About Jason M. Brooks

Jason is an avid reader, a published author, an inconsistent blogger, a dabbler in the art of video production, and an expert in self-publishing. In 2009, Jason self-published his first book, and since then, has helped other authors bring their passion to life in print, eBook, and audio book formats. Jason has published over 100 titles between himself and various writers, and has helped numerous authors build and launch their author platform. Jason enjoys sharing his experiences and knowledge with fellow writers on his blog at www.jasonmbrooks.com.

Step by Step Self Publishing – Formating Your Manuscript for Amazon Kindle

Step by Step Self Publishing is a feature section of Jason M. Brooks' blog and website. Jason M. Brooks is the author of the Wild Space series.

I started self publishing back in 2008 when all of the self publishing options really started to take off. At the time, I was one of the few who did it. Now, I’m lost in a sea of many who self publish – and that’s a good thing. While almost every blog out there will tell you how to get rich off self publishing your books, I would rather take a different approach. I want to teach you easy, effective ways to get your book out of your mind and into someones hand.

We start with today’s blog: a step by step self publishing process for formatting your manuscript and making it ready for self publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing website.

Some people like to go in and code their manuscript by hand. I will tell you first hand, I do it, it’s not terribly difficult, but it’s time consuming and not an efficient use of your valuable time. If you’re like me, you want to write your book, edit it, and then get it on the market and move on to the next book. Coding takes time and can get tricky if you’re not familiar with the process or make a mistake and have to go back and find it. My process takes all of the coding out of it and leaves you with a very nice product that is ready for Amazon on day one. Rarely will you have to go back and do more work.

If you haven’t already done so, visit my last post on the tools I use to self publish. You will be needing some of those to do this project. The only thing we need for part one in today’s post, is a finished manuscript and a word processing program. I personally use Microsoft Office 365.

So let’s begin.

Identify Page Breaks

  1. The first thing we want to do is insert page breaks at the end of our title pages and chapters. To do this, we begin by scrolling to the bottom of our desired content. In the image below, I like to add a title page to my book with graphics and whatnot. I’ve already inserted the image. Now I’ll scroll down below the cursor and insert my cursor. Now I go up into the tool bar and select “Insert Page Break”.

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2. Now I’ll repeat that process on the copyright information page (also commonly called a title page). I’ll scroll just to the end of the title page information and insert my cursor. Then I’ll select “Insert a Page Break” and the computer will do its thing.

It’s important to note that you want to put that page break right at the very end of the content that you are trying to separate. If you put that cursor five, ten or more spaces down, it will create blank pages in your ebook. That is not a good thing. Blank pages leave people scratching their heads – wondering if something is wrong with their ebook file. You want the content to end and then when you turn the page, new content begins. So place that cursor right after the text you want to separate as I show in the next image.

3. Now we’ll repeat this process with the remainder of our book. We will add page breaks at the end of each chapter. Remember to place that cursor after the last sentence of the chapter. Don’t go down a bunch of spaces before inserting that page break or you get dead space. Insert your cursor under the last line of the chapter and select “Insert Page Break”.

Continue this process through the rest of the book. Do the same with your “About the Author” page, “Other Books By Author” and any other back matter content you might add. It looks professional to separate all of this back matter with clean page breaks.

Once you have completed inserting those page breaks, zip back up to the first chapter of your book and lets assign levels to your book.

Identify Chapter Headings for the Table of Contents

Now we need to identify the chapters themselves. We will be doing this by assigning “levels” to them. If you’re familiar with blogs, examples of levels are “Heading 1”, “Heading 2”, “Heading 3” and so forth. These levels will help Calibre (the program that will convert our manuscript into a Kindle file), understand what is a chapter heading and what is not.

  1. Highlight the chapter heading. Then in the formatting toolbox at the top of the page, select “Heading 1” or “Heading 2”. In my example below, I selected “Heading 2” because I reformatted “Heading 1” into a preset format of “Centered”. There is no wrong way to do it as long as you are consistent with every chapter heading. Be sure to remember which heading format you chose because we will need to put that information into Calibre to build our Kindle file.

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A note about heading formats. By default, your word processing program will already have a preset style for your heading to appear in. You can edit these presets to reflect the style you desire. For me, I wanted the font to be Cambria, at a font size of 20, bolded and italicized, and justified to the right. I changed these settings myself so that every time I select “Heading 2” I get the same look.

2. Now go through and assign levels to every chapter heading. When we get to our back matter, we will follow the same process to identify our “About the Author” page, “Other Titles By” page and any other back matter you might have added. The process is the same as we did with the chapter headings. There’s one more screenshot below as I format my “About the Author” page.

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And that wraps up all of the formatting that we actually have to do ourselves. No more coding is needed. So save this formatted file in a safe place, because we are going to plug it into Calibre and allow that sweet program to do the rest of the work for us.

As I mentioned before, there are many ways in which to format your manuscript for uploading to Amazon KDP. You can learn how to code it – but this is very time intensive, easy to mess up, and if you’re not already familiar with coding, it isn’t always an easy thing to learn. Some people have a gift for it, but most don’t.

But why waste your valuable time coding when a free software program will do the work for you? All you really have to do is follow these two simple steps and the hard part is over. In my next post, we’ll plug your file into Calibre, adjust a couple of settings and then allow Calibre to do the rest of the work.

It won’t be long and we’ll be uploading your completed file to Amazon and sharing it with the world.

If you have found this article helpful, be sure to share it with others. Also, please consider liking my Facebook Page or Follow me on Twitter. I’ll keep you updated when new, helpful posts, become available.

Until next time!

 

 

The Four Tools You Need to Publish Your First eBook for Free!

In today's post, I'll share four valuable tools so you can self publish your first eBook for free !

Have you always dreamed of publishing that “Great American Novel” you’ve had brewing in your head for years? In today’s market, it couldn’t be easier to publish your story in eBook and print formats. Best of all, you can do it at no risk or cost to you but the time you put into it. I’m going to share with you the four tools I use to publish an ebook for free.

Years ago, when the market was just growing, I started publishing ebook’s for free using the same tools I use today. I am using variations on those tools now, such as I pay for my word processing program now, but the free tools are still available – and possibly, you already own them.

I used to blog on the self-publishing world quite a bit and so I had all these posts on my blog at one time. But at some point I revamped my blog and deleted all of those posts. I’m going to begin leading people through the self-publishing process again – and I’m starting with this post. If you want to keep up to date and not miss any of my self-publishing posts, be sure to subscribe to my eNewsletter. You can SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Now let’s get to work.

The Four Tools You Need to Publish An eBook for Free

Tools for Writing Your Novel

This is a gimme and you knew I was going to say it. You need a word processor to publish an ebook. Most people already own one, but there are only two I suggest you use. Forget about Google Docs, forget about whatever Apple’s version of a word processor… there are only two options here. One is free and the other one you pay for – and possibly you already own it or can get it from someone for free.

When I started out my self-publishing journey, I used OpenOffice. This is a free software that is available for Mac’s, Linux, and Window’s Operating Systems. It works just like Microsoft Word and is easy to pick up and use. If you don’t already own Microsoft Word and you don’t want to buy the program or subscribe to Office 365, I highly urge you to use OpenOffice. You can download the free, OpenOffice software, HERE!

About a year ago, I fell in love with Microsoft all over again. I was designing a number of brochures and promotional material for a local church and I started to use Microsoft Publisher. I decided that I needed Publisher for myself but I didn’t want to pay the hundreds of dollars it cost to buy Microsoft Office outright. Then Microsoft rolled out Office 365, which is a subscription based service. I pay $10.95 per month to have access to every Office program Microsoft offers and it is well worth the price. Plus, I don’t miss $10.95 per month. People might say, “But you’re paying more than it’s worth after a couple of years worth of monthly payments!” But that’s not true.

When Microsoft rolls out the newest version of its software, mine updates for free! I get the latest version of Office as soon as it comes out so I am always up to date. That’s well worth the price I pay. Plus, as I said before, I don’t miss $10.95 per month. But I sure would miss $399 if I paid for the software package outright. And then I’d have to shell out another $399 if I wanted the latest version.

So if you are like me and won’t miss $10.95 per month, just go with Microsoft Office 365. It’s worth the investment and plus, every step by step publishing video I produce to share with you all will be done using Office 365. It will be easier to follow along. If you already own a version of Microsoft Office, you’re already good to go.

You can download Office 365, HERE!

Again, there’s nothing wrong with OpenOffice. It’s a fantastic, free option. But I’ve fallen in love with Microsoft all over again.

Tools for Creating a Cover

The next tool you need to create and publish an ebook for free is a cover creator. I do all my covers myself using Adobe PhotoShop. One of my friends upgraded to the newest version of PhotoShop so he gave me his old copy of PhotoShop CS3.

PhotoShop isn’t one of the easiest programs to learn, but I self taught myself and I have great success with it. PhotoShop also has a hefty price tag on it, but not anymore. Like Office 365, PhotoShop offers a subscription service starting as low as $9.95 per month. If you want to use PhotoShop to design your covers, I suggest either finding a used copy or subscribing to it. You can subscribe to Adobe’s software packages, HERE!

I free alternative to PhotoShop is GIMP. This is just as powerful as Adobe’s product and the best part about it is that it’s free! I have to admit, I’ve never used GIMP. But I do have friends who use it and they love it. One of them actually prefers it over PhotoShop. If you want to build your covers from scratch, this might be a great option for you. You can download GIMP for free, HERE!

How about building an ebook cover for free but not having to do it from scratch? There are tons of options out there. You could try having someone make a cover for you on Fivver.com. I’ve seen some great work come from there. Or you might want to try Canva. I’ve heard a lot of great talk on what Canva has to offer.

Basically, this is just a drop and drag program that is completely online with nothing to download – except your final product. It can be free or you can buy add on’s to spruce things up. Again, I’ve heard a lot of authors speak highly of this service, so give it a shot if you don’t want to build your cover from scratch and you want to do it for free. You can find Canva, HERE!

Tools for Converting Your File Into an eBook

Next, we need to convert our Word file into an eBook format. Guess what? I have always produced my ebooks for free using this option – and it’s the only one I’m going to share because I can’t imagine the need for anything else.

I use Calibre to convert my Word files into Mobi format for Amazon Kindle books, and ePUB format for Nook, iBooks and Kobo. It works slick and offers a ton of features to trick out your eBook. I’ll be sharing how to use Calibre in future posts and videos.

It’s available for Windows, Mac’s, and Linux operating systems. You can download Calibre for free, HERE!

Tools for Distributing Your eBooks

Finally, we need to sell our books somewhere. There are tons of options but I only suggest four places and really, if you want to keep it simple and maximize your sales opportunity, there’s only one option.

My number one choice for publishing my books (and if you want to keep it simple) is to open an account with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP for short). The overwhelming majority of eBooks sold are sold through Amazon. For every $10 I make in eBook sales, $9.50 of that comes through sales on Amazon. Nobody else comes close.

I also publish on Barnes and Noble Nook Press site, Kobo’s Writer’s Space site and Smashwords. But again, all of those combined don’t come close to matching the sales I see on Amazon’s site. I can’t stress enough how much more valuable KDP is compared to all the rest.

However, I’m going to give you the links to all four of these sites so you can make your own decisions. Plus, there are people who have success at these other sites. I just haven’t seen it myself. Keep in mind, these links are just for publishing eBooks. We’ll discuss print books in a different post. As for eBook publishing, here are the links you’ll need:

Amazon KDP – CLICK HERE!

Nook – CLICK HERE!

Kobo – CLICK HERE!

Smashwords – CLICK HERE!

So those are the valuable tools that I use when I set out to publish an eBook for free. I hope you find this content helpful. I’ll be posting a ton more on self-publishing. To be sure you don’t miss a thing, subscribe to this blog and subscribe to my FREE, monthly eNewsletter to keep  up to date.

Until next time…

Production Notes: Wild Space: Onslaught

What are production notes?

Think of production notes as the “behind the scenes” features found on DVD’s. This is where I go back and talk about the characters and break down each chapter to explain why I write the things I write in my books. I’ll also load these production notes down with insider information into some of the trivial Easter eggs that I hide within my writing.

So, with no further ado, here are the production notes for Wild Space: Onslaught.

WARNING: The production notes are filled with spoilers from this book and others in the series. If you haven’t read the book yet, please read it before going on. You’ve been warned…

Character Profiles:

If you read the reviews from my previous works, you’ll often find people mentioning that my characters seem one dimensional. In some ways they are – but it’s intentional.

I view my characters as being similar to real life. When you first meet someone, you don’t truly know them. You form an opinion based off of that first impression, but that is all you really know about them. As time goes on, you get to know these people and begin to see the many different layers that they have.

That is the way my characters are written. Maybe that’s not a good thing, but that’s how I write. I introduce them very loosely and then develop them over the course of a series. We get to discover their many different layers over time. We also see them change due to major events.

With that in mind, let me introduce you to a few of the characters from the first book.

Captain John Avery: Captain Avery is not like your typical Captain Kirk or Malcolm Reynolds. He is a family man first as displayed by the fact that he left star fleet to take care of his dying wife. He does have a very strong love for being up in the stars, but at what cost? His character is going to evolve quite a bit as the first series continues on. Where it takes him I’m not sure of yet. But imagine having your only child on a ship with you and knowing that she is a heartbeat away from dying because you made a tactical error. That is the premise that will determine his growth as the series continues on.

Commander Michael Reid: Star Trek: Enterprise fans have no doubt already noticed the similarities of the First Officer of my ship and the tactical officer of the original Enterprise NX-01. I loved the Malcolm Reid character in the television series and so loosely, I based Michael Reid off of him. He has inherited the tactical knowledge of Malcolm. He has his level head and grit. He also has a charm about him that will develop as the series goes on. He’s got clear goals of one day being a captain in the fleet but I made sure that his eagerness doesn’t make him overconfident and dangerous. Michael will be a smart balance with the Captain Avery as the series develops.

Lieutenant Kelly Avery: The Captain’s daughter is in for more than she bargained for in this series. Her dad invited her to get her doctrine by serving in the field on his vessel with Dr. Douglass (one of the best surgeons in the fleet.) That training is cut short by his death during the onslaught and now Kelly must figure this all out on her own. The first book doesn’t really allow readers to get to know her, but she is going to be a very brave and powerful character in this series as it moves forward. I know readers are going to love her as we move on.

Commander Neil Hammond: Neil doesn’t live long in this book. When I first drafted the series, he didn’t die. But to crank up the risk, I allowed him to die. Unfortunately, he was one of my favorite characters to write. I kind of had something going with him as I put him on paper, but I had made my decision already. Someone needed to die to set the premise that Wild Space was indeed dangerous. I chose poor Commander Hammond to be that red shirt. And I miss him so much.

He’s off the cuff. He’s not your typical officer. He speaks raw and he thinks dynamic. He’s a genius kid trapped in a young man’s body. He’s cocky but can back it up with his actions. I would have loved to see what he would have become over time, but alas – we’ll never know.

Chapter by Chapter Breakdown

The first book in the series introduces us to all of the characters and sets us on the road to what Wild Space will be all about. In truth, the first series will be about the evolution of these characters over time. This book is an introduction to everyone and puts them in their dire situation.

As I look back on Onslaught, my biggest regret is not bringing this book to a more complete conclusion. It felt rushed. I kind of stopped it abruptly and I wish I hadn’t. I think just bringing it all to an end the way I did probably left readers feeling a bit cheated and I’m sorry about doing that.

This first book was inspired by one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise – Azati Prime. In this episode the Enterprise is attacked and is nearly destroyed. The crew is helpless to fight off the onslaught. As the only star ship of its kind, nobody is coming to its rescue. It’s that sort of hopelessness that I wanted to capture in Wild Space: Onslaught.

CHAPTER 1: Because this was my first short story, I knew I needed to get right to the point. I couldn’t do set up work right away. Instead I did the setup though flashbacks. For this chapter we meet Captain Avery and we see that there is nothing he can do to stop the oncoming destruction. I wanted to create a sense of hopelessness. I wanted readers to feel that there was no way out of this disaster. When John is knocked out at the end of the chapter, I wanted to leave readers wondering if the flashbacks were the last visions he saw before death or something else.

CHAPTER 2: We fall back 9 months earlier. Captain Avery is just returning from a simple mission. We learn a bit about his backstory and then introduce Ensign Markson as well. She is a character that I will go more in depth with in future production notes because she is someone who is going to be pivotal in Captain John Avery’s growth.

I also introduce Admiral Goodrich to the scene. The Admiral is the last relic from John’s past and helps me connect John with his families legacy – his father’s legacy to be exact. John learns that he will be the captain of the newest ship to bear the name Independence. His father happened to command the last Independence and went down with his vessel.

Finally we meet Marvin Kent. Marvin comes from a rich family. His mother and father had worked together to build their fortune supplying weapons, ships, and equipment to other planets. Kent is a chip off the old block. His Deep Space Drive engine is what drives the Independence and makes it possible to travel to Wild Space in 6 months instead of 20 years.

TRIVIA: In case you missed it, each chapter that contains a flashback that ends with some sort of statement that signifies that the characters are excited about the future. I then open the next chapter with them being in grave peril. Isn’t that the way life can sometimes be? We have visions of grandeur and we get the dirty end of the lollipop instead?

CHAPTER 3: Marvin is a civilian contractor. He’s a genius but by no means a Star Fleet officer. Marvin is put into a life or death situation. He has the heart to want to save people but he doesn’t have the courage. Now this isn’t a statement against civilian heroes – there are many heroes in the civilian world. This is a statement that not all of us are cut out to be one.

It takes a special kind of hero to be willing to override that instinct to survive and instead rush into danger. Marvin tries to override that instinct but he sees a lost cause and makes the decision to survive. This single event will scar Marvin for life. He didn’t sign on to make life and death decisions. He signed on to see his baby completed and then study what he has done and improve upon it with the next model. Instead, he watches in horror as people die because of his decision. We’ll see how he deals with that in the coming books.

CHAPTER 4: Now we meet the Captain’s daughter. Kelly is taking after her mother and becoming a doctor. We learn more about John’s background through this one on one with his daughter. We learn that he puts family above all else. He left Star Fleet to go home and take care of his ailing wife. Once she passes away, he stays home and gets Kelly off to college before finally rejoining Star Fleet.

I wanted to take this moment and show what family means to John Avery. We have so many captains depicted in science fiction but rarely do we see how they interact with family. Often they have unhealthy relationships with their children. Kirk’s son never knew him until Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. Picard regrets never having a family as we see during his time in the Nexus in Star Trek Generations.

With Captain John Avery, I wanted a man who was very much a family man and yet balanced his career with family obligations. He even sacrificed his career to be with family when they needed him most. That is important to me. I wanted John to be a very honorable man and I think his commitment to being a father and a husband is important. That is the real message I am trying to convey in this chapter.

TRIVIA: When I first outlined this series, Kelly was actually going to be a love interest for Captain Avery. Instead, I came up with the crazy idea of having his daughter join him on this mission.

CHAPTER 5: And now we see Kelly’s world shattered. This was supposed to be an educational voyage for her and instead she becomes the new chief surgeon in a matter of minutes. Kelly is going to go through the School of Hard Knocks as she learns to become a doctor.

Though if you’ve read Reclamation, you’ll learn that she still has some help in the form of the Emergency Holographic Medical Procedure program. Realistically I can’t have her be a Chief Medical Officer with only a college education. There’s no way anyone could do this job with that little of an education. We’ll get to talk about that in my production notes for Reclamation.

TRIVIA: For those who have read Reclamation and Sedition, yes, the unnamed man at the end of Chapter 5 is indeed Lieutenant Travis David.

CHAPTER 6: So here we meet Neil Hammond. As I outlined the series, I always intended for him to die so Marvin could be elevated to Chief Engineer. I felt I needed a character to perish in the onslaught if I was going to ratchet up the tension and make people worry about characters they may have already started to enjoy. Therefore, I picked Neil to die because as you are all figuring out as you’ve read along in the series, there’s more to the mission of Independence than was once thought.

Unfortunately, as I wrote Neil Hammond, I fell in love with his swagger. I liked the rhythm of his speech and the words he used. He’s loose and cool. He kind of became Trip Tucker from Star Trek: Enterprise (so maybe it’s best I did kill him off so I don’t get sued by Paramount).

I especially loved Neil’s line of: “I could Jerry rig the snot out of that thing if I had too.” He says that in an interview. I loved it!

CHAPTER 7: Now we come to Neil’s death scene. We see his courage under fire. He’s calm and collective and he’s the complete opposite of Marvin.  In Reclamation, people don’t see the leader in Marvin that they saw in Hammond. People know when they have a true leader before them and a fake. We see what a real leader Hammond was in this scene. While Marvin does all he can to survive, Neil walks into the face of danger and rescues everyone he can. And when all the chips are down, he sacrifices his life for the good of the many.

Would Marvin had done that? I’m thinking no.

TRIVIA: Because I fell in love with Neil Hammond, I considered introducing a different character to kill off. I nearly created a wife for him with the intention of having her die in his place, but in the end, I didn’t think it had the same shock value. Plus, if I would have killed off his wife, Neil would have changed and I doubt it would have been for the better. Alas, Neil Hammond had to die.

CHAPTER 8: Gretchen Markson is another interesting character to me. As I wrote out my outline for the series, I imagined her to be older and a love interest for Captain Avery. At one point I was going to have a love triangle develop between John, my original version of Kelly, and Gretchen. Then I made the decision to have Kelly be his daughter and I made Gretchen younger.

I wanted to put a little tension between her and Captain Avery and so Gretchen does appear to be flirting with John and John feels some sort of attraction to her. I begin to develop this relationship in Onslaught, advance it along in Reclamation and then bring it to a head in Sedition.

I also introduced a second character in this chapter. It’s time to meet Lieutenant Michael Reid. Michael has a dream of commanding his own star ship and so he desires to be the First Officer on Independence. John has already chosen a First Officer so he has to convince Michael that he needs to take the opportunity before him.

CHAPTER 9: Due to the planned length of the book, chapter nine begins to pull everything together. It begins just after the power goes out. We get to see Lieutenant Reid in action as he works in a darkened room to rescue a knocked out captain and figure out what is still serviceable on the ship.

This is the first chapter in this book where two characters who are introduced in flashback scenes, work together during the onslaught. Here we bring Michael and Gretchen together to work towards stabilizing the ship. Soon after, Captain Avery comes through and now three of the main characters are working together. I did all of this intentionally as I wanted all of the characters to seem independent of one another to begin. Now in Chapter 9, the realization of their situation will force them to begin joining together as one team to survive.

TRIVIA: Originally Michael Reid was the Commander of Independence. At the last minute, I changed it up and created Commander Madsen. I wanted to create the irony we all experience in the world. Sometimes we desire something for ourselves and we seek it but it doesn’t work out as we planned. Instead, fate steps in and we get what we want but through events not of our own making. I’ve always found that is often how God works in our lives. It’s what happened in this turn of events. Reid is a commander but not by his doing. He gave up his ambition to be a commander and took a lesser role. Now he’s become a commander because of the onslaught.

CHAPTER 10: Up to this point the attack seemed like it came from nowhere. As John and Michael are digging their way through the ship to take inventory of what they still have, we get a quick flashback to the warning John received from Cho Fen on the planet of Jokuu.

He knew of the Imperial aggression in Wild Space but he didn’t take it serious. John will struggle with this issue in Reclamation. And just when he starts to come to grips with this failure, John learns about a secret plot that turns his world upside down in Sedition.

Be watching for those books and notes on my website. Be sure to subscribe to my eNewsletter so you don’t miss my next Production Notes post. Also, be sure to check out Space Port One, the official homepage for everything Wild Space!

Until next time!

The Journey in Wild Space Continues!

Wild Space: Reclamation is the second book in the first series of Wild Space by author Jason M. Brooks.

Tomorrow morning, book 2 in the first series of Wild Space, goes on sale. I’m excited by this second outing.

The crew of the Earth Star Ship Independence is dead in space.

After surviving an onslaught from the Imperial Star Fleet, the crew has been hard at work trying to get the Independence back online and flying through space. But around every corner, the crew finds more bad news. The Deep Space Drive engine is gone. The Interplanetary Engine is in need of critical parts. Weapon systems are offline and there’s no shielding, leaving the ship defenseless.

As the book opens, Captain Avery and Commander Reid are attempting to get to the parts storage room in a part of the ship that has a breached hull. They must use Zero G maneuvers to try and get to the room and retrieve the parts they need to get the engine fixed.

Meanwhile, the entire crew is still feeling the effects of the onslaught. Lives have been lost. The crew is mourning the loss of friends and family. Fear is running rampant. Insubordination is becoming more prevalent as the crew adjusts to new leadership and having to deal with their own mortality as their situation grows dire.

In most cases, time can heal these types of wounds.

But time is not on their side.

The Empire has dispatched a ship to bring back the remains of Independence. Time is running out to get the ship operational. In a last ditch effort, Captain Avery puts together a daring plan that could get them the parts they need and get Independence operational once more.

But at what cost?

Can Captain Avery justify anymore losses? Can he defend his boat against the merciless Empire? Can he regain the confidence of his crew before it’s too late?

All of these questions are going to be answered in Wild Space: Reclamation Book 2 in Series 1 of Wild Space.

I’m excited for you to read the next adventure of the crew of Independence. This book is going to set up some ideas that are going to be explored in the next stories to be told. If you haven’t started your journey to Wild Space, now’s the time to get on board.

Be sure to look for it tomorrow, June 14th, 2016. This eBook is only available through Amazon’s website for the Kindle reading device. It’s 99 cents or FREE for subscribers to Amazon Prime.

Wild Space – New Series Launching this Month!

Wild Space is a new series by Jason M. Brooks and launches on May 24th on Amazon.com.

Wild Space is a brand new series I’m writing and I’m excited to announce that the first story launches this month!

I know, I know. You might be wondering where the next book in the Thrones and Prophecy Series is coming out. I’m still working on it. But I’m still a long way from completion. For me, completing something is very important and since I knew I still have a ways to go on the follow up to Twins of the Prophecy, I decided to kick something out that I’ve also been working on. It’s the Wild Space series.

This series is a different beast all together.

These are short novella’s that are meant to be a quick read. Perfect for a commute to work, while you’re sitting in a doctors waiting room, or waiting to pick up the kids from practice or school. Most readers should be able to finish these books in an hour.

I imagine Wild Space to be like a television series. I’ll be releasing six books a year in this series. I’ve already written the first three and have mapped out the next three. I’m very excited about this series. It puts my favorite aspects of Star Wars, Star Trek and Firefly and throws them in a pot and stirs them up. I have a million twists and turns planned and I know readers of science fiction are going to love them.

It begins years from now. Earth and its civilizations have begun a push into deep space. They have started colonizing planets that are within 5 years trek from Earth. As those colonies expand, explorers decide to push out further. Some explore over twenty years journey from Earth to colonize a patch of deep space near the core of our galaxy. This territory has been dubbed, Wild Space.

800 years after the last of the explorers departed for Wild Space, the planets of Earth develop a star ship with a Deep Space Drive engine that can cut the travel time from twenty years to six months. Captain John Avery is placed in charge of the Earth Star Ship Independence and is given the exciting task of taking the first exploration crew to Wild Space. Their mission is to discover what type of worlds have been settled and make contact with the decedents of Earth.

When they arrive, they learn that things are not as rosy as they thought they would be. The Independence is attacked and the ship nearly destroyed. Lives are lost and moral has been devastated. Left to die in a crumbling ship, Captain Avery must pull his crew together. Their mission of exploration is over. It is now a mission of survival as there is no way to return to Earth. Captain Avery and his crew have stumbled into hostile territory. They have stumbled into Wild Space.

The Wild Space series will only be available on Amazon for the Kindle. It will also be available in the Kindle Unlimited library for subscribers to Amazon Prime.

The first book in this series will be launching on May 24th, 2016. For subscribers to my eNewsletter, I am giving away a digital copy for FREE. Sign up between today and May 19th and you can be one of those lucky few who will get a FREE download of Wild Space: Onslaught before it releases to the world. I’ll be sending out your free download on May 20th so you can read it over the weekend!

When you finish reading the book, be sure to return to Amazon and rate the book. Let others know what you think of this exciting new series! Then get ready for the next book due in June!

 

Why Do Bad Things Happen?

Why do Bad Things Happen? That is the topic in today's blog post by Jason M. Brooks.

Why do bad things happen?

If God is so great and powerful, if He loves us as much as the bible and believing Christians profess, why do we see people struggle with cancer, death of a child, abductions, harsh trials that tear families apart? Why do we see violent earthquakes kill thousands, horrific tornado’s shred homes and lives to pieces? Why do we see famine and wars? If God is so loving, why do we see those who have obeyed His command to love His Son Jesus, go through the same trials of life that a man who says blasphemous things about God goes through?

It seems unfair to most observers. I have to admit, I have never gone through a trial quite like the ones I listed above. I have gone through financial struggles but those seem light compared to the physical struggles that I have witnessed others go through.

Christians know that the bad things that happen are a direct result of sin entering the world. God did not design for these things to happen. They are a bi-product of our direct defiance of God. Yet Christians know that they are forgiven for their sins. So why are we lumped in with the rest of the world when it comes to suffering?

As I was reading through the book of Acts this morning, I stumbled across a story that I had read so many times yet today it struck me more forcefully. I want to share it with you and show you the things that I have learned from it.

It begins in Acts 27 where Paul is being sent to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. We follow his journey as he is transferred from boat to boat as he makes his long voyage. Eventually he finds himself on a boat that gets caught up in weather that is slowing them down. Paul stands up and tells the men of this boat:

“Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.

So the boat sailed on. Paul, a Christian, warned of what was to come. The men did not listen to him. The boat sailed right into a storm that the bible calls the “northeaster”. The ship was in serious danger of being destroyed and Paul was caught up with them.

This leads me to the first point that I see displayed in this story. Christians warn others of what Jesus has proclaimed would come in the last days. “wars and rumors of wars. Earthquakes in various places. Famine.”

Some listen and repent. Others laugh at us and go about their own business. Like Paul, sometimes we do our part and warn of the coming dangers, but we are caught up in the middle of everyone else’s ignorance and we have to go through the trials with them. Paul has been a valued servant of the Lord since Damascus and yet we see him on what appears to be a voyage of doom. How many of us can relate to this? How many of us have had to go through the storms of life, suffering right along with all the others? It is how we go through those trials that set us apart.

As the story goes along, we see the men of the boat in great panic and they begin to throw stuff overboard. They throw cargo and tackle. In verse 20 it says:

“when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.”

Verse 21 shows that Paul has not given up hope. He stands up and proclaims:

“Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sailed with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”

In the midst of the storm, with the fury of it growing and men in a scramble to save their own lives, Paul stands up and continues to proclaim faith that all will be fine. That is point number two. We sometimes get caught up in the same storms of life, the same horrific trials that non-believers go through. Paul knows that God will save him. Even if he were to die on this voyage, he would still be delivered into the arms of a waiting Jesus in heaven. He has nothing to lose. We, like Paul, should stand up in the middle of the storm and continue to proclaim our faith and be a shining light in that darkness. In the middle of chaos, we should be strong, for our Lord is with us to the end. While our bodies may face death here, everlasting life awaits on the other end.

On the fourteenth night the boat began to head towards land. The men of the boat began to panic. They knew the boat would be smashed to pieces if it ran up on a sand bar and they began to form a plan to escape. Paul knew that the Lord had commanded them all to remain in the boat or there would be greater consequences. Paul goes to the centurion and the soldiers and says:

“Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away. Look who’s starting to listen to the crazy Christian. Suddenly Paul has some clout with his captors.

Point number three that I learned: No mater how rough the waters get – how close to the edge of disaster you teeter, stay on the ship! While this may not be implied in Luke’s writing (or perhaps it was) I see the ship as a metaphor of Jesus. When the world is beating you down and you think you need to find an easy way out like stealing, murder, suicide, drugs or any of the many other lifeboats out there, don’t do it! Stay in the ship! Cling to Jesus for dear life because He will get you through it one way or another. Not only will He get you through it, but by staying on the ship and being strong in the midst of the storm will catch the attention of those on the outside watching. Like the centurion and his soldiers – people take notice of how we react. Sometimes we go through harsh trials with others so that we can be that beacon that leads others to Christ.

I think of my grandmothers heroic battle with cancer. She stayed on the boat till the day she drew her last breath. The victory I saw on her face as she was taken to heaven is something that I hold dear to this day. The doctors gave her a mere couple of months to live – God gave her over a year. She never lost faith even though she had faced the trials of cancer over and over again during the course of her life. She died young, but she was a beacon in the storm and others took notice – myself included.

Though the bible does not say it, I am certain at this point that people are starting to take notice of Paul’s great faith and it is starting to have an effect on their thinking as well.

For the fourteen days during the storm, nobody ate. Their fear had caused them to neglect their most basic of needs. Paul breaks bread, gives thanks to God in front of them all. Look what it says next:

They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Suddenly, Paul isn’t all that crazy. They are feeding off of his courage and faith.

Point four: Stay strong in the storm and others will be encouraged and gain strength from your strength. You can set the mood, the tempo and give others the will to live even though the world is saying you are destined to die.

My final point comes in the closing lines beginning with verse 42-44. They read:

The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety.

A happy ending. Paul should have died before he reached land due to the fact that it was the soldiers job to execute the prisoners to prevent escape. This was in their training. Yet God uses the centurion to save him. Everyone gets to the shore safely – all 276 of them. My point? God can save everyone – if everyone would just listen. Paul ordered them to stay on the ship and in the end they all got to the shore.

Why do bad things happen?

God doesn’t create the bad things in the world – those come from sin being brought into the world by the events in the Garden of Eden. God can – and in many cases – does protect us from harsh trials. But sometimes God has to correct our actions and so we are allowed to go through tough times. Sometimes God allows bad things to happen so that He can build us up and prepare us for important ministry work that He has for us to do.  And sometimes we are just caught up in the midst of disaster – in the wrong place at the wrong time. But that is our time to shine.

Ask Jesus why bad things happen. Imagine the shock on the faces of his disciples when they witnessed the beating, the humiliation and the final crucifixion that resulted in his death. This man was innocent. He was God in flesh! How can this all happen?

We must remember that we are the body of Christ. We are joined with the Holy Spirit and are called to save the world by being a beacon in the storm. Like Jesus, we will rise to victory no mater what this world can dish out. We must warn others of the storms and stand with them when they are caught in them. We are not promised a life free of pain – we are promised life everlasting. We must cling to Jesus – no lifeboat can save us in a storm – only Jesus. We must stand strong in our trials so that those around can be strengthened and encouraged. We are witnesses for those around us. Be strong and courageous.

Why do bad things happen?

So that the children of God can shine in the midst of a storm.

Christmas Gifts

Jesus is the real Christmas present. Are you ready to receive Him?

As many of you have noticed, I’m not a consistent blogger. I would love to be, but I’m not.

I write when I feel inspired to write. Sometimes it’s based on a thought of scripture that I have been meditating on. Sometimes when I’m reading the bible, something strikes me that I just have to share. Other times I feel a push to write about an experience of something I have done for seen. In the case of this blog, I have searched so hard for a creative angle in which to present the upcoming Christmas holiday.

The truth is – I have failed. I just don’t feel that I can adequately describe how special this holiday truly is. How priceless the baby in the manger is to the entire human race.

So with that in mind, I’m going to step out of the way and let the bible speak of the greatest of all Christmas gifts that we can share with one another and accept with all our hearts.

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

On Christmas we focus so much on the famous manger scene. While the scene has so many teachable moments within it, it is the unsaid words of that moment that are so important to us. The greatest Christmas gift isn’t just the little baby in the manger – it’s what he represents to all who will receive him years later, after his victory on the cross.

While the wise men presented their gifts and gave glory to this all important child – while we today go to church and worship and exchange gifts with one another, they all pale in comparison of what happened on Christmas Eve thousands of years ago. God gave his only Son as a gift of salvation for all of us. Nobody in those days knew of the price that the baby in the manger would one day pay.

The verses above said: to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. What greater gift will we ever receive? What greater gift can we ever give, then to give others this great news as well?

While going to college I worked in a discount retail store and it blew my mind at the amount of traffic that the store received the days following Christmas. Everyone seemed to be in such a hurry to return their gifts so that they could receive the in-store credit and buy what their heart really wanted. It’s sad when you watch these people as they stand in line, holding gifts that were given to them with love from someone else. It’s one thing to return the wrong sized shirt or a defective product, but the majority of those people are looking to buy something else entirely because in their mind, the gift that they received is inferior to the heart’s desire.

How often do we overlook the gift that God has given each one of us? It didn’t come wrapped in paper with a pretty bow and tucked under a Christmas tree. It came through blood and tears. It came with pain and suffering. It came on Christmas Eve in the form of a baby who was given the name of Jesus.

If you are a follower of Christ, who will you share this present with this Christmas? If you are not a follower, will you stand in line to return this gift? Will you give away the present of life everlasting for one more shot at consuming the perishable gifts that this world hands out freely?

I love Christmas. I love the atmosphere that surrounds these days. I love being with family and friends. I love watching my kids open their gifts and the excitement that they get when they hand me gifts that they have made or picked out just for me – what can I say… I love presents too.

Can you imagine the joy that God gets every time he sees someone accept his gift? Can you imagine the greater joy he feels when he watches one of his children pass this gift on to others? It’s incredible if you take the time to sit back and reflect on those thoughts.

I challenge you to do that.