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I thought I’d try something new. A way to share with you my WIPs without giving away spoilers or plot points. So I’m calling this “Non Sequiturs.” A place in which I share with you random bits from current projects for you to get a sample of raw, unedited manuscripts, whilst simultaneously peering behind the curtain of what it’s like to write a novel. So today, I bring you this Non Sequitur, lovingly entitled: You Would Have Made A Fine Grand Duke.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

“It’s a pity you were not born male,” Ezra said. “You would have made a fine Grand Duke.” And as first born, she would have been. Ezra had never understood the rather archaic system under which they lived and the insistence that only males could inherit titles. Esther most certainly should have been Grand Duchess of Kinnereth.

“I, for one, am not sorry she was born female,” said John, and to this, Ezra couldn’t help but chuckle.

Esther, however, ignored the comment completely. “The point is, there are plenty of eligible and agreeable matches for you, Ezra. You needn’t bother finding companionship with someone so—wrong for you.”

“I appreciate the life advice, but I will thank you to keep your nose out of my business.”

Esther stood, slapping her hands on her thighs as she did. “This is your life you’re talking about! Our lives! All of us—even John Junior! Are you going to throw all of this away simply because you are too stubborn to listen to reason?” Esther stopped, catching her belly and wincing. John was instantly at her side, a hand at the small of her back. Ezra stood, too, worried that his sister was working herself into a frenzy.

“You should rest, love,” John said. “You don’t need to get so upset.”

“I wouldn’t be upset if my brother would think with the head on his shoulders and not the one in his trousers!”

“And with that rather colorful description, I think we’re done with this conversation,” John said, attempting to usher Esther back into her chair. But she did not flinch.

“I need to walk,” she said, pushing out of her husband’s arms and bustling across the room without a backward glance. John did not follow her, instead watching her as she waddled rather like a duck from the room.

“Shouldn’t you follow your wife?” Ezra asked, plopping back down on the settee, rubbing between his eyes with his thumb and forefinger.

“Right now? I’d sooner follow a mother bear into a den of cubs.”

All content is the sole copyright of Morgan G Farris. Any unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. If you post this anywhere on the internet, please tag my social accounts. Share the love, folks.

My Interview with Voyage Dallas

Recently, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Voyage Dallas Magazine, a local magazine dedicated to the entrepreneurs and visionaries in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, metroplex. In the article, you’ll learn a little bit about my journey from musician to author to publisher, and what’s in store for the future!

Check out the article below!

I want to inspire you today.

I hear this a lot: “Gosh, Morgan, is there anything you can’t do?”

And I cringe when I hear it, to be honest, because DEAR SWEET JESUS, YES THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I CANNOT DO. Just the other night, I went to play Top Golf with my friends and, well, let’s just say I proved my ineptitude for anything remotely athletic. I’m a spaz, to be quite honest. While God may have gifted me in the artistic arena, he definitely did not see fit to bestow even an iota of coordination into my blood. Bless.

This is not a pity party. In fact, what I used to lament, I’ve come to be grateful for. Yes, in elementary school, it stung when the kids fought over who wouldn’t have to have me on their team that week.

“We had her last week! Y’all have to take her!”

Ouch.

(Yes, they actually said that.)

As an adult, I’ve come to be thankful for what I can do, and what I cannot. It’s okay to not be perfect at everything (my recovering inner perfectionist is currently shouting, “Yas, queen!”). It’s okay to only have a few talents. Find them. Then exploit them. As the great Dolly Parton once said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

Find out who you are and do it on purpose.

~Dolly Parton

A Light Came On

So I found out who I am. After a long time, and taking inventory of all I’ve done and all that makes me tick, I finally figured out that at my core, I’m a storyteller. A writer. Yes, I’m also a musician and artist. But all my songs tell a story. So does all of my art. And words. Words are my favorite. When I figured that out, it was as if a veil had been lifted. I had spent the better part of my twenties pursuing a career in music, being terrified of the outcome the entire time.

Yes, I wanted to be a rock star. No, I did NOT want to be famous. And I couldn’t figure out why until I figured out who I was. When I realized that writing was my thang (misspelling intentional, people), a veil was lifted. A burden was removed. A light came on. I realized that all that music in me was really a result of the words I so loved. All that songwriting was a symptom of a bigger calling—writing.

I Figured Out Who I Am

Writing is what I love. A writer is who I am at my very core.

I used to joke that the only reason I passed college was because of my impeccable ability to b.s. my way through a term paper. And it was, for all intents and purposes, precisely true. But I still didn’t realize I was a writer. And for the better part of my life, the thought of writing a novel made me want to barf.

So in 2014 when out of nowhere, I wrote 3 novels in 3 months, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought I had lost my mind, or gone mad, or something like that. I’ll never forget the night when, in the midst of a powerful spring thunderstorm, my husband sat me down under the tin roof of our deck and asked me if I was okay. I was writing practically twenty-four seven. I couldn’t stop. It consumed me in a way that I didn’t understand at the time. In the pounding rain and wicked lightning, my husband and I had to wrestle with what was going on. Looking back, I think that was really a result of ignoring that part of me for so long. I think all that prolific writing was the overflow of a lifetime of stories dancing in my mind, just waiting to erupt.

We All Have To Start Somewhere

But that didn’t mean they were any good.

In fact, they were horrible. (Yes, the title of this post had a purpose. Here it is. You’re welcome.)

The first three novels I wrote were horrible.

I don’t mean that lightly. I mean that with all sincerity, hand on the Bible, cross my heart and hope to die. THEY. WERE. DREADFUL.

My poor husband and best friend martyred themselves and read them anyway, all the while stroking my ego and telling me what a pretty girl I am (okay, that’s sarcasm, but you get the idea). It gave me the gumption to keep writing. Keep refining. Keep working at my craft.

I joke nowadays that those three novels are so bad, not even God himself is allowed to read them. But do you know what they did? They taught me. I learned. I began really honing the craft of storytelling—particularly novel writing. They were a gateway to what became The Chalam Færytales. And they were bad. But they taught me to be better.

So be inspired today. You have a gift. You just might need to find it. Don’t worry—I was over thirty when I figured mine out. And even when you find it, it might need some refining. That’s awesome! Refine it! Work at it! Keep going, keep pressing in to that thing that makes you tick. Don’t stop. Don’t let time or age or fear or lack of knowledge or anything else stop you. Go. Do it.

You’ve got it in you.

Because maybe, just maybe, the world is waiting for that thing you have to offer.

The Secret of the Wings

I know… you’ve been asking. WHAT THE HECK ARE THOSE MOTHS?

Well, you see here’s the deal. You can find out what those moths are that plague Ferryl day in and day out. You can find out what is the deal with those butterflies that swarm the mountainside in The Purloined Prophecy. Or that mysterious wolf/butterfly sculpture in Chesedelle Castle.

You can find out by reading the lost novel of The Chalam Færytales.

And you can only read the lost novel on Patreon.

But as a treat, I’ve made the first chapter public. That’s right—you can read the first chapter of the lost novel for FREE right now! 

And if it whets your appetite to find out more… well, I can’t be responsible for that.

Or maybe I can.

*mwahahahaha*

Read Chapter One of the lost novel today!

 

What I’ve learned, what I’m changing, and what to expect for 2019 »

When I look back on this year, I have to admit that it has been full of surprises—some good, some not so good. As most of you know, my first novel was released into the world in January of this year, with the second following in October. It has been a whirlwind of learning curves and exciting moments (like when book two became a number one new release on Amazon), but all in all, I have enjoyed every minute of my first year in publishing, and I’m looking forward to 2019.

What I’ve learned »

If you’ve followed my journey at all, then you know that when I started writing The Promised One back in 2015, it was never with the intention of publishing. It was nothing more than a labor of love (or quite possibly a psychotic breakdown… I haven’t decided). But somewhere along the way, I knew I needed to share the journey with the world. So in 2017, I decided to pursue publishing.

I was bent on getting traditionally published. I queried until I was cross-eyed. And eventually I got a couple of bites on the novel. When I was offered a publishing deal, it felt like I had “made it.” “Arrived.” But funny enough, the more I looked into the deal, the publisher, and the industry at the time, the more I realized that I might be better off publishing myself.

So I did.

I turned down a major-market publishing deal to go indie. And I haven’t regretted it for one minute. There have been ups and downs, for sure, but all in all, I am glad that I retain all the rights to my work, that I control the branding and marketing, and that I get to decide what story I want to tell the world. I would have given all of that up with a publishing deal, and apparently I’m too much of a control freak to do that. Not to mention the publisher was only interested in my book. They had no mechanism to also market my music and art, which is an integral part of who I am and what I do. I did not want strangers owning a third of my brand, so indie was the best choice for me.

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes a lot of learning, a lot of discipline, a lot of patience, and a lot of pulling up your boot straps. But it has been worth it. And I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to publish.

I’ve learned that not everyone you meet can be trusted.

A foray into partnerships with fellow authors that turned sour taught me to keep up my guard and not take people at face value so easily. Yes, it’s a bit cynical, but the bottom line is, when you have nothing, it’s easy to know who your real friends are. But when you have something, or at least the perception that you’re on to something, people come out of the woodwork. And not all of those people can be trusted. Since then, I’ve been much more selective about who I let into my inner circle, and who I trust with this business that I’m working my tail off to build from the ground up. A difficult lesson? Yes. But one much needed.

I’ve learned that everyone has an opinion, and not all of them are right for you or me.

Google how to publish your book, join a Facebook group of authors, or do any basic research and you’ll see that there is a wealth of information out there. And information, at the end of the day, is really just opinions. Some opinions are worth checking into, learning, even implementing. But most? MOST are rubbish. And people with little to no experience, or a flash-in-the-pan’s worth of success are quick to tell you what you should be doing. The bottom line I’ve learned… follow your gut.

I had many “experts” tell me not to use my book cover for The Promised One, for example. One even said it looked too much like a traditionally published book. 🤣I’m so glad I ignored that advice because more often than not, people tell me they bought my book because of its cover. And even Joel Tippie, an AMAZING cover designer for Harper Collins said my cover was awesome. Check out his thoughts here: (FF to about 25:30)

Yeah, that was a good day. So I’m glad in the end I went with my gut and ignored all those well-meaning opinions. I highly recommend you do the same, in whatever you pursue.

I’ve learned that the best way to help my brand is to help others.

I used to be like a cat—I’d sit in the corner and wait. If you wanted to come pet me, I’d let you, but I would certainly not come to you. Animal analogies aside, the truth is I’ve learned to be more like a dog—to seek out people to help, to be kind to, to build up, to promote. Why? Because it’s reciprocal. Because the more I give, the more return I see. And the best part? What started off as a bit of a selfish motive has ended up being a huge reward. I love meeting new people in all my social arenas. I love hearing their stories, following their blogs, learning about their journeys. It inspires me, teaches me, challenges me. The more I support other authors and artists, the more I find support. It’s a sweet cycle that I’ve enjoyed discovering.

What I’m Looking Forward To »

As 2019 approaches, I am gearing up for some pretty interesting experiments, as I’m calling them. With ever-changing, enigmatic algorithms on the likes of Amazon and Facebook, coupled with a growing pool of millions and millions of books and art flooding the market, the reality is, it’s getting harder to be indie.

So I decided to try something potentially crazy.

For all of 2019, I am not going to buy ads. Not a single one. No Facebook ads, no Amazon ads, no Instagram ads, no YouTube ads, no Goodreads ads. None. Instead, I’m going to focus all of my efforts on grassroots marketing, expanding on the principle above of helping others. I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve on how I’m going to do that, which I’ll expound on in future posts. But I figure I’ve got nothing to lose. And maybe, just maybe, if I can find a way to expound on my success without ads, then when I’m ready to start buying them again, I’ll have an even more solid, larger foundation on which to build.

We’ll see.

Be sure to follow me here on the blog to see how the journey is going! (You can sign up for my newsletter and never miss another post!)

And if you haven’t yet, join my Fantasy-loving group over on Facebook. You’ll see what I’m talking about in this group—authors and readers working hand-in-hand. Plus you’ll get lots of recommendations for great new reads!

Book 3 of The Chalam Færytales »

So many of you ask me on a daily basis… “When is book 3 coming out?” Well, I am excited to say that as of now, book three is slated for a July 2019 release! I can’t give you many details on it yet, but sufficient to say… I AM LOSING MY MIND OVER THIS BOOK. (This is a good thing… I think.) Seriously, I am so proud of this story and where it’s going. And just a heads up, if you love Michael and Delaney now… just you wait, Henry Higgins. JUST. YOU. WAIT. *grins wickedly*

Well, that’s all for now. Be sure to sound off in the comments and tell me what you’re working on for 2019. I want to hear all about it!

As always, all my love,

Morgan

 

Shallow art does not equal good theology. Let me say that again.

Shallow art does not equal good theology.

If art isn’t authentic to the human experience, it’s not art.

There. I said it.

*breathes*

This topic can be…touchy, to say the least. For Christians, anyway.

I think we’re scared…

I’ve avoided it, to be honest. I thought to myself, “If someone brings it up, then talk about it. But don’t open that Pandora’s Box. It’s not worth it.” People have brought it up in my inner circle. But I can tell that they, like me, weren’t sure what to say about it. Perhaps they couldn’t make eye contact. Or perhaps they toed the sand and danced around the subject with shrugs and incoherent grunts. And I think maybe I know why…

We’re scared. Or maybe we’re chickens. But we’re afraid to say what we really think. For whatever reasons (which I am positive there are many, but that’s for another blog post), we think that if people knew how we really feel, they’d think less of us. Judge us. Run screaming from our heretical ways.

Okay, perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, but I’m trying to make a point. Because I think the bottom line is, as a whole, Christians don’t make authentic art anymore. At least not in the mainstream. (Before you get your panties in a wad, let me clarify: I know this is not a universal rule of thumb. I am saying that it is generally true, with few exceptions.)

Hear me out.

What happened to us?

When I look at the Sistine Chapel, when I listen to Handel’s Messiah, when I read Lewis, or Spurgeon, or heck even Tolkien, I am forced to wonder what happened to modern art. I am forced to wonder how we traded The Screwtape Letters for some of the Christian fiction drivel you can pick up on Amazon.

I am Christian. I make no bones about that. But neither do I shove it down your throat. You’re free to have your own thoughts and beliefs, just as I am free to have mine. Just as I am free to infuse mine into my writing and art. Which I do. If you’ve read even a chapter of one of my books, you can tell that my faith is integral to who I am.

But I refuse—REFUSE—to let the ideals of what my faith should produce dictate the content of what my art conveys. Or to put it more bluntly: just because I’m a Christian does not mean I am going to write G-rated books. Just because I believe in a perfect God does not mean I am going to write perfect characters or idyllic stories.

Listen, I’ve read a lot of modern Christian fiction. It’s terrible. (Granted, there is some that is not, but it’s a SHORT list.) And I mean that in the most sincere way. It’s weak. Ineffective. Laughably shallow. It focuses on faith as if it were this thing to master. As if belief in the Almighty were a checklist for the day.

  • Bible reading? Check.
  • Kindness to a widow? Check.
  • Prayer at dinner? Check.
  • Church on Sunday? Check, check.

I think life is a little more nuanced than that, don’t you? And quite frankly, I think we–the humans God created–are a little more colorful than that.

We’re all flawed.

We’re flawed in profound ways. Profound. We’re addicts. We’re liars. We’re thieves. We’re miscreants. We’re whores. We’re oath breakers and failures. We’re cheaters and swindlers. We’re murderers and haters. We’re bigots and shunners. We’re people. In every flawed color. We’re people. Humans.

And I think it’s high time Christians stop pretending like we’re not.

Conversely, I read a lot of mainstream fiction that also conveys a lie. It purports this ideal that self is the ultimate prize. That if we can learn to love ourselves, we’ll have it figured out. That if we can find our inner strength, we’ll have arrived.

I don’t know about you, but my strength fails me on a continual basis. And the moment I start thinking I’ve got my sh*t together, it usually hits the fan. In that vein, I think the majority of modern mainstream art lies to us, too.

So what, then?

When I set out to write The Promised One, it was not with the intention of writing Christian fantasy, or even anything particularly meaningful. It was simply a færytale love story. It was honestly just a labor of love that morphed into something much deeper. It became an opening into another world–a world in need of redemption much like ours. As I wrote the love story I wanted to read, it hit me: love here on earth is meant to be a shadow and portrait of a greater Love. And it is often through our love stories that we learn, begin to understand, or even find the greater Love.

But as the characters came to life on those pages, I wondered what people would think of them. Of the seventeen year old girl who slept with her boyfriend and carried his child. Of the prince who was more interested in flirting with the ladies than living up to his responsibilities. Of the orphan who hated the idea of the divine. Of the mother who would stop at nothing to get her way, even at the expense of her family. Of the foul-mouthed brother whose temper flared at the drop of a hat.

But much more so, I wondered what my Christian friends would think of the language, violence, debauchery, murder, incest, betrayal, dark magic, and more in my books. I wondered what my non-Christian friends would think of writing a couple who waited until their wedding night to have sex. I wondered what my Christian friends would think of the protagonists who were sleeping around or ambiguous characters who murdered and lied and played a game for the sake of their own gain. I wondered what my non-Christian friends would think of the scenes with Providence himself showing up.

In other words, I wondered where my story fit.

A Square Peg…

Nowhere, really.

It’s too Christian to be mainstream, and much too mainstream to be Christian.

And when I first queried it to publishers, I wasn’t sure who would pick it up. I knew a Christian publisher wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole as long as the characters remained messy and foul-mouthed and *gasp* not virgins. And I knew a mainstream publisher would want to white-wash the more powerful moments with the Creator, and the general notion of monotheism as an ideal.

I was unwilling to compromise on either front. When I was offered a publishing deal from a mainstream publisher, I eventually turned it down for those very reasons.

The Adventure of the Blue Ocean

So I decided to venture out into unknown waters. I decided to put this book out there and see what would happen. I decided to try something different: to present people as they are, not as they should be. And to present the concept of God divorced from the box Christendom has put him in over the centuries. To write a book with authentically flawed characters who discover the need for a perfect Creator through those flaws, not in spite of them. I took the risk of offending my Christian friends with my very much NOT G-rated content, in the hopes that maybe they could identify with my characters. I took the risk of offending my non-Christian friends with a blatantly spiritual story of the need for redemption, in the hopes that they might identify with my characters.

Because that’s just it. I think it is precisely through our flaws–and the flaws of those around us–that we find out our need for something more. It is in the imperfections that we go in pursuit of perfection.

Authenticity Matters

I want to make something clear: by saying that shallow art does not good theology make, I am not implying that I have somehow found the formula for good art. I am not saying that my books are better, or deeper, or more profound by any means.

But I am saying that my books are authentic. You will not find characters who fit the bill of Christian idealism. Nor will you find characters who make good choices very often, if ever. But you will find characters who are searching for that ideal. Characters who are aware, even if only intrinsically, of their need for something more.

That’s the kind of art that doesn’t happen too often in this world.

Oh yes, there are those who make it. U2 comes to mind–raw music that explores the mystery of the divine from the flawed and inadequate human perspective. I think Crowder scratches that surface, too. (Listen to Praise the Lord by Crowder if you’re looking for some profoundly raw lyrics.)

I used to shake You like an 8-ball
I used to shoot You like a gun
I used to hold You like a hammer
Try to nail down everyone
I used to keep You in a steeple
Used to bind You in a Book
I used to take You like prescription
Without knowing what I took

~Praise the Lord, Crowder (American Prodigal)

As for authors, I will confess I haven’t read much modern Christian fiction like that. I’ve read more Christian non-fiction that ventures down that path. Blue Like Jazz comes to mind. Think what you will of his theology, Donald Miller at least explores the possibility that the god we’ve fashioned over the centuries just might be a tad bit bigger than the limitations we’ve put on him. I tend to agree. Wholeheartedly.

Exploring Authenticity in My Art

I think that’s why I wrote The Promised One, and the subsequent books. To explore the idea of the Creator outside the bounds of religion. Outside the bounds of preconceptions. Outside the bounds of limitation. To let imperfect people stumble upon him and then discover–as I think we all do on some level–a keen need for him.

I put this out there in the hope that maybe there are more of us. I think there are. I think perhaps there’s a whole coven of us, hidden in the caves, wishing that the bubble of modern Christian culture would burst. Wishing that we offered a little more steak and a little less breastmilk.

And at the same time, I think there’s a whole world out there wondering why self has let them down time and again. If there is something more. Something bigger. Deeper. Wider. Brighter. Better.

Hint: There is.