The Remaking Released!

The Remaking is now out both on Kindle and paperback. Pick it up, give it a read, and review it!

It’s something of a crossover between 1984 and modern Young Adult. So many YA books have gone halfway with that, I decided to take it a few steps further. Let me know if I pulled it off!

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The Remaking Sample

The Remaking is now available for pre-order on the Kindle and order in Paperback. You probably could get the paperback a week or so before the official release date.

In any event, here’s a bit of a flashback for Sela, the main character in The Remaking.

16

Her hand moved delicately across the canvas, skinning the faintest shade of charcoal off the stick. She retraced and added another careful swath. Even though the table was inclined, Sela hunched over it, trying to twist her posture enough to untwist her drawing.

She had been practicing for a few weeks, and she wasn’t sure whether there was any improvement. She could smudge out decent skylines. Who couldn’t?

But she was having a devil of a time trying to draw organically. Every time she drew an animal or a person, it came out awkward and misshapen. And not the sort of misshapen the way a cartoon is supposed to be. All of her human renderings had a demented look, as though a first grader had drawn them.

Sela was fifteen, just a few months away from turning sixteen. And she had discovered art. Just like ballet a few years earlier, she wasn’t very good, at least not yet.

The art teacher at school, Mr. Garvey, encouraged her to keep working at it. He said that drawing was a skill that took time to develop. He also praised the things she drew, but then, he praised every other kid’s drawing in the art class too. That’s sort of what an art teacher is supposed to do, Sela figured.

Still, it was a nice sensation, the smooth canvas slipping softly against the edge of the charcoal. Even if the face already looked stretched and alien, Sela enjoyed it. She liked the idea that she could create something. Something that didn’t exist until she got her hands dirty.

Maybe if she could develop her ability to draw, she really could put the creativity in her mind out onto the canvas, let the image speak for itself. Her father had bought these nice pencils and canvas, had put together the desk himself.

She wanted to be able to justify buying more canvas, however much it might cost. The concept of money was still new to her, since her parents usually got whatever she wa—

“Hello, Sela.”

She whirled around to face the voice. “Leon!”

He looked through his glasses and down his nose at her, a smug look of contempt on his young face. “Who were you expecting? One of your shallow friends?”

Sela glared at him, but she knew not to protest the insults. Her friends liked to have fun, and so did she! It didn’t make them shallow to hang out on the weekends, to help each other put together cute outfits, and to talk about boys.

“What’re you doing here?” she asked.

Leon’s family had moved up north a year earlier, three years after they had initially moved to the suburbs of Nashville. Sela had been more than happy to see him go.

“I came back to town with my dad.” He smiled at her, the way a hammer might smile at a nail. “We’re just here for a few days.”

A few days? she thought. Great… just great.

He looked different. Sela realized that he was fifteen now too, and he had grown. He would grow more, but he was as tall as she was now. Tall and lanky, all of his earlier chubbiness stretched out over several extra inches of height.

“Yeah, I figured you should it hear from me; you guys are moving.”

Sela rolled her eyes and dismissed the statement, “No we aren’t.” Her father had promised the family would stay in Nashville. That was the benefit of his job as a research professor.

She turned back to her canvas, and then sighed when she saw the dark line that had streaked across the page. It must have happened when she had whipped around. Leon again!

“Yes, you are,” Leon insisted. “You’re moving in a month, to Megora. Me and my dad’ve set up everything.”

“We’re not moving,” Sela replied. When they had last moved, her father had promised that Nashville was where they would stay. Maybe the line on the page could be a horizon. She put the charcoal to the canvas. And what would that make the misshapen face? Some hideous ghost?

“You’re moving. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” His voice was uncaring, as though the mere fact that he was saying something made it simple truth. “The Council wants to fund your dad’s research. They’re giving you guys a lot. If was up to me you’d have to get one of the condos outside the Tower, but dad got you one inside the Tower of Hope.”

“Well, isn’t it great that none of this is up to either of you,” Sela fired a glance back at her cousin.

The malice in his grin was razor-sharp. “It’s not up to you either. You’re moving, and so what if you don’t want to.” He almost laughed at the frustration he saw in her own flustered expression.

“We are not moving!” Sela spun back to the desk and slammed the charcoal pencil back into the box with the still-wrapped pencils. It broke in half, and she didn’t care.

She wanted to throw the whole box at Leon, stain that annoying expression with charcoal, shoo him out of her room, out of the house, out of her life forever.

Why? Why! Why did he have to come back just to tell me this!

Sela huffed a breath out and turned back around. Leon was still there, his grin now cranked wide with all the glee he got from bothering her. He seemed to have a special place in his heart for annoying her. He never laughed, and yet the same dark joy was there. What was the word she had learned in English class? Schadenfreude?

Leon liked to control things and he treated people like they were things to be controlled. Only his father was beyond his disdain, and by extension, the people his father revered.

Sela had even seen Leon talk down to his own mother, and he had not seemed at all distraught when she had passed away in a car accident two years earlier.

He just stared at Sela, standing in her doorway, arms crossed as though to block her from leaving his bitter company. Some guests, like some fish, stink immediately.

Unveiling the Cover

My book, The Remaking, is set to launch late next month. I cannot be happier with the way it has turned out. So here’s the cover. I will post a few comments about The Remaking in a few days. This is going to be a slightly different book. It might stir up some interest, though likely through some controversy. More to come later.

Please visit my author page on Facebook! Like and Share!

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The Remaking Teaser

I have been working on two things; getting out of debt and completing another book. I’m close on the first goal and already there on the second. The Remaking should release late next month. I’ll be unveiling the cover art very soon!

Here’s an (ominous) teaser.

Welcome to the Remaking, a global effort to restructure human relations and increase social stability.   Under the guidance of the Provisional Council, the Remaking has eliminated war, eradicated famine, and solved poverty; all while returning most of the natural world to the Earth.

Enjoy your time in Megora, and follow all rules and regulations!

Please note, Ghosting is a serious offense and will not be tolerated.

You may apply for a residence, however the Council reserves sole discretion to assign dwelling spaces as necessary.

If you do not have a biometric account yet, make an appointment with the Agency of Medicine. Your biometric account can be used to make paper-free payments at many restaurants, theaters, and Megora’s state-of-the-art transit system.

Your opinion is valuable to us! The Agency of Vision is eager to hear from you. Visit the website so we can hear your thoughts. And don’t worry, there will be no repercussions… We promise…

Yeah, that doesn’t raise any hair on the neck, right?

More to come soon! Please visit and Like my author page on facebook!

Mockingjays of the World

http://techgnotic.deviantart.com/journal/The-Hunger-Games-Accidental-Statement-of-Protest-495810217

The words of movie heroes are now igniting real passion in the hearts of people in Thailand, moving them to take a symbolic action: raising three fingers into the air. If this goes against government wishes and leads to arrests being made then these protesters will go to jail for referencing a fictional story from a movie.

Hunger Games is shaking the world? Maybe. It is certainly not going to usher in a new era, much as we fans may wish. Why would strict governments be wary of this film, then? Because the message of Hunger Games is the immorality of tyranny, and the virtue of justified revolt.

Popular culture seems to have created a worldwide narrative of “freedom,” though it’s still as vague and hazy as the fictional sources it’s being extracted from to find its final shape. At the end of the day Katniss is a fictional character living in a fabricated world conceived of by her creator Suzanne Collins.

She is not taking real action, not facing consequences for marching in the streets, she may be the spark that lights the kindling—but the kindling has to be there to light. The heart of revolution lies in the people. Fictional characters don’t create social change, people do.

Well, that is true, although it’s nothing new or surprising. Did anyone think Winston Smith (of 1984) was actually to have an impact in Soviet Russia? Of course not! That was why Orwell set his socialist myth on the Isles, warning a free people not to relinquish authority to their government. What about Dagny Taggart (Atlas Shrugged)? Same idea, essentially.

No, fictional characters do not do the leg work. However, they do fire up the passions and steel the determination of real people, those real people who actually drive society.

China’s policy of hiding ideas from its people is screaming out the flaws inherent in their system. Can there be any quality in a society that has to shelter itself from all ideological competition? Doubtful.

In fact, one can scarcely have confidence in a system but for testing it; one of the reasons America was meant to be a federalist society. As originally envisioned, each state would try different things and discover what worked and what didn’t. Such an enterprise on the scale of our states should allow foolishness to be assuaged and wisdom to be embraced. Whether or not anyone actually learns the lessons  and discards of foolishness is another matter, I must admit…

China, though, concerned about the content of Mockingjay Part 1? Why? After all, the rebels aren’t praying in it. Is the communist government of Beijing really terrified enough to withhold a movie about rebellion? Did they ban Star Wars too?

Perhaps a state that has lived and breathed propaganda for the better part of a century can appreciate the power of an idea. Thus, for communists to retain authority, the people must remain ignorant of all which challenges communism and Chinese ultra-nationalism. If I had to guess, I would speculate that China is very wary of this film, because of how frankly it depicts the manufacturing of propaganda to support a cause, both for District 13 and for the Capitol.

China cannot let any more holes develop in their once-airtight seal on the minds of the Chinese people.

How disgraceful that so many millions have their access to alternative ideas closed off! Right?

Right?

Maybe they should ban Mockingjay Part 1 on most college campuses too… Or relegate it to the tiny free speech zones.

Maybe, just maybe, free speech is important, not so that we may all agree on everything lest someone be offended. Maybe free speech is valuable because speech which is disfavored must be evaluated in free and open debate in the marketplace of ideas.

In America, we have come to a point where many topics are avoided altogether, or if not avoided, people tiptoe around them as though a single syllable out of place could mean the end of their public image. This is not just the politicians. Many regular people quietly refuse to speak, lest someone level an accusation against them. If they speak, they take care to know what ears hear.

In America, most poor blacks who are victims of crimes are victimized by young black men who are ingrained into a thug culture. Talk about it? You’re instantly labelled a racist.

Meanwhile, protests go on for one black man who was shot by a white police officer. A tragedy to be sure, but a mere 250 miles away, the shooting of dozens of black men goes quietly unmentioned, because many of the suspects are non-white. Where is the cry to stop this tragedy?

I do not denounce the protestors, only the focus. But the moment anyone brings this up, the shouts of racist begin.

Similarly, college campuses have become stagnant. Either you agree with the modern feminist pandemonium, or you are helping rapists. No room is left for debate and polite disagreement. Agree, or else…

The environment. If you want free market solutions to the problems of pollution and congestion, you are denounced as a shill for the oil companies, and you must want to destroy the whole planet. You’re worse than a holocaust denier, your children should be taken away to re-education camp, and your house should be burned down! Sounds reasonable enough a position, right?

Everywhere in America we’re surrounded by atrociously awful bureaucracies that fail miserably at even the most basic of tasks. Some of us say that it’s probably not best to empower these chronically inept bureaucrats with the healthcare of the people. To that, we’re accused of being rich misers who want the poor to die off and work for slave wages. Never mind that those two goals are paradoxical!

Of government dependency programs, we want people to be weaned off the addicting support of government. We want social workers to see those they want to help as people, and not permanent victims. We want government to stop wasting all of the human potential of those they proclaim to help. That makes us fatcats, robber barons, and one-percenters. Never mind the fact that I have not once made $30,000 a year yet…

I could go on, but you get the idea. And you may disagree with my position on most of these specific issues, and that’s fine! However, we ought to at the very least agree that it is better to be able to talk openly and freely about these issues, without the fear of mob tactics being used to silence discussion.

Harmony is not a Mexican standoff, where no one shoots, lest everyone be shot. Harmony is not all disfavored opinions remaining unspoken, lest a savage reprisal follow a politically incorrect phrase.

Harmony is when people agree to disagree. Hear each opinion, remain civil, discuss, disagree, and go on with their lives.

Or agree.

That’s the real key to free speech! How else do you convince someone to change his opinion but to discuss and debate with him? Mere dictation of the ‘appropriate’ opinion makes you… a dictator.

Free speech means everyone needs to have thick enough skin to hear things they dislike. If you come to pieces because you dislike what someone says, then you need to go to de-sensitivity training. If micro-aggressions are your overriding concern in life, then things must be pretty peachy keen. If you unfriend every single person on Facebook who disagrees with you, are you really an open minded person? Can you really believe in free speech and refuse to hear anything that challenges your view?

One can hardly blame the people of Thailand for picking up on the simple expression of a salute, which can be imbued with as much political weight as it had in Catching Fire. I sincerely hope fans of The Hunger Games can overcome whatever repression and intimidation they face from their governments.

And I hope we in the West can refuse this nonsense about abridging the freedom of speech in the name of stopping anyone from having hurt feelings. Being polite and gentle is all well and good, but when sensitivity demands dishonesty and delusion from all of society, sensitivity becomes but a vehicle for expanded state authority.

Let us be free and civil, the world over. If you strip our freedom from us, then you shall not have our civility too.

Midnight Review of Mockingjay Part 1

I see that, after all this time, my articles on Capitalism, Communism, and the Hunger Games are still receiving many hits every day.

Perhaps it would be best for my  (spoiler free!) review of Mockingjay Part 1 to include some mentions of contemporary issues, as our times are certainly intriguing, from a historical perspective.

However, first should come my impression of the movie, which is that it is good. Really good. That said, it is not quite as good as Catching Fire was. Frankly, I don’t recall what I said specifically in my review of Catching Fire, but I do remember falling in love with it the second time through, having only found satisfaction from my first viewing.

Mockingjay Part 1 is darker. Not just in visual styling, which is necessary considering the bulk of it takes place underground. The tone of the film is darker, perhaps matched only by the incredible shadowing around Peeta’s eyes. Excellent acting by Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. Liam Hemsworth finally receives the screen time that was precluded by the forced absence of his character. Stellar performance on a role that’s hard to sell, (made even more complex in delivery by the popularity of Suzanne Collins’ final Hunger Games novel).

As before, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson provide much-needed comic relief, developing their characters more fully than ever. And yet, those moments of humor quickly sink beneath a sea of despair, as the movie tracks very closely with the savagely-dramatic plot in Mockingjay.

Which is not to say that it is too dark. Only that it matches the circumstances as they play out. Perhaps Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death during filming brings some of the anguish of Mockingjay Part 1 into the real world. The film is dedicated to him, and may his soul rest in peace.

All told though, few (perhaps none) going into the theaters tonight were unaware of the plot, and so were ready to embrace a darker film. Mockingjay Part 2 (barring any rewrite for audience expansion [God forbid it!]) is sure to be even bleaker.

It works.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a fantastic continuation of the story, and when the film manages to bring some sunlight to the scene, it really splashes wonderfully amidst the ashes and piles of concrete. Solid film that sets up the potential for a powerful finish to this saga. I hold no illusions that people who are not going already, will see Mockingjay Part 1 because I recommend it. But if such a person exists, go see this film already!

Now, Mockingjay Part 1 takes place in a different world from the first two movies. When rebellion gets under way and experiences some success, there cannot but be a confusing arrangement of things between all parties concerned.

I’m saying that the politics in Mockingjay Part 1 are not involved nearly so heavily now. The chessboard tactics to manipulate enemies are ever-present, but not the maintenance of one people at the expense of others. Under threat, those with power will do whatever is necessary to keep it, and those who want to abolish it (or steal it) will likely act similarly.

Which brings us to a very clear point: no system can exist where good men are given sweeping authority to control the lives of all others. By definition, a man cannot be good and dictate to the rest of the people. Similarly, no council of men can unite goodness with absolute authority as well.

Absolute authority is not for man, but for Another, and He already has it. He only loans out temporary authority to man, because He created Free Will.

If we are to take lessons away from The Hunger Games, we would be best to understand the profound value of checks and balances, statutory limitations of authority, and local autonomy. There need not be a war, nor revolution if the Capitol and Snow would have just left the hard working people of Panem to produce and sell as they please.

The Capitol would have had to pay for everything, sure, and that might cost a bit more money. But there would have been no need to shoulder the burden of a Peacekeeper force to maintain strict control over the districts. Imagine the bureaucratic costs of recruiting, training, arming, deploying, and enforcing all of the will of the Capitol! If all of those funds could be forgone, the districts would happily produce and sell and buy. All would become richer by each transaction. That’s how free markets work; the parties involved in each transaction make each other happy, otherwise the deal is not made.

Perhaps you see the wrench in the gears of this peaceful-coexistence theory. Would President Snow have allowed tyranny to be phased out, even to bring forward a vastly-superior mode of production and distribution? No, of course not!

Why not? Because the equal distribution of personal freedom would thoroughly vanquish Snow’s totalitarian authority. If he can twist the entire nation into giving him the power and prestige he desires, the rest of the nation must suffer for the vanity of one man.

And so revolution must be had.

Who among us today can trust that the will of the people is heard in the hallowed halls of our own Capitol building? Of the offices at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Make no mistake, I am not stating that we’ve come to the point of Panem. No, certainly not. For we still have, and exercise, the vote, and in part that exercise has a result. Those who pay close attention can see that.

How often though, is that exercise flatly ignored and rejected as mere tradition? Are we a nation which has laws, under which all men are equal? Or are we a nation which is to endow good men with ultimate power?

And by endowment of ultimate power, we steal away the goodness of those men, and make the greatest bait for those of the lowest repute!

No, my friends! Good government is that which governs least, and good people are those who need least governing!

No one would say that Panem would be better off with the Mockingjay granted President Snow’s office and authority. Katniss Everdeen has at least enough understanding of power to know that she could not assume that place without becoming the very blood-breathing, vile creature she hates.

This is why she kills President Coin at the end of Mockingjay. She sees another person taking authority who, by virtue of accepting such tyranny, is undeserving of having any power whatsoever!

Let us, in America and around the world, learn the lessons of tyranny before it takes bloodshed to hack away the bonds that must accompany it.

And go see Mockingjay Part 1!

The Only Admirable Way

I wrote this back in June, and it has sat since then. Given the madness surfacing in various parts of this great nation, I thought perhaps a few of these lines will seem poignant. That is for the reader to decide.

What a terrible mess of justice we make,

When for an idea, society we break.

Once setting out, spurred by truth’s yearning,

Crushed to powder and buried, under a mountain of ‘learning’.

Embracing foolishness; ‘imagine men and women the same’,

Unable to see anything, except through the insane

Chains of hard iron; rusty, discarded, and broken,

Reforged anew, willingly worn, shouting “token!”

As though any difference at all is unjust,

Among people infinitely unique, and thus,

Every foundation must be shattered anew,

Because compared to an idea, nothing else will do!

Many who improve their lot are then hated,

Whoever may seek, so mercilessly berated,

As acting white, chauvinistic, or prudish,

Wealthy one percent, apartheid Jewish.

Unrelenting fealty to the mob, this demand.

No whisper of dissent is permitted to stand.

Holding up conversation as necessary and right,

While murdering any else, blaming them for all blight.

And those going quietly about their own way,

Working to provide, serving their families each day,

Whose ethic is mostly subconscious but fair,

Treating people as individuals, and always with care;

They are to suffer, for an idea the only standard,

Thus, every iota of life must be gerrymandered.

In remaking the world, we must remake man.

Always, of course, assuming that we can,

Though history is replete, exhaustive with example,

Only God can work the clay of mankind and resample.

Baked, we are in His image, now hardened.

Twill shatter to reform, outside of the Garden.

The terror of orthodoxy, that furious will of the mob,

Always crashing right down, and the Blind Lady must sob.

Every gift we were given, cast uncaring aside,

All fences torn down without pause to ask why.

If they were once put there, was it only for greed?

How can we possibly assume such a simplistic creed?

After all, we must make the world so complex,

Only an educated mind can be wrapped in this hex.

None who think clearly would interpret this way,

But the degrees and the peers entitle some to say,

Only this and not that, but both when we look,

And need to justify her, as we make him a crook.

For one is a victim, because the other has oppressed,

In our very definitions of poverty and success!

Embrace the unnatural, sown with pure will

Virtue by power, Correctness made shrill

What makes a thing good, is merely that it works

And we want it and do it, ignoring the quirks.

Yet, who defines what ‘working’ means?

Who sets the rules of these hellish machines?

Still the crowd screams vile rage into the wind,

Howling as though a hurricane’s gale shall rescind.

And denying payday’s oncoming storm,

Our recycled delusions tailored to conform,

Until all of any worth is lost,

And every single soul we accost,

And over our easy lives a frost,

And forever through the ages

Our demise is embossed,

Onto the ash heap of history we’ve tossed,

The only admirable way.