I have very, very big news. Launching today I give you not one, but two full-length novels: REVENANT MAN and SHATTERED SON. This is books one and two of THE TYRANT STRATEGY, my new science fiction series.
“What are they about?” It’s the most common and yet open-ended question an author can get. Okay, here goes.
Since adolescence Reed Barowe has served in the Serpican Police, a powerful, alien-equipped agency enforcing peace on Earth. But running covert ops across a world still recovering from the madman Tak Akasa is dangerous work, and on a routine mission radicals kill Barowe’s squad and capture him for interrogation.
Though able to escape, Barowe is betrayed by his unit and finds himself on the run with a living ghost–a man appearing to be none other than Akasa himself. In their journey through a shattered United States and into a guerilla resistance waged against a brutal dictator, Barowe and his brilliant ally will make unlikely friends. And Barowe will find everything he was brainwashed to believe replaced by one question:
Will he help a man he’s been trained to kill?
Have I gotten your attention? Fantastic. Click here to pick up Revenant Man and here for Shattered Son. And guess what? Revenant Man is FREE from now through July 6th. That’s right, folks. You may want to jump on this pronto, because I’m not sure it will ever happen again.
For now, and for the foreseeable future, these books are only available through Amazon. Print versions will go live if the ebooks do well.
A note about Revenant Man. Astute readers will be familiar with an earlier version of this novel, released way back in 2012. But this latest Revenant Man is an almost completely rewritten (and hopefully, far superior) version of the first book, which will likely never be re-released. Huge tracts of the novel were dropped or redone. This means the prior version is no longer “canon” and should be avoided (and it’s now marked everywhere I could as such). One of the reasons I’ve made the rewritten novel free through this time period is because prior readers shouldn’t have to pay a dime to jump back into the story.
Shattered Son is completely new, and never before released. And as this post drops, I’m working on book 3, the conclusion of the trilogy.
Okay. So concludes my formal announcement.
I have some other things I want to say, but they’re about the man behind the curtain, so feel to drop off it that’s not something that interests you.
It’s been quiet for a while now on this blog. Some of this is simply due to having to revise Revenant Man and also write Shattered Son. I’m glad I didn’t give up on this series, but Lord, it’s taken a lot out of me, both in time and finances. I really, really hope these books do well.
Added to that, a lot has been going on in my private life, and it’s made getting out here to update the blog on a regular basis more challenging. Simply put, though I will continue to post content out here, I’ve had a number of challenges crop up that have made me refocus my energy. One of these is my wife’s medical condition–she has thyroid issues–and we’ve got a pregnancy in the middle of that; an otherwise happy occasion marred by the fact that my wife’s ailment is the kind accompanied by medicines and studies laced with wonderful words like “could cause birth defects”, “associated with X”, that sort of thing. You know, fun stuff for us to both consider over the course of a pregnancy and beyond.
Though I loathe to discuss the themes in my books–I like to let readers get out of them what they will–at this juncture I’m going to be self-indulgent. Because these books’ guts tie in with it all.
Readers of the blog are already familiar with the fact that my brother passed away last November. I’m still not over it, and that’s been a large part of my silence. I don’t know if I ever will be over it, and I’m honestly okay with that.
I’ve pulled back a lot, on social media, particularly on my personal Facebook account. When a death impacts your family, you take a long, hard look at what really matters, and you change course accordingly. Life is too short for a lot of things, and that includes screaming into a hurricane.
Anyway, of course Steve’s death is hard on my parents. But they’ve got each other in that shared situation, so at least there’s a mutually-supporting perspective, you know? Two people side by side in the same row in the lifeboat. I have no such support over on my bench. There is literally no one else in this world who has quite the same experience that I can lean on, because I’m the only sibling left in this particular family. That’s not to say that I can’t rely on comfort from my wonderful wife or my in-laws, friends, and a cousin that was deeply close to him, but there is a unique connection between siblings, particularly siblings of similar ages (my brother and I were only fourteen months apart). I promise you, you might think you can imagine what this is like, but you can’t until you’re there, just like I can imagine but do not fully understand my parents’ perspective.
If I had to sum it up, I’d say losing your only sibling means this: No one is there who can help you through the experience the way your sibling would. It is simply impossible. It’s unfair. A completely unique support system is erased just when you need it the most. And I’ve been having to come to grips with the fact that one day my aging parents will be gone, and it’ll just be me. Again, another topic for another day.
Because of losing Steve, releasing these books is somewhat bittersweet. These were meant for him to read. One of their themes is the quest to belong in a world you’re never quite comfortable in. There’s multiple characters with that quandary in the books, but the focus is primarily on Reed and the man he ends up meeting. They’re both orphans, in their separate ways that are more stark than the experiences of the others. As Steve and I were, they are two people who never completely fit the mold.
Steve’s journey was the same as mine: he had to reconcile himself with the fact that very few people saw the world the way that he did, or cared to opine about the subjects he viewed as important (or even listen to him discuss them), or even shared his same hobbies and interests. He was always occupying a room but never quite within it. Steve’s reputation for flamboyance came from the fact that he wouldn’t back down from expressing himself, even if the world didn’t like it. He embraced the idea of speaking whatever he thought. That made him more liberated, in a way, than I was–I approached that drive in a different, less overt fashion, through screeds on internet forums, ministering, and writing. Steve was, in a sense, more self-reliant than the average person (at least, for a while) because he knew he ultimately could not count on others the way many might. But he still wanted somewhere to belong, and when you’re on a lonely island you have a tendency to try and flag down any ship sailing by, for better or worse. And I think that’s where he began his downward spiral.
That’s one of the reasons why I have a hard time listening to people when they badmouth him. Yes, recognize his mistakes. But don’t judge him. Believe me, you’re not in a position to because–and forgive me if this sounds adolescent–you don’t understand.
These two characters were always meant to show him that there was a way forward. That there is, in the end, a way to reconcile one’s uniqueness with a world that always wants you to be just like everyone else. Even trying to explain that challenge to some of you readers out there is, unfortunately, pointless. You’d have to be Steve to get what I’m talking about.
When I lost my brother, I lost the only person who ever truly understood where I was coming from. Because he’d been the only other person on that particular island. And that’s a special kind of loneliness. Thank God for my wife and kids, and the support of friends, coworkers and loved ones.
Or maybe all this isn’t so pointless, and that could be another reason these books might resonate. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that we are never what we advertise. Perhaps none of us are very different after all, but the collective weight of expectations makes us imagine that we are. Perhaps.
So, in that spirit, you read, especially, all you orphans, if you’re out there.