J.R. Geoghan

Novels and Writing

Category: personal notes (page 1 of 2)

NaNoWriMo Midpoint – Thoughts

The month of November is National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo. From 11/1 through 11/30, participants are to write to a goal of 50,000 words. The length of an average-to-short novel.  But the event, which is billed as a competition against your own hangups and indecisiveness is also about collaboration if you do it right.

So I am at just over 30,000 words as of the 18th – right on the daily target. All well and good, but honestly I’m having more fun hanging out with the local writing denizens of central Lancaster County than anything else. For someone who sits in his closet-office each morning pressing the keys, it’s just plain fun to be in the company of other folks trying to go from point A to point B in their writing. We meet on Tuesdays at Panera Bread, Thursdays at the new Wegmans (first in the county) and Saturdays at the public library.

I am thankful (Thanksgiving theme cue) for the friends I have made in this business – and it is a business. But my NaNo buddies make November worth it. This is my 2nd NaNo and I expect it to be a November staple going forward. Even better, I hope to keep in touch with the local peeps and encourage each other in our writing journeys.

Do you NaNo?

 

Guilty Pleasures: Daredevil Season 3

Kingpin haunts Matt Murdoch/Daredevil (courtesy Marvel and Netflix)

I’m definitely a Marvel guy over DC. My favorite movies are Iron Man and the Captain America series, and I’m pretty sure that nobody really died in Infinity War.  My favorite character is Ant-Man/Scott Lang because he’s a regular guy who gets sucked into the Big War and I can empathize for him.

So I’ll admit I’ve watched every episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. My favorite is Phil Coulson. I really wish they had reconnected him with Tony, Cap and the gang. Even though there’s apparently going to be a season six my hopes are dimming.

That brings me to the Netflix shows.  I like Luke Cage. I’m not a huge Punisher fan; the story seems too repetitive to me. I really wish Jessica Jones wasn’t so full of bad language, because I love the character and the more gritty setting of the show.

But Daredevil.

This show gets Marvel right on the small screen for me. The grit of Hell’s Kitchen is just right, and I love the glimpses of the city life. The characters are almost all unpowered humans, and even Daredevil himself isn’t imbued with superpowers. Matt Murdoch’s power resides between his ears – in more ways than one.  As a blind man, his ears create a sensory experience that he claims is even more rich than a sighted person could be a part of. Add in the martial arts and the premise is set.

But, we need a villain.

Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin is, in my opinion, the best and baddest Marvel antagonist. He literally gives me the heebie-jeebies when I watch him move and speak.  You know that he’s already orchestrated the desired outcome and everyone else is playing into his hands. I can’t even imagine going up against him.

In Season 3, Matt Murdoch is back from the dead (not really) and in hiding, trying to understand why God spared him.  That’s another thing I like about Daredevil; it’s the only Marvel series to talk openly about God as a real entity.  Matt’s connection to the Catholic Church and the orphanage he was raised in is another of my favorite bits within the storyline.  Now, though, Kingpin has engineering his own release from prison and the FBI is mixed up his plans. I like Season 3’s pitting of the NYPD against the Feds. Foggy is running for Assistant D.A. and Karen Page is getting in too deep again. All good, and I’m only four episodes in!  Things are going to blow up. The prison riot sequence is one of the best fight scenes I’v seen in a long time.  No holds-barred, homemade weapons and fists and knees.  Daredevil is in over his head.

Daredevil Season 3, much like Season 1 before it, reminds me so much of the Batman movies. I mean the good ones starring Christian Bale. The societal chaos, the gritty Gotham, the police, Feds and reporters. And (almost) no superpowers needed.

I am looking forward to watching the rest of the season.

 

NaNoWriMo Project Underway!

Are you doing #NaNoWriMo?

Would love to hear about your project!Travis - An Altan Series Story

Here’s mine… almost 15,000 words as of today…

Travis: An Altan Series Story
Author: JR Geoghan
Genre: Fantasy
Synopsis:
A prequel & origin story for one of the most endearing characters of the Altan Series of Christian Fantasy/Action novels!

Nineteen year-old Ohioan Travis Moore is a “citizen soldier” in 1863 who is captured during the bloody battle at Chickamauga Creek. Banished to a hell on earth called Andersonville Prison, Travis struggles to endure in the face of starvation, disease and a sadistic prison guard.

When events come to a head, Travis must face down his fear and instead embrace an uncertain future. From the lowlands of Georgia to the great plains of the old West, he will seek to find a way to avenge himself and those he left behind…even if it takes the rest of time.

 

 

 

The Babylon Revenge is days away

The Babylon Revenge by J.R. Geoghan

Very excited to be in the final editing and cover creation for Book Two in the saga of Chris Carter and his allies.  Here’s the book blurb:

The Babylon Revenge – Book Two of The Altan Series

Chris Carter is a combat-hardened veteran who’s battled his demons – both within and without. As he struggles to understand his true identity, destiny is far from done with him.

Governor Thomas Gage has ascended to the Presidency, but almost immediately things have gone very wrong. The Chief of Staff is calling for help, knowing that Carter’s special powers may be the only thing able to stop the evil plans unfolding in Washington.  But it might just be too late as powerful forces from the past seek to exact their revenge.

Now, he must face down his greatest enemy and overcome the gnawing doubts about who he really is…not to mention surviving to protect the people he’s grown to care about.

From the halls of power in the White House to the air over Israel, reuniting with old allies and making new ones, Carter must decide who to trust as he rushes to head off the unthinkable. He will need all the help he can get to outwit the ancient hatred bent on unleashing Hell on earth.

Music to Write By – Hybrid Orchestral Epic Music

In the last month or so, I’ve became more and more aware of a genre of digital music – “hybrid orchestral,” also called “epic music.”  This came out of my using movie soundtracks as background music for my writing times.  I wanted more than what was available, and began poking around YouTube.

There are many, many examples of this type of electronic music available on YouTube.  Hours and hours of it.  One of my personal favorite channels is Pandora Journey.

Most of the recordings are compilations from cinematic score composers who put together literally mountains of orchestral tracks for use in the gaming and movie/TV industries.  A great upcoming example is the Trailer 2 for the 2017 movie “Wonder Woman” featuring a great track “Catapult” by Position Music.


Other composers are looking to create a piece of electronic (hence the “hybrid”) orchestral music that has a message/story all it’s own, rather than something created for a movie studio to incorporate into a soundtrack.  The example above, Tales of the Forgotten “GRound Zero  is part of an outstanding hybrid orchestral trilogy of EP-length pieces, concluding with this also-excellent “Ep III: Devolution“.  Another favorite of mine is a composer known as Varien – love The Valkyrie Trilogy:


After awhile I do admit to growing weary of the genre, and will segue into worship music or my short list of all-time favorites such as Acoustic Alchemy.  But, these days orchestral tunes keep drawing me back every few weeks as I am pondering a new chapter of a character’s life…  Here’s another post I wrote about music to write by.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Of Demons, Angels and Jesus – Why I Wrote My Book(s)

Approx AD1516 - Depiction of the judgement of the 200 angel "watchers" who left their position to rebel and take human wives - by Hieronymus Bosch

Approx AD1516 – Depiction of the judgement of the 200 angel “watchers” who left their position to rebel and take human wives – by Hieronymus Bosch

Do you believe that there’s a spiritual war going on?

As you can see, I’ve written one book – fiction – and am well on my way with book two in the Chris Carter Series – about a set of characters and a main character who’s an Iraq War vet who believes that his soul is too much of a mess to be redeemed.  When he gets sucked into an angel/demon conflict he discovers that these two types of beings are actually real.

Of course my books are fiction – I get to have some fun imagining new things and weaving them into my reality.  But it’s important to note that, before the books took off in my imagination, I spent time thinking about writing a book or two that explored what the Bible had to say about demons, angels and men.  Not to mention God himself and the trinity.  In the next few minutes I’d like to unpack just a little about what God’ Word says about these creatures and where we fit in…

Angels and demons are real.  We don’t need to make up a whole lot to find all the drama we need – it’s in the Bible!

Let’s look at Demons first.  From the Bible we know that:

  • Demons and angels once served the Lord together as one body
  • Satan elevated himself above God and many demons chose his side
  • There was a war and the demons lost.
  • They were cast down to the Earth and were still there in Old Testament times.
  • They assisted Satan in torturing Job.
  • In our common era… AD… Demons can and did inhabit the bodies of humans and animals
  • Demons caused distress, sometimes extreme within the humans they inhabited
    • Antisocial behavior
    • Violence
  • Demons recognized Jesus as being God himself, with authority over them. No ambiguity there
  • There is a place that they can be sent, in the power of God, and they fear it.
  • There is evidence that demons could not inhabit Christ-followers (acts)
  • Looking forward to the end of time, the Demons will follow Satan into battle once again and be defeated.

Now let’s turn to the Angels.  Rather than puffy little creatures strumming harps or helping baseball teams win the pennant, they are:

  • Warriors – they fought Satan’s army and won the battle
  • Messengers – appeared many, many times through both testaments. They are regular characters!
  • Influencers of human behavior – they actively protected Lot and his family and caused humans to go blind for a time.
  • Moving among us – they move into our physical realm and seemingly appear from nothing, giving directions as to Peter in prison or Gideon who was hiding out.
  • Existing in a spiritual plane that has a direct influence over the physical (ex. Elijah’s angel army of protection against the human army)
    • Story of the missionaries in New Guinea and the headhunters who saw the angels guarding the house

Characteristics of Angels

  • Convey the will of God – either verbally or with physical component (opening, removing something etc)
  • Carry God’s glory – they are often mistaken for God himself – blinding light, authority over the situation
  • Soulless – I would suggest that the angels are in wonder of us humans. They were around beforehand and they probably were amazed as anyone at the creation of the Earth and the two new creatures in the garden that was loving on so much…
    1. Paul says that the human soul, each one, is precious in God’s eyes. He brings the angels into it by stating that the things of human soul are “things angels long to look upon.”  Think about it – God created man in his image, for the purpose of fellowship with him.
    2. There’s no Biblical evidence that angels enjoy the same level of intimacy with God. Sometimes I wonder what the cherubim (form of angelic being) thought about Adam’s sin and having to forcibly keep them out of the garden…
  • They are in God’s presence – Angels may not have the same nature of creation and built-in intimacy with God, but that doesn’t stop them from surrounding the throne in heaven and proclaiming God’s glory. They are an integral part of God’s order and worship is, as it is for us, a priority for the angelic host.

So we see that demons are included with the fallen world that we live in.  They are fully capable of causing trouble, up to and including inhabiting people.  We also see, in the same space, Angels moving between heaven and earth doing God’s will among his chose people and the world at large.

But who is the centerpiece?  It’s Jesus Christ himself.

The Bible is abundantly clear that Jesus walked the Earth as God himself, and controlled demons in a direct fashion including removing them from inhabited humans.  He directed and empowered the disciples to cast them the out on their missionary journey, too.  When Jesus came into the world, angels were ecstatic!  And in many places in the history of the old testament, it is believed that Jesus came in the company of other angels to call judgement or even talk with humans. (Abraham and Sodom, for example).

Jesus died and rose from the grave.  He will return one day, with his angels as captain of the host – move over Michael and Gabriel!  He will ride on t a white horse and vanquish the enemies of god once and for all.

I want to go back and talk about the thing that everybody is warring over – your soul.  You do know that it’s a battleground, right?  I trust you know that.  It’s a thing of great beauty, precious in God’s sight.  He is jealous for your soul!  Yet, we were born outside of the relationship that God intended for us in the garden… our fellowship was broken by the entrance of sin.  And yes, I know that Satan himself was the engineer behind the first sin of Adam and Eve but in reality it was their decision, fateful as it was.

So today, Satan is still at work with his demon soldiers.  Their mission is to disrupt the church of Jesus Christ and break as many humans soul’s fellowship with God as possible.  In many ways, they are doing an effective job, aren’t they?  Today’s society is fragmented by the availability of so many distractions and time wasters…

But what about YOUR soul?  That’s really what I’m here for today – to ask you a simple question.  If you died tonight, do you know to whom your soul belongs to?  Was there a time when you consciously acknowledged your sin-filled nature and asked Jesus to wash you clean of it?  Have you declared your allegiance to Christ publicly by being baptized so that everyone – humans, demons, angels, Satan himself, could see it.

My dad, at times, said that he was “too bad to be saved.”  Do you believe that as well?  I modeled my main character after that – he has his reasons to think so, no doubt, but I surely hope that after the last few minutes together here that you are understanding that YOUR soul, whatever it’s damaged condition, is as precious to God as Adam’s was in the beginning.  Thank God for the second Adam, right?  That’s Jesus whom God brought into the world much the same way (miracle) and who forsook sin, getting it right for the right of us!  Please don’t fall for the lie that your sin has somehow taken God by surprise and that he’s going to cut you off.  He knew you before you were in the womb, people…

So, in conclusion, I hope you’ve picked up a better sense of who the players are in the realms of spiritual warfare, what their goals and characteristics are and why God, His son and let’s not forget the Holy Spirit, why God’s power and will trump all others in this battle.

Who will YOU this day choose???

I’d like to pray for you, if you don’t mind.

God, it’s my prayer for this reader, that they leave with the clear understanding of their worth to you.  You didn’t come, bleed and die for their fingers or toes, but for their souls which are eternal and of great worth to you.  We see in your word that there are principalities and powers moving around us, and that can seem pretty intimidating.  But, when you are for us, who can be against us, truly?  If we are fortunate to meet one of your angelic host, let us take the opportunity to join them in praising and glorifying you Lord, for only you are worthy of our praise!  If there is anyone here who thinks they are too far gone to be saved by your power and love, let them come down an speak to me or another of the folks in front.  If there is anyone here who hasn’t made the choice to take a stand, let them do so today, God.    Let each of us here know with assuredness that we are going to spend eternity with you, long after our physical bodies have been left behind.  Thank you for what you are doing and the wonderful things you will do in our lives… in Jesus’s strong name we pray, Amen

Binge Report: One Night In Tehran – Cool Christian Fiction

This weekend I had another binge session – ran my iPad battery down to zero on Friday night (boo) and recharged the sucker to wrap up “One Night in Tehran” by Luana Ehrlich on Saturday over coffee.

JR Geoghan Binge Report

The write ups seemed to promise me a read that was my kind of Christian Fiction, the kind that weaves the faith and Bible into “real life” gritty scenarios (here’s an interesting read on the subject).  Since that’s what my own book series attempts to accomplish I was intrigued and a bit excited; I haven’t found much in the same blend of genres (supernatural, thriller, action, Bible-based) that appealed to me.  No “Left Behind”, thank you.

One Night in Tehran - Luana EhrlichWell, “One Night in Tehran” delivered.

Mrs. Ehrlich has created a great main character in covert intelligence officer Titus Ray.  Even better, the story is told first-person (just like “Swords of Flame” – yay!) which I personally think is much harder to pull off than third-person narrative.  As I was explaining to my daughter yesterday, first-person (hopefully) adds the dimension of the protagonist’s thoughts to the dialogue and plot events.  I love first-person stories; they allow me to listen in to the character’s self-talk and view on people and things.  Titus delivers on all counts with a Sam Spade snarkyness to boot.

The depiction of modern life in the CIA and the “tradecraft” of espionage was also excellent in the book.  As a bit of a student of modern military ops as well as U.S. history, I found myself drawn into new thinking about what it’s like for a covert operative to come back from a long deep-cover mission in a foreign culture.  A big opportunity for Mrs. Ehrlich in future books is to further explore how Titus’s total immersion in other cultures affects his worldview and interactions with people as an American.

I smiled at the choice of Norman, Oklahoma as the stateside setting for the plot and the author’s setup of why Titus would go back there after returning from the field.  Sorry, I’ll still take Southern California… but it was interesting to learn more about OK.  Looking forward to more physical descriptions of the weather seasons and local lore of Norman as the books progress.

So where’s the Christianity?  Titus is exposed to it when he is hidden by Iranian Christians and exposed to faith in Jesus Christ in the face of certain persecution, torture and death.  I won’t give the story away but Mrs. Ehrlich does a great job of leading us through Titus’s progression towards the Lord and how he begins to change outwardly.  This is probably the highlight of the book for me and I can’t wait to see where it takes him as far as making decisions in the face of his career of deceit.

Book Two in the series is entitled “Two Days in Caracas” and a sample is included at the close of the book.  I will be getting it, needless to say.

Thanks, Luana Ehrlich for a pleasant binge read.

(“One Night in Tehran” is currently available for $.99 at Amazon).

Binge Report: The Flash Season 2 In One Weekend

JR Geoghan Binge Report

So my overnighter session for last weekend was catching up with the Flash, Season 2.  I’d been avoiding it in favor of my other favorites iZombie and Agents of SHIELD this fall, but with everybody on hiatus I decided to binge out and blow through the nine episodes from the pre-holiday months.

I’ve had an off-on relationship with the Flash through Season 1, and was’t sure if I’d even continue it after being SO annoyed that nobody told Iris the whole season last year.  The weekly villians (Meta humans) were pretty good though, especially Captain Cold.   So I waded in.

the-flash

Plot:  Season 2 served up some hefty twists with the whole Earth-2 thing.  Not only do we have a whole slate of “good guys” they now also have dopplegangers who may or may not be good in the multiverse Barry opened with the singularity.  It’s a mess, and we never knew who was going to pop up at any moment throughout the season.  (BTW how DID Jay Garrick just waltz into S.T.A.R. Labs, anyway?  No speed and Cisco’s new security).  I think the craziness has added a lot to the show – Season 1 was very predictable (Wells is the Reverse Flash, get on with it etc etc).

Characters:  The villains keep rolling in, and nuttier than ever.  Shark-man?  Some pretty cool ones IMHO, too.  Dr. Light was cool.  And of course Leonard Snart makes his return – yes.  The addition of Patty Spivot as Barry’s new squeeze is good – she’s fun to watch.  Of course, the show needed a new “don’t tell her” character as well. Sigh.   I think the Earth-2 Harrison Wells is good as well.  More loose cannons…

The Big Bad:  So this Zoom villain from Earth-2 is out to destroy all the competing speedsters – based on the multiverse theory he might have his work cut out for him.  As far as big bads go, he’s pretty intimidating – appearing at will in our universe and taking out Barry big-time in a late episode – and the whole series development is revolving around Zoom right now.  Who will he be out of costume?  Can anyone beat him?  From the trailers for the 2nd half of Season 2, it looks as if Barry will re-meet Eobard Thawne (aka Reverse Flash on Earth-2) and maybe those two with take another shot at Zoom’s title of “Grandmaster Flash”.

Binge Report Summary:  Worth the watch.  Keep the Flash in your sights and catch-up if needed.

 

Add People, Not Characters…

"Swords of Flame"

Characters… are people too!

Adding a new “character” to your story is one of the most fun, most daring things you can do as a writer.  Whether they get only a few minutes onstage or end up being a major player in a series, new characters stretch your imagination while grounding you in reality… of a sort.  But in reality, what you’re adding are people:

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” ― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

And it’s a learning curve – sometimes you’re adding a “person” with no precedent to work from.  For me, creating an angelic character meant rereading Biblical references and then adding my imagination to the “what if” for them.  Rereading demonic references and asking “what if” they were standing next to me and spoke… Or there’s the more commonplace folks like an Hispanic small-town female cop.  Or a hard-bitten, almost-stereotypical security chief.  And the list goes on.

So where to get ideas?  How to tie the fantastic to the commonplace?  My suggestion is to start taking notes.

Interesting people are all around us. We’re known dozens of “characters” in our lives and probably done a fairly poor job of taking note.  I would suggest you take a few minutes a month and jot down the names of people you work with and live around.  What makes you grin about them when they come by, the things they say and do – mannerisms grounding in reality.  When  the time comes to add somebody to your story, you’ve got a war-chest of “people” to mix and match from.

Oh, by the way, heed the advice of Donald Miller –  “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”  Whether we agree with them or not, the people around us deserve our attention.  I think God would agree with me on that one…

There’s another side benefit to taking notes on the people in our lives – we tend to leave them and forget.  In just my life, I’ve been grounded for several years at at time in New York, Sand Diego, Los Angeles and Pennsylvania.  When I think of people from past iterations of my life, one of the sad things is that there are people who I’ve forgotten about, especially as I grow older (ahem).  Faces without a name, or a fond moment in time with the people left out.  These things sadden me…  and perhaps this has happened to you as well.

So dig out the pen or tablet and look with a smile to the people in your life, taking notes.  I think you’ll learn something new and even get an inspiration for a “character” in your next story.

 

 

Julian, California – Home of Chris Carter

Julian California building - courtesy of the Julian Chamber

Julian California building – courtesy of the Julian Chamber

So in my book series, Chris Carter has landed in historic Julian, California and purchased the Konacup Coffee Shop on Main Street across from the local hotel.  He plants himself at his window seat to watch the tourists roll by and try to forget his combat experiences in Iraq, until the day the body shows up on his doorstep…

Wait, I shouldn’t give too much away.  Sorry!

Anyway, Julian is of course a real place and is really a cool place.  I fell in love with the area around Julian when I lived in San Diego for a few years in the early Nineties.  As a motorcyclist, I particularly enjoyed riding up (and it is “up”) from the coast and making a stop along Main Street to grab some apple pie and vanilla ice cream.   The pace in Julian is about as relaxed as you’ll find within a few hundred miles of Los Angeles.

The natural beauty of the San Diego at 4,220 feet above sea level is incredible.  It’s not Yosemite, but the Cuyamaca Mountains that the town is nestled in are part of a chain that includes Mount Palomar and the famous observatory, running all the way to the east to spots where you can see out into the Arizona desert.

Julian got it’s start in 1870 during the California gold rush when someone noticed something glinting in the sunlight in the stream… and the rest was history.  This town has the sense of being untouched by the march of development elsewhere in the Southern California, and the architecture still resembles more of a Nineteenth century gold town.  You will absolutely forget that you are in SoCal during your stay there.  Chris Carter did…

 

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