Special Edition: Clean Reads Spring Giveaway

We are pleased to be included in a special offer from a number of talented authors, including dear friends Anna Erishkigal and Kristy K. James.
Please check out the available titles at the link below!

Clean Reads Spring Giveaway

Clean Reads Spring Giveaway

http://www.seraphim-press.com/special-offers-2/clean-reads/

That Works

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” -Ferris Bueller

True that, Ferris. But what do we see when we look? It depends on how we approach observation, doesn’t it?

I grew up in what retrospect paints as a difficult environment. Namely, a farm located miles out in the country. I came late to the Greatest Generation, and my father lasted ten more years. Afterward, I had another eight to live with people who were dealing with too many of their own issues to provide any nurturing an ideal situation would offer.

Those years made me retreat to reading, they made me strong to the Glory of God, and I have no complaints. Most of all, they taught me to think about what I saw rather than take information for granted. What I heard about myself and about the world was, at times, demonstrably false, and presented by people who derived comfort from disparaging others to fortify their self-image.

So I became analytical as a means of emotional survival. I learned to think, and I discovered the gift of discernment, and both benefit my life and my writing to this day.

So, what do people see when they look? Short answer:  they see what is there, or they see what they wish.

My working premise says ‘what is there’ is discoverable by design and definable in actuality. Dependable discoveries stand after examination and relate to supporting truths subjected to the same process previously. In this way, knowledge grows. After sufficient experience, one may anticipate consequences with a degree of accuracy to allow us a claim to dependable, guiding wisdom.

That is the good road. It’s taken if we see what’s there.

The other choice is to see what we wish. Premise and extension play no part in a perspective based on convenience.

Indulgence? It feels good. Do that. Unearned moral high ground? Occupy it. One pursues advantage rather than achievement, because it is easier. One craves the feeling of well-being rather than circumstances beneficial in the long term.

One turns inward instead of outward. One stops looking around, and misses something vital as a result.

Most folly in current affairs results from ignoring the most vital aspect of reality, namely the will of The God Who Is. Faithful people have no obligation to argue morals or policy or any other subject from a secular perspective.

If, for the purpose of outreach, one must, I would lead with a simple observation: whatever goes against its nature does not endure. Natural law states one circumstance follows another in emotionless causality. Function outperforms dysfunction, and increasing the volume of conversation does nothing to alter this vital dynamic.

Nature does not support pretentious thinking. As things are what they are, so are we, within the limits we are set. If we accept our situation and adopt normative thinking instead, function builds on function to a satisfying experience.

The price of pretentious thinking is an essential state of dissatisfaction. A flawed premise must extend repeatedly in the pursuit of a utopian vision only existing as a mirage of philosophy. As such, it is incontrovertible to those dedicated to normative, healthy, functional thinking, and breeds conflict. The process, unless abandoned, can continue to the point of systemic collapse, whether it is on a personal level or societal, and that is why such must be rejected as an act of love rather than enabled.

Natural law favors function over dysfunction. It nurtures the former and abhors the last. In the end, it wins every time. The process can be less painful when better understood.

John, in the tenth chapter of his Gospel, relates the words of Christ: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Seen as it is, marriage becomes something understood rather than self-defined, as does sexuality, and gender, and any number of other topics available to view as one wishes instead of observe and accept. Natural law, satisfied, promotes life over death, love over hate, and peace above conflict. Dissatisfaction dissipates as function calms dysfunction, and finally, life is good. One would expect such from the work of a loving God.

Look around to see if I am correct. Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t, you could miss it.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

KLH225x337DSIn production news, Novel8/Sean3, King of a Lesser Hill, is out of Content Edit and progressing through the first chapters  of primary editing for a late summer/early fall release. Ritter and company’s adventure in Bosnia and Herzegovina promises to be an experience you will not forget. For humanity’s sake, some events never should be.

‘Merica

We need a town hall discussion on Americanism. Imagine our nation as the unifying experience our Constitution was designed to provide: sans the scheming demographic manipulations of those empowering themselves through divisive identity politics, collectivist fantasies, and the soulless, modern-day slave-keeping mentality which cultivates fearful dependence.

We would indeed be one nation under God, wholly populated by citizens made Americans by their ability to define their distinctiveness, and what is unique and exceptional about each closely held national value. No one can deceive such people, because living after truth makes disingenuity obvious and abhorrent.

Imagine a population with moral strength and confidence enough to ignore ineffectual propositioning by blustering blowhards, insufferably arrogant hipsters, and utterly corrupt bags of meat masquerading as our abuela. No one could rationally aspire to make such people submit to any contrivance of tyranny.

The many successes of American society at times breed gentle people. There is a disadvantage to an unchallenging, comfortable environment, though; predators societal, ideological, and political gravitate toward those who are weak, unaware, afraid, or who have been hurt already. It is important not to project the aura of a victim; confidence one holds in being able to defend oneself on demand is an important component in avoiding the appearance of prey.

This is a difficult world, but one need not become a harsh person to live here successfully. One need only be strong. Physically, morally, socially, ideologically, and politically, edification begins in the strength of the Spirit, and that is found through valid faith. To live otherwise is to invite disaster.

If you are tracking the migrant crises across Europe—and you should be—you realize the societal embrace of multiculturalism necessarily degrades resident identity. Europe has cause to be wary of nationalism due to the conflict such generated in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. The answer, as they are discovering, is something other than unilateral surrender of identity.

Here, our culture is Americanism, the distinct mindset advocating for citizen-controlled, constitutionally limited government. A century ago, assimilation into our culture was expected and embraced. Today, populations import for quite the opposite reason: to degrade the ideal.

Multiculturalism by design results in separate and distinct demographics rather than a unified citizenry. Statist government, then, is likely to be more successful in metastasizing to address the problems it creates. This progression sucks always more capital out of the economy to benefit most a self-defined political class seeking to entrench themselves in taxpayer-funded cush.

Embracing or rejecting Americanism is the essential choice you will make this year. One is healthy and the other horrid. We are one Supreme Court Justice away from the candle going out in this last shining city on the hill. We have only a short time to address the deficit spending set to degrade our currency into worthlessness. Fiscal irresponsibility is, in the views of some, merely another strategy to transform a once-proud nation into a population of serfs who, if they want something to eat on any given day, will follow orders.

Free people do not follow orders from their government. They do not tolerate an appointed official wielding a pretense of unconstitutional power. Instead, they return overly assumptive leaders to their place. Throughout history, at times such has manifested in a return to the private sector, a term in a correctional facility, exile, or the ignominy of an unmarked grave.

As Will Smith said in Men in Black: “Don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.”

*****

KLH225x337DS

 

In production news, Novel8/Sean3, King of a Lesser Hill, is halfway through Content Edit, which precedes the heavy lifting of primary editing. Ritter’s experience in the maelstrom of the Bosnian civil war will, God willing, publish in late summer or early fall 2016.

Choose to Love, -DA

Why Boone?

I’m not sure, really. The good Doctor appeared nearly fully formed in my mind sometime before finishing Sean Ritter’s first dedicated novel, Operation Naji. She was a red-haired woman drinking alone in a hotel room, and it became my task to discover why. Her character and her story followed quickly and wonderfully during my Year in the Chair of writing full time.

As I need to remind readers and colleagues from time to time, I am not my characters. I embody neither the patience or grace of Jon Anthony, nor do I possess the heroism and steadfastness of Daniel Sean Ritter. I certainly am not Boone, with her Mensa-level quotient and unflagging spirit. So why is she here?

Not even creatives understand creativity, and perhaps seeking to understand the process would alter it irrevocably. I’m content to consider myself a channel for these storylines, and take them as my muse wishes to impart the things. Certainly, this was about having things to say, otherwise the million-plus words written so far for Single Candle Press would never have been. But I have done so, and  in my mind this is good enough.

Boone’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, is out and available nearly everywhere, as you will find linked in the sidebar and below. Her contest with elements of our government is 96,000-plus words of Level Zero action for the Office of the Director of National Security (ODNI). The implications of her dilemmas are relevant to the present day, and her struggle to balance duty and the other foundational considerations of her evolving perspective is an admirable effort, to say the least.

The title is the best to date of both hers and mine, as were her previous two in Boone’s File. I hope you will enjoy them all if you’ve not started already. Afterward, perhaps you can help me find the answer I posed as the head of this post. I suspect Boone is here because she matters in ways essential to my purpose. Such is a matter of faith in all things done for the Glory of God.

Here is the blurb:

Buy The Bonus Pool!
 In the aftermath of a midnight raid on a critical defense contractor, Boone Hildebrandt finds herself entangled in a covert plot: one meant to transfer missile defense technology to a foreign power. When a White House Senior Staffer dies, Executive Branch players become suspect in a budding case of international intrigue.

Deducing the international intelligence agency InterLynk has involved itself in negating the initiative, a Senior Advisor to the President orders the Director of National Intelligence to bring the private firm under control. The task falls to his new Senior Case Officer and on-again love interest: call her Boone.

Torn between conflicting loyalties, she is challenged to balance duty, secrets, and developing faith as events test her personal and professional fortitude. Powers romantic, domestic, and international emerge equally determined to overcome any opposition. Boone and InterLynk must press forward in a dangerous contest; in threatening the peace of the Northern Hemisphere, the stakes allow no choice other than playing to win.

Approx. 96,250 words / 330 pp. print length,

And this is the Big List of Links for Boone’s File No.3, One Last Scent of Jasmine:
KindleNookiTunesKobo – SmashwordsScribdpaperback

Choose to love, -DA

Arcs

It would be great from a business perspective if my characters stayed static throughout the course of a long series of novels. Adventure after adventure could follow in the endless timeline of a cast from whom the audience knew just what to expect. From the standpoint of realism and plausibility, of course, that’s not how things happen in the Dale Amidei universe.

Jon’s Trilogy is an example. His three titles took things, it seemed to me, as far as the character was going to go. When they finished, I had the distinct impression it was time to let Doctor Jon go back to a normal life … as normal as it could be remaining in association with Deborah Vosse, Daniel Sean Ritter, and eventually Boone, anyway. Those are different stories and ones we will address here eventually, God willing.

Ritter has Sean’s File, which is the man’s story from age nine onward. Growth there is a natural part of his continuing exposition. Portraying the change of the same person across years is possibly a factor leading to many readers designating him as their favorite character. That the man appears in every one of my novels to date likely says something about my personal attachment to the Colonel as well.

Boone’s File was meant to be a story of change from the beginning, where perhaps previously it was engineered out of a commitment to plausibility. My bio has always stated that I write in the real world, with real-world language and violence (and, when appropriate to the storyline, sexual situations). Constructing tales where the reader may easily suspend disbelief means persons appearing therein will change and grow. Every good guideline for storytelling says as much.

OLSJ_225x337DSWith Boone’s third on the horizon, I’m able to reflect on her very satisfying development. She has character and romance arcs spanning the six novels in which she appears and which will, again if we are so blessed, be brought to market over the course of the next three years or so. Writing as I have has made her tangible for me, and the results comprise a wholeness I am so glad to have been allowed to witness before anyone else.

Change should be embraced, not feared. In Professor Tolkien’s universe, the great failing of the rulers of Men in Numenor was the inability to accept their limited span. They envied the Uttermost West its Undying Lands, and so eventually brought ruin on themselves. As usual, though he denied any intent of allegory, with that theme J.R.R. Tolkien was portraying the essential link between valid faith and character.

The philosophy necessarily entails accepting limitations for one’s characters as well. They will not operate at a peak level of efficiency through thirty novels. They cannot dispatch endless numbers of villains without paying the price of self-doubt and conscience. They are unable to avoid necessary pain inherent in living well. Embraced, such seems to have only produced added dimension to my work.

My virtual people seem real to me because they have experienced stages of personal development I have observed in others, in persons both characterized and actual. From feedback so far, it seems others value the same effect to an even greater extent.

Boone’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, is now preparing to publish next month. The project has remained eminently satisfying throughout the process of bringing it forward. My longest novel prior to The Anvil of the Craftsman’s Revised and Extended Edition, it is, as described by the Editress, an amazing weave compiled into a great ending.

Boone’s story goes on as of this writing, of course, but it will not always. I know it, and she knows it. Though neither of us has been graced with having seen that ending yet, it will be the process of living through to the end which neither of us takes for granted or fears in the least. This, as Tolkien intimated so well, is what the Powers require of the faithful, lest we lose vital hope to futile delusion whispering the world is otherwise.

Choose to Love, -DA

Holidays in an Epidemic of Faithlessness

Things, being that all-encompassing term for the current state of affairs, are generally unsatisfactory and not working well for the world as a whole. Only a minority polled seem to think that good times are here. Only the most unshakeable optimists see bright sunshine ahead in a gloom perpetuated by nearly any means of observance one cares to employ.

We passed Thanksgiving here in the States and headed straight into the orgy of consumerism known as the Christmas Shopping Season. While everyone is distracted, in Washington our leaders betray the interests of the electorate they were appointed to serve. Overseas, relations between almost everyone are as tense as they have been since the end of the Cold War.

It was not always like this. There was a time of greater stability, greater accomplishment, greater prosperity and greater peace of mind. Typically, such times come after cyclic historical upheavals.

The 1920s were one, when the country cut loose after going through the first experience they would call a Great War. Economics had not evolved, however, to the point of being able to circumvent the Great Depression. It took the mobilization for another worldwide conflict, twenty years after the first, to break that cycle of malaise perpetuated by an over-involved government. World War Two followed a generation after the end of the first because people already tired by war avoided hard decisions and stalwart commitments which might have forestalled the ambitions of a madman.

The Second World War eventually was won by those whom we now term The Greatest Generation. A golden age followed into my lifetime. American power infused and fortified the world in what academe termed Pax Americana, the American Peace. America was great, according to a quote often misattributed to de Tocqueville, because her people were good.

Then, not coincidentally at about the time Internet access became commonplace, everything slowly started going to hell. So, what changed?

Everything in the temporal realm was changing the whole time, of course. There are few enduring constants in any modern culture. Times will change. The problem is that human nature does not, nor does nature in general, whether it is observed in natural law or the nature of truth and sin.

There, in the essential and universal conditions experienced by all human beings, constants can be found. It does not necessarily follow that essential questions are addressed, recognized, respected, or even sought out by any individual, much less any modern culture.

Personal faith is one such essential characteristic, and entirely an individual experience. One will answer certain questions whether or not they are deliberately addressed. Does God exist? Do I owe my allegiance to anyone, any institution, or any ideal? How should I conduct myself in the course of this short lifetime?

The ability to answer questions such as these in clarity is what produces stability, accomplishment, prosperity and peace of mind. We live in a universe of actualities, in which reality is not subjective, but dependent on accurate observation. There is one best way to describe events in the past and ongoing occurrence, and that focus of expressed actuality is called truth.

We are, going into this holiday season, experiencing a worldwide epidemic of faithlessness. When our forebears accomplished great things, they did so in the belief their efforts were worthwhile. Men went to war, and women did without them. Essentials were rationed. War bonds were purchased. Patriotism was cultivated, and all happened because enough people believed.

Patriotism descends from spiritual faith. America, this culture of limited government, idealized individual freedoms, and accompanying responsibilities, descended from the Judeo-Christian traditions which produced it. Prosperity following the last worldwide conflict created an environment which seemed to make nonessential many of the moral strengths preserving the Greatest Generation and previous through their times of trial. Too many, in a sense, became the idiot children of America’s success.

When faith in The God Who Is was lost, afterward so did the concept of limited government fade away. The Great Society of Lyndon Johnson, through unattended moral laws of cause and effect preserving family structure, became a nightmare of urban violence and inescapable dependency. Government, which is only a secular model of the natural order of things, grew out of control as more people saw its lure as the answer rather than the reality of its drain on the economy as the problem.

Government can regulate, but legislation is unable to instill morality. The preservation of the American Republic depends on morality for the integrity of its elected office holders and their stewardship of our Constitutional system. That brings us back to the Internet.

Communications technology, made available to intelligent and discerning people, allowed self-education and the propagation of wholesome ideals and initiatives. The bell-shaped curve of standard distribution, however, decrees we as a species to be half-comprised of dullards, with flanking populations of outliers at the good end and the truly evil on the other.

Idiotic notions, once everyone could shut out opinions proving uncomfortable, propagated online. The ability to pursue truth as a non-subjective construct was abandoned in favor of answering the Siren call of permissive, non-judgmental modern-day liberalism. Great populations, as a result, now hold as absolutes and dedicate themselves to the extension of false premises. The notes they care to hear are exclusive and repeat endlessly in the symphony of deception which comprise the only forums of information the faithless choose to enter.

Faith is no longer viewed as necessary in a world where cell phones ask questions and provide the answers. The Internet is before them always. Their gods have moved, with never a shortage of voices in the new temple to affirm apostasy.

“Things” will continue to worsen in this environment of faithlessness, of course, until such time (in the current system) as the smartest five percent of the dullest half are convinced, absent divine intervention. We are, I firmly believe, almost there either way.

Revival has put off catastrophe before, if enough of us are found when angels walk unseen to make their tally. People, by their divinely engineered nature, thirst for explanations to essential questions. Here, we have been leading horses to water since December 2011.

This endeavor the Editress and I began, with what since became the first title of Jon’s Trilogy, was not undertaken to advance any agenda. Only precepts which reflect actuality interest us. I encourage everyone to drink their fill of truth. Lessons abound unseen if unsought. One connects to the other throughout Creation, which is in its essence a purposefully discoverable matrix of objective reality meant to declare the Glory of God before each individual soul.

Truth, as my character Jon Anthony said, suffers not from inspection. Trace every premise backward to its essence. If it is solid, extend it and repeat the structural test. If it is faulted, change it out of your mind and your heart and adhere to a more wholesome concept. To do otherwise fulfills the parable Jesus presented of the house built upon sand. It fell, and great was the fall of it.

To even begin, one first has to believe. To progress, one has to dedicate oneself to self-edification. To endure, one has to hold to faith. This is true in Christ, in America, and in every aspect of a life lived well. May it be so everywhere.

Choose to love, -DA

NANOWRIMO, or Why You’ve Not Seen Your Writer Friend

The hammering sound you hear is the pounding of keys since the midnight hour of November 1, 2015. It’s National Novel Writing Month: NANOWRIMO, or simply NANO. The goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words minimum during the next 30 days, and that’s a notable accomplishment for anyone with any semblance of a life.

NANO sets a number of good habits. It practically disallows “pantsing,” for one thing. Most participants will spend October, at least, preparing an outline for their work. Personally, I can’t imagine writing any other way. There is plenty of opportunity in even an extensive outline for spontaneous creativity to occur. One must know where one is and where one is going, otherwise one does not journey, but wanders. There’s little enough time in life for purposeful work, much less meandering around the rim of an unfillable plot hole.

The contest enforces writing discipline, and discipline is a good thing. Commitment is a wonderful virtue. The problem with a rigid allocation of time to given activity is the writer missing other, essential aspects of his or her life. Those moments are not only irreplaceable, but go into making writers who they are. In essence, one’s life is what fuels writing a worthwhile piece in the first place.

When I was working on my first novel, The Anvil of the Craftsman, G. Gordon Kitty would come into the den and tap my leg to come sit with him on the Big Red Chair across from the fireplace. Those were special moments, but I often put him off for the sake of my word count. I didn’t know then it would be the last year of his life. Believe me when I say you don’t want to know how such a mistake feels.

Writers generally are artists. Largely they are insecure, obsessed idealists waging a battle where they lead a contingent of How Things Should Be while surrounded by the dark host of How Things Are. Like hard work and commitment, passion and idealism are generally good things, depending on the validity of one’s perspective and values. But all of those virtues, left to grow unrestrained, promote obsession … and that is less than healthy.

No one wants to hear the likelihood of one’s great effort going to waste, but no endeavor offers a better chance of just that than writing fiction. To have produced a solid novel is something of which one can and should be proud. Doing so can and has led to a great deal of acclaim and success, but those wonder stories are the experiences of outliers. So are the accounts of lottery winners, and both industries count on the Skinnerian appeal of intermittent reward aided by publicity. Don’t be afraid to dream, but accept that the world loves the taste of a really sweet one.

In the end, I can’t help but think that NANO does more harm than good. It doesn’t matter if your novel reaches The End by November 30. It matters a great deal if it is a worthwhile project, if it adds satisfaction to your life in having produced the thing, and that it will stay with your readers as you and they go forward together.

This where where the magic in writing is found, not in stress and deadlines and setting oneself up to fail through setting an artificial timeframe defining victory or defeat. The end product is the thing, and whether it arrives n November or December or next year matters not at all. These works will outlast us. I encourage you to give yours its due.

It’s better to write well than quickly. It’s essential to let the work cool and return for second and subsequent drafts. It should be mandatory that it be edited by a set of eyes other than your own and proofread by a third party who has not been part of production prior to that point.

But NANOWRIMO can be where all that starts. If you’ve prepared well and so choose, I wish you good luck. If you’ve attended your other duties, responsibilities, and all else life offers you first, you should be writing.

Choose to Love, -DA

*****

OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, has passed midpoint in primary editing and remains on schedule to appear this winter. My first, The Anvil of the Craftsman, recently garnered five-star review No.100. If you’ve not had a look at the Revised and Expanded Edition, I hope you’ll take time to enjoy the Bonus Chapter. Anvil remains a free download where possible, and inexpensive as allowed everywhere else.