Well, I had almost given up.
And then this:
Hey, Bruce, just wanted to say congratulations for winning the CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award this month. Your posts on The Warden and the Wolf King were awesome. So glad you’re a part of CSFF. (Christian Science Fiction Fantasy Blogtour)
Now, back to my despair!
I can tell anyone reading this blog post that it is incredibly frustrating being a published author in today’s publishing environment. I have written three books in the series, “The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel”. After the second book came out, my publisher, Charisma, “released” me from a five book contract. But, I and already written the next two books in the series. I put a few feelers out to interested publishers and had my agent try and generate some interest in the third book. No response.
I have self published before and at the first annual Platform conference in Nashville, Michael Hyatt told me to self publish again. Take control of your own destiny, he suggested. I turned to Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson where Michael Hyatt was once CEO. That book became available in December, 2014 about six weeks later than my third book would have come out through Charisma.
Unfortunately, the third book has not received as much attention than the first two. In fact, after months of writing this blog and promoting my book here and through Facebook and Twitter I had become very discouraged. I had all 13 books in the series mapped out. But, it seemed interest was dwindling in my book series.
At the same time, B&H Publishing approached me and my co-author, Mark Sutton during the ICRS, the largest Christian media trade show in the country. In July, 2012 I was asked by B&H to update our depression book, Conquering Depression. This development was a complete shock and a pleasant development. But, it would mean I would now be dividing my time between Jonathan Steel and a new book on depression.
The last two years have been tough but ultimately rewarding. “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression” will be released in September and soon, our website will debut. I am currently working feverishly on the website and social media and marketing and publicity and . . .
But, what about Jonathan Steel? The fourth book in the series is already written. In fact, the original manuscript was responsible for securing that five book series deal with Charisma. But, the original novel was 150,000 words long. My contract with Charisma specified a maximum book length of 75,000 words! What was I to do? It would mean seriously chopping down the fourth book to half of its length! I considered breaking the book into two parts, but the story just wouldn’t hold up. I went to work, painfully and carefully whittling down the manuscript. It was tough, let me tell you. As my books have come out, I have had the great fortune of working with an excellent editor and my writing has improved. This is a great lesson every aspiring novelist should pay attention to. Spend the time and money to get an editorial input on your manuscript. You will learn so much and your writing will improve or you will walk away in total frustration.
Now, with my former contract kaput, I have to decide what to do with the fourth book. Back in April, I made a decision to take the new, shorter edit and the old, longer manuscript and bring them together. The shorter work had so much more going for it, but the longer manuscript was meatier with more character development and lots of new backstory. A shocking development occurred in the narrative as I rewrote the book for the shorter version and I was excited about the potential.
But, again I became discouraged. Should I press on with the series? How could I afford another self-publishing package in the tens of thousands when the third book just wasn’t bringing in the funds to offset these expenses? But, as I started in on the third revision of the book, I got excited about some story changes based on hints and clues I placed in “The 11th Demon”. I really want to get this book out there.
And then, I decided to check out a relative’s new book on Amazon. I can’t reveal her real name, but her pen name is Lorraine Britt. I read some of the reviews of her book and wondered, “What about my books?” I had checked out only one review for “The 13th Demon” that called it an “honest effort” and I was afraid to go back and check for more reviews. But, I was pleasantly surprised! The reviews definitely reflect the improvement in my writing so that was a relief. And, as I read the reviews I had to keep pinching myself. People actually like my books? They want to read more books?
It is late on a Friday night and my discouragement had reached a new high (or low, depending on how you look at it). But, after reading the reviews, I have made a final decision. “The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone” will be released in some form or fashion by November, 2014. I am strongly considering forming my own independent publishing endeavor. The reason? The fourth book will definitely lead to a spin off science fiction series called “The Node of God” if it succeeds. And, I have several other books planned. These are NOT in the genre of Christian Speculative Fiction and I am pretty discouraged with fiction publishing by traditional publishers right now. I may only have a small group of readers who like my characters and want to read my books, what Michael Hyatt calls a “tribe”. And, I imagine we are a strange tribe indeed to want to follow Jonathan Steel on his quest to rediscover his memory and his life. But, I have always lived on the edge of the strange, odd, and edgy.
If you’d like to see the fourth book finished, just drop me a comment. I need the encouragement. And for now, I will cling to this one thought: God is not done with me yet and I will never give in, never give up.
Check back soon for more information on my new website promoting “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression”.
Check out my blog post on Just the Write Charisma about the most inspiring place to write:
Don’t forget to check out the adventures of Jonathan Steel at www.steelchronicles.com or 11thdemon.com for book orders.
This Friday night from 6 to 8 PM come by the Well, the coffee shop of Brookwood Baptist Church (corner of I-49 and Bert Kouns) and have a free cup of coffee and a snack. I know that many of you have Christmas parties and such, so the event is a come and go affair. I’ll be giving away some gift cards and I will email them to the winner so you don’t have to be present to win.
My latest book, “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” will be available at a low price of only $10.
In fact, I will have all four books there. My first two books in the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel and my book, “Conquering Depression” — a timely book for this time of year and for this time in history!
So, here is the deal.
Each book individually is $10.
Or, you can buy three books for $25!
Or, you can buy four books for $30!
If you are in a hurry, I’ll have some pre signed books so you don’t have to wait in line. Just grab the book, pay for it, and grab a snack before you leave.
I appreciate all of my readers and I am hoping to make this third book a real success for the Jonathan Steel series to continue. If you don’t live in the Shreveport area, I am planning on asking the local LifeWays in Shreveport, Austin, and Abilene to have a book signing. I held a book signing in Austin and Shreveport before but my son, Sean and his wife, Jenn now live in Abilene and I’d love to show up there for a book signing. You might want to mention this to your local LifeWay!
Also, I am planning on contacting the book store at First Baptist Church Orlando for a book signing sometime in January – February, 2014. They have been so good and faithful to let me sign books and I can’t wait to return to the area!
Hope to see you Friday night. Oh, and yes, the Ark of Chaos will be on the premises along with a creature from the depths of well . . . let’s just say, it’s beastly on the inside!
(A free tee shirt for each buying customer!)
I am so grateful for all of you who follow my blog and read my book series. On this Thanksgiving Day I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for my very life, my very existence, my redemption, and for my purpose. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you live in the Shreveport area, don’t forget to come by Friday night, December 6th for my book signing and launch of “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”. All four of my books will be available and they would make GREAT Christmas gifts!
And as a treat for any of my readers anticipating the next book, here is the FIRST CHAPTER of “The 11th Demon”:
Grimvox reference USNA-FCaskey111563
November 1963 Dallas, Texas
“Shall I kill the human?”
I wearily lifted my head at the sound of the demon’s voice. His host body wore a brown
Nehru jacket, and a silver chain hung around his neck. On the chain, a red jewel glistened in the weak light. The demon’s features were dark beneath a shock of black hair. His eyes were disturbing: totally white with no pupils.
“We need him.” The pale man standing next to the demon stared at me with his red eyes. His face was ageless beneath his bare scalp and marred only by a star-shaped scar on his cheek. He wore a long black overcoat and black pants. A stray ray of muted sunlight came through the shrouded windows of the abandoned asylum. In that meager light, his chest glowed in the darkness. He moved across the debris-strewn floor to crouch before me. “His will has been gutted. The fight has gone out of him. Isn’t that right, Father?”
“Then why do we keep him alive?” The demon crossed his arms over his chest.
The pale man nodded and licked his large teeth with a very red tongue. “He is our only connection with the girl.”
So that was why they wanted me. They were using me to get to Mary!
“Don’t look away from me, Father,” the man said. “Unlike most of your kind, the touch of your flesh does not harm me.” He pressed his cool fingertips against my cheek and turned my
face around so all I could see were his hideous red eyes. His breath smelled of fire smoke and vinegar. “For you see, Father, you are a failure. You think you serve your master, but your love for the girl’s mother has undone your commitment.”
I jerked away from his touch and struggled against the ropes holding me to the chair. “If you hurt her, I will kill you!”
The demon laughed, his voice echoing up into the empty rafters of the hospital ward. “You cannot kill Lucas, human. Now, Lucas, where is the girl? I need her.”
I glanced at the demon and his empty white eyes. “Please don’t harm her.”
“Please don’t harm her.” He mocked me and shook his head. “I have plans for her, human. Why would I want to harm her?” He removed the necklace from his neck and held it up to the ray of light. As it moved, the jewel changed from pale green to vivid red. “Do you see this jewel? Watch how it changes color with a shift in your perspective. It is the Metastone, human. I plan to give this to the girl’s mother as a gift. It will not harm either of them. In fact, it will transform them!” He sighed and placed the jewel back around his neck. “Why am I even trying to explain these matters to a mortal? Lucas, take me to the girl, and then we will no longer need this human.”
“Perhaps we do not need to kill him yet.” Lucas squatted before me and tilted his head to the side as those crimson eyes regarded me. “I am wondering, Father, why you have not tried to exorcise my friend’s demon? Hmm?” He tilted his head the other way and blinked slowly like some great white reptile. “Why haven’t you just spoken the Words? I know why, Father. You have lost your connection with the Power, haven’t you? It is because of your love for this woman—what is her name? Millie?”
“Molly,” I whispered. Nausea overtook me and I retched. Lucas was right. I was empty, impotent. I could no longer see my Lord; only the girl and Molly’s hauntingly beautiful face.
“You see, Father, it is not the eleventh demon who has harmed the girl.” He reached out, grabbed my collar, and tore it from my neck. “It is you.” He grasped the top of my shirt and ripped it from my body. I shivered in the cold air as Lucas gestured to the demon. “For you have forsaken the only Power that would allow you to defeat this demon and to save them. In betraying your master, you have unwittingly betrayed your love.” He unbuttoned his coat and it fell open to reveal his bare chest. “You are lost, Father. But, there is one way you can save the mother and the girl: Swear allegiance to the eleventh demon. Once you do, this mark,”— he brushed his coat aside and a hideous tattoo of a beast stirred to life on his flesh—“will be yours. It will live right here.” His cold fingers caressed the skin at the base of my neck and I flinched.
Lucas’s chest was covered with tattoos. A scorpion squirmed across his collarbone. The head of a wolf howled over his breastbone. But, these were no ordinary tattoos. They lived! Arcane creatures moved and struggled on his white flesh. This new tattoo was one I instantly recognized. I had seen it in the ancient book—I wish I had never opened it! The creature was a chimera, a beast with the head of a lion, a snake for a tail, and, coming out of its back, the head of a goat.
“If I swear allegiance to the eleventh demon, will the lasses be safe?” I closed my eyes and saw Molly standing at the church altar with the girl’s hand in hers. God forgive me!
“I do not need the allegiance of this creature, Lucas!” the demon said, moving across the trash-covered floor without stirring any of the debris. He floated above it all and came to rest behind Lucas. “My patience is wearing thin. The timing of my plan is critical.”
Lucas stood up and raised an eyebrow. “Your plan?” he asked the demon as he studied my face.
“This is the year the Council begins its grand plan to rain chaos down upon this ‘one nation under God.’ Unfortunately, at times, the Dark Council is thwarted by the Other. To deal with such a possibility, I have developed contingency plans of my own to complement those of the Council. And for those plans, I will need the girl.”
Lucas tensed and his gaze shifted to the demon. “Contingency plans? You play a dangerous game. The Council’s plans have been long in the making.”
The eleventh demon shrugged. “You know very well that each member of the Council develops his own backup plans! We are far from united in our efforts.” He examined his fingernails. “Your faith in the Council is well known, Lucas. Since you are such a toady for the Council, go tattle on me if it pleases you.”
“Toady?” Lucas frowned. “I do not serve the Council of Darkness, Chimera. I serve the Master. Would you like to tell the Master that you think his right hand man is a ‘toady’?”
The demon stiffened. “Listen, underling, you will not speak to me that way! I know what you are and you are not one of the Fallen. You may be the right hand of the Master, but I am far superior to you. The Master trusts me, Lucas. Take me to the girl. Now!” His voice grew in volume and for a second, I saw the beast that possessed the human rear its ugly head. It was like a specter surrounding the man.
Lucas smiled, his impossibly white teeth gleaming in the darkness. “If what you say is true, then you will not mind if I consult the Master.” Lucas held out his hand. A swirl of red smoke billowed from his palm like a small tornado and then a pleasant, handsome face appeared in the smoke. Was this Lucifer? He was more fair than foul.
“Chimera, you try my patience,” he said from the smoke. His eyebrows arched and his face twisted in anger. “If you insist on continuing with your ‘contingency plan,’ then I want your talisman.”
The demon stepped back. “No!”
“Lucas, take care of this!” Lucifer bellowed. He disappeared as Lucas closed his palm. Lucas gazed at his empty hand and slowly clenched it into a tight fist. “The master is well
aware of the lack of cohesion in the Council, Chimera. He wants me to have leverage. So I am gathering the talismans of the members of the Dark Council. If you wish to fulfill your plan, you will give me the talisman.” He glared at the demon with his crimson eyes. “Or shall I summon the Master to speak to you in person?”
The eleventh demon’s face paled. “I will not allow this human to see my talisman.”
Talisman? Clearly, it wasn’t the Metastone they were talking about; I could see the jewel glittering on the demon’s chest. “What is a talisman?”
Lucas glanced at me. “I tore yours away, Father.” He retrieved my stained collar and held it up with two long, delicate fingers. “This once meant everything to you, didn’t it? Now, it means nothing. So easily discarded at the touch of a woman’s hand.” Lucas dropped my collar on the floor and stepped on it. “The eleventh demon’s talisman is not the jewel that hangs about his neck. That is merely a tool, Father. No, his talisman is as important and defining as your collar was to you. And, he does not want you to see it.” Lucas rubbed his hands together. “I think that can be arranged.”
The demon nodded and reached into his pocket. Something long and golden flashed in his palm. I tried to focus on it, but it was blurred, indistinct, otherworldly. “What is that?”
The demon floated toward me and the odors of fire and soot surrounded us. He knelt before me, the golden talisman flickering in the periphery of my vision. He put his left hand, hot and sweaty, on my forehead. I tried to pull away from those hideous empty eyes. Lucas moved behind me and held my head in his cold hands.
“I will let you keep one eye so that you may see the fate that awaits those who follow in my footsteps. For the eleventh demon demands total commitment, Father! Will you renounce your allegiance and find love with the mother of this girl? If so, you will be mine, and your death may be avoided.”
I was frozen with fear, paralyzed by their inhuman power. The thin gold needle appeared at the edge of my vision. It plunged into my right eye, and then there was pain beyond imagining.
Bruce Hennigan debuts his third book,
“The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”
Friday evening, December 6, 2013
from 6 to 8 PM at The Well, the coffee shop of Brookwood Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Brookwood Baptist Church is at the corner of I-49 and Bert Kouns. (www.brookwoodbaptist.com)
Books are $10 each at the book launch only (This is a saving of up to $5 per book).
Book Launch Special:
3 Books for $25
4 Books for $30
Sign up for free giveaways!
There will be a special announcement about a new, upcoming book!
Come and enjoy free drinks and snacks!
Friday, December 6th, 2013 at the Well (coffee shop) at Brookwood Baptist Church (corner of I49 and Bert Kouns) is the OFFICIAL launch of “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”!
Details will follow but basically I will be signing the new book and my three other books from 6 to 8 PM. I know Christmas parties will be in full swing by then so I am making this a come and go event. Come have some coffee in the Well and some Christmas snacks. I’ll be giving away some prizes (no need to wait for them — I will email them or mail them if you win!). So, make it a demony Christmas!
Well, I just sent the final galley proof corrections for the text and the cover of my latest book back to my publisher. That’s right! “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” will soon be available! I don’t have a firm release date but it should be within the next month. When the final cover comes back to me, I’ll post it.
For those of you who have not read my first two books, this book will be a continuation of the story of Jonathan Steel. You can enjoy this book without reading the first two, but I highly recommend getting the first two books BEFORE you read “The 11th Demon”. Both books are available from links at this site. They are in ebook format for iBooks, Nook, and Kindle. And, they are in paperback form as well.
Tentatively, the paperback format of “The 11th Demon” will retail for $19.99 and the ebook for $3.99. And, if you would like for me to come to your area for a book signing, let me know. Right now, I haven’t planned for a launch party as in the past because our coffee shop at Brookwood Baptist Church is no longer open at night. I will have to come up with different plans!
Now, some of you may have an obscure former book entitled “The Ark of the Demon Rose”. Portions of that book have been adapted into this newest story. But, trust me, you will NOT want to miss the new book. It has all new story lines. I reveal Cephas Lawrence’s backstory. Why does he collect ancient books and documents on demons? Who is in the mysterious picture on his desk? I reveal the cause of Theophilus’ fall into drugs. What did he do in his past that filled him with such self loathing that he gave up his church and turned to a life of drugs? And, why does he call Jonathan “Chief”?
Oh yeah, let’s talk about Vivian. I hate her. Do you? She is a pain in my side. The woman is a devious ingenue! What made her that way? Where did she get her demons? What happened in her past to make her the evil thing that she is? Well, you’ll find out!
“The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” is a very personal story. It is a settling in of my characters. It is about their growing relationships and Jonathan’s acceptance of his inevitable role to battle demons. It is revelatory and there is a very important flashback that asks more questions than it answers about Jonathan and his relationship to his father, “The Captain”.
On top of that, this story is a slow, smoldering burn building to a rip roaring climax that, I hope will leave you turning the pages as quickly as possible.
Halloween is coming and there is no better time than now to read some scary books. Pick up my first two books and remember “The 13th Demon” is the first book! Read them in the next few weeks and get ready for the arrival of “The 11th Demon”! Keep an eye on this site for the formal announcement of its release.
Ah, you return? So curious, you humans. I am surprised you are not frightened by this abandoned insane asylum. However, I have learned over the millennia that humans have a morbid fascination with the macabre.
What is that? You want to know more about the Council of Darkness? Why are you so curious? Do you wish to become a disciple of the Tomemaster and his apprentice, Quibble? There is a cost, you realize? Ultimately, you will have to make the Choice: Whom will you follow? Whom will you serve?
For now, I will open the Grimvox, our repository of stories, and allow you to witness the tale of the eleventh demon and his pursuit of the Ark of Chaos. What is the Ark? Ah, you must be patient, for our story does not begin here in the present. It begins many decades ago.
Quibble, activate the Grimvox!
The above is the prologue for “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” coming soon! I finished the final corrected line edit this weekend. I’ve been so busy this summer with editing and writing, I’ve neglected this blog, but that will stop now that the book is just weeks from being released. And, to give you a little hint of what goes on in the book, here is a photograph presented without comment:
Don’t Open the Box!!!!!
“Dad, I feel normal for the first time in years.”
This one statement drove me to tears. My daughter feels normal. My daughter acts normal!
I haven’t posted in weeks. My family has been in survival mode for so long. Life happens and it is not always good. My son and his wife made a major move to a new town and new job situation. My daughter finally agreed to have some testing performed thanks to her two best friends who agreed to accompany her. The stress level has been beyond 10 for so long I don’t know what it feels like to be normal. But, I will try and become familiar with the feeling again.
My daughter, Casey, in her long protracted battle with migraines and seizures has finally found the perfect medication combination and over the past three weeks my wife and I have watched her blossom and bloom. We have our daughter back! Sorry, but I have to keep the tears off the keyboard. I’ll be back in a moment.
Okay, so I want to thank my blog readers for their thoughts and prayers during this time. Casey is back to her normal self, something we haven’t seen in years.
Through all of this, I have continued to work on my next two books. For the readers of the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel (both books are great summer reads if you haven’t tried them!) I will have the third book available by the end of October, first of November. I am keeping my promise to you, my readers, of having a book out once a year in this story arc.
I am also finishing the final manuscript chapters for the update to “Conquering Depression” with my co-author, Mark Sutton. More on that in the near future, but I am so excited about the opportunity B&H Publishing is giving us to update this book and bring it into the 21st century!
That’s all for now. I’ll be blogging again very soon. I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. God is so good!
Just a teaser:
The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos
Just when Jonathan Steel thought he would get a break, he discovers that his mentor, Cephas Lawrence has purchased the house once owned by the evil Robert Ketrick, once in league with the thirteenth demon. And, trapped within the walls of the house’s basement is a dark secret that threatens their existence. When Vivian Darbonne Ketrick arrives in Shreveport to locate the Ark of the Demon Rose, a new evil organization appears to rival the Council of Darkness. Soon, Jonathan, Josh Knight, Cephas, and Theophilus King find themselves involved in government conspiracies, evil powers, and in the clutches of not one, but two powerful demons! What is in the Ark of the Demon Rose? Why is Vivian looking for it? And, who are the mysterious white eyed minions of evil who make Vivian look like a Girl Scout? Find out in the latest installment of the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel in “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”. Available this fall.