Follow by Email

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Cause

As the citizens of South Carolina ponder what to do with the Confederate flag now flying at their state capitol, it seems a good time to focus on a crucial distinction: the difference between why a soldier fought for a cause, and what cause that soldier actually served.

Those who supported secession and the establishment of the Confederate States of America, and those who laid down their lives in its service, were moved by a multitude of motives. Some were swept up in local fervor. Some believed that the United States, by refusing to let states depart from the Union, had betrayed the principles on which the country was founded. Some detested the growth of industrialism and viewed the South as a bastion of rural values. Some felt a far stronger patriotic tie to their state than to the federal union of states. And some believed that slavery was either an economic essential for the South's survival, or a positive moral good, or a recognition of basic truths about human nature, or all of the above.

Those who founded the Confederacy included quite a few of that latter number. Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens declared that the "cornerstone" of the new nation "rest[ed] upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth." Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, and South Carolina itself identified the threat to slaveholders' rights as a cause or major cause of their decisions to secede. More examples would not be hard to find.

Whatever brought them to the battlefield, whatever their courage and their sacrifice, the soldiers of the Confederacy, in the final analysis, fought to perpetuate and enshrine slavery. The flag of the Confederacy symbolizes -- not solely, but inescapably symbolizes -- that goal.

And so I believe that Southerners can honor their ancestors who fought for the Southern cause, which so many of them viewed as a noble cause, while partially or entirely disagreeing with that view; that they can honor those soldiers' devotion while treating the flag they followed into battle as a historical artifact, rather than a symbol to be revered; that they can, finally, agree with the descendants of slaves, and with those whose cause is the preservation and extension of freedom, that a state capitol is no longer the place for that flag to fly.

Friday, June 05, 2015

On the Advice that Authors Subject Characters to Continual Torture

I recently read yet another article warning authors against "nice writer syndrome," and exhorting them to make things as awful as possible for their characters.

Am I the only reader who prefers a judicious dose of difficulty and danger to an unending horror show of "But wait, there's worse"?

And doesn't a single hard blow have more impact when it isn't just another beat in a hundreds-of-pages-long beating?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pretty New Badge

I got some good news at the end of last week, in the form of a lovely review of my latest novel, Playback Effect, from the Awesome Indies blog -- and a very pretty "AI Approved" badge to go with it.

Here are some high points of the review:

"This is a novel that’s impossible to pigeonhole into a genre. The presence of a technology that permits recording and playback of dreams is science fiction, but it’s also a legal/crime thriller. The author, who has an extensive legal background, weaves it seamlessly into the story from start to finish. This is also something of a dystopian novel, in its description of the various uses and, most importantly, the misuses of technology, by those seeking to make money, by government, and by criminal elements – and the disastrous impact all this can have on individuals within society.

"Playback Effect has an astonishingly diverse cast of characters, and while Wynne is the main protagonist, the others play roles that are no less important. The author uses third person point of view, and moves from one character to another to keep the suspense level high and the tension as tight as a steel cable on a suspension bridge.
"Dialogue, descriptions, and narrative are flawless – not a wasted word anywhere. This is a book that will linger in your thoughts long after you’ve stopped reading – and are likely to invade your dreams. I give it a resounding five stars."
And here's the pretty badge.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

A good book if accurate -- which I can't assess

I recently read The Zealot by Reza Aslan -- and would be reviewing it right now on Goodreads and Amazon if one could do so without choosing a numerical (star) rating. I can't make that choice, because whether I could recommend the book depends on the accuracy of its many assertions about Biblical scholarship and about the history of both Judaism and early Christianity. Without undertaking a good deal of independent research on those matters, I can't assess Aslan's accuracy.

If, and I emphasize if, Aslan has done his homework properly, then the book is a fascinating account of how Jesus fit into the history of Jewish messianic trends and of rebellion against both Rome and the Jewish priestly heirarchy.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Paperback update

Here's what's happening and scheduled to happen re the Playback Effect paperback.

The paperback is now available on Amazon and in Barnes & Noble's online store. However, I'll soon be replacing the current files -- twice.

Later today or possibly tomorrow, I'll be correcting a typo on the back cover and fixing some minor formatting issues inside. In a week or two, I'll be uploading text in a slightly smaller format, as the present text borders on large print.

So if you want a limited (unnumbered) edition, Future Collector's Item :-) -- order now!

If you want a corrected edition with slightly large print -- order around the middle of next week. To be sure, you could check my Facebook author page for paperback status updates.

To get a paperback with more conventionally sized text, order in a couple of weeks (after checking the Facebook author page).

Monday, December 08, 2014

Celebrating latest book release tomorrow on my Facebook author page

Rejoice or take cover as you prefer: my Facebook author page will get lots of my attention tomorrow (Tuesday, December 9th) as I celebrate the release of my latest novel, the near-future science fiction thriller Playback Effect. (I'll be interested to see whether readers think the label "thriller" is accurate. It is, at least, as close to a thriller as I'm likely to come.)

There's the lovely ebook cover from designer Kit Foster.

Throughout the day, I'll be posting excerpts, giveaways, trivia questions, and whatever else occurs to me. (I've already scheduled many of these posts, due to Facebook's handy scheduled-post feature.)

The ebook will be available from Amazon, Amazon UK, the Nook Store, Smashwords, and iTunes. Whether it'll be on Kobobooks by tomorrow I'm not sure. The paperback is already up on Amazon (better early than late . . .), and should be in B&N's online store within the next few days.

One aspect of the release isn't quite as I'd like it: I have no reviews yet, though some are on the way. Blame it on my quixotic decision to run for judge -- I had less time than usual, pre-release, for beating the bushes soliciting reviews. (So I'd be especially grateful to any reader who leaves one on Amazon or posts one elsewhere!)

Here's the link to my author page, so you can join the party. :-) Cheers!

Monday, December 01, 2014

For Cyber Monday, a better book description for my next novel....

Since my previous post about my upcoming near-future sci-fi thriller, Playback Effect, I've (I hope) substantially improved the book description. So here it is for your CyberMonday, along with the Amazon pre-order link. You can also pre-order it via the Nook Store, and (soon) on iTunes and Kobobooks.


"O wad some Power the giftie gie us/To see oursels as ithers see us!" But what if it's the other way round? 

New technology records the highlights of emotional experience for others to share. Buy a helmet and you can feel the exhilaration of an Olympic ski jumper, or the heat of a lucid dreamer's erotic imaginings. Commit a crime, and you may be sentenced to endure the suffering you inflicted on others. 

But such recordings may carry more information than the public has realized. What will criminals learn about their victims? When a husband is wrongfully convicted of injuring his wife, how will their marriage change? And what uses will a sociopath find for recordings of the experience of death? 


The pre-order price is $2.99 -- the cost of a latte, and hopefully more likely to linger.

Here are the pre-order links for Amazon and the Nook Store.


Nook Store:

Happy shopping! :-)