My book, Heaven Shining Through, is inching closer and closer to reality. I just received the galley proof and I’m awaiting the cover design.
While I’m getting excited about adding “author” to my resume, I share this because you, readers, were very much a part of this venture right from the start. Thus, I want to keep you in the proverbial loop.
As you might remember, this book was conceived as a social media experiment. Way back when — five and a half years ago, actually — I floated the idea of a community novel.
Simply put, I invited readers – and that included my Reveille/Between the Lakes readers as well – to contribute to an ongoing story. As long as there was interest, I promised to continue to advance the storyline.
I had no expectations about where the story would go. In fact, I didn’t even have a storyboard or outline. I trusted in your imagination and direction. Would it end up being a mystery? A romance? A comedy? A drama? A slice of life? Inspiration?
The plan was to get you started and have you submit continuing paragraph(s) each week. Together, I thought, we would flesh out the storyline, develop characters, possibly throw in some curves or red herrings. In the end I hoped we would be able to come up with a readable piece we all could be proud to share with family and friends.
Well. That was the plan. I did have interest — somewhere around 100 likes. I didn’t get much input.
If you remembered, I started with the first open ended paragraph …
I was driving alone on the dark black asphalt, seemingly darker because of ominous clouds on the horizon ranging from steel gray to puffs of white. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of white as the sun tried to peek out from behind the clouds. It didn’t succeed, but first a ray rained into the picture, followed by a halo of rays.
My name is …
Cathy suggested our lead character would be Samantha … my first challenge since I suddenly had to think as a woman and, as any man knows, that could be problematic. But I was sure I would get some help from my female readers. Guess what? It never came.
djmatticus added a paragraph, more of a reinforcement and continuation of the first paragraph.
That was the extent of my help.
With steely resolve, however, I revisited the story weekly, adding a few paragraphs at a time to advance the tale. I was pretty much left on my own, probably because I continued to get likes. I just didn’t get much in the way of comments. It became a Wednesday fixture for the next 24 weeks.
What I came up with was a story within a story. The underlining theme was the restoration of a relationship between Sam and her mother. It was told through the prism of a flashback to Sam’s life — her early home experiences, her wilder side, meeting the love of her life, Chad, her growth as a wife and mother through sorrow and blessings, and the presence of God in an ordinary life.
I tried to keep it real with appropriate language and activities. I purposely stayed away from being “preachy” but rather told a story that showed the presence of God in everyday, sometimes messy lives. The hope is readers will be able to see that.
A lot of the activity takes place in the greater Paterson, NJ area, which, of course, is where I called home as a youth. Some of the backdrops will be familiar to fellow Patersonians who grew up in the mid 60s.
It looks like we are about six to eight weeks from launch day! I still have to sign off on the cover.
I haven’t coordinated a launch date yet … that should be coming soon. I know it will be available online and I am planning book signings and presentations, at least in Maine, New York and New Jersey. I’ll keep you posted as they develop.
In the meantime, you can pre-order a copy of Heaven Shining Through simply by commenting and/or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The book will retail for $9.99 plus shipping and handling. I will get back to you when the book becomes available. No upfront charges will be made.
If you’re interested in reviewing Heaven Shining Through let me know, especially if you have ties to media.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Always listen to the experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it. — Robert Heinlein