Tuesday, February 24, 2015

CRONIX by James Hider: Guest Post and Review

My guest today is the fascinating science fiction novelist James Hider. James was brave enough to contact me through Good Reads after reading one of my reviews, and when I read the blurb for his novel CRONIX, I was excited that he did. The story concept sounded intriguing, and I was on the hunt for a new book. The deeper into the novel I read, the more intrigued I became. The novel satisfied my entertainment reading needs and was also intellectually stimulating. I hope my viewers are every bit as intrigued by this fascinating author as I am. Stick around at the end of the guest post for my review of CRONIX.

JAMES HIDER is the South America Correspondent for The Times of London, based in Brazil. He is the former Middle East Bureau Chief for the paper and spent more than a decade reporting from the region on its long and violent conflicts.

His first book, 'The Spiders of Allah' was a critically praised memoir of those years. It won a BOOKLIST Editors' Choice Award and was voted one of MOTHER JONES Top Books of The Year.

His Science Fiction debut, 'Cronix' is the first in a planned trilogy.

The next installment, 'The Cronix Oracle', will be published shortly.

My science fiction novel Cronix was actually the twin of a non-fiction book that I was writing, about a decade I spent covering the Middle East's holy wars as a reporter for The Times newspaper. The book was published a few years back, and called The Spiders of Allah: Travel of an Unbeliever on the Front Lines of Holy War. It was a sort of atheist's guide to the endless wars of the Middle East, a place where front lines stretch back to the beginnings of recorded history.

One thing that fascinated me about these holy wars was the irony that religion is essentially a way of denying the inevitability of one's own death, yet here it was causing death on vast scale. Virtual reality is nothing new – it's existed ever since early humans came up with the idea of an afterlife where we'll all live happily ever after. Possibly some mourning Cro-Magnon saw a recently deceased relative in a dream, assumed it was a real person, and heaven was born in a draughty cave.

I'm not a militant atheist, and can see how religion has been vital in human development: never mind the comfort it still provides to millions, it also allowed early humans to transcend the narrow boundaries of family kinship groups and build much broader societies under the common belief in a shared god, or more usually gods.

What amazed me was how ideas and beliefs warp as they shift from one group of people to another, bent out of shape by belief, shared fears and goals. For example, in Gaza I met the director of a Hamas children's TV show where a character dressed as Mickey Mouse tries to escape over the huge wall Israel has built around the Palestinian land, but is caught by the Israelis and beaten to death by his interrogators. And this was a programme for seven to 13 year olds. Mickey Mouse, the ultimate symbol of Americana, became a Muslim martyr.

I became a bit obsessed with the Middle East, its history and religions, in the years I lived in Baghdad, Jerusalem, Cairo and Libya. But the research I did into the nature of belief, human psychology and the evolution of our very identity – combined with the extreme violence I was seeing almost every day – fused into a desire to create something broader, something that looked at where all this might ultimately lead in the future. (That and an article I read about a boy who almost died after getting his fingers stuck in a drinks vending machine, but you'll have to read the book to find out more about that).

So once Spiders of Allah was out, the time I'd once spent writing was a bit empty and needed filling: I started writing again, in hotels in Benghazi and Kabul, or scribbling plot notes next to interviews with Egyptian revolutionaries on Tahrir Square. Most of my best ideas, however, come to me when I'm walking my dogs – when you switch off after a day's work and your mind slips into a slightly unfocused mode. Dog walking and plane rides always do it for me.

I had no idea where Cronix was going when I started out: only that I wanted to try to synthesize all the strange things I'd witnessed – being kidnapped by the Mahdi Army in Baghdad, wounded in the battle of Fallujah, watching a crowd of 60,000 black-clad Shia mourners in Najaf scourging their own backs with flails as they buried all that remained of a beloved Ayatollah killed by a car bomb (one finger, identified by the ring he was wearing) – with all the weird stuff I'd read about evolutionary psychology and in the history books.

I wrote the first section of what would become Cronix in late 2001 in Jerusalem. I finished it 10 years later in a hotel room in Cairo, during the Arab Spring. It was a welcome diversion from the craziness of the life I was living, constantly on the road and often facing the possibility of an extremely unpleasant death. It helped me process a lot of what I'd seen. If it seems a little extreme or just downright insane at times, that would probably be why.

About a month after I'd finished writing it, I was having a workout in my basement in Jerusalem and the idea for the sequel came to me out of the blue. I finished that book – the title is still up in the air – last month, writing under very different circumstances, as a father of a two-year old girl and living in Brazil, where I cover South America for The Times. A lot more chilled, but still with amazing idiosyncrasies: when I walk my daughter and dogs in our local park, full of shaggy trees whose names I don't know, I have to stop her and the hounds from eating the bowls of rice and red chilies left out for the candomble and macumba spirits, gods brought to the New World on slave ships from Africa, and fused with the Christian saints of the slave-owners. They also leave bottles of cachaca, a powerful local liquor, next to little figurines of a spirit dressed in a dapper white suit: my park is a regular buffet-bar of the afterlife, and yes, my dog has swiped a sacrificial chicken carcass or two before I could stop her. I've always managed to stop my daughter downing the afterlife hooch, though.

The main character in Cronix, Luis Oriente, owes a lot to a terrifying drugs experience I had at university. I'd never tried drugs before and a friend gave me a hash cake. It was delicious, honey-oatmeal, and I ate more of it than was wise. I suffered what I later discovered was called cannabis psychosis. It felt like my personality had simply imploded, and for weeks afterwards that I had strange flashbacks and felt like 'I' had disappeared. It was the most terrifying experience, but fortunately faded after a few months.

It has only recurred a couple of times: one evening, when I was living in Prague a couple of years after graduation, I was telling a friend about Ernest Becker's book the Denial of Death, and how the terminally ill psychologist had argued that all human character and culture are essentially a means of masking the inevitability of death: and for a horrible second, I knew how absolutely true this was, and could feel everything around me dissolve.

Years later in Mexico City, in a break between stints in Baghdad, I went to see Gunther von Hagen's macabre exhibition called Body Parts, with donated human corpses peeled of their flesh and posed playing cards or chess, their exposed brains coming out of opened skulls. I had just read Paul Broks' fascinating book, Into the Silent Land, which argued that 'we' do not exist as such, that our minds are simply like meaty computers running the software of our culture, and that 'we' as individuals are just the writing on the screen of that computer. For a few seconds, looking at those corpses doing the mundane things they'd done when still inhabited by a human spirit, it rang horribly true, and I once again felt that old flicker of my 'self' wavering on the edge.

In Buddhism, such moments of collapsing ego are called satori: fleeting glimpses of enlightenment in which the practitioner gets a flash of the true nature of reality. But I'm not a Buddhist, and it felt more like madness to me. So the insecurity that Oriente experiences, trying to outrun is own bizarre psychology, was borne of those experiences.

But I guess what really drove Cronix was an idea I came across in Robin Dunbar's The Human Story. He argues that 'humanity' as such is an invention, dreamt up by humanoids on the plains of Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago. Driven from the trees by a hotter climate, our ancestors had to walk upright in the grasslands, freeing up their hands to make use of tools. Tool-use favoured bigger brains, which allowed for more complex social interactions and larger societies. The apes needed an auto-pilot to figure out their place in these complex hierarchies, the way a game needs an avatar to see who he is in relation to the others around him.

And it struck me that we already are a kind of science fiction, an invention of long-dead ape men. Perhaps with a bit of rebranding, we could be anything else that evolution might demand of us, even spirits in an off-world paradise that ultimately spawns an actual god.

But that would be giving too much of the plot away.

Read more about James Hider on his website here.
Contact James Hider on:  Facebook    Twitter    pinterest    Good Reads

Thank you James Hider for that fascinating look into the your world as an author, correspondent, and personal conflicts. If I wasn't already a fan from reading CRONIX, this journey into the study of humanity would certainly have me rushing to purchase the novel. Speaking of the novel, below you will find the book blurb, my review, and link to purchase if so inclined.

Recreational suicide bombings are on the rise, revelers in fancy dress are throwing themselves from the heights of the Empire State Building in increasing numbers.

When scientists break the final frontier of Death and find a way for the soul to live incarnate forever, humanity leaves Earth with a bang, bound for a man-made paradise. On the Orbiters, supercomputers riding beyond the edge of Earth's atmosphere, these Eternals live out their wildest dreams or build fantastic idylls, free at last from the tyranny of Evolution.

Back on Earth, however, the man known to history simply as the Missing Link, has been hiding out in the woods. Luis Oriente was the product of an experiment to capture and synthesize the human mind. In ultra human form, he has spent centuries fleeing his past, living a quiet life away from prying eyes.

But when a giant wolf disrupts the rhythm of his forest to deliver a cryptic message, Oriente is dragged back into the turbulent currents of the history he has tried so hard to avoid. Something is broken in paradise, and Evolution is not quite done with Humanity yet.


As far as original story concept goes, this is one of the best I've read in a while from a new author.

The world of the Cronix is pre-apocalyptic and leads the reader thru the crisis of the world and into the post apocalyptic norm. It has been a long time since I've been able to use the term “epic” in its true sense of the word. The story opens with Luis Oriente as The Hunter, living as a hermit in the woods outside London – 600 years after the revolutionary technology made permanent death obsolete. Humans signed up by the millions to be “chipped” – a process that allowed their conscious mind to be uploaded into a computer transfer system – and participate in mass suicide/homicide to move “airside” during an event called Exodus. Once airside, the extracted minds are allowed to enjoy the “after world” of any number of visions of heaven, or be sent back to earth as Eternals in carefully engineered avatar bodies.

Hider takes the reader on an adventure through the woods that uses the changed environment and futuristic landmarks (places of noteworthy mass death), to describe the aftereffects of the Exodus, and some of the denizens, mainly scolds and Cronix, that now inhabit the Earth, and describes the life of the indigenous humans, those that have not been chipped and have raised their children naturally. After Oriente is caught for unlicensed regeneration, another layer of the story begins as Oriente tells of his origins as the Missing Link, and how all the uploads began. During this tale, the apocalypse happens, and the next segment of his journey occurs, and the reader witnesses the downfall of all the systems that  made concepts of God and literal death abstract thoughts.

I enjoyed all the philosophy and religious discussions these highly intelligent characters perform, all meant to engage the reader intellectually on a deep, emotional level. There is love, controversy, beauty (aesthetic and esoteric), heroics and humor that entertains the ironic nature of humanity; all mixed together in a compelling story that had me searching my own views of the origin of human conscientiousness. The most awesome aspect of this story was that there is no specific antagonist (unless you count the Cronix that have no minds and are nothing but killing/breeding entities); no single villain to blame everything that goes wrong onto. There are many people that have adjusted to the new world, some who are working towards its betterment or at least consistent upkeep, and a few who have taken advantage of its short falls (a criminal element), but mostly there are the Sapiens that are neither good nor evil.

Luis Oriente is the main perspective character, but there are a variety of perspectives as the story moves along. Whether you support the theory of creation or evolution, whether you are atheist, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or follow some other form of higher being, I think this story will appeal intellectually and spiritually to all.

The only complaint I have with this novel is in the editing – or lack of. Had the story concept not been so well developed and compelling, I would have put it down within the first couple chapters. The author’s ability to tell a superior story kept me turning pages, despite the technical errors that consistently pulled me out of the well developed and intriguing world. I give Cronix a 4 star rating, but would gladly up it to a 7 star if Mr Hider were to hire an editor and upgrade the quality of the reading. I am looking forward to reading more from this debut author.

PURCHASE FOR YOUR KINDLE AT:  Amazon US   Amazon UK   Amazon fr

Friday, February 20, 2015


I've mentioned frequently over the last few months that I have accomplished very little writing on my own projects, and have opted to fill my literary time with reading. Mostly indie/self published books, but also from small, unknown/little known publishers. As an unknown, aspiring author myself, I am keenly aware of the difficulty in writing an original story concept that is appealing and marketable. I like to write in overdone tropes about vampires, werewolves (or other shifters), mythological creatures and, probably favorite of all, twisted fairy tales. I have the most ORIGINAL Sleeping Beauty twist! So, I really need to stop reading fairy tale type stories so I don't find, or duplicate, my ORIGINAL concept anywhere else before it gets (written) published.

Since I've been reading in the indie/small publisher venues, I have noted that sometimes the line between original idea and copied concepts can get a bit fuzzy without an Agent or Editor on board to catch the unintentional (or intentional) infringements. Plagiarism has become so prevalent in self publishing that Dear Author.com posted a Wednesday feature suggesting that Amazon and other indie programs institute the TurnItIn software colleges and high schools use to detect plagiarism on term papers.

Dictionary.com defines plagiarism as "an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author;" and further defines Literary Theft as: . . when a writer duplicates another writer's language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own. Copyright laws protect writers' words as their legal property. To avoid the charge of plagiarism, writers take care to credit those from whom they borrow and quote.

According to plagiarism.org, ". . plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward" and includes acts such as:
  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source 
  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)
Plagiarism can be easily avoided by simply citing your sources and giving credit for the idea, quotes, or descriptions within your own work. Like writing your college papers, this can be done through a bibliography of sources, through the acknowledgements page, author foreword, footnotes, appendix; or directly within your text or on the pictures with links. We all learned in college, or even high school English/Reading & Comp, history, etc, that writing more than three consecutive words in any sentence from a published work would be detected by their software, and could get you expelled (or otherwise penalized) for plagiarism.

Don't get me wrong, I do not read a book - indie pub or traditional - with the purpose of discovering plagiarism. And I don't feel that self published authors are trying to get away with publishing shoddy work that no reputable agent or publisher would carry. There are some awesome indie pub'd novels/novellas out there that just don't make the preferred criteria of traditional publishing.  That said, over the last few years I've become aware of four instances of blatant plagiarism, and one instance so minor it may not even be copyright infringement, but it made me question.

So how did I become aware of the plagiarism/copyright infringement if I wasn't specifically looking for it? Simple curiosity. The same research motivation that the author of the book I was reading probably went through in the plotting and draft stages of story concept.

When I read a story and something peaks my interest, I immediately pull up the internet (even if it stops me from reading the novel for a time), add some search terms to Google, and click on several of the result links. I don't do this with just self published or small press published books. While reading Stephen King's novel Cell, I became so intrigued by his explanation of how The Pulse could affect people and the technology behind it, that I had to look up the possibilities. Luckily the author himself (in the afterword), and the sites I visited debunked the idea that cell phone signals could be used to turn people into zombies in the manner King describes in his novel. Whew!! I learned a lot about cell phone and other micro-computer technology in the process. Some of this research I saved for my own writing projects.

I conduct the same research in historical novels, crime/mystery fiction, spy novels, sy-fy/spec fiction and steam punk that integrates believable medical and scientific technology or genetic manipulation (particularly stem cell research) and horror/thriller that has at its core psychopathic killers. Seriously, give me a reason to consult my DSM IV and I'm lost in a tangent. When it comes to mythology, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal and supernatural, if you introduce me to a new term, a God/Goddess, an Angel/Demon, or reference a biblical prophet/character, I'll likely want to know more than the author has hinted at in the story concept. As authors, we all know not to let our research panties show in the telling of a story, no matter how intriguing the info. Nix on the info dumps; let the reader discover their own research if interested in the subject matter. Right?

Call me a research nerd and I'll be doing the snoopy dance. (image source)

For that first shocking experience of research plagiarism, I had read a historical ghost story by a co-worker that involved the mission at San Juan Bautista. A few weeks before that reading, my son was tasked with building a mission for his fifth grade (I think) history class. He was assigned to recreate the mission at San Juan Bautista and given a lot of information, both written and with internet links, to create his model. I was shocked when I read several paragraphs of copied description in the self-published author's novel. Who would care how thick the walls were or how high the single window in each cell since nobody in the novel tried to escape through them? Although the knowledge was disturbing, I said nothing to the author, as at the time I was new to writing and he had been writing for a good portion of his adult life. This latest incident, just one sentence with several changed words that I had read within a week on another forum (blog post or Quora Digest, not sure where), but after reading this article at Writers In The Storm by transactional attorney Susan Spann, I wondered if the author should have made some reference to the theorem he was using as a fictional magazine review of his character's art. (The questions and answers posed in the comments are as informative as the narrative post itself.)

The other three instances that come to mind? Well, the setting descriptions read like a Wikipedia article, complete with parenthesis to denote geographic locations or other resource material. And/or it was so factually well written I wanted to know more about the political and cultural environment. As I've mentioned, I'm interested in all things in the nature of history, psychology, sociology, mythology, bibliography. Sometimes politics and anthropology (The Mummy) or religion and Scientology (The Omen) make interesting reading. And instill a quest for intellectual fulfillment.

I read some Regency Romance that consistently referenced a common term: The Ton. Not being familiar with the term that was so common as to be a household concept for Regency readers/authors, I had to look up the intriguing era because authors did not explain in their stories. Much the same as science fiction authors never explain what a warp drive, phaser, or replicator is; or a contemporary writer doesn't explain the difference between a tissue and a Kleenix is or cite a reference to "that's how I/we roll." Some terms/phrases are so everyday common they transcend the usual citation because of trademarking.

I am not an industry professional, and have barely scratched the surface of copyright laws. All I am is an opinionated reader, and self conscious writer. I look into the legality of copying certain published material simply because it has come to my attention as an author, but more importantly, as a reader. I just don't believe I am the only reader to ever come across an idea/phrase that I found interesting enough to research, and found the author had "borrowed" or "cribbed" the writing from others and not left even a cursory credit to the original author/publication.

What is the likelihood of an indie published book being recognized as plagiarism? Not much really. If a book reviewer reports the fraud on KDP, Create Space, Wattpad or any other self publishing program the author may be requested to unpublish the offending material. But for POD or vanity publishing; who is monitoring those? And, who cares?

As an honest book reviewer, if I discover plagiarism (and it really has to be purely accidental for me to discover it) I will refuse to review the publication. I don't believe in public shaming (thanks for the timely article on internet bullying Nathan Bransford) over an accidental event, but I won't put my name to an endorsement no matter how low the rating. Other reviewers or readers may not be as persnippity as me. A good story is a good story, regardless of its origins. Many may adopt the "why re-invent the wheel" doggerel when it comes to the formality of setting description, monologue, step by step storyline; but for me, writers should try to be original as much as possible, even in a world where there is "nothing new under the sun." Would you accept as original an exact copy of a Monet painting from an unknown artist just because the tower was on the opposite shore or the color scheme altered?


This blog post is my own opinion of plagiarism and copyright infringement, and is the extent of my indignation over the issue. I end this rant with one final definition from Mirriam-Webster online dictionary:

Full Definition of INTEGRITY

:  firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values :  incorruptibility
:  an unimpaired condition :  soundness
:  the quality or state of being complete or undivided :  completeness

Monday, February 16, 2015

COVER REVEAL: MICHAEL, by Patricia Josephine

Welcome to the cover reveal for Patricia Josephine (aka Patricia Lynne) latest NA novel Michael. Patricia is writing under an alias to separate her YA and NA genre books. Isn't this a lovely cover?

Path of Angels Book One

 photo Michael 2.jpg
Add to your Goodreads shelf


There is only one path.
Born mortal along with his three brothers, Michael is an Archangel with a specific role: hunt fallen angels and send them back to Hell. He is determined in his mission, never straying from his appointed path, until he meets Lake Divine, and discovers there may be more to his beliefs than blind duty.
But Lake is not who he seems. Offspring of a human and a fallen angel, a Nephilim, Lake must choose his own destiny: give in to the coldness and embrace the dark, or seek the light and rise above the sins of his father.
Two paths lay before them, but only one has the potential to destroy them both.

About the Author

 photo PatriciaLynneAuthorwithbook.jpg

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. But some stories are meant to be told and this one chose her. Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Patricia Josephine writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Follow Patricia on Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Website | Wattpad

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


At Christmas time last year I decided to reward all my free time with some free books. I've always been an avid reader, despite the slacking off over the last couple years. And how wonderful it would be to have all/most of my reading pleasure on my Kindle Fire (or other Kindle aps).

Does the word FREE appeal to you also? Yeah, I thought so. Except "free" and "unlimited" do not mean the same to Kindle as it means to me.

After the free 30 day trial, "read for free" costs $9.99 per month. This price tag took me a little while to ponder, but I accepted the condition. As mentioned above, I've always been an avid reader, and with unlimited access to "over 640,000 ebooks to choose from as well as over 7,000 audio books," I was sure I could "purchase" more than a mere $10 worth of novels per month. So many books, and no need to be picky. If I don't like it, well it was just part of the monthly package.

Turns out I should have been pickier - or at least have read this article that explains exactly what restrictions and conditions apply to the term "unlimited." Let me highlight just a few of the eight things readers need to know:

2. You won’t find a lot of bestsellers . . .Major publishers opted out from Amazon’s ebook subscription offer. Books from Hachette, MacMillan, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin are not included. In fact, when you go through the list of the New York Times bestsellers in the Kindle Store, you’ll find few that are available via Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription.
3. Don’t expect huge savings – most of Kindle Unlimited books cost $2.99 or less. . . you can expect lots of titles priced $0.99 or $2.99. It’s because Kindle Unlimited is mostly populated by titles from Amazon’s self-publishing platform – Kindle Direct Publishing.
5. You can keep up to 10 Kindle Unlimited titles at a time. It’s below the number of books many readers have at different stage of reading. It’s definitely not enough for anyone who’d like to use Kindle Unlimited for studying.

The advertisement that grabbed my attention and had me signing up for my free trial period read:
Kindle Unlimited gives you the freedom to explore. Try new genres, discover new authors, and dive into new adventures with unlimited access to our wide and varied selection of books.
From rhetoric to romance, or comedy to tragedy, you will find unlimited stories waiting to be discovered. Relive the classics you grew up with, start on that best seller you've been wanting to read or try one of the hundreds of thousands of books you won’t find anywhere. Find your next great read today.

 After two months of subscribing to this unlimited service, I was starting to understand on own with regards to points 2 and 3 above. The real shock came the other day when several book recommendations from Amazon arrived in my e-mail, and in viewing the list I discovered four books that I wanted to add to my Kindle. So I clicked on one to "read for free", and instead of seeing the message that my purchase would be auto-delivered to my chosen device, I was informed that I had reached my 10 book limit, and in order to read anything more for free I would have to return the previously downloaded books.

What?!!!? I don't own the books I pay $9.99 a month to read? What really sucks, since I have not read any of the Kindle Unlimited downloads, is that ". . . after cancellation all Kindle Unlimited books will be removed from your account . ." This means that when I cancel this account I will have to pay an additional fee to actually BUY the books I already paid a fee to READ FOR FREE.

If I were to rate and review Kindle Unlimited, I'd give it 2 stars (a good concept if not well executed) and accuse the company of false advertising for readers, and ripping off self-published authors. All over a measly $0.99.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Is it the first Wednesday in February already and time for Insecure Writers Support Group, hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh?  I seem to say that a lot lately. I have all these plans for writing, catching up on blogging, reading books and writing reviews. I'm unemployed, and the benefits are all this free time to dedicate to my writing career. Right?

The truth is I'm out of practice of reading consistently. Reading has been a life-long hobby, but the last few years of focusing on writing and writing activities, I've lost the ability to just lose myself in a good book. I'm always thinking about whether I should write a review, what it should say, if the author will be offended by my reader opinion.

So much of being an author is tied up in reader reviews. It makes me anxious. Anxious because I mostly read books by my author friends. What if I don't like something in the story? What if the novel or short story is my preferred reading genre but I don't like the author's writing style? Or the formatting, technical errors, PoV? Or any one of a million different reader preferences.

As a fellow author, I must rise above petty reader preferences and judge a book/story based on writing ability; but sometimes I don't want to channel my craft knowledge into a review.

And then, there is my own writing. I wonder if I will ever have an average, stranger read my novel or short story. Someone I don't know who will buy an anthology I'm published in because it was recommended on Amazon or B&N based on their like purchases. .

Not very encouraging for an IWSG co-host this month. But, the IWSG is my opportunity to catch up with all my blog friends and I am sure to be much more encouraging in my comments. Please be sure to visit the other co-hosts: Gwen Gardner, Sarah Foster, and M Pax, as well as our Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh for a complete list of participants. As always, our Captain requests you visit at least ten participants on the list that your are not familiar with, as well as your usual blogger friends. You never know who's day you might make, or what an awesome acquaintance you might meet.

And don't forget to visit the Insecure Support Group website.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Congratulation to Roland Yeomans on the release of his latest novel RETURN OF THE LAST SHAMAN, a sequel to the Native American Fairy Tale THE LAST SHAMAN. Mr Yeomans blogs at Writing In The Crosshairs, and has also created a special blog, RETURN OF THE LAST SHAMAN hosted by his main character, Wolf Howl. Roland is an author and indie-publisher of several Urban Fantasy sagas.

Roland suggests listening to this music as you read and enjoy the guest post . .



It has always fascinated me that the Earth, being tugged along by the Sun, is heading towards the constellation Hercules at 20 kilometers a second (12 miles per second!)

What if different regions of interstellar space have different rules?  If you were to travel the equator, you might think the weather was always hot.  As your ship traveled north, you would be quite surprised, right?

In THE LAST SHAMAN, the earth travels into such a different region, fulfilling the Mayan prophesy of 2012.  The Turquoise Woman, the living essence of the Earth taught the First People (the Lakota) how to survive.

Ironically, the White Man committed genocide of the Native Americans, laying waste to that precious knowledge.  Only one Lakota shaman still knows how.  But at the end of the novella, he is but one man against the cosmos.

In RETURN OF THE LAST SHAMAN, I explain how Doomsday could come and go, and we never realized it.

Could you fight one last rage against the shadows, knowing that your sacrifice would never be known, that those you loved would never even remember you?

I wanted to delve into the hearts of the surviving humans.  Can there still be meaning to life when it is all but over?  How do you find a reason to go on?

Can the survivors put aside national hates to unite?  And can one Lakota find the wisdom to forgive and to fight on?  Can he find some way to salvage the bruised, lost souls of two women who have lost the heart to go on?

RETURN OF THE LAST SHAMAN – A Native American Fable for Our Age.

The 2012 Apocalypse happened … just not in the way anyone expected. How have we not noticed?

Simple: civilized man has lost touch with himself. How then can he expect to be in touch with the world he smothers in a crypt of concrete and steel?

Only Wolf Howl, a Native American whose spiritual center is still intact, notices the change. But that same spirituality and the power derived from it has made the last Lakota shaman a hunted man.

Now, he finds himself teamed with the Turquoise Woman: the Spirit of the Earth,

a Mossad agent named Shadow,

a young killer: Abby,

and the amazingly still alive Nikola Tesla.

Together with the ancient star exile, Bast, they must find some way to stop a menace that cannot be stopped by any known physical force.

The answer lies in the strengths of the Lakota:

•Transformation—how Wolf Howl learns to preserve what is fundamental even in the frigid void of Space.
•Simplicity—the lesson taught by the Turquoise Woman that “the more you know, the less you need to carry.”
•Strength and Resiliency—what the history and lore of the Lakota taught Wolf Howl about growing through adversity.
•Purpose—how the world unveils our purpose to us if we but listen. And that a sacrifice to save others is a sacred quest as buried corn is born anew to give life when needed.

RETURN OF THE LAST SHAMAN … A Native American Fable for Our Age.

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