“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).

Post-Showcase, After Thoughts

Last Saturday, I was fortunate to be a participant in Cleveland’s Indie Author Showcase, as hosted by the Cuyahoga County Public Library. It’s the second showcase I’ve been to and was really a great experience. I took some photos, had plenty of visitors, and handed out lots of info on my latest works. It was a blessing, but also an opportunity to learn some things. For example, I had no idea you could fit so many writers in the same room (45 to be exact). The initial atmosphere felt like swimming in a shark tank. Thankfully, we all came out unscathed. And with some renewed faith in playing nice with one another, I’m sure.

From a business perspective, having something to give out – like a brochure – was key. This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you’ve got books on your table, the thought of handing anything else out may feel like overkill. However, I’ve been to several trade shows. And I know that unless someone walks away with something in hand now, they aren’t going to remember you later. Doesn’t matter how intriguing you were, people need something tangible to hold onto. Especially if they’re seeing your product for the first time. I am glad to know I was prepared in that respect. And lastly, it doesn’t hurt to have friends come out and see your table (as evidenced by the candid below). These guys gave me some insights and ideas prior to the event too. That was invaluable – thank you again.

Thanks to my fellow scribes, Paul and Immanuel, for coming out last Saturday.

Thanks to my fellow scribes, Paul and Immanuel, for coming out last Saturday.

How to improve? More presentation and pricing. I had an adequate display, but found myself talking price quite a bit. Thankfully, my ebooks are relatively cheap – under $5 at the moment – but as my wife suggested, a pricing chart would be helpful for next time. And of course, have something in paperback. Currently, my work is all digital. I was the only person at the conference permitted who only had ebooks available (much thanks to the Library staff for letting me twist your arm and have me. I trust your elbows and shoulders are healing nicely). Their compliance was great, but after looking around and seeing the majority of tables packed with paperback and hardcovers, the answer was obvious: I should do the same. More on that as the year rolls forward.

For now, it’s an onward march for name recognition – and reviews. If you happen to read any of my work, then please leave a review when you finish reading. I encourage feedback for a couple reasons. For one,  if you’re willing to pay for it and read it, then I’d hope you’d be willing to leave some closing thoughts. Granted, no news can be good news – as people are more apt to share opinions when they feel jaded – but a good review can go a long way for the author. Thanks to those who have all ready! But, that leads me into my second reason: readership. I get emails, texts, comments from folks who read my stuff on a semi-consistent basis and though I appreciate it greatly, I want to encourage those same people to leave their thoughts on Amazon, my blog, or anywhere they can. Truly, the support goes a long way; reaching further than just a bank account, I assure you.

There are some other thoughts I have on the showcase, but these were my initial decompressions. I’ll save the others for another post. Overall, it’s always encouraging to “get out of the think tank” and share your story with others. That was a major highlight last Saturday. As was having my wife help explain my work to others. Kudos to the Mrs. for being such a big help.

Finally, I’ll leave this post with my favorite question from readers who approached me: “So what’s your dilemma anyway?” (in reference to The Scientist’s Dilemma story). I had fun with that one, but another guy went so far as to ask me if I was formerly an astrophysicist. If only! I regretfully had to say, ‘not yet.’ That seemed like the most appropriate response.

 

The Color of Soul – January 24, 2015

The Color of Soul

In keeping with my book-a-month challenge, I’ll be releasing another ebook this weekend, The Color of Soul, on Kindle. And yes, the black and white cover was intentional.

This one is shorter than last month’s, The Scientist’s Dilemma, and follows two brothers who have sat down to craft a story together; two creatives bouncing ideas off one another, making something original, and using plenty of color to do so. Told through the voice of the elder brother, Curt, this was a story I literally wrote in about two weeks. I’m not short-changing the effort, I just wanted to tell a story between brothers. I have five of them myself. It’s an interesting dynamic and I’ve enjoyed it greatly. It felt good to touch on that in this short story.

What’s more, I wanted to produce something simple. Something that was original and something that was unique. I feel this story does some justice in that arena so I’m pleased with that.

I’ve always been intrigued with how color affects mood. Each has a specific feeling attached to it. The brothers point that out rather poignantly throughout. Right down to the core.

Since it’s a shorter story, it moves along rather quickly and my hope is that people can read it in an hour or two. But, if it takes you longer, then that’s just as well.

Moving forward, my other hope is to have The Color of Soul in audio format. So as I prep for February’s next release, I’ll be working towards my first audiobook. Much thanks to my friend, Kris, who has been schooling me in audio training. It’s clearly been needed and I’m grateful.

More to come on that later, but for now, The Color of Soul is slated to be available on Saturday, January 24. And for those who read The Scientist’s Dilemma, there are a few “easter eggs” in The Color of Soul for you. Enjoy.

New Year, Past Reflections, Familiar Gameplan

When I was my 15, I couldn’t imagine being 20. When I got to 20, I couldn’t imagine being 25. And now that I’m 30, I can’t imagine being 35 someday. But, I know I’ll get there (God willing) and when I’m 35, I’ll probably ponder what 40 will look like.

Most of us do this – looking towards the future with an unsteady sense of what our next five years may entail. When I’m journaling or being reflective, I tend to look back five years at a time. What was I trying to achieve? What was I trying to avoid? Did I get where I wanted to go? The best laid plans don’t always come out as we envisioned them, but often, the results are even better than we expected. Ironically, one of my biggest life lessons has been to not look too far ahead. But, if I were to look back five years, what did that look like?

From a personal perspective, I’ve done much over these five years. Most recently, I got married. And to a wonderful woman. What a big change (and a big blessing) that has been. You can learn a lot from living on your own, but I think the experience is amplified a hundred fold in marriage. It’s not just you who is traversing through life now; it’s you and someone else. And that means taking on their life adventure, their story, their trials, and their tribulations along with your own. But, it’s not all hardship, it’s the joy of working together too. That’s the big thing. And something I’ve been learning and will likely continue to learn as she and I move forward. I’ve become more active in my faith; something that’s been a real miss for much of my life. I don’t know what’s worse – knowing there’s something wrong with your soul or seeing the same struggle others are experiencing, but never having the words for them. Well, nowadays, I have better words than I used to. Not that I know it all, I just have a greater peace where once I was a mess of things.

From a professional perspective, I’ve had several vocations – insurance, contracting, and even ministry – each of which I’ve learned much about myself and how I work with others. I remember when I used to work the drive-thru at Burger King and how I would become angry with how people treated me. I’d take it personally if someone were upset with the way a burger was made or how their fries were done. I felt like a “good day” meant having no complaints. But, as you can imagine, that didn’t leave many “good days” at all. That being said, I’ve learned not to take things so personally at work – regardless of where I am at. No one is as big a critic on Josh as Josh himself, but I’ve learned that this notion of being a self-appointed critic is incredibly unhealthy. It’s better to be able to receive criticism and feedback rather than beat yourself up all the time. You can learn to take things in stride at a much better pace and be quicker about applying certain changes to your work style, if need be. Again, our biggest enemies are usually ourselves. That’s as much a personal observation as it is a professional one.

Lastly, from a writing perspective, I’ve achieved quite a bit also. I’ve self-published three books in three years, my most recent an ebook on Amazon. I’ve written consistently every day for more than a year. I’ve kept this blog going for more than two years. And I’ve got several projects awaiting final edits before I release them. It’s been a rough journey, but I’m slowly starting to see the break in the tide I feel I’ve been under.

Twelve days into the new year, I feel like my game plan remains the same: don’t look too far into the future, but maintain a healthy focus on what I’m working towards. It may come with age, but my own use of time – and my view of time – continues to change. It’s not as much a commodity as it used to be, and I don’t find myself doodling away when I could be more productive. For me, that’s one of the better lessons I’ve experienced as I move into this new year. That our use of time trickles into every aspect of how we live: personally, professionally, and how we pursue our dreams.

 

So Your Book is Out – Now What?

Yesterday, I finally got to release The Scientist’s Dilemma on Kindle. Might go without saying, but hey – that was very exciting. It’s surreal knowing my thoughts and ideas are now open to praise, criticism, and verbal shellackings. I’m sure I’ll never tire of the high it gives me; be it for good or for bad. But, when the day is over and I’m lying in bed, an annoying question may creep up and invade my thoughts: so what now, Josh?

Obviously, I have some options when that happens – four of which I find to be the most immediate during this process.

My first option might be to keep checking up on my story. The Internet is a double-edged sword in this way. I can track views, likes, clicks, purchases – just about everything other than tracking my readers via satellite are some things I can do. And yet, if I’m not careful, I can find myself staring down the rabbit hole of never-ending browser clicks; hoping and praying that someone may have shared my link, viewed my webpage, or took the ultimate chance and made a purchase in the last five seconds.

Yes, the dark side of tracking one’s book can be dangerous. It’s nice to know how things are going, but if that’s all you’re doing then you’d best get to doing something else.

My second option would be to keep posting information about my book. Of the first two, this is the one that keeps things moving. A good business practice is to operate with forward motion. Lingering over concepts or ideas for too long creates stagnation and if you’re interested in being a professional writer, you have to view yourself in that same way. Your name brings a certain product and people – as nice or as thoughtful as they are – don’t always remember to check out your book. So you must remind them by continually getting yourself out there. This can be a tough one to execute and must be done with the level of charm that doesn’t turn people away.

Again, a double-edged sword, but if worked at, can become a powerful asset in your arsenal of online marketing. Am I pro at this myself? Oh, heavens no, but I’m learning as I go and this has proven to be a major part of what helps to build one’s platform.

My third option would be to look for more opportunities to share my work. I can post and connect links and write as many blog posts as I like, but I may be just working inside of a vacuum. With that in mind, it’s good to take a moment and think, “what am I not doing that I haven’t done before?” For this particular venture – The Scientist’s Dilemma – I decided I should only release it as an ebook. In the past, I would have scoffed at doing such a thing. “That’s too small. Either get recognized by an agent or nothing,” – that was my thinking. And with that stubborn attitude, I probably missed out on some opportunities along the way.

The downside here is looking back in hindsight, but there is a silver lining also: any chance you didn’t take doesn’t really matter anymore. If you’ve arrived at a point where it’s easy to look back and say, “should’ve done that” then you can ultimately use that to your advantage later. Learn what works and what doesn’t, but don’t try to recreate old scenarios for the sake of just trying to prove yourself.

My fourth (and last) option would be to work on the next project. It’s in these times when I can feel the most invigorated or the most demoralized. To know that my next work could be months, maybe even years away, is a daunting feeling. All sorts of doubts and dreadful thoughts can surface – and they can come from inside my own head or even come from the tongues of those around me.

The key in beating this is to be decisive in what project you choose to undertake. Oftentimes, I’ll find myself floundering between ideas, unable to get a solid grasp on what the best use of my time will be. This is normal though and is a natural part of the process, but it’s also not something to dwell upon or beat yourself up over. If anything, it might be healthy to have more than one project going at a time. Journaling is a good deterrent and can be very beneficial in flushing out the gunk that clogs things up. I’ve found journaling to be very helpful.

All that being said, back to it. I got some options to work with.

The Scientist’s Dilemma… Here at last!

TheScientistsDilemma_JCLFaltot_Release

I am once again diving into uncharted territory with the release of my short story, The Scientist’s Dilemma, and I’m excited, to say the very least. I’ve spent a good deal of time making this work known in one way or another so this is the moment of truth. I’m finally getting something out there again. That’s a great feeling.

The past 12 months have been difficult, but good. I felt challenged by something that said to “write smaller” and here is the result of that acknowledged challenge. So after writing several short stories and needing to grow in specific areas, I was feeling confident enough to put another work out there. It’s not to say that this was at the top of that pile, but it’s the one that felt the most appropriate.

My first two books were essays; this is a straight fiction. My first two books were rather angst-ridden and littered with hard questions; this story has served as one way to absolve some of those anxieties and quell the desire to have all the answers at once. In retrospect, I think it all makes sense now.

But, enough of all that. My hope is that if you’re reading this, then you’ll consider giving The Scientist’s Dilemma a read and ultimately be encouraged, if not entertained, by it. Many thanks to Andrew DePolo, one half of the Twin Composers, for creating this slick cover. Looking forward to the next one we can cook up.

Till next time,

J.C.L.

 

Persistence – How Long Will It Take?

I really hate waiting. Especially when it’s something I want or I think I want. That makes the wait even worse. As a kid, birthdays and Christmas were two events I hated to wait for. When I got older, it became parties or getting a paycheck. And now that I’m a little bit older, I find myself waiting on some other things: getting recognized, possessing a proper writing platform, a new idea worth digging into, to name a few. But yes, waiting for a paycheck is still in the mix too (as it should be). However, I find myself struggling to remain patient – or at the very least, defining what a healthy version of patience looks and acts like.

I find this to be one of life’s more difficult dances to perform. Running over other people will eventually ruin the road you’re on, but don’t get to running and you yourself will be trampled. Not everyone runs at the same pace, but simultaneously we are all running the same race. So how does one do this gracefully? Or rather, effectively?

For one, we must be willing to make mistakes. When I finished my first two books, I felt a real sense of accomplishment. “Hey, I made it” – that was my new mantra. But, just as Rome was not built in a day, neither is a successful author. People who read my material – and had the opportunity to speak with me on it – would inform me of a few grammatical snafus I didn’t catch and yes, I felt like recalling every last order and throwing the book out for good.

But, my failure was ultimately good. I needed to know that I couldn’t count on the first book I wrote to be a raving success. There were pieces and parts to this journey I couldn’t have seen until I started off upon it. Mistakes were inevitable, the journey was not had I remained on the sidelines.

Secondly, we must be willing to know the difference between observation and initiation. I wouldn’t learn much about driving cars if all I did was read about the process. It’s when I take the wheel and drive that I find where my limitations lie and where I have basic understandings already mastered. Oftentimes, I feel like I can wave my flag proudly if I’m well-read on a certain subject; letting my opinion fly like it matters. But, if I haven’t actually experienced the topic I’m claiming to be an authority on, then I really don’t have a platform to state my case at all.

Like, every voice who claims he or she should be boss but knows nothing of the responsibilities that go along with being the boss, there’s a clear space between the two. Even if it’s invisible to the person who thinks he knows what’s best without knowing much.

Lastly, if we are called to do something, then we must keep listening to that voice that is calling. This is probably the most confusing of the three and the easiest one to mess up too. I used to think that a “calling” was something big, dramatic – HUGE. Like, a person who feels “called” to one day be a CEO or a famous musician, a calling tends to get mixed up with false aspirations; possessing an image of one’s self where we are highly influential and always on center stage. The problem with that thinking, if you are willing to be taught otherwise, is that it’s extremely self-centered and self-serving.

Everyone wants to feel important and to be recognized – much like how I want to be with my writing career – but if I feel my calling is all about taking center stage, then I’m always going to be fall short of what that calling is after. There are tinier battles to be won and seemingly less important stakes to win that will ultimately lead to that position of influence. Because a calling is meant to help you so that you may help others, not to help you feel better about who you think you ought to be in other people’s eyes. And that means taking the hits, taking the setbacks, and doing so with the persistence that I must continue listening to the voice that called me out, not the one that tells me to die where I stand.

I would encourage anyone who thinks their persistence isn’t paying off for them to consider that a little more time may be all that’s required to get to the next step.

As I sit and type this, I am reminded that I have a book being released in just two days and about a half dozen more coming down the pipe soon. That’s something to stay persistent about.

 

 

 

 

The Scientist’s Dilemma – December 4th!!

It’s nice to have a solid release date and I have one. I’ve been posting, tweeting, and Facebook-statusing lately about my short story, The Scientist’s Dilemma, but I’ve been neglecting to mention when it will be arriving. So here it is: Thursday, December 4th for Kindle and Kindle apps. No paperback, no hard cover, just electronic this time around and it’ll be starting at $3.99 per download in the U.S.; an amount that will vary in other parts of the world. So I hope you’re one of the folks who has the capability to give it a download soon. No matter what part of the world you’re in.

And that’s it for shameless self-promotion and now onto a small amount of self-reflection.

It’s been over a year since I last published something and I forgot how nerve-racking the anticipation can be. As a writer, you must knowingly enter a certain mindset prior to releasing your work. The reason being that when you are putting something out to the public – one such as The Scientist’s Dilemma – you are inviting a wave of opinions, thoughts, critiques, and hopefully a small amount of praise directly to your doorstep.

A good analogy would be standing on the other side of a dam, pulling back the gates, and taking a deep breath as the wave comes crashing over. Yes, I’m sure that sounds overly dramatic but sharing stories is like trying to impress total strangers with a good joke at a party. Your acceptance – your initiation, if you will – is dependent on so many things: knowing your audience, having a strong delivery, and ultimately giving a compelling message. All three of those have to come together if your goal of making new friends will come to fruition. The same applies to writing and sharing a good story. And if I’m lucky enough to make some new friends then hey, that’ll also be a win in this newest of endeavors.

More later.

“The Scientist’s Dilemma”

The Scientist's Dilemma Cover

I’ll be releasing this short story in just a few weeks. It’ll be available for direct to Kindle only – so no paperbacks. It’s not as lengthy as a full scale novel and it’s not the first in a trilogy, but it’s a story that has a significant place in my heart. And that’s as good a reason as any to share it, I figure.

The title alone isn’t meant to be a complicated one. This story is actually about a scientist and it’s actually about a dilemma too; one that just so happens to belong to the scientist (told you it was simple, didn’t I?). That’s the premise of this tale and it’s a premise I believe so many other people – even those without the title of ‘scientist’ – find themselves struggling to answer at one point or another: just what the heck are we all waiting for?

It’s a huge question to tackle; overwhelming to some and perhaps strangely intoxicating to others, yet it’s a question I find simmering under the surface of practically every person I run into. Or have the pleasure to read about. That strange hunger that rises up within and says, “I don’t know if I belong to this world alone. Is there something else?” In my case, it’s a question I’ve pondered on many-a-starry night, which is why I like the cover so much. It represents that curious nature any person possesses and it’s an image that ultimately brought legs to this story. What’s waiting out there to be discovered? Is there anything at all? 

The universe is a big place and has plenty to offer while we’re here, but sometimes looking out is an easy alternative to looking in.

So to quote Shakespeare and wrap this up, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”