The Brothers’ Keepers
by Matthew Peters
Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?
Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.
It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.
Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.
The bus moved up Viadotto and turned right onto Rene. Smells of fried food and burning incense wafted through the open windows of the bus. A left turn brought them to Emilia, past white stone buildings, statues, and street vendors, past the fountains toward the heart of Pisa. The further north they went, the closer they came to the Arno, where a vast migration of darkly-clad figures moved in the opposite direction, southeast toward Rome. It was a black exodus of grief, one of almost unreal proportions; swarms of people with lowered heads and bent postures, heading desperately, slowly, inexorably toward a common ill-fated destination. The dark edges of the black clothes stood out in stark contrast to the gray day that blurred the corners of buildings and churches. Rain fell, blended with human tears, and smudged the scene like a charcoal sketch. Open, dark umbrellas resembled the conical piles of volcanic ash upon which the country was built. On that gray morning Pisa wore a death-mask.
Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction Writers
Whenever I’m asked to give writing advice, I do so with caution, because not everything that might be said always applies.
With this caveat in mind, I offer the following guidelines for the new fiction writer.
First, read broadly—fiction, nonfiction, science, politics, etc. And read as much good literature as you can, especially the classics, in all its forms: prose, poetry, plays, essays, etc.
Second, write often. While some say you should write every day, I urge you to write as often as possible. Writing is like most things: the more you do it, the better you get. But allowing the creative batteries to recharge is essential.
Third, on days you write, strive for a sensible word count. Avoid setting unrealizable goals, thereby setting up false expectations. I shoot for 500 words. That’s two pages a day, ten pages a week (taking weekends—or any other two days—off). This may not sound like a lot, but in a year, I have 480 pages, a good-sized novel.
Fourth, when you write, think in terms of scenes, like in a movie, as opposed to chapters or sections. Not only will this give you a place to start, it will help you “show” more than “tell.”
Fifth, don’t be a perfectionist when writing the first draft. Unlike other professions (e.g., neurosurgery), writers don’t have to get it right the first time. We have the luxury of being able to revise our product as much as we wish. Let this insight free you up. Try to approach writing like you would a school science project: with a mixture of curiosity and awe, and hopefully some enthusiasm and joy.
Sixth, join or start a writing group. The point here is to make sure you get input from people besides your parents and/or significant other. But be wary of taking too much feedback, especially too early on—too many writers can spoil the plot (among other things).
Finally, don’t be overly eager to submit to an agent/publisher, or to self-publish. Make sure your work is as free from errors (e.g., typos, factual, grammatical) as possible. If you can afford to, hire a content editor and a copy editor. Bottom line: don’t submit anything until it represents your best effort. I think you’ll be surprised how much this will set you apart from other writers.
I hope this helps. And, as always, keep writing.
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AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Dual diagnosed* from an early age, Matthew Peters dropped out of high school at sixteen. He went on to obtain an A.A., a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught various courses in a variety of disciplines throughout North Carolina. He is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of the dual diagnosed. In addition to The Brothers’ Keepers, he is the author of Conversations Among Ruins, which features a dual diagnosed protagonist. Currently, he is working on a sequel to The Brothers’ Keepers.
*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.
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