Like Herding the Wind: Eshuvani

Like Herding the Wind is my most recent novel. It was released by PDMI Publishing in time for my brother’s birthday. Why that date?  Does the book have great significance for my brother?  No, not particularly. I picked that date so I’d remember it. The release was scheduled almost 3 months in advance.

Not unlike some of my other tales, Like Herding the Wind has a long, weird history of revisions and rewrites. The story is about an Eshuvani police and rescue captain whose adopted son, a sergeant in a Texas coastal town’s police force, is beseiged by Eshuvani criminals. She goes to help him resolve this problem in spite of sabotage from her own people and debilitating grief.

Eshuvani are taller than humans and unusually thin. In short bursts, they can be stronger and faster than humans, but they lack the endurance to keep that up. They have a birdlike hollow bone structure which contributes to their agility.

Psychologically, Eshuvani are more sensitive to some things, such as grief, which plagues Amaya throughout most of the story.

Rather than give them other universal traits like the unnatural patience Elves are often depicted with, I wrote the Eshuvani to have a variety of personality types. Some are unusually patient, but others are impulsive. One in particular is a bit goofy … or maybe more than a bit. Another is a belligerent, grouchy sort.

Technologically, Eshuvani are beyond human technology, but they haven’t re-developed space flight or other things that required resources not available on Earth.

The name for Eshuvani doesn’t have any significant meaning. After I came up with the rules for their native language, I played around with syllables and ended up with a sound I liked.

That’s all my novels, well, the ones out so far. I have a serial and a short story with nonhuman characters, so stay tuned!

Things God Can’t Do

Did you know there are things God cannot do?

  •  He can’t lie.  (Titus 1:2)
  • He can’t learn because he’s omniscient.  He knows all things.  (John 18:4)
  • By the same token, he can’t be surprised.  You have to not know something to be surprised.
  • He can’t change.  (Hebrews 13:8)
  • He can’t do something unjust.  (Job 34:10-12)

To do any of those things would be a violation of his nature.

Lines of Succession: Griffins

By order of release, the next book of mine was Lines of Succession, which was published by Under the Moon.

Lines of Succession is about a teenage girl who has to serve as her brother’s regent after an assassin wipes out most of her family. The power behind the assassin is unknown, and she spends a lot of time trying to hold things together in the face of local and international tension and figure out who’s behind the problems.

Set in a Renaissance Europe kind of place, there really aren’t any “sentient alien” type characters, but their griffins get awfully close.

Griffins have the forequarters of a bird of prey and the hindquarters of a lion. In Lines of Succession, the griffins are about horse-sized, so they can fly with a rider. As is common with birds, the females are larger than the males. After all, females usually have to perch on a nest to protect the young and the eggs while males go zipping around looking for food for the family.

Although not quiet sentient, griffins are smart critters. I wrote them as sort of a cross between a parrot and an extremely well-trained dog. Like parrots, they bond to their favorite humans and can become protective.

Male griffins often learn how to talk, at least a few phrases and words, and both males and females whistle tunes and imitate sounds.

One reader asked me if I had a reason for why men tended to have female griffins and women tended to have male griffins. The answer is “Yes, sort of.” Since female griffins are larger, they are reputed to be better for combat, so men with a military bent prefer the female griffins. Male griffins are smaller, and so they’re faster and more maneuverable. They can still be very effective in a battle, though, as Elaina gets to prove in the story.

Elaina’s griffin is named “Tiercel.”  There’s a reason for that, and it’s not because I had a parrot named Tiercel at one point. The griffin came first, and the parrot was so named because his facial markings looked a little like a falcon.

Anyway, as I said, there’s a reason why Elaina’s griffin is named Tiercel.  Can you figure out what it is? Leave me a note if you can.

There aren’t other non-human races hanging out in Lines of Succession, so next time we jump to Like Herding the Wind.

Mom’s Day

In honor of Mom’s Day, let’s take a look at three interesting moms in the Bible and see what we can learn from them: Eve, Sarah, and Mary.

God created Eve at the end of Creation Week1. She actually didn’t see God create anything like Adam had, so naturally, Satan chose to go to her with his proposal. Notice his Modus Operandi. First create doubt, “Yea, hath God said…2” then follow that up with direct denial, “Thou shall not surely die3.” He does the same thing with us4. Watch for that. Make sure your armor is intact5.

Anyway, back to Eve as a mom. She had a whole passel of kids. Only three are named in the text, but in Genesis 5, Adam lived eight hundred years after Seth was born and sired other sons and daughters6. Can you imagine what it was like to become pregnant for the first time ever? There were no OB-GYNs to go talk to. She didn’t have a mom of her own to go get advice from. No books, no internet, no source of information about what was happening and what to expect, but it wasn’t all bad news. Fortunately, she also didn’t have any “helpful friends” telling her horror stories about the difficult labor others had experienced. There wasn’t any contradictory “helpful advice” from other moms, either. It’s easy to assume that God gave her information directly, but we don’t know that. She might have had to make it up as she went. Wow. What courage and what faith in God!

It was no picnic once the kids were born. Her firstborn murdered the second over a burnt offering. What kind of grief she must have felt. Eve had seen other things die, but there were only four humans on the face of the earth at that point, and her own son kills her only other kid. We can assume that while in the Garden of Eden, God taught Adam and Eve about his eternal plan, but we don’t know that, either. We deal with grief now with the knowledge that there is salvation and heaven. Did Eve have that assurance we so heavily lean on? Possibly, but we can’t know for certain.

Sarah was another mom with an interesting story. Back in the day, to be childless was an incredibly bad stigma for a married girlie person. Abraham was 99 years old when God promised to make a great nation of his descendants7. Sarah? She was all of 89 years old at that time8, and they had no kids. Oh, Abraham had Ishmael from Hagar, but Sarah still hadn’t had any children. Yet God promised to make nations of their children. Both Abraham and Sarah had a good laugh at that9. In fact God called Sarah on the laughter. Consider her reaction: she denied it10. How often do we get a conviction of the Holy Spirit and try to pretend it didn’t happen? Look at God’s response, “Is anything too hard for the LORD11?” He spoke the world into existence, so I really don’t think so. Three chapters later, Sarah, being 90 years old, has a kid. True enough, people were still living over a hundred years at that point, but can you imagine chasing a toddler around at 93 years old? People talk about the patience of Job. How about the patience of Sarah?

Finally, let’s have a look at the mom of our Savior. Mary probably wasn’t all that old. It was not uncommon even up through the Renaissance for a girl to get married to a guy many times older not much after she entered child-bearing age. Speculation that Mary might have been as young as 14 or so is not such a wild idea. She could have been much older, but early teenager is very possible. She was already engaged to Joseph when the angel dropped in for a visit12. In ancient Israel, engaged was as good as married for some purposes. Sexual relations with another person while engaged carried the same punishment as adultery13. That’s why Joseph wanted to put Mary away privately14. Even though they weren’t officially married, he would have had to divorce her to break the engagement. Because of the dream, he chose not to divorce her, but can you imagine the stigma? She was found pregnant before her marriage. Jesus was considered an illegitimate child15.

Small towns can be brutal places to grow up with rumor mill going nuts even today, but back at a time when everyone knew the business of everyone else, it would have been much worse. Gossip has always been one of the most painful sins. Still, Mary raised her children in that environment and taught them what they needed to know. We don’t know anything explicitly about Jesus’ years growing up in Nazareth, but Psalm 69 is believed by some to give insight into Jesus’ childhood16.

Jesus was obedient to her, too. Yep, that’s right. The King of the Universe obeyed a human woman for a time17. Then the first recorded miracle was turning the water to wine in Cana. Some say that “wine” would have been “new wine” which might not be much more than slightly potent grape juice, but the fellow running the party comments that the best wine was kept for last. Still, check out the events here in John 2. The wine ran out and the guests went to Mary to fix it. She went to Jesus. At first it looks like he’s going to balk, but he does get the job done18.

Moms are courageous, patient, and faithful people. They have to be. They put up with us kids …

Endnotes:

1 Genesis 2:23

2 Genesis 3:1

3 Genesis 3:4

4 Hovind, Kent. Creation Seminar. Creation Science Evangelism.

5 Ephesians 6:10-20

6 Genesis 5:4

7 Genesis 17:1

8 Genesis 17:17

9 Ibid., Genesis 18:12

10 Genesis 18:15

11 Genesis 18:14

12 Luke 1:27

13 Deuteronomy 22:23-4

14 Matthew 1:18-25

15 John 8:41

16 Missler, Chuck. Verse by Verse Commentary on Psalms. Koinonia House.

17 Luke 2:51

18 John 2:4-10

Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo — Olvians

Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo is a science fiction tale released by Splashdown Books just before they switched from traditional to hybrid publishing. The third alien race in Mindstorm was the Olvians.

I needed a group for the Gotrians to be having their war with. They needed to be different, so there would be points of contention, but I didn’t want to do the obvious thing and make them diametrically opposed. That would make finding a happy middle ground very difficult for our Haidarian negotiators.

Olvians are frog-like. They can walk bipedally when they want to, but they can also frog-jump around when they really need to get the lead out.

They needed some interesting biological quirks to make them more unique. Olvians change colors with their moods. The color changes aren’t complex, like blue to red or something of that sort. They get lighter, darker, splotchier, and so on. I got that weird idea from octopi and chameleons, but kept it simpler.

Borrowing from another weird critter trait, this time from the Olvians’ amphibious relations, they also undergo a gender change as they mature. The males of the species have to live underwater. As they mature, they gender-change to females, who are amphibious. This led to a strictly matriarchal society. They don’t have much regard for males of other species, either, which leads to some issues for our brave negotiators. The less experienced one has to take control and eventually becomes a little less than diplomatic to keep the peace talks on target.

The name “Olvian?”  Yeah, I don’t remember where that came from, either. Possibly from doing a wordfind and discovering letters that might become a word some day. Sometimes I have interesting sources for names.  Sometimes… I don’t.

Speaking of names, the two Olvian negotiators use the names Rana and Pipien. There’s an reason for that, but I’m not telling. If you can figure it out, leave me a note.

Next time, we switch gears to the next book… Lines of Succession.

Psalm 22

Last week, we talked about Psalm 22 a bit. Here’s another interesting quirk about Psalm 22…

It has nothing to do with empty or full buckets, but this is particularly nifty if you haven’t seen it before. Psalms 22-24 are considered a group called “The Shepherd Psalms” by some scholars23. They’re all Messianic. Psalm 22 talks about Jesus’ suffering as the Good Shepherd24. The 23rd talks about Jesus’ provision for us as the Living or Great Shepherd. The 24th is an exaltation of the Chief Shepherd. Let’s have a closer gander at 22. When you read that earlier, did any of it strike you as familiar? Take a peek at these similarities between Psalm 22 and the Crucifixion.

Psalm 22 Crucifixion
verse 1 Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34
verse 8 Matthew 27:42, Luke 23:35
verses 14-17 (Medical journals have analyzed the effects of crucifixion and come up with similar descriptions25), Revelation 1:7
verse 18 Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:24
verse 31 John 19:30

Remember that the method of capital punishment in David’s time was stoning, not crucifixion. That didn’t come along until the Assyrian Empire. Then the Romans got wind of the idea many years later and used it extensively26. David couldn’t have known about a procedure that hadn’t even been invented in his day, and yet he detailed the effects of crucifixion and Jesus’ experience on the cross as if he’d been through it himself. This is just another proof that the Bible is indeed inspired and crafted by the Holy Spirit.

 

Endnotes:

23 Missler, Chuck. Verse by Verse Commentary on Psalms. Koinonia House.

24 Ibid., John 10:11,14

25 Missler, Chuck. Verse by Verse Commentary on Psalms. Koinonia House.

26 Ibid.

Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo — Gotrians

Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo is a science fiction tale released by Splashdown Books just before they switched from traditional to hybrid publishing. Last time, we looked at the main characters, Haidarians.

When I designed the plot and characters for Mindstorm, I needed a couple races who were squabbling so the main characters had something to do. They had to be radically different so that the civilizations developed independently for a long time then it all came to a head when they finally ran into each other.

The Gotrians are arboreal, which means they hang out in the trees. They have long arms for swinging around the branches, kinda like little monkeys. In their society, the higher up the tree you live, the more important you are. This is a little like birds who perch higher up in a sort of “pecking order.” Your height, and so your importance, in society is determined by age. The older you are, the more you are valued. Fortunately for them, they develop very few old age disorders.

Their religion is rigidly structured with a very rich mythology and definite ways and times things must be done. These rules end up complicating the lives of the main characters by creating timing issues for meeting times and mealtimes.

A lot of time has passed since I wrote the original short story that eventually grew into Mindstorm. I don’t remember where the name “Gotrians” came from. I have a few good theories, though. Unlike Haidar, which came from a baby name book, “Gotrian” was most likely a play on the old phrase “you old goat,” since these people put so much importance on old age. Another, equally likely, option is that I was playing around with a word find puzzle and found a collection of letters that looked like it could be a word.

Next time, the other half of the squabbling races on Ologo.