Monday, July 27, 2009

Finding Inspiration

Inspiration is an interesting word with Biblical roots. It literally means that something is breathed out by God. I would not put the fictional story of Distant Thunder in that category, but its foundation of Biblical prophecy certainly qualifies. Being a life-long student of Bible Prophecy, I found it a natural transition from teaching those prophecies to creating a story with prophecy as its basis.

One of the stunning aspects of ancient Old Testament scripture is how what was predicted over twenty-five hundred years ago has, and is coming true today. Ezekiel the prophet witnessed a vision that described the re-birth of the nation of Israel. He also related how a coalition of nations, soon after that re-birth, would gather to destroy the Jewish nation. I use the word stunning because Ezekiel listed the exact nations that are headlining today’s news as being mortal enemies of Israel. Is that a coincidence? I think not and therein the idea to write a fictional story based on current events was born.

Now, in the creation of Distant Thunder and The Lightning Chronicles, inspiration comes into play. I took two passions from my personal life, Bible prophecy and the military thriller genre, and blended them into what I am calling a prophetic fiction thriller. Using what is most familiar to my own purpose I began by creating a character based on the life of a Pastor. As with my wife, many have asked if Pastor Ty Dempsey, one of the two main characters in the book, happened to be my alter ego. The answer is a resounding no. Aspects of my daily life show up simply because that is what is familiar to me. But Ty is his own man. He is an ordinary individual that is confronted with an extraordinary and frightening circumstance. He portrays how heroism is alive and well, even though that heroism might go unnoticed.

The real work came with the second main character, something that was totally apart from my personal experience. Moshe Eldan is an Israeli F-16 fighter pilot. Although the thought of flying something so powerful and dangerous as a fighter jet has always been a dream, I have never been within a hundred yards of an F-16. So, I began with a series of questions that led me deep into the research of my character’s surroundings. That included studying the advanced military weaponry and tactics used by the Israelis and other national air forces. It meant buying an F-16 flight simulator and spending hours trying to figure out how the thing worked. I confess I had a blast, plus, the aerial dogfight sequences in which fighter jets are shot from the sky became quite realistic. Thankfully, the military aspects of Distant Thunder passed muster as a 9th Air Force Combat Instructor reviewed the material and called it “spot on.” From that point, the rest of the story was easy and just exciting in the writing as it will be for the reader.

I have read of authors spending weeks outlining a storyline in order to make their book come alive. But for me, the story seemed to flow from the very start. I found myself surprised and perplexed at the actions of my characters, and that is how it should be. They were as unpredictable and conflict-driven as any normal human being. That, to me, is the greatest inspiration of all.

Jimmy Root Jr
Author of Distant Thunder A Prophetic Fiction Thriller based on Bible Prophecy
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Distant Thunder Virtual Book Tour has Begun

For those of you who've been watching my by-lines after each post, you've noticed my announcements about the coming Virtual Book Tour taking place in August and September.
Well, my Tour coordinator has graciously decided to begin a week early.

Here's the idea. For a book to reach anywhere near its potential in today's literary market it has to have an internet buzz. But how in the world does one create a buzz without blowing up a building our having a name like....Clancy?

Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways. Being immersed in cluelessness about such things, I found the best answer was a quick prayer. You know... HELP! Then I ran across a little add publicizing something called a Virtual Book Tour. Still struggling with cluelessness I clicked and inquired, and voila.....Virtual Tour begins.

What is it? Good question. A virtual book tour is a series of interviews and articles, hosted by numerous blog sites that explore and review new books that are hitting the market. Perfect! So, through August and September I will be answering interviews about Distant Thunder, Biblical Prophecy, and what it is like to be a first-time author. Cool, huh?

You can follow along and participate. I will be facebooking and tweeting about each day's Tour site. You can go to the site, read, and comment. If you've read Distant Thunder, your positive comments will send the book into a true "Buzz" mode as it nears and passes its release date. In fact, I would be greatly appreciative our your doing that very thing. You can go straight to my facebook profile page by going to:
Or you can receive the tweets at It is that simple.

Then one more step. Send the tour sites to your friends to check out. Tell them you've come across the latest "world's most exciting book" that they really have to check out. Then give them the tour site. This is how you can help create a buzz that just might bring someone into true spiritual life, and that is what Distant Thunder and its sequels is all about.
Here is the first tour stop.
Check it out. Comment. Comment on these blogs too. You can do it!
Jimmy Root Jr
On TOUR now!
PS. For those of you that are headed to the Assemblies of God General Council in Orlando, Distant Thunder will be on sale at the Gospel Publishing House Bookstore. It will be signed and ready to go.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Storyline Part Three: Complex Braiding

NOTE: Be sure and enter the short story contest about half-way down the right hand column. Entry is due by September 1, and the prize is a signed copy of my new book: Distant Thunder.)

How do YOU tell a good story when you're sitting around gabbing with family or friends? Do you weave a graphic tail with multiple characters? Do your characters have a reason for being in the story i.e. part of the conflict or plot? I hope so, or your stories would be awfully boring.
The same holds true for writing a fast-paced, brain popping novel. There really should be several avenues of intrigue or conflict that intertwine themselves into with your main characters. This is something that many budding authors miss.
While I was tickling my keyboard in the writing of Distant Thunder, something happened that was completely natural. I added three different secondary storylines without outlining them to death. I let the story flow. I allowed those secondary characters to surprise and anger me. I ended up snuffing out their lives in the end and enjoyed doing it. But I was grateful to them none-the-less. Why? Because the prevented my main storylines and characters from getting bogged down. Writing became an exercise in intrigue, and that fact literally kept me coming back to the keyboard for more. The process of intertwining secondary plots and characters into your main story is called BRAIDING. (You know, like braiding those long pony tails on your daughter's head...or maybe even your own:)
Heather Sellers wrote, in a recent Writer's Digest article; "One reason so many books-in-progress die on the vine is because there isn't enough spark, enough energy in the original design, to drive the project all the way through the middle and close the deal. The middle of the book is often compared to a lonely and vast desert the writer has to hike across. It's easy to get lost. It's easy to give up.
To get across the middle, your work must involve some element of discovery--something you have to figure out as you write. Otherwise, your writing will feel canned, preplanned, flat. Like stale popcorn."
The idea is to have two or three things going at one time, and then bounce back and forth in short segments as your story progresses. This not only keeps the writing crisp, it keeps the reader seeking more. Multiple storylines are what creates PACE....and you definitely want a fast pace in order to hold the reader's interest.
Again, in writing Distant Thunder, I found that using the secondary characters to set the "hook" for the reader worked wonderfully. It only added to the value and direction the main characters were heading. My readers have commented that they hated those guys. And when the secondary characters ran head on into their demise, a sense of justice had already been birthed in the reader. For me, that was an accident. It was not planned. But good things happen to those who jump in and take risks. Write On oh storyteller!
Jimmy Root Jr
Author: Distant Thunder, Book One of the Lightning Chronicles... A Prophetic Fiction Thriller
Watch for my Virtual Book Tour coming in August and September.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Storyline: Part 2----Tell a Good Story

First, Check out the writing contest in the right hand column about half way down. Good! Now continue on....

Look at this guy and imagine what kind of story he might be telling. Who is is audience? What about his story holds their interest? Where has he been in that crazy get-up?
I see him leaning forward, hand on knee, regaling a bunch of illiterate and partially drunken sailors about his stay at a famous roadside inn. He hasn't gotten to the good part and is just warming up to the crowd.
I think Joe storyteller here gives us a clue to good fiction writing. It's all about the story. You might have beautifully crafted and complex characters, but if they're not embroiled in a good story they are wasted effort.
Multiple-best selling author, James Patterson had a few things to say about making his material interesting as he talked with Diana Page Jordan in a recent Writer's Digest interview.
"I'm big on having a blistering pace. That's one of the hallmarks of what I do, and that's not easy. I never blow up cars and things like that, so it's something else that keeps the suspense flowing. I try not to write a chapter that isn't going to turn on the movie projector in my head."
Patterson has found the key to great fiction. IT MOVES. The story never stops. Introspection takes place within the pace. The characters are developed around the storyline, not the other way around. The pace adds plausibility as well. Ultimately, Patterson is more concerned with action and suspense than he is with technical precision, which ruins many a good story.
"A lot of writers fall in love with their sentences or their construction of sentences, and sometimes that's great, but not everybody is Gabriel Garcia Marquez or James Joyce. A lot of people like to pretend that they are, and they wind up not giving people a good read or enlightening them."
In other words, tell a good story. Make it one that leaves people leaning to the edge of their seats. Leave them begging for more. That's what makes a story memorable to the reader. This is precisely what I attempted to do in writing Distant Thunder. Not having the technical skills when I began, I found that just blistering the keyboard with a good story made the thing work. The good work of an editor cleaned it up, and by the process I amassed enough technical skill to make the story even better. Write a good story and it will be read.
Happy Writing,
Jimmy Root Jr
Distant Thunder A Prophetic Fiction Thriller
Watch for my Virtual Book Tour coming in August. Details to follow.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Storyline: Part One--Using the Mundane

What, no glamour? No adventure? How can you have a proper story without the fluff? That is a great question, and one that every writer has to answer at one point or another in their writing.
In my development of Distant Thunder, I found that placing the character within a world filled with everyday, seemingly mundane activities helped bring to life whatever emotion was being experienced. Yes, the Lightning Chronicles series is a work of Prophetic Fiction, filled with action, renewed terrorism, death, mayhem, and the fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy. But it was in between the action sets that the mundane opened the door to truly understand the character and his/her conflict. For example; Pastor Ty Dempsey will soon be facing the most dramatic event to ever hit the mainland of the United States...although he has no clue. The climax will be an epic moment, but to get there, I had to reveal how Ty's particular conflict was building in him the character to withstand the coming disaster.
How does a writer create 'feel' without using action? I confess, I'm no expert. Rather, I used ordinary moments in my own routine to draw out of Ty his inner conflict. At one point the antagonist, a board member in his church, is being a rather large pain in the.....neck. Ty finds himself working through the feelings of betrayal, manipulation, and hopelessness, all while thumbing through the Church's Child Protection Policy. Let me tell you, there is nothing more mundane and boring than a Child Protection Policy: necessary, but BORING! Yet Ty's emotions flooded the paragraphs of the page without anything adventurous actually happening in the storyline.
You can do it to. In fact, you can practice right now. At the top of the page I posted a picture of garden green beans. Why? Because just last evening I spent an hour picking the little stinkers while sweating out every last ounce of my body fluid in the extreme humidity of Missouri. (I love hyperbole!) Take a moment and place your character, conflict and all, in a garden. Have him or her pick some green beans. Something like this:
Jana tugged at a long, fat bean and lamented. Rust had marred the most tender portion, a little clump of dirt clinging to the end was the culprit. At least half the bean was tainted, ruined, scarred. A tear found its way down her cheek as she saw her own life staring back at her. She'd ignored how the scars had layered themselves upon scars. But now, there was no innocence left to mar. This one, rusted relationship had finished it off.

Pardon me, I got way too in touch with my feminine side there. Okay, maybe something humorous:
Bob knew he'd gone way too far. It was one thing to try to lighten a moment with laughter. It was quite another to act out in unabashed tomfoolery, but here he'd done it again. That one bean, out in the middle of the wet, raised bed had called to him. He couldn't resist. Now, his face was covered in muddy slime and a warty, obese toad had locked him eye to eye. Wait, was that a smile on the toad's face?
I never realized how picking green beans could actually be cathartic. Yes, it's raw. It's unrefined. But it uses something ordinary to create a climate for development of your character. Try it! Let me know what you do with this little green bean patch.
Jimmy Root Jr
Distant Thunder Book One of the Lightning Chronicles
Watch for the Virtual Book Tour coming in August.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Good Writer's Group Can Be Valuable

Opinions are varied, but for the writer just getting started, finding a good writer’s group can be of tremendous value. Such has been the case for me, though it was the last thing I was looking for.

A writer’s group, at times called workshop or critique group is a cadre of three to six writers. This group gathers on a regular basis to offer constructive criticism and support for each member’s work. These groups can have a variety of experience levels, ranging from the novice to the polished, published author. The purpose is simple, to improve the skills, motivation, and success of each member.

My experience in a writer’s group has been exhilarating. When I first began to write my series on Biblical Prophecy, I had no knowledge that such groups were available. Therefore, I had no idea as to how to search one out. I came upon my opportunity by pure chance. I was invited. I am a better writer for the experience and Distant Thunder is a better book. In fact, with the support of the group I found the publishing process much more enjoyable than I'd been led to believe.

Horror stories abound. Many published authors openly declare a disdain, even loathing for the writer’s group. The truth is, in many instances, they are right. A poorly designed group can steal the joy from a writer’s soul. Ego can be driven to the lowest depth. Motivation can be exorcised from an author by an overabundance of criticism. However, finding a properly functioning team filled with fellow authors who only want to get better, can make all the difference.

Here are some suggestions when deciding on a writer’s group.

First, the group must have clearly defined goals. This can be as simple as making sure each member has something new to offer at each session, to how and when an author might defend his writing to the critics. A group without purposeful parameters finds itself wasting time and energy, thereby draining the members of creativity.

Second, there must be rules for criticism. Good guidelines will allow the group to function with efficiency. Within the confines of my writer’s group, each of the four members will share the latest segment, chapter, or article. Both the strong and the weak points of the writing will be examined. Praise comes accordingly, as does the criticism. Remembering that quietly listening to a critique can be intimidating, a special rule has been adopted by the group. For each critical comment, there must be at least two, equally authentic praises. We call it “two pats for every slap,” and it works beautifully. A guideline should also be adopted to prevent a monopoly on criticism by any one individual. Criticism must always be constructive and shared.

Third, the group should meet regularly. This can be once a week, or once a month, but it must happen methodically to have value. If one is offering segments of a continuing story, regularity of meetings can keep the other members on track with the context. But motivation is the greatest benefit with a disciplined pattern of meetings. To show up without having put forth an effort to write is taboo. If nothing else, it teaches the individual to stick with the hard work of honing the craft. The idea is for everyone to participate.

Fourth, there should be a mechanism in place to remove unfaithful or unruly members. Occasionally, a person may fall into the category of someone who does not pull his or her weight. Either by consensus or by vote, the person must be politely removed, or the entire group will suffer and eventually fold.

Jimmy Root Jr
Distant Thunder Book One: The Lightning Chronicles
A Prophetic Fiction Thriller
Release Date: August 10, 2009

Watch for my Virtual Book Tour coming in August and September of 2009. Details to come.
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Friday, July 10, 2009

Beware! Writing Is Addictive

If your history was anything like mine, writing was simply one of those unmentionable facts of life. I wrote because it was part of my job. Reading and writing were part of my education, one that I'm thankful for. However, it was only the reading that actually gave me any pleasure.
But then one cloudy December morning, after the thermometer strongly suggested I stay nestled close to my keyboard, I discovered the wonder of telling a story with the ends of my fingertips. Staccato clicks and runs rattled the entire day. For the first time I ignored the 'backspace.' It was just me, my computer, and a massive mug of coffee. By the end of the day I was addicted. That addiction has led me to the doorstep of a Virtual Book Tour.
The writing of Distant Thunder, began that cold, dreary morning of December 2, 2007. Two months later I had a manuscript. Three months after that, Distant Thunder had a publisher. Miraculous? Absolutely! Since that fateful start, my addiction has swelled into three books and a completely separate series proposal. If I weren't so completely enthralled with my life controlling issue (addiction) I would be calling the nearest chapter of AWA....Addicted Writers Anonymous. Thankfully, there are no chapters in the lower forty-eight states. Write ON oh captured one!
Jimmy Root Jr

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