Saturday, April 2, 2022

I Can Function Within Society...Sometimes


It is the beginning of April and I have failed my resolution to post every month (sorry March).  However, I will continue the good fight and post twice in April!

Since the birth of our daughter, I have spent much more time at home, and in doing so, have rediscovered the virtue of some Netflix shows.  When I opened my Netflix profile for the first time in over a year, I was reminded that I never got around to watching The Witcher.  (Yes, I know, its only like one of the most popular shows on the platform).

In any type of fantasy setting, believable world building is key.  A believable world is the background for a believable story.  But world building and setting will only get you so far.  Great stories are driven by great characters, and  Geralt of Rivia is certainly a great character.  I have only read three of the books in the Witcher Saga, but Henry Cavil will forever be Geralt of Rivia in my mind.  

Geralt is a flawed character and certainly no saint.  In many respects, he is an outcast to society and is only tolerated because he serves the purpose of destroying dangerous and deadly monsters.  But most importantly, Geralt is driven by the righteousness within his heart.  He is an anti-hero of sorts, the good guy who has plenty of shortcomings.  There are many aspects of Geralt; the monster hunter, friend, confidant, lover, and father. 

I often base my opinion of a series based on how likeable the main character is.  And Geralt's shortcomings are what make him so likeable.  Geralt is not prefect and knows it, and yet he try's his best to do what's right by the people he comes across.  We are all flawed, and a character like Geralt is believable because we all fall short at times. Time and again, Geralt saves the day for the people he loves, often with profanity and a smile on his face.  The essence of Geralt is the loyalty and love he gives to his friends and adoptive family.  If you want a glamourous knight in shining armor, Geralt is not who you are looking for.  But if you want someone to come to be at your side when no one else will, there is only one Geralt of Rivia. 



Monday, February 28, 2022

The Strange Times We Live In


         Somewhere in Colorado...

Greetings all!  The world we live in continues to be strange and unpredictable.  I try my best to stay informed with the goings on with the world. However, it is too easy to be sucked into despair and worry especially in dealing with events that are beyond our control.   I've studied military history for a long time, and much of my fantasy writing includes battles and wars.  However, that does not mean I want to live through one or watch one on live tv or social media.  War is ugly and harsh, and it is always the civilian population that pays the highest price.  

There are enough "experts" commenting on the ongoing Russian-Ukraine War.  As an American, I believe in the ideals of America (And yes, I know we have not always lived up to them ourselves) in that all people deserve the right to self-determination and the right to live freely.  I was born in the 1980s, and at that time, the Berlin Wall still stood and much of Eastern Europe was under the boot of communism.

I have this tendency to root for the little guy and those who have been treated unjustly.  With the digital revolution and the age of the internet, it is much more difficult for dictators and tyrants the hide their aggression and crimes.  I hope and pray for peace in the world, a world that is safe for my daughter to live and thrive in.  And, I desire for liberty and justice for the Ukrainian people.    


Sunday, January 30, 2022

A New Year, A New Beginning

The Grey Ghost, as a baby 😊

 I have not been very consistent in posting on this site.  In fact, its been almost 11 months since my last entry.  What can I say, life happens.  

This past year saw lots of life changes for my family. In November, my wife and I welcomed  our beautiful baby girl into the world.  A newborn will make you adjust your life accordingly, but after trying and waiting for so many years, our daughter is the greatest blessing we could have ever received.

With the new year, I have resolutions like most people.  There have been lots of exciting things happening behind the scenes in my publishing life, and hopefully I can share some good news soon.  Though its been 11 months since my last post, it does not mean I've been sitting on my couch eating cheese puffs!

To continue my trend of mentioning The Wheel of Time, or WoT, my wife and just completed Season 1 of WoT on Amazon.  The series differs from the books somewhat, but have remained true to the spirit of Robert Jordan, the creator of WoT.  The musical score for the series is well-done, and I foresee owning the soundtrack in the near future!

May you experience 2022 with joy and many blessings.  Talk to yall soon!


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Where are the Flying Pigs and Where Can They Take Me?


A view of Hawaii's Shoreline

Greetings!  Louisiana is not known for its cold winters, but you cannot put Mother Nature in a box.  It was 32 degrees at my house this morning, and three days ago got all the way down to 19 degrees.  I have been in mountains after it snowed and it was not that cold.  I am starting to wonder if I will see dogs and cats living in peace and pigs with wings.  (I can see geese and cows out my window though.)

As I have mentioned before, I am a big fan of science fiction and fantasy.  I am writing a fantasy series currently and hopefully by the end of this year I will have the first book published.  One of the reasons why I like writing is the puzzle that world-building presents itself as.  Now, some people would say, “Wait a second, you are writing fantasy.  Can’t you just make everything up?”  That statement is partially true.  In general, epic fantasy (which is what I am writing) involves an author creating an entire world system.  So yes, I can make up whatever I want.  However, if you want your world to be believable, it must be logical and have believable places and people in it.  And dare I not say, a unique but logical magic system.

George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and Tad Williams are three of the best modern fantasy world builders.  (I mention them because I have read their books and I liked them.  It’s my opinion and since it’s my blog I can say whatever I want.)  They both created worlds that are alien to our own and yet very familiar.  Their worlds are familiar to our own because they look and feel very similar to people and places from various times in Earth’s history.  In addition, Martin has said on several occasions that he considers his books historical fiction, which means that he borrows heavily from history.  In Martin’s world of A song of Ice and Fire, the continent of Westeros history closely parallels with that of western Europe.  However, the king of England did not have to fight ice zombies or fun dragons to ride.

The late Robert Jordan was a master at world building.  In his The Wheel of time Series (WoT), Jordan showed his brilliance in combining familiar cultures from earth into new entities and by inverting millennia old tradition.  The Aiel are a people that would look familiar to most these days.  They are tall, thick muscled, have a propensity for blond or red hair, and have blue or green eyes generally.  This sounds a lot like the Germanic peoples of Northwest Europe.  However, Jordan made their culture something of a cross between American Indian and the Zulus of South Africa.  If WoT were pure historical fiction, this type of experiment could never take place because there is no historical record of a Germanic tribe that was culturally related to the Zulus living a desert. 

Fantasy authors can make these fun thought experiments all the time because of the flexibility that world building presents.   Almost any type of world can be created if an author follows one of the golden rules of fantasy; is fantasy world believable? Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn (MST) presented a believable world with a feeling of deep history and lore.  Within the first few pages The Dragon Bone Chair, the first book of the MST series, the reader is immediately thrust into a rich world that feels three dimensional and ancient.  Williams brilliantly borrows from history and some very familiar religions to almost make the reader second guess if they are indeed reading a story about our own world. 

If you boil it down to its core, fantasy asks a simple question.  By crafting a certain comfort level and curiosity within the reader’s imagination, the author creates the irresistible trail for the reader to follow.  And what is the creative force behind the curiosity that fuels the reader down the trail of imagination?  That force is a simple yet infinite question.  What if…?



Sunday, January 31, 2021

Looking Ahead to a New Year

Somewhere in the Canadian Rockies

We are already a month into 2021 and only a few hours away from being in February.  Time can really fly at times!   If January proved anything, it was by two events.  For most people, no matter   who    is behind the desk in the Oval Office or whatever team goes to the Super Bowl, their daily lives will not change. 

I try my best to keep the commentary on this page away from politics and the other bat-poop craziness in our world.  In instances of politics and religion, there is a very good chance that 50% of your audience will disagree with you.  So, I try to stay away from those topics to keep the four people who read this blog happy and for the simple fact that there are countless others who pontificate on those topics.

For 2021, I hope that as a country we can get back to work and resume what had been our daily routines.  I do feel that once people have something to do other than watch Netflix and complain on Facebook and Twitter that we will all regain some sanity.

This year, I hope to announce that I will be publishing my first book.  I honestly feel that I am not far away from that milestone, but you never know what will happen until that publish button is pushed.  It will be exciting when it does happen.  If you like fantasy, evil monks, magic, lots of epic battles, and farm girls that can kick some ass, I might have a book or five that may interest you.  This process has been years in the making, and as much as it has frustrated me at times that I had not yet published, I think the wait has given me time to write the best book that I can.  Hopefully, I will have more good news soon.

I know in these times there are plenty of people struggling.  If you want an escape, Hoopla and Overdrive are free apps in which you can borrow digital media from your library.  All you need is a library card (which your local library will give you for free) and a wireless device and you are good to go.  I believe each app allows you to have around 10 borrows a month.  So that is a lot of free movies, music, and books (especially for those in a homeschooling situation) to help get you through this time.  I know it does not fix the world’s problems, but it can give you some enjoyment in your day.  You can also make recommendations to your library.  I have done this and over a dozen of my suggestions have been purchased.  Most libraries are in the business of serving their community and are often very eager to be responsive to their patrons.  And it costs you nothing.

To everyone out there, best wishes and good luck for a bright and happy 2021!



Thursday, December 31, 2020

Dear 2020, Don’t Let the Door Hit You on Your Way Out

                                              Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada

Here we are, on December 31, 2020.  What a year it has been!  For many of us, it has been a year of inconvenience, missed social opportunities, extended time periods without seeing our loved ones, unemployment for millions, and tragedy for far too many.  As a student of history, I still do not think I have come to terms with the magnitude of the historical event we have all lived through.  For those of us along the Gulf Coast, perhaps the closest event in terms of repercussions would be 2005 with Hurricane Katrina, but then again only a portion of the U.S. population was affected by the storm, it was not a global event like COVID-19.

As bad as 2020 was, when you look back at history (not to sound tone deaf here) there were many more years in history that were far worst.  With the Spanish Influenza of 1918, it is believed that as many as 50 million people died globally.  With the 30 Years War in 15th century Germany, as much as 1/3 of Germany’s population perished.  So, don’t get me wrong, 2020 was rough for a multitude of reasons, but we enter 2021 with a vaccine on the horizon and hope for a bright future.

My wife and I were fortunate that our employment remained stable throughout 2020, but we were more or less hermits at our home.  We love to travel, and in 2019 we took two trips that now looking back were once in a lifetime opportunities.  Two of the trips we went on were to Red Rocks Amphitheater, an open-air venue 10 miles west of Denver, Colorado; and Banff, Canada, a small town in the Canadian Rockies.

One of the reasons I love to travel is that it gets you off your couch, out of your comfort zone, and encourages you to try new things.  The scenery is also beautiful.  Whether you are in the U.S. or Canadian Rockies, you realize very quickly how lucky we are to call planet Earth home.

Traveling is time consuming and expensive.  Trust me, when you see the bill for plane tickets, rental cars, and hotel rooms your heart can race at times.  But I do not regret one trip that my wife and I have been on together.  Each trip has led to new experiences and allowed us to see our country and our friendly neighbor to the north in their most beautiful pristine environments.  I humbly recommend that everyone travel at some point in their life.  Save your money and collect whatever coupons or promotions that you may need, because you will never forget the experience. 

If you are reading this article, congratulations!  You survived 2020.  Let us now look forward to a bright and hopeful 2021. 

Happy New Year!



Saturday, December 12, 2020

Why is History so Important? Hint: If You Are Ignorant of the Past, it Will be Used Against You


Yes, this title has echoes of an old man rant.  But don’t worry, I’m not going to be sitting on my front porch yelling at the kids to get off my lawn anytime soon. As I have stated in previous articles, I have a bachelor’s degree in history and spent some time in graduate school.  The study of history I believe is critically important to a society for it tells the story of how that world in which it lives in came to be.  It is also an incredible predictor of future events, because as a species we humans have the tendency to attempt the same schemes and ideas time and time again.  And, often to our disappointment, with the same unwanted results.

The closest I will get to a political statement in this blog about the U.S. is that the legacy media and political institutions of this country, on either side of the political aisle, have their own version of history that they profess to further their political/economic goals.  Wow, that was a mouthful.  But just remember, everyone has a reason as to why they want you to remember their version of events.

Whoever said the victors write the history books was not entirely correct.  In today’s world, we constantly see news stories or political movements that try to put a new spin or interpretation on current events and what the root cause of a particular crisis might be.  This is called historical revisionism.  However, I am not going to wander directly into the minefield of current social /political issues.    There are plenty of others who are undertaking that task already.

Historical revisionism is nothing new in the modern world.  During the closing days of World War Two in Europe, the crimes of the Nazi Regime came to light as the Allied Powers liberated Nazi death camps.  War is hell, U.S. General William “Tecumseh” Sherman once wrote.  However, as American, British, and Soviet forces liberated one death camp after another, the men who liberated these camps and saw them first hand were shocked and horrified at the levels of cruelty and depravity the Nazis were capable of.  Millions of people were tortured, killed en masse in gas chambers, or worked to death in camps with names such as Dachau, Auschwitz, and Treblinka.  World War Two was a particularly brutal affair, but the level of barbarity allied soldiers discovered in these camps was beyond comprehension.  The evidence that was uncovered was so appalling that future U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Supreme Commander of the western Allies, ordered each liberated camp to be meticulously filmed, photographed, and documented and have as many soldiers and civilians brought to the camps to see the carnage with their own eyes.  Eisenhower was a man with a gift of foresight, and wanted the crimes of the Nazi regime so thoroughly documented that “no bastard in 100 years could claim that this never happened.”  Sadly, today, there are some very vocal Holocaust deniers that dispute or discount the mountains of evidence that unequivocally prove one of the darkest chapters in American history.

 Story telling has a power or magic within it.  Since humans have had the ability to communicate with one another, we have told stories.  In prehistoric times, our ancestors told stories around camp fires or painted vivid images on cave walls.  The telling of stories and our history is something that is very human.  As I have written in previous articles even fantastic stories are a way of passing down certain truths or events in human memory.  I borrow from history repeatedly throughout my books.  I play with events and names and take full creative license to create a fully imaginative and fictitious world.  My fantasy books are in no way meant to be taken literally or as an authoritative take on events that occurred.  When I publish a non-fiction book, I will make it very clear that a work is nonfiction. 

As a writer of fantasy/science fiction, I am in a market full of talented and successful competition.  If I wish to be noticed in an ever-increasing ocean of books, there must be something uniquely different about the books I publish. Sure, the tropes of the genre have not changed, but the spin I put to them must capture the imagination of my audience.  That is one reason why I have created a world which relies heavily on names that I borrowed from the Armenian language.  I wanted words, places, and names that sounded unique when spoken in the English language but also were based in reality and were not just complete gobbledygook that I made up.  Tolkien’s works have withstood the test of time in part because many of languages that he invented for Middle-Earth were based on old European languages such as Welsh and Finnish and he drew inspiration from the mythologies of those cultures.  I am no linguist like Tolkien, but I do feel a connection to the languages that my ancestors spoke for countless generations.  (Like most Americans, I am not 100% of any one ethnic group, but can trace my ancestry back across several ancient European countries.)

For the current series I am working on, there is a distinct Armenian influence on character and place names.  I do this not only to give a distinct feel and sound to my books, but to also bring awareness to the plight of the Armenian people.  The Armenians are an ancient people whose country occupies only 1/10th of its historical lands.  A victim of circumstance, history, and genocide only 100 years ago, over the last thousand years Armenia has often found itself under the domination of either the Persians (modern Iranians), Turks (Seljuks and Ottomans) and Russians.  Though the Armenians were given at times varying degrees of autonomy and freedom, neither of these empires went out of their way to ensure that the indigenous Armenians were able to survive and thrive on their ancestral lands.  My maternal grandfather was Armenian and his family was directly impacted by the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks in the early 20th century. 

 Modern Armenia gained its independence with the breakup of the USSR, and was immediately put into protracted conflict with its neighbor Azerbaijan, another former Soviet Republic in the south Caucuses.  The Caucuses is a crossroads between Europe and Asia and it is one of the most diverse places on earth when ethnicity and language are taken into effect.  Though historical Armenia covers much of the Caucuses, they are not the only people who now call that region home.  While Armenia has a population of around 3 million, its neighbor Azerbaijan to the east has a population of 10 million.  So demographically, Armenia does not even have the ability to put a claim on much of its historical homeland.

 Late September – early November 2020 Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a vicious 6-week war over a disputed region called Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh in Armenian.  To the disbelief of the Armenian people and the Armenia diaspora, Azerbaijan was victorious in this 6-week war and gained control of several formally Armenian controlled territories.  The great fear by many is that the Armenian identity from these areas will be erased by Azerbaijani authorities. This fear is well founded because of documented cases such as in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (a region part of Azerbaijan) in which Azerbaijani forces systematically replaced and destroyed all traces of Armenian heritage and habitation.  With certain areas of Artsakh under Azerbaijan control, the regime of that country has continued to put forth their own version of history and downplay if not outright reject the Armenian heritage of the region.  In the age of “fake news” accusations, it is the state policy of Azerbaijan to erase Armenian history from the region and delegitimize the actual existence of the Armenian nation.  Additionally, there was documentation during this war of the Azeris targeting Armenian civilians and Armenian cultural landmarks such as churches and graveyards.  On several news sites you can watch footage of an Armenian church being bombed repeatedly within the same day.

I am just one person giving my opinions to the internet.  But I cannot stand by, even if it just means that 5 people read this, while a people not indigenous to the Caucuses (that’s a whole other article) attempts to ethnically cleanse lands that my ancestors and their descendants have inhabited for thousands of years.  History has literally been weaponized by one group of people, the Azeris, to be used against the Armenians.  Its scary that someone can ignore or laugh at thousands of years of documents, buildings, graveyards, churches, place names, and every other hallmark of a civilization and claim that there is no proof of your existence!  People are entitled to have different opinions, but I draw the line when convenient facts are invented to further a political end.  That’s one reason why I try to stay out of current American politics in this blog. 

As a writer, part of my mission is to always search for the truth, in whatever shades of grey it sometimes will come in.   My writing is my way of exploring the human experience and all that it entails.  And if my use of Armenian words and names helps even in a small way the world to remember this ancient people in dire need of help, I consider it a cause worth undertaking.




I Can Function Within Society...Sometimes

  It is the beginning of April and I have failed my resolution to post every month (sorry March).  However, I will continue the good fight a...