About nathanvanhoff

Writer, speaker, voice-over

Sneak Peek

It’s been almost four years since I published Kingdoms of Broken Stone: Boy of Dreams. The plan all along has been to write a trilogy within this world I’ve created. Since Boy of Dreams was published, I’ve moved, changed jobs, gotten a dog, a promotion, our first house, and now our first child. Life has been eventful. I also took some time collect, edit, and publish the Between Calls devotionals.

Well, I’ve finally started to make a little progress with the second book, Kingdoms of Broken Stone: Rise of Arturius. I’ve had the title and general idea since before the first one was completed, but actually getting the first draft done hasn’t happened. Being a new dad I don’t have much extra time, so I’m hesitant to even do this, but I thought I’d let people see the first chapter as it is so far. Still a work in progress of course. I’ve written a total of five chapters in the last few months. Even if it is slow, hopefully the progress continues to be steady.

1. A Commotion

Arturius found himself walking by the farm of Warrenfin’s uncle often. He really had no reason to do so since it was the opposite direction of the village square. Yet reason or not, he had found himself on that road almost every day since Warrenfin left a month ago.

In his head, Arturius knew it was much too soon to expect Warrenfin to be returning down that same road with tales of adventure, but for some reason his heart was always a little hopeful as he walked towards the spot they had parted ways. Once there, he’d pause at the formerly dilapidated gate, which had since been replaced, and looked towards the Hook with a tinge of disappointment. After feeling silly for getting his hopes up, he’d turn around and walk to the village. He only occasionally saw glimpses of Warrenfin’s uncle, who had taken to calling himself “Sir” Mendax due to his new found wealth.

Now that he was rich, Mendax had paid for his farm to be transformed from the most poorly maintained in the area to the most beautiful, all without working any harder than he had in the past. He had also gone from being a recluse to a loud and boisterous nuisance in public, except for when Arturius was present. He usually avoided sticking around whenever Arturius showed up and often eyed him suspiciously. Publicly he explained his wealth by detailing a business investment he made long ago finally paying off and Warrenfin’s absence by saying he’d sent him to an academy on the Continent to receive a “real education.” People in the village didn’t seem to fully believe him, but now that he was paying so generously for their goods and services they didn’t question him. Arturius assumed people wouldn’t really believe the truth, that a stranger paid an enormous sum of money for Warrenfin to be her assistant, so he didn’t challenge Mendax on his lie. The only people he told were his parents, who agreed that most people in the village either wouldn’t believe or wouldn’t care. For their part, they trusted their son but were confused about who she was and what she could have been doing. They vaguely remembered a similar wandering “teacher” passing through a few years ago but didn’t remember anyone running off with her at that time.   

On this particular day, as Arturius started to turnaround to head towards the village, he heard a loud commotion coming from the house. He could hear Mendax yelling, but couldn’t make out what was being said. Suddenly, the whole house shook for a moment and glass could be heard shattering as window frames shifted and household items were knocked from their places.

Arturius quickly jumped the fence and ran to take cover in a group of bushes closer to the house in an effort to hear what was going on inside.

“I swear! I’ve t-told you everything I know! Please, let me b-be!”

Arturius could hear the terror in Mendax’s voice.

“I can pay you! Wh-what do you want? I’ll give you whatever you wa-want. Just leave me alone!”

Then Arturius heard a cold, unfeeling, female voice answer.

“All I want is information and if you don’t have anymore, then you are of no use to me.”

“I, I told you there isn’t anything else to know! I b-bought him from a Sair Pirate in the Hook when he was just a small boy. They didn’t tell me anything a-about who he was and neither d-did the lady who bought him from me. All he did was take care of the farm. There’s noth… nothing special about him!”

“Why do you think she paid you so much for him?”

“I d-don’t know. She offered me the money, took him, and… and left. What did I care?”

“If you can’t or you won’t help me, then I can’t let you live.”

“P-please!”

Karka Liftoach!

The house shook violently and wood began to splinter. The ground around the house started to pull away and sink like water around a drain. Arturius leapt up from the bushes and sprinted away from the house. As he vaulted over the fence and scrambled onto the dusty road, Mendax could just barely be heard yelling over the roar of the collapsing house sinking into the ground. By the time Arturius had picked himself up off the ground everything was calm and the air was still aside from a slight haze of dust. He looked at where the house had been and only a sunken divot of broken dirt remained. Stunned, he stared at the ground in unmoving amazement until his eye noticed movement headed through the field of corn closest to the house. Something was quickly moving west away from where the house once stood. Arturius debated if he should follow after it, but decided he ought to head home as fast as he could and tell his parents what had happened. Maybe they could make some sense of it?

“You said he was arguing with someone who wanted information about Warrenfin?” asked his father Darius.

“That’s what it sounded like to me.”

“And then the house just sunk into the ground?”

“Yeah. I couldn’t believe it.”

Arturius and his parents, Darius and Priscilla, all stood staring at where the house had been just hours before.

“Darius, I don’t like this at all.” The concern of a worried mother in Priscilla’s voice was clearly evident.

“Neither do I.”

“Do you think we ought to send him to your father? Would he be in port this time of year? What if whoever did this comes looking for Arturius next?”

“He’ll likely be in port preparing to load foodstuffs from harvest. Letting my father have him would get him away from here for awhile but didn’t the idea of him being on the ocean always scare you?”

“Yes, but not as much as whatever can do this scares me.”

Their son butted in to the discussion about his future. “I told you. I want to hunt and learn the farm. I don’t want to spend months on a boat with grandfather.”

“We know son. It won’t be forever, just until things here return to normal.” Darius tried to sound reassuring, but he had no idea what was going on or when things would be normal again. “We better go home and get you packed and on the way to Bellham as soon as we can. In fact, we’ll all go with to drop you off. That way the whole family is away from here for a few days.”

“But it’s harvest season soon. Don’t you need my help?”

“We’ll manage. Your brothers and sisters are getting old enough to do more of the work and it’s time they start learning as much as you already know.”

The conversation died and they stood staring at the broken earth for a moment longer. Then Darius moved towards the cart they had ridden from their farm and his wife and son followed. After everyone was seated, Darius pulled the reigns and the only one still in a normal frame of mind, unbothered by all the great changes occurring, started to lead the way home. For their donkey, it was just a normal day of work pulling the cart to and fro.    


Devotional Book

Our plans, and life in general, can kind of get away from us in some of the different seasons of life, am I right?

I never would have thought I would write the first book for the Kingdoms of Broken Stone series in less than a year and then take more than two years to get started on the second. I apologize to those who’ve waited patiently to continue reading the story, especially if you were hoping the next announcement from me would be in regards to the next installment.

During this season of life I’ve moved twice, had a job change, and, I hope this makes up from some of the disappointment, gotten a puppy.

(To be honest, the puppy was recent, so she didn’t really have an impact in delaying my writing.)

Her name is Lucy. She’s quite a bit bigger than this now, but I wanted to find the cutest picture I could to smooth things over a bit for not having the next book even remotely ready for enjoyment.

While a lot of life has happened, the main reason not much happened in the way of writing was my own lack of motivation and discouragement.

Perhaps I didn’t have much of a reason to be discouraged in terms of how many copies my first book sold. I shouldn’t have expected a large number when it was self-published, virtually lacking a cover, and my circle of influence, or “reach”, isn’t very large.

But I was disappointed nonetheless. Disappointed and discouraged.

So I didn’t really want to write the next book or any other book or do any writing of any kind. I focused on work and family and didn’t set aside any meaningful amount of time to write. I’d put so much of my time into writing, pitching, and pushing the book and the return wasn’t anywhere near what I hoped it would be. I had tried to set reasonable expectations and to take to heart the genuinely encouraging comments and reviews I received from those kind enough to read something I’d written, but even as my head told my heart to be happy with the blessings I’d received from others who read it, my heart still hoped it would sell enough to justify the amount of time I spent on it.

Silly, I know, but as much as I tried to adjust my hopes to something resembling what could be reasonably expected given the circumstances, I suppose the imagination that helps you write a fantasy book creeps into other parts of life as well.

For me, there is a funny set of emotions tied to writing and then asking people to pay for what I’ve written. I’d really like a lot of people to buy my book, but I’m also terrified about what they will think when they read it. I’d really like them to love what I’ve written, but if they do, will I disappoint them if the next thing I write isn’t as good? I’d like to be able to say that I write for an audience of one and hope to please God by using what He has given me, and maybe sometimes I’m able to have that perspective, but I often care about what others think and how many people read it, whether it is a book, article, or blog post.

Some of what I have written here may come across as ungrateful to those who’ve helped write and publish my work and to those who have bought and read my book. That is not my heart at all. In one sense, I am humbled beyond any words I can write that people would help me in this venture and that they would spend their resources (money and time) to purchase and read my work. I thank God for each of you and hope you have felt it was time and money well spent.

But it would be dishonest of me not to tell you all that has been in my heart and mind. Your kindness has earned that.

I do have something for you to read that, while it isn’t exactly new, has been edited, reworked, and assembled in a small collection.

Before I wrote Boy of Dreams, I’d been working on writing daily devotionals. I had hoped to write enough to fill a year, but I only got through 120-130 or so before I switched to writing the book. I had posted them here on my site for anyone to read.

At some point I had the idea to edit and assemble them in a small book. I wasn’t ready to begin full on writing again, but I thought if I worked on a writing project I could start to get back in the rhythm.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how much I needed to read the various scriptures and truths I’d written in the past. Many of them are written directly from places of weakness and struggle and were just as applicable to me now as when I first wrote them. The circumstances might be different, but many of the underlying heart and mind conditions are the same.

I planned to have one collection of 100 devotions, but I had to break it into two because you are only allowed to quote a certain number of verses from any given translation of the Bible without special consent. So I figured the easier thing to do would be to create two smaller devotionals of 50 each.

The book is available for Kindle or Paperback on Amazon.

 

Rebel Christian Review and Update

Hey All,

I haven’t posted much lately for a few reasons. I took a break from writing after publishing Boy of Dreams to reset a little. While doing that I spent my time contacting book reviewers and seeking out contests to enter the book in while also experimenting with how best to promote it. Then I started a new position at work that I enjoy but has taken some extra time during the transition. I’m just now starting to get back to “Book 2” in a serious way.

However, I feel it would only be fair to be transparent and set expectations properly for when “Book 2” might be available to be read. The contests I’ve entered Boy of Dreams in will take awhile to finish up. If the book does well, they have the potential to raise its profile and desirability for publishers. I have a core trilogy of three books planned, though I wouldn’t be opposed to continuing to write stories in the world of Kingdoms of Broken Stone beyond the three books I have planned. I’ve been advised that, If I want to have a shot (however small it might be) at a publisher picking up Kingdoms of Broken Stone (or KOBS as a friend has called it for short), I need to keep books two and three on the docket so that the potential publisher gets to be the one to release them for the first time.

Admittedly, it isn’t all that likely that Boy of Dreams will win the contests I’ve entered it in. It also isn’t likely that it will be picked up by a publisher, but I’d like to give it time just to see. If after the contests have finished up I haven’t had any traction in that regard, I’ll go ahead and self-publish the rest of the trilogy. But I wanted to set expectations for my small group of readers who are looking forward to continuing the journey, it might be a little while waiting for these things to shake out. I’ll keep writing with the idea that it will be self-published so that it is ready once I have an idea which way it is going to go, but even self-published it would be sometime in 2019.

All that being said, here’s another one of those reviews I was working on getting from Vay Elaine at the Rebel Christian.

My Footprints in the Sand

There is a poem titled, “Footprints in the Sand” that you have probably seen at some point in your life. In the poem, a person has a dream in which they look back over their life and see two sets of footprints in the sand, symbolizing walking through life with the Lord. When they look back at some of the hardest times in their life, they are surprised to see only one set of footprints. They thought that once they decided to follow Christ, He would never leave them on their own. Confused, the person questions the Lord about this:

“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has been only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

The Sand on My Journey of Life

I think if you were to stand with me, and we were to look back over my own life together in a similar manner, there would not simply be a few places with only one set of footprints and others with two sets sitting neatly side-by-side. Nor would there be a nice long continuous line showing no variation or detours.

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Reviews

The tools to write a book have never been more accessible than they are right now. For centuries, the entire process was done mostly by hand. If after completing a book you wanted to make a copy of it, a scribe would then rewrite the entire thing. Books were enormously time consuming to create, expensive to purchase, and the ability to read them varied. This is part of what makes the number of ancient Biblical manuscripts and the quality of those manuscripts remarkable. Many, many people invested countless hours meticulously copying and preserving the scriptures. Looking at just the Greek New Testament, there are 5,600 ancient copies remaining. The next closest is Homer’s Illiad with 643. After that it drops off considerably. We only have 10 copies of Julius Caesar’s writings. I digress.

The point is, with modern technology, millions of people now have the tools to create and distribute their written works. What was once difficult–or impossible–to access due to technological and education restraints, is now ready at the push of a button or tap of a screen (or even voice command). The challenge isn’t so much having a channel to distribute your work but getting people to pay attention or even be aware of it.

Readers have more choices everyday. Bowker reported that over one million books were published in the US in 2009. Finding something to read isn’t hard. Finding something good to read can be.

As an author or aspiring author–more often an expiring author–without a large platform, how do you get anyone to pay attention to your work?

Well, mainly you ask other people to share it with those they know. 

Whether they have a personal circle of people you don’t know or posses a platform of some kind, asking others to spread the word in some manner is really the only way to get your book noticed among the millions of other titles out there.

Of course you can do marketing and pay to have your book promoted and try to build your own platform, but really those are just different ways of asking people to spread the word. They can be effective but often require financial investment.

This is why it is so helpful to an author when people review their book in some form or fashion. In essence, each person or publication that does so raises the books visibility and credibility with more people. Those that have no personal connection to an author will often rely on reviews to make a decision about whether to give a title a shot or not.

Because of this, I appreciate each person who has read and reviewed my work on Amazon, GoodReads, or their own site/publication. Of course I am encouraged by each personal message I get about the book and how much someone enjoyed it as well. Sometimes those particular messages come right when I need a little extra encouragement as I begin work on the second book.

But when someone takes a couple minutes to go online, rate the book, and write a couple lines, that helps both in the moment and going forward.

To be clear, I get that people often intend to do so and forget, I know I would. I also understand that some people value their privacy and I get that too. But for those who remember and take the time to go on and give a rating and short blurb or something more substantial, Thank you.

 

 

 

Why the 90’s were Better (NOT a slideshow)

LeVar Burton was traveling through space exploring new frontiers on Star Trek and teaching kids to explore new frontiers through a love of reading on Reading Rainbow. Really this article could end here.

 Also, do you think it’s a coincidence that the guy doing a show about reading wore space glasses in Star Trek? Hmmm…

The only time I ever enjoyed Romeo and Juliet was when a Jack Russell Terrier was teaching me about it on Wishbone. Not everyone likes history and classical literature, but who doesn’t like a small, hyper-intelligent dog saving the day and educating everyone at the same time?

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