The Next Project

(Below is from the About Me section)

I am a Christian, husband, father (to rescue dogs), veteran, and information security executive consultant. I write Christian novels about tough subjects and how God’s grace can lead us out of those situations to live the lives we are meant to live, usually from the male point of view. I am seeking an agent.

I wrote my first novel in high school. 0It sits in some nondescript box in my basement in its original form on various types of ruled paper. Then, I’d write using whatever I had available, including spiral notebooks. I always hated the messy edges tearing a page produced (however, I am by no means a connoisseur of neatness). That novel, The Balance of Power, dealt with a topic as weighty as the title and too heavy for a teenager, a Soviet internal takeover of the United States. One day I will read it again – and cringe.

I always seemed to have a project in mind, and when not thinking about a manuscript I drafted poetry. It’s not that I particularly liked poetry – I didn’t. In fact, I would probably say then I hated it. But I did like songs and envisioned each “poem” as the next Bruce Springsteen hit.

The second manuscript idea was also one over my head, another national emergency with the glorious title American Terrorist. I abandoned, or at least put on hold the idea because I thought the premise was not realistic. Then Oklahoma City happened. Rather ironically, during the time I pondered creating this novel, I drove past Timothy McVeigh’s house every day on the way to work. That one never made it past a few chicken scratch pages, likely also on spiral notebook paper and now having long returned to its elements in some landfill.

Novel attempt number three began in 1991 as a method to deal with my divorce. I found myself fantasizing about “what if” scenarios. What if we hadn’t married early? What could I have done differently to prevent the pain I struggled with daily? I needed to live that fantasy, at least through writing. I wrote in the basement wood-paneled bedroom of my post-divorce house I shared with three others, I wrote during lunch at work in my cubicle, and anywhere I could find a few free minutes away from the world.

After a couple of years, a move to the south, and recovering from divorce depression, I touted what I thought was a finished masterpiece of time travel and romance. I took a community education course on becoming published and excitedly wrote query letters to the dozens of agents whose contact information the instructor had provided as part of the class materials. I’d be having to make the hard choice of choosing which agent to represent Second Chance soon, I was sure.

Then they came. Rejection after rejection after rejection. One had the gall to tell me I should change the protagonist from male to female. Ha! This was my work, my life. No one would tell me what to write.

And so that manuscript returned to storage, likely in the same nondescript coffin for The Balance of Power. A few times over the next 15 years or so I attempted to resurrect it but the crushing realization that no one would want to publish Second Chance discouraged me from going further. My passion was meaningful writing, not crafting useless query letters.

Then a conversation with a colleague in 2012 changed that. He worked for Ingram and mentioned their new product called Ingram Spark, a complete self-publishing platform. At last, I could get my book published, even if not traditionally. My spark (no pun intended) for writing had returned.

I set about reviewing the manuscript, at first anticipating only a few tweaks and then this masterpiece would be available for all. Much had changed though since those sad basement days, and the original story seemed, well, bland. And mushy. And cutesy. Even the title evoked images of a Harlequin romance paperback. I was no Fabio, nor was I a romance writer. Minor tweaks became major rewrites.

I needed a lesson, but what? What was I passionate about? I didn’t spend too much time on this, as I knew the answer. Abortion is a much-debated issue, but to me abortion for convenience is murder. No one speaks for the child, but I could through this book. Second Chance became Forgiveness, and soon I joined the ranks of gazillions of other indie authors with a book available on Amazon.

My nativity hit again. I thought that simply by listing on Amazon and a few tweets coupled with a basic web page ensured sales success. While many who read the book offered very positive feedback, the truth is sales were close to non-existent. I had to do something to market the first book and in the process made in hindsight a bad decision. I immediately began another book, buying into the concept that the best way to market a book was to write another, and ignored all other marketing opportunities.

That was the beginning of my list of mistakes. In crafting Temptations of the Innocent, I created such a complicated world comprising of this life and a fictionalized (certainly not Biblically based) version of the afterlife. I didn’t stop there, adding in an antagonist who is pure evil (if not the devil himself) and a Soviet plot to infiltrate the Catholic church. I like to write about weighty subjects, remember? Sprinkle in a span of 80 years and several continents with a few historical events and figures (one character meets President Reagan), and you have a recipe for disaster.

Perhaps disaster is not the right descriptor. Temptations of the Innocent is (in my non-objective opinion of course) a well-thought out and intertwined story that tells the backstory of Forgiveness. Everything fits together and lays the groundwork for the planned third novel Redemption, the sequel to Forgiveness. It is just too complex a story. I didn’t market the book at all (see my marketing efforts for Forgiveness), and sales reflected that.

I was left exhausted and with no desire to write anything further, let alone the sequel. Then in January of 2017, I received a God nudge to pick up the pen again. I sketched out a three-act story on a piece of paper that would tell the story of healing through small group ministries. I had at that time been involved with one such ministry for several years and was very passionate about it, having seen firsthand the positive changes this eight-week group had on people willing to change.

I accepted God’s assignment and began to plan the story. I was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the first two novels. This one would follow a simple arc but would involve a weighty topic, necessary to show healing. I chose depression and began creating my third novel, Leaving Darkness.

This time, I did not self-publish solo though Ingram but rather contracted with WestBow (the assisted self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson). I worked with an independent development editor, a worthwhile expense. My goal for sales was not income but to get this in the hands of those struggling with depression so they may realize the path to healing through God’s grace, so I wanted this story to be the absolute best it could be. Leaving Darkness was published in the fall of 2018.

 

One thought on “The Next Project

  1. Pingback: The Balance of Power | Leaving Darkness

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