Hodgepodge

It is a gorgeous day here in the Pacific Northwest. The temperatures are in the low 70s and the sky is this solid dome of light blue, without one blemish. I wanted to pause and to mention a few things rather quickly.

Mount Erie from Puget Sound

One Hundred New Followers

I got a notice today that I have four hundred and two followers of my blog. That is up by one hundred followers in the past month. My goal is not to have a huge amount of followers, although as an aspiring writer, that would be a good thing. It’s just I don’t think I deserve to have more followers based on the quality of work I do here. It’s sporadic, due to my health being unpredictable. But I do want to pause to say thank you to those who have shown interest.

I know that many followers are old friends, as well as family, who come here to monitor my progress or lack thereof, of fighting cancer. This means a lot to me. With Denise now back at work, I find myself alone most of the time and any human contact is a blessing. I have one friend in town I see on a regular basis, Jerry, and that’s about it.

I would assume that most of the “cancer-followers” don’t care about the ramblings I do and that doesn’t hurt my feelings. Then there are some who come here for the controversial articles, I hope.

Cancer Progress

I want to say a word about my cancer. With my last health update, I don’t think things were as clear as they are becoming. Yes, my Multiple Myeloma is a good remission right now, the best control I’ve seen. As I shared, the chemo program I was on all summer was brutal. I was non-functioning by noon. It is hard to explain, but is was like the worst flu you have ever had, fever, chills, aches and pains, and unbelievable fatigue, 24-7. Then I ended my summer with a serious case of pneumonia after a trip to Minnesota. But the point I want to make today, is that I’m doing alot better. Slowly my energy is returning, step by step. I would say that I’m around 50% of what I was in May, but that is better than 25% I was feeling a few weeks ago. With this better feeling, my mood is also lifting. Being on a mega dose of steroids one day a week, makes one a bit bipolar anyway (and I was never bipolar before). But my downs are not as low as they were a few weeks ago, and yet I still get to enjoy the euphoric days like today.

On Writing

My latest novel, The Stones of Yemen, is at the editors and will remain there until November. Then, I will need to absorb all changes that she has suggested, meaning one more rewrite. I was hoping to get the book into the hands of readers by Christmas, now, that will be a challenge.

As I’ve said before, I have not decided if I try to get the book published by a major publishing house, or pursue the small one I’ve used before. It’s tricky. It is a feather in your cap to have someone like Simon & Schuster pick up your book. That would set back a release day by a year.

The general reading public assumes that the best books are picked up by the big publishing houses and the worst ones are self-published or small presses. But that is not true. What is true, is the big publishing houses usually know which books will make them money. Some of the books with the biggest earnings are horribly written. I am not famous. I’m a hermit on a quiet one hundred and ten acre lake at the foot of a thousand foot mountain. This is a strike against me in winning a reasonable contract (covering my expenses) with a big publishing house. If I had bitten Charlie’s finger and had a viral video of it, then I could write any garbage and the big houses would want it. It’s the same in other art forms I’m sure.

Biting Charlie’s Finger

The big publishers are a marketing powerhouse. If The Stones of Yemen fails (<100 readers), it will not be because it wasn’t well-written (and I could not have said that about some of my other books), but by my failure to dial-in the marketing. However, going with a major publisher also means giving up your artistic license. Already I had an acquisition editor, who works with a big publisher, tell me that to go further with them, I would have to dumb it down and present it as a thriller. I would also have to change the PA (physician associate) character to a doctor to make him more believable. I’m not willing to do that.

Since I can’t write on The Stones of Yemen until November, I have a writing void in my life right now. It is becoming more acute since Denise is back at work and I’m alone all day. Maybe that’s why I’m writing more on this blog. But I’m also trying to decide my next writing project.

I don’t write books for money. Only in my dreams. Very few novelist earn a living from it. But as a writer, I do want to get my books in as many hands as I can. I hope that I can get The Stones of Yemen into the hands and minds of at least a couple of thousand readers. This would be the impetus to write more and writing has kept me sane during this war with cancer. I’m quite confident that I would have taken my own life during the darkest days of my disease, if it were not for writing. That’s how important it is for me. Life saving.

As I look ahead, I have several book ideas. A friend, Curtis, suggested two years ago that I write about my rich Appalachian heritage. I have a story in mind. I have always been intrigued with family secrets and disingenuous personas. All families have secrets. Some are not that spectacular, some are. In this story, it would have to be grandeious to carry the weight of the readers’ interests. Something like rape or murder.

Article Writing

I will finish up this series on the Creationists Young Earth controversy. Then, I want to discipline myself to stay away from religious or political discussions. If you own a business, you will understand that you can’t trod into those areas without offending customers. I’m not a business, but if I want to be a writer, I can’t have controversial articles about religion on my blog. But I’m torn.

I’ve had people write me and accuse me of being the enemy of religion, or Christianity at least. Others suggest that I’ve been abused by some Christians and I write for payback. Both of those are untrue. I left evangelicalism in 1990, not because I was abused. I left because I was tired of being dishonest. Yes, I was abused, but I abused others in that context. I write about these things, not because I have some overriding angst or axe to grind. I will try to restate it again in the last paragraph. But my point is, unless I hear from others that these articles are helpful or important, I will try once again to move on after I finish this series.

My MO for writing articles about Christianity, isn’t because I am its enemy. I am deeply devoted to the Jesus of history, while not a fan of religion. Religion, in my book, including white evangelicalism, is a tiny bit of Jesus and a whole lot of unrelated human culture. Studying history or our culture is the best way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Right now, there is a mass exodus of people out of Christianity, here in the west. It is not because they are bad people. It is because of so much mischief within the Christian subculture, I can’t fix that. But I can point out to those who are leaving, that what they hate about American Christianity is hate-worthy. But, there is another way to keep the baby (Jesus) while tossing the bathwater, the religious culture.

Mike

Published by J. Michael Jones

J. Michael Jones is a writer and PA who lives in Anacortes, Washington. He is the father of five children, who are now grown and out discovering this wonderful world on their own. He has previously focused his writing on non-fiction including medical topics and issues of the philosophy of Christian thought. With the success of his last book, Butterflies in the Belfry, Michael is now moving into fiction with his first novel, The Waters of Bimini.

4 thoughts on “Hodgepodge

  1. So glad you are doing better, Mike! Prayers still being said for you daily. Mary Johnson……former co-worker of yours at UP Internal Medicine in Marquette.

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  2. Hi Mike, I’ve been following your writing since the Christian Monist (I think that’s what it was called?). Your articles are one of the reasons I keep coming back. I’m not sure why you think you can’t both continue to write your articles on religion and be a writer? Hope you continue to do both. I enjoyed Ristretto Rain and am looking forward to reading The Stones of Yemen.
    Glad you have been feeling better.

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