished to get their works in as many readers’ hands as possible, sometimes at the chagrin of their publishers (if they are traditionally published) or themselves (if they are independently published). And if not handled properly, it can become an all-consuming fire.

One little tidbit I didn’t mention at the end of last month’s post was how all-consuming that fire had become for Dickens. By the 1850s, his relationship with his wife Catherine had become so estranged, they divorced after twenty-two years of marriage and ten children. Rumors tossed about suggested Charles had been involved in “an illicit affair” (is there really any other type when married?) with a younger woman. Dickens took such offense that he used the front page of his then current magazine, Household Words, to argue to the contrary. 1

As much as this writing life can become a soul-wrenching conflagration on a personal level, this passion we often champion at writers conferences can worm its way into the writer’s business relationships as well, which leads us our next point of interest:

Gleaning #2: The constant tension between authors and publishers will always be a constant. So, get used to it.

As many may or may not know, Charles Dickens lived a challenging life growing up. When Charles was a young lad of twelve, his father—who worked as a clerk for the navy and seemed to always struggle to pay the bills—was thrown in prison “alongside smugglers, mutineers, and pirates” for a debt of forty pounds, owed to a baker, which was a considerable sum in those days. (Aren’t you glad things have changed?) As a result, Charles was forced by necessity to take a job at six schillings a week, working in a boot-blacking factory, bottling the polish used to by military personnel and businessmen to make their shoes shiny. In this factory along the Thames, Charles would one day write of his experience:

Its wainscoted rooms and its rotten floors and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and the sound of their squeaking and scuffling coming up the stairs at all times, and the dirt and decay of the place, rise up visibly before me, as if I were there again. 2

This time of his life made an ineradicable impression, for it is found in various forms throughout his writings, and in none more famous than the sentiments of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (“Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons? And the Union workhouses? The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor then? Those who are badly off must go there. If they would rather die, then they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”)

It was after works like Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby that Dickens would walk around “black streets of London,” formulating the story of his Carol. He was excited about the tale being pieced together in the recesses of his mind. It was a bit of leap on his part, for no Christmas “books” had ever been written before 1843. Some essays by American author Washington Irving, written in January of 1820 and contained in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, had helped to revive the holiday’s traditions we know and love today. However, it is believed that Dickens’s work helped to launch the holiday into another stratosphere.

Celebrating Christmas like we do today, or even how Bob Cratchit and his family did in A Christmas Carol, was not a “thing” in 1843 England. The day itself was not very popular, unlike its Christian counterpart in the spring. Because the day was primarily of Roman Catholic origin with ties to the pagan celebration of Saturnalia, many protestants, both in England and especially in America, actually thought of the holiday as more of a devilish revelry than Godly celebration of Emmanuel, God with us.

These beliefs were amplified by the pagan traditions, such as wassailing, which looked very much like the trick-or-treating we witness today at Halloween. After a song was sung by a group of wassailers—who often came to the door a bit hammered—the home was to offer the singers goodies, like “figgy pudding,” for example. If the homeowners did not comply, they were met with behavior not befitting the holiday. The entire tradition had more of the look and feel of a bully taking the nerd’s lunch money in the middle school cafeteria than “a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time” of giving from “shut-up hearts.”

Nevertheless, Dickens felt the setting of Christmas to be the best for his newest endeavor. With excitement, he took his notes and idea to his publisher, Chapman and Hall. After hearing Dickens explain where his heart had brought him (Have you ever been there as a writer?), the publishers seemed less than enthusiastic (Have you ever been there as a writer?).

His friend and agent, John Forster, who was with him at this very moment, later wrote in his biography of Dickens, “Chuzzlewit had fallen short of all the expectations formed of it in regard to sale.” 3 Even though Forster believed Martin Chuzzlewit to be Dickens’ best work yet, the public felt otherwise as sales testified. Despite all this, Forster felt keeping the relationship with Chapman and Hall open and in good standing would be most beneficial for Dickens, allowing him to trust the process and focus on his part, the writing.

However, Dickens was already at odds with Chapman and Hall before he waltzed into their offices to sing his Carol. They had stated in earlier conversations they might have to draw an extra fifty pounds from his royalties stipulated in the contract for Martin Chuzzlewit. Dickens wrote to Forster after, “I am so irritated, so rubbed in the tenderest part of my eyelids with bay-salt, that I don’t think I can write.” 4

Have you ever felt like that? As if your publisher or agent was pulling your eyelids back and grinding the shards of bay-salt into them until they dissolved with your many tears? I’m sure all writers have felt that way at some point. Some more than others.

Chapman and Hall finally determined they were not interested in a Christmas book written in haste (remember, this is October of 1843, and Dickens had not even started writing it yet). The publishers also believed the story explained to them by Dickens to be a re-writing/re-telling of his former works, and it would have to be done in a cheap form under such time restraints. You could liken it today to having a large publishing house using CreateSpace-like print-on-demand in haste versus taking their time and producing a print run of several thousand hardcover copies.

Instead, Chapman and Hall gave their final ruling. If Dickens wanted to issue the story out to the public, it would have to be in a magazine owned by them and edited by him. This was the only way they would consider funding the project. Otherwise, they were not interested. Translation? Dickens would have to work off the publication of his newest story by writing it in installments, like he had done with his other works, while editing the new magazine for them. In other words, they would pay him—a contract would be written and signed, for sure—but they were going to get some collateral in the bank, namely his name on the cover of the magazine as not only the editor, but as one of the authors contained therein.

In his biography of Dickens, Forster wrote this of Chapman and Hall:

Publishers are bitter bad judges of an author, and are seldom safe persons to consult in regard to the fate or fortunes that may probably await him.” 5

I know every writer reading this believes Forster to be “right on the money” with his comment. Publishers tend to want to play it safe. They like riding the champion thoroughbreds again and again instead of taking a chance on a horse who has never run the big race. We all know this writing life is as much of a business as it is an art or a craft, and it seems it has always been that way.

I believe that if any of us (I’m talking about authors here) started our own publishing house, we may go into it with the war chant of “I’m going to do it differently.” However, we all know there are things within any business which dictate certain ends. There are reasons why things have been done certain ways for so many years. People typically do not continue to make deals that will ruin them financially while remaining in business for decades. Insolvency and longevity never ride the same train.

Yet, this roadblock did not stop Dickens. He instead decided to publish the book “on his own account.” He personally became responsible for all the production costs, as was pointed out in Part 1 of this series.

As a result, he got it done. And the world has been better for it. As we examined last month, he did not make near as much as he had hoped, but such is the life of what amounts to a self-published author. Chapman and Hall, in this instance, became somewhat of an Amazon KDP. They paid the costs up front and offered distribution channels, but Dickens—the author—ended up footing the lion’s share of the bill in the long run.

Do you have a story in you nobody else seems to see or understand with as much clarity? Do you have the wherewithal to power through the obstacles (this is with the understanding that God is in it)? It would seem that if the answer to both of those questions is yes, then you are in good writing company.

As the British say, “On you go!” We’ll see you next month with Part 3.

1 Standiford, Les. The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Broadway Books; New York, NY, 2017. pp. 210-211.

2 Ibid., pp. 2-3.

3 Ibid., pp. 73-74.

4 Ibid., p. 75.

5 Ibid., pp. 76-77.

The Tide of Times

(The Blake Meyer Thriller Series, Book 3)

A Perverse Tale. A Precarious Truth. A Personal Tribulation.

Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer is at an impasse. Bound and beaten in a dilapidated warehouse halfway around the world, Blake finds himself listening to an unbelievable story. Right and wrong warp into a despicable clash of ideologies. Life quickly becomes neither black nor white. Nor is it red, white, and blue any longer.

Every second brings the contagion's release closer, promising to drag the United States into the Dark Ages. Tens of millions could be dead within months.

Every moment adds miles and hours to the expanding gulf between him and his family. What is he to believe? Who is he to trust?

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more?

The first three books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are out! Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge, Book 2, Triple Time, and Book 3, The Tide of Times, are now available! Book 4, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, is coming March 2019! Book 5, A Pulse of Time, is coming November 2019! Book 6, Devil of a Crime, is coming summer 2020! The second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is available wherever books are sold! Also, his standalone mystery, The Letters, is coming in e-book, January 2020! Paperback in February 2020!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Broadchurch, Shetland, and Hinterland, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too. It’s quite elementary, actually.

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Do You Ever Feel Like a Fraud by Terri Weldon

Fraud - a person who is not what he or she pretends to be: imposter
I'll let you in on a little secret, sometimes when I tell people I'm a writer, I feel like a fraud. Case in point, when I purchased my new laptop I explained to the salesman I needed the laptop for writing not gaming. Then he asked me what I wrote. I replied, "Christian suspense."
Well, when he asked me if I wrote like Ted Dekker I wanted to sink into the floor. Then to top it off he added Frank Peretti to the mix. By then surely there was a scarlet F for FRAUD emblazoned on my shirt. I believe I mumbled something about wishing I wrote like them.
I didn't want to confess the mobility and freedom the laptop would afford me would help boost my word count.
Lately I've had definite issues with productivity in my writing life. I plan to write, I want to write, but I don't actually write.
Believe me, I wish I knew. I've come up with four possibilities.
1. Maybe writing was my calling for a season and that season is past.
2. Maybe I'm procrastinating because I'm not good enough.
3. Maybe I'm a hobby writer and not a "real" writer.
4. Maybe I just need to focus or set (and keep) office hours.
Those are questions that only I can answer. If you're having any of the same doubts then only you, with God's help, can answer them for you. But I do have a few suggestions to finding the answers. Pray and seek God's will. Tell Him your concerns. He will help you and guide you to the correct answers.
As for me, this is where I currently stand.
1. The fear that my calling to write was over distressed me. I WANT to write. I have story ideas and books in my mind waiting to be written. I don't believe my time as a writer is finished. 
2. If God called me then I'm good enough.
3. I am a "real" writer. As long as the devil can make me feel inadequate than I won't be productive.
4. I definitely need to focus and I definitely need office hours. I've tried setting them and not keeping them - doesn't help a bit. I battle staying on track. Discipline is key to my being successful as an author.  
As for the question the salesman asked me about writing like Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti . . . I'll probably always say I wish. But you know what - I write like Terri Weldon. God created each of us and we are all unique so no two of us should write alike.
Currently I'm working on a project that I'm excited about. Hopefully I'll have it finished by the end of summer at the latest.
And as far as feeling like a fraud, well I doubt those feelings will go away overnight, but with time, prayer, and words on the page I think they'll diminish.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:14 (NIV)
How about you, do you ever feel like a fraud? If so leave a comment on how you overcome. I hope everyone's answer is a resounding no. If you don't let me know that as well. I promise, I'll still like you. 😉 
Terri Weldon feels blessed to be a full time writer. She enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, and shopping for shoes. One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as the librarian at her church. It allows her to shop for books and spend someone else’s money! Plus, she has the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction. She lives with her family in the Heartland of the United States. Terri has two adorable Westies – Crosby and Nolly Grace. Terri is a member of ACFW and RWA.
Readers can connect with Terri: Website: or Blog: Seriously Write

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Never Give Up by Kay DiBianca

I’m a runner. But I wasn’t always. I ran my first 5K a couple of decades ago before I knew anything about training or strategy. That race was the beginning of a journey that taught me significant life lessons, many of which apply to writing. Here are a few:
Enjoy the challenge: After that first race, I jumped into running with both Nikes. But there was a lot to learn about the sport that I didn’t know. Doesn’t that sound a lot like those of us who decided to write a book? We may lack the experience, confidence, and tools to succeed, but we have the desire to accomplish the dream. It’s a good place to start.
Train for success: I acquired all the equipment and knowledge I could, but it isn’t enough to have the right shoes and show up on race day. For every 5K I ran, I must have put in a hundred miles of training. It was hard work but I was getting stronger and faster. Isn’t that the same with writing? Few people can sit down and whip out 80,000 words of first-rate fiction. Even experienced writers have to train by forcing themselves to tone their writing muscles every day.
Anticipate Disappointments: My training runs didn’t always go well. Some days I felt tired and didn’t meet my training goals. There were aches and pains and some injuries along the way. But all runners know that improvement isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come all at once. You pay for it one mile at a time. You accept that there will be setbacks, but you don’t give up. The only failure is if you don’t try. Anybody see the similarities to writing?
Work on Endurance: Training eventually leads to racing, and racing requires even more stamina and determination. Good runners learn to pace themselves through a marathon one mile at a time. Negative thoughts, frustration and discouragement are always close at hand, ready to sabotage your efforts, but you know the real reward is in finishing the race. It’s all about slow and steady progress. Sound familiar?
Find a Good Coach: When I began my novel several years ago, I assumed it would be easy. But like my novice runner self, I soon learned that there was a world of information I didn’t know. And a sophisticated skill set I didn’t have. But just like running, there are plenty of resources for novice writers: books, podcasts, online courses, conferences, and blogs. Professional editors can help an author turn a mediocre manuscript into a polished deliverable.
Never Give Up: I learned that writing strength comes slowly and steadily, through consistent practice and attention to the experts. Like a seasoned runner, the writer keeps her eye on the finish line while carefully navigating the next chapter. And she deals with disappointment and rejection as part of the learning process, but hard work and persistence are bound to pay off.
My novel, The Watch on the Fencepost, will be entering its own race when it’s released on February 22, 2019. I don’t know how it will do when matched up against all the other books out there, but I know all the writing, revising, attending conferences, scouring books on the craft, and working with professionals has made it a much stronger product than it was at the beginning. And a strong finish is better than a strong start. Now it’s time to start training for the next one.

let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”  -- Hebrews 12:1b


Kay DiBianca holds an MS degree in computer science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked in the IT departments of several major corporations, including IBM, International Paper, and FedEx.
Kay is an avid runner and can often be found at a nearby track, on the treadmill, or at a large park near her home. She's completed four marathons, fifteen or so half-marathons, and an unknown number of shorter races. She and her husband, Frank, both compete in Senior Olympics track-and-field events.
Kay and Frank are US representatives for Bridges for Peace, an international Christian organization whose mission is to serve the people of Israel.
Kay and Frank are retired and live in Memphis, Tennessee. "The Watch on the Fencepost" is Kay's first novel. 

You can contact Kay at

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

When The Doubts Come...

By Shannon Redmon

We stare at the blank page. Nothing creative comes to mind. Our fingers don’t move…and if they do, our sentences somehow sound like words from a primary reader off the grade school library shelf. 
Then the doubts come. 
Along with the lie the enemy uses to invade our thoughts, he discourages our ideas and binds us in a prison of emptiness. In this time of insecurity, we may pout a bit, stomp our feet, and even question God’s calling on our lives to write. 
Just like Thomas. The Bible says he doubted. 
All his buddies were in the room when Jesus showed up, in His beautiful resurrected form. But Thomas was not there. Maybe he was at his house with his family, working a job or lying in bed with the covers pulled over his head.  
Either way, he missed out on the glorious moment. An event his friends experienced without him. Can you imagine how he must have felt when he dawdled into their meeting place and everyone was so excited, talking over each other to tell him the good news?
He probably couldn’t fathom all the commotion, confusion and elation. Not to mention his regret of not being there. 
A whirlwind of emotion would’ve bombarded him, but did he ever wonder…why didn’t Jesus show up when he was there?  
Talk about doubt. 

Jesus, who knows all men’s hearts, chose a time when Thomas wasn’t with the group, to present Himself and breathe the Holy Spirit into their lives. But Thomas didn’t receive such a gift. Not yet anyway. Instead, he refused to believe until he could see and touch Jesus. 
Thomas doubted. 
“Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 
John 20:25 (NASB)
Did Thomas fold his arms across his chest or stomp his foot when he said those words? Was he ready to quit being a disciple or forsake the very calling Jesus placed in his heart?
We’ve all had those days. Our writer pals meet and exceed their goals, excited to tell us all about their achievements. God works amazing victories in their lives. While our hearts sing for them, we wonder if God overlooked our efforts. Showed up for our friends and neglected to remember us. 
Do we say, unless I see…? 
♦︎A publishing contract.
♦︎An agent.
♦︎An award.
♦︎Or fill in the blank with whatever amazing moment that’s passed us by and say

 I will not believe God called me to be a writer.

But God does not give up on His children, modern day or past. 
If Thomas needed the presence of Jesus, then Jesus he would see.
A week later, Christ showed up and Thomas was there. The Messiah instructed His disciple to touch His nail scarred hands and place his hands into His pierced side. Then He gives Thomas a command. 
“Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27a 
Jesus directs us to do the same. When the blank page hits and the words will not come, Jesus patiently waits for us to seek Him not just the story He gives.  
Try these things when the writing doubts appear:
1.    Make sure to open every day, every writing session in prayer. Spend time with God, not just to be a better writer, but to be His daughter, His son, His child. To know Him. To understand the height, width, depth and breadth of His love for you. 

2.   Believe He is present. In fact, He’s always with you. He never leaves. 

3.   Know He’s a big God and He can provide everything needed for your story, newsletter, blog post, social media marketing effort and even our pouty requests.

4.   Write the doubt away. Even if the beginning words seem elementary, get them on the blank page. A story is never written unless we start somewhere.

Our God, creator of all heaven and earth, will supply His words, His creativity, His story to flow through you. After all, He knows the hearts of those who will read your novel and how best to draw them close.  
So, stop pouting and write! 


Shannon Redmon remembers the first grown up book she checked out from the neighborhood book mobile. A Victoria Holt novel with romance, intrigue, dashing gentlemen and ballroom parties captivated her attention. For her mother, the silence must have been a pleasant break from non-stop teenage chatter, but for Shannon, those stories whipped up a desire and passion for writing. 

There's nothing better than the power of a captivating novel, a moving song or zeal for a performance that punches souls with awe. A rainbow displayed after a horrific storm or expansive views on a mountaintop bring nuggets of joy into our lives. Shannon hopes stories immerse readers into that same kind of amazement, encouraging faith, hope and love, guiding our hearts to the One who created us all.   

Shannon Redmon’s writing has been published in Spark magazine, Splickety magazine, the Lightning Blog, The Horse of My Dreams compilation book, Romantic Moments compilation book, Seriously Write blog and Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog. Her current fiction novel was selected as a top three finalist of the 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest and she is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.  

Connect with Shannon:  
The StoryMoore Blog, named in memory of her father, Donald Eugene Moore.


Monday, February 18, 2019

A Broken Heart Can Lead You to Rise by Marianne Evans

Marianne Evans
Once upon a time, the seeds of a series planted themselves in my heart. I saw a farm. A family. Midwest strong and vibrant. Within this harvest I saw three brothers. A picturesque piece of rolling land in Indiana. There were low-lying, rippling fields of soybeans. There was turmoil, faith, and overwhelming love.

For the bulk of their lives, my brother and sister-in-law, John and Mary Hilger, oversaw the operations of a 400-plus acre farm much like the one I imagined. They bore and raised six daughters, and life was good. Much like the family I imagined. You couldn’t leave their home without a heap of fresh fruits and vegetables. John’s laughter, his Christ-centered heart, resonated through all who knew him. Mary’s spiritual artwork ( ) was acclaimed and on-the-grow. Much like the faith I imagined.

John and Mary not only helped me research and develop my series, The Fishermen of Antioch, their example was something to which I longed to pay homage. Within their large, boisterous, loving unit, they demonstrated Christ’s love at its best. Plus, they were mentors to me and key to my spiritual discovery and growth.

So, I began to write a trio of books that honored farm families, stories that celebrated deep roots. I wanted to shine the light of respect upon those who work the earth and harvest without thinking of anything else but community provision. How much like our Father God? In John and Mary’s world, if strawberries rested on the vine after the main harvest, those without means were bussed to their farm to pick the fields clean. For free. Waste of God’s gifts was never an option.

John and Mary saw their family to fruition. As life’s golden-age came upon them, sons-in-law joined the picture. A multitude of grandchildren blessed their lives and there was retirement on the near horizon. They had plans. An art and Scripture-based ministry they’d carry out from church to church was already taking off. John’s engaging recitation of Scripture coupled with Mary’s ordained artwork brought souls to the Kingdom. They couldn’t wait to embrace an exciting new season of life. A few Christmases ago, their family gifted them with a river cruise through Europe that would take them to Germany—a long-held bucket list destination.

Before departing, John and Mary stopped by our house on their way to Detroit Metro Airport. We shared dinner, and, in typical fashion, Deacon John prayed over me as they prepared to depart for Europe. Selfless love. I prayed with and for him as well, but nothing was as special as a blessing from John…

Less than a day after they left, we received a panicked text notification from Mary that read, simply: “PRAY.” We did, of course…but that’s where the story takes a twist. Soon we discovered what prompted her outcry. Following dinner on the first night of their cruise, John suffered a massive heart attack. Thanks to Jesus alone he was in Amsterdam and was immediately transported to a world-class hospital where he was placed in a medically induced coma.

We prayed, we believed, we stormed the gates of heaven. Meanwhile, all six daughters made their way to Amsterdam, battling horrific weather patterns, botched deliveries of passports, and a nightmare of bureaucracy…but by the grace of God alone, they all made it there.

Just hours before John passed away.

My sister-in-law has written a book about her journey through grief. It’s called ‘Finding Beauty in Ashes.’ The story is amazing. Meanwhile, the final book of the Fishermen of Antioch series releases in March. The result, I hope, will honor my original God-given goal, and the rich legacy of a family’s love.




Benjamin Fisher melds with quiet perfection into the tapestry of the Fisher family. The youngest of the three Fisher men, Ben is gifted with skills that keep machines running, crops efficiently harvested, farm structures sound and secure.

But there’s one person in the small village of Antioch, Indiana who has noticed and adored the man since her youth. Hailey Beth Thomas. Hailey Beth’s sister is marrying Ben’s brother in a spring wedding that promises to be the event of the season. Thrown together as the heady romance of an upcoming marriage takes place, love and revelation come to life.

Unknown to anyone else, Ben wants to answer a call to the mission fields of North America that will lead him far from the life he has always known. Ben longs to serve, but he wants a life with Hailey Beth as well. Hailey Beth can’t leave Antioch, but can’t bear the idea of losing Ben.

Are they meant to be together, or will God’s call pull them apart just as they’ve found a way to one another?


Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of faith-affirming fiction who has won acclaim from critics and readers. RT Book Reviews named her book Forgiveness a 4.5-Star Top Pick and readers laude her books as ‘riveting’ and ‘true to heart.’ She’s a life-long resident of Michigan who calls suburban Detroit home.