From a Certain Point of View

A while back, I was riding in a pickup truck.  This is notable only for the fact that the girl driving it was consistently using about three feet of the right lane while driving in the left.  As a passenger, I found that pretty terrifying and said something to the effect of “Jesus, what the hell are you doing?”

She insisted she was fine, she hadn’t had any issues and seemed to think I was making fun of her driving or calling her crazy.  This went on for a bit, her insisting everything was perfectly fine and me growing more and more concerned, particularly as we narrowly missed side-swiping other vehicles and pedestrians.

I finally demanded just why she thought she was centered in her lane.  She told me that her driving instructor had taught her to center the white lines on the hood of her vehicle and she’d always be in the center of the road.  When I quite testily replied that she’d probably learned to drive in a car, rather than a pickup truck, she went silent.  It was a thoughtful silence.  After she considered the fact that a truck was several feet higher than the car she’d previously driven and the geometry was therefore different, she shifted over to something rather more like the middle of the lane.

The world and circumstances had changed.  Her point of view had shifted, but she’d been operating under the same assumptions as before, not taking into account the changing conditions.  It wasn’t that she was stupid, or that she was crazy, or even that she was reckless, it just hadn’t occurred to her that some of her basic assumptions were no longer valid.  The paradigm had shifted and that had endangered her and fellow drivers around her.

The Star Wars quote, “From a certain point of view,” applies pretty strongly.  Obi Wan spun the truth for Luke when he told him that Vader betrayed and murdered his father.  He told Luke what he needed to hear, a simpler “truth” that set him on his journey of change, hoping that Luke would have the resilience and wisdom to understand the full truth as he gained experience.  That’s what many teachers do, they give us the basic “rules” and hope that as time goes on, we fill in the blanks, we learn the “why” as well as the deeper complicated details.

It’s something to consider both in writing and in our lives in the real world.  Be willing to re-examine some of the facts.  Be willing to question those basic rules that you’ve lived by.  Be willing to adapt and change.  Your characters in the stories you write should learn from their mistakes, but they should also change and grow.  Their beliefs and concepts of the world should adapt and grow with them.  And perhaps we should hold ourselves to as high a standard.


Kal’s November 2018 Forecast

It’s November already, jeez, where’d the month go?  October is come and gone and it’s been a busy month, with not just one, but two book releases.

I’m currently putting the final touches on Lost Valor, the first book of my spin-off YA series, Forsaken Valor, which ties directly into the Children of Valor series.  I’m also finishing off the last chapters on Jormungandr’s Venom, the third Rising Wolf book (The stories of Fenris, the AI controlled warship).  I plan to have those out this month, but I want to see what my beta readers have to say.

I’ve started on the sequel to The Colchis Job, which I’ve titled “A Cold Day in Hades.”  If things go well, I should have it done soon and off to the beta readers (man, they’re busy).

Last month I started my Patreon page and I’m adding more content.  I just added the full-length novel, The Eden Insurrection, which is remaining exclusive to Patrons.  As a reminder, if you want to have a character named for you, I pull names from Patrons first, so this is a good opportunity, plus it’s a way to help me focus on writing and producing more.  The link to my patreon page:

What have I got planned for the rest of the month?  I’m writing the fifth and final Children of Valor book, Valor’s Stand.  I’m also back to closing out the seventh Shadow Space Chronicles book, The Star Engine (it was The Lost Heir).  I hope to have that one out by Christmas, but I’ve got a lot of work to do to get there.

So, I’m hoping that November is a two-book publishing month.  If I can pull it off, you can expect Lost Valor mid-November and Jormungandr’s Venom sometime after that (though that’s up to the publisher).  If I can meet my writing goals this month, it’ll make December a two book month, too.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!



Coming Soon: Lost Valor

Hey everyone!  The first book of the Forsaken Valor series, Lost Valor, is coming soon!  Read on for the blurb, and enjoy the cover!

They say that without the dark, we would never see the stars, without losing the light, we can never truly see it. Well, I’ve lost the light, I’m in a dark place, a forsaken place.
My name is William Alexander Armstrong. Pirates took everything from me: my possessions, my freedom, and the lives of my friends and family. But I’m not going to let them take my drive. I’m going to escape, I’m not going to stay trapped, working as their slave.
I might be lost, I may be forsaken, but I will find my way to freedom, and when I do, I will bring fire and destruction on those who took everything from me.
You can expect Lost Valor later this month.

Helloween Masquerade

Hey everyone.  I celebrated my birthday this weekend by visiting the Helloween Masquerade here in Denver.  The big draw of it for me was Cruxshadows, one of my favorite bands, and since they rarely (if ever) tour in the US and it happened to fall on my birthday weekend, everything worked out perfectly.

If you’re a fan of their music, I shouldn’ t have to tell you how awesome it is to see them live.  They have a ton of energy, their songs resonate with me, and overall, it was a great experience.  If you’re not a fan of their music, I’ll link some of their stuff and feel free to watch.  It’s not for everyone, but I find it’s great writing music for me.

Oh, and to top things off, they started playing this song right around midnight (and the start of my birthday).

All in all, it was a great weekend, the perfect way to get me charged up to tackle all these books I need to write.

Here’s a couple of their songs that I enjoy:

Tick Tock, The House with the Clock in the Walls Movie Review

I saw this movie with my son last weekend, mostly because it looked like it would be fun.  I didn’t know much about the movie (or the books, of which it’s apparently based.

Overall, it was a fun movie.  If you’ve seen the trailers, well, they pretty much give everything in the movie away.  It’s pretty unfortunate, actually, as I think the story would have been better suited to exploring and learning as the main character did.

The jokes and humor were a mix, some definitely aimed at kids and others more adult oriented.  Same for the story and the acting, also.  I felt like the producer/director and actors weren’t really sure whether they wanted to be a family friendly movie, something a bit more risque, or a ‘scary’ movie like goosebumps.  Walking out of the theater, I came away feeling like I’d been watching actors in three different movies, all crammed into one.  The main character could have easily come from Harry Potter.  Cate Blanchet’s character as well, even down to her use of a not-wand.  Jack Black, on the other hand, variated between a weird combination of creepy uncle ala a Goosebumps book and friendly older guy like in School of Rock.  The sets, scenes, and all the rest were similar.  There’d be scenes of wonder followed by creepy talking dolls.   It wasn’t bad, it just was hard to stay “in story” when the environment would shift so drastically.

Everything suffered a bit, too, in that so very much of the movie was given away in the trailers.  Coming into it, I knew certain things were going to happen.  In fact, most of the cool scenes were shown in the trailer.  This is a case where seeing the movie cold would have given the audience a better experience, I think.

Overall, I could have done with a bit better explanation on how the magic in the universe worked.  The main character starts learning it via montage.  Which is fine, but giving us some idea of what’s possible and how things tie together would have been nice.  Instead, there’s some clockwork stuff, and magic topiaries, and stained glass windows that move… but there doesn’t seem to be any limits, unless there are, but we don’t know what those limits could be.

These are mostly nitpicks, though.  It really was an entertaining kid’s movie.  It kept my son’s attention and it had enough humor to keep mine.  It had a ton of potential to be a really great movie, though, and I’m a bit sad that it didn’t quite get there.

Not a Hero Movie Review: Venom

I watched Venom this weekend and as it’s SF related (more or less), I thought I’d leave a review.

They spend a lot of time showing that Venom/Eddie Brock isn’t a “hero.”  At the same time, they spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make you empathize with him.  It works, it’s not badly done, but as with a certain scene in the movie, “He doth protest too much.”

The action is fast and relatively easy to follow, there’s very little of the shaky-cam that ruined so many action movies.  The humor is good.  The story is… okay.  It’s standard comic-book level.  The science could be worse.

It’s overall a solid movie.  I Iike Venom/Eddie Brock as a character.  There’s lots of potential to move on, and the weakness of hunger is pretty interesting.  There was a moment in the movie where I was really interested by the potential implications of certain things.

My wife and I came away from it with really nothing to talk about, oddly enough.  They didn’t do anything bad.  Everything was good enough that I didn’t really have any real complaints.  The bad guy was solidly evil.  The good guy had enough empathy scenes that you can go along with him doing some horrid things.  There’s a few nonsensical things, like where he brutally beats down some cops (slamming a few through concrete walls and throwing some twenty feet or more), only to hold back Venom from eating one of them (dude, you just killed all of them anyway…)

Those scenes aside, there’s nothing that didn’t really work.  The bad guy was totally creepy.  The good guy was sufficiently fun.  Tom Hardy can’t do a Brooklyn accent.  It’s a good movie for a night out.  I’d recommend it, but it’s a fairly mindless action movie where the good guy is willing to do some really horrid things (but you forget about them, because most happen off scene).  Is it worth seeing in theaters?  That’s for you to decide.


New Release: Dead Train: All Aboard

Dead Train: All Aboard is now available on Amazon.  You can find it here:

It’s all aboard and full speed ahead because when the dead roam the Earth, no place is safe.

Civilization has fallen, brought low by a combination of war, terrorism, and by the restless dead rising in ever-greater numbers.  The world’s militaries fought until they ran out of bullets, but in the end, the cities were choked with bodies and the dead just kept on coming.

Captain Jack Zamora has put together a band of survivors who stay alive by staying on the move.  They’re fleeing the charnel-house remains of the East Coast, headed to survivor enclaves in the West, travelling on a jury-rigged train that’s held together by desperate hope and paid for in the blood of its defenders.
There’s one barrier for their train of survivors: the mighty Mississippi River. Someone or something has been destroying the bridges, trapping survivors on the east bank.  And survivor enclaves in the East are going dark, one by one.  There’s nowhere to go and the only set of train bridges left run through the ruins of St Louis.
Something waits for Jack and his people there, though.  Something ancient, something evil, and if Jack can’t find a way through, then his hope, his people, and their train will all die.