Administrators of Facebook page “Writers Assembled”(https://www.facebook.com/groups/490131844482456/ ) honored me by asking for my writers profile. In their first set of inquiries, they asked about genre, projects, if I used a pen name, how long I had been writing, my take on publication, etc. The following is my response.
My Last Published Writing Project:
My last self-published “Body of Work” is the nonfiction book,Unraveling the Christmas Star Mystery (https://www.amazon.com/Unraveling-Christmas-Star-Mystery-Illumination-ebook/dp/B00JATRDMU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485261461&sr=8-1&keywords=Unraveling+the+Christmas+Star+Mystery ). Over 90-references were listed along with endnotes, glossary and index. I created all illustrations. Photos were by NASA or me.
This book genre is “Archaeoastronomy” (ancient astronomy). I used NASA programs to find the Christmas star. The 3-years of computer research covered 15-years of astronomical data. Once the computer data was accumulated, I had to spend more time studying ancient symbols and symbolism which the astronomers (astrologers/magicians/magi/mathematicians/priests/ wizards/Wisemen) of that time period depended upon to determine their interpretations of heavenly motions. Most of their interpretations originated with the Babylonians. These brilliant ancient astronomers were able to plot movements of the celestial objects years in advance as the patterns of celestial motions remained stable and unchanging.
At that time in history, over 2,000-years ago, every object in the sky was considered a type of star and a god. The largest and brightest gods were assigned their purposes and helped determine celestial predictions by their “actions.” All the minor gods remained in the same patterns during the astronomer’s lifetimes. There were a few gods which moved about the heavens in unchanging patterns. The ancient astronomers called these moving objects “wandering stars.” We call them planets.
Using Biblical passages, paintings and illustrations on ancient monuments, coins, legal seals and historical records dating back three thousand or more years, I was able to correlate what was in the sky and what the movements meant to the astronomers. This data was massive. Gleaning the most important materials out of the research, I placed it in the nonfiction book, Unraveling the Christmas Star Mystery. The book was awarded the Gold Medal during the Illumination Book Award as the 2013 Exemplary Christian Education Book by the Jenkins Group. The award was designed to honor and bring increased recognition to the year’s best Christian Education title written and published with a Christian worldview. The original text was revised with additional illustrations from NASA computer program printouts. To determine the distribution, you would have to total both editions.
Current writing projects include a paranormal adventure series in the newer genre, “Speculative Fiction.” According to award winning writer Annie Neugebauer (http://annieneugebauer.com/ ), if the world created by the writer could not currently “exist according to our current knowledge of reality,” it would be Speculative Fiction. She stated that speculative fiction changes over time as “our knowledge and technology change.” Therefore, clarification of what is possible in our universe also changes.
The speculative segment in this adventure series is the paranormal aspect of telepathy. Since terrorists can be identified by reading their minds, the President has initiated a highly secret Virtual ExtraSensory Perception Experimental Research project (VESPER) to find telepaths. The VESPER mission is to locate and use telepaths to identify terrorists intent on destroying the United States.
I have finished the first novel in the series, MINDREACHER – The Jo’Burg Project, (http://www.irenebaron.com/mindreacher/ )and am working on the next two. The second is 90% finished. A mindreacher is an extremely powerful telepath.
I used three professional editors as the first manuscript evolved. A few comments included: “I had to edit starting at the back as I became too involved in the story every time I started from the front.” “It was the best book I have ever edited.” “I can’t wait to edit the second manuscript.”
Each novel in the series takes place in a different country with mingling of cultures, religions, geography, etc. The first is international but primarily Thailand and Laos. The second takes place in Ecuador and the third in the United states.
Some past Beta readers who were given the manuscripts to provide feedback for improvements have refused to return their manuscript copy or made up excuses as to why it “disappeared.” I now hesitate to use Beta readers.
How Long I Have Been Writing:
The Christmas Star astronomy research began in the 1990’s.
I began collecting ideas for my MINDREACHER adventure series when assigned through Battelle Memorial Institute to work in Bangkok, Thailand. I worked at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Advanced Research Projects Agency, Research & Development Center, Thailand (OSD/ARPA/R&D Center-Thailand) for four years during the Vietnam War. I was the geologist and hydrologist researcher/writer with the classified Mekong River Project.
My Take on Publication:
Since my astronomy research produced startling results, I knew it would be difficult to have it traditionally published. Having met a Vice President of CreateSpace (https://www.createspace.com/ ) at a conference in Philadelphia and learned of that new organization, I used them to publish Unraveling the Christmas Star Mystery. I was pleased with the final result but still see one typo. I thought they would use a computer to transfer the manuscript to their computer. With all the errors of the first trial run, I decided it must have been typed by hand. I learned to go over EVERY word before approving the publication. CreateSpace personnel were fabulous to work with. They use excellent cover artists. I was very pleased with the final publication and the revised edition.
With reference to my fiction series, I have queried some agents. One told me that “people in Thailand do not talk like that.” Having lived there 4-years and formally studied their language, I knew how they talked. The agent had evidently never traveled to Southeast Asia.
I spoke with one editor who said her office was stacked floor to ceiling around the walls with manuscripts. She was not “allowed” to read them at work. Her work was taken up with meetings, writer conferences, etc. She had to read at home or during travel. It’s no wonder editors need personnel to separate good from bad manuscripts. From what this one said, her job was not one I could easily survive.
She also said that at one office meeting they were planning to publish only one book in a specific genre. The list had been gleaned to two outstanding books. They argued about which to publish when the person in charge said, “Google the authors. Whichever one has the most Internet hits, that’s the book we’ll publish.” She said the inference was that the author who had a significant Internet and electronic social following would do more to help them advertise and market the book. One author of the two had no website or social hits. Guess which book was chosen?
That was when I started my webpage (www.irenebaron.com ), Facebook pages (https://www.facebook.com/IreneWorthingtonBaron/ & https://www.facebook.com/irene.baron.50) , blog (http://www.irenebaron.com/irene_baron_blog1/) etc. If publishers believed an author must have electronic presence to be published, then I wanted to be prepared. Right now my website has about 30,000-hits per month.
I do not use a pen name. I don’t have time to create a second set of social media using a different name.
Being an artist and aerial photographer, I have many projects. You will see my national award winning aerial photo of the National Flags and National Flag Truck on my website banner. Aerial photography is a fun sideline, and yes, I'm a pilot too.
A major 2017 art project will be a 4’X8’ painted Christmas banner for the Coburn United Methodist Church sanctuary in Zanesville, OH. The first sketch has been approved and planning begins.