My Vision for Saving Ebenezer

front-2I’m very excited about my upcoming release, called Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a man named Scrooge. It is a novella about the aftermath of Ebenezer Scrooge’s change from a miser to a philanthropist and what that means for his faith.

Today I want to share my vision for the book, but first, let me show you the first line:

“Tiny Tim was dead, to begin with…”

For those who have read A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, you’ll recognize that line immediately. “Jacob Marley was dead: to begin with,” is how Dickens begins his classic. I had hoped to capture the setting as instantaneously as Dickens did, and I believe I accomplished that mission with my reworked first line.

But why? Why start with Tiny Tim? Because, at the end of A Christmas Carol, Dickens tells us that Scrooge became like a father to him, and that he actually saved him. So, I start seven years later with a tragedy…not due to Tim’s disease, but due to a simple bout of pneumonia. That’s where we get to my vision.

Vision point 1: Life is full of tragedies. How we respond to them is largely a factor of our internal faith, fortitude, and relationships with people who can support us through our pain. Scrooge has built his relationships based on his philanthropy, and as such, doesn’t know who to turn to when life deals him a crushing blow.

Vision point 2: Our faith defines us, not our philanthropy. This is not true in the secular world as much, but as a Christian, I wholeheartedly believe this concerning eternal matters. Do I believe in Jesus as my savior? Do I rely on him for my soul’s security? Am I, to put it in Christian-ese, born again? Scrooge cannot answer yes to any of those questions. It’s something that I want to make any reader ask themselves.

Vision point 3: Gotta get to the point. And that point is the gospel message. What started as a great plot idea became an opportunity to witness on God’s behalf, so I took it. My hope for you is that you’ll read the book, realize that you know a couple of people who might also enjoy a good book that will share the gospel message with them, and send them a copy or give them yours.

I have several other mini-vision points and a couple of goals for the book, but these are my primaries. If I succeed with these three points, I count the book’s story line a success.

Your feedback means a lot to me. Do my vision points make sense to you? Do they seem to match what God would want? Give me your thoughts! Write me at dan[at]navychristian.org and let me know what you think!

To get information about Saving Ebenezer, including release dates and tour schedule, sign up HERE for my newsletter.

Too Early to think about Christmas?

Most people start their planning for Christmas around October. I started planning Christmas 2019 in January.

January?

Yes, January.

Why?

Because I’m releasing a very special book this year. It’s unlike anything I’ve written before.

What’s it about?

You’ve heard of Ebenezer Scrooge, haven’t you? Well, of course you have! This year, get ready for the surprise of your life, because Ebenezer Scrooge is back to his old ways in my novella called Saving Ebenezer: The Continuing Saga of a man named Scrooge.

In Charles Dickens’s 1843 A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts (Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas yet to Come). They teach him that his greed will become his undoing if he doesn’t change.

So he changes.

And then what happens?

That is where my book picks up the story. It’s 1850, seven years after the ghosts changed Ebenezer’s life. The Ashley Down orphanage, overseen and prayed for by George Muller, opened the year before. Charles Spurgeon is saved in April of this year. William Boothe is a lay preacher in London and as yet to think of the Salvation Army, the worldwide organization he would found in 1865 and officially name in 1878.

And Tiny Tim is dead.

This news will shake Ebenezer to his core. Suddenly, all of the charity, the change of heart, and the wisdom of years in finance mean very little to Scrooge. He has lost a son…his only son. The pain is unbearable! Is there hope?

“Bah…Humbug!” says Scrooge.

Join me on this adventure into the life of a man whose story Dickens did not finish, but God most certainly will. The book will be available for preorder in September and will officially go on sale in October, in time to order your copy for Christmas, and an extra copy too! I promise…the book will make a great gift for your friends and loved ones.

Most importantly, it will be a tool for you to use this Christmas to tell your loved ones about Jesus Christ.

Together, in the spirit of Christmas, we shall read the rest of the story. To get updates about this book directly to your inbox, click HERE.

More to follow!

What you Should Know about Tragedy in Sunset

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As I drove my family out of Kansas and into Oklahoma on our way back to San Diego, it occurred to me that, outside of some very vague references to my work in progress, I have not done a very good job of telling you about Tragedy in Sunset.

Here’s the bottom line: Tragedy in Sunset is about a family’s struggle to respond and recover from the rape of their daughter. The scene is the fictional town of Sunset, Kansas. I use the entire town as the scene because, in the end, it will take the town to help the family heal.

Several years ago, a friend asked me to honestly consider how I’d react to hearing that one of my daughters was assaulted. I was on my ship when that happened (I’m active duty Navy), and I can remember the thoughts that swirled in my head. It was out of those thoughts that the characters of Tom and Janet Reynolds were born. Marcy, their daughter, came quickly after.

As I thought through my responses to this horrible possibility, Pastor Raul Sanchez was came to be, as did his wife Maria, and they were at the Reynolds home immediately. Before I knew it, the story was writing itself!

While I’m still struggling with some parts of the story’s ending, Tragedy in Sunset is alive and well and seeks to tell the story of Marcy Reynolds as she tries to heal from the assault on her innocence. Her father and mother struggle with what it means for their entire family while her community is forced to come together to stop a growing threat from hurting more of the town’s young people.

I love this story, and this town, and I can’t wait to someday show it to you in more detail!

Oh, and if you’re interested in a short work to introduce the main characters, you can download my e-book The Dirty Campaign for free by signing up at my monthly newsletter at THIS LINK.

A real Trope of a Character

I’m currently listening to a podcast called Writing Excuses. I’m doing that because Thomas Umstattd Jr. and James L. Rubart told me to, in order to become a best selling author in the next 5 years. Since I have a resolution of having an agent by the end of this year, having a 5 year goal to being a best seller is a good range I think.

Anyway, my first podcast from the folks behind Writing Excuses is about cliches and tropes. They suggest I go through my writing and seek out these cliches and tropes to make sure I’m not using them without originality. I hadn’t thought about it too much, but after listening to the podcast, I realize that I do have a couple of these as characters in my stories.

For example, in The Dirty Campaign, I have two characters that would be considered tropes. The first is Mildred, who is the town gossip. She hangs around, gathering bits and pieces of a story, and then tells it as gospel truth. She is a trope, bordering on the cliche. Yet, Mildred also plays an important part of the story by forcing the reader to consider the damage gossip causes in our churches. This is something I’ll explore more in future stories with her as well.

In the current WIP (Work in Progress), J. William Seymour, the intrepid young reporter for the Sunset Sentinel that you met in The Dirty Campaign, also serves in the trope/cliche role. He dreams of being the big city investigative reporter who breaks the big case, and Sunset just isn’t big enough for him. Because of that, he over-attacked the situation in The Dirty Campaign and, not to spoil things, causes issues in Tragedy in Sunset as well. Whereas Mildred served to move the story along and sound the warning, however, I need to work more on Will Seymour. Truth be told, right now, he’s too canned.

While I wish I had great examples to share with you in addition to Mildred above, the truth is, I have a long way to go before I’m where I want to be as an author. I’ll get there, though, and I’d love to have you along for this ride of a lifetime! Sign up HERE to get on the mailing list and join me on this adventure!

Advances in DNA Analysis Affect Tragedy in Sunset!

So the crux of my work in progress, Tragedy in Sunset, is that a young woman is assaulted and raped, but is too scared to give a name to the police. They have a DNA sample, but it doesn’t lead to any new results.

Well, all of that might be about to change, and I’ll have to figure out how it affects my story. According to an article in the San Diego Union Tribune, DNA samples are being used to match alleged perpetrators to a crime scene by matching the sample against a family tree. The suspect is then narrowed down and an arrest made.

This was used most effectively in 2018 to find the Golden Gate Killer, so named because he raped over 50 women and killed 13 people in the years between 1974 and 1986 in California.

When I first wrote Tragedy in late 2016, this data wasn’t available like it is now. That’s the problem when writing a story that relies on systems and processes that are apt to change wildly from year to year.

The basic plot is still fine and will provide quite the story, but I will probably have to do a little modifying as I go.

One idea, thanks to one of my friends, is to bring up the privacy issues that go with matching publicly-available DNA samples when handling crime evidence. I think that might very well figure into the rewrite of Tragedy. Stay tuned to see how it plays out!

To stay up to date on Tragedy in Sunset, as well as my other writing, sign up for updates at THIS LINK and get a free ebook as my thanks!

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.

Sign up for my monthly e-newsletter and get the novelette for free! Sign up here!

The Bookfunnel Campaign Post 1

In an effort to be transparent about my Bookfunnel campaign, and to possibly help authors in the future, I’m going to spend the next three posts discussing my results for The Dirty Campaign. I will cover the build up to the campaign, to include the writing process, the Bookfunnel campaign in general, to include the raw download/newsletter signups data, and finally, at year’s end, I’ll talk about what’s still working with the campaign, meaning, am I seeing newsletter signups turning into fans.

I know that’s a lot. First, an assumption: I assume that people reading this three-part blog series are writers, or interested in the craft and business of writing. If you’re not in that situation, this may sadly get boring pretty quick. Anyway, that assumption is also a sort of disclaimer. I have switched to writing almost exclusively fiction, so you’ll find a lot of nuts and bolts in this blog series.

First things first: My plan of action

1.  Write the story. If you already have a system for writing, then don’t worry about this. Just do what you normally do. I did try a new thing that I’ve continued to incorporate. I’ll write about that in the future.

2. Edited the story significantly. I verified POV so often I got sick of some of the characters. But it paid off in the end.

3. Sent the story to a handful of beta readers. Not all of them gave me feedback unfortunately, but enough of them did that I could feel confident about moving forward.

4. Converted the final draft to .epub and .mobi using draft2digital.

5. Uploaded the files from draft2digital to BookFunnel.

6. Paid for advertising on Facebook (because that’s where my page already resides and I knew it would cost for people to actually see it). 

7. Wrote several blog posts to announce the coming publication. Shared on Facebook. 

8. Prepared a drip sequence in Mailchimp ready to go for new subscribers as they signed up for the newsletter and downloaded the novelette. This drip sequence introduced new readers to me as the author, to the fictional town of Sunset, Kansas, and to my characters, and included three emails spread out over two weeks.

As you can see, I laid out what was basically a business plan. I had all of this ready to go two weeks before the soft launch, which went to current subscribers and to my personal Facebook page. The soft launch occurred one week before the main launch, and gave me a chance to reward my current subscribers for their loyalty as well as test out a couple of ideas in a setting that allowed me to make corrections before going wide release.

In the next post, we’ll do the numbers!

 

* None of the links in this email are affiliate links. I don’t stand to make any money off of this blog post. It is for informational purposes only and for the edification of other authors.