THE END The Book Series
Thursday, June 14, 2012
A lot of people have asked me why I waited until I was 64 to write a book, and I tell them I always wanted to know what was meant by “starving artist.” And besides that, I needed to grow up first!
When my 10th grade teacher in High Point, NC told my parents that I should be a writer, my dad thought that was a little “gay,” though another term was used at that time. In 1961, as noted in a recent Omega Letter column by Alf Cengia, gay meant happy or colorful. Dad wanted me to hunt and fish; but for the life of me, I couldn’t reason why someone would hunt and fish with Kroger right down the street. To this day, I do my huntin’ and fishin’ at the grocery store; but I have maintained an interest in writing. I talk a lot, so I figured I could probably write a lot. I would hunt though, if you could shoot cows. They are big and slow, and I love a good ribeye!
As a science major, I spent many years as an “unbeliever,” and even made fun of a few who did believe. In 1979, I saw Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth, and my life changed overnight. From emails I have received, Hal did that for a lot of people; and in my book series, I give Hal the credit for starting me on this incredible journey. My mother was extremely happy when “Jerry got religion.” Thank you Hal Lindsey!
Over the years, I did write many letters to the editor of various newspapers and some magazine articles, but I just never took on writing a book. About 10 or 11 years ago, I made the decision to write about the Apocalyptic ending of the world as we know it and described in the Bible; but still, I found every excuse not to. I was running my own business selling light bulbs and air conditioning to the commercial real estate industry, I had kids… I was busy.
Like most people, I do pray; and my “major” prayers were always in the morning. When I would ask God for this and that, I would sometimes hear a small voice saying, “Write the books.” My friends said, “Don’t ever tell anyone you heard a voice, or they will think you’re crazy.” I did though, and they do. Over the years, the voice became more prevalent as I noted in this interview last year with my publisher, WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson Company.
By the time 2009 rolled around and the economy was collapsing, I had spent all my retirement and savings just trying to keep my floundering business alive. Hey, does anyone need any light bulbs?? That is also when my oldest daughter, Erica, lost her job and joined the ranks of the unemployed. That turned out to be a gift, one of those silver linings in a dark cloud.
Erica suggested that since business was slow, she would learn how to make a web page, and I could write that book I was always talking about. We would sell it by the chapter on the Internet. I thought that was about the goofiest idea I had heard, but there was really nothing to lose.
Within a few weeks, people were buying chapters for $ 2.00 each. A friend asked me how many chapters there would be; and I told him, “My mortgage company has suggested two to three thousand.” I set a maximum price, since I wasn’t sure how many chapters, of $ 32.00 for the book, if and when it was published, for those who purchased in advance. Everyone seemed to love the web page that Erica designed and the support was phenomenal. I started getting emails asking when the next chapter would be available. Many of the participants who bought in advance became characters in the series, ie. Admiral McLemore was my good friend Phil McLemore; Sheryl Lasseter was my friend Shirley Lasseter; Condie Zimmerman was Connie Zimmerman, and so on.
God weaves mysteries in our lives, and this was one of those.
There will be seven books in the THE END The Book series, at least that’s the plan. My “market” was not to be Jews, Christians or Muslims, though there would be a lot of information about each of those monotheistic religions, but the “unbeliever.” I have always had friends, very close friends, who did not believe the God story, for whatever reason. They all thought I was pretty intelligent about a lot of things and wondered why I believed in God if I was so smart. What made me believe that Jesus the Christ was a Savior or the Son of God. Did I really believe in angels and demons and the devil?
THE END The Book: Parts One through Seven is for those friends, not to “convert” them but only to try and open their collective minds to the possibility of, “What if the Bible is true?” My unbelieving friends are highly intelligent, so I didn’t delude myself into thinking it would be easy; but most of them are reading the series and seem to like the action.
The series is defined as an apocalyptic thriller and love story, and I have been told by numerous readers that Part One, published March 2011, was an edge-of-the-seat thriller though the love story could use a little more “sauce.” I decided then that I didn’t need to be writing Amish love stories and would try to keep the series PG or PG 13.
Writing and selling by the chapter turned to be a lot more challenging than I thought, primarily due to the editing process. What people were reading would not necessarily be the final product, and it wasn’t.
THE END The Book: Part Two is now available as a PDF eBook, and the print versions should be available from WestBow Press by July 1, 2012. Here is a synopsis of Parts One and Two:
In Part One, the lead character is Jeffrey Ross, a successful business man with lots of toys, fancy cars and a gorgeous wife. Jeff’s wife, Melissa, divorces him, not because he is an atheist but because he ridicules those who believe the biblical story. Jeff is heartbroken from his loss when suddenly “stuff” starts happening that his mom had said would happen as the biblical “end times” approached.
There was the strange light in the sky, unprecedented hail storms, the re-emergence of the Spanish Flu that killed 50,000,000 people in 1918-1919 and smallpox in Europe; and then there was the newly discovered comet on a direct path for planet Earth. None of these events however changed Jeff’s mind. He was after all, a Mensa member. Then Melissa marries a missionary, and his world becomes even more dismal.
Jeff was an ex-Navy SEAL (if there was such a thing), a Vietnam vet and had many friends in high places; The Admiral, Chadbo the genius but pothead, Wild Willy and Abe the Bartender, a Messianic Jew whose family was killed by Hezbollah. And then there was Vinny, the air conditioning contractor and epitome of terror. Vinny and his identical twin brother in Europe had plans for the West.
In the Korengal Valley along the Afghan-Pakistan border, Muhammed and Mehdi continued their devious plans to run Europe and America out of money through various and creative acts of terrorism, while Muhammed’s sister, Aludra, begins to doubt her Islamic beliefs. She is puzzled with the continued murder of innocents, even fellow Muslims, that her brother refers to as martyrdom. Aludra had read the Bible, unlike most of her kinfolk; and she remembered the prophecies that said the descendants of Ismael, Abraham’s illegitimate son, would always fight, even their own brothers.
As Part One ends, a hijacked Russian nuclear attack submarine heads westward on a plot of nuclear destruction; and Islamic infiltrators who have crossed over the border from Mexico, with the help of the drug cartels, have plans for their numerous briefcase nukes acquired from North Korea.
THE END The Book: Part Two takes off where Part One ends. Jeffrey Ross, after Melissa’s missionary husband suddenly disappears, along with thousands of others, tries to rekindle the love affair that had once been and finally prays that God will give her back; and for a while it looks like it was going to happen, except…
Vinny, aka Ricky, aka Jean Pierre and his group of homegrown fanatics team up with a Christian terrorist group to create unprecedented havoc. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Jeff, Abe the Bartender, The Admiral, Chadbo and Wild Willy, now being called the “over the hill gang” by various media sources, begin to note other strange occurrences in the night sky and elsewhere. Jeff flies out to La Jolla to purchase another of his toys, a one-of-a-kind 1954 Cadillac Cabriolet; but during his journey back to Atlanta becomes sidetracked by a group of seven small, white churches, each located in a field of bright, yellow daffodils. The roadside signs in front of each church seem to ask questions that Jeff had always wondered about: Why were the Jew’s God’s Chosen; was God the first homophobe; did Jesus really walk on water?
And then there was the disappearance of thousands of Messianic Jews and missionaries. How could the rapture be happening when so many church-goers were still here?
I hope everyone who reads this series enjoys it as much as I am enjoying writing it. I hope to raise some controversial questions that make the reader think about long-held beliefs, from the Rapture and how/when it happens to why the Sabbath Day was changed from Saturday to Sunday and why Muslims hate Israel and the United States. How did we go from celebrating Passover, like the early Christians did, to Communion? Why was Easter named Easter to begin with and should it be a concern? How did paganistic rituals make it into the Church? Are prosperity preachers right that God wants us all rich and happy? Did Jesus really teach that the Laws of Moses were no longer relevant?
I also try to explain that this is a “fictional” series, that this story is not a my-way-or-the- highway story; just a story to make us think, especially those who believe the Bible is mythology.
Writing a book, as it turns out, is much easier than getting the book to the market. Exposure is expensive. As fate would have it (something that I call God-incidence), I read an article in USA Today a few weeks ago about fund raising sites that help new artists and entrepreneurs make it with the help of those who like to promote these interests, just … because. I signed up for one this week, kickstarter.com, to see if this series could get funding to help get the exposure that publishers usually provide. I, like many new authors, am self-published; so we have to do our own marketing to get to talk shows, newspaper articles and all the media help that the bigtime publishers usually provide.
I am sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God has His hand in this venture, and adventure; because I am just not smart enough to think all this up. And I hope that all of us will continue to pray for the many really “good” people who do not believe. There are usually many reasons for this, and the unbelievers I know are some of the more generous people I have ever met.
When I had the trailer produced for Part One, I wanted the background music to be Nessun Dorma by Puccini on trumpet. I Googled my high school friend who I hadn’t seen since 1965, one of the greatest trumpet players I have ever known, and found him. Darrell volunteered to play the background music. A God-incidence.
Then another God-incidence happened. Darrell’s wife, Tacy, volunteered to play the background music for Part Two on flute, “O mio babbino caro,” also by Puccini. It is so beautiful it will make you cry. As far as I’m concerned, God is all over this project, from start to finish.
Finally, the latest God-incidence in my life was the Omega Letter, Jack Kinsella and his daughter, Kari.
And PLEASE forgive me for blowing my own horn, but somebody’s gotta do it!
About J.L. Robb
Last week: Cannibals, Zombies and Television
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