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Summer Reads — Two Good Books!

Summer-reading-006Summer is coming. Hot days. Humid days. Days on the beach or in the shade of an oak tree. Lazing around beside the pool. And, people want to have something to read.

As you prepare for summer, I want to remind you that there are two books that are perfect summer reads. Let me introduce you to the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel.

The first book, oddly enough, has the highest number in the title. “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”. You see, I’m counting down from thirteen to one. Jonathan Steel is a Christian version of Jason Bourne. He has no memory of his former life except for one outstanding event. The day he became a Christian is the only meaningful memory he can recall. As his memory begins to return, he finds that he has a very specific skill set that only a mercenary or an assassin would have.

Who was he? Soon, he begins to remember an abusive and hateful father. It doesn’t take long for Steel to become embroiled in evil. He encounters a serial killer possessed by “the 13th demon”. It doesn’t take long for this man to bring tragedy into the life of Jonathan Steel and he vows to track down the killer and destroy it.

But, although evil is real, so is the force of good. Steel finds himself in the midst of a spiritual battle in the small town of Lakeside. An evil presence has settled into the local church and is determined to take over the town. Steel wants revenge but he also realizes he has made a promise to help others in danger.

“The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” is harrowing and frightening but ultimately redemptive. It is a story of good versus evil. It is a story of self sacrifice for the good of others.

The second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” picks up where the first book ends. Steel has assumed the responsibility of being a guardian to a young teenage boy. The boy’s uncle, Cephas Lawrence, is Steel’s mentor. Steel finds himself in Dallas, Texas battling an army of vampires to recover the young man who has been kidnapped by Rudolph Wulf, the 12th demon. The story ranges from the Texas countryside to the mountains of Transylvania.

You can read the reviews of both books here.

Will there be other books? I have planned all thirteen books and have already written the next two books. Unfortunately, my current publisher has “released” me from my current contract and I am looking for a new publisher to pick up the rest of the books. If you are a traditional publisher or know of a traditional publisher interested in picking up the series, you can contact my agent, Nancy Jernigan at jjernigan@hiddenvaluegroup.com.

But, rest assured, if I do not have a traditional publisher soon, I am planning on self-publishing “The 11th Demon: Ark of the Demon Rose” under my own imprint. I have retained the same fiction editor I worked with for the first two books so I am excited about the final manuscript!

So, pick up the two books for summer read. The books are appropriate for men, women, and teenagers. It is suspenseful with a touch of horror. But, I guarantee a good story and a redemptive message.

Check it out and see that evil is real. But, so is God!

 

All That Is NOT SO must Go!

ray2In 2008 I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet my all time favorite writer, Ray Bradbury. If you have not read stories by this giant of science fiction and fantasy literature, then you have missed out on a life changing experience. Ray Bradbury passed away in 2012 and his loss was a tiny tremor in the tumult of this past year. For you see, as forward thinking and progressive as Mr. Bradbury was, he hesitated to embrace many forms of modern technology. He refused to fly. He would only travel by train or boat. He would not allow any of his works to be translated into electronic form. You will not find any of his stories as ebooks! Why? Go read Fahrenheit 451 and you might catch a glimmer of the reason. Stories, to Bradbury, belonged inside people! Story is Life!

As we enter 2013, I am depressed at the negative tone of many of my favorite blogs. Who can blame us? If you are a Christian, then 2012 was a year of blow after blow to the Christian lifestyle. And, I don’t need to spend time listing those developments here. Others have done it well. But, there is one concept I want to explore as we enter a new year.

In this past year, scientists have mounted a campaign against God. Not surprising. This happens with regularity. But, this past year the attack was imbedded in such books as “A Universe From Nothing” by Lawrence Krauss or Richard Dawkins’ atheist children’s book “The Magic of Reality”. And, that venerable icon of science for children, Bill Nye, the Science Guy attacked creationism in public and on internet based video. The year ended with the American Atheists’ huge billboard on Times Square asking people to “Dump the Myth”.

Back in the 1950‘s, Ray Bradbury wrote a series of short stories that resonate with today’s headlines. Now, remember, he was an advocate of science. He helped develop ideas for many of Walt Disney’s animated shorts about space travel. He was involved in the design of “Future World” at EPCOT. But, he had cautionary words for us about the danger of the supremacy of science as a philosophy. As a philosophy, this is known as scientism or materialism or naturalism. Nature is all that is. If we cannot sense it with our scientific machines, then it cannot exist. NOTHING in the supernatural realm can be even considered as possible.

martian chroniclesIn “The Martian Chronicles”, Bradbury created a character who had escaped to Mars and built a house of “Usher” to resurrect the creations of imagination. It seemed that on Earth such imaginative works had been outlawed. Look at this passage from “Usher II” in the Martian Chronicles:

They passed a law. Oh, it started very small. In 1999 it was a grain of sand. They began by controlling books, cartoons, and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.

Every man, they said, must face reality. Must face the Here and Now! Everything that was not so must go. All the beautiful literary lies and flights of fancy must be shot in mid-air! So they lined them up against a library wall one Sunday morning thirty years ago, they lined them up in 2006; they lined them up, . . . and shot them down, and burned the paper castles and fairy frogs and old kings and the people who lived happily every after . . . and Once Upon a Time became No More!

 

In another story from that book, “The Million Year Picnic”, a family has escaped the self destruction of Earth and has made it to Mars to rebuild a new life. Here is what a father told his children about Earth:

Life on Earth never settled down to doing anything very good. Science ran too far ahead of us too quickly, and the people got lost in a mechanical wilderness, like children making over pretty things, gadgets, helicopters, rockets, emphasizing the wrong items, emphasizing machines instead of how to run the machines.Wars got bigger and bigger and finally killed Earth.

 

But, the most powerful story, and more than likely a precursor to “Fahrenheit 451” was “The Exiles” from “The Illustrated Man”. In this story, the authors of science fiction, horror and fantasy have found exile on Mars from a world in which their works have been burned and now, a rocket from Earth approaches. In this scene, Edgar Allen Poe is waiting for the rocket men to land so he can defeat them.illustrated_man

 

They won’t be prepared for us, at least. They haven’t the imagination. Those clean young rocket men with their antiseptic bloomers and fish-bowl helmets, with their new religion. About their necks, on gold chains, scalpels. Upon their heads, a diadem of microscopes. In their holy fingers, steaming incense urns which in reality are only germicidal ovens for steaming out superstition. The names of Poe; Bierce, Hawthorne, Blackwood — blasphemy to their clean lips.”

How did this happen and how did Poe come to reside on Mars?

On Earth, a century ago, in the year 2020 they outlawed our books. Oh, what a horrible thing — to destroy our literary creations that way! It summoned us out of — what? Death? The Beyond? . . . the only saving thing we could do was wait out the century here on Mars, hoping Earth might overweight itself with these scientists and their doubtings; but now they’re coming to clean us out . . . “

And, lest you think that Bradbury was not aware of the war on Christmas look at this scene of a wasted, near dead Santa Claus:

They took him, a skeleton thought, and clothed him in centuries of pink flesh and snow beard and red velvet suit and black boot, made him reindeers, tinsel, holly. And, after centuries of manufacturing him they drowned him in a vat of Lysol, you might say.

What must it be like on Earth? . . . Without Christmas? . . . nothing but snow and wind and the lonely, factual people.

Ah, the power of Story. I will address this in upcoming posts. For now, we must stop and revel in the sheer power of Story to transform humanity. Bradbury did it with these short tales. Bradbury cautioned us that if we allow our imagination to die, then we will die as a people. And, imagination is built upon the foundation of the possibility of the supernatural. Eliminate the supernatural, and you MUST eliminate imagination; burn it out of the brain; cauterize it from the human thought patterns; outlaw it from public and private expression.

Don’t miss this. Bradbury talked of it and he was on the side of science. Science is a tool! It is NOT a way of life. And, if we allow Science to become a way of life, we will see the death of imagination; the death of superstition; the death of the supernatural; the death of Story; the death of God! There is no other path.

Adolf Hitler built his world upon the foundation of naturalism. And, he tried to purge the world of superstition in the ovens of Auschwitz. We cannot forget this. We must remember that to kill Story is to kill what makes us humans. And, one Man used Story to change the world. These stories were called parables.

Parables-of-Jesus-image

So, this coming Sunday, January 5th, I will be signing copies of my three books at our local LifeWay in Shreveport, Louisiana from noon to 2 PM. Of course, I would like for you to come. I will be giving away tee shirts. But, here is my request. Go to a book store. Any book store this coming Saturday. Go and find a book that fuels your imagination. There are wonderful books for all ages and for men and women in the realm of Christian fiction at a LifeWay and if you come to my LifeWay, I can point you to many good Stories.

Go out this Saturday and let’s show the world that as followers of Christ, we recognize the importance the power of Story. This Saturday, wherever you are, go into a book store and buy a book and when you check out, look the person behind the counter in the eye and say, “Story Is Life”!

 

And Now, For a Word From Our Sponsor

I’m taking a short break from discussing the essential teachings of Jesus of Nazareth for this message from your sponsor.

This holiday season if you are looking for an action packed thriller for the man on your gift list who likes books by Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti, then check out my two books in the Jonathan Steel Chronicles. The first book is “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” and is followed immediately by the second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”.

Jonathan Steel is a Christian version of Jason Bourne afflicted with amnesia yet having skills like an assassin or a mercenary. His one memory is of the day he became a Christian and this memory sits at odds with his nature. He wants to recover his lost life and find out why he seems to be at such odds with himself. In the stories, Steel comes up against some very evil human beings in league with demons from a “Council of Darkness”. The council is charged with carrying out the plans of Lucifer to destroy humanity and claim their souls. Steel ends up being the man in the Council’s path

Note that the numbers of the demons are in descending order. They get more powerful the closer we get to the number ONE demon. The 13th demon is the first book; the 12th demon the second, etc. You can check out the review page for discussions of my books.

Also, if you have a teenager who likes Twilight or Hunger Games, they will like these books. One of the major characters is a teenager named Josh who ends up fighting demons alongside Steel, much to Steel’s dismay. Let’s just say they don’t get along very well.

Each book also features strong female characters and a hint of romance. My sisters LOVE Jonathan Steel and want to read more of the book, so if you like thriller type romance novels, this book is for you.

 

Now, if you or someone you love is suffering from depression this holiday season, check out Conquering Depression: A 30 Day Plan for Finding Happiness”. This book has had an amazing history and continues to help people literally around the world. My co-author, Mark Sutton and I still get emails weekly from people who say the book “saved my life”. It is an easy to read introduction to begin the process of conquering depression in your life. Each chapter is a “day” in the 30 day plan. You take it in small, gradual doses and the LifeFilter cards in the back are there to give you a daily tool. We highly recommend the book and it continues to help those who suffer from depression or who have friends or family who suffer from depression.

 

Now, that’s it! No more commercials. Come back in the next two days for more posts leading up to Christmas.

Vampires, Zombies, and Werewolves, Oh My!

Humans are fascinated with the undead — vampires, zombies, and werewolves.

“The Walking Dead” and “Twilight”. I am asked this question often in interviews about my book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”. Why are we so fascinated with vampires and zombies?

We are fascinated with the undead because we have lost that connection with the divine and the eternal in our culture. In Ecclesiastes, we find a verse that says “God has put eternity in the hearts of all men”. But, our culture no longer accepts organized religion and has pushed God out of the Creator seat and replaced Him with Chance and Scientism. Without without the connection with the divine in our culture, we fill this spiritual void with a poor substitute.

In my book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” I use the context of our fascination with vampires, werewolves, and the undead to reconnect you with the truth that we have eternal souls and we long to connect to our Creator. You see, our “postmodern” culture claims there is no “metanarrative”; no “Big Picture”, no Story in which we play a role. But, Ravi Zacharias says that whatever we believe should answer 4 questions:

How Did I Get Here? — Origins

Why am I Here? — Meaning

How Should I live? — Morality

What Happens when I die? — Destiny

For centuries we here in America have lived according to the Christian “worldview” that there is a Creator with a purpose for creation; for our universe; for our world; for each of us. But, in the last fifty years, our culture has moved towards “naturalism” — the idea that there is no supernatural realm; that we are here purely by chance. When you die, you rot — end of story. Have a nice day.

Once we pushed God out of the creator seat and replaced Him with Chance and Random Processes — our answer to that last question went away. There is no “Destiny”.   We have hidden the Story behind a veil of denial. And yet, each human being longs for the divine; seeks the eternal.

And so, we long for destiny; what lies beyond this realm of existence. We sense there is more to life than just living and dying. And, if you have removed the rational foundation for belief in God, all that is left us is science. Science, or naturalism, tells us we are nothing more than DNA and biochemistry. So, science doesn’t answer the question. And, without God and religion, we turn to fiction; we turn to tales and myths and legends of the undead. Thus, our culture has become fascinated with death — specifically what happens after we die.

Ironically, in denying the truth of God; disallowing anything supernatural; we end up embracing fictional and mythical concepts and ideas that are far more wanky and bizarre than belief in the God of the Bible. As the famous author and apologist G. K. Chesterton wrote: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”

Hutchmoot 2012 — Day 1 So Many Rabbits

Thursday afternoon and it is around 530 PM. My son, Sean and I can smell the wondrous aroma of dinner wafting up the stairs from the basement of Redeemer Church. We were sitting in the sanctuary with 184 other people attending the 2012 Hutchmoot. I watched as Andrew Peterson smiled and looked out over the crowd. He welcomed us and then said something that in any other creative conference in the world would be a sign that we are all in big trouble. “Welcome to Hutchmoot. I’m not sure what is going to happen but here we are.”

Yeah, Hutchmoot is like that. Well planned and well co-ordinated thanks to the ever awesome hard work of Pete Peterson. But, exactly what each person is going to take away from the conference is uncertain. At least to us. Not uncertain to the One who spoke the world into existence, the One who holds the universe together, the One whose Story is unfolding all around us, the One who invites us to be a part of that Story.

An hour before my son and I left the hotel for the conference I received the email I had been dreading. One of my current publishers was “releasing” me from my contract. Just an hour away from the most wondrous creative conference of the year and I get this bad news.

But, you know what I thought? Instantly, I knew that God had something very specific to reveal to me through Hutchmoot. God is in control. This was no surprise to him. In fact, this development was the next plot point in my story. He wrote it. My job was to play my part as truthfully and as faithfully to the Author as I could. So, it was with heavy heart and a growing sense of depression that Sean and I set out for Redeemer Church for the opening of Hutchmoot 2012. The dark clouds were gathering and blotting out the shining light of the sun that I had hoped would illuminate the next four days. I felt my world contracting and squeezing down, pressing in on me with the bitter oppressive realization that my Dream was dying. Twelve years of hard work culminating in a five book contract were now a total and complete waste. God, where are you? Why?

I was understandably subdued at the most excellent dinner Evie had concocted for all of her “so many rabbits!”. Sean and I sat outside under the tent at an empty table waiting for others to join us. No one joined us. I guessed it was for the best. I wasn’t very good company. But, it gave Sean and I a chance to talk for over an hour. He lives in Austin, Texas and I live in Shreveport, Louisiana. We seldom get to see each other and already the past twenty four hours together had been fantastic. Now, Sean sensed the need to comfort his father. And, I sensed the need to pull out of my funk and make the time we had together the best it could be. The food helped.

That evening, Hutchmoot 2012 kicked off with one of my favorite events. The Square Peg Alliance, the alliance of independently minded singers and songwriters that Sean and I had grown to love performed for us. It was a totally random, unplugged affair filled with gaffs and laughter and wonderfully real performances. As the songs filled the air and swirled around us, I felt my mood lightening. Just a bit. It wasn’t the end of the world. Things would get better. I would move on with my books. God was in control.

I slipped outside for a moment to call my wife, Sherry. She was in Chattanooga staying with friends of ours. I had told her briefly about the email and we talked for a while as I wandered around in the still, cool night outside of Redeemer Church. I went back inside and sat on the back row. In the row in front of me were Andrew Peterson’s three children. His two sons sat at the end of the row listening with intense concentration to the music. His youngest daughter, Skye was stretched out on the seats with her head in her mother’s lap. She was the typical young girl, twitchy, bubbly, moving all around, staring at the ceiling, mouthing words, perhaps even bored? Andrew Peterson took the stage to sing us the last song of the night. He asked if Skye was in the room.

I watched in wonder as Skye’s eyes lit up and she sprang up from the seats with childlike energy. She bounded up the aisle to the stage. She joined her father to sing a song. She joined her father! I suddenly saw a ray of hope. I was here with my son. And, Andrew Peterson would be singing a song from his latest album “Light for the Lost Boy” about a son and his father. Suddenly, a framework appeared, suddenly the plot thickened, suddenly I saw that God had planned all of this. I was here with my son for a reason. All was not lost. I was not wandering through the misty woods alone.

And then, Skye and her father sang a song, a powerful and yet simple song, The Voice of Jesus. Moments before, Skye had been the typical energy filled, mind wandering child but now she was focused and engaged and sang with the voice of a child in perfect harmony these incredible words:

I know you’ve been afraid

Don’t know what to do

You’ve been lost in the questions

I don’t know what to say

I’m sure if I were you

I’d proceed with some caution

But I want you to know

When the joy that you feel

Leaves a terrible ache in your bones

It’s the voice of Jesus

Calling you back home

I know you’ve got a lot

Spinning in your head

All this emptiness fills you

Maybe you could try

Laying in your bed

To ask the silence to still you

And you might hear a beat

On the door of your heart

When you do, let it open up wide

It’s the voice of Jesus

Calling you his bride

Once upon a time there was a little boy

Who wandered the forest, abandoned

And he heard in the leaves

And behind every tree

The sound of a secret companion

Following

So listen, little girl,

Somewhere there’s a King

Who will love you forever

And nothing in the world

Could ever come between

You, my love, and this Lover

So when I kiss you at night

And I turn out the light

And I tell you you’re never alone

It’s the voice of Jesus

Calling you

It’s the voice of Jesus

Calling you his own

There it was. The refrain for my first day, closing up my depression and despair into a simple realization that I am not alone and although I am now wandering through the woods, if I stop and gaze carefully into the fog and mist and listen with intense concentration I can hear the voice of Jesus calling me His own.

After the concert, Sean and I hung around and met four guys from San Diego and bless his heart, Ryan lifted my spirits to the heavens. We talked for about thirty minutes just standing there in the aisle while the singers broke down their instruments. Ryan, you will never know what that conversation meant to me! Never! You helped me refocus and repurpose Hutchmoot. Jesus was speaking and I needed to listen.

Just a reminder that I still have a few books left for the free giveaway of “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” in preparation for the release of “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” on October 16, 2012. If you want a free book just fill out the form below and there is no obligation.

“The Telling” a Book Review Day 3

There is something that Mike Duran is very, very good at. Like in his “The Resurrection” Mike Duran has the ability to take the “Christian point of view” and tweak it ever so slightly to make it, well, slightly oblique. In “The Resurrection” Mike Duran chose to push the boundaries of our Biblical understanding of spirits and ghosts and create the “Cellophane Man”, a frightening ghostly figure that haunted the life of the main character. Mike even included an additional addendum at the end of the book discussing the theological underpinnings of such a possible creature as a ghost.

In “The Telling”, Mike Duran goes one better. He turns the concept of the fallen angels on its head, bringing in “dark angels” with decidedly un-Biblical powers in addition to those every Christian would anticipate. And here lies a challenge that is at the heart of all Christian Speculative Fiction. How far does an author go to present a story that appeals to the secular audience and yet conveys the “truth” of Christianity I mentioned on Day 1? Or, should a Christian author write a story that can ONLY be enjoyed by Christians? Mike has talked about this challenge on his blog at length and the reader can visit his blog for more information on this “controversy” in Christian fiction.

In “The Telling”, Mike Duran pushes the accepted abilities and identities of the fallen angels slightly beyond the literal scriptural description. Some Christians may find this troublesome. In “The Telling” we hardly ever hear the name of Jesus or mention of God and these “dark angels” seem to be able to possess anyone, regardless of their walk with God. I say “seem to be able”. For, if you pay very close attention, Mike never crosses the line. There are moments when the reader believes that the darkness will triumph only to fall to the presence of Good.

What I like most about this book is its ability to appeal to unbelievers. I suggest any reader purchase a copy and pass it off to their skeptical friends and family. It reads like a fast paced supernatural thriller that is not connected to Christianity. In fact, there is a North American Indian character that one could suspect represents the worldview of animism as we see in ancient North American Indian religions. But, the overarching reality of this story is that God is present. Good triumphs over evil. Satan’s minions will flee when confronted with a Christ follower. In the end, the story is one of redemption and love. And that, my friends, is what all of us should celebrate.

I highly recommend “The Telling”. Powerful, creepy, scary, edgy, and filled with wonderful characters and fascinating locales.

 

Once again, I want to remind everyone that I am giving away a limited number of my book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” in anticipation of the launch of my second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” on October 16, 2012. If you would like to receive a FREE copy with NO obligation, just fill out the form below.

 

“The Telling” — A Book Review Day 2

I like little maps. I like little hand drawn maps. When I think of Middle Earth, I can see Tolkien’s hand drawn map of that far country. Mike Duran has a little hand drawn map in the front of his book, “The Telling”. I find it intriguing because I now want to see what is about to happen at each of these places. If something wasn’t going to happen in these places, then why put them there? Here are some of the most important places:

Marvale Manor — an old hotel that has been converted into as assisted living center. This is where Annie, the grandmother to Tamra, has noticed that people are NOT what they used to be. Something is up in Marvale Manor. And, that something started down in the maintenance area where a young man with a really bad headache has opened his mind and his heart to the darkness around him and is searching for his lost notebook.

Lanrel House — Not far from Marvale Manor, this is where the nursing home residents live. It is here that this young man goes to see his father. Which young man? Read the book to find out. For, his father is the key to everything that is transpiring in the town of Endurance.

Silverton — The town that once thrived after the discovery of silver in the mine overlying “Otto’s Rift”. Over a century ago, a terrible tragedy befell the entire population of region. It was the Madness of Endurance!

The Book Swap — a house open to anyone who wants to trade one used book for another. It is here that Annie hopes her granddaughter, Tamra, can persuade Zeph to lend her a certain book containing information that may be the key to the “madness” of Endurance.

The Vermont — once a theater that thrived, it is now shuttered and closed. But, inside this building is a secret that will prove to be the beginning of the salvation of Endurance.

Shiloh — A small church where as a young boy, Zeph practiced his “telling” to a willing and unsuspecting audience, often with surprising outcomes both good and bad.

The Black Pass — Tall black pillars on either side of the road that leads into Endurance and nearby is Dawson’s Rut, home of a roadside souvenir shop. Zeph Walker will see an ancient artifact that will seal his fate and reveal his destiny!

 

All of these interesting names reside inside the town of Endurance. But, the one place that is the most important to this story is Otto’s Rift. Here, forces of darkness are gathering, seeping out into the world of light and goodness, gathering their strength and increasing their numbers for a terrible onslaught on the world of man.

I will not reveal more of the plot for to do so is to ruin the story. Mike Duran has created a fascinating and very real landscape for his tale of impending doom. I highly recommend the book, “The Telling”. Follow the map to a suspenseful and frightening story.

Tomorrow, I’ll conclude with my thoughts on the spiritual side of Mike Duran’s story.

 

Remember, if you would like to receive a FREE copy of my first book, “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” fill out the form below. I still have a few books left and there is no obligation!

 

FREE copy of “The 13th Demon”!

On October 16, 2012 the vampires arrive!

“The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” will be available on that date. But, you may not know much about Jonathan Steel or his encounter with “The 13th Demon”. So, I am going to put some of my promotional copies of “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” to good use. I have a limited amount of copies and I will send you a copy for FREE! No strings attached. I will NOT use your contact information for anything but to mail you a signed copy of “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”.

All you have to do is to fill out this form and send me your mailing address. I will send you a copy of the book as long as my copies last. All I ask is that if you like the first book, on October 16th buy the second book! I’d love to see “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” hit the best seller list and prove that Christian fiction is for real. This book is an alternate view of vampires and is different from any previously published view that I am aware of. It is an inspirational answer to the Twilight series, the vampire diaries, and so on.

So, let me hear from you and see if you can get your hands on a FREE copy of the first book in the Jonathan Steel Chronicles.

The Pen Can Be a Mighty Sword — With Two Edges!

Heading into the weekend I can say this past week was a lot of work. I just finished up one of my final drafts for the fourth book in the Jonathan Steel Chronicles. “The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone” will not be out until October, 2014. And, I have until the end of the year to finish the book. But, my schedule between now and the end of the year is getting busier than ever.

I have the launch of my second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” in October. I have a potential new book series proposal to finish by the end of October. And, there is the ever present social media I MUST work on every week to promote my second book.

This past week, I posted a blog on Just the Write Charisma about agents and created a tiny firestorm that whirled around me for a couple of days. I was amazed at who actually reads these blogs. Something I said about one of my former colleagues in a very generic, nonspecific fashion was read by that colleague and even though we have not communicated in 7 years, that colleague was quick to email me with reminders that my memory is NOT what it used to be.

Wow! I had no idea this person was even reading my blogs. Which points out some interesting thing about social media.

You Never Know Who’s Reading

In my every present paranoia and basic insecurity, I assume that maybe 1 1/2 people read my blog and then only because they just happen upon it. After all, we waste a lot of our life reading things we wish we would have never read moments after we read it. As one of my good friend said the other night: “That’s 5 minutes of my life I’ll never get back!”

I try to make my blog entries marginally interesting. I am a storyteller and I have lots of stories to tell. However, it is difficult to tell a story with a moral or an illustrative point without mentioning the people involved. And, no matter how you veil that person with “dramatic license” somewhere, somehow that person will find out. So, lesson learned. Be careful what you write. Be careful what you say and how you say it. In fact, don’t say it unless it is vitally important that it be said! You might want to contact that person and make sure it is okay to share said story.

Who Are We Answerable To?

Life self-publishing, the blogger is answerable to no one but himself. Unless, of course, said person is part of a larger multi-person blog. In some ways this can be liberating. You can say whatever you want! But, the flip side of that is the danger of very little, if any, self-editing. We have discovered one of the downsides to the Internet is the instantaneous availability of information — whether or not that information is accurate! Lives can be destroyed in literally a heartbeat — the time it takes to hit “Enter”. Commenters form some degree of restraint. Their comments are often a measure of the many ways in which the contents of the blog are taken and understood. Years ago, my wife gave me some valuable advice. Whenever I would get mad and write a letter or an angry email, she would advise I wait 48 hours to send it. Give me some time to cool off and see if the substance of my communication is too emotional without enough substance. Good advice. I wish I had listened to it the other day!

What is Truth?

In today’s relativistic culture, truth is seen as temporary and circumstantial. There is no one truth. And that is a true statement! (Sorry, the apologist in me came out!) I have gone to snopes.com many times to stop a rumor or an urban legend in its tracks. As Christians we must realize we serve one Truth. And, the Truth cannot be found. The Truth finds us. Christianity is the one religion where God comes to us; came to us; and continues to come to us. We cannot claim any credit for our “conversion”. God became flesh and dwelled among us. True, God draws us to Himself in ways that are many and varied. But, He is one God. We must always then be purveyors of the Truth. Check our facts. Exhaust our sources. Never pass on groundless rumors and falsehoods. For the Father of Lies is Satan, not God. And there is one certainty: we cannot find Truth — Truth finds us!

The Writing Life — Overwhelmed??!!!

Recently at a book signing, I was asked the question that all writers get. “What is the writing life like?” or “How do you find time to write?”

Let me give you a snapshot of my life, right now. I never anticipated the writing life would be like this. I feel overwhelmed much of the time. But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Let me say at the outset what I tell anyone who asks about time management. You don’t FIND time to write, you MAKE time to write. If you are serious about writing, you MUST sit down and carve out very specific times in your week to write. Some authors choose to write for a specific period of time, say, six hours a week. Other writers choose to write a certain number of words per day, say 1000 words per day. It doesn’t matter which pattern you choose. The point is to set aside a time for writing and then WRITE. Don’t check email. Don’t read blogs. Don’t read a book. WRITE. From the moment you sit down before your computer or your legal pad, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!

Eventually, you will find yourself surrounded by DEADLINES. Some may be self imposed. Others are imposed by your publisher or a deadline for a blog for which you write. Deadlines are GOOD. True, they are a necessary evil, but they force you to MAKE that time to write.

Now, I find myself dividing my time between FOUR processes. First, there is the process of IDEAS. Second, there is the process of ROUGH DRAFT. Third, there is the process of EDITING. And, finally, there is the process of MARKETING.

Let me give you a sneak peak of my past two weeks.

In the IDEA area, I have already shared my experience at the International Christian Retail Show. In the aftermath of a divine appointment at the ICRS, I am in the process of developing ideas for not just one book, but an entire book series. This means research into the subject matter; examining competing works; looking for that unique “hook” that will make this book different from others; and collaborating with my co-author and mentor on the final content of a book proposal.

Also, in the IDEA area, I am working on two other fiction books and two other non-fiction book series ideas. Two publishers have expressed an interest in these books. And, if I don’t get something to them soon, they will move on.

In the ROUGH DRAFT area, I am finishing up my fourth book in the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel for Realms. I turned in my third book in December and I have until the end of this year to complete my final draft of “The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone”. I am setting aside an entire week in August to write everyday for six days.

In the EDITING area, I can count on spending January through April of each year heavily editing the book that will be released in October of that year. This editing process consists of an initial edit for story substance. I work with my editor and his suggestions are legion, but always right on the money. For two months, I will rewrite and edit the final draft to fit my editor’s suggestions. This takes hours and hours of my time. After this initial edit is done, my editor returns the line edit.

The line edit is a tedious line by line edit for such things as grammar and spelling. My editor(s) will make suggestions and I have to go through the document line by line and either accept or reject the suggested changes. Line by line. The entire manuscript. Literally, thousands of changes. Yes, it is tedious and it takes days! Now, once this line edit is done it is now April and I’ve been working on this final manuscript for at least three months. But, it doesn’t end there. Along about July, the galley proofs arrive.

The galley proofs are the final printed version of the book with the layout, fonts, pagination, title page, etc. Once again, I have to go through the entire book, word by word. On my first book, the software program used to lay out the book omitted an entire three pages. If I had not gone over the manuscript word for word, I would have missed it. Once I approve the galley proofs, the book is on the way to the printer and it is out of my hands.

In the MARKETING phase of the book, which covers the months from April through the release in October there is a LOT to do. First, I have to pick key scenes from the book that might be useful for the cover. Since I am an artist as well as an author, I visualize the cover and I make suggestions of exactly how a prospective cover will look. I am very fortunate to have the graphic team working on my books at Charisma. They produce some awesome covers and it is as if they have read my mind.

Second, once the cover is on its way to completion, I have to think about the back of the book and come up with “copy”. This is the blurb, or “sound bite” that will hopefully motivate a prospective reader to open the book and read the first paragraph. It is the “elevator pitch” so to speak. Once the back copy is completed then it is on to the endorsements.

Third, beginning in June, I must come up with a list of prospective authors who are asked to read my book and give me an endorsement. This is the trickiest part of the deal. Without good endorsements, my book will languish in limbo. Advice time. If you are an author, become a member of a blog tour in your genre. For instance, I am a member of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour. This means that I have to read a book once a month and post a three day review on my blog. So, in addition to the other tasks in the MARKETING section, I must maintain and update this blog often. The blog tour drives readers, and authors, to my website. I contacted some of these authors and some of them agreed to read my manuscript and provide an endorsement. I have discovered this process is VERY important. If you just give your publisher a list of possible authors to endorse your book, the author is very likely to delete the request and never give it another thought. Also, I’ve learned to remind the author there is a deadline for the endorsement!

By late July, the upcoming book is done and in the hands of the printers. Now, the promotion phase begins. I am now looking at how to promote the release of my next book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” for its October release. Note that my first book was released in October, 2011; the second book is being released in October, 2012 and I have worked on it most of this year; the third book final draft is waiting for editorial evaluation in late 2012 and will be given back to me for editing in January, 2013; and I am currently writing the fourth book for completion by December. Literally, I juggle four books in a year’s time.

You see why I feel overwhelmed. My main concern is to make the time for each one of these important phases. And, it is amazing how many “things” I spend my time on that can be eliminated from my schedule. I do miss reading books. It is very difficult to work into this kind of schedule the simple pleasure of spending time with a good book. Now, when I read, I feel the pressure to hurry up and finish the book so I can post a review. I very seldom have the time to just sit down and savor a good book. I do miss that.

So, there you have it. I am currently in the IDEA phase; the ROUGH DRAFT phase; and the MARKETING phase. I can forget about heavy EDITING until January. But, it is coming and I’m loving every overwhelming minute of this journey. It can be done if you are willing to make the commitment and to pay the price of long, hard hours of work. If you have the passion to be a writer and the discipline to be a published author then go for it. When I get an email from a reader of “Conquering Depression” telling me the book “saved my life” it makes it all worthwhile.

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