About My Book

Learn more about my first book, Six Pack: Emergence.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Announcing Six Pack: Gyration

I am happy to announce that the second book in the Six Pack series is on its way. Here are the details!

SIX PACK: GYRATION

A drink set everything in motion.

Months after the Six Pack has fled City 37N104W, Tyler Ward wonders how much longer the Underground Network can afford to wait to make its next move against the Novusordo government. The disappearance of five more students from Monroe Secondary School pushes his desire to take action. And when he learns that Professor Roger Woods may be in trouble, he is convinced he and the Six Pack must take matters into their own hands, even if it means defying the Network. But actions have consequences, and the decisions Tyler and his friends make will impact everyone they encounter -- including themselves.

A young adult, science fiction, dystopian novel, coming soon from Clean Reads.

In the meantime, don't forget to check out my first book in the series, Six Pack: Emergence, now available on Amazon and Nook.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Twenty Questions With Elizabeth Russell

My guest for Twenty Questions this week is Elizabeth Russell, whose debut novel, Halfbreeds, was released last month. Here is the cover blurb for her new novel, which may be purchased at Amazon.

In a village wrapped about with strange monsters and superstition, a new kind of child is born. Half-man half-monster, the villagers fear their own children and, turning against them, burn them at the stake. But a small band of resilient Halfbreeds escape their executioners and take up their home in the wild. In a desperate attempt to find their place in the world, these children question what it really means to be human.

Let's hear from Elizabeth about her novel and her interest in writing.

1. How did you get interested in writing?
Since I was a little girl I've wanted to be writer, to follow in the footsteps of my heroes L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott. My imagination was very active and I loved inventing stories in my own head. I wanted to write well enough to share my stories with the world.

2. What inspired you to come up with this story?
In college, I struggled with the questions of what formed a good society. I learned about Utopias and Distopias, communism, democracy, monarchy, and always came back to the same fundamental understanding of government. I realized it is not the type of government that ensures happiness and peace, but the goodness of those who govern. I wanted to explore this theme through my characters and setting, as well as the question of what does it mean to be good?

3. Tell me about the main character and what inspired the character’s creation.
There are many characters in the story, but the central figure is Bobakin. He is the leader of the band of children. He develops over the course of the story from an untamed, impetuous, dynamic young man into a firm, reliable, and strong leader. I asked the question, through him, of what a good leader looks like who always chooses the good of his people.


4. Who were some of the other characters you found enjoyable to write as you progressed with the book?
Each child holds a special place in my heart, as do the two pivotal adults, Morgan and Serence. But I will tell you about Denmin, who is the first character the reader encounters, and who plays a vital role in the end of the novel. Denmin is a fighter, fundamentally. He sets the pace for all the other children in their fight for goodness by proposing, at the beginning, that they could be good if they fight hard enough inside themselves. Later on, he likes to prove his arguments by taking action: hunting a Schump, marrying his beloved, and carrying on the war between Humans and Halfbreeds. At the end of the story, without giving too much away, I will tell you he chooses an action which alters the whole course of the Halfbreeds’ lives, and saves his own soul in the process. He is my hero, and I always cry for him at the end.

5. What are some of the themes you explored in writing the novel?
 Answered in Q. 2, but more succinctly:
        - What does it mean to be good?
        - What is the right kind of society?
        - What does it mean to be civilized?
        - How should we relate to something we do not understand?

6. What things did you learn along the way as you wrote and edited the book?
I had no idea where this novel was going to go when I started it, and many things I thought were going to happen, did not happen as I imagined. It was as much a journey for me as I hope it will be for all my readers.
I would say that most of the themes and questions I explored in the story do not have any direct answers, but I learned the most about the last one: How should we relate to something we do not understand? We see many characters grapple with this question, and while the villain Carl Drax certainly offers an extreme of how not to react, there are several good characters who show us different options. Fr. Serence taught me a lot about how to understand and love something that is foreign to our experience. He is confused about how to understand the Halfbreeds and their wild ways, but he loves them, and this love gives him a lens for accepting them unconditionally.

7. This is your debut novel – are there short stories, poetry or other written items that you have had published or attempted to publish?
Yes, I have many short stories, poems, novels, and fairy tales written, but this is the first to be published anywhere except my blog. You can read my fairy tales at www.thefairytaleblog.com.

8. Did you go in with the idea of writing a dystopian novel from the start?
Not necessarily. It was all about the characters when I started and the setting and time period sort of developed around them. It is not dystopian in the sense that it is any worse than our own society, but only different in the way it shows its problems and prejudices. I truly believe it is a reflection of human nature.


9. What is it about science fiction and fantasy that appeals to you?
Sci-fi and Fantasy offer us a free realm in which to explore questions and concepts. We can do whatever we want in this realm, create whatever we want, unrestricted by rules or laws of nature. This allows the reader and creator to concentrate on what they want to really explore: questions, themes, characters, love, death, friendship…the list goes on. What makes Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy so fascinating, for example, is not his idea of mapping and predicting the future, but his exploration of mankind’s reaction to this idea. His idea, set in a futuristic time frame, allows for an interesting look at society, unrestrained by current technology and school of thought. Ultimately, fantasy and sci-fi always come back to the real world, because they are actually offering us a lens by which to see it more clearly.

10. What do you find is the right environment for you to write?
I love to write in my apartment, curled up on my couch, with calming music on the speakers and a mug of hot tea.

11. Are there specific programs or tools you find useful to help you with the writing process?
Sometimes I write on my computer, and sometimes on a notebook. It really depends on my mood, and sometimes, even the story that I’m writing.

12. What have you found to be useful methods for promoting your writing?
 Honestly, this is all so new that I don’t have an answer for that yet.

13. What are some of the famous books or authors you have enjoyed or inspired you?
I devoured the classics my whole life: Charles Dickens, J.R. R. Tolkien, Ray Bradley, Issac Asimov, G. K. Chesterton, Louisa May Alcott, and L. M. Montgomery. There’s so many more, but I’ll stop there. They all went into forming my writing techniques and imagination.

14. Any aspiring or independent authors whose books you’ve read that you liked and want to mention to others to check out?
 N/A

15. What advice would you give to those who want to write a novel before they actually get started?
Make sure you’re passionate about it, and dedicated to making it the best product it could possibly be. Writing a book is not for the faint of heart - your entire soul goes into it. But if you truly love it, then be brave and forge ahead, no matter how little experience you might have. If you pursue it with passion, you will find help along the way when and where you need it.

16. Tell me about what you do for a living/career.
I write for a local community magazine and teach writing through online classes, local writing classes, and tutoring. I like the experience of writing for a living, and love passing on my writing knowledge to my students. Reading their stories is the best part of my job!

17. Tell me about your family and their support for your writing.
My family has been very supportive! Both my parents like to marvel at my imagination and writing ability, wondering aloud where I got my talent. But I was homeschooled and owe all my ability to their teaching, so whether it was nurture or nature, I definitely inherited my writing passion from them.
I am the oldest of 9 children, and all my siblings have active imaginations. I often find inspiration by telling stories to my younger siblings, especially my three-year-old brother.
The biggest tribute, however, goes to my oldest brother Tim. He listened to me read my story chapter by chapter, egging me on to keep writing and tell him where the story was going to go. If you read the dedication page, you will see his name there. He loves it all, but was always disappointed by Bahia’s fate.

18. What are some of your hobbies and interests?
All types of stories: writing (obviously), reading, movies and TV shows. I also love artwork: chalk pastels, oil painting. Swimming. Hanging out with friends at bars and playing board games.

19. Are you a dog person or a cat person? (Or some other animal?)
I’m in no way an animal person. Sometimes I think it’s cool if I see a coyote or deer on the side of the road. J The only pet we ever owned that I liked was a turtle. He’s pretty cute to watch swimming in his tank.

20. Who would win a battle of superhero skills: Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman?
It’s not about superior skills, it’s about who is the better man. Superman, when he’s the heroic man of virtue that I love, will always win the war, even if he loses an occasional battle.
Batman has so much darkness in him, that he will not win until he relinquishes his hold on his depression and anger.

Wonder Woman’s pretty great, but I only know her from the recent film. (I didn’t see Batmen vs. Superman) Judging by that, she could hold her own against Superman, and it would depend on who went dark first for who loses. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

There Is A Point To The Sandwich Talk

Note: This is a political column in which I find a way to plug my own novel. You've been warned in advance that there will be shilling here!

Earlier today, I ran across a piece by The American Conservative's Rod Dreher, in which he talked about a recent column by The New York Times' David Brooks -- a column that got mocked on Twitter because Brooks wrote about informal social barriers between the upper-middle class (or college-educated class, if you prefer) and those above versus the rest of American society.

Brooks then related a story about a friend who had no high school degree who he took to a sandwich shop, in which his friend looked uncomfortable after reading the menu. He opted to take her elsewhere. Critics mocked him and ripped him apart for doing so.

As Dreher explains, people missed the larger point Brooks was making. For many people, being brought into a new environment can make them feel that they don't belong, given that they've never experienced this before. Dreher used a good analogy, talking about the area in which he grew up and the areas he later moved to. His father grew up in an area in which, if you put him in the middle of a swamp, he'd have no problem finding his way out, but if you put him in the middle of Paris, he would have freaked out because it's an unknown environment. Similarly, Dreher says he would have freaked out being dropped into a swamp but was comfortable exploring Paris on his own.

To be fair, the issue of feeling out of place in a new environment is not unique to the elite and well connected -- it's something that every human being deals with from time to time. We get used to the environments we live in and they make us feel comfortable. When we experience a new environment, we aren't sure what to make of it.

But at the same time, the elite and well connected are the ones that have chosen to cut themselves off from the rest of the population because it's the elite and well connected who make the rules or, at the very least, influence those who make them. And that's where the disconnect comes in, and that's the larger point of Brooks' column.

When I finally got the chance to read Brooks' column, I found the points he led off with pretty telling. He is right, for example, about the usage of zoning ordinances to ensure that the less well-to-do are kept separate from those who are better off. This is not a joke -- go look around your cities and towns to determine where the lower income people live and it's often squirreled away in remote places, far removed from everyone else. The message that gets sent: Those on the top don't want to hang around with the riff raff.

And now comes the part where I plug my book -- Brooks' points actually made me think about one of the themes that I covered in my debut novel, Six Pack: Emergence, that being society's structure. I'll get into a minor spoiler here: Students, after they become 18, are sorted out based on their test scores, with the top achievers joining society's elite and the rest getting sorted into other jobs while being put under the influence of a drink that keeps them from engaging in reason. The exception: The children of the elite.

Of course, in our society, we don't have the government putting people under the influence of a drink, but we do have a system that pretty much ensures that those who are at the higher end are going to get everything they desire while those on the lower end find it tougher to break the cycle unless they happen to be a top achiever who can get into those institutions for the higher end. Those on the lower end might see different means of channeling their frustration that they can't break the cycle, but the point is the system in place doesn't allow it to happen. The points raised in Brooks' article are only the start of the list.

Furthermore, the points raised in Dreher's piece say a lot about how our society is trending. And thanks to social media, it's become easier than ever for like-minded individuals to congregate across long distances, often seeking validation for their points of view, and then flocking to whatever member of the elite and well connected will tell them how right they are. In the end, only the elite benefit while the rest are still left behind.

If we're going to actually address the issues that impact those who aren't part of the elite, it's going to require the elite to stop acting they are more enlightened because they embrace diversity and start realizing that they won't be enlightened until they embrace the one thing they aren't including in their vision of diversity. That one thing can be described in two words: Economic class.

(Final note: It's also worth checking out this Twitter thread by Chris Arnade. He does a good job illustrating what the elite class doesn't understand.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Twenty Questions With Dana Romanin

My guest for Twenty Questions this week is fellow Clean Reads author Dana Romanin, whose new novel Abby's Letters was released June 20. Here is the blurb for her newest release.

For years, Jane’s mom told her horror stories about her time spent in foster care. Now she’s determined to keep her little sister from suffering the same fate.

Seventeen-year-old Jane Sanders has had to take care of her alcoholic mother and little sister, Abby, since her dad died seven years ago. And now Mom had to go and die too. Authorities determine it was a homeless transient who died in the fire of the old manufacturing plant, but Jane knows the truth.

There is no way she’s going to let Abby go into foster care which leaves her with one option—fake her mom’s life. As far as Abby knows, their mom is in rehab. And Jane wants to keep it that way. She’d be eighteen in a few months then she could become legal guardian to her sister. With the help of her best friend, Clark, it should be easy, right?

Juggling nosy neighbors, a concerned school counselor, and an oblivious new boyfriend turns out to be harder than Jane thought. But the real problem begins when Abby starts writing letters to Mom. Through Abby’s letters, Jane sees a different side to their mom—a side she could have loved. And loving Mom is something she didn’t plan on. Because loving somebody makes it harder to ignore their death.


Her new book is available on Amazon. I'm happy to host Dana this week. Let's hear from her about her novel and her interest in writing.

1. How did you get interested in writing?
I fantasized about being a writer ever since I could remember. I loved the idea of creating my own worlds and making people do whatever I wanted in them. But when I was younger I found it easier to dream about writing than to actually write. It wasn’t until about six years ago that I made the effort to write…not just dream about it. 

2. What inspired you to come up with this story?
Well, it’s kind of morbid. But I’ve heard stories of bodies being found that could never be identified. They’d just be written off as John or Jane Doe and would be stored for months, even a year or longer. It was sad to think that someone could die and nobody know or care enough to claim them. Then I thought, unless there was a reason no one claimed them. Maybe they were protecting someone? And Abby’s Letters stemmed from there.

3. Tell me about the main character, Jane Sanders, and what inspired you to create her.
Jane loves her sister more than anyone. She’d sacrifice her own well-being in order to protect Abby. But she doesn’t always make the right decisions. That’s what happens when we try to protect the people we love in our own strength instead of handing them over to God and allow Him to protect them.


4. What characters, other than Jane, did you find enjoyable to write as you progressed with the book?
I enjoyed writing Lindsey’s character so much that I actually gave her the starring role in the sequel. :)

5. What are some of the themes you explored in writing the novel?
The major theme of the book is forgiveness and trusting God even when things don’t go the way you want it to go.

6. What things did you learn along the way as you wrote and edited the book?
The biggest lesson I learned is to not fight the story. There are parts in Abby’s Letters that I didn’t want to write. I wanted to do some things differently, but that wasn’t the story. I wanted to take the easy way out, but I had to dive into those scenes and write them anyway.

7. Tell me about some of the short stories you’ve published on your book and what inspires you to write them.
I started out writing short stories mainly for practice. I had a few short stories published in Encounter, a magazine for teens. And I also had a short story that won a Family Fiction contest and was published in an anthology. But mainly I write short stories for fun. They’re quick and satisfying, unlike a novel which takes an excruciatingly long time to write!

8. I see one of your stories got chosen for adaptation into a short film. Tell me more about the story and how the film opportunity came about.
I entered one of my short stories into a contest that the Blue Man Group had on Wattpad. And they chose my story, along with one other, to adapt into a short little film. It was fun to see something that came out of my weird mind performed by Blue Men.

9. What do you find is the right environment for you to write?
If I wait until the environment is right, I’d never write. I have three kids. I’m really good at blocking out noise.

10. Are there specific programs or tools you find useful to help you with the writing process?
I’m pretty boring when it comes to techy stuff. I just use Word. But the best most powerful weapon I have in my writing arsenal is a notebook and pen that I carry around with me everywhere. I jot down ideas constantly in my notebook.

11. What have you found to be useful methods for promoting your writing?
Prayer. Seriously. After prayer, probably connecting with other writers who are willing to help spread the word. Writers are readers too.

12. What are some of the famous books or authors you have enjoyed or inspired you?
I love Anne of Green Gables. I know that a lot of writers love that book. And I probably sound so cliché. But it’s the truth. I think it’s because I love her passion for life. She doesn’t care what others think. I’ve read it more times than I can count. I read it again just last spring. It takes me to my happy place.


13. Any aspiring or independent authors whose books you’ve read that you liked and want to mention to others to check out?
I just finished reading Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley. Excellent book. I also loved Into the Fire by Kim Vandel. I’m excited to start reading the next book on my list which is Running Lean by Diana Sharples. Check out those books!

14. What advice would you give to those who want to write a novel before they actually get started?
Don’t wait until things calm down or something happens to make it easier to write. Just write. Read books on how to write, go to conferences, and read good fiction. Then simply write.

15. Tell me more about Illuminate YA and what you do at that website.
Illuminate YA is a new YA/NA imprint of LPC Books. I’m a volunteer on the pub board to help evaluate submissions.

16. What is life like in the Virginia town you live (other than whether or not cows outnumber the people)?
I live in town where you can’t go to the store without seeing at least one person you know, usually several. It’s a town where tractors are your only traffic concern, besides the occasional cow or rooster. I have views of mountains from my deck. And hiking trails, rivers, creeks, and lakes are just a few minutes drive away. It’s truly a great place to live.

17. Are there certain places you like to go to get a good cup of coffee?
Honestly, I like my coffee at home the best. I’m sorry that sounds so boring, but it’s the truth!

18. I see you and your family have a lot of pets – tell me more about your love for animals.
We wanted a nice non-shedding family dog, so we got a cute little Wheaton terrier. She sleeps at my feet every night. Then, a sick heartworm infested dog wandered into our yard. He now sleeps at the foot of our bed on the floor. We found a kitten in a bush. She now sleeps at my husband’s feet. My son wanted a bird. We now have two screeching cockatiels waking us up every morning. My kids wanted guinea pigs. We now have a guinea pig stinking up my son’s bedroom. In short, I’m a sucker.

19. I see you enjoy running. Do you just run for exercise or are there any races or other events in which you like to participate?
I love running, but more as a time of escape. I listen to music and let my mind wander. I like to think I do it for exercise, but it’s really more for sanity.

20. Who would win a battle of superhero skills: Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman?

Easy. Lynda Carter’s 1970’s Wonder Women. You can’t beat her.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Twenty Questions With Bethany Swafford

My guest for Twenty Questions this week is Bethany Swafford, whose newest release is Not My Idea, released June 27. The blurb for her latest release:

"Lucas, you must return home."

Twenty two year old Lucas Bywood abandons his Grand Tour in response to those words from his father. Everything is not well at home and he finds himself in a bit of a fix. A little warning that his father had made tentative arrangements for his marriage would have been nice but Luke really wishes it had been anyone other than the young lady chosen. After all, Phoebe Ramsey had always been an annoyance and any time they had spent together had resulted in physical injuries for one of them. 

Just when Luke thinks he's escaped that particular future, he finds himself courting a young woman he doesn’t want, a furious best friend who wants a duel to satisfy honor, and the responsibility of finding who and why someone had caused an accident for his mother. 

This was not his idea of what the summer was going to be like.

I appreciate Swafford sitting down with me to talk about her newest release, as well as her other books and her interest in writing. Let's hear what she has to say.

1. How did you get interested in writing?
As a child, I had the bad habit of reading all the time, even when I was supposed to be doing schoolwork or chores around the house. My parents’ most effective punishment was to take my books away. The loophole I found around that was that anything I wrote didn’t get taken away. My sister, in turn, loved to read my little stories, so I started writing more for her.

2. What inspired you to come up with this story?
Not My Idea came about because of two things: a bad day and a song from one of my favorite childhood films. I was having one of those days where nothing was going right, so much so that when it was over, it was just hilarious to think of just how many things had gone wrong. I began to devise a plot wherein a character had a series of misunderstandings and problems come his way.

The song is This Is My Idea from The Swan Princess. The two main characters are children and they do not get along through most of the song even with their parents trying to get them together. Many stories have that kind of situation and end the same way it does in the song: they are adults and fall in love. I thought it would be fun if the exact opposite happened. Two people, enemies in childhood, and they still don’t get along as adults.

3. Tell me about the main character, Lucas Bywood, and what inspired you to create him.
Lucas is a young man who really wants to be independent. He has a family who has their own ideas about what he should do with himself.

4. What characters, other than Lucas, did you find enjoyable to write as you progressed with the book?
That would have to be Mr. Ward. He was a minor character in A Chaotic Courtship, so it was fun to bring him back, especially since he will be a key figure in the second book. He is the example of a good friend to Lucas, in comparison to another person who was not so loyal.


5. What are some of the themes you explored in writing the novel?
The most important theme I explored was loyalty to family versus independence. From all sides, Lucas has people trying to influence him or tell him how to behave, what to do with his future, etc. Does he stay true to his own sense of self or let his friends and families change him? I think this is something everyone has faced in their life.

6. What things did you learn along the way as you wrote and edited the book?
I learned I cannot force the words onto the page and that I have to take time for myself. Too often, I would start crying during edits because the pressure to make it the best it could be was too much. If the words weren’t coming, I learned to walk away, do something else for awhile, and then come back to it.

7. Your other books had female lead characters – how did writing a book with a male lead character compare to those two?
I found I had to look at things differently. In my other books, my female leads were definitely more emotional. With Lucas, I had to think in a more logical, straightforward way. I also chose to put less focus on what people were wearing, since how likely would it be that a young gentleman could name the exact style gown, the fabric, and adornments of each young lady?

8. What else differed in writing this book compared to your other two?
Well, it’s the first in a planned series, so there were some things that are left a little vague at the end. I wanted to have something to tie this to the books that are to follow. It was something that was a bit difficult to explain to each editor.

This is also a book with very little romance compared to my other books. In fact, Lucas does everything he can to avoid it! While he does admire a young woman, nothing is done about it because it is the wrong time.

9. Let’s talk about A Chaotic Courtship for a moment – what inspired you to come up with the main character, Diana Forester.
For A Chaotic Courtship, I wanted a portray a normal woman. Not a lady or wealthy heiress, since there were not that many in the Regency era. I wanted to write about a normal young woman with uncertainties, doubts, normal interactions with her family and friends. Diana is also the closest I think I will ever come to a self portrait. 

10. And regarding Emily’s Choice, what inspired you to come up with the main character, Emily Lawrence?
When I began writing Emily’s tale, I had in mind a kind of retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It changed so much in writing, it is nothing like that fairytale. But Emily is still very much like the Belle of Disney’s 1991 animated film. She loves to read and she has little patience for those who don’t approve of books.


11. What do you find is the right environment for you to write?
I can write pretty much anywhere, but my favorite place is at my desk with my noise-cancelling headphones on. I can’t stand silence, so there is always something playing in the background, whether it’s music or just a youtube video.

12. Are there specific programs or tools you find useful to help you with the writing process?
I like using Google docs, since I am in a car a lot of the time. The Google Docs app on my tablet lets me have any of my projects with me wherever I am. Then, when I’m back home, it saves it to my cloud and I can pick up on my laptop.

13. What have you found to be useful methods for promoting your writing?
Promotion is the thing I hate the most, and I’m still learning how to do it now. I have the most fun with book blog tours, and I think they have drawn the most readers.

14. What are some of the famous books or authors you have enjoyed or inspired you?
Definitely Jane Austen. I love how her books focus on the lives of her characters, what they think and feel. Mr. Tilney from Northanger Abbey is my favorite hero, and I used him as inspiration for Lucas’ personality.

15. Any aspiring or independent authors whose books you’ve read that you liked and want to mention to others to check out?
Wendy May Andrews has some fantastic Regency stories. I think I have every book she’s written, be it in eBook format or a physical copy of her first book.

I’m also fond of fairytale retellings, and Jessica Kaye has the best Rapunzel retelling that I have ever read.

16. What advice would you give to those who want to write a novel before they actually get started?
Research so that you can defend any part of your book. You may not need every detail you learn for your story, but it sure comes in handy if anyone questions a decision you make in the narrative.

17. I see you’ve done a lot of book reviews at your website – what do you enjoy about doing book reviews?
I rely on reviews to let me know whether a new author I’ve found keeps their book clean or not. Too often, though, there were no reviews to tell me. I began leaving reviews so that other readers who care about whether a book is clean aren’t caught unawares like I have.

18. Other than romances, are there other genres you particularly enjoy reading?
One would have to be mystery. I was 7 yrs old when I read my first Nancy Drew mystery, and I fell in love with the skill of finding clues and putting them together to figure out ‘whodunit’. Then, I moved on to Sherlock Holmes and was blown away by that detective’s skills.

My other favorite genre is Historical Fiction. I like history and the lessons we can learn from what has happened before.

19. I can tell from your website you like Sherlock Holmes – what makes him so appealing?
I could talk about Sherlock Holmes for hours! If there is one thing I love in a character, it’s intelligence. In the original stories, Holmes was so acutely aware of society and how things work, that he could see the things that are out of place. He was ahead of his time, and the friendship between him and Dr. Watson is perfect.

20. Who would win a battle of superhero skills: Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman?

Since I know the most about Superman, I think I’d have to go with him. He’s from a different planet, has some incredible powers, and he wants to protect Earth from evil. Seems like a winner to me.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Book Review: Day Moon

Dystopian novels can tackle some interesting "what if" scenarios and Brett Armstrong accomplishes that in his novel Day Moon.

In the near future, a 17-year-old boy named Elliott is tasked with logging printed works into a computer database for Project Alexandria, founded by his grandfather as a means of keeping all human knowledge secure and accessible to everyone. This means printed works are destroyed in good faith. But Elliott discovers that a book of William Shakespeare's works that belonged to his grandfather do not match what has been logged into Project Alexandria.

It presents the "what if" scenario about the government keeping digital copies of books and other printed material, only for the government to determine what is kept and what the work really meant, instead of allowing people to read the work as originally written. It begs the question about who decides what when it comes to writings that are passed down from generation to generation.

The "what if" scenario is what makes Day Moon an interesting read. But it also sees Elliott unraveling a mystery along the way, all while trying to figure out who he can and can't trust. Armstrong keeps Elliott's character consistent along the way -- Elliott is a Christian, but he doesn't preach about it and instead goes back to his beliefs as part of his motives for deciding what action to take and who he should trust.

I did find a few spots in which it seemed Armstrong pulled away from Elliott's POV and into the mindset of another character, but they didn't detract from the book overall. I would chalk that up to how writers try to show, rather than tell, the emotions of a non-POV character but don't always nail it.

Day Moon is a book that makes you think, regardless of what your religious or philosophical beliefs may be. After all, history is filled with people who have taken popular works and tried to change them based on what they think is appropriate, often in ways that deny others a chance to read the works for themselves and determine what they mean.

It goes without saying I consider Day Moon a recommended read. You may purchase it at Amazon.

Friday, June 23, 2017

On Yanez, Castile And Our Desires To Be "Safe"

For readers who are used to me posting something on Sundays, once in a while, I step away from things that are author and book related to talk about other things that come to mind. It's where I write about things that would be political in nature, whatever happens to pop into my head.

The topic that's weighed on my mind for the past few days was the case of Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile. Yanez was found not guilty by jury of second-degree manslaughter and endangering safety. This happened despite much of the evidence indicating that Castile complied with Yanez's orders and Yanez panicked.

As much as I would like to go back and change the verdict, I understand this is how the judicial system works. With that said, there are some lessons that we can learn from this case, which say a lot about the issues we have with society in general and various players within it.

Here are my observations, some of which you may not have considered, but I believe do need to be taken into account to understand why we've gotten to the point we are at now with how police officers do their jobs.