Download The Dirty Campaign Today!

frontThe political season is upon us…

Download The Dirty Campaign today!

Incumbent Senator Moreland (R-KAN) is up for reelection and he’s a shoo-in. Who wouldn’t vote for him? He had a good track record (two terms in House of Representatives and two terms in the Senate), almost always votes conservative, and his opponent is a lesser-known liberal Congresswoman from Overland Park. Most Kansans aren’t even interested in the campaign.

Until evidence of an affair surfaces at a campaign stop in Wichita. In an ugly turn of events, Pastor Raul Sanchez is dragged into hot water for supposedly “forgiving” the Senator as a minister.

Sunset is now in upheaval. Supporters of the Senator think Pastor Sanchez is a hero for the party. Supporters of Pastor Sanchez want to protect him. Supporters of the challenger for Senate want to make a public spectacle of him.

And Sunset is about to explode in a protest-fueled conflict on 3rdStreet between Broadway and Main, at the entrance of the 3rdStreet Baptist Church. As people from all over descend onto the town for the coming fight, can Sunset be spared?

It all comes down to three key individuals in Sunset coming together to put things in a right balance again, and somehow get the message of God’s love out in the process.

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My Writing Strategy

In my Sunset series, I’m embarking on something completely new. It’s not that several authors don’t also do it, but it’s new for me. In the past, whether fiction or nonfiction, I’ve bounced from idea to idea. With Sunset, I’m sticking with a community of characters who will tell my stories for me. I’ve picked the idea of Sunset because it’s been a dream of mine since I was in my early 30s.

This flies in the face of my previous post about wanting to be the John Grisham of Christian writing. With very few exceptions, John has never returned to any of his characters. I can see the wisdom in that. It’s a blank slate every time he sits down at the desk. There are definite advantages to that.

But that also means he faces a blank slate every time he sits down at the desk. I’ve already got a couple of short stories (Forgotten Name / Friday Night in Sunset), a novelette (The Dirty Campaign), and several character sketches. I’ve got stories out for review by editors of Christian magazines as well, and one was published by The Gem.

At least in my head, I know how Tom Reynolds reacts to things. If a reader wants to know why Tom Reynolds reacted a certain way, he or she can go find out about Tom’s history and what made him the way he is. They’ll know that J. William Seymour, a reporter in town, is so desperate to make a name for himself that sometimes he creates stories where there isn’t one and his editor has to shoot him down. They’ll know how Bill Summers gained his land holdings and, in the future, how he throws his weight around to help the community.

So what is the grand strategy? It’s simple: I’m creating a community of people from which to draw stories about life. In some ways, the stories build on each other, but in most cases, the shorter stories are episodes which give the novels freedom to build the series. And always at the heart is making God known.

I’ve planned, at least to a degree, two more novelettes and four novels. Both novelettes are in progress and will serve to further advance the background understanding of Sunset. One novel is complete and in rewrite at this time (Tragedy in Sunset). The sequel is about 6,000 words in. Two others are notes in my journal. I’d like to see ten novels before I close down this project.

My hope is to secure a literary agent and then a book contract. I’d love to have you with me on this journey. Please sign up here to get on the mailing list!

My Hopes for The Dirty Campaign

Special note: Sign up at this link to get your free copy of The Dirty Campaign, which will be released on Aug 27th to current subscribers. 

The Campaign Cover Draft 4

I’m just over two weeks from launching The Dirty Campaign. Can you believe it? I’m very excited about this story, which puts the reader in the middle of Sunset, Kansas during the 2018 election cycle.

I have several hopes for this novelette. Some of those hopes are for my writing career and some are for my ministry. Let’s start with the ministry desires.

  1.  I hope I can help people make good political decisions this coming cycle. I can’t know all of your reasons for voting the way you do, and the opposite is obviously true, but I believe I can help you focus your energy on the overall picture through the characters in my story. Each of them has a reason for voting the way they do, just like each of us does, and I hope that by presenting that, I can help you make good decisions in November.
  2. I hope I can help Christians realize that they represent God when they talk about their election choices. One of the minor characters in the book makes things worse because he forgets that he’s an ambassador for Christ instead of a bullhorn for conservative values. We have to be better and I hope we can all use his example to fuel a correct posture toward others.
  3. I hope I can help unbelievers see that politics isn’t a black and white issue, that there are many nuances that we struggle with just as much as they do. I have a lot of friends who are unbelievers. Some are more hostile than others (just like believers can be), and I hope that they can see, should they decide to read this story, that we are multifaceted just as they are.

The Dirty Campaign was written with a couple of career hopes, and I’m going to be upfront in the hopes that you won’t judge me as I do.

  1.  Entertain you. Fiction exists to entertain. Yes, it teaches, encourages, enlightens, convicts, and all the rest, but it exists to entertain. I hope you are entertained by The Dirty Campaign.
  2. Build a subscriber base. Part of offering the story for free in the beginning is to build a subscriber base. I’m very confident that the Sunset series will stick around for a long time, and I want people on board who will be interested in receiving information about the story for years to come! With Facebook, Amazon, Google, and other major social media players changing algorithms, email remains the best way for people to receive updates about the series.
  3. Create fans. My biggest career hope for this story is that it successfully introduces you to the main characters of Sunset and that you fall in love with them. Not my writing, not my tone or style, but with my characters. I want you to love them as much as I love them. This is the first big step in that process.

I would love for you to partner with me on this project, first by downloading and signing up for the Sunset newsletter, and by sharing it with your contacts. I’ll share more about that in a future post.

To get on the list now, sign up here. Your free link for the story will be in your in box the last week of August! You can unsubscribe at any time.

The Dirty Campaign Cover Reveal

Time is flying by the summer. Before long, the upheaval of the mid-term elections will be upon us! It’ll be the only thing Twitter and Facebook will focus on, not to mention the pundits on your television.

But how does it affect small towns across America? That’s the question The Dirty Campaign seeks to answer. I can’t wait to share the novelette with you! Wow! I’m excited!

Ok, it’s coming in September. Are you ready to see the book cover? Scroll down!

The Campaign Cover Draft 4

What do you think? Let me know in the comments! Subscribe here for updates on the story and to find out when you can download it for free!

Announcing: The Dirty Campaign

IMG_2207Raul Sanchez pastors the 3rd Street Baptist Church in Sunset, Kansas. Senator Jonathan Moreland, a conservative who has served multiple terms in Washington D.C., has a particularly prickly problem. Talking to Pastor Sanchez seems like the perfect thing to do…

Until it all blows up, threatening to hurt Raul’s standing in the town and the Senator’s reelection bid. Will Raul and his friends find a way through it? Or is it too late? Will Sunset recover? Most importantly…is there a chance for the gospel message to shine through?

The Dirty Campaign: Political Intrigue in Sunset, releases in September! A few advance copies are available now. Email (dan@navychristian.org) for details!

Sign up here to learn more about Sunset and learn about the release of The Dirty Campaign and other Sunset works!

Writing about Rape

“Judgement, especially of a rape victim, seems so far outside of the scope of Christianity that it should never find a home in the church.”

For those who are following the progress of my novel, Tragedy in Sunset, it’s no surprise that this topic is on my mind. It is the catalyst for the entire novel. In fact, the opening scene in the novel finds the main character, Tom Reynolds, entering the first stages of grief over the rape of his daughter earlier in the day.

One of my Navy students, about seven years ago, was raped and beaten so badly that she didn’t return to duty for months, though to my knowledge she did finally do so. Another friend of mine still holds the emotional scars of being taken advantage of even though it’s been years since the assault.

We know that rape is bad. Can anyone possibly defend it any longer? Not that it was ever really defensible, but really…especially now?

I get that some cases are difficult to figure out the real answers. Could there be some genuine cases of mistaken consent? I really doubt it, but maybe. And some statutory rape is probably consenting young people who make mistakes. Maybe. Even then it’s not defensible, but maybe it’s “different.”

Yet what still happens all too often is that stories like one from the Washington Post come out wherein a young 15 year old girl is held for 29 days and raped by the father of one of her school friends. The dad in me asks, “Why is this guy still alive?” Skip due process. Or maybe give it to him just to make sure, and then kill him slowly. I realize that this stance is unChristian.

These monsters are a plague on our society. Yes, I realize that I’m writing impusively. I’m thinking like a dad…a dad of daughters (not that boys aren’t raped, but…not as often). I’m not writing or thinking like a rational member of a free, laws-and-due-process-based society.

And when I wrote about Tom Reynolds on the night of his daughter Marcy’s rape in my novel, I didn’t write as a rational person. I wrote as if I were Tom. I wrote as if it were one of my daughters I had carried into the emergency room. I wrote as if the nurse was ushering me out of the ER so they could run the rape kit on one of my girls.

We have to confront this issue. And by we, I mean Christians. We have entire programs to help people recover from pornography, divorce, alcoholism, and a host of other problems, but I rarely hear about helping people recover from rape. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard a preacher condemn rape from the pulpit. Why not?

I don’t think there’s a conspiracy theory to flesh out here. I doubt the average Baptist preacher is purposely avoiding the subject. However, shame on you if you are purposely doing so. What are you hiding? Or hiding from?

One thought might be, “well, if people weren’t having sex outside the boundaries God set in the Bible, there wouldn’t be rape.”

Excellent point, and a true one. However, we wouldn’t need to condemn pornography, theft, murder, or anything else covered in the Bible. So that excuse isn’t good enough. Another issue is that it’s easier to verbally attack women for dressing immodestly than it is to condemn the men who rape them.

No, they didn’t ask for it.

You know how I know that they didn’t ask for it? Because when I see a woman dressed immodestly, I don’t think, “ooh…a perfect target!” Why not? Because I’m a sane man who doesn’t rape women. It doesn’t matter if a woman doesn’t dress right. A woman’s clothing does not lead to rape. A rapist’s mind leads to rape.

Start talking…and writing…about rape. It’s a sad, sick reality in our culture and we are in a perfect position to respond to it with the love and hope of Christ.

We should be bothered that the only people writing about rape are newspaper reporters (like the one referenced above) and books like Rape, by Joanna Bourke. These are non-believers most likely, and certainly aren’t writing from any spiritual view point.

So here we start. It’s not a good starting place, but it’s something. We know, for example, that God cares for the orphans, the poor, the widows, etc. Surely he cares also for those who’ve had innocence taken from them. It would be prudent for us as Christ-followers to lead the world in this effort to make victims of sexual violence feel welcome…to feel safe. Judgement, especially of a rape victim, seems so far outside of the scope of Christianity that it should never find a home in the church.

We know that God says that vengeance is his. I am grateful for this because I have a lot of sins in my life.

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Query for Tragedy in Sunset

What follows is the query I have been sending to agents for my novel Tragedy in Sunset. If you have thoughts on how to make it better, please let me know! If you want to start following Tragedy in Sunset’s progress, sign up here for updates.

Here is the query:

“A young girl is raped in a small Kansas town. Now her father must overcome his struggling faith to join forces with a rogue cop and the perpetrator’s father to prevent the rape from destroying Sunset.”

Dear Agent (I used actual names in the official queries),

I am Dan Smith, and my book, Tragedy in Sunset, is the story of Marcy Reynolds and her father, Tom. Marcy is a 13-year-old eighth grader who is violently raped on Christmas Eve. It is the story of her father, Tom, who throws away a decade of sobriety the night of Marcy’s rape. Finally, and most importantly, it is a story of faith from multiple experiences and viewpoints.

Tragedy in Sunset inspires courage and change through hardship. It will entertain, stimulate, and deepen the faith of Christians who know what it is like to struggle with their faith and come out on the other end a little weary, but trusting God a little bit more. It is also obviously for those who have suffered through sexual assault or know someone who has been through an attack. Tragedy in Sunset runs 90,000 words.

My writing has appeared in over a dozen periodicals, including EFCA Today, Christian Courier, and The Lookout. All are either essays or articles. While not fiction credits, I have built relationships with several editors that I can use in the future for reviews and/or excerpts. My Facebook page has over 1,350 likes and climbing (@navychristian) and my Twitter account (@navychristian) has over 5500 followers. I also have a Master of Arts in Religion from Liberty University’s School of Divinity.

The full proposal contains a larger explanation of my marketing plan. However, I want you to know that my Facebook page, Twitter, and blog will all be used to focus attention on Tragedy in Sunset. As mentioned above, I will also leverage relationships with periodical editors for reviews and excerpts. Furthermore, I guarantee that I will use at least half of any advance to increase influence and market Tragedy in Sunset. Finally, due to my career in the Navy, I know pastors in several major cities, giving me a ready list of contacts for speaking engagements.

Bottom line is: Give me a chance and you’ll get one of the hardest working authors in your stable. May I send you a package that includes the first three chapters, a synopsis, and a marketing plan? Simply reply to my email address (dan@navychristian.org) or by phone (858-598-5244)and I’ll have it on the way!

This is a simultaneous submission. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future!

 

Sincerely,

S. Daniel Smith

www.sdanielsmith.com