I’m Moving…!

Posted: July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

To a new website, where I’ll continue posting my blog, new chapters on In The Widening Gyre, as well as conducting freebies, giveaways, polls, and other fun stuff.

The new website is called (Get ready)

MichaelJScottBooks.com

Yeah. Can’t get much more creative than that!

What’s important to know is that this website is now my new “home” on the internet, and where you’ll likely find me. I’m going to leave the wordpress site up for a while yet, but I won’t be posting anything more here. Some distant day (who knows when), I’ll probably take it down, knowing that it served its purpose well.

Thanks for visiting. I’ll be looking for you at the new site!

– Michael

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Okay, it’s fairly obvious (since you’re here) that I’ve changed the look of the blog. So what do you think? I’ve got a listing of all the current titles available on the front, with some tantalizing images of future covers that I’ve worked up as well. The navigation should be a little smoother, too.

Soon I’ll be incorporating a few more elements (though I’m doing this at work right now, so I don’t have access to everything on my hard drive), including regular newsletters and polls (yeah, as in, “What would you like to see finished first,” or “What stories do you like best,” etc.), as well as (hopefully, if I can swing it) a chart that shows the progress of my various projects.

I think, by the time we’re done, this is gonna be an awesome site to call home. I hope you come back and check often and chat. Lemme know what you think!

Author BJ Kurtz frightens kids!

Posted: July 28, 2012 in Blog Tour

Of course, as an author of scary books for young adults, that’s what he’s supposed to do. Check out his books at BJKurtz.blogspot.com for the next stop on Edgy Christian Fiction Lover’s Summer Blog Tour!

Next Stop on the Blog Tour

Posted: July 25, 2012 in Blog Tour

is at Tracy Krauss’s blog: Expressions Express. She writes Romantic Suspense – Edgy Christian style. So if you’re looking for a good summer read (and you’ve read all mine already ;)), then give hers a whirl!

Yikes! I’ve fallen behind! This comes from not checking back with all the sites I’m on frequently enough to realize I made the cut off!

Okay, so here’s the thing. I’m participating in the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers Blog Tour – promoting all the marvelous Christian fiction books that are available now (my own included, of course!)

At any rate, here are the links to the recent posts that I’ve missed, along with their respective dates. I’ll post the next link tomorrow (I promise!)

Wed, Jul 11: Tammy Doherty (CELTIC KNOT, CLADDAUGH, CELTIC CROSS)  http://mystiqueofnaultag.blogspot.com/

Sat, Jul 14: Anita K . May (Red Rover, Red Rover and Amnesia Alibii)  http://anitamay.aegauthorblogs.com/

Mon, Jul 16: Jennifer H. Westall  (LOVE’S PROVIDENCE) http://westallsww.blogspot.com/

Wed, Jul 18: Nike Chillemi (PERILOUS SHADOWS, BURNING HEARTS, GOODBYE NOEL) http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Sat, July  21: Tina Pinson   (WHEN SHADOWS FALL, IN THE MANOR OF THE GHOST, TOUCHED BY MERCY) http://tinapinson.blogspot.com

So there ya have it! My apologies to those bloggers and authors I’ve ignored for almost two weeks. I promise to faithfully execute the duties of this office from here forward.

Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views recently interviewed me for The Lost Scrolls. You can read the interview at their website here (Interview), but I’ve copied it below in case the link doesn’t work.

Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is pleased to interview Michael J. Scott, who is here to talk about his new novel “The Lost Scrolls.”

Michael J. Scott specializes in action/adventure thrillers and suspense. His novels include “Jefferson’s Road: The Spirit of Resistance” and “Jefferson’s Road: Patriots and Tyrants” about an attempt to spark a second American Revolution by assassinating the President on Inauguration Day; “The Coppersmith,” about a serial killer stalking pastors in Upstate New York; “Spilled Milk” about a man who becomes a terrorist to rescue his children from a corrupt foster care system; and “Eye of Darkness,” a sword-and-sorcery fantasy about a mercenary ex-Sheriff and a girl outcast from her tribe who investigate serial kidnappings and murders. Michael lives outside of Rochester, New York with his wife and three children. Today, he is here to talk about his newest book, “The Lost Scrolls,” a Christian Adventure about finding the original, autograph manuscripts of the New Testament.

Tyler: Welcome, Michael. It’s a pleasure to have you here today. You’ve written lots of suspense and political thriller type books, but “The Lost Scrolls is the first you’ve described as a Christian adventure. How would you say that this novel is different from your previous ones?

Michael: In one sense at least, it’s not. Every book I write comes from a Christian world view and expresses the truths of that world view. But the book is a “Christian” adventure in the sense that it deals specifically with themes regarding the historicity of the Gospel story.

Tyler: What made you decide to write a novel about the original manuscripts of the New Testament?

Michael: Two things inspired me. One was an idle conversation I had with some of my classmates back in Bible College about what it would be like if the original autographs of the New Testament were ever found. That idea stuck with me over twenty years. The second inspiration came from reading various archaeological suspense novels, most of which presented spurious and historically dubious claims that cast doubt on the truth of the New Testament. Recently, there’s been a spate of Gnostic literature making the rounds, rife with speculation about the Knights Templar and the meaning of the Holy Grail and other Middle Age myths, mingled with the recent rediscovery of third through sixth century Gnostic manuscripts, such as the Gospel of Thomas, in an attempt to deny the historicity of Jesus. I wanted to counter this trend in fiction by writing an archaeological suspense story that supports Christianity, rather than undermining it.

Tyler: Can you shed any light on those manuscripts? Are there really original manuscripts—are we talking about the gospels or epistles—and what kind of research did you do for the novel regarding the New Testament?

Michael: We can say with certainty there were original manuscripts (and in the case of “The Lost Scrolls,” we’re talking both Gospels and Epistles, but specifically focused on the Epistles of Paul), and we have some fragments of ancient manuscripts that are old enough to have been hand-copied from the originals. There was a recent fragment of Mark discovered that may be first century—the jury is still out. But the problem, even if we could date a manuscript to the first century with any degree of certainty, would be in identifying that particular manuscript as The Original. I suspect the only way to do that would be genetic testing, relying on, perhaps, the bones of St. Paul (buried in Rome) or St. Peter or something like that. There again, we’d have the problem, first of all, of access (The Vatican, for example has been quite resistant to the idea of disturbing Paul’s crypt, and understandably so). Even if we could find DNA, the most it would confirm is that the person whose DNA we tested had come into contact with the manuscript. It wouldn’t confirm authorship. But it would lend support toward that end.

Tyler: So, let’s get into the characters and plot. What sets the main characters, Jonathan and Isabel, on this quest to find the manuscripts?

Michael: Isabel’s brother, Dr. Steven Kaufman, is hired (secretly) by Jon’s university to verify a claim: the fabled (and quite fictional) “Domo Tou Bibliou,” which is Greek for “Home of the Book,” which the university believes has been accidentally uncovered by a construction company in Turkey. Steven breaks off contact with the University, which is why Jon is sent to find out what happened. The fact that Steven’s professional reputation is questionable at best is the stated motivation for sending Jon out there. Isabel herself is motivated out of a desire to see her brother’s reputation restored, as well as by the value of the claim.

Tyler: What about the manuscripts of the New Testament make them desirable to the killer?

Michael: The value of the manuscripts—if they could be verified as original (and the scroll found in the “Domo Tou Bibliou” makes that possible), would be inestimable. Collectors would pay millions for a mere page, let alone the entire collection.

Tyler: But would they make any difference in terms of the Christian faith? Would they help to confirm it?

Michael: Yes and no. The thing is, the New Testament is called into question like no other book in the world. We rely on less than a dozen manuscripts for documentary reliability for the works of Plato, Pliny, Tacitus, Euripedes, Caesar, around twenty for Tacitus and less than fifty for Aristotle. And all of these ancient documents are several hundred years removed from the time of their composition to the dating of the extant manuscripts currently available. And yet we call them reliable. The second best attested book in history is Homer’s Iliad, which relies on 643 manuscripts dating around five hundred years after Homer.

When it comes to the New Testament, however, there is no comparison. There are over five thousand manuscripts and more than twenty thousand manuscript fragments available to us, the oldest of which have been confirmed to date to the second century (and a few new ones that may well date to the first!)—old enough to have been hand-copied from the original autographs themselves. And yet, the New Testament is called into question for its authenticity and reliability.

Finding the autographs would make those questions more difficult, but given the lengths people will go to close their eyes to the truth, I have no doubt but that someone would find a way to ignore the evidence.

Tyler: Without giving away too much, what are some of the obstacles Jon and Isabel face in tracking down the killer and getting her brother’s reputation restored?

Michael: The biggest obstacle Izzy and Jon face is Jon himself. He doesn’t believe Stephen found the “Domo Tou Bibliou.” With that in mind, Jon is unprepared for the various mercenaries, assassin, and religious operatives who compete with him for the scroll. And Stephen, knowing full well what he was up against, “hid the scroll with style” (to borrow from the book). Jon has to piece together the puzzle and decipher the clues before he can locate the scroll—all while wrestling with whether or not it’s even real.

Tyler: Why do you think readers will find this novel interesting, and what makes the New Testament texts so fascinating to readers today?

Michael: I think people are naturally curious about ancient history—and there’s enough actual history in the novel to prompt exploration of both the claims for the New Testament as well as for some of the many historical sites that are visited in the novel. People want to know whether or not something that old that tells such a fantastic tale could possibly be true. That, and the action keep readers turning the page to find out what happens next.

Tyler: Besides the manuscripts themselves, you highlight several revered Christian sites in the novel. Will you tell us about some of those places and how they figure into the novel’s plot and their significance as Christian sites?

Michael: There are a few places that are both historically and currently significant—the Vatican Library comes to mind, but so does the peninsula of Mount Athos, which is under the control of the Eastern Orthodox communion. Mount Athos was quite fun to explore, because, generally speaking, we in the West are largely unfamiliar with the Eastern Churches—to the point where some people believe there are only two kinds of Christian—Roman Catholic or Protestant. They quite ignore both the Orthodox and the Coptic branches which predate Protestantism by several hundred years and which are quite independent (historically) of the Roman Church. Over twenty monasteries make the peninsula home, with more than 1,400 monks living either in the monasteries themselves, or privately in sketes (single person dwellings), such as the one Demetri Antonescu occupies.

And then there is the Qal at Simân, or Basilica of St. Simeon the Stylite. Simeon was an ascetic monk who climbed atop a pillar to get away from the crowds that often came to see him. He allegedly lived on one for over thirty-seven years, only climbing down when ordered to by his bishop out of concern that Simeon was staying atop the pillar out of pride. When he willingly began to descend, the bishop relented and let him stay up there. Ascetics such as Simeon were less about enduring hardship for the sake of hardship than they were about doing everything they could to focus on God. After Simeon’s death, a church was built around his pillar, and the remains of it still stand today.

Finally, we have the Sen Piyer Kilisesi, or Cave Church of St. Peter. Allegedly, the fisherman-apostle himself carved the cave where the church met. What is more likely is that Peter visited the cave and may have preached there. We know from Galatians 2:11 that Peter did indeed come to Antioch, and that during this occasion, Peter actually backed down to the circumcision group, with the result that Paul the Apostle confronted him before everyone. The Cave Church still stands, and services were even held there as late as 2009, but visiting the site is restricted due to unstable rock conditions.

Tyler: The book begins in Ankara, Turkey, and I just visited Turkey a few months ago, so I’m curious, Michael, whether you visited Turkey or what kind of research you did in that respect about Turkey and about the nationalities of the various bad guys?

Michael: The only countries I’ve ever been to, besides the U.S., are Canada and the Bahamas. I’d love to visit Turkey, or any of the Holy Land sites, but the opportunity hasn’t presented itself as of yet.

I had to find another way to get there. Toward that end, I relied heavily on Google Earth, Sacred-Destinations, 360cities, YouTube, Panoramio, and various travel sites on the Internet to get a “feel” for the place. The Esenboğa airport website was quite helpful in that regard as well. Lots of pictures.

But I still had one question that couldn’t be answered by the Internet: how the city smelled. I wanted to capture that sense as well, but I had no way to do it. Fortunately, I discovered that one of my family’s home-schooling associates had been a missionary in Ankara, and I was able to interview her briefly for the book. She was most helpful with this question.

The bad guys in the novel all come from various places—though ironically, none are actually Turks. The closest are the Kurdish mercenaries that Sean MacNeil hires. I chose them because I knew of the tensions between the Turkish government and the separatist Kurds, so they seemed an ideal scapegoat for the Turkish Gendarmerie—a bit of a red herring for the cops to chase. Beyond that, we’ve got Irish mercenaries, an infidel assassin from Pakistan, some questionable academics in Michigan and a wayward Catholic priest from Baltimore.

Tyler: Besides the Christian manuscripts, is there more to the Christian theme of the novel?

Michael: Yes. The theme of “The Lost Scrolls is integrity—whether it’s the integrity of the Church as a whole in sending someone after the autographs, the integrity of the Bible as it relates to manuscript reliability, or the integrity of the central characters. Will Jonathan sell himself out to possess the scrolls, or to win love? Will Isabel trade love for security or wealth? Will Demetri turn his back on his conversion to obey his religious leaders?

Most importantly, what does man profit if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul (Matthew 16:26)? I hope, through this novel, to entice readers into asking these same questions. What is their integrity worth?

Tyler: What kind of feedback have you received so far on the book? Do you think people are “getting it” in terms of the response you were hoping for?

Michael: I think so. The reviews I’ve seen have been fairly positive, with the only objectives being raised over the action-elements. Given that I’ve written the book to compete with other archaeological suspense novels that are out there, I’m okay with that. I want my characters to think, act, and speak in realistic ways, and that means being honest about the fact that good people don’t always behave, and that even bad guys are made in God’s image.

Tyler: You mentioned several novels today that are almost anti-Christian or Gnostic in their viewpoints. Did you read these books, and what effect would you say they had on you in telling your story, or were you inspired by any other great writers of mysteries, thrillers, or adventure stories?

Michael: I did read some of the more well-known Gnostic thrillers out there, and while I find the theology they present to be parasitic and reprehensible, they are, nonetheless, well-told stories.
But I’m also a sucker for anything written by James Rollins—I think he probably leads the pack when it comes to archaeological suspense.

Tyler: Michael, I understand this is the first Jonathan Munro mystery in a proposed series. Can you give us any clue about what the next mystery will be about and when it will be available?

Michael: The next installment is called “The Elixir of Life.” It is an adventure tale that takes Jon deep into the heart of Medieval Europe and then on to Ephesus trying to rescue a colleague and friend who’s been kidnapped. The kidnappers are in pursuit of a fabled substance that can cure any disease and prolong life, and are themselves being pursued by agents of a far more dangerous and sinister nature. The story asks the question: what makes life worth living? In it, I weave several Middle Age myths together into a cohesive (and, I hope, plausible) whole with direct ties to the origins of Christianity.

Tyler: Thank you, Michael, for the privilege of interviewing you today. Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what additional information we can find there about “The Lost Scrolls”?

Michael: Thank you, Tyler. I can be found at MichaelJScott.wordpress.com, where I also give more background information on the places of “The Lost Scrolls,” a listing of some of the bibliographical evidences for the reliability of the New Testament, as well as information about the Egerton Papyrus, a second century manuscript discovered by the British Museum in 1934. Egerton is a genuine fifth gospel without any discernible Gnostic heresy in the pages that have survived. Most of the manuscript contains elements which are also found in the four Canonical gospels, but it also includes a miracle of Jesus not recorded elsewhere. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide for himself whether or not the story is genuine.

And a new interior file to follow.

I’ve just finished uploading a redesigned cover for the book on Amazon, which you can see below. Soon, I’ll be uploading a new version of the interior file as well. Not to worry – the only change I’m making is moving the Author’s Note to the end of the book.

For the print version, the new cover will be along shortly, as well as a reformatted interior that ought to make the book a little easier to read and enjoy. At any rate, here’s the cover!

Of course, this also means I have to go through the interior files of all my other books and change the graphic of this one (I include a list of published works in the back of each book), but that’s not really a major problem. I think most of the hiccups will be done soon.

Until I finish a new one and have to do the interior print files all over again!

On a related note, I spend a lot of time powering through The Tree of Liberty yesterday, and the story is ramping up toward the end of the second act. It has dawned on me that we’re almost into August, and I still have less than 30K words written on a book promised to be done this year. Gah! So I’m working on it.

I’ve redesigned the cover for Tree as well, but I’ve run into a little hiccup with one of the images – copyrighted photograph. I have an email out to the photographer, to see if the image is licensed for book covers. If not, I’ll have to come up with something else. Something similar, I think.

Oh, and yes, I desperately need REVIEWS FOR THESE BOOKS! So if you’ve read them, please help! Log into Amazon.com and leave your thoughts and comments!

It’s been a little over two years since I started publishing my own material, and in that time I’ve sold just over 530 books. Total.

Pathetic.

With that in mind, I’ve secured the assistance of a publicist – someone who comes highly recommended from a friend in my writing community – who has agreed to help me sell my books for a percentage of the sales.

This works much better than an upfront fee, because a) I don’t have any money to pay an upfront fee, and b) I know that it will motivate her to help me sell as many books as we can. I don’t have a whole lot of details just yet, but I have been given some tasks.

We’re starting with the Jefferson’s Road series. She’s asked me to redesign and upload new cover art for the books (which coincides with the interior redesign I’ve been doing anyway for the print books), and to secure some additional reviews for Patriots and Tyrants.

So far, I’ve done what I can – as far as the cover art is concerned. I’m including the new covers below for you to “ooh” and “aah” over. Frankly, I think they look a lot better than my first attempts. I’m actually getting quite good at this, if I do say so myself.

The second part involves asking any of you who’ve read Patriots and Tyrants to please, Please, PLEASE go to Amazon.com and leave me a review. It won’t take much: just a paragraph about what you thought of the book. You don’t have to give it all five stars – unless you think it deserves them, of course. I’m seriously interested in an honest take on the book. I’d like to get as many reviews for Patriots and Tyrants as I have for The Spirit of Resistance.

That being said, here are the covers (and I’d love your feedback on these, too, if you want to share it).

 

Another review for the Lost Scrolls via Blogcritics. This one has been posted on the Seattle Post Intelligence so far.

Book Review: The Lost Scrolls: A Jonathan Munro Adventure by Michael J. Scott – Books – Blogcritics.

Just finished the latest chapter of In the Widening Gyre, and it’s available here for those following along.

I’ve been busy with several projects – no longer writing just one book exclusively. I do believe that particular strategy was effective for a while, but at some point I just got too bogged down in a single story (and too distracted by the others clamoring for attention) for it to remain viable. So now I’m back, plugging away not only at Gyre, but also at Jefferson’s Road: The Tree of Liberty, Topheth, and a UFO novel called Descent that I started a few years ago and never did anything with. I toy with it now and again, and I’ve made real progress on the story. Don’t expect it’ll be finished until some time after the end of the world (ie: 2012), so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Topheth is proceeding well. I’m a little better than half-done at this point, and I think I’ll be entering that phase of “hurtling toward the climax” quite soon. This is the book I’ve been vetting through my Wednesday night Writer’s class. I generally get high marks on the book, so I think we’ll see it finished soon. Janelle Becker has a number of books in her story that are waiting to be told. Hopefully, Topheth will help launch her series in to full gear.

Gyre is a little better than half done. Tonight I wrapped up chapter sixteen out of twenty-seven planned, and we crossed the 50k mark in word count. I may do a little more work on it this evening, but I wanted to get the next installment out to you as soon as it was finished.

Confession Of The Obvious: Anger is driving the inspiration behind Jefferson’s Road.  My own anger at the federal government’s incursions on our liberties, and my own fear of that same anger churning away in me (and in others). Writing is my best outlet for it. I know this, because after the Robert’s decision came down on the Affordable Care Act, I found myself suddenly reinvigorated to finish The Tree of Liberty. I cranked out a chapter and a half on it just this afternoon. Not only that, but now I have a pretty clear sense of what happens in the middle and how to get to the end (as well as how to prep up for the fourth installment).

Thing is, I know I’m not the only one thinking or feeling this way. I read the news articles on it and the comments that follow, and all I can tell you is that people are seriously pissed off by this. John Roberts joked about needing to hide in a concrete bunker. From the comments I’ve seen, that might not be a bad idea. Not that I’m encouraging violence against him or against any of our elected officials. But I’ve said this before: we’re not the ones driving the bus off the cliff. This country’s getting more and more like a powder-keg every day, and if things don’t change soon, the Marxists and Anarchists are going to get their revolution. They just won’t like the way it ends. Of course, no one is gonna like it when everything hits the fan, which is something I want to be sure I express in Tree.

This book does present a challenge to me–one I’ll be addressing in the next part of the book (we’re nearly finished with Act II), and that is that the second revolution/civil war to strike won’t be fought on convenient geographic lines like North/South. It’ll be an ideological free for all, and the country will fragment because the ties of faith, community, and a vision of what it means to be an American are no longer held in common by our people. We’re going to fragment into new tribes who’ll then fight each other. I don’t want to give too much away–but that’s something I know I have to start portraying in this book. It’ll be something that will take the next three books to iron out. I expect I’ll try to describe a way to knit us back together again either in A More Perfect Union or in the final mile of the road, We The People. But that’s farther down the road than I can see right now.

Strategy-wise, I want to make you aware of two developments. One, I’ve learned a lot about “how to publish” since starting this journey, and lately I’ve been reformatting the interior files to my print books and uploading new versions of them to CreateSpace. The new formats look a lot better, and I have made slight modifications to some of the stories – minor tweaks and edits (and maybe a typo or two) that don’t really change the stories but just improve the writing. This should be done in the next couple of weeks. Secondly, I’ve decided that the next books I release will be print first, followed by kindle, then by Smashwords 90 days later. Yes, this means I’ll be taking advantage of the KDP Select program. I took a “wait and see” approach when it first came out, but a number of my author friends have had a lot of success with it that it just makes sense to give it a try. I’ll keep anything currently released via Smashwords still available through those channels, but new material is going to go exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. If this works the way I hope it does, then I’ll keep with that strategy throughout 2013 as well (assuming the Mayans were as wrong as Harold Camping). My hope–and I feel like I’m on the cusp of a major breakthrough here–is that I’ll be able to begin dropping back hours at work as my writing career takes off. Even if I can get to the point where I just work a normal forty hours (sans second job and sans overtime), that’ll be huge. Naturally, I want to do this full time. We’ll see how it plays out, of course.

Goodness, I need to post more often. This was a long one. Sorry! I’ve got to get back to writing now.