The Nexus Nebula Saga
The Nexus Nebula Saga
Musings on books, writing, fatherhood, and other clichés.
Gideon Ira: Knight of the Blood Cross: Deus Vult Wastelanders Book 1
Adam Lane Smith
Five out of five Charlies.
The Book That Screams Out For a Video Game Adaptation.
When I heard “Ultra-violent pulp Christian fiction,” I knew I’d be reading this book. The cover art promises sword fights, gunplay, and hordes of dead demons.
And man does Smith deliver on that promise.
Gideon Ira is the prototypical pulp hero with a Christian twist. He slashes and shoots his way across a post-apocalyptic land in which the final war of our modern society tore open the barrier between Earth and Hell. He kills hundreds of demons while carrying hints of a dark past. What sets him apart from other pulp heroes is the strength of his moral conviction. No underhanded methods for him—he’s a golden boy, child of God, through and through.
Gideon’s greatest strength, ironically, leads to the book’s only weakness. As Gideon tolerates no moral grey areas, neither does the narrative. A few characters are introduced that offer interesting alternate perspectives and provide real opportunity for challenge and character growth, but these individuals tend not to survive very long in favor of showcasing Gideon’s strength of belief. As black-and-white morality is part of the premise of this story, this flaw is entirely forgivable.
The battles form the bulk of the story, but each action sequence is different enough to stay fresh while moving the plot forward. He makes use of his powered armor’s features to give him the edge, and Smith has a knack for peppering in those details in a way that blends into the action rather than bogging the narrative down with excessive descriptions.
This book is one that would translate extremely well into an interactive game. There are solo battles against hordes, multi-player co-op stealth missions, defensive positions against oncoming waves, and cinematic boss fights. Smith’s descriptions of the powered armor’s HUD, tagging features, time-constrained weapon power-ups, and limited buff items betray his love for strategy games.
In the midst of all that, despite the deep detail of Gideon’s loadout and personal mission, Smith manages to make his hero feel like a small part of a much larger war. Gideon’s contribution is vital to the effort, but all around him are threads of different stories with their very own heroes.
This is a satisfying tale that strikes the perfect balance of leaving the reader wanting more. Highly recommend this gripping book.
Get it here:
Starting now, I'm going to be posting my books online to read for free, right here on the site. You will still have the option to purchase them on eBook or now as a PDF as well.
I am trying a model of offering the option to read my work for free, while coming across the occasional ad. We will see how it goes.
If you're interested, you can start reading Momma Grizzly right here. The first two chapters are live, with more to come every week.
We're headed to other worlds, folks.
Melanie A. Smith
A Romance With Plenty For A Non-Fan To Enjoy.
In many ways “Everybody Lies” is a classic genre romance tale. You’ve got your tough boss bitch, your alpha male who is dominant enough to intoxicate her, your hardworking devoted friend with a crush, and your parental friction.
But Mrs. Smith takes these elements and mixes them with the minor fantasy element of Frankie’s superpower, creating something new and enjoyable. Even a non-fan of the genre like myself can find a worthwhile read in these pages. As usual, Smith’s strength lies in her keen understanding of the instincts and grit required to run a business, and she injects these traits into her lead character to create another gripping tale of corporate intrigue. My favorite parts of the book were Frankie’s investigations into the shenanigans of her employees, which begin as college-kid drama but spiral into something more explosive.
Once again, I have to admit to speed-reading through the erotic scenes. I was here for the story, and there was plenty of it. I do wish the resolution had brought Frankie’s power more into play, but the ending brought in enough twists and revelations to make up for it. That’s my one minor nitpick and it’s mostly a product of me approaching this one for the fantasy element. I am not the target audience for this book and that is perfectly OK.
Even if you’re not much of a romance fan, like me, this one is well worth picking up. With well-rounded characters and some interesting explorations of the value of honesty versus ego investment, as well as a fairly action-packed story of crime and intrigue, there is a great story in these pages. And if you’re here for romance, of course, it’s got a heaping portion of that too.
The Call of the Wild
Jack London, 1903
Born of Jack London’s fascination with the rough life of the Gold Rush miners and the support network that sprang up around them, The Call of the Wild is a fantastical yet uncompromising look at an environment most of us will never experience. At the time of publication, London caught some flak for his anthropomorphized protagonist, Buck. But London was no revisionist, trying to paint the natural world as civilized and romantic. This story is more of a metaphor, with Buck at times representing man more than animal.
Buck lives an idyllic life of sporting and comfort on the California property of his master, a wealthy judge. Bred from a Saint Bernard father and a collie mother, Buck is a strong and athletic dog.
When word comes around that men in the distant north have struck gold, Buck is among the dogs kidnapped and sold into sled work. Enraged at his undignified treatment, Buck lashes out at his new handlers, only to be beaten into submission.
While it was Buck’s powerful body that made him fit to be a sled dog, he has another quality that makes him able to survive in that environment. He is observant and intuitive, and he quickly learns the new rules of this savage, hardscrabble life. There is no dignity or sense of fair play here, as there had been in the domain of the judge. Here, you steal food or get none. If you get in a fight, you had better stay on your feet. If you don’t, it’s over for you.
Buck is keen enough to learn some of these lessons vicariously, but he is forced to learn a few firsthand as the rough sled-dog life rips away every shred of his old life and self. Through a series of trials, masters, and antagonists, Buck gradually sheds his civility and steps more into the life of the animal. His struggle to survive and the transformation he undergoes reveal modern sensibilities as a fragile veneer. Strip it away, and all that’s left is the savage will of the predator. Embrace it, do what’s necessary to survive with no regard for fairness, and you may live. Try to hold on to modern conveniences and manners, and you will certainly perish.
This is my all-time favorite book. The strongest moments come when Buck is forced to witness some unfortunate soul learning these lessons with a horrible finality. Soon after being stolen, Buck watches another domestic dog trying to make friends and being killed. Later on, after Buck has risen through violence to the role of lead sled dog, he is sold to a family who is completely unprepared for the journey. Their bickering (and their sled overloaded with luggage and convenience items) leads to disaster for the team.
Towards the end, as Buck has only threads of his old self remaining, he is held to civility by his love for the man John Thornton. A couple of eye-rolling moments ensue as Buck pulls some overblown feats out of his great love for this man. But the message stays consistent underneath. I won’t spoil the climax, but it is thematically appropriate to solidify Buck’s complete transformation from civil to wild. A great little book and a great reminder to keep and embrace the animal inside us all, as the modern world is more fragile than we might want to admit.
They say everyone is only nine meals away from savagery, after all. Would you be willing to do what it takes to survive? Read this book for some thoughts by a man who lived the life.
I haven't posted anything about it online, but my son had a minor accident a couple of weeks ago and underwent an operation yesterday to get it fixed. All is well, but he has to have a pin in his finger for a few weeks. It could have been a lot worse, so I am very relieved and very grateful it turned out as well as it has.
Today is also his second birthday. Happy birthday, little buddy.
On the business side of things, the eBook cover of Momma Grizzly has been finalized and the paperback version is on its way. Since I am feeling so fortunate about things, I think I'll do another giveaway. Tomorrow In Sheep's Clothing Book 1: The Healer will be free, and Book 2: The Way of the Ram will go for a steep discount. I'm also slashing the price for paperbacks.
Take a look here.
Thank you for all your support, everyone.
Instagram influencer Bex has launched a new series of blog posts, "Social Media Tips For Authors, From Authors." The first post is an interview with YA Fantasy author Nadine Brandes and her experience with successfully using social media to promote her series. Check it out here:
I'll be implementing these tips, including building a relationship with social media influencers (self-evident) and we will see if it makes a difference when Momma Grizzly comes out this summer.
In order to improve my writing, I have decided to get back into reading. I've made a bad habit of reading the first chapter of a book, thinking "Hmm, that looks interesting," and then throwing it on the space of my shelf reserved for my reading list, never to be touched again.
That changes today.
I have 21 items on this list and have resolved to get it under 10 and then keep it there. Most of these are classics. A fair few more are military books handed off from my dad. Some are not first-time reads, being revisited for nostalgia or to sharpen my aging brain.
Once I get this list under 10, I plan to focus on adding indie books from there. I’ll be taking requests for (honest) reviews. I’ll post reviews here as well as on Amazon, Goodreads, wherever they need to go.
1. Jack London The Call of the Wild (this is my favorite book)
2. Edith Hamilton Mythology
3. Homer The Odyssey
4. J.R.R. Tolkien The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún
5. Richard Adams Watership Down
6. C.S. Lewis The Horse and His Boy
7. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Hound of the Baskervilles
8. Stephen King Wizard and Glass, The Dark Tower IV (I have read the first three)
9. T.N. Dupuy A Genius For War
10. Sun Tzu The Art of War
11. Lawrence Wright The Looming Tower: al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
12. Mark Bowden Black Hawk Down
13. Barb Karg & John K. Young, Ph.D 101 Secrets of the Freemasons
14. Charles Dickens David Copperfield, with an Introduction by G.K. Chesterton (!!)
15. Larry Gonick The Cartoon History of the Universe
16. The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
17. A Robert Louis Stevenson collection including Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Black Arrow, Weir of Hermiston, and The Master of Ballantrae
18. Sir John Glubb The Fate of Empires
19. Carl Jung Memories, Dreams, Reflections
20. T.R. Fehrenbach Fire and Blood: A History of Mexico
21. Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans
I have my work cut out for me.
Also, Momma Grizzly is about finished with the editing phase. I'm about a quarter finished with In Sheep's Clothing 3 and I still haven't thought of a good subtitle. Help.
It's too early in my indie author career to do a retrospective, so instead I'll talk briefly about the upcoming third entry in the Nexus Nebula Saga, Momma Grizzly.
The mama bear protective instinct is a common fictional trope and is often treated like a force of nature. It's also been a particular subject of interest for me, especially since my son was born.
I saw this Youtube video a couple of years ago and it made me decide I'd be writing a story in this vein. Becoming a parent myself helped me make sense of what it would be about. It'll run along the lines of Aliens, where the female protagonist experiences an awakening of her maternal instinct that makes her formidable enough to stand against the monster of the day.
The rough first draft is done along with a sort-of rewrite. Hopefully the editor will have good things to say and the whole development process will be a lot smoother than with In Sheep's Clothing.
I ended my first book with "To Be Continued." More than one reader let me know they wouldn't have done that. It wasn't my favorite, but I felt the need to acknowledge that In Sheep's Clothing Book 1 wasn't a complete story and wasn't designed to be. It just sort of ends with the heroes taking off in a new direction, like the Fellowship of the Ring film.
This is because In Sheep's Clothing Books 1 and 2 were written as a single 150,000-word book, divided into seven "Parts." That format was a holdover from the project's previous form as a graphic novel. Each "Part" would have been an issue, taken together to form In Sheep's Clothing Volume I.
The first act of Book 1 was written from Old-Timer's perspective and would have been the Prologue, or Issue #0. Everything from the perspective shift to Snapper at University up until his arrest would have been Issue #1, with his subsequent bonding with Dreamer being Issue #2, and the journey to the two shrines being Issue #3. Book 2, coming soon, contains what would have been Issues #4 through #6 and the Epilogue.
Separated this way, you can start to see through the graphic novel format and into In Sheep's Clothing's original form as an experimental video game I messed with in 2007. Separated into the above mentioned Issues, you can see that each one starts with development and exploration and ends with a burst of violence. Yes, a boss fight. Book 2 is like that too.
Someday I'll probably bring it full circle and adapt the Nexus Nebula Saga back into video games or graphic novels. I can't not nerd, I guess.
Anyway, that's why, as you navigate my website, you'll see ISC Books 1 and 2 under the banner of "Volume I." They are meant to be taken together as the first arc of Snapper's adventure. An upcoming short story and Book 3 will together comprise "Volume II."
The Nexus Nebula Saga is underway, something I had never thought possible when I first put it all together in 2011. The first entry in the series, In Sheep's Clothing Book 1: The Healer, was published in July of this year. Book 2 is in the line edit phase and I project it will be released in November. In the meantime, I have been writing the third book in the series, which moves away from the In Sheep's Clothing arc. I am at what I believe to be the midpoint of the first draft after about two months of writing.
I have been writing since 1998, when I was ten. My first written piece was Animorphs fan fiction. That's all I'm going to say about that.
In Sheep's Clothing began as a series of character sketches in 2007 and was nothing like its final incarnation. It's not even the oldest idea to make it into the Nexus Nebula Saga. That honor belongs to one of the titles to be published later.
Reach out to me on here or through any of my social media links. I'm one of you--a reader--and I just write what I would have liked to read when I was a kid. I love feedback, so drop me a line.
Kevin C Hensley
Modernization brings increasing social control. Young men taking responsibility and having families are our best hope of pushing back against what is coming. I write fiction geared toward encouraging them to do so.