Thursday, January 18, 2018

For the musically inclined...

Hello again!

So... as it turns out, this new project (see my last post) is actually taking shape much quicker than I had previous envisioned. While I'm still making progress on the new novels, I'm also starting to carve out a bit more time for this new project (sorry for being so secretive, it's simply too early to reveal).

In preparation for going into production for this project, myself and the other brothers managing this thing (it's a bit too big for any one person to handle), are looking for a music composer. Ideally, we'd love to find someone experienced in composing acoustic/digital music who is a brother or sister.

(Obviously, we're not looking for freebies, we know music composition is hard work!)

Anyhow, if you fit the bill and are interested in possibly collaborating, please contact me at allthingsnewnovel (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you know of someone who you think might be interested, tell them about this post and encourage them to email me for more details. (Please don't send me the email addresses of people you know who make music; I'd rather they take the initiative so I know it's something they're actually interested in.)

As always, thank you for your support! The last time I asked for some help (regarding prison witnessing experience), the response was pretty overwhelming.

Thank you!

P.S. I should probably mention here a bit of what may come as bad news to some of you… I'm no longer pursuing the audiobook option. To be fair, I looked into it quite a bit. I even borrowed a bunch of professional recording equipment from a friend, built a tiny recording area in my office, and did some online tutorials for learning how to use audio editing software. Alas, just to record and edit together a single chapter in one of my books was a mammoth project, and there's simply no way I can afford to hire out the work. (Typically, I found through my research, audiobooks are recorded over several-week sessions by a team of professionals including a voice actors (or actors), a proofreader, and an audio technician. But I'm just one guy!) Anyhow, I apologize to those of you who were hoping to listen to audiobook versions of my work, but it doesn't seem to be a likelihood anytime soon...

Monday, January 8, 2018

The last two months

…Have been busy! So busy that I haven’t had a chance to post to this blog (or even check the comments). For those who’ve commented recently on my posts, thanks very much. I especially appreciate the support regarding the post I made about updating “All Things New”. The book is still available on Amazon but I’ll be removing it shortly to work on the revision.

As for STAY, the second book in the FLEE series, it’s coming along nicely, although it’s been a bit slow going the last couple of months due to me getting tied up in another side project. (Regarding this project, I’m very eager to share with you all what I’m working on, as I think it’s something that will appeal to many readers (though it’s not a book), but it’s too early now to talk about it, so I’ll just leave it at this.)

If I’m being completely honest, this side project (which is spiritually-themed, but very different than anything I’ve worked on before), has sidetracked me a bit because it’s very involved but has me creatively engaged in a way completely different than writing a novel. However, as with so many things in life, I’m finding many connections between it and my writing, and constantly learning new things that I think will really improve the way I approach my books in the future.

I got a good reminder from a friend, though, who knows about this project I’m working on but is also a reader of the books. It was pretty straightforward: “Finish the books first!” So that was a good wake-up call, and I’m back on track with writing on a daily schedule. Feel free to badger me in the comments to keep me on the ball and get this series finished!

That said, I think you all are going to enjoy the second book. It’s been a blast to write so far. :)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sneak peek at book number 2

I might be jumping the gun a little here, but I thought it would be fun to share the cover for the next book in the FLEE series, appropriately entitled STAY. If you've already read the first book, the cover should immediately make sense.

I'm roughly at the halfway point in writing this book, so it'll be several months still before the book's release. If all goes well, it should be available mid-Spring, 2018.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Keeping up with the times

When I first began work back in 2010 on what would eventually become my first novel All Things New, my goal was simple: to create a fictional piece of literature that could serve as an entertaining, thought-provoking glimpse into the New World. The response to that book, which was released in 2013, was beyond anything I’d imagined, which led to the release roughly a year later of The Unrighteous and then Critical Times back in 2016. I’ve always been careful to present these books as nothing more than fiction, but I’ve found over the years that this does not make them free from criticism or claims of inaccuracy.

Of course, none of us knows exactly how things will unfold during the Great Tribulation, at Armageddon, or just after that as we take out first steps into the New World. Some believe that we will more or less immediately transition into a paradise Earth, while others subscribe to a more lengthy process, perhaps spanning decades, as pictured in All Things New. Of course, it’s all guesswork at this point, and debating either side of the argument could become a distraction that I’ve done my best to avoid. (I wrote recently in a post that I’ve tried in recent books to focus more on the lessons learned from characters’ decisions and attitudes, rather than on specific events, and this is one of the reasons.)

That said, I will admit that at the time of writing All Things New, some ideas made it into the book more for the sake of dramatic storytelling than for plausibility. Although these portions likely made the work more memorable, in the years since the book’s release I’ve come to realize that they’ve also caused some consternation, something which I certainly never intended. Additionally, the last few years have seen further information released on the events leading up to and during Armageddon, an event which is featured extensively through the interviewees’ stories in my book.

In past years, my stance about my previous work was one adopted by most secular novelists: don’t look back, ignore the critics,  keep writing new stories. The problem, of course, is that these books aren’t purely secular. Although they are fictional works, they delve into spiritual topics that are close to my readers’ hearts–readers, I do well to keep in mind, who are also my brothers and sisters.

Thus, I’ve come to the decision to remove All Things New from my catalog of books as of January 2018. If all goes according to plan, this will be a temporary move until I can thoroughly revise the book and re-release it (possibly as a second edition, possibly under a new title). I understand that this may be difficult news for some readers, many of whom have written with positive feedback for that first book. However, the words of the Apostle Paul at 1 Corinthians 8:13 really stand out to me:

“That is why if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat at all, so that I will not make my brother stumble.”

If Paul was willing to give up meat for the sake of his brothers, I can certainly refrain from promoting a fictional piece of literature. And besides, I’m sure with the writing experience I’ve gained in the last few years, "All Things New 2.0" will be a much better read than the first!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Research Needed

Hi all! In preparation for a future project (unrelated to my current FLEE series), I've begun doing some preliminary research. Unfortunately though, the information available in online sources only goes so far, so it looks like I'll need to talk to those with some actual experience in order to delve deeper into the subject matter I plan on exploring.

Without giving too much away, I'm looking to make contact with experienced publishers who've engaged in prison witnessing. I'm particularly hoping to talk with those who've studied with prison inmates.

If any of you readers out there fit the above criteria and would be willing to let me pick your brains, please email me via the "Contact" link on this page. (Please only contact me if you personally have had these experiences, as I wish to get firsthand information. If a brother or sister you know  has had such experience and would be willing to communicate with me, please encourage him or her to write me directly. All correspondence will be handled via email.)

Thank you in advance!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Writing a Novel - Outlining a Scene

I’ve said before that I don’t like to outline my books. I tried breaking this habit (just to try something new) in Critical Times, and the result was that after just a few scenes I’d strayed so far from the original outline that I almost never referred to the outline again. So yeah, that was a couple of wasted days. I guess, in the end, it's just not the way my brain works when I set my ideas to paper. Some writers like planning it all out, I don’t. No big deal.

However, one technique that I’ve started implementing with my last couple books is scene outlining. It’s pretty straightforward. The way it works is this: before I start narrating the scene or crafting the dialogue, I go through and create a kind of shorthand description of everything that happens. It’s the mental equivalent of fast-forwarding a movie/TV show (ah, the old days of VHS) and catching the gist without having time to notice details. Here’s an example of a scene outline for the first scene in FLEE:

Peter Burton’s living room. It’s late. Wife’s in bed (name?) Elders sit around table. Nervous faces, silence. Soft enough to hear a clock ticking? The conversation here is strained, cryptic. Letter from branch is discussed. Audience doesn’t know the contents. Tension builds. Nothing about evacuation mentioned. We need to see Peter here as being experienced elder but lacking confidence, deferring to others. (This gives him room to grow) (Needs mentor here, maybe older elder??) BOE is small (4? 5? Why so small? Where is this cong located?) Must be tense, but must also feel love of elders to flock. A look behind the scenes feel. Documentary-esque. Endear reader to these men.

If you’ve ever studied theater or film making, you’ll probably notice that the above outline looks a lot like a screenplay (with the exception of dialogue, which is absent in my description). It’s like a 2D sketch on the surface of a rough slab of marble. The idea is there, and that's a large portion of the cerebral work, but now it’s a matter of chipping and chiseling away everything that isn’t the scene until the result is something that resembles art. (If you want to read the final version of the scene, click here. You can decide for yourself how successful I was!)

I like writing these scene outlines before I jump into writing, because it gives me the general atmosphere and the goal of the scene, and I’ve found that this is often half of the battle. The other great thing about this for me is that if I have to stop writing in the middle of a scene (which happens nearly every time I sit down to write), I can come back to it later and not spend fifteen minutes twiddling my thumbs or wasting time on YouTube videos trying to figure out where my head was when I left my desk. Also, as you can see from the above example, this quick brainstorm helps to reveal gaps in the story (in this instance, Who are the other elders? Why is their congregation so small? Who is Peter’s wife?). I can then either address the issues immediately or set them aside to discuss later (for this reason, I also keep an “unanswered questions” document on hand and refer to it constantly as I move through the story).

Of course, just like the story outlines that I can never seem to stick to, I often change a bunch of things as I go from scene outline to first draft. Still, it’s a great launching pad, and it’s become one of my go-to writing tools, so I thought I’d share.

In other news, Book 2 of the FLEE series (working title: STAY) is coming along surprisingly well! I’m nearly a third through the first draft, and it’s only been a month since I started. Of course, this could mean that I’m due for a three-month-long writer’s block, but I’m trying to keep my hopes up, my head down, and my fingers to the keyboard. We’ll see.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A place to discuss "FLEE" [Spoiler Alert!]

Hi all. So I've gotten quite a few messages from readers asking if there's a place to discuss the latest book. I know that many of you have already finished it and have questions, or things you'd like to discuss with other readers.

So, feel free to leave comments on this post regarding the latest book. We're entering spoiler territory here, so if you haven't yet finished the book, I'd recommend holding off until you're done. If you have finished and would like to talk about it, add a comment to this post.

I'm always open to feedback, and constructive criticisms help me grow as an author. So if you've spotted any errors in the book, or found things you don't like, you're welcome to comment on these as well. If I have an explanation, I'll provide it as a reply. Thanks!