A Special Day Down Under

Back in 2016, Blood of Invidia, was released by Tom Tinney and Morgen Batten. It went on to be a 2017 Finalist for Best Horror Novel at that year’s Dragon Awards. It fell to The Changeling by Victor LaValle.

Okay, so there were a lot of books that didn’t win. Lots more that didn’t even get nominated. So what makes this book so special?

The reason why it was written and published.

You see, Tom and Morgen are father and son. They live tens of thousands of miles apart and for a very long time, they never knew each other existed. That changed several years back. But the distance between them made seeing each other in person near to impossible. E-mails, phone calls and Skypes, aside, they wanted to meet in person.

So they decided to write a book and use the royalties to pay for their first-ever meeting. Blood of Invidia was born. When they were ready, they released it.

Many of us got behind the book as much as we could. Larry Correia sparked a massive run of sales literally by mentioning the project. I mentioned it as often as I could. As did so many others. I reviewed it and was among enough people to nominate it to get it in as a Finalist for the Dragon Awards.

The book was a success, but the goal was not yet attained. It took another year and a half after the Dragon Awards in late 2017, but today, father held his son in his arms for the very first time. You want to know one reason why we write, why some of us do whatever we can to help promote other authors anyway we can no matter how big or small our effort may be?

This is why. This meeting on this day in Australia.

Here’s the video of Tom flying out of Dallas, the plot to make his visit a surprise and the moment when father and son meet face-to-face for the very first time:

Tom and Morgen together at last

P.S. If this doesn’t make you both laugh and cry, you have no soul. Just saying…

Silence One Author, Silence Us All

I ran afoul of an author(?) tonight on Twitter who is part of a minor clique of shrieking harpies who seem dead set on making authors miserable. In nearly every instance, they haven’t done well with their writing. Instead of working on improving their craft, they seek excuses to blame others for their shortcomings.

Part of their schtick is to bully authors into pulling their stories or massively changing them on the grounds of “diversity/sensistivity” or some other nonsense. The one that really boils my writer’s blood is the claim that unless you are the same race/gender/sexual orientation/whatever as your main characters then you have no right to write a story with them in it.

If you will pardon my French: What a load of horseshit!!!!

What amazing classics we would have been denied if this wrong way of thinking had been the norm throughout literary history. Was Shelly a mad scientist or a creature constructed from body parts of the dead? No, she was not. Does this disqualify Frankenstein as a classic that should be pulled from the shelves? Of course not.

Hemmingway was not a Cuban fisherman. Should we remove The Old Man and the Sea from the lists of great works? Of course not.

It has always been my position that all authors should be allowed to tell their story, their way. If they have done their job researching their story, it will show and the story will be well accepted by readers.

Every author should be free of the bullying from these small-minded troglodytes that cannot accept that you don’t have to be a person of color, the same gender or sexual orientation as your MCs. Nor are you required to have lived every minute of the life your MCs live in order to write well about them. Good writers can write excellent stories about incredible characters of any kind. Bad writers can only whine about those that can do what they themselves cannot accomplish.

Do NOT let these negative people shame you, nor demand that you filter your story through “sensitivity readers” or even demand that you pull your book from publication. They have NO right to silence you. They do NOT represent the majority of readers that are seeking the kind of story you’ve written.

The greatest crime is when even a single author’s voice has been shamed into silence. Write your story. Share it with the world. Do NOT give a second thought to these shrieking harpies who only want you to be as miserable as they are so they can feel better about themselves.

 

Coming January 23rd

As 2018 wound down I was making a decision on the direction I wanted to go in 2019 with my writing. There’s a lot of changes coming, a lot of new things that will show up here on this website beginning next week.

But on Jan. 23rd there will be a new weekly podcast coming to YouTube. If you want to keep tabs on it and we close in on launch day over the next two weeks just head over here.

In the meantime, here’s a clue…

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2018: A Review

Well, I’ll say this for the year we’ve come to know as 2018: It wasn’t boring. Both personally and professionally it was an action-packed year to say the least.

THE GOOD

The year started with me serving as a co-host on The Writer’s Block, a show on LA Talk Radio, with Jim Christina and Bobbi Jean Bell.

It also saw the release of two solo sci-fi novels (When The Gods Fells & The Timeless), a co-authored western with Jim Christina (The Last Lonely Trail) and three stories published in anthologies (Nothing Ever Happens Here/Secret Stairs; The Last Hunt/To Be Men; and Extinction Point/Planetary:Earth). I also oversaw the production of four audiobooks of my novels that were released in 2018.

That’s a pretty productive year that will be hard to exceed in 2019. That’s not to say that I’m not going to try very hard to do just that.

The mid-point of the year saw a change in venue, as my wife and I movedescaped/fled from California to Nebraska. While it moved us further away from our kids and grandkids, we are both happy we made the move for a host of reasons too vast to list here. Thankfully, technology allows us to visit via webcam whenever we want and that helps ease the pains of separation.

THE BAD 

Here’s the thing about getting older: Deaths and near-misses become more and more frequent. We lost family members this year and nearly lost others (my father is still being called The Miracle Man in a certain Texas hospital. Not even the doctors that saved his life that night can believe he’s still alive today.)

Two good friends are widowers now. One was a long-term issue that finally came to a conclusion while the other was tragically sudden. There is no worse feeling of ineptitude than being unable to offer any other comfort to a friend suffering a terrible loss than words of condolences. If I could remove their pain, undo their loss, I would do so in an instant. But that is a power none of us have. All we can do is mourn their loss and rage at our powerlessness in the one thing that truly matters.

My own health saw me needing to take a step back and reevaluate some things. For starters, planned trips to Atlanta for DragonCon in August, as well as 2019’s LibertyCon were shelved. At least I was able to attend what I hope will become my home con – O Comic Con here in Omaha – but for the foreseeable future, my public appearances will be limited. (Although I suspect some folks out there are cheering this news, 😉  )

THE UGLY

One discovery in 2018 came in the realization that I had allowed a lot of negativity to work its way into my professional and personal life. For my health, my sanity and my future writing’s sake I realized changes needed to be made.

Starting with some truly evil people I’d wasted too much time engaging with online. They’ve all been blocked from my social media and I no longer waste any time keeping up with their foolishness. I haven’t heard a peep out of them since and that has resulted in a vast improvement all by itself.

But I also removed myself from certain groups and associations that were bringing unneeded stress into my life. The people in these groups are like-minded and good people overall. But they tend to attract drama like… well, like those drama queens we all remember from our junior high school days. Culling that part of the herd has helped out a lot as well.

So while I hate to have to have resorted to such extreme measures, I can’t deny it has resulted in a renewed focus on my writing and a recharged outlook on what I’ll be doing in the weeks and months ahead. More on that later, but I am excited about 2019 in a way I haven’t been about an upcoming year in a very long time.

THE FINAL VERDICT

In a way, 2018 was much like many that have come before. Lots of highs and lows to navigate, but with plenty of family and friends to help see you through. So goodbye 2018 and hello 2019. I hope your year was better than mine and that your 2019 will better than 2018 was for you. We’ll see you next year.

In the meantime, you have less than a week left to pick up e-book copies of my books for your Kindle device for just $0.99 each. Make sure you get your copies, or pick up a few for the special readers in your life, today.

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Not Even Jack Del Rio Could Fix This

When I created the three-book Jack Del Rio series (Reservations, Betrayals and Endgames) I envisioned a lone man standing against powerful political forces. While Reservations was the first book in the series, Betrayals was actually the first one that I had written and that back in 1998.

I had imagined an FBI Agent discovering an old Soviet Cold War-era plot to infiltrate and overthrow the U.S. Government from within. Reservations was released in 2015 and Betrayals followed in 2016, right in the middle of one of the strangest presidential campaigns I have ever seen. And seeing many elements of a story I had written 18 years before starting to appear in real life was somewhat scary.

Now, if the final scenarios found in Endgames (2017) start playing out in real life, I’m packing my bags for a deserted island in the South Pacific.

Like many of you, I’ve been watching the Kavanaugh Hearings with a mixture of popcorn-power-eating fascination and despair for what the state of politics in America have become.

The facts are rather simple: Dr. Ford claims she was attacked by then-17 year-old Kavanaugh. He denies it. Both seem sincere. The people she has named as being present in 1982 have all said that what she is claiming never happened.

There is no factual evidence. No police report. No conversation with a friend, a pastor or anyone after the attack. We don’t even know the day or place. Experienced prosecutors have stated they couldn’t even get a warrant to search for evidence given what we know now.

“Because I said so” is not evidence.

“Because I told my therapist and family 30 years later” is not evidence.

And one of the (crumbling) foundations of this country is that you are presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty. And that burden of proof falls upon the accusing party.

In watching this bizarre theater of the absurd play out these past few weeks, I cannot help but wonder if the people playing these political power games understand the damage they have done and continue to inflict on our country. Our faith in our institutions has been flagging for over 40 years now.

The Presidency, the Senate and House, the FBI, our intelligence agencies, our military and now even our Supreme Court. All have been under assault by those seeking power, by those seeking to deny others their freedoms many have fought and died for.

I look at what is going on today and wonder what Jack Del Rio would do here. Seeing political groups attacking our country the way the radical left is doing, and given his ultimate solution in Endgames, would Jack make a different decision regarding the package he reveals in the Oval Office?

To be honest, I think he might have left it there undiscovered and stayed put in his fortress home in Arizona. Because the America we are heading for, that anyone can be accused – and found guilty – of a crime without one iota of actual proof (remember, because I said so is NOT proof) is not the America our Founders envisioned.

And it isn’t one worth trying to save, either.

 

Check out Jack’s gauntlet, and his triumph over evil,  in the Del Rio Series.  They are available in print, Kindle and audiobook formats.

 

 

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