How often do you hear people say the would prefer you be honest and tell them a problem to their face than talk to someone else about it?  Another scenario might be a friend or relative irritates you for awhile but you keep it to yourself, but once the truth comes out they react poorly while at the same time saying you should have said something sooner.  Perhaps another situation may be when a friend’s behavior is concerning and you bring it up right away because that friend has claimed for years they value honesty, but when you approach them they do not take it well.  You may employ every bit of tact and gentleness at your disposal, but still the friend blows up and hurls accusations at you.  Most people who are older than elementary age have experienced this.  People say they want honesty, but how many really do?

This blog is in no way justifying or advocating lying.  It is merely my unscientific observation that many times people cannot handle the level of honesty they ask for.  It is human nature to want to be liked and when we find out someone has an issue with us, even if it is valid, our natural instinct is to build up a defensive wall.  Ideally, by the time someone reaches adulthood, that person should be able to take constructive criticism without getting defensive and hurling accusations.  Unfortunately, this appears to be the exception, not the rule.

Does this mean we should shirk away from telling someone we have an issue?  Not at all.  It simply means we need to condition ourselves to care less what people think.  We should always show gentleness, kindness, and love to others.  However, if someone reacts poorly to the truth than it is their problem not yours.  A friend should listen, and if they do not calm down and try to see your point of view then that reflects more on them than you.  If your issue is untrue or based on an assumption then you should show maturity as well and admit it.  Ultimately, an issue never gets resolved if it isn’t discussed.

Now what does this have to do with writing?  Characterization and feedback are the two answers.  I will go into greater detail on that in the next post.


We are all guilty of it.  Most of the time we are unaware of the snap judgements we make about people and our settings.  While judgement has an often-negative connotation, most judgements are benign such as which clothes we wear, and the best way to start our day.  Others however, are more impactful and can deeply harm our relationships with others.  We all know assumptions, especially negative ones, are not healthy, yet we continue to make judgements based on nothing more than our presumptions.

One of the main themes in Crystal Moon is that we should always be careful what sort of conclusions we come to, especially in marriage.  It is a part of human nature to assume the worst, especially if there is an argument or a relationship hasn’t been going well.  Sometimes there are other factors such as a bad mood, alcohol, or simply an inability to empathize with another person.

Usually, the more negative assumptions we have about a person, the more wrong we are.  There are of course exceptions, toxic people do exist and they are more common than we would like to believe.  Everyone that has gone to school knows that first hand, and perhaps when we become adults we are on guard against such toxicity.  It is easier to assume the worst and be on the defensive then it is to be vulnerable, especially opening ourselves to someone who will betray that trust in the future.

Most of the time negative assumptions do nothing more than get us into trouble, especially if we lash out first before discussing them.  I have come to believe that people are more emotional than rational, especially when they are fired up.  When we are upset and believe another person has wronged us, in that moment we want to fight, and more importantly win.  This is the sort of mess the main characters find themselves in.  Both the husband and wife come to conclusions about one another, and instead of discussing their fears and concerns, the real issue at hand continues to spiral out of control.  When this happens in fiction it creates plot, but in real life it can cause irreparable damage.  When we are accused of doing or feeling something we aren’t guilty of, we feel angry, that there had been an injustice done upon us. May we learn from characters in fiction and be better than that, remembering how it feels to be on the receiving end of untrue assumptions.

Three Years Ago (Now four)

Note: This was published October 2016, but the lessons I learned are still very much relevant.  This is one of the most important blog posts I have ever written.  We can love someone while standing up for ourselves and putting up boundaries, including not being a part of that person’s life.  Toxic people exist, never be afraid to speak up.

Have you ever met someone who felt off, but you had no reason at that moment to feel that way?  One particular person I knew gave me that vibe, and for a few years, I honestly didn’t like them much.  It wasn’t until around 2011 that this person confessed something they had done that put them in a tight spot.  I felt as a Christian it was my duty to be there for this person and decided that I was being paranoid and judgmental, so I shoved my reservations to the side.

Over the next year and a half, we grew closer, spending a lot of time talking on Skype and the phone.  There were red flags that I ignored during our friendship.  If I had something to address with this person, they would blow it off, turn it around, and blame me.  This person, among many other bad signs, made grandiose claims of prophecy.  Around this time, the off feeling came back.  Well, if I was honest with myself, it never left, but the warnings in my soul became so strong I couldn’t ignore it.  For the sake of privacy, I won’t say too much more on the situation, but this person did inspire a character in one of my up-coming novels.

When I began talking to a 3rd party about my situation, things started to clear up.  I was making excuses for this person in my head, this person who was emotionally and mentally abusive and manipulative.  In June of 2013, I first brought up my concerns to this person, which neither one of us handled very well. I admit that.  I gave this person another chance but with strict boundaries in place.  Again, the blame was completely placed on me from this other person’s perspective.  I do not claim to be perfect, but I always tried to treat this person with respect.

The 3rd party I was talking to about this situation told me in October of that year that I needed to confront this friend and tell them my concerns.  The person I talked with said I needed to do it in order to grow.  I was terrified, but a couple weeks later I did it.  I wanted this conversation to just be over.  To make a very long and complicated situation more concise, this “friend” didn’t like what I had to say at all.  This person even tried to get my wife to side with them on the issue.  Perhaps I didn’t handle things 100 percent the way I should have, but I do know I was gentle.  Confronting someone with serious issues like this is neither easy to say or easy to hear.  After my wife and I tried everything, suggesting someone else help resolve this and trying to talk about it, this person shoved us away. We let them walk away and resolved to never allow their manipulation back into our lives.

The point of this story is not to shame the individual involved.  I have no idea where they are right now, if they have changed, or if they truly know if they changed.  What I do know is that if you have someone in your life that is manipulating and/or abusive, you do not have to stand for it.  Even if that is the only friend you have in the world, you do not need that toxicity in your life.  Turning away from that doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you smart.  Friendship should be mutual.  The second it isn’t, the moment there is an imbalance of power and benefit, it may be time to rethink it.

This crazy experience, which was filled with more drama than I could ever include was too rich of a resource not to use for a book.  I wrote in a secondary character who becomes friends with the protagonist who is based on my former friend.  Unfortunately, even in an urban fantasy setting, things that happened still had to tone down because, frankly, my readers would probably find it unbelievable.  As a writer, every experience is fair game.  Those experiences, whether they seem real or not, are what make stories relatable.  Even if it is incredibly painful like this experience was for me.  All of life is for us to use.

Note: I chose to use the words “them” and “they” because they are gender neutral and increases the privacy of the person I am referencing.

Pondering Morality

This is a sensitive subject for many people.  Differences in perspectives on morality cause division, some minor, and some large.  At the heart of these perspectives is one question: is morality relative or absolute?  This is a topic that affects everything, including my works of fiction.  There are some who believe the same as I do about Jesus, but feel enjoying Fantasy is immoral.  Are they correct?  Is there even a right answer to these questions?

An entire book series could be written discussing in depth why there is morality, what morality is, and if there is an absolute basis for said morality.  Here I simply want to address the question, is morality absolute or not?  In short, my answer is yes.  Morality, like many realities are more nuanced than merely yes or no.  While the idea of moral relativism and absolutism appear incompatible, I argue it depends on the approach one takes.  An absolutist version of either end up with absurd logical conclusions.  Absolute moral relativism would mean that morality is determined by the individual and society.  However, when we study history we agree that the actions of the Nazi’s and Stalin’s Red Army were unquestionably evil.  I am familiar with the argument that there is no true right or wrong, just what we make of it, but I don’t think many truly apply that belief.  Sure, there are moral relativist apologists from the common Facebook user all the way up to professional philosophers.  No rational person would agree that just because it was culturally appropriate to commit mass murder in Nazi occupied territories means it is okay.  In the 21st century few would argue that slavery is evil and a terrible thing that happened not only throughout history, but has remained in various forms throughout the world.  Sometimes slavery has been used as an example of this philosophical position’s truth.  It is true centuries ago slavery was more accepted than it is today, the issue once again was that those that were enslaved were thought of as not entirely human. Ultimately, I find it difficult to get around the conclusion that moral relativism will lead to individuals doing what they please, while not pleasing anyone.  Much more could be written on moral relativism, and within that think tank there is diversity.

On the other side of the spectrum there is absolute morality.  This essentially states that there is a moral code that is universally true for every human being.  I believe this is a little closer to the truth than moral relativism.  Those who disagree with this point of view will mention the differences throughout history in society’s values and morality.  However, there are more similarities across cultures then one might realize.  A common example would be that murder has not been freely allowed in cultures.  Now of course there are cases of cannibalism, genocide, and murder of every kind, but the difference is the victims were not considered people by their oppressors.  Even in Nazi Germany murderers were punished.  Those who adhere to this moral philosophy may cite holy religious texts or scriptures.  What absolute morality fails to take into account by itself is the different sensitives of other people’s consciences.  This looks like tastes in music, books, television, basically any consumable media.  Where some may be deeply disturbed by a film and may deem it to be immoral, others may gain something from it.  Another difference may come in food and drink, where one may see eating meat as wrong, another may see supporting agriculture as wrong.

In the above cases, I feel it is down to the individual to do what is best for them, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t overarching moral truths that apply to everyone.  Murder is wrong, but self-defense is typically seen as fair and at minimum a less punishable act.  Within certain cultures people have been deemed less-than-human but murder remains illegal.  Some believe enjoying media with magic in it is wrong, while others do not.  This is an example of where morality is somewhat relative, while there are things should all agree on are wrong like murder, thievery, and slavery.

The Strange World

The orange and green sphere gradually enlarged before the woman’s cockpit.  She pulled down on the throttle, and the whine of the engines subsided to a barely audible din. “There it is, finally,” she breathed, shifting in her seat. “Hopefully the air is breathable, I need to stretch my legs.”  The triangular wing of her craft reflected the nearby star’s light, into her face.  The woman raised her hand to shield her eyes while she arced her vehicle so the light wasn’t as much of a problem.

“That has to be a body of water,” she changed the direction the craft was heading again toward a blue-green stain on the sphere.  The star ship’s pointed nose arced down through the atmosphere, flames licked the black shiny hull of the vehicle, the woman eyed the orange and red tongues, but her face remained unchanged.  “Just a little further,” she whispered as the ship started to rattle violently, fire now filled the view port’s exterior.  The woman pressed a series of small buttons on the left control panel before her and a blue mist sprayed the exterior of the view port and the flames died down enough for her to loose a short sigh.

The pilot set the ship down at the edge of the lake.  Its green liquid sloshed against dark gray, nearly black sand. She unbuckled the seat harness and depressed a glowing button five feet down from the cockpit, placing a breath mask over her face.  The woman pulled out a white, thin, square, device with a five-inch glass screen.  She pressed a button on the side and the device lit up.  “At least the air isn’t toxic, but it’s barely thick enough to breath,” she said, removing the mask. “But the water isn’t really water, great.”  The woman then pulled out some thick gloves from her pocket and put them on.

Even being on the day side of the planet, three moons were still clearly seen in the sky, one of which was a deep, rust red, giving an eerie glow in the already yellow-tinted atmosphere.  She walked to the edge of the liquid body, holding her instrument in front of her. “Water, methane, and an unknown substance,” she read off the readings that showed up on her device. “That isn’t exactly what I was hoping for, oh well, I guess it’s time to leave.”

There was a ripple in the water, the woman stared, watching, waiting, then as she was about to turn there was another, this time larger than the last. “I’m not sticking around to find out what caused that,” she uttered, running back to the ship.  Before she could arrive at the vessel, a loud growling, howl echoed.  The astronaut spun around, and saw it.  A black mass, with four clawed legs, propelled it out of the water.  The alien creature’s body reminded the astronaut of a slug or worm, it was long and segmented, yet looked like it had armored plates haphazardly stitched to its sides, reminding her of a patchwork amateurish art.  The alien’s face was a canine-like snout with rows of square teeth that looked like hatchets protruding from its gums.  Seven spines awkwardly poked up from its spine and the tips bent slightly before ending in a blunt end.  She withdrew a small laser pistol, knowing the weapon was unlikely to do much to defend herself.  The astronaut fired her weapon, and the bolt struck the creature in the side, it howled in pain, and charged at her.

Realizing shooting the alien beast wasn’t a wise idea, she dove to the side, just before the creature was about to trample over her.  The alien now stood between her and the ship. “Don’t’ step backward and damage my hull, I don’t want to be stranded here,” the woman shouted as if the beast could understand her.

She fired off a few more shots, and the creature lumbered toward her, swiping at a tree-like plant that reminded her a little of celery. The plant crashed down, causing a crevice in the soft ground, but fortunately it missed the astronaut and her craft.  The woman pulled the trigger three more times, aiming for the alien’s head, two missed and the last one hit it in the snout.  The beast stared her down then leapt up and its hook claws tore through her suit, blood dribbled down her arm.  She pulled the trigger on her weapon again, but nothing happened, a soft beep sounded from her weapon noting the charge was low.  She holstered the pistol, eyes darting around, looking for a suitable weapon of some kind.  There was nothing, save for a few rocks which would hardly work to defend herself.  She gritted her teeth together, grabbed the heaviest rock she could find and hurled it at the alien.  The rock thudded into the ground, completely missing the target.  Unsurprised, but grateful the distraction the rock provides, she bolted for the ship, opened the door and quickly sealed herself inside before the thing outside knew what happened.  It screamed and hollered in anger, madly searching for her, but its cries were answered by the roar of the ship’s engines.

She pressed a series of buttons and grabbed the craft’s yolk, blasting off to the safety of space leaving the creature behind confused and upset.