Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Welltower Competition

Santa Star
Santa Star
My books "Welltower: First Run" and "The Christmas Orange" have been in competition this season. "Orange" has outsold "Welltower" two-to-one so far; understandable, considering the season. We'll see what happens when I release the "Welltower" sequel in a few months. I hope everyone had a super Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrated. We sure did!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"While Mary Sleeps" on Featured on UFA Blog

Merry Christmas, everyone. I am honored to have my painting, "While Mary Sleeps", featured on the UFA United for Adoption blog through the 26th. The directors said that the painting "beautifully illustrates the deep and abiding love that a man can have for a child not his own, a love that is known by adoptive fathers all over." These people are engaged in a good work.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Artist's Psalm

I had an epiphany this morning as I was looking through the scriptures. The opening phrase of Nephi's psalm in 2 Nephi chapter 4 caught my attention, leading me to ponder the process of creating "the things of my soul". Because Nephi specifically addresses writing, I will focus here on that skill; however, the concepts and conclusions apply to any form of talent or skill. The scripture references are in italics.

15 And upon these I write the things of my soul...
This phrase describes what the creative process and results mean to me.

For my soul delighteth in the [creative process], and my heart pondereth [the things I am creating], and writeth [draw, paint, dance, sing...] them

for the learning and the profit of my children.
Raising a powerful, clean, and faithful next generation is what the gifts are for and what heals and uplifts the current generation.

16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
The things of the Lord are your ultimate inspiration, motivation, and benefit. When you create, you sometimes completely immerse yourself in the project and it is sometimes hard to pull yourself out of that world.

17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
Gosh, I wish I had better skills, or had more time, or fewer competing priorities.

18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
I sometimes get distracted.

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
What I create often doesn't meet my standards; nonetheless, God gave me the gift for a reason and I trust that He’ll help me do better if I keep trying.

20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
He has always been there for me.

21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
Sometimes the power of the Spirit’s presence leaves me weak.

22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
Okay, so my critics sometimes don’t like my work. But that was then. You just wait!

23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.
My earnest prayers are always heard. Sometimes they are answered with amazing, revelatory dreams.

24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
The inspiration those dreams provided me strengthened my hope, faith, and prayers, and I have felt His Spirit.

25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.
The characters and worlds my works created were as real to me as anyone I met in the street or any place I have visited. Some were impossible to accurately depict.

26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
These visions, these inspirations were mercies to me, evidence of His trust in me. I should never doubt their value or my ability to depict them, just because of my limitations.

27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
Stop procrastinating, fearing and doubting. Don’t partake of any evil thing that will discard those mercies, and definitely don’t let the critics and the naysayers discourage me.

28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
Get going! Just do it!

30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
Remember to thank God in all things.

31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
Shut my ears against the doubters and haters. Change my heart so that I longer desire to sin, which would keep the Spirit away.

32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
Discipline. Practice. Patience. Endurance. Gratitude. Falling, picking myself up, and moving forward. Help me with these, Father.

33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way-but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
Help me, Father, I pray. I know that You want to and that You can. Bless my fears to not get in the way. Bless me to not be discouraged when seeing what price others have had to pay for their successes.

34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
If I do these things for Thee and don’t get too distracted by greed or worldly honors, or even worldly success, we will succeed.

35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.
Whatever I ask for, You more than generously provide. But I have to ask for the right things, having faith and patience in Your timetable. God, I am yours. Thank  you!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

13 Paintings -- Finished!

Today I finished the final painting in my commission for a Florida Christian band: 13 paintings altogether, 11 paintings from scratch. I began working on them at the end of March 2012 and have given up what free time I could squeeze out of most Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays to do it. I am grateful for the opportunity. I learned a lot. I will go back over the set this Friday, make some tweaks, do final photography, and post the results. Yay!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"While Mary Sleeps" Prints

While Mary Sleeps -- Morning

Of course, you can always order prints of the original off my website, or here.

"While Mary Sleeps" greeting cards

"While Mary Sleeps" greeting cards are now available for order off my website at

 - Each card is 5.5 in. wide and 4 in. tall.
 - 14pt gloss coated white cover stock with UV coating (C2S).
 - Printed front and back, blank interior.
 - Includes 4.25 x 6.25 in. A4 white gum-seal envelopes.
 - Ships within three days of receipt of order.

Price: $25.35 per box of 10 cards and envelopes, domestic U.S. shipping and handling included.

These are very good, quality cards. I hope you like them! Thank you very much for your interest. God bless you to have an excellent Christmas and new year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

More Welltower Reviews

Here's what people are saying about Welltower:

"I am in the middle of reading your book and I want you to know it is very gripping. It's gotten me to shout out in surprise! Very good read and I hope to read the others someday."

"Thank you for the book. The only problem is, it kept me awake until I finished it. There must be a sequel."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

First Review

I just got my first Amazon review for my book Welltower: First Run. The reviewer gave it 5 stars: "This is a book that's a little frightening to read. The details of the world Lester created are so real that it hurt sometimes. I didn't want to put the book down, yet it haunted me long after I had. This is a riveting book, and one that I highly recommend. Lester says that he has more coming. I'll be first in line to pick one up." Great!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

First Shipment Received!

Well, it's Halloween and I just received my first shipment of Welltower: First Run. Sending signed copies out as quickly as I can.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Sales

I have now sold copies of Welltower: First Run in the United States, the Philippines, Great Britain, and Europe. And all in less than a week since its first announcement. Amazing! Gratifying testimony to our globally-connected world.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Welltower Now Available

Welltower: First Run, my young adult science fiction thriller, is now available in paperback and Kindle edition from Amazon.

Be sure to write a review of the book in the Amazon page when you've read it! If you are interested in this world we live in, you will like this book a lot.

More info on my website at



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Prophet Returning Home - Final Final

Playing on the theme, "No artwork is ever finished," here is the latest final version of Nephi returning home after Christ's visit in 3 Nephi.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Welltower Purposes

Welltower is classed as a young adult sci-fi thriller. However, I believe it is something more. This is from the book's Explanation: "This definitely is not your average formulaic science fiction shoot-‘em-up; its purposes are to point out the state of today’s societies and to propose solutions, which is an obligation I feel with all my work. Like our society at times, the story can be brutal; however, a strong spiritual quotient is woven throughout. Books two and three broaden and continue these concepts."

Welltower Proofed

I just finished proofing my novel, "Welltower: First Run." It will be available soon on Amazon in softcover and Kindle versions; the site is accepting pre-release orders. I will post here when the book becomes available.

My next step is to send out endorsement copies to industry movers and shakers to get their feedback on the book. Exciting times!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Welltower Faceook Page

I just created a Facebook page for the Welltower trilogy, the first book of which I will be releasing shortly.

Check there and on my website for availability and special offers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Welltower Lead-in

Here is the promotional lead-in for my soon-to-be-released book, Welltower:

The world is an inferno of poisonous gasses and mutated beasts, some of which used to be men.

Welltower was built to keep them out. Over two miles high, the fortified structure rises over the burning landscape like a colossus: unbreakable, impenetrable, unyielding.

But after hundreds of years the residents have become beasts themselves, humans in the last stages of social decay. The sanctuary has become a prison.

Young Kaehl will travel the heights and depths of this battleground city in order to save his crippled sister. Along the way he will discover his heart as he uncovers the terrible secrets of the looking-glass world that is Welltower.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Book and Prints

A few pieces of good news.

First, I have a new novel nearly ready to be released. The book is called “Welltower” and deals with a young man struggling to save his crippled sister in a looking glass world. The book will be available in print and electronic editions through Amazon and other vendors. I’ll post here when it is available.

This will be my second published book. The first, The Christmas Orange, is available from Amazon and other vendors and has garnered very favorable reviews.

Secondly, people have been asking for prints of my painting While Mary Sleeps and Deseret Book has asked to license it. Very cool. This will be my first professional print arrangement. I’ll let you know when the prints become available.

All in time for the holidays!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Prophet Returning Home - Final

...And here's the final, my second day of work, pending any chance I get to fiddle with it before the deadline.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Prophet Returning Home

Folks have been asking about my paintings. This is the latest of a 13-painting commission, my first day's effort on a 16x20 inch oil painting. It features a prophet returning home after Christ's departure from ancient America, a reflection on the events recounted in 3 Nephi 11-28. I am working on two paintings simultaneously; this is painting number seven.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Neil Gaiman's Talk

Neil Gaiman's commencement address: Good advice to almost everyone. Nineteen minute video:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! Event

Gonna do some name dropping here, so tune out if you're not into it.

This weekend I attended the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! event in Kansas City. Very much enjoyed spending time with James Gurney and Jean-baptiste Monge and their wives, Kathleen and Margot. Also very much enjoyed meeting two more of my heroes, Scott Gustafson  and Paul Bonner, and buying their books. The place was crowded with great artists in many fields, including Greg Manchess, Donato Giancola, Dan Dos Santos, Mike Mignola, Tim Bruckner, and many others. Great to be able to hobnob with these inspiring, generous people.

Also got more information about TLC Workshop's Professional Art Series, sponsored by the energetic and very able Tara Larson Chang.

These conferences can be very inspiring once you get past the seeing how great they are at only 1/3 my age. Makes me want to do much more much better. Great stuff!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lasting Products

“The beauty one can find in art is one of the pitifully few real and lasting products of human endeavor.” ― J. Paul Getty.

A good family would have to be another of those real and lasting products; a true work of art and an urgently needed benefit to mankind.

I'm heading to the Getty Villa, a recreation of a Roman villa, in Malibu this morning before taking a plane back to Maryland. Superb architecture and art on the California coast. Free admission, too. Astonishing! It's been a good trip.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Son's Name


Tell me a story about your dad! I know everything about King Benjamin (Benjamin is for the Book of Mormon king, right?); but I don't know much at all about your dad. I only remember that he hit you all on the head with a knife and it hurt a lot.

Elder Yocum


I'll tell you the origin of your name, Benjamin Bruce Yocum, and along the way tell you why you were named after your grandfather.

There are two Benjamins in the scriptures, King Benjamin and one of the sons of Jacob whose name was later changed to Israel. We know about the Book of Mormon king and how great he was; Benjamin in the Old Testament was faithful enough that his descendants hewed close to the tribe of Judah and escaped being taken captive with the other ten tribes, who were punished because of their extreme wickedness. They eventually disappeared from history; the tribe of Benjamin continued. The apostle Paul was a descendant of Benjamin.

Truth be told, as I recall we chose that name for you not because of any special connotations but because the name seemed to fit; it felt good for you. Spiritual guidance, I believe. It certainly was a name of honor.

My father Bruce grew up in Ohio. He had a rough family life and joined the Navy early to escape the problems. He served on an aircraft carrier in the Korean war. His job had some similarities to what Isaac is training for. Although he wasn't a fireman per se, when aircraft hit the deck and exploded, every sailor on board became a fireman.

He married my mother while he was still in the Navy, I believe, and stayed with her until her death from cancer at age 41. They brought the family into the church when I was 9. He later married Joyce Burke, to whom he is still married.

Although he never had what you would call a glamorous life, he really loved and supported his family. He worked for Sears most of his life as an appliance repairman. Most of the children were born in Tacoma, Washington. We lived near Tacoma's baseball stadium until moving to our farm near Eatonville, Washington. He then opened Yocum's Grocery and Appliance in nearby Graham, Washington, where Dad tried his hand at running his own business. Failing there, he rejoined Sears and transferred to Ketchikan, Alaska where we spent a year, the first few months in two tents and a trailer on the shore of Ward Lake. We then moved into a double-wide mobile home that he shipped from the "lower 48" for us. I was in 9th grade.

A year later we moved to Eugene, Oregon so my mother could be near her extended family while she was being treated for her recently-diagnosed lung cancer. Even though she enjoyed a short recovery, her return to cigarette smoking helped precipitate a downward spiral that ended with her death at home three years later. I was 16 at the time.

My father had always had a powerful physique, developed through years of farm work and hauling refrigerators and freezers and other large appliances into many homes over many years, including up and down the very extensive networks of long, wooden staircases in the Ketchikan hills. He was impeccably honest and very fun-loving. Our family was marvelously rowdy; when we would get too much out of line at the dinner table he would lean over and thump one of us on the top of the head with the handle of our very solid Navy-issue table knives. Yowch! He didn't have to do it very often. The noise was astoundingly loud. There would be a moment of shock, the offender would rub his head, and then we would burst out laughing and continue eating, albeit quite a bit more calmly.

Dad retired from Sears and the US Naval Reserves. He always loved electronics and fixing things; in his later life he ran for office and became a city councilman of a small town in southern Oregon. Completely honest and value-driven, he avoided the uglier political taints, going fishing instead of campaigning and still being re-elected.

He now lives outside Portland, Oregon with Joyce. He is 82 and very frail. We don't know how much longer he will live. I plan on seeing him this August and will be there for his funeral, whenever it is.

Dad always struggled with self-esteem issues, always thinking first about his failings instead of celebrating his successes. I inherited some of that tendency, and you may have as well. But I think we are overcoming it.

His children, however, adore him. So do those grandchildren lucky enough to know him. I do especially, and lavish praise and fond memories on him whenever I call him. He modestly brushes it aside, but I believe he appreciates it. He gave us a life of fun and adventure and variety and love, and contributed massively to who I am today. In my eyes he is a great man, a very great success, and we pray for his comfort and joy wherever he is. And we are very grateful to Joyce for sustaining and loving him after Mom's death and over these many years.

I hope this helps you understand a bit more about who he is so that you can pattern your life from the best he offers. To some degree I am a reflection of him. There are many more stories to tell and even a collection of videos which you may remember and see when you return from your mission in Guatemala. He is a very good man. I love him very much.

I love you too, son. Thanks for asking.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Illustration 50 West

I will be in Los Angeles March 29-31 to attend the Illustration 50 West (IL50W) opening reception at Gallery Nucleus. My painting, "Christ Healing the Daughter of Jairus", will be on display.

Christ Healing the Daughter of Jairus
Christ Healing the Daughter of Jairus

The annual Illustration West competition is sponsored by SI-LA, the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, which describes itself as "the major professional art entity on the West coast." It was an honor to be selected by them.

Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles logo
The show runs from March 30 through April 4, 2012. I hope to see you there!

Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles
Christ Healing the Daughter of Jairus
Gallery Nucleus
Illustration West

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Success of Failure

Inspiring words, whether you're a writer, artist, or anyone else trying to get through life.


Excerpted from “The success of failure: Pulitzer winner's surprising road to the top.”
By Todd Leopold, CNN
January 20, 2012

Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize winning author, describes her creative growth -- and success -- as "incremental all the way."

…Failure. It's such an ugly word, isn't it? It reeks of cancer, of loss: the sense that what once went wrong cannot be set right, that the world has come to an end, that failures are failures forever -- that it's not just the project that failed, but you. Successful people, we imagine, are somehow blessed with more optimism, bigger brains and higher ideals than the rest of us.

But it's not true. Successful people -- creative people -- fail every day, just like everybody else. Except they don't view failure as a verdict. They view it as an opportunity. Indeed, it's failure that paves the way for creativity.

John Seely Brown is the former head of the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), the Xerox lab responsible for digital printing, the computer mouse and Ethernet. He says "trafficking in unlimited failure" let PARC's employees invent once-unimaginable technologies.

"My mantra inside PARC, which was never particularly appreciated in corporate headquarters, was at least 75% of the things we did failed," he says.

…Being creative doesn't require being Mozart. Stubbornness and practicality play a role, too. Studies of grade school and college students indicated they owed their academic success to such characteristics as curiosity, self-control and what psychology professor Angela Duckworth termed "grit" -- even if they were of average intelligence.

…Failure seems to loom around every corner, especially for creative types like writers. "I think it's totally rational for a writer, no matter how much experience he has, to go right down in confidence to almost zero when you sit down to start something," author John McPhee once observed.

That's not necessarily a bad thing if it's kept in perspective.

…“You have to be OK with failing." Clients naturally want to play it safe, but sometimes the most interesting ideas are out on the fringes. For example, he says, a cell phone provider might want to focus on established users, but what about trying to market to people who don't own cell phones at all?

"It's always a risk." But a necessary one: "If you're not failing, you're not pushing hard enough."

…If you decide the work has merit, there comes a point when you take what you have. Eventually the time for major creativity recedes and you're just trying to get to the finish line -- proofreading, refining, going over details. It can be grueling.

"At that point, disgust and ennui sets in," Egan admitted. "But I have a job to do. I can't walk away. I have a desire to make it better that drives me."

And then it's time to do it again, to climb back on the high wire and start from scratch. Scary? Absolutely. Failure is always scary. But, says Egan, it's where creative energy comes from: The awards and acclaim are wonderful, but the joy comes from the freedom she feels in trying the unusual.

Indeed, she says her recent books have been much more rewarding to write because of their challenges.

"And since then," she says, "I've had a lot more fun."