Category Archives: Evan Braun

ANNOUNCING: The Book of Creation

In the wake of a discovery that rocks the archaeological world, three strangers meet for the first time in the mountains of central Switzerland. Under a cloak of secrecy, they’ve been gathered together by a ruthless billionaire whose goal is to harness unspeakable power by unearthing an artifact more ancient than civilization itself.

Their mission soon finds them on the chase of a lifetime. From the Great Pyramids of Egypt through the wilds of Antarctica, they circle the globe on the heels of a mystery thousands of years in the making, pursued by forces intent on their destruction, proving once and for all that there are some mysteries in this world too dangerous to be solved…

For in the dark waits a terrifying menace.

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As a regular contributor to The Fictorian Era, over the last year I have shared with you my views on writing, publishing, and my general sanity. Well, obviously the goal of all that blood and sweat is to achieve the dream of being a published author. Slowly but surely, a lot of us Fictorians are starting to see the fruits of our labor pay off. As each of us comes out with a new book, we’re excited to share the news with you, our readers. Today, I have just such a piece of good news!

Authors can often trace their labors of love back through the years. Well, this week, after more than five years of hard work and tireless research, I am pleased to announce the release of the writing project I am most proud of.

The Book of Creation, a novel written by myself and Clint Byars, will be published in print this upcoming March from Word Alive Press. However, for those of you who own Kindles and other ebook reading devices, the book is being made available early. It is now available for purchase from the Kindle Store, and in the coming weeks it will pop up in all the major ebook venues. It’s priced at just $2.99. Even if you’re not a Kindle owner, there’s an option to purchase the book as a gift for friends and family who are Kindle owners. The book would make a great, inexpensive Christmas gift. Think of it as a digital stocking stuffer!

The novel is an exploration of the premise that our ancient history is fundamentally different from the prevailing historical views of our times. Similar in vein and style to Indiana Jones and The DaVinci Code, this novel presupposes that elements of the world’s greatest mythologies have a kernel (perhaps a large kernel) of truth… a truth which is finally coming to light after thousands of years hidden in the dark.

And now, without further ado, here is an exclusive preview of The Book of Creation:

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Emery Wörtlich was disappointed. At this point in his career, he would have expected more than a half-empty lecture hall. And if this class went anything like the ones preceding it, the numbers would dwindle to a mere handful by the time he presented his more controversial theories. If he had learned anything as a professor, it was that students couldn’t be bothered to think for themselves anymore.

If I change even one mind, it will be worth it. Of course, he would have preferred to change several hundred at a time.

“Good evening,” Wörtlich said, a slight German accent clipping the edges of his words. He unzipped his bag and pulled out a laptop, placing it softly on the lectern. He double-clicked on his presentation file and turned back to the class as the screen lit up.

Sadness once again took hold as he counted the number of empty seats between filled ones.

“Today we look at the Giza pyramids,” he said. “You are all graduate students, so you think you know everything there is to know, but there is probably a lot you do not… things other instructors will not tell you because they do not think they are important. But they are. Vastly important.”

He opened the first slide, an overhead view of the pyramids. “But before we get to that, I want you to pay particular attention to the Queen’s Pyramids. These smaller structures surrounding the Pyramid of Khufu are like remoras on sharks. In and of themselves they are nothing special, at least not in comparison to the pyramids, and yet their proximity alone makes them worthy of study.”

He brought up a view that accentuated the difference in size between the Queen’s Pyramids and the Great Pyramid. “As you can see, these were not built by the same people, certainly not contemporaries of each other. The construction of the Queen’s Pyramids is so shoddy that it requires a staggering absence of intelligence to make such a leap. No joke, you must have borderline dementia to accept such a ridiculous hypothesis.”

Already three people in the back were gathering their stuff. Wörtlich wasn’t going to stop them. If their minds couldn’t take such a basic challenge, they weren’t worth his time.

“These minor pyramids all contain mummies-or rather, they did before grave robbers got to them. What I find most interesting, though, is that the main pyramids did not. Contain mummies, that is. There is very little evidence to suggest that.”

He changed slides again, but before he could return to his notes, he heard a voice from the front row.

“But isn’t that why the Egyptians built the pyramids in the first place? For burial?”

Surprised, Wörtlich glanced over the lectern and eyed the few students staring back at him. One of them raised her hand. She was an American; her look and accent was unmistakable.

“For one thing,” Wörtlich mused, “I do not accept the premise of your question.”

“That the pyramids were intended for burial?”

“Obviously. But what I mean is, the Egyptians did not build the pyramids.”

Skepticism blanketed the room in an uncomfortable silence, but it was nothing he hadn’t experienced a hundred times before.

Once again, the student put in her two cents. “Forgive me, sir, but that’s… well, that’s preposterous.”

“You are forgiven.”

“What he means,” said another student, a man, “is that the Egyptians made the Jews build them.”

Wörtlich furrowed his brow. “No, that is not what I mean, but I appreciate you putting words in my mouth. Now, I am sorry to contradict your eighth grade history textbooks, but this is a center for higher learning. If you want me to stand here and contribute to one of the longest lasting and most ridiculous lies perpetrated by modern academia-well, I regret you will have to go somewhere else for that. I hear Professor Gingrich hosts an excellent class on Fridays. If, however, you are interested in expanding your minds and hearing what I have to say, then by all means, pay attention.”

He replaced the slide with a profile shot of the Great Pyramid. In the margins, he had scribbled dimensions and proportions.

“In case none of you have seen it for yourselves-and I suggest you get around to it-the Great Pyramid is monstrous. Its base alone covers thirteen acres. It contains 2.3 million stone blocks, each weighing about two and a half tons. In fact, there are a few granite blocks higher in the pyramid structure that weigh over a hundred tons. Do not ask me how they got them up there; that is a question for much later. In any event, it is a hell of a lot of stone.”

He looked squarely at the American student. “If you need a point of reference, that’s enough stone to build a six-foot wall all the way from New York to Los Angeles.”

The student shrugged. “Couldn’t they have built ramps to get the blocks up?”

“Or a pulley system,” another suggested. “One of our professors even theorized that they might have built it from the inside out.”

Wörtlich nodded to the second student for at least doing her homework. “Well, certainly. I suppose those theories might be possible. But what traditional sources do not often admit is that for the Great Pyramid to have been built and completed during the timeframe suggested, the reign of Pharaoh Khufu, workers would have had to move one and half stone blocks into place every hour for twenty-three years, without stopping for nights, weekends, or bathroom breaks. And remember just how heavy they were. Still are, actually.”

“It could have happened. There were thousands of slaves.”

“Sure! Absolutely it could have happened. Let us consider for a moment that you are right. Also consider that the pyramids embody such a wealth of mathematical know-how and precision that its builders would have needed wisdom akin to the knowledge we have today.”

“The Egyptians of that period operated at the height of ancient civilization, didn’t they?” someone asked.

“That is highly arguable. But it is good of you to give them the benefit of the doubt. Let us look at some specifics now, so that you, all of you, can judge for yourselves. Begin with the impressive fact that the pyramid’s base is a perfect square with right angles accurate to one-twentieth of a degree. That is very precise. Also bear in mind that the sides of the pyramid, perfect equilateral triangles, face exactly north, south, east, and west. And I mean exactly. Now, if we take the Hebrew cubit to be 25.025 inches, then astonishingly we find that the length of each side of the base is 365.2422 cubits. Does that number sound familiar to anyone?”

Wörtlich gave them a chance to weigh in. Truth be told, he was delighted that this group at least had the gumption to speak up.

“That’s about the same number of days in a year,” someone ans­wer­­ed.

“No,” Wörtlich said forcefully. “It is the precise number of days in a year, including the fraction that accounts for leap years. These builders placed a premium on precision, no? Is any of this starting to sound unlikely? In case there are any skeptics left in the room, and there always are, the numbers get even more interesting. Very juicy. If we multiply twice the length of a side, at the base, by the total height, at the apex-which is 232.52 cubits-we get pi. To within five decimal places! I must say, that is not bad for six-thousand-year-old Egyptians.”

“Okay, I get it,” the first student admitted. “It’s weird.”

Wörtlich rubbed his hands together excitedly. “And just to, how do you say, “make the deal sweet,’ bear in mind that the Great Pyramid stands at the precise center of the world, longitudinally between the west coast of Mexico and the east coast of China, and latitudinally between the northernmost coast of Norway and the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. The Egyptians could not possibly have made such a calculation, what with not having discovered the existence of the Far East or the Americas. You cannot make this stuff up. If the Egyptians were so damned precise, why did the Queen’s Pyramids cave in on themselves after a few centuries while the greater pyramids continue to stand after several millennia?

“Now, Professor Gingrich and most of his peers would chalk all this up to coincidence, one piled upon another. But since I actually understand a thing or two about math, I know better. The odds of that happening are astronomical. I mean, truly and unfathomably massive.”

When he paused, the class was silent. Wörtlich was pleased to note that he hadn’t lost any more people since the beginning of his tirade. He couldn’t help but smile. He hid it by looking down and changing the slide again.

“So, to summarize what you have just heard, these builders had access to knowledge beyond the scope of their worldview. They somehow intuited that the planet was a globe, flattened at the poles, and also seemed to know its rate of rotation, not to mention the 23.5 degree tilt of its axis. And of course, they knew the precise number of days required for the Earth to orbit the sun. But I am sure all that is coincidental. After all, the Egyptians just barely had a firm grasp on the wheel.”

He returned the slide to the opening photo and waited for the inevitable response. Sure enough, they didn’t disappoint.

“So who did build the pyramids?”

Wörtlich smiled crookedly and closed the lid of his laptop.

“Finally, a good question.”

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If you like what you’ve read so far, please visit our Amazon page and pick up a copy today (click here). You can also visit our official website. Happy holidays to all!

Starting Over: A Most Exquisite Agony

Just about everyone who has ever used a computer knows the gut-wrenching pain of having to cope with lost data. Ever had your computer crash in the final stretch of writing an essay, and then discover that the file is unrecoverable? Ever spend hours on a piece of work and forget to save it before disaster strikes?

Of course you have.

But this post isn’t about data recovery, a subject on which I know very little (frankly, I would be well-advised to learn more). No, today’s post is about the exquisite agony of starting over.

Over the course of the last few years, fantasy wunderkind Brandon Sanderson has released chapters on his blog from his early unpublished manuscripts. On the one hand, this is an encouraging development, since it demonstrates so well the gradual accumulation of skill as time wears on. I find myself able to identify with Sanderson’s early writings. Hopefully, given more time, I, too, can become a writer of his caliber.

But the most interesting thing to me is the way that Sanderson openly talks about rewriting, and even re-rewriting, some of his manuscripts. In other words, he wrote it once-it wasn’t good enough. So he waited a while, then wrote it again-it still wasn’t good enough. He waited some more… then wrote it again! Finally, it was ready to see the light of day.

This kind of persistence is remarkable. As far as I can tell, it’s a necessary quality if one is to become a best-selling author.

In my editing career, I frequently come into contact with books that just aren’t good enough. It’s not that they’re outright bad (well, sometimes they are), but rather that editing alone isn’t enough to elevate them to “ready” status. The unfortunate reality is that the writer probably just doesn’t have chops to pull off the story-yet. My suggestion might be to give it some time, work on other projects, then come back a few years down the road and attempt the unthinkable: a page-one rewrite.

In other words, write the entire novel over again. From scratch.

If you’ve ever spent months-honestly, probably years-on your pet project, then the notion of starting over is truly daunting. Exhausting.

In my case, I have a 175,000-word novel sitting on my shelf. I wrote it the first time back when I was in high school-well, I wrote the first half before giving up. At the tender age of sixteen, I knew I wasn’t up to the challenge.

A few years later, I resurrected the project and tried turning it into a series of teleplays (television scripts). I wrote more than ten of them! But this format was impractical in the long run, so the project fizzled out. And almost stayed fizzled.

Then, after a long break, I jumped back into the fray last year and wrote the complete novel, which took nine months. In the spring, I trimmed it down some, bringing me to that polished 175,000-word version.

Except it’s not polished. Not really.

I’ve grown tremendously over the last few years. I was able to accomplish things in my most recent draft that my high school self would never have believed possible. But after receiving a lot of honest and well-intentioned feedback, I was forced to come to an uncomfortable conclusion: it’s still not ready. And in fact, like those editing clients I mentioned, editing still isn’t enough to get it where it needs to be to really come alive.

Indeed, I’ll have to start over. One more time.

But there’s no point in attempting another rewrite so quickly. Brandon Sanderson turned some of his flawed early works into best-selling gems, but they had to percolate for years.

So, just how long will I need to wait? Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule, but I do know one thing: I will accumulate more skills and grow faster as a writer if I keep producing new work.

And there’s the rub. It’s not about waiting at all… it’s about pressing on.

The Bottleneck

Of late, I’ve had a somewhat difficult time committing words to paper (okay, fine, words to screen). There are many reasons for this. Insufficient world-building, insufficient characterization, laziness… trust me, there’s a lot of blame to go around.

When it comes to finding time to sit down and write, if I have something to write about, this is fairly easy to accomplish. Whilst in the middle of a novel, I have no trouble getting my butt in the chair, since I’ve achieved momentum. Writing a thousand words a day for four or five months? Easy. Doable. If anything, the long haul is where I excel.

But what about before I start a novel? For me, world-building cannot be done sitting in a chair. World-building happens almost by accident, when I’m out doing things, having conversations, watching television, readings the news, etc. The spark of an idea comes quickly, but then it takes a while for the world and characters to form around it. These worlds have to percolate for months-dare I say, years-before novel-writing can begin.

It would be easy to label it a discipline problem, but I don’t think that’s it.

I can try to force myself to write before the pieces are in place, but I never get very far. I started writing my current novel back in the spring, then again in summer, and then again last week. Lots of false starts. I say, “I just can’t get going.” And people rightfully reply, “It’s because you don’t know your world/characters well enough.”

Fair enough. But just like in the real world, where it takes months and years to get to know my fellow human beings, it can take a long and unpredictable period of time for all the right world- and character-building pieces to fall into place. And, despite how I’ve described it, this isn’t a passive process. It’s active, requiring constant thought, rumination, deliberation… cogitation…

It’s possible that I’m just slow, that other people get through this conceptual period a lot more quickly than I do. Maybe this is just a symptom of not being a “discovery” writer. I’m bursting with premises, but slow conceptualization is the bottleneck that keeps me from becoming prolific.

I so badly want to be prolific.

Anyone else in the same boat, or is it just me?

An Experiment in Marketing

The undeniable truth is that writers are ultimately responsible for marketing their books themselves. Nobody questions this state of affairs in the realm of self-publishing, of course, where the author is responsible for every aspect of his or her book. But even writers with big contracts from major publishers will tell you that a great deal (okay, the lion’s share) of the publicity work ends up landing on their plate.Having recently secured a publishing deal with a small press in Canada (where I’m from), I now find myself in the position of having to execute a marketing plan for my own book. Marketing is not my strength. In fact, as a purely creative type who wants to spend all his time living in his own make-believe worlds (I know, I sound like a fun person to spend a Saturday night with, right?), taking on the burden of building a fanbase is an unsavory business I would much rather avoid-or at least leave to the professionals.

Fortunately, I have a writing partner on the project so I don’t have to go it alone.

First, we set to the task of brainstorming some ways to get the word out about our coming book. Before too long, an obvious target for our efforts emerged: social media.

On my own, I would hardly consider myself a social media guru. I check Facebook almost every day, but I post updates infrequently (no more than a couple of times per month). I don’t have a Twitter account, and don’t even get me started on this Google+ nonsense. Frankly, it seems entirely too time-consuming, as though I could spend all my time promoting myself and never find the time to actually write. I guess some people are wired for it more than others.

Like my writing partner, for example. Thank heavens for small miracles.

Just over two weeks ago, we started our campaign by opening a Facebook account for one of the main characters in the novel. Just as it’s important to keep a blog active in order to see eventual success, we knew this would only have a shot at working if the account stayed active and busy, and built up a significant number of followers very quickly.

We met our initial goal (we have north of 500 Facebook friends now), so we expanded our effort by cross-posting all our updates to Twitter. We aim for three or four new updates or links everyday, to make sure we don’t disappear from people’s home pages. The effort does seem to be succeeding, as the activity on the page is significantly greater than any buzz I’ve ever managed to build or maintain on my own behalf.

The next step, which just kicked in earlier this week, was the formation of a blog for the same fictional character. We’re just beginning to get hits on it, and several people have already subscribed. At first, I’ve written blog posts that function as a teaser trailer of sorts for the book itself, introducing one of the novel’s central mysteries. As time goes on, we plan to tackle subjects and research that hint at possible sequels.

I have no idea whether these efforts will be successful in the long-run, but so far they seem to be exceeding our modest expectations. I have reason to be optimistic.

These are, of course, just a handful of ideas. There must be lots of others. What sorts of marketing efforts have other people tried? By all means, chime in and maybe we can do some brainstorming.