How We Become What We Hate

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Featured image by Gage Skidmore.

Donald Trump represents a significant part of America‘s belief system. Many people will object to that statement, but nevertheless you cannot ignore the numbers. The continued polling success — granted a plurality in the GOP party, not a majority — show us what this country can become, something that many of us hate.

Donald Trump’s continued success despite his frequent, outrageous, racist, and demeaning commentary mirrors the way an Americans ethos. It reveals a belligerent stance towards the political establishment and reactionary views towards terrorist attacks, threats and economic uncertainty. And his success also reveals a fear of people who are different than us. Perhaps this is the ugly side of America, the side that we are ashamed of, the angry fearful side that reacts out of frustration and ignorance.

How we got here is a long political process best documented by a subject matter expert instead of me. Yet the discussion of becoming what we hate is something that I am fascinated with, a topic that forms a central arc in my novels, The Fundamentalists.

How Do We Become What We Hate?

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The fear of becoming what we hate is a legitimate one. How many of us groan when a loved one says we are just like our father or mother? Of course, this analogy offers a chuckle compared to the larger issue, becoming something that as a person or a society that we despise.

No one sets out in life to be villain or a scoundrel. No one wants to be the author of policies that spawn economic hardship, death, and destruction. Yet rationalization is a tricky devil. The stairway to hell is lined with small steps.

Little decisions empower great harm. It’s never one decision that turns the tide towards darkness, rather a few of them. And then a few more, and then the next thing you know, wars are declared, recessions and depressions hit the economy. We have been here before, and recently.

Pscyhological studies show that when you put good people in bad situations, bad things happen. Decisions are made to protect oneself, or to fulfill order. Character and moral issues are rarely considered on a macro level or for their long-term impact. If they are, the pressure of the immediate situation or the fear of further difficulties takes precedence.

Leadership and Fear

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In Perseverance, Book Two of the Fundamentalists, my characters — the village’s leadership — face a difficult situation, an invading force driven by fundamentalist hate. The villagers make decisions to survive. Blood spills. Families break. Heroes die.

Those same decisions challenge the leadership’s character, and create a situation where they believe to avoid another war that they need to build up their defenses and strike back. These decisions set up Hypocrisy, Book Three of The Fundamentalists. I suppose the title says it all. Since the central character in the novel is a six year old girl, and Soleil just turned five, you will have to wait a while for Book Three.

Leadership is often confused with taking actions and doing things to protect the status quo. When war is waged out of fear of future nebulous dangers, it is rarely a good thing. I hope we learned that with the last Iraq war. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz supporters demonstrate that a good portion of America have not learned that lesson.

One of my favorite Republicans is Colin Powell. He once said, “War should be the politics of last resort. And when we go to war, we should have a purpose that our people understand and support.”

A plurality driven by fear does not equate to a majority. But it can force us to examine our character. It can also force us to become what we hate.

What do you think?

The Enemy Found, a Preview of Perseverance

After many iterations, the sequel to my first novel, Exodus, is being released on July 27. At 160 pages, Perseverance is either a novella or a short novel, but don’t let the length fool you—it’s non-stop action crescendoing in an epic battle. In fact, you may hate me by the end of it because I kill off some favorite characters.

“Geoff has dove into fiction writing like a dog after a bone,” said Author of Amazing Things Will Happen C.C. Chapman. “While the first book was fun, he took it up a notch with this one. The characters are more developed, the action more fierce and the story line much richer. You’ll end the last page filled with an urge to know what comes next and angry that you have to wait to find out!”

The following is Chapter Seven of the new book, “The Enemy Found.” I hope you enjoy the preview. You can also order the book on Amazon here and on the iUniverse site here.

Chapter 7: The Enemy Found


Concealed by a line of pines protecting the Cache la Poudre River, the Watchmen looked upon their enemy. The Christians still wore black tunics with white crosses, but they also had a motley collection of furs thrown
over their shoulders to keep warm. Weatherworn tents were set around the camp, and steam rose from a pot over the fire. A series of birdcages were sitting within the group of tents.

“We should all ride back now,” said George. “The Elders need to know so they can prepare the village for combat or evacuation. We may need to retreat into the mountains.”

“We’re not going anywhere this time,” said Charlie, who assumed the role of the Watch leader since Hector had become an Elder. “There is no way the village can handle another move like that. The first heavy snows
will come any day now, and we’re already scrambling to feed ourselves through the winter. We need to stay and recover now.”

“If Jason were here, he’d insist on informing the Elders immediately.”

Charlie straightened his lanky frame and glared at the Watchman.

“Aye, and he’s not one of us anymore, boy. And Hector isn’t Watch commander anymore, is he?”

Realizing that he had spoken out of turn, George nodded and left it at that.

“Okay, fellas, let’s work together here,” said Patrick, a grizzled, middleaged fisherman turned Watchman. “No one expected the Christians to follow us out here, at least not this quickly.”

“They must have had scouts following us. How else could they have Perseverance found us so fast?” Charlie scowled as he pulled out his knife and began sharpening it.

Patrick nodded. “Four tents and four men, so no one is watching us now.”

“Why would they trail us like this?” said George. “Why are we so important?”

“Ha! That’s easy. Mordecai,” said Charlie. “What else would drive an empire to trail and spy on a ragtag group like us? Who else could inspire this desire for conflict? If it was just us, they would have given up somewhere around the Mississippi. But when the former head of your church, the former number-two man in the Empire, joins up with a rebel village? You can’t let that go.”

“Oh, man.” George sighed. “How many times did he tell us about Pravus’s lust for power? He punishes anyone who stands in his way.”

“Maybe Mordecai alerted them to our location.” Charlie’s eyes burned as he challenged them to defend the priest. The accusation hung in the air.

After a period of time, George replied. “Why would he go to the trouble of saving us only to have us die by the blade? That makes no sense.”

“I can’t disagree with him, Charlie. That seems farfetched,” said Patrick. No one responded, so he continued. “Well, what should we do, gentlemen? Shall we capture them?”

“No, the risk is too high. There aren’t enough of us,” said Charlie.

“Let’s wait until dark, then we’ll get the horses and leave. We don’t want them spotting us. We’ll head back to the village, get some more men, and ambush them in the morning before they set out. I don’t want any of them escaping to warn the Empire.”

“Sounds like a plan,” said George. The three men settled in and watched the Empire scouts eat their dinner.

Delaying the War to Persevere

You may know that my second novel The War to Persevere is oft promised and yet to materialize. It is now almost six months delayed from my original projection for publishing. This post is a bit of an apology for those who may be expecting the novel, and an attempt to provide some transparency on why it is delayed.

I was ready to press go and publish it this winter. After another editorial review, though, I am going to delay the novel again.

The issues with the manuscript are relatively minor, yet they will require some personal rewriting and direction. They include the following:


  • A retitling from The War to Persevere to Perseverance was suggested
  • There are a few head-hopping issues in narration (point of view)
  • Some character introduction issues
  • In spite of editing, there are still typos in the manuscript

I want War or (whatever it will be called) to be a better book than Exodus. Exodus was the best first novel I could produce. Yet there were lessons learned. This time I want to do better, and not just accept a slight improvement. I want War to be a professional well-written novel that can stand on its own.

That’s going to require some more time.

Personal Projects and Time

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Complicating matters, I have a time issue right now. These days I drop off Soleil before and after pre-school, and go into Daddy daycare mode in the late afternoons. Spare hours before she wakes up and goes to bed are often dedicated to clients.

This is not to make excuses.

I have taken on too many personal projects right now, and am owning it. I made a decision to delay working on the book in an expeditious fashion in favor of producing a quality product, while meeting my primary business and family responsibilities first.

The logical conclusion is to point to ending my photography project as a possible cut to make time. Unlike my novels which tend to cost money and produce little revenue, I collected about $3000 in licensing fees from people to buy the camera and perform the project. Plus my company gets hired now and then to take photos along with our written content. So I feel obligated to make the 365 Full Frame Project my first personal project until it’s completed this July.

It took me 19 years to publish Exodus in 2013. I believe War will be published in the spring or summer of this year. The book has experienced stops and starts along the way, almost always life inspired (death in the family, Daddy daycare, etc.). In all, it will be two years between novels, perhaps this is progress in spite of the bumps in the road.

Please excuse the delays. And in the interim, I will not to take on any new personal projects.

Cheers!

The War Begins

When November began, I stated my intent to use the #NaNoWriMo writeathon as A method to start writing my next novel, The War to Persevere: Book 2 of the Fundamentalists. One month later I have written 15,000 words or just under a third of what qualifies as a novel.

Generally, I met my goal for #NanoWriMo,, and wrote most days, 21 out of the 28 days, and 13 of the last 14. Six of those missed days were in the first half of the month, so I picked up momentum as time progressed.

At the same time, I got lapped by many, many writers who delivered full novels this month. It was amazing to watch these tenacious writers complete their drafts. It was surely a grind for them as I could see by their daily updates.

Meanwhile, I felt like a jogger slowly starting the marathon. By the time I completed one quarter of the race, people were close to finishing. Oh well. Life running a business and fathering a toddler precludes writing a novel in a month. We’ll have to settle for the slow slog, and finish at some point this winter.

It does feel like the book may come in a little short, perhaps at 40,000 words, give or take, which makes it either a novella or a short novel. We’ll see.

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The 5.56x45mm NATO round plays a prominent role in The War to Persevere.

It might be fun to reveal why the book is called The War to Persevere. Like Exodus (just $.99 on the Kindle for all of you Black Friday shoppers), which begins with a quote, War also begins with a quote:

We thought about it for a long time, ‘Endeavor to persevere.’ And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union.” – Lone Watie, Cherokee survivor in The Outlaw Josey Wales

Not quite as noble as Exodus‘s Emerson quote, but absolutely as defining for what is to come. A great struggle begins, one that will demand changes for our heroes if they are to survive.

It’s quite fun writing the book! I’m glad I had the opportunity to work on it just as the holidays were arriving. We’ll see where we end up as the year ends.

Image by Mike Miller.

Warning (A Preface)

The following is the preface for Exodus, which will be released on Monday. I have always liked products with a warning label.

Cheers!

Warning

This text, The War to Persevere, has been made available to only the most theologically and divinely inspired minds: the highest-ranked officials in the church and those who lead the empire. If you possess a copy of this manuscript and are not either, burn it!

Though this material is entertaining, its subject matter is dangerous and inherently evil. Inspired by Satan, this corrupt black manuscript seeks to persuade the minds of the devout and faithful to believe false ideals and perform sinful acts against our Holy Father.

The empire distributes The War to Persevere only to teach clergy and officials how Satan influences the weak within pagan societies.

The author uses a historically based description of events that occurred more than a century ago; however, his depiction of our early empire is a testament to the power of our true enemy, the Rocky Mountain States, and its carefully designed propaganda. Read this book well and guard against the sway of the satanic reasoning that pervades it.

His eclectic servant,

Paul Dunn
Archbishop, New Atlanta

Buy the book today!

Featured image by inkasylsum.

My First Novel, 19 Years in the Making

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Image by Vindaloo

Over the past few months I babbled about a secret project in blog posts now and then. It’s time to lift the curtain and reveal the project. I intend to release a science fiction novel at the end of summer.

Here’s some more babble for you. Exodus (Book One of the Fundamentalists) has been 19 years in the making. Nineteen fricking long years.

But first let me thank Patrick Ashamalla and A Brand New Way for this incredible new web design. It’s a responsive design offering unique experiences for the traditional web, tablet and mobile visitors. Check it out!

The new site accommodates Exodus with both its own section and RSS feed. The book will be available for purchase in both print and electronic editions, and will use the RSS feed to publish each chapter over a course of 70 days. Empowering people to read the book for free is a side benefit of independent publishing. If you want a preview copy in late July/early August, sign up for book updates, too.

I hope you enjoy the new experience, and thank you for continuing to read my stuff. Now, onto the book…

A Tale of Two Decades

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Exodus is the opening salvo in a science fiction trilogy that centers on the themes of utopia in a technological dark age, and the disruptive power of religious fundamentalism. In later entries to The Fundamentalists, the power of technology and principles of freedom are examined as the narrative progresses through steam punk to hard science fiction.

Exodus was first drafted in 1994 as my senior creative writing project at American University. My literature professor and mentor told me I’d be crucified if I published it. It has been refined six times since then, including a near miss with a publisher in 2004.

I believe Exodus has always been a keeper, one that just needed more wisdom as well as the ability to effectively deliver a captivating product.

All of this effort — an effort that is now finally coming to fruition — was necessary. Without it, I don’t believe the product would have been ready. Without the business books, social media marketing experiences, and yes, failed attempts to find a publisher nine years ago, I would not have found the courage to release book myself.

Reading Guy Kawasaki’s A.P.E. and C.C. Chapman’s Amazing Things Will Happen were the final pieces of motivation. The creative war fought within ended, and the final push began last January. I hired editorial support, and the rest is history.

Exodus may still fail. I know that. But I’ll be damned if I don’t follow my heart’s passion, and release this book.

I probably won’t blog about the novel itself again until August, but if you do read it, you’ll see some essay themes threaded in the text here and there.

Sign up if you’d like private updates. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Once again, thank you for continuing to read me through the years.