Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Post by Joshua Campbell, Author of Love Beyond Borders

11 March 2023

Special Guest Post by Joshua Campbell, Author of Love Beyond Borders

Available from Amazon UK, Amazon US

Jordan Whitler, newly returned from fighting in the American Civil War that pitted North against South, rejoins his family, aims to settle into post-war life, and to welcome whatever progress might come therein. Little does he know that that while he was off fighting in battles like Gettysburg, his own family would have one 
to engage him in upon his return.

Hello and Warm Greetings from the Land Down Under, home of the Koala, the Wallaby, the Kangaroo, and the myriad of other life teeming across this vast continent of Australia. A land that is as diverse in its’ wildlife as the history of humanity is with events, people and places that have dotted the landscape of time. From the dawn of time, man has sought to understand the world around them and to make sense of what and who has gone before, so it can help us in understanding why things in the present are as they are, and such invariably gives way for many, to the questioning of where we stand in the grand scheme of things, and what part do we have to play?

Such has been my query increasingly as the hands of time push me ever forward along the timeline of life. So it was that I came to finally accept and begin to embrace that which I feel my professional contribution can be. While I have already become personally anchored and thus affirmed in what I can contribute to the world as a man, and thus husband and father, my professional endeavours were never seemingly in sync with who I am internally. But that began to change when I wrote my book, entitled "Love Beyond Borders”, which was inspired by the loving challenge given me by my wife. She said that since I love history, and also creative writing, why not combine both?

So, I took her up on it, and what came forth was a story of redemption, a story of new beginnings, a story with the Corinthian calling of Faith, Hope and Love. All set against the backdrop of a time when America, the land of the free, home of the brave, was just coming out of the grip of war, but not with some foreign power, trying to take it over, or usurp its’ autonomy in the name of conquest, and amalgamation into its’ own control. No, this war was internal in nature, pitting the North and the South, in a bitter rivalry for supremacy of philosophy, and the social governing style that each would herald in.  

In the midst of this time when war had finally and seemingly come to an end, and the process of national rebuilding could slowly begin, our main character Jordan, steps onto the literary scene, thinking he can come home to some normalcy and the tender mercies of a more peaceful life moving forward. But just as the nation was set to rebuild, his world seems to somewhat fall apart. He comes from fighting in battles such as Shiloh, Vicksburg, Antietam, and Gettysburg, only to find that he had the battle of Whitlerville to fight as well.    

So in short, it is a story of family truths revealed, perspectives of life altered, and new realities requiring embracing. It is a story of new beginnings, old secrets brought to light, and forgiveness needed. But what comes forth as a result is far more beautiful overall, and such may not have happened, if the temporary upending of his expectations of immediate peace and tranquillity had not come to fruition. It is said that there is beauty in the ashes, and such Jordan discoveries, but it takes some of this turmoil, and the heartache that is unavoidably intertwined, in which he is involuntarily entrenched, before he can later see that, and even appreciate it. 

So with that as my first book, and now already at work on my second, which is in itself, the first of a five-book series, one may ask, what routine or style do I embrace as a writer, beit for my debut novel or my forthcoming series. Well, first off, I am one who writes from the heart, and as such, I cannot ascribe a specific formula that I follow ‘by the book’ as a result. While Love Beyond Borders is, in its’ genesis, a stand-alone work, I have left somewhat ambiguous in its’ ending, for it is possible to give it a sequel in due course, though I have no concrete storyline in mind at the present time. But it ends in a manner than leaves such open for possibility. But when I write, I start with whatever kernel of an idea I have, and then let it organically lead me and develop as it goes. 

In that, I have experienced the wonder of being led on a journey and adventure almost as much as the readers of it later could be led on. My writing routine therefore can be likened to Bilbo’s view on adventuring. "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." I have this approach to writing… it is a dangerous thing in a way to start writing, because if I am not careful, I do not know where the story will sweep me off to, and I have experienced how things just come into the equation of the story that I did not necessarily pre-plan and yet seems so fitting to what is developing therein. 

But to say I have a set and concrete ‘routine’ is to not be truthful, for as a father of six, I have to have more flexibility than would maybe be ideal, but I have learned to adjust to our dynamics and work as I can, and around everything else, and thus be adaptable to the goings on from one day to the next. While I am not afforded the luxury of set times of uninterrupted writing bliss, I do appreciate moments I can steal as they arise. During these moments, I just continue where I left off last, and as the need arises in a given scene where I have to set the historical context, beit the place referenced, items utilized, or the social conventions applicable to the time period I am in, I do intermittent research for a given topic and then implement what I discover, to try and be as accurate to what I am referencing as I can. In that regard, I seek to keep to the historicity of the scene so that the blending of the creative and the historic can be as seamless as possible.  

If I were to give advice to anyone just starting out, I would echo the words of Confucius “Wherever you go, go with all your heart”. If you follow your heart and the subject of your passion, then it will flow a whole lot more readily and fluently. There is nothing much worse than forcing yourself to like something, or in this case write about something, you have no interest in or inclination towards. Whatever stirs you will move you to learn what you need to, take steps that you need to, and to take chances that you need to. The courage to act, the willingness to risk, and the openness to what lies beyond the proverbial door, can often create greater opportunities than self-forced subjection to that which you have little or not interest in, ever could. 

And you want to be a part of something that offers the promise of significance, not just success, for if it only garners the latter without the former, then it is empty and hollow, and will leave you unsatisfied when the rubber hits the road. As Jordan Kempler once observed,  :Success or Significance? Which matters most to you? I meet a lot of people who are successful, but not significant. You’ll never find someone significant that isn’t successful. Aim for significance and you’ll stumble upon success.” He goes on to also say, that “Success is adding value to yourself. Significance is adding value to others.” I live by that, and strive to be significant in what I engage in, and aim to offer others, above all else. Then whatever success comes, is an added bonus. So I would say to new writers, strive in that way also. Strive to offer something significant to others, and you will undoubtedly be successful as well. Also, I have the four E’s I have implemented into my approach to what I write and share:

Edified: What I write I want to build you as a reader up, to inspire you, to make you feel like you              want to grow as a person because of character examples in my work.  

Encouraged: I want you to be encouraged by the main characters and how they are as people and how it can be as an example to each of us. 

Educationed: My hope is to impart something from which you can learn, grow in your understanding, and feel more intellectually empowered by what I have included in my writing. 

Entertained: I want you to be able to enjoy the ride the story takes you on, and the adventure along the way that can be had. I want you to feel it was an enjoyable foray into whatever events or time period I am focusing on, and the journey that you get drawn into partaking of. 

As I try and get the word out on my current book and even the fact that I have a Pre-Order arranged on my Amazon kindle for my forthcoming start to my series, I try and network on Twitter and Facebook, get engagement, and to start getting ‘the conversation’ going. So far, my wife has concluded that Twitter ‘is my jam’ as we feel this is likely the best platform I can use, with FB a quick second, to network, help build into the community of like-minded fellow authors and readers, and to start being someone others can come to Like, Know and Trust. Those three are probably the best way to build awareness, for as people come to Like you and know you, they invariably learn to trust you, and then you can more likely have their willingness to join you on your Author’s Journey, and it is one that the more people you have for company, the better, as no one wants to be on that road alone. 

As referenced above, something unexpected I have found in my research is how I start looking up something and suddenly I am writing a whole section I never expected to write, and I have also found that sometimes I look one thing up, and it ends up leading me down a rabbit hole to other bits of information I did not anticipate or expect, which gets me excited as it is more that I can add in or help flesh out a scene with. 

Likewise, the hardest scene is one where I feel stumped how to explain something where I want to have some historically-grounded context, and yet I come up empty wherein I cannot  find any specific info, so I am left having to draw on creative assumption about that particular element or detail. Such as the other day when I was writing a scene in my present WIP, where I could not find height info for one historical figure I have as a character interacting with my main character, and I wanted to include it in describing him, so I chose to be descriptive minus any height reference, as I had none to draw on. So having to leave out some info I would love to include, or to sometimes take creative licence and hope it does not misrepresent what I am trying to convey, can be challenging at times. 

But when it comes down to it, that is the blend of being historic in essence, and creative for enhancement. With my current work, I am including some French from some characters as it is set in 1685 Paris primarily, but my main character starts off in Avallon, which is about an eighteen-hour horse-ride south of the capital. I am hoping that the Parisian French I can find today to utilize, is not too far-off from the Parisian French of the latter 17th century. As said, this is the first of five books, each ending on a cliff-hanger to draw the reader into continuing to the next book, where it will conclude with our main character, Tristan, completing the mission that he sets off on in the beginning of book one, which I am currently on. He has to find clues along the way and each book helps him attain one clue per book to lead him to the end goal. 

So as I undertake this most interesting of adventures, as a newly published, first-time author, I welcome the opportunity to grow with you all, beit fellow new authors, or seasoned veterans. We are all at various stages of learning and growth in our collective craft. One thing we all have in common though, is the love of writing and expression, and the heart to convey something for the betterment and enjoyment of the reading public. May we all be as open to learning as Socrates himself was, and I leave you now with some thoughts from Cicero:

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”   May we all be presenters of much work that help fill others digital or physical libraries with many good resources.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” May we be able to grow on others and plant good experiences with our work in their hearts and minds.

“The purpose of education is to free the student from the tyranny of the present.” May we be able to impart something for the reader’s betterment, that they can carry into the future, especially if we in the historical arena, and can offer lessons they can learn from the past about.

Joshua Campbell

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About the Author

Joshua Campbell is a first-time author, and a history-buff, who often feels out of time, and yet has acclimatised to the use of at least some modern technologies which allows him to fulfil his lifelong interest of writing, especially thanks to the encouragement of his beautiful better-half, who is a digital artist in her own right, and yet her greatest masterpieces are the six children they are parents of. She is also his cover illustrator - so whenever someone attains his books, they will be able to enjoy her artwork which greets them even before they open the first page. He hopes to be as inspiring to others as she has been, and still is, to him.  You can follow Joshua on Facebook and Twitter @HistoricTwists

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