Archive for the ‘Band of Brothers’ Category

Antediluvian Steampunk

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, traditionally featuring steam-powered machinery–as in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen–but not always as in Back to the Future. The key element of Steampunk is anachronism.

Anachronism is an perceptional error in chronology, especially a misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other.

Still don’t get it?

That’s okay.

Not everyone of the 60 million watching understood Elvis when he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956.

Ed Sullivan said, “I can’t figure this darn thing out. He does this and everybody yells.”

Elvis didn’t invent Rock and Roll. As early as 1942, the term was used in Billboard magazine to describe Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s Rock Me recording. While some folks find that trivia interesting, you don’t have to know that to like Rock and Roll music.

Science fiction author, K.W. Jeter is credited with using “Steampunk” in the 1980s as a variant of cyberpunk (postmodern science fiction genre noted for its focus on high tech and low life). Since then, the Steampunk awareness folks have realized many classic anachronistic science fiction conveniently fit into this genre.

Like Rock and Roll, Steampunk is here to stay. You don’t have to like it, but pretending it doesn’t exist makes you look silly.

Classic Steampunk is set in the British Victorian era or the American “Wild West” with enhanced steam-power technologies seasoning the characters interaction within the plot. Examples include: Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Steampunk expanded beyond those classic works via speculative historical, fantasy and horror works.  Along with the explosion in literature, you see it in games, television and film.  Creative tribute is given to Jules Verne in Back to the Future Part III not only by the mention of the patriarch of Steampunk, but also by adapting the time-travel technology to a steam-powered train with protagonist Emmett Brown as the engineer.

With THE DRAGONEERS, yet another expansion of Steampunk’s web of influence arrived for interested readers.

No, we didn’t call it Steampunk at first. In all honesty, I was quite ignorant of the term. I’d merely written the story inside of me, and it just came out that way.

Before it was published, it placed well in a few contests under the misguided genre of “historical fiction” then “young adult fiction” then “Fantasy,” all of which didn’t properly describe the novel.

I should have figured it out when Publishers Weekly said, “This novel defies conventional classification…”

When it showed up for public consumption, THE DRAGONEERS was listed under Epic/Religious Fantasy at Amazon back in late November 2011. A fan of The Dragoneers Facebook page commented it was a new genre. While I was deep into writing the sequel, I let the idea percolate for a while. Looking at it now, I agree Antediluvian Steampunk fits better than anything else.

Antediluvian refers to the novel’s setting. THE DRAGONEERS opens eighty years prior to the flood described in the seventh chapter of Genesis. Just about everybody is familiar with the old story of Noah building the ark and the forty days of rain, but when we look in Genesis to get all the details, we’re left hanging, relying on our imagination, or that of the Church Lady, to fill in all the grey area between the black and white on the page.

Exactly what THE DRAGONEERS and THE LOST DRAGONEER go about doing–that is filling in the grey area. After you read these books, you might revisit some of those Sunday School lessons you’re familiar with and rethink them. For instance, why does the image of Noah seem to be one that would fit in with the New Testament times? Are we really supposed to believe God created a nearly-perfect race of humans but they couldn’t figure out anything new for the first several thousand years? And what’s with those pyramids? How did they built those things anyway? Then somehow–they forgot how to build them! What’s up with that?

The Chronicles of Susah series is fiction, but after you read it, you can’t help but wondering if some parts of it is more reasonable than the image painted on the nursery walls at your local church daycare.

Got you thinking yet?

Well, that’s what puts the “punk” in Steampunk. Stepping out of “acceptable” thought and looking at things with a different point of view.

Why should you have to accept somebody else’s interpretation of the way things were, especially when they don’t have any evidence to support it? Let them prove your interpretation wrong, if they can. No more free rides from folks who got it wrong.

Don’t worry, these novels don’t try to redefine God. God is real–we’re not disputing Him or His power at all. We’re not even disputing the smallest dot or tittle in the Bible.

But when it comes to Antediluvian Steampunk, the rest of it is up for grabs. We’ll proudly hide behind the “fiction” deflector-shield as we take you on an adventure of epic proportions in the antediluvian world. That world has forever been lost to us due to catastrophic events beyond our control.

After you’ve tasted THE DRAGONEERS and especially the sequel, THE LOST DRAGONEER (available on Kindle in time for a Christmas read), you’ll find yourself wondering if that amazing world where they had technologies as good as, or in some ways even better than ours, is really that far off the mark. Even if our version is wrong, there has to be more of the story.

It just makes sense.

Reading for Fun

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

“Do you do any recreational reading?” said I to two teenage girls, one the granddaughter of my step-brother and the other her close friend.  They both shook their heads, looking at me as if I had asked them if they like liver.
Since the advent of social media and texting, today’s teenagers read all the time.  Literacy is common place in 21st century America, but I wasn’t asking if they could read, I was asking if they read for entertainment.  The answer to that question was an unequivocal, “No.”

As an author, especially of a novel that comfortably fits into the Young Adult (YA) category, I feel something much like a cross between disappointment and guilt when I meet teenagers who don’t read for fun.  Disappointment because naturally I believe my literature would not only entertain them but would also teach them something about the world outside of the book’s cover, which would not only make them smarter but also happier as they grow into adults.  Guilt because of my selfish feelings of disappointment and also that I am one of the myriad authors who have failed to convince the upcoming generation about the joy of reading.

I looked at two copies of THE DRAGONEERS, which I held in my hands.  Just minutes prior, one of the girls’ grandmother had told me they didn’t have time to read as school kept them plenty busy.  They already had too much to read and they’d never be interested in reading for entertainment.  Those are cold, biting words, challenging words, to an author.

Since THE DRAGONEERS had passed the 10,000 copies sold mark, I’ve become comfortable calling myself an author.  Previously the novel had placed increasingly well three years in a row in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest.  Of course the book didn’t win, or it would have been published by Penguin, which was the grand prize.  Getting close in a writing contest is a two-edged sword, an ordeal which often come with a small whisper saying, “Nice try, your book is okay, but face it, you’re just not that good.”  Many a promising author allowed that devil’s breath to invade their muse, eat away at them, eventually to bury their hopes in a shallow grave of despair.  In order to resurrect themselves, authors need to edit that foul whisper, like so:  “Nice try, your book is okay, but face it, you’re just not that good yet

One word makes all the difference.

The author’s journey requires you to collect those critiques then educate yourself as required so you can filter them, and return to the page with elixir.  Out of the ashes of a nice try and an okay start, a great story can arise.  This is pretty much what happened with my debut novel, THE DRAGONEERS.

Published by Narrow Way Press in November 2011, it rapidly rose to the top of the charts with customer reviews.  Currently it is the #1 top-rated Epic Fantasy book and the #1 top-rated Religious Science Fiction book at Amazon.  The novel has a Facebook fan page with over 214 followers and almost 100 reviews at Amazon, the vast majority of them are the highest rating, giving it an over 4.8 out of 5 stars.  The few initial reviewers, as with most books, were from people who either knew the author, me, or knew someone who knew me, but after several weeks, more than a score of people I’d never heard of were also saying how much they enjoyed reading THE DRAGONEERS.  Eventually the book collected a few negative comments, which I understand now as the normal course of book reviews.  Search at Amazon for any book you believe to be a great book, even the best book ever, and you’re sure to find a small percentage of people who hated it.  That’s just the way it goes.

In the marketing of THE DRAGONEERS, four trailers were developed and posted on YouTube and on the Facebook Fan page.  Hundreds of people have viewed the trailers and many people have told me how much they enjoy them and the book.  I’m convinced THE DRAGONEERS is a good book, yet I know it’s not perfect.  If I were writing it today, I’d do somethings differently, as I’m continuing learning better ways to write–perfecting my craft.  I’m putting that knowledge to work in Book Two.  Anyone who enjoyed THE DRAGONEERS, Book One of the Chronicles of Susah, is going to be very pleased with Book Two.

But my challenge was to interest two young girls in Book One.

I said, “I’ll like you to help me with an experiment, then I’ll leave you alone.”  They nodded in agreement, anything to get rid of the old guy talking about reading for fun.

“Please read the first sentence of this book.  When you get to the end of the first sentence you can stop.”  I handed the open book to them and they huddled around it.  Their eyes fell to the page and they read.

Pain, gnawing emptiness, hunger so loud it dominated all thoughts, not mine—even though I could feel it—it came from them.

They whispered something to each other and I took the book back.

“What do you think?”

One of them said, “Well, we’d kinda like to know what happens next.”  The other sheepishly nodded in tacit agreement.

“Well, if you want to–if you’d like to read it–I’ll give you each a copy.  I’m not forcing this on you, but it you want it, you can have it.”

They both smiled and eagerly nodded their heads.  I left them each with their own copy of THE DRAGONEERS and returned to the adult filled room next door.

While we adults talked politics, finance, guns, and religion in the dining room, I kept wondering if the teenagers had just patronized me, you know, took the books to get rid of me.  It’s not a crime.  Had they argued with me, I would have been able to counter and parry, but with passive acceptance, there was nothing left for me to do. Wondering if they laughed at my sincerity after I’d left them, I hoped they would someday read the story.  After all, I was certain they could find something in there to relate to, something they would like.

While the title sounds like just another dragon-book, it is really a coming of age story about Susah, a talented young woman, who refuses to join her three brothers in helping her father advance the family business. She wants to do something exciting with her life. While this story could have been set in any time, the fantastical world she lives in amplifies each step nearly beyond the bounds of imagination.

Against her parents’ wishes, Susah leaves home on a quest to become one of the dragoneers—an elite fraternity of warriors sworn to defend the ancient garden of Eden against all trespassers.

Meanwhile, deep in a lair inside of Sethopolis’ roughest neighborhood, an evil giantess dreams of seizing the secrets of immortality and other powers, which she believes are hidden within the walls of the forbidden garden. Realizing she can’t achieve her dream with just her own resources, she joins forces with a fallen angel, nearly as old as time itself.

Seemingly unaware of the dangers awaiting her, Susah faces the greatest of all challenges. With the fate of the human race depending on their performance, will the dragoneers succeed in defending the garden of Eden against the forces of evil? And even if they succeed, will Susah survive the pivotal battle of good verses evil?

The adventure builds on the little we know about the antediluvian world and overlays it with a blend of technology, supernatural powers, fire-and-ice-breathing, flying dragons, giants, and martial arts to begin Susah’s adventure to discover herself.

THE DRAGONEERS is advertised as a 100,000 word, Genesis-based epic fantasy, which will attract those interested in speculative fiction, especially about the antediluvian world, and will also appeal to readers of contemporary fantasy as well as military fiction.

But what about young people who haven’t developed a love for reading?  Even the terms “speculative fiction” and “antediluvian” may be foreign to them.  Accustomed to reading only school-assigned books, often followed by a test and a grade, which could easily be interpreted as work or even punishment–how do they even know what they’ll like?

I tried to introduce them to the wonderful world of fiction by convincing them to read the first sentence, but would that be enough?  Time would tell.

As the social event came to a close, and it was time to rally young and old alike from throughout the house, I stood against a wall near the kitchen watching as the two young girls filed out of the living room, headed to the car.  As they walked, their eyes scanned slightly left to right and their noses were buried into roughly the first quarter of THE DRAGONEERS.  I smiled.

That was a good day.

Reading can be fun, but you have to try it before you realize it.

It just makes sense.

Where There is No Vision, the People Perish

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Five days after U.S. forces hastily withdrew from Iraq, fourteen bomb blasts in Baghdad killed 63 people and injured 185 others.  Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attack as “cowardly” but what did we really expect to happen?

When the U.S. forces left Germany shortly after WWII ended nothing of the sort happened.  Exactly, nothing of the sort happened because the forces did not leave.  In 2011, Germany is a stellar member of the peaceful, productive nations of this planet.  While that is mostly due to the Germans, as they are as civilized as any people on Earth, had the conquerors of 1945 followed the model set by the U.S. in Iraqi, I venture to speculate they would not be the same today.  It takes organization, determination, and time to convert a totalitarian-warlike nation into a free and contributing nation.  Maybe it wouldn’t have taken 70 years, but it needed more than seven.

During the force-fed rehabilitation of Germany, the U.S. forces kept the Soviet antagonists at bay with a constant threat of war.  That threat of war included not just armed soldiers at checkpoints but also the promised use of annihilating-force against any large muscle movements by the Soviets.  We called that the “Cold War” back then.

With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organizations, the EC, which became the EU, and NATO, while the Communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring Eastern productivity and wages up to Western standards. In January 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries introduced a common European exchange currency, the euro. In January 2011, Germany assumed a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term–that’s a success story.

The Soviets couldn’t logically risk their total destruction so they postured campaigns all around the world hoping to exhaust the U.S. and then they could have their way with Germany and the rest of the world.  But that didn’t happen, the Soviets were exhausted by the American double-blessings of leading-edge technological developments and the greatest economy in history of mankind, which enabled the U.S. forces to be unbeatable.

This “War in Iraq” mess went differently.  The rehabilitation program was mostly designed by the patient, while the U.S. forces allowed Iranian antagonists to leak into the county to lead the locals bandits in organized violent actions.  The U.S. political machine went out of its way to soften any demands or threats against Iran, which appeared to encourage their schemes.  Today the American technological programs have mostly been hacked into by the Chinese and others, which have mostly encouraged opposition to the U.S. and the American economy has been disassembled by a legislative branch which hasn’t produced a budget for over 1000 days, while the Democrat Party leaders have plunged the national debt to a greater level than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first time since the American Revolution.  For political reasons, which escape strategic reasoning, the U.S. has abandoned maybe the last opportunity to establish and maintain a civilized stronghold in a totalitarian-aggressive region without having to resort to annihilating-force.

Ironically, many are blaming U.S. intervention in Iraq as the reason for the current situation.  As a reminder, in August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait’s liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the Saddam Hussein regime.

The invasion of Iraq was the result of Saddam Hussein’s failure to comply with U.N. sanctions, which was magnified through the prism of 9-11 and the resultant Global War on Terrorism.  Today’s revisionists are quick to say, “Saddam Hussein did not bomb the World Trade Center on 9-11,” which is just as true as the equally interesting but not compelling declaration, “Adolf Hitler did not bomb Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941.”

To do great things, even great nations need great leadership.  Great leadership at the national level is usually manifest in the leaders ability to communicate his vision to the people.  “Hope and change” was a bumper sticker which appears to have been used as a blindfold on the American people.

The 44th U.S. President outlawed the use of the previous administration’s somewhat nebulous term “Global War on Terrorism” opting instead for the completely ambiguous term  “Overseas Contingency Operations.”  The resultant failure of national leadership to educate the American people as to why we were at war since 9-11 has all but squandered the investment of lives and treasure, which should have been used as a lever to move world opinion and policy against aggression and to deter what may prove to be the most destructive war ever.

It just makes sense.

FREE – – – The Dragoneers – – – FREE

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

But only for one day.

The kindle version of The Dragoneers–the new 5-star novel at Amazon.com can be obtained for free on 21 December.

If you go there before or after that … it won’t be free.

Additionally, free Kindle software is available for just about every platform–Mac, PC, iPad, and just about all smartphones. With it you can read all kindle books. There’s even a Kindle cloud version for reading the books. I say again, “The Dragoneers is available for free (a bargain even at twice that price) TOMORROW, 21 Dec.”

Just a click and it’s yours.

The Dragoneers now available in print.

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

The printed version of The Dragoneers is now available on line here.

You can find a limited time discount code on the books facebook page here.

B-52 veterans will find some of the novel … familiar, so to speak.

The Dragoneers is available in kindle for 99 cents

Monday, December 19th, 2011

This 5-star novel is now priced less than a buck for the Amazon Kindle version.Publishers Weekly:

“This novel defies conventional classification: is it science fiction? biblical fiction? thriller? The story describes a world where flying two-headed dragons and ogres exist, characters with telepathic gifts communicate with both animals and people, a man named Noah builds an Ark in his backyard, and a six-fingered giant named Lilith wants to take over the world. While this collage may have been implausible in lesser hands, the author makes it work, artfully drawing readers into Sethopolis (the “center of the last human-dominated nation on Earth”) and constructing an adventure with attention-grabbing plot twists.

At the center of it all is 18-year old Susah, a feisty heroine with the ability to communicate telepathically. Sheltered by her father, Noah, from the evils of the world, Susah’s life takes an unexpected turn when her aunt and uncle are killed by a violent street gang. Mesmerized by the soldier who rescues her and the flying dragon under his control, she decides to join the Dragon Corps, defenders of the Eden zone, and become a dragoneer. Lilith, aware of Susah’s gifts, wants to have her killed. As Susah trains to become a skilled dragoneer, she embarks on a collision course with Lilith’s army of giants and ogres as they march toward the Eden zone for the ultimate battle between good and evil.

The author has crafted a compelling story…”

Get it now for 99 cents at Amazon Kindle

Would you believe a 15 second trailer? The Dragoneers Book One of The Chronicles of Susah

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

A 19 Second, second trailer, for the novel.

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

The Dragoneers: Book One of the Chronciles of Susah

Monday, December 5th, 2011

The Dragoneers

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

My first novel is finally published in Kindle. To avoid confusion, I adopted the pen name, C. D. Sutherland, which is just another way of saying me. 

 

Let me tell you a little about this first novel.

 

The Dragoneers is a coming of age story, a bildungsroman some literary critiques might say, about Susah, a talented young woman, who refuses to join her three brothers in helping her father advance the family business. She wants to do something exciting with her life. While this story could have been set in any time, the fantastical world she lives in amplifies each step nearly beyond the bounds of imagination.

 

Against her parents’ wishes, Susah leaves home on a quest to become one of the dragoneers—an elite fraternity of warriors sworn to defend the ancient garden of Eden against all trespassers. 

Meanwhile, deep in a lair inside of Sethopolis’ roughest neighborhood, an evil giantess dreams of seizing the secrets of immortality and other powers, which she believes are hidden within the walls of the forbidden garden. Realizing she can’t achieve her dream with her own resources, she joins forces with a fallen angel, nearly as old as time itself.  

 

Seemingly unaware of the dangers awaiting her, Susah faces the greatest of all challenges. With the fate of the human race depending on their performance, will the dragoneers succeed in defending the garden of Eden against the forces of evil? And even if they succeed, will Susah survive the pivotal battle of good verses evil? 

 

This adventure builds on the little we know about the antediluvian world and overlays it with a blend of technology, supernatural powers, fire-and-ice-breathing, flying dragons, giants, and martial arts to begin Susah’s adventure to discover herself. Climb aboard and hang on for the ride of your life. 

 

This 100,000 word, Genesis-based fantasy will attract those interested in speculative fiction about the antediluvian world and will  also appeal to readers of general fantasy as well as military fiction. 

 

Those folks who’ve flown the B-52 might see some things that feel familiar, just saying. Some body once told me, “write what you know.”

We don’t post here much lately, but I pray this day finds all of the Band of Brothers in good health and enjoying life.

The Chuck

11 – 11 – 11: Veterans Day 2011. Thank you for your service.

Friday, November 11th, 2011

We sleep safely in our beds because rough men and women stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

IN HONORING OF THOSE WHO LEFT

Friday, September 30th, 2011


September 30, 2011

Good news and bad news.


First of all–the good news.  I’m back.  After 19 months of a rewarding job with a very busy tempo–I should be able to share with you a few thoughts on a more regular basis.  There’s more I’ll talk about later but for now, I’ll try to keep it light and Easy.


Driven by recent federal spending cuts for the Department of Defense–in particular the Air Force–a myriad contractors were laid-off from their positions at Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC).  Which is also the bad news.


In the shadow of unprecedented federal spending, defense spending is being cut while a global war, albeit one renamed “Overseas Contingency Operations,” also known as OCO (pronouced Oh Ko) continues to rage.  At the same time, our enemies are mustering capabilities against us, in part fueled by our national spending.


What was light about that?


How about, “due to the gutting of the MAJCOM and the dismissal of the proprietors of corporate knowledge and expertise, we have invented a new way of honoring those who are no longer with us:

 

Flying the Flag at one-third staff .”


There’s an Easy solution to this protocol Challenger–just get it right next time.


It just makes sense.