Tag Archives: Jon Anthony

Roads to Rome

Since at least the twelfth century, there has been a saying: “All Roads Lead to Rome.” Generally, this is taken to mean the same outcome may be reached by many methods or ideas. Once, though, it was literal truth.

The Roman network of roads constructed in the days of empire covered 120,000 kilometers from Portugal to Constantinople. They projected the power of the emperor, connected nodes of commerce, and assured Rome’s legions had a straight road to wherever trouble might arise. All roads, indeed, led back to that center of civilization … if such was the direction taken. With one’s course reversed, they all eventually ended as far as possible from it.

But Vae Obscurum isn’t about history, though such is always a consideration. It is about thinking. Analogous to the directions available to the Roman pilgrim, two modes of philosophical thought beckon the intellectual traveler: extension and reduction. Toward Rome, representing clarity, and away into the wilderness of false premises diffusing into irrelevance.

There are a vastly greater number of ways to be wrong than right. This is one reason why, for the sake of example, the LGBT∞ pantheon of delusions will never—short of divine intervention—cease adding its addendum letters. Philosophy seems too often concerned with muddying rather than clarifying thought, and theology likewise has its share of overblown and under-supported doctrines (speaking of Rome). Such in the nature of human ego, fed by needs to make oneself more than might be objectively justified, and to build sustaining institutions and hierarchies to afterward enjoy the advantage or other comforts they generate.

My deep-thinking character Jon Anthony, in Killing Doctor Jon, called his intellectual antithesis

“‘reduction to essence,’ where we stop believing and start seeing. The valid precepts of all the great religions are found there … because things real have always been real, and are just as they will always remain.” (KDJ, 2013)

Another great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, opined that it is always best to begin at the beginning. Christopher Robin’s friend intuited truth at a primal level, and so realized a truism of logic: a false premise cannot be successfully extended. To correct child paradigms, one must start fresh from a justified foundation of thought. A reliable frame of reference reflects clarity and aligns with the state of actuality from which all natural endurance draws vitality.

Another of my characters, Boone’s mentor and Chinese pastor Lin Shun Lun, noted in his likewise naturalistic orientation the tripartite nature in much of God’s creation:

“We live in the bounds of our material existence, yet we sense, as Lao did, something more. Those, as so many things do upon reflection, often divide themselves into threes: Father, Son, and Spirit … beginning, middle and ending … Heaven, Earth and Man.” (The Bonus Pool, 2015)

Applying Jon’s approach of simplifying rather than extending makes for a more penetrating message, which in the way matters are considered here ought to be the focus of Christian outreach. Taken to the beginning, one arrives at the point of origin, the Creator, manifesting Himself as He sees fit and to our eyes as the Father, representing his essential unity and love. He also appears as the Son, to embody His grace and represent the creative force of the Right Hand of the Craftsman. His ministry of the Spirit resides in divine communication and inspiration that projects His will into the world among those who will listen and live what they believe.

Sets of three become one and accumulate into work, and works into a portfolio, and somewhere beyond into the sum total of what He is doing in a plan held close and beyond our sight. Faith is the window into that far green country Professor Tolkien envisioned.

What do we need to know? Taken back to essence as Jon would approve, divine love, saving grace, and the sufficiency of Christ comprise the essential tripartite of the Christian faith. One or another duty follows from these three concepts, and life is found along whichever occupies our minds at any given moment. These are real, and may be successfully extended so long as we do not lose line of sight to our home. Doing so, we can never truly become lost.

Begin with clarity, and end with success. Be R.E.A.L. before it gets real:

Realize your need
Explore for truth
Accept God’s gift of forgiveness
Live what you believe

You will find other concepts along the way worth holding onto. Remember that in most endeavors, methodology is everything. Deliberating is no exception.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, Boone’s sixth title and one split with Daniel Sean Ritter, Ghosts of the Republic, is currently undergoing Content Edit. The process is not easily forecast due to the nature of the Editress’s work. GOTR will, God willing, appear sometime next year depending on what else He sets us toward doing in the meantime.

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Standing Down

Today is a special day. It marks the end of my Year in the Chair, which was the fulfillment of an ambition to devote twelve months to the full-time writing of fiction. I held that ambition since at least 1998, and a less refined vision for much longer than that.

As a child, something struck me about reading as soon as I mastered the skill. It was the play of words across the page, bringing with them a caravan load of imagery and the ability to transport and suspend the reader in a world created by their crafter. Later, as age refined my perspective, I noticed how words preserved the thoughts of the author, and realized that our inner processes make up so much of what we are. Those are lost to the world with us, unless we are remembered in some way. Writing can do that. I believe authoring a work is taking a shot at immortality: the secret dream of everyone writing with intent. The opportunity came, so I did just that.

I started the YITC with three novels completed and one published—Jon’s Trilogy—consisting of The Anvil of the Craftsman, The Britteridge Heresy, and Killing Doctor Jon. The lead title’s supporting alpha-male character begged for a prequel, and writing it made up the first effort of my Year. Operation Naji is the worthy effort of presenting the first portion of my spooky USAF officer’s back-story. It will be my next release and is up for publication this summer through Single Candle Press.

Another character grew and blossomed in my mind as the YITC continued: Rebecca Boone Hildebrandt. Her character is a different sort of lead. She finds her footing in the sand of the world rather than on the bedrock of Jon Anthony’s faith. Boone is a flawed character. In many ways, she is the victim of her own bad decisions—her courage and dedication to duty notwithstanding. She is and continues to be a work in progress, and portraying her as such came to be the point of her novels: Absinthe and Chocolate, The Bonus Pool and One Last Scent of Jasmine.

The same Special Operator to whom so many of my readers attached in Anvil afterward demanded a second installment of his history. It is King of a Lesser Hill, one that takes place in 1995 during the height of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The installment makes up the middle title of his previously unseen life prior to 2006. The novel is everything that I wanted it to be, and stands as a perfect companion piece to Operation Naji.

So, I began the Year with three novels and finish with eight. The first trio is in the marketplace. All are full-length, which I personally consider to be above 80,000 words. Boone’s third stretched slightly longer than Anvil and is my most extensive to date. Her fourth, with the working title of Meat for the Lion, is my current WIP, and the third title of my military alpha’s back-story grows in my mind. Writing—for a writer—never really ends.

What does disappear, unfortunately, is the emotional carrying capacity of so many authors, when little reward for thousands of hours of their labor seems forthcoming. Once today’s hours are logged, I will have worked the Chair for more than 2,570 hours in the past year, when a 40-hour workweek would have consumed 2,080. I will have averaged fifty-plus-hour weeks with no time off save that required by family duties. Excluding the two weeks we spent losing Mother, each of the other days has a work-related entry.

Frankly, I am dragging myself across this finish line. Accomplished author Joe Konrath frequently says that self-publishing is a marathon and not a sprint, and I would agree. The vision from a past Olympic race comes to mind. A stumbling runner, covered with her own feces, staved off helping hands as she crossed the line on her own in a finish followed by a collapse. It is the perfect representation of the experience of writing fiction and attempting to have one’s effort result in a tangible return.

The real challenge in traditional or self-publishing is marketing. This is an environment where technology has made producing an electronic title a viable goal for anyone with a personal computer. Putting up a quality work is now the equivalent of playing a violin in the din of a machine shop. The effort itself might be beautiful, but it is unlikely that many will notice.

I have accumulated forty-two reviews on Amazon across three novels, and all of them are perfect scores, save for the questionable opinion expressed in a single three-star. I’ve given away more than twelve thousand one hundred copies of Anvil, that novel I love so much. So far, one-half of one percent of those downloading have returned to pick up another of the modestly-priced titles in Jon’s Trilogy. With eleven thousand-plus novels appearing every month, apparently there are too many other free titles available, and some of those are just as good as mine. Point-five-percent sell-through ain’t gonna feed the parakeet, much less the bulldog.

Another problem with pursuing success in self-publishing is the inability of even those who have achieved significant sales to explain fully why it happened. Some titles of equal quality and presentation achieve that wonderfully viral condition, and many others do not, and no one really knows the reasons successes occur. The emergence of marketing targeted to genre-specific subscriber lists may be starting to change that, and will be the focus of efforts once Operation Naji is edited, formatted and out the door. Hopefully, that happy strategy will turn things around in our SCP balance sheets.

Until then, I will be taking time to read friends’ work and relax while I look for an opportunity allowing contribution to society in a more appreciable way. Boone’s fourth novel—and Sean’s third—will continue as time allows. When or if they are finished, I will have matched the quantitative full-length output of Ernest Hemingway. It might be time then to stop altogether, or continue on. One never knows until the new day arrives, fresh with the promise of a blank page.

This final day of my Year in the Chair, as every one on which the sun has set before, is both an end and a beginning. To lose sight of that actuality is to improperly manage perspective, and shirk our duties to both our Craftsman and ourselves. Let it never be so.

Choose to Love, -DA

Jon’s Trilogy

There is a principle of writing and marketing known as The Rule of Three. This idea suggests that tripartite content, being the smallest number required in establishing a pattern, is the most straightforward approach to connecting with one’s target audience.

On December 27, 2010, when I had finished setting up a new computer and began wondering what to do with it, I did not immediately plan to write a novel. I certainly had no idea that the work—which would become Anvil—would consume my free time for the period of twelve months. It would have been even more of a surprise to know that I would see two more of Jon Anthony’s titles published by the end of March 2013. I would never have imagined that I would be fulfilling a lifelong ambition of devoting a year full-time to the writing of fiction. The Rule of Three, however, seemed to apply itself spontaneously, and the words began to flow.

Every story has a beginning, a middle part, and an end, as Jon tells his college students in Killing Doctor Jon. So does his trilogy. They correspond to my goals for readers in the series, ones that I defined early on in the process.

The Anvil of the Craftsman, Jon’s introduction and adventure in Iraq, is a glimpse at the reasoning and philosophy guiding a young, bright, articulate postgraduate student in 2006. Methodologically, this would be Rationale.

The Britteridge Heresy provides insight into the actions his attitudes toward his faith and fellow man provoke, wrapped in the intrigue of an international drama. Jon, through no choice of his own, is forced to “walk the walk” of a believer, and again his faith carries the day. It defines, as I realized, Jon’s Method.

His third title, Killing Doctor Jon, makes it clear that this is Jon Anthony’s Trilogy. It is the most spiritually intense of the three, a story line that—as one of Jon’s beta readers puts it—“knocks you on your butt.” Doctor Jon defines the stakes in the race of life against death, a contest with a temporal finish line and eternal consequences. The plot is some aspects is a departure and in others defines the entire purpose of the exercise. In the Rule of Three it is Relevance.

Three titles, three objectives, and an undercurrent of interconnection make Jon’s Trilogy an experience. As entertainment, there is adventure, action and suspense, and even a hint of romance. I have been asked “what are your novels about?” In the end, as are all good stories, they are about people. I have spent twenty-seven months and counting with those who populate Jon Anthony’s universe, and it has been an entirely worthwhile journey.

The Anvil of the Craftsman, The Britteridge Heresy, and Killing Doctor Jon are the journey of a lifetime … for Jon Anthony and for anyone else who can read and think at the same time. I hope that you will enjoy all three.

*In the run-up to the release of Jon’s Anthony’s third title, Killing Doctor Jon, my debut novel and the first of Jon’s Trilogy is being made available at very special pricing:

The Anvil of the Craftsman is now a free download via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iTunes and Kobo. Please see my sideboard for links!

Choose to Love, -DA