06 PM | 25 May

Four Books that Influenced The Tuning Station

No idea comes out of thin air, and mine was no different. Listed below are the books that were most important to developing The Tuning Station.

Ender’s Game

Ender's Game (The Ender Quartet series Book 1)

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.”

Ender’s Game is one of the most popular books of all time, and was even made into a major motion picture in 2013 (that did little justice to the novel, I’m afraid). The story’s themes of empathy and understanding had a huge effect on me, and I’ve incorporated those ideas into the very fabric of The Tuning Station.

Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.”

Reading this book was a life-changer; seeing Miller’s gentle treatment of people damaged by religion set the tone for what I wanted to accomplish myself. The idea that a person who is angry at religion, rails against God and openly disbelieves, is a loved child of God, worthy of our own love and respect, is sadly controversial – but expresses the very purpose of Jesus Christ as well as I’ve ever heard.

The Shack

The Shack

“Anger is the right response to something that is so wrong. But don’t let the anger and pain and loss you feel prevent you from forgiving him and removing your hands from around his neck.”

While I don’t agree with many of this novel’s proclaimed theologies, I’ve always loved it for its approach to a difficult topic in a way that generated untold thousands of worthy discussions among Christians. It is, at its core, a beautiful depiction of grace.

Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances

Passport through Darkness: A True Story of Danger and Second Chances

“…we think being a Christian means to go to church on Sunday and trying to be good through the week. Now I see it means suffering, being willing to let the hard things happen to you, so that God can use us to do His work on this earth!”

This is the incredible true story of Kimberly Smith, a normal woman who risks her life as a missionary in war-ridden Sudan. The stories she tells are heartbreaking – sometimes, so tragic they’re hard to read. Her tale shows exactly what it can mean to give oneself to God’s calling, and inspired two chapters in The Tuning Station.

 

05 PM | 07 May

Announcement: The Tuning Station is coming!

small cover

I’m excited to announce that my début novel has a release date!

On June 1, 2015, The Tuning Station will go live on Amazon, iTunes and other select sites. It will be available in both e-book and trade paperback. Price is TBA.

For current news, and I promise there will be some posts this month, check my website, Facebook, or follow me on Twitter via @crawwriter.

I also encourage you to sign up for updates on my Mailing list.

It’s been over two years since I started my book. I never expected it to take this long. But I’m really proud of the results. Thank you so much for your interest in my blood, sweat and tears, and I hope you enjoy it.

Chris

06 PM | 05 Oct

So, what’s up with my writing, anyway?

I’ve been horrible about giving updates lately. The last post on my book was a sad-sack response to a silly review nearly six months ago; let me assure you, I haven’t given up or lost hope just yet. The process of getting published is very slow.

It’s one of the best times for writers ever now. With Amazon’s amazing tools and command over the retail selling of ebooks, self-publishing is easier and more potentially profitable than ever. There are also many small, independent publishers springing up, looking for works that appeal to a targeted audience. The traditional model of finding an agent who will market you to the big 5 New York publishing houses is still relevant as well, although not (and never again) at their level of historical dominance. There are enough avenues so that anyone can get published, and if you’ve put together quality work you can find success.

That being said, THE TUNING STATION is a bit of a problem. I’ve targeted agents and heard nothing back. I’ve also sent the book to eight smaller publishers, of whom three have responded: “great, well-written book, but it’s not something we can target to our audience.” I seem to be in a chasm of too Christian for the mainstream, and not Christian enough for the Christian genres. There is almost certainly a publisher out there for me, but how long will it take to find it? And will it be better than self-publishing, anyway, where I’d earn more than twice the percentage per copy sold?

So, here’s my plan. I’m still waiting on responses from a few agents and four publishing companies; I’m letting them percolate through the end of the year (agents and publishers are being inundated these days, it can take six weeks to three months for them to consider your novel and you might not hear a peep from them if they pass). If I hear nothing, I start the self-publishing process in January; seek an editor and a cover designer, make the final round of edits, and put the book out on Amazon, B&N and a print-on-demand solution. No matter what THE TUNING STATION will be available in 2015.

I’m also undergoing a second round of beta readers. I should hear from the in the next few weeks. I need the book to be as polished as possible, especially if there is no intermediary between myself and the public.

Finally, I’ve started my second novel! It’s much different from my first, a fast-paced adventure targeted towards a Young Adult audience. I can’t give a lot away, but the elevator pitch is:

“Two young lovers from rival families, in a breathless search for each other through heaven and hell.”

…but it’s quite a bit more than that. A sci-fi/fantasy mixture of Romeo & Juliet, Tesla vs. Edison with a touch of Riverworld. I’m only 5K words in and excited to see where it goes.

Chris

11 PM | 07 Sep

The Best, Most Christian Movie of the Year

2014 has been a big year for Christian-themed movies. God’s Not Dead, Noah, Heaven is Real, Son of God and Mom’s Night Out have all met with success, with Nicolas Cage’s version of Left Behind soon to come.

The best of the bunch might be one you’ve never even heard of.

Calvary stars Brendan Gleeson (“Mad Eye Moody” from the Harry Potter series) as Father James Lavelle. The opening scene sets the stage: a confessor reveals his childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a priest. He states his intention to kill Father Lavelle in one week, noting that “nobody will blink an eye if a guilty priest is murdered, but if a good priest is killed it will shock the world.”

The movie follows James for the next week, through his interactions with his parish and a visit by his estranged daughter (he became a priest after his wife died). I won’t say any more, only that this is a story that should go unspoiled.

Make no mistake, this is not a “Christian” movie. Rated R, it contains a great deal of language, some disturbing sexual dialogue and a few scenes of violence. There are more than a few Christians who’d refuse to see it purely on that basis, and that’s too bad.

Calvary is the best metaphorical depiction of Christ in a fallen world that I’ve ever seen. There are a lot of miserable people in his parish, many of them damaged by the church. All of them take out their bitterness against this man who doesn’t deserve it. As a representative of the church, his “goodness” only stokes anger against him. Surely, they say, he must have hidden sins or a checkered past.

I highly recommend this movie. Gleeson’s performance is brilliant, and while the rest of the cast borders on caricature they’re a necessary element of the story. Despite its rough content, I see Christ clearly in Calvary, feeling his pain like I never have before. And it is beautiful.

01 AM | 08 Dec

Yes, I’m Still Writing a Novel

Wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote my last blog. Rest assured, my silence has not been due to an absence of activity, but of a lack of time. Having to make a choice between writing on my blog vs. writing my novel, the latter always won.

The good news is I’ve finished the first manuscript! In fact, I finished it in September. The final count was 110,000 words or roughly 300 paperback pages. When I typed “the end”, it was a feeling of incredible accomplishment; one of the things I’m most proud of. I’ll be even prouder when it’s all done.

Since that time I took some weeks off, joined a Writer’s Group, read my book cover to cover for the first time, and started the editing process. Reading was a bit humbling; while I am happy with the overall structure, it needs a lot of work. I’ve completed about 20% towards the second manuscript, and there’s a lot more to be done. I’ve already pared it down to 105K words, anticipating next version will be around 90-100K.

I’m not quite ready to reveal much about the book; I’d rather wait until I start dealing with marketing issues which should come after the second manuscript is complete. I can say this much, though: The name of the book is “The Tuning Station”, and its genre is “spiritual speculative fiction”.

What next? Well, first I’ll finish editing the thing. Then, hand it off to a selected set of beta readers (hopefully some of my writing group plus a targeted group of others who specialize in different subjects). I’ll start marketing, make edits based on beta reader response, ship it off to a professional editor for cleanup, and seek an agent/publisher or decide to self publish.

That all sounds so easy when you stuff it into one paragraph. The release date is unknown, though I can’t imagine it’ll be earlier than the summer.

 

01 AM | 18 Jul

Writing update 7/17/13 – Over the last hump

When I envisioned my novel, the first two things I envisioned were the prologue and epilogue. I knew where the main character was going to start from and where he was going to end up, the only question was how would he get there? As I started writing and planning, eventually about two thirds of the book were obvious. The other third was a nebulous section in the middle, where I knew what themes needed to be explored and what the character would have to go through, but had no idea about the actual mechanisms. I deferred these until later, opting to write what I did know, and eventually I reached the first of these unknown scenes. I fought through each one, taking as much time as needed to think through them. The last may have been the toughest. The first week of the sprint I still had no idea what the scene would entail. Rather than writing, I researched, and even bought a relevant book to read through to give me  inspiration. It worked, and the final weekend of the sprint I put out nearly 10,000 words, and a scene that I really like.

The rest of my book is clear in my mind. I have each scene spec’d out to the point where I can just write with no uncertainty. It’s not that they won’t be challenging (I am going to have to write some poetry, for goodness sake!), but at least all the factors are under my control. It should be downhill from here. I’m sitting now at just under 70,000 words, and anticipating about 40-50,000 more. Amazing to think that it’s theoretically possible I could be finished in just over a month with the first draft!

Since I don’t need to devote so much time to building scenes, I find my mind wandering towards other things. How will I market the book? What genre is it really? Traditional publishing or self-published? Cover art? Who do I want to approach about being a ‘beta reader’? Too many things to answer right now, I just need to finish. I’m feeling really good about my progress.