Writing A Novel: The 10 Best & Worst Things That Have Happened To Me

May 9, 2014 by

Writing A Novel: The 10 Best & Worst Things That Have Happened To Me

Today is Friday, May 9, 2014 and things are wrapping up for the big Mother’s Day weekend here in America.

So as we’re reflecting about life and the sacrifices Mom has made in your life, here’s today’s writing exercise.

The recommendation is to write these out on 3″ x 5″ notecards, but really, any place you want to write them out and think about them is fine.

The idea behind this exercise, those previously mention, and those to come is to help give you a wealth of material to consider if you’re writing a novel, or, if you’re just in a reflective mood about your life in general.


So take out a sheet of paper, notecards, even your Notes feature on iPad, iPhone or Mac, etc. and think about these next two questions.  It calls for 10. Maybe that’s enough.  Maybe you can/need to do more than that. Either way.  I encourage you to do these exercise in quiet reflection. There are no right or wrong answers. And no one has to see them. This is for you. Did you know that according to mental health experts, most people among us never sit down and do anything like this at any point in their lives? Here’s your chance to do something few others will ever do.

What are the 10 worst things that ever have happened to me?
What are the 10 best things that ever happened to me?

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Writing a Novel – What Do I Dislike?

Apr 28, 2014 by

Writing a Novel – What Do I Dislike? 

An essential part of a good story is being able to add conflict into the lives of your characters. I’m finding that’s much easier to come up with based on this series of exercises about ME.

Now as I have been saying, these exercises could be helpful to people writing books and all, but as importantly, they might also can be helpful and beneficial to someone who just wants to learn a little more about themselves.

Last week we began this series and did some exercises. Saturday’s was to get a stack of 3 x 5 notecards and write about things you like.

To do the exercise, just fill out the top of a card with a heading, in the case of today’s exercise–Things I Dislike–and then number the card in the top right corner. I also like to add the date somewhere so that two or three years from now when I come back to these, I’ll have a better frame of reference as to what was going through my head now versus then. When you fill up a card, start a second, third … as many as it takes.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

And if you’re doing these exercises for the benefit of your future characters, think about situations they might need to get in where they have to face these aspects. If you’re writing about something you don’t like, chances are your characters won’t either, but more importantly, chances are your READERS won’t like them either, and then you have the opportunity to either have your character address the issue or run from it, both good story lines….

Okay, so here’s today’s exercise. Later in the day there’ll be a post about Netflix’ House of Cards and the characters in that series….


What do I dislike?

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the cl...

Collaborative writing exercises—such as the clustering shown here—can be used for development of ideas. Colored tabs of paper—attached to the large page—are used in a collaborative voting exercise to gain consensus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Dallas Parents Raising Awareness Congentital Heart Defects In Children

Feb 4, 2013 by

For Immediate ReleaseCC Red Circl
Contact: Donald J. Claxton
Feb. 4, 2013


Interview Local Parents, Children Featuring Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week Feb. 7-14 During Mended Little Hearts of Dallas Support Group Event

DALLAS—It’s almost Valentine’s Day, the time for Cupid, colored candy hearts, cards and this year, Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, a time when parents of “broken-hearted” children are seeking to raise awareness for the importance of prenatal screening, post-birth pulse and oxygen testing, and supporting children who live with “broken hearts” year round.

Two Dallas-area moms with children who have a CHD are available for interviews, along with Emma, 2, and Pablo, 15, and others in the area who have been affected by CHD and who are trying to educate the public about the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms of this disease. Emma, 2,

A monthly support meeting also is slated for Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas provided flu conditions do not re-escalate and the hospital prohibits such on-site activities out of concern for the families involved.


  • Pre-event interviews with Sarah Stewart and her daughter, Emma, who has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Pre-event interviews with Alejandra Romo and son, Pablo, who had Transposition of Great Arteries when he was 10 days old
  • Feb. 11, 2013: Mended Little Hearts of Dallas support group meeting at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, with family members of children in the hospital’s Heart Intensive Care Unit at 6:30 p.m. in the DL Café Seating area.

*Editor’s Note: Because it is flu and RSV season, children like Emma are not permitted to go to the hospital unless they are sick, and children in the hospital are not permitted to leave the ICU because they are sick, so to get video of an affected child, it is necessary to do an off-site, in-home interview. (Reporters and photographers also must not be experiencing flu, RSV or cold-like symptoms in order to be around the CHD children and parents.)

During the Feb. 11, 6:30 p.m. MLH support meeting at Children’s Medical Center, family members of those suffering from this disease will be treated to a meal outside the ICU in an effort to take their minds off of the condition of their child, to offer encouragement from moms and dads whose children also have the disease but are not currently in the hospital, and to recognize the national awareness campaign.

According to the National Institute of Health, CHDs are the most common type of birth defect, affecting eight out of every 1,000 newborns. Each year, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with a CHD. But according to Stewart, the signs are not always obvious.

“I like to think of CHDs as a silent fight most of the time. My Emma wears visible signs of her fight: oxygen tubing, feeding tube, etc.; however, there are many children living among us that look ‘normal’ on the outside. Unless you see their ‘zipper,’ or scar tissue from surgery, you likely would not know of their daily battle of living with a ‘broken heart,’” Stewart said.

“Through Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week in Dallas, we are seeking to raise awareness about heart defects that Cupid’s arrow can’t cure.”

Background on Emma: Emma has had three major open-heart surgeries, was intubated for more than six months, endured an inpatient hospital stay for 12 of the first 15 months of her life, and continues to require significant medical care. Emma’s specific case is rare. Her parents learned of her specific heart conditions before she was born and sought out the best medical care for her in the special heart patient intensive care unit at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

Background on CHDs: A CHD is a problem with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. Common examples include holes in the inside walls of the heart and narrowed or leaky valves. In more severe forms, blood vessels or heart chambers may be missing, poorly formed and/or in the wrong place.

CHDs are the most common birth defects. CHDs occur in almost 1 percent of births. Nationally each year, between 100-200 deaths are due to unrecognized heart disease in newborns. These numbers exclude those dying before diagnosis. About 40,000 children in the US are born each year with a CHD.

Figures show that nearly 25 percent of children born with a CHD will require heart surgery or other interventions in order to survive. Today, more than 85 percent of babies born with a CHD will survive to age 18, but children with more severe cases are less likely to reach adulthood.

Mrs. Stewart often points out that nearly twice as many children die from CHDs in the US each year as from all forms of childhood cancer, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHDs.

Claxton Creative, LLC

Claxton Creative is a Dallas-based full-service public relations firm focused on the development of interactive, multi-touch publications for mobile devices worldwide. The company was founded by former Dallas ISD communications director, Donald J. Claxton.


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Gillette Products You Don’t Have to Sweat Over

Oct 28, 2011 by

During the past year and a half, I’ve enjoyed a great working relationship with the people at Gillette.

Gillette logo.

Image via Wikipedia

I have become a fan of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Razor and have shared a few with friends and even my dad, who last time I saw him, was still using the one I gave him. The ProGlide is the only razor I ever plan to use again.  Seriously.  I’ve not cut my face in more than a year and that was a daily occurrence when I was using those cheap-ole Bic Razors.  No more of that.

In the past few months, they’ve also been generous and asked me to try two other products of theirs–the Odor Shield Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant and the Odor Shield Body Wash.

Odor Shield Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant

I have no problem with either product and have given them both a chance.  I’ve long been one to use Sure roll on so switching to something else was a huge loyalty issue.  I also have skin sensitivities so that was another issue to consider.  I have used Old Spice in the past and that’s caused incredible rashes, etc. so I was leery of trying something else than what I already knew worked.

To be honest, I had some of the same issues with the Odor Shield Anti-Perspirant & Deodorantt, but not enough to tell anyone not to use it.  It did what it was supposed to.  It kept me dry.

The Body Wash

Okay, first of all, I do historically fast showers.  Soap?!!  I am a guy, you know.  I use the body wash during some showers but I don’t use it every time.  Ironically, I’m not real crazy about the smell of it.

Tips for Guys Who Don’t Want to Stink

But like the fokes at Gillette reminded me, no one likes stressful moments – especially those guys who are heavy sweaters.  Personally, I’d rather be freezing cold than hot. And I tend to have those Broadcast News sweating spells when I get too hot or too stressed.  It’s very uncomfortable.  So is not having shaved for a day or so and getting hot.

In literature Gillette sent me to consider while using their products, they also reminded me about some tips provided by Dr. Avery Gilbert.

These are things we all can do to keep the odors of living at bay:

·         Stock up on greens at your grocery – A diet with a based on greens (parsley, cilantro, celery, mint) can act as an internal deodorizer while strong-smelling foods (garlic, curry or onions) seep through pores, creating a more unpleasant odor.
·         Opt for antibacterial – Although fragrant soaps and sweeter smelling gels might seem like a good way to get rid of your body odor, many only mask the odor causing bacteria.  Using an antibacterial soap regularly or pre-moistened wipes during a workout can reduce the amount of bacteria causing body odor.
·         Arm yourself with the right products – Bacteria has a hard time breeding in dry areas; be sure to immediately apply underarm antiperspirant to clean, dry armpits.  It helps to eliminate odor and releases a fresh scent in its place.
·         Dress Appropriately – Be mindful of the materials you wear when working out.  Nylon and polyester can impede airflow and prevent sweat from evaporating.   When that sweat doesn’t evaporate, it feeds germs and bacteria that cause odor.  Look for natural materials that breathe, such as cotton.

He also suggested one other: Going Hairless! “Not every guy is up for this, but shaving your armpits can actually prevent bacteria from accumulating and can significantly reduce sweat and odor.”

Uh, I’m not going there, or any lower, either….

Give these products from Gillette a try.  The Fushion Pro-Glide Razor is the world’s best.  The deodorant and body wash are good products, too, and worthy of your consideration.

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‘SK: I need U to call an ambulance. I’m having bad chest pains.’

Sep 4, 2011 by

A week ago this morning I awoke to a beautiful sunny day in North Alabama.  Friday night and most of the day Saturday I’d had a great adventure with a close friend and her family.  Work was going great.  The stress level had dropped immeasurably.  I was in good spirits, though missing my girls back at home in Texas, and then, WHAM!  At age 45, any youthful innocence left in me disappeared in a flash as the pains of a mild heart attack began in my chest about 11:15 a.m. and it began to feel like my throat was closing in.

Monday, doctors put in a stent.  Tuesday I was freed from the hospital thinking if I’d survived that, I wasn’t going to be that tired, after all, they’d only sent a wire up through my leg.   Wednesday I was too tired to go anywhere.  Thursday the mental and emotional side of all this came crashing down on me.  The “Oh SHIT!” moment of my life hit me harder than the pains on Sunday morning.


From my accounts here on DaddyClaxton.com, you know I’ve tried in the past couple of years to make some important changes.  I’ve changed my diet and have dropped about 30 pounds in the past five months simply by changing my diet and consumption.  I’ve identified the 20 percent of people and relationships who were causing 80 percent of my duress and put up boundaries.  And through two bouts of Diverticulitis, I’ve tried to adopt an exercise program off and on.

But like Steve Jobs being worth $8.74 billion, no amount of money or anything else has been able to alleviate all that ails me.


God didn’t take me last Sunday because as my friend said, he was allowing me to receive the “Double Bitch Slap of Life.”  I’ve always held true to the conviction that I’m here for a reason and that is to help others. So many friends this week have called, texted, emailed, even sent smoke signals telling me to stop worrying about the welfare of others so much.  “THIS IS ABOUT YOU!” my friend has told me repeatedly.

That’s a hard mindset to adopt. And I don’t want to do it to the other extreme either.

For years, my first wife has projected her guilt onto me saying that I’m narcissistic.  Nearly a decade of counseling has confirmed that she is, I’m not and added to the testimony of so many friends this week who have known me for decades proves what I’ve known all along–like always, she’s full of –it.

Unfortunately, it appears I’m now going to have to close down the one last remaining channel for her to harass me.  Why can’t some see the hurt and damage they cause in the lives of everyone around them through their own selfishness?


I can begin walking Wednesday.  I’m supposed to build up to 30 minutes a day, five days per week.  I’m ready.


Carol Ireton-Jones, Donna Israel and Martha McHenry at Professional Nutrition Therapists in Dallas already have let me know when I get back to town, there are going to be more recommended meal changes. (If you live in Dallas, they are the ones to call!)


I’ve made some really cool friends in North Alabama the past few months.  My relationships with them are healthier than many in the past, and if things get out of hand, I’ve learned to step back and not expose myself.  If you’re a positive person, and you make me laugh, I’ll enjoy spending time with you.  If you’re going to bring drama the likes I’ve endured the past 16 years because of spouses, have a miserable life unto yourself. You’re not going to cuss me, to yell at me, or throw things at me.  That’s just not going to be tolerated.  I’ve learned that’s the only way you can be “happy,” and like I’m trying to say nicely, “I’m done with that.”


I was working with my client and friend SK Chauhan at his house last Sunday. When my pains hit, I stepped outside on the back porch to see if fresh air was going to change my situation.  It didn’t and at 11:24, I sent the text message of a lifetime that simply read:  “SK.  I need u to call an ambulance.  I’m having bad chest pains.”

My mom, an RN, said I couldn’t have worded that text message better.  When you call 911 and you need an ambulance to get you to the hospital ASAP, don’t speculate and say you need the paramedics, because in some places, they can’t transport and if they wait to arrive before they decide to send a bus for you, well, they might wind up calling for a different kind of wagon….

The other thought that has haunted me is what if I’d passed out on the porch–It would have been a few minutes before anyone came out and asked what I was doing.  And if this had been worse ….


I’m weighing my options this morning as I sit at a desk at my Mom’s house in Montgomery, AL.  And though written from a woman’s perspective, Fergie‘s Big Girls Don’t Cry has been on a loop in my head the past few days.  “Myself and I have, I have some figuring out to do,” for sure.

I won’t go into those thoughts right now.  They’re still rattling around in my head that for the past few days has been a little on the mushy, incomplete and WTH happened side.

Until then “I need to be by myself and center, clarity, peace, serenity. “ And on the other hand, I’m trying to see as many old friends as I may so I’m not thinking about …..

And rather than being at mom’s here in Montgomery, I wish nothing more than to be back in Dallas in my apartment, in my bed resting, and with the option to see my doting daughters, whom I’ve not seen in almost a month now.   That’s the hardest part here.  What if I’d left them and so many of you behind last weekend?

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