General Update

I know, it seems as though it’s been forever since I posted here. It kinda has. After I finished Zahn’s Scoundrels, I tried to take a break from reading and focus on writing The Aegipan Revolution, the sequel to my first novel. I made some good progress (I’m about 25,000 words in and maybe 1/6 through the plan, but expect the word count to go down with edits), but I lacked the perseverance to chase down an entire novel before reading anything else. So I picked up one book, then two more; one of those should get a review here within the next couple of weeks, I expect.

In case you missed it, I released another “31 Prayers” book–31 Prayers for Hope. You can learn more about this new prayerbook here.

In the meantime, I’ve also been working on creating book covers for the other two installments of the Chimaera trilogy. The first sequel, of course, is The Aegipan Revolution, and the third book in the trilogy (technically a prequel) is The Python Protocol. When I was making them, I thought, “Maybe I should just reveal these,” but I realized that would be giving everything away, and then you’d expect me to deliver soon. Instead, I’m giving you a little piece of the puzzle.

The Aegipan Revolution cover, part one

The Aegipan Revolution cover, part one

Speaking of snippets, I’m also throwing in a smidgen of text. This is Rough Draft material; it’s subject to change, but the scene likely will appear in the final product. You may recall from the end of The Chimaera Regiment that (Spoilers! Highlight to read:) Hector and Bronwyn had a son, whom they named Ronen; after he became emperor, we learn in the sequel, Ronen had son of his own, named Cadmus. In this scene, we join Cadmus on a leisurely hunt.

Cadmus followed the trail of the goat in the soft earth. The wind was fairly strong here, and the dirt thinned as he climbed higher. He feared that billowing dust would soon obscure the tracks, so he increased his pace. The reality of the world was like that, he decided: a set of prints, plain as day to some, but hidden by hardship for others. Maybe it wasn’t his job to argue that the prints were there; maybe he just had to clear away the dust and open their eyes.

He found the precipice suddenly. The hill came to an abrupt halt, dropping three hundred feet to a forest below. Cadmus kept his footing, but he wavered precariously at the edge. He sat down quickly. When his hands reached the rock beneath him, he pushed himself back a pace. A few breathless moments passed before he was confident in his stability. Leaning forward again, he surveyed the countryside. Below him, the forest stretched three miles to the south and nearly five miles to the east, neatly bordering the hills he had spent the day roaming. Studying the eastern border, he realized that his camp with Sam was among the trees there.

He paused for a moment, watching the breeze ripple the treetops; each wave cascaded with green and brown, vibrant in the early afternoon sun. This place really was peaceful. He knew that he might miss the wonders of the Library if he stayed here, but was natural wonder not so much better? That which made man–whether gods or earth–was so much greater than that which man made; it hardly bore comparison. Among the stones of Annifrea, a man could be truly powerful, wielding the implements of bygone ages–but among the greenery, a man could be truly free, released by the short memory of the wilderness. Cadmus doubted that the two could ever coexist.

The forest below waved at him again, and a silver glint caught his eye. He tried to peer closer, but to no avail–the distance and the foliage obscured his sight. Curiosity got the better of him; he stood and turned to go back the way he had come, intent on finding the mysterious object.

How he escaped being gored, Cadmus would never be quite sure. The collision of the goat’s head with his chest knocked the wind from his lungs and sent him tumbling over the precipice!

Keep an eye out for more updates, along with upcoming book reviews!

The Chimaera Regiment Trailer

Check out the trailer for The Chimaera Regiment, due to be released this Friday, April 18!

You may recognize the images of the book cover and the map, as well as another that has not yet made an appearance (but when you’ve read the book, it will make sense). The music in the book is an original composition by Art Turner, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s excellent.

Please share this video with your friends in anticipation of the release on Friday!

Giveaway & Preparation

It’s almost time to release The Chimaera Regiment. I will be releasing the print and e-book versions in the near future (mid-April; exact dates are difficult to establish, given the process), and when that time comes, you will be able to purchase the book from Amazon.com. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Request a review copy. I am giving away e-books to anyone who will review the book and post it on Amazon when the book becomes available. You are, of course, always allowed to post the review on your own blog or social media venue. (I ask that you not pass on the e-book to anyone else, but if someone else wants to review it also, please refer them to me here). In order to request a copy, please use our contact form – and make sure to mention that’s why you’re contacting me.
  • Register in the Goodreads giveaway. If you’re more interested in a print copy than an e-book, you can register in this giveaway on Goodreads. This could land you an advance copy of the book. (Ideally, you would also post a review, but it is not an absolute requirement.)
  • Tell your friends. If you know anyone who likes fantasy, especially high fantasy,1 please tell them about the book. Or the book giveaway. Or the option to request a review copy. If you think they’ll like the book even a little bit, make sure that you mention it exists. This would be a great help, because if more people know about it, then more people will get to enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I’m going to continue trying to spread the word myself in anticipation of the release.

If you’re wondering about my plan to produce an audiobook version–you may recall that my original plan was to release the audiobook as a podcast–keep in mind that I am still planning this. All of the episodes have gone through the initial recording stage; the editing stage, however, takes about three times as long as the recording stage for each episode. The episodes are about 35 minutes each, and there are 19 of them, so you can do the math on how much time I need to put into that effort. Since I still have a day job, a baby on the way, and other factors tugging at my time, it will be some time before this is finalized. But I will keep you updated as things progress.

Thanks for visiting, and keep a close eye both here and on TheChimaeraRegiment.com for more news!

 

1“High fantasy” is opposed to “urban fantasy” and “low fantasy.” An example of high fantasy is Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time; an example of urban fantasy is, say, the Underworld film series; urban fantasy is also a subset of low fantasy, in that both are set in the real world, and an example of low fantasy is Pippi Longstocking or Tuck Everlasting or The Green Mile. J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is usually classified as high fantasy, although he adamantly insisted that it was set in the ancient past of the real world; Rowling’s Harry Potter series and C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series are usually classified as high fantasy, but there is some dispute due to their relationship with the real world. Some insist that the real (“primary”) world and imaginary (“secondary”) world must be entirely separate for high fantasy, but the general consensus in this day and age is that involving a secondary world at all is enough to be classified as high fantasy. Rowling’s work, too, is meant to showcase the effects of fantastical events on quotidian (“daily,” i.e., normal) life, like attending school–but since that’s the point of most fantasy, to examine ourselves from a new perspective, I’m not sure how that is sufficient to classify it low fantasy.

All that to say, I’m not claiming that I’m as good as Jordan, Lindgren, Babbit, King, Tolkien, Rowling, or Lewis. I’m probably better than the Underworld film series, though, for what that’s worth.

Novels, Announcements, and Manhood

This is the front.

This is the front.

First, you’re probably hoping for an update about something I’ve written. The Chimaera Regiment is pretty much finished. It’s all written. It’s all edited. Except for a few typos, the book is done. It even has a tentative cover (right), and a map, too (below). It has not, however, been published.

I'm a map!

I’m a map!

I know, I know, it’s terribly frustrating, watching me work. “When will it be finished?” you ask, “When can I read it?” Well, as you may recall, almost two years ago I began an ill-advised and sorely underfunded Kickstarter project, about which I am definitely not bitter. The goal of this project was to produce The Chimaera Regiment as an audio-book (I believe the kids these days call them “audio weblogs” or perhaps “pod-casts”), for which I myself would be voice and guide.

The long and short of it is that this plan forges onward, without the help of crowd-funding. I have less than half the book recorded, none of it edited, and completing all of that will take some time. (Frankly, it should take less time than will pass in its pursuit, but my time is at a premium, and some things take precedence.) It promises to be a grand adventure in roaring fun with a musical soundtrack specially composed to match. Look forward to it.

When the audio-book is complete (not only completed in terms of production, but completed also in terms of performance for the masses), then the book will be published, at which time, you can buy it and read it (in your own, boring voice). Since there are 19 episodes for the audio-book, that means that it will be (A) the rest of production time, plus (B) 19 weeks of release before the printed version (or Kindle version, for that matter) is available.

Certain contests may be result in certain contest-winners receiving signed copies early. Pretend you still have an analog radio, and that anything I produce will actually be on the radio, and then remain attentive to my station by avoiding the rotating knob on the front of your hypothetical radio-wave device. (“Stay tuned!” and “Don’t touch that dial!”)

With that out of the way, I come to my second bit of happy news: my wife is with child, and after the circuit of the days, she will bring forth a son. The joy of these times seems renewed every morning, and cannot be touched by the shadows of despair. I am ecstatic. And so, with my vast array of parenting experience (I have managed to keep the child alive for about sixteen weeks, which is more than a lot of fathers can say these days), I am endeavoring to comment on an issue that stands before our culture in a way that is very poignant:

Masculinity.

There have been a lot of books written about masculinity (especially in relation to Christianity). I’ve read plenty of them. There was Wild at Heart by Eldredge, A Young Man After God’s Own Heart by George, The Samson Syndrome by Atteberry, and probably a dozen others that I don’t remember now. You see, when I was a boy, I desperately wanted to be a man. That’s the dream, after all, of all boys: manhood. Whether we idolize our fathers or despise them, we want to be real men. And almost all of us differ on what it means to be a man. Most often, I hear two sides of this argument: “We have to stop feminizing men and attacking masculinity in this country!” versus, “The masculinity presented by society is too violent, and boys need to know that emotions are okay!”

In truth, these two positions are not opposed. As men, and as fathers, we must stand against the effeminacy of the modern man; but as men, and especially as fathers, we must stand against the violent tendencies that our high-spirited wildness seeks to engender. I recently saw a video posted on social media decrying the violence encouraged among the boys of society.

It was not terribly long ago that I was a boy, and – mostly from my peers – I kept hearing about how I should behave, especially around women. Most of their advice was, of course, terrible, and I saw that even then. I heard a lot of the comments echoed in the video above, and when I was teaching high school, I heard even more. The fact of the matter is that these comments are pervasive and perpetual, and they don’t only come from fathers. Perhaps they once did, but now, they are spread by peer groups, father-figures like teachers and principals, even mothers whose husbands and baby-daddies left them for less fertile pastures, so to speak. Society as a whole perpetuates the notion of the violently authoritative man. Only the violent man gains respect, because respect and fear are seen as one and the same.

But to be respected, a man must be loved; to be respected, fear must never enter the equation, because perfect love casts out all fear. You cannot beat respect out of another man; violence only elicits fear, and fear only resembles respect among the cowardly. No amount of violence can create respect in a man who is not cowed by his fear. A man like this has courage, and stands for himself – but more importantly, he stands for others. A man who deserves respect is not the one with the biggest stick, but the one with the strongest shield.

So certainly, we must teach our sons not to respond with violence when they are emotionally slighted. Such behavior is inherently unmanly; it is an expression of the fear that someone else could humiliate you, the fear that you have no control – but the truth is that adherence to this behavior, like all sin, is to cede control. In allowing violence to take over, you place your will beneath the fire in your heart.

Ironically, effeminacy is caused by the same thing – except the feelings in charge are seen as feminine, such as tenderness and sorrow. From the perspective of the modern man, there are three emotions: happiness, sadness, and anger. Happiness is what people would have if the world were perfect; sadness is feminine; and anger is masculine. From this perspective, when a boy is sad, he is seen as effeminate; when he is angry, he is seen as masculine; when he is happy, he is seen as naïve. Since he is a boy, the modern man sees feminine as bad, masculine as good, and naïve as foolish; the only emotion encouraged is anger, and uncontrolled anger begets violence.

That is not to say that effeminacy is a figment of the gangster’s imagination. On the contrary, many of those opposed to violence make the same assumptions, only they call sadness “tenderness.” Tenderness is feminine, anger is masculine, and happiness is foolish, because the world is a hard place. Since anger leads to violence, then masculinity is bad, so femininity must be good, and all boys should be encouraged to let their tenderness control them. And it’s true – when you make your will subject to your tender emotions, you will not be violent. But you will also not be manly. Instead, you will cower when threatened, and when someone attacks you or your friends, you will be defeated without contest. And every time a teacher punishes a boy for fighting back against a bully, s/he perpetuates this problem – after all, the bully still hears about how he must be masculine, angry, and violent at home, but now the bullied learn that even self-defense will be punished.

We see here two sides of the same coin: allow your anger to control you, and you will be “masculine,” which means violent; allow your tenderness to control you, and you will be “gentle,” which means effeminate. The real solution is to attack the root of the problem: we’re still flipping the same damn coin.

Violence is not the answer; neither is pacifism. The right answer is the victory of the will. Do not let baser things rule that which was designed to rule. When your urges command your decisions, you have already lost – regardless of which urges are in command. If your violent urges rule, then you will be violent; if your tender urges rule, then you will be effeminate.

But if your will rules, you will be a man.

Our violent tendencies can be dangerous, but when tamed, they can protect the ones we love from harm. Our tenderness can weaken us if left uncontrolled, but when harnessed, it can lead us to lay down our lives for those we love – both literally and figuratively. It is not enough to die for your family; first, you must live for them.

I pray that these are the lessons I will teach my son about masculinity.

TCR Update, et al

Hello, reader(s)!

Lately, I’ve been working on “The Chimaera Regiment” again. I’m most of the way through the second chapter (out of fifteen) in my editing. Unfortunately, several later chapters will take much longer to edit than these early ones (which are mostly copy- and flow-editing). This will take time, especially since I have a day job and other things to attend to, but it will get done… eventually. I usually knock out a few pages every time I sit down to it. I don’t have a timeline for you, especially not for the finished product (i.e., audio recordings, cover images, finalized book), but I can tell you that it’s progressing.

In other news, I’ve taken Star Trek Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic about as far as I can take them without paying for them. I have a level 50 and a level 32 on STO, and I have two level 15’s (with six other characters ranging from level 6 to level 14) on TOR. Briefly: both games are reflective of the multiplayer mentality of modern gaming. Which means that they’re not perfect. But they’re not bad.

STO really caught my attention because of how much I could do alone, mostly because I often had an away team on ground missions and space missions were never overwhelmingly difficult. I also enjoyed the “crew missions” aspect of the game (so much so that I gained my last six levels by logging in once a day just to do that). But the overarching story isn’t quite enough to keep me reeled in at level 50 (“Oh, no, the Undine/Species 8472 have infiltrated every government! Quick, let’s save the galaxy!”), especially since getting a level-50 ship requires either real money or way, way, way, way more time than I have.

TOR, similarly. I enjoyed working on the main quest by myself. It has a larger number of in-your-face group quests than STO (which has plenty if you’re looking for them, but they’re easy to avoid), but the main quest is easily possible on your own. Gameplay cinematics in an MMO are innovative, but not revolutionary. They also take up huge chunks of HDD space that I could better use for other things. I would probably go back to TOR if they made it free-to-play, but I’m in no rush for them to do that (and they’re not either, judging by their server populations)… even if the gameplay does reek of World-of-Warcraft-in-space. STO, at least, took a hint from Tera (which, I gather, is wildly popular, although I didn’t see the appeal) and made combat more FPS-like. And I have to admit, after shooting things with my mouse, watching an avatar shoot them with my “1” key is pretty lame.

Besides editing and gaming, I’m still planning a science fiction novel (with some sparse ideas for sequels and prequels) which I have affectionately dubbed the “DCTSF Project.” “SF” stands for “science fiction,” in case you missed it, and DCT are the initials of D.C., whose inspiration and creativity helped create the universe in which this novel will be written. (How it happened: about six and a half years ago, just after Christmas 2005, D.C. and I were on a ferry from Indonesia back to Singapore, whereupon we devised the majority of the setting for this novel. I know it sounds like there’s a story there, but that’s pretty much it.) In this novel, we’re going to have humans, who have reached a few stars (so they’re beyond the limits of the solar system at this point), but they’re not traversing the galaxy with ease; they’ve met a few other species, but so far, humans are the only ones who developed on a planet (instead of a moon). But in this story of pirates, linguistics, lawmen, and intrigue, they’re going to encounter something they’ve never encountered before…

… And that’s enough to tease you for now. That book will be quite some time in coming. I probably won’t start putting pen to paper until TCR is completely finished. But I wanted folks to know a bit about it before it gets here. And I know I’ve mentioned it before. But it always bears mentioning again.