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Saving Ebenezer is Coming to Girard!

Contact Name: S. Daniel Smith

Phone: 858-309-2306

Email: dan@navychristian.org

Website: http://www.sdanielsmith.com

            FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

First Christian Church, Girard, to Host Author

Girard Native to present his Christmas Novella

 

front-2[GIRARD, KANSAS, October 22—] Sheldon Smith, Girard native and 1996 GHS graduate, will present from his Christmas novella, Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a Man Named Scrooge, at First Christian Church, Girard, on 10 November 2019 at 2:00pm. Sheldon writes under the pen named S. Daniel Smith and wrote the holiday novella to offer hope and a Christian message during the holiday season.

Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a Man Named Scrooge begins with Tiny Tim’s death and seeks to answer questions about tragedy, faith, and relationships as the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, struggles with his loss. Fans of A Christmas Carol will note Smith’s use of Dickens’ writing style and his respect for the original characters.

First Christian Church of Girard, located at 119 North Summit in Girard, meets weekly at 9:30am for singing and Sunday School and 10:45am for worship. Cristine Warring serves as pastor.

Daniel Smith is an author and career Navy officer living in San Diego, CA. He has authored articles in over a dozen periodicals, both online and in print. Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a man named Scrooge, is available at Amazon.com. More information is available at his website: www.sdanielsmith.com.

Additional information about the book is available at AMAZON and at THIS LINK.

 

Saving Ebenezer Back Cover

Sdansmith_3D-2 copySeven years after Jacob Marley and the three ghosts of Christmas changed Ebenezer’s life, Scrooge has a problem. He’s given away most of his money and brightened many lives, restored churches, and made London workhouses better for those living and working inside. If only all of that made him feel better about his life…

Doubt plagues Ebenezer. Even with all of his philanthropy, he still has questions he can’t answer. Are the scales balanced? Did he do enough good after that fateful Christmas Eve to avoid Jacob Marley’s fate? And after a very special person dies, he adds another question: Why did God let it happen?

When he falls ill himself, Ebenezer’s questions take on a new desperation. 

From the Cratchits to the workhouse fundraisers to nephew Fred, you’ll be reintroduced to several old friends, as well as a few new ones. With each visitor, Ebenezer tries to get closer to the answers to his questions. As the clock starts to run out, Ebenezer will need the words from an old friend to tip the scales in his favor.

Order the book HERE.

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Saving Ebenezer Easter Eggs

SPOILER ALERT! Some of the eggs discussed here may ruin the book for you, so please, please, don’t read this post until you’re done with Saving Ebenezer.

The page numbers are for paperback, but you can search for them on the Kindle version, or go to the chapters the egg is located in and read from there.

Egg #1: On page 8 (Chapter 1), you’ll read: Scrooge had the best doctors working on the boy’s condition, all of them happy to have Scrooge pay for this treatment or that, but never quite figuring out exactly what was wrong.

– Dickens didn’t write about an actual ailment, which has caused a bit of a debate over the century plus since he wrote the book. According to an article by Live Science, online sleuths believe that the condition could have been rickets or kidney disease. Another Live Science author believes he suffered from both conditions. A National Institute of Health publication agrees with the kidney disease. Because the debate continues, I wrote it in such a way as to leave the argument unhindered by my timeline.

Egg #2: On page 25 (Chapter 1), you’ll read: One of the smallest children opened the door. T’was the littlest sister of the family – Gillian or Lucy or, well, some such name – who was younger than Tiny Tim by three years or so. As far as Scrooge was concerned (for he did not trouble himself to know the specific information of ages), the younger children were younger and the older children were older, and only Tim really mattered.

– This is really fun! To the average reader, it just looks like I wrote Scrooge to be extra callous (I didn’t have to work hard, of course). However, to anyone familiar with the history of A Christmas Carol, you’ll notice a trick. In the original story, Martha, Belinda, Peter, and Tiny Tim are mentioned by name, and two younger children are alluded to, but never named. The only thing stated in the original, in Stave Three, is thus: “No, no. There’s father coming,” cried the two young Cratchits, who were everywhere at once. “Hide, Martha, hide!”

Depending on what adaptation you listen to or watch, the two youngest children are called Lucy, Gillian, Matthew, or Miranda. In my story, I simply showed Scrooge impatiently not knowing their names.

Egg #3: On page 13 (Chapter 1), you’ll read: He took pity on her just then, like maybe she was looking in on a man being taken by demons ten times worse than before.

– This egg isn’t from the original story, but from the Bible (remember that my story is a gospel-centered one first, and a sequel to the Dickens original second). In Matthew 12:43-45, the Bible talks about demons being cast out. When they can’t find another place to go, they return to the original host, bringing others with them. I didn’t write this in order to show that Scrooge was really possessed, but to show just how mean he’d been in previous times, and how it looked like he was going back to that level or, indeed, becoming worse.

Egg #4: On page 156 (Chapter 12), you read: It was always said of Scrooge, from that day forward, that he displayed Christ well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that also be said of us – of all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim used to observe, “God bless us, every one!”

– You’ll surely remember the famous line from Tiny Tim in the original story. “God bless us, every one,” is probably the most famous line from the entire book. However, I want to key in on the line right before it. In the original, it reads: it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. I owe this egg to my wife, who realized I’d ended with Tiny Tim’s famous line, but forgot Scrooge’s end. To that point, Scrooge is the most important character in my novella, because it is through his eyes we see the gospel play out. So, in wrapping his story up at the end, I repurposed the original (Alicia gave me the line and I played a little with it). I think it works well.

Egg #5: On page 30, and again on page 51, Scrooge is referred to as “old scratch.” This is a term used to describe the devil in that time period. It is also a term used to describe Scrooge in the original story (Stave 4). Using the term to describe Scrooge a little more informally, of course, was a nod to the original. It suggests that he has turned from being an “old scratch” and allows that maybe he had returned to his old ways. Read more about the term HERE.

Egg #6: Old Marley was at it again (pg 121). In A Christmas Carol (Stave 1), Ebenezer Scrooge thinks his door knocker turns into Marley’s face. I thought that was so interesting that I repurposed it to describe the door knocker being banged against its striker plate.

While the following points aren’t necessarily Easter eggs, I thought they made interesting insights into the Victorian Era. Please enjoy!

Number 1: On page 83, you read: “Fifteen pounds goes to helping you further that effort,” said Ebenezer. “Each of you will take two pounds and a half sovereign for yourself, to do as you see fit, and to spend as you please.”

– The original said two pounds and ten shillings. In researching the Victorian money system, I learned that ten shillings, which equaled a half pound, also went by the name half sovereign. I thought that was so cool I wrote it into the book.

Number 2: On page 121, you read: “Yes! Of course! I have some funds I’d like to show you. I know of a consol I can point you to as well. It pays a nice annuity.”

– When Bob Cratchit meets the widow Napier, he recommends that she settle her late husband’s affairs by starting a consol or some funds. This requires a bit of knowledge about Victorian Era investments. It probably goes without saying that investments weren’t as developed in that time as they are today. This was especially true for widows and, indeed, women in general. Part of that was due to shareholders of a company being libel for any debt incurred by the company. Unlike today, when a shareholder can be shielded against bankruptcy or lawsuit, in Victorian times, all shareholders could be held accountable. This made owning part of a business untenable for most Englanders.

However, funds would have been available and paid out a fairly modest interest. According to Pool, “funds” were national debt that often paid around five percent (5%). Good luck finding that return on a treasury bond today!

The other option for Mrs. Napier would have been the consol, which was short for consolidated annuity. This, according to Pool, paid out a slightly lower three percent (3%). Even at a smaller rate, this still paid out more than most bonds today.

 

How many of them did you see before reading this blog post? Email me at dan[at]navychristian.org to let me know!

By the way, I found Daniel Pool’s book, What Jane Austen ate and Charles Dickens Knew to be indispensable, not just in my own writing, but in reading Dickens as well (and, presumably, Austen). I highly recommend getting a copy at your local library or follow the link above (it is an affiliate link…I may receive a small commission if you use it).

Now that you’ve enjoyed Saving Ebenezer, let’s keep in touch! Sign up HERE for my monthly newsletter.

Saving Ebenezer: Sneak Peek

Deciding to buy a book is a big step. In order to show you just how much you’ll love Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a man named Scrooge, I’m offering you the first scene, in its entirety, for your enjoyment. Once you’ve given it a read, please order the book at THIS LINK. Feel free to share this sneak peek with your friends!

front-2Tiny Tim was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt about that. His death certificate carried the necessary signatures of the clergy at the church where he would be buried, the clerk, the undertaker, and a certain Ebenezer Scrooge, whose name was just as solid as it had been when he’d signed Jacob Marley’s death certificate. Indeed, Tiny Tim Cratchit was as dead as the wood he presently lay in.

Much had changed in seven years. Scrooge had given much. Indeed – almost all! – to rid himself of the guilt and shame of his miserly ways. Nearly saved Tiny Tim, too, who was only slightly bigger at his death than Christmas Eve seven years prior. Scrooge had the best doctors working on the boy’s condition, all of them happy to have Scrooge pay for this treatment or that, but never quite figuring out exactly what was wrong. Still, Tim had started the pathway of a bright future.

Until pneumonia struck. In a fortnight, Tim had gone from spry and hopeful to weak and discouraged. And then dead.

As Ebenezer Scrooge watched the simple casket lowered into the near-frozen muck on December 20th, 1850, there could be no mistaking the fact that a piece of him was being buried as well.

And that was why Ebenezer Scrooge was angry.

The old Scrooge was back. Joy had given away to sorrow in the meanest of ways, for it sprung upon the old man with such ferocity that he had no defense! None at all!  Oh! How much Scrooge had loved the boy too! Like his own child. Alas, his love had no more ability to overcome Tim’s sudden illness than his father’s had. Powerless, and angry, that was Ebenezer Scrooge, all right. Joy had given way quickly to pain and sorrow, the likes of which Ebenezer Scrooge had never experienced before.

“Amen.”

Scrooge looked up. He hadn’t even noticed that someone was praying. The few who gathered on that crisp Camden Town morning made their way to Bob and Emily Cratchit to give their condolences or pass by the cold hole where Timothy now lay. They passed by Martha, the oldest sister, who had her husband and small child by her side. Then they would say nice things to Belinda, the second child. Peter would be next, though he was now much taller than his older sisters, and then a couple of younger children whom Scrooge didn’t quite know well enough, despite being close to their parents for these last seven years.

Ebenezer didn’t recognize many of those gathered that morning. Undoubtedly, a few were churchgoers, whom he might not recognize because, if he were to tell the truth, he didn’t go to church often. Even after giving money for several new pews five years prior! And one that bore his name besides. Nevertheless, many of those gathered were strangers, if the looks on Bob and Emily Cratchit’s faces were any indication. Mourners, the lot of them.

One of them, in particular, caught Ebenezer’s suspicious eye. A man – late 30s perhaps – well dressed in a dark, drab coat, black gloves, and black shoes that matched his black hat. He smiled a thin smile that seemed out of place, and Scrooge also noticed that he looked in his own direction as much as he looked toward the grave or the deceased boy’s family. The man did not offer his condolences to the family directly, which Ebenezer thought odd. His thin smile was unsettling…something different there.

Scrooge looked away from the grieving family. His pointy nose and tired eyes focused on the ground where his adopted son now lay. In the moments when he let himself dream, though those moments were few, he dreamt that he could help find a cure for the boy and someday take him under his wing. To watch him die of fever and cough, and not the crippling ailments which Ebenezer had tried to correct, was a blow of the meanest sort.

And what now? Well, that was a question supposing for another time to answer it. He turned slowly, yet as fast as old bones and sinews would allow, and began to walk away. Turning back to look one more time on the cold mud, he spat on the filthy snow beneath his feet.

“Bah! Humbug!”

 

Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a man named Scrooge, is available now at THIS LINK. Please share this sneak peak on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms where you are present. Thank you!

Calling all Beta Readers!

Greetings!

I just set up my first author event for Saving Ebenezer. It’s getting real! This event isa pre-launch get-togetherfor a small group of people who are close to me (residing in San Diego) or decision makers in the Tierrasanta community (the neighborhood where I live). I’ll be sure to post pictures on my blog and send out a link to everyone. So far, I’m planning three total author events this fall. I hope many of you get a chance to attend one.

Speaking of Saving Ebenezer, I’m currently taking applications for test readers, otherwise known as beta readers. Here’s a short list of the test reading process so you can decide if you’re interested:

  1. I send you an electronic copy of the book. You can upload it into any e-reader you want (Nook, Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, etc.). I plan to get those sent out in the first week of September.
  2. You read the book by the end of September (it’s a novella, so plenty of time!).
  3. Please inform me of any glaring issues in the book, like misspellings, bad grammar, missing punctuation…things like that.
  4. Before the book’s publication date, you submit a review to Saving Ebenezer’s Amazon page (link will also be in the back of the book). This is the most crucial aspect of this process. People need to see truthful reviews of the book before they decide to buy. Your review will be THE key component to that purchase decision.
  5. After you’ve submitted your review on Amazon.com, your part is complete! Let me know via email and I’ll send you a signed copy of the paperback version of the book as my thanks.

Think you might be up for it? I’d love to have you on board! Simply reply by email (dan[at]navychristian.org)  and let me know you’re interested in being a test reader.

Fussy Librarian Ad Campaign

This is a special post for other small-time writers like me who are trying to figure out ad campaigns. In this post, I focus on Fussy Librarian with a note on Bookbub. 

I’m intrigued by the name Fussy Librarian alone, so of course I wanted to test the service. Since Saving Ebenezer isn’t ready yet, I ran my test case on The Dirty Campaign, which I use as a sort of reader magnet, in that I keep it in KDP Select so that I can make it free periodically.

First of all, Fussy Librarian is really easy to use. Since it’s a smaller-scale service, setup is easy and you’ll likely find your book one of only a few books being recommended on a particular day. It still goes out to several thousand potential readers, so don’t let the smallness affect your decision-making. Fussy Librarian charged me $22 for the freebie ad, which looked like this:

Screen Shot 2019-07-28 at 4.18.19 PM

When I ran this test campaign on the 25th of June, I was on business travel to Belgium, so I got home from work just as my target audience was getting started on their day. When I saw 150 downloads, I freaked out. I was already calling Fussy a success. I went to dinner and came back and it was at around 450, and I nearly started crying. After waking up in the morning (when America was headed to bed), I crested 716 downloads and #2 in the Christian Suspense category on Amazon. Fussy Librarian did so much more than I planned for it to do.

I was able to track the effects of Fussy Librarian over the few days after the ad. The following day, 138 people downloaded the novelette. That was almost certainly due to being in the top five in its category since no advertising went out that day. Some downloads might have been folks going back to the previous day’s Fussy Librarian ad, but I suspect most were from being #2 on the list. These additional downloads helped The Dirty Campaignto make it to #1 in its category on the 26thof June.

It also led directly to my first review on Amazon (a 4-star) and an additional ranking on Goodreads. I also got 106 total KNEP pages read, so that was nice as well.

On the 27th, an additional 42 people downloaded my story. The novelette had slipped outside the top 5 by now, but it was still nice. My BookBub ad started showing this day.

Turns out that BookBub is harder to figure out than I’d first thought. Fussy was easy because I was the only email out that day. Not so with Bookbub.

Despite editing the ad during the time it was alive, and allowing for a higher bid (I went above the average bid in the evening of the first day), BookBub was a disappointment. I only had 974 impressions resulting in 0 clicks. This means that BB was not responsible for any of the 920 The Dirty Campaign downloads.

I didn’t even get enough impressions to be charged for my ad (I allowed for up to $22 to match what I did with The Fussy Librarian). Guess that’s nice, but I was willing to bid enough for each click that it would have quickly spent my money if they’d shown it more.

At first, I was upset. It shouldn’t be this hard when I’m offering to throw money at the problem. Then, after thinking it through, I realized that this is a learning opportunity. I’m trying to build a future in writing. To do so, I need to learn the ins and outs of marketing, which just happened to be easier this time with Fussy Librarian.

Having said all of that, the Fussy Librarian ad for the day it wasn’t free, I got zero purchases (Ad for a non-freebie cost $14). So what that means for me is that Fussy Librarian was really, really good as a freebie, but not as good for a non-discount/free day. I’ll test it again when my next KDP Select day opens up for The Dirty Campaign.

In contrast, while I still didn’t get in front of nearly as many people with my Bookbub ad (again, matching the $14 ad cost for The Fussy Librarian) on a non-freebie day, I did get one download. It’s all part of the learning process!

Of Sailboats and the Hearts of Men

img_20190725_063650.jpgOur family vacationed in Oceanside, California this week. We stayed at a very nice hotel right on Oceanside harbor and went to sleep every night after a gorgeous sunset and woke the next morning with sounds of the surf.

While waiting for my family to wake up one morning, I walked around the marina. Boats…lots and lots of boats.

On this particular morning, I saw a beautiful sailing boat a few rows away from me and started walking in her direction. She drew me in with her varnished wood on her clean, white decks, her blue canvas covering her boom and sails, and her black hull.

img_20190726_074651.jpg

When I got closer, I noticed that she looked good from far away, but closer inspection revealed a new truth. That truth was that the varnish was peeling away in many places, the blue that seemed so clear far away had fading where the sun drenched it, and the pristine deck was anything but.

It was then that I Samuel 16:7 struck me. “…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

And I stopped walking. I’ve been a fool, trying to keep up appearances so people wouldn’t see how fragile I am, while God sees the stripped varnish and sun-drenched stains. His magnified eye can see all of me. All that I’m hoping you won’t see.

IMG_20190725_194435I’ve wondered, as someone trying to become a known author, if you’ll ever know the whole me…the one with the emotional scars, the horrible sins, the ruins of past relationships. I wonder if knowing that will make you not want to know me.

Seeing that sailboat, and seeing it again close up, made me realize that it’s not you I should be worried about. I’ve been hoping, all this time, that my far away appearance might just fool God. That maybe he won’t get close enough to me to see my heart, my past, my scars…all of it. And I’m humbled.

He has seen it for eternity, yet he has loved me and loves me still. God is good.

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