Works in Progress….

As I’m currently working on the prequel to Times of Trouble, which is taking me a whole lot longer to write than anticipated because of having to replace a computer part, causing me to re-install Windows 7, with everything else on my computer, then not having an updated version of Word, since it was at my brothers’ house (who is my IT guy), and finding out that I’m doing more research than I had originally anticipated, I had an idea pop into my head as I was watching the “Gospel Music Showcase” on Daystar (I enjoy Southern Gospel) the other day.  It’s an idea that I have no idea if it’s been done before, so I’ll share it with you, my readers.

Here’s what I wrote down in a notebook I have for such occasions:

The novel starts off with a narrator on a TV show  focusing on the life of a once famous musician, I guess like what they do on, I think it’s on VH-1, sort of a “Where Are They Now” kind of thing and how they got to where they were at. Then, the story will go back to the time when this musician was only known to his friends, family, and fellow church members, because he sings in church. He’s discovered, is asked to show up on a national singing competition, sort of like “Star Search” or “The Voice,” and he wins the competition. As he begins recording music with a record label when he gets the contract, the singer begins experiencing various temptations. He also ends up with an agent that will eventually convince him to leave Christian music behind because no one important listens to it and he’ll make more money in secular music (shades of Amy Grant, Whitney Houston, or Katy Perry). So our singer begins recording secular music (not sure which kind of rock yet). At a party, he’s introduced to a girl, who the singer eventually marries, but she is most definitely not a Christian. She introduces him to drugs and alcohol, while his agent gets the singer into all the right parties, eventually giving him enough visibility to win awards, like a Grammy.

He gains the attention of President-elect David Collins, who invites him to sing the national anthem at the inauguration, followed by an invite to the NFL to sing at the next Super Bowl, and an invite by NASCAR to sing the anthem at the Daytona 500. Our singer’s on top of the music charts, along with being the most popular singer on Earth, when tragedy strikes. His whole family dies in a plane crash on the way to wherever he was touring. Unfortunately for him, he had an argument with his wife over his gambling and all sorts of other things he shouldn’t be doing, and he went on tour without apologizing or patching things up. The singer feels guilty, but instead of praying and trying to get right with God, he responds by drinking more and more. His grief and general drunkenness gets to be so bad, he gets dropped by his record label and agent, his expensive cars get repossessed, and house gets foreclosed on. In an attempt to help him, his home church tries to reach out to him, but he angrily rejects their help, because he’d rather rely on his worldly friends, but they reject him. At his lowest point, when he’s living in a broken down car, he prays for the first time in years by asking God to forgive him for going down this path. He feels a peace come over him, when he hears a trumpet sound, and is taken up along with thousands of other Christians.

The novel  ends with the TV show saying they hope the singer is happy wherever he is.

So, what do ya’ll think? Would you read something like this? Or back to the drawing board?

 

Character Timeline for my End Times novels

Since I’m about to start working on a prequel to Times of Trouble and Times of Trial, I decided I should probably work on a timeline for the characters, since I also had to figure out how to keep the timeline straight in Times of Trial after writing Times of Trouble. This is a rough draft, but I’m sure some people are curious about the dates in the novels of when the characters were born, got married, went to college, etc. Since this is a 100+ year period, I might have to break up the next novel into parts, but I’ll just have to see how it goes.

1915 – George Leonard Evans born in New York City, grandfather of Michael Evans
1920 – Charles Atwood born in Fairfax, Virginia, great grandfather of Brian
1940’s -George Evans collaborates with the NAZI’s, begins to gain power; Charles Atwood fights in Europe during WW 2
1948 – Tom Atwood born in Virginia, grandfather of Brian; Evans protests the re-creation of Israel, tries to talk England out of giving them any land whatsoever
1952 – Amy Atwood born in Virginia, Tom Atwood’s sister
1950 – George Evans marries Vera Thompson
1952 – Jason Michael Evans born in California
1971 – Jason and Amy meet in college at the University of Southern California. Amy is a born again Christian, Jason was raised as an atheist, but after some time with Amy, Jason also becomes a Christian
1973 – Jason and Amy get married
1974 – Aaron Atwood born in Virginia, father of Brian, family moves to Delaney, Nebraska after Tom serves in Vietnam
1975 – Michael James Evans born
1976 – George, not liking the fact that his son and heir is a Christian, has Jason and Amy killed off, adopts Michael, vows to make the Atwood family miserable because they converted his son
1990 – Charles Atwood dies
1993 – Michael graduates high school, sent to Harvard
1993 – David Collins born in Florida to a powerful political family with connections to George Evans
1997 – Michael graduates Harvard. George is 82, transfers everything over to Michael, dies a few months later
2000 – Brian Atwood’s parents marry
2001 – 9/11 Terrorist attacks, Lynda Delaney’s parents marry, Aaron Atwood joins the Army, goes to Afghanistan, Lynda’s dad goes to Iraq
2002 – JahAngir Karimi born in London
2003 – Heather Delaney born nine months after her father returns on leave
2004 – Aaron returns from Afghanistan
2005 – Frank Atwood, brother of Brian, born in Delaney; Paul Delaney born nine months after father returns on leave
2008 – Brian born
2009 – Lynda Delaney born nine months after father is on leave
2011 – Melissa Atwood born; Mike Delaney born nine months after father on leave
2012 – Lynda’s father dies in Iraq before U.S. withdrawal; Michael discovers Karimi in orphanage, raises him to be the future Islamic savior
2015 – Collins is sent to Harvard, paid for by Evans
2019 – Collins graduates Harvard
2020 – Collins becomes Mayor of Miami, Florida using Evans’ political connections
2028 – Tom Atwood dies
2024 – Collins runs for and wins a Florida State Senate seat
2026 – Brian serves in the U.S. Air Force for four years 2026 – 2030
2027 – Lynda attends Pensacola Christian College 2027 – 2031
2032 – Brian and Lynda marry; Collins elected as a U.S. Senator for Florida
2035 – Brian’s parents die in a mysterious car wreck
2038 – Collins elected President of the United States
2042 – Collins declares his dictatorship, Karimi takes over Iran, Lynda dies of breast cancer
2043 – Collins assassinated, United States falls apart, Christians are raptured, Evans takes over, Karimi is revealed as the anti-Christ, Yellowstone Caldera blows up
204? – Tribulation period

I don’t know if this clears anything up, but I hope it helps, and if anyone has any helpful suggestions, please leave a comment.

Potential novels, sequels, & other scribblings

When I started writing and publishing my works, I never thought I would publish more than maybe two novels. Well, now I’m up to eight novels, and setting to write my ninth. My goal this year was to write and publish at least two novels, and I did that, with three. I also thought I’d never write sequels or a series of novels in the same universe, but I have. I’m sure some wonder if I’m going to have any sequels to some of my older novels, and I’ve been asked, but right now, I don’t know. Here’s an update on my current novels and future works.

Out of Time It took me a long time to get this novel right, but I finally did. Anyway, I thought about writing a sequel, but at the moment, I have no idea where I’d want my time travelers to go. I did start to write something about Janet Erickson, the captain of the Einstein, but I got stuck after a page or two of writing. I have an idea of what I might want, but I’m not sure if it’s a novel length story, a novella, or a short story. If I get around to writing it out, I’ll see.

Don’t Mess With Earth – I actually sent a short story version of this in the mid-1990’s to the Writer’s of the Future contest, but got nowhere with it. I wrote a full length novel, but this is one of my stories that people either like or dislike, and I re-wrote it into a version of Shattered Earth, changing the beginning, and making the novel longer by over 25k words. I have been asked by 1 or 2 readers if I’m going to tell the story of the Ragnor after Earth destroys them for the most part, but I really don’t know. I wrote a page a year or so ago, but haven’t returned to it. We’ll see.

The Usurper – No sequel. I wrote this mostly to push buttons, and if you’ve seen some of the reviews I’ve received on Amazon, you’ll know that I did just that.

New Frontier & Final Frontier – Final Frontier is the sequel to New Frontier, so I’m not sure about another sequel. I might one day go back to Final Frontier to include a chapter or two near the end, because I glossed over what happened to the Soviet Starship Gagarin in one of the alternate timelines, but if I say more than that, it would be spoiling the story for those that haven’t read it.

My End Times Series of novels – The next novel I’m going to write is about the story of Michael Evans, starting with his grandfather, who I’ll have palling around with Hitler in WW2. The Evans’ will try to manipulate events from behind the scenes, get England to balk at giving Israel as much land as they were going to give them after the war, finance the enemies of Israel, start to interfere in American society, and have appearances by the grandparents of the main characters from Times of Trouble. How Evans finds David Collins and the Iranian, and how they manipulate events before the Tribulation. I think I’ll begin writing it in November, taking time to do a lot of research while I’m doing it, and possibly getting it finished in early 2013. I was also thinking of at least one young adult novel in the series, even though Times of Trial is kind of leaning towards that, since Greg and Laura are two of the main characters, and they’re teens, but I’ll just have to see how that works out.

As for short stories, I’ve come up with a few of those, but a lot of them are so different in genre, I don’t know if I should put those in a short story collection, but I will think about it. Next year, I want to publish at least three more novels, if possible.

#Newrelease: Times of Trial the 2nd novel in End Times series

Times of Trial is now available, and it’s the 2nd novel in my End Times series.

A preacher and his family, the Tyler’s, have a church that is dying in Arizona. Even though the church is dying, they take care of the remaining senior saints, including the ones in nursing homes and in hospice. The remaining family, the White’s, leave the same church and head to Wyoming to live in a community that was originally started by Doomsday Preppers back in the early 2000′s so they can attempt to escape the increasing persecution of Christians.

Meanwhile, President Collins orders the activation of Camps across the country that will house believers who he thinks are a threat to his rule. His patron, Michael Collins, manipulates events in the Middle East. The Tyler’s end up with others in a camp in Arizona, while the White’s and the community they live in gets attacked by government troops. Evans continues to manipulate events as the Rapture takes the Christians, and he gains ultimate power.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

 

The next novel I’m writing is a sequel to New Frontier, and I will also write a short story anthology of some minor characters mentioned in both End Times novels. Eventually, I’ll write a novel about the character of Michael Evans, the patron of President Collins and the man who manipulates events around the world.

Next novel, Times of Trial, possible book cover

This is a possible cover to my next novel, Times of Trial, but it probably could use some tweaking or something altogether different. I could use some feedback if anyone’s willing to give me some. I would appreciate it.

  The novel is a parallel novel to Times of Trouble. A preacher and his family, the Tyler’s,  have a church that is dying in Arizona, and they take care of the remaining senior saints, including the ones in nursing homes, etc. The remaining family, the White’s, leave the same church and head to Wyoming to live in a community that was originally started by Doomsday Preppers back in the early 2000’s so they can attempt to escape the increasing persecution of Christians. Meanwhile, President Collins orders the activation of Camps across the country that will house believers who he thinks are a threat to his rule. His patron, Michael Collins, places a new man in charge in Iran, who consolidates his power and attempts to take a swipe at Israel. Israel strikes back, but the rest of the world sympathizes with Iran. The Tyler’s end up with others in a Camp in Arizona,  the White’s and the community they live in get attacked, other events happen that also occur in Times of Trouble, and Evans continues to manipulate events as the Rapture takes the Christians, and he gains ultimate power.

Next novel in the Times of Trouble universe

I’m currently working on my next novel, which will be in the same time period as Times of Trouble, but not a direct sequel. I’m not sure if this would be considered a series though. Of course, the characters will be in the United States and have Collins as the President of the U.S., but they will not know the Atwoods, the characters from Times of Trouble. I don’t have a title yet. Sometimes it comes to me before I write it, sometimes in the middle of writing, but very rarely does it come to me at the end. While this won’t be finished nearly as quickly as Times of Trouble, it will be done sometime (I hope) before May or June, since I made a resolution to have at least two novels written and published this year.

The main characters are the Tylers. The father is a pastor of a once thriving Independent Baptist church in Tucson, but due to varied reasons, he now has 30 people left in the congregation, mostly people over 65, but that soon goes down to 24 near the beginning of the novel, when the song leader and his family leave for a community of Christians in the Wyoming mountains who decide they’d rather wait for the Rapture (or Doomsday, since that was what the town originally prepared for) than to participate in society at large. The mother takes care of the home-bound members of the congregation and also write Christians novels on the side. Their two teens are kicked out of school, mostly because the school’s principal and the school district say that they’re disruptive influences as Christians.

In Times of Trouble, it was from one characters’ point of view, but this one will expand on what President Collins was doing behind the scenes and what he orders that will eventually affect the Tylers. The Tylers will realize that the song leader and his family were right to leave when the Tylers end up in FEMA Camps with other Christians and even some Jews that the government consider threats. The mountain community of Wyoming will be attacked and we see what happens to cause the military to want to have Collins removed from office.

A sub plot is the Tyler son having dreams of a girl he had never met, but started having those dreams when he turned sixteen. He works on taking control of his dreams by trying to make them lucid dreams and he finds out that she’s real when he meets her at the FEMA Camp. They struggle to survive as the novel grows closer and closer to Christs’ return.

Stay tuned for possible updates or whenever the novel is ready for sale.

New Frontier, new novel coming in early 2012

I’m currently working on the last couple of chapters of my new speculative fiction novel, which I call New Frontier. I’m expecting to be done sometime between the end of December to the end of January, barring unforseen circumstances of course.

The story originally started off with a prologue with the whole speech given by President Kennedy at Rice University in 1962 about all of our technological advances and how we’ve managed to come so far in such a short amount of time. I decided to cut that down, to the one paragraph everyone remembers him saying, which is:

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency…”

I’m not going to reveal any spoilers from this particular sub-plot, because I plan on having a 2nd book in this to make a series to explain why what happens in the prologue happens the way it does.

After this, I begin with a what-if Ronald Reagan became President in 1976 instead of 1980? Well, he has the US continue with the Moon landings and eventually building a Base on the moon, and even declaring that we’ll have people on Mars before 1989.

The Soviets decide to one-up the Americans, and decide to build a starship that would leave the solar system. Their attitude is basically, why do we need to piddle around the Sol System when there’s other solar systems out there to be conquered. The 2nd book will explore what happens to the Soviet ship, which, of course, will be after the Americans eventually send their own ship in the 2nd novel.

There is a storyline that follows the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis, but this time it ends in a completely different fashion. I have Osama bin Laden as a young apprentice to Khomeini, and he goes off on his own to form Al Qaeda (this is alternate history after all). In his first foray into terrorism, he makes a big statement that affects American politics in a big way. The US hunts him down and captures him (I was actually writing that when Osama was killed by the Seals, which de-railed my writing of this novel for a couple of weeks). He is taken care of in a way most ancient by people he hates.

In the meantime, we now have a base on the moon, a space station in orbit, and I re-write what happens with the Teacher in Space program by having Christa McAuliffe travel to the Moon to teach from there for a week. This time, the Challenger doesn’t blow up due to engineers discovering a problem, even though she’s not on that shuttle, and she gets to the Moon.

The US announces the team that will travel to Mars to establish a base there, and the Soviets use this opportunity to ask that two of their cosmonauts could go. The new POTUS tells the Soviet Premier no, as long as Eastern Europe was under the boot of communism. Weeks later, the Berlin Wall falls as does the Iron Curtain, and the US and USSR agree to let two cosmonauts go to Mars.

Terrorism raises its ugly head once again when the space station is attacked by remnants of Al Qaeda, and it also occurs to the Mars mission….

Near the end of the novel, colonists land on Mars, including Christa McAuliffe and her family. It’s the beginning of human colonization of the rest of the solar system.

At the end, the US and Russia announce a joint mission to explore the rest of the galaxy, and part of the mission is to find the missing Soviet starship, which will lead us back to what’s happening in the prologue when part of their mission goes awry.

Stats for The Usurper in November

I decided to let The Usurper go free in November (and it’s still free, no thanks to Kobo not changing the price) with the understanding that I was going to get blasted by the perpetual Negative Nellies on Amazon (or elsewhere), but I thought it would be a good way to get my novel in the hands of readers who would have never seen it otherwise, and who may enjoy it. I had at least one person who did enjoy it, and she even sought me out on Facebook to tell me how much she enjoyed it. Another one e-mailed me, said they enjoyed it, but nitpicked a couple of things about how this or that was wrong (like the fact that Beatniks were in 1962, not hippies. I deleted that one line that was in the novel).

On a couple of those negative reviews on Amazon, I engaged the reader, asked them earnestly how I should fix a couple of issues they had, and they were surprised that I wasn’t flying off the handle, but that I asked and responded back in a positive way. Biggest issue was commas. Apparently, I had way too many. I was taught in college that more punctuation is better than not enough, (I’m constantly editing traditionally published novels in my head when they don’t have commas or periods where they should that should break up ideas, etc.) but people say it’s distracting. Ok, fine. Another issue was the character names, which I did to push buttons, and I’d say I did a good job of that, because it has pushed a lot of peoples’ buttons. So, taking all of this in stride, I spent a couple of days looking for too many commas in the novel and fixing them, fixing stupid grammatical mistakes that are made when you do make changes, and I also changed the characters’ names that were too similar to real life names because I felt that I had pushed enough buttons to satisfy my enjoyment of pushing those buttons.

For nearly a week, The Usurper was top 100 overall for bestselling free ebooks on Kindle, topping out at #21 ( I wish I had taken a snapshot of that), along with the #1 spot on political fiction free ebooks, while currently sitting 3rd in the same rankings (snapshot November 15):

I was stunned by the amount of downloads I had in a week. It amounted to double the amount that either of the other 2 books got when they were free for two weeks. The week of Thanksgiving, I managed to set the price to $.99 (after B&N had raised the price back up), and it stayed that way until the Monday after, when I tried to go to $2.99, then Amazon discovered it free on Kobo, and its been free ever since. I had a total of just about 12,101 free downloads(I can snapshot the KDP totals if anyone doesn’t believe me), but I had more sales of The Usurper at $.99 than I had for the whole year previous on Kindle, at right around 500 (totaling 12601 downloads). Unfortunately, I also had 16 refunds for this FREE e-book. I don’t know if that’s a statistically good thing or not.  Yesterday, I got the stats from B&N through Smashwords, and I sold 140 free copies there (not sure how anyone on B&N sees free e-books that aren’t trad published, I must be blind). As a side effect of the e-book sales, I even had 22 copies of The Usurper in paperback sold, more than the whole year it’s been published. Very cool.

Thank you to everyone who bought/downloaded a copy of The Usurper, whether you enjoyed it or not.

The Same Six Questions Interview

The Same Six Questions – Cliff Ball from http://andyrane.blogspot.com/2011/11/same-six-questions-cliff-ball.html
Welcome to the last interview of November 2011! Where has the year gone?! Today’s guest on The Same Six Questions is author Cliff Ball.

Cliff Ball is 37, lives in Texas, has a BA in English, possibly going for an MA in Technical Communications, but is currently pursuing Certification in Technical Writing. He has independently published 4 novels and won 3rd in a contest for a short story that was written in high school.

The Same Six Questions

1. Have you published a book yet? Yes. I have 4, but here is one of them: The Usurper is a political thriller.

Gary Jackson is raised to hate. Hate the United States, its people, and everything they have ever stood for. His mission is to destroy the country from within, allying himself with the worst of America’s enemies, and one very powerful and malevolent billionaire, to accomplish the deed. Once elected to the highest position in the land, Gary puts his lifelong goals to work, and puts the USA onto the path of ultimate destruction. He stops at nothing to rid the USA of his political and spiritual enemies, until a small group decide they’ve had enough, and they want to stop him. Will they succeed or will the United States be relegated to the dustbin of history? Also available at B&N and Smashwords

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I remember wanting to become a writer when I was about 8 years old.

3. What was your first lengthy piece of fiction (say, >1000 words)? What was it about? When did you write it? Do you still have it?

My first piece was a science fiction story that I wrote in jr. high (around 1988 or so). It was some inane story about the US and the Soviets 150 years from now fighting over a planet in Alpha Centauri, and discovering humans who already lived there. I do still have it, somewhere in a big Rubbermaid box.

4. When was your first indication, “I can do this (write)”?

I took a Creative Writing class in my senior year of high school, and we sent short stories to magazines. I wrote one that ended up winning 3rd in a contest for a religious magazine for youth. I made $35! (a lot for an 18-year-old in 1992). I decided that someday I would publish something, and I always wanted to be self-published. Luckily, technology has evolved where its easy now.

5. If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which would it be?

I have a character from my novella, Out of Time, who is a clone of Dr Hawking a couple hundred years from now. He figures out the means to time travel, which I think would be cool to do.

6. It’s a dark and stormy night…you’re alone in the house…there’s a knock at the door…you open it, look out, and proceed to scream like a little girl. What’s on the doorstep?

The Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes people who have a million $$$$ for me!

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Thanks so much for sharing, Cliff!