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Meet the Avatars…

It’s been a little while since my last post, but I can honestly say that it’s with good reason…  After contemplating how to go about bringing life to some of the characters in my books, I decided to dust off my artistic skills (I use the term ‘skills’ loosely, of course) and put them to use in creating a few images of the avatars that you’ll meet in Reflections of Shadow: Nemesis Spawned.

And, after a LOT of work, I’ve come up with the following character visuals:

The first (of course) is SaelenThe Reaver, as he is known, is haughty, condescending, and deadly.  He cares nothing for his creations beyond how they can help him achieve his goals…

Saelen - The Reaver

The second is the beautiful Lycoris.  As vindictive as she is lovely, The Lady hides much more than she reveals.  Her dazzling smile has been the downfall of many – mortal and immortal…

Lycoris - The Lady

And, finally (for now), is Ea’nlilThe Teacher is thoughtful and slow to anger.  Over millennia, he has learned that there is more than one way to fulfill one’s destiny…


I hope you enjoy these first few images.

Be sure to check out the first book in the Reflections of Shadow series, Nemesis Spawned, to learn more about the characters!

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The ‘Doctor Who’ Existence

As we live our lives, all people face the inevitable physical changes that accompany growing older.  First, our childhood body is left behind in puberty, then our activities shape our adolescent body.  In adulthood, our lifestyles will change our physical appearance, and having children will change it further (women much more than men, of course).  Finally, old age will begin the process of eventual physical deterioration…

When we die, we are not the same physical entity that we were when we were born.  Our cells have changed so much over the course of our life that we seem to be a completely different person.  We take for granted that, throughout those changes, our mental self remains unchanged – in fact, we’ve built much of our culture around it, including the criminal justice system and the link between the educational system and the workforce.  But, in reality, can any of us truly say that we’re the same person our whole life?

If you’ve ever seen an episode of Doctor Who, you know that the character of The Doctor has been regenerated – reincarnated – twelve times (including the newest change).  He remains the same man, but inhabits a new form after each regeneration, in which he can gallivant around the universe anew.  It was watching this show the other day, that I had a minor epiphany…  You see, we are all The Doctor and, like him, we also regenerate over the course of our existence.

All my life, I’ve been blessed with a phenomenal short-term memory, but an abysmal long-term memory.  As I age, my memories of youth have tended to fade.  For me, it’s like trying to view my life, as it was, through clouded glass.  I’m grateful for the stories that my family tells, and the photographs that they keep, which help me retain the parts of my life that I never want to forget.  Having such a terrible memory, however, has afforded me the ability to compartmentalize my life and look upon it as if seen through the eyes of a relative stranger.  I remember being the boy who joined the drama club to be around a certain (unnamed) girl, but I know that I’m not really the same person.

In a way, I feel that making this distinction has made me a healthier person.  If we allow for a separation of the people that we’ve been, and the person we’ve become – if we allow those experiences to shape us, but not confine us – we allow for a far greater range of possibilities.  Every time we “regenerate,” we give ourselves the opportunity to build new experiences and leave old wounds behind.  Thus, if you’ve live a tortured existence, and all your thought is bent upon ending it, imagine how much healthier it would be if you could just leave that part of you behind, and end your suffering, without taking your own life…

Perhaps, if we recognize that we do not live only one life, but several, we might all be healthier people.  We can, like The Doctor, adapt and become new versions of ourselves, finding new perspectives on old problems and finding new companions to share in our adventures.  The possibilities are endless.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – A Geek’s Nod

So, I’m a geek, plain and simple.

However you want to shape it, I am – and always have been – into science fiction, fantasy, video games, comic books, history, mythology, etc.

Believe it or not, I’ve actually read the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, and I have copies of BOTH the Star Trek and the Starfleet Technical Manuals on my bookshelves.  I still remember getting excited in anticipation of the next episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the X-Files.  I’ve also seen Ghostbusters about a thousand times…  To this day, I make no apologies for loving these things, for that identity has shaped the man I’ve become and, strangely enough, I’m proud of who, and what, I am (Sometimes).

When I was young, however, it wasn’t cool to be into such things.  Hot girls were NOT impressed by one’s knowledge of Spider-Man’s origins, or the cool new “Easter egg” that you discovered in your favourite game.  Geek culture had yet to leech into the mainstream, as it has so effectively in the last few years.  But I was never alone in my passion for all things geek.  I had my buddy Ash.

Ashraf Ismail, for those of you who don’t know him, is the Game Director for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag at Ubisoft.  He’s worked in the video gaming industry for more than ten years, and he’s about to launch one of the coolest games that I’ve ever seen on October 29th, 2013 in North America.  Before he was any of these things, however, Ash was my best friend.  He and I shared a passion for science fiction, video games, and comic books.  We’ve been friends since the fifth grade, and I can think of no better human being on this planet (a statement I stand by, and refuse to qualify).

So, in honour of my best friend’s marvellous upcoming achievement, I’ve decided to share this incredible game with you.  It’s the fourth installment in the Assassin’s Creed series of games, and it centres around pirate culture in the Caribbean at the dawn of the 18th Century (Awesome, I know!).

For those of you who’ve yet to hear anything of the game, check out this trailer to whet your appetite…

The open world that they’ve created in the game is so expansive and beautiful, that any description I might offer would pale in comparison to the actual experience, so here’s a quick walkthrough, narrated by none other than Ash himself…

I hope that you will consider picking up this amazing game.  It will be available on PS3/PS4, PC, Wii U, and Xbox 360/Xbox One as early as October 29, 2013 in North America.

From one geek to another, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

NEW!!!!!!!!! Check out this great review of the game from IGN (written by Marty Sliva)…

IGN Review: AC4: Black Flag

Disclaimer: Please note that I’m not associated with Ubisoft, or this game, professionally in any way.  Any endorsement is based solely upon my own opinions.


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Sense in Nonsense

So, I’m happy to report that, after a little bit of an inspirational drought, I’m back at it.  I’ve been writing quite steadily, and the second book in the Reflections of Shadow trilogy is shaping up nicely.

To those who were displeased with my last post, I’d like to apologize for the schizophrenic nature of this blog, but I’m still refining how I use this forum to express myself.  So I’d like to preface this new post with a disclaimer.  If you are not into whimsy, do NOT read on.

When I was in school, I was introduced to stream of consciousness.  We used it as a tool to loosen our writing muscles, and as a filter-free way to express ourselves.  I loved this type of expression then, and I’d like to dive into a little more, just for shits and giggles…  Catch you on the flip side!

Tears of starlight stripped of life fall gently on the rubber wet from use and abuse it isn’t that there should be something greater said the lion often the cries of his inner voice are not heard they fall like the rain on deaf ears and the man that runs the machine refuses to account for something that cannot be considered practical or measurable it’s the plight we all share whether you believe it or not too often we step aboard this journey content to let the driver dictate where we end up but the driver doesn’t understand that sometimes the view from the window is not enough too long in the form can blister our senses until they can no longer tell us anything of the ethereal I lose my greater self it strikes me when I see men and women define themselves through a deity’s eyes when that interpretation is so earth-bound as to be ridiculously biased but time both focuses and unfocuses our gaze and it always will tell me she said quietly when did you get so serious I laughed and shook my head it isn’t the seriousness that’s the problem it’s the objects of mirth in between the faerie smiled then and clapped her hands then we’ll have to find your smile again I went along because a part of me had not forgotten the child wide-eyed with wonder at the big beautiful world if you can smile when no one is around then you’ll be just fine…

DSC02521 (1024x527)

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25% Off This Labour Day Weekend!

Reflections of Shadow: Nemesis Spawned Cover

 Reflections of Shadow: Nemesis Spawned

Labour Day Weekend Sale!!!!

Just click on the link above and use the coupon code RK66V at checkout for 25% off during my long weekend promotion! (Offer good thru September 3, 2013)

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Musings on Love


The word evokes so many images, ideas, opinions, and emotions that it’s difficult to know where to start.  But it’s been on my mind of late, so I’ll give it a shot.

I guess I should begin by admitting (despite my predisposition towards misanthropy) that I’ve been quite lucky in love.  I’ve been blessed with a family who has always been extremely demonstrative and supportive; great friends, many of whom I may not have appreciated as I should have; and a wife that continues to adore me, despite my flaws.

I’ve definitely made a few mistakes in my search for companionship over the years, but, then, who hasn’t?  And, in retrospect, many of those mistakes were nothing more than perceptual – based on my confusing the “idea” of love with the real thing.  It’s such an easy mistake to make, after all, that I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t the reason for so many of the unhappy relationships out there…  When you’re desperate to live in romantic bliss, sometimes a mirage of love can be overwhelmingly appealing, even if reality proves unhealthy.

In my writing, I’ve tried to use my experiences (limited as they may be) to bring realism to the relationships between my characters.  It’s important to me that they’re not immune to the kinds of problems that afflict many searching for love.  Infatuation is a major theme that I’ve tried to explore, as is idolization (who among us hasn’t “crushed” on someone who barely knows you exist?).  I’ve also tried to explore the depths of the “true” love that exists between my characters.  As those of you who’ve known “true” love can attest, it often manifests very differently than how it’s presented to us in the media.

Don’t get me wrong, bliss does exist.  I’m not trying to convey the message that love is an illusion, or that it is any less wonderful than what we’ve been presented with in fiction and fantasy.  I simply wish to impress upon you that “true” love will manifest differently for everyone, and that it’s in love’s idiosyncrasies that it’s true wonder lies.


Real love will anchor you, when you are feeling lonely and adrift;

It will heal the scratches from all of life’s nettles;

It will guide your dreams, and shape your reality;

Real love will shatter the mirror that keeps you from seeing the world as it really is…


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Creativity, Have You Been Swallowed By The Collective?

So, it seems to me that people, these days, are suffering from a nasty case of Groupthink, or “Collective” thinking (to borrow a concept made famous by the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation).

Imagine, if you will, that you’re driving along a busy city thoroughfare, and you hear about a delay in the route ahead.  Naturally, being a clever one, you detour and bypass the slowdown using a “secret” little-used side road.  A few minutes later, however, you’re brought to a jarring halt, and you discover that a hundred other people have had the same thought, and are now clogging your detour route!

If you’re anything like me, you understand just how incredibly frustrating this can be.

Yet, it’s only one example highlighting just how pervasive the problem of “Collective” thinking has become.  And, as tempting as it might be to blame this kind of thing solely on the overreliance on GPS technology, or Social Media, I think that the issue might actually have deeper roots…

Over decades, we’ve shaped a society of people who define themselves by the music, books, movies, and television series’ that interest them.  We bond over shared media interests, using them like a social lubricant.  While this kind of definition might not have been harmful a generation ago, I think that, in the digital age, it may be the cause of an eventual amputation of original thought.  If we’re all being fed the same media diet, after all, it’s natural that our perceptions and reasoning abilities would tend to converge – that we react similarly, because of shared experiences.  But, what if that diet consists only of junk and regurgitated material?  What if everyone is fed intravenously and simultaneously?  Have we become too similar?  And, at what point do we sound the alarm?

Don’t act like you don’t know what I mean.  Lately, it seems like everything produced in the entertainment industry is either an adaptation of an existing material, or a sequel to something that was once unique.  The shocking lack of originality was laughable at first, but it has become more than a little disturbing.  What’s worse, however, is that it’s so pervasive…  Cultural diversity is being lost the world over, to the detriment of us all!

I know what you’re going to say.  You’re going to remind me that shared interests encourage cultural similarity, and help bond groups together – which, in evolutionary terms, is a good thing.  And you’d be right, if we were living in small semi-isolated communities.  But, because we now have cities that are almost unsustainably overcrowded, and a world that can transmit data in seconds from one side of the planet to the other, we are hindering, rather than helping, our own evolution.

When I was in University, I learned about evolution and speciation.  I remember, in particular, learning about two groups of African lions.  One pride was typical and lived in a territory bordered by other prides, where, over generations, confrontation and cross-breeding occurred.  The second pride, however, lived in a segregated territory, isolated from the larger population of lions.  Although large enough to sustain a basic level of genetic variation, the isolated pride’s evolution was demonstrably more rapid, over only a few generations, than the first pride.

The point, if you’ll indulge me, is that… if we want to see variation and novelty in creativity (and day-to-day thought, for that matter) we need to step away from the “Collective.”

We need to “unplug,” even if only for a few minutes a day.  Seek out a new experience, or learn something new (something traditional or, perhaps, unconventional).  Visit a grandparent, or elderly relative, and listen to a story from their youth.  Don’t Tweet about the experience, don’t take any pictures of it… just absorb it.

If we allow that knowledge, or experience, to become part of who we are – as something unique to us – and let it nourish our individuality, it might just spark the renewed vibrancy in our culture that we so desperately need.


Please note that I realize I must “walk the talk,” and live any advice that I give.  Note, also, that I’m painfully aware of the irony in using this “Collective” medium to convey my message, but we need to start somewhere.

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As you some of you already know, I’m currently working on the revision of my second novel in the Reflections of Shadow series.

Progress has been incremental, but satisfying, nonetheless; and I’ve been having a lot of fun moving the story arc through a new, and really interesting, world.  TEASER ALERT: You’ll get to explore the chaotic land of Seteris in this novel!!! (I know, I just blew your mind, didn’t I?)

Much like the first, though, I find that one of the biggest challenges in bringing the second book to life lies in defining the genre (or trying to, at least).  Despite only promoting it as a fantasy series – to better align with the category definitions of many booksellers – Reflections of Shadow is, more accurately, a synthesis of FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION, HORROR, PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER, MYTH, and even ROMANCE.  The story follows characters with such complicated and antithetical points of view, and the plot contains elements of so many genres, that it really changes each time that you read it…

Compared to Nemesis Spawned, which was mainly dark and foreboding – told, as it was, from Alexander’s point of view – the second book (title forthcoming, I promise) will be far lighter in tone and content.  It’ll incorporate some funny and romantic elements, and it’ll introduce a much larger cast of characters, some of whom with personalities so big that they can’t help but change the series with only their presence.

I can’t wait to share the new story with you, and I’ll probably post a few sample chapters in the coming months.  (I blew your mind again, didn’t I?).

Perhaps, by the time the next book is complete, a new genre will have been created which will better define the myriad elements of Reflections of Shadow.  We can call it FaScHoPsyMytRom… Fashosymitrom…?  Okay, maybe we should put a pin in that for the moment, and call it a working genre title…

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Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale On Now: July 1-31 2013

Reflections of Shadow: Nemesis Spawned Cover

 Reflections of Shadow: Nemesis Spawned

Hot Summer Discount!!!!

Just click on the link above and use the coupon code SSW25 at checkout
for 25% off during the site-wide promotion!
(Offer good thru July 31, 2013)

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