Category Archives: Books

Shaking It Up: Part 1

Or How I Threw Away the Formula and Started Over from Scratch. Sort of.


NOTE: If you got here from the Monday Morning Memo, welcome.

Also, if you want to do the Writing Wednesday status report, check out the Brad Whittington page on Facebook for the Wednesday posts.


For a writer, there are two ways to approach fiction:

  1. Write to a market.
  2. Write for yourself.

One of these choices gives you better odds of making a living from writing. Three guesses which one. *

Assuming you’re not some kind of literary genius who has no need to resort to picking one or the other, writing in a popular genre gives you the best chance to make a living writing fiction. Romance, suspense, thriller, sci-fi, fantasy, glittering vampires, etc. That’s called writing to a market.

Or you can just write for yourself. For the joy of it.

From the beginning, I chose option #2 and stayed the course for nine novels. On purpose. As it does with many things in life, it all comes down to the why. Why you write determines what you write.

I didn’t come to writing to pay the bills. I already had a day job. I came to writing to tell a story.

I piddled around with writing from early years, junior high at least. In high school, I started my own underground newspaper. I produced two issues, turned the crank myself for the 50 or so copies I printed on the church’s Gestetner mimeograph machine, similar to the one in this video. I was also the editor of the college newspaper for a year, largely on the strength of my “journalism experience” and the fact that nobody else wanted the job. Well, one other guy did, but he just wanted to run the paper as his own propaganda machine.

I wrote a lot of essays and editorials and such. I toyed with fiction, writing half of a short story in high school and a complete short story in college. But a huge barrier barrier prevented me from spreading my wings. I was lazy.

Writing fiction with a typewriter is labor intensive, especially the edits. In 1981, for my freelance consulting work I got a computer with Word Perfect and my last excuse faded. I jumped in with all four feet. I wrote a lot of crap, but I also read a lot of books on writing and slowly improved my craft.

Twenty years later Welcome to Fred got published by accident and I kept going. I enjoyed myself and it paid okay, but it didn’t cover the mortgage. Especially in Honolulu.

In 2016, after writing whatever I felt like, my ninth novel, The Reluctant Saint, was released, I decided to try something new.

I decided to go for option #1. I set out on an experiment to write a novel in the dead center of a viable market, the whodunit.

The question on the table: Can I write a novel I’m proud of putting my name on while meeting all the expectations of a certain type of reader? The jury is still out.

I know what you’re thinking. “Oh no! He’s abandoning all his faithful readers in a big money grab!” Set your mind at rest. This leopard can’t change his wardrobe this late in the game.

I’m aiming for something closer to Muffin Man than Welcome to Fred, but with more attention to the puzzle. The market is crowded. I don’t expect the money to be significantly different.

And I’m still sticking with option #2. Since 2006 my day job has been freelance writing, gun for hire to the highest bidder, and it pays the bills. In fact, if all goes well, a Dummies book about Artificial Intelligence will show up on the shelves later this year. It won’t have my name on it, but I wrote the sucker.

But when it comes to fiction, I still write for myself. And for the other misfits in my tribe.

However, as far as the writing process goes, everything about this project is different. As a rule, other than an occasional pull quote or a comment about how things are going, I don’t talk about my novels as I write them. So why break form now?

Many of you are writers, some aspiring, some accomplished. Writing is hard work even in the best of times. Perhaps particularly in the best of times when life is plentiful, and a multitude of distractions compete for our attention.

The truth is that all writers struggle, from the aspiring neophyte to the multi-published author. The blank page assails us all, taunting us, daring us to take the chance, to put it all on the page and stand by it.

For this project, I’m throwing out my process, all the little tricks and shortcuts I’ve used for the past 40 years, and starting fresh. New genre, new process. It’s daunting, scary. I have no idea if I can do it.

And I’m going to document my steps, my creative choices, so you can see how the sausage is made. By exposing my own struggles and inadequacies, my hope is that you will be encouraged to pick up the pen, or keyboard, and keep slogging forward on your project.

Ready? Let’s go.

* I am using Truby’s book (more on this later) for the pre-production phase of the writing project, as I have done for my last six novels. I started at the beginning and toward the end of Chapter Two I came across this excellent advice.

“You should always write first for yourself; write what you care about. But you shouldn’t write only for yourself. One of the biggest mistakes writers make is to fall into the trap of either-or thinking: either I write what I care about, or I write what will sell. This is a false distinction, born of the old romantic notion of writing in a garret and suffering for your art.”

Which, now that I think about it, is exactly what I decided to do for this novel, despite my grand pronouncement at the beginning.

Also, you might consider giving Truby’s book a shot. It will come in handy when I start working through the development of the story.

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)




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)







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


“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


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.


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,, 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,, 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,, 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 and

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,, 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,

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



  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


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


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


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