Mere Christianity

The themes of the holiday season, being appreciation in Thanksgiving and joy in celebration of the first Christmas, coincide with weather encouraging long, cozy nights indoors. Such times seem tailor made for books generally and edifying reads in particular, and as an author I hope all of you are indulging yourselves that way.

My November absorption was an overdue study of the 1952 classic by the renowned C.S. Lewis, titled in his devout understatement Mere Christianity. In this work, the masterful Lewis provides wonderful and insightful commentary on the basic tenets of Christian faith held in commonality by those who believe. It is rightly considered an essential read for all of us who realize ourselves to be between Here and There.

Substantive enough that it deserves to be taken on one chapter at a time, with each being followed by contemplation in turn, Lewis assures, convicts, and comforts. Personally, I perceived evident hints of his formative influence on another convincing apologist, Josh McDowell, who like Lewis also started from a base of skepticism.

Those recognizable precepts made clear that this book had influenced my own perspective years previous to my finally engaging the thing. In a sense, C.S. Lewis is another of my literary fathers, and with me, through McDowell, helped produce my catalog of novels. Expressing in fiction the seeds of faith I’ve been allowed to present through the lives of my characters Jon, Sean, and Boone is therefore partially their legacy as well. Such is the work of the Spirit.

Like Lewis, my character Jon Anthony sought to emphasize commonalities of faith rather than spur conflict in outlining divergence. Their respective efforts similarly proceeded from a peaceful nature, the bestowment of which is a core value and benefit of embracing Christianity. Such descends from the essential motivation of our Creator, which is love. Love was born in the mind of God, who then realized his desire for servants and souls with whom He could share the best of all emotions.

Everything else followed. Love, necessarily a choice, has a dependency on free will, the unfortunate application of which gives rise to sin rather than harmony. All things nurturing and charitable proceed from it, and we rightly celebrate those each holiday season and whenever else the proper mindset allows.

Mere Christianity is eminently worthwhile. Regardless of your state of belief you should read it for yourself as a life task and initiative of spiritual edification.

A personal side benefit of digesting the work was an insight as to the nature of truth. Actualities, you see, and particularly those from which Lewis constructs his arguments, are and were always here. Truth, as does the existence of a personal Creator, endures in an essential state of being. Those exist independent of discovery, acceptance, promulgation, or consensus. Truths of the physical plane discovered and undiscovered through science, for instance, are in effect independent of anyone being aware of them. In that way, physical and spiritual laws share an essential commonality. It is in their embrace that we grow our perspective and build a more useful outlook beyond the data set from which we previously proceeded.

It is this aspect of useful truth inviting embrace that led to the Great Commission, and the efforts of Lewis, and afterward McDowell, and then myself. Everything true directs toward sure knowledge of the nature of its Craftsman: the motivating love of the Father, the accommodating forgiveness of the Son, and the unrelenting outreach of the Spirit through whom we commune with Him from this world we know.

As is so eloquently expressed in Mere Christianity, what He does has the goal of successfully delivering us to our Creator. Should one understand nothing else of His Will, that would be enough of a beginning to launch a life lived as it should be. Remember one precept, descending from the apostle Paul’s commendation to the Bereans, who searched Scripture nightly to confirm the things he told them were so: truth fears nothing from inspection.

So it is each holiday season, as in the dawn of another day: a fresh chance to begin appears again. Like truth, the opportunity is always there, waiting to be picked up, held dear, and carried forward. You have our wishes for a Merry Christmas and the best of New Years from everyone here at Single Candle Press.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

Just a reminder that all three of my series—Jon’s Trilogy, Sean’s File, and Boone’s File—now have a free gateway title available through links on the sidebar if one uses an e-reader. Those collections of novels I have connived to support and enhance each other, as each takes place in its own decade of the same literary universe.

Reading material in any form, though, makes a great gift, one with the potential to move forward from then on with the mind it encounters. Should you think enough of my writing to pass it on to another, thank you in advance!

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Setting Boone Free

James Bond? Boone never heard of her. An award-winning lead title, Absinthe and Chocolate is now a free download from most retail venues! Released as a risk-free read in mid-month, the first of five titles in Boone’s File is enjoying success on Amazon and elsewhere. Find out why, and help spread the word!

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Roads to Rome

Since at least the twelfth century, there has been a saying: “All Roads Lead to Rome.” Generally, this is taken to mean the same outcome may be reached by many methods or ideas. Once, though, it was literal truth.

The Roman network of roads constructed in the days of empire covered 120,000 kilometers from Portugal to Constantinople. They projected the power of the emperor, connected nodes of commerce, and assured Rome’s legions had a straight road to wherever trouble might arise. All roads, indeed, led back to that center of civilization … if such was the direction taken. With one’s course reversed, they all eventually ended as far as possible from it.

But Vae Obscurum isn’t about history, though such is always a consideration. It is about thinking. Analogous to the directions available to the Roman pilgrim, two modes of philosophical thought beckon the intellectual traveler: extension and reduction. Toward Rome, representing clarity, and away into the wilderness of false premises diffusing into irrelevance.

There are a vastly greater number of ways to be wrong than right. This is one reason why, for the sake of example, the LGBT∞ pantheon of delusions will never—short of divine intervention—cease adding its addendum letters. Philosophy seems too often concerned with muddying rather than clarifying thought, and theology likewise has its share of overblown and under-supported doctrines (speaking of Rome). Such in the nature of human ego, fed by needs to make oneself more than might be objectively justified, and to build sustaining institutions and hierarchies to afterward enjoy the advantage or other comforts they generate.

My deep-thinking character Jon Anthony, in Killing Doctor Jon, called his intellectual antithesis

“‘reduction to essence,’ where we stop believing and start seeing. The valid precepts of all the great religions are found there … because things real have always been real, and are just as they will always remain.” (KDJ, 2013)

Another great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, opined that it is always best to begin at the beginning. Christopher Robin’s friend intuited truth at a primal level, and so realized a truism of logic: a false premise cannot be successfully extended. To correct child paradigms, one must start fresh from a justified foundation of thought. A reliable frame of reference reflects clarity and aligns with the state of actuality from which all natural endurance draws vitality.

Another of my characters, Boone’s mentor and Chinese pastor Lin Shun Lun, noted in his likewise naturalistic orientation the tripartite nature in much of God’s creation:

“We live in the bounds of our material existence, yet we sense, as Lao did, something more. Those, as so many things do upon reflection, often divide themselves into threes: Father, Son, and Spirit … beginning, middle and ending … Heaven, Earth and Man.” (The Bonus Pool, 2015)

Applying Jon’s approach of simplifying rather than extending makes for a more penetrating message, which in the way matters are considered here ought to be the focus of Christian outreach. Taken to the beginning, one arrives at the point of origin, the Creator, manifesting Himself as He sees fit and to our eyes as the Father, representing his essential unity and love. He also appears as the Son, to embody His grace and represent the creative force of the Right Hand of the Craftsman. His ministry of the Spirit resides in divine communication and inspiration that projects His will into the world among those who will listen and live what they believe.

Sets of three become one and accumulate into work, and works into a portfolio, and somewhere beyond into the sum total of what He is doing in a plan held close and beyond our sight. Faith is the window into that far green country Professor Tolkien envisioned.

What do we need to know? Taken back to essence as Jon would approve, divine love, saving grace, and the sufficiency of Christ comprise the essential tripartite of the Christian faith. One or another duty follows from these three concepts, and life is found along whichever occupies our minds at any given moment. These are real, and may be successfully extended so long as we do not lose line of sight to our home. Doing so, we can never truly become lost.

Begin with clarity, and end with success. Be R.E.A.L. before it gets real:

Realize your need
Explore for truth
Accept God’s gift of forgiveness
Live what you believe

You will find other concepts along the way worth holding onto. Remember that in most endeavors, methodology is everything. Deliberating is no exception.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, Boone’s sixth title and one split with Daniel Sean Ritter, Ghosts of the Republic, is currently undergoing Content Edit. The process is not easily forecast due to the nature of the Editress’s work. GOTR will, God willing, appear sometime next year depending on what else He sets us toward doing in the meantime.

A Garden in Russia

Boone’s fifth novel is now in full release. “Thank you” to the many fans, helpers, and readers whose enthusiasm also makes my catalog what it is.

Her latest begins moments after the conclusion of her fourth, Meat for the Lion, and largely concerns itself with the events surrounding the resulting constitutional crisis in the Russian Republic. Along the way, nearly all of my surviving characters—Boone, Terry Bradley, Daniel Sean Ritter, Thalia Kebauet, Deborah Vosse, Yael Levin, and Jon and Mary Anthony—either play a role or make an appearance, as do others old and new. Epic, excellent, and already described elsewhere as a work wherein “the emotions never stop,” I’m simply delighted with the result.

Here’s the blurb:

“Spring brings changes: for Boone, the joy of an expectant mother. Both the U.S. and the Russian Federation see tumultuous presidencies reach unexpected ends; in Moscow, the cause is death at the hands of an InterLynk associate.

Washington political operatives seek to shore up a legacy of failure in order to preserve their party’s viability. In Russia, a resurgent movement exploits political turmoil to propose governance in the style of the last century’s Cold War. To those ends, all pursue a family on the run in the Mediterranean: loved ones whose safety is critical to ensure an assassin’s testimony.

Thrust into an international, unavoidable contest of deadly professionals, Boone’s challenge is to summon her faith and overcome fears inhibiting decisive action. Justice, integrity of governance, and the narrative of history in two countries await the outcome.

Approx. 91,500 words / 329 pp. print length”

Choose to love. -DA


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Reading Boone

Leading into next month’s release of Boone’s fifth and epic title, A Garden in Russia, I have the opportunity to hand off the forum to a pair of her biggest fans, Rebecca Johnson and Claire O’Sullivan. Ladies, the floor is yours:

Rebecca: Firstly, thank you, Dale, for allowing us to guest post on your page. Claire O’Sullivan and I are here to nag Dale Amidei about his newest book discuss Dale Amidei’s first female heroine in his Boone series of espionage thrillers, a sort of international/ political Tales from the Dark Side. Dale writes complex, powerful novels that pull his characters into unthinkable situations, which is why I have temporarily given up paranormal fiction in favor of devouring his books.

Claire: Readers and writers alike, no matter their preferred genre, would find Dale’s geopolitical intrigue novels exemplary.

Rebecca: That’s some mighty highfalutin language there, but I think you’re absolutely right.

Claire: All I’m saying is that, as primarily a romance reader, I find his books a delicious departure from my usual reads, just like you do.

Rebecca: Can’t argue with you there … but about Boone: How do you relate to her character?

Claire: I think she’s a bad-arse, and I mean that in the “holy-crap-if-she-was-real” sense (and maybe she is). I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. Respect her, yes. Mess with her, no way. I would actually like to be Boone. What about you? How do you see her?

Rebecca: Well, you know, every woman has those days when everything jells, right? The makeup and hair work, the clothes fit perfectly, the job rolls on smooth wheels. Then there’s the rest of the time, when the mirror and the closet are your enemies, and the job develops a square wheel and just clunks along, and the kids track dog poop all through the house ten minutes before the party. Those kinds of issues are hiccups in the greater scheme of things, I know, but they seem like disasters at the time. 

And then there’s Dr. Rebecca Boone Hildebrandt’s world. She’s an intel operative who deals in—how to say it?—correcting political situations detrimental to independence and freedom. She takes on the jobs no one in the real world wants to think about. Her profession involves stealth, constant situational awareness, and occasionally sudden death: both other people’s and possibly her own. She has to be good at what she does, just to survive. Dog poop on the floor is the least of her worries.  And yet, even with her youth and strength, she is full of flaws and desires. She has the same soul shadows and asks the same questions we all do: “What have I become? Did I ever have a choice?”

Claire:  I’ve read all four of Dale’s Boone’s File novels, and I’m waiting for the fifth one, A Garden in Russia. Taken together, they chronicle Boone’s journey from a flawed, confused enforcer of justice to a clear-headed confident woman who manages to reconcile her profession with her soul. She’s a cool, aloof bad-girl trigger mama in the first book, truly someone you’d not want to disrespect. But she changes as each novel unravels another of her protective layers, and she begins to thaw into something more human and fragile.

Rebecca: Exactly! And I think the title of the first Boone book, Absinthe and Chocolate, describes her perfectly. Chocolate represents everything Boone is: rich, lush, exquisite, and extreme.  Absinthe, nicknamed the “Green Fairy,” symbolized a changing social order in 19th-century Paris, a new generation of free thinkers and transformative ideas. The Green Fairy was also the embodiment of rebellion, especially female rebellion. Boone is nothing if not transformative and rebellious.

Claire: Well, you’re just chock full of weird information. But why am I not surprised? Dale’s first book hooked me into the series. It really showed Boone’s skills as well as her flaws. But in the second book, The Bonus Pool, Boone learns from a persecuted Chinese Christian pastor how to find peace in her life, and that we all “go from darkness into the Light.” Dale is a master at crafting Boone’s reflections on the old man’s words, as she moves from her internal conflict toward peace.

That starts the ball rolling for Boone. By the end of the third and fourth books (One Last Scent of Jasmine and Meat for the Lion), she’s moved away from her despair and doubt, and into a more clear-headed sense of her purpose in life.

Rebecca: Seeing her transformation made me want to say, “Maybe I can do that, too. In my own way I can be better, if I remember that every move is always from the darkness toward the Light.” In these days of turmoil both here and abroad, that’s a good way to think, not only for Boone but for the rest of us who are still cleaning up the dog poop.

Claire: But regarding the writing—you know, Dale writes so well that there are days I wonder why I even bother. And did you ever ask yourself, how does he know so much?

Rebecca: After reading his novels with all those Special Ops and gun-related details, do you really want to ask that question?

Claire: Well, maybe no. But I do enjoy his books, because they’re not just complex in terms of characters and storylines. They address the human condition, whether it’s Boone or another character discoursing on current global and political issues. And in Boone’s case, he manages to hold up a mirror to her soul, so that she—and we—can see her heart laid bare.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.’
-Paul of Tarsus (or 1 Corinthians 13:12)

I feel like I know her better now.

Rebecca: Well enough to mess with her?

Claire: You think you’re so funny. .. 

Rebecca Johnson was born and raised in the southern United States, mostly in North Carolina with brief relocations to South Carolina and Virginia. She is by education a medical technologist, graduating with honors from N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill, and by preference a calligrapher, needlework designer, and graphic artist. She writes paranormal romances by night when no one is watching, and hides her manuscripts under quilting and needlepoint projects during the day. In her spare time she beta-reads for other writers, searching for nitpicking errors. She believes that God’s purpose for her life is to cause as much trouble for as many people as she possibly can, and she spends at least part of each day fulfilling that purpose. 

Claire O’Sullivan was raised in corn and cow country in the Midwest where she learned the nuances of ‘moo’ to PhD level (piled higher and deeper). She attended the University of Wisconsin at River Falls (aka Moo U) with a major in psychology, and changed minors every other week. She left Moo U and attended Lutheran Bible Institute and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies. She has fiddled with writing forever, and currently has several crime/romances in the works, including a comedy noir. She’s pretty sure that Rebecca is indeed fulfilling her purpose by tormenting her daily… er, helping Claire endeavor to write.

Thank you, ladies. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Boone’s novels may be found on the sidebar:
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and other places where ebooks come alive.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In long-awaited production news, the fifth title of my Boone’s File series, A Garden in Russia, has emerged from production editing and is preparing to publish next month. As always, the date will be announced on Facebook and via Twitter. Her Big List of Links will appear here once all retail outlets spin up.

HBD, America

Pop. There’s a reason we celebrate this country’s Declaration of Independence with fireworks. Doing so serves to remind that independence, ironically enough, has a continual dependency on being enforced by those on whom it is bestowed.

Many firecrackers, bottle rockets and other pyrotechnics are charged with a smaller granulation of the same sort of black powder that filled the horns of minutemen. If they were particularly well equipped, the same fine FFFg from a miniature horn might have primed their flintlock muskets, rifles, and pistols. Those discharges sending your cat under the bed are a microcosm of history repeating itself, as it will always.

Pop. Pop-pop. Men lined up at the Concord, Massachusetts North Bridge because they’d had their fill of the assumptive imposition of authority by other men. It was a time given to the long contemplation of ideas and the study of consequences exhibited in natural law, and in those ruminations arrived a realization:  folk, by their nature, are free.

Society has organized itself in various ways since civilization began. Uneven distribution of advantage, for most of history, led to those who have it and those who serve them. Life, too has its dependencies, and when ambition combines with the compulsion to direct the lives of others it seeks to control the distribution of necessities and restrict the means of resistance. The result of controls and restrictions imposed rather than adopted in consensus is tyranny.

Bad ideas are often institutionalized in the attempt to legitimize an indefensible precept, or to justify those arrangements which, for a time at least, prevent society from descending into chaos. So evolved the supposedly divine right of kings. Such led to inherited leadership, good or bad, and the tradition of being protected by those who, in turn, most enjoyed advantage. This particular vision of governance—that of nobles by subjects—endured for centuries, established colonies in foreign lands, and built empires.

Pop. People colonizing a new continent, folk who had to build for themselves, and protect themselves, and provide for themselves shared their challenges with others having identical attribute requirements for survival. They prospered, and their prosperity led to easement in the general standard of living. After some decades an era of enlightenment, fed by newly discovered time to read and think, had arrived.

They began to watch, and learn, and discern the natural rules of faithful living. Knowing as they did the will of God revealed in Scripture, they nurtured in long-held traditions whose utility was the preservation of reliable conventions through time rather than a single lifespan. Premises tested for soundness and then extended on the basis of merit rather than whim began to transmit from one mind to another through the printing press. Some of those questioned the dominant paradigm of monarchy.

Pop-pop. Men realized that just power derives from the consent of the governed. They perceived that souls kindled by their Creator were on equal footing at their appearance, each with the same moral responsibilities to each other and the God who created them, and with an identical duty to assert those in times when overly presumptive authority thought otherwise.

Pop. One shot was heard around the world, and the diametric opposition of ideas formed camps as patriots lit brushfires of freedom in the minds of their peers against the status quo. Ideological Americanism began to spread, fueled by the light of liberties promised to those who adopted morally upright and responsible living … the only sort that endures. In time, the Founders declared their right to govern themselves as they saw fit, and the ideology of America manifested in a new nation. Its citizens had to assert its independence against those who thought otherwise lest their freedom again degrade to subjection, and free folk took up a fight that will never end.

God’s enemy whispers egotism and self-aggrandizing false premises into the ears of those who’ve not guarded their minds, and therefore their souls, yet today. The voice of the enemy is like water. It seeps, then puddles, stagnates, and finally breaks out into a flood of evil when spiritual dams let loose. We are seeing this happen now, in the acting out of those lacking any clear vision of how to preserve themselves, their freedoms, or anything else.

Evil has not left us, for the same reason we exercise by lifting weights. God’s voice is in the arena as well, fortifying those who listen and lending the strength to stand upright in any flood. Those who clearly perceive their nature and that of their Creator will value gifts descending from Him over offerings of a world tempting us away with false premise and promise.

People must learn the same lessons as their forebears from time to time until reliable paradigms again solidify. To be free of each other, we must first be freed of sin beyond our own means, and only faith in a loving Creator leads to the lifting of that yoke through His grace. Freedom in all realms comes by listening, and studying, and discerning truths and solid ideas from those fatally flawed.

One may know when enlightenment arrives. It pops.

Happy Birthday, America. Choose to love. -DA

*****

In production news, Boone’s fifth adventure, A Garden in Russia, is nearing the three-quarters mark in production editing and on schedule to appear in September, God willing. If you’ve not started in on the titles of Boone’s File, there is no better time to catch up than before an epic drops.

Ten Thoughts on Validity

Society, contrary to the initial and understandable conclusion one might draw, is not going insane. It is, however, suffering a prolonged period of moral and intellectual degradation, one students of history will recognize as cyclical. This world, being drawn closer together by transportation, information technology, and the advances of globalism over national identity, also is becoming more prone to conflict as competing ideologies necessarily engage when previously they might have been free to ignore each other.

Quality of character is neither fixed nor inherent. We are each an impermanent and evolving vehicle for an eternal soul, one from moment to moment presented with opportunities to embrace growth or corroding temptation. What rules we determine for living will tally in their return at the end of our days, and until then choices made along the way reflect our priorities. The distinction between valid and invalid initiatives is necessarily a judgment call enabled by wisdom, an acquired ability to forecast the consequences of a given action. Intervening self-focus is the usual root of any inability to listen.

In the arena of ideas, answers to essential and unavoidable questions determine who achieves life and avoids death on both the physical and spiritual planes. Fundamental orientations are those where one will encounter a zero-sum game of natural law more often than any accommodation of preferential variance.

Even more so as the stakes increase to a worldwide pot, clarity remains a survival trait. Toward this ideal, let me offer ten observations in the same hope as was reflected in the naming of this blog after the motto of Single Candle Press:  of kindling a light somewhere in a predawn darkness. Feel free to meditate on each as you will.

One: Human effort is directed toward goals of excellence or lame advantage, as governed by the embrace of seven virtues or a like number of vices:

Humility is set against pride,
Contentment against envy,
Moderation against gluttony,
Chastity against lust,
Love against anger,
Generosity against greed,
and Diligence against sloth.

Two: The pursuit of lame advantage begins where expectations of excellence end, with the initial embrace of an intellectually dishonest and morally faulted false premise. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and sometimes ends quite badly.

Three: A morally faulted false premise is driven by one or more of the seven vices. Peeling back layers on the onion of folly is going to reveal a rotten core with amazing consistency.

Four: Achieving and afterward maintaining lame advantage depends on the support of a successfully advanced narrative. Usually, such propaganda manifests in an excuse or purportedly justifying equivocation. Resultant gratification is often instantaneous, though any short-term gains pale in comparison to their potential for cultivating enduring disaster. Power accrues to the collectivist lobe of our political spectrum and its affiliated broadcast contingent through agitating a targeted base or market. The dividends then are reinvested in magnified effort by malefactors who value accumulated influence over servant leadership.

Five: An indefensible narrative may only thrive in the absence of rational criticism. Dear God, do not even get me started on the current state of education. Those invested in collectivist thinking are grooming impressionable minds through strategies of indoctrination. Tyrants invest in producing followers rather than citizens out of self-interest, and disabling intellectual ability is a necessity … lest, as Sam Adams noted, a troublesome few realize their subjection and choose to light brush fires of freedom in the minds of their peers.

Six: Rational criticism cannot be overcome through intellectually honest means. Instead, it must be suppressed or overwhelmed by narrative. Neither should you get me going on the technological tyranny of social media giants or the propensity of higher education to coddle those to whom it should apply riot control agents instead. Volume is not a counterpoint and often is inversely proportional to the validity of one’s argument.

Seven: An essentially faulted premise cannot be rehabilitated, and any subsequent extension exacerbates whatever ill effects are endemic to its initial failing. Start over, Skippy. Study for awhile first.

Eight: The inevitable end result of extending a faulted premise, absent its abandonment followed by corrective action, is systemic collapse as in the allegory offered by this soon-to-be-classic haiku:

In the freezing mist
Blossom of chrysanthemum
Falls down and goes boom

Natural law says, “That’s the way it works, boys and girls.”

Nine: Systemic collapse resets this cycle, offering again the choice between excellence or lame advantage. Any dysfunctional progression may only be broken by adopting the extension of valid premises, i.e. the prevalence of individual and subsequently societal morality. There are limits to any progression of folly, as the ash layers of history testify when given an audience.

Ten: The validity of any given personal, societal, or political ideology is reflected in demonstrating its long-term ability to achieve and sustain vitality. Sustainability is more than a millennial buzzword; it is an acknowledgement of the responsibilities of faith. In considering ourselves creatures whose purpose to live is implied by the fact of our appearance, it only follows that we seek to determine the goals of our Creator.

In summation, I would submit that any advocacy proceeds from one of two possible motivations. The more base is driven by a compulsion to direct the lives of others. The nobler offers advice on where life might be found, and our level of discernment is what will successfully determine one from the other. It is my continual hope that you have found already what is needed to choose wisely when the time arrives … as it surely shall.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production  news, Boone’s fifth and epic title, A Garden in Russia, is advancing through its middle chapters in production editing. Ranging from Virginia to the Aegean, going on to Asia, and taking with it most of my surviving characters, its anticipated September release remains on schedule.