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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Author Showcase: Carlton Winnfield

    The Grid by Carlton Winnfield is an extraordinary tale of international intrigue and subversion, narrated by an unnamed agent of The Grid. With highly advanced nanotechnology, a super computer to guide him, and a multitude of satellites to be his eye in the sky at all times, we follow him on a mission to uncover, and then stop, the plans of Khan, a radical Jihadist leader from Pakistan. As he uncovers the plans, piece by piece, a horrific picture unfolds of an alliance with Gomez Soares, a Mexican drug cartel leader, and the smuggling of an atomic bomb to Mexico City. Soares and Khan are both certain that detonating this bomb will effectively upset the balance of power in the countries they both wish to take over. But The Grid has other plans.
   The Grid is exciting and riveting. The narrator is never named so I felt as if I were following a shadowy figure through the whole story. Rather appropriate considering that's exactly how he was supposed to be. He leads you on an international romp through three continents to complete his mission, and author Carlton Winnfield did a superb job bringing every location to life in vivid detail. His character building is equally impressive. From the beautiful Controller of The Grid to the other exotic beauties and evil men we encounter, they are perfectly visualized through his writing. I highly recommend this book for better-than-Bond thrills and intrigue. - Reviewed by Chameleon (B.G.) for Reader's Favorite.
    I only gave this book 5 Stars because the rating system didn't go up to 10. This really ranks in the top 5 of the best books I've ever read. If you enjoy international thrills, suspense, and intrigue, this book will please you immensely!
Q. Mr. Winnfield, I truly enjoyed your novel, The Grid. It's common for authors to be inspired by something to write certain stories. What was your inspiration for this one?

A. Chameleon, first, I would like to thank you for your interest in The Grid. It’s very kind of you to feature it here. While I understand your curiosity in this unique organization, I will have to be careful – as I’m sure you will understand - not to give too much away. The Grid exists in the deep shadows and must remain there.
    Inspiration. What an excellent word. Yes, I was inspired to create The Grid. All through my life, I have been drawn to the ideas of the ‘good fight’, of ‘good against bad’, and the concept of the ‘Paladin’ – a solitary champion of a cause sometimes confronting great odds. I’ve always thought that one person can make a difference. As a boy, I admired Zorro, then later John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee and Alexander Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo (what gripping stories). Still later, I came across whom I consider the ultimate Paladin – Quiller, the creation of Elleston Trevor writing as Adam Hall. For me, Quiller – the British government agent who never carries a gun - embodied the starkly contrasting capacities of a strong intellect, empathy, and brute force, all employed to confront serious wrongdoers.
    Still later, I stumbled onto the wonderful science fiction novels of the Scottish writer, Iain Banks, that tell us about the pan-human space-faring civilization called the Culture, its military arm - aptly named Special Circumstances - and the sentient machine Minds that manage the Culture’s worlds and command its starships. Sadly, both Mr. Trevor and Mr. Banks have passed on. I miss their astonishing creativity and sober thinking. Selfishly, I thought to continue – in some miniscule way – their lines of thought, as I understood them, to merge them together somehow, if only for my own enjoyment. What terrific inspiration they all are.

     All terrific authors and works. My favorites are Zorro and The Count of Monte Cristo, as well.

Q. My initial impression as I started this novel was a Bondish feel, but just 2 pages in told me this was way beyond Bond. This shadowed operative is far deadlier than Bond; and yet, while he unerringly remains focused on the mission, he does have weaknesses that will appeal to the ladies in the audience. Is there anything at all you can tell us about this character?

A. The Operator is one of a small number of superbly skilled human agents (male and female) of The Grid. He is nameless and, at this point, stateless. He could be from any country, any background. We’ll let the reader fill in those details for us. He is very intelligent, speaks several languages, a bit over 6 feet tall, broad at the shoulder, slim at the hip, and as agile, fast, and ferocious as an alley cat. He has endured and survived a multi-year training program - intellectual, technological and physical - developed by the best expertise that the immense wealth of The Grid’s Founders can buy. We don’t yet know how he was found and selected as a candidate for The Grid’s immensely difficult training program. We do know that he was probably selected because of his driving need to be challenged and tested; because of the absence of the concept ‘quit’ in his mental makeup; and his underlying sentiment for the underdog, the downtrodden.
     A damsel in distress is a magnet to him. As you might imagine, he has a discriminating eye for beautiful, exotic women. As for his allure to them, you will have to decide. But, the Operator realizes that, in his line of work, these sentiments are weaknesses. He is attentive to them, though not always successfully. He admires and agrees with The Grid’s principal goal of protecting and advancing the ‘common good’. Still, he is always wary of it. He knows about the frailties of human nature and he does not fully trust the Machines. He understands that, after their many years together, The Grid knows him well and will not hesitate to use his vulnerabilities against him to achieve its ends. The Operator is the sharp end of the stick that The Grid unleashes when it expects to encounter the darker forces in the world. Yes, he is far deadlier than Bond.

     He was the perfect character, for me. Exactly what I would look for in a 'hero'.

Q. The technology of today is pretty impressive, but I would imagine the technology we, the general public, don't even know about would be a bit frightening- rather like what you describe in The Grid. Do you think this technology actually exists?

A. When I studied for my undergraduate degree, I made a choice between two fields of study: Government and Physics. I chose Government because of the charismatic professor that led the Government Department and his motivating lectures. However, over the years, I have never lost my interest in physics and I am an avid reader of books for the layperson on theoretical physics and quantum mechanics. So, while I am no expert in these fields, I have some relevant knowledge. Based on my readings, the technologies attributed to The Grid do not now exist. They are what I refer to as ‘futuristic’ – some of them, perhaps, ‘near-future’ – technologies.
     In today’s real world, there are, I believe, energy storage problems, carbon nano-tube development issues, and significant quantum computing matters still to be resolved before The Grid’s technological capabilities can come on line. Yet, based on my readings, it may be that a few of the technologies attributed to The Grid are presently under development, if only experimentally. Some may never be realized. But the point is: ‘what if?’ What if you had such astounding technological capabilities as The Grid’s and the power that they would give to you; technologies you believe too powerful and pervasive to be entrusted to any contemporary government. Would you destroy them for fear of their misuse, or would you try to use them for the greater good? The Grid’s Founders made their decision years ago. What decision would you have made?

     A good question, but being of Paladin mentality, I'd choose to keep it and use it for the greater good, however, I think it will be fascinating to see if The Grid ultimately succumbs to the seduction of ultimate power. I think that will definitely add heightened suspense to future books with The Grid.

Q. Your scenes are perfectly descriptive, what research did you have to do to make the killing scenes in The Grid realistic?

A. Most of it I made up. Having said that, I studied Judo when I was young and I can still recall some of that knowledge, and from my military service I am a bit familiar with weapons and explosives. So, there is some foundation in reality.

Q. To me, everything in The Grid rang true, what other research did you have to do to bring reality to it all? Or... perhaps you have a bit of first hand knowledge?

A. That’s very good to hear. When I wrote The Grid, one of my fundamental goals was that it must seem to be nearly believable. I am a retired U.S. Army officer with over 30 years of service. While I have never been a member of the Special Operations forces, I have combat arms experience, staff experience, and international politico-military experience as a military attaché serving abroad in U.S. Embassies. I have been abroad many years and have lived and worked in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Afghanistan. I am well traveled and have some knowledge of other cultures. I have experience with military units of various sizes and functions and can relate that to The Grid, which, basically, is a paramilitary organization with similar logistics, communications, personnel, information, supervision and leadership requirements.
     When writing The Grid, I tried to use my varied experiences to help me, to the limited extent they could, answer the question: ‘what do you think would really happen’. With regard to the locations in which the story takes place - spread across three continents - I relied on my first-hand knowledge. I have been to most of those locations; in some cases to the precise spot. In this way, I sought to share with the reader the sense of those places (the heat, the humidity, the darkness, the light, the scent of the flowers, the stone floors, the garden pools, the dirt track, etc). When I write, it is like a storyboard for a movie: I see each scene in my mind – vividly. Having been to most of the locations helps me in that visualization. 

Q. Your travels have served you well, I really did get a concise picture from your descriptions. I'd love to read more adventures with this character, do you plan on doing another book with this operative? And if not, what is next on the horizon for you?

A. If you watch daily events in the world closely, you cannot help but see that there are many threats to our welfare – to the ‘common good.’ They come from many different directions. Some are obvious; others are obscure. But, they are there. Individuals or groups of them cause these threats. They don’t happen by themselves. There is a second Grid novel in the making and it will tell us of recent events in which The Grid acted against such a group.
    What I can share with you, at this point, is that The Grid initially sought to help a damsel in distress and the Operator is again at the heart of the action, this time as a personal favor to Grid Actual, the brilliant and beautiful mastermind of The Grid. But some things are not as they appear. Remember this. Like the first book, the story will be told from the point of view of the Operator, who, in recounting his deeds, will take the reader with him into the shadows.

Q. Well, I, for one, will be happy to follow him into the shadows *smile*. It has been an extreme pleasure speaking with you, Mr. Winnfield, is there anything you'd like to leave our readers with?

A. The Grid’s goal is to protect and advance the ‘common good’, the welfare of us all. It is a noble undertaking. There are many injustices in the world that draw the attention of The Grid. There are many of its stories to come. The Operator and the nearly artificially intelligent Machine minds of The Grid have many tasks approaching; some of them will question the boundaries between right and wrong, good and bad; all of them will question The Grid’s very right to exist.

    Thank you, Chameleon, for this opportunity to talk with you and to share The Grid with your readers. I thank you for your courtesy. I applaud your drive to pursue your aspiration to advance the welfare of authors everywhere. One person can make a difference.

    One person certainly can, and I plan on doing just that. The pleasure has truly been all mine, Mr. Winnfield, I'm eagerly looking forward to the next book. I think any movie studio with any sense at all would grab this book up and run with it. I just may have to wave it under their noses to get their attention. I can be quite persuasive, and I won't even have to hurt anybody. Let's keep in touch, and please let me know as soon as you complete the next book *smile* .
    May I take this opportunity to thank you for your service, Mr. Winnfield. Our service men and women are the real heroes of this country. A pity that their hands are often tied, and their greatness and sacrifices are too often overlooked.
The Grid: An International Thriller Click Here to Purchase From Amazon
Chameleon Author

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Page 1 - No Place to Take a Dump...

   Most commonly referred to as an "info dump", that is. You have three chances to get a reader to snatch up your book. The first comes when they see your cover. That will be the most immediate draw, and even the title won't be as persuasive as how enticing your cover is. The second comes when they read your blurb. A lot  hinges on how well this is written, but the deal breaker comes as they take that little "Look Inside" Amazon provides.
   If the first thing they see are two huge paragraphs of block text, you've already made them weary, and the danger is that some will, at best, skim the text to see what on earth you're going on about. IF they turn the page and see more of the same, you've lost at least half your potential buyers, right there. For those that trudge through it, you had better hope that 3rd page doesn't contain even one more block of text. Three pages is simply too long to wait for the action to get going.
   You can just about get away with this a little further into the book, after you have the reader hooked. Hooked readers are much more forgiving than ones wanting to be hooked. Master storytellers are the ones that have found the balance of just enough back story, at just the right time. It's never necessary to lay out the entire reason for your books existence in one fell swoop- and most especially within the first 3 pages of your book.
   Even if you manage to hook your reader despite the dump, do you really want them telling their friends: "I liked it once it finally got going, but it was hard to get through at times.". Scary words, in my opinion, and not exactly a shining endorsement. Liked and hard should never be used in the same sentence to describe a product, even if they are separated by a comma.
   If you're not getting the sales you should be getting despite the data telling you people are looking, you should really try and find out why. If you've "taken a dump" on your first page, you just might want to clean it up. :) Chameleon Author

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Author Showcase: Regina M. Joseph

    Colony Earth by Regina M. Joseph is an expertly woven tale of the interactions of the inhabitants of the planet Alterra and “primitive” people of Earth. For the Alterrans, Earth has become an attractive alternative for desperately needed resources as the core of their planet begins to slowly cool. Traveling through a portal to Earth, they carry on research, experiments, and gold mining. En.Lil, a named successor to the leadership of Alterra when his time comes, finds himself, as well as numerous researchers, support personnel, and guardsmen, stranded on Earth after the portal they'd been coming through for ages has to be shut down due to sudden limited power sources after a catastrophic event on their home planet. Realizing the portal may never be activated again, En.Lil must take decisive action to ensure the Colony's long term survival, even though it puts him in direct violation of the Non-Interference Directive. Meeting the beautiful Alana pulls him even further into that violation as he realizes that perhaps Earth people are not as filthy and primitive as he had once believed.
     Colony Earth is a fantastic read! Author Regina M. Joseph has painted a fascinating picture of what it could have been like for early Earth people to encounter people from another civilization. Well developed characters and rich world descriptions, as well as great pacing and storytelling make Colony Earth an engrossing read. I smiled quite a bit as the guardsmen slowly came out from under the effects of eating food containing emotion controlling substances and began to experience emotions they hadn't before. And while En.Lil was raised in a strictly regimented way as befitting a future leader, he begins to find Earth quite liberating, as well. After the men of Alana's adopted tribe are slaughtered by Danes, it's En.Lil and his guardsmen who help them, despite the directive, and realizes that Alana and the other women may be their only hope in preserving their race. I highly recommend this first book in The Alterran Legacy and am very much looking forward to reading Khamlok, the second book. - By Chameleon for Reader's Favorite 

Q. Regina, I really enjoyed Colony Earth. You played off the Sumerian legends, as well as that of Atlantis quite well. How hard was it to find good material about these legends, was it all gleaned through Google?

Thanks, Chameleon, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Much more than Google, I used Amazon to locate books, and then I tracked down cited source material. I have an extensive home library. I purchased nearly every Sumerian history available, as well as ancient texts such as the I Ching, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Enoch – I could list at least 2 pages of sources, perhaps more. The comet details, for example, were drawn from scientific works. The rituals at Stonehenge were largely drawn from Stonehenge Decoded on NatGeo. And of course I watch Ancient Aliens on the History Channel. I’ve read so much on Atlantis that it all blends together.

Q. Fascinating, I'm an avid student of many of those sources, as well. Usually, there is something that sets off certain story lines for authors, what was it that set this book into motion for you?

    The story of EnLil and Sud/Ninlil – I don’t want to give too much away because it is the cornerstone of Book 3. It led me to wonder how an advanced technological society could have devolved into being governed by a tiny family, and how and why someone with an adolescent appearance, as set forth in the “myth” of EnLil would have been sent to govern Earth. And why he would be interested in staying here if he was in line to govern his home world. And why he would suddenly erect the City of Nippur with high stone walls and an intricate layout and purport to live in the center ziggurat. There must have been an interesting story before all that, both here and on his home planet. Since Mesolithic artifacts align with the zodiac or Earth’s magnetic fields, I needed to weave a philosophical or scientific reason into the story.

Q. How about the primitive lives of Alana, Maya and the others, what kind of research did that take to make them come to life for the readers?

    Alana will become Ninlil, but I don’t want to give away those details. That is Books 3 and 4. Her experiences in Books 1 and 2 lay the groundwork for her actions conforming to the myth I referred to above.
    Maya was originally so named to become the mother of Buddha. As I was writing, though, I couldn’t mesh the timelines. So, she gives birth to an earlier divinity – Krishna. 
    I took a course on shamanism to understand their practices as Earthkeepers. And of course I’ve read the Jean Auel Children of Earth series. Their hut designs are from archeological excavations. 

Q. And while we're on the subject of research, how about the technology you describe in the book? Where did the ideas for that come from, it all sounded real and plausible to me.

    My goal was to create a society that was only somewhat more advanced than us. Their leaders restricted technological research because innovation was too disruptive. They wanted to prevent society from plunging in unforeseen directions over which they’d have no control.
    I subscribe to nearly a dozen scientific and archeological magazines and watch the Science Channel, so some of the book’s technology is work-in-progress in our own time. Ki’s wave collection technology is from Nicola Tesla.

 (laugh) Ok, Regina, between writing and all the researching you do, I don't see how on earth you run a law practice too!

Q. This the first book in your series, correct? You also have Khamlok on the market, and are working on the next book called Resurrection?

     I plan to wrap up the story line of The Alterran Legacy Series by the end of Book 4, Redemption. However, the story could be further developed in free-standing works if there is sufficient reader interest. It would be similar to how Anne McCaffery structured The Dragonriders of Pern. I don’t want readers to be deterred by thinking that they must read four novels before starting the next one.

Q. Excellent, I can see how there would easily be ample material for 4 books, you have so much to work with. I've gotten Khamlok and am looking forward to continuing the story from Colony Earth, care to give us a sneak peek at Resurrection?

     It was a bit tough to find a passage that wouldn’t give too much away from Khamlok’s plot twists. But here’s a bit:
     Azazel, astride the black stallion, felt oddly alone. He sauntered toward the familiar hunting grounds near Khamlok. Where are my hunters? In the eerie, orange-yellow twilight, autumn leaves swirled in the air around him despite the absence of discernible wind. His skittish horse pranced and snorted. “Be calm,” he ordered by mencomm, and the horse instantly obeyed. Hearing no crickets or birds or wind, he was startled by a squawking blackbird sinking its talons into his boiled-hide shirt. “Be gone!” He briskly brushed it away, surprised that the odious creature left no wound. He tensed, noticing the advancing shadows yet again stalking him—except the shadows lingered, revealing the shapes of men.
     “What are you?” he shouted, although a nagging, forgotten memory told him that he knew. He reached for his sword; his sheath was strangely empty. I need Caledfwilch. He blinked, and his mighty sword shone, its hilt grasped by his fingers. Did I imagine it missing? The shadows shimmered and grew opaque, transforming into the warriors who guarded Drood.
     “Heh, heh, heh,” a shadow to his side laughed, floating before the warriors.
     “What do you want?” Azazel demanded angrily, his horse nervously prancing.
     “You know me,” the apparition replied.
     “Drood?” Azazel recognized the sophisticated spirit-world voice that had once come from Drood’s twisted mouth.
     The shadow unfolded into a statuesque figure dressed in an exquisite white hooded cloak trimmed with ermine. He let the cloak fall open to flaunt his perfect physique. “What do you think? Impressive, isn’t it?”
     “You’re not a cripple,” Azazel observed flatly, giving Drood no quarter.
     “No, not here.” Drood adjusted his cloak and locked his hands behind his lower back. “This world is an artistic palette that creates the forms and colors I desire. My thoughts control what happens.”
     Azazel snorted at Drood’s arrogance. “What does a savage like you know about artistic palettes?”
    Drood narrowed his eyes. “It’s unwise to underestimate me, especially here.”
   “Dreams aren’t real,” Azazel said, smirking. He slid his fingers into the bag slung over his horse’s back, searching for a friendly dagger, or a bow and arrow. He found none. Not unusual for a dream. He scanned the ground for useful rocks or logs. His clothing provided no defense, being merely his boiled hide shirt and breeches. Why can’t I at least have my recorder? With relief, he felt his recorder slung as usual from his belt. He hadn’t noticed its weight moments before.
    “This is no dream, my friend,” countered Drood, as if having read his mind. “I told you we’re as one. This is an alternate universe. It’s a place co-existing with our ordinary world but occupying a higher dimension; sensed at times but unseen.” He rendered the latter phrase slowly, for emphasis, and he deliciously awaited Azazel’s appreciation.

Q. A tantalizing tidbit, thanks!  Any idea what you plan on working on after this series?

    A story exploring the cultural upheaval that will occur when a technology is invented that truly restores youth and becomes broadly available. If grandma undergoes a therapy to regain the appearance of a thirty-year-old, won’t that shake things up?

     Frightening, actually, I can see grandma chasing down my latest beau- and him responding *shudder*! God, someone help me get that out of my head! (laugh)

    Thanks for stopping by, Regina, anything you'd like to say in closing?

   Chameleon, I appreciate this opportunity to discuss The Alterran Legacy Series, and that you’ve created interview questions that are so thoughtful. It’s been a pleasure working with Reader’s Favorite.
    Thanks, Regina! Stay tuned, folks, I have more great author showcases, and book reviews coming next week! If you enjoyed this, please give it some +1 google love, If you really enjoyed it, won't you please Follow and share it with your circles, and help me support the great works of Indie authors, thank you!

Colony Earth (The Alterran Legacy Series, Book 1) Click Here to Purchase From Amazon Chameleon Author

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Author Showcase: Lex Allen

Review: No Heaven by Lex Allen is the first book in the Imagine Trilogy. At its core, Jesus has returned to earth to gather a small group of people to aid him as he sets the record straight about who he really was two thousand years ago, and why he had even come in the first place. We learn that he is in fact an alien, not the Son of God as he was portrayed, and that the miracles he did were simply abilities his kind possess. He is not shy about being noticed as he performs some incredible things while here, and that gets the attention of some government agencies from several countries that want to get their hands on his abilities. With the ability to dematerialize and reappear thousands of miles away in the blink of an eye, Jesus, as well as his companions, become quite the globetrotters as they attempt to carry out Jesus' objectives in time.
    This is a complex story involving numerous characters aside from Jesus. With sweeping locations in vivid detail and strong character development, author Lex Allen brought to bear months of research of not only the Bible, but quantum physics, philosophy, near death experiences, and reincarnation, all of which are the central theme of the “real” Jesus. Mr. Allen's ability to weave fiction with historical events while building this story just plain worked. It flowed well despite the depth of the writing and the complexity of the possibilities. No Heaven spans genres with its action, adventure, thrills, sci-fi, suspense, and a bit of romance with the reuniting of long lost loves - and I mean really long lost. No Heaven is an engrossing read, and will give the reader much to ponder. - Reviewed by Chameleon for Reader's Favorite
(No Video Trailer Available)
Q. Lex, No Heaven, the first book in your Imagine trilogy, is a well written story. I can't even imagine the vast amount of research that went into this endeavor. How did you pull it off?
A. Fortunately, a lot of the research occurred over a period of many years, without any plan to use it in a book. Since my early teens I was interested in religion, history, mythology and life after death from a non-religious perspective, so that as the premise for the Imagine trilogy began to evolve, I already had a head start on the research. The quantum physics angles were new, and I spent a couple years tracking down and reading books and articles that were clearly designed as “quantum physics for dummies.” Once I felt that I had a good enough handle on that aspect of the story, I was able to take out the handbook on artistic license, all the research and throw them into my imaginative mixer. I was pleasantly surprised at the product.
Q. Yes, you managed to blend fiction with historical places, figures, and eras very well, but how did you manage to keep it all straight?
A. Truthfully, I was pretty much winging it. Most of the historical places were either pertinent to a specific character or had something to do with vortexes. In my quantum physics world, vortexes are very important both in geographical and biological terms. (Bet you’re scratching your head about the biological connection to vortexes, eh?). As I wrote a current scene, I would look for a similar historical occurrence, and if it “worked”, I could fit them together. It wasn’t a question of keeping them straight; rather, it was like assembling a jig-saw puzzle or a very large, model aircraft carrier. The pieces were all there, I simply had to connect them. “Simply” being an understatement, of course!
Q. An understatement indeed considering the complexity of it all for us mere humans.The second book in your trilogy, No Hell, was a nice transition from No Heaven. Considering the time span between writing the two, you never seemed to have floundered to get back on track. You must keep impeccable notes.
A. LOL… yes, and I continually re-read my own writing in No Heaven! Not only did that prick my memory, it also helped me to keep the “voice”consistent.
Q. Knowing what you know now, compared to what you knew when you first started writing, what would you do differently?
A. Everything? No. I wrote No Heaven from 3 am to 5 am, most mornings, and then went to work. Occasionally, I was able to get some weekend writing done, but it was sporadic with constant interruption. It took a long time. From the finish of No Heaven to starting No Hell, I took a very early retirement and moved into a hundred year old “Bauernhof” that needed renovation; unfortunately, it turned out needing more fixing than I had initially thought. I’d planned to write full time and have the second book done in six months. It took well over a year. I was back to writing from 3 am to 5 or 6 am and renovating the barn, the house, the horse stalls the rest of the day. So, I would never do any of that again! Finally, I thought I’d get No Religion finished, without interruption, writing on a normal schedule in four months. Sigh. Bottom line, what I would do differently is… completely move out of the house and live the life of a hermit until a book was done. Move back home for six to eight months and then, do the hermit jig again… lol.
Q. Finding time to write is definitely something most writers are plagued with, for sure. Is there anything you'd like us to know about your trilogy that hasn't been said yet?
A. The trilogy is controversial because it deals with religion and religion conspiracies from a secular, agnostic view. Although some of my characters are decidedly anti-religion and atheist, the premise of the story is not to destroy anyone’s belief, or change their minds about their own personal faith; instead, it is simply to provide a speculative, entertaining notion that Jesus may have been someone entirely different than the world has been taught. The trilogy is certainly not Christian fiction; but neither is it an atheists cry for revolution and abolition of monotheistic religions.
Q. I agree, that was the sense I got when reading it. When can we expect No Religion, the last book in this trilogy, to be available?
A. Unable to move out and do the hermit jig, life continues to complicate my writing schedule. I’d hoped to have it published this past fall. Providing nothing new comes along to interrupt current progress, I plan to publish the conclusion, No Religion, late spring of this year – 2014.
Q. Care to give us a sneak peak?Sure, why not? Please keep in mind, however, that this is first draft, without re-writes or editing, and subject to radical changes before publication. This is a partially complete introductory chapter for a new character that could play a pivotal role in the conclusion of the trilogy.
I know that the Pope is Antichrist and his seat is that of Satan himself”
Martin Luther
“The Great Crusade for Christ III” was in its fourth day, and the huge tent had reached maximum seating capacity of ten thousand a good hour before the evangelist and self-proclaimed reverend, Angel Ramirez, was scheduled to take the stage. Hundreds more people waited outside for the go ahead to enter the tent and occupy standing room, available in the aisles, after all the seats were filled. This would come only moments before the “Angel” mounted the stage to begin his sermon, or as he called it, his “Exhortation of Truth”.
    In a large recreational vehicle, a hundred yards from the tent and enclosed within portable fencing, complete with roving guards and dogs; Angel sat before a mirror while a makeup artist applied a skin toned mask that would hide the numerous wrinkles in his face. In thirty minutes, barring a close examination, Angel Ramirez would appear to be twenty years younger than his actual fifty-eight. The effects of the make-up would last about six hours, depending upon how much of the pasty substance was washed away by the evangelist’s sweat.
    Television and video cameramen were forbidden close-ups during Angel’s performance. The last cameraman, actually a woman, who had forgotten the rule about close-ups, had not only lost her job, she’d also been sued by the Angel Ramirez Foundation, and black-balled from ever working in television again. Four years after her “mistake”,she’d committed suicide, leaving a husband and two small children. When asked by a reporter to comment on the camera woman’s death, Ramirez had said, “I understand she was a Baptist and not a Catholic. So, assuming she was God fearing, and had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, she’ll be in heaven rather than hell. I’m happy for her.”
    From a corner chair inside the RV, Angel’s road manager, Elijah Worth, was rattling off numbers representing the total attendance and the associated ticket take, both from advance sales and ‘at the gate’ totals. He was prepared to provide his boss an accounting of the concessionaire booths that sold everything from souvenir articles of Christianity to hot dogs and soda pop. Angel seldom wanted to hear these reports, but the one time he had, was the only occasion that Elijah didn’t have the numbers. He’d nearly lost his job over it. He would certainly never make that mistake again.
    His security chief was also present in the RV. Manuel Santana was an ex-Navy Seal. He was a big man with a bald head and shoulders as wide as some of the Texas Longhorns where he’d been raised. He was not only competent at his job; he was 100% loyal to Angel, as well.
    “How are things outside, Manny?” Angel asked.
    “Good. Quiet.”
    “Any news?” For the past several months, atheists had been demonstrating around the evangelists’ crusades. Some of these demonstrations had been quite large.
    “No, nothing from the locals or the state cops. The feds… they’re still up in arms about this Jesus character.”
    At the name, “Jesus” Angel’s face turned red and he clenched his fists.
   “Ah, yes… the man who would be Jesus!” Angel got out of his chair and paced the floor. He stopped, looked up at the ceiling and closed his eyes. Suddenly, he fell to his knees and then, rolled over onto his back. His entire body was shaking – shivering as if freezing cold.
    Neither Elijah nor Manny were alarmed. They’d seen these episodes before and knew that Angel had been filled with the spirit, and God himself was speaking to him. They knelt next to his convulsing body and began to pray, waiting patiently for God to finish his possession of the evangelist. As in the past, each man knew that Angel would share His communique with them. That usually meant specific directives and actions that they would be required to execute.
    Only a few minutes passed before Angel’s spastic-like vibrations stopped. Without warning, he sat up, drenched in sweat and slowly reached towards Elijah. His voice dry, he whispered, “Water, please.”
    Elijah jumped to his a feet and returned within a few seconds with a large glass of water that Angel downed in three gulps. His subordinates helped him to his feet and sat him on a leather sofa that filled the tail end of the RV.
    Angel leaned back and closed his eyes. Still whispering he said,“This man who would be Jesus… he’s not… he’s… Oh, God, oh my God… he’s the Antichrist!”
    His eyes shot open and he jumped to his feet. Seemingly completely recovered from what had looked like an epileptic attack, he was instantly his old self. “I need to make some notes. Tonight’s sermon is not going to go as planned. The Lord God has commanded me to raise an Army and lead the attack against the Antichrist.”
    Elijah and Manny glanced at each other with raised eyebrows, but neither would ever state their true feelings about Angel’s directives from God.
    Manny recovered first. “What do you want me to do, boss?”
    Angel stared at him for several seconds, as if his security chief was a stranger. He shook his head, recognition returning to his eyes and said, “Nothing right now, Manny. When I’ve finished my sermon, there may be some violence… some disturbances; you need to be prepared for that. I will announce the coming battle tonight, get the balls rolling and tomorrow… tomorrow we’ll hold a council of war that will lead to the destruction of the Antichrist and the greater glorification of the Lord God.
    He turned to Elijah. “Set up a meeting for… ten o’clock, with all of our media and publicity folks. We’re going to war, Gentlemen. We will truly become God’s “Onward Marching Soldiers”and we’re going to send this bastard back to Hell, where he belongs!”
Sounds like this will be exactly what it should be, Lex, an explosive culmination of the first 2 books in this trilogy! I look forward to reading it, so, of course, I wish you the best in getting it finished! Thanks for joining me here, I have no doubt we'll have you back soon for No Religion.
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