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

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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.

Tolkien for the thirty-third time

I was introduced to the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien by my 5th grade reading teacher, Mrs. Rougemont. We read The Hobbit aloud, painfully enduring others who pronounced the w in sword and committed other acts of disinterested, semi-literate mediocrity.

That was the 1970s. A love of words had already been discovered. The craft, you see, provided a place to go. When one is a child, and his father is gone, and one lives ten miles from the middle of nowhere surrounded by people incapable of projecting value or love, having a place to go was vital. It was, at the time, part of what I did to survive long winters.

I still have those original mass-market paperbacks. They are tattered, broken, since-retired remnants of the fresh copies a young man bought with allowance money. The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and of course the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings were read many times. Enough times, in fact, as it takes for such a copy to totter on the verge of disintegration.

The Perimeter would be incomplete without its library, even pared down as it is through many moves. Tolkien’s classics remain, now in hardcover, as the Editress is also a fan. She actually had not encountered the stories until the release of Peter Jackson’s movies, and furthermore exercised enough discipline to not outrun the films as they released, though she read up to the point as soon as possible afterward.

Tolkien, as he discussed in the forward of the Houghton Mifflin edition I have recently finished again, never intended to present allegory. His fantasy, the man insisted, had no bearing on the real world. Were that true, I suspect the work would not have endured to the extent it did. The Professor in actuality had quite a lot to say about our state of affairs. All writers do, in their own idiom.

Middle Earth, populated by elves, trolls, orcs, dwarves, Men, Hobbits and others, was born to a purpose in the mind of a genius. I believe, after a short lifetime of reflection, it to be a message and a simple one, unseen if unsought as so many are. Perhaps it was even unconscious as the man wrote. Character and faith are inseparable and vital attributes of a righteous mind.

It’s another law in a universe of actualities. Things are as they are. That which is true has always been true, and will ever remain. The Fourth Age of Middle Earth arrived, and Tolkien’s world sometime after merged with our own. Much that was in his world never was, yet is still. We yet have the challenges posed by evil and our options in acting where we find ourselves, right now, today. The choices remain to serve ourselves entirely, or trust, as Tolkien wrote, that Powers work in the world besides the will of the enemy.

We’ve no elves, but there are others just as fair and perilous if not possessed of the wisdom of the Eldar. No goblins, though in cases it can be argued certain communities are close enough to an orc-hold for comparisons to be drawn. Mordor no longer exists, but we have resurgent Marxism and its child plague of liberal elitism; each of those possesses an enduring diabolic ambition to subject all mankind to its own Darkness.

The race of Men maintains its weakness in the face of mortality. We’re told to have faith and given a limited lifespan to choose our loyalties, set our goals, and discern our purpose in the context of a much larger story. We can, after our own fashion, look west as did Faramir to Numenor that was, Elvenhome that is, and Undying Lands and remember.

We instead look up, and apply Tolkien’s unspoken premise to a faith wonderfully real. The long ages God has wrought in His relationship with children on Earth go on. We have, as my character Jon Anthony presented it, a choice between love and hate, with only indifference as a temporary hiding place before our circumstance forces one or the other. We’ve the long history and testimony of those many who’ve encountered Him, whose accounts are preserved by Providence every bit as well as were records in the archives of Minas Tirith. All allow a reasoned faith to conclude there are, beyond the gray curtain of this world, white shores and a far green country under a swift sunrise.

To discover character and faith, vital and inseparable, is the primary purpose of a living soul. To Realize one’s need sparks the tinder which inflames Exploration for truth. To Accept God’s gift of forgiveness and afterward Live what one believes makes one R.E.A.L. That is a good place to be before things “Get Real.”

These days, as they were through the ages of Middle Earth, are here to bless us or build us, but not to break us. We are made of God Stuff and will not be undone, to our eternal joy or peril. It’s time to choose whom we serve, and ever has been.

Choose to Love, -DA

*****

OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone Hildebrandt’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, stands 43% complete in primary editing. Her contest with elements of our own government remains on schedule to appear this winter, God willing, likewise to be followed by the next volume in Sean’s File, King of a Lesser Hill.

The September Maples

To embrace the experience of living is to reap bounties of all sorts. Thinking deliberately can be such, if one is up to the task. Sometimes, though, lessons present themselves in sudden realization of what was always there. How one accounts for such events is a matter of faith, but certainly lessons unseen if unsought can be presented anywhere.

So it was in the morning taken by ordering the yard surrounding the Perimeter. A glazed pot has sat outside in the bay for the dumpsters since we arrived. In Texas it held a lilac, cultivated by the Editress from a cutting at her mother’s. Potted plants do less well in the frozen north than in the Lone Star State. Being we arrived here in at the start of winter, the tall, slender plant which bloomed for her only a single time—in the summer prior to our leaving—is gone. It sat the first year in the hopes it could recover, but it will not, and its branches turned to sticks in the way of life passed away.

The trees around are largely maples. Each spring showers the property with the seed pods of the silver maples to our south, some of which spiral down to land on seemingly every inch of our yard. They land in the pot where the lilac flourished, too, and spout as they do to be tended only by the sun and the rain. In the pot, though, they stand unmolested.

So I noticed them this morning, with their leaves as broad as any on the mature trees from which they originated, though the largest shoots are perhaps eighteen inches high. They, like the lilac, will be gone after the first killing frost. But for now they are here, and alive, and as it struck me this morning, beautiful standing in such time as they have.

It is a truism that each living thing holds the beauty of life if nothing else. Elizabeth Goudge, an English author of novels, short stories, and children’s books, observed rightly in her novel Green Dolphin Street “Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt. Whatever it is that lives, a man, a tree, or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short. Civilization is another word for respect for life ….”

We live in a world where life must at times be cut short. We take in sustenance to live and fund the slow combustion of living with the fuel of our diet. Plants are harvested and animals as well. It’s proper that the grace preceding each meal acknowledges the fact that, as in the spiritual realm, death is necessary for one to receive the gift of life.

With animals, we observe necessity as involving one of the Four Ds. The creature must be dangerous, diseased, destructive … or delicious. With our fellow man, the doctrine here is that he who sets aside his humanity loses the consideration of civilized folk. In no case, however, is the taking of life held lightly. It is God’s portfolio, and each instance is set to His purpose.

In writing political fiction, adventures of all sorts are presented, of course. Homicides  predatory, tragic, and righteous populate the pages of my work. There too, nothing can be taken lightly. In the case of the antagonist, karma waits patiently. But even for my protagonists there is a price paid for doing their duty, and it does not pass without the toll. I write my characters as they are given me, and it has become clear as their stories go on that the burdens of even justifiable homicides build. I write about people as they are, in what my life and my teachers have taught me, and I’ve come to realize that Ms. Goudge was correct.

So, this morning as I began my work, I carefully trimmed away the remnants of the Lilac that had blessed the Editress for years. She has another now, deeply rooted and mature, in the backyard of this iteration of the Perimeter. I left only enough stalk enough to support the young maples whose days are short, so that they can have their time in the sun. It’s as much as any of us can ask. I hope to see their successors in the spring of next year, if we are so graced, because they will also be alive, and beautiful, and welcome here.

Choose to Love, -DA

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OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, is 24% complete in primary editing, and remains likely for this winter, God willing. Her debut, Absinthe and Chocolate, is currently on sale everywhere pending a feature for the ebook on Pixel of Ink as slated for Monday, September 14. If you’ve not availed yourself of a great read, there is no better time to start.

Best of the Independent eBook Awards Honors

Pleased to announce two titles receiving top honors at this year’s eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards! Boone’s File Book One is Best Thriller, while Sean’s File Book Two was named Best Short Story after public voting. Thanks to Julie Ann Dawson and company at eFest, as well as everyone who took the time to register and vote! You did this!

As always, retail links for all my titles are available on the sidebar. Read, Rock, Review, Recruit, and Repeat!

FBeFestWinners2015

*****

In production news, Boone’s third novel, One Last Scent of Jasmine, continues progress in primary editing and remains on schedule for a winter release.  Jasmine is nine percent complete in that stage and lookin’ good.

Choose to Love, -DA

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

You may notice, in giving a visit to this blog, that some additional content has appeared.  The landing page, as always, has my latest news. About Dale Amidei has been augmented with a bibliography, additional contact information and a new email address. Additional links to other places where I and my titles have enjoyed a feature are there as well. Please grace those hosts with a visit!

Available Titles and In the Works highlight my extant and preview upcoming novels, while FAQs and the Tip Jar round out the content migrating over from my previous home page. As always, links to my retail outlets appear on the sidebar. This site will be my online home for a while. Subscribe, enjoy and settle in. I’m glad you’re here.

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OLSJ_225x337DSIn production news, Boone’s third and my seventh, second-longest novel passed Content Edit over the weekend. One Last Scent of Jasmine is now undergoing scrutiny by the Editress in the throes of the Main  Edit, and shall be until sometime in the coming winter. God willing, Boone’s tussle with elements of our own government will be available for the deep, dark nights of a warmly snuggled reading season.

A reminder also that Daniel Sean Ritter’s  Romeo Down: A Short Story, and Boone’s debut, Absinthe and Chocolate, are finalists in public voting at the 2015 EFestival of Words Best of the Independent EBook Awards. Thanks in advance of your trouble to register, vote, and support them for Best Thriller and Best Short Story!

As always, stay safe and sane and Choose to Love. -DA