Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Can you believe it's 2020?

I certainly can't! I never pictured us experiencing this date on this side of the system, but here we are.

I wanted to update you all on how things have been going lately, since I know it's been a bit quiet over the last few months since the release of STAND. As has become my custom, I've taken a little breather after the completion of the last novel to recoup. In addition, life has been a bit of whirlwind since August (when the book was released), with conventions and other events keeping me busy.

In the midst of all this, I was working on the audiobook for FLEE, which I completed and released as promised for free on YouTube. I later went back and re-recorded many of the older chapters and planned to put everything up on Audible so that the audiobook version could be purchased alongside the Kindle and paperback versions on Amazon, but this turned into a bigger headache than I imagined.

The software I used to record and edit has not worked well with Audible's audio proofing process, with numerous issues and errors keeping me from publishing every time I try to submit the files. In addition, Amazon's customer support has been less than ideal, with many of my inquiries going unanswered and customer reps changing constantly, requiring me to re-explain the issues in detail. All of this, you can imagine, has slowed down the process and frankly killed a lot of my motivation to pursue this particular project. I'm not giving up just yet, but I've turned my attention to other things for the time being.

Going forward with the books, I've had about five different projects on the back burner for the last year or so. On occasion I'll go back over these ideas and write a bit here and there, perhaps fleshing out a scene or two or trying to piece together a rough synopsis to give me a launching point. These books span quite a range of genres, from a historical fiction set in 15th century England centered around a small ragtag team of Bible smugglers to a sci-fi interplanetary-colonization series set several millennia into the New World. All fun ideas, yes, but so far nothing has really jumped out at me.

That is, until I sat down about a month ago and started work on a brand new project, something completely unrelated to the ideas I'd had stewing in the back of my mind for so long. This story is much more grounded in our present reality, and is, in fact, a sequel. And just so I don't encourage any false hopes out there, I'll go ahead and tell you that it's the second part to Will Larson's story from The Bloom of Youth.

When we left Will in the last story, we'd seen him grown partway to manhood. He'd learned, through a tumultuous adolescent year, to make the truth his own and take a stand for what he believed in. At the time, I was happy leaving the story at that, until I started thinking more about my own adolescence and all the other things I learned and experienced during those difficult years.

Since I'm only a fraction of the way into writing the first draft, I don't have a title or a cover to share here just yet, I just wanted to let you all know what's in store. Hope you're all having a lovely (and not too cold) January 1st.

Still can't believe we're in 2020!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Well, I was wrong

If you’ve read my latest book, “STAND”, you may have also skimmed over the afterword. In it, I talk a bit about the premise of the book and my hopes that it would strengthen the faith and resolve of the friends who read it. Of course, all of this still stands. However, one of the final points made in that short note was incorrect. Here’s the original passage:

I anticipate that some readers will take issue with the character of Luis Escobar, the Venezuelan smuggler who joins Alvin and Joyce on The Chariot and abandons his old life to join the Witnesses. Perhaps some will find it unfair that an unbeliever would be given such an opportunity to change at the last moment. Others may feel that once the great tribulation starts, there is no longer an opportunity for honest-hearted ones to join true worshippers. However, in researching our recent publications, I was unable to find such a claim.

However in light of the Watchtower study article from this weekend, I clearly was wrong. The article states:

Let us remember that once the great tribulation begins, it will be too late for people to turn to Jehovah. (w19 pp. 8-16, par 6)

Of course, this statement renders quite a bit of the newest trilogy incorrect. For example, Ronnie Feldman’s character or Luis Escobar would never have a chance to join the convoy. Similarly, the evacuation would not be open to outsiders, nor would there be a global preaching campaign to invite non-witnesses to join.

As stated in this foreword, I always make great efforts and thoroughly researching the elements portrayed in the books so as to make them as accurate and believable as possible, and while I had found nothing recent in our publications on this particular point at the time of my writing, that is no longer the case.

As always, I urge readers to take all of these books with a grain of salt and remember that at the end of the day it is all fiction, and that none of us should read too much into any of the events portrayed. If you find it upbuilding and strengthening, that is great, but it should not be viewed as spiritual food.

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Tiny update!

It’s been almost a month since my last post, and I know things have been pretty quiet here since, so I thought I’d write up a short update for you all.

The audiobook (including re-recorded chapters) is finally complete and is currently going through Amazon’s Audible review process. This has been a bit more tiresome of a process than I originally anticipated, and many chapters were rejected multiple times due to minor sound issues (some of the peaks were too high, some of the narration was too soft). Each review process can take from 7-10 days, and each time new files are uploaded the process has to restart, so it’s taking a much longer time than I’d expected.

As always, jumping into a completely new medium was a tremendous learning experience, and I’ll be releasing a podcast episode soon on a few of the practical lessons I came away with. A lot of them apply to public reading and speaking, and many of you might find them useful in your own talks/readings/ministry. Reading is such an essential part of what we do as Witnesses, but there’s so much more to it than just speaking words from a page. Stay tuned for the podcast and you’ll see what I mean.

Of course, in spite of all the experience gleaned from this audiobook, I’m still a novice narrator (performer?), and there’s plenty of room for improvement in future books. My goal at present is to begin work on the audiobooks for STAY and STAND once FLEE is released. Once the trilogy is done, I’ve got other ideas for projects that I’d love to dive into as time permits. More than likely, this’ll mean that there will be no new books coming in 2020, but if you’ve been following my work for any length of time you’ll know that plans can and will change, so we shall see!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

And I’m done! Sort of…

So today I uploaded the final chapter of my first audiobook, FLEE, to my YouTube channel. Recording and editing all twenty-one chapters more involved than I was anticipating, but as always, I learned so many valuable things from the process. In the end, I was able to get into a good routine (establishing routines are always so important for creative projects). I’d wake up a little early each morning, when the apartment was quiet and the traffic noises outside weren’t too obnoxious, and would record a single chapter, which I’d then edit later in the evening when I had some spare time. (Since I’m not doing any of this full time, it’s sometimes a struggle to find the time here and there to work on things)

Of course, in spite of being done with all twenty-one chapters, I’m not really finished. Since I purchased a professional microphone midway through the project (which is why everything after chapter nine sounds so much better), the quality of the two halves of the book are vastly different. In addition to the technical aspect of recording, my reading and voice acting skills also improved quite a bit as I went along. I could feel myself slowing down and really savoring the reading and getting into the mind of each character (as opposed to just reading words on the screen to get through the material in the beginning).

So all of this adds up to me really needing to redo the first nine chapters, three of which I’ve already recorded in the last couple of days. I’m working much more quickly than I was in the beginning so I’m not expecting the final six chapters to take all that long, but once they are done I’ll be uploading the entire thing to ACX, Amazon’s audiobook site. Once that’s done, I’ll probably put together a little video for those of who who haven’t used Audible (Amazon’s audiobook app) to show how to purchase and listen to the book if you’re so inclined.

As always, I want to express my appreciation to those of you who had the patience to wait for the release of each audiobook chapter, which weren’t really uploaded according to any sort of discernible schedule (I did them as I found time for them). Also appreciated were the tips and suggestions, usually in the form of comments on YouTube. This feedback is vital, and I feel it really helped me improve as I went through the process.

Although I’ve got plenty of room to grow as a narrator, this project was unexpectedly enjoyable, and I found myself doing more research than I’d originally intended to capture certain accents (Mexican, Colombian, Indian, Southern, New Orleaniean, Canadian). Some of the voice acting is still in need of improvement, but I hope the next two books will afford me exactly that opportunity for growth.

Thanks for listening!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Brand new website!

Well, it's long overdue, but I finally went out and purchased a domain and set up a proper, professional website at Ekjonathan.com In the future, all books will be released on this site (check the Now Reading tab), which will mean no more jumping around from this blog to that trying to hunt down information. Blogspot has served me well in the past, but it's really not a viable long-term solution, so I'm happy to be moving on.

On the My Books page you'll find my entire catalog of books, with brief descriptions or synopses of each of the novels and links to the respective Amazon pages. The Blog page will function in the same way as this site, and in fact will feed directly from here, so if you prefer to visit this site, you'll be able to. However, since the new site will have all the features of my current sites combined, I'd recommend bookmarking it and checking regularly for updates. Any news and announcements will be sure to appear there first.

Other cool features of the new site include a Podcast page, where you can stream episodes from my YouTube channel by category, as well as an Audiobook page, where you can listen to the latest chapters from FLEE, and where you will eventually be able to purchase full audiobooks once they are ready.

Speaking of which, my new microphone arrived in the mail this morning, and I was able to record and upload a new chapter to to FLEE this afternoon, which you can listen to here. I've also had to switch audio editing software to get the most professional-sounding quality I can manage, and I think you'll agree that the difference is huge (especially if you use headphones)!

Finally, in case you're wondering, you won't find any pictures of me on the new site (or anywhere else for that matter). I've always felt that my anonymity is important to maintain, and I've been fearful of cultivating a celebrity status around my real persona. I don't mind my books and other creations gaining attention, I just don't want to attract that kind of attention in person. I would be absolutely mortified if someone were to recognize me at an assembly and ask for an autograph! (FYI, EK Jonathan itself is a pen name based on my real name.)


Since this new website is still a work on progress, you might find some typos, broken links, and other small issues. If you do, feel free to drop me a line and let me know so I can continue to polish it up. Thanks, and enjoy!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

I’ve decided to bite the bullet!

Hi all! Well, I’ve jumped straight into a new project since the completion of STAND, and in the last three weeks have produced about half of the audiobook recording for FLEE. It’s been a fun project, and has provided a unique challenge quite unlike anything I’ve attempted before.

I’ve come to realize that audiobook readings are less reading and more performing. It demands a lot more energy than writing the original story, and can take quite a few takes to get just right. Often, a single line of descriptive writing or dialogue can be read in a multitude of ways, and picking the right take can be challenging. In addition, performing this particular story, with its varied cast of characters, has meant performing various accents and ethnicities, requiring some amount of research (ie, watching videos of various speakers on YouTube) to capture. I’m not completely sold on my own performances, but I’m certainly learning from the experience, and it’s forcing me to improve in my reading skills. (This is particularly useful for me, since I’ve been in a foreign language field for the last twelve years and rarely read aloud in English.)

Since I’m enjoying the audiobook process so much (and there seems to be significant interest in full audiobook versions of my books), I’ve bitten the bullet and purchased a professional-grade condenser microphone. I’ve also purchased the materials to build a small acoustic box for my home office to dampen out any ambient noises. This has been a real pain for me in previous recordings, because our apartment building is right beside a busy highway, and the traffic noises inevitably seep into the audio. (Please excuse the occasional honks, beeps, and screeches!)

Once the new microphone arrives (an Audio Technica ATR2500, if anyone’s interested), I’ll use it to record the rest of the chapters, uploading them as usual to my YouTube channel. Then, once that’s done, I plan on going back and re-recording the initial chapters. With the experience and practice I’ve gained from the last few weeks, I know I’ll do a much better job the second time around, and the audio quality should be much higher.

When all twenty-one chapters of FLEE are completed, I will be uploading them to ACX, Amazon’s audiobook publisher site. Once that’s done, the full audiobook will be available for purchase on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. I have not determined what I will set the price at, but it will likely be a few dollars more than the paperback version of the book. After doing some research online, I feel this is a fair and affordable price, as audiobooks can range from $20-60. While I’ve never primarily been focused turning this into a career, I do need to make it worth my time investment, and those who would prefer a lower-quality version can always listen for free on YouTube.

After FLEE is released, I will see about doing other books, likely starting with STAY and STAND. Many readers have expressed interest in having the entire collection of this series in audiobook form, so we’ll see if I can set that as a goal for myself.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

STAND now available!

https://amzn.to/31rdqJB
Well, August 10th is here, and as promised, so is the new book, STAND. It's been a long, wonderful ride, and I'm glad I had you all along for the company. EDIT: (At present,  the Kindle version and paperback versions are separate, but should be linked within a few hours.)

For those of you who plan on reading the serialized edition, head over to fleenovel.blogspot.com, where I've posted the prologue. (Subsequent chapters will be released every Monday.)

If you enjoy this conclusion to the FLEE series, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. Happy reading!

In other news, I've been consistently uploading chapters of the FLEE audiobook, with a new chapter being released, on average, every couple of days. I'll do my best to get through the whole book!