Broken Pieces of God is contemporary literary fiction. Primarily, this means it is a character driven story.
The main plot revolves around the lives of Eddy and Gayle Kimes and their two adult offspring, Rich and Sandy. Eddy has recently lost his job with a cable company and Gayle, an independent tax accountant, has been diagnosed with cancer. As Eddy’s attempts at finding a job fail and Gayle’s chemotherapy is equally unsuccessful, they pin their hopes for making it through on everything from seeking the solace of a statue of Jesus, to magical thinking, to a questionable (and possibly illegal) financial scheme, to the strength of family ties.
In the meantime, Rich and Sandy struggle to find success in their work lives, while being held back by a tragic shared secret from their teenage years.
I won’t share what happens, but will say this is a story about resilience in the face of uncertainty, hope In the midst of darkness, and family ties strengthened by life’s vicissitudes.
It may surprise the reader that this Is a story with much humor.
I read an online news article eight years ago about a man’s intense devotion to a statue of Jesus and the shocking outcome of that devotion. I couldn’t shake the story from my mind and eventually created characters and a plot to see how it could play out.
For me, the writing process begins with one or more characters and a dilemma. I usually have a title in mind, which serves as a rudder for the process. I develop other characters to propel the story forward. I usually begin writing with little more than that. I never know what the end will be until three quarters or more of it has been written. I agree with E.L. Doctorow that writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can’t see the whole way to the end of the trip, but you have enough light to keep going until you get there.
I try to write every day, but somedays I don’t. Sometimes I need to let the writing simmer while ideas percolate. I may write for little more than an hour or as much as two and a half hours, but seldom longer than that. I’ve written eight novels and my writing arc seems to be eighteen months to completion.
Strange as it may sound, I get the most enjoyment from writing a good sentence, or a clear and simple paragraph. My favorite period in writing a novel is the first fifty pages when anything and everything are possible.
I would have to say the long mid-phase of the novel. That’s when I start to bring things together; to fine tune subplots, intertwine narratives, and point toward a coming together, a climax, a resolution.
I am working on a novel entitled, Give Me Shelter. I realized that a lot of writers would be writing stories that focused on the pandemic. I didn’t want to do that, but I was interested in the theme of feeling trapped or feeling caught in an inescapable situation. I remember when I was a boy and we faced the Cuban missile crisis (1962). I was terrified that there would be a nuclear war and nothing could stop it. I remember hiding at home behind our living room couch with my dog. No one was at home and the air raid sirens were blasting. As it turns out, that’s the first scene of the story.
There are a few. Citizen Kane. To Kill a Mockingbird. But I’d have to choose Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman. I was seventeen when I invited a girl to go with me to see It. That girl became my wife. We’ve been married for forty-nine years.
My first choice was to become a major league baseball player. Although I played baseball throughout my childhood and teen years, I soon realized that I was not major league material. In college, I planned on becoming a lawyer, but then decided to go into the ministry. I went to seminary and got ordained. I served a rural parish for six years. During that time, I went back to school to get a counseling degree. Eventually I got a PhD. The vast majority of my career was as a marriage and family therapist working in a university medical center.
I did various kinds of writing throughout all of those years. I’ve been writing novels for twenty-one years.