Quarantine Chat: Fast Invitation and a Shadow of an Empire – The Film (or Series)

Hey readers! I hope things are going well for you during these interesting times. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring some relief today, as I’ve got two things to talk about, and we’re going to dive right in. Serious topic first … then some fun!

Oh! Reminder to all prior Beta Readers! Check your e-mail, as the Beta invite for A Trial for a Dragon has been sent out!


Fast Invitation

The first thing I’m going to talk about is a fast invitation that’s been extended globally by my faith. As most readers of this site know, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who have taken great steps to curb the spread of Covid-19 (globally we put all Sunday meetings on hold before most countries were even thinking about doing anything, and immediately began coordinating relief effort). But one thing our faith is doing this week—and not alone—is a global fast across the Earth.

For some of you, that requires a few explanations. I’ll start with the “fast” bit. A fast is an act of sacrifice before God, most commonly expressed as one forgoing food and water for a period of time—two meals or 24 hours being the period commonly expressed in our faith, if able (the Lord knows if you have additional requirements, and that’s fine)—in order to focus on and request the aid of Heaven. Basically, a form of sacrifice between man and God wherein man shows dedication by forgoing that which gives mortal life in favor of spiritual life. You can find them mentioned all through works of scripture, and as a continuance of Christ’s church on the Earth today, members of my faith participate in them regularly.

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News: New Fireteam Freelance Episode, Quarantine Chat, Trial for a Dragon, and more!

Hey readers! It’s time for a dose of site news! And while there was an order to things in the title above, the first thing I’m going to do is toss that aside, because the very first thing I have to talk about, that I want to talk about is that there’s a new episode of Fireteam Freelance tomorrow!


That’s right, tomorrow morning Underground Orbit drops on the site, as the team picks up a new mission that requires them to take on a very different approach while … naked? Who’s paying for this, and why are these missions getting so strange anyway?

No matter what, though, it’s sure to be not what you expect! So tomorrow morning be at the ready! Episode three of Fireteam Freelance is here at last!


Naturally, this does mean that the time has come for me to start going over responses from Alpha Readers for A Trial for a Dragon. The submission date draws ever closer, and there are definitely changes to make in these next few days, so that’ll be my next move, starting today. At this point a good number of Alpha Readers have finished it, so the draft is full of feedback comments which I’ll start working on today. Once Trial is shifted, depending on how much rewriting was done for the feedback, there may be a fast and aggressive Alpha 2 before darting to Beta. We’ll see how confident everyone is in the changes I make.

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Merry Christmas From Unusual Things!

It’s that time of year once again.

Okay, so it has been for a while now. This post is probably a little late to comment on the “arrival” of the season, seeing as Christmas Eve is tomorrow, and Christmas Day—Well, it comes right after Christmas Eve. That’s kind of a given.

The season isn’t “coming.” It’s here. And I’ll be honest, it’s one of my favorite seasons. For a lot of reasons. Like hot chocolate. The wondrous drink known as eggnog (non-alcoholic, just to be clear). Upbeat music about finding happiness and joy in family, faith, or even just the most ordinary things (I mean, think about it, what other season gets music that urges us to look at the weather and enjoy it so wholeheartedly?).

But those are all … elements. Things. And to be fair, I can enjoy them any time of the year. So while they’re part the pieces that make up the Christmas holiday … they’re not Christmas itself. They’re not integral. They’re signs of Christmas. By-products.

Because Christmas is about more than just hot chocolate, pretty lights, music, or snow. Thankfully, since I don’t even have that last one at the moment. Or the lights. But I don’t have to, because Christmas isn’t about those things. They add to it, but only because we let it.

Christmas is built, not on those, but on something grander.

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A Quiet Weekend

This weekend is Conference weekend.

For many, that doesn’t mean much. Sands, most of you probably have never heard of it. That’s fine. It’s a religious event.

Ah, see? Some probably ran in a panic right then and there.

Anyway, it’s pretty simple. Conference weekend, known among the members of my religion as General Conference Weekend, is a bi-annual (twice yearly) event in which the entire church comes together in a conference, to hear the religious leaders of the church speak directly to the entirety of the church. Given that this leadership consists of a Prophet of God and twelve Apostles, this is a pretty cool thing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like they’re not carrying out their duties as special witnesses of Christ and his gospel the rest of the year. They do—they put some serious travel in going around the world and meeting with members of our church all over. But twice a year, they all gather—Apostles, the prophet, seventies (Exodus if you’ve not heard of that), etc—for this General Conference. And then? They teach. And that teaching is broadcast via the internet, radio, television, etc, all across the world, and the members gather and watch it. Five broadcasts, each 2 hours long, over two days.

Ten, awesome, fulfilling hours.

Right, why am I talking about this? Well, for starters, because you don’t have to be a member of our church to enjoy it. This isn’t some cliche “The end is nigh” monologue given by a man with a crazy beard in a robe. So far, in the first session we had today I’ve listened to an Apostle give counsel on how not to take the many gifts of God for granted, and how to learn to see how many truly wondrous gifts we’ve been given. Another spoke on prayer, and how it is an act of humility before God. You don’t have to be a member of our faith to get something out of it. There’s a spirit of holiness and tranquility that surrounds each message, a gentleness you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

And even if you’re not a member of my faith, well, a little bit of peace and tranquility might feel pretty welcome. Which is why I’m mentioning it (well, also and so you guys are kept up-to-date on my movements, since Saturday is normally fanfic day). Maybe you’re wondering what to do with your day. Maybe you’re feeling a little down. Maybe you just want a pick-me-up and have found that the usual isn’t doing it for you.

If so, well, this conference gets streamed live on Youtube. Feel free to listen in. Regardless of where you are in life, there’s something for everyone that gets said at these things. They talk about God. They talk about Christ. They talk about our purpose on Earth, the atonement … a plethora of topics that many people wonder about, even if they don’t put voice to those wonders.

So if you’ve got some time and you want a pick-me-up, feel welcome to check it out.

 

 

NOTE: And if you despise my religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and want to start a big controversy, or are thinking about posting “the truth” in the comments below in some vain attempt to save my “misguided” soul … please don’t bother. I’ve been an open member of my church online for years now; screaming, shouting, ranting, accusing, or even trying to get my books taken down from Amazon as some sort of “revenge” isn’t anything new. It’s been done before, there are better ways to spend your time, so please, go and do something productive elsewhere.

The Season

Today is December 21st. Four days until Christmas day.

I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to write for today, and I do mean a lot. I had a lot of drafts that I went over in my mind, debated, discussed with myself, and eventually discarded. I even debated sitting down and writing this all out in advance. But … I never quite did. Instead I waited until this exact moment to write this out, because while I knew what I wanted to say, wasn’t sure how I wanted to say it, what method I wanted to use to present what’s taking this week’s place from Being a Better Writer. I spent a lot of time thinking over it, weighing the various things I could say, the topics I could tie in—and make no mistake, there were plenty of those this last year. More than anything else, now, I think the world needs the message that the celebration of Christmas reveres and brings once more. This last year has seen hatred piled upon hatred, vitriol on vitriol. The world at large … well, it wouldn’t have us think kind things, or even good things. The message from it has been that we must hate those that disagree with us, and revile against those who are different then us.

It’s sad. Now more than ever, I think, we need to remember what Christmas is truly about.

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