Category Archives: Books

Shaking It Up: Part 11

From my perspective, the biggest value that Truby brings to the table is to force me to think longer, harder and deeper, about my characters, their background, influences, motivation, and interactions. The last section of Chapter 4 covers values, as in how the character would answer the question “what makes life good?” We answer that question for each of the major characters. You can see the summary of this exercise in Part 10 in column of the character table. This exercise answers that question in more detail.

Chapter 4: Character Part 2

Values

Jack (hero): Peace, inner and outer. From childhood, Jack has trained himself to discard desire, to embrace what is instead of seeking what is not. Counterintuitively, he has developed a high degree of self-confidence by choosing to not indulge self. Content to keep his thoughts to himself, he doesn’t impose himself or his ideas on others. He is more likely to answer a question with a question, not an answer. (Which can make him an annoying companion.) He doesn’t do this to be clever or from a lack of opinions/preferences, but because he has found that the fewer opinions he has about what others should do, the more tranquil his life. His worldview could be summarized as “It’s your nickel.”

Roger (opponent): Survival = financial success. From childhood, Roger has learned that you get what you can take, because nobody is going to give it to you. Counterintuitively, he does this through giving in the form of the fixer. He gains power by helping others get what they want. He is Radar O’Reilly as Shylock, bargaining without conscience or scruple, ultimately demanding his pound of flesh in the end. This worldview was developed as a survival mechanism, and he has used it to make himself rich, because in his world money is the only  measure of success.

Zoe (opponent): Respect. The respectable version of Roger, Zoe trades influence for money and power, but as a means to command respect. In her world, money is a given, but it is only valuable insofar as it gains her respect, in fact, she sees it as the only path that will gain respect and has no respect for those without money. However, she knows how to hide her ulterior motives in her climb to success.

Dan (opponent-ally): Stability. The judge sees the letter of the law as the guarantor of a stable community. Fair-minded but inflexible, he sees exceptions to the rule as the nose of the camel, the slippery slope toward societal disintegration, but secretly doubts himself, wondering if he has set the standard so high that he has doomed the larger part of humanity to failure to meet it, and so relies on, or maybe hides behind, the statutes when others might exercise judicial discretion. Far from a hardass, he is good humored and treats all with respect and disagrees firmly but pleasantly. 

Bella (ally): Harmony. Unlike the judge, Bella doesn’t second guess her convictions. She wants the best for everyone, and she knows just what they need to do. Her innate good nature, sense of humor, and concern for everyone from the highest to the lowest without regard to station serves as a partially-effective counterbalance to what would otherwise be harsh, overbearing mothering with a capital S. [I’m sure the capital S meant something when I wrote it. No idea what, though.]

Riki: Accomplishment. The weaker twin, Riki never figured out how to exist in this world. (Zen struggle between illusion and reality?) In his teens, he succumbed to the drug culture and died of an overdose, one of Roger’s earliest victims.

Jodi: Domestic tranquility. From childhood, Jodi assumed the role of mother for her twin brother to replace their birth mother. (Mother died? Abandoned them? Incompetent father? Bounced through the foster program?) When Riki dies, she transfers her energy to her bosses as an aggressively competent and controlling executive assistant.

Noel (opponent): Control. Noel followed in the footsteps of her father to become a homicide detective. Her obsession with justice and her keen insight brought her recognition, but not advancement. In midlife, she worries that she has neglected her family in her devotion to the mission.

Four-corner opposition 

JackRoger
NoelZoe

Detour: Character Diamond

At one time, David Freeman taught a course called “Beyond Structure” which included the concept of the character diamond. Unfortunately, Freeman is too busy being Executive VP of Walt Disney Television / Star TV , the course is not currently available, and there is very little information online about this tool for developing complex and memorable characters.

The best description I could find online is from the website of Brian Eisenberg, marketing wiz, who uses the tool to develop buyer personas. In another blog post, Wizard of Ads partner Tim Miles uses the character diamond to create brand identities.

Definitions

Defining characteristic
VulnerabilityCore identity
Counterpoint (opposite)

North: Defining characteristic of the character. The first thing you notice.
South: Counterpoint. Opposite.
West: Vulnerability.
East: Core identity. Non-negotiable, protect at all cost. Hill you’re willing to die on.

North-South: Makes the character interesting
East-West: Makes people connect

Jack

Monk, cleric
Angry doubterLongs for hope
Seeks justice

North: Monk, cleric
South: Seeks justice
West: Angry doubting Thomas, he’s a zen fraud
East: Wants to believe there is hope (in the icebox, he fought for meaning through which he remained functional instead of dysfunctional, core-level optimism.)


Berf and Jake Stories

OS-Cover-Post Feature

Berford Oswald Wiggins follows a Code. That’s why he’s about to marry the wrong woman. Again. When Berf finds himself accidentally engaged to Amelia for the third time, he leaps from the frying pan of Austin and absconds to the Payne ranch in Bolero, Texas. (read more)

 

 

SV-Cover-Post Feature

 

Berford Oswald Wiggins vows to take his best friend on a killer vacation. And a Wiggins always keeps his word. Berf loves Jake like a brother, but not like a brother-in-law. After all, he wouldn’t wish his sister on anyone, least of all Jake. When Berf’s warning falls on deaf ears, he falls back on The Code and serves as Jake’s best man. (read more)

The Fred Books

WtF-Cover-793x1200Mark Cloud has his doubts. He’s not sure if he’ll ever feel at home in Fred, Texas. He’s not sure that he can work up the nerve to declare his love to the girl of his dreams. He’s not sure he will survive another ride with Darnell Ray, Terror of the Back Roads. And he’s not really sure he buys the whole God thing. Which is an uncomfortable position for the son of a Baptist preacher. (read more)

 

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Mark Cloud is back in Fred, Texas but Fred is not the same and neither is Mark. He begins to ask troublesome questions. What would Jesus do if he was a teenage boy in a hick town? (read more)

 

 

 

PfF-Cover-Post Feature

 

It’s been a bad weekend. Mark Cloud’s dreams of romantic bliss have been cruelly obliterated, and his friendship with the local moonshiner has drawn unwelcome attention from the local Pharisee, Deacon Fry. (read more)

 

 

 

 

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Mark Cloud escapes Fred, Texas, to relish the anonymity of college, new friends and the possibility of romance. But a series of catastrophes forces him home, where everything has changed in the one place where nothing changes. (read more)

 

 

The Fletcher Brothers

Do you believe in second chances? Even when you don’t deserve it?

Hensley will gladly offer any number of chances to a prodigal, but the only thing that matters is how many chances Chrystal, the one woman he should have never left behind, will grant to him. (read more)

 

When his Uncle Rex dies in Mexico, Special Agent Dave Fletcher is shocked.

When he learns that Rex changed his will at the last minute to give his entire estate to Masie, a woman Dave has never met, he is suspicious.

But when he discovers that Masie was the first on the scene to find the body, he buys a ticket to Cancun to learn the truth. (read more)

Build Your Own Religion and other bad ideas from The Door

Kindle

“Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” -That Italian guy who wrote about hell and other stuff

  • Need pointers on building your own religion? It’s easier than falling down a staircase in the dark with the Wunderfool’s simple multiple-choice quiz.
  • Wondering how to deal with the those people who knock on your door on Saturday morning? The Wunderfool can fix that.
  • Ever wonder what the Bible might sound like if written by Twentieth-Century authors? Look no further.

Back in the day a magazine arose to answer these and other pressing questions. It has been called, by some, the Mad Magazine for Evangelicals. Okay, by a few. All right, by one guy, maybe.

During the 90s, Mr. Whittington submitted over a dozen pieces to a magazine known variously as The Wittenberg Door or The Door or That Magazine I Told You About. Foolishly, the editors chose to publish half of them. Two decades later, in a fit of delirium, Mr. Whittington released the whole lot upon an unsuspecting public.

For a modest price (void where prohibited by law or common sense) you can peruse the result. (Packaged by hilarity quotient. Some settlement may occur during reading.)

What Would Jesus Drink

Kindle
iBooks
Paperback


What would Jesus drink? As every new generation arrives at the age of majority, the question is asked again. For the sincere follower of Jesus, the answer is not as easy to find as one might expect.

Was Jesus really the miraculous bartender by creating wine at a wedding, as some have said? Did Jesus really drink wine at the Last Supper? Was the wine in the Bible really grape juice? Is drinking wine, beer or liquor a sin, or just a personal preference? Should a Christian abstain anyway, even if it’s not a sin?

I decided to dig deeper, to find every verse in the Bible that touched on this topic, and figure it out. I set aside any sermons I might have heard, any personal history, any personal preference, and began a search for the truth, committed to following it wherever it might lead.

This book is a quick-read, a chronicle of that search and my conclusions. For those who also want to take the time to dig deeper, at the end of the book I include a list of all 247 verses in the Bible that refer to wine and strong drink so you can easily read them for yourself and go read them in context like I did. I also include a bibliography of other books on the topic, most of which disagree with my conclusions.

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Here’s what some of the folks who have read it said about it:

I can’t give Brad enough credit for all his hard work on finding the truth within this touchy subject matter. His research has been painstaking, and I’d encourage everyone to explore his work. –J. Wilson, Brewvana.WordPress.com, Author of Diary of a Part-Time Monk

The expert of all experts, Brad Whittington, a conservative Christian oenophile has made an astoundingly exhaustive study of every alcohol reference in Scripture. –A.J. Jacobs, AJJAcobs.com, Author of The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and My Life as an Experiment

This comprehensive survey of the Biblical teaching on alcohol use is a must-have resource. Top notch. Distribute widely please. –Michael Spencer, InternetMonk.com, Author of Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality

Thorough, balanced and fair, this small book will serve as a reference for Christians who want to know exactly what the Bible says about wine and strong drink. By organizing and analyzing every scriptural mention of the topic, Brad Whittington equips and encourages believers to go beyond contemporary cultural influences to draw Biblically based conclusions. Highly recommended. -Kathy Tyers, Author of The Annotated Firebird, Shivering World and other novels

Brad Whittington sheds the bonds of legalism and enlightens his readers, not with his own thoughts, but with the scripture. Let’s all raise a glass in good conscience and celebrate one of God’s most misunderstood blessings! -Bryon Turner, founder of CTBeerTrail.net and HomeBrewBeer.net

It’s amazing to me how often Christians form their convictions about alcohol based on culture, family history, or in reaction to someone else’s position. Brad Whittington gets his conviction from somewhere else: a staggeringly thorough study of every verse in the Bible that mentions alcohol. His book is a must read for teetotalers and frat boys alike. – Noel Heikkinen, JustNoel.com, Pastor, Riverview Church

Very enlightening research with timely and balanced information concerning the way in which a Christian should handle the issue of alcohol use. On-target concerning this issue. –Matt Layton, OnceInAGreatWhile.BlogSpot.com

This is an article that you and all of your Christian friends should read. –Theological Persiflage, PersiflageThis.BlogSpot.com

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
    • Sobering Statistics
    • Mixed Messages
    • Digging Deeper
  2. Culture or Scripture?
    • Reading with an Agenda
    • Getting Down To It
  3. Analysis of Scriptural References to Alcohol
    • Summary of References to Wine in Scripture
    • Positive References to Wine in Scripture
    • Neutral References to Wine in Scripture
    • Negative References to Wine in Scripture
    • The Weaker Brother
    • Analysis of Scripture: Conclusions
  4. The Example of Jesus
    • Was It Really Wine?
    • What Happened at the Wedding at Cana?
    • Was Jesus a Drunkard?
    • What About the Lord’s Supper?
    • The Example of Jesus: Conclusion
  5. Alcohol and the Conservative Christian Sub-culture
    • Church History
    • But Things Are Different Now
    • Other Social Problems
  6. The Law of Love
    • The Alcoholic
    • Abstaining for the Sake of Others
    • The Pharisee
  7. Alcohol and the Bible: conclusion
  8. Postscript

Endless Vacation

Paperback
Kindle


When his Uncle Rex dies in Mexico, Special Agent Dave Fletcher is shocked.

When he learns that Rex changed his will at the last minute to give his entire estate to Masie, a woman Dave has never met, he is suspicious.

But when he discovers that Masie was the first on the scene to find the body, he buys a ticket to Cancun to learn the truth. The more Dave learns, the more difficult it is to decide whether Masie is the most amazing woman he’s ever met or a cold-blooded killer.

Then Dave’s long-lost brother, Hensley, the only other living relative of Uncle Rex, resurfaces to provide unexpected and unwanted help, stirring up decades-old resentments and attracting the attention of the killer. Will the brothers kill each other and save the murderer the trouble?

Muffin Man

Paperback
Kindle
Nook

You should listen to this before you read the book.
Mississippi John Hurt: Nobody’s Dirty Business


John Lawson, sheriff of the quiet Hill Country town of Bolero, Texas, attempts to quell a feud between the local megachurch and a construction contractor, but it escalates from picketing to vandalism to arson.

The case is derailed by the unwelcome return of John’s free-wheeling bipolar father, who arrives in the same red Mustang he drove away twenty-four years ago when he abandoned the family.

But ultimately it is the muffin that his overzealous deputy bags as evidence that threatens John’s ordered life, possibly beyond repair.


Brad Whittington is not only back, he’s at his best. I haven’t been this excited about a new fictional detective since Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police. Have no doubt: Muffin Man delivers! –J. Mark Bertrand, author of Back on Murder and Pattern of Wounds

Whittington has baked up a winner in Muffin Man. With dry wit, poignant humanity, and a setting as rich as Texas earth, Whittington proves his fl air for storytelling once again. A great book. –Tosca Lee, NY Times bestselling author of Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and The Books of Mortals series


After six years of silence, Whittington’s highly anticipated entrance into the general fiction market combines his considerable storytelling talents with influences as diverse as Richard Russo and Michael Connelly. Muffin Man strikes a balance between comedy and drama and takes the trademark Whittington elements of rich setting, engaging characters, and turn of phrase to a new depth.

Escape From Fred

Kindle
Nook
iBooks


Mark Cloud escapes Fred, Texas, to relish the anonymity of college, new friends and the possibility of romance. But a series of catastrophes forces him home, where everything has changed in the one place where nothing changes. In desperation he bargains with God. When the unthinkable occurs, Mark leaves Fred to escape the questions he can’t bear to answer. He sets out on a pilgrimage with no goal, unsure if the road offers enlightenment or oblivion. The path leads him to a childhood friend and their unresolved debate, but now each is arguing for the other side. Mark suspects he will never truly escape from Fred without returning to face the answer he fears.

eBook extras: Preview of Muffin Man