Category Archives: Doctor Luke’s Assistant

Will This One Be The One?

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was a good day. It was just the three of us this year, as our large, family gathering will be a Christmas, a change from our normal routine. I fixed a turkey dinner, but without all the side dishes. We ate our full and have plenty of leftovers. Yes it was a good day.

"Mom's Letter" was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.
“Mom’s Letter” was the first in the series. This is the cover my son did for it.

But, we couldn’t find much on television that was of interest to us. So Lynda wanted to see the latest episode of The Curse of Oak Island. She couldn’t get it in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. So I fired up the Roku, had to re-set a password (since it had been a while since we’d used it), and found the show. I had seen it, but it was good to watch it again.

We decided “why not watch some back episodes?” I intended to go to last season, which was season 4, and watch some of the later ones. Somehow, though, I went back to Season 1, so I decided to just start with the very first episode. It was almost as if I hadn’t seen it before, it was so long ago.

One thing that struck me was the similarity of the rhetoric. The searchers for treasure were saying the same thing in Season 1 as they are in Season 5. The narrator’s shtick hasn’t changed at all. It’s always one more search will get us there; we’re inches from the treasure; today may be the day; this new find gives us the motivation to keep on going. That much hasn’t changed, so far into the fifth season.

Published in May, 2011, I've sold a whopping 54 copies of this.
Published in May, 2011, I’ve sold a whopping 54 copies of this.

It suddenly occurred to me that that’s exactly how I am with my books: hoping this next one will be the breakthrough book, the book that gets widespread attention and lots of sales. My first publication was the short story “Mom’s Letter”. I had no expectations for it to sell. It was a story I wrote for a contest (that I didn’t win), and I self-published it because I didn’t have anything else quite ready, so I published it to see what the mechanics of self-publishing were like.


This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.
This was my first book to write, fourth publication. It remains my highest selling book.

I was intending to publishing my first novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant, but I didn’t feel like it was ready. So I pulled together my newspaper columns, expanded them, added fifteen new ones, and had Documenting America: Lessons From The United States’ Historical Documents. I didn’t have high hopes for this one either. It sold 30 or so copies in it’s first year.

It wasn’t until the next year, 2012, that I finally published Doctor Luke’s Assistant. It became, and still is, my highest selling book at 128 copies, adding seven to the total so far this year. Now, you’re going to note that 128 is NOT a lot of copies, and if that’s my highest selling book, how low are the others? Good observation. I had high hopes for my next book, The Candy Store Generation, being a political book in a political season. But it sold poorly: 15 copies its first year and a few each year since.

I was very surprised when this one didn't sell.
I was very surprised when this one didn’t sell.

Then came my baseball book, In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I thought it was good enough to sell, and would be popular. Alas, not. I sold a few more in 2016, when the Cubs won the pennant, but it still hasn’t sell.

My point is, with each publication (now 26), I’ve thought “this will be the one, the one to breakout.” But each one disappoints. I don’t do a lot of marketing, just Facebook posts. I did one Facebook ad that resulted in no sales. I’ve interviewed authors on this blog, who have sometimes reciprocated. Each of those has resulted in no sales. I did an hour long radio interview, which resulted in no sales. I haven’t done any paid ads yet. Maybe that’s what I need to do. But I’ve thought my publishing should pay for itself, and so far haven’t seen my way clear to buy an ad. Perhaps I’ll change that in 2018.

Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.
Even dropping the e-book price to $0.99 has resulted in no sales.

So I’m much like the people searching for treasure on Oak Island. Just keep going, sinking costs—in my case the cost of time—into the endeavor a little at a time, hoping for change, for lightning to strike. My recent publication, When Death Changes Life: The Danny Tompkins Stories, is a boxed set of six related short stories, reaching all the way back to “Mom’s Letter”. I set the price of the e-book at $2.99, and the print book at $6.00. I sold zero. I do have three pre-orders of the print book, which will happen next week once my copies arrive.

I have two works-in-progress. One is a prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant, which is more laborious than expected. The other is the sequel to The Gutter Chronicles. I actually have people at work asking for this, so maybe I should turn my attention to it. I could sell 30 copies without difficulty, and might sell 10 to 20 of the first one to people who are new at work.

But will either of these be a breakthrough book? I can hope, I suppose, because without hope there’s no reason to go on. Hope is starting to grow thin, however.

Hard to get Blogivated

Yes, look at the title. I created a new word: blogivated. Here’s what I propose for a dictionary definition:

blogivated (n): anxious to write a blog post; full of ideas for blog posts; willing to use valuable time to write blog posts

Today, I’m not very blogivated. Actually, I should say tonight I’m not very blogivated, because I’m writing this on Thursday evening to post Friday morning.

This is how the final print cover came out. Better than the draft, I think.
This is how the final print cover came out. Better than the draft, I think.

Why not, you ask? I could say busyness is distracting me, and it would be true. As I’ve written recently, I’m super busy at home, and a bit busier than normal at the office. In situations like those, it’s hard to concentrate on blogging.

And yet, to some extent the dam has broken. I feel a number of things have broken free, and I’m able to see through to a less-busy time. Some of these have been writing related. As I reported before, I was able to pull together the print cover for Headshots. It was accepted by CreateSpace on the first submittal; I ordered my proof copy, which hopefully will be here Friday. Assuming it’s good, I could authorize publication tomorrow. That would be great.

First cut at the e-book cover. It's better than I expected for a first cut. I think I'm learning.
First cut at the e-book cover. It’s better than I expected for a first cut. I think I’m learning.

In trying to decide what to do next, I worked some on four different works over the last month. I wrote and typed a few pages in Adam Of Jerusalem, the prequel of Doctor Luke’s Assistant. I pulled together the Danny Tompkins stories together into one volume, edited them, and on Thursday even pulled together an e-book cover. It’s not final, but it’s actually ahead of schedule. I worked a little on a genealogy book, titled Stephen Cross of Ipswich. I’m sure I’ll publish it, and after the work I did this week on it, I have an idea of how much effort it’s going to take. I also worked a little more on Thomas Carlyle: Chronological Composition Bibliography. I have no immediate plans for this one, but will hopefully, someday, publish it, perhaps next year.

All of that is progress. I still have many things to do. Such as purchasing a newer van. Such as selling my pick-up. Such as replacing our dishwasher. Such as making trips to OKC and KC in the next month. Such as preparing to teach Life Group this week. Such as filing financial papers, on which I’m a bit behind (though checkbook and budget is up-to-date). Such as arranging for repairs in The Dungeon from the faulty dishwasher before we quit using it. Yes, plenty to do, still.

But the real answer as to why I can’t get blogivated right now is I feel like my blogging has been fragmented lately. I have had, or perhaps I should say I haven’t taken time, to plan out some posts. I try to stay three to four posts ahead in planning what to blog about. Right now, and for the last month or even longer, I’ve had no plan. The day before Monday and Friday comes, and I have to think about a blog post and write it. As you know, some days I’ve not done a real post, just a “sorry for not posting today.” I should have said, “Sorry for not being blogivated today.”

Tonight, when leave The Dungeon (remember, I’m writing this Thursday evening), I believe I’ll work on a blog schedule. Just knowing what I’ll be posting and when should help me to be blogivated more than I am now. Yes, that’s what I’ll do.

Did “Q” Exist, or Not?

As I said in my last post, the weekend just passed was full of publishing tasks. I made good progress on them, but that will be a subject for a future post.

In terms of writing, one of my current tasks is research on the next book in my Church History series of novels. Tentatively titled Adam Of Jerusalem, it will be the prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant. All this I have mentioned before.

My plan is to have Augustus’ father, Adam, as a junior scribe in the high priest’s employ. On the night when Jesus is brought in for questioning and trial, Adam will be sent on an errand to gather members of the Sanhedrin for the illegal nighttime trial. Later, after Jesus’ death and the early growth of the Christian movement, Adam is assigned to gather information on the teachings of Jesus, with the idea that they will prove heretical, and the high priest can use them against what he sees as a threat to his authority.

In essence, Adam will be the one who pulls together the document known today as “Q”. Short for Quelle [i.e. Source], this is a document thought to have existed prior to Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels. First proposed in the early 1800s, by the mid-1900s, Christian scholarship seems to have more or less accepted this as having been a true document. It’s contents, while technically unknown, are proposed to be the sayings of Jesus, that large body of teaching that appears in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark. The supposition is Mark was written first. At the same time, “Q” was written, and was available to both Matthew and Luke as they wrote their gospels. Possibly both Matthew and Luke had other sources, which of course is the subject of Doctor Luke’s Assistant.

So, I’ve been researching “Q”. What I’m finding is its existence actually isn’t all that universally accepted by scholars as I thought. A lot of scholars seem doubtful to downright derisive. If “Q” existed, they say, where are the copies? Why haven’t we found any manuscripts? To that I would counter: We haven’t found any copies of any New Testament manuscripts from the first century. Once the contents of “Q” were incorporated into the gospels, to continue to copy it as a separate document would have been silly. You copy the later and more complete document, not the earlier notes that you used to write the later document. Doesn’t that seem logical?

The “Q” opponents don’t seem to think so. Some of them are almost vitriolic in their arguments against “Q”. Why? I read some other essays/papers on the existence/non-existence of “Q”. What I gather from that is that those who say “Q” existed—at least those who say “Q” existed widely, and was copied frequently and used in the early churches before the gospels were written—say that “Q” represents a purer form of Christian teaching than the gospels do. Why purer? Because it came before the gospels. Why widespread? Because if both Matthew and Luke had it, it must have been often copied and widely disseminated.

So what? you might ask. Why is this important. The proponents of “Q” say it consisted of only sayings/teachings of Jesus, not the virgin birth, not the miracles, not the passion, death, and resurrection. It presented Jesus as a great moral teacher, not the divine Son of God, the God-Man that we think of him as today. So say some of the proponents of “Q”.

This, I think, is the reason why some people are hitting back so hard against “Q”.  If you’re going to expand “Q” from someone’s research notes into a document intended to stand alone and be used as teaching, and if you’re going to say that represents true Christianity before it was “corrupted” by all this God-Man gibberish, well, yeah, I can see why other scholars would push back so hard against it.

The amount of time spent on this question, based on the large mass of documents available on it, is mind-boggling. It seems logical to me, almost intuitively obvious, that someone, somewhere, before Matthew and Luke began to write their gospels, had written some notes on Jesus’ sayings. Someone else had probably written something about his passion, death, and resurrection; so it made sense for someone else to concentrate on his teaching. Why argue against that? Why try to make it into a proto-gospel, and claim documents subsequent to it are un-pure Christianity, i.e. corrupted Christianity? It’s this larger claim, I think, that fuels those who say they don’t believe “Q” existed.

Both sides, then, appear to be over-stating things. And so the controversy goes on. Scholars are trying to use what were someone’s simple research notes and make them more than they were, which causes others to say they probably never existed.

My take in Adam Of Jerusalem will be that they existed, but they were never widely copied or disseminated, and never formed a stand-alone teaching document. Maybe that’s a middle-of-the-road position, but I think it’s a good one, and I’m sticking to it.

I Was Talking About the Gray Cells

The temporary cover is almost exactly like the one I ended up using.
The temporary cover is almost exactly like the one I ended up using.

In a recent post, I mentioned how my mind was starting to focus on things I might be writing next. Documenting America: Civil War Edition is finished. All except the print version, that is, but I think I’m not more than two days away from having that done and submitting it for checking by CreateSpace.  I have a few publishing tasks awaiting me that don’t involve writing, such as getting the Headshots print version done. And making corrections to the Smashwords edition of Preserve The Revelation so that it can be pushed out to other vendors via Smashword’s premium catalog. Yes, I have much publishing to do.

But that’s not writing. With one book finished, it’s time to work on the next. But what to work on? I have two obvious choices:

  • Seems like a long time since I wrote this, but it's only five years.
    Seems like a long time since I wrote this, but it’s only five years.

    The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2. The first volume of what I hope will become a series, of workplace humor about the engineering business, has been out since 2012. It’s one of my five highest selling items, mostly to people who work where I do. A couple of years ago I started the next volume, and got into chapter 4 (of a planned 15 chapter book), when I set it aside to do other things. I have the book mostly planned out, the humorous stories pulled from my past or manufactured. All that remains it to decide to write it and get it finished. Hopefully, I can find my scattered notes.

  • This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and "Preserve The Revelation" will be the fourth.
    This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and “Preserve The Revelation” will be the fourth.

    Adam of Jerusalem. This will be a prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant. It’s been on my list of things to write for some time. A few plot elements came to mind early, but not how I’m going to get it done. How do you squeeze a prequel ahead of a book when you never planned on it when you wrote the first book? You can’t go back and unwrite, or rewrite the second in the series. But ways of doing this have been coming to me. I’ve figured out how I want to open the book, and what the inciting incident will be. A few other scenes have come to mind.

What to do? The Gutter Chronicles makes the most sense, and I suspect I’ll at least give it a try. However, the gray cells have been giving me more ideas for Adam of Jerusalem. What to do? I could wrap up TGC Vol 2 in 30,000 words; AoJ will take about 80,000.

As an example of what I mean by the gray cells activating, until recently I have having a hard time figuring out how to show Adam’s slide from Judaism to adopting Roman ways. As mentioned above, I had decided what would be the inciting incident for this, but how to make it work in the story without violating anything I’ve already written in Doctor Luke’s Assistant. Well, the way to do this came to me recently. I don’t have every scene worked out, but it’s clear how I can accomplish this. I’m not receiving similar clarity on The Gutter Chronicles—although I’m further along with that book. Perhaps that will be less of gray cells stimulation and more of in-the-seat perspiration.

While these two books are prime on my to-write-next list, they aren’t the only candidates. The next short story in my Sharon Williams Fonseca series has been coming to mind. It will be set in Paris. Also on my mind is a book about the Stephen and Elizabeth (Cheney) Cross family of Ipswich, Massachusetts, in the 1600s. Last year I spent a month of intense work on this couple. It is intended to be a chapter in a book about Elizabeth’s father, John Cheney of Newbury. When I finished the Crosses, I saw I had between 60 and 80 pages (formatted as 5.5×8.5 pages), and was shocked. John Cheney had ten children who grew to adulthood. The work before me seemed to massive to continue with, so I set the project aside. However, I have the Cross portion done, and, I figure, why not publish it as a small, stand-alone family history? It would take perhaps another month of tidying up, expanding the narrative a little, and doing all the publishing tasks. I may do that, but not as the next book. Maybe after I finish whichever one I choose to do next.

So, while the gray cells are active, and I can sense writing in the near future (such as in August, if not some in July), I don’t know which book is next. Today will be a day of publishing activities. Tomorrow, who knows? I may take some time at work to read what I’ve already written on TGC. If I like what I read, perhaps that will be next.

Doctor Luke’s Assistant is Re-published

This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and "Preserve The Revelation" will be the fourth.
This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and “Preserve The Revelation” will be the fourth.

For the last month I’ve been working on re-publishing my first novel, Doctor Luke’s Assistant. Actually, I’ve been working on it much longer than that. Last summer I re-read it on my Nook, marking places where I found an error or where I thought the writing could be improved. I did that in anticipation of writing and publishing a sequel to it. Just yesterday I put the finishing touches (I think) on Preserve The Revelation, and will publish it in about two weeks.

I started writing Preserve The Revelation in October, 2012, as part of a four-book trial writing period. PTR didn’t get “selected”, so I worked on other things. Until September 2016, when I picked it up again and began writing. In the summer before that, knowing PTR was coming, I re-read DLA, knowing I would want to re-publish it before publishing PTR. I finished PTR on January 14, 2017, and immediately shifted to DLA.

One of the things I wanted to do with DLA was change places to contractions. Early when I was writing it, I got advice that people back then didn’t talk in contractions, that they were much more formal than that. As a result, I wrote things such as “Let us eat” and “I will go with you tomorrow”, instead of Let’s eat, and I’ll go with you tomorrow. Did people speak and write in contractions in the 1st Century? I don’t know, but I suspect that every era has colloquial ways of shortening their speech. So, in the 1st Century, speaking in Greek or Aramaic, people would have shortened their speech and writing, as we’d say “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” As a result, the most common criticism of DLA was that it was stiff. How much did lack of contractions contribute to that? I figured quite a bit.

When I reread DLA, I found about two dozen typos, but there were hundreds if not thousands of places where contractions would lessen the stiffness of the dialog and narrative. I did search and replace for common word combinations reduced to contractions in English. As a result it shortened the book by over 1,000 words, I think closer to 2,000 words. That was a lot of searching and replacing.

I had that work done in mid-February, and shifted back to PTR for the first round of edits. Once those were done, I went back and forth between the two books. I made the print version file of DLA final, uploaded it to CreateSpace, and waited for the proof to arrive. I started a third round of edits on PTR. The two progressed simultaneously at that point. Last Friday I uploaded the print file of DLA to CreateSpace, after a couple of failed attempts that I didn’t understand, and waited for their automated system to tell me it was okay. That okay came at midnight, so this afternoon I made that my main task. Got it done around 2 p.m.

Well, that wasn’t my only main task. I had to make two last minute changes in the Kindle version. I did that, uploaded it, checked it on the on-line viewer, and saw it had a mistake. So I went through it again, this time getting it right. That was done somewhere around 3 p.m., I think. Then I typed the third round of edits in PTR, which I finished in manuscript Sunday morning (not going to church because of a lingering cold). Those were done around 5:30 p.m., at which time I exited The Dungeon to go upstairs and fix supper.

So, this weekend, while prevented from doing outside work due to my cold and to the rain-snow combination on Saturday, I made major progress on writing. I didn’t work on stocks, or filing. I did complete entries in the checkbook, which had been lost for a week. But except for that, it was all writing, and it felt good. Now, it’s on to making the Smashwords edition, and working on an almost complete short story—as well as finishing touches on PTR, of course.

Unwinding From The Weekend

I’m at work, at my desk, trying to figure out how to be productive today. We spent the weekend in Oklahoma City, on a dual family event. Ezra’s birthday was March 1, and we celebrated this weekend. Elijah’s dedication was Sunday. So all four grandchildren have been dedicated to God’s care and service.

Since these were two family events, and since some people would be driving in for them but wouldn’t want to spend the night, both took place on Sunday: the dedication during the normal worship service; and the party right after at Incredible Pizza. This is 50,000 sq. ft. of mayhem. Noisy, crowded, chaos. The kids liked it, and that’s what matters. We were there a couple of years ago for Ephraim’s and Elise’s birthdays.

So today it’s back to the grind, at work and at home. I had my manuscript with me over the weekend, but only managed to look at 30 or so pages. That will be my main writing focus this week, that and re-publishing Doctor Luke’s Assistant. My proof copy should arrive this week. If it’s good, I’ll get the print and KDP and Smashwords editions republished this week.

Still Weary, But Will Write On

My last post, on Feb. 23, was written in Atlanta, Georgia. I was there for a conference, the Environmental Connection 17 conference put on by the International Erosion Control Association. For the first time in years, I didn’t submit a technical paper for presentation. So I was just an attendee, renewing old connections, making new ones, and encouraging one of our younger engineers who did present a paper, his third.

The flights out, via Dallas-Fort Worth, went well. We had a long enough layover in Dallas that it was enjoyable. We got easy transportation to the hotel. The walk from the hotel to the conference center, over two elevated walkways, was just about right. The Wednesday activities were good. Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel gave the keynote address. I went to some technical sessions on things I wasn’t familiar with, and broadened my perspectives. All was well.

But something happened on Wednesday, not at the conference, that wasn’t good. I won’t go into details here. Let’s just say it threw me for a loop. It so affected me I wasn’t able to sleep that night in the hotel. I tossed and turned, and finally got up and read. It was well after 2:00 a.m. when I finally went back to bed, though I’m not sure when I fell asleep.

The next day I made that post. I made it from my company smart phone, the first text-intensive post I’ve made from it. That was something new for me. During the day, the situations that caused me to lose sleep somewhat resolved themselves. By the end of the day, Thursday, I was doing much better emotionally. I blew off the social gatherings at the conference, went back to the hotel, and spent the rest of the day editing my novel in manuscript. I made significant progress on it.

I wish I knew why I let things affect me so. Part of the problem is that I engage in two activities that can put you on the emotional roller coaster. One is writing; the other is stock trading. Stock trading is going well this year. I’ve had a lot more winners that losers, and I’m earning at a rate that I like. Writing is also going okay, though I still get no sales. At this time I’m not ready to put money into advertising, so I’ll likely have low sales.

Once my book is ready and I publish it, I’m sure I’ll get some sales of it, and perhaps of others at the same time. Before I publish it, however, I really need to correct and re-publish Doctor Luke’s Assistant, because it comes before Preserve The Revelation in the series. I made all the corrections to the DLA master file, formatted it for print, uploaded it, and had CreateSpace check it. Alas, it had many formatting errors, all due to lack of recognition (or user error) of inserted section breaks and having the wrong page on the wrong leaf. I was working on that last weekend, but hadn’t finished it. That will be a tomorrow task.

A day-after-tomorrow task will be re-reading PTR in manuscript. I had enough edits on this round, my second round of edits, that I believe I need a third round. This will delay publishing, but I’m having that delay anyway due to the DLA problems. Alas.

One good thing did come of this trip. When I was packing Monday evening and Tuesday morning, I had to decide on what reading matter to bring with me. I have several books on Google Play and on my Nook, so I didn’t need to bring any print book. But at the last minute I stuck in the Civil War volume of the Annals of America. , just in case I wanted to read that. It’s research for my next book, whereas everything on my electronic devices is for family history, research for later books, or recreation. On the first flight I pulled out AoA and read the entire flight. I did the same on the next flight, and in the hotel room the first night. I often have trouble focusing on the entries in this book, but on this trip I didn’t. I was able to focus on each article I read, making marginalia, finding great quotes, and possibly adding to my civil war book. It was a good choice. Not sure why I could focus this time when I’ve had trouble doing so most times, but I’m glad for the result and won’t question it.

Life is an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes I don’t handle it very well. Wednesday was one of those days. I’ve recovered (mostly), and am ready to plow ahead. Hopefully my Friday post will be an author interview. Next Monday, maybe I’ll be able to report good things about DLA and PTR.

Round 1 is Done; Bring on Round 2

The first page in the manuscript of "Preserve The Revelation", with my edits.
The first page in the manuscript of “Preserve The Revelation”, with my edits.

No, that’s not of a prize fight. That’s rounds of edits in my novel Preserve The Revelation.

Though, I’m not sure but that thinking about novel writing, or maybe any book writing, might not be better described in terms of a boxing match. In this corner is The Manuscript, in rough draft. It needs much work to be able to win the fight. It’s rough around the edges, maybe even in the middle. It has great potential, but can it be molded into a quality work?

In the other corner, is Mild-Mannered Author. He thinks he can win this fight and make Manuscript do anything he thinks it should. But does he know his characters? Does he manage conflict in a way that keeps the reader engaged and turning pages? Does he know scenes and sequels; or, if he doesn’t know that writing technique, does he intuitively grasp the principle behind it and pace the book according to it? Does he understand the Magic Paragraph, and does he space these throughout the book? Can he even find his notes from the conferences where those concepts were taught?

This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and "Preserve The Revelation" will be the fourth.
This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and “Preserve The Revelation” will be the fourth.

How many rounds will this take? For the prequel to this, Doctor Luke’s Assistant, I think I went through four rounds. That was my first novel, and should take longer to craft to perfection, right? If that took four rounds, surely this one will take only two.

I e-mailed a copy of the Word file to my next beta reader, asking him to have it back to me by March 1. I’ll print a clean copy of it tomorrow, to take with me as I travel this week. I’ll be on a plane to Atlanta on Tuesday, to attend the annual conference of the International Erosion Control Association there from Wednesday through Friday, returning home late on Friday. I’m hoping in those days to get all the way through it myself. I’ll hole up in my hotel room for three nights and read-away. With luck, I’ll have my second round of edits done and typed by the time I get comments back from my beta reader.

That means, if two rounds of edits will really be enough, I’ll have the book ready to publish some time around March 4. I’ll take three or four days to format for e-book and print, and publish them. The cover is well underway. The cover photo is chosen and approval to use received, and needed artwork on it is commissioned and will shortly begin.

There’s many a slip, but it could happen on this schedule. I’m starting to get excited.

My Church History Fiction Series

Kindle Cover - DLA 3
“Doctor Luke’s Assistant” is available for most e-reader devices

My first novel—and book—was Doctor Luke’s Assistant. Begun December 2000 and finished January 2003, I intended for this to be a stand-alone book. I had a story to tell, a story that came to me as a result of years of Bible study and a couple of years of daydreaming. Never did I think I would someday try to have a writing career. I had a story to tell, nothing more.

But, as I started to shop DLA for publication, I soon learned that publishers didn’t want to publish a book. They really want to publish a writer who wants a career as a published author. That meant I had to have another book. And then another, and another, till infinity, death, or the apocalypse. I went back to brainstorming.

The next books that came to me were my first baseball novel and my poetry book. Nothing came to mind concerning a follow-up to DLA. Nothing at first, that is. Eventually the brainstorming came back to it, and I thought of another book, a sequel. Thus Preserve The Revelation was born. The idea came to me probably around 2009-2010; I don’t remember exactly. For sure it was by 2012. PTR would feature Augustus, the point-of-view character from DLA. He would be called to help the apostle John write his gospel, then later The Revelation. It would involve his sons in kind of a torch-passing event. This sequel was on my radar and in my mind for those several years. Finally the circumstances were right to write it, beginning last October and ending January 14th. It’s currently waiting for me to come back to it and edit it, then publish it.

As I thought about PTR, and the need to have a constant supply of books for the publishing mill (even though by this time I had decided to go the self-publishing route), and, as I read various documents preserved from early church history—something I do for enjoyment and edification, other possible books in the series came to me. To explain exactly what I mean by this, I need to briefly describe a little more about DLA for those who haven’t read it.

The premise behind DLA is that Luke goes to Judea to write a biography of Jesus. He hires Augustus, a Jew from a family that has given up on Judaism and embraced Roman ways, to assist in the research. The story is told from Augustus’ point of view: the research, the writing, the troubles with both Jewish and Roman authorities. In the end the gospel of Luke is written, though it’s nothing like what was originally intended.

So the story is how a lowly clerk/scribe, called an amanuensis back then, should have a big impact in telling Jesus’ story. That’s the same theme carried into PTR, with Augustus and his sons playing the same role, with similar results. As I brainstormed more books, I realized the number of documents in early Christianity, documents which survive in whole or in part, or which are referenced by just slightly later documents, is large. How large? In just the First Century and the first half of the Second Century, potentially eight to ten over and above the scripture. To the end of the Second Century might add that many more, and more and more as each century progresses. In the first four centuries I would probably have 100-200 documents to choose from.

I eventually developed a plan for the series from this. At present, the plan is for only eight books, taking it from the early New Testament era to the middle of the First Century. Here’s a list of the books in chronological order. Given that the first book is a prequel, I’m obviously not planning on writing these in that order.

  • Adam Of Jerusalem: Backstory for Augustus’ family. The document(s) in question will be those thought to be the sources for Matthew and Luke in writing their gospels, the Passion Narrative and “Q” (Jesus’ sayings/teachings). Time frame: 39-40 A.D. Main character: Adam, Augustus’ father. His decision to leave Judaism and embrace Roman ways will be part of the story.
  • Doctor Luke’s Assistant: Explained above. Time frame: 63-66 A.D. Main character: Augustus
  • The Sayings: The writing of the Didiche, the sayings of the apostles. Time frame: 70 A.D. Main character: Augustus
  • Preserve The Revelation: Explained above. Time frame: 95 A.D. Main characters: Augustus and his sons
  • The Corinthian Problem (tentative title): The writing of “1st Clement”, an epistle written in Rome to the church in Corinth. Time frame: about 100 A.D. Main characters: Augustus’ sons, Adam and Daniel.
  • Ignatius of Antioch: The story of Ignatius being marched from Antioch to Rome, to his martyrdom, and the epistles he wrote during this trip. Time frame: 111 or 112 A.D. Main character: Augustus’ son Daniel
  • The Heretic: The story of Marcion, a Christian of the day whose views were eventually determined to be heresy. Time frame: 140 A.D. Main character: uncertain at this time. It may be one of Augustus’ descendants, or may be another family of scribes—or both.
  • The Martyr: The story of Polycarp, especially his being martyred. This story will actually tie in with Preserve The Revelation. Time frame: 150 A.D. Main character: uncertain, but one of Augustus’ descendants.

Some of the dates above are approximate. I’m writing this blog post from memory of past research. Oh, and a ninth book from this era might be The Shepherd.

So eight (or nine) novels planned at the moment. One written and published; one written and awaiting publication. Four I’ve been thinking of for at least three years. And three that came to mind in the last six months. That ought to keep me busy for a while, especially when all my planned books in other genres are factored in. If I get most of these eight or nine written and published, I’ll have time enough to extend the series to the next hundred years of church history.

2017 Writing and Publishing Plans

So, as stated in my last post, 2016 was a dismal year for book sales. And, actually, I had only one new item published in 2016, plus a couple of re-dos, and one print book added to an e-book that was already out. But now it’s 2017. Time to make new plans to feed old hopes. We’re 16 days into 2017, and I’ve already made progress.

I’m going to give two lists. The first is the new material I hope to work on this year, without regards to priority. The second is a sort of to-do list for the first few months. I can’t really see beyond that right now. I’ll need to update that to-do list based on what I actually achieve. I might do that quarterly.

Here’s the first list.

  • Finish my novel-in-progress, Preserve The Revelation, and publish both as an e-book and in print. When the year started I was about 80 to 85% done (best guess).
  • Finish my non-fiction book-in-progress, Documenting America: Civil War Edition, and publish both as an e-book and in print. I believe I’m about 40% done with this.
  • Finish my workplace humor novella-in-progress, The Gutter Chronicles: Volume 2, and publish both as an e-book and in print. I think I’m around 30% done with this.
  • Write a new story in the Danny Tompkins short story series. I think this will be the last. But, then, I also thought that about the last one. I’ve put a few words on paper, but haven’t yet typed anything.
  • Write a new story in the Sharon Williams Fonseca series. While this series hasn’t sold, I want to stick with it for a while. I know where in the world the next story will take place, but a plot hasn’t yet come to me.
  • Finish Carlyle’s Chartism Through The Ages, a non-fiction work. It’s close to 80% complete, but the last 20% is going to be a killer.
  • Continue working on Thomas Carlyle Chronological Composition Bibliography. I’m not sure how close I am to finishing. I plan on working on it a little each morning at work. Perhaps I’ll finish it some day, perhaps not. I’m going to plod away at it for a while.

Here’s the second list. Some of these will have target dates, some won’t. The order is approximately first to last, though with plenty of overlap.

  • Jan 1: Begin reading for research for Documenting America: Civil War Edition. I achieved this. I’m reading a little almost every day for this.
  • Jan: Complete the first draft of Preserve The Revelation. I actually did this Saturday, Jan 14, at 8:10 p.m. It’s now with a beta reader while it simmers for a week or two before I tackle the edits on it. However, don’t think I’m ahead of schedule on this. My original goal was to finish it in 2016. I came close, but missed it.
  • Jan 31: Edit Doctor Luke’s Assistant and republish it. I re-read this in 2016 with an eye toward making edits in it. I’m ready to go with typing. This schedule should be doable.
  • Feb 15: Edit Preserve The Revelation once
  • Feb 28: Edit Preserve The Revelation again, which I hope will be the final edit.
  • Mar 15: Publish Preserve The Revelation. Much must be done for this to happen, some of which I’ve already set in motion.
  • Apr 1: Publish Headshots as a print book. I’m unclear of where I stand with this. In 2016 I edited and re-published the e-book version of this. I don’t remember how I did my edits, whether to a master file or to the e-book file. I’ll know more when I get back to this, probably early to mid-March.
  • Apr 2: Resume writing on Documenting America: Civil War Edition. Actually, I hope to write some on this much sooner than that. But I’ll be satisfied with not doing so until early April. My guess is I’ll have two months of writing to do on it.
  • Blog on a regular Monday and Friday schedule. I’ve already missed a couple of those. I’ll be satisfied if I have 40 to 50 blog posts for the year.

So, that’s my first quarter to-do list. How close I’ll come to achieving it the posts of this blog must tell. Stay tuned.