Spiritual Warfare and Cultural Foundations of Akiniwazi

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I’ve made no bones about this fantasy world of mine being based not on paganism/polytheism/humanism like ohhhh almost all fantasy out there that we’ve generally heard of.  Yes I know there are several Christian authors, and 2 of the biggest fantasy authors based their worlds on Christian allegory.

But there’s that key word.  Allegory.

I’m not trying to use allegory, in part because I want to remain distinct from those two greats and dozens of other lesser known authors.  Instead, I focus my efforts on remaining true to scripture and what I’ve learned from deliverance ministries and the writings of some priests involved in exorcism, former witches and other related sources, writings and videos.  That’s why it’s hard to manage this.  Although I do retain the core of these concepts, I do allow for a little creative license.  Sort of a Dragnet-esque “Change the names to protect the innocent” kinda deal, but the principles are the same throughout.

Of course, that has made it difficult at times because ya gotta be consistent with your setting, even if the special effects go to 11.  Some of the fantastic stuff will have no explanation because that’s how God and the devil do from time to time.  It ain’t supernatural without a good reason, and the Gift of Miracles is a great catch-all for that stuff.

So, you experts out there who can run rings around me, know I’ve made a specific effort to follow this school of thought on the subject.  Y’all may know much more and much better than me, so forgive me my shortcomings.  After all, this is just the “magic system” of the story.  It is not meant to sermonize to people.  If you want to see how that wrecks things, watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi/Solo/Rogue One (or the Ghostbusters reboot).  There’s 4 secular SJW “sermons” before story for ya.

But recently, it has lead me to realize how much work I’ve needed in my life for repentance and deliverance.  Writing is hazardous that way, particularly when you invite God into the process.  On several occasions I’ve been saying “I’ll just take notes, Lord, you tell me what you want, okay?”

For those of you curious about some of the sources I’ve taken inspiration from in how things work in the spiritual realm (with the special effects turned up to 11 and a little creative license taken) you can check out the following authors and ministries.

Derek Prince Ministries.  A rock solid pillar and deliverance centered ministry.  I may not agree with all his suppositions, but I do agree on much of his teaching regarding deliverance.

Tony Evans.  His books and sermons on the activities of demons not to mention the names of God were extremely helpful

Rebecca Brown MD. (sometimes co-authored with her husband Daniel Yoder)  I never understood the concept of generational curses or cursed objects, till reading her work.  Furthermore, her writing with an anonymous witch and satanist clarified a lot of my own personal experiences with the occult from when I was younger and dumber.

Frank and Ida Mae Hammond.  “Pigs in the Parlor” is an excellent book on deliverance and what to watch for.

Some of you may not agree with these teachings, and that’s fine.  Just treat it the same as you would reading a type of philosophy or pagan pantheon you don’t believe in and stick to the entertainment value.  The rest of the religiosity you will find is a combination from several denominations, convoluted on my study of viking cultures and their adherant advancements through the culture of Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and to some extend Finland and the Sami, as well as Viking controlled areas of the Dane law of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Combine this with centuries of separation from their home nations, and you get the polyglot mishmash goop of the Forsamling culture in the fantastic land of Akiniwazi.

Anyhoo… not sure why I felt the need to bring this topic out other than to maybe give those of you new to the series a bit of insight to what’s happening beneath the surface.  Oh!  Speaking of beneath the surface, Book 3 is almost done!  I know I’ve said that before, but I mean it.  Not sure if I have 2,3 or 4 chapters left.  Kinda depends how this one turns out.  My hope is to finish this week.  (I have vacation… woot!)

So here’s the latest autopsy on what’s been written since last I mentioned it:

Book 2 (A Land In Peril*) ->First Draft Done

Pages 211
Words 77122

Book 3 (Into the High Places*)

Pages 259
Words 92707
*working title

Neither of these include the glossary or “Encyclopaedia Akiniwazi” as of yet which may be kinda sizeable, and I may muddle a bit of where the ending is for book 2.  It may include a chapter or two more, but I’m not sure yet.  Meh.  We’ll figure it out as we go, right?

New chapters since last.  Luckily the chapter numbers are now becoming established order and the back-building is ending.

73. The Vultures Begin to Circle

76. The Burden of the Sword

80. A New Threat Is Discovered

82. Predator or Prey

That’s all for now.  Hope for a new post next week with shouts of “Good news, everyone!”

Ta!

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Dynamiting the Key Log

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I’ve been bunged up here with the book lately.  Why?  Because I did not understand my characters and setting well enough to push forward.  It all goes back to adding back in that silly tertiary plotline.  In doing so, it exploded into a wonderland of what’s going on to enrich the setting and the intrigue of what’s going on.  A villain suddenly became much more deep, and even to a certain degree, sympathetic.  I’ve had to create maps to understand the land in which major events for the final conflict will take place, and realize that I have a brand new Macguffin that I never intended would have to be put in with what’s coming.

So what does it all mean?

This single book very well might become a trilogy unto itself!  Yep.  I can see this becoming a 240k word monster that might just be too big for one book.  There are three distinctly unique acts that can stand on their own.  So that’s why this is taking so long.

But now that the key log in the log jam has been dynamited, the writing is moving forward again and a little faster than it had been.  Here’s hoping I can keep it up.

Also, in related news, I have been working on building up an artist studio for not only my writing, but music, video and art.  I hope to put it to good use for book promo videos, and original music and artwork to add in as things move forward with the world of Akiniwazi.  The first big piece came the last week in the form of a new synth.  So I’ve been working hard to balance my creative time between writing and learning on this:

 

And I’ll be hooking that up to a new computer as well so lots of good things happening.  Speaking of good things happening, new chapters are written.  Even though they’re back building, like I said before, this is fleshing out what is to come.  As always the order shifts with the new added chapters.  The numbering is more of a help to keep me straight.

 

Pages 462
Words 165260

31. On Pins and Needles

54. A Casual Sunday Recreation

62. An Oracle Comes

65. Secrets From The Labyrinth

66. Everything Else Must Wait

67. Becoming the Monster

 

Only a few more chapters of the back-added plotline and then the whole thing starts moving as one, just like a broken up logjam… which I hope doesn’t hurt anything as I push on.

Thank you all for your patience and support.  I keep seeing downloads of Book 1 happening, so welcome to those who have found me here and hope you like what you’re reading.  If you can, please leave reviews!  They as helpful to an author on so many fronts.  But more is coming.  I promise!  Lots more!

 

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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!
Crap!

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

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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:

http://www.tolkienestate.com/en/writing/letters/letter-163-to-wh-auden.html

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.

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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.

Chapters

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.

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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.

Thanks.

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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.

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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.

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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.

So…

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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!)

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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.