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.

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, 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!

Juggernaught: Chapter 5 - Moving Day

The transformation of the mansion into a training ground was something that had only happened before on the rarest of occasions.  The act of turning the master suite from Carl's style to Melinda Moasts was an all new kind of transformation.

Carpenters and movers swarmed all over the place, adding their own mayhem to the general chaos of the mansion.

To those moving Carl's things out, and the Moast things in, they assumed that everything going on in the rest of the house was other moving teams at work.  The scheduling worked out perfectly such that any outside observer would view all the trucks outside as mere movers, and certainly not delivers of sophisticated training equipment.  If asked, the few actual movers at work in the Moast wing would think nothing of corroborating the story.

Melinda watched as a pair gently lowered the massive tiger head ("Shere Khan", as the Bible Study had dubbed him) from over the fireplace. 

Below, a contractor lie on his back, shining a pen light up into the chimney.  "Looks doable, miss.  'Course the big thing is gonna be fishin' a gas line through the sub-floor."

"And how much is...  Hold on."  Though her attention was already divided between removal of the beast and the new fireplace, she had enough left to snap at a mover walking past behind her.  "You there.  Where do you think you're going?"

"Taking a load a' dishes to the truck."

"Uh, uh.  Those are mine.  Put them back."

"Yes ma'am."  He sounded almost disappointed.

She heard a cry and sudden silence.  She spun around to see Shere Khan lying on the contractor's stomach.  He was winded from the impact and wide-eyed at the sudden fanged face staring back at him.

The movers rushed to pull the head off and then placed it on top Melinda's box of dishes, (which had been returned, only with the "This End Up" label pointing down.)

She frowned.  Though moving day was nothing like being targeted for extermination by international cartel kingpins.  She was surprised to learn that the stress was actually worse.

"What... is this place?"  wheezed the carpenter.

If you only knew... thought Melinda.  This mansion held all kinds of secrets, left behind by untold generations of Bible Study adventurers.

As she was thinking these things, another of the movers tapped Melinda on the shoulder.  "Ma'am, where do you want the bookcase?"

"Which?"  she asked.

The man led her to a mahogany case with his partner standing next to it.  Carl had said he didn't want any of the furniture, so...

"How 'bout over there?"   She pointed.

The man nodded.  On "three", he and his partner lifted and started walking.

Behind the bookcase was no wall, but a cobweb-filled niche.  In the niche was a hook.  On the hook was an ancient suit Samurai armor. 

In the armor was the ancient Samurai.

Color drained from Melinda's face.  "Uuuuuuuh...!"  she stammered through her revulsion.

The mover looked up at her, a question on is face.

"Put it back!  Put it back!"  she said quickly, and waving.

They did so, never suspecting that the urgency in her voice came from a surprise face-to-face encounter with a decaying skeleton.

One mover rolled his eyes and gave the other a,  "Women, sheesh!" look.

The other smiled and nodded knowingly.



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!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Review: (The NEW) Ben Hur


Estimated ship date: 06/06/2016
ISBN: 9781496411068
Author: Carol Wallace
Publisher:  Tyndale House 
MSRP: $15.99

Review:

Yes, you read that right.  The NEW Ben Hur.

Now, I've always been a fan of the old Lew Wallace classic.  When I heard that his great-great-granddaughter Carol Wallace was coming out with a new version, I had, simply HAD to get my mitts on a copy!

Yet before diving into the new book, it might be a good idea to chat about the original, so here goes...

Judah Ben Hur is a contemporary of Jesus.  He is a Jew (in case you can't guess) born to a fairly well-off merchant family.  He's quite content with that life until a freak accident and false accusation propel him headlong into an epic adventure.

Now, I know "epic adventure" sounds cliché, but in this case it is the best way to describe it.  His is an adventure that spans the ancient world, giving you a very vivid picture of life in those times.  He interacts with all different groups (Jew, Roman, Christian, ...) as well as all different social strata from Galley Slave and leper, on up.

However, I don't want you get the wrong impression and think this is a dry history lesson.  Ben Hur must fight his way across the Roman world to stay one step ahead of those actively trying to destroy him!

One last thing I want to add is that the subtitle of the book is "A Tale of the Christ".  This is quite true, though I was very impressed how Wallace never allows even such a big, important thing to eclipse the story he is trying to tell.  In other words, this story is about BEN HUR and the author does a fantastic job of keeping that straight.

As a Christian author, and more specifically, as an action/adventure author, Ben Hur represents everything I aspire to write.  I guess that's why when Carol Wallace did a rewrite it was like a moth to a flame.

The new book has been redone in modern style and language.  It sticks very, very close to the original story -- some places being nearly identical, in fact.  (And, for the record, yes I was reading them side-by-side.)  Really, you could say that this is the original without all the boring parts and wordiness that can make the original a little tedious to read sometimes.

Though there is some material removed, I'd hesitate to call it an "abridged" version.  I hate those!  Carol Wallace was very careful to trim away things that got in the way of the pacing, so in that regard I can appreciate that.

As an additional bonus there is an afterward that talks about the original author, his war experience and the writing and life of the book.  To a geek like me, this alone is worth the price of admission.
(To whet you appetite:  Did you know, if it wasn't for a chance meeting with a militant Atheist, one of the greatest Christian books of all time would never have been written!??)

Summary:

This is a prefect way to introduce Ben Hur to your teens.  It is an enjoyable read that is fast-paced and adventurous.  Your boy will love it!

In fact, I could see this as a parental sneak-attack.  "Oh, you loved the book?  Did you know there's more to the story?"  Hand him a copy of the original to expand his vocabulary.

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. 

Additional Info:

Author Links:

http://www.carolwallacebooks.com/ 
goodreads profile

Author's interview about the book:


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Juggernaught: Chapter 4 - Peregrini

The year was 477, AD.  The location, some untamed an unnamed section of the barbaric European wilderness.

Mac Creiche was a Peregrini monk and student of the (later to be dubbed 'Saint') Brandan.
(Not to be confused with Saint Mac Creiche, nor Saint Brendan the Navigator, respectively.)

It can be common to think of all monks as inwardly-focused and cloister-bound.  The Irish Peregrini were anything but.  Though commonly poor and always celibate, these decisions more out of a practical necessity that their dangerous mission demanded.

Brendan and his team of twelve young disciples had set out from Ireland some years earlier with the intention of ministering in England.  After a reasonably short boat trip they made landfall in England, ready and anxious to begin.  Yet plans were already about to change for them.  They were surprised upon arrival to encounter the heresy of Pelagianism running rampant through Londinium's muddy streets.

These people preached that man's sinful nature was nothing more than a myth.  An error as rudimentary as this should be simple enough to correct with a mild dose of scripture - a nice, clean way to ease into their missionary life.  (Or, so thought young Mac Creiche.)

He soon learned that lies may be easy to refute, but when that happens, the liars turn nasty!

The team barely escaped with their lives from the hands of the heretics in control.  Many would literally bear the scars of that incident to their dying day.

Finding themselves trapped on the far side of the town, with an angry mob between them and home, they took the only path open to them:  forward.  They found themselves swept up with the tide of native Britons, escaping from the isle that bore their name, and crossed the English channel to the Gaulish coast.

The relative peace the Britons had enjoyed under Roman rule was now over and the Saxons had no remorse about driving them off their land.  To one group's thinking, the land was yours because you were born to it.  To the other, the land was yours because you conquered it.

After landing in modern-day Brittany in the central coast of modern-day France, the group wandered and preached their way across the barbarian continent.  They left a series of churches and monasteries behind them like bread crumbs to mark the way.  Those few churches already in wild Gaul were also revived from being irrelevant and stagnant political pawns to living and life-changing bodies.

The Peregrini life was crushing work, often done on empty stomachs, but they blazed a trail through the physical and spiritual wilderness that was ancient Europe.

As the years went by, the disciples of Brandan matured to the point where, they too, were ready to strike out on their own.  Brandan explained, "Just as every seed grows up t' be like its parent, so all Disciples grow t' become the next Teachers.  From thence comes great forests and churches."  Following his example, the new Teachers drew Disciples of their own from the converted barbarians.  Twelve, plus one more to fill the newly-created vacancy in Brandan's retinue.

Soon Mac Creiche found himself the only Irishman remaining out of the original twelve.

This day, his own time would come.  Quite unexpected, it was.  He just settled down for his breakfast: a hand-torn hunk of plain brown bread and a slice of cheese.  A pull of mulled cider (lovingly made from apples the nearby monastery) made it a finer meal than a monk could ask for.

Of course, the prayer of thanks for such abundant fare had to be long-winded. 

As he prayed, the monk lifted his eyes heavenward and was greeted with the sight of a lone, snow-white goose.  East, it flew, "Towards th' blessed city, all 'eaven be praised!", he commented aloud as the thought struck him.

He had been taught by his mentor to always be aware of the signs and revelations from the Lord Most High, but now that he had seen one, he doubted.  "What say ye, Lord?", he cried aloud to the clear blue sky, "Be this your hand, or but a bird like any other?"

Many other things he cried as well, calling to the heavens for answers to this perplexing new experience.  He got no response.

Once he finished beating his breast and ranting against the clear blue, the man looked down and smiled.  Just as patient as the Lord, the goose sat calmly watching the man vent his frustrations.

The new smile slowly drained from his face, however, when he realized that the animal had used the opportunity to nibble his bread down to nothing but crumbs.

"Infernal beast!" he declared, making a move to shoo it away.

Then he thought better of it.  "Ah, well.  I suppose e'en answers to prayer need t' eat."

He threw the goose his cheese, too.



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!