Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams

Have I mentioned I’m writing my fourth novel?  Oh, I know, everyone is either writing a novel, plans to write a novel or has the next great story idea.  So, with that in mind, I’ll start over.

Writing My Fourth Novel

Did I mention I am writing a novel?

Yes, I am. While I’ve published a science fiction novel, a historical fiction novel, a short story anthology, a poetry collection, and have a second unpublished science fiction novel, I have never published a literary fiction novel. Novel number four is literary fiction.

Even though I have hundreds of paid writing credits over the last 40 years in dozens of trade journals, magazines, literary journals, and science fiction magazines, few people view me as a writer.

Response of Family and Friends

Have you ever noticed the response of family and friends when they learn you are writing a novel?  You know the responses I’m talking about.  You’ve seen them.

There’s the rolling of the eyes up toward the sky.

There’s the bobbing the head up and down while shaking it in disbelief.

Sometimes they will express condolences to a spouse that you’re using your time in this way.  other times they will say “That’s nice.  Everyone needs a hobby.”

When I get responses like these I want to put my hands on their shoulders, look them directly in the eye and say, “Hello, did you hear me? I said I am writing a novel.  That’s because I am a writer!”

At this point they usually repeat, “That’s nice or I thought you worked with computers.”

I reply “Working with computers paid for my passion for writing before I became a full-time writer.”

It’s sad. They still don’t get it.  Oh, I can send them running out of the room in a hurry if I say, “Would you like to hear a chapter?”  Those words are like saying “FIRE, RUN, FLEE FOR YOUR LIFE!”

Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams

I mention all this to say, don’t let anyone steal your dream.  If you’re like me, you have to write.  You can’t help it.  It’s part of who you are.  So write!  And, tell your friends and family that you’re working on a novel.  Let them the progress you are making.  And you can drop me a note from time to time in the comments section.  I’ll understand.

Predator: The Remote-Control Air War Over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot’s Story

A Great Story

Wow! This is one well-written book. The story is well told. The book is surprisingly interesting exceeding my expectations.

Flying Airplanes From Half a World Away

My thought going in is a book about flying remote control airplanes from half a world away? No way this could be interesting. What I found was a compelling story that kept my interest and had me viewing modern warfare through a new set of eyes … and I am a former US Army officer! The book will make an amazing movie.

 

You travel with Gen-X author Matt Martin from his graduation at Purdue University and commissioning as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force through his navigator training and his RC-135 crew experience. We see how his passion to pilot an aircraft fly leads him to apply for the Predator.

The Stories Are Amazing

The stories are amazing. I laughed when his growing up on a farm experience lead him to name the suspicious object between the two builds as a manure pile that was generating heat. The chases of the green Toyota was both educational and spellbinding. The story of the rocket man and their motivation to get the bad guys had me turning each page.

 

I loved the chapter with the Peugeot chase and surveillance, especially with the Abrams Tank pointing its main gun at the driver. In another chapter, I was amazed when they blew off the front end of the vehicle with the machine gun and gunner surviving. The story of the double air strike’s success in taking out the mortar crew made me glad I am no longer a mortar platoon leader as I was 40 years ago!

Warfare Has Changed

I enjoyed the human side of the stories in the book. You realize how warfare has changed. You realize people go to war for their shift and then go home at the end of their workday. You learn how both restrictive the rules were on the US and yet see how hard we work to protect the innocent.

Helps Explain Both Iraq and Afghanistan

Lt. Col. Martin gives some of the best historical backgrounds on the conflict I have read. It helps explain both Iraq and Afghanistan. He also looks at the morality of war in a very personal way that helps show the human side of our military. The book deserves more attention as it is a significant contribution to the literature of modern warfare.

 

When I first received the book to review my first thought was we are too close to the war. I highly recommend the book giving it five out of five stars.

 

You will not be disappointed when you read “Predator: The Remote-Control Air War Over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot’s Story” by Matt J. Martin.

A Few Typos

The book has a few typos that a forward explains. They did not impact my enjoyment of the book. It looks like “quarters” being replaced with “Bobby” … so you have the word “headBobby” instead of headquarters a few times as well a “quarters” being replaced with “Bobby.” It was no big deal. Well done!

Introducing Scrivener

Scrivener software is your scribe.

If you look up scrivener in the dictionary you will find the definition that a scrivener is a historical noun meaning a clerk, scribe, or notary.

Scrivener software is your scribe. The software is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft. Each wants to be a writer knows the first step to getting a book published is to complete writing the first draft.

How Does Scrivener Help?

Scrivener is your complete writing studio.

Scrivener helps you to write, structure, and revise your book.

Scrivener helps you create order from chaos

Scrivener helps you organize your research where it is not only within easy reach but where you can find your stuff.  

Scrivener helps you get the first draft completed where you can compile and/or export it for printing.

Scrivener even has an ios version if you use an iPhone. So far there isn’t a version available for an Android user like me.

Scrivener is used by persons needing a long-form project management tool. The software is used by all sorts of professional and amateur writers, from best-selling and aspiring novelists to Hollywood scriptwriters, from students and academics to lawyers and journalists: anyone who works on long and difficult writing projects.

So, what is Scrivener?

Scrivener is aimed at writers of all kinds—novelists, journalists, academics, screenwriters, playwrights—who need to structure a long piece of text while referring to research documents.

Scrivener is a ring-binder, a scrapbook, a corkboard, an outliner and text editor all rolled into one.

It is primarily intended to be a first draft tool; although it is possible to complete a project that requires only basic formatting – such as a novel or short story – in Scrivener, often you will want to take your draft to a dedicated word processor or layout program for final formatting.

Scrivener is intended to be a kind of “writer’s shed” for those of us who don’t have a spare shed.


Source: Adapted from the introduction in Scrivener tutorial in the software’s help file

Family Reunion

Smoky Mountains - Missionary Baptist Church 3

Family Reunion

The setting was an old wood framed church house.
Built on the crest of a gently sloping tree-covered hill.
Its wood siding all faded and weather-worn.
The brass church bell for years had been still.

He walked up the hill to the church house.
With each step, old long-past years reappeared.
Soon in his mind, he could hear the congregation singing.
Then down his cheeks streamed the warm, wet tears.

Once again, the old song leader was his grandpa.
His young Mama on a pump organ played.
Packed on the third pew were his mischievous boy cousins.
Standing by the back door to the music his dear daddy swayed.

And old remembrances flooded his being.
A grand family reunion was well underway.
Hearing again the stories of King Jesus,
He couldn’t hold the tears at bay.

Then he moved from the little wooden church house.
Walked down the hill on the path just ahead.
The music and memories slowly fading in the distance.
He arrived at a cemetery with the graves of his family long dead.

There will be a great reunion in heaven in the future,
They’ll all be reunited one wonderful day.
They were all Believers in Jesus,
He’s the Light, the Truth, and the Way.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
December 2015

Picture Credit: Jarek Tuszynski / CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GDFL [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Joy

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Chronic pain can cause a person to lose their joy. Casting our cares on God and receiving his comfort can help restore our joy.

Today’s Bible Verse:

Psalm 30:5 (KJV), “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

What the verse means:

When our soul is afflicted by sin or by suffering from chronic pain, we often feel as if we cannot go on or are dead. When we seek our comfort in God either through repentance for sin or the intimacy of bearing our soul and hurts to the Father, it is like life returning to the dead. We find our bliss and favor from God. Only He is so reviving. It is our unending treasure.

Praying using the verses:

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for turning night into day, sighing into singing, grief into gladness, mourning into music, bitter into sweet, and wilderness into a paradise.
  2. Lord Jesus, we realize that the ups and downs of life are the ebb and flow we need to keep our souls in a healthy constitution. We ask that you walk with us on this journey.
  3. We praise you Lord for the joy that comes in the morning. Help us to keep our eyes on you. Help us to realize every day is a day of new beginnings. Even when we fail you and ourselves, we can start a new daily.

Photo Source: Pixaby

My Top Six Science-Fiction Authors Plus Three to Watch

Frank Herbert, Jr. - Author of Dune
Frank Herbert, Jr. – Author of Dune

I compiled the list. The criteria are authors of science fiction or any sub-genre of science-fiction with longevity. At the end of the article, I have three current writers to watch who, in time, could move on my list but now do not have a sufficient body of work or longevity writing science fiction.

I find that the best science-fiction writers are among some of the most creative writers ever. These authors made my list. I have read the people I have listed. Most will disagree, but these are my favorites.

Ray Bradbury

1. Ray Douglas Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was an American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction author.

Bradbury is best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953), and the science fiction and horror stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and The Illustrated Man (1951). Ray Bradbury was one of the most celebrated 20th-century American writers.

He also wrote and consulted on many screenplays and television scripts. These include Moby Dick, and It Came from Outer Space. Many of his works were made into comic books, television shows, and films.

Isaac Asimov

2. Isaac Asimov (born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov; circa January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books.

Asimov was prolific and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke; he was regarded as one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers during his lifetime.

Asimov’s most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire Series and the Robot Series. The Galactic Empire novels are explicitly set in the earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation Series.

Later, beginning with Foundation’s Edge, he linked this distant future to the Robot and Spacer stories, creating a unified “future history” for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and before produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson.

He wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction “Nightfall,” which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.

Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books historically explain scientific concepts, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its most unadorned stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov’s Chronology of Science and Discovery, as well as works on astronomy, mathematics, history, William Shakespeare’s writing, and chemistry.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

3. Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction writer, science writer and futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host.

He is perhaps most famous for being co-writer of the screenplay for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, widely considered to be one of the most influential films of all time. His other science fiction writings earned him many Hugo and Nebula awards, along with a broad readership, making him into one of the towering figures of the field. For many years, he, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov were known as the “Big Three” of science fiction.

Clarke was a lifelong proponent of space travel. In 1934, while still a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society. In 1945, Clarke proposed a satellite communication system — an idea that, in 1963, won him the Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballantine Medal and other honors. Later he was the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1946–47 and again in 1951–53.

Clarke was a science writer, who was both an avid popularizer of space travel and a futurist of uncanny ability and wrote over a dozen books and many essays (which appeared in various popular magazines) on these subjects. In 1961, he was awarded a Kalinga Prize, an award given by UNESCO for popularizing science. These along with his science fiction writings eventually earned him the moniker “Prophet of the Space Age.”

Robert Heinlein

4. Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called the “dean of science fiction writers,” he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre in his time. He set a standard for scientific and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre’s standards of literary quality.

He was one of the first science fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered to be the “Big Three” of science fiction authors.

A notable writer of science fiction short stories, Heinlein was one of a group of writers who came to prominence under the editorship of John W. Campbell, Jr. in his Astounding Science Fiction magazine—though Heinlein denied that Campbell influenced his writing to any significant degree.

Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed specific social themes: the importance of personal liberty and self-reliance, the obligation people owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. He also speculated on the importance of space travel on human cultural practices.

Heinlein was named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974. He won Hugo Awards for four of his novels; also, fifty years after publication, three of his works were awarded “Retro Hugos”—awards given retrospectively for books and stories that were published before the Hugo Awards came into existence.

In his fiction, Heinlein coined terms that have become part of the English language, including “grok” and “waldo,” and speculative fiction, as well as popularizing the terms like “TANSTAAFL,” “pay it forward,” and space marine.

He also described a modern version of a waterbed in his novel The Door Into Summer, though he never patented or built one. Several of Heinlein’s works have been adapted for film and television. In Chapter 3 of the novel “Podkayne of Mars,” he anticipated the cell phone, 20 years before the technology was invented by Motorola.

Orson Scott Card

5. Orson Scott Card (born August 24, 1951) is an American novelist, critic, public speaker, essayist, and columnist. He writes in several genres but is known best for science fiction. His novel Ender’s Game (1985) and its sequel Speaker for the Dead (1986) both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win both science fiction’s top U.S. prizes in consecutive years. A feature film adaptation of Ender’s Game, which Card co-produced, was released in late October 2013 in Europe and on November 1, 2013, in North America.

Card is a professor of English at Southern Virginia University, has written two books on the subject of creative writing, hosts writing boot camps and workshops, and serves as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest. A great-great-grandson of Brigham Young, Card is a practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In addition to producing a large body of fiction works, he has also offered political, religious, and social commentary in his columns and other writing.

Frank Herbert, Jr.

6. Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was an American science fiction writer best known for the novel Dune and its five sequels. Though he became famous for science fiction, he was also a newspaper journalist, photographer, short story writer, book reviewer, ecological consultant, and lecturer.

The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, deals with complex themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, and power. Dune itself is the “best-selling science fiction novel of all time,” and the series is widely considered to be among the classics of the genre.

The photo is Frank Hebert, Jr. I met him at a conference in the late 1970s where he was a speaker.

Three to Watch

Click on their name and the link will take you to their Amazon Author Page to learn more about each. Lindsay Buroker is the most prolific of the three listed below. Each author has a unique style. In time, with focus on the science fiction genre, they could potentially become one of the all-time giants of the genre. Who am I to say this? I am just a fanboy reader of the genre.

  1. Lindsay Buroker
  2. Ernest Cline
  3. Andy Weir

References: Wikipedia articles on the authors and their author pages.

Battle for the City of the Dead: In the Shadow of the Golden Dome, Najaf, August 2004

 

Shiites and Sunnis

The year was 2004. During the spring and summer violence inundated the Iraqi nation. The nation’s Shiites and Sunnis headlined the sectarian fighting. The disbanding of the Army of Iraq by the United States Proconsul fueled the situation.

The results of the United States Proconsul’s actions were the infusing of many scores of angry young men into the streets of the population centers in Iraq. These men had no jobs skills, no jobs, and no prospects for employment.

These men were literally raging in the streets. The Shiite clergy fueled their anger which developed into a rage and campaign for jihad against the United States and all “occupation forces.”

Mahdi Militia

August 2004, Muqtada Al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric, called upon thousands of Mahdi Militia, his armed followers, and de facto private army, to resist the occupation. Fighting would break out in several locations. The holy city of Najaf, the site of the largest Moslem cemetery in the world, and the Imam Ali Mosque were major sites of fighting.

Fighting in 120-degree Heat

U.S. forces found themselves fighting in 120-degree heat. The battleground was through a tangle of crypts, mausoleums, and crumbling graves. The fight was rough. It had the religious zealots against the motivated and disciplined United States Army and Marine Corps troopers. It makes for a spellbinding account of Americans in battle.

The book itself is excellent. Dick Camp tells an exceptional story. The book’s quality is remarkable. I am referring to everything from the writing, a large number of high-quality color pictures, and even quality of the book’s paper. I recommend Battle for the City of the Dead: In the Shadow of the Golden Dome, Najaf, August 2004 by Dick Camp.