Tonight on the Write Stuff–The Darkened Land with Larry Paris

darkened (1)In a land of complete darkness a war rages. The quest for one of the light-giving stones of the King brings Lachlaniel into contact with Velius. Together with an eclectic band of other people, they must battle the forces of evil as well as their own human flaws or the assault on the city will bring catastrophe and leave the Seven Cities only six. The forces of darkness are bent on devastation and destruction of everything in their path. Can this intrepid band of valiant heroes rescue the people of the surrounding towns and save the great city from the torment and anguish inflicted by the hideous creatures of the darkness?

Join Larry and I as we discuss his first book! You can call in at 646-668-8485 and press 1 to be live on air. Or, download Stitcher on your mobile device. Follow us on iTunes. Or, click on the link here:  http://tobtr.com/11017031.

 

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GUEST POST: Speculative Fiction Writer’s Guide to War–part 1, Reasons by Travis Perry and Travis Chapman

I often showcase and host books on the blog. Yet, I have become a fan of a publisher by the name of Bear Publications whose owner is Travis Perry. I enjoy his insights into a variety of things. He’s also been on my show several times as well and continues to deliver helpful blogs about writing. He start a series with Speculative Faith called The Speculative Fiction’s Guide to War and of course, I thought, I think this is good information to share.  After all, human history is drenched in the blood of the battlefield. What aspects of the real do we take in our speculative worlds? This is currently a five part series but here is the first part of it. I hope you enjoy!


travisToday I’m launching a new series. (Or maybe I ought to say, “I’m harnessing my regular writing slot for Speculative Faith to motivate myself to write a book that’s been on my mind for years.” 🙂 ) My goal is to make a comprehensive guide to warfare, from beginning to end, from fantasy war based in the legendary past, to futuristic science fiction conflict. And we’ll start at the beginning–reasons. Why does anybody go to war in the first place? What causes conflict? And how do you use that knowledge to write a better story?

When discussing causes of human behavior in general, you’ll find that there’s much speculation and disagreement–and the subject of war is no exception to that. It’s not even universally agreed upon if war is natural to human beings. For almost all known societies over the entire world throughout all of known human history, at least on occasion wars are fought and at least a little formal training for warfare exists. Though it is also true that human beings in general show signs of having a natural aversion to killing one another–if we did not have such an aversion, training warriors to fight would not be necessary.

In terms of why wars begin, the Wikipedia article on war fairly represents the topic when it lists seven major categories of theories of reasons wars begin (Psychoanalytic, Evolutionary, Economic, Marxist, Demographic, Rationalist, and Political Science), many of which have sub-categories. In other words, there’s a lot of disagreement about this topic.

This Writer’s Guide for Speculative Fiction authors (which is focused on science fiction and fantasy) takes the view that warfare among human beings stems from aspects of human nature that are common to all human societies, but which require certain societal elements to exist before they can be expressed in warfare. In spite of occasional allegations of completely peaceful societies, there has never been a human society which has no concept of crime in general and murder in particular.  Murder–in which one human being kills another for reasons the society does not see as valid–is very rare in some societies, but exists everywhere human beings live. Likewise, even in societies that practice sharing of resources, it still happens that people disagree over who gets what at what time on occasion, leading to conflict. Even in tribal societies that are very egalitarian, at times there is disagreement or even conflict about who will be in charge of a particular action. And even in tribal societies without a formal law code, it’s true that sometimes fighting occurs within the group over perceived injustice–usually relating to issues of crime, yes, but fighting can also erupt when a group of human beings cannot agree about what is and is not just or fair or right.

Murder, fighting over resources, fighting over position in a society, and disagreement over the rules can each be phrased in terms of a human trait that is the primary cause of each of these actions. While hatred is not be the only cause of murder, it’s a major one. While it may be possible to fight over resources without greed or envy, feelings of at least envy usually accompany such a fight. Seeking prominence over others is usually (fairly) associated with pride, and disagreement over the rules appeals to the innate human sense of justice. Hatred, envy (or greed), pride, and justice–all human societies express these traits to some degree or other. Note that the first three of these traits are generally seen as vices–and justice itself can be a vice, if misapplied.

Though not all human societies go to war, even if all societies have the traits that cause war. But even societies that don’t go to war, if they were invaded by others, would be able to define what’s happening based on the principles they already know. That’s true even if they are shocked by the level of brutality involved. For example: “Those people are murdering us to take our water!”

War-Peace-Public-Domain-1In speculative fiction contexts, it may be that fantasy races or alien species literally would have no concept of war and wouldn’t have any conflict within their societies either. Such people probably would not even realize they should run away when attacked, not immediately anyway. But in discussing warfare, let’s start with the baseline reasons of what is known about human beings first and then afterwards adapt that to non-human societies.

So if the reasons behind human conflict are found in all human societies, why is it that not all societies actually go to war?

The societies that don’t go to war fall into two groups: 1) tribal societies that occupy a niche in which war is unlikely 2) deliberately pacifist societies that come out of warlike societies and which consciously reject war.

The number 2 societies probably require the least explanation. They usually are part of a religious order that teaches that all human being are valuable, so killing any of them is wrong (think Amish or Mennonites or groups like them, or various monastic orders, or Jainists)–or on occasion are non-religious organizations that have high intellectual ideals that include rejection of violence (like some Israeli Kibbutzim). People raised in these societies who are taught to believe war is wrong usually live up to their beliefs and refuse to go to war.

Number 1 societies include tribes that are so geographically isolated that it’s very hard for them to make contact with other groups, let alone fight them. It also includes groups that occupy an ecological niche that other groups are not interested in. Example for both: Imagine a tribe living in a small oasis in a desert which is surrounded by well-watered lands–it may be that other tribes prefer to fight one another over the well-watered lands rather than cross the desert, leaving the oasis tribe to live in peace.

Note the existence of isolated groups that do not engage in warfare at all is the reason some anthropologists argue war is not natural to human beings. They imagine that the original state of the human race consisted of this type of isolated tribes that did not ever fight each other–only later when, say, agriculture was developed, could a society have surplus food to pay people to train for warfare full-time.

While it is true that desperately poor societies cannot afford to pay for a warrior caste, some tribal groups have existed in which everyone (or in most cases, every male) in the tribe was a warrior. That has been especially true for groups that live in areas that make for easy travelling and which have resources which are easily stolen (think the animals that pastoral nomads keep). These groups are usually the among the most warlike of all human beings.

So it seems there’s an element of necessity in who is and who is not warlike. Those who are vulnerable to attack are more likely to be aggressive (in self-defense) but the issue of resources also raises its head here.

Fighting over resources, whether water or food or even gold for societies that use precious metals, seems to be the primary reason for people to go to war. To either take or defend what they perceive they need. Humans also seem show a preference for not fighting over resources if they don’t have to–that is, societies which are vulnerable to loss of resources organize themselves to defend those resources, but ones who can obtain what they want or need “for free,” are much more peaceful–which is where the natural aversion to killing others seems to come into play. It does seem to be true that while some individuals may chose to kill (in the criminal sense) in any society, only societies who perceive they need train themselves in warfare actually do so. And that perceived need is mainly based on access to resources–though again note that almost all humans, historically speaking, have perceived a need to organize to protect resources, so this isn’t anything unusual. A pacifistic society is much more exceptional than a warlike one.

Note that while hatred of others may cause one person to kill another within a tribe and relates to a reason for warfare, it’s actually not usually the main cause of a war–but it can be an important catalyst. Especially because human beings are very quick to define other humans in terms of those who are part of our “in-group” and those who are part of an “out-group” (quotations are there because these are standard terms, though not necessarily ones I prefer). Humans find it much easier to hate someone who is not part of the in-group. When humans start thinking of the out-group as being less than human, which may not be limited to but certainly involves hating them, it becomes easier to go to war against them. Hating another human being to the degree that they are thought of as less than human, or another group of human beings, helps overcome the natural aversion to killing them.

Some people would elevate the fact humans divide into groups easily as a major cause of warfare. This tribalism in modern form can bleed over into racism and extreme nationalism, which certainly have been involved in many wars.  While I agree that tribalism is important, that’s because we humans find it easier to hate those outside the tribe than those in it–tribalism itself is not the issue as much as hatred is. Without hatred and the willingness to kill empowered by hatred, tribalism or nationalism is mostly harmless–they amount to trivial things like which flag you wave at the Olympics.

Note that envy over resources in an environment in which conditions are harsh can easily become greed, in which one or both sides of a fight actually have enough to survive, but are striving for more anyway, hoarding gold like legendary dragons. Greed is a major cause of warfare–one nation or tribe seeking to take from another something it may not really need, but definitely wants. Think of Cortez’s conquest of the Aztecs, or even more so, Pizarro and the Inca, in which lust for gold, land, and women drove the Spanish conquest forward.

Pride (or prestige) as a motivation for warfare is a bit more complex. Societies that develop a warrior class usually laud praise on their warriors–and rightly so under many circumstances. They are, after all, protecting the in-group, and providing for resources people either need to survive or don’t need but want anyway.

There’s quite a bit to be gained in being a successful warrior in terms of how well others treat you. Certainly Cortez and Pizarro not only were greedy for gold, they knew in the warlike society of Spain, they would be admired as conquerors. They’d be given prestigious titles–they’d be seen as heroes (and they were then, though not anymore). Those who like to put things in evolutionary terms say the prestige successful warriors gain gives them the opportunity to produce more children, which they see as a basic drive. While it is certainly true that the prestige warriors have heaped upon them may help them marry and reproduce, the historic warriors who have reproduced the most did not have women flock to them because of their prestige as much as they took the women they wanted because of their desire to have them (greed/lust)–think Genghis Khan.

While it is sometimes true that a warrior caste will seek to go to war because of the prestige or honor involved (honor is how they’d put it), going to war simply because they can (like Klingon warriors) is actually not as common as fighting over resources. But having a warrior caste with intrinsic reasons to fight can certainly be a catalyst for a war.

Fighting for justice is not often listed as a reason for warfare by experts on the topic, but should be. When we think of wars of religion, weren’t people fighting because they think their religion is right (just) and the other religion (or lack of religion) is unjust? When revolutions happen, such as the French or American Revolutions, wasn’t part of the fighting taking place over perceived injustices and abuses? Like taxation without representation? Or anger at the abuses caused by the so-called divine right of a monarch?

Note that a sense of justice can be a catalyst for warfare in a different way that other traits listed here. People want to think of themselves as being in the right and it is much easier to defend violence that is perceived to be honorable than to do so for other reasons. Please recognize that’s true even if you assume there is such a thing as just war (and I believe there is). The existence of just war does not mean that every single appeal to justice is actually fair or true.

Often nations have a stated reason for war that’s different from their actual reason. The stated reason for the Crusades was that they were about justice–Muslims were heaping abuses on Christians in the Holy Land and furthermore had no right to be there as far as the Crusaders were concerned. Yet the actual reasons had a lot to do with overpopulated European territories, looking for lands (and resources) elsewhere, a warrior caste in Europe itching to go war (for the prestige involved), and the fact it was easy to see the Muslims as an “out-group,” not only because they were perceived as racially different, but more importantly because they did not share the Crusaders’ religion.

 

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This WWI poster is about “The Rape of Belgium”

The “real” causes of the Crusades has been debated widely and will continue to be debated. Even if we grant that the Crusades really were about perceived injustice (a.k.a. a war of religion), it’s ridiculous to think Cortes and Pizarro invaded the Aztec and Inca Empires in order to right the wrongs those empires perpetuated, including their perceived errors of religion. Yes, the consquistadores probably felt better about themselves bringing priests along to justify some of their actions in the rhetoric of spreading their faith (which they would see as undoing injustice)–but their greed for gold, land, and women is well-documented as their primary motivation.

To leap to a much more recent example, did the United States really enter World War I “to make the world safe for democracy” (as US President Wilson stated)? Well, partially–the motives were to protect American shipping and businesses, but also there was a sense of justice involved, especially over widely-reported German abuses in Belgium (called in the press at the time, “the Rape of Belgium“). And also important was a wave of anti-German hysteria that swept through America–hatred of the other, the Germans, our enemies, the “Huns” as seen in the classic poster. (Note the imagery of the “Hun” is of a savage, barbaric invader from the East.)

 

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“Hun” = German

You’d find if you dug into details that there were layers of motivations for the entire country, the basic causes interacting in a complex way. And also that the motives for going to war for a single soldier varied a great deal from soldier to soldier in that conflict–which would be likewise true for almost every war. Motives probably even varied for the same individual soldier at different moments.

And while the reasons for a nation going to war are more complicated than those of a single soldier in that nations often primarily seek to gain what they want by negotiation and only go to war when negotiations break down (as reflected in the war theorist Carl von Clauswitz saying, “war is the continuation of politics by other means”), the same basic reasons apply to all wars, even when political factors not named in this post are also involved (such as a nation overestimating its ability to win a war).

I’d say there are four basic causes of wars, listed in order of actual importance for most conflicts (though the order does in fact vary from war to war and person to person as mentioned above):

  1. Resources (or as a vice, greed/envy)
  2. Tribalism (as a vice, hatred of other groups)
  3. Prestige (pride)
  4. Justice (as a vice, false justice or religious extremism)

In order of stated importance, publicly declared importance, reasons for war are usually:

  1. Justice (nations usually proclaim themselves to be right–and only on occasion actually are)
  2. Prestige (calls to service and self-sacrifice are common, especially in modern wars)
  3. Tribalism–hating the other (though some wars have used so much propaganda against enemies that hateful tribalism or nationalism is openly more important than number three)
  4. Resources/greed (most societies talk least about their actual reasons, which are usually-but-not-always about possession of territory or other material things)

As you apply these principles to stories, think about how these motivations play out for the individual human beings involved, which may or may not be the same as collective national or tribal reasons to fight. Note that stated reasons for war are often different from actual reasons. Writing a complex mix of motivations for a war makes for a more realistic and more interesting story.

To briefly mention how to apply these principles to races or species who are not human, while it might be interesting to attempt to invent reasons for warfare that have no connection to how human beings behave, it’s probably best to simply change the order/priority of war reasons that also apply to humans. It will seem more realistic (to human readers anyway 😉) but can still provide some interesting twists.

What if, for example, other species always stated their actual reasons for war openly? Or if a fantasy race had a much stronger sense of justice than human beings have so they don’t ever care in the slightest about resources they could gain? Or if a race had no tendency to be tribal, but still fought for other reasons? Or if they had no actual aversion to warfare in the first place? Or on the other hand, what if a non-human society were naturally non-violent because of an inability to hate others (which is not necessarily the same thing as being good and pure in every way), yet learned over time it was necessary to defend themselves, taking much more time to process what war is than humans require?

Please excuse the length of this post, I’ll strive to keep future ones shorter, but I hope you’ve found it informative. With so many academic opinions on this subject, I don’t imagine for a moment that everyone will agree with what I’ve listed here. So what are your thoughts on the reasons why people go to war?

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Tonight on the Write Stuff — The Tremblers with Raquel Byrnes

51DfFfvR7EL (1)Charlotte Blackburn—Beautiful, intelligent, a gifted tinkerer—lives in a cloistered world of wealth and privilege beneath the Electric Tesla Dome that shields survivors of The Great Calamity. But when her father is abducted, and a strange sickness starts transforming men into vicious monsters, she discovers that technology is no protection at all.

Ashton Wells has a dire mission: Secure Colonel Blackburn and deliver his research to The Order of the Sword and Scroll. But the plan goes awry, and he is left with nothing but the colonel’s daughter who has a target on her back and is willing stop at nothing to rescue her father—including handing over to the enemy the only means to stop the monstrous plague.

Branded as traitors, Ashton and Charlotte brave the treacherous floating sky ports of Outer City to hunt down the elusive inventor who is the only person able to activate the strange device that harbors the secret to their salvation.

With the government closing in, a rebellion brewing in the streets, and terrifying Tremblers attacking the innocent, the two must work together to stop their fragile world from crumbling once more into destruction.

Join me as I talk with author Raquel Byrnes and her new book at 7 pm Eastern time. You can call in at 646-668-8485, press 1 to be live on air. Or, download Stitcher on your mobile device.Or, click on the link here:http://tobtr.com/10607511


authorpictureRaquel writes across several genres including YA Steampunk, Gothic Mystery, and Suspense. Always looking for another adventure in which to partake she is never seen without her notebook.

As a teen she couldn’t get enough Bradbury, Asimov, Poe, or Matheson. They informed her love of science fiction, mystery and thrillers. After finishing school, marrying and starting a family, Raquel realized she’d fallen away from her love of the written word. She began in earnest in 2000 to hone her craft and connect with other authors and book lovers.

She connected with an agent and after signing with him, sold two series. One, a suspense series that also sold into foreign translation, and the other a dark gothic mystery.

Currently writing  YA Steampunk and Fantasy series, she endeavors to bring the same edgy characters and thrilling pace to those projects.

Tonight on the Write Stuff –The Gevaudan Project with A. K. Preston

the-gevaudan-project.jpgSomething has been unleashed…

A team of naturalists find themselves facing a nightmare beyond anything they have ever known – and the product of unspeakable evil.

Philip Caster, a former Green Beret now working as a zoologist, leads an international team in Indonesia whose revolutionary new program may spell salvation for the endangered Sumatran tiger. They will release six artificially-conceived tiger cubs into the wild, accompanied by their surrogate mothers. The effort will prove the feasibility of in vitro breeding as a new tool against extinction. But its success is overshadowed by the sudden emergence of a horror beyond reckoning. Something has been unleashed in the forests of Sumatra. A life-form never meant to walk the earth. One that seeks humanity as its only prey.

As death unfolds around them, Caster and his circle of friends must uncover the truth behind an abomination: the instrument of dark and all-too-human forces pursuing a twisted ideological vision. Their creation has killed already – and their plans will consume millions more.

Join me as I chat with A. K. Preston about his upcoming release.  You can call in at 646-668-8485, and press 1 to be live on air. Or, download Stitcher on your mobile device. Or, click on the link here: http://tobtr.com/10558875

The Parker J Cole Show — A Crown of Beauty with Meiah Shaun

Parker J Cole BannerHe will bestow a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair, (Isaiah 61:3)

The ministry of A Crown of Beauty is headed by the scribe and prophetic voice Meiah Shaun. She pens fiction, non-fiction and plays with faith-based messages linking her personal life experiences with spiritual life lessons. Some of her plays include: The Boutique, The Rich Woman’s Party, & My First Love. She’s a native of Orange, Texas and currently resides in the Dallas, Texas area.

71arezZCefL._UX250_Along with discussing A Crown of Beauty, its ministry and purpose, Meiah and I will be discussing her newest release, Burnt Orange, which tells the story of twin girls surviving racism and abuse in a small segregated town and triumphing over adversity. Join in the conversation by calling in at 646-668-8485, press 1 to be live on air. Or, download Stitcher on your mobile device. Or, click on the link here: http://tobtr.com/10452841.

Tonight on Write Stuff — Kremlin Tide with Cortez Law III

51z3N95SVdL._SY346_A meeting of criminal minds with a shared hatred of America—but can the love of God and a woman prevent Armageddon?

Anastasiya Goldberg came to America to start a new life. She was a wife, a faithful church member and a target. When a 911 call reports a murder at the church, Atlanta Homicide Sergeant Malcolm Hobbs and his Detectives nicknamed, ‘The X-Men’, want to know who the shooter was, where is the witness who made the call…and just who is the victim?

Then a series of grisly murders with similar M.O. blanket the city. The consensus by the Atlanta Police Department is the city has a serial killer on the loose. As the case progresses, Malcolm and The X-Men, discover a Russian link to the victims and the perpetrators. If the connection is correct, they can finally close the case. However, a key component to their investigation is missing.

Hobbs and The X-Men investigate Anastasiya Goldberg’s background and discover her coming to America was crucial to a number of people in Atlanta and Russia …from her closest Russian emigrant friends to a consortium of international entrepreneurs with the mutual goal to evade detection by the Atlanta Police led by the elite X-Men Homicide Unit.

But for Hobbs, a man who slowly pieces his shattered life and walk of faith in God back together again, it’s a labyrinth of danger with a countdown certain to confront him and The X-Men with the ultimate nightmare.

Join me as I talk with author Cortez Law about his book! Call in at 646-668-8485, press 1 to be live on air. Or, download Stitcher on your mobile device. Or, click on the link here: http://tobtr.com/10289293


4318566_origCortez Law III is the author of five independently published books. The romance novel, My Brother’s Keeper (2001) and the Atlanta X-Men Homicide suspense/mystery/thriller novels Kremlin Tide (2014), Cold Lick (2015) and Serial Rites (2017). He also published the science fiction/thriller novel, S.Y.P.H.E.N. (2015). He presently resides in the Metro Atlanta, Georgia area. Visit him online at cortezlaw.net.

Tonight on the Write Stuff — Never Letting Go: A Father’s Love with Andre Ray

Matthew is a father who just lost his wife after her three year battle with cancer and must now raise his three children on his own. They live in an upscale middle-class area in Raleigh, NC. Just when he thinks the worse is over and tries to put his family back together, his peaceful home is turned upside down and has become a total nightmare. He soon finds himself in an all-out warfare with the devil whose name is Keith to save his oldest daughter Amber who has chosen the love of an older man. It doesn’t help that she blames him for the death of her mother and is totally rebellious towards him.
Amber has no idea that her love for Keith will take her to the depths of hell and back. She will be forced to choose between Keith and her father. Can the Lord save this family before it is too late or will the devil pull them into total despair?


Andre Ray is an Independent Author. Mr. Ray was born in New York and raised in North Carolina. He began his writing passion after many years of public service. During a trip to Florida with his family, his wife encouraged him to take up writing to release the gift that God had placed in him. After praying and seeking the Lord, his first series, “Undercover Deacon, Undercover Deacon 2 was brought to life. Since then he has written “Temptation Has a Price, Never Letting Go, Serenity Through the Storm, No Weapon Formed Against Me Shall Prosper, Midnight Hour” which all have been on the top #20 list of Amazon’s best sellers list in Christian fiction.

Andre is a born- again Christian whom people have constantly spoken over his life by telling him that he is highly favored by God and there is a calling on his life. He loves writing Christian fiction and hopes his books will touch the hearts and soul of its readers. He looks forward to one day seeing his books become a stage play or short movie. He also looks to one day branching out and writing in other genres.