Yesterday, a dream came true. My latest novel, The Next Fithian, ceased to be just an idea and became a genuine book, both in paper and digital formats. Readers who had pre-ordered the ebook reported it popping onto their devices overnight. Others are already receiving paper copies in the mail. My main emotion? “Thank You, Lord!”
I’ve already shared elsewhere how, years ago, Focus on the Family originally contacted me to develop some sort of big, fantastic storyline for young adult readers. At the time, sure, it was a blast writing speculative short stories for Breakaway magazine. Now, it’s even more gratifying to hold an 80,000-word novel born from those seedling installments. Because I literally prayed as I wrote each chapter, it’s no stretch to say the finished book is an answer to prayer. Does that mean my new novel was divinely inspired? I wouldn’t go that far. But I do believe the Lord blessed my desire to pen an inspiring adventure with a God-centered worldview and a wholesome hero that both youth and adults can enjoy.
What’s the story like? For me, making a comparison is tough. One reviewer described it as a mix of C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy and Hunger Games. What I can say is the story employs my favorite literary technique of taking an ordinary person (a 17-year-old high school senior) and tossing him into an extraordinary situation (a strange, violent planet where he definitely doesn’t want to be). I like to imagine that, if Stan Lee of Marvel comics had wanted to create a Christian superhero, he might have dreamed up one like Rankin Fithian.
It’s too early to know how well Fithian will be received on Planet Earth. Still, I’m already hearing of parents, brothers, and sisters competing for time to read it. (Some are using the expression “page-turner” and say it’s tough to put down. How gratifying for an author!) Two adult readers have informed me they don’t normally like science fiction but are loving this faith-filled tale. I hope you will, too!
What does the September 14 release of my new book, The Next Fithian: An Ordinary Teen on a Strange, New World have to do with you? To help the book make a bigger splash, I’m recruiting friends, relatives, and avid-reading strangers to join a limited-time book launch team. Interested?
What in the world is a book launch team?
The main goal is to quickly reach Christian readers (especially young adults) with news of the new novel and accumulate at least 25 reviews on Amazon. Any book that is getting reviews looks more promising to potential readers than a book with only none.
What will the launch team do?
If you reply that, yes, you are willing to participate, I will email a FREE, no-obligation digital copy of the book in whichever digital format you choose (epub, mobi, pdf). This is your chance to read The Next Fithian in advance of everyone else. After that, I hope launch team members will do 3 things:
Write a short, honest review to be placed on Amazon, B&N, or another e-tailer sites—thumbs up, thumbs down, or “so-so.” (Don’t pretend to like the book if you don’t. But even a lukewarm review contributes toward the 25.)
Help spread the word about the book. This can be in person or on any social media sites.
Share ideas and brainstorm additional ways we might further expose the book to readers. I’ve created a private Facebook group, “Rick Barry’s Next Fithian,” and will invite anyone who decides to help out. There, I will share insider information about the book, and you all can share fellowship, jokes, memes, and your own ideas for introducing others to The Next Fithian. I’d also like to have drawings or prizes for active Fithian Launch Team members. I want this to be fun, not work!
How exactly do we “spread the word”?
I’ve created a list of ideas from other authors’ launch teams. If you become a Next Fithian Launch Team member, I’ll email you the list. No idea is hard, but you pick & choose whichever ones you’re willing to do. (Examples: Post a photo of the book to your Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, whatever. Or email your library to recommend they buy it for the collection. Even simple efforts can reach many eyes.) I’ll provide the list of ideas plus graphics. You simply choose whichever ones you like and do them however you want.
Is this really worth my time?
I don’t expect to earn a ton of money from The Next Fithian. That’s not why I wrote it. But today’s young believers enjoy entertainment brimming with action, adventure, excitement, and danger (e.g., Marvel movies). But they also need clean, inspirational stories with a positive role model. By promoting The Next Fithian, you’ll be nudging them toward a faith-filled adventure starring a relatable Christian teen. This book is more than just an exciting adventure. It’s a story that ministers to hearts.
Victoria S., a teen volunteer reader whom I’ve never met, declared this about the hero: “Rankin is exactly the kind of protagonist we need—he’s mentally, emotionally, and spiritually mature; intelligent; and compassionate.”
How long will my commitment last?
I imagine most of the ideas on the list will take only a minute or so to do. Still, we’re all busy. So let’s plan to wind down around September 18. (Or whenever we hit 25 reviews on Amazon?) Only you decide how often you’ll plug the book and how. Some days you might be too busy or forget. I understand.
Can I share this invitation with a friend?
Absolutely! Feel free to share this invitation with any believers who enjoy reading. Especially if they might like Marvel-type action & adventure stories with a wholesome twist. If they accept, they, too, can get a free ebook and join the Fithian Launch Team.
Advance Review of The Next Fithian: “I have to say, sci-fi is not my usual pick; however, I’ve loved the author’s previous books, so I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad that I did! The ‘ordinary teen’ approach is amazing as it allows people to put themselves in Rankin’s shoes and be challenged as well. Sure, we may not be transported to another dimension, but are we ready to “…give an answer always to every man that asketh…” in our everyday life? This book was a different sort of adventure, but a good one. Well worth the read.” –Stephanie Clapp, Booksprout
Hi friends! I know some of you love to read, and some of you readers enjoy being among the first to read new books. But do you know about Booksprout? This is a site where authors offer readers a limited number of Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of the ebook version of their upcoming release. The only “catch” is that, if you sign aboard and download an ARC, then the folks at Booksprout (and the author 🙂 ) hope you will jot a brief, unbiased review of the book online. I’m offering 20 free ARCs of The Next Fithian, and 2 of them have already been downloaded. Only 18 left!
Want to learn more? Just follow this link, and they’ll explain what to do:
Years ago, I received an unexpected phone call. Michael Ross, then-editor of Focus on the Family’s Breakaway magazine, asked me to brainstorm a big, bold adventure for teens: “Maybe fantasy. Maybe science fiction. Maybe both mixed together. I don’t know. Just make it big!”
Such an intriguing challenge! I accepted the assignment and developed a 3-part Christian sci-fi story, The Next Fithian. Those three installments reaped enthusiastic reactions from readers. However, after Part 3, that assignment was done. I moved on.
As years passed, my Fithian characters refused to let me forget them. They kept coming to mind, urging me to create an exhilarating, novel-length adventure for them. At first, I refused. I was giving priority to my novels about World War II airmen.
Gradually, though, I noticed something. Whenever I attended homeschool conferences to sign books for shoppers, teens visited my table to chat. What were those teen guys and girls wearing? T-shirts. Specifically, T-shirts portraying the Avengers, Spider-Man, Captain America, the Hulk . . . It was obvious what kinds of adventures these young adults were into. I began to wonder—what kind of uplifting novel could I pen for Christian fans of the Marvel universe?
In reply, my thoughts jumped back to The Next Fithian, a story brimming with action, adventure, danger, faith—plus a positive role model. This time, I yielded and began brainstorming ways to extend the original 5,400 words into an 80,000-word sci-fi novel with a Christian worldview. I didn’t want simply to create a gripping adventure. I wanted to give readers something unique. I wanted to touch their emotions, to make them laugh, to make them cry, to inspire them, and make them ponder things they had never considered before. I also wanted to transport them to another world where they might see better how to live in our own real world.
Responses from volunteer readers give me hope that The Next Fithian: An Ordinary Teen on a Strange, New Worldwill appeal to diverse readers, both teens and adults. One teen, Kaden E. wrote, “WOW! I just finished the book, and boy was it fantastic!” Another teen, Victoria S. declared, “Rankin is exactly the kind of protagonist we need—he’s mentally, emotionally, and spiritually mature; intelligent; and compassionate.” Adult test reader Marali S. emailed, “I enjoyed this! You must write more!” Another, Jude U., wrote, “I pronounce excellence! The ‘romance’ was sweet and just enough.” A mix of other test readers gave similar encouragement. So, even though my target audience is young adults, I hope adults will also enjoy it, just as adults enjoyed 17-year-old Katniss Everdeen of Hunger Games fame.
Of course, no novel fits every reader. But even if Christian sci-fi isn’t your style, pause and think—do you know someone else who might like such a story?
If you do read The Next Fithian and enjoy it, please tell others. That’s really the #1 compliment any author can receive!
How to get a copy…
Actual sales begin September 14, but pre-orders begin now! To be among the first to read it, pre-order a copy HERE for a paperback, or HERE for an ebook.
Hi friends! In recent days, the folks at Celebrate Lit have been running a blog tour for my new Christian suspense novel, Methuselah Project S.O.S. So far, 20 book reviewers have read and written up their personal impressions of the story. (And I’m pretty thrilled that the great majority have really enjoyed the story, even when it was outside their normal genres.) If you’d like to learn more about the book or to see what these reviewers are saying about it, check out this link for Celebrate Lit. While there, you will have many chances to win a FREE copy of the book along with a $25 Amazon gift card. Leaving a comment on any of the bloggers’ reviews will add more odds of winning. But don’t delay–this blog tour will soon run out! Blessings to you!
For anyone interested, I’m sharing here an interview with me from the Hoosier Ink website:
Hello everyone! For your reading pleasure today, I’m happy to catch up with longtime friend and writing mentor, Rick Barry.
DARREN: Rick, thank you for taking time to “e-join” us to bring everyone up-to-date on your life events and writing journey.
RICK: Thanks for the opportunity, Darren!
DARREN: Where in the world are you now and what have you been up to?
RICK: For the past 2+ years, I’ve been in northern Alabama, where I’m a caregiver for my mother. Since I can’t really fulfill this role of caregiving while holding a full-time job, I live in her home and do freelance writing, editing, and translating to earn income.
DARREN: I know you’ve recently published a follow-up novel to TheMethuselah Project, can you tell us a little bit about that novel?
RICK: The follow-up book is titled Methuselah Project S.O.S. Although it’s a sequel, I purposely crafted the story in such a way that readers can understand and enjoy it even if they never saw the first book. The action takes place a few years after the original story. Now, Roger Greene is a pilot in the modern Air Force. But when the CIA taps him for duty on a covert mission involving the Heritage Organization (which he once escaped), this pilot lands in more than danger than he ever imagined. It includes a touch of romance, too.
DARREN: Who is your primary audience for these suspense novels?
RICK: Interesting question. As I wrote these Methuselah novels, I wrote in a such a way to appeal to both male and female fans of suspense. But when I check the statistics of readers who follow my Facebook author page, I see that nearly half of them are women, ages 35 to 65. Of course, there are male and female followers who are younger and older, but this is my largest block of readers. (And it’s so fun when reviewers write something like, “I don’t usually read this kind of novel, but I gave it a try and loved it!”)
DARREN: What has been your experience on the self-pub journey? Software used, platforms, etc. Can you compare the journey in self-pub vs. your prior novels being published traditionally?
RICK: With more and more terrific authors diving into self-publishing with good results, I’d been wanting to give it a try for some time. I had a couple different manuscripts as options but ended up choosing Methuselah Project S.O.S. I confess that working with traditional publishers is much easier. They provide the editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and they resolve all of the technicalities of the actual printing process.
A self-pubber must be ready to learn many new skills and be prepared to solve one problem after another in prepping the manuscript for publication: Hiring experienced editors & proofreader, cover designer, formatting the polished manuscript and using Scrivener or Vellum or other software. The designer’s cover art might need adjusting from RGB color scheme to CMYK for professional printing procedures. You might need to convert the final formatted PDF into a different type of PDF, too. (I had no idea how many different types of PDFs exist until I self-pubbed.)
Furthermore, the self-pubber needs to learn the disadvantages and advantages of various companies to partner with in order to produce and market paperback versions and ebook versions. (Examples are Amazon KDP, IngramSpark, and Draft2Digital.) There is so much more to learn before you can self-pub. New questions and problems constantly confronted me.
DARREN: What is your greatest struggle as a writer?
RICK: The time barrier. There are only so many hours in a day, and as a caregiver not all of those hours are mine to use as I would like. Still, I press forward with what time I have.
DARREN: How has “the Covid life” affected your writing, or has it?
RICK: It hasn’t affected my writing much at all. I was already confined to working alone, at home, long before Covid-19. When other people started complaining that they had to work from home instead of in an office with colleagues, I thought, “Join the club!”
DARREN: What is your next writing venture? What’s next in the Rick Barry Universe?
RICK: I’m now heating up a fun project that has been on the back burner for a long time. It began as a series of 3 short science fiction stories that I wrote for Focus on the Family years ago. I’ve taken the original premise and expanded and continued the story into a YA sci-fi tale revolving around a 17-year-old Christian guy who winds up in a bizarre adventure that I call The Next Fithian. I contracted speculative-fiction author Sharon Hinck to do the substantive edit. Imagine my excitement when this seasoned writer declared the story “great” and “wonderful”! To be sure, she found many passages that needed polish, but her enthusiasm has been extremely encouraging.
DARREN: Can you give some advice on writing to non-fulltime writers who can only write during “spare” time?
RICK: I wrote my first three novels while working full time, so I can relate. The fact is, MOST novelists have fulltime jobs and write whenever they can fit it in. My day job required much time in front of a computer screen. Sometimes my eyes grew sick of gazing at a monitor. Other times I felt brain dead. Excuses for not writing are a penny a dozen—“I’m too tired,” “I don’t have enough time,” “I’m not ready,” “My idea needs more development before I can start,” “I can’t concentrate unless I have large blocks of time,” “I have to watch my favorite TV show and read all of my books first,” etc, etc.
But a person who truly has a God-given yen to write absolutely MUST overcome all of the excuses and find a way, or it will never happen. If we give excuses the upper hand, then they will keep us from writing all the way to the grave. Can’t you find time to sit and compose just one double-spaced page (250 words) a day? (It’s totally okay if each page is garbage that needs a ton of editing. Just get it down.) What, you seriously can’t carve out enough time to type just one page? Okay, then, sit down and type just one paragraph each day. Or even one measly sentence per day.
If you can consistently add something—anything—to your manuscript 5 or 6 days per week, then in time that steady persistence will grow full novels. I’ve seen such simple stick-to-it-iveness work for busy homeschool moms with many kids. I’ve seen it work for a secretary who composed her very first novel one letter at a time on her cellphone (incredible!) each day during her lunch break. It’s not easy, but nobody ever said writing is easy.
DARREN: Well, thank you for taking time to chat today. If we want to learn more about you, where can we go and where can we find your books?
RICK: The best place to go is my website, rickcbarry.com. It includes more about me, plus a page dedicated to all of my published novels. The books themselves are available on Amazon and anywhere books are sold.
DARREN: Thank you again for taking the time to interview and I’m really excited to see what comes next for you!
RICK: Thank you very much!
Darren Kehrer writes science fiction and Christian speculative fiction; however, his current writing project is a book on leadership: The Adventure Guide to Leadership, which views leadership as a journey accumulating best practices along the way.
Once again, The Suspense Zone is offering chances to win 5 different suspense novels. One of them is my latest, Methuselah Project S.O.S. To learn more about each author and their books, or simply to enter the giveaway, follow this link to The Suspense Zone and click ENTER NOW at the bottom.
Not long ago, The Suspense Zone contacted me and asked if they could feature me and Methuselah Project S.O.S. on their site. I said, “Sure!” Their interview with me won’t go live until January 25, but for all of January, you can submit your email address for a chance to win a free paper & ink copy of my latest, Methuselah Project S.O.S.!
PLUS — While you’re on that site, you’ll see other new suspense novels by talented writers. Check them out! You can submit your name for a chance to win each of those, too.
Hi friends. Fellow writer Karla Akins asked to interview me for her website. As a bonus for visiting the interview, leave a comment on that page, and Karla will pick a random commenter to receive a free, signed copy of my latest novel, Methuselah Project S.O.S.
I’m thankful for each of my novels that has found its way to publication. Of course, I appreciate the income from sales, but there’s another element that is much more special than dollars. It’s learning that my books have affected lives in a positive way. Here’s an excerpt from a note from a young lady named Stephanie:
“The main reason why I’m emailing you is about my little brother becoming a reader. He’s 10 now and has not been a reader at all… although I’ve tried very hard to help make that happen. He’s also never just picked up a book and read it for fun—until just recently when he picked up Gunner’s Run from one of my various bookshelves. He looked at it for a little bit, then just started reading it—and now he’s finished it. “When he first started it, I thought that it would be too hard for him to understand or too long for his short attention span, but I didn’t say anything to him and now he’s proven me wrong. He kept updating me on the part he was at and what he thought about it. He really enjoyed it! And it’s either the first or one of the first books that he’s read on his own accord and enjoyed. So, I just wanted to tell you that story and thank you for writing a book that would introduce my little brother to the joy of reading.”
I was amazed enough that a 10-year-old could read a book that I’d written for young adults and adults. (The oldest reader I know of was a World War 2 veteran.) But how special that my novel was possibly the first he’d ever read for the sheer enjoyment.
An adult woman who worked as a travel agent also once contacted me about Gunner’s Run. Her email informed me that her copy had rested, untouched, on her nightstand for several weeks. But then she had a stroke and was diagnosed with cancer about the same time. While convalescing, she began to read it. In chapter 1, airman Jim Yoder is angry at God for letting his mother die. But when he falls out the bomb bay of his B-24 and ends up alone, on foot, and on the run in Nazi Germany, he begins recalling spiritual lessons his mother had taught him. This travel agent declared that, as she read, “My spiritual journey mirrored that of Jim Yoder.” Later, I learned she had died. Possibly, my book was the last one she read—and it touched her for good.
Another woman once told me in person that her 20-year-old cousin (or was it a nephew?) has dyslexia and had never read a whole book in his life. To him, books simply had not been worth the struggle to read them. But then he discovered Gunner’s Run. Jim Yoder’s struggle to evade the Nazis and return to England gripped his imagination. Once again, someone who had never read a complete book finished one of mine.
I could share more examples. However, these are enough to explain why I thank God for using my stories to make a worthwhile impact on people’s lives. Often you don’t need to preach or teach to help people. Occasionally, all you have to do is give them an uplifting story with positive themes woven between the lines!