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Thursday, August 22, 2019

August 22, 2019: Innocense Be Hanged!

     Sometimes if I've been away from writing for a while, it takes a bit for me to get back into those good habits of sitting down at a set time and getting right into my story. I suppose it is a form of writer's block, and my response to writer's block has always been the same: I write anyway. I have generally found that if I sit down and write, even when I don't feel like writing, I do get some work done, even if it is not good work, and I can always go back when my muse wakes up again and fix the parts that are weak or bad.
     Another thing that sometimes works well for me is to step away from the story I am writing and write something else. It can be a short story, a piece of flash fiction, or even notes for a project that I've set down for the future. The idea is to move forward and get into that groove again that gets the job done.
     I came up with an idea for a different kind of short story several years ago, and it has remained for me, so I feel like it is a story I need to write. The idea is about a young traveler who goes into a town and after talking to several of the townspeople, finds out that everyone in the town is named Oswell Framwinkle. Every man, woman, and child goes by that same unusual name for some reason, so the young visitor decides that he must try to get to the bottom of it all and find out why the town is like this. He tracks it down to an incident that happen several decades earlier that involved an innocent wizard who was hanged unjustly by a corrupt judicial system. There is a curse, a mysterious cottage out in the woods where it is always storming, and a middle aged wizard who seems to know all about the situation.
     I usually don't write sorcery books, but this one wants to haunt me until I write it, so while I am waiting for my inspiration for Book Three of the Word series to return, I have decided to work on this story a bit. If I can pull this story together from my notes, I hope to use it to assemble an anthology of all of my short stories and novellas and publish it in paperback format for those who have wanted a physical copy of the stories that I have published over the years in ebook format.
     I have already begun the work, and will be building the story from the copious notes that I made when the idea came to me. With any luck and a lot of hard work, I should be able to get the story done in the next couple of months. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

July 31st, 2019: Book Two of Word Series released!

     Well, after many setbacks due to life events, I have finally gotten the second book of the Word Series published. Book One, "Let No Word Be Spoken" introduced Captain Henderson Johns, a jumpship captain who traveled the galaxy to negotiate peace and set up trade agreements. On his way back from one such mission, the ship's navigation array malfunctions, requiring his two crew members to go outside the ship and repair the antennae. After finishing the repair, they are struck suddenly by some space debris that kills them, leaving Johns alone on the ship.
     He drifts in space for a while, looking for fuel to make the trip back home to return the bodies to their families. Locating a planet with the elements he needs, he tries to go in for a landing, but ends up crashing on the planet. When he comes to, he is in excruciating pain, but finds himself being attended to by the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.
     There is much more to the story, as Johns learns about the culture of the planet's beautiful red haired female inhabitants and their religion. He realizes that there are no males on the planet, and everyone communicates by telepathy.
     The book ended with Johns being banished from the planet by the world governing agency know as the Compendium.

     Book Two opens up shortly after Johns' removal from the alien world. He is still in touch with Loran Evandell, the alien that made sure he was nursed back to health after his crash. Johns is back at his job, helping the king of the planet Wellis figure out why his subjects seem to dislike him so much. In the process, Johns meets the megalomaniac Ros Maycon, who is plotting to take over Wellis, and that is just the beginning.
     Johns, Loran, and the crew of the jumpship Dreamer's Fortune face their trials bravely, working to stop the machinations of the evil Maycon.

     Book Two should be available for purchase as an ebook or paperback within the next couple of days on Amazon. Look for my books under M Ray Holloway Jr. You might check out some of my short stories as well, like "The Deathburger Saga" or "The Picture of the Ghost". 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

January 25, 2019: I am NOT a Christian!

To my dismay,
I have learned over the past few years that

I am NOT a Christian!

During the time that Barrack Obama was the president of this great nation, I saw several people post on social media the following:

If you support Obama, you CANNOT be a Christian! It just doesn't work that way!

Ironically, I have seen the same post about Donald Trump. "If you support Trump, you CANNOT be a Christian!"

So, I cannot support a Democrat president or a Republican president without jeopardizing my relationship with God and Jesus Christ? What about Independents? Is my soul safe if I support them? Are Libertarians safe to back? Is there a list somewhere that I can refer to before I choose a candidate to vote for? To whom has God given the authority to make these decisions?

Seriously, there is a lot of unchristian behavior going around in politics, and it is not limited to any one party. For too long, the American people have been forced to hold their noses and vote for one candidate or the other because in their subjective opinion, that candidate is less bad than the other one. It has been a while for me since I have had two shining candidates to choose from. Every person that Washington puts forward for us to vote on is marred with flaws and we find ourselves having to ask the question, "Whose flaws are the least disgusting?" Every voter has to make that decision for themselves.

Barrack Obama had "Fast and Furious", Benghazi, and sent billions of dollars to a country that makes it clear that its goal in this world is to destroy America and Israel. He turned Nasa into some kind of good will program for Muslims. He traveled to other countries to apologize for America, and declared America to be a Muslim nation despite the historical record of it being founded on Christian principles.

Donald Trump has made some disgusting comments that are extremely demeaning to women, he uses ridicule regularly to mock his political opponents, for example, Pocahontas. His tone and mannerisms drag down the dignity of the office of the president of the United States. He has been accused of having an affair while married, and critics are convinced that he plotted with Russia to steal the election away from the Democrats.

Which of these two could be said to uphold Christian values? When was the last time a president spoke out in support of the beliefs laid out for us in the Bible?

The kinds of statements mention in the beginning of this post are irresponsible and full of hate. They are definitely not helpful in any way. I am so weary of people who, failing to be able to intelligently discuss their viewpoints, resort to name calling and false innuendo.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior as a teenager, recognizing Him as the Son of God, and confessing my sins. I have studied the Bible all my life, and done the very best to live in accordance with the guidelines set forth there. I have served in many positions in the government of the churches I attended, including youth pastor and Christian counselor to many members of the congregation, and still serve to this day in the music ministry of my current church. I stand ready to testify about the greatness of God at any time.

My Christianity is not diminished in any way because I voted for some political candidate. There are Christians on both sides of any political argument. We will never solve the divide between the political parties leading our country with hate speech.

The Christ that I serve tells us that the greatest commandment in the Bible is to love one another, and I agree. Until we start opening our hearts, we will never find the unity that is so vital to leading this great country.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 31, 2018: Looking to the Poetic

     One of the things I wanted to do when I started writing seriously was republish a small book of poetry that I assembled when I still lived in Houston. I had been writing poetry for the pleasure of my friends and family since the early seventies, and back in the late nineties, I put them together and printed them at the print shop I managed. The cover had been simple, and the book was not very large, but it felt good back then to have them all assembled into one book that I could offer my friends. I only printed about thirty copies, and they went pretty fast, so there was a second printing of another twenty.
     Since I had published three short stories when I retired, and I had garnered a small following, I decided to do a reprint with a new cover, and a new poem to go with it. This would be my first attempt at a paperback, and I hoped that it would do well. It did not. Most of the people who followed my poetry years earlier weren't interested in buying the new version and those who did not know me showed no interest at all. It's still out there, for anyone looking for my earlier work, but so far there have been few takers.
     It is a compilation of my best poetry written between 1970 and 1997 with one new piece that I wrote about my mother, who passed away when I was 25. I originally planned to publish three poetry books, and this was the first one. I selected my most encouraging poems for this volume, but the idea of the other two volumes was eventually dropped for other projects.
     The cover shown above was the mock-up for the new printing. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 13th, 2018: The Prequel no one Expected

     By the time that I got around to my third story, I had made some new author friends who were teaching me how they handled some of their stories. One thing that I heard from several writers is the idea of introducing characters for an upcoming novel by writing a short story featuring them. "Gretchen's Shoot" was that story. I had a novel that I wanted to write about a brilliant scientist who traveled back in time to fix some things in his life that he had messed up over the years. In that story, he had let the love of his life get away and ended up marrying someone else on the rebound. Because of his lack of real commitment to his "second fiddle" wife, the two of them were pretty miserable together.
     Gretchen was the wife that the scientist settled for, and as he buried himself in his work, she and her sister took up various sports before discovering wrestling. Learning that they were actually pretty good at it, they became one of the top tag teams in the league. Things were exciting, and they were at the top of their game until the managers of the league decided that it would be a huge draw to have the two sisters compete against each other. While the siblings let the idea roll around in their heads, Gretchen learned that her partner sister had seriously betrayed her trust in a way that deeply affected her personally. 
     Although this story is about the wrestling industry, I did not describe an actual wrestling match in the plot. The match between the two sisters plays an important part in demonstrating the relationship between the women, but it was not necessary to have a play by play of the contest.
     Why a wrestling story? It's hard to answer that because the saga pretty much wrote itself. It started as a prelude to "At Some Point in Time", but as I began making notes, the ideas flowed freely. I had an entirely different ending to the story when I started writing it, but it just didn't feel right to me. I needed this short story to mesh properly with the novel I was planning, so I shifted gears at the end to make it fit perfectly. It actually became more of a morality tale, which just made more sense. The whole plan was to create this crisis for Gretchen that she had to resolve before the meeting with her sister in the ring. She was at a crossroad, and the direction she took would determine how her life would progress.

Monday, February 19, 2018

February 19th, 2018: Reviving past efforts

After the publication of my unconventional ghost story (The Picture of the Ghost,) I decided to rework my first complete (unpublished) short story entitled "The Empath". I had an idea for a character who could read the emotions of others and interact with them on an internal level. That was James, the empath from a story I had written thirty years earlier about a young man who traveled around the country helping those with deep seated emotional problems.

Although James was the protagonist of the story, it was told from the perspective of an antagonist named Ann Harrison, an intern at a small country doctor's clinic. Having been mistreated by men most of her life, she trusted no one, so when the doctor called James in to help a young girl who had suffered the severe trauma of seeing her mother beheaded in a gruesome traffic accident, it was not surprising that Ann belittled the young man with his claims of some kind of paranormal ability to heal people by entering their minds.

Normally, James would not care whether anyone believed in his talent or not, but he saw a need in Ann that he thought he could help her with. The tale unfolds with James helping the young accident victim cope with her loss before turning his attention to Ann. He demonstrates his gift to her by allowing her to see what he experiences when he connects with a patient.

James has been a character that has been close to my heart because as is developed in the short story, his gift causes him a great deal of personal suffering, opening him up to some of the worst pain that the human race has to deal with. He takes that upon himself, allowing the destructive emotions to bleed off, bringing restoration to the patient. He sacrifices his own peace of mind to bring about the healing that is necessary.

If God grants me the days on this earth, it is my intention to write a full length novel about James, going into a great deal more detail about his activities. I already have a suspenseful tale worked out to some degree.

Monday, February 12, 2018

February 12, 2018: Going through the pages...

It has been four years since I began writing seriously now, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I look forward to the stories still to be written, and if God grants me the days, I will get them all down on paper for the pleasure of those who follow my work.

The first story that I published was "The Picture of the Ghost", and was not what I expected to be writing when I decided to make the effort. Rather than the science fiction that I planned to write, it was a gentle ghost story, not scary at all, and in some places funny. It came about from watching some of the reality shows on television where groups of paranormal investigators go into haunted buildings, and using sophisticated equipment, try to detect and communicate with the spirits of people who have passed on.

I felt that some of these investigators analyze the data they collect and jump to conclusions that I found hard to swallow. The question in my mind was, "How do they KNOW that the ghost is saying what they think he is saying? What if they have it all wrong, and something else is going on behind the scenes?"

That was where Jake came into the picture. A poor country boy who stumbles onto the wrong side of the law, Jake finds himself in prison, supposedly for only a few weeks. Poisoned by some bad food that he ate, he dies in his cell one day, but does not realize it. Time blurs for him as he continues to keep his normal routine every day, tracing the steps he made in life. He wonders why no one takes any notice of him, but it is not until an inmate swings a mop through his body that he understands that he is actually dead.

Years pass, and decades fly by as time progresses until one day, alone in the abandoned prison, he is visited by the crew of paranormal "scientists" who have heard of a solitary ghost who continues to walk the cell blocks and courtyard outside. Running through their usual processes, they discover Jake and interact with him in a most unfortunate manner, coming to some terribly wrong conclusions about him.

It was a fun story to write, but I almost did not publish it, considering it my first attempt at writing and most likely not worthy of public consumption. Through the encouragement of several friends and family, I did go ahead with it, to some positive results that helped me continue to write. I thought I might move on to the story that I really wanted to write, but there would be three more stories before I finally had the chance to write that one...