WRATH goes to Hollywood 


I recall those early heady days when Permuted Press offered me a contract for Objects of Wrath . They signed me to a trilogy, and paid me for two books I hadn’t even written yet. I got the advance within three weeks of signing, just days before Christmas. And, let me tell you,  it saved Christmas for my family. I had visions of family vacations in Jackson Hole and delusions of movies made. That was before reality set in, and I realized that a) the books weren’t going to sell themselves and b) Hollywood sure as hell wasn’t going to be kicking down my door.

Since then, I’ve finished four novels. Tears of Abraham, a stand-alone novel about the next Civil War, went into bookstores all over the country last year. Once again, I thought, “okay this is it.” Alas, the book died on the vine, after zero promotion and being miscategorized as science fiction (despite my vehement objections). So, after getting my hopes crushed many times, I’m jaded.
Still…

I signed an agreement last week with Council Tree Productions, a Hollywood based film and television production company helmed by veteran producer Joel Eisenberg. It’s a new company, but Joel has some juice in Hollywood, and he’s also a writer. I really look forward to working with him. The other partner in the company (also a writer) is the founder of a successful private equity firm. They invested $180 million in Telemundo, and have conducted billions in transactions. These are serious people.
What now?

After my initial dance in the street, I’m looking at more waiting, hoping, and work. Just signing with a producer is a big deal, a tremendous opportunity, but it’s far from the end of the journey.  The producer will come up with marketing materials and shop the idea to various studios. We’re hoping for a televison series with one of the streaming services like Netflix, or with cable. I’m busy writing scripts for episodes, which may or may not ever see the light of day. Once the series has the attention of a studio, things start to get interesting. The producer will attach a director, and secure financing for the project. I’m hoping for a “direct to series” deal, which is the best possible scenario. That means the first season (13 episodes) gets picked up by the studio. What’s more likely, though still statistically improbable, is that we get signed to shoot a pilot. If the show gets green-lit, that’s when the real celebration begins.

I’m anticipating something of a roller-coaster ride. Highs and lows, some near misses and dashed expectations. Hopefully, by the end of the year the project will be in development, somewhere. Even then, I won’t know until the studio green lights the series.

I’m quietly optimistic, and very grateful for this chance. My work will be in front of people who can change the trajectory of my life with a phone call, and that’s exciting. The thing is to enjoy the journey, to embrace it. Even if things don’t play out the way I hope they will, it’ll be quite the ride. And other doors may open that I can’t foresee now. I’m learning how to write for film, and that’s a fun process, a very different beast from novels.

A Few Good Sentences

Readers often ask me about my creative process, so here’s a general snapshot of how I write.

I’m a slow writer compared to most of my peers. I’m not sure I could crank out a book in three months, and if I did that it would be unreadable. I know authors who crank out four good books a year. I’ll never have that sort of output.

It all begins with an idea

I tend to marinate on several ideas at once, before deciding what I’m going to write. I’ll make notes on legal pads, bar napkins, and the back of company notebooks. Once I’ve got a general idea of the topic, then I move onto characters. With Objects of Wrath,
I began with the idea of a family struggling to survive the next world war.

I sketch the main character first, and then surround him with the surrounding cast. Often at this point, I don’t know enough about the story to fill in the details, but I like to have a general idea.

Next comes the broad outline. This is only a few pages long, with enough space in there to add things. I use a legal pad, and I draw a diagram of a suspension bridge. The high points are the big scenes in the middle and the climax, and the lines in between are the rising action, the building tension. Sometimes I’ll actually use one full page for this diagram, and divide the rising action into specific chapter ideas. The point of this diagram is that I want to have a general idea of what I’m writing towards. It sounds simplistic because it is. But it is very helpful to me in terms of pacing.

The next thing I do is write a first chapter, just to get a feel for the characters. So far, a surprisingly big chunk of my first chapters have made it to the final manuscript. I go back later on and move things around, and work especially hard on the first fifty pages, but the bones are there.

Storytelling

I tend to plot out a few chapters ahead of time as I’m writing. For me this is the best part of writing books. I have notebooks crammed with ideas, where I just let things rip. “What if…” and then I’ll try that idea out, often in paragraph form.  One idea leads to another, and I’ll end up with various branching plot lines.

When I’m in this mode, I can write unfettered, and it is where I probably do my best work. It’s here that characters start to misbehave in good ways. A minor character becomes important, while a character that I’d planned on keeping alive has to die. I’ll stumble upon an idea that lights me up, and spend a few hours writing one paragraph working to get it right.

I alternate back and forth when I’m writing a novel, between storytelling mode, and the actual pounding out the words at the keyboard.

Here are a few random examples of paragraphs or sentences I worked very hard on.

From Objects of Wrath: http://www.amazon.com/Objects-Wrath-Volume-Sean-Smith/dp/1618682245

“I had seen Gunny in action, had been trained by him, and knew how quick and deadly he was, but Chilli was an artist in his prime form, painting death with deft strokes. With perfect economy of motion he dispatched a seemingly unending supply of enemies in an unrivaled masterpiece of destruction. I hacked and shot behind him through the smoke, and despite the chaos, I marveled at Chilli’s artwork. His canvas was the battlefield, and he was the Rembrandt of the knife, painting darkness, not light. He was the Picasso of the blade, leaving twisted corpses in his wake, his hands and feet brushes that flicked out almost delicately, precisely, colorfully”

From Children of Wrath http://www.amazon.com/Children-Wrath-Book-Volume/dp/1618683411/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_y

“Most of us are blessed with a moment when sunlight is gold dust, warm and glittering, and the air is clean and tastes like hope. Sometimes we pay attention, savor the sweetness and are glad of it. Too often, we realize the rareness of it too late to revel in the glory of it. Looking back, though, we know the moment. That’s the yearning and the hurt later, because the memory is not the time, it is an echo. There is no way to feel exactly that way again, you can only recall the wholeness of it, remember the preciousness. My moment was long and my soul sings with the echoes I hear, but by the time we began our assault on Dugway, my moment had already passed.”

From Tears of Abraham, coming in March 2016

abraham cover final

“Stand up for yourself,” his father had said when Henry walked home with a bloody nose again. Henry’s old man, Tim Wilkins peered down at Henry. A tall, rangy man with a straight back, pale blue eyes, and a face worn out by life, Tim Wilkins was not prone to overt displays of affection or sympathy. But he was the center of Henry’s universe.
In Henry’s eyes then, his father was granite, solid rock, unbreakable, unchangeable, and strong in the way of a proud mountain. The lens of hope and faith filtered out the cracks and fissures, the broken blood vessels on Papa’s wind burned face, and the hurting eyes of a man eroded, but not yet completely worn smooth. Blasted by hard years, bad luck, and the love for the wrong woman, Papa remained undefeated.”

From Fate of the Fallen, my work in progress:

“Religion, Malak reasoned, would be at the heart of it. Money and power led to war between men. Religion could destroy mankind. Sometimes money and power were the religion, the worship of those things, by men who held armies on a leash. The worst of it was when money, power, and religion all combined. At the end of the day, it was always some kind of religion.”

Savoring the process

I love writing, whether it’s a song or a novel. I relish the entire process, and enjoy lingering over a passage, turning the words over, shifting things around to find a cadence and melody to the words. Some readers find this aspect of my writing a hinderence, and I understand that many folks want to read an adrenaline-driven book that’s primarily plot-driven. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I enjoy books like that  sometimes. The older I get, though, the more I want some real substance to the things I read and the things I write. I love Steinbeck, Hemingway, Dickens, McCarthy, Irving and O’brien. I’ve got a long way to go before I can attain that level, but that’s what I shoot for when I sit down to tell a story.

That’s my process, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Jamie Mason’s Guest Blog: Canadian vs. American Post-Apocalyptic Visions

Jamie 1

DEATH OF A NATION Canadian vs. American Post-Apocalyptic Visions

by Jamie Mason

Broken windows stretch to the horizon. A noxious twist of grimy smoke clutches the clouds and a stench of bodies – the piled carnage of the City’s dead, an odor to corkscrew even the heartiest stomachs – lies heavily on the street. A door opens in a darkened shop-front and a man swathed in camouflage steps into view carrying an automatic rifle. The pearl-colored light reflects in his mirrored shades and the red, white and blue of his shoulder patch provides the only flash of color in an afternoon the hue of gun-metal and sorrow. A noise. He spins, bringing the rifle to bear … and is brought up short by the sight of a young, unarmed woman with a backpack slung over one shoulder, a maple leaf sewn into its pocket flap. She grins and flashes a peace sign. 1. The journey inevitably influences the traveller. But it is equally true that the traveler defines the journey. This is never more true than in the post-apocalyptic genre. One of my favorite films is the oft-overlooked 1985 gem REVOLUTION, starring Al Pacino. When Tom Dobb, the illiterate fur trapper Pacino plays, sails into New York Harbor on the eve of the War of Independence, he sums up the chaos unfolding in the streets tersely: “New York, goin’ crazy.”

jamie 2

The opening scene of that film confounds every expectation by painting the launch of the American Revolution with images of unimaginable brutality and human ugliness. Mobs smash British shop-windows, tear down statues of the King and (sadly for Tom) confiscate boats for the cause. Although history has vindicated the wisdom of the American Revolution as a critical step in the advancement of human freedom, I can’t help believing that the film’s portrayal is likely accurate. Strip away the historical bunting, and America was basically a colony that revolted against its landlords. Its birth was midwifed in a blaze of gunfire and death. War is war and, no matter how noble the cause, it’s always certain to unleash a level of apocalyptic violence. Canada’s birth was more ambiguous. We came into existence two short years after the end of the American Civil War, the result of a process that began in direct response to that conflict. By the time the British North America Act was passed, Canada was a sprawl of disconnected communities, ripe for annexation by a vigorous and ambitious neighbor. Invasions had been attempted five times in two previous wars and there was no reason to expect it wouldn’t happen again. (Indeed, a few of Lincoln’s generals lobbied for it.) Independence from a war-weary Britain seemed the most prudent way to secure the national welfare. Negotiations were lengthy and complex, tangled in British legal red-tape and impeded by competing colonial claims. Sir John A. MacDonald, our first Prime Minister, rose to lead a nation that was still very much unexplored and only just beginning to understand itself. Canada very literally emerged, blinking and uncertain, from the mists of the historical wilderness into a deafening silence.

Jamie3

2. In our beginning lies our end. These two emergence narratives have served to shape, fundamentally, the contrasting American and Canadian visions of the post-apocalypse. I would hold that while television shows like THE WALKING DEAD and JERICHO and novels like WORLD WAR Z and THE PERSEID COLLAPSE portray a uniquely American apocalypse, Canadian equivalents such as ORYX & CRAKE, the collected stories of FRACTURED: TALES OF THE CANADIAN POST-APOCALYPSE and my own KEZZIE OF BABYLON (Permuted Press, March 2015) offer an equivalent Canadian vision unique in its own right. While there will always be an appetite for American entertainment north of the border, our American friends might be surprised to learn how our apocalyptic visions differ.

kezzie2

http://www.amazon.com/Kezzie-Babylon-Jamie-Mason-ebook/dp/B00U1WUGDI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

kezzie

http://www.amazon.com/Fractured-Canadian-Post-Apocalypse-Anthology-Number-ebook/dp/B00N01MPAE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=14279

3. ENEMIES & ANTAGONISTS Every good post-apocalyptic tale needs an enemy, and in American stories that enemy is usually a group or (in the case of zombies) a faceless horde which must be attacked and defeated militarily. THE WALKING DEAD handles this trope well, providing combat engagements pitting the protagonists against legions of zombies as well as human threats like the Governor and his dystopian serfs. WALKING DEAD s/heroes pack guns and katanas and these tools are always the go-to choice when trouble comes. This is not to dismiss other points of tension in the show (exploration, parlay with bad guys, character arcs), but to highlight the uniquely weaponized nature of the American post-collapse world. In a nation where the right to own firearms is enshrined in law and whose birth occurred in a storm of violence, it is logical that its death-throes would subside to the howl of gunfire. By contrast, the “enemy” faced by the main characters of Morgan M. Page’s poignant “City Noise” (FRACTURED: TALES OF THE CANADIAN POST-APOCALYPSE) is of an entirely different order. In Morgan’s vision, Toronto smoulders in the aftermath of a nebulous event known only as “The Crash” (an end every bit as ambiguous as our nation’s founding). The protagonists, Sarah and Johnny, are both transsexuals caught in the mid-point of transition when The Crash occurs, leaving them to scavenge in a blighted city for the drugs their bodies need in order to continue their biological migration. Instead of hordes of zombies to be vaporized by gunfire, the enemies Johnny and Sarah face are the ticking time-bombs of their own medically-altered biology, caught mid-way through a complex and transformative procedure

INDIVIDUAL VS. GROUP The cult of individualism is strongly rooted in the American consciousness and, for this reason, plays a titular role in any American post-apocalyptic story. The tendency for people to coalesce in a crisis is a historical given. But in American PA tales like OBJECTS OF WRATH (Permuted Press, 2014) the need for individualism sometimes leads to tragic results. One of the most poignant scenes in the novel involves a group of military first-responders flying into a remote encampment to offer aid to some backwoods survivalists. The unit’s doctor is turned away from caring for the group’s terminally-ill children because he is black. Here, hyper-individualism – the determination to survive with or without assistance from others, despite all logic – plays out in the ideology of a group existing in opposition to mainstream values of racial equality. Contrast this with the plot of my own novel, KEZZIE OF BABYLON (Permuted Press, 2015) wherein the Canadian tendency to seek accord and accommodation within groups – however dysfunctional – leads to disaster. A commune of biker outlaws, sheltered in the sanctuary of a remote grow-op in the hinterlands of Vancouver Island has, within its ranks, a deranged psychopath determined to impose her religious vision upon the group. The reluctance of the collective’s leaders to confront and disempower this person leads to murder, imposition of a form of worship that involves zombie crucifixion and (ultimately) destruction of the commune itself. Like those whose appeasement of the Quebecois nationalists resulted in the Meech Lake debacle, the reluctance of Buzz and Deacon to act allows Kezzie to take over and slaughter any who oppose her.

RELATIONSHIP TO NATURE Although environmental devastation often triggers the apocalyptic moment in American PA stories, it is rarely an ongoing threat as the plot progresses (THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD being the only exceptions that spring to mind). By way of final example, I contrast two short stories with the same title, one American, one Canadian. In Eric Del Carlo’s fascinating and brilliantly-rendered tale “The Herd” (OG’s Speculative Fiction, Issue #11), the Earth’s collapsing environment unleashes a series of devastating storms, driving a mass migration of human refugees ahead of them. Because I have spoken with Eric about the story’s origins, I can reveal that “The Herd” is based on his own experiences during Hurricane Katrina. Former residents of New Orleans, Eric’s family joined the stream of refugees clogging the highways just like the characters of “The Herd”. But it is what the storms cause people to do to each other as opposed to the storms themselves that form the real basis of Eric’s story. This in contrast to its Canadian counterpart. “The Herd” written by Tyler Keevil is first up in Exile Edition’s 2013 DEAD NORTH: CANADIAN ZOMBIE FICTION. In this unique twist on the zombie trope, Tyler presents us with a zombie horde migrating across the tundra, shadowed by an Inuit hunter. At play in this crisp, visually-evocative tale are all the elements of the classic Canadian wilderness survival story. It is Man against the elements as much as it is Man against … whatever. “A heaviness is in the air, a change in temperature, the wind, the look of the clouds. I know it is going to snow, and it comes in the early morning, just after the herd has set out. It arrives first, as a brief sprinkle … Then a lull, the air charged with a static crackle … Some of the deadheads stop, confused, and look up at this white confetti raining down …” – “The Herd”, Tyler Keevil, DEAD NORTH (Exile Editions, 2013) 4. And so we can see: the post-apocalyptic visions of both Canadian and American writers are informed by the human experience and social dimensions of the writers’ host countries. But it is in our origins, I think, that we find the defining characteristics of each country’s post-apocalyptic vision. We must remember that America and Canada are both nations engaged in the ongoing process of democratic evolution. Societies in both countries adapt to prevailing circumstances, learning from their mistakes, making mid-course corrections and each working to preserve the ongoing experiment that is any free society. We are unique, yes. But we influence each other enormously and are mutually fascinated by visions of the apocalypse. Americans, robust and individualistic, fight each other over possession of the wasteland while Canadians, willing to pay almost any price to remain within a group – however dysfunctional – seek to survive its ambiguous wilderness. As both nations emerge from history and grow toward self-actualization, we both imagine our own demise only to discover that we die very much the way we were born.

My friend Jamie Mason is a Canadian writer of dark fiction whose stories have appeared in On Spec, Abyss & Apex, White Cat and the Canadian Science Fiction Review. His zombie novel KEZZIE OF BABYLON was published in March of this year by Permuted Press. He lives on Vancouver Island. Learn more at www.jamiescribbles.com

http://www.amazon.com/Objects-Wrath-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00IK7MH9M/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Am I an author or a salesman?

Redemption final cover

I’ve spent more than twenty years as a writer who bangs on doors. Literally knocking on doors in neighborhoods like a vacuum cleaner salesman of old, while figuratively attempting to break into the publishing business, sending out manuscripts and queries, song demos and attending parties thrown for other people. I’ve stayed up all night, pounding out the words and the melody, believing that one day, someone might hear something I wrote and it might matter to them in some way. A smile, a tear, a memory, a truth. The next morning, I’m grinning and pretending to be impervious to the nasty looks from folks who don’t want to see me shivering on their front porch in the pouring down rain.

When I signed my first publishing contract for a song, I thought my ship had come in. I was wrong, two decades ago. When I signed a three-book publishing contract, I believed that at last, the tide had turned in my favor. That was two years ago. I was knocking on doors about an hour ago. Sad but true.

One would think that a career in sales would be helpful to launching a book, utilizing lessons hard won for a higher purpose. Nope. Not for me, at least. Because the thing is, I hate sales. Always have. I enjoyed the freedom of setting my own hours and a reasonable standard of living, although in recent years that has declined with a direct correlation to the number of hours I spend writing novels and thinking about plot and wishing I wasn’t ringing somebody’s doorbell.

I hope I’m a better writer than salesman. The trouble is, to make a living writing, an author has to sell. People have to know what we have to offer, must see the need for that product, and then make the decision to purchase it, that wonderful click on Amazon. I hate to think of it in those terms. I’d rather believe that it’s something other than that, but that’s what it is.That’s not to say that the quality of the next great American novel isn’t important.  Every now and then, there is a story about a writer who rockets to well deserved stardom and acclaim because whatever she wrote was so good it couldn’t be denied.I love those stories.

I used to believe in the theory that the “cream will rise to the top.” But I’ve known too many killer songwriters who died unknown and destitute, read countless brilliant books by obscure authors, while watching hordes flock to the Kardashians and Fifty Shades of Gray and listen to country-rap music. (Oxymoron)  Yet all of those things are hugely successful. The creators of those endeavors birthed empires from vapor, and that’s some damn good salesmanship. The thing is to sell something that people want to buy, and let them know it’s there. I’ve struggled with that concept for as long as I’ve been writing and selling, and for me there has been a dichotomy. Writing is writing. Selling is selling. I want to write true, but I also want to make a living. I hope the two aren’t mutually exclusive for me. I’m still dreaming, still believing, writing hard and close to the bone.

Patriots cover final

I’ve got three book releases this week, and I’m a crummy salesman. If you read my books, I think you will smile, perhaps cry, and certainly be transported to places you’ve never been. I’d consider it a kindness if you’d “click.”

http://www.amazon.com/Objects-Wrath-Volume-Sean-Smith/dp/1618682245

ahg2

At

For the most part, what a salesman hears is “I’m not interested.” I hear it every day, and it wears me out now more than it did only a few years ago.

Three Releases this week!

Redemption final cover

In a cool confluence of events, I’ve got three releases going live on Amazon this week. The conclusion to the Wrath trilogy, Wrath and Redemption is available for pre-order now, and will be available on Feb. 3. In this sweeping finale, readers will get a better sense of what has happened beyond the United States in the years following The Fall. From the Saharan desert to Siberian tundra and the streets of Rome, the Foxes struggle to keep evil at bay. In this novel, Crystal is actually one of my viewpoint characters, along with Russian general Leo Petrovitch, Ryder, who is now full grown, and of course, William Fox. It was hard leaving these characters and this world behind, but I think this book wraps the series up nicely.Patriots cover final

Also releasing on Tuesday Feb. 3 is my novella Sunshine Patriots, set in Stephen Konkoly’s newly minted Perseid Collapse Kindle World. Following an EMP attack by China, the eastern United States is hurting. A family still reeling from loss finds themselves under attack and fights to survive, from the sweltering FEMA camps to the mangrove swamps of the Florida Keys. This is a page-turner, I think, and very fast paced. I’m deeply honored that Steve invited me to be a part of this project, which features some of the best post-apocalyptic writers in the business.

ahg2

The third release is a horror anthology, At Hell’s Gates (volume 2), which features a short story I wrote a few years ago. The great thing about this collection of short stories is that all of the proceeds go to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a great charity that helps veterans and their families. There are some fantastic stories in this book, written by some top  indie horror writers. My contribution is a weird science-fiction piece about a castaway on a far-flung planet.

I’ve got a fourth full length novel which I plan to publish sometime this spring, The Tears of Abraham, which is about the next American Civil War. Finally, my story Fate of the Fallen, which follows the life of Malak, an angel who has lived and died many times for the last two thousand years, unique in that he posses free will and limited power will come out sometime soon, as well. I plan to release a series of three novellas about Malak, as he struggles to stave off Armageddon. I’m staying busy!

To all my readers, thank you for reading my work! I look forward to exploring new worlds together. I hope you’ll leave me an honest review on Amazon, because that really helps.

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00IKHPGEK

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00IKHPGEK

American Sniper: Reivew and Controversy

american sniper

I read Chris Kyle’s autobiography last year, and when I learned that the book was going to be turned into a movie, I was thrilled and a bit skeptical. Clint Eastwood has delivered a movie that exceeded my expectations, a war film that deserves a place beside Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse, Now. I hope it wins a truck-load of awards.

The pacing is excellent, juxtaposing scenes stateside with the war in Iraq. Bradley Cooper is utterly convincing in this role as the most lethal sniper in U.S. history. His performance is nuanced and heart breaking. The battle scenes are riveting. As the credits rolled, the entire crowded theater remained in their seats. No matter his flaws, Chris Kyle is an American hero, and this film is a great tribute to him and the brave men and women who risk their lives everyday defending our freedom.

Chris Kyle’s heart comes across better in the film than it did in the book, the inner conflict between duty and family, and the most emotional scenes of the movie revolve around Kyle’s inner struggle, whether it’s making an agonizing call on the battle field or a phone call to his wife.

There has been a surprising amount of controversy surrounding this film. A few celebrities have condemned it, Michael Moore publicly slamming the film. People have called the movie racist. Kyle experienced war in a way most men never do. He experienced savagery and witnessed atrocities that shaped his outlook on his enemies, people who were actively trying to kill him. He lost close friends in combat. The movie does not depict all Iraqis in a bad light; one of the most intense scenes in the movie does quite the opposite. The fact is, insurgents did melt into the civilian population, using IEDs and snipers to kill American soldiers. The notion that the film rewrites history is ludicrous.

The film is not political; it’s about what happened to the soldiers who were there and how the war stayed with them even when they were home. Whether or not the war in Iraq was justified or not doesn’t matter to the men and women who served in that fight. They carry the scars either way. The film doesn’t go into the justification for the war, doesn’t condone or glorify it. The fact is, war is ugly and mean and bloody and it’s always been that way.

Kyle prioritized his life thus: God, Family, Country. His ability to kill without remorse is chilling to soft civilians like me. I write about heroes, but I’m far from actually being one. But he’ s the guy you want at the gates when the city is under siege, standing on the wall, fighting back.

american sniper

I plan on rereading the book, and I’m sure I’ll watch the movie again before it leaves theaters. If you plan on seeing only one movie this year, see this one!

http://www.amazon.com/Sean-T.-Smith/e/B00IKHPGEK

patriots promo

pic

cropped-objects_of_wrath_banner.png

The End of Times… War and Rumors of War

apocalypse 

Mankind has always possessed a morbid fascination with the apocalypse. From the Biblical Flood and Mayan calendar to modern day science fiction, civilizations have been aware and intrigued, sometimes terrified, by their impending doom. In fiction, this is entertaining, but the reality is more chilling. Societal collapse has been a recurrent theme in our history, and perhaps this is one of the reasons we are drawn to books like The Stand  and television shows like The Walking Dead.
For many Christians, the End of Times means the rise of the Anti Christ, Armageddon, and the return of Jesus. Christians have been looking toward the heavens for about two thousand years now, wondering if this is it.

Apocalypse2

Sad ruins remain to remind us that the world as we know it is far from eternal. Entire cultures in the Pacific rose and fell, and disappeared. The mighty Mayans are gone, the Roman Empire fell, sacked and destroyed from within. Yet, even those breakdowns did not lead to the destruction of the human race. Life went on.

Easter-Island_CE0Y-I2DMI

Only in the last sixty years, the blink of an eye in terms of history, has mankind developed the ability to cause its own extinction. While in the past, a meteor strike, super-volcano, or a blast from a star light years away could have erased us from the planet, we now can do it ourselves with the push of a button.

A global nuclear war is one obvious way this could happen. To put this in perspective, consider that Russia and the United States possess thousands of nuclear weapons. Russian weapons are dirtier and their largest nukes are more powerful than those in the United States’ arsenal, but it’s irrelevant. The tipping point for a nuclear winter is roughly one hundred explosions, according to the most recent science. There has been debate over the years on this topic, with some estimates coming in at only thirty or forty simultaneous explosions causing the planet to go cold. If thousands of these weapons were launched, that’s the end of us. The atmosphere is choked with radioactive ash, obstructing sunlight, the temperature falls, plants die, and there is no more food. The animals die, and homo sapiens  perish right along with the rest of them.

114c933a8d981a273b7188700ad4a80d

In the last sixty years, we have also decided to come up with other, creative weapons of extinction. Biological weapons could do the job just as well as nuclear bombs. Our scientists tinker with viruses, which actually alter DNA, finding ways to make these things more deadly. A genetically altered virus could end our species. We’re looking at the worst outbreak of Ebola, a virus as scary as its name, which according to Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “is the world’s first Ebola epidemic, and it’s spiraling out of control. It’s bad now, and it’s going to get worse in the very near future. There is still a window of opportunity to tamp it down, but that window is closing. We really have to act now.”

Against this backdrop, we now have the greatest level of danger in the world we’ve seen since World War II, with Russia poised to trigger a global war over the Ukraine, and Vladimir Putin on the throne and his finger on the button, not the kind of man to face in the ultimate game of chicken. Because, he’s the guy that doesn’t swerve at the last minute. Then of course, there is the militant, insane, ISIS movement which is spreading like the black plague, a tide of evil which is consuming countries torn by war. The radicals are willing to stop at nothing, bereft of the slightest shred of morality or human decency, killing innocents without remorse or hesitation, and seeming to relish every shot  Shia, every cut throat.

In Gaza, Israel sends in armored vehicles to stop rocket attacks on civilians, and levels schools, homes, and lives. Israel is defending itself against attack, against those who use children as human shields in order to gain support from around the world. Hamas WANTS to provoke Israel into these attacks. It’s Terror 101. Israel becomes more isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly vulnerable to attack from neighbors who have invaded time and time again. Israel also has nuclear weapons, and while they will never confirm this, everybody knows. If Israel is attacked, and it’s really just a matter of time, they will use these weapons if it looks like the war is lost. It’s called the Sampson Option, and it is chilling.

The Old and New Testament in the Bible lay out some things which have come to pass that are irrefutable, though seemed highly unlikely. Israel, it was foretold, would cease to exist, and it’s people would be scattered. That happened more than once. The temple would be torn down. The Romans did that. Israel would become a nation again. This seemed impossible, yet in 1948 Israel was again a nation. One of the last important pieces of scriptural prophecy is the rebuilding of the Temple. There are plans underway now in Jerusalem to do just that.

Whether one believes in the prophecy or not, those things did happen. The book or Revelation, the last and scariest book of the Bible, is rife with images and verses open to debate, with the scrolls and seals being opened, the four horsemen of the apocalypse coming, and death on a pale horse riding to doom mankind.

These may not be the end of times, and perhaps humanity will figure out a way to become better, alter its essential warlike nature and selfishness and transcend the hatred we wield like a sword. At no time in all of human history, though, has the end seemed quite so imminent or possible.

1240637_188503991321609_810787342_n

cropped-objects_of_wrath_banner.png

 

.

Children of Wrath…Available now on Amazon

Children of Wrath_Wrap_FINAL

A religious war threatens to destroy everything that matters to William. There is no escaping evil and madness…It must be defeated.

There is darkness, but always hope, even when it appears absent. This book is about holding onto faith in the face of evil and loss, and it picks up about ten years after the events of Objects of Wrath.  I hope you all will read this, tell your friends about it, and let me know what you think. I love interacting with readers, and I’m easy to connect with on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.

This book is available on Amazon, Banes and Noble, and through itunes, in e-book format, and in about two weeks, in paperback as well. Objects of Wrath is also on audible.com as an audio book, and if you haven’t read that one, I’d suggest reading it first; the books are able to stand alone, but I don’t spend much time going into events that happened in the first one.

Thanks for all the support, and happy reading!

Sneak Peek… Children of Wrath

Image
Being a hero in the eyes of my children was far more important to me than the adulation I’ve received over the years for getting shot and stabbed and being any sort of a leader. The memories that keep me warm on snowy winter nights here in Yellowstone are of times when I was a real hero. I remember my son Ryder and his little sister Grace on Christmas morning gazing with wide eyed wonder at the presents under the tree while a fire cracked and popped in a log cabin steeped to the roof in drifts. I hold those perfect moments close to me, those fleeting times that were really gifts my children gave to me. I can now open them like a book, and I turn back the years to see that look of amazement they rewarded me with when I lifted a heavy log, carved a bow, or brought home a wolf cub. I wrap myself in those precious memories like a warm bison blanket to keep the cold at bay and stave off the lingering chill of things I would rather forget.

The winter Ryder turned nine, Grace was six, and the cold was bitter and long. Maybe with the telling of it, these many years later, forgiveness will find me and I can draw close and smile.

The Fall obliterated humanity about sixteen years before that season; the bombs and pestilence that followed The Fall pushed us to the brink of the abyss, but we managed to survive. In the nine years we had been in the west, the scattered groups of survivors inhabiting the region enjoyed relative peace and security. It was a time of rebirth and renewal, and my best memories live there still. The weaponized fungus we had come to call Tarantula still thrived in the warmer regions, but the cold of the north kept it at bay. We were full of hope, though we bore the wounds of the past. We believed we had made it through the worst of it.

Image
I was then not yet thirty, and still very much in my prime, my hair dark and short, with not a hint of the white beard and long mane I now wear. “You look like Noah,” Crystal jokes these days. “What happened to my sculpted David, my Greek hero?” She laughs and there is no malice in it; the gray is earned and I wear it with the cantankerousness of an old Grizzly baring his yellowed fangs over a kill, long of tooth and the gold fading, but still dangerous. I was much more dangerous then. I stood six feet four inches, was broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, and I was strong. Hazel eyes, still bright with hope then, before they were faded and dimmed by sadness, which still burned with a zest for life.

“You’re old beyond your years,” I recall Crystal saying back then. “Such an old soul.” But really, I think that was all of us.

Writing is a triathlon

Aside

Image

My first thought when I see the Iron Man Triathlon on television is, “why would anyone want to do that?” Physically, even when I was in the best condition of my life, I could not have done it, although if I’d trained hard enough, maybe, just maybe, I could have pulled it off. Mentally, though? Nope. I’d better figure it out now, though.

My first novel is finally out  on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites. I woke up the next day still me, with no unicorns and rainbows shooting from my eyes. I am grateful, humbled, apprehensive, and proud all at the same time. I know I still have much to learn. I am dedicated to continue to improve my craft and undertake the work it will entail.

The business side of publishing is daunting and bewildering, and a part of me wants to just make it disappear. Shut my eyes like a four year old and it’s not there anymore. I’ve been focused on writing and ignored the marketing and promotional side of things, which is very dangerous if you want to make a living as a writer. On the other hand, I don’t ever want to become “that guy,” the one who spams with relentless ferocity until people want to shoot him in the throat. So I won’t be doing that.

Writing books is more like a triathlon than a sprint. There is the storytelling side of it, which is the most fun. That’s where the ideas come flowing out, and they are still shiny and new and you get to pick and choose. It’s an organic thing, even if you are a plotter and you are working on an outline. The story comes out and it is glorious. Then comes the  writing, which is where the words on the page come out. It’s not quite the same as storytelling, although it can be a part of the process. You have to worry about voice, pacing, syntax and word choice. The writing is a blast, too, though. Not quite as free-wheeling as the storytelling, yet more satisfying because the characters, conflicts and settings are coming to life as you churn out the words. And then there is the marketing and promotion, which to most writers, including me, is less than fun. That last leg of the race is painful, crucial, and long. It seems to demand I utilize muscles I don’t really want to use as a writer. It’s running a marathon when you’re already exhausted, and it’s the difference between .

finishing the race and dropping out in agony.

I guess I’d better dig down deep, ’cause I ain’t quitting.