Shadows of Our Fathers now available

I’m happy to announce that Shadows of Our Fathers is online and available at Amazon and Smashwords. As soon as the Barnes and Noble and Apple bookstores get updated with the distributions from Smashwords, I’ll update the novels page.

As for what I’m writing next? I’m probably going to shelve the Winter Phenomenon and the Cahokia series I had been planning and maybe try a High Fantasy series. That’s my current plan.

Shadows-of-our-fathers_4ATitle: Shadows of our Fathers
Purchase (ebook): Amazon | Smashwords
Series: Primal Patterns (3)
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Word count: 115,000

Angels and demons fall as the Great War between Order and Chaos comes to a close. For those who thought Jehovah’s days of smiting stopped in the Old Testament, it’s time to give the devil his due.

In the face of democratic and social reforms, the Chaos Universe struggles with its past while pursuing the future that King Lucifer promises. While the demons thrive, the creator of the Elven universe looks to his own past for the salvation of his favorite immortals. Jehovah’s wife Gaea and son Isaac seek asylum in Chaos as Lucifer and Jehovah have their final, apocalyptic battle.

“Shadows of Our Fathers” is the last book of the Lucifer’s Fall trilogy, and book three in the Primal Patterns series.

The Keepers

t-the-keepers-netflixAfter finishing up a final readthrough on Shadows of Our Fathers and sending it to a beta reader, I decided that I wanted to relax for a bit and watch some Netflix. I love true crime dramas, and I had started The Keepers last week. But after two episodes, I realized it was going to be far darker than I could deal with at that time, and I put it off. When I logged into Netflix last night, there it was. I could have moved away from it, but I didn’t. I told myself I would watch one episode, and maybe start a new story or pick one up. I never got to another story. I watched all remaining episodes in one sitting.

You would think that is a strong endorsement. Perhaps, it is, but not for the reasons I would normally recommend something to watch. This is a documentary series that illuminates a whole tier of problems in our society and the natural tendency for human beings to sweep things under a rug, tell people to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and deal with the realities of the world, and in general, take advantage of other people.

I can’t tell you what specifically about this drama caused me to tear up all night. There’s a lot of my own experiences comforting friends and even my first wife about things that happened to them, from family members. Almost always an uncle. But sometimes, it was a babysitter, and not always male. When I was growing up, even then, as a teenager, I was shocked by how widespread the problem seemed to be in a small suburb of Nashville. Watching the women in this documentary going through the shame of revelation was just too close to home.

My first wife dealt with the abuse and memory of the abuse in a way very different than the women in the documentary. She became hypersexualized. Ultimately, it ended our marriage.  She had a need for chaos and a self-destructive wish for herself. She attempted suicide with pills. She slept with my friends, and she sometimes even begged me to hit her. Ultimately, I realized that I was not the right person to help her get through this. I think the shock of our divorce, that after all those years I would no longer participate in this destructive behavior, may have helped her find some peace. She married my old best friend, and they started having kids. She seems happy, or as happy as I think she can be. Watching the documentary, you can see how long disassociation can last and how hard it can hit when the rush of memories comes back. And the effects of shame.

Watching this documentary, a lot of old thoughts and emotions came flooding back to me. I thought about how one of my old best friends from high school, who had been abused by his uncle, dealt with sexual assaults by not only that man but also some of his friends who did the weirdest things to him because he was strange. I remember confronting their whole pack in the hallway after they started spreading rumors that I was gay because they believed he had shared his story with me. And he had, but they underestimated me.

I had been on the varsity football team, and at the time, I was a very fit guy. And when I found them there, smirking next to the principal’s office, I slammed my fist into a door beside the ringleader’s head, while he was standing next to his girlfriend and crew, and I told him, in no uncertain terms, that if I ever heard him say another word about me, I would beat him so badly that his girlfriend wouldn’t recognize him. I eyed his entire circle of friends, daring them to say something.

My friend was there. He was so proud. He had told me the ringleader would fold like a flan, and I had worked myself up for a couple of days. He had egged me on, and I remember that he looked so triumphant watching me do this to them. Threaten a bunch of frightened morons. And then I let him down. I started feeling like he had manipulated me into my intense anger–that I might have lost my chances at scholarship if I ever did something like that again and got caught. I would have beaten the kid down if he had said anything to me, instead of sitting there whimpering in front of his girlfriend and friends. I stopped dropping by my friend. I stopped hanging out. I withdrew. I had stood up for him in my own, extremely angry way, and then I had dropped it. I was ashamed. I reminded myself of my father. His rage. How infrequently he controlled it. I didn’t want to be that guy.

So, I let him down. He didn’t have me to confide in. I went on to graduate and eventually, I found my way through college and grad school. He went on to be a psychiatrist. He became gay. I know there is an argument that says all gay people are born that way, but I’m not sure he was born that way. I think he was molested by multiple males, and I know how he internalized his shame. I remember it. He wore dark clothing. He had very low self esteem. I wanted to help him. And my ex wife. And one of her friends who was molested by her uncle. And on and on. I had found so many people who had gone through things like this. And now, all of them are out of my life.

I hang out with my wife Jenny, and she’s my best friend. I ask myself sometimes if all of this is selfish. By cutting ties to these people, after knowing their problems, if that makes me part of this system. Maybe it does. It probably does. There’s only so much darkness I can consume though. I’ve been through plenty of things in my life, and I’ve made choices to try to see the best side. To move forward. To treat the past like the past. But for some people, especially people who have been molested, I don’t think that’s easy to do. I think it especially marks people of extreme faith in the worst way. A dark blemish on a good person, one that they feel responsible for.

Why did I not say anything? How did I allow myself to be molested the second time? What is wrong with me? These are the kinds of questions my friends would ask. And all I could say was “You’re a good person. They’re a bad person.” Because of my life, I’m very good at shutting things down. Compartmentalizing. Putting bad things in a box and looking toward the future. I’m not the best friend to have, and I know that. Writing is an outlet for me. It’s cathartic. In a way, maybe it’s helping me to avoid my past and enjoy the abstract and fictional scenarios. I try to write things that have meaning. I could write paranormal romance or something else like that, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’d rather have something to say.

And that’s what The Keepers creators are doing. They are allowing these women to have something to say. They are saying something about the Catholic church and the policemen who aided them in these coverups. They are talking about the statute of limitations laws and how they benefit the offenders and not the victims. They have something to say. I can only hope that one day I have something this powerful to say to readers.

The Keepers is not fiction. It’s not hopeful. It’s not going to make you feel better. But it’s a powerful show, and from my experience with molestation survivors, it feels real. If this is fake, then they know their source material. This show brought back a lot of bad memories, but it’s so important that people are aware of the problems that this show talks about. This will always be a problem with humanity. I believe there is an innate problem, especially in men, that creates this kind of molestation culture by itself in isolation. It doesn’t require a special stimulus. In some men, there are just broken parts. And these broken parts cause those men to break others.

I’m reminded of a line from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. “Welcome to the island of misfit toys.” That movie too dealt with molestation. And that’s what I remember about spending time with molestation survivors throughout my teens. That they saw themselves as broken toys. Rarely feeling like they deserved love. Frequently seeking out other malfunctioning toys. That’s how they found me. If you’re broken, for whatever reason, you generally can recognize it in others. And if you’re a good person, and you’re a mended or functioning toy, you’ll see these people and say “I wish I could help fix you.”

And I kind of imagined myself as a robot toy, finding another toy that had lost an arm, and trying desperately to help them put it back on. But after what the broken toy had been through, the arm just wasn’t right for them anymore. For whatever reason, the arm would never fit. Like their shoulder had changed and would no longer accept it at the joint. But still, we fumbled with the broken pieces for a while, trying to make them whole again.

That’s how you’re probably going to feel watching this series. You’ll want to help fix the victims. You’ll want to help fix the system. You’ll want to help find them justice. I’m not sure if such a happy ending is possible. Even if the system resolves this particular case in some way, there will always be victims. As sad as that is, I think there’s something inherently wrong in some people, and it will likely always be true. The defect in humanity will always be there. The best parents can do is just be vigilant. Don’t leave your children alone with relatives or “friends” and especially not priests who must abstain from sex for their religion. I highly recommend the series.

Progress on Final Readthrough

Shadows-of-our-fathers_4ASo, I’m going through my final readthrough of Shadows of Our Fathers, and there are certain chapters that I simply cannot wait for more people to read. There is a significant lull in this book where description of the calm before the storm is taking place. Rebuilding of Arnessa. Reforms in Alurabum. The peculiarities of Lucifer’s son. And then Chapter 11 happens. And then a new villain finally enters–a villain who has really been pulling strings the whole time. And then Chapter 13, which is just my favorite fight scene that I think I’ve ever written. So much fun.

I’m just hoping people don’t get too bored with the lull before Chapter 11. The lull here was intentional to show how peace has affected the demons and made them forget how menacing Jehovah still is. I’m just not sure how this is going to play out with others. I read so much of this, and I remember foreshadowing I put into Lucifer’s Odyssey and The Goblin Rebellion and to me that’s exciting. But to others? I’ve only had one beta reader return me an opinion and it was glowing, but it was also short: “I just finished it this morning and I loved it. I haven’t had such a good read in months. After getting into it I just couldn’t get enough.” I’m feeling the same way in my readthrough, but I’m not really feeling this unstoppable pull toward the end until Chapter 11. I’m hoping that readers can get through the lull and into the good stuff. It’s there. You just have to keep pushing past the peace! Ha!

Anyway, I think we’re still on for May 26th. So far, so good. I’ve tightened up some scenes. Tweaked some dialogue. Certain chapters are going to seem like mysteries until the end–until you see what the oracles have been seeing all along, but hopefully, you guys are going to find this as fun and entertaining as I do.

I’m not sure if you guys have noticed, but I’ve dropped The Goblin Rebellion ebook to 0.99. I’m going to keep it there until at least the end of June. And I’m probably going to release Shadows of Our Fathers at 0.99 to let you all get your hands on this really cheaply. Be sure to share it with friends, and don’t forget to leave reviews (good or bad) to let others know how you felt reading the book. It’s important! Reviews are how we all figure out what we’re going to read next, and I and other readers appreciate you taking the time to share your reactions!

Anyway, back to the book!

Shadows of Our Fathers Update

Shadows-of-our-fathers_4AWe’re in the home stretch on Shadows of Our Fathers. I have received a cover from Damonza that I absolutely love. Damonza has been an absolute delight to work with. Anytime I have asked for changes, they have delivered, and I am not the easiest person to please. I really do appreciate the three covers they have done.

I plan to do another readthrough of Shadows of Our Fathers this weekend, after the Nebulas, and see if there is anything I can see that needs to be tightened up before release. As with The Goblin Rebellion, there is a lull in the action at the beginning where the plot is being setup for the book. After the devastation of The Goblin Rebellion, I think readers need this kind of lull and rebuild. But I could be wrong. If you’d like to be involved in the final beta reading before launch, let me know. To see how the covers will look together, I’m including small versions below.

What do you think of the third cover? Like it? Love it? Dislike it? Let me know!

Going to the Nebulas!

I have been invited to attend the Nebula Awards Mass Autograph Signing event here in Pittsburgh, and I plan to bring copies of my newly released Sixth Edition and Second Edition paperbacks for Lucifer’s Odyssey and The Goblin Rebellion, respectively. If you’re in Pittsburgh, and you’ve got an hour or two to burn, please stop by and see me and some really fantastic Science Fiction and Fantasy authors. You can find more information here:

Primal Patterns Series Re-launch

In preparation for the release of Shadows of Our Fathers, I have added new content to Lucifer’s Odyssey and The Goblin Rebellion, and I am redoing covers and blurbs. Because the books will be different, including a new author’s note for Lucifer’s Odyssey to help explain how the series differs from biblical canon, I have taken the series down for now.

To give you a glimpse into these new changes, I wanted to show you the new covers and blurbs for the first two books.

Damonza_Lucifers_Odyssey_1BWhat if Earth was not the only planet Jehovah cared about? What if humanity was not the only intelligent race that Jehovah had created? What if the war between angels and demons had a much more ancient history that spanned three universes and many billions of light years of space?

The Lucifer’s Fall trilogy of the Primal Patterns series is the story of the most celebrated demon warrior and king in history, and the birth of a moral and intellectual renaissance in the Chaos Universe. The first book, “Lucifer’s Odyssey”, traces the demon prince Lucifer from his imprisonment by Jehovah on Earth to the betrayal of his parents in Chaos and a shaky alliance with the Elven people. Filled with irreverent humor and fast paced action, Lucifer’s Odyssey beckons you to take a journey through space and time into a story where elven technology meets the ruthlessness of the demon race and the potential of Jehovah’s great creations.

“Lucifer’s Odyssey” is the first book of the Lucifer’s Fall trilogy, and book one in the Primal Patterns series.

The-goblin-rebellion_4_BLucifer has become King of Chaos, and the elves and demons have repaired their relationship. To those on the outside, Jehovah’s plans for the multiverse may appear to be in peril. But the Lord works in mysterious ways…

Jehovah imprisons Lucifer’s son and enlists the support of elven dissidents who have lost loved ones to Lucifer’s past deeds. Lucifer’s reforms in Chaos spark controversy at home and abroad, and the bond between the elven king Elandril and the demon king Lucifer grows stronger despite the protests of political elites in the elven capital of Arnessa. To get at the demons, Jehovah must isolate them. An enemy alliance is only as strong as its weakest link.

“The Goblin Rebellion” is the second book of the Lucifer’s Fall trilogy, and book two in the Primal Patterns series.

The cover for Shadows of our Fathers is still being worked on by Damonza. Once I have that ready, I’ll post that too. Do you like where things are going? What do you think of the changes?

Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell


Let me give you the short version first. I have no idea what is wrong with audiences or critics who have been complaining about this film. It is very timely. It is gorgeous, and it is a good movie.

Actually, I can very directly tell you why this movie has been torpedoed by critics. It has essentially been plagued by issues with typecasting, whitewashing, etc. that have been blown way the heck out of proportion, e.g., in reviews like this. I’m not going to go into that. It’s a waste of time. Instead, let’s focus on the film itself.

My first point is that the film is timely. It’s about your personality and your privacy in the digital age. Republicans are pushing a bill that allows for your personal data, history and possibly even content to be sold by ISPs. Similar to how Major has no real rights to her mind, her thoughts, and even her own body. We’re incorporating devices into our lives that are going to be even more personal than smartphones. Implants, though they seem so farfetched, are not that far off in our future. There is already so much pressure on teenagers and young people to conform to a certain type of beauty and a certain type of online, social intelligence, that it is not farfetched to believe that a social pressure might be exerted to enhance beauty with implants. In South Korea, the rate of plastic surgery is astronomical to conform to beauty standards within the society.

As more of our job market is taken over by robots, there is going to be an incredible amount of pressure on the next two generations to push themselves scholastically to be able to get a job. Is it so farfetched to believe that people might resort to implants to store more information, help them process data faster, and learn faster? Do jobs faster? Be stronger? Be smarter? Be better? And who owns that data? According to our current congress, it’s going to be the companies. So, this movie is extremely timely. You should watch the movie if for no other reason than to keep that idea fresh in your mind.

Second, the movie has a solid flow and is comfortable to watch. The characters are reasonably well-defined on a sci-fi concept that is markedly different from our world today. World building in a 2 hour movie can be a hard thing, but the director did a good job of not just world building but also character development and story plotting (editors I’m sure had a lot to do with that).

Third, the movie is downright beautiful. The robots, such as the geishas, are really well done. It presents the ugliness in humans as well as our softer features and beauty, in a way. It presents the scenery of a Shanghai or Hong Kong or Tokyo built to the extreme that all anime and cyber punk books have pushed since the 80s. My wife didn’t like the 3D projections on buildings, but it’s not that far off from what you would expect to see after visiting a major Asian metropolis right now.

The movie is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. There is absolutely zero reason to avoid it in theaters. My wife and I both enjoyed it, and she absolutely hates anime. I doubt she could have sat through the original movie. This movie SHOULD have opened up American audiences to these important themes about digital privacy and self in an age of implants and cybernetics (which is fast upon us), but because of whitewashing conversations run amok, we’ll have to wait longer to have that conversation on a large scale. I would still recommend seeing it.

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