Meet Author John Theo Jr.

Today I welcome prolific  writer, John Theo  Jr. to Jubilee Writer. He’s going to talk about his latest release and the writing life. First, John tell us briefly about your writing journey.1

I started writing for fun in high school but did not take it seriously until after college. I worked on my own craft for a few years before entering graduate school where I received an MFA in creative writing. Since then I’ve published in non-fiction (magazines), taught writing at the college level, and had six fiction books published. My books vary as much as my interests. From young adult fantasy, murder mystery, government conspiracy, to dystopian sci fi.

Sounds like you have many genres you love and a vivid imagination. What’s your latest published project.

My latest release is Mission Trip, Genesis and Exodus. It is a sequel to 2016’s Mission Trip. To accompany the launch I’ve published a prequel novella, Clarke. Both are available online or at WWW.JOHNTHEO.COM

I’m always curious how authors do their research for their stories. How do you do yours

Writers have always been told to “write about what you know”. I know sci fi quite well as I spent many years of my childhood reading comics and watching sci fi movies. I utilized every “nerd molecule” of my being on this tale. Even though the book is set in the distant future I utilized a lot of current events. Science fiction is notorious for taking current events and placing them into a futuristic setting. One of the first (and arguably most famous) interracial kisses on TV was done in 1968 on an episode of Star Trek. At the time the culture barely noticed as it was technically “500 years” in the future.

Every story starts as a germ of inspiration. What inspired you to write your book?

Over the past decade Christians have become the most persecuted class of people on the planet (according to PEW research). US Christians are starting to see this persecution trickle in. For example, legal persecution of believers in the US has evolved into numerous church shootings. This got me thinking about the Pilgrims and their reason for leaving Europe in the 1600s to flee to the new world. Mission Trip is a “what if” story. What level of persecution would it take for Christians to flee the US, and where would they go? At its core, Mission Trip is a futuristic retelling of the Pilgrims story.

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Fascinating. I love the premise. A bold challenge to people of faith.  Now let’s move away from your book and ask when did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

I always had a creative side, but didn’t realized I wanted to tell stories until I was leaving high school and came to the conclusion I wasn’t passionate about much else.

Passion is a wonderful motivator for a writer. I always like to ask those who visit my blog what scripture resonates with them. What is yours?

A favorite life verse for me over the past few years has been Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

I have been through a lot of life changes over the past few years (mostly bad), which God has used for good in miraculous ways.

The verse in my novel that resonates with me the most is line at the end when the protagonist (Landon) realizes God performed miracles to save Landon’s son, but did not spare His own son. At this point Landon’s “arc” is complete and he has healed from his past trauma.

He had not spared His only son, but made a point to spare Landon’s. It was as if Landon fully understood the cross of Christ for the first time.”

Love the insight. John, if you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

There is a lot I would tell a younger version of myself about life, but as far as the craft of writing it would be one simple thing….find a mentor. This is so important, and could shave years off someone’s learning curve.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

Ironically, no one in my life is a writer so no one really understands what it’s like to be a writer. Long story short, I am very self-motivated.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

As of today, I would say non-fiction. I never thought I’d migrate from action, and sci fi books into non- fiction but I’ve become a huge fan of US History, especially old historical books for young adults.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’d love to say at my desk at home sipping a cup of tea as the snow falls outside the window, but I have three energetic kids under the age of eight, so that romantic notion doesn’t exist. They are my “lovable efficiency killers”. I would say at work. My wife and I moved out of the hectic northeast to buy a small business down south allowing us to be together as a family more. The burst of small time I have in between customers forces me to by hyper focused. Some writers need three hour long windows to write in. Mission Trip, Genesis and Exodus was literally written in twenty minute increments.

 You are certainly driven to get words on paper. Bravo for you.

Tell us about your screenplays and other writing projects.

I’ve written multiple screenplays, but currently I’m marketing only two of them with my agent Pierre Rumpf.

Nicky and the Saint, A Christmas Story is a screenplay about the historic Saint Nicholas and a modern-day boy named Nicky, and how their symbiotic “hero’s journey’s” overlap. The trailer (or sizzle reel) is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMePOl_KK_Q&list=PLSogEOVpzTJHtXpPlfUJCNiO2Rs7a0Bnv&index=32

Christmas by The Sea is a straight up Hallmark Channel-esque romance set in a quaint New England seaside town. Unlike other made-for-television Christmas movies I instilled some comedy, and even a little action to broaden the audience base. The sizzle reel is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUtYScVghpI&list=PLSogEOVpzTJHtXpPlfUJCNiO2Rs7a0Bnv&index=2

Christmas seems to be a theme in a lot of my writing. I guess it’s the kid in me.

SERIES: This is the sequel to “Mission Trip”, Clean Reads Press 2016.

PURCHASE: https://www.amazon.com/Mission-Trip-John-Theo-Jr-ebook/dp/B078TCD3T8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515422663&sr=8-1&keywords=mission+trip%2C+Genesis+and+exodus

BOOK TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1LBjsWLBbY

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_tXTp-mEENYHe2Ex3LJeXg

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/search?q=john%20theo&src=typd

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=579062130

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Theo, Jr. has published numerous articles in New England based newspapers and magazines, and has taught screenwriting at the college level. Mission Trip, Genesis and Exodus is his fifth fiction novel and the sequel to 2016’s Mission Trip (Clean Reads Press). John holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA. For more information on John check out http://www.johntheo.com.

More About John’s novel Mission Trip, Gensis And Exodus

TAG LINE:

Can an imprisoned son and a redeemed technocrat rescue humanity.

BACK COVER BLURB:

Mission Trip, Genesis and Exodus is the sequel to Mission Trip. In 2077 doctor Kyle Faison remains trapped on the west coast of New America with a group of villagers he came to help. His father, Landon, races from their hidden underwater city to rescue his son. When Kyle goes missing Landon tracks him to the city of New Sacramento, where a charismatic leader holds him captive. Landon must find a way past an army of soldiers to reach Kyle before the onset of another nuclear war.

The origin of the underwater city known as the Atoll is revealed in a prequel flashback woven throughout the story.  In 2040, technocrat Josiah Saunders has wealth and power and invests much of his resources into life extension technology. He ruins countless lives trying to reach this goal. The combination of a hostile takeover by his competitor, and a failed assassination attempt, send Josiah fleeing into the subway system of New York where he is attacked and left for dead. The narcissistic man soon realizes God has other plans for him, but first he must be broken and rebuilt as a new creature.

 

BOOK EXCERPT:

The next morning, an explosion woke Josiah from his light sleep. The building moved slightly.

“Open daylight,” he said, throwing aside the silk sheets.

The tinted windows in the penthouse bedroom cleared, revealing the gray early morning skyline of New York. Nothing looked different. Had he dreamed of the explosion? A moment later, flaming debris flittered down outside the windows. Josiah’s stomach dropped, as if following the debris toward the street below.

The speaker on his data pad chirped. “Coming up to get you.” It was Ross. “We’re under attack. This isn’t a drill.”

Josiah panicked for a moment before he remembered all the reinforcements and safety measures the building had. It would withstand multiple attacks from a varied assortment of artillery and biological warfare. But why hadn’t the alarms kicked in? He threw on a pair of dress pants, shoes, and a sweater, and grabbed his tablet. He wasn’t going to wait for Ross. Before Josiah left the apartment, he glanced one last time out the living room window. There were two sparks of light a few miles in the distance. Trails of smoke followed the flashes through the early morning skyline.

The tablet in his hand spoke in a calm male voice. “Warning. Incoming rockets.

Wow! You’ve got my attention. Thanks for being my guest today, John. Those who love dystopic novels are going to love this one.

Reader, if this is your first time visiting Jubilee Writer and you’d like to read more interviews and writerly things, please subscribe before you leave and it will be delivered to your email as new posts appear.

 

 

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New Zealand Author Carol Roberts Talks about her Writing Journey and Debut Fantasy Novel

 Carol RobertsToday I welcome Carol Roberts who makes her home in New Zealand. Her debut fantasy Atlantis is available now. Carol, I love to ask fellow-authors to share their writing journey. Please tell my readers about yours.

When I left school, I was interested in psychology, and I would have studied that, had I not decided to travel first. As was, I left my birth place of Vienna at the age of 18 and travelled through South America and Asia, indulging my interest in culture and tradition.

I met my husband-to-be in India, a photographer from New Zealand, and we ventured into places that were so distant and remote, that I can still remember the feeling of eternal timelessness that took ahold of me in such locations. I was completely fascinated; what were those people’s stories, what did they preserve in terms of their mythology? I took a lot of notes about places and people, and by the time I settled in New Zealand, I had a firm plan of compiling a non-fiction book about stories and myths from all around the world.

While working through the material that we had collected, I realized that I was more interested in understanding the meaning of those stories, rather than compiling them into a non-fiction book. I was especially interested in stories of creation, and if our collective psyche can possibly reach back to a point of evolution through these stories.

Extensive travel is something we all dream about. How wonderful for you. Now tell us about your debut novel and the inspiration behind it.

It’s a fiction book, called ‘Atlantis’; genre is mythical fantasy/mystery.

After I had spent endless hours interpreting mythical symbolism, I felt that a lot of stories try to portray the origins of our human condition. And that’s what I wanted to write about; a challenge that passes on from one generation to the next, the meaning of individual and collective destiny, and the consequence of choices made.

I started writing ‘Atlantis’ with a poem. The poem held th

Atlantis Carol Roberts

e clues of a mystery, and became the map. It’s too long to quote, but it held the essence of what I was about to write, and I kept on interpreting it as I went.

 

Here is the back- cover blurb

Here is the blurb:  When Alanthea, high-priestess of Atlantis, connects to a woman in her dreams, she becomes haunted by a mystery. Compelled to trace the other woman’s life she finds coded poems that hold clues to the predicament of her people. Now she has to venture ever farther into forbidden territory to link past and present, and understand the real danger threatening Atlantis.

Arakon always thought of himself as an orphan, a loner without any real belonging. But after a strange encounter his life changes, and he is drawn into events beyond his control.

They move parallel in their search for answers until their destinies converge, and the weave unravels. Yet what they finally uncover lies deep at the heart of collective evolution, and what has been set in motion cannot be undone.

Now I’d like to take my questions in a different direction.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband in all matters writing and helping me to ‘man up’ and stand by my work. My publisher, Stephanie, for picking up ‘Atlantis’ and giving me confidence.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Romance, hands down. There is nothing like a good romance.

How interesting, I write romance yet enjoy a lot of fantasy on TV, movies and novels.

So, tell us your favorite place to write?

Where-ever I find that piece of paper and pen when I have an urgency to write. This could be virtually anywhere, lol.

We can all relate to that. Thanks so much for visiting with us today.

Here’s a little about Carol Roberts.

Carol Roberts is a free lance writer with particular interest in cultural myth. Originally from Vienna, she has spent all of her adult life in the Far North of New Zealand. Her work took her to several different countries, where she indulged her fascination with stories, particularly those dealing with the creation of man.  ‘Atlantis’ is her first full length novel.

Blog/Newsletter: https://www.smore.com/app/pages/preview/jb2ug,

Twitter: @authorRobertsC

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0777J2MC8/

Check out Carol’s creative Christmas giveaway. Everyone is a winner

For all those who purchase Atlantis before December 31st, I will say THANK YOU by sending you a free copy of my second novel Tower of Babel. Go to this link after you purchase Atlantis and sign up to receive Tower of Babelhttps://www.smore.com/app/pages/preview/fpnxr

 

Interview with Dystopian Co-Authors Glenn Turner & Angel Torres

Today is a first for me. I welcome Glenn Turner and Angel Torres to Jubilee Writer. They co-authored The Coming Future, a YA Fantasy. I’ve never had co-authors on my blog so I’m curious about your journey.

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Glenn: I grew up being a reader of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.  I come from a fairly artsy family, and did a wide range of artistic activities, playing Keyboard, Guitar, Saxophone, French Horn, and Clarinet (maybe a few others that I forget now), as well as a bit of drawing and painting. When I was sixteen, I became a Christian, and I noticed in my Christian community that many folks did not approve of my love of fantasy.  So, with plenty of other things to focus on, my affection for that genre grew cold over the years.

Fast forward to my thirties where I had some free time at one of my jobs, and I just felt inspired to write a bit.  So I did.  And as I did, some of the old stories I read as a kid came to mind.  I began looking into fantasy again, and I made a discovery:  the entire Fantasy genre was started by two Christians: J.R.R. Tolkein, and C.S. Lewis, the latter of which was a prominent theologian.  I realized that some Christians that I had been around had wholesale rejected a literary genre that was created by two solid believers.

As I began writing some stories, I encountered Angel Torres at work.  Angel shared some of his work with me, and then asked if I would like to collaborate on a project with him.  So, began The Coming Future. Honestly, I didn’t take it serious at first.  But as we worked on the project together, I got to be like, “Man, this isn’t too bad. It might go somewhere.”

We finished our first draft in 2015, and got about the business of finding an Agent or a Publisher, culminating in Clean Reads accepting our work in January, 2017, and we were published on 6.20.17.

Angel(1)

Angel: I wasn’t much of a reader in my younger days; I was more into sports, friends, and video games. But everything changed in summer of 1998, when I put my hands on a video game that forever changed my life, Final Fantasy VII. My world was opened wide. I’ve always imagined himself being a professional basketball player, but now, my imagination was inspired by role-playing stories from movies and games. I filled up notebook after notebook with stories, but after moving from Puerto Rico to the United States, my creative vision shifted to writing song lyrics and pursuing the American dream. Then, around 2010, I met Glenn.

Tell my readers, about your project.

Glenn: I’d be happy too.

The Coming Future is a coming-of-age story about a young man, Aalok, who doesn’t quite fit into the place he was born in. He lives in a crystal city on a flat planet where the sun rises out of the sea and sets on the other side of the planet. Aalok belongs to the ‘owr clan, which is the clan of light.  But when he reaches the age where members of his clan begin developing abilities congruent with their clan, Aalok’s abilities are largely silent.  Instead, he begins having apocalyptic dreams of a coming disaster. Suspecting that this is a form of his developing ‘owr abilities, Aalok goes to his instructor at the school, and then the Prime Minister of his city, but his dreams are largely ignored; until the disaster actually happens. Aalok then discovers there may be more to events than natural coincidence.

Intermixed within the book are various struggles with school, sports, and girls, much of which are formed out of the authors’ personal experiences and observations of kids today. Angel, at the time of writing, was a youth group director.

This book was a fun write, and is a fun read.  It has elements of steampunk, fantasy, and a hint of dystopian future that should appeal to today’s young adult audience, but one of our reviews from Amazon reads:  While the story is obviously geared to young readers, it was a very enjoyable read for me, a great-grandma.

What kind of research did you do for The Coming Future?

Angel & I read a fair amount of young adult novels and I made a special effort to watch a few Steampunk movies and shows to better understand the genre. There’s something about Steampunk that just seems fun to me. (Editor’s note: Steampunk is history with a twist of modern science. For example: machine guns during the Renaissance period.)

You may not realize it on a first read, but the work is heavily influenced by the Bible. From the names, many of which are from Biblical Hebrew or Greek, to the clans, whose origins can be found in the first chapter of Genesis, there is a strong Biblical influence to the work.

Several other character names were derived from other languages as well.  For instance, the main character, Aalok, means ‘Light of God’ in Hindi, and he is from the clan of light, the ‘owr, which is the Hebrew word for light.

How does co-authoring work?  How do you guys do this together? 

Initially, the process was a little disjointed. Angel and I got together and discussed what we wanted out of a story. Who is our audience? What style?  What kind of ‘magic’ is in the story? What is our main character going to be like? What about supporting characters? The world? We answered and debated those questions a little, and initially, we agreed on most of that.
After that, I sat down and started writing. The first few chapters came out pretty quickly, and what we see now is pretty similar to what came out initially. Then, after 4 chapters or so, Angel began outlining each chapter with ideas that we wanted to put in the chapter, and I would flesh it out.  Most of the time, I included (almost) all of what he wanted, and then added a bit more as I was inspired.  I kind of walked through the story with Aalok, and thought, “What would he encounter next? What logically flows here?”  I also would ask, “How can I create some more conflict?” and I would sometimes think, “We need a new, interesting character here.”

All of the kids in school, with the exception of Tenebris Pruir, a raging nerd, were mostly Angel’s doing. Aalok’s Dad, the instructor from the exile nation/school, and the coach of the domeball team (domeball is similar to soccer, except, well, in a dome) we worked on together.

So our process was (1) work together on the concepts, characters, and setting, (2) Angel outlines, (3) I write out what Angel outlined, (4) Angel reads what I wrote, adds in a few details or things I forgot, or just stuff that would make it cooler, (5) I edit based on Angel’s feedback, (6) I go back to #3 and write out the next chapter.  Repeat infinitum, or at least until we are done!

What Inspired you to write The Coming Future?

Angel & I set out to write a fun book with relatable characters facing issues that teens face.  We wanted to write characters facing problems where they made good and sometimes bad decisions, and then saw the consequences of those decisions.  At the time we wrote the book, Angel served as a Youth Director at his church, and we modeled some of the struggles the characters face off of what he saw in the lives of kids he knew.

I love layered stories that you have to peel back, so within the book, there are multiple mysteries and things that are happening that you may not realize. Then, when you arrive at something that will come out in book 3, you will go back and look at 1, and realize, “oh, that was that the whole time, and I never saw it!”

We were also inspired by our youths and things that we just didn’t get growing up.  One silly example: as a kid, I never understood stretching before playing baseball. Neither does Aalok. He struggles through stretching exercises when playing sports, wondering why he is doing it.   He also finds himself without appropriate equipment for practice, making him a little unsteady and unsure of himself.  These are all things I’ve faced in my youth.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Glenn: I very much love Matthew 6:33 – but seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Growing up, I struggled with anxiety a lot.  Working as a Registered Nurse, I always found myself worrying about what I may have missed or forgotten.  This verse calms me and centers me, allowing me to direct my nervous attention to my God rather than my worries. Now, twenty years later, I find that God has given me grace to embrace this verse, and freed me from the worries of my youth.

Angel: My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” God knows the plan that he has for me and by walking beside him, reading his word, gaining his wisdom and learning perseverance, I always find the love and joy that only he can provide}

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing? 

Glenn: I think much of my focus is self-motivated.  I feel like I have stories living inside me that want to come out!  In my work environment, I will sometimes have an hour or two of dead time without any responsibilities, so I use it to write.  But if I had to select some sort of muse, I would say it comes from conversations I have with my friend, Marc, whom I will be releasing a book and game with in 2019.  I am often excited about writing after chatting with him.

Angel: My best support system to keep me focused on writing is music. My passion and love for music has always been a core value towards the imagination to create stories just like The Coming Future.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Glenn: I love the fantasy genre.  Good ole swords and sorcery and saving the world.  I have enjoyed some urban fantasy as well.

Angel: I love everything in the young-adult fantasy genre.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Glenn: I dunno. I have a romantic image of myself writing in Medard Park in Dover, FL, but I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it yet.  Plus, I’m in the middle of July right now, and it feels like 100 degrees. I think my current favorite is on the back patio, overlooking some trees and, presently, a pond (though it dries up in winter).  It’s very peaceful.

Angel I love to write and get ideas in small close places, like my closet or even in the bathroom. Headphones, music and an open imagination.

Do you listen to anything while writing? 

Glenn: Hmmm… I don’t mind silence.  I like the sounds of nature.  But I also like a Pandora station I made that plays instrumental movie soundtracks.

Angel  I like to listen to instrumental music, like movie soundtracks and instrumental bands like “Hammock”.

Cover Art(1)

Back-cover blurb for The Coming Future

Living in a crystal city on a flat world, Aalok Collins is an ordinary boy living in an extraordinary place. But Aalok fears that he is a little too ordinary.

All Aalok cares about, besides playing domeball, and, much to his surprise, girls, is his final exam which will determine whether or not he can move on to the Academy next year, or whether he is forced into slavery or exile.  But as he waits on nature to develop within him the powers, or anima that all in his clan possess, he is haunted by dreams of an imminent tragedy.

As he begins exploring the meaning of his dreams, Aalok encounters a plot to take control of an ancient artifact which could change the base of power in the city of Sherendot, and possibly throughout the ‘owr clan.

About the Authors:

Turner & Torres is comprised of Glenn D. Turner & Angel Torres, who met at work at a doctor’s office around 2010. Sharing a love of writing, they began getting together at lunch to comprise a story that young adults could enjoy with characters that readers would be able relate to.

Glenn has some additional writing projects that he is noodling with that may be put into print someday. He deeply adores his wife and four children, and is trying to learn how to play nice with others.

Angel, too, is a dedicated family man who lives in the Tampa Bay area, working in the medical field.  He is excited about the Coming World, Turner & Torres’ second installment of the Aalok Collins series.

Thanks for stopping by, guys. Sounds like a fun adventure in store for your readers.

Click the title to purchase The Coming Future.

 

 

Blood For Blood A Surprisingly Satisfying Read

Blood for Blood CoverBlood for Blood the debut novel of Ben Wolf is not the sort of book I would normally read. But its unusual premise intrigued me. Psalms 23:3 He restoreth my soul is the theme verse for this new adult novel. (Adults in their 20s). This novel set in the 1800s isn’t focusing on any old body’s soul but a vampire. That part gave me pause I don’t read horror and never followed Twilight or any of the TV shows available today that feature vampires. But in the pages of Blood for Blood I found so many wonderful examples of the redemptive work of Christ. Reminders of how Christians judge the validity of someone’s salvation based on the level of sin in their former life.

Evangelist Zambini believes God can restore anyone’s soul and when he draws the soulless vampire Raven Worth toward the truth of God’s word interesting things happen. This author researched the folklore of vampirism and used his findings as a great foundation for the struggles of his protagonist. Those struggles parallel our very human Christian walk as Raven grows in faith and out of his vampire life.

There were surprise plot twists and the villain was not who I expected. Well-written and captivating. If you enjoy D L Koontz and Ted Dekker you will enjoy Blood for Blood. Even if you are an anti -horror reader like me you will find this story compelling and entertaining. If you are paying attention you’ll probably find a few choice nuggets of truth to meditate on as well.

Ben's Pic 2

Author Ben Wolf

Coming soon

Because this is so out of my wheelhouse when it comes to reading preference I wanted to pick the brain of this debut author regarding the creation of this story. Look for an indepth interview with Ben next week.

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