Brain Static & the Spiritual Nature of the Internet

Nothing major to report right now other than discovering what things slow my progress and distract me interminably.  I really do not like writing out of sequence.  That’s now a known quantity.  It’s also getting ahrd for me to resist going back and starting to edit.  I must not fall into that trap.  And of course, “Adulting” is never a fun thing to deal with, but I’ve also been noticing a strange phenomenon regarding my time spent online.

I’m an unrepentant news junkie and social media addict, despite my curmudgeonly attitude towards things like Snapchat and Twit-er (see?).  Facebook is something I use mostly for non-writing stuff and keeping up with family and friends, and watching/listening/reading the news often grabs my eyeballs to the point where I get to be jumping from one story to the next, constantly checking for status updates for more information on stories that have absolutely NO connection to me.

What I’ve come to realize is that this has been destroying my focus and ability to hold cohesive thoughts for long enough periods of time to develop understanding.  Kinda bad for a writer to be suffering with.  It’s odd, but I keep wanting to scroll to see if there is something else to watch in my head, so to speak, and I can’t focus on what I’m doing in the moment.  Even doing this post right now is an example of putting off what I should be focusing on.  Now Steven Pressfield (if you write, I recommend you get his blog, some very good and hard stuff) will say it’s good as long as you still get your ass in the chair daily and bang out the words.  If you want to be a pro, you gotta write and you can’t do it save by doing it.

And then I came across this little gem of a video and went:

“Huh…  Self, is this is something that could be plausible?  Why, yes it could be other self… yes it could be.”


Okay, okay, before you think I’ve completely lost the plot here, understand that my background took me into this kind of metaphysical experimentation.  To my mind, this corresponds with some experiences I’ve had.  I also have done a fair amount of lay person research into the basics of spiritual warfare/deliverence ministry/exorcism for the basis of my fantasy setting’s “Magic System”.  BTW, I ran across this too in my many youtube research dives:

Very helpful in understanding what the heck I just did with my world.  Using Prayer and the Gifts of the Spirit is a very soft magical system of sorts.  It’s predicated on you not doing it, nor is an unconscious/inanimate resource you can exploit.  It’s about relationships and (ironically) focus and distraction.  Something that I think I need to actually address in the narrative of my story.

So it got me thinking about how much of the distraction I feel is because of the addictive nature through Dopamine hyper-stimulation courtesy of those dirty rotten poopieheads at Facebook and other online social sources, and how much could be spiritual in nature?  After all, I am writing Christian based fiction dealing in spiritual warfare.  Ya think that if this really is the spiritual case the Enemy would not want me writing about such things as would be a crack in the omnipresent pagan influence over fantasy?

Yeah I thought as much too.  So… it’s plausible enough for me to consider how I interact online, and cutting down these “astral links” to specific well guarded gates to my own conscious and internal life.  One thing I’m going to have to force myself to do is get away from video and screen time and put my nose into books rather than listening to them.  I’ve stepped away from physical books over the years, I have come to realize because my eyesight got worse over the last 3 years thanks to hitting that magic age when your arms ain’t long enough and you can’t get the book close enough.  It makes the physical act of reading uncomfortable for me.  Gonna have to bite the bullet and change that habit.

It’s why in my recent guest post for Peter Younghusband, I used only my blog for a contact point.  I’m also really struggling in how this will affect marketing of my books in the future if I decide to silence all my social media save for this blog?  It makes for some hard considerations.  After all, why would I want to enable bad actors (or spiritual forces) by using tools that can harm others just to sell a book?

I cast “Ethical Dilemma”…
:::rolling dice:::
Critical success!

So that’s the way it sits right now on the eve to the one year anniversary of the release of Book One of the Akiniwazisaga: “A Light Rises in a Dark World”.  It took me a 40 day fast from all social media and games except for email and this blog to get this whole thing started, perhaps, I must do it again to get Book 2 done.

More later with potentially good news.

Oh hey, one last question.  I put this out to my fans and curious readers who have an opinion.  If you name a character, must you pay off like Chekov’s gun or can they just disappear when they had no attachment to or are a distraction to the plot?  What do you think?

Ciao for nao!


How To Feel Particularly Chuffed By Accident


A snippet of this letter appeared on the Realm Maker’s Consortium Forum the other day as one lovely person posted it.  One paragraph only and it was a thunderbolt of realization to me that made my heart sing.  I found the whole letter here:

J.R.R. Tolkien’s letter to W.H. Auden in 1955.  The key paragraph for me is one near the end and goes like so:

It would have been a big task without anything else; but I have been a moderately conscientious administrator and teacher, and I changed professorships in 1945 (scrapping all my old lectures). And of course during the War there was often no time for anything rational. I stuck for ages at the end of Book Three. Book Four was written as a serial and sent out to my son serving in Africa in 1944. The last two books were written between 1944 and 48. That of course does not mean that the main idea of the story was a war-product. That was arrived at in one of the earliest chapters still surviving (Book I, 2). It is really given, and present in germ, from the beginning, though I had no conscious notion of what the Necromancer stood for (except ever-recurrent evil) in The Hobbit, nor of his connexion with the Ring. But if you wanted to go on from the end of The Hobbit I think the ring would be your inevitable choice as the link. If then you wanted a large tale, the Ring would at once acquire a capital letter; and the Dark Lord would immediately appear. As he did, unasked, on the hearth at Bag End as soon as I came to that point. So the essential Quest started at once. But I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the comer at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlórien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horse-lords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all, Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystified as Frodo at Gandalf’s failure to appear on September 22.1 knew nothing of the Palantíri, though the moment the Orthanc-stone was cast from the window, I recognized it, and knew the meaning of the ‘rhyme of lore’ that had been running in my mind: seven stars and seven stones and one white tree. These rhymes and names will crop up; but they do not always explain themselves. I have yet to discover anything about the cats of Queen Berúthiel. But I did know more or less all about Gollum and his pan, and Sam, and I knew that the way was guarded by a Spider. And if that has anything to do with my being stung by a tarantula when a small child, people are welcome to the notion (supposing the improbable, that any one is interested). I can only say that I remember nothing about it, should not know it if I had not been told; and I do not dislike spiders panicularly, and have no urge to kill them. I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!


This has been the way the world-building process and writing has been for me.  I had not met most of the characters till the chapter they entered the story.  Often, they do not reveal what they are about to do till the moment they do it.  What a fascinating experience it is.  When discussing some of the recent events of book 2, which I am now thinking about what to title the silly thing, since Book 2 is starting to get ingrained too strongly in my mind, we discussed how I came up with certain events.  There is no way possible to take credit for it, honestly save for listening to the characters and circumstance and writing down what I see and here.  Being the author, I am privy to the character’s internal monologue in general aspects, but not always.  There is so much I would share with you all right now, but I can’t or I’d ruin the surprises. Who wants an author that drops spoilers on his own work, right?

Anyway, it’s so wonderful to see that even JRR experienced the same joys and surprises I have been on this journey.  It makes me hope that some day this book series will become popular enough to warrant attention from other auspicious authors and have an impact on the lives of people where they’d even want to know such trivial details.

But the outcome is in God’s hands as far as I’m concerned.  I am doing the part I feel called to do, and that is to write and get these things out of my head, and into the public realm for Him to do with as he desires.  My paltry little “ministry” to those like me who wanted an alternative to typical fantasy fare.

Nothing much new done on the book yet today.  I’m struggling with a set piece… having my Ridley Scott moment.  If you know much about Ridley, you know he’s an insane perfectionist for creating visual imagery.  Probably even more than Kubrick was.  It is hard at times to capture the right majesty of a setting when you’re offloading ideas like a crane on a container dock.  You just want to get those containers off the ship and onto the chassis as fast as you can so the next ship can slide in.  After having experienced intermodal yards, I can tell you it’s quite an experience to see this in action with gantry cranes 100 feet tall.  In a small regard, I kinda miss it, but do not miss anything to do with the city in which I had to drive around to get the job done.  It’s bad enough with a car.  A Semi is far worse.  But I digress.

I have explained once before that my writing process is very much like transcribing movies, but with the character’s internal monologue?  Maybe, according to some praise, that’s why it’s easy for people to visualize what is going on.  It amazed me to learn that this isn’t always a common thing for authors.  Not everyone has such total visualization as they write and experience their work in a completely different manner.  A bit of a mind twister for me, but then again, I am constantly reminding myself that the way I experience the world is not always shared by others.  It’s what makes everyone’s vision unique in a good way.  Not only are we shaped by our experience, we are shaped by our perceptional bias.  Yeesh… not going down that thicket of pseudo-science right now.  You make of it what you will.

BTW, just got a nice interruption from my alpha readers who looked at one of the recent chapters and loved it.  I mean emphatically.  These are the kinds of things I love to hear.  Not only because of my ego, but because I got to share my vision with someone so well and in such an enjoyable manner… just it makes me happy to have made someone else happy… even if the chapter was about a rat bastard doing rat bastardy things.  ;c)  It was entertaining to the point of distraction, and that is a heady thing to do.  Anyway, that was a fun little interlude and put a smile on my face from ear to ear.

Enjoy JRR’s letter.  It explains a lot of the experience of a writer in a big project like this for those who are interested in such mundane trivialities that are filled with a peculiar and subtle magic.


Okay, NOW the Middle Build is Done

I wasn’t sure what would be the better ending point.  A conversation with my protagonists with a bunch of big revelations, or an interrogation by my villain.  I like my clean cliffhangers that both answer and ask questions.  So, that means the first draft of Volume 4 and 5… aka the first two parts of Book 2 I think are done.


What changed my mind?  What I wrote kinda sets up a small question that felt better to resolve for that great clean break rather than let carry over and start the last volume on the wrong foot.

I guess it’s my years of RPG experience that made this kind of thinking something I’m sensitive to.  I always liked stopping the game as a new event or surprise came up.  The players always wanted to play it out right then, but I wouldn’t do it because the act of doing so had them talking about it all week long.  I kinda saw it as my way of doing the TV season ending trick but for every week.  Or what the old Dr. Who used to do for every story arc.  You’d get 3-4 show stories, with cliffhangers on every episode till the end.  Kept me coming back for more, that’s for sure.  So I’m doing the same thing here.

But for those fretting about having to wait for months for resolution, here’s the new release plans from now on:

I will release Volume 4 at the same time as I release the print versions of all of Book 2.  That way, you want the whole story at once, there it is… in print.  After that, every 2-4 months, I will release the next Volume.  If I time it right, you will get a new book every year or more, and a new volume every 2-4 months, depending on if I can keep up.

That’s the plan going forward.  BTW, book 3 is as I’ve said before 60% written.  Why?  See previous posts.  😉  Go on, you know you want to check out back posts.  XcD  But also, the events in book 2 require me to add more content to help the two books blend better.

Now, here’s the progress report, since it’s been helping my motivation.

Pages 292 of 349
Words 104555 of 114209

Why the new split?  Because I realize that the “Encyclopedia Akiniwazi” is a significant chunk of the length, so this way you know the story.  Right now, Book 2 is exceeding the length of book 1 in about every respect, and I still have about 25-30% left to go.  That’s about 30 more chapters I’m estimating.  Now 57 pages of encyclopedia is a lot to ask, and every book it grows, but over Thanksgiving I got to visit with a family who is reading the book right now, and they have a bookmark at the glossary.  They use and enjoy it.  Their sons have now taken to insulting each other with some of the names.  Funny stuff to hear them call each other “snotnose” (Hrodinefr) or “chicken fart” (Haensafretr).  They’re young, so it’s extra funny and beats a lot of names they could call each other.


50. In Which Occult Knowledge is Revealed

51. A Fool No Longer


On one side note, I may be having some difficulty this month in productivity due to some complications with life.  I still have a specific goal in mind, but I’m worried I will not be able to meet it.  We’ll see.

Gratitude and Progress

So far it’s been a wild week for writing. Six chapters in 6 days including one that freaked me out and made me go “Well, this ain’t for kids anymore.  Nope nope nope!”  Then it’s never been my intent to write YA fiction, but for you hardy, sturdy fangirls and boys of fantasy and good storytelling.  Huzzah!

I think as a “stay-cation” this has turned out far better than expected.  I have another week like this coming up, so I will be getting busy with outlining the final chapters.


Being the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning here, soup bubbling away on the stove for my post holiday work week and stomach bracing for the onslaught tomorrow in carb laden goodness, (My pancreas curses me, but I think eventual forgiveness will come) I thought I’d bow to peer pressure and say thank you.  To all of you who have bought my book, lent your support and follow this blog, I am grateful.

This is I guess a contrast to the degree of ingratitude I see in the world and how it makes people terminally unhappy to the point in which they desire nothing more than sharing their misery.  I don’t want to be that guy.  I don’t always succeed, but generally no.  It is not my desire to be the monster I sometimes pretend to be in attempts of self depricating humor or currying compliments.  (yes, we guys and writers do it too from time to time.  Human weakness, sue me.)  But in an effort to start the ball rolling in your own reminiscence, here’s what I have to be thankful for.

I am grateful to my alpha readers who have been helping me in my writing, giving me honest critiques and picking me up when the bull throws me and dances on my head for a day or twenty

I am grateful for my job, despite all it’s myriad foibles that drive me crazy.  It keeps me focused and desiring to keep writing if not from a suffering point of view, but from a financial desire PoV.

I am grateful for my health as it is.  I know it is far better than what it could be if I had not started paying attention to it two years back, and although the improvement is slow, I am still glad for what I have.

I am grateful for my friends, the couple I have IRL and the dozens I have online and in my gaming guilds of the Seraphim and Angels of Eternal Destiny.  To that end, I am grateful to have known my buddy on the other side of the world in Guild Wars 2, Flowerypants who passed away this year.  He helped me to realize how fortunate I was for both my life as well as the chance to share deep things around my book in a way I will be forever remembering him.

I am thankful my sister and her family survived Hurricane Harvey and are on their way to full recovery.  Despite all the material loss they suffered (see almost everything) they were all safe, including their cats.  It has been such a warm feeling to see the outpouring of family and friends to pull together and help them in this terrible crisis too.  I mean just staggering.

I am grateful, most of all, for my salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ.  The gifts that he has given me from the night I chose to follow Him, back in 1997.  Well surprise surprise.  It’s been 20 years since I became born again!  I did not realize that till now.  Now that is an odyssey down memory lane.

There are so many more things for me to be thankful for in private, and I hope that most of all I keep remembering to be grateful for them throughout the year, and not just on one day, which when things are going sour is very hard, but the most important time to do it.

So that’s how I feel right now.



Now, as for what’s been going on with the book.

Pages 339
Words 110739

I’m still suspecting that this book will end up over 150k words, 4-500 pages, and I may just have reached the end of my middle build, or will be in a chapter or two.  Not quite sure yet.  I thought I did, and felt I had a good denouement for what would have been Volume 5 of the series, but now, I am not so sure if I should finish this part of the adventure before considering it such.  Meh, we’ll see.

And the new chapters…

44. Among the Wolves

45. A Dangerous Trade

46. Twelve Fingers

47. Sacrifices

48. Reforging the Iron

49. Hope From Afar

I hope these tantalizing little tidbits are enjoyable for you.  I kinda like dropping the teasers and keeping you in the know as to what the progress looks like.  These have been incredibly intense chapters for me to write, and I’ve been waiting literally months to finally get to this point.  And now that I’m there, I’m taking the deep breath before the plunge, as it were.

Also, I’ve started working on a new map.  Much like what you can find in the first book, you will be able to track a goodly portion of the adventure’s trek through the wilds.  Partially because I think you will enjoy it, but also because I need it to keep my understanding in place to the directions and locations our heroes are visiting.

No teaser draft this time though.  I do that too much and it won’t be special anymore.  😉  You understand.  We’ll see what happens.

Till then, it’s back to the Ondeandkurvfjell for me.



The Expansive Themes, Subtle Complexity and Luscious Spectacle that is Blade Runner 2049 *No Spoilers*

I just went to see “Blade Runner 2049” and could not help but share my reaction since it sort of relates to us here. I saw it on a regular screen in 2d. I would say upgrade to DLX or whatever super screen you can get. IMAX is never worth it though. 3d? Nothing… and I mean nothing is there to make it worth that price premium. But I don’t like 3d so YMMV.
First off, I’m a huge fan of the first movie.  Favorite movie all time bar none.  I’ve done a previous dissection of the film here.  The Breakers: Blade Runner.  It’s worth a read I think.
Visually it is everything you ever wanted and more. If Rodger Deakins does not win the Oscar, no one this year deserves it. He out does the first film in so many respects but always pays homage.  It is luscious like I said.  You can go from the Film Noir high contrast to the subtle grays and smoke of French New Wave to the loud noisy spectacle of 80’s action films.  All integrated and cohesive.  None feel wrong.  Neon, Fluorescent, “natural” light all his servants.  This is cinematographer porn and your eyes will thank you.
Pacing is slow at times, but it doesn’t drag. It’s very dreamlike, which fits with the first film, seamlessly.  There are long slow shots that just fill in the world so well, you are thankful to have the time to breathe and think on what reveals were brought up.  It was also good to see the world in daytime and in the varied environments of the “Greater Los Angeles” area.  It’s not all just arcologies and wasteland.  You have to see it to understand the scope, and boy is it something!
Themes and subtext… brilliant, staggering and poignant. This move is PACKED with so many concepts and that spawns questions.  I can see why they are not giving away spoilers or trying to explain it. It will pigeonhole and distort what it’s all about. Don’t let other people tell you what it’s about. There’s too much there to think about.  They are layered, deep and sometimes very personal.  This film relies on many conventions of film noir as well as what can be found in cutting edge Japanese cyberpunk Anime (think Masamune Shirow though he’s not a visual influence, just spiritual though it all hearkens back to the themes of Fancher’s take on Phillip K. Dick).  It does not just appropriate from others who followed in the genre it created nearly single-handedly (at least for cinema it did), it evolves and brings it forward into the era it once called the future.
The story is excellent in encapsulating all the above, but has one painful flaw: It’s the first movie of an obvious trilogy. But… at this quality that’s like complaining about “The Empire Strikes Back” or “The Two Towers” needing a third movie to wrap up the trilogy. I really look forward to the expansion of the universe beyond this sequel.  The story itself does stand on its own, but at the end, you have more questions than answers, and I don’t want to give away the biggest question of them all, because it will color your own ideas of the film all the way.  And trust me, I’m fighting really hard to not say it.  Oh… and as a HUGE positive:  no SJW influence.  That’s right.  They didn’t dip down into trendy current political fads or preach any of the current dogma, just like we don’t hear dogma preached from a 1980’s perspective it would be out of place, so that works in big big ways.
Acting, superb. There is obvious chemistry and very well played scenes that draw the emotion out of you if you understand the contextual depth of what is going on. They are subtle, poignant scenes, so don’t overlook them.  I should also say that the interplay between Ford and Gosling made me laugh outloud at times.  They do have some great moments together.
The music pays suitable homage to Vangalis. Never outdoing him per sey, but expounding and enlarging what he did. BUT… I had one complaint in this regards. There are a few scenes where you cannot tell if the music is diagetic or not and it’s very loud and distracting. This was done in the first film to great effect:
…but at the same time, here… it’s hit and miss.  The use of the film’s opening and closing music themes are perfect.  To be fair even the original has two solid misses in it’s musical lexicon: the love theme and the credit theme.  This film does not make those mistakes.  The added music, (much like the 1920’s style ballad in the street corner bar after Zorah’s death, “One More Kiss”) is extremely well done, but using real era stuff.
The material taken from the first movie to be incorporated is incredible. I literally gasped at one of the reveals. I’m super happy with how they accomplished it, and the technical achievements in this manner are marvelous and Oscar-worthy. It’s not what you think either.
A little more nudity (none would have been better) and cussing than I’d prefer, but tolerable.
I should also point out how well it follows the first film.  The violence is never glamorous.  It is sudden, gritty and intimate.  I cannot say it is not gratuitous… but it’s always appropriate and actually the “overuse” in one scene makes you realize the scope in which poor Agent K finds himself is far greater than just looking for a rogue replicant.  The final conflict is thrilling and had me on the edge of my seat.  In many ways this movie is a series of intimate portraits between people in the middle of a grand scene.  That helps keep the movie tight and connected with the audience.
As a semi-spoiler, I did have one thing confirmed that should send raves throughout the nerd community: “Soldier” starring Kurt Russell *IS* set in the Blade Runner universe in the off world colonies. If only they had Ridley Scott producing that film, it would have been much better. If you know the film, you’ll get it when you see it. It ranks up there with the Alien skull reveal in Predator 2.


Ultimately, this is the sequel Blade Runner deserved.  It is like watching “The Godfather Part 2” in some respects where it fills in the world, expands upon it and makes so many more things whole and important.  Although it is not necessary to see the three attached shorts you can find online, they do help elaborate how we came to the world of 2049.  This is a deep thinking film.  You will ask yourself some questions that most people never even consider.  Do not expect shallow fare to kill two hour and forty-some minutes in idle popcorn puffery.  That will turn off many audiences who aren’t attracted by the nostalgia.There will be many reasons of why this film will be labeled a “flop”.  It can only be considered one if using the mega tent-pole blockbuster measuring stick which has to tick all the focus group boxes that make them thundering bland flash for cash grabs.  This is not for what Blade Runner 2049 is.  Nor is it just self indulgent hipster-poseur art-house pseudo-intellectualism.  So don’t let the inner life of this film pass you by.  It raises some interesting points on where our civilization is going and who we are as individuals, not in a preachy way, but in curious introspection and possibly even a distant warning like storm clouds on the horizon.If I had to encapsulate it all, I’d give it a 9.5 out of 10.  Fractions taken off for the nudity, cussing, the fact it is a sequel set up and that little sound issue.  This is a solid R rating too, like the original was (Technically unrated, but that’s quibbling).  Despite these points, he film stands on its own as a wonderful and possibly important piece of art.  It might even aspire to being considered a “great” film some day.  We’ll see.  Not many sequels get a chance to be considered that way.
This one does and is so worth seeing on the big screen.Don’t cheat yourself, go while you can, and bring someone with who can have a long discussion with you afterwords.


Some Days I Just Can’t Even.



Once I find my book on “How to Even for Dummies” I’ll be able to move forward.  Last night I was going to release volume one of ALRDW.  Unfortunately an unforeseen work disaster interfered and I probably won’t be able to release it till the start of October now.  I just don’t have the time over the next week.  Sorry for the delay.  It was completely unavoidable.

That said, I will share the new sales blurb.  Feel free to share your thoughts.

Reimar’s world is turned upside down when his farmhold is attacked by the Skaerslinger. To save their village from starvation, Reimar and six other children are sold to the Kyrkja. Now, Brother Finn will take them to Saint Martin’s Academy where they will become servants of God. 

This little band must travel through the untamed wilds and the storm-plagued lakes of Akiniwazi: a battleground not only of nature but also between two peoples and the armies of Heaven and Hell. They confront powerful enemies that want Brother Finn dead no matter the cost and face an ancient evil that has discovered the dim but growing light in Reimar.

Together, they must survive this odyssey with only wits, faith, Brother Finn, and his dog standing between them and that which could take their lives and souls.

Perfectly Abnormal: A Review

Recently I was given a chance to review a book on a subject that hits close to home for me: chronic illness and disability.  Not only in my own life have I suffered it, through my shattered elbow, but in a very dear friend of mine, Bonnie Spencer, who suffered and succumbed to Sarcoidosis and Neuropathy.  This book is a great tool for those who have not experienced what these issues can do to your life even when it is not you suffering it.  When offered an early copy to review, I could not say no.

Moreover, I am glad I read it.


When Mr. Morris asked for reviewers for his book, I jumped at the chance. Through my friends, my family and myself I had seen and dealt with chronic health issues throughout my life. I was not sure how useful it would be since I had my own theories on it all, but was very pleasantly surprised at how thorough this book can be on the subject.

This book is a lifeline for those in the depths of the struggle, and a revelation for those who have just been indoctrinated into this world of imperfect health. It is trite to just say ‘you are not alone’, but even trite things have meaning from time to time, and this book is so much more than trite anecdotes and pop psyche feel good stories. It is a reminder that none of this is in vain. Sometimes, that is the best news that anyone facing these trials can get. You would be remiss in just clicking through.

“Perfectly Abnormal” covers a lot of the basics of what happens to those struggling with chronic illness and disability face and combat every day. It gives hope to those who may have lost it. I continually found tidbits of advice and reinforcement in faith sprinkled throughout the book like welcome oasis in the desert. Things I had forgotten, and things that had become weak in me.

Mr. Morris tackles the subject with logic, clarity and faith in a way that is both helpful and entertaining. His humor is both well timed and apt for the subject. Even in the bleakest of hours dealing with the pain of chronic illness and disability, a smile or laugh can be the best medicine.

For those who are in the throes of such trials, this book is a pleasant reminder that God is still with you. He has not thrown outside His grace, redemption or love. Mr. Morris debunks the myths that suffering in the form of illness is automatically “your fault and you deserve it for your sin”. Remember, Jesus could not have performed miracles of healing if there was no one to heal. God may use an illness, not just as a punishment, but to glorify Himself or for the benefit of others. That may be a hard pill for some to swallow, but it is essential to understand.

Being chronically ill or disabled is a huge, life consuming experience even for those not directly suffering. Mr. Morris makes sure to point out that even the caregivers who surround the suffering are doing God’s work and there is greater purpose for them in this. But furthermore, they too need to remember God’s in them with this and their experience too can minister to others. From the simplest act of kindness to a life long devotion with someone who can never get well. God is working through everyone involved. We should take heart that this is all according to His manifest will and cautions us not to shun those who are facing those trials, for even the caregivers need support.

The problem of chronic illness and disability will never go away. Jesus promises this, so we best be prepared to confront this. “Perfectly Abnormal” is an excellent tool for this. Take one and be a blessing unto others.

A Crisis of Doubt (Bonus Draft Excerpt!)


I’ve been radio silent for a few weeks now because I’ve been struggling with some things in regards to “A Light Rises in a Dark World”.  I opened myself up to ask others what they thought of it in a professional forum to see what kind of surface reaction I was getting.  Everyone was great with what they told me and the criticisms all honest, having validity and expressed the opinions of those who cared to share.  I appreciate all of them, so don’t think I’m bashing them or unappreciative to what they did.

What this is about is an unintended consequence of doing such a thing that caused me to stumble in my productivity and confidence in my book.

I’ve had a set of good and bad reviews lately, and I had started to doubt my work.  Not the quality of it, but its public visage.  I started to question the cover, the title, the sales copy (oh yeah that’s puppy poo and needs to be reworked, for sure)… but the title?  The cover?  Like I said, a crisis of doubt.

But three other incidents have gotten around the corner.

My editor reminded me I get streaky like this where I’ll go ‘fallow’ (my word) for a few weeks, but bounce back with a lot of productivity.  I just need time to let the stew in my head simmer.  Let me tell you, it’s more complex and time consuming than black roux gumbo can be, and just as fraught with disaster.  So she’s the one that helped me realize I was lying on the floor covered in self doubt.

So while I was mulling about that, my writing buddy and friend, Dave, came along and reminded me that I was looking for reason to doubt myself.  Reasons to tear down everything and dispair.  Something I am still wondering about.  So he helped pick me up and made sure I was standing again.

Then Torfinn, the man that makes the foreign words work right and provider of good suggestions came in, and made some simple apt points about what was said and showed me again the good things that were said to counterbalance out all the negative stuff I was feeling that really may not have been there in the first place, but only in my own doubt.  So in essence, he dusted me off, straightened my tie and got me thinking about what needs to be done next.

So to you three, thank you.

Upshot of all this has yeilded some interesting thoughts in my head.  I realize I’ve been struggling with the “What Next” question.  I know what I want to talk about, and I’m shaping out the characters, but I haven’t found the right way to fit them all together in Book 2.  Until I do, I can’t make myself move forward it seems, but I can cogitate a lot about it.

Which has lead for me to understand the themes for books 1-5 better.  Yes… you heard me right, I’m already thinking 3 books ahead.  Pretty easy when book 3 is half written already, but with what’s going on in book 2 that’s going to take some heavy modification which I’m really salivating about doing… but can’t till I get done with book 2 because I need to understand the world that is being built better.  Every book is worldbuilding in chronological order for me.

Why you may ask?  Because I leave myself open to happy accidents.  It’s how I got the whole third act of book 1.  (Or as it will soon be known as ‘Volume 3’)  I knew where I needed to be, then let the characters and world tell me what was happening.  Of course, I got that done in a much more compressed timeframe than this, but it was nowhere near as complex as what I’m doing now.  The interconnectivity… oh you’ve heard this all before.  I’ll bore you to tears with that some other time.  Anyway.  I’m at 36.5 chapters, I have a new visual image going in my head that helps me understand my map the people and how the story must progress.

It’s going to be fun.

Lastly, I will be releasing Book 1 Volume 1 of “A Light Rises in a Dark World” this month still.  Putting finishing touches on my new cover.  Keep an eye out, for it’s going to be “BAM!  Surprise launch!”

And as a thank you for your patience, here’s another first draft exerpt from Book 2 for you.  Remember… this is a FIRST draft excerpt because y’all are worth it.

Bon appetit!

The Jarl’s Hall was impressive to say the least, Brother Finn thought as he walked up to the large structure.  It was twice as large as the Stallare’s Hall in Athrvorthfestning, but comparable to others he had been to.  What made this one stand out all the more was the incredible decorations at the entrance.  Trophies of animals, and demonspawn stood there or were mounted on the walls.  Carvings of great hunts were etched around the massive pillars while ornate tapestries dripped down from the walls.  The long hearth in the middle was roaring as the clergy from all around the area filed in as a processional to the chanting of the choristers in their midst.  The song finished as the last of the clergy reached their seats.

Jarl Jakob Vilhoaettir sat in the high seat watching the procession filed in and took their seats at the table.  Bishop Aarlig Krakisson stood before the Jarl and the Domari stood before him as the Thing finished assembling.  After the Kyrjka was seated, the Huskarls allowed the Forsamling who wished to be witnesses to enter, sitting on the outer benches by the walls.  Silence was strictly enforced.  Those who dared talk could expect to be escorted to the dungeon without hesitation.

When everyone was seated and the only sounds were the crackling of the hearth and the rain hissing on the roof, the Domari turned to face his master.  His form swallowed up in the all black robes of his office with a golden staff in hand taller than a man by half again.  On its tip, was a figurine of balances resting on top of the seal of the Vilhoaettir.  

“Deres Naade, we are ready,” he said with funeral humor.

Jarl Vilhoaettir nodded, his face a serene mask.

With the bottom of his staff, he pounded the timber floor the traditional seven times.  The knocks brought even greater quiet to the hall.

“Damer and Herrar, we are assembled this day, April the eleventh, in anno Domini One Hundred and Ninety Two Ad Segregationem.  We call forth a special assembly of the Thing that justice may be done!”  The man’s powerful voice cracked off the wooden walls loud as any herald.  

“All come forth in fear and trembling in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and before the justice of Den Aerefulle Jakob Fritjovsson Vilhoaettir.  May all those who speak, do so in the Spirit of Truth, and no falsehood be found among the Thing.  Pay heed to this warning, for all may be judged for their actions and words.”

The Domari’s sparkling blue eyes swept over the hall, challenging anyone to disagree.  None did.

What I Learned About Storytelling from Running RPGs.

To this day, I remember the first time I rolled up a character for Dungeons and Dragons in 1980.  My friend and I sat on the back porch of my house in the shade on a warm summer day and rolled the strangest dice I had ever seen.

I was 9 years old.


What began there was a love affair that became a wonderful creative marriage, then a bad romance which rebounded into an on again-off again fling filled with regret and finally a bitter, burned out divorce.  In my heart, I still love Role Playing Games, but I know what going back to running them, let alone playing them, will cost me creatively.

And that is where the damage was for me.  In my creative process.  Not to brag, but I was a good GM.  REAL good!  I had gamers who would petition to join my games over the years.  People who thought I should run games for GenCon and really get into the whole society of running games.  But I also learned my failings and that I could not keep up a pace that some of the people had because I did not see how I could make money doing it, and did not want to devote myself to what was necessary to take it to the next step and become that GM my gamers thought I could be.

For 30 years straight, I ran RPGs from Cyberpunk to Westerns, I ran them all it seemed.  Weekly turning out game and running long winded campaigns like a network television show.  In the end, I realized I was enabling participatory improvisational theater for amateurs and a small audience, and began to resent it.  I started trying to find new ways to love running games, but every year and every game system got harder and harder as I got more fed up with learning rules, doing the weekly prep-work and necessities for running good long term campaigns.

There were also spiritual reasons too.  Once I became Born Again, I could not play many of the character or games I used to love.  Gone were the games of magic and sorcery.  Gone were the complex characters I loved to play who were, for all intents and purposes, sociopaths, psychopaths and perverts.  I did, for a while find much fun in very moral characters trying to deal with very immoral choices, but even after a while I was burnt out.

All that experience though has been beneficial, for it has taught me a lot about storytelling.  This is what I learned from my players as well as their characters who were both participants and the audience of my creations.

Engage the Senses.

The reality is you and your buddies are sitting in somebody’s kitchen/basement/living room/dining room rolling dice among stacks of books.  You need to build mood.  That means lighting.  That means music and sound.  Smell, touch and taste not so much, but you can use good description to engage their imaginations.  The more you engage the senses, the better the immersion, and the the more likely you will have them sitting on the edge of their chairs, holding their breath as you roll your dice in secret, giving them a knowing grin worthy of Vincent Price.  Keep that in mind when setting the scene for you are all their senses and influence their intuition.

Pace is Critical

Gamers I learned have a very low boredom threshold.  If you don’t have combat every week, some players won’t show up.  Others, when the action is not on them, and you don’t have them interested enough to listen to what’s going on, they will engage in derailing side chatter which bogs the game down.  Same can happen to a story, just not as obvious.  The reader who is bored (and I speak as a reader myself) starts thinking about other things and finally finds a reason to put the book down and go back to facebook or youtube, ending your time together, maybe for good. That means if a section leaves a faint hint of Doritos and Mountain Dew in the air of boredom eating, what is a better, more interesting way to tell the tale.

If things slow down, attack them.  If they’re wasting time on minutia, remove the distraction.  If they feel secure, betray them.  All these things will help jump start a flagging pace, and snap the reader’s attention back to you.

Satisfy the Needs Including Your Own

Every player who plays an RPG is doing so to have their needs met, but so does every GM.  If players bore the GM by not wishing to play interesting storylines, don’t bother looking for clues, ignoring the flavor text you so carefully crafted to give them clues and rush on to the next dice rolling pewpewpew fest… It can leave the GM, or author dry.  The good news is that being an author, you can write in a way that satisfies your needs.

Want more character driven plots?  Have at thee!  You like a good whodunit?  What are you waiting for!  Write that story.  The downside is that in writing, if you write something only you want to read, you will not sell.  That means finding the tropes people want to read, and write to them in a way only you can.  Then you will see both your needs as a writer, and the reader’s needs get fulfilled.

Realize what you control and what you don’t.

Sure, you come up with the basic storyline idea and handle the activities of every Non-Player Character, the weather, and so on… but you’re not really in charge.  You’re just herding cats towards the completion of your story.  Players can take your story in crazy directions, often introducing ideas that you never thought of, leaving you scrambling to keep up with them.  Hugh Wilson, head writer and show runner for “WKRP in Cincinnatti” put it very well, when considering characters (and I paraphrase)  Writers start out with the idea of who a character is.  It becomes apparent quickly that they are in a collaboration with the actor, and then spend the rest of the show chasing the actor.

This is true of the characters you are writing as well.  You must be willing to listen to your own creation and follow where they take you to complete your story, or fix the incidents your character’s wouldn’t participate in.  Remember, the characters are the cameras in how the readers will experience the world.

Nobody cares about your character particularly if they are derivative.

Hands up; any gamer here who has gotten caught in a game where some noob comes up to you and starts prattling about his AWESOMEZ CHARACTARRRR named Steel McKillalot?  Or some exotic whackadoodle that is a Count Dracula knockoff with an unpronouncable name?  Yep.  Been there and have the tee shirt.  The same eyeroll can be found in readers if you spoonfeed ‘tell don’t show’ backstory in your book anywhere.  The instant you do, the wide eyed cosplaying fanboy has just clomped up to you while you’re busy and started gushing.

This is a problem even for authors.  Backstory can be introduced only after the character has been made interesting to the reader in the context of the story.  So why is this Count Dracula ripoff so cool I want to hear why he is the way he is?  Is Steel McKillalot something better than a two dimensional cutout with a stupid name?  Oh wow!  That is cool how he got that backstory because I liked what he did in the book you just wrote.  Epic characters have to audition, before you can give them their one man show… unless their one man show is the story, then… carry on.

Be open to happy accidents.

No plotline survives contact with the writing.  Just like in gameplay, you will be thrown a curveball.  That image of a scene will not be met and no matter what you try, that becomes a platonic symbol of what you wanted, but just lack the skill or tools to achieve.  When those times come, be open to the accidental discovery.  Perhaps it will be the character whispering something about them you didn’t know that sends you gallivanting after their take on what you had planned.  It may be the map you drew out in your mind is showing you an easier route or a flaw in your plan that must be addressed.

Case in point.  Early on in Book 2, I discovered an escape route would be an impossible run through a gauntlet for the heroes.  But as I looked at the map, I realized I had forgotten a whole new section of the land and said:

“Self, nobody would be guarding that way… it’s too crazy, and besides, they have to do this other thing or all is lost.  So they would go that way!”

That one realization completely rewrote my middle build.  Instead of being all sorts of cloak and dagger hiding over territory I’d already been and struggled to think of a new way to make it interesting… well… it went back to a classic adventure/exploration in the land of “Here There Be Monsters”!


That is a happy accident.  Something I’d not be able to explore if I did not just chuck the solution out and stick with the original plan.  (It’s also why I’m a plantser.  I know where I have to get to, just how it happens is open for innovation.

In the end, these are lessons I learned over decades of running RPGs.  Maybe I’ll have to be content on producing gaming materials, but not run the games because I get too bogged down in the process, and I need time to write.  But who knows?  Maybe 10 years down the pike when my first movie comes out, I’ll produce the game and modules and get the invite to sit down and guest GM at GenCon.

Wouldn’t that be nice?


Sermonizing, Failing the Payoff & Jumping the Shark: The End of Doctor Who

Warning: Offensive Opinions, Ranty Snarkiness & Spoilers Ahead


The latest announcement from the BBC on the new Doctor has me thinking a lot of why I have been dismally disappointed in hind sight at the years of the New Dr. Who.  A show I’m quite a fanboy of.  Or at least I was until recent years.  I have considered many of my convoluted thoughts on the subject, and have come to realize that it’s a trifecta of issues that bothered me.  The reason I have not enjoyed the last 4-5 seasons of Dr. Who, despite remaining a fan of the series or individual episodes are as follows:  (and things I’ve learned from their mistakes).


Failing the Payoff

Ever since the decision to make “Season Story Arcs” had come about, we’ve had an unholy partnership of bad finales brought about by Failing the Payoff which I directly link to Jumping the Shark.  Mind you, individual stories have been great.  Fantastic even, but the season arcs with the exceptions of David Tennant’s first season, Matt Smith’s first and second season have been a bit rubbish.  Well that’s if you can call a smouldering dumpster fire a bit rubbish.  But why?

Every season save for the three I mentioned became massive “Save the Universe” type moments.  Even the oft appreciated Bad Wolf storyline from Season One was better save for jumping the shark at the very very end.  They’ve failed at the end because the writers wrote themselves into a corner.  Moffat was so good at it, he could practically have his picture in the dictionary for it.  His buildups are excellent.  He has some inventive ideas that create classic thrills and scares and seem like its going somewhere good.  But at the end, he loses confidence so he whips out one of my biggest irritant the Deus Ex Machina, and in doing so spoils all the build up.

Cases in point: Bad Wolf.  Companion gets phenomenal cosmic power.  Why?  Reasons.  With the exception of the three seasons mentioned all the companions develop a phenomenal cosmic power which ends the enemy but to save her the Doctor must rejenerate.  This is a rubbish copout.  Sure you can say that this groundwork had been laid all season long with Bad Wolf… which to be honest is the only reason I don’t go off on it more.

And poor Martha, who just has an out and out dumbass ending of Carebear Feels and Johnny Appleseed talky bits that really were silly beyond belief and became the poster child for wasted companions.  She didn’t jump the shark but the solution sure did.  Plus it was slightly alleviated because she had the best reason to leave the Tardis as anyone.  She was the rebound companion and had too much self respect.

Then you have the whole Doctor Donna Metacrisis in season 4.  What the Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!11!1!???  An awesome build up of planets being ripped from time leading to a face off between the Dr. and Davros?  Oh come on!  This has awesome written all over it.  But the solution was once again? Superpower Companion to the rescue at some forgettable nonsensical cost… if any!

What I learned is that if your ending isn’t good… guess what?  It poisons all the rest of the good work you did. You failed in the compact between you and the reader.  They expect you to do certain things, write about specific things specific to your genre even if you subvert or twist the trope.  But if you chintz out at the end…  no one will care about what you did before and possibly no one will trust you again.  (Full disclosure, I have seen only the “Return of Doctor Mysterio” and “Pilot” from season ten because A) they both jump the shark and B) I’m pretty pissed at Moffat’s serial violation of all these points.  Which is sad because I wanted Capaldi to have a better run than Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker… who were also stuck with crap stories and wasted potential  (well not Colin Baker.  Ick).

Jumping the Shark

As you can see the theme for jumping the shark was Companion based.  Donna was great… then she got made into Doctor Donna.  Rose was great… then she became Bad Wolf.  Rory… the companion, through the power of Runninggag, who just wouldn’t die.  (Amy was good except by using her force of will to you know… drag the Doctor and the TARDIS across an impenetrable wall in space-time and back into reality.  You know… stuff like that) Clara was great… till she merged with the Doctor’s time stream and what was originally an interesting story became a gawdawful mess of “SuperClara and her trusty Sidekick, Some Schmuck Chauffer in a Blue Box”.  Hell, even River Song traipsed up to the line, but she was the one companion, other than say Micky, who didn’t become all-powerful or bend reality to their whim.  I will say that Rose at least had a good ending, all be it terminally sappy and now she comes back time and time again like a Brown Recluse bite and just as damaging to the integrity of the series and her own character’s credibility.  What part of “trapped in another universe unable to cross” don’t you get, writers?  Stop violating your own rules!

What this has taught me is that if you paint yourself into a corner, you’re going to have to go back and fix it where it starts and not… NOT… take the cheap way out and just ret-con some cheesy fix.  It also has taught me that sometimes, you just can’t bite on the tasty bait of a kewl trendy idea without taking into account the dangers of what it might create down the road.  This is also a major sin of Marvel Comics lately.

And that takes us into the last, most egregious sin:


A while back I was introduced to the phrase “Story, not Sermon”.  It’s part of where lots of Christian Fiction falls down.  Too many focus on preaching while neglecting the story, and that life doesn’t always fall into neat little boxes of quantified faith and philosophy.  Lately, though, sermonizing has become endemic throughout movies, TV and music.  It isn’t so much in books much more than it had been in the past, other than artificial markets created for identity politics which are then weaponized by publishers and retailers with an agenda.  BTW, everyone has an agenda.  Those who claim otherwise are lying to your face.  When I read a book to learn something, sermonizing isn’t so bad.  For instance, I don’t pick up “Hind’s Feet on High Places” and don’t expect it to address me directly or obliquely.  On the other hand, if I pick up “The Screwtape Letters”, I don’t get sermonizing at you, but its more of a morality tale or fable where I can choose to ignore its subtext towards me, and the philosophy becomes a backdrop.  On the other hand, if I read “Ender’s Game” I don’t get any sermon or morality tale outside of the broad general themes of an Sci Fi adventure story.

What this has this taught me?  There are expectations on how much you can preach a belief or faith before it interferes with the good story.  “Hind’s Feet” is a book that uses allegory to preach directly to you about its subjects in an entertaining parable.  But I went into reading that book knowing it was going to preach to me.  If I had not and was averse to Christian theology, I’d have been pissed by the bait and switch.  Same goes for “The Screwtape Letters” if I did not know it was a morality tale with a solid trope twist.  But if suddenly I started getting either morality tales or parables from “Enders Game”, a book based on the pretense it is nothing more than an entertaining story, I’d have launched the book across the room.  It’s part of why the sequels have been failures.

So I work hard to use the morality tale/fable line in my work.  People know going in that I’m putting this out there as an aspect of the world.  I’m not preaching to the reader that this is how to believe.  It’s just the way the characters believe.  The instant you cross the line and try to make people agree with what you’re putting in the book, you leave prose and entertainment and become rhetoric.

How does this relate to Dr. Who?  For a few years now, we’ve been seeing creeping political correctness joked about, more libertine attitudes being normalized and the slow slow descent into forced Transacceptance theology.  Post Modernism and Social Justice has poisoned too much of the show’s underpinnings and has been slowly dissolving the “just for fun” nature of the show into subtle fables and sermons on how we should act and think. Social programming at its most nefarious.  Captain Jack was the first hammerblow.  Missy was the next.  Then came the “Day of the Doctor” with gender changing generals (a rubbish episode that wasted John Hurt), and then Bill and now… this.

No one who’s been paying attention is fooled as to what this is about.  This is pushing a political agenda and using the popularity and love of a trusted franchise to do it.  As a fan of the show since 1980, I find it insulting and infuriating that something used for entertainment and twisted it to push an agenda.  This is equivalent to a reboot of Star Trek making James T. Kirk into some man-hating feminist. Or Darth Vader was Luke’s mother.  It’s a comparable betrayal, and its something people need to realize is wrong for it violates trust for the sake of a trend.  I have no animosity towards the actress.  In fact, I feel kinda bad for her, because she’s going to be vilified and roasted on the spit of public opinion.  To them it’s now a delivery system for a socio-political agenda to sneak unpopular/abominable ideas past critical thought barriers of impressionable fans and normalize aberrant behavior.  All in the name of hypocritical “Tolerance”.

When you fail in the payoff, it’s often because you over-reached or sold something you couldn’t figure out and had to cheat.  If you jump the shark, it’s usually caused from the previous point, but made worse because its outlandish and violates the rules of your universe or at least sprains credulity.  And sermonizing… Well… that’s a direct violation of trust between you and your reader if you were not up front with the fact ‘Here there be rhetoric, not entertainment”, and that is the most bitter betrayal of all.

Some very important things for me as an author to consider.  Something I hope never to violate or at least be up front with my level of rhetoric/sermonizing/story.  A balance that I hope always comes out with story first.

If you think that this level of fan outrage has not happened before or is not coming, I refer you to this: