Prequel to The Remnant, by Author Monte Wolverton

The Remnant by Monte Wolverton

By Monte Wolverton

On a sweltering noon in late September of 2062, Bob Day was walking south along the narrow 2nd St. NW in Washington D.C. He was on a lunch break from his job at a small Capitol Hill publisher. He had skipped breakfast that morning and he was ravenous—seriously drooling for a California Chicken Club at Hamilton’s Bar and Grill. Bob rationalized that the avocado would certainly cancel out the bacon. Not that there had been any California avocados for the last 40 years. Now they all came from Mexico or Central America—the world’s breadbasket.

Bob was well aware of the big international standoff that had been going on for a week—something about a Russian-backed coup in Mexico City, and the Pope (who was staying there in the Western Vatican) being under house arrest. The U.S. wanted the Russians out. Other nations had taken sides. Powerful warcraft with armed particle beam weapons were cruising around the skies. It all sounded nuts to Bob, and the D.C. culture made even the most earnest person jaded about such crises. And anyway, skilled diplomats and politicians were surely negotiating some kind of truce—possibly within a few blocks.

Bob pushed open the old oak door of Hamilton’s, stepped into the cool air and claimed a table. He ordered a sandwich and a Widmer Hefeweizen (still made in Oregon, but from Mexican hops, wheat and barley). While he waited, he got involved in a holovideo of an ongoing soccer game floating in the center of the room. Coup notwithstanding, Ciudad Juárez was pummeling Atlanta.

His food and drink finally came. Darn—he had let time get away from him, and he still had 50 pages to edit this afternoon. He wolfed down the Chicken Club and quaffed the beer, scanned his ID tat for the 52 dollar tab and walked out the door. This time he decided to walk south around the block and take 1st St. back to his office.

As usual, a view of the brilliant Capitol dome in the midday sun gave Bob a twinge of pride. Funny thing was, when he looked skyward, he saw what seemed to be two suns. One was the normal sun, high in the southern sky. The other was a pinpoint of rapidly intensifying light directly overhead. Then the air began to shimmer. Cars careened off the street. Pedestrians fell limp in their tracks, and with a wave of searing heat that seemed to catch the very air on fire, the capitol dome began to vaporize.

Bob’ mouth opened but no sound came out. He barely had a chance to experience horror, sadness and pain as everything, including Bob, turned to powder. Next thing he knew, he was in some kind of different place.

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Author Monte Wolverton

Monte Wolverton is an author, illustrator and syndicated editorial cartoonist. His 2014 novel, Chasing 120, won an Illumination book award. He serves on the boards of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and Plain Truth Ministries, where he is also as associate editor and contributing writer. His work has appeared frequently in MAD magazine and more recently in Washington (DC) Monthly magazine. He participated in the 2014 St.-Just-le-Martel Editorial Cartoon Festival in France, and in 2015 was invited to serve as a judge for the prestigious Xaimen International Animation Festival in China. He is an ordained minister and holds an MA from Goddard College in Vermont. Wolverton resides in his native southwest Washington State with his wife Kaye.

Unlocking the Passion

by Author S. Dionne Moore

Almost twenty-one years ago, my daughter was born. The light of my life. As every first-time mother will tell you, she was perfect. A gift. Except, she was born too early. At one pound and fifteen ounces, her condition was fragile at best. We spent seventy-five days in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) as she struggled to breathe, much less suck and swallow, a reflex natural to full-term babies. 

Good days were always tinged with sorrow, and bad days sometimes became the stuff of nightmares. Those times when you entered NICU and saw an empty bed where an infant had been the night before, your emotions rolled between grief for the parents, relief that it wasn’t your child, then guilt over your relief. 

When the day came that we brought our baby home, it was glorious. We were filled with joy. We willingly dragged along the heart rate monitor just to have her out of NICU, and a chance for normalcy. Granted, our days were filled with more worry than most new parents, more concerns about our child’s growth and development, but the question of life and death had at least been settled.
In the midst of all this I came to the slow realization that I needed an outlet for the coiled knot of hope and fear that had become my constant companion. A hobby that I enjoyed. I turned to writing. A hobby I had not dabbled in since my teenage years. 

I started small. The Preemie Experience was my heartfelt tribute to mothers of premature infants, and the culmination of experiences of other young mothers with whom I swapped stories during our stay in NICU. In that day, Geocities was the way to publish a blog on the Web, and that’s what I did with my tribute. To my surprise, I was contacted by an editor who was compiling stories from other parents. She asked if she could use my article as the prologue for her book, Living Miracles: Stories of Hope from Parents of Premature Babies. It was a thrilling moment, and one that made me reconsider old story ideas I had developed in my teens, with a mind to writing a book. 

Brides of Wyoming

My new journey to write fiction began with a lot of learning. Mastering the rules of writing, the best ways to help your publisher market your book, and all about developing story, conflict and characters. After a few years of conferences and meeting with editors and agents, I received feedback from a professional encouraging me to use my sassy, mature, secondary character as a heroine. LaTisha Barnhart was born. Within a year I had finaled in a writing contest with the opening chapter of a cozy mystery in which LaTisha held the starring role. It was for this book, Murder on the Bunions, that I received my first contract.

My journey in writing continues in the form of my newest release, Brides of Wyoming (11/1/2016), an anthology of three romances featuring heroines who must overcome physical and emotional dangers to learn to live and love to the fullest. And as my daughter turns twenty-one and studies for a degree to become a Paralegal, I have to stop and smile. It’s amazing how terrible circumstances can unlock an unrealized passion that brings such joy and dimension to our hearts and minds. And my daughter? She has become a beautiful young woman with a sharp mind a quick smile. She is my heart. My joy. My gift.

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I needed an outlet for the hope and fear that had become my constant companion.~ S. Dionne Moore (Click to Tweet)

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S. Dionne Moore
S. Dionne Moore resides in the historically rich Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, where she indulges her pleasure for history and vacillates between the need to write and the desire to play. Brides of Wyoming is her newest release from Barbour Publishing. 

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Hook ‘em Tight: One Technique for Writing a Book They Can’t Put Down by Author Janine Mendenhall

So you’d like to write a novel, huh? I can appreciate that. I want to write another one too. In fact, like you, I’d like to keep writing them from now on—a book a year, or maybe even two. But the thing is neither one of us wants to produce an ordinary piece. 
We both want to please our readers so much that they won’t want to put our books down, right?
That means we need to hook our respective audiences not only with an excellent story full of conflict-based tension, but most especially, where people normally think it’s time to stop reading.
So when do readers reach for their bookmark? (I’ll give you one guess.)
That’s it, at the end of a chapter!
Before I go any further, I need to give credit where it is due because, the truth of the matter is, I learned to write (and still am, by the way) by following Steven James’s directions in Story Trumps Structure and from other great Craft books written by James Scott Bell, Jack M. Bickham, and Jordan E. Rosenfeld—to name a few.
Now that that’s settled, let me share three ways to keep your readers reading. 
3 Ways to Hook Readers at the End of a Chapter 
(My examples come from my debut inspirational historical fiction/romance novel. Preview Starving Hearts at http://www.janinemendenhall.com/preview-starving-hearts/.) 
  1. Modify Your Thinking. The close of a chapter is NOT the end. It’s the beginning of your next scene, or one that will follow soon enough. Instead of tying things up in a nice little bow and losing the tension you’ve built up, create some suspense by leaving a string untied. 
Add an extra dose of tension in the language too.
These are the last three sentences of Chapter 2–Savior in Starving Hearts.
        At the far end of the gallery, she entered the deserted renovation area. Honestly, at the moment, she could not care less that it was off limits. 
       Opening the door of the first room she reached, Annette stepped in and lurched to a halt.
Did you see and feel that? 
The door opened, but we couldn’t see what Annette saw. The shocking word lurched created a touch of suspense, and the reader turned the page. 
Once the page is turned, we’re safe, as long as there’s a good hook waiting to catch the reader at the beginning of the next chapter.
  1. Create Nagging Doubt. Our readers have very quick minds. If we offer just enough information to create a slight imbalance, they will get the subtle hint and ask themselves “But did she?” (or a similar contrary question), and that will be enough to make them move on and find the answer.  
Here’s what I mean.
Read the last three sentences of the Prologue of Starving Hearts. See if you feel enough doubt to cause you to ask what I call a contrary question.
         Annette was too overwhelmed to care. All she wanted was Mother’s assurance that she would never see or hear of the fiend again. Mrs. Chetwynd agreed that was best, and she would personally see him immediately dispatched from the estate. And that was precisely what Annette believed Mother would do.  
Of course, readers don’t necessarily realize they are constantly scrutinizing stories as they read them. But did you recognize the subtle “But did she?” that came at the end of that sentence? 
My heroine, Annette, believed her mother would do what she said, but the fact that I wrote it this way caused you to doubt that her mother did what she said.
That nagging doubt is enough to keep the reader going, of course, it also makes a promise, and as Steven James always says, we need to be very careful to keep our promises to our readers. 
If we don’t, they will close our books and never read any of them again. (If you haven’t read Story Trumps Structure, please know, it is well worth your time, and Steven James isn’t even paying me to say this. ☺)
  1. Play Opposites Attract.  I cannot emphasize it enough. Our readers are very intelligent, and they often automatically predict what will happen next. We can take advantage of this brilliance by giving them something negative or scary to worry them without even putting it on paper.
Notice the end of Chapter 4—The Plan. 
You will automatically predict that the opposite of what I’m telling you is really what will happen next. And because that opposite is attractive in a negative way, it’s likely you’ll want to find out how bad things get for my hero, Peter.
Try it, and see what happens.
         Adjusting his evening coat again, Peter willed himself to move to the door. He had made his decision. He would propose tonight, and she would accept him. Then his life would begin, and all would be well.
It did happen, didn’t it? You predicted she would not accept his proposal and that things would not end well, right? That’s because you’re smart, just like our readers.
On that note, it’s time to say goodbye, at least for now. I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on 3 Ways to Hook Readers at the End of a Chapter so they can’t put your book down. Visit me and preview Starving Hearts http://www.janinemendenhall.com/preview-starving-hearts/ to see if I’m successful at keeping your attention. 
If I do, remember, the credit for Craft goes to those I mentioned above, but the real glory belongs to God.   “Whoever abides in (Him) . . . bears much fruit, for apart from (Him) you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Bio:
Janine Mendenhall teaches teens English, of all things! Sometimes she sleeps, but most nights she reads, writes, or watches movies like “Pride and Prejudice” and claims she’s researching her next book. “Splickety Love” and “Splickety Prime” have published her flash fiction. She and her husband, Tom, live in North Carolina where they and their two golden retrievers help gratify the needs of their five children and two cats.

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An Illustration and Invitation by Author Erik Guzman

There’s an old song that says, “You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd.” That’s a fact proven by physics. There’s a formula and everything. The ability to achieve sufficient velocity via wheeled bipedal locomotion is inversely proportional to the number of cow patties within a limited amount of unobstructed surface area. Don’t even try it. It’s a mess.
I’d give the same advice to most people who want to illustrate the Trinity. There are too many land mines and you’re bound to get stuck in a thick pile of heresy. But I just happen to have 22 earned credit hours toward a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree, so I figured I was up to the task. You can see how that turned out in my book, The Seed: A True Myth. I now realize just how insane I was to strap on my skates and take off into the herd.
What was I thinking? I probably wasn’t thinking enough, but the love of the Trinity compelled me. I’m not talking primarily about my love for the Trinity, rather the love within the Trinity. It’s a love that has always existed between God the Father and God the Son in the shared delight of God the Spirit. It’s a love that has graciously overflowed to me, filled me, and invited me into a divine life that has always existed and will never end.
You’re invited too! That’s really what my book is, more than an illustration, it’s an invitation into the life and love of the Godhead.
In John 17 we read Jesus’ high priestly prayer. He prays for those with whom he walked and then in verses 20-26 he prays for those who would believe in him through their word. That’s us.
Jesus prays that we would be one, just like he and the Father are one, the Father in Jesus and Jesus in the Father… and Jesus, by his Spirit, in us. (In the previous chapter, John 16, he talks about the work of the Spirit.) In John 17, Jesus asks that we would know and experience the glory and love that he shared with the Father before the foundation of the earth. That’s talking about eternity, and that’s a mighty long time… or it’s no time at all. That experience of glory—of the Father’s love that Jesus asks for on our behalf—comes by the Spirit, the Spirit in us that cries out Abba, Daddy!
So here in this intimate moment of prayer, we see God the eternal Son who, before the foundation of the earth, knew the love of the eternal Father in the communion of the eternal Spirit who is the very delight the Father and Son have in each other. And our high priest, God the Son, prays we would be one in the glory and love of this Trinity.
Do you think God the Father will say yes to that prayer from God the Son? Of course he will.
Now here’s the thing, I talk and write a lot about grace: the message that because of Jesus’ finished work, God’s not mad at his kids. Grace is mind blowing. We have to use words like “radical” and “amazing” to describe it. But grace is just a door. It’s access to share in the relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit, to become one with God. That’s what Jesus asked for in John 17. 
Grace is the door to the Trinity, and it’s always open. Grace is just an open door. 
One more thing, the path to that open door of grace is weakness and brokenness and failure and sin. When you walk that path to the door of grace, you don’t even have to knock. I mean, there’s nothing on the hinges… just an opening made out of the wood of Jesus’ cross.
So in my book, The Seed, and with this little scripture meditation, I invite you to step through the door to the eternal relationship between Father and Son in the shared delight of the Spirit. Come just as you are, burdened and broken, and you will hear, “Welcome. Welcome Home, child. Come in and rest in my love.”
Erik Guzman is Vice President of Communications and Executive Producer at Key Life Network. He’s the co-host of the nationally syndicated talk show Steve Brown, Etc. and announcer for Key Life. Guzman’s writing has been featured in the organization’s magazine and website as well Liberate.org, Burnside Writers Collective and Sojourners (sojo.net). He has a BA in mass communication and an MBA and is perpetually working toward a Master’s in theological studies. He is also the author of the soon-to-be-published book The Gift of Addiction: How God Redeems Our Pain.

Guzman is also a Lay Eucharistic Minister, a drummer and a fifth-degree black belt in Aikido. He lives near Orlando, Florida, with his wife and their three children.

Keep up with Erik Guzman on Facebook and Twitter, or read his articles at www.keylife.org.