Trials on Sale Tomorrow

January 7, 2016

Trials Science Fiction Novel Thane KellerEveryone! Tomorrow will be the last day for a while that Trials will be sold for $0.99. The promotional period is ending for Trials the Kindle edition and I will be raising the price back to $2.99.

 

Grab your copy at the lowest price and leave me some feedback to let me know what you think!

Trials Paperback Now Available

December 30, 2015

Trials Science Fiction Novel Thane Keller After months of reworking the cover, waiting for proofs to arrive to an APO box during the busy Christmas rush, reworking the cover, and waiting for more proofs to arrive, I’m happy to announce that the Trials paperback version is now available on Amazon and through numerous other distribution channels!

There are a few things I’ll be doing differently for its sequel and, hopefully, the many other books I’ll be publishing.

1. Use Kindle Scout and CreateSpace preview features to upload pre-published copies to generate hype, reviews, and interest.

2. Publish on CreateSpace first, not Kindle. CreateSpace will help build the Kindle version of your book and makes it an easier transition time all around. A second reason to think paperback first is that the paperback version will require a finer amount of detail on the cover. It’s easy to cut away at a JPG cover for the Kindle version, but much harder to add to a Kindle cover for a paperback version. (Ana Spoke – an amazing writer and my hero in the blog world likely has similar advice after battling over Kindle and CreateSpace here – Your final product looks great by the way Ana!)

3. Buy my graphic designer (Sarah Keller) roses after each version (I think this was cover version 6 if you count the minor versions and cover version 12 if you count the differences between Kindle and paperback). She’s an amazing graphic designer (and painter) and is my number one recommendation for anyone else looking for book cover designs. 

4. Get my writing on a schedule. This is the hardest thing to balance because with 3 kids, Masters courses, and a full time job that includes travel two weeks out of every month, I’m struggling to maintain any type of regular writing schedule – It’ll come though, and this must become my number 1 priority!

5. Beg more people (like YOU) to leave me reviews 🙂

Thanks for everyone’s support!

Evolutionist – Put your Money where your Mouth Is

December 26, 2015

I’m going to take a quick break from fiction to write about the evolutionist – I hope my followers forgive me for climbing upon this soap box, but as a writer I see my primary responsibility as being the packaging and exchanging of ideas.

DISCLAIMER: I believe in the value and worth of all of nature. If you are an evolutionist reading this, I hope you can become more aware of the reality of your philosophy and drink more fully from your evolutionary roots. If you are a humanist and a preservationist reading this – you might need to consider an alternative “origins” belief system.

Recently, there was an article suggesting that the very finches that Charles Darwin used as inspiration to develop his Origin of Species (which was really just a description of survival of the fittest) are going extinct. You can read the article here. What’s better, is that the article suggests it’s man’s fault! To be fair, it’s actually parasites killing the birds, but regardless, I say GOOD FOR US! EVOLVE OR DIE! This is the basis for everything the evolutionist believes in. If you can’t adapt to your environment, adjust to new predators, environmental changes, or diseases – you become extinct. Better yet, this extinction and survival of the fittest is what ensures the strong survive, the strong press forward into the future, and the surviving species is better positioned for even greater challenges.  Humans, under this theory, have adapted to a stage where we can dictate the pace, we can change the environment, and we can forge our own path towards greater survival. Finches are weak, failed to adapt, and will become extinct.

But here’s where I become bothered. People that adhere to an Evolutionary theory are the very ones who believe we need to preserve these weak creatures. These pathetic animals aren’t required for our survival in any way. In fact, some people who believe in evolution are so blinded by this desire to preserve these creatures that they would advocate that we pour our resources into their survival; resources that could be used instead for adapting to future threats such as aliens, climate change, or greater resource insufficiency.

So here’s the deal  – you can’t be an evolutionist (meaning you believe humans evolved from probiotic sludge and it is likely other creatures have done the same on millions of other earth-like planets) and a modern humanist (meaning you emphasize the value of human beings and recently by extension the natural environment and animal kingdom) at the same time. While humanism in its purist form may still be compatible (because it narrowly elevates human values but not the animal kingdom), the new age preservationist mentality is entirely incompatible. The two ideas are completely counter to each other.

In fact, the only true idea that is compatible with evolution is hedonism – meaning you believe you should do what feels good because ultimately, your instincts should be driving your survival. Eat meat, horde resources, out-do your neighbor, have as many sexual partners as you can to increase your DNA’s chances of survival, and exist in society for purely selfish reasons (shared protection/conquest, resources, or comfort).

There are some natural consequences that come out of these very different belief systems. I am going to present the following as simple fact. Again, if you are an evolutionist and yet dabble in humanism, you need to start rethinking the flaws of your logic. Period. If you are a fiction writer, hopefully this gives you fuel for your next great bad-guy race.

For pure evolutionists:

  1. You should exhibit a form of racism because survival of the fittest includes racism; it’s all about selective breeding so the strong can continue to thrive and the weak don’t- think Hitler.
  2. Homosexuals have no room in your belief system – they aren’t exchanging DNA to produce children and therefore cannot and will not contribute to the furtherance of your species. In fact, they probably should be extinct or will be soon if homosexuality is a genealogically driven event – Hitler also sent homosexuals to the concentration camps.
  3. Your goal needs to be to become the supreme species – any resources spent on uplifting other species for other than scientific research is misguided – Hitler did this too…
  4. You should be selfish – anything that goes against your comfort, your position in the food chain, or your survival should be removed instantly – how else will you further your genes?
  5. Whether we find aliens is irrelevant, we need to be always striving for the next competitor, and right now, that is probably on another planet.

For the Modern Humanist –

  1. There is no room for survival of the fittest – people have value and worth, and so does the rest of nature.
  2. We were likely created – I won’t preach God to you (I could), but human worth outside of survival of the fittest necessarily indicates greater purpose for everything – you need to seek it out.
  3. Being the supreme species is irrelevant if you trample the beauty in other people and creatures.
  4. Hedonism is worthless – doing what feels good rips away your friends and family in the end. Sacrifice yourself and gain a richer life.
  5. Combat evolution. It leads to a wicked path – by everyone’s standards – even the evolutionists.

 

To summarize, I believe the evolutionist should cheer the impending extinction of the finch on and I believe the humanist should weep. These are opposite responses and are not compatible.

Night Patrol

December 17, 2015

Night Patrol

 

Armor clad, guardians creep

Keeping watch for those who sleep

Careful child, don’t make much noise

Men on a mission; God employed.

 

 

Beyond the river, evil creeps

seeking to devour those who sleep

Rest not brave men, save our souls

And one by one, the night patrol

 

 

For if we did let down our guard

It’s not just land they’d seek to scar.

They’d take our wives, our children too

They’d burn our homes and run us through

 

 

This is why you join and serve

For this night, you were preserved

Rise up brave man, take your sword

And slay the wicked all abhor.

 

For the men I served with long ago – few will ever know of your bravery.

On Writing – A Reader’s Pace

December 17, 2015

The pace of a reader as they go through your story or novel is an important aspect that the author must capture to build a more immersive environment around the reader. A fast reader’s pace is a deliberate tool the writer can use to generate emotions of frenzy, fear, or anxiety. Conversely, slowing the reader’s pace at certain points can be calming and allow a reader to take an emotional break through difficult parts in a story. As a writer, I believe the two should be balanced in such a way that a reader is neither too exhausted nor too bored.

To quicken a pace, I recommend three techniques:

  1. Use short sentences with few large words. An example from my short story LOST is:  “Stop. We have to stop. STOP SWIMMING, I wanted to scream. But I couldn’t.” Here, you can see where lots of short sentences and small words push the reader through the section. It’s almost impossible for someone to slow down through this.
  2. Shorten your chapters. Chapters are merely divisions in a book and should be built on an extremely focused topic. While lots of chapters are 1500-2000 words, there is no shame in shortening a chapter to below 1,000 words in order to build suspense and rush a reader through a scene. By shortening a chapter, you prevent a person from dwelling on the circumstances that the character is going through. Just as your character is lost, confused, or struggling to keep up, your reader can be too by shifting their focus to a new topic before they get to fully digest the previous one. If done properly, this can build suspense and force a reader to try and understand the very same thing your character is trying to understand (something that will be revealed to both in the following chapters).
  3. Deliberately remove some descriptions. The mind is an amazing thing. So amazing, that it can fill in many of the details some authors painstakingly provide at the risk of losing a reader’s pace experience. See if you can figure out what this says: Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. Easy right? Well, we do the same with pictures and our imagination and everything in between. A scene doesn’t need to be described to nauseating detail if the character is rushed. The mind will fill in the details, you need to focus on the event the character is enduring, not the location of the silver candle holder atop a grey bookshelf in the left rear corner of a room 🙂

To slow a pace, I recommend nearly the opposite!

  1. Lengthen your sentences; use commas and punctuation, as well as, larger words. This makes the reader go through each word as they comprehend your sentence. If you want the reader to taste a strawberry as your character does, it should take a while, especially as your characters teeth pierce through the delicate body of the strawberry exposing the sweet, tart juice within.
  2. Lengthen your chapters. My wife and I were reading The Hobbit in bed the other night (I know nerdy – but there’s a point) and I was shocked to see how insanely long his descriptions were. J.R.R. Tolkien is perhaps one of the greatest writers of all time and look at how long it takes the reader to push through this description he gives: “The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats– the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill– The hill, as all the people for many miles round called it– and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.” This is the introduction, and the start of a very long chapter 😉
  3. As with the point above, lengthen your descriptions. J.R.R. Tolkien wants us to see the Hobbit hole in it’s entirety, and to do so, he slows us down.

 

Bottom Line: Use the a reader’s pace to cause emotional reactions in your reader as they go through the story. Try it out and let me know your techniques in the comments below!

Flash Fiction – The Forest

December 6, 2015

Flash Fiction the forest

My dad always warned me that escaping wild animals would be great exercise not worth getting. Well… I agree; and more specifically, running from bears is great exercise. Better yet, when you run from bears on an empty stomach you burn up your stored fat. I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining, right? I mean, three days in the woods was exactly the diet plan I’ve been needing, wanting, and even begging for.

“You need to change-up your habits!” the dietitians are always telling me. “Adjust your life-style and take away your ability to choose.”

Well, its been three days and to be honest, I’m wondering if I’ve been taking my lavish life-style for granted. It’s funny how no food or water will do that to a person. It’s been three days, three hours, and about thirty-six minutes according to my watch; I’ve traveled 56,000 steps according to that very same watch and I’ve lost an inch on my waist… at least.

But you know, I can’t help but wonder if this will have been worth it… if I survive that is. Have I taken my blessings for granted? Have I forsaken the good and brought on the bad? Is dying of a heart attack at the age of 70 worse than dying from a bear attack or starvation at 35!?

I think I’ll give my watch a break and rest here for a bit…


 

This Flash Fiction is less than 300 words. Share your thoughts on this Flash Fiction piece and write your own using the starter sentence above. Link back to this page so I can see your work!

Children’s Story – Animal Race

December 1, 2015

I took a slight detour from my standard writing style with this fun children’s story I’ve titled “Animal Race.” Now all I have to do is find a cartoonist 😉


 

Animal Race

Get up, let’s go! Today’s the day

All the animals are racing, let’s rush to watch the fray!

Brush your teeth, wash your hair, grab a bite to eat

Put on your shoes and jump in your seat

 

Look, here he comes, the biggest of the mammals

The elephant is on the track, he’s the largest of animals.

Look at his trunk, how it reaches all around

Watch him warming up and stretching to the ground.

 

Here comes the dog, nimble and quick

His nails are sharp; as he walks they click.

I can’t imagine a racer faster than he,

but before we know it, guess what we see.

 

A cat! It’s huge! Its muscles glean

I had no idea that he’d be racing

He touches his toes as he stretches his legs

Nobody could beat him, this guy’ll win the day!

 

What a race this will be! Oh what a race!

I can’t imagine what other animals these will face.

But before you know it, three more enter in.

It’s an Ox, a Horse, and a very large Hen!

 

Ah, here it is, the very last contender.

Everyone in the stands quiets as he enters.

The mouse, he’s so tiny, he could never win,

but the look on his face is so determined.

 

The gun goes off! They all start to run

The fans, they cheer and jeer the racers on!

The elephant is pounding his feet to the ground,

the stands shake and rumble, the bend the tiger rounds.

 

All of them are panting, their legs all burn.

The mouse, he is gaining on the pack through the turn.

They’re on the final stretch! It’s the mouse and the bird,

By our noisy cheering, onward they are spurred!

 

To the finish line, the two are almost done.

The day is almost finished, the race is almost won.

The hen leads the mouse, maybe by an inch or two,

but the mouse, he has heart, and he pushes through!

 

The mouse, the mouse! He crossed the finish line!

He actually did it! He left the rest behind!

It just goes to show, that even though you’re small,

Determination is important and heart is best of all.

 

Tales and Tidbits: A Collection of Short Stories

November 15, 2015

Tales and Tidbits: a collection of short storiesHappy Sunday!

I’m eager to announce that I’ve published a collection of short stories called Tales and Tidbits for those of you looking for a few quick reads to get you through the day. This is a collection of 12 short stories that I’ve written over the years and finally decided to publish them.

For my writing friends, I’ve also noticed that there seems to be a bit of an appetite on Amazon for short stories and novellas and I got curious if I could help fill some of that demand with a shorter book while I continue to work on my novel Fractal Space and the sequel to Trials.

Because I enjoy writing and telling stories far more than making a profit you can find a lot of the short stories on my blog – simply click the link short stories and read them for free (there are a few reserved especially for the book)! However you decide to read my work, please consider leaving me a review on Amazon.com or a comment right here on my blog!

Lastly, I have to give another shout out to my graphic designer Sarah Keller – she’s as talented as she is beautiful 🙂

Without Sense

November 15, 2015

without sense

The sun is rising and its glow off the milky, sun-baked clouds is nothing short of amazing. As I stand here, I can’t help but marvel at God’s creation; at the majesty of it all. I can’t remember how I got atop this mountain, and as I strain to think, a brisk wind pushes sharp frozen water pellets into my face, but it doesn’t matter, I can’t feel it. I can’t feel anything.

Let me explain. This is actually my forth sense to go – I lost the other three over the years and all I have left is my sight. As with the previous three, smell, taste, and sound, I needed to test it – to be absolutely sure. When I was twelve, I believe that would have been 1917, I lost my sense of smell. A firecracker on July fourth went right up my nose! That’s not why I lost my sense of smell; but that’s how I realized it was missing.

My dad, at the hospital, said “well I bet that smelled terrible when it exploded.”

It was a funny thing to say really – to suggest having a firecracker explode in my nose must have smelt bad, but then I realized – it didn’t smell like anything at all! Not in the slightest. After I left the hospital, I decided to test my theory and started smelling everything I could. Kids would bring in all sorts of nasty things from all over the neighborhood to see if I could smell it; I smelt everything from oranges to a flattened skunk that ran out of luck along the roadway, but I couldn’t smell a thing! I was completely and utterly without that sense.

Now, as I stand here, I’m afraid to tell you that I’m not sure I can feel and as I think to the future I find myself wondering: How can I appreciate what I have left before that too is ripped away? Will I be just a memory? A faded dream? Does a man cease to exist if he cannot experience the world that he lives in, or is there more than the sum of his senses that defines him?

Prologue

November 10, 2015

Here’s a sneak peek at my newest novel’s prologue. Enjoy!


 

“I’m telling you, brother, our time has come,” the young man whispered, barely able to keep his teeth from chattering.

Draped in the white fur of an animal native to the planet Coridon, the two men huddled together in a hastily built ice cave as the temperature outside plummeted to fifty below zero. They had trained with each other since they were children and were now prepared to graduate together as warriors. All that remained was one final test: survive a week on Mount Horeb. It was simple enough to just survive—the most basic of tasks. But considering that that task meant surviving on a floating mountain in the middle of the Northern Sea during winter, this test became an entirely different story.

“How can you be certain?” his best friend responded, turning his head to look over his shoulder. The two leaned back to back, supporting each other’s weight as they shared a tiny white-haired rodent that they had captured in a snare the day before. It was hardly big enough to sustain a child, let alone two grown men, and as Brokk crunched down on the small bones, he knew that the meat wouldn’t give him the energy he needed to survive the night.

The Jarks graduated their officers in an unorthodox fashion. While most systems believed that prior to graduation a culmination should be a demonstration of the things one had learned and how they are best applied to interstellar combat, the Jarks believed culmination should be focused inward—on oneself and the qualities that must be honed in order to lead great men into battle.

Brokk thought he agreed, although not entirely at this moment. Teachers had repeatedly drilled tactics into his head for years, and warfare had been the primary subject of debate around the table with his family as well as in class with his peers. He understood warfare, but he had never experienced it.

Surviving on Coridon gave him this opportunity, and in the days he had been there, Brokk had already learned more about himself and what it took to survive than ever before. There would be no help, and many of his brothers over this week would die. But those who survived, those who made it, they were the future, forged on the icy peak of the coldest habitable planet of the galaxy and ready to do battle on behalf of their people.

Brokk’s teeth continued to chatter as he tried sucking the marrow out of the rat’s leg bone before throwing the very last fragment into his mouth. “Because you and I are going to graduate tomorrow,” he managed to sputter out.

“We won’t survive the night if we don’t get any more food. I can’t keep warm,” Lago complained.

He was right. They had to go out again. In the face of utter exhaustion and frigid temperatures, calories were essential, and right now, calories were what the two of them lacked. Brokk pushed himself to his feet and offered a hand to his red-skinned friend. “Then let’s hunt,” he said with a grin, trying to show courage in the face of extreme doubt.

Flame from their candle danced and glistened off the icy walls of their hastily built shelter, and Lago’s white teeth shone from behind long strands of gray fur draping off his hood as he returned an eager smile. “I’ll lead,” he said at last, accepting Brokk’s hand and pulling himself to his feet. “Besides, I’m a better tracker than you anyway.”

The fierce wind howled as they left their shelter in search of food. Merely stepping out into the cold sucked the breath from their lungs and left the two gasping for frigid air to fill their blood with the oxygen they so desperately craved. Brokk staggered into the snow, trying to catch his breath, and imagined that this must be how it felt to be sucked from a damaged hull into the lifeless void of interstellar space.

One following the other, the two aspiring warriors tilted their bodies away from the wind and attempted to walk perpendicular to it. Facing into the freezing blast would send icy daggers through the openings in their hoods and could permanently damage any exposed skin on their faces in mere seconds. Silently, the two trudged through barren trees, using webbed snowshoes to keep them on the surface. With each step, pain shot through their bodies from lifting fatigued legs. Their arms, heavy and worn, strained as they painstakingly drove ice prods into the ground ahead to ensure that they weren’t about to fall through a weak patch of snow and land in a gully. A prod to the left and a step with the left foot. A prod to the right and a step with the right foot. Prod, crunch, prod, crunch, prod, crunch, prod. It was slow going, and Brokk’s stomach roared with hunger. Finally, Lago turned around to face Brokk.

“I’m lost!” he shouted over the wind. “Which way was the canyon?”

“I think you’re right,” Brokk responded, motioning forward. Lago shrugged and turned again to continue his movement. The wind wailed as the storm drove snow off nearby peaks and pushed bursts of icy sleet into their faces, but the two pressed onward, further away from their camp and into the coming night.

Lago continued to lead. Prod, crunch, prod, crunch, prod, crunch, prod. The rhythm captivated Brokk and took his mind far from icy blasts, painstaking steps, and frozen fingers. In his desperation for comfort and aware of its power, Brokk allowed himself to be mesmerized by it, focusing on nothing but the familiar noise. Prod, crunch, prod, crunch, prod. Prod, crunch, prod, crunch. Silence.

Lago was gone. “Lago!” Brokk shouted, running to the spot he had last seen him. “Lago!” he bellowed again, fearful that the wind blew his voice back into his throat rather than outward toward his friend. Through the wind and snow, he approached a small ledge; Lago lay twenty feet below, unmoving. “Lago!” he shouted again from his hands and knees, careful not to lean too far over the small pit that had opened up from the weight of their steps.

Lago twitched his mitt-covered hand and groaned. “I think I broke my leg!” he finally shouted.

Brokk could see the snow beneath him turn a reddish hue as it absorbed blood from his now-exposed wound. Broken…and maybe worse. But beyond the blood-stained snow was a far more terrifying sight. On the other side of his narrow ridge, a dense nitrogen-composed fog began to climb up from the valley below. At a frigid minus 320 degrees, the gas would not simply freeze Lago; it would make him feel as if he were on fire while turning the blood in his veins into solid ice.

“I’m coming down there for you,” Brokk bellowed back, grabbing at the climber’s rope he had looped over his shoulder and searching for a nearby anchor point.

“We’ll both die,” Lago shouted back. “Don’t!”

It was too late. Brokk was a man of action and had already secured the rope to a tree and tossed the remainder down to the gorge below. Rappelling to the bottom, he rushed to disconnect his rope and deploy the emergency avalanche shelter he kept in his backpack. The gas had reached the ridge now, and icy fingers stretched out from the fog, begging Brokk to let it feast on their exposed skin. Finally at Lago’s side, Brokk gripped his shoulders and pulled him into the small pup tent, which was barley large enough for one man. “I guess we’ll both die then,” he muttered into Lago’s ear, zipping the tent behind them.