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The darker side: how a world tragedy paved the path to "the god thought."

With 7 days to go in my Kickstarter (and 83% of the funds raised - thank you!), I've been getting a lot of questions as to what inspired the idea for my novel.  "You probably get that all the time," I'll hear.  I don't, but the frequency is increasing.  As I seek to arrange interviews to promote my book it occurred to me I should probably organize my thoughts into an answer.

Though there are many positive experiences to draw from, the sad truth is, the path that led me to write this novel began with a tragedy many of us are all too familiar with.  Nearly thirteen years ago, I was one of many Americans who watched Manhattan's twin towers erupt into flames and ultimately fall under their own weight.  I don't need to further recount the specifics of the 9/11 tragedy - we all know them.

Like most, I was filled with unmitigated shock and outrage at the death of nearly three thousand innocent people.  Deaths, that would prompt a global response to the instigators so powerful it would ultimately touch the lives of virtually every person on this planet.  How many times have we heard "Everything changed after 9/11?"  Certainly, my children, who were born years after, have no idea of the world that was before.

Watching the news and the incessant replays of crumbling towers was bad enough.  But worse, for me, was discovering footage of other parts of the world where people cheered it.  To some, this tragedy was an event to be applauded.  And I couldn't help but to think: "How the hell could anyone ever believe this is a good thing?"

I had to understand this.  I read everything I could about the culture that produced Al Queda, the grievances they harbored against Western Civilization, their religion, their history, their sympathizers.  But ultimately, what I found is that those who cheered the murder of three thousand people, cheered because they believed it to be a good thing for them. 

We can debate all day as to why they believed it - that's a larger discussion.  The point is, is that they believed it to their core.  Look to history, and you will find countless examples of populations being massacred, murdered, exterminated all because one side believed it to be a good thing.  A friend of mine, John Rowe, has been working for years in the Omo Valley in Ethopia to put a end to the habitual infanticide that happens because tribal elders believe babies born out of wedlock are Mingi (cursed) and will bring ruin to the valley and their way of life.  For centuries these tribes murdered their own babies to prevent this.  It sounds crazy - but they believed it!

After processing all of this, I had to ask myself: "What do I believe?  Why do I believe it?  Is it worth still believing?"  For the next five years I searched for my own personal answers.  I read and experienced everything I could about various religions, quantum physics, spiritualism, the latest thinking about the origins of the universe and life.  I challenged every assumption I ever had about ANYTHING.  What was real?  Am I real?  Do I even exist?  What is existence?  Does God exist?  What is the point of ANY OF THIS?!?!?  Is there a point?

At times I was depressed.  At times I convinced myself that I'd figured it out, only to have a new thought pop into my head the next day that would shatter my momentum.  

I didn't discuss this a whole lot with others.  I didn't want people to think I was losing my grip.  I still had a family that I loved and had to care for,  a job to do and bills to pay.  I would occasionally talk to my wife about it, sometimes a good friend, but this journey was very personal and something I felt only I could truly understand, because ultimately, it was about discovering myself.

Finally - after years of struggling through it - I came to a place in my life where things made sense to me.  My life had purpose.  Did I solve all the mysteries of the universe?  Hell no.  But I understood who I was, what I chose to believe, and why I chose to believe it.

For the record, I believe in life, and if one values it at all, one wouldn't cheer for the death of three thousand non-combatants in any circumstance.  That's just me.  

But more to the point, I believe that our capacity to believe is perhaps humankind's greatest and most terrible power.  Charged by our convictions, we have created and destroyed entire worlds and civilizations since the dawn of our existence.  What we choose to believe continually shapes and transforms our experience every second of every day.  This power makes for a pretty cool premise for my novel.

Now, I'm not looking to preach.  That isn't what this book is about.  If you're looking for a self-help guide on discovering "the secret to life" this isn't it.  If you're looking for an examination of the conspiracy that some believe surround the events of 9/11 - this isn't it either.  

The God Thought is an action thriller with characters that display unbelievable powers and kick all sorts of ass.  

It's meant to entertain.  

But if you're reading it, and if it gets you thinking about your own life - if it gets you wondering about the universe you live in - if it gets you to question and challenge your own convictions - even for a fleeting second - well, that's pretty cool too.

7 Days left!

--DC

 

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"Must. Have." - Reactions and Realities

"Must. Have."  I loved reading those words from a potential reader the other morning.  "Wow."  "Looks great!"  I've been encouraged by the positive reactions to The God Thought, and am grateful for those who've taken the time to learn more about it.  With 10 Days left in my Kickstarter to help fund marketing and publishing costs, and 60% funded, it's been a slow but steady climb.

I study the stats of my website every day.  People are visiting.  People are reading.  As far as the feedback I can see, people are enjoying!  This is great!  But in interacting with "Must - Have", I learned he's preferring to order the book from Barnes and Noble when it becomes available.  Which makes TOTAL sense!  And once published, The God Thought will be available through  Barnes and Noble, Amazon and iBooks, and all the top sellers.  If that's what potential fans are after - good on you - and thank you.  But for those who can't wait, know that by backing my Kickstarter, not only do you get a personalized version of the same book you'd find at the retailer, you'd get it EALRIER, and you'd be helping me across the finish line.  

But honestly - I'm just happy the audience is growing and people are getting excited to read it!  

I couldn't ask for more than that.

 

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Our minds fill in the _____.

I could've written my latest novel as traditional prose.  The first editor I met with was a purist, and insisted I follow suit.  "Forget all the other stuff.  Forget the transcripts.  Start with your first chapter!" she lectured.  I enjoyed working with Aviva Layton.  She's a consummate professional who's been editing and teaching for over forty years.  Her narrative feedback was invaluable, but this particular suggestion didn't feel right.

I'd tested my first draft on ten other people by the time I'd met Aviva for the second draft.  All of my first readers were selected because they were highly opinionated creative minds who never pulled any punches.  Almost unanimously they agreed the transcripts added something special to the experience.  But more than that, I felt an unconventional story required an unconventional telling.  After all, the entire transcript idea sprang forth from a rather unconventional source.

When my grandmother, Harriet, showed early signs of Alzheimer's, my mother would travel once a month to Florida to be with her, get her affairs in order and check with the doctors.  As one might imagine, the experience was incredibly draining - it's never easy to see the mind of one's parent deteriorate before one's eyes.  One moment they may recognize you - the next they may not.  

My grandmother would have moments thinking she was a younger version of herself, expecting her husband to come home.  Then, she'd realize that her husband had passed twenty years earlier, and in watching her tears develop you couldn't help but to wonder if it was like losing him all over again.  

My mother coped with all this by writing emails to her children every day.  They detailed everything: the weather, the doctor appointments, the little victories of sharing a lucid talk with the woman who raised her.  I couldn't keep up with them all, but I know that they're there should I need to visit them.  Then it occurred to me that if anyone read them, they would have a very explicit personal window into a vulnerable time in my mother's life.

Most of us don't keep such a detailed personal record in email - we instead do it through our Twitter feeds and Facebook postings.  Go to anyone's home page and you will be presented with an ALARMING amount of detail into one's personal story.  And for those pieces that are missing, our minds automatically fill in the ______.  

This concept fascinated me.  At first I wanted to try and tell the entire God Thought story through nothing but social media postings, emails, transcripts and text messages.  My hope was that a reader's mind would fill in the blanks and piece the mystery together.  But I quickly learned that some of my more complicated scenes and ideas just wouldn't translate the way I wanted them to.  Thus, the book evolved into a hybrid narrative that the majority of my test readers found intriguing - even if they weren't sure of where things were going at first.  

It has been a grand experiment that I'm confident will pay off for most readers.

As for my mother, she continues to write every day.  Her works have branched out to other subjects close to her heart, and she has had numerous poems published in various periodicals.  

As I leave you with 13 days to go in my Kickstarter, and a heartfelt thank you to those who have contributed, I share a favorite poem by my mother regarding her mother - an unexpected inspiration for my book.

Since she's been away

I miss my mother
who now lives away
though she still does know us
when we come to stay.

She's happy 
and does not seem to care
about where where she is now
nor how long she's been there.

We once spoke on the phone
about every day.
She cannot answer it alone
since her mind has been away.

We are thankful that she's well
though she's had a fall or two.
And the fading of her mind 
is hard to get used to.

She is still a caring mother
who listens carefully, 
and thoughtfully smiles, 
loving us gently.

By
Suzanne Cravens
Published May 5, 2014, Post Bulletin, Rochester, MN.

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The God Thought : Concept Art

14 Days to go left in my Kickstarter, and I thought it would be a good time to highlight the unique and wonderful art of Jose Emroca Flores.  

I've had the privilege of working with several talented artists over the years, many of who have become good friends, but it was Jose's style that matched best the mood and theme I was going for.  I didn't want the characters or settings to be defined so much as "hinted" at.  The art needed to inspire its viewers with wonder, mystery and sense of danger.  Jose has this uncanny ability of capturing the essence of a scene, while still leaving much to the imagination.  

We talked for a couple of days as to who the farmer was, where he came from, what he was after.  And after going through several drafts and back and forth on ideas, Jose encapsulated it all wonderfully with the painting below, entitled: "The Burn."

I was impressed that Jose was able to include so many of the ideas behind the book into one image.  That's not an easy task.  Below is another variant of it entitled: "The Apple."  Ultimately, I preferred the first, but this one is worth mentioning because the prominent addition of the dog.  Like any good concept artist, Jose embellished upon several ideas I gave him and the dog just kind of showed up - though at the time there was no mention of him in my story.  "Farmers always have dogs, don't they?" he said to me.  

My grandfather was a farmer, and his place was littered with CATS.  

But I thought about it, and was struck with an idea as to what a dog would mean to the farmer and how it could play out in a scene I was writing at the time.  I love the result, and when you read the book, you'll know EXACTLY which scene I'm hinting at.  

If you like what you're seeing, you should really check out Jose's website http://emroca.com!  He's a brilliant artist and a good friend.  And if you haven't pre-ordered your copy of The God Thought in my Kickstarter, check it out!  There are only 14 days left before it all shuts down!

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I know what you're thinking...

..."I'll get to it.  I've still got 15 days to back the novel!  I mean, it looks RIVETING, but you know, I've got a Destiny raid tonight!  Or have to cook brownies!  Or do my holiday shopping!  I'll back it eventually!"  Trust me, you're talking to the King of Procrastinators.  I love to make friends sweat it out and swoop in with a last minute win.  But why wait?  If you're liking what you see - I say "go for it!"  Head over to my Kickstarter, find an option that appeals to you and back it!  You'll feel better.  I'll feel better.  It'll be great.  And thanks again to those who've backed the novel already.  Thanks to your generous offers we're about a third to the goal already!  You guys rock, and I appreciate it!

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The KICKSTARTER is NOW LIVE!

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Tuesday Preview Chapters! 12/2

Two new installments (3.1, 4.0) have been added to the preview section!  Readers will meet Pamela Chance, whose unusual talents earn the attention of an organization determined to locate "the farmer."

#preview #new #tuesday #thegodthought #indiepublish #samplechapters

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New Tuesday Preview Chapters! 10/25

The next two installments (Chapters 2.0 and 3.0) are up!  After being stranded on the side of a road by a mysterious taxi driver, Oliver must make his choice: return to the freeway and the life he knew, or "take the road less traveled." Click below to read!  #new #fiction #preview #indie #book #novel #thegodthought

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More Preview Chapters! 10/18

The next two installments (0.5, 1.0) include the ever controversial "Conspiracy Carl" and the first Narrative Chapter of the book describing Oliver Wells' return from his year long sojourn after the death of his wife and child.  You can find them in the Preview Chapters section by clicking below!


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My Kickstarter is really all about YOU.

Been working on the dialogue script for my Kickstarter video.  Take a read, and let me know what you think!  --DC

/ / KICKSTARTER VIDEO

// (BEGIN SCRIPT)

“It’s not a book I would normally read...but I’m glad I did.  I really enjoyed the story!”  

I heard that a lot from test readers.  The feedback that followed was favorable -- the action and mystery were engaging, characters resonated as they should -- all the validation a writer could want.  And yet, the first part of that statement haunted me:

“It’s not a book I would normally read...”

I’ve been writing a long time.  Finished my first novel just after high school.  As proud as I was, publishers didn’t know what to do with it.  “We like it, we just don’t know how to sell it.”  My stories often mix several genres -- they can be hard to label.  So I was all, “I’m gonna self publish!”  We’ll call that a learning experience.

Twenty years later, I’m ready for another go.  Got a fresh new concept and I’d like to think my writing has matured.  I’ve tested several drafts, had it professionally edited.  I’m feeling good about the quality and execution -- I just need people to read it!

That’s where you come in.

I want you to take a chance on the story, read it, love it, back it, and talk to all your friends about it.  So really, this Kickstarter--is all about you.

The money raised from your backing will wrap up publishing costs and fund vital PR and Marketing.  But most importantly, it’s your voice that I really need to cut through all the clutter out there. 

Years from now when The God Thought is a mega-hit (fingers crossed) I want you to be able to say to your friends: “Oh--you thought that book was awesome?  I helped make that happen!  You’re WELCOME!

Which is why by pre-ordering through Kickstarter, you can be credited IN the final book.  Your name would be printed in a special thanks section--immortalized forever as someone who backed it from the very beginning.  

So--I invite you to take that chance.  Go to my website, and read the preview chapters.  Or, email me directly, and I’ll send you an e-pub file of the first one hundred pages.  

Chances are, if you’ve made it this far--you’ll have a blast with the rest of it.

(END SCRIPT.)

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What "The God Thought" ISN'T

For a third of my test readers, the very title of my book drove them to madness.  "It's going to turn people off," I was told.  "And I love your book!  I want people to read it, and I think some people are going to mistake it for some religious self-help thing!"

These were the impassioned pleas of a few, but they had a point.  Depending on one's background, an aversion to religion may very well turn a potential reader off who would otherwise really enjoy the story.  For me, the title spoke to what I felt was the unique plot point of the book itself!  "The god thought" is central to the entire idea, and married with the right image for the cover, I hoped would make people wonder what it's truly about and pick it up to read more about it.

I think I've settled on the right cover, thanks to the efforts of a good friend of mine, Matt Schiel.  The unsettling image speaks to a mystery most potential readers want to know more about!

But no, The God Thought is NOT a religious self-help book.  Nor is it appropriate for younger readers.  There are extremely adult, mature and violent themes that transpire within its pages.

What The God Thought IS, is an adventure of the wildest sort.  It is a journey of epic proportions. It is a test of one's outlook on life, death and everything in between.  But most of all, it is a thrilling story that I hope you'll enjoy.  I invite you to preview the sample pages I've posted, and come back every Tuesday to read more.

Note, that the book is told as a combination of social media postings, documents, and narrative chapters.  So it will be a few weeks before Chapter 1 is actually posted.  If you can't wait for it, contact me at dcravensauthor@gmail.com and I'll send you an epub file of my first 100 pages.

Trust me, once most of you get rolling on this thing--you're not going to want to stop.

DC

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