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: 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.

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!

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!

The John Grisham of Christian Authors

I want to be the John Grisham of Christian authors. Now…what exactly does that mean? And isn’t John Grisham a Christian? Doesn’t that make John Grisham the John Grisham of Christian authors?

44753992_10156416069126187_5351631750210519040_nOk, that’s a lot of questions, so let me break that down bit by bit. First of all, yes, John Grisham professes to be a believer. However, as he writes secular novels, I believe 100% that there is space in the Christian market for a John Grisham-like writer.

Now, what does it mean to be the John Grisham of Christian authors? First, let me discuss what it isn’t. It doesn’t mean that I want to sell 275-300 million copies of my books. I’m not against it, mind you, but it’s not necessary. The truth is, I can’t actually fathom what that looks like, nor can I see myself having so many movie deals. So, what being John Grisham isn’tis being one of the richest and biggest sellers in history. Point of fact, even John Grisham said the meteoric rise in fame and fortune was “unsettling.”

It also isn’t about law and lawyers, though I include them in some of my stories. While they are immensely popular, I don’t have much experience in law or courtroom drama, so that isn’t going to be my main focus.

What I mean by wanting to be the John Grisham of Christian writing is that I want to create crisp plots that move quickly and keep people engaged. I want to be more organized in my fiction, so that when I sit down to write, I know exactly what I want to say. Mostly, it’s about churning out good quality books with concise plot lines, twists only when necessary, and only delving into the human condition when necessary to advance the plot.

frontAnd I believe that my story, The Dirty Campaign, accomplishes this goal. In this novelette,  I wrote a simple, straight-forward plot that moved with an easy, but quick, cadence. I’m very pleased with it. It’s for free if you sign up for my mailing list. Go HERE to get it!

Focusing on plot cadence over the human condition can sound so…un-literary. Well, John talked about that too, and I agree with him. And let me say this about literary writing when it comes to Christian authors: Why? My mission is to use my writing to advance the gospel. I’ll let you in on a little secret about the human condition as it relates to the gospel: Without Jesus Christ, we’re screwed. We’re just too muddied by sin to be of any eternal use without God’s intervention. Ok, side note over. Back to the main point.

As you can see, being the John Grisham of Christian fiction is more about the writing style and production than it is a level of success. I can’t even foresee that level of success anyway, so I need to focus on what I can see: A well-written, concisely-designed plot that keeps readers turning pages. I’d love to have you along on this journey. A great starting place is to sign up for my newsletter.

Books of John’s that I’ve read in the order I think I remember reading them (affiliate links):

The Rainmaker

The Street Lawyer

The Testament

The Broker

The Racketeer

The Rooster Bar (Current Read)

Interested in keeping up with my progress? Click HERE To sign up for my newsletter. I’ll send you a link for a free story when you do, and you can unsubscribe at any time. You have nothing to lose!