Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I know, there's no excuse...

Hi everyone,

Feels like yesterday that last I wrote to you, and now I turn around and its December! Yikes! (although that does mean it's almost time for the third and final Hobbit film...)

In part, the delay has been due to a few things going on in my personal life that I would rather not go into, but mostly I'm still busy with school. Especially now as things are ramping up into finals. But the good news is that I have found much more time to work on my stories in the last couple months! Finally got my Star Wars serial up and running on the forums over at TheForce.Net a couple weeks ago, so follow me over there to get some periodical fiction from yours truly. I also have several projects still in the works, one that I shared a concept with you last time, a space fantasy epic of HUGE proportions that (with God's blessing and a lot of work) will be sent off to a publisher by this time next year! Huzzah!

Just in case you were wondering: just because I haven't posted a book review in months doesn't mean I've stopped reading! I actually have three books I just finished, and another one I'm just starting, meaning that you should expect a review or two by Christmas. One will of course be Star Wars-related, but Wayne Thomas Batson's latest book is about the most amazing thing since, well...his last one. More on that later.

Just dropped in so you wouldn't think I dropped off the face of the planet! See you again in a few weeks. In the meantime, Wayne Batson needs help to create more great Christian literature! To support his work go to:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Have A Dream...And An Inspiration!

Just for a moment, I would like you to imagine something with me. It's a dream I had just over a week ago that has gradually taken over my writing focus and will likely become my first published book, the Lord willing. So take out and dust off the part of your mind known as your imagination and walk with me into a sneek peek of my next story.

Visualize: You are hiking a wooded mountain in Spring with a close friend. Pick any friend. Do you have the mental image?

Now picture that you and your friend have left the beaten trail to blaze your own way up the mountain, avoiding some of the switchbacks in the path. The mountainside is very steep, so much so that the hike becomes more of a climb.

Just when you think you should head back, the slope begins to level off. You haven't reached the top, but rather a plateau a fair distance from the trail, thickly covered in trees and underbrush. You and your friend see something through the trees and decide to investigate. Threading your way through the wood, the two of you come into a large clearing.

In the middle of the clearing is a dilapidated, old, gigantic mansion of Victorian design! A rusting black metal picket fence encircles it, and there is a gate leading into the weed-filled yard. But the most baffling thing is that there is no trace of a road or path leading up to it. It's simply there, seemingly untouched for decades.

Obviously, when you find something so cool and weird and isolated, you want to investigate. (At least I did, I'm not sure about you.) You and your friend step up onto the ivy-covered porch and cross to the front door, opening it.

The inside is even more puzzling than the outside, for it is fully furnished. And not just fully furnished, but having modern technology. The sitting room has a faux leather sofa, love seat and ottoman, and a 50-inch flatscreen hangs on the wall across from them. By contrast, the kitchen seems straight out of the 70s, with an avocado green stove and dull yellow cabinets. The fridge is (or was) white, and the inside is still stocked with food. There is a ballroom that seems to be the only room matching the house's outward appearance, with all the rest seeming to be from a different time. And in the very center of the house is a garden that seems very old, such that only a hint of its former beauty can be seen.

The oddness of all of this is that the place seems lived in, hence the food and modern tech, yet still deserted for many years.

This is the point at which I awoke from the dream, only to spend several days pondering it. I invite my readers to do so as well, as this house will appear in one of my books in a very big way. I've been hard at work outlining the plot and even writing parts of the manuscript, so expect periodic updates and excerpts in the near future! What are your thoughts on this mysterious place? I would love to hear them! In fact, if you make a suggestion about something, it may just end up in the final version... :)

Until next time, fellow fans of literature!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Unpublished Short Story!

Hi again all! No details on that project yet (at least none that I can share...) but here is something to tide you over. This is a short story that I submitted for publication in a Colorado Christian University periodical, but unfortunately, it wasn't accepted. However, that doesn't mean my readers can't enjoy it! May I present...Anamnesis. (Yes, that is a real word. Go look it up.)

There is no escape. You are mine now.”
The strange voice echoed through his mind as he traversed the winding stairway back to consciousness. The last step is always the hardest, he thought absently, but before he knew it, he had burst through into full sensory perception.
Unfortunately, in his condition, that meant a splintering headache.
It was dark, too dark to even catch a glimpse of the chamber's walls. The only light was a dim red glow that emanated from about two feet above his head, about where his wrists should have been. He immediately gave a start at this realization, then wished he hadn't.
He let out a grunt from the pain. Apparently his wrists were being held in some kind of shock restraint. It didn't help that every muscle in his body felt sprained.
His clothes, or what he could feel was left of them, were tattered and dirty. They seemed to be the remnants of a uniform, but he couldn't be sure.
“Hello? Is anyone there?” A woman's voice rang into the darkness.
“What? Where are you?” He said, trying to turn around without moving his wrists. His voice was hoarse; he didn't know how long he'd been out. Come to think of it, he didn't even remember where he was or what he had been doing before he lost consciousness.
“Behind you, I think.” The woman, whoever she was, sounded familiar somehow. Did she have something to do with why he was here?
“Do I know you?” he asked.
“I'm not sure,” she replied. “Who are you?”
“The name's Drake,” he said simply. “I'm from...” He had to pause and concentrate. “Wisconsin. That's where I'm from.”
“Natalie, and I'm fairly sure I used to live in Indianapolis.”
“Doesn't strike a bell. Then again, I can't seem to remember much of anything anymore. I might have met you twenty times and not known the difference. Where are we?”
Natalie sighed. “I've been trying to figure it out, but I can't come up with anything. I can't remember.”
Drake started to experiment a little with his position, and found he could stand on one leg and explore a little with his other without disturbing his wrists too much. He discovered that he was against a pillar, or at least a wall that curved around behind him. He suspected Natalie was on the opposite side of the pillar, but he couldn't be sure. He could reach nearly a quarter of the way around.
“Natalie,” he said cautiously.
“Try reaching your left leg around the wall.”
“All right.”
Drake could hear the sounds of her effort. Finally, their feet found contact. It was fleeting, only for a few seconds because of the effort required to stretch that far, but it lifted a large amount of stress from Drake's mind. He was starting to get a feel for the room despite his restraints. By the way their voices echoed, he estimated the chamber to be about twenty feet wide and twice as long, with maybe a ten-foot ceiling. The room had an almost stale odor to it, so he suspected they hadn't been there too long.
“Can you see anything on your side?” Drake asked.
“There's a slit of light down by the floor.”
“A door?”
“Maybe.” Natalie sounded desperate. “Why are we here?”
Drake shook his head. “Not a clue.”
Silence dragged on for a couple minutes. Neither of them seemed to have anything to say, and the darkness seemed to close like a vise around them. Drake could now hear a strange humming everywhere, like they were sitting inside a huge computer. He might not be that far wrong.
Natalie broke the buzzing quiet. “What's the last thing you remember?”
“I remember...” He thought back, back to Wisconsin and his childhood, tried to retrace his steps to the present day. He had gone to college in Chicago, and graduated with was starting to come back.
“Snow...” he said.
He had a vision in his mind's eye now, a place. A bay, somewhere in Europe, surrounded by mountains. The Adriatic Sea. It had been early winter, and snow had just started to fall. He was on...a ship of some kind. An aircraft carrier? Yes. That was what they were called.
“I remember a ship, and a bay, and mountains,” he said. “There was something we were supposed to do there...I can't—I can't remember any more.”
Natalie seemed to be considering the information. “When was this?”
“What, you mean like the date?” Drake rolled his eyes. “No idea. Is something coming back to you?”
“Maybe. Tell me more.”
Drake sighed, feeling uncomfortable because he couldn't give this woman her memories back without first finding his own. His arms ached from keeping them still for so long. Diving back down into the depths of his own synapses, he traveled with his mind's eye to the location he recalled. Standing on the deck, he saw a man in heavily decorated garb stride out the door from the captain's cabin. Everyone else on deck saluted as he passed by, dealing out orders like some power-hungry dictator... “Natalie, I can't.”
“Just try.”
“No, I mean...I won't."
“You won't?” She sounded puzzled and let down.
“It's a secret. No one is to know why I am here.”
The humming of the room took over for the next few seconds.
Natalie's voice broke out in a harsh call. “Guards!”
“What are you doing?” Drake asked in a hush. No answer.
The hiss of escaping air and the scrape of metal on metal sounded from behind him. Light flooded the room incrementally until the door slid fully open. The humming sound that had previously only registered as background noise now was a full-blown buzz that undoubtedly emanated from outside, wherever that was.
The sound of two pairs of boots echoed within the chamber and stopped behind him. After a brief pause and what he assumed was the click of unlocking restraints but sounded suspiciously like the safeties on a pair of automatics, the they came into view, two guards in uniform. A woman who could only be Natalie followed close after.
Her cheekbones were high, and her straight blonde hair fell almost to her shoulders. To his dismay, he found that all three were wearing slate gray Soviet uniforms. It had all been a ruse, a ploy to get him to talk about the mission.
“You speak good English, Ruskie,” Drake said bitterly. “Where'd you learn to talk like that?”
The bigger of the two guards, a buff soldier with a pair of matching scars across his forehead, backhanded Drake across the face. His head dashed back against the metal of the pillar, dazing him. It felt like the blow had busted his lip. Natalie smiled at him, stepping closer. “Believe it or not, I was born and raised in Wisconsin.” A slight accent colored her speech now.
“Yeah, sure.” His head was throbbing, and his voice came out in something of a lisp.
“Now we can do this quick and easy, or very slow and very painful. Your choice.” Her tone was playful, as if they were talking about pulling a prank on a mutual friend.
Drake smiled back at her, continuing the mood. He knew what they wanted, and how they were attempting to drag it out of him. But he had also been trained to hold up against extreme duress. Anything that didn't kill him made his resolve stronger. “You're no stranger to cliches either, I see. Well here's another one for you: Try your worst.”
“As you say.” Natalie backed away and gave a nod.
Drake closed his eyes and braced himself for some sort of an assault from Mr. Muscles again. Instead, he felt the cool pressure of a metal vise around his neck. A shock collar. He opened his eyes and saw Natalie with the control, a simple button with a hand-grip. She gingerly squeezed it and let go.
The pain was excruciating, like the wrist binders above his head but far worse. Just that split second of exposure to the electrical current left him feeling wasted and beaten.
“I'll ask one more time before it gets worse.” She held out the button, ready to press it again. “What were you doing in the Adriatic Sea?”
“All right, I'll tell you.” Drake grinned. “We were spying, just about what you'd expect. There, we're done, right?”
Natalie came close and kissed him hard on the lips. “Charming, but stupid. Just like a man.” She held the remote down. “It was nice knowing you.”
The pain wracked him once more. He couldn't tell if it was for merely a few moments or a few hours, but it felt like an eternity. It felt like hell.
At long last, it ended. Drake did not have the energy to stand now, and he hung from the wrist binders like wet laundry on a clothesline. He didn't even notice the minor pain of the binders anymore. The mere fact that the collar had ended its torture was relief enough for him.
He opened his eyes, weakly. Absent-mindedly, almost outside of himself, he saw the smaller guard reach into his jacket pocket and pull out a syringe, which he then handed to Natalie.
“Truth serum, huh...” he managed to grunt out.
“Not exactly, soldier boy,” she replied coyly, preparing the injection.
“Why...are you doing this?” he murmured. “You have to know I'll never cave...why not just kill me?”
Natalie came in close again, poising the needle on the back on his neck. “It's funny. Every time we do this, you ask me the same question.” She jabbed the syringe into his neck and emptied its contents.
Drake tried to process her statement, even as his vision began to cloud. “...every mean...”
“That's right. You told me you might have met me twenty times and not known the difference. It wasn't far wrong.”
Blackness descended over Drake like a curtain. He struggled to get his words out. “You...will...never...”
“Oh, but I will,” Natalie replied softly. She whispered into his ear the words of his dream. “There is no escape. You are mine now.”
The strange voice echoed through his mind as he traversed the winding stairway back to consciousness. The last step is always the hardest, he thought absently, but before he knew it, he had burst through into full sensory perception...

“How much did you get out of him this time?”
Natalie stood at attention, gathered her thoughts, and replied in the same language her boss had spoken: Russian. “He revealed a bit more of his circumstances this time. I believe I shall have him broken within the week.”
The voice growled. “That's not good enough! We are running out of time. Just shoot him full of the drug.”
Natalie sighed, pacing back and forth in front of the general's chair. The missile silo hummed with activity around her, waiting for only an order from Soviet Command. It was unnerving to be sitting on top of such power.
“I can't do that, sir,” she continued. “I've explained it before, if we give him too high of a dosage, his memory may become fully corroded to the point where he can't even remember how to speak! I have to increase the dosage slightly over time to make sure I don't overdo it.”
“Then speed up the sessions.”
“That would be even more disastrous!” she said, exasperated. “If we do not give his body time to rest, we run the risk of killing him, or at least of losing what foothold we do have in his mind. Trust me, I am doing all that I can as quickly as I can.”
“My superiors are pressing for an answer...”

She bowed slightly. “By the end of the week, general, by the end of the week.”

Friday, May 30, 2014

Updates on Life and Literature...

Hi everyone!

I know, I know, I really need to post more. I'm working on it, but life has been too intrusive to my hobbies lately. Multiple jobs coming and going, beginning of summer, moving to another apartment, and other things have left me quite drained and not up to my usual energy for writing.

My Star Wars fanfic is still in motion, albeit very slow motion. With Disney's revelation that all previous in-universe stories other than the movies and The Clone Wars are no longer "canon," I am even doubtful that I shall complete these. Chances are I shall continue to work on them whenever I have the Star Wars bug, and hopefully someday they will be released as my love letter to the old Expanded Universe.

Most of my work lately has been devoted to a fantasy project that I and my good friend Caleb Brubaker have been working on for the past couple years. We have the plot for the first book almost completely nailed down, and then the real work shall begin. No telling when it will be published, as both of us want to build up our portfolios a bit before releasing this multi-volume epic to the world.

This weekend I plan on getting back to brass tacks and start outlining what will probably end up being my first officially published work. No details as yet (heck, I'm not even sure myself where I want to go with it), but I just MIGHT have something to say about it by sometime next week. All I know is I'll be revisiting some older story concepts. (Maybe even The Keep of Ghaladrath...)

On that note, I'll sign off.