Pearl of Justice Update

So, diving into the second Pearl of Justice Mystery before the first one is completed has turned out to be a very edifying experience. It is a stand alone story, but there are a few bridge elements from book to book. The first draft of the outline for book two is done. It maps out 101 chapters in very minimal detail. It spans three pages, and the notes on each chapter amount to disjointed sentences that mean very little to anyone else but me. Basically I said, “This should happen here” 101 times.

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I have the bones. The next step is to add some meat to the bones. I’ll start with a 50 word breakdown of each chapter and then follow that up with about a 200 word breakdown of each chapter. By the time this thing is done, I’ll just plug in some dialogue and BAM! Detective Dani Pearl is taking down backwoods crackers once again.

The release date for the first book – currently titled The Deputy – is July, 2016.

 

Without Courage or Compassion, Y’all

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This is a Syrian child. She’s just spotted a cameraman. Mistaking his camera for a gun, she puts her hands up hoping she won’t be shot. Southern governors in America will not give her shelter.

Without Courage or Compassion. That is the American South I woke up in this morning. A certain segment of this country’s political ilk has turned away from Syrian refugees and declared them less than because they are Muslim. Red state governors, with overwhelming support from their constituents, have banned these people running from famine and war from finding shelter within their states’ borders. These children of God have no country and apparently no worth. I am ashamed to say my Southern brethren have chosen ignorance and fear over courage and compassion. This Jesus they pray to, this Middle Eastern man they call their savior, this Son of God whose family was once denied refuge, He is a stranger to them.  We in the South once again find ourselves on the wrong side of history. Unfortunately, that is our heritage.

I’m aware governors outside of the South have made the same decision, but I’m speaking as a Southern American today. Not one Southern governor has made the compassionate or courageous choice. That is a great source of shame for every Southerner. We are led by cowards.

Into the Badlands

I honestly didn’t plan to watch Into the Badlands last night, but they suckered me in by making The Walking Dead the lead-in, and I was further foiled by my habit of losing the remote. The universe conspired against me. I was forced by my lack of desire to get off the couch to watch Into the Badlands, and I’m glad I was. It was incredibly entertaining. It was Kill Bill with a twist of post-apocalyptic fantasy. I dub AMC the king of original programming. They are constantly knocking it out of the park.

Religion Is the Problem

War is not the answer

War is not the answer

If that headline offends you, it should. It’s ridiculous to make such a blanket statement. Religion didn’t attack Paris. Islam didn’t attack Paris. A fringe group of religious fanatics attacked Paris. Muslim extremists attacked Paris. To blame it on every religion is as irresponsible as blaming it on all Muslims. Being that culturally reductive and simple minded is dangerous because painting with such broad strokes is in and of itself extremism, and it can lead to a thirst for misplaced retribution. Historically, the death of both innocence and innocents is the cost of such ignorance, and we are left with a growing horde of terrorists. In essence, we are caught in a continuing cycle of inhumanity.

This is the time for nonbelievers, believers, Christians, Muslims, Jews, people of every faith to come together and refuse to give in to the hatred. Religion is not the problem. Muslims are not the problem. Peace is the answer.

This is bad. This is really bad.

I have outline brain.

I have outline brain.

So, when you write a first draft of a novel, it is, for the most part, horrible. It really should be horrible. Just awful. The first draft is you thinking on paper. Very little aspect of your story is fully formed during this point in the process. If you’ve done an outline, you have some skeleton of an idea, but adding the meat, heart, and soul of a story is a multi-step process.

The only thing worse than the first draft of a novel is the first draft of your outline for the first draft of a novel. I’m working on the first draft of the outline for the second book in the Pearl of Justice Mystery series, and I’m making myself cringe. As I’m writing, I’m saying to myself, “That’s not going to work.”

But that’s okay, I’m really just looking for various moments in the book that I can build and tie together, and that will come in the next draft of the outline. I know in my head how I want certain events and revelations to go, I just don’t know how I’m going to get there yet. Essentially, I’m building a maze as I’m walking through it. It’s frustrating and rewarding all at once.

If you’re a writer, don’t sweat the first draft of any manuscript or outline. Rewrites are where the magic happens.

Time Travelers, yes, Hitler sucked, but please do not kill him!

Hitler Before the Stache

Hitler Before the Stache

I know Hitler was a huge asshole and psychopath who was responsible for the death of millions of people. He was an evil shitbag that deserves to die a billion painful deaths, but should we ever develop the ability to go back in time and find baby Hitler sleeping peacefully in his crib, we mustn’t give into the temptation to kill him in order to save the world from the pain and suffering he will cause (or caused, verb tense is really confusing when you’re talking about time travel).

Forget the fact that killing baby Hitler would have a ripple effect across time and could wipe out your own existence, which would create a time conundrum where the killer of baby Hitler never existed and therefore could have never gone back in time to kill baby Hitler, which means Hitler would have lived and gone on to become the genocidal maniac he was – or will be – or is. Essentially, meaning you would exist again, only to go back in time and kill baby Hitler, which would mean you never existed, which means baby Hitler would have lived – etc. and so forth and so on.  In other words, there’s a high probability that you will create an endless time loop that will result in multiple streams of time where Hitler will commit the attempted genocide of the Jews and start Word War II over and over again, making you responsible for the death of not billions or trillions of people but an infinite number of people.  Your crime against humanity would be far worse than Hitler’s because you’re his enabler.

As I said, forget that highly probable outcome. You shouldn’t kill Hitler because I love my family, and I’m assuming you do as well. You jeopardize their lives by taking out Hitler before he commits his atrocities.  As awful and disgusting the things Hitler did are, preventing him from committing his evil destroys the present. The people we know and love won’t be the people we know and love. The world we live in now won’t be just dramatically different, it will be unrecognizable.  I don’t know if it will be better or worse, but your parents, your sibling, your kids will not exist as they currently are. In fact, they may not exist at all. Do you want to put their existence at risk? Are you willing to make that kind of sacrifice for an unknown outcome? I’m certainly not.

Luckily, as I’ve said before, simple logic tells us that traveling back in time isn’t possible, so it will never be a decision any of us will have to make.

How to fight the War on Festivus

Stand up for Festivus!

Stand up for Festivus!

I’ve decided not only is the war on Christmas bullshit, but the real war is being waged on Festivus. The media pretends it’s a made up holiday. No candidate for any office has ever had the guts to say they celebrate Festivus. And, no coffee shop has ever honored the holiday. Ever! So, here’s my plea to Festivusians everywhere. Next time you go into Starbucks and they ask for your name, stick your chest out and proudly proclaim, “I am Frank Costanza!” Make sure you yell it like you’re angry. They need to know you have a grievance.

Festivus for the rest of us!

The Pearl of Justice & Oz

It's official

It’s official

Someone asked the other day when the first Pearl of Justice Mystery novel will be released. Unfortunately, I don’t have a release date yet. More rewrites are almost certain, and the actual design work by the publisher hasn’t been done. The images I’ve posted here are of my own making, and they are strictly used as visualization devices for me. It helps me get to know Dani as I outline her next book.  The ID card accompanying this post will most likely only live on this blog, so don’t think it’s reflective of any future material to be released.

I’m working on an idea for a launch “event” for the first book. I have no idea if I can pull it off because it will involve a lot of people and incorporate my love for the theater. There are a lot of moving parts, so we shall see.

On the Oz Chronicles front, I’m going to post the first chapter of the next book on the blog next week, and I’ll post new chapters as I can. I can’t promise a regular schedule right now, but since so many of you have asked when the next (last book) is coming, I wanted to give you at least a peek at the next Oz adventure.

Stay tuned!

The War on Christmas is an Inside Job

Take back your religion and tell the barista your name is Matthew 6:5

Take back your religion and tell the barista your name is Matthew 6:5

By now you’ve heard about the kerfuffle in the evangelical community over Starbucks’ decision to go with plain red cups to commemorate this holiday season. Let’s be perfectly clear, the outrage on display by these pretend Christians is complete and utter horseshit. It’s an attention grabbing controversy invented by an idiot named Joshua Feuerstein who’s monetized the Christian persecution brand better than anyone online. Starbucks never included religious icons of any kind on their cups. The images included in the past at this time of year by the corporate coffee shop were all secular Christmas images. They never included crosses or images of baby Jesus or even the Star of Bethlehem.  It was Christmas-neutral, if you will.

I am a former Christian. I left the faith for a lot of reasons, but chief among them was the plethora of con artists like Feuerstein who control the public narrative of an entire religion. He and his ilk spend limited time talking about the good Christians should commit to doing for the community and instead devote most of their spotlight scaring their followers into believing that there’s a movement afoot to take their Christianity away.

There is no such movement. I’ve seen this world from both sides of the spectrum. As a Christian, I never got the sense that I was being denied my rights to practice my religion, and as a non-Christian, I’ve never been instructed to sully the good name of Jesus.  It’s possible I just haven’t been included in the inner-circle yet, but I can assure Christians reading this post that I’ve never once attended meetings with my fellow secular humanists trying to come up with ways to end Christianity. We’ve gone after efforts to make Christian doctrines the law of the land, but we don’t want any type of religious doctrine from any faith to influence the laws we live by in this country.

Don’t think that I believe Feuerstein represents all Christians. I know he is an online cult leader that controls a mindless group of religious trolls. I get that. Think of this post as an informative piece. The war on Christmas is an inside job. It’s being waged by pretend Christians, religious extremists who want to cripple the moderate Christian community and control the message of the faith, in much the same way Muslim extremists have done with moderate Islam. If you think I’m being a bit of an alarmist, Feuerstein has encouraged fighting gay rights with guns, and too many morons calling themselves Christians celebrated his message.  The Oath Keepers militia group is the armed division of the zealot Christian movement.  We are perched on a slippery slope and bloviating buffoons like Feuerstein are adding more slime to the decline.

So, here’s my suggestion if you are a moderate Christian, and you’re tired of people like Feuerstein taking over your religion, tell the barista your name is Matthew 6:5 and take back your religion.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

Movie Review: Kristy

As is the norm for me, I woke up Sunday morning and sipped on a cup of joe while I got my Netflix horror fix on. This week the movie of choice was Kristy, a movie I hadn’t heard of and initially, I passed it up based on the description. It was essentially described as a college campus slasher film. Slasher horror has been so over-done lately, and I didn’t have much interest in watching a bunch of half-naked sorority girls running from some guy wearing a mask and wielding a large sharp-edged tool of some kind. I searched for an alternative, but nothing really struck me as worthy of my coffee time, so I went back to Kristy and took a chance based on the 3.5 star rating.

And, I’m glad I did. It was a slasher film, and it does have some guys in masks, but it was different. There were no mindless jocks and cheerleaders getting picked off one-by-one. It was about a young college coed staying on campus by herself while her classmates all go home for Thanksgiving. Much to her misfortune, she’s targeted by a twisted cult of killers as their next victim. Ultimately, this was a story about a survivor learning how to defend herself and kick some major ass. It was a fun, completely satisfying ride. If you’re tired of the slasher flick formula, I urge you to give this movie a shot because it turns the genre on its head.  It was well worth my coffee time.  I give this my full pot rating.