The Sword Keeper 1.0 is finished!

It’s been roughly four and a half years since I wrote the first word in The Sword Keeper, and now the first draft is finally complete! I finished it on Monday and promptly came down with the flu, which is why I’m only writing about it now.

This is my first complete fantasy novel, which is kind of a weird thing to realize. I started writing fantasy back in high school, but I never actually finished anything until college, and by then I was writing science fiction almost exclusively. Of course, the line between fantasy and science fiction is pretty fuzzy, especially the science fiction I tend to write, but still it’s a different set of tropes and a different kind of story.

In terms of other fantasy books, this one is pretty light. It’s just under 100k words, which makes it about 1/3 to 1/4 the size of a Brandon Sanderson novel. There’s magic, and it does drive the story, but the magic system itself isn’t the main driving factor of the plot. No elves, no dwarves, no dragons.

Instead, there’s an ancient order of magic sword bearers, a secret brotherhood of dark mages, a prophecy about saving the world, and a tavern girl (not a farmboy) who turns out to be the chosen one. About half of the fighting happens in the Void between the mortal and immortal realms. Oh, and the cost of magic is death.

There’s no question that this book needs a lot of work before it’ll be ready to publish. That said, I’m really excited about it. If all goes well, I expect it to be out sometime next year.

Cover reveal: “L’enfer, c’est la Solitude”

So for this next story, I decided to buy a premade cover over at I think it turned out pretty well!lcls-coverThis story appeared in Perihelion about six months ago. It will be out as an individual short story by Monday.

Quick update on WIPs

Last week, I think I may have written the best scene of any story I’ve written so far in my career. Seriously, I was in tears by the end of it, and that never happens. I’d post it here, but that would spoil the book (The Sword Keeper), so you’ll have to wait until it’s published.

Progress on The Sword Keeper is coming along quite well. My goal is to have it finished before the end of next week. There are only two chapters left, and the really hard stuff is already written, so it should be a straight shot to the end.

I started this book nearly four years ago when I was teaching English in Georgia, and can still remember working on it on my tiny eee PC on the second story of the Leladze farmhouse, with the chickens roosting in the tree by the balcony and a marvelous view of the Caucusus Mountains just outside my bedroom window. Then the electricity would go out, and I’d have to wrap things up in order to conserve battery power.

Point is, I’ve been working on The Sword Keeper for far too long. In fact, I think I’ve taken longer to finish the rough draft for this book than any other. The only WIP that’s been kicking around for longer is Edenfall, but that’s only because it’s been on the back burner this whole time. With The Sword Keeper, I’ve been working on it off and on for the past four years.

It will be very, very good to have it finished. After that, it will probably need a major revision to fix a bunch of plot holes and put all the scenes and chapters in the correct order (for some reason, every novel I’ve written has the scenes out of order in the first draft), but that shouldn’t be too hard. Then it’s off to the first readers.

As for Gunslinger to the Stars, I should be hearing back from my first readers soon. I’ll probably do a revision for that one next, which (with luck) will make it ready to be published. If all goes well, I may be able to publish it in time for Christmas this year.

So that’s the plan. I’ve got another story release coming out in a couple of days, plus the free books for September, so if you aren’t already signed up for my email list, be sure to do that soon.

Thanks for reading!

The book is blue, the church is true, and God is a Libertarian.

A few years back, I read some advice on a writing blog that said you should never, ever, ever blog publicly about religion or politics, because that would alienate your potential readership. Well, it’s an election year and I’ve already blogged quite a bit about politics, so I might as well go all the way and throw some religion in there too.

I am a devout Mormon. That means that I attend three hours of church on Sunday, strive to make personal prayer and scriptures study a part of my daily routine, hold a priesthood, and worship at an LDS temple as often as I can (about every week or so). It also means that I don’t smoke, do drugs, or drink alcohol, coffee, or tea, and that I practice strict abstinence before marriage and fidelity within. Without getting too deeply into the doctrine, faith in Jesus Christ is at the center of everything I believe and practice.

So why would I say that God is a Libertarian? Aren’t the Libertarians those crazy political fringe guys who like to smoke weed and get the government out of everything? What does a straight-laced Mormon have in common with any of them?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

Libertarians basically believe that individuals should be free to govern themselves with as little interference from the government as possible. All of the different schools of libertarian thought basically revolve around the proper role of government in society and where the line should be drawn, but they all agree that the power of the State should be minimal.

Because actions have consequences, however, the only way we can all be free is for everyone to be responsible for their own actions. For example, if a worker does a poor job, his boss should be free to fire him. If he refuses to work at all, he shouldn’t get a welfare check, because that’s forcing other people to support his lifestyle. If a woman decides to be promiscuous, she should pay for her own birth control, because the only other alternative is to force other people to pay for it, infringing on their freedom.

This is why the flipside of the coin of Liberty is Responsibility. If Liberty is the freedom to act without being acted upon, then Responsibility (or the ability to respond) is an essential part of that.

One of the ways that governments take away our liberty is by enticing us to give up individual responsibility for our own life decisions. Gun control? Don’t take responsibility for your own self-defense, just trust the government to take care of it. Mass surveillance? You’re innocent and don’t have anything to hide, so just let those government agencies police themselves. Socialized health care? No matter your lifestyle decisions, health care is a right (never mind that everyone else is going to have to pay for it)!

The LDS church is very opposed to all of this. It teaches that we should all strive to be self-sufficient, or in other words, responsible for ourselves. We believe in charitable giving, but not in the form of handouts. The church welfare system revolves entirely around teaching people how to provide for themselves and, through one-on-one help, bringing them to a point where they can accomplish that.

But the Mormon-Libertarian connection is more than just a practical one: it’s a doctrinal one as well.

According to LDS theology, God is our Father in Heaven, literally. If you call up the Mormon missionaries and start taking the lessons, one of the first things they will teach you is that every human being is a child of God—that God is the father of our spirits, and that therefore we are all spiritually brothers and sisters.

Before we were born, we lived as spirits in the presence of God. As His sons and daughters, He wanted us to grow up to become like Him and inherit everything that He has. But there was a problem. Evil cannot exist in the presence of God, and without experiencing evil, we could never understand or know how to choose the good.

So God proposed a plan. He would create a place called Earth, where we could experience good and evil and learn how to choose between the two. He would make us forget everything from our life in his presence, so we would have to walk by faith. That way, when we did choose good, it would all be on us. We would learn through our own experience.

Inevitably, though, we would make evil choices that would make it impossible for us to return and live with Him. But God promised He would send us a Savior, who would pay the price for our sins and cleanse us of them. This Savior was our elder brother, Jesus Christ. All we had to do was accept His gospel and follow His teachings.

Most of us rejoiced at this plan. It gave all of us an equal chance to learn and grow and become like our Heavenly Father.

But equality of opportunity is not the same thing as equality of outcome. When our brother Lucifer looked at the plan, he saw that those who rejected Jesus Christ would be damned, or unable to return to the presence of Heavenly Father.

So he proposed a different plan: that God would make him the Savior instead, and that he would save everyone. In order to do that, though, he would have to take away our ability to choose between good and evil. Instead, he would make all the choices for us, and we would never be able to learn from our own experience. He would take all the glory.

God rejected Lucifer’s proposal, because He knew that without the freedom to choose between good and evil, we would never be able to learn and grow and become like Him. So Lucifer rebelled against God, and decided that if he couldn’t have the glory, then no one could. He convinced a third of our brothers and sisters to reject Jesus Christ and follow him instead. That is how Lucifer fell and became Satan.

According to Mormon theology, Satan’s downfall was that he tried to create a perfect world by destroying individual liberty. Sound familiar? It should, because the war in heaven never actually ended. When Satan was cast out of heaven, he took his followers down here to Earth. Each one of us faces that war every day.

Satan doesn’t just want to spread evil all over the world. Evil, by itself, does not defeat God’s plan. No matter how horrible our suffering may be in this life, it will all eventually come to an end, and turn to our glory if we are faithful. Satan knows that the way to destroy God’s plan is to destroy our Liberty, and he seeks relentlessly to do just that.

This is why I believe that God is a Libertarian. He wants us to have the freedom to govern ourselves, because that is principle at the very core of His plan—the Plan of Salvation. He wants us to stand fast in that Liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

So does that mean that President Jesus would legalize marijuana? Yes, I think he would. Remember, Jesus spent a lot of time among publicans and sinners. He didn’t condone their stupid decisions, but he didn’t condemn them to prison either. Why should we?

Would President Jesus legalize the death penalty? The man who said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”? No—not because capital punishment is morally wrong, but because the State shouldn’t have the power to exercise it. After all, just look at the corruption of the Sanhedrin.

Would President Jesus legalize abortion? Here, I’m going to depart from mainstream Libertarianism and argue that He wouldn’t, except in cases that threaten the health (including mental health) of the mother. By legalizing abortion, we have effectively granted the State to arbitrarily define what is and is not human life. Jesus had a profound respect for human life, suffering even the little children to come to him. I cannot believe that this same Jesus would grant the State that power.

(That said, there are cases where the taking of human life is morally justified. That’s why I believe a President Jesus would make exceptions for cases threatening the health (including mental health) of the mother. But for people who use abortion as a birth control method, who think they should have the right just because they made a bad decision and forgot to wear a condom? No.)

What about taxes? If the man who admonished us to render unto Caesar Himself became Caesar, would He raise our taxes? Remember, this is also the man who said that His yoke was easy, and His burden light. Would He want any of us to be yoked to the State? Even the wealthiest one-percent? I don’t think He would.

Would President Jesus build a wall and make Mexico pay for it? Well, apparently even Trump isn’t going to do that anymore, so enough said.

But you get the picture. If Jesus Christ reigned in power and glory on this Earth (and as a Mormon, I believe that He will someday), His government would look a hell of a lot more libertarian than the government we have today. In fact, it might even be so libertarian that people wonder if His government even exists, leaving room for the unbelievers well into the Millennium (and that, too, agrees with Mormon theology).

So there you have it. The book is blue, the church is true, and God is a Libertarian (just don’t go one-star all my books, please).

My answer to Worldcon 2016, Sad Puppies, and the Hugo Awards

So Worldcon 2016 and the Hugo Awards happened over the weekend. It went down about how I expected it would: the award for Best Novel went to an outspoken racist, one of the most prominent female editors in the field lost (again) to No Award, and the TruFans and SJWs made the convention Safe for Diversity by silencing or evicting everyone who did not think, act, believe, or look like them.

In other words, it was a complete crapshow, and I’m glad that they didn’t get any of my money. Instead, I’ve decided to follow in the Grand American Capitalist Tradition by offering you an opportunity to give me your money instead.

That’s right: “Welcome to Condescension,” my Sad Puppies short story, is now available on all the major ebookstores. Check it out!

Welcome to Condescension

Welcome to Condescension

Genres: Humor, Science Fiction, Short Stories
Length: Short Story
Publication Year: August 2016
The graying of fandom was never this much fun.
Buy now!



SALUT, SALAAM, and SALUTATIONS to CONdescension 373, proud denizens of fandom! We welcome you to our convention this year, held in the beautiful underwater city of New Galveston.

We hope that you will help us all work together to keep the convention friendly and welcoming for everyone, and not repeat the unspeakable disaster of CONtamination 146. Unfortunately, time does not heal all wounds in fandom, especially when we are all functionally immortal.

Have fun!

This story is rated T according to the AO3 content rating system.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. You will not receive any additional charge.