INSIGHTS AND CONFUSIONS OF ERICH VON DANIKEN

by Johnny Carlton

©Johnny Giesbrecht

Erich Anton Paul Von Daniken is the author of CHARIOTS OF THE GODS.  In this bestseller, and in other of his books that followed, Daniken put forward the idea that UFOs, including flying saucers, are spaceships that have brought alien creatures to Earth.

Before going into the main point of this article, we need to have a closer look at the general matter of unidentified flying objects, such as flying saucers and other mysterious flying crafts, and related matters.

Those who haven’t been following these goings-on closely will likely not agree with me in the next few paragraphs, but since these particular points are not really what I’ll be trying to get across in this article, I don’t want to spend too much time on it here–that is, on the matter of whether or not there really are UFOs along with aliens from outer space waltzing around on our planet.

A few years ago a great many people would have said the concept was a lot of nonsense.  Not any more.  One reason is that so many people have seen them (ordinary, everyday people plus distinguished, respected individuals) that a lot of these witnesses are getting less and less afraid to talk about their UFO experiences.

The UFO phenomenon* seems to be unfolding in a series of small, overlapping stages so that today’s overall concept of the matter is quite different from that of the approximate turn of the twentieth century or a little earlier when most people began to hear about them.

The following timeline is only roughly correct because each stage dissolves into the next.  Most of us who are old enough to remember the 1940s and/or the 1950s became aware of the UFO mystery in those decades.  At that time and throughout the 60s, most people scoffed at the concept when they came across stories of sightings in sensation-magazines or maybe sometimes lost in some back page of a regular newspaper.

But through the 60s–and particularly after the moon landing of 1969–our credibility acceptance levels began to rise, and we thought, “Well, maybe, but not likely, we’ve got visitors from space.”  And reports of sightings increased in number.

Of particular interest was a report of a flying saucer having crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, way back in 1947.  Apparently most or all of the alien crew was killed and the bodies were in charge of the US government.  This was enthusiastically denied by that government, but their denial was anything but convincing.

I think the large number of sightings per year kept on or increased through the 70s, along with accounts of face to face encounters with aliens.  Those individuals who were studying the matter began to agree with one another that government agencies knew a lot more about all this than the rest of us did.  Said government agencies denied this.

A related mystery involved the Men in Black, some spooky gents wearing black suits and driving classy black limousines–and dropping in unexpectedly on UFO researchers for brief and confusing visits.  These Men in Black were confusing because although they seemed to be giving warnings to the people they visited, indicating that they were not to go on with their research on UFOs, they were, at the same time, saying nonsensical and contradictory things.  When the people they visited repeated to the general public what they had been told by the Men in Black, it did not sound convincing but rather like a story that someone had dreamed up.  The trouble was that there were a great number of such reports and there was enough similarity in details from one report to the next to suggest an element of truth.

Were these Men in Black using some sort of reverse psychology to make people believe in UFOs rather than keep us in the dark as the government agencies had been doing?  By telling these researchers that they should abandon their research, and then adding some contradictory and confusing things, the Men in Black may have been saying, “You’re on the right track, boys.  Keep it up, but remember that we told you to drop it.”  But what would be their motive in presenting this confusion?

I don’t know, but it reminds me of the strange behavior of some representatives of government agencies defending their stand of poopooing UFOs.  This was in a documentary about researchers exploring the validity of autopsies that were said to have been done on alien victims of the Roswell UFO crash.  I had opportunity to see this old film on TV.  It includes sharp black and white 16mm film footage of the autopsies and, believe me, the alleged crash victims were not human.  The question was whether or not they were cleverly-made dummies.  But if they were, then what was the motivation for such an expensive hoax?

In any case, after the autopsies were done (real or fake) a sort of debate followed with the government side looking foolish because of some of the things they said.  I don’t feel that it’s necessary to get into the details of that because it’s not the main point of this article; but I will say that hearing that argument was what first got me thinking that possibly the spokesmen of the government agencies were really not wanting anyone to believe them but rather to disbelieve them.

Reports of UFO sightings and contacts continued to pour into research organizations from all over the world during the ‘80s and 90’s, and into the new millennium right up to the present.

But the situation kept slowly changing in that the public was inundated with more and more information, accurate or otherwise–that is, more and more reports of sightings and contacts, and more secret government files were being opened and revealed.

This is the age of the knowledge explosion.  Involved along with other factors are the internet with its worldwide, rapid communication, and stacks of documentaries about various strange things going on here on Earth.

If you follow the UFO and Alien matters you may find, as I do, that the info coming in from “Those Who Know” is no longer really concerned about government agencies withholding information; but, rather, I get the impression that both the UFO investigators and the government agencies that used to be involved with cover-up, as well as the occupants of the strange vehicles themselves, are all in agreement, their goal now being to gradually educate us in regard to what’s been going on and is going on.  They will also tell us what the aliens plan to do with us–which ought to be interesting.  As born-again Christians, however, we have the basic assurance that God will keep us safe in his care.

Above is the foundation material of this article; I can now proceed with the point I want to make, namely my concern about a particular slant of some of the writings of Erich Von Daniken.

 

First of all, I have no disagreement with Daniken in regard to his belief that there are passages in the Bible that describe flying vehicles in such a way that they could easily be thought of as today’s UFOs with its flying saucers and other shapes of space vehicles.  The following two scripture segments are probably the most obvious for supporting the connection to UFOs.  I will be using the New International Version of the Bible.

2 Kings 2:11 tells about the great prophet Elijah being taken away in a strange vehicle while his understudy, Elisha, watches the event:  “As they were  walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.”

Exodus 13:21,22 tells us about one way that God guided the Israelites on their trek from Egypt to the promised land:  “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”

Erich Von Daniken proclaims, first of all, that what Elisha and the Israelites saw, respectively, in the first and second above scripture segments, were space vehicles or perhaps, I think, some smaller vehicles used to fly from a large mother-ship to the surface of Earth.

Actually, I think a lot of people, probably including myself, came up with this idea long before Von Daniken did, but that’s beside the point.  He committed no crime in putting that viewpoint into a book, and maybe he was the first, or one of the first, to do so.

In any case, for people living in today’s world of rapidly advancing technology, it’s almost obvious that the vehicle that came to take Elijah away was some kind of craft propelled by a flaming jet.

Also it seems fairly obvious that the amazing thing that God used to guide the Israelites with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night was a craft riding on a vertical flaming jet.  In daylight the flame’s visibility was dwarfed by the greater light of the sun, but the pillar of cloud could be seen; and at night the vertical flaming jet could be clearly seen against the surrounding darkness.

If those explanations had been the sum total of Daniken’s theory as expressed in his books, I wouldn’t be writing this article–for, after all, up to this point he has not expressed any belief that is contradictory to the Holy Scriptures.

The Bible calls the vehicle that picked up Elijah a chariot, one with horses of fire; which is exactly what Daniken believes it is, only he uses other words, such as craft, maybe outer space, spacemen, alien visitors, etc., words which were not yet in any human language at the time when the biblical accounts were written.  The words used by Moses or whoever wrote Exodus (Bible scholars aren’t sure about who the inspired writer was) used the best words available.

Take, for instance, the words horses of fire.  It seems that when Elisha told others about the experience of his parting with Elijah, he chose the words, horses of fire.  He used this label for what he obviously, and probably rightly, took to be the strange vehicle’s locomoting power source–or at least the visible part of the power source, since there were no normal looking horses attached to this chariot.  To this point Daniken is not in disagreement with the Bible.

But then he goes on, quite unreasonably, to say that this proves, or at least strongly indicates, that the Bible has it all wrong in regard to its spiritual teachings about God and his creation.  According to Daniken, if the Biblical descriptions of the flying crafts and other things that the people of those times saw matched so well with today’s concepts of UFOs and aliens, then the occupants of those crafts were not supernatural angels, but rather natural space beings whose purposes in coming to Earth had nothing to do with the supernatural teachings of the Bible.

I don’t think Daniken tries very hard, if at all, to support this concept with evidence and logic.  He probably doesn’t see any reason to do so because people today have a strange misconception.  Even Christians are caught up in this to some degree.  What is this misconception?

It is the idea that supernatural, spiritual things invariably have no process to them–no steps, no development.  And yet the Holy Bible itself shows that in many ways–including the information given in the creation account–there are definitely processes involved.  Maybe not in all of it, but certainly in a lot of it.

The part about God creating light reads:  “And God said, `Let there be light,’ and there was light…”  (Genesis 1:3)   This could be taken as one of those no-process happenings that appear to have no developing steps, only God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God can will anything into being if he wants to; but it seems that he doesn’t always want to but at least sometimes prefers to break up the process into progressing steps.  This is shown by the rest of the creation account.  God used seven time periods, which he called days, in which to create the universe and give the Earth’s inhabitants their first law, which was that they were to rest on the seventh day.

So, as I’ve already pointed out, on the first day God created light and separated the light from the darkness.  If there was any process or cause-and-effect steps to this, we are not here told much about it.

On the second day, however, there seems to have been some step by step activity in the creation of the sky (the expanse that separated the water under the “expanse” from the water above it.)  However, this description of the second day of creation admittedly is not so different from the first day in regard to a step by step process, so let’s go on to the third day.

God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.”  Again, as on the second day, this scripture segment suggests a bit of progression-type happening in the “gathering together” of the water under the sky so that (cause and effect) dry ground can appear.

The next creative moves listed–still on that same third day–came as follows when God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”  From this it can be seen that during this third day of creation God was using a distinct cause-and-effect process:  First the land was separated from the water to prepare the right kind of place for the growing of the vegetation that God had in mind.  Then he ordered the vegetation to grow there.  And then he caused the seeds of that vegetation to grow more vegetation.

On the fourth day God made the stars and the sun and the moon.  As explained in Halley’s Bible Handbook, and probably in agreement with many other Bible scholars, when the Bible says that on the fourth day of creation God made these heavenly bodies–sun, moon, and stars–it means that for anyone on the surface of the Earth, angels or animals (but humans hadn’t yet been made), these heavenly bodies appeared for the first time.  And this happened because on the fourth day God removed the until-then heavy mist or fog between Earth and sky so that the Sun, moon, and stars became visible.  (Whereas on the first day, when God said, “Let there be light,” the light that then appeared was that of a new universe exploding into being and into billions of suns and galaxies, at God’s command.)

On the fifth day the step by step procedure is not so obvious as it was for the fourth day; however, I think it still can be seen as we read about God creating the birds and then all the life in the ocean.

Then, on the sixth day, the matter of creation-by-procedure gets very clear and obvious.  In the first place, please take notice that the creation of land animals and then the creation of human beings, take place on the same day.  Here is the Biblical account:  “And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.’  And it was so.  God made wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.  And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.’”  (Genesis 1:27)

The Bible tells us that there were steps and cause-and-effect processes involved in the sixth day of God’s creation:  “Let the land produce” (my italics) “living creatures….” And then, in Genesis 2:7a “… the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground….”  Then the Bible goes on to say, in Genesis 2:7b “… and  breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

The sixth-day segment carries on with God giving the newly created humans some instructions; and then on the seventh day God rests and also proclaims that day to be a day of rest for Adam and Eve.

 

Pretty much everything I’ve written here to this point has been for the purpose of showing that God uses step-by-step, cause-and-effect processes, at least sometimes, in the things he does; and the sixth day of creation presents good examples of that.  Now we can get to the main point of all this and see where Erich Von Daniken went wrong.

It’s really quite simple.  As I’ve already pointed out, Daniken, like many others, seems to take for granted that for anything to be spiritually and religiously valid (as in angels, miracles, heavenly means of transportation, etc,) the thing in question must not be involved with any cause-and-effect process.  For instance if, when Jesus miraculously turned water into wine (John 2:1-10), someone had done careful scientific research into the matter and found that there had been step-by-step, cause-and-effect processes going on (mind you I’m not saying that this was the case, only what if) and people found out about this, would they have rejected the idea that the changing of the water into wine was a miracle from God?  If people then had the same mindset on the matter as they do today, then I think that probably many of them would have rejected the happening as a miracle, at least until they learned more about miracles.

The main point here is not whether there were steps involved, but, rather, whether having steps involved should make any difference in regard to whether or not it was considered to be a miracle.

At least one of my Websters defines a miracle as “An extraordinary event manifesting a supernatural work of God.’

But let’s think about this a little, asking ourselves, “What is not a miracle?”

We have already seen from reading the creation account and paying attention to some of the details, that there were steps and processes involved.  For instance, (1) God formed man from the dust of the earth, and (2) breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.  Then (3) Eve was made out of Adam’s rib (which, of course, contained his DNA.)

But would anyone–particularly a Christian–say that the creation of man was not a miracle?

I have found that no matter what you look at, if you look at it deeply enough, it becomes a straight-out miracle.  It becomes a mystery that can only be “explained” by saying that it’s a miracle of God.

Because we are finite, created beings, and because God is infinite, we can never hope to understand everything about anything; we can never totally understand anything.  That is why God has given us the gift of faith, the ability to recognize God’s truth when he reveals it to us.

The false concept that a thing cannot be spiritual if it has cause-and-effect steps involved in it can be (and has been) used by the forces of evil to confuse people.

In the case of Erich von Daniken, he has rightly pointed out that many things written about in the Bible involve science and step-by-step processes; for instance in the matter of space vehicles and the arrival on Earth of space aliens.  Then, wrongly, he makes the illogical assumption that if there is science involved then God cannot be involved, as though the infinite Creator-God was not big enough to include science in his creation.

There are other books, as well as TV documentaries, that follow Daniken’s illogical attempt at reasoning in this matter.  Don’t let any of them fool you by calling your attention to some possibly real discoveries and then saying that these discoveries somehow prove that Christianity is false.

If these scientific discoveries mean anything, it is that in this age of the increase in man’s knowledge, God has seen fit to reveal a little more to us about how he does things.

Winter is Still with Us

by Yvonne

Just reminder to please go to the following link and check out Johnny Carlton’s suspense thrillers available as e-books at
http://www.amazon.com/Johnny-Carlton/e/B00513NB2K/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Even though it is April 3 we’ve still got LOTS of snow.  We are hoping & praying for a slow thaw and the Lord is granting that.  So, with winter still very much present, I thought I would share a few of my winter photos.

My_White_OwlMy favorite is the Snowy Owl that I occasionally see on my weekly trips to Carlton.  Recently I saw a herd of deer in a sweet corn field—this is only part of the herd.  They’ve had a hard winter with so much snow, but this group looked really good to me.  Another recent event has been the need to have the snow shoveled off our roof.  Here are a couple shots.  And finally, trees along the roadside by Carlton.

 

Deer_in_Cornfield

Roof_Snow_Removal_1

 

 

 

 

Roof_Snow_Removal_2

 

 

 

 

 

Carlton_Roadside

 

 

 

So Blessed

by Yvonne

I like adding pictures I’ve taken of churches to my photo collection.  Right now these are four of my favorites.  The first two were taken while on vacation driving in North Dakota—perfect weather in every way.  The last two were taken on a sunny afternoon close to home in Saskatchewan.  The warmth and calm of the weather on those days gave me a real feeling of peace, comfort and love which engulfed me in a special way—made me feel so blessed!

I would like to dedicate this blog page today to my parents: yesterday would have been my Mom’s 93rd birthday and today, 54 years ago, my Dad left us and made his journey Home to be with the Lord.

Click on image if you wish to view it larger.

 

 

If you like suspense thrillers check out Johnny Carlton’s e-books at
http://www.amazon.com/Johnny-Carlton/e/B00513NB2K/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Note from Johnny

by Johnny Carlton

©Johnny Giesbrecht

Johnny Carlton is a writer of suspense thrillers available as e-books at
http://www.amazon.com/Johnny-Carlton/e/B00513NB2K/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

One of the reasons I’m taking a break from my blog postings is so that I can have more time to spend on the novel I’m writing.  It’s a sequel to SHOTGUN, which is available as an e-book from Amazon.  Please click on the link above.

Here is a sample of some of the pictures Yvonne will be sharing with you weekly.  She is having a difficult time deciding which pictures to choose. The two below are of the Carlton elevator.  Carlton, of course, is the little hamlet where I grew up.  Yvonne takes weekly trips near there and captured these recently.  (Click on the photo to see enlarged.)

 

Guest Contributor

by Johnny Carlton

Copyright 2013 Johnny Giesbrecht

Johnny Carlton is a writer of suspense thrillers available as e-books at www.amazon.com

I will be taking a break from these postings—a break of indefinite and undetermined length. However, there is a lot of material on this website that will continue to be available to readers.

In the meantime my wife, Yvonne, will attempt to fill the gap weekly for me, by presenting for your enjoyment, some of her beautiful photographic work.  I know you’ll enjoy it.

May God bless you all very much as you follow his leading in your hearts.

Sincerely,

Johnny Carlton

 

 

New Year’s Traditions

by Johnny Carlton

Copyright 2012 Johnny Giesbrecht

Johnny Carlton is a writer of suspense thrillers available as e-books at www.amazon.com

 

The end of the old year and the beginning of the new is celebrated annually in many countries.  It’s sort of a birthday party in honor of the world, or maybe of the world’s civilization.  It’s fun, but just when we’re beginning to accept that we’re living in 2012 we’ll have to start on a new calendar and try to get used to living in 2013.

It seems that long ago the start of the year was celebrated with the first new moon that comes after June 21, but the Romans kicked off their year on March 1.  Julius Caesar, however, changed that to January 1.  In England the Anglo Saxons used December 25 as their start of the year, but that got changed to January 1 after the Norman Conquest.  Then, in the Middle Ages, Christians in England got into beginning their year on March 25, and this went on until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752.  At that time the people who decide such things once more agreed that the start of the New Year should be January 1.

Most of us have some distinct memories, pleasant and otherwise, of New Year’s celebrations that we’ve come through.  On the pleasant side might be a midnight kiss from some special person, and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” while holding hands with friends and neighbors.

I always wondered what the meanings of some of the words of that song–in its Scottish brogue–were, for instance its title and the line, “We’ll take a cup of kindness yet.”   Eventually I learned that “auld lang syne” means something like “the good old days.”  As for “We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,” I always suspected that it meant having a social shot of booze, and it turned out I was right.

The song is from a poem by Robert Burns.  Fortunately we (the people I’ve celebrated New Year’s with) didn’t sing all the words, for if we had we’d have been even more confused.  For instance, one chorus in the original poem goes:

“We twa hae run about the braes, and pu’d the gowans fine; but we’ve wandered mony a weary fit, sin auld lang syne.”

Translated into today’s North American English, it’s something like this:

“We two have paddled in the stream, and picked the daisies fine; but our weary feet have wandered far since the good old days.”

A widely held tradition is the making of New Year’s resolutions.  I have never been able to understand why anyone would.  It is so strange that one is tempted to come up with a conspiracy theory such as: maybe every January 1 the secret “New Year’s Mind Manipulation Branch” of the federal government dumps a “resolution chemical” into our water supply.  Anyone drinking that water immediately has an overwhelming desire to make positive lifestyle changes.  Studies have shown that the effect of the chemical wears off before the end of January.  A few people, like myself, are completely immune.

Let’s examine the problem in a more realistic manner.  Why on earth would anyone become aware of wrongdoing in their lives only at the end of a year and the start of a new one?  That doesn’t make sense, so let’s assume that people also take notice of their weaknesses on other days.  But if someone decides, say on July 31, that he should quit smoking, why would he feel compelled to go on with the deadly poisoning process for another six months before doing something about it?  In the same way, if someone hasn’t been treating his wife right throughout spring and summer, why would he wait until the new year to correct the matter?–since he knows that by the time the snow flies he could be dead from a rolling pin concussion.

New Year’s Resolutions are a strange mental disease, but other countries have traditions for that time of the year that are just as weird:

The Danes get up on chairs and jump down off them, then break their old dishes and leave the shards on their friends’ doorsteps.  The amount of broken dishes roughly indicates how many friends they have.

In Belarus (wherever that is) unmarried women try to find out who will get married first in the new year by having a rooster and a heap of corn set in front of each of the hopefuls.  Whichever cock of the walk sashays over to the corn first indicates the lady who will be wed first.

And in South America, at New Year’s, people wear brightly colored underpants.  If they want the year to bring them wealth, they wear yellow ones; if they want love and romance, they wear red ones.

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

A Children’s Story

Over the years I’ve written only two children’s books.  One, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF SHARON AND MAUREEN IN OUTER SPACE, has now been published as an e-book under my other name, Johnny Giesbrecht, and is available at www.amazon.com.  It is illustrated.  The other book, THE HOUSE THAT MACK BUILT, also under my Giesbrecht byline, has not been formally published, but I am now making it available free of charge, as this week’s posting.

We are in the Christmas month, and Christmas is very connected with children.  Although THE HOUSE THAT MACK BUILT is not a Christmas story, I thought it would be sort of appropriate for December.  In any case, we should all read a children’s story once in a while.

 

The House That Mack Built

by Johnny Giesbrecht

Copyright 2012 Johnny Giesbrecht

Johnny Giesbrecht is the writer of seven adventure novels, as well as 13 thrillers under the Johnny Carlton byline.  All are available as e-books at www.amazon.com

 

Mack was enjoying the new cereal.  It was made of wheat, oats, corn, and a lot of other things that are good for you, and it was called Funny Flakes.  But Mack was enjoying the box that the cereal came in almost as much as the cereal itself, because on the box he could read about a contest.

Mack read:  “Send in five box tops from Funny Flakes Cereal along with one reason why you like to eat Funny Flakes.  If your name is drawn, you will be asked a skill-testing question, and if you know the answer, you will win a furnished home of your own design.”  Mack thought he would like to enter the contest.

Mack knew what was meant by “a home of your own design,” because his dad was an architect.  He and another man called an engineer made plans on paper of how a house was to be built so that the carpenters and other workers would know how to build it.  Mack’s dad had designed many houses, including the beautiful one they lived in.

Mack’s dad asked, “Why do you want to enter a contest to win a house?  Don’t you like this one?”

“I like living here,” said Mack, “but I also would like to have a house of my own that would be exactly as I would want it to be.”

“Well, I guess I should be able to understand that,” laughed his dad.  “After all, that’s what I wanted when I designed our home.”

 

On his way to school in the bus, Mack learned that his friends were also excited about the new contest.  His best friend, Robert, said that if he won the contest he would have a castle built.  A girl by the name of Lita said that if she won the contest she would have a beautiful little cottage built, and it would have a rose garden in the front.  A boy by the name of Altonstyle, who always had his nose up in the air, said that if he won the contest he would have a great mansion built and his dad would let him have his own servants.  Altonstyle asked Mack what kind of a house he would have built if he won the contest, and Mack just said, “I’m still thinking about it.”

 

In the days and weeks that followed, Mack ate an awful lot of Funny Flakes cereal because he needed five box tops.  But it didn’t matter because he liked Funny Flakes.  Before he had finished eating all the cereal in the fifth box, his mom let him cut the top off and he was ready to enter the contest.  Using a ballpoint pen, he wrote a letter to the cereal company:

Dear Sirs:  The only reason I like Funny Flakes Cereal is that it tastes so good and my mom says it is good for me and because I want to win this contest.  Sincerely, Mack.

 

He put the letter and the five box tops in an envelope, sealed it, wrote the address on it, put a stamp on it, and took it to a nearby post office.

 

Although Mack knew there was only a small chance that he would win the contest (for thousands of boys and girls had entered it and were all hoping to win), he still thought he would go ahead and plan his house.  So he began to work with pencil and paper, drawing all kinds of pictures of what he thought he might want it to look like.  Most of the pictures didn’t turn out right, so he crumpled them up and threw them into the wastepaper basket.  After working for a long time, he began to draw pictures that he liked better.  But he still was not sure of exactly what kind of a house he wanted.

 

One day as Mack was in the school playground with his friends, Robert, Lita, and Altonstyle, Robert said, “If I win I’m going to have my Uncle Duncan design my castle for me, because he used to live in Scotland where there are lots of castles, so he knows what they look like.”

And Lita said, “If I win, I’m going to have my mom and dad and my art teacher all help me design my dream house with its rose garden.”

And Altonstyle told Mack, “If I win, I’m going to hire the most expensive architect in town–much more expensive than your dad–and have him design my mansion.  If you win, Mack, I suppose you’ll have your dad design your house.”

“No,” said Mack, “I’m doing it myself.  But I may have him check over my plans when I’m done.”

 

Every day when Mack came home from school he worked on the plan for his house.  Not only did he draw pictures of what he wanted the outside to look like, but he drew pictures of all the rooms that he imagined would be in it, and of all the furniture too.  Finally he completed the plan.

 

Not much later he got a phone call from the Funny Flakes Cereal Company.  A nice sounding lady on the phone asked him a skill-testing question:  “What did Abraham Lincoln do when he saw a pig stuck in the mud?”

Mack didn’t really know, but he thought there probably was only one thing a good president like Abraham Lincoln would do in a case like that, so he said, “I guess he pulled the pig out.”

“You’re right!” said the voice of the lady.  “And that means you win the contest!”

Mack was very happy, and so were his mom and dad.  Mack then showed his house design to them.  For a few seconds they didn’t say anything and looked shocked, as though they thought there was something wrong with the drawings.  But then Mack’s dad said, “It’s and interesting plan.  I’ll see what I can do with it.”

 

The next day Mack’s dad took him and the plan up to his office on the top floor of a big downtown building.  He introduced Mack to some of the other architects and engineers who worked there and they looked at the pictures.  It seemed to Mack that their faces all turned pale just then, for the unusual house plan seemed to be frightening them.  But they studied the plan carefully.  After a while one of them said, “Yes, I think a house like this can be built, although a few small changes will have to be made to make it more safe.”  Mack said that was fine with him, for he knew that safety was important.

 

The Funny Flakes Cereal Company sent a lot of money to Mack–enough to pay for building his house and also to cover the cost of the empty lot on which it would stand.  Mack was glad this was close to where he lived with his parents.  As the workers began to build the house, and as it grew higher and wider every day, the people in the neighborhood were amazed.  Many of them took time to stand around watching, and they would say things like, “This is the strangest building I’ve ever seen!” and “Is anybody really going to live in there?” and “This has got to be the most weird house in the whole world!”

And then, one day, the work was finished.  Many people were standing around looking at the finished house, and reporters from the newspaper and TV station had come to take pictures of it.

 

Mack’s house certainly was strange looking.  It was huge and had crooked towers sticking out of it all over.  It had doors and windows of unusual shapes and sizes and in places where you wouldn’t expect to find them.  There were water slides coming out of the walls, and outside stairways and walkways leading from one crooked tower to another.  The house was painted in every color of the rainbow, but with a lot of yellow and purple.  Mack stood there looking at it, and he couldn’t help but say to himself, “It’s so beautiful!  It turned out just the way I hoped it would!”  Then everyone, including Mack, had to step aside to make room for the trucks that were bringing candy, cookies, and ice cream; for Mack had planned right from the start that he would have lots of good things to eat in his house.

 

Well, Mack moved in and had a great time, because the inside of the house was just as strange as the outside, and there were so many rooms with fun things to do in them.  There were firemen poles to slide down, ropes to swing on, and waterslides that led from the top floor through many strange rooms all the way to a basement swimming pool with plastic alligators in it.  And many of the rooms had a lot of pipes sticking down from the ceilings.  He could hold a cup or plate under any of these and pull a little lever and the pipe would open and candies, cookies, or ice cream would come out.  Some of the pipes had strawberry ice cream, some had chocolate, and there were plenty of other flavors too.  And there were pipes with many different kinds of cookies and candies.  Mack’s favorite pipe was the one that poured out chocolate maple-buds when he pulled the lever.

 

Mack wondered why none of his friends had come to see him in his new house.  When his dad stopped in, Mack asked him about it.  His dad said, “I hate to tell you this, but it seems that all the people in the neighborhood think the house is dangerous and have decided not to let their children come here.”

This bothered Mack a little, but he said, “Who cares?”  After his dad left, Mack continued to enjoy himself by getting lost in the maze, looking at himself in the funny curved mirrors, and jumping up and down on the extra-bouncy bed.  He often bounced so high that he hit the ceiling.  This didn’t matter because the ceiling was made of soft foam rubber, and every time he hit it a plastic goose would stick its head out of the wall and say, “Good jump!  Do it again!”

But after a few days of having fun by himself, Mack began to get lonely.  He wished his friends could be there sharing all this with him.  The more he thought about it, the more he didn’t feel like doing anything by himself.  After a while he climbed a ladder to a chair that was fixed to the wall close to the ceiling.  He sat in it quietly and looked down at the floor far below and felt sad and lonely.

Then he began to hear a strange sound.  At first it was like ocean waves and the voices of people on a beach far away.  But the sound quickly got louder until it was almost like thunder and there were loud, angry voices mixed in with it.

 

Mack got out of the chair, climbed down the ladder, hurried to the banana-shaped front door, and stepped out onto his lopsided veranda to find out who was making all the noise.  He was shocked to see dozens of people marching all around his house, carrying signs and shouting.  The signs read:  TEAR THE UGLY HOUSE DOWN! and WE WANT A BEAUTIFUL NEIGHBORHOOD!  And the men and women carrying the signs were shouting the same sort of things.

Mack was so scared that he ran back into the house, shut the door, and hid in the basement behind one of the plastic alligators.

 

He was glad when his mom and dad got there.  They had heard the shouting and brought along some police officers including the Chief of Police.  It had been hard for them to get through the crowd, but as soon as they were in the house they held a meeting to decide what to do.

“All those people out there are very angry,” said the Chief to Mack.  “They think your house is ugly and dangerous, and they want it torn down.  I’ll try to make them leave, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Mack said, “I’ve got an idea.”  And he told the Chief of Police what he’d like him to do.  The chief thought it was clever so he said he’d give it a try.

 

The chief stepped out onto the lopsided veranda, held up his hands, and asked the people to be quiet and listen to him.  As soon as they quietened down, he told them:  “Ladies and gentlemen, if you insist on having this house torn down, it is only right that you should know exactly what you’ll be getting rid of.  If you think the house is strange looking on the outside, you should see the inside!  It’s at least ten times worse!”

The chief then invited the people to come inside for an inspection, but he said that only twenty-five at a time could come in.  He said that the police officers would take each group on a safe tour through all the rooms of the house.  Everyone in the crowd thought this was a good idea, for they wanted to see for themselves how awful the house was inside, so they put down their signs and stood waiting their turns.

 

When the first twenty-five people came into the house, Mack politely said hello to them and told them they were welcome.  Then he and the chief began to lead them through the rooms and Mack showed them how to use the interesting things with which to have fun.  Soon the twenty-five people in the group were having a wonderful time sliding down slides, climbing ladders, swinging on ropes, looking out of the high tower windows, and eating candies, cookies, and ice cream.

When the rest of the people waiting outside heard the sounds of happy laughter coming through the funny shaped windows and doors, they went into the building too, even though they were supposed to wait for their turn,

 

Now the whole house was full of people, all the way from the basement were the swimming pool and the plastic alligators were, to the top room in the highest tower which had glass walls and which jiggled around when a button was pushed.  So everyone was having great fun as they climbed through small tunnels that led from some parts of the building to other parts, and as they painted big pictures on the walls with paints and brushes that Mack had put there for that purpose, and as they rode on a merry-go-round in the living room, and threw water bombs at one another in the dining room–which was also called the water-bomb room.  And they ate a lot of candies, cookies, and ice cream.

 

Finally they were all tired and sat down to rest.  Some sat on barrels, some on tractor tires, some on beanbags, some on large stuffed animals, and some in the branches of a big tree that had been planted in the middle of the house and stuck up through an opening in the roof.  Mack sat in his favorite chair, the one fixed to the wall close to the ceiling.  Mack’s mom and dad, and the police officers, sat on a long sofa that was also a swing, for it was hanging by ropes.  The people all agreed that they had never had so much fun in their lives and that they would like to bring their children over so they could also enjoy the house.  Mack, of course, was happy about this, so he told them that they and their children would always be welcome.

 

But then one of the people, a man by the name of Mr. Rumple who lived only a short distance down the street, said that he thought it wasn’t fair to Mack and his parents if everyone used the house to have fun in, but didn’t help to pay for the electricity, water, repairs, candies, cookies, and ice cream.  He said that it would be good if Mack charged an admission price to help pay for these things.  And the Chief of Police said he thought there should always be some grown-ups in the building with the special job of looking after everyone to see that no one got hurt.  Everyone, including Mack, thought that these things should be done.  And Mack said that he would like to put one person in charge of the whole building in his place, so he could go back to living with his parents for a while, because he had been getting lonesome for them.

 

When these things were settled, Mr. Rumple asked if he and the others could call home to ask their children to come over.  Of course Mack agreed to this, and soon children from all over the neighborhood began pouring in through the doors and open windows.  Mack was happy to see them come, for when he had planned the house he had wanted it to be a place where he and they could have fun together.  Robert, Lita, and Altonstyle also came, and Mack showed them a special room with air blowing up from the floor so that it lifted them up and let them fly about.  It was so much fun that they stayed there a long time, gliding around through the room and pretending to be birds.

 

The next morning, back in his real home with his parents, Mack tried out a new breakfast cereal his mom had bought.  It was called Choppy Chips and tasted even better than Funny Flakes.  On the back of the box were the rules for a contest.  It said that by sending in five box tops, solving a riddle, and later answering a skill testing question, one had a chance to win.  The first prize was twenty-five baby monkeys along with an instruction booklet on how to feed them and take care of them, and how to train them to build and fly their own airplanes.

Mack told his mom and dad, “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll enter this contest too.”

 

 

A Free Sample of Mixed Nuts

by Johnny Giesbrecht

Copyright 2012 Johnny Giesbrecht

Johnny Giesbrecht is the writer of seven adventure novels, as well as 13 thrillers under the Johnny Carlton byline.  All are available as e-books at www.amazon.com

[This week I thought I’d advertise one of my Giesbrecht books by posting a free chapter.  The book is MIXED NUTS, and is available as an e-book from Amazon.  The book contains four humorous short stories and one daffy novelette titled, THE HINKELDICKERS.  The following posting is Chapter One of that.  Each of the fifteen chapters can also stand alone as a story in itself.]

 

Chapter One — Farewell Party

WHEN MY AUNT GWEN married Frank Hinkeldicker many years ago, she did a good thing in that she prevented other women from marrying him.  No one else would have been able to live with him without becoming unhinged.  But Aunt Gwen loves him in spite of his talent for constantly getting himself and everyone within a ten-mile radius into trouble; in fact, I think she considers him to be somewhat of a hero.

On the surface they seem typical and entirely normal for a retired couple from small-city western Canada (they’re from Calgary), in manners as well as in appearance, although they’re both quite short.  Uncle Frank has a pot belly and wears rimless glasses topped by an old canvas fishing hat with a floppy brim, and he has his hair cut so short you’d think he had recently faced a close-range shotgun blast.  Aunt Gwen is one of those sticklike ladies that the wind can’t blow away because there’s not enough there to get a grip on.  She wears pink pant suits, klutzy sandals, and sometimes–if you’re up to the awful vision–shorts.  Her legs look like bamboo stalks with enlarged joints.

Uncle Frank used to work as a warehouseman in a glassworks factory, and they retired him a bit early on an extra large pension in order to save the company.

One day not long ago Uncle Frank asked Aunt Gwen, “What do you say we make a trip through all of Canada?”

“Fine,” said Aunt Gwen, “just so long as we’re back for my Tupperwear party on Monday.”

So they bought themselves a big motorhome and prepared for the trip.  I thought the least I could do was give them a send-off party, even though I was busy with my work of managing the Blackfluid Chemical Plant while at the same time running in a by-election for the office of commissioner of water and sanitation.  Realizing I was much in need of positive publicity, I asked a reporter from the Herald to come over and cover the party.

I had my maid prepare a dinner of fried oysters because that’s Uncle Frank’s favorite.  We had collected a couple dozen friends and relatives, and soon all were seated around the big table enjoying the meal.  Probably most of us were partly relieved at the idea that Uncle Frank and Aunt Gwen were leaving (although we love them), but we were also somewhat concerned that they might, in their travels, somehow destabilize the world on its axis or cause some other cosmos-shaking calamity.

The convivial tranquility of the evening ended abruptly when Uncle Frank’s calm voice came through clearly under the pleasant drone of conversation:  “I found a pearl.”  He put something down on the table and kept eating.  He seldom gets worked up about anything.  First there was a hush, then came excited questions with everyone wanting to see the pearl; so Uncle Frank handed it to the lady sitting next to him and she passed it on to me.  My own inspection made me decide that it might actually be a pearl, although an immature one and lopsided at that.  I hoped the reporter from the Herald would soon arrive, for the discovery of a pearl in my home sounded like worthwhile publicity.

Aunt Gwen was the last to get a good look at the thing after it had traveled all the way around the table, and she immediately let it slip and dropped it on the floor.  She ducked down but couldn’t find it.  We all considered this to be a major disaster, so soon everyone was down on their hands and knees looking for the pearl, or whatever it was.  There was always a chance it had rolled or bounced away from the table, so we fanned out across the floor, crawling this way and that like a bunch of dizzy ants or cockroaches.  The reporter arrived and took pictures.  I could already see the obvious caption:  Farewell Party at the Giesbrecht Residence.

I began to protest but was cut off by Aunt Gwen yelling, “Get me out of here!”  In searching for the pearl she had removed a wall grating near the floor and got her head stuck in the air vent.  I tried to rescue her.  Crouching between her knobby knees I got a good grip on her and began to pull–gently.  The reporter took a picture of that too, and another caption flashed through my mind:  Giesbrecht and his Aunt at Party.  Aunt Gwen must have been holding her head the wrong way; I couldn’t get her free.

In the meantime Uncle Frank, who can seldom be outdone, got his head stuck in the bottom rungs of my antique rocking chair.  We couldn’t get him free either, but then one of the guests–a neighbor who lives two doors down the street and works on furniture in his shop–said that if he could get Frank and the chair down into his basement he could get the chair off by steaming it.  I have double doors leading out onto the street, but we weren’t quite sure we could get Uncle Frank and the chair down the stairs into the basement of the other house.  Anyhow, it was worth a try.

To spare my uncle the embarrassment of walking down the street with a rocking chair over his head, we threw a big woolen blanket over him and the chair once we had him standing on his feet.  He looked like a melted-down King Kong.  The reporter started to laugh and took more pictures.  I lost my temper then, and the reporter and I had a few words and everyone stood around watching us.  By the time I had banished the newsman from the house, Uncle Frank was missing.  Apparently he had decided that he could make it to the neighbor’s basement on his own.  It was like him.  But when we checked out the basement he wasn’t there.  By now it was dark, so I quickly organized everyone into a search party.

We fanned out in all directions, calling his name.  This had been going on for some hours when I finally came to my senses and decided to start back toward the house and call the police emergency number.  I was by myself at this time, about two and a half blocks from home and near the Calgary Zoo.  I became aware of a helicopter with a spotlight approaching.  It soon circled directly over Dinosaur Park where replicas of prehistoric monsters, who actually used to roam the area, stand brooding in a landscape of weird rock formations.  Lately someone had discovered oil seeping up, and there were speculations of possible discoveries of fossilized dinosaur bones, since some of the monsters might have been trapped in oil or tar pits millions of years ago.  Was it possible that someone could still get trapped at the present time?  Fearing the worst, I changed my mind about the call and ran toward the park.  Large crowds had gathered and police officers were roping off an area.  A voice was booming over a PA system but I couldn’t make out the words.

Coming to a panting stop in front of one of the officers, I asked him what was happening.

“Oh, it’s just a big panic for nothing,” said the young cop. “There’s been excavation going on where the oil seepage was found, and some large bones have been discovered.  Now, only a while ago–get this–a passer-by reported seeing a big dark shape stirring in the hole.  So all these idiots–” (he swung a hand toward the crowds) “–have got the stupid idea that there’s a live prehistoric monster emerging from the pit.  A couple of professors from the university are taking turns speaking over the PA system, trying to tell everyone there’s nothing in the pit but dead bones, but you know how ridiculous people can be.”

Even as he was speaking, a hush fell over the crowd–for a brief moment.  This was quickly replaced by widespread screaming.  I glanced past the officer toward the pit and came close to screaming myself.  The helicopter spotlight revealed a dark form slowly rising out of the slime of the excavation.  Struggling against the muck, it relentlessly worked its way up to level ground.  It was shapeless, black with tar and oil, as big as an oversized bear, and looked a bit top heavy.  The crowd was beginning to stampede now, running for their lives.  I would have done so too if I hadn’t been sure it was Uncle Frank.

So I ran forward through a barricade of plastic ribbon and police officers–who weren’t paying any attention to me–and arrived at the side of the black thing.  “Uncle Frank,” I said, “is that you?”

“No,” said his calm voice from under the oil-soaked blanket, “I’m a bottle of cod-liver oil that sprung a leak.  Is this being filmed?”  He should have said taped, but, of course, he’s old enough to say filmed.

“I doubt it,” I said, looking back over my shoulder.  “Everyone’s running away, except for the police officers.  Here, let me get this blanket off; hang on to the chair so your neck doesn’t get hurt.”

“I’m glad you found me,” said Uncle Frank as I began to struggle with the oily blanket.  “I thought I could find my way to Bill’s place by looking down at the ground, but after I fell into that mess I was too tired to move for a while.  So I rested until I got some strength back.”

When I finally got the blanket off him I thought this might calm the crowd, but I was wrong.  Even the police officers ran away now, at the sight of Uncle Frank, black from head to toe, with the equally black and dripping framework of the chair on his head.

I was pleased to find that because of the oil the rocking chair slipped up off his head quite easily.  We were both tired so we sat down, leaning against the leg of a life-sized dinosaur statue.  Uncle Frank said, “While I was in that pit waiting to get my strength back, I had time to think about all the traveling Gwen and I will soon be doing–about all the wonderful Canadian places we’ll be visiting.”

And that will never be the same again, I thought.

He continued, “And I made a decision.  I’m going to write to you every week–Gwen will probably help by taking a turn at it now and then–and we’ll let you know where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing that week.  What do you think?”

I said I thought that would be wonderful, but I probably looked kind of pale just then, especially in contrast to Uncle Frank’s oily face; for when he mentioned Aunt Gwen I remembered that she had been left in the house with her head still stuck in the air vent.

* * * * * * *

Remember, the book, MIXED NUTS, from which the above chapter from The Hinkeldickers was taken, and which also contains four humorous short stories, is available from www.amazon.com.  Look for Johnny Giesbrecht in their e-book catalog.

 

December 4 Post Updated

For those who read last week’s blog, The Process of Writing a Novel, I must let you know that I’ve re-written it since then, improving it somewhat.  This should have been done before I posted it.  I’m sorry.  The re-written version has now replaced the inferior posting and, of course, is available for re-reading.

The Process of Writing a Novel

by Johnny Carlton

Copyright 2012 Johnny Giesbrecht

Johnny Carlton is a writer of twelve published suspense thrillers available as e-books at www.amazon.com

THE PUBLISHING of books is presently undergoing a drastic shakeup, with the sales of e-books having caught up to the sales of printed books, and then just recently surpassing them.  This has various ramifications in regard to distributing and promotional procedures; however, the methods for writing a novel remain the same.

I suppose there are some people who think that writing a book is a simple matter–you just get a computer, typewriter, or pencil and paper, and you put some words together in the form of sentences.  And, of course, you need the time and patience to keep doing that until you have enough writing to make up a book.  To believe that is the way books are written is like believing that all there is to building a house is to buy a saw and a hammer and some boards and nails, and then to cut up the boards and nail them together.  If that was all there was to it, then just about anyone could build a house.  Well, I suppose that actually just about anyone can build a “house” in that manner, but who would want to live in it?

And who would want to read a novel that was just a bunch of words thrown together by a would-be writer who didn’t have a real grip on how novels are built?

Now this is not to say that every professional writer uses exactly the same methods; we don’t, but still there is some basic stuff that, in some ways, we all sort of follow.  So, let’s have a look at that, and let’s do it as though you, the reader of this article, are going to write a novel.

(This article will not go into the foundational matters of grammar, spelling, punctuation and paragraphing.  These are all important, and anyone planning to pursue any kind of serious professional writing might consider brushing up on these basics.  This article takes off from where that leaves off.  Keep in mind that writers who know the basic rules quite often break them in order to get some particular effect; but you can only break the rules in a clever way if you know what the rules are.  So a good grip on the basic rules of English writing is important.  Now, assuming that you have brushed up on those things, or will before you actually start writing a novel, let’s carry on with the more creative matters.)

MAIN IDEA

To start with, you’ll need to get a great Main Idea for your story.  This may come to you without any noticeable effort on your part, or you may come up with it while you’re mentally, emotionally, very actively looking for such an idea.  It needs to be a truly worthwhile one if you’re going to be spending months writing your novel around it.

So you decide that your story will be about a Bengal tiger who is really a human being.  (That’s probably not such a great idea, to put it mildly, but it will do for the purpose of this article.)  Then what?

DAYDREAMING

Then you daydream about it for a while–maybe for a week or two.  This is a very important and creative part of the process, and a lot of fun.  In your mind only, you try out various ways that the story might go, never pushing anything too hard, but always looking for the most interesting angles and plot turns to bring about a page-turner novel.  But there’s nothing very orderly about this step.  It’s the only step of the whole process that’s delightfully hodge-podge, with various elements being thought about, including: ideas about what some of the characters are going to be like, what some of the great action scenes, backgrounds, settings, etc., are going to be, but seldom firming up anything, at least not on paper or in your computer.

At this time you’ll likely start getting greater and greater urges to write down some of your good ideas so you won’t forget them, and at some point you’ll need to start doing that.

STORY IDEAS

Using pencil and paper, write a heading: Story Ideas.  You should keep the page, and some extra blank ones, handy, and write down those ideas that you think you might actually use, but not in any kind of chronological plot order.  Number 1 might be, “When the tiger begins to recognize his seeming humanity, it disturbs him to the point of not being able to function well in his tiger community.”  Another point might be, “An anthropologist studying big cats notices the peculiar behavior of our feline/human protagonist.”  And so on.

THE OUTLINE

The next major step is the writing of an outline.  Not all novelists use them; a few outline the whole thing in their heads, and an even smaller number–including some of the best–don’t outline at all.  Yet in my opinion these authors could probably do even better if they did write outlines, for now and then, as one reads their works, one gets a slight sense that they may have gotten themselves into a bit of trouble with a couple of early chapters that they don’t quite know how to deal with in later chapters.  In any case, I think I’m safe to say that most professional novelists by far avail themselves of the effective foundation power that a written outline provides.  When using an outline one can catch weaknesses and correct them before going many pages down a less effective road.

But you should never think that you need to slavishly adhere to your outline.  I often disregard mine and sometimes take time to rewrite sections of them.  An outline is only a roughly drawn map of where you’re going, and sometimes you may even change your destination in mid-stream.  Usually, however, departures from the outline are less major than that.

My outlines are written in pencil on standard sheets (I use green-tinted paper because it’s easier on the eyes), in the present tense, thus reminding me that this is not yet the actual writing of the book which will be in the past tense (as novels usually are).  Your outline can be full of dumb mistakes in grammar, spelling, weak sentences, etc., and you shouldn’t bother correcting them.  My outline for a full-length novel generally runs from about forty to sixty handwritten pages.

RESEARCH

Once you have the outline written you’ll have a pretty good idea of what subjects you’ll need to do your preliminary research on–Bengal tigers, anthropologists, jungle flora and fauna, etc.  Make a list, then look for the needed material.  You’ll have plenty of resources available: the internet, libraries, encyclopedias, almanacs, magazine articles, etc.  Get this material together in one file, or pile, and study it.  I generally find a cardboard box to keep it all in.

WRITING THE NOVEL (AND MORE RESEARCH)

After some days, maybe even weeks, of this preliminary research, you may be ready to start writing your novel.  But you’ll find that you’re probably still not done with research, because as you write, more specific things will come up that you need information on.  So keep a running list of questions that you need answered; then periodically take time out from your writing to research and find answers to those questions.  It’s great if you can have someone helping you with this.  I have my wife, Yvonne, who is a whiz at finding needed info on the internet.

KEEPING UP THE FLOW

Writing a novel works best when it’s done as a daily thing, so that you can keep up the flow.  Sometimes, however, one needs to take a break of a few days to stave off mental, emotional fatigue.  No matter how much you enjoy writing, it is hard work, and there’ll be times when you feel as though your brain is melting and running out of your ears.

How many pages per day?  This varies greatly from author to author, and you’ll need to find out what works best for you; but I think most book writers find it important to set a goal for themselves–so many pages per day.  You don’t need to always reach that goal, but having the goal helps greatly in keeping up a steady progress toward finishing the novel.  Dean Koontz does only three pages per day; so did Harold Robins.  (However, with today’s writers who use computers, as does Dean Koontz, I don’t know if the pages are computer pages, or the way they come out after being printed into manuscript form at about 260 words per page, or is he talking about printed book pages of about 300 words per page.)

When I’m at my best I do ten or more manuscript pages per day (260 words per page), but with research and time off for recuperation, and doing other things that need to be done, it takes me five months or more to complete a book–assuming that nothing major interferes with my output.

My novels usually run to between 90,000 and somewhat over 100,000 words per book, although one of them, CARPATHIA, is 300,000 words long.

REWRITING

Rewriting is extremely important, and a lack of it is one of the things that sets the amateur writer apart from the professional.

Before computers, when writers worked with typewriters, they would write what was called a first draft–namely the first effort at putting the words down on paper.  Many writers would do the first draft of the whole novel before doing any rewriting.  Some would write a chapter and then rewrite it and then go on with the next chapter.  But with computers rewriting is so much easier that many writers prefer to rewrite their daily output on a daily basis.  Some start out in the morning writing their daily quota of pages and then spend the rest of their working day rewriting those pages–perhaps three or four times.  Dean Koontz works that way.  I prefer to start out the day rewriting the previous day’s output of pages; then, having gotten my mental machinery warmed up, I write my daily number of pages.  I highly recommend this method, and I rework my pages about three or four times each.

When I’ve basically completed the novel, I let it cool for a couple of weeks or so, then go through the whole thing two more times, making improvements and polishing everything to the best of my ability.  Each change I make gives me a great sense of satisfaction, knowing the book will be that much more enjoyable to its readers.

SUBMITTING YOUR WORK

Next comes the worst part: sending out a query letter, usually by e-mail, sometimes with sample chapters, to an agent or publisher, and waiting to hear from him.

You can find publishers and agents on the internet, but you should probably also get the book, WRITER’S MARKET, published yearly by Writer’s Digest Books, available in bookstores everywhere.

The question now is: will the agent or publisher want to see your complete manuscript?

If it turns out that someone actually does want to see it, I go through the whole thing again; that is, I rewrite and polish it one more time before I send it off.

If you get a rejection notice, you send out another query letter to another agent or publisher.  (Most of them highly disapprove of a writer contacting more than one company at a time.)  Probably some writers stomp on every rejection slip before ripping it to shreds, and you’ve likely heard that some use them as a cheap wallpaper.  If you save them in a drawer and then eventually make a sale, those rejection slips will be a testimony to your patience and courage.

You might want to consider the e-book route.  Amazon’s e-book distribution system seems to be open at this time to good writing (it has been for me).  And with e-book sales in general surpassing print sales, what’s there to complain about?–except that you need to do a lot of advertising so readers will be able to find your stuff among all the rest.

But the chances of having your story accepted by a regular, traditional type of print publisher is in the chance category of winning a lottery ticket.  And on that cheerful note, I’ll end this article.

But hey, it can happen.