Saturday, September 17, 2016

Wallpaper Burst

During the course of novel-writing, I'm sitting at my desk staring into my monitors, sometimes for hours on end. I've got dictionary apps open, various websites for research and fact-checking, my music player, and of course my hefty word processor (for the specifics on the app I use to write and compose, check out this post.) Most recently, I've also kept open large image files as I write. I find this helps me to visualize a scene as I compose. Since I'm a very sensory person, having these kinds of visual references really help put me in the scenes. I thought I'd share some of the most vivid, high-resolution images here. (If you'd like, you can right-click and save from the image source, as they make great computer desktops.)


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Help a brother out?

A snapshot of my working document for Critical Times... Almost there!

As the final editing process wraps up on Critical Times, I'm already itching to start a new project. A  list of six or seven ideas (some with the entire character sheets and story arc outlines) has fleshed out over the last year or so on my laptop. Going forward, it's merely a matter of choosing the story that seems right for development now. I say this because I suspect that most of these stories will be suitable for telling sooner or later, but that doesn't mean they're all equally appropriate for 2016/2017. (Case in point: although the fundamental elements for Critical Times were floating around in my head as early as 2014, it wasn't until our articles vividly depicted the Great Tribulation that I started working on the book.)

So here we are. Going forward. What to work on next? As stated, I'm itching to get started on something fresh and exciting, something that will take me and the readers to a place we haven't been before. Many of the ideas (and I won't go into specifics here, sorry!)  should push the boundaries of my writing. They'll likely all require copious research and unique approaches to storytelling, but isn't that half the fun? ;)

Of course, there's always the chance of the author's will go too far, will write too much for himself/herself, that no one else besides the author will enjoy the finished result. This is a real possibility, and for this reason many authors go to great lengths to understand their reader demographic. I've given this some thought as well, and although I certainly want to steer free of writing exclusively for one kind of reader, I've decided it certainly wouldn't hurt to know who's reading these books. For that reason, I've set up a poll here (see the right column). If possible, take a minute to fill it out.

In the meantime, I'll be here, slumped over my laptop, putting the final touches on Critical Times...

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Writing for the friends

It may surprise some of my readers to find that I've pursued this hobby of writing theocratic fiction (theofic?) with some reluctance. Scratch that. A LOT of reluctance. As Witnesses, we've been trained to be cautious when reading theocratic material posted on the internet and/or by those claiming to be our brothers and sisters. Just seeing the words "Jehovah's Witnesses" on a website usually gets the Red Alert! sirens going in my head, and I'm sure many of you out there are the same.

This is a protection, of course. These days anyone with web access can hide behind an avatar spreading falsehood under the guise of "enlightening" the friends. The possibility that I'd be viewed this way made me put off writing the first book for years. (Three, to be exact.)

Far from criticizing the organization or weakening the brothers' faith, however, I yearned to tell stories that did just the opposite. I wanted to encourage and bolster the friends; I wanted to fuel their imaginations as regards our future hope. Although the characters and events would be fictionalized, they demonstrate the truths we can live by today: keeping in step with the organization (despite not fully grasping the reasons for certain changes and direction); fully relying on Jehovah in times both peaceful and tumultuous; cultivating our art of teaching to as to save ourselves and those who might listen. (All three of these themes have appeared to some extent in the previous two books, and they will be even more evident in the current story, Critical Times, which I deliberately set during the most trying period of humanity.)

Still, good intentions aside, I feared the worst. What could I do? As mentioned, I shelved the idea for years, feeling the time just wasn't right to start such a project. Then, in 2013, things changed. More and more, it seemed like the organization was encouraging us to meditate on our future blessings. And so I put pen to paper and churned out a first draft of All Things New in a little under four months. I actually prayed about that project (and the ones after it), trying to determine if it was a good idea or not. I figured my 'fleece test' could be gauged by the readers' response. If there was a lot of negative feedback, I'd have my answer. If, on the other hand, it proved to be the encouragement I'd intended it to be and the response was positive, I'd trudge carefully ahead.

To date, the overwhelming majority of feedback has been positive. In fact, in the nearly three years that the first book has been floating around, I've received only one email from someone strongly opposed to the books, and it turned out they had misunderstood some very crucial details about the novels (and hadn't actually read them, as a matter of fact).

Because I'm writing for the friends, I've always felt that offering my work free of charge is the right thing to do. (The exception to this, of course, are the Amazon books, which cannot be listed free of charge due to publication and printing costs.) While I'm sure most secular writers would cringe at an author giving away so much of their hard work for free, I'm not in this for the money. Never have been, never will be. I have a day job, and don't expect to quit anytime soon.

I guess this post has rambled a bit somewhat, but the bottom line is that I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of writing these three books, and I hope to continue with more stories in the future. The emails I've received (some of which have moved me to tears) have shown me that many have been encouraged by my work despite its fictional nature.

Please, keep those wonderful emails coming, and don't be afraid to let me know when you find an error! (I love those emails, too.)