Chesterton on the Decadence of Ancient Rome

From The Everlasting Man:

“There was nothing left that could conquer Rome; but there was also nothing left that could improve it. It was the strongest thing that was growing weak. It was the best thing that was going to the bad. It is necessary to insist again and again that many civilisations had met in one civilisation of the Mediterranean sea; that it was already universal with a stale and sterile universality. The peoples had pooled their resources and still there was not enough. The empires had gone into partnership and they
were still bankrupt. No philosopher who was really philosophical could think anything except that, in that central sea, the wave of the world had risen to its highest, seeming to touch the stars. But the wave was already stooping; for it was only the wave of the world.”

September SFF Book Bonanza!

Hello, there! 
Dean F. Wilson has pulled together an impressive sale of science fiction and fantasy books to help beat those end of summer blues – all on Amazon, each for just $0.99! 

He has graciously agreed to include my own novel, Loving a Deathseer, in this sale. It is the third book in the Jaiya series of urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels. The first book in the series is free and the second book is also $0.99. If you need to do some early Christmas shopping, the complete collected series in one volume can be found here.

In Dean’s sale, you can find Loving a Deathseer under the fantasy and paranormal romance heading, when you click on this link to check out all the discounted books! We hope I can help you find some new reading material at a price you can afford. Good Hunting! (Book Hunting, that is!)

Fiction Versus Non-Fiction

As a writer, I have two wolves inside of me. One is called Non-Fiction, and the other is called Fiction. They are constantly fighting. Which one will win? The one I feed.

Okay, that is not how that story is usually told, but it’s a good representation of something I believe about the writing process: every bit of time and energy you dedicate to non-fiction is a piece of time and energy your fiction is not getting.

Case in point: I took a new job earlier this year, in the March/April timeframe. My main WIP was around 55K at that point. I had to write guidance documents for both my old job (for the benefit of the co-workers who would be covering those tasks) and my new job (for my own benefit).

Today, the fiction WIP is 67K, the Vella project (started after new job) is maybe 4K-5K, the WIP guidance document for new job is 13K and counting, and guidance document for old job is 9K. I’m happy I took the new job: it’s interesting stuff, and it came with a bump in pay. But where would I be on my fiction project without it? Probably a lot further along.

This is why I am not a very prolific blogger, and why I generally try to avoid expressing political opinions or reviews of media I consume on this blog. I don’t want to be a pundit or a reviewer, I want to be a novelist. Off-hand, I can think of maybe six authors I enjoy where I would read their fiction and non-fiction works with equal enthusiasm, and five of them are dead. I’m not saying I couldn’t be that good some day, because I honestly don’t know the answer to that. But I’m certainly not there now.

Something to keep in mind, if your fiction keeps getting sidetracked by Things You Have to Blog About. What kind of writer do you want to be? What kind of writing is the most essential to you?

Just Keep On Truckin’

No, I am not done with the rough draft of Star Master Book 2 yet. But I am past one of the sticking points, and hope to be done with another sticking point soon. I wanted to talk to you today about a third sticking point, though…

Pretty much from the earliest outlines this book was going to contain a major disagreement between the hero and the heroine. I knew more or less what it was about, but not all the finer details of why and how this particular subject would hit them hard. And when I sat down to write it, the hero’s attitude kept feeling undermotivated.

I tried everything I could to get at why the heroine’s actions would bother the hero so much, and nothing seemed to work. My characters don’t always tell me what’s going on with them. It’s one of their more uniformly realistic traits.

I had to just leave the relevant scenes like that in rough draft, and hope that I could figure it out later.

Jump to earlier this week, when I suddenly realized that there were some things the heroine needed to do (or rather ask someone to do for her) for “OpSec” reasons, before initiating the plan the hero objected to. And once I realized that the hero might have to be the one to take care of those things for her, I realized what his problem was. The things she would be asking him to do for her are things that he would be extremely uncomfortable with, given his past experiences.

So that’s a load off my mind. It’s going to involve a lot of rewriting (by my standards), but at least I know where I’m going with that subplot now. Just another example of how sometimes all you can do in life is keep stumbling blindly forward, and trust in God and the skills He gave you to make sense of it all later.

The July SFF Book Bonanza Is Here!

Hello, there! Happy Independence Day and Happy World UFO Day, to those who are celebrating!
Dean F. Wilson has pulled together a exciting sale of science fiction and fantasy books: all on Amazon, each for just $0.99! 

He has graciously agreed to include my own novel, Seeking the Quantum Tree, in this sale. It is the final book in the Ancestors of Jaiya series of fantasy adventure/romance novels. The first book in the series is free, and the second and third are also $0.99, but each book in the series is meant to standalone. You can find Seeking the Quantum Tree under the fantasy and paranormal romance heading, when you click on the link to check out all the discounted books!

I hope this will help you find some fun reading material at a price you can afford!

Happy Birthday, Mr. “David Darcy”

I ran across an Italian language TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice recently, and found that it had an interesting take on Darcy. Not particularly handsome, but a sort of “Genius Bruiser,” equally comfortable with a dueling sword in hand, or a book of allegorical poetry. (And yes, they changed Darcy’s first name, a minor alteration compared to some things going on in that adaptation.) Franco Volpi, the actor in question, has been deceased for many years, of course, but I happened to notice, while wandering around Wikipedia, that today was the 100th anniversary of his birth, so here’s a cool moment from Part 4 of that P&P, where Wickham, having eloped with Lydia and been tracked down by Darcy, basically jokes about having done away with Lydia. Needless to say, she’s alive and well, Wickham is just trying to goad his old adversary. Darcy, understandably, doesn’t realize that, and goes ballistic. No subtitles, but given the heightened emotions involved, they don’t seem all that necessary to me.

If you believe in praying for the dead, as I do, feel free to send up a few prayers on the actor’s behalf.

A Good Name For A Band

Admiral Khopesh, the father of one of the supporting characters in Shadow Captain, is a fairly important character in the sequel that I am currently writing, but I have trouble remembering the placeholder names I gave the ship’s captains who answer to him. In a scene I drafted yesterday, I had to refer to them as [Surviving Good Destroyer Captains] in a couple of places. In the spirit of Dave Barry, I will remark that “Surviving Good Destroyer Captains” sounds like a good name for a band or possibly an anime series, and let it go at that.

May Book Sale!

Hello, there! I hope you are getting some May Flowers after all those April Showers!
Dean F. Wilson has pulled together a cool sale of science fiction and fantasy books: all on Amazon, each for just $0.99! 

He has graciously agreed to include my own novel, Scapegoating a Hero, in this sale. It is the second book in the Ancestors of Jaiya series of fantasy adventure/romance novels. The first book in the series is free, and the second is also $0.99, but each book in the series in meant to standalone. You can find Scapegoating a Hero under the fantasy and paranormal romance heading, when you click on the link to check out all the discounted books!

You may be hearing from me about these sales opportunities several more times this year, possibly as often as once a month. I hope this will help you find some fun reading material at a price you can afford. Good Hunting! (“Bargain Hunting,” that is!)

Star Master: The Great Abduction

(Here is another piece of backstory for Shadow Captain and its sequels).

The Egyptian port city of Yamu or Imu was snatched by demonlike noncorporeal beings, usually called the Duat, around 2600 BC, and the site back in Egypt later was resettled under the same name around 2500 BC. The reasons for the Great Abduction are not clear, but experts believe that the Duat experimented on their captive humans, trying to genetically enhance humanity’s limited psychic abilities. Whatever the Duat wanted the humans to do for them with these newly enhanced powers, it was nothing good.

Yamu had a significant presence of South Mediterranean people, Nubians and Ethiopians on the one hand, and “northerners” (light-skinned, light-eyed barbarians related to the later Sea Peoples) on the other. The majority of the descendants of the Great Abduction would look Mediterranean or Middle Eastern to the eyes of their modern earthling cousins.

The Akh are benevolent, noncorporeal beings who manifest at the centers of active stars. They rescued and civilized most of the abducted humans. They gave humans technology, a basic monotheistic religion emphasizing prayer and personal responsibility, and guided them towards the emancipation of slaves and a representative form of government.

The Akh were extremely opposed to the old-style king-worship of ancient Egypt, and the associated power of the priesthood. They did their best to break the one and redirect the other. The old priestly families are now banking families (in ancient Egypt they would have controlled the granaries that stored the grain which was both Egypt’s food and its chief medium of exchange).

The Akh gradually withdrew from active interference in human events, willing to talk when approached, but feeling that humanity needed to manage its own affairs. Today, more than four thousand years after the Great Abduction, the society the Akh helped build has grown corrupt, and a new leader, Tylia, claims the blasphemous title of Pharaoh. The old Star Master, Samar, opposes her, and soon a new Star Master will appear, to fight against her minions….