J.R. Geoghan

Novels and Writing

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When Death Was Arrested – My Favorite Songs

Alone in my sorrow dead in my sin
Lost without hope with no place to begin
Your love Made a way to let mercy come in
When death was arrested and my life began

Ash was redeemed only beauty remains
My orphan heart was given a name
My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance
When death was arrested and my life began

CHORUS
Oh your grace so free
Washes over me
You have made me new
Now life begins with you
It’s your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with you

Released from my chains I’m a prisoner no more
My shame was a ransom he faithfully bore
He cancelled my debt and he called me his friend
When death was arrested and my life began

Our savior displayed on a criminal’s cross
Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost
But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand
That’s when death was arrested and my life began
That’s when death was arrested and my life began

Oh we’re free free
Forever we’re free
Come join the song
Of all the redeemed

Yes we’re free free
Forever amen
When death was arrested
and my life began

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.

 

 

Los Angeles and Wilshire – Scene of the Climax

Los Angeles Sunset SkylineThe penultimate showdown in “Swords of Flame” takes place on the Wilshire area of Los Angeles, on the top floors of one of the tallest buildings in the Miracle Mile district and L.A. in general.  The sun is setting as Chris, Sarah and Mac approach in the news chopper… and all Hell breaks loose.  We’re talking guided missiles and gatling guns tearing up condos in sky…

(leaving the rest for you to read)

I used to love visiting the West L.A. area and my job with Robinsons-May Department Stores in the late 1990’s took me there – we had several stores sprinkling through Los Angeles.  While I was more naturally an O.C. guy (give me Laguna any day of the week), I thought the energy in L.A. was invigorating.   Speaking of energy, I distinctly remember standing in a parking structure one afternoon with a coworker when all the cars around us began rocking back-and-forth.  We realized that the building was swaying in a mild earthquake!  Lasted a minute or so but very weird.  Another Wilshire memory is visiting the famous La Brea tar pits – a couple of times.  This is one of the best spots to learn about “real” L.A. history.

In another part of the story, Governor Thomas Gage was visited by a tall mysterious blonde stranger and offered something he couldn’t refuse.  Gage, an ex-movie star, had a gorgeous home in West L.A. overlooking the Wilshire area and the 405 Freeway that he shared with his wife and daughter Angela.  When everyone’s fate ends them up on the top of the shot-up building on Wilshire Boulevard, clearly something bad is going to happen.  Chris and Sarah, our heroes, are from faraway Julian in the San Diego mountains but they need to make things right with the Gages as Swords of Flame comes to it’s climax!

 

 

 

 

The Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego

Santa Fe Depot – San Diego Union Station

The scene of a pitched battle between the demons and their controlled humans and the team defending the Governor and Vice President is Union Station in historic downtown San Diego.  In the middle of course is retired Sergeant Chris Carter, doing what he knows best in the middle of a firefight.

The station, also known as the Santa Fe Depot, was first opened in 1915 and is one of the most interesting structures in San Diego – which is why I didn’t blow it up (completely) in the book.  It’s Spanish Colonial Revival style is echoed in other buildings downtown, in particular it’s domed turrets.  The photo here was taken in the mid 1990’s when I lived in San Diego.  The station is only a couple of blocks from the waterfront harbor and is still an active Amtrak station, with the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner running up the coast from San Diego to Los Angeles (which also figures prominently in Swords of Flame).  The local San Diego commuter train, the Coaster, also run from the Santa Fe Depot up the county coastline and back.

It was fun weaving some local San Diego architecture & history into my story.  Will Chris return one day?  Who’s to say!

San Diego Amtrak Union Station – The Santa Fe Depot

 

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…

 

Swords of Flame is now available in paperback at Amazon.com

swords-of-flame-chris-carter-novel

Very excited to announce that my novel Swords of Flame is now available in eBook format AND paperback!

I must admit to being pretty excited to actually hold a copy in my hands…

 

 

Ask the Author – Characters

novel charactersWhich one of your Chris Carter series characters can you most relate to?

Since this is the first book in the series, we are still learning about the core characters like Chris, Sarah, Travis and the Gages.  Some will step into the background as the series progresses and other,
new folks will enter the stage.  I think that the Chris Carter character is a bit of a composite of people I have known in my life, and certainly not a little about me.

Do you believe in cliffhangers for your characters?

I’m always in the middle; I like having the immediate story line wrap up by the the end of the book, movie or show.  But I also like when there is a bigger unresolved story that potentially looms over the characters.

Who is your favorite character in Swords of Flame?

I like them all, of course!  Even the bad guys, because they are all important to my story…  If I had to pick one who makes me smile the most, it’d be Sarah Medina.  She has a fun energy and loves a challenge, even when it may get her knocked around.

Ask the author – Writing and motivation

keysWhat inspired you to start writing?

I have always enjoyed writing and have been blogging for many years.  I got to a place where I wanted to write fiction.  At the same time, I was looking for an opportunity to explore more about how the roles and functions of both angels and demons in the Bible (which are plentiful and specific) would translate into the current era. In the end, I wanted to create a good shoot ’em up adventure that’s fast-paced but also thought provoking and takes the reader to places in time.

Do you believe in cliffhangers at the end of a novel?

I’m always in the middle; I like having the immediate story line wrap up by the the end of the book, movie or show.  But I also like when there is a bigger unresolved story that potentially looms over the characters…

How long was the writing process?

Moving from a casual writer to a more purposeful one has been the biggest growing curve for me, and it’s far from over.  From my first rough draft to the published copy there was almost two years.  I have learned so much about writing fiction in the process!  Many thanks for help go out to my sister, Jennifer Geoghan, who has several novels published of her own.  Now I feel much better prepared to attack book two and continue to learn!

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