“The Scientist’s Dilemma” – J.C.L. Faltot

I told you about The Color of Soul, and now I’m telling you about another short story of mine: The Scientist’s Dilemma.

An oldie but a goodie, The Scientist’s Dilemma holds a special place in my heart as it represents two things about my writing life: 1) my transition from publishing non-fiction to fiction. And 2) my transition from being a lukewarm, skeptical believer to an actual believer in God – and more specifically, Christ.

The Scientist’s Dilemma is a piece that explores what I believe lies at the core of every person: a longing to know all so that we might be able to be all. So you might say this is an exercise in learning humility. Or at least exploring what that might look like.

If you enjoyed The Color of Soul, then this might be up your alley too.

Available only in Kindle ebook format (for now).

“The Color of Soul” – J.C.L. Faltot

In addition to the science fiction I spend my time writing, I do short stories too. And this is one of them: The Color of Soul.

It’s been almost four years from the time I published this little tale. One that involves two brothers, a game, and a revelation of how the world can look through the eyes of someone who has seen the better parts of creation.

If you’d like something to pass the time (and maybe shed a tear or two) then I’d encourage to give this oldie-but-goodie a go. That is, of course, provided that you have a Kindle on hand.

The Writer’s Lens – Response Episode: “Is The Lord of the Rings a ‘Racist’ Story?”

The Lord of the Rings is a fantasy tale that has inspired millions. Its story of good versus evil transcends generations. And it uses rather unconventional forms to do it: with fictional beings like hobbits, dwarves, and elves.

But there are men and women in this fantasy too. And orcs. And goblins. And trees that talk and walk. And…racism? Wait…what?

Last month, I came across an article that caught my attention. A fellow science fiction writer was being interviewed for a podcast and when the topic of Tolkien’s classic came up, the author went on to say that the Lord of the Rings has “hard to miss” themes of racism throughout. Considering how I’d never heard this claim before, I did some research and found that there have been others who have felt the same way (not a lot, but they are out there if you look). So I did what any social media personality with a platform would do: I did an episode detailing what I thought of this accusation.

Because this is a serious thing to say. Not just because The Lord of the Rings has birthed an entire genre or because it made millions at the box office – it’s because of the nature of the claim. It touches deeply on sacred grounds. And if tossed around flippantly, we run the risk of being short-sighted on what could be considered “racist” and what is not.

So, is Tolkien’s work racist? Enclosed in this episode are my thoughts on that matter as well as why I felt the need to address it.

The full episode can be found here.

Support for “The Writer’s Lens”

If you’ve been wondering how to support my new podcast, The Writer’s Lens, then there’s a few ways to do so:

Listen

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the growth of any program relies on its viewership. More listens generate more opportunities for other potential listeners to find out about The Writer’s Lens. And don’t worry, there are no quizzes or exams waiting at the end of any episode…maybe.

Share and / or Subscribe

Sharing is caring. Well, unless you’re five and your parents make you do it. Either way, sharing the podcast can make others aware of what The Writer’s Lens can offer. Especially for those actively seeking the kind of content we are working on and could be of benefit to them. Have a creative friend? Someone who loves storytelling? Someone who wants to hear from entrepreneurs and creatively-minded folks? It’s encouraging to know there’s a community out there that can help you. And on that note, I’ll add that as therapeutic or fun as this can be for me personally, I’d love to see growth in other people’s lives too. The gain we get is the gain we give.

Comment / E-Mail

This may be the most frightening aspect of social media: asking for comments. We all know how treacherous the Internet highways can be so why ask for feedback? Well, because engagement creates opportunity for growth. There are always good topics I’d like to do, but may not be aware people are looking for them to be discussed. Seeing how my audience is responding helps me key into what’s working. Or what isn’t. So again, if you like what we are doing – let us know. Don’t like we are doing? Let us know that too. Gently.

Support Though Monetary Donation

There are always costs associated with doing something. Be it the time we spend or the materials we require. So, if you aren’t always able to share, subscribe or the like, you can always provide a monetary donation to help The Writer’s Lens keep moving forward, but even more so, enable this podcast to get better than what it was yesterday. Not to mention (but I will), there are some cool rewards available for those who give above and beyond.

You can check out those rewards by going here. And again, you can find The Writer’s Lens on Podbean, iTunes, and even YouTube.

Thanks in advance and talk with you all again soon!

– J.C.L.

 

Who is rooting for you?

In prep for my next episode, I’ve been thinking a lot about this question. Writing a story – well, writing anything – tends to be a solitary vocation. Like, shooting a free throw; or running a race; or giving a speech. You’re alone in every sense of the word.

So with that in mind, who is in your corner? Who is helping you along the way? Who is waiting on the other side of whatever it is you are doing? I’ll be honest, I didn’t give the idea of “teamwork” much thought when I started writing books. I’d always understood writing to be something akin to a self-help journey. It was me against the paper (or laptop, if you prefer). I wasn’t interested in asking for assistance. And I wasn’t inviting anyone’s approval either. That would only muck up my progress; deter me from ever finishing.

But, then I finished my passion project – let’s say, my first book. And there was joy. There was some relief too – only now, what was I to do with it? I hadn’t told too many people about what I was doing. I was actually a little embarrassed to tell people what I’d been up to. I mean, doesn’t everybody want to write a book nowadays? And yes, several folks were intrigued, even interested. But, here’s the thing – none of the people I told had been eagerly awaiting its release. There’d been no anticipation. No build up. I’d simply dropped in one day and said what I’d done in my private time.

This may sound contradictory to what I said earlier, but those experiences had me completely underwhelmed. Only later did I realize – and this may sound foolish – that I had expectations I wasn’t even aware of. And to have nobody there at the finish line saying, “Great, here’s what we do next”, I was back where I began: just me, my laptop, and my idea. Without a team of helpers, I was still going to face the uphill battle… alone. Yes, I had people willing to purchase my book out of the gate, but I had no “brain trust”; I had no “think tank”. I was simply off in space, wondering if I’d wasted my time with I’d done.

At that point, I understood I needed more than myself, my laptop, and my idea – I needed people in my corner. I needed a team helping me from start to finish. Jeff Goins refers to this concept as a tribe; created not for the purpose of trashing my ideas or giving me new ones they thought was best, but a group to confide in and help me think beyond the story I was crafting.

It was a hard lesson, but with some patience, I found myself a part of a local writer’s group. One that would grow exponentially into almost 10 members. And I must say, I would not have made it as far as I did without the accountability and help from fellow creatives. So now, here I am, finishing the second installment of my Mars series and I can say that having people in your corner is paramount. Yes, it’s nice having Mom or Dad and Aunt or Uncle cheering you on, but who is checking in with you? Who is challenging you on meeting deadlines? Who is reminding you why you started all this in the first place?

Because let’s be honest, if you aren’t gathering those voices around you, then you’re most certainly hearing the opposite ones. The ones who want you to fail; they aren’t rooting for you to win. They only want you to lose. So, again I ask – who is it that is rooting for you

“Our memories aren’t perfect.” – Brent McLaughlin, writer

In my latest interview, I posed a question to my friend, Brent McLaughlin, what it was like to journal on a regular basis. Aside from giving our thoughts a place to rest, Brent summed up his experience like so: it’s a means to look into where I’ve been; where I’ve come from. Because as he put it, “our memories aren’t perfect.”

I couldn’t have agreed more with that statement.

I’ve never been good at keeping a journal. I make time for reading in the morning. I make time for writing the next chapter of my book. But, when it comes to decompressing my thoughts in a journal form, I just don’t do it. And as of late, I wish I did.

Rushing from one thing to the next in life can make us feel like hamsters on a wheel. Most of us are good at setting goals. We look at our resources. We set our parameters – and we go for it. Yet we don’t always know how or what brought us there once we make it (if we even do). I believe if we took more time to reflect on what it was that got us through, we might appreciate our accomplishments more. We may slow down more. We may even enjoy our lives more.

Because, again, our memories aren’t always perfect. And we need those little reminders as often as we can get them.

The Writer’s Lens – On YouTube now!

I’m happy to announce every one of my podcast episodes can now be found on YouTube.

So not only are my interviews on YouTube, but every one of my individual episodes too.

And if you’re someone who doesn’t like doing the YouTube thing – no worries – you can still find me at iTunes and Podbean.

Because not everyone needs a visual to go with their audio, of course.

 

Okay, It’s Here! #TheRoadToMars

Enough with the hype already! My book is available. And you can check it out here. Or by clicking on the picture. road-to-mars-cover-6x9-bleed

First off, what a process this has been! Lots of learning and lots of time I didn’t foresee having to work through, but hey, I won’t bore anybody with those details. That’s probably best served for another day. Or maybe never. Either way, the wait is finally over.

And as a special bonus – yes, a bonus – I have included the first few pages of the sequel, The Shadow of Mars, at the end. So, if you’re like me and love to spoil the endings of things, you may feel free to skip ahead. And thus, spoil some of The Road to Mars. But hey, that’s your call!

Happy reading, folks. And don’t forget to comment and leave me notes telling me how much you love (or hate) the story. I appreciate it!

And another big thank you to my friend, Immanuel Mullen, for designing the cover and back. Thanks again!

 

 

#12Months12Books: March – “Report 439B”

March will be the debut of my fourth book, Report 439B, in this ongoing #12Months12Books challenge (if I’m counting December’s The Scientist’s Dilemma and yes, I intend to). The title itself should be at least semi-intriguing to some, if not alluring. I’m excited about this one and granted, I’m excited about any story I have forthcoming, but this one is really a break from the norm. Whereas my last three titles have been fiction/fantasy with a definitive story arc, this one doesn’t necessarily follow the same set of rules. Here’s why:

Report 439B is a collection of journal entries, presented to the reader as an alien visitor’s assessment of Earth. It’s the beginning, middle, and end of a six-month excursion. One culminating with the traveler’s final report on the planet’s inhabitants: should we (them) engage? Should we leave them (us) alone? And what are their (our) long-term effects on the rest of the universe? These are some of the questions the “alien” will be asking and trying to answer. It’s a break from the standard fiction for me, but I fell in love with the concept and away I went.

As a disclaimer, I put the word alien in quotations for a reason. ‘Alien’ is a term used for more than just cosmic travelers. It’s also used to describe a non-citizen. I know some readers will imagine a tiny being with black eyes and a huge, bald head at the first mention of ‘alien’. And hey, that’s fine. But, I want to encourage those same folks to read this story with a different perspective. What else do we view as otherworldly? Or perhaps as supernatural?

My story’s journeyman clearly comes from a place that’s like Earth, but is also not like Earth. He draws up several comparisons throughout, trying to portray the differences as much as the similarities. Even his interactions among the “Children” are hopefully some strong indicators of what’s at work in this story. I imagine those who read Report 439B will have their own interpretations, but I trust you enjoy taking the journey together.

It’s been fun writing it, if not grueling at times, but certainly worth the struggle. With every new story, I learn plenty about myself. But, more importantly, I learn what other people might be searching for too. Sometimes it’s just a new adventure; a primary goal of any story worth telling.

 

#12Months12Books

I’ve started a personal campaign to write and publish 12 books in 12 months this year. Yikes, right? I would invite anyone else to join me, if they wish. Or take it as a challenge too. Much of this decision had to do with a desire to share my work more. And do so on a consistent basis. The rest came during some reflections over the past year.

In 2014, I did a lot of writing behind closed doors. Rather, I did a lot of experimenting. I started about 20 short stories, finished nearly half of them, and by year’s end, I published one of those of short stories. By the numbers, that’s not incredibly bad. But, if I were to continue this way – following through once every 20 times I began – it wouldn’t bode well for me in the long run. I’ve recognized I need greater discipline, specifically in bringing things to completion. This challenge will help me become better in that arena, I feel.

Or cause me to have a nervous breakdown by August.

No matter – I’ve started off 2015 on the right track. As I’m typing this, my January story is done and released –  The Color of Soul – and February’s title, A Dinner with Titans, is on its way to a final edit. Here’s my hope and prayer to stay the course as I head into March, April, and beyond.

Good to luck to those who are facing their own challenges this year. #12Months12Books, here we go.