Posts tagged "The Brothers’ Keepers"

Release Day for KILLING JOHN THE BAPTIST: A NICHOLAS BRANSON NOVEL—BOOK 2

I’m really excited! Today is the official release day of the second book of the Nicholas Branson novels, KILLING JOHN THE BAPTIST. Here is a blurb:

The gruesome murder of a U.S. presidential aide. A secret so terrible it will change the world. Can ex-Jesuit Nicholas Branson and modern-day Cathar Jessica Jones discover the awful truth in time to save a persecuted religious group from extinction? Or will they be thwarted by a megalomaniacal pope and an ultra-secret U.S. government force? From the powerful corridors of Washington to the holy, frescoed halls of the Vatican, from Iraq to the Holy Land, southern France, Egypt, and beyond, join Branson and Jones in a race against time to uncover the most shocking truth ever known. Perfect for fans of Robert Langdon and Indiana Jones!

I had the honor of being interviewed by THE BIG THRILL, the publication of International Thriller Writers, about KILLING JOHN THE BAPTIST. The interview will appear in the November issue. To welcome new readers, I’m offering the e-book of the first Nicholas Branson novel, THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS, at the discounted price of $0.99 for a limited time. Here are purchasing links for both books:

 

Killing John the Baptist: A Nicholas Branson Novel–Book 2

Available at:

Amazonhttp://amzn.to/2grAbIo

Barnes & Noblehttp://bit.ly/2hBuvvb

iBookshttp://apple.co/2hX0dmC 

Kobohttp://bit.ly/2yYx3hL

Smashwordshttp://bit.ly/2itpd8N

 

The Brothers’ Keepers: A Nicholas Branson Novel–Book 1

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

Available at:

Amazonhttp://amzn.to/2yahXnL

Barnes & Noblehttp://bit.ly/2qSAVIL

iBookshttp://apple.co/2yGeNs5

Kobohttp://bit.ly/2yEWFxa

Smashwordshttp://bit.ly/2zGFjQL

 

I’m also holding an Amazon giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle copy of THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS. For those interested in winning a signed paperback copy, I’m hosting a Goodreads giveaway.

I want to thank all the readers out there who helped make THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS a bestselling thriller. I also want to thank Nancy Schumacher, Caroline Andrus, Lynsee Lauritsen, and Lisa Petrocelli at Melange Books, and the wonderful people at Bookbub, particularly Tyrone Li, for taking a chance on the book.

I hope you enjoy the Nicholas Branson novels!

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Posted by Matthew Peters - October 24, 2017 at 6:03 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , , ,

Back to Blogging

kaboompics.com_Old wooden rural fence in the villageHi. Remember me? I’m the guy who used to blog on a pretty regular basis, someone who is dual diagnosed (with depression/anxiety and alcoholism) and the author of Conversations Among Ruins and the soon to be re-released religious thriller The Brothers’ Keepers.

I haven’t blogged in a long time. Why, you might ask? Part of the reason is that I simply fell out of the habit of blogging. It is easier not to do something than to do something, and the power of inertia, in itself, is often seductive.

Another reason is that I reached the conclusion, however wrong-headed, that my blogging didn’t really make a difference. There are so many blogs and bloggers out there, what impact could I possibly have in the infinite galaxy of cyberspace?

But I’ve come to the point where I think that view rather selfish; for if I can help just one person then my efforts are vindicated. I’ve also featured some incredibly talented writers on this blog and I want to continue to do so. Please let me know if you’d like to be interviewed by commenting below or by sending me an email.

An even bigger reason I’ve stayed away has to do with embarrassment, on my part, and feeling like a failure. Let me explain.

In February of this year I started volunteering at a substance abuse clinic. My goal was to attain the hours necessary to become a substance abuse counselor. The staff was wonderful, and warmly welcomed me into the “family.” I was placed in group therapy sessions as an observer and read a great deal of the literature on various aspects of substance abuse and its treatment. From the beginning, however, I experienced a great deal of anxiety and depression. It became increasingly difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning and calm myself down enough to drive to the clinic. After about a month, I reached a place where I was barely functioning, and at that point, made the decision to stop volunteering.

I felt like a failure, and still do to some extent. But I’ve come to realize that what happened is nothing to be ashamed of. I went through a difficult episode and I managed to get to the other side without picking up a drink. That is really the most important thing—that I didn’t drink. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the past several years is that as long as I don’t drink I still have a fighting chance at this thing called life. The fact is I make the decision every day not to drink no matter what, because there’s nothing in this world a drink will make better. Sobriety must come first, and that sometimes means other things must go. That’s just the way it is. But I know I’m not alone: it’s the hard reality of all alcoholics who make the decision every day not to drink.

In terms of writing, I’ve been doing some, but not nearly enough. My religious thriller, The Brothers’ Keepers, is due to be re-released in July of this year by Melange Books, and will be available for the first time in both e-book and print formats. Here’s a blurb:

When Jesuit religious historian Nicholas Branson is brought into the FBI’s case of the murder of a U.S. senator in a confessional, he becomes involved in a web of political and ecclesiastical intrigue and a search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure that will shake the foundations of Judeo-Christian civilization.

Publishing the novel through Melange Books has allowed me to become a member of International Thriller Writers, which I’m very excited about. The group includes top writers in the genre, such as Steve Berry, Lee Child, James Patterson, and R.L. Stine and does a great deal of charitable work in support of literacy, public libraries, and many other worthy causes.

In addition, I’ve recently completed an epistolary novel with British author L.T. Kelly. Take Me Home is a love story involving a British divorcee stationed in Iraq and an American ex-pat widower and novelist living in the U.K. We hope to find a home for it soon. Working with L.T. Kelly was such a pleasure that we’ve decided to write a second novel, a thriller, that promises to be just as controversial as The Brothers’ Keepers. If you’re not familiar with L.T. Kelly’s work, please do check out her wonderfully crafted tales of contemporary romance (Kissing Cassie and Kissing Katie) and paranormal romance (Falling to Pieces and Falling into You).

I’m also close to finishing the second Branson novel, tentatively entitled The One Called John. Please stay tuned for more on that.

Finally, I’ve adapted Conversations Among Ruins to the stage. I thought the story’s treatment of dual diagnosis (i.e., a mood disorder accompanied by chemical dependency) might find effective expression in the theater. I’ve submitted the play to the John Gassner Memorial Playwrighting Award Competition and will know the results in October.

That’s about it on my end. It feels good to blog again. I apologize for not blogging for such a long time. Please continue to let me know if I can be of service in any way.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 17, 2016 at 9:24 am

Categories: General Thoughts   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Virtual Book Tour

VBT_TourBanner_TheBrothersKeepers

 

Greetings,

As I mentioned previously, I’m doing a virtual book tour for The Brothers’ Keepers with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour starts today, February 16, and runs through March 13.

As you or may not know, The Brothers’ Keepers is a very controversial book. So far it has garnered great reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. I am eager to see how it is received by readers and reviewers on the tour. I expect to be condemned by some, and, hopefully, praised by others. That is the nature of the book, and the subject matter it deals with. I’ll blog about the tour as I go along.

Here is a list of my stops:

February 16: Long and Short Reviews
February 17: Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
February 18: Lilac Reviews
February 19: Writer Wonderland
February 20: Kit ‘N Kabookle
February 23: Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
February 24: MAD Hoydenish
February 25: Edgar’s Books
February 26: Unabridged Andra’s
February 27: Black Heart Magazine
March 2: My Devotional Thoughts
March 3: CBY Book Club
March 4: Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
March 5: Independent Authors
March 6: Archaeolibrarian – I dig good books!
March 9: Nickie’s Views and Interviews
March 9: The Write To Read
March 10: Rogues Angels
March 11: Straight from the Library
March 12: It’s Raining Books
March 13: The Cerebral Writer

I kick off the tour this morning with a guest post on Long and Short Reviews. The topic is “My Take on Critique Groups.” I am very partial to critique groups due to the positive experiences I’ve had with my writing group, The Scratch Pad Scribblers. And I’d like to give a great shout out to the members of my group, who are not only great writers, but decent human beings: Chris Hoerter, Tyler Johnson and Cornelia Oancea. Please stop by for a chance to win a $10 Amazon/BN gift card!

See you soon.

All the best,

Matt

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - February 16, 2015 at 5:58 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , ,

Checking In

VBT_TourBanner_TheBrothersKeepersI haven’t done a blog post in a while, so I wanted to check in and say hello.

Actually, I have done some blog posts, but not for this blog. Starting February 16, I’ll be doing a virtual book tour for The Brothers’ Keepers with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour will range for four weeks, with twenty stops scheduled along the way. I’ll keep you posted as it moves along.

Meanwhile, I’ll be promoting Conversations Among Ruins (CAR) through radio and bookstores.

I will be on It Matters Radio on Thursday, February 12. The show starts at 9:00 PM EST. I’m usually in bed by 8:00, so it should be quite interesting. The topic will be mental illness in literature, and I’ll be discussing CAR in that context.

Toward the end of this month I will be on Wake Forest University’s NPR-affiliate, WFDD, to talk about CAR, and dual diagnosis. I will be joined by two fabulous authors, Steve Lindahl and Ray Morrison. It looks like this will happen on February 26 at 11:00, but we’re awaiting final confirmation.

I will be at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro on March 5 at 7:00 PM along with Steve Lindahl and Ray Morrison.

I will keep you updated on more appearances as they develop.

Finally, I am working hard on the next Nicholas Branson novel. I won’t say too much in order to avoid spoilers, but I can promise it will be at least as exciting as The Brothers’ Keepers!

Thank you for all the support you’ve given me since I began this blog.

I am interested in hearing topics you’d like to read more about, so please feel free to suggest some in your comments or e-mail.

All the best,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - February 6, 2015 at 11:12 am

Categories: General Thoughts   Tags: , , , , , ,

My Marketing Efforts – A Brief Review

working-alone_438-19316517Well, I promised I’d keep you posted on my marketing efforts, so here it goes.

I had two books published in 2014. Conversations Among Ruins (CAR), a  work of literary fiction, was released on August 13 by All Things That Matter Press. My religious thriller, The Brothers’ Keepers (TBK), became available on October 1 through MuseItUp Publishing.

Both books have risen and fallen in Amazon rankings, which can jump hundreds of thousands of places when someone buys a book. TBK seems to be selling better than CAR, at least according to this very crude measure.

I’ve received one royalty check for CAR. (Just to let you know, I’m not planning any trips to exotic locales.) I really won’t know how TBK is selling until I get my royalty statement from MuseItUp.

Overall, the results have been a little disappointing.

The fundamental issue is how to increase awareness of my books among the veritable sea of books published every month. Outside of the people I tell by word of mouth, and the efforts I’ve taken thus far, I really have no idea how a person is supposed to come across them.

So, what have I done in order to promote sales? In addition to telling everyone I know about the books and encouraging people to write reviews, here are some of the steps I’ve taken:

  1. I post free ads in Facebook reading/writing groups—this seems to have some limited success. I do notice a correlation between posting in the groups and sales, but as we all know, correlation does not prove causation.
  2.  I hired a publicist—this has had some limited success. I’ve had a book launch at a local bookstore and I’ve seen small reviews of my books in the local paper and other publications. I have more engagements coming up this year, so I will let you know how they work out.
  3. I ran a giveaway on Goodreads for CAR—this seems to have had no result. The person who won a copy of the book has yet to post a review, and though hundreds of people added the book to their read shelves, I haven’t seen any indication that more people are reading the book now than before. I can’t hold a giveaway for TBK since it is still available only in e-format.
  4. I tweet about the books—I try to do this in moderation. It is important that ads you post on Twitter for your own books are balanced by tweets on other topics. It is my sense that I’ve sold more books through Twitter than through other means, but it is a hard claim to verify. I am basing this observation on the positive feedback I receive from my tweets, including retweets, and the number of followers I have.
  5. I’ve hired Goddess Fish Promotions to do a book/blogging tour for TBK—this is scheduled to happen in February, so I’ll let you know how this goes. Depending on the results, I’ll consider doing a tour of CAR.
  6. I’m running a paid Facebook ad—I have yet to see the results of this effort, though the ads only starting running a few days ago. I have had some clicks to my website as a result of the ad, but can’t really see any conversions into sales (at this very early point).
  7. I continue to write—this is what I’ve heard is the best means of selling more books: writing more books. And not just any books, but quality stuff.

It is still early to gauge the effectiveness of these efforts: time will indicate their success or failure.

I would greatly appreciate any insights into the best way of increasing the visibility of one’s books. Some of you reading this blog have much more experience than I do when it comes to marketing.

I remain hopeful things will improve in the future.

All the best,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - January 5, 2015 at 8:18 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , , , ,

Framing the Story Question

graph_2104423I recently led a chat room discussion for Writers’ Village University, from which this post is adapted.

How do you frame a story idea in such a way that it lends itself to writing a whole story, or even a novel?

In Anne Lamott’s wonderful book Bird by Bird, she mentions an interview with Carolyn Chute, the author of The Beans of Egypt, Maine. In the interview Chute says, “I feel like a lot of time my writing is like having about twenty boxes of Christmas decorations. But no tree. You’re going, Where do I put this? Then they go, Okay, you can have a tree, but we’ll blindfold you and you gotta cut it down with a spoon.” Ann Lamott goes on to say that, “This is how I’ve arrived at my plots a number of times.”

Are there other ways to frame a story and develop a plot?

Yes. And I’d like to talk about one of them.

But first you may think that what I’m about to say applies only to outliners and not to pantsers. That only outliners need to concern themselves, right off the bat, at least, with plot. But I believe pantsers will benefit from this discussion too, because oftentimes we have to start somewhere: we all need a tree on which to hang our ornaments. And what I’m going to talk about is essentially growing the tree.

I’m not going to talk about where ideas come from. But I will mention one place that’s worked for me. And truly I can’t think of a better place to get story ideas. And that’s from reading.

In conjunction with reading, you may benefit from playing the what-if game. As I’ll mention a little later I eventually developed the story-line for one of my novels, The Brothers’ Keepers, by playing this game—well, by playing the game and also by doing a boatload of research.

So let’s say you’ve come up with a basic idea for a story. One of the things I like to do next is to make sure the idea hasn’t been done to death. How do you do this? I suggest plugging a few key words of your topic into Amazon with the tag “fiction” added and see what comes up.  Of course, if you want to find books for research, of the non-fiction variety, leave the fiction tag off. I can’t tell you how many important books I’ve found this way.

Once I’ve come up with a basic idea for a story, and thought a little about the main characters, I try to frame the story in two sentences. This framing of the story in two sentences is one of the most important things I’ve learned after writing two novels and reading a boatload of books on writing. I learned the technique from Dwight v. Swain, who lays it out in his book Techniques of the Selling Writer. If you don’t have this book, I strongly recommend you get a copy. It is my favorite book on writing.

Okay, so what is this two-sentence method of framing a story?

The first sentence is a statement that deals with character, situation, and objective, and the second is a question that deals with opponent and disaster. That’s all well and good, but what does this look like in practice?

It is hard to improve on Swain’s examples so I’ll start by simply relating one of his. Say you are writing a science-fiction story.

Your basic idea is that humans start growing very tall and the main character’s objective is to find out why. So your first sentence that deals with character, situation, and objective looks something like this:

Sentence 1: When humans suddenly sprout to twelve-feet tall, John Storm tries to find out why.

The first sentence of story structure is posited in the form of a statement. In it, we have the situation (humans suddenly growing tall), the character (John Storm) and the objective (trying to find out why this is happening).

The second sentence that frames the story deals with opponent and disaster and is cast in the form of a question:

Sentence 2: But can he (John Storm) defeat the traitors in high places who want to kill him in order to make the change appear to be the result of an extraterrestrial plot?

Here we have the opponent and the disaster that threatens our protagonist—namely, death.

Another example:

Sentence 1: Sick of the conformity and hypocrisy that go with his high-paid job, and with a modest life income assured, Dale Boulton decides to retire ten years early, to go live on a shanty boat and poke through crumbling river ghost-towns, in fulfillment of a boyhood dream.

Sentence 2: Can he make the break successfully, when his wife, Sandra, fights him all the way and finally, threatens to have him declared incompetent?

Let’s take an example everyone is probably familiar with: The Wizard of Oz.

the-ultimate-chick-flick

What would sentence one look like for this story?

Sentence 1: When a cyclone drops Dorothy into a strange new world, she seeks to return home to her farm in Kansas.

Sentence 2: Can she get the great Wizard of Oz to assist her in her efforts to return home before the Wicked Witch of the East kills her?

This may sound simple, but framing story structure in such a way, really helps.

For my novel The Brother Keepers, I started off with a fascination for the Jesuits. After a good deal of reading and research I eventually formulated and honed the two sentence story structure into something like the following:

Sentence 1: Nicholas Branson, a renegade Jesuit, is brought into an investigation to help solve the mystery of a Senator’s murder.

Sentence 2: Can he discover the truth before he’s killed by religious and political officials hell-bent on keeping the mystery a secret?

Eventually, The Brothers’ Keepers grew into a story with the following mini-synopsis:

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

How will it end? Read The Brothers’ Keepers … if you dare.

This book is largely genre fiction. Does the two-sentence farming method work in the case of literary fiction?

I have found it useful. For Conversations Among Ruins, the two sentences started out something like the following:

Sentence 1: While in detox, Daniel Stavros, a young, dual diagnosed lecturer, meets and falls in love with the cryptic Mimi Dexter, a woman who has a tattoo identical to a pendant Daniel’s mother gave him right before she died.

Sentence 2: Can Daniel maintain his job and his sanity in the face of an increasingly tempestuous and mysterious romance?

This story evolved into the following:

Conversations Among Ruins is a portrait of a descent into madness, and the potential of finding salvation there.

While in detox, Daniel Stavros, a young, dual diagnosed* professor meets and falls in love with the cryptic Mimi Dexter. But Mimi has secrets and, strangely, a tattoo identical to a pendant Daniel’s mother gave him right before she died.

Drawn together by broken pasts, they pursue a twisted, tempestuous romance. When it ends, a deteriorating Stavros seeks refuge at a mountain cabin where a series of surreal experiences brings him face to face with something he’s avoided all his life: himself.

Though miles away, Mimi’s actions run oddly parallel to Daniel’s. Will either be redeemed, or will both careen toward self-destruction?

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.

Can you take your work in progress and frame it using the two sentence structure?

I’d love to hear what you come up with.

All the best,

Matt

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - October 13, 2014 at 6:19 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Now Available: The Brothers’ Keepers!

Book CoverI hope everyone is doing well and having a great weekend.

I wanted to take this opportunity to announce the release of my religious thriller The Brothers’ Keepers.

Luckily, most of the people I want to thank are listed in the acknowledgments, which you can see without even having to buy the book 😉

I am extremely grateful. This would not have been possible without the support of so many of you.

So thank you!

Here is a blub:

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

How will it end? Read The Brothers’ Keepers … if you dare.

 

Here are the purchase links:

 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1rAmd7o 

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1qNxMnO

MuseItUp Publishing: http://bit.ly/1nACJCG

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Posted by Matthew Peters - October 5, 2014 at 6:25 am

Categories: Writing   Tags:

Baby Steps

Baby stepsDid you ever see “What About Bob?” with Richard Dreyfus and Bill Murray? Dreyfus plays a psychiatrist whose patient Bob (Murray) follows the good doctor to his vacation house for some continual therapy. The psychiatrist is promoting a book called Baby Steps. I think of this movie when I think of one of the most important lessons I’ve learned after a decade of writing: namely, that breaking things down into smaller pieces helps.

Does writing a book seem a daunting, overwhelming task? (I say “book” because I am a novelist, though what I have to say most likely applies to short stories, too.) Well, it is. I don’t think anyone just plops down and starts to write a book, from Chapter One through The End.

What has worked for me is to break the whole book thing down into its component parts. The method I’m about to describe has worked for me, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you, and I’m sure different writers have different methods. That having been said, I offer this especially to “young” writers and to those writers who may want to try something a little different.

I thought we’d start with the biggest component first—the book as a whole, and then work our way down to the smaller constituent parts—synopses, character sketches, chapters, scenes, paragraphs, sentences and, ultimately, words. All of this will be with an eye toward how breaking things down into smaller pieces can aid the writing process.

I start by finding a topic I am genuinely interested in (e.g., the death penalty, fracking, etc.), and then I try to read all I can about it.

This inevitably leads to a host of questions and a list of what ifs that I play with until I am able to devise a two sentence encapsulation of the main story questions.

How does this work?

Here is an excerpt from a post I did a while back that deals with this two sentence structure. I am reposting it because I think it’s that important to the book writing process, and I really want to share it with you because it has helped me so much:

In Techniques of the Selling Writer (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965; see especially pp. 131-135), Swain says we need two sentences and only two sentences to encapsulate the story structure.

The first sentence is a statement that deals with character, situation, and objective, and the second is a question that deals with opponent and disaster. That’s all well and good, but what does this look like in practice?

It is hard to improve on Swain’s examples so I will simply relate one of his here. Say you are writing a science-fiction story. Your basic idea is that humans start growing very tall and the main character’s objective is to find out why. So your first sentence that deals with character, situation, and objective looks something like this:

Sentence 1: When humans suddenly sprout to twelve-feet tall, John Storm tries to find out why.

The first sentence of story structure is posited in the form of a statement. In it, we have the situation (humans suddenly growing tall), the character (John Storm) and the objective (trying to find out why this is happening).

The second sentence in story structure deals with opponent and disaster and is cast in the form of a question:

Sentence 2: But can he (John Storm) defeat the traitors in high places who want to kill him in order to make the change appear to be the result of an extraterrestrial plot?

Here we have the opponent and the disaster that threatens our protagonist—namely, death.

This may sound simple, but framing story structure in such a way, really helps.

For my upcoming novel The Brother Keepers, I started off with a fascination for the Jesuits. After a good deal of reading and research I eventually formulated and honed the two sentence story structure into something like the following:

When a US Senator is murdered in a confessional booth in Washington, DC, Nicholas Branson, SJ, tries to find out why.

But can he do so before a cadre of religious and political officials stop him from uncovering a centuries-old mysterious treasure, one that lies behind the senator’s murder, and one that will rock the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world if found?

These are the initial steps I use in breaking down the whole I’m-going-to-write-a-novel thing, my baby steps, if you will. More will follow, but I wanted to start here.

What are some of the initial steps you use to break down the novel writing process? Does breaking things into smaller steps help you work toward the completion of your writing goal?

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Posted by Matthew Peters - July 9, 2014 at 8:02 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , , , ,

My New Novel: The Brothers’ Keepers

I have been away from the blog for the past few days readying things for the publication of my new e-novel The Brothers’ Keepers. It will be released on August 1 through MuseItUp Publishing.

thebrotherskeepers333x500 (1)

Here is the back cover:

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

Here is an excerpt:

The man lit another cigar. “As hard as I try not to smoke these things, I just can’t seem to help myself. The treasure must have something to do with the Roman Catholic Church’s claim as God’s sole representative on earth. Nothing else makes sense. So, it has to be something that threatens their claim to such authority, and taking into account the involvement of secular powers, I think whatever it is threatens Judeo-Christian civilization as a whole.”

“How could anything bring down the dominant civilization?” Branson had thought of this often since his session with Rawlings.

“Among the world’s religions, Christianity is uniquely susceptible to having its underpinnings knocked out. Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism all developed slowly, along the lines of indigenous cultures. Without Mohammed, Islam would still live, as would Buddhism without Gautama. Christianity rests on one thing, the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christianity becomes a mere set of moral maxims, at best a good way to live one’s life, perhaps even a precursor to secular humanism. But if Jesus died and was raised from the dead, then Christianity has what other faiths only promise, the guarantee of eternal life in paradise.” Albert puffed on his cigar until it glowed fiercely. “And so, Doctor, another question. Is there proof of Jesus’ resurrection?”

Branson was on familiar ground now. “The Gospels give us eyewitness accounts. Mary Magdalene sees Jesus in the garden near his tomb. His disciples see him again in the Upper Room and elsewhere.”

Albert knocked his cigar ashes into the fireplace and smiled. “Let me ask you this: which Gospel is the oldest?”

“Mark, written around 70 AD. The next oldest is Matthew, followed by Luke, and finally John.”

“How does Mark, the earliest of the Gospels, end?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Tell me how Mark ends his story.”

Jessica joined in. “Three women go to Jesus’ tomb and find it empty. They meet a young man dressed in white who tells them that Jesus is risen. Then, not long after, he appears to the apostles.”

“Does she have it right, Dr. Branson?”

“Well, she’s pretty close. The three women go to the tomb, find it empty, and are told by the white-robed stranger that Jesus has risen. But…”

“Yes?” Albert pressed.

“The fact is the original version of Mark’s Gospel ends there. The material about Jesus appearing to the apostles, his ascent into heaven, was added later. But in the original, Mark makes no mention of any appearance of the resurrected Jesus.”

“Is an empty tomb proof of resurrection?” Albert asked. “Is hearing about the resurrection from a stranger proof? A rather shaky foundation to build a world religion on, n’est-ce pas? What about the testimony of the Roman guards? Of course they agreed with the resurrection story. If they’d admitted to falling asleep, or leaving their posts, or getting drunk, they would have lost more than their jobs. Just an empty tomb does not a resurrection make.”

“No, but that doesn’t mean the resurrection and appearance to the apostles didn’t happen.” Branson sounded more defensive than he’d intended. He didn’t feel himself to be in a strong position to serve as apologist for the Church, not here and now.

Jessica cleared her throat. “So, let’s ask a different question. What would constitute proof that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead?”

Branson let the objective scholar within take over from the Catholic believer. Under the circumstances, he was certainly glad he had the ability to do so. “Well, off the top of my head, I’d say finding his bones.”

“Very good,” Albert said, puffing away on his cigar. “But is that really the case? Old bones in some ossuary. How would you prove they’re the bones of Jesus Christ? Highly unlikely. So proving Jesus died is probably not the threat.”

“Isn’t there anything else that might challenge the foundation of Christianity?” Jessica asked.

Branson thought for a moment. “I suppose something that brought into doubt the virgin birth or the crucifixion.”

“Very good, Dr. Branson,” Albert said in between puffs of his cigar.

“Also very unlikely,” Branson admitted. “How can you prove the virgin birth? It’s not like Mary went around town saying, ‘Look at me, I’m the Virgin Mary.’ That title was bestowed upon her by the Church hundreds of years after her death. Unless you could find the equivalent of a two thousand year old birth certificate, or a paternity test from Joseph you’d be hard pressed to disprove it. And even if we allow for the fact that Jesus had siblings, as he clearly did from what the Gospels tell us, there is nothing to say that he wasn’t the eldest, and thus Mary could still have been a virgin at his birth, while the other children were conceived by Joseph.”

“What of the crucifixion?” Albert said.

“How can that be proved?”

“Well, I suppose you could find the cross upon which Jesus was crucified, or the nails used to affix him to the cross, or the crown of thorns he wore. However, proving any of that is next to impossible. The Romans crucified thousands and there is no way to tell from the remnants of wood who was crucified on a particular cross, the nails that were used, or the crown that was worn.” Branson thought for a moment. “So what do you think the Cathar treasure is, and where is it?”

Albert blew smoke rings into the cabin’s stale air. “Those are exactly the questions we hope you can help us answer, Dr. Branson. Will you join us in our efforts?”  

———————————————————————————————————————————

Thanks to all who have made this possible!

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - June 14, 2014 at 10:30 am

Categories: Writing   Tags:

My Writing Process Blog Tour

ink-well-and-quill-pen-558332-mI have been asked to participate in a blog tour by the wonderful YA Fantasy writer Chris Hoerter. Please stop by and read Chris’s blog. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

The My Writing Process Blog Tour works like this: I have four questions I must answer about my writing process, then I nominate two or three bloggers/authors to join the tour. They will answer the same four questions one week later.

So, on to the questions:

 

1. What am I working on?

Currently, I have two novels slated for publication. One is a literary novel, Conversations Among Ruins, which I’ll blog about next week. The second novel, and the one I’d like to focus on here, is a religious thriller called The Brothers’ Keepers.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think The Brothers’ Keepers differs from others of its genre in two ways. The first is the amount of research that went into the book. I drew on my research skills and my background in political science and history to write a novel that is as grounded in fact as possible. This is not to say that some of it is not made up, but what is made up certainly exists within the confines of historical possibility, more so than other novels of the genre. Second, the book, although a thriller, is less of a car-chasing shoot ’em up–though there is some of that–than a cerebral thriller, which consists of solving a historical mystery/puzzle.

 

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do because I have a passion for history and am fascinated by the origins of Christianity.

 

4. How does my writing process work?

I research for several months before I write a word. Then I try to come up with a two sentence tagline, like I discussed in a previous post.  I do character sketches for the main and tertiary characters. Then I try to expand  the two-sentence tagline into a paragraph, then a whole page. Once I have this I start sketching out scenes, both action and sequel (for more on this, please see here and here, respectively). I actually try to write linearly, that is from Chapter One until The End. The rough draft is often much longer than the finished product. With the help of my awesome writing group I do two or three edits on the rough draft before showing it to beta readers. After getting their feedback, I make more revisions, and then pass that version to another small group of people. Only after a manuscript has gone through five or six revisions do I start thinking about shopping it around.

 

Now, I get to tag two fabulous bloggers/authors, so here it goes:

 

If you enjoy whimsical tales that feature kittens, bunnies, or fairies, it is probably best you avoid Kat Hawthorne. In fact, it is an odd Hawthornian story indeed that does not involve at least one character losing a finger (or something better). If, however, you like dismal, dreary, dark, dastardly (or many other words that begin with the letter d) fiction, and are strong of will and character, then you may do well to check her out. After all, they’re only words.

 

Marsha R. West writes romantic suspense where experience is required. Her heroes and heroines, struggling with life and loss, are surprised to discover second chances at love.

 

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - May 16, 2014 at 6:03 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , ,

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