Saturday, September 3, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter 7 - Illyricum

Mac Creiche was still convinced that the albino goose was leading him to Jerusalem, and as such, wandered away from the monastery without a body of followers, despite Brandan's adamant advice against it.

Even after many days the bird never left his sight, nor veered off course.  Jerusalem, it is! he declared happily to himself. 

His elation was taken down a notch when a new obstacle appeared on the horizon.  He would have to pass directly through Illyrian territory to get there. 

Though Illyricum lie within the bounds of the Roman empire, the Empire was in a shambles.  Back in the days of the great Caesars, any and all threats were swiftly and severely crushed, but that Empire had grown fat, corrupt, and tolerant of all forms of evil.  Ultimately they could no longer defend themselves against the barbarian rabble clawing at the gates and melted away into chaos. 

Rome died because she lost the will to live.

Now pandemonium reigned everywhere as heathen warlords separated one-another's head from body for various crowns and treasures.  From grand palaces to country villages, it was might-makes-right and every man for himself.

Illyricum ahead was now claimed by both an Ostrogoth Emperor and the Byzantine Empire, yet neither would spare the resources to police or defend it.  The place was one perpetual Los Angeles riot from end to end.

Mac Creiche was now seriously regretting his decision not to bring a team along.

On the other hand, the trouble with that plan was they'd have probably have wanted to stop and bring order and righteousness to the heathen.  Mac Creiche only hoped to slip past them unnoticed.

Fie!  I shall fare just fine!  He waved the doubts away, also reminding himself that these were the same people that the Apostle Paul spoke of in Romans 15:19.  Any people who had witnessed the miracles of the great Apostle couldn't be all bad.  Could they?

Not only that, this was also his first experience visiting one of the places he'd read about in the Bible.  Mac Creiche's spontaneous pilgrimage was starting to feel excitingly real to him, and he couldn't let a bunch of riffraff turn him away now.




Mac Creiche jabbed at the remains of the campfire with a stick.  The charred log was dark as the surrounding night, with only the dull glow of embers remaining to show its shape.

As quickly as the bright flames faded, so the stars shone brilliantly across the expanse of the sky.

He drew his cloak tight around himself and squirmed in as close to the coals as he dared.

Looking at the impossibly bright stars, he felt so small in the cosmic scheme of things.  And yet, somehow, the immensity of creation only served to magnify the size of its Creator.  Though huge and frightening, his God was greater still, which gave him comfort, rather than fear. 

In that loving embrace, he drifted slowly off to sleep.



Mac Creiche found himself following the goose as it waddled down the old Roman Road just as he expected the journey to be.

Soon, the road veered to the southeast to keep to the coast, but the bird continued on his original easterly course, not knowing, or caring that he was straying from the path.   Before long, he was in the weeds by the side of the road and continuing to drift away.

The monk stood at the roadside and called after him, but the goose plodded on.

"What should I do?" he asked, "To follow the path or the guide?"

He waited a long time, unable to decide, and therefore, doing neither.

In the end, he stepped away from the comfortable, known path and followed the wild goose.

It was a difficult track the animal led him on.  Through thorns, crossing streams, over boulders, even crossing the Black Mountains themselves.  Onward he plodded through the lands of the Slavs.

Into one of their villages it wandered.  Following the monk and his animal guide was a wave of curious villagers.

In the midst of the town lie their pagan altar to the god En.  Here, the goose stopped, and so did all others looking on -- for the animal at once transformed into a radiant white angel!  All those around (including the monk) fell to their knees before the blinding glory!

"Rise up, man of God,"  commanded the being,  "and tell me what you see."

With no small amount of trembling, Mac Creiche stood and looked.

"I-I see a pagan idol." he stammered.

"You know what you must do."

Mac Creiche walked toward the heathen thing to get a better look.  En looked back, fierce and alive, with eyes ablaze with hellfire.  A chill ran up his spine.

He looked to the angel beside him, who only nodded.

Mac Creiche took heart.  He bent over, picked up a stone and hurled it with all his might.  Or, at least, he would have.  But he hesitated.

The angel looked at him questioningly.  "If you throw that stone, the idol shall crumble.  But if you do not..." he waved his hand and a new vision swirled into place.

A giant iron bull appeared silhouetted black as pitch in the flames of the burning village.  People fled in terror.

The bull snorted smoke and stormed across the land.  Its hooves snapped and uprooted entire trees with every step.

Mac Creiche wept for the trouble his hesitation had caused.  "My lord, is there no hope?"

"Though trouble be easily slain when small, it becomes a monster when fully grown."

"Is there no hope!??", the monk wailed. 

"Listen to my words, for I was also he who led Elijah up to Mount Horeb, and just as the Lord rose up another to take his place, so He will rise up a slayer to take yours!  Behold!"

Mac Creiche turned and there was a strange new warrior - a woman!  Her long coat snapped in fiery flames.  The flame, too, sparkled in her eyes -- eyes very much like his own, he was ashamed to admit.  She bore in her hand a bow without string, and three, yea three, companions at her side.

She fired the bow, once, and the mighty beast reared back in pain.

It turned on her, huge mouth agape and ready to swallow her up, but again she fired, causing its head to fall.

Then, a third was loosed, causing the terror to fall to the ground and rise no more.



The crack in the dream was accompanied with a searing pain that hurled him from sleep.

He convulsed in pain, trying to make sense of the pair of leather-wrapped feet that stood before him on the rocky ground.

Another crack and another streak of pain seared across his back.  A whip, no doubt.

A command was barked in some language foreign to him, and a number of calloused hands hoisted him to his feet.

The monk was met with the snarling and scarred face of a barbarian military leader.  A face like that couldn't be anything but.

The man spoke to the monk in the same tongue as before, but the latter had no comprehension of it.  His assailant didn't seem deterred.  Rather, he motioned to a body of bedraggled slaves, resting by pile of gear.  He jabbed the monk in the chest with a finger and then made the motion for lifting something.  As if it still wasn't clear, he pointed again and shoved him in the direction of the slaves.

An aide tugged at the sleeve of the officer's costume.  He gave low a whisper in the man's ear.

The commander nodded and turned back to Mac Creiche.  Now in stumbling, but passable Latin, he asked, "You... priest?"

"Yes."  (Now was not the time to quibble about titles.)

"You... strong?"

He hesitated.  He didn't know whether the barbarian was wanting to know if he would make a good slave, or that his magic was strong and he shouldn't be trifled with.

He decided for a reply like David or Daniel would have given.  "I am weak, but God is strong!"

The man snorted but said no more.  At least not in any language Mac Creiche could understand.  He walked away, pointing and giving orders.

Though he was not put in with the slaves to act as a human pack animal, the monk was herded along at sword point, and his captors were none too gentle whenever he fell behind.

It occurred to him that he was being taken along as some kind of fetish, or good luck charm.  But why?  Where are they going?

The answer fell into place.  The Illyrians were marching to war!

NEXT CHAPTER... COMING SOON!


The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dem Duke Boys / God is GOOD

Just a quick update.
God is good. (In case you didn't already know that.)

You might surmise that there's a story behind me saying that.  If so, you surmised well.  Good job.

I recently had quite a scare as my writing laptop was inadvertently drenched in water!  I walked into the room, picked it up, and it was literally in a puddle!

Of course my mind starts racing... what did I have and what didn't I have backed up...?
(Some things.  Not enough for comfort, though.)

So, while I was busy having a nervous meltdown, DW went around to the kids to see what happened.  After much police-style interrogation, it turns out one of the younger ones thought life would be much cooler if we all came in and out of the house through the windows like the Dukes of Hazzard.

(Funny, I don't even remember ever letting them watch that show.)

So, yes, after many prayers of healing for electronics I disassembled everything and blew it out as best I could with compressed air.  Let it dry for a week and...

IT WORKED!!!

Did I happen to mention... God is GOOD!

So yeah, I've been back in to the blog.  Just uploaded a new book review, for The Occupied.  Very intense (though probably not as tense as having a year's worth of writing floating in a puddle).

The latest chapter of Juggernaught should be up tomorrow or the next day as well.  It's a very cool one, so definitely check that out.


Live Your Adventure,
-E.L. Fletcher


P.S.  God is GOOD!!!!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book Review: The Occupied

The Occupied
Available: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Tyndale House
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1135-8

Official Book Description:

As a youth, Trevor Black unleashed spiritual forces he couldn’t comprehend. Years later, Trevor is a high-flying criminal defense lawyer in New York City, with a six-figure Aston Martin and a trophy wife. But in an extraordinary turn of events, he receives a burdensome gift: the ability to perceive the invisible. And the dark forces he now sees are all gunning for him.

When one of Trevor’s hometown friends is murdered, the MO is eerily similar to a shocking trail of murders that have already crossed the lawyer’s path. So Trevor must return home to find the killer. . . and face not only his own personal demons, but supernatural ones as well.

Review:

I like a good suspense story, so I was excited to read this book.
It also presents a bit of a problem to review as I don't want to give away too many clues.  In other words, please forgive me for being a little on the vague side.  It's for good reason.

The prologue starts out in the middle of the story to give us some mystery and a teaser of what's to come.  Our protagonist is no longer a lawyer, but a disbard man who sees "monsters" everywhere!

Surprisingly, the next several chapters overcorrect the timeline in the opposite direction, dealing with him 25 years earlier as a youth.  His life back then is filled with death, deamons, spiritual encounters, teen sex, and pretty much "the desires of the flesh" type stuff.

At long last, about halfway through the book we finally get to "now".  The first stuff was a little bit tedious, but here it begins to get good.  (Basically, don't expect to put the book down from here on out!)

Here we see Trevor do what he is best at -- being a criminal defense attorney.  I felt like I was right there with him every step of the way from here on out.

I love how this story is written from Trevor's point of view.  You feel like you are with him every step of the way as the story unfolds.

The author's law background really shows, what with vivid descriptions of judges and jails, etc.  You get the impression he knows what it is like, and he is taking you along into that world.

I loved the suspense and the exceptional mystery woven throughout with so many double meanings and red herrings, that you don't know who the real bad guys are until it all comes together in the end.

Cautions:

This is a crime fiction story, so if you are looking for a sqeaky-clean Christian book, this ain't it!  On top of the teen sex, slash, demonic stuff mentioned earlier, there is also violence and drug abuse.
Probably not suitable for teens.

The good news is that there is a definite separation of light and dark with good and evil choices that have to be made, so all that darkness makes a valid Christian point.

Conclusion:

If you love suspense and mystery and do not mind reading about the darker side of the world, this is a great story!  I, for one, can't wait to read more about Trevor Black and what trouble he finds himself in next!

Author's Promo:

(This is pretty good.  You probably ought to watch it.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Journal Update: Lots going on

Hi everybody!

Just thought I'd check in and do a brief journal update.  So what's going on around the Fletcher farm?
Lot of stuff really.  Been working hard all summer on the house to get things ready for baby. 

The workshop looks like a hurricane hit, but I've got both rooms 90% finished and I just need that track-and-field burst of speed to make it across the finish line.

Unfortunately, the opposite happened.  I got heat exhaustion last Thurs/Fri and I'm still suffering the after-effects of that.  I'm trying to get a lot done in the cool of the morning, because once it reaches a certain temperature, my body crashes like a dollar store hard drive!

As far as the blog goes, the next book review will be on a Frank Peretti-esque supernatural thriller.  We'll see if that's any good.

Concerning the Juggernaught storyline (which I really hope you guys are enjoying) I accidentally missed an installment in there somehow.  Sorry about that, but there is a pretty good stretch of chapters ready to go.

Unfortunately for me, this also means not much left until section 2 hits, which is proving a difficult one to write.  There are a lot of moving parts and things get pretty intense.  I want to make absolutely sure how I treat content like that.

As far as the first print book, I've gotten some great feedback on the three finalists for cover designs.  (Thanks to everybody who participated in that!!!)

Some publishing blogs I've read have said "You don't want to do that!  Not before the election!".  I don't know.  What do you think? 
Will a book release get lost in the noise of the political hullabaloo?
Or is that an apples/oranges thing?

I'm also hoping to get in some guest blogging and other publicity up and rolling on that.  We'll see.

Lots of irons in the fire.


Live YOUR adventure!
  - E.L. Fletcher

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter 6 - New Recruits

Out of the many prospective candidates, the Bible Study finally narrowed it down to a short list of those able and willing to join their group.  Though names were still coming in, there was significant enough interest to justify getting started.  Michael began separating the new recruits into two teams. 

Together these would become one other's greatest allies and fiercest rivals.  Throughout their training they would spar against eachother in combat and wage intellectual warfare with eachother over grades.  As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another! 

It may not be the most creative naming system, but the teams were always called, "Team Alpha" and "Team Beta".  The implied precedence only heightened their natural rivalry.

The first recruit of Team Alpha was Wendell St Frank, a kid that Michael'd had some dealing with in the past.  No, that probably doesn't go far enough.  The boy was like Michael Moast's own shadow and practically begged to be let into the group.

To all appearances, the kid looked like he was of Japanese descent, but his exceptional height seemed to indicate other genes at work.  This was impossible to confirm or deny, however, since he was also an orphan.

It was through volunteer work with these orphans that Michael had first met the lad.  From the first moment Wendell began looking up to teenage Michael Moast and over time developed into his virtual side-kick.  When Wendell was a teen himself, he stood beside his mentor as ring-bearer at his wedding.

Through many years of association, he gradually learned the secret dealings of the Bible Study and now that there was a vacancy, he desperately wanted in.  All the wild horses in Wyoming couldn't have kept him away.

At the same time Wendell was recruited for Team Alpha, a boy named Kurt was assigned as the first member of Team Beta.  He scored top marks on all the tests, even to the point that Dr Puttery suspected him of cheating. 

More and more stringent precautions were taken against this.  Soon, all of the latest equipment was put to work and he was forced to take all tests in a brilliantly-lit white room, on a clear plastic desk, and with surveillance cameras watching him from three separate angles.

Dr Puttery was livid when he still didn't miss a single question, demanding even more safeguards.  Instead of granting this request, Michael Moast called an end to the game. "If the kid's that good, then he's exactly what we need."  Michael declared.

Over the next few months, others of equally varied skill-sets joined both teams.  The trouble was, Team Beta collected its members rapidly, where Alpha had a very high drop-out rate.  Wendell was still the only member.  The situation got especially dire when the lack of recruits even began delaying the start of training.

That October, however, all of Michael's searching finally paid off. 

They first came across the daring and handsome Jack Savage.  He was the son of an associate of Ms McCready.  Though the old woman held a carefully guarded past in the secret ops, she would allow that, "He's the spittin' image o' his father -- in more ways than one."

Though he didn't have any frame of reference for what she was saying, Michael decoded it to mean, "He's got what it takes."  (And that was a high compliment from her!)

Once they brought him in, Jack Savage did not disappoint.  An adventurer from a family of adventurers, he was strong and tough as the leather jacket he always wore.

Later the same month the team was introduced Misty Carlisle.

She came as more of a shock to them.  While Jack was pretty conspicuous with his wind-blown sandy hair and leather flight jacket, Misty seemed more like the last person they would ever consider.

She was very small and petite, almost a dwarf by some accounts, but some of the evidence from her past gave weight to her small frame.

Her first high school in North Carolina seemed like a pretty average place.  That is, until the Principal and key players from among his staff were found gift-wrapped on the front steps of FBI headquarters and wailing to be let in.  The officers didn't take long to discover that they were using the school basement as the central distribution hub for all illegal narcotics in the Southern United States.

Due to an anonymous tip, the reporters made it to the school before the police.  Even the most sensationalistic couldn't use the footage they got.  The school hallways were littered with bodies.

Misty Carlisle silently left town that night.

The following school year her name sprang up in a prestigious all-girls prep school in Roseville, Virginia.  She disappeared again her last semester, when the school burned to the ground and came under investigation for having connections with certain ancient secret societies.

The allegations soon evaporated, and young Miss Carlisle denied any involvement in the incident.

As to the drug cartel, she only smiled and shrugged. 
"Accidents happen." was all Michael could get out of her. 

Needless to say, that was exactly the kind of person he was looking for.

Her admittance exam was set up in wing of the mansion that housed a simulated dark alley.   Wooden bad guys that were designed pop out of the shadows and blast an unwary combatant with paintball guns.  To add another layer of threat, other Bible Study members and recruits were lurking in the arena as well.

Misty incapacitated all of the targets, broke two, and accidentally fractured Wendell's arm in the process.  Even though Michael's stealth allowed him to "beat her", she claimed, (and rightly so), that the paintball mark on his back probably would have killed him in real combat.

Unknown to them at the time, Misty had gotten involved in Karate as a preteen as a form of exercise.  Since then she had taken it to the extreme and now held a black belt or equivalent in nine different martial arts.

Three members was enough to constitute a team, and at once the new generation began training together.  Where many other highschool students get release-time to take on apprenticeships or take trade school classes, these ones spent their alternative education on analyzing foreign affairs, training with the latest combat technology, learning enemy evasion and tracking...

Some kids were learning plumbing repair while others were learning how to safely ditch a Chinook helicopter in the rolling ocean while under enemy fire.

Some people might call this "strange" or even "wrong", but these were the kids that the system had already rejected.  You could call them the misfits, but is there truly anything wrong when a person simply doesn't fit into the norm?  Or is there a special place for the square pegs in a world of round holes?

If truth be told, perhaps the Bible Study aspect of the organization might be less of a false-front and more of a ministry than they thought.



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Review: Courageous (Valiant Hearts #3)

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/courageous/354260

Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764213144
MSRP: $13.99

Jacket Summary:

Will They Trust God's Call Even When It Leads to the Most Unexpected Places?
Inspired by the vision of the young Lady Sapphira, Rosalind of Ipsworth joins a group of men, women, and children as a defender of the cross, seeking to free captives from prisons near Tripoli. She'll gladly give herself to the cause, as she's haunted by a tragic mistake and feels she no longer deserves such joys as marriage and family might bring.

Sir Randel Penigree was reared to serve in the church but has always dreamt of protecting the innocent as a Templar knight. Joining a crusade to escape humiliation at home, he finds himself drawn to Rosalind as they partner to train and protect a group of adolescents. When faced with political intrigue and an unknown enemy bent on their destruction, they are forced to reconsider their priorities and the very nature of the God they serve.

Review:

I must confess I have not read the other two books in this series.  This is the first time I met the character Roslind and her feudal mistress Lady Gwendolyn, but the story stands on its own quite well.

Courageous is a Christian tale set in the times of the Crusades, not long after the the Childrens' Crusade, or, about 1219 AD.

The history of the Crusades was new to me.  Dina did some great research on the area, the people, and the customs of the period.  There is also quite a lot of information on the Muslims, which are given a fair and reasonable portrayal.

The characters are very well-developed, as is the realism around them.  This includes how some historical figures like Brother Francis give the story an almost real-life feeling.

As far as the storyline, this book is a pretty typical romance novel.  If you are familiar with pattern of the Regency Romance novels, then the ending is already obvious by about chapter 4.

In spite of the genre-related predictability, there are a few attempts at confusing the reader to make the inevitable ending of the story more surprising when it happens.


WARNINGS:  

1) Abortion is talked about and in this story.  Not glorified in any way, just described in vivid detail how it felt.  This is a very graphic heart-breaking scene.

2) There are also several instances of men and women trying to find a warm body to fill their bed just to release their boredom.

3) This story is set in the Medieval world and contains plenty of killing, poisoning, and other violence.

Summary:

If you enjoy Historicals and don't mind predictable romances, this might be a fun read to spend a lazy afternoon.  Of course, stay away from this if you are sensitive to strong thematic elements and sexuality.

In all honesty, I don't know if this was a good choice for me.  Not knowing any better, I chose it for the promise of an exciting Medieval story and a cool-looking cover.  I mainly want this review to serve as an aid to anybody considering this book, so that they know what they'll be getting.

Live YOUR adventure!
  -E.L. Fletcher


Disclaimer:  The preceding review was done on materials sent to me for free from the publisher.  If you would like your own book reviewed, please use the contact information here on my blog (www.EdmundLloydFletcher.com) or message me through social media.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter 3 - The Transition


The Bible Study had historically called it The Transition, often speaking of it in awed terms.

How the event played out, was fairly simple to describe.

After a particularly harrowing mission, the existing members of the group decided that they wanted out.  The nature of the lifestyle was way too hot for some of them, while others began to feel their age.

Of the original group, only the youngest two members remained: Michael and his wife.

That meant that if the group was to carry on, they would have to begin recruiting the next generation of perilous individuals.  In a heartbeat, the Moasts would grow from being the youngest of the team to become the eldest -- from the rookies to the leaders.




Likewise, a change swept over the mansion as well.
The few that witnessed the sudden transformation, likened it to one of those nature shows on TV.  One moment Death Valley would be a desert, bleak as the surface of the moon, but once a rare rainstorm began to fall, the place would be suddenly transformed into a hive of life.

Just like delicate blossoms that appear from the parched ground, trainers, specialists, and equipment began to spring up all around the Moast mansion.  (For such it was now called.)  Likewise, no order was spoken for any of this, but rather like nature knew the cycle and wordlessly took up what must be done.

Rooms that the Moasts had only seen once before were now re-opened.

Empty spaces were now filled with advanced flight simulators.

Storage areas were cleaned out and obstacle courses installed.

The mansion's many bedrooms were converted to... well... bedrooms, actually.  The big change here was that they would soon be occupied by hopeful students, laboring late into the night to learn all that the clandestine group would teach them.

While professionals of all kinds transformed the mansion from palatial estate to proving ground, others began scouring the country, indeed, even the globe to bring together a new class of students.

This was a ticklish task that had to be handled discreetly.  The new recruits would have to be screened carefully both for their safety and the safety of the group.

Their backgrounds were thoroughly checked and their qualifications doubly checked.  There could be no mistakes.

Into one end of the pipe were stuffed literally thousands of names.  Out of the other end, only one came out every now and then.  The process was painfully tedious to the eager young couple.

It became even more difficult when the actual interviews started.  Just because somebody met the proper profile, had the skills, and passed security muster, didn't mean that they'd actually want to join. 

After all, each person in this world gets to choose what direction they want to take their life.  The sort of future the Bible Study offered was one of hardship and danger with no physical reward to show for it in the end.  Nobody could blame the majority of the candidates, who looked it over and said, "No thank you."

Still, week by week, the list of names grew.

Soon there were enough to justify flipping the switch and moving ahead with the training.



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!