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Friday, July 30, 2021

The Myridian Constellation Continues to Grow, thanks to YOU.

30 years ago, even before The Door Within, I had an idea for a fantasy story centered around an assassin seeking redemption from a haunting past. The story began with "A Sword in the Stars." Here's a peek at the new cover concept.


The story begun with "A Sword in the Stars" continued to reveal itself to me with a reluctant young king, trying to live up to expectations and struggling to avoid his father's mistakes. Before I knew it, there was a really nasty red dragon and a devastating unexpected invasion. A sneak peek of "The Errant King" cover concept is below.



From the very beginning the Dark Sea series (now The Myridian Constellation), had 7 books outlined. Book 3, however, took me by surprise when it became such a behemoth that Amazon wouldn't even publish it in paperback at its size. It became clear that there were two very unique story arcs, and so I made the decision to split the third book into book 3 and book 4. I never imagined how much work and time it would take to re craft those tales into individual books of the series. "The Forsaken Continent" became book 3 and took nearly 5 years to complete. Here's a peek at the new cover concept for TFC:



"Mirror of Souls" was going to be book 3, but I quickly realized that too much needed to happen to lay the groundwork for what I think has become the turning point of the series. Here's a peek at the full cover of Book 4, Mirror of Souls. Release date is August 9th!
Author's Note: Thank you, readers for the opportunity to write for an audience. I'm no Tolkien or Rowlings, but you've all been so very kind to make it clear that these books have an audience. God made my dream come true and gave me a mission, but I'd get nowhere fast without knights and swordmaidens like you. I'm forever grateful.




Saturday, May 29, 2021

Paying it Forward: Ads for Your Book in Mirror of Souls

 When my first book, The Door Within, was knee-deep in production prior to release, it came time to start promoting. Fortunately, my agent, then Gregg Wooding (Miss you, man!), had done some promotional work with Josh McDowell––the "More Than A Carpenter," Josh McDowell. Mr. McDowell was absolutely gracious and kind enough to write a promotional blurb for The Door Within. I also had wonderful endorsements from Donita K. Paul, Christopher Hopper, Bryan Davis, Booklist, School Library Journal, and several others. 



Please understand the kindness of these talented people. No one in the world knew me or my books from Adam. So for these already-busy folks to give me a little leg up in the early going of my writing career was absolutely path changing.

Since then, I've worked hard to try to return the favor, to pay it forward, so to speak for other authors. To continue in that way, I'm offering a full page ad for your book to be included in both digital ebook and paperback versions of Mirror of Souls, the fourth coming Myridian Constellation novel, due out in early July this summer. The cost is $25 for the full page ad. That will help me pay for the interior design for the book, as well as, contribute to the cover art and design. If you are interested in an ad, here's what I need from you:

• a roughly 6X9 ad for your book(s) that can work in color and grayscale B&W. Email the ad to: batguy21784 (at) yahoo (dot) com

•  $25 sent to us via PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle.

Paypal: mdbatfam@yahoo.com

Venmo: @mdbatfam

Zelle: 4102457998

• Ads and payment due by June 10th. 


Friday, February 26, 2021

Quiet Desperation...

 Poet, philosopher, naturalists, etc., Henry David Thoreau once wrote, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." I think his observation is both brilliant and woefully short-sighted. He might have an escape clause, if by "men" he meant the "mankind" all-of-humanity kind of men. I would argue we all live lives of quiet desperation. We can only deaden the ache so much, for no matter how much food, alcohol, and pleasurable company we may procure, the ache still remains.


CS Lewis calls it the "inconsolable longing" for something we've smelled, heard, tasted, or felt from an agonizing distance. We find some comfort in structure, in routine, in "what I ought to be doing," but we can't help but feel that, in the end, we know we're in "The Matrix." We know that something isn't right. We know that we're incomplete. We know that we're missing out...on something.

Most of us succumb to the idea that...if I could just get, become, achieve, or acquire "the next thing," then, all will be well. I think somewhere deep down, we all at least suspect that, even if we do get the greatest thing, find the most loving person, or reach the highest heights...we'll still be left with that nagging ache. Movie stars, rock stars, lottery winners, super bowl winning teams, and billionaires have shown us over the years that whatever earthly height we can imagine will never be quite high enough.

I'm an English and Reading teacher, but somehow, over the last several years, I've been teaching middle school students about careers. In that study, we take an in-depth look at careers over the years, how historical events, technology, and culture influence careers. Studying history can be very revealing. One of the aspects of history that I've noticed is this: as affluence and privilege increase, so does immorality. Don't get me wrong. I am not shaking a judgmental finger, as if I somehow know better than all of humanity. I'm likely just as immoral as any other person on the planet. Honestly, the older I get, the more I feel like we human beings really ought to be cutting each other a little bit more slack.

Honestly, beyond lives of quiet desperation, I'd argue that we're all just stubborn, needy, desperate souls throwing shit at the walls and hoping...praying that something sticks. Why are we pushing up against any and every cultural norm? Why are we searching for alternate identities? Why are we starting to try to identify as things we are not? Why are we aggrandizing sexuality to the point that it is all we identify with? I believe it's because we're all hoping beyond hope that we'll find "something to make sense of it all," whatever "it all" is.

It's at about this time that you expect me to start preaching, right? Batson is one of those born again Christian folk. Of course, he's going to say, turn to Jesus, right?

To be quite honest, Jesus is my ultimate conclusion, but I wouldn't dare to presume upon your lives. I will urge you, however, to be more purposeful searchers. This is no joke. Life, this day-after-day thing that adds up to a lifetime is the most vital thing we have. Invest it in the "finding out." I've done my homework. I've researched science. I've researched world religions. I've investigated claims. I explored my own psyche. In the end, I can't get past God. I can't fathom a world of ten trillion trillion intricacies...that didn't have a lucid cause. Of all the world religions, only one speaks of grace. Only one offers a Christ who would go through all the hell on earth that we're all going through and then cap it all by being tortured and murdered...for me. Only one rose from the dead. But...that's my conclusion. I've done my homework. I am satisfied.

And yet...the ache remains.

I once believed and, for a long, long time, stubbornly held on to the idea that once I became a Christian, my life would all come together. The ache would be so satiated by Jesus that I would never long for more. Here I tread dangerous ground because I'm sure there are many believers who would say unequivocally that Jesus fulfills their each and every need. With all due respect, I salute those contented beings and...I say, "well, that is not my experience." My experience is much more of what the bible describes. "In this world, you will have trouble." Yes, I have Jesus, but I'm living in decay. Yes, I have Jesus, but it still hurts when my children are sick. It still makes me weep when I watch the news. It still feels like everything has gone terribly, horribly wrong. I'm just being honest about my experience. Sue me.




Jesus once said to the woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." In my experience, the thirst comes back. Some might argue that I never really "drank the water that Jesus gives." Maybe I never really believed. Maybe I lost my salvation. Maybe...or maybe not. Maybe what is shortsighted is the popular understanding of the type of thirst Jesus was talking about here. There's physical thirst when our bodies actually need physical water or...we'll dehydrate and die. And then, there's felt thirst. We might not be on the verge of death, or even remotely close to dehydration, but we still want something to drink. In my experience, in whatever version of Christianity I've lived into, Jesus has satiated the physical-need thirst. I have an anchor in my soul that is steadfast, ironclad, trustworthy, and loving. But this isn't heaven. I still want things to drink.

And here, to me, is the difference that Jesus makes. I am hard-pressed, but not crushed; I am perplexed, but not in despair; I am persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed. My thirst has been quenched, but I am still thirsty. The wound that causes the ache has been ultimately healed, but like the phantom pain of an amputee, I still feel the ache. But, for the last time, these are my conclusions after almost 50 years of searching. I've done my homework. I am content to live with the ache.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Dr. King's "The Fierce Urgency of Now," Reflections.

 "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation."


Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.

One year later, to the day, Dr. King was shot and killed.

I've always been a "seize the day" kind of guy. Ask my students over the years, and they'll tell you that I preach to them, somewhat ad nauseum, that time is our most precious commodity. Dr. King's words declaring "the fierce urgency of now" resonates so deeply with me and in so many different ways that I don't know where to start. I do know, however, where I want to end.

Of all the myriad aspects of life for which God might judge us, I suspect that how we spent the time given us will be accounted quite heavily. Time is an unknown, finite quantity for each of us. Since we don't know how much time, we ought to recognize every minute as it approaches, as precious. The Lord has given each of us gifts, but gifts not to clutch, cover up, or spend on ourselves only. These are gifts to share. God gave me imagination, worlds to create, and hope to spread. As I look back over my life, I'm convicted that if I hadn't wasted so much time, I might have doubled the number of books I've written. But the past is not the way. (Thanks, Mando)

There is only now, only the way forward. What is your gift? Use it. Use it now. The "moving finger" continues to write. What do I want it to write? In the end, I hope it writes, "Well done, good and faithful servant."



Sunday, January 03, 2021

For the World-Weary and Heavily Burdened...

 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”


I don't know if there are any verses in scripture more comforting than these. And, at least for me personally, I'm not sure if there are any verses in scripture that I've ignored more than these. 

True Confession: I am a card-carrying, senior member of the Burden Builders Club, no affiliation with the BBC, makers of fine British entertainment. (Have you seen Sherlock? Holy cow!) But, I digress. 




These verses from Matthew 11 are in red as a reminder that JESUS SAID THIS. And yet, how many times have we said, "Nah, no thanks, Lord. I think these burdens look great on my shoulders. In fact, there are a few more heavy ones over there I'm going to go pick up."???

Part of my problem is that I'm a control freak. Yes, there's horrendous crap going on in my life, but if I've got hold of the steering wheel, I'm certain I can fix it. And part of that problem is a lack of faith. "Lord, I don't really believe you will fix this, so I guess I'll jump in." And part of THAT problem is me thinking I'm smarter than God. "Lord, there's this problem in life, and well, it's been going on for a while. I'm not sure why, but you don't seem inclined to fix it. Clearly, an error on your part. So, I guess I'll take up the slack and attempt to do what you ought to be doing."

Do you see the chain of errors there? Do you have any idea how HEAVY that chain is to bear? I can hear Jacob Marley screaming at me right now, 




Bearing the burdens in life that are beyond our control, beyond our ability to fix—or even change—is indeed a ponderous chain. Bearing these burdens makes us weary. It's exhausting. And...it's pointless. 

There's a reason the "Serenity Prayer" is so popular. 




When we hear the Serenity Prayer, we are suddenly confronted with our lunacy. How insane it is to allow ourselves to dwell upon, to mentally and emotionally toil over, things in life that we cannot change? Coronavirus, Racism, Corruption in Politics, Cultural Depravity, Getting Old, Changing the Behaviors of other people (Got you with that last one, didn't I? I am so guilty of that)...these burdens, and an infinitely long list of other concerns, are far bigger than us, far deeper than us, and far beyond our ability to change.

Please don't misunderstand me. We can wear our masks. We can each do our part to love others regardless of our differences. We can do our homework, vote faithfully and intelligently. We can support redeeming behaviors. We can take our vitamins and go to the gym. We most definitely can do our best to change the things we can change, but bearing the weight of any those things categorically is madness. 

Start at the micro level, the personal level. There's someone in your life, probably someone very dear to you. You can see that there's something very harmful in that person or in that person's life. What can you do? You can love, support, offer a good example, offer advice, etc. But you can NEVER take responsibility for someone else's change. There's the whole free will thing, remember? With parents this can be particularly burdensome. We raise our children the best we can, but ultimately, they are going to make their own decisions. As my good friend Christopher Hopper is fond of saying, "You are responsible TO your children, not FOR them." You do your best and then let go. {Cue Frozen song, preferably the heavy metal version.}

Here's a link: HEAVY METAL VERSION of "LET IT GO."

Intellectually, on some level, I think we all know this, but we don't want to acknowledge it. We are stubborn and foolish. And the result? We are so bone-weary it can be hard to get out of bed. 

Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."  

Here's where a lot of messages would end, saying, "Amen. May it ever be so."

[Side note: does it drive anyone else CRAZY when sermons, devotions, or even whole books spend 90% of the content harping on the problem, only to gloss over the solutions? We already know about the problem. We need some help here. Throw us a fricken' bone!] Rant over.

How? How do we release the burdens? How do we stop picking up new burdens? How do we stop exhausting ourselves with heavy weights we were: Never. Meant. To. Bear?

Fortunately, Jesus tells us how. He says, "Come to Me." Recognize that you are carrying stuff that you cannot possibly handle, and go to Jesus. That might mean go to Him in prayer. That might mean take a walk on the beach and go to Him. That might mean listen to music that takes you to Him. This might even mean, locking yourself in a (hopefully, sort of soundproof) room and screaming, "LORD, I can't take this anymore. You take this GIANT BALL OF CRAP off of my shoulders, please!"

Note that this is not a passive step. This is an imperative, active movement of our will and possibly physical action, as well. "Come to me." If you're carrying the weight of the world, go directly to Jesus, any way that you can. Maybe it sounds too easy, but be honest, how often in the midst of being burdened, do you actually, actively, and repeatedly, go to Jesus? And when you're with Jesus, how often do you actually cast off all that junk with the full recognition that you cannot possibly fix it yourself? Not just lip service either. There's a Polish proverb that I've come to love, and it surges to mind here: "Not my circus. Not my monkeys." 




The phrasing of this proverb makes me smile, but the truth within is a holy 2 X 4 that we need to get smacked with repeatedly. Say it with me, "Not my circus. Not my monkeys." We need to recognize that we've done what we CAN do, but the rest is in YOUR hands, Lord."

I'm not belittling physiological anxiety in the least. I understand that burden from personal experience. Some of us have predilections to anxiety and have compounded such physiological chemical problems by wearing a deep rut in our minds. The needle on our spinning record keeps finding that rut and falling into it. And we fret and we worry and we consume ourselves with the impossibility of the task without recognizing the impossibility of the task. We need to ask God to create a new rut. Better? Ask God to create a New Groove. The Lord's New Groove.

{I'm hearing Kronk saying, "Riiii-iiiight."}

That "new groove" is the second and third imperative in this pivotal scripture passage: "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me..." This is also part of the HOW. Many of us have been bearing burdens for so long that it has become a daily habit like putting on shoes, brushing teeth, or...breathing. We cannot just chuck our burdens on Jesus because our sinful flesh shoulders are burden magnets. No sooner will we dump "the future" on Jesus than "the past" will hop right onto our backs. We have to replace the burden with something else. Jesus's yoke.  




See that wooden harness-thingy in the drawing above? That's a yoke. Brannon Diebert of Christianity.com defines a yoke in this way: "Essentially, a yoke was a harness used by oxen and other animals to ease the work of hauling a load. It was also meant as a designation of servitude and carrying the burden of a task or mission." Jesus tells us to take His yoke upon us, and yes, IMHO, in the metaphor, we are the dumb steer who need...er, steering.

How do we take that yoke, His yoke, upon us? There are certain elements that are common to all of us: learn Jesus's way. Watch the Master work in scripture and in life. And submit. Part of giving up the burden is submission. We need to realize that God is the only one who has the power to change things that are impossible for us to change. Likewise, {and this stings a little} He is the only one smart enough to know how and when, or even if, something needs to be changed. Who among us have known the mind of the Lord that we should be His tutor? Ehrm...not me, but that hasn't kept me in my vanity from functionally presuming that role. 

Just as I wasn't there when God tossed all the stars into their places, I don't really know which evils of the world need changing or what my "perceived" solution would cause in the world. Why did God allow a certain tragedy to occur? That is way WAY above my pay grade. I don't want it to be. I want to point fingers. I want to blame God. But that is utter insanity. I am finite. He is not. I cannot see with an eternal perspective. He can. As Gandalf says, "Not even the very wise can see all ends," but God can. So we must submit to the Lord.

"Jesus, please let me wear Your yoke." Whatever that looks like, I want it. Similar to defining "coming to Him," I think that "wearing His yoke" can be a highly customizable act. What has God called you to do? Teach? Write? Cook? Plant? Paint? Code? Run? Build? The list is endless. Whatever you do, do unto the glory of the Lord. The thing is, you've got to own it. I am doing X for God's glory. Lord, please put Your yoke on my shoulders and steer me wherever you like. 

Jesus says His burden is light. His yoke is light. But isn't it an incredibly heavy burden to be God's ambassadors on Earth? Is it really? Think it through. Why is that such a burden? Could it be that we are (once again) weighing ourselves down with faulty expectations? Can a human being convert another human being? Are we responsible for generations believing in Jesus? No. No, we cannot and no, we are not. God saves. God recreates. God wields the power over life, death, time, salvation, and everything else! Imagine doing some gardening with a young child. You might give the little one a spade to dig a crude hole. Or maybe you sprinkle a few seeds in that tiny hand so that he can push them into the loose soil. As the adult in the scenario, you give the child what he/she can handle and you do the rest. Even more so is this true of God. He gives us all kinds of things to go out and do, but He doesn't expect us to do what only He can do. 

At this point, we may sheepishly look at our burdens and our foolishness and feel too ashamed to bring all this junk to Jesus, but He tells us He is gentle and humble in heart. He's not glowering at us scornfully as we carry our sacks of filth into His sterile throne room. He comes leaping from the throne to take hold of those sacks, to gently relieve us of the crushing weight they represent. Why should we ever doubt this? He's already humbled Himself by putting on human flesh and living in our conditions. He's already humbled Himself by taking on the most hideous, weighty burdens of all: our sin. He already carried all that evil junk off and buried it. How much more then would He now be willing to take on our worldly burdens? 

And what does Jesus offer in exchange for tons of exhausting, anxiety-producing crap? Rest. "Here, let Me take that for you. There, there, that's better now, isn't it? Of course, you're spent. Time for a nap. Rest." 



Monday, December 28, 2020

Logo Contest for The Myridian Constellation Series

Calling all clever and talented graphic artists!


Announcing the Myridian Constellation Logo Contest!

I’m looking for a seriously crafty artist to design a logo for my 7-book epic fantasy series called "The Myridian Constellation."

Here’s the concept: since stars and constellations figure prominently in the books, I’m looking for a full logo for book covers and merch. This logo would show a seven star constellation and the text “The Myridian Constellation” is some kind of epic fantasy composition. A small version of the logo would appear on the covers of each of the seven books.




Here’s the trick: the logo would need to be able to be subdivided on the spine so that each book gets its own numerical star. IE: the first book “Sword in the Stars” would have the beginning of the constellation with the first star alight with the number 1 imposed over the star.

Then, when all seven books are placed on the shelf next to each other and spine-out, the entire 7-star constellation will show across the spines.

All entries are due by January 31st, 2021 (is that enough time?) The prize for the winning entry? PRIZES (plural!)

1) All seven books of The Myridian Constellation, signed by the author

2) Direct promotion for your graphic arts services via a FULL PAGE AD in all 7 books

3) HTML ads for your work on all my websites

4) Frequent social media promotions, etc.

5) Fair payment (negotiable, but keep in mind that, I too, am a starving artist).

If you are interested in entering, please send submissions in jpg, png, or tiff format to me via the email below:
batguy21784 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

How's Your Christmas Spirit (or Spirits) Level?

One of the bright consequences of the pandemic has been the seemingly overwhelming amount of early Christmas decorating and Christmas spirit!



If you're looking for something to contribute to your Christmas spirit (or spirits), may I steer you toward "A Christian's Carol?" This is my modern retelling of Dickens' famous "A Christmas Carol." The audiobook narrator, Dave Cruse, absolutely crushed the reading.

Check out this free sample:

If you like it, pick up the audiobook on Amazon or Audible.com. This link will get you there:


PS: Please don't let the term "Christian" discourage you from giving this story a try. Like "A Christmas Carol," there are Christian themes, but also, I think, a more inclusive and circumspect view of Christians in terms of so many social issues that concern all people today.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Tough Love: When God Takes Out the Holy Chisel

My daughter Rachel Batson was telling me how tough her job is right now. Admittedly, her work is arduous, but I couldn't just placate. I had to tell her, "When I was your age {19}, at this time of the year, I was hand-weeding quarter-mile-long strawberry rows with the sun beating down upon my back."

We had a good laugh about it, but it got me thinking of how backbreaking that farm work really was. It wasn't just the weeding, but there was bailing straw, laying irrigation pipe, digging, pruning, etc. etc. Five years from my junior summer in high school to the fall of my junior year in college, I worked hard at the Darrow Berry Farm in Glen Dale, Maryland. 
 
 

Backbreaking work, but even if it were possible, I wouldn't go back and change a thing. If it hadn't been for that farm and that job, I might not have become a Christian as early in life. One early evening during Strawberry season, a friend who used to work with me at the farm came back to visit and pick some strawberries. Instead, he told me about Jesus.

If it hadn't been for that farm and that job, I wouldn't have met and married the love of my life Mary Lu Dovel Batson. If it hadn't been for that farm and that job, I wouldn't have made so many good life-long friends. I wouldn't have been in a heavy metal band. I wouldn't have led bible studies for 25+ years. The list goes on and on and on.

Please don't misunderstand, the work was HARD. It was relentless and hot, strenuous and mentally taxing. There were times out in the July heat, I thought I'd lose my mind. Once I almost started a fistfight with one of my best friends {I'm looking at you Warren Cramutola}. On the rare day off, I was in recovery. My neck hurt, my back ached, my knees were on fire, and I was sunburned to the point where, eventually, I'm sure I'll look more like a gator than a man.

In retrospect, however, I realize that it was hard work for a purpose. God had His fingerprints all over that time of my life and all over that arduous job. The experience reminds me of a couple of critically important Bible verses:

Romans 5:3-5
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

God used the lever of hard physical labor to cause me to persevere, to build character, and yes, over the years to give me hope beyond hope. God wasn't finished, either. He was just warming up the holy chisel. Through parenting, married life, career issues, sickness, death, loss, depression, and even the pandemic, God has shown me who He is and how good He is. He has continued and still continues to chisel away at me for His glory and my ultimate great benefit.

Trials, stress, hardship—none of that is foreign to the human experience. Some of you reading right now are going through the aching, searing, trial of your lives. It's hard. It hurts...bad. It feels like it will never end and that there's no way God could ever use it for ultimate good. He can, and He will. Persevere. Look for Jesus in the midst of the pain. Ask Him to hold you, teach you, uplift, and recreate you. He will. Hey, he plucked me out of a freaking strawberry field. He can pick you up too. 
 
PS: Fuzzy and Denise Kurtz, wherever you are, thank you so much for working my teenage butt off! I miss you. 


Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Free Epic Fantasy Goodness! This week only!

Through Friday of this week (June 8-12), all Myridian Constellation eBooks are FREE on Kindle! 1700 pages of Epic Fantasy goodness, free!

Sword in the Stars: https://amzn.to/37fglcp

Errant King: https://amzn.to/3h4A8jc

The Forsaken Continent: https://amzn.to/2AiQJPN
 
 
 

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Some Good News from ...Myriad!


Like my close friend {cough} John Krasinski always says, "It's time for some good news!" I am throwing a FREE Kindle Sale of Sword in the Stars, Errant King, and The Forsaken Continent from June 8th through 12th. You can get all three ebooks free from Amazon on those dates! Epic fantasy goodness coming your way! Never alone.

Monday, April 06, 2020

My Favorite "Author Thing"

My favorite thing to do as an author is read my books to people. I crank up the dramatic reading to 11 and absolutely LOVE seeing the expressions on listeners' faces. That's why, given our current stay-at-home crisis, I created a video reading of one of my favorite read-aloud passages: Falon's Stair from The Door Within. I hope you have as much fun watching as I had making this. And yes, I am a ham. US, Grade A Certified, Hillshire Honey-baked!







Thursday, March 26, 2020

More Contagious Than Covid-19

There's another sickness now spreading faster than Covid-19. Clinicians have tagged it NotMeSyn-20. It is an insidious illness that simultaneously attacks the brain and heart. In the brain, symptoms include: faulty reasoning, narcissism, rage, rationalizing, and discrimination. The sickness causes a hardening of different chambers in the heart, leading to callousness, judgment, numbness, and cold. Sociologists estimate that this illness, if unchecked, will add tens of thousands of deaths on top of what Covid-19 could already produce. 


Not Me Syndrome, as it has been dubbed, can strike individuals or large groups. How do you know if you have it? Check your thought processes. How carefully are you safeguarding yourself and your activities to avoid catching / spreading Covid-19? We're all social distancing, but if you aren't, why not? Are you thinking, "I'm young and strong. I can handle a virus." Or are you thinking, "I don't really need to take precautions because, odds are, I'm not a carrier?" If so, you are thinking small. You are thinking selfishly. And your thinking could get someone killed.

We are reading about this kind of viewpoint in headlines every day. We see it in the stores when all the meat or medicine or tp is gone. People thinking, "I've got to take care of #1 by hoarding." All that does is deprive the needy or less able among us, or at the very least, removes the possibility of equity. Thousands of Spring Breakers drunkenly proclaim: If I catch it, I catch it. No big deal. Subsequent articles report that many of these same young people are now positive for Covid-19. Who knows how many others are infected because of such callous behavior?

Selfishness has always been an insidious sickness. I know personally because I’ve been selfish in many ways throughout my life. It’s a struggle, especially with something so confusing and scary as this. I felt it when I went to the grocery store the other day. This particular grocery store didn’t have a hand sanitizer kiosk so you can clean your hands on the way in and on the way out. Once in the store, I kept my distance from people. I never picked up anything unless I was going to buy it. I didn’t touch my face—even though my blasted mustache chose that particular time to itch like crazy. But still, I kind of threw up my hands in surrender because I began to think: how can I possibly be safe enough? I mean, once I left the grocery store, I touched the steering wheel of the car. I turned on the running lights. I twisted the radio knob. I touched the door handle to my home…and then, I washed my hands again. It’s maddening, but I’m resolving not to rationalize. I’m going to take every possible precaution because it’s not just my life.

I don't know anyone with this view, but I've read that there are people out there who think that "old people" dying is an acceptable risk. I mean, "hey, they already had a full life, right?" Wrong. None of us gets to place an arbitrary value on human life. That is way above our pay grade. That is selfishness on a Hitler, survival of the fittest, scale.
 

Trump’s proposal to reopen the American economy by Easter is insane. We’re not even close to the apex of this virus. Spurring on thousands of potential carriers to get out and mingle for the sake of economic growth is reckless at best; diabolical at worst. Any national policy that values dollar health over human health is a sign of real sickness.

We cannot think, “Well if it’s not hurting me, then all is well.” Not Me Syndrome is deadly. It’s irrational. It’s selfish. Throughout human history, the worst human atrocities have been committed by those that dehumanize other people. Let us not, by taking chances, be guilty of such thinking now.

We all need to do a prayerful self check. We need to protect others, not just ourselves. Stay home. Wash hands. Shop wisely and take only what you need—not what you think you might need for the next three months! We are at a point where it’s not just a good thing for all of us to work together. We’ve got a pretty stark choice: work together so that we can save each other or go our separate ways to weep alone.