Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 3

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 3

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

The Surgery and the Call


I made an effort to keep the night of the surgery as normal as possible. I went to trivia, my friends supported me by not asking questions or putting me in position to think too much.

I went home, said my prayers, read my chapter in The Bible and went to sleep.  At some point, I got a text saying she was in recovery. She’d be out for a while, but they’d know how things went when she woke up.

I’m not big on waiting. I wasn’t patient when I joined the Navy, and ten years of being a Sailor wiped out whatever remaining patience I had.  There wasn’t much to do but wait.

I went back to sleep and woke without word.

I went to work and started my day and didn’t hear anything. My family was plenty busy supporting my mom, and I understood that, but it didn’t keep me from getting frustrated.

Eventually, I got word that she’d woken up and passed the first string of memory tests.  This information is a bit shaky as I was hearing from a few different family members. The trick was, the doctors needed to work with my mom. In addition to that, they needed to do tests on the part of the tumor they took out.

The next bit of good news turned out to be that the tumor was isolated, meaning, as I understand it, it didn’t travel from anywhere or to anywhere.

The plan evolved into mom recovering and then going home. My mom and I have a lot in common. The relevant trait now is our desire for comfort and familiarity. I could imagine just how much better my mom would feel while being home.

I’m not sure if it was one or two days that passed, but I waited. I knew exactly how many people loved my mom and wanted news or to talk to her, so I wanted to wait to make sure I wasn’t just adding to the list of phone calls or to the pressure my family was already under.

As it happens, I had the chance to call her on Friday, the same day I usually call my mom to see how things are, the same day I’d last called her and felt frustrated at how distracted she was. I honestly still feel a bit guilty about that.

When I called, I could hear a few of my siblings talking to her. My dad was around. I’d already texted him to make sure that it was a good time.

I’m not going to try and type the actual conversation. For one, that was more than a few weeks ago. Also, what matters more is simply how jarring the conversation was.

My mom is articulate. She and I talk about books and movies all the time. She’s usually quick with a joke, and there’s always an awareness about her.

That’s not how she was when I talked to her. I knew she’d just literally gotten out of brain surgery, but hearing her fight to work with words and convey her thoughts hit me like a hammer.

What really matters is that even fresh from surgery, tired and struggling to communicate, my mom mad two things perfectly clear:

“I’m going to get through this, and I’ll be okay.”

Her strength and determination brought me to tears. She was going to spend another night at the hospital. Then she’d go home and rest while the doctors did tests and found out if the tumor was cancerous.

That was the plan, but it didn’t happen that way.



Questions and Revelations

It seems like you’re leaving a few things out.

I am. My family was under a ton of stress, and they were exhausted. Was there tension? Of course there was. But to explain those tensions and how it affected each member of my family would, I feel, invite too much opportunity for judgment or misperception. If what you want to know is we all struggled, and our nerves were wracked, well, we did, and we were.  However, in times like this it can be too easy to state one point of view, which creates a bias that’s unfair.  So, better to stick to the things that matter, the events that happened, and the fact that my mom was out of surgery and already determined to beat this, whatever it turned out to be.


How’d you handle the stress?

Poorly. I’m a temperamental man to begin with. I made sure my coworkers knew what was gong on. I had to ask them to more or less observe me, and let me know if I was acting unprofessional or overly angry. I promise I wanted to. I wanted to shout at every student who didn’t understand or listen. Honestly, I wanted to find something, someone, anything, anyone, and hit it as many times as I could until I felt better.  I didn’t.

Trials are when we learn the most about ourselves. (At least, they’re one of two major times we learn about ourselves.) By that point, I knew that if one more thing happened or went wrong, I was going to flip.  I’ll explain more about that in the next segment. Here, I just want to make sure you understand that at this moment, I felt like I was close to breaking.

I wanted to make sure that no matter how bad it got, I worshiped. I mentioned about the Israelites in the last segment. They were still fresh in my mind. They complained and demanded of God. My goal at that point was to be patient and praise him.

I can’t explain how hard that is. What got me through was focusing on those Israelites. I refused to be like them. I wanted to be grateful for what miracles I’d already witnessed (a successful surgery, and my mom passing the first few cognitive tests) and trust that God would handle the rest in his time.


If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading



One Character Quality Isn’t Enough

Greetings all,


I’m writing this post on my phone because for some reason, my computer has decided it hates WordPress. I’d rather post something as opposed to not.  I think it’s important I post on schedule, so here I am, but I do ask for some leinency for lack of pictures and any other errors.

A while back, I posted about chracter sliders. I mentioned that characters need to grow, but today I want to warn against characters who only have a high value in one category.

I don’t think charaters like this work. If you have a character who is amazingly competent, it won’t matter if he’s unsympathetic or not proactive.

Some may argue characters have to be symoasympat, and I like those characters, but sympathy alone isn’t enough.

I wanted to try and explain this with a character study, but I simply can’t think of a character who only has one high-value characteristic.  I’m honestly atill thinking, and I can’t name one.

So let’s assume you all agree with me that characters need to be sympathetic; what else should they be? Well, that’s the luxury of choice.

A proactive character would, I think, inspire characters and motivate readers to keep trying.  This would be a character like Naruto.

A competent character would challenge the reader. He would force the reader to keep up while simultaneously frustrating readers with his tendency to not act. Doctor Strange is a good example here. He’s totally motivated by selfish reasons.  By choosing to take action and help defend Earth, the reader is satisfied and excited by his involvement in the fight.

Why are two mandatory?

Well, let’s again assume most feeling characters just be proactive.

If he doesn’t do anything, the reader will lose interest, feeling as though the character won’t ever answer the call to action

If the reader is also incompetent, the reader will put the story down because even if that character decided to take action, he’d probably fail.

My point is a character can’t just be sympathetic, proactive, OR competent. There needs to be a second element to create tension during the rising action and satisfaction during the climax.

What are your thoughts? Can you name any one-dimensional characters?


Thanks for reading


Announcing the February Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the February Book Cover of the Month!

Hello everyone,

We’ve just wrapped up another month, and thanks to some last minute voting, it had a pretty decent turnout. This month was honestly slow (especially compared to last month), but that made it a pretty close, exciting competition.

We had 2,226 votes this month.

Close as it was, one book came out in front and managed to stay there.

The February Book Cover of the Month is…






Trial of Chains by Sohan Ahmad! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

Ahmad received 578 total votes. The other noteworthy detail is Ahmad was last month’s runner up. That’s only happened once to my immediate recollection, but it shows finishing second and getting a second chance can pay off.

Speaking of finishing in second, Star Mage Exile by J.J. Green was this month’s runner up, which means Green will get another shot just like Ahmad did.

Ahmad made the most of his second shot, so he’s moved on to the Book Cover of the Year Bracket.  Let’s look at the summary for his book.



Born to rival kingdoms, young Cyrus and Sebastian seek to end the hatred between their people. One, a bastard slave with king’s blood, thirsts for the freedom of the other, a lord’s half-common son who curses the title left by his dying father. But before they can attempt a feat not achieved by history’s greatest kings and queens, enemies emerge from within their walls.

When an ambitious slaver catches Cyrus’s father with a damning secret, the southern king sells his bastard in exchange for silence. Now, Cyrus must fight for freedom and a place to call home. Meanwhile, Sebastian’s elder brother turns his jealousy into murder, and Sebastian must evade an assassin whose eyes are more dreaded than steel.

Hunted by shackles that break free will and shadows that slay, Cyrus and Sebastian will have to dirty their innocent hands if they are to survive long enough to free the realm from a thousand years of war.


I’ve added Trial of Chains to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought January and December’s book.

 Ahmad’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about him and his work.

I’ll try to find out who did that cover. I’m still  behind my interviews, but I’m hopeful my vacation can give me a chance to get caught up.

The March Book Cover of the Month is coming along, and that contest will launch April 1. Things are finally going to get back to normal after the end of the year.

I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading


I’ve Learned I’m Not Big on Villains: Reflecting on Bad Guys

I’ve Learned I’m Not Big on Villains: Reflecting on Bad Guys

MordorAs I’m not reading as quickly as I’d like, I don’t have a review for you all. That means I had to think about something on which I could discuss. I gave it some time, and as I was thinking about another project I’m taking on (super-secret, big possibilities), I started thinking about villains.  I did a blog on villains a while back, but then I realized, I’m not actually a big fan of villains.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good conflict, but stick with me. I went back and thought about my favorite books of all time. Only one of them has any arguable main villains.

Beowulf: One might argue this has villains, and it does. But Beowulf fights several. To my recollection (and I’ll admit it’s been a long while) none of them have very complex back stories. Oh, there’s some information, but ultimately, they’re either the fodder Beowulf cuts through or the thing that finally takes him down. Grendel is the most discussed, but he’s dispatched fairly quickly in the book.

What Men Live By, by Leo Tolstoy: I promise you, there was no bad guy.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson: So here we come to the “yes there was a villain” argument. Look, Ruin was the main antagonist. But Vin takes him on, and that’s that. Ruin wasn’t a mortal. He was this larger than life force that Vin had to elevate herself to take on (and I think there’s something there).

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: Again, the Dark One was the overall threat.  Some may argue Ishamael was the “villain” of that story, but I simply don’t see it that way.

The Dragon Riders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey:  No villain. A threat, a lager than life threat, but no villain.

This led me to an assertion. Great Books Need Great Villains.  I think not. These are my five favorite books of all time, and the reason I love them has nothing to do with the villains. Do I think a great villain can make a book great? Yes, but I don’t think they’re mandatory. It really dawned on me as I was thinking about who my favorite villains are. The fact of the matter is I don’t have any. I’m actively sitting here thinking about books and who the MC faces in each of them, and I can’t even name one. Comics are different in that regard, but comics are meant to run for years, so you need a cast of villains to change things up.

BobsGreatestMistakeI’ve said this a bunch of times, give me proactive, sympathetic characters, and I’m probably going to love your story. I’m less invested as a reader to see if they’re proactive because they have to defeat evil or because they have to beat this one particular antagonist. That’s window dressing for me. Bob and Caught both have villains. I certainly hope they’re enjoyable villains, but I don’t mind a world where the heroes are the ones with whom my readers connect.

So this post, short but interesting, leads to a question. Where do you sit in relationship to villains? I understand the value of compelling villains. What I’m asking is do you only invest in stories that have a great villain? Compare your favorite books ever to this question. Tell me the villain of your favorite book or series. I’m honestly curious to know what you think.

Thanks for reading,


Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 2

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 2

See Part 1 here.

The Morning After

“They found a tumor in my mom.”

It’s only seven words long. There’s only one word in that sentence with more than one syllable (two). I’m a trained broadcaster who has appeared on news shows during my time aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).

None of that mattered. Each time I tried to get that phrase out, I broke into tears before I could finish.

I stumbled into work exhausted. I saw my command chaplain first. Then my boss saw me and asked how I was. I’d been sick the week before, but I knew he had to know what was going on. My boss offered to tell my team, but I’d made a promise to God. I promised God that I’d testify, and I knew I had to start with the people with whom I work.

I was so happy to hear that this tumor was operable. I was so grateful to God for making this a situation that could be handled. None of that changed how much it hurt to know the woman who raised me was going to have brain surgery. None of that changed how much it hurt to be in that position to begin with.

But I made a promise to God.

I’d sent a message via our team group chat. Everyone showed up to meet me and hear what I had to say. Even my chief and senior chief were there. I had to say the words again.

“They found a tumor in my mom.”

I couldn’t do it.  Even as I’m typing this, it’s hard to do, and if I had to say it out loud, I still doubt I could do it.”

“I promised God that I’d testify about this,” I said. “I don’t want this to be about how bad it is. I want it to be about praising.”

I’m not honestly sure how intelligible the comments were. I wept through the entire thing, trying as hard as I could to show how grateful I was to God for making this problem one that could be managed.

“They’re going to go in and take it out,” I said. “It’s small. They can fix it, and I want to thank God for making that possible.”

I pulled it together for a few more minutes to explain what was happening. I also made it clear that what I needed most was to focus on work. I’m not a doctor. My mom had more than enough support and loved ones already there with her. There was nothing for me to do.

My mom has taken care of me my whole life, and in that moment, I was powerless to do anything. When I feel that way, and I have before, what I need is something I can do. I had assignments to grade, so that gave me something, anything to focus on other than this surgery.

I finished telling everyone what was going on, and one of my coworkers came and gave me a hug. That was it. I didn’t have any more strength. I must have wept like a child for a solid three minutes. I’m positive I covered the shoulder of her outfit in tears. I couldn’t do it. She held me up as my other coworkers came to offer me a pat on the back.  I needed the outlet. I needed those three minutes to feel the sadness I was trying desperately to hold in.

On one hand, I was just trying to be strong. I wanted to be focused. On the other hand, I didn’t want to give the impression that I didn’t still believe God would see this through. I knew it then, and I still know it even now as I type this. I wanted to show this calm demeanor that reflected my certainty that God was with us, but I was a boy who’d just learned his mom was going to be operated on.

To give a bit more scope, I’m arrogant. I’d frequently told my friends how long-lived my family is. I’d say, “I know I’m going to see 80.”  Before that phone call the day before, I had no doubt. My mom is 69 as I type this. I didn’t think I’d have to worry about anything for at least another 10 years. A part of me thinks, This is what I get for thinking I know how things will go.

I eventually pulled myself together. I took a deep breath and said, “I’m going to grade some students.”

I grabbed my students’ folders and headed off to the room in which I could grade. My coworkers were amazing. They didn’t talk about it. They didn’t ask how I was. They didn’t ask how she was. Every time my phone buzzed, I’d look at it to see what was happening, and they’d just keep working. They gave me a sense of normalcy. Listen, no one is perfect. I’m sure I annoy each of them at least as much as they frustrate me now and then. We have differences of opinion. But that day, their ability to work like it was any other day allowed me to pretend it was.

Then I got another text.

“They can’t remove the whole thing without hurting her.”

I walked in that morning certain that there was this small tumor in my mom that they’d “yank out like a thorn” and move on.  They were working on the swelling. They wouldn’t be able to operate until later that evening.  However, they’d pull what they could out, do some tests, and handle the rest after that.

I was still confident it would work out, but it wasn’t going to be over quickly.


Questions and Revelations

I thought you said God would fix it?

He will. And Oh boy did I want him to fix it in one day. A year from now I’d sit with my Mom while playing cards and say, “Hey, remember that night you got that tumor? Yeah, that was a real tough night. Wasn’t it cool they just plucked it out and called it a day?” Thing is, God doesn’t work on anyone but God’s schedule. At this point in this trial, I kept thinking about the Israelites from Exodus to Deuteronomy. I’d just read those books of The Bible, so it was fresh. God pulls these people out of Egypt. They were slaves, crying out for salvation. God heard them and performed miracle after miracle to bring those people out of Egypt. About three chapters later, they’re already complaining. “Why did we leave Egypt if we weren’t going to have food? Why did we leave Egypt if we weren’t going to have water?” They were promised a land of milk and honey, and they wanted that land now.

Like I said, I’d just read those books, so all the information was pretty fresh. Something told me complaining to God about his schedule was a bad idea. Each time the Israelites complained or turned away, they were made to wait.  Heck, even Moses was never actually allowed to set foot on the promised land.

I figure some might argue, “What a petty God. He punishes his people just for complaining.”

He rewards faith, and punishes doubt and distrust. At least, that’s my interpretation. Also, these people were slaves, but they want to turn away from the God who saved them from that life to return to slavery just because they have to stay in the desert a few months and build some stuff? That sounds like some pretty petty people to me.

Think about it. Do you have children? Did you ever give your kid some candy? What did you do if that kid then complained he or she wanted a different candy or that the candy given wasn’t big enough or as big as a sibling’s candy? Well, if you’re me, and you saw a kid complain about what it was given, you took it. Ask my little sister and every nice and nephew I have. Complain that what you have isn’t good enough, and watch me take that. Now said person understands that what they have is something that should be appreciated.

Maybe you’re a better parent/uncle than I am. Maybe you found some way to help the child see how what they have is better than what others have. (For the record, I’m not saying I went straight for yanking said candy (or other gift) away,  but I got there eventually.) But I’ve done it, and I’ve seen it happen. Yes, God is far better and far more effective, but I’ve always considered him my Heavenly Father. He raises me to be the man I should, and if I get selfish or over demanding, he shows me just how much I already have.

If I’m being honest, I’m less afraid of him taking my mom if I lament this trial than I am concerned that I want to show God how much faith I have in him. That morning, I committed to the idea that, “The harder this gets, the more I’ll believe, and the more I’ll praise him.”

Is it wrong of me to have wanted this over quickly?

I don’t think so. I’m human. I don’t like this feeling. I don’t like worrying. I don’t like being afraid. I aspire to reach a point in my faith where I can truly just let go of my troubles and trust God. I’d like to get there one day, but I’m not nearly there right now. I’m a worrisome, control-oriented person. I believe that to change, one must do. I believe that there’s always something to do to make a situation better. Maybe what I’m learning right now is sometimes there isn’t a choice. Sometimes you’re powerless, weak and out of things to do. So have faith.

Frankly, this is hard for me. The faith part isn’t so hard. I still firmly believe this is all going to work out. I still have faith it’ll happen.

But what am I going to do about it? How am I going to fix it?

Nothing. I’m not. God will. He’ll work through doctors and medicine, but this is in his hands, and I don’t like feeling powerless. I honestly look forward to the day I think, It’s fine. God will handle it, and then I sit back and let him.

I’m not saying people should just sit around waiting for God to fix their problems. I’m currently trying to struggle to balance the concept of free will with God’s plan. I don’t have any answers. My current theory is God provides opportunity. Sure, he’ll part the Red Sea, but he worked through Aaron (he actually thrust the staff down; the movie lied). But he didn’t just teleport the Israelites to the promised land. They had to journey there. They had to cross the sea, trusting God would protect them.

I’m reading the Stormlight Archive. It’s wonderful, and in it there’s this ideal. Journey before destination. If God had just teleported them, what would they have learned? I mean, they were already complaining about their situation; imagine what they would have said if they realized they had to conquer their promised land if they hadn’t have gone through what they did during that journey?

Yes, I would have greatly appreciated a few bad nights and then it would be over. But already I’m learning. I’ll talk about some examples in future editions, but I’d already mentioned Carlie. She’s grown more now as a woman and a person than I’d ever seen her grow. I won’t pretend to know her mind or opinion, but I think she’d rather grown in less painful circumstances, but I came to rely on her so much in those first three days. The circumstances we learned that fact in were terrible, but knowing how much I can count on her is equally encouraging. The journey is what changes us. I hope my journey will end soon, but for now, all I can do is take the next step, trusting God will be with me.

So what did you do while you waited?

I went to Trivia night with my friends and my girlfriend. Why? Because that’s what I do on Wednesday nights. Normalcy is precious to me. The more afraid or confused I get, the more I seek my routine for comfort. I was surrounded by friends, and just like at work, they weren’t reminding me of the thing I was trying very hard to trust God to handle.

How afraid were you?

At that point, I was still pretty hopeful it would be over quickly. I was worried. But even now my faith is unchanged. The concern is there. The pain is real. I’m just hopeful that my faith and trust in God are more apparent than my concern and hurt. I won’t pretend they don’t exist, but I don’t want them to be the focus of my attention.


If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading


Great Character Arcs: Five Characters I Loved Seeing Grow (SPOILERS)

Great Character Arcs: Five Characters I Loved Seeing Grow (SPOILERS)

Greetings all,

It’s been a while since I did any character studies, so I thought this was a good time to do that. There’s a lot of demand out there these days for characters who “grow.” That term is used a lot but the better word is “change.” People like to see characters affected by their actions and evolve as a result of them. I’m still a big fan of neutral change arcs (K.M. Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs talks about this), but I have seen some character arcs that I just loved. Some I’ve already mentioned before, but I’d like to share with you some stories where you truly saw a character evolve as the story progressed.

51PNy3Gq7OL._AA300_Rand al’Thor from The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: I’d argue this is my favorite arc of all time. It probably should be as it took 14 books to evolve. I don’t know that I’ve seen any other character grow, fall, and return to grace the way Rand does. He starts as a simple farm boy (yes, the most overused trope ever). But he’s just a boy whose biggest concern is dealing with a girl he’s pretty sure he’s going to marry. We see him afraid and avoid his calling for three books. Then we see him struggle with what it means to be what he becomes. Then we see him betrayed, and what that does to him. He falls all the way to darkness, nearly willing to end his own life. Then he becomes the leader and figure he’s meant to be, but that’s not the end. I won’t go farther than that. Even with spoilers, there are some things I just won’t discuss on a blog. But for people who want to study an arc of a character, I’d recommend you start here.

This isn’t Dorian, but I don’t want to dare some author to sue me for using his art. The cover of a graphic novel? Well, there I can try and argue fair use.

Dorian Ursuul from the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks: I’ve already spoken about his arc in terms of his fall from grace. He’s honestly a good, well-meaning man who’s put in a position that basically tempts him into becoming the monster he eventually becomes. I’m fascinated about the possibility of a story where this plot is more of a centerpiece of a novel. It’s rummaging around my head somewhere, but it’ll fall out at some point, and this character and story is why. It’s a beautiful negative change arc.

Tyrion from The Embers of Illeniel series by Michael G. Manning: The end of his arc was the best book I read last year, and that’s saying something.  He gives Rand a run for his money in terms of quality (I give Rand the advantage because I like good guys to find their grace again), but this character’s arc is so enthralling. Every single thing he does that will make him a monster is understandable. The tragedy of its necessity is second only to the sadness I felt as I saw what those horrific necessities created.

41awCCmXEKL._SY346_Artemis Fowl from the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer: I have to make it a point to pick up this series again. I thought it ended, but I’m not sure I read all of the books. Even with what I read, his arc deserves to be here. Listen folks, this kid is a little turd in book one. Watching him interact and make friends and become a protector for those he originally sought to use was a real treat. It’s funny because the way I’m identifying these characters is by looking through my Goodreads books. I scrolled around until I stumbled upon the book and thought, “Oh yeah! His arc was fantastic!”  He’s a character who starts out pretty bad (I mean it’s a young reader book), and then grows into someone truly selfless.

41SA4n8T3uLEmma from Emma by Jane Austen: I’m going to pause here to go off on a tiny tangent. Fans claim to demand great arcs, but if I’m being honest, I just don’t see many. Oh, I read a bunch of great stories. But most of the stories I read are about men who are tempted but don’t fall, men who are nice and stay nice, or men who are bad and stay bad. I’ll go over some of my favorite books where I just don’t see the arc. People can argue with me if they wish (I encourage debate), but I spent a solid hour going over all my books in my Goodreads and struggled to find five arcs where I could really point to a person who changed (even if only for a while in the book). Oh, they evolved. They learned a truth, but they didn’t actually CHANGE. There are other characters who truly change in other mediums. (Weiland does a bunch of character studies in her book.)  But for my money, it’s tough to find those sweeping evolutionary arcs. Emma represents one of the originals. She’s a selfish woman who thinks she knows best how to do things. (Clueless was one of the best modern adaptations of a book I’ve ever seen. Seriously!) Regardless, she changes from a selfish person who THINKS she’s selfless, to a person who learns how to value others as people rather than objects. It’s honestly a solid arc.

So there you go. I’d love to hear your thoughts on arcs. Please don’t misunderstand. There are a lot of books I love (I thought about putting Vin on her list, but she evolved pretty quickly in my opinion) where I didn’t really notice an arc, but I won’t deny that some of these stories are genuinely great because of the way the characters evolve (or devolve). If you think you got another good one, please post it below in the comments for discussion or study.

Thanks for reading,


A February Book Cover of the Month Update

A February Book Cover of the Month Update

With just seven days left in this month’s bracket, it’s time to update you all on how things have been progressing.

As I type this, we have 1,176 votes so far. That’s not quite where we like to be around here. In fact, it’s about 1,000 votes away from where we want to be. We’re dangerously close to breaking the record for fewest votes ever, and I’d really rather not break that particular record.

51QO4TqqorLTrial of Chains
 by Sohan Ahmad has the number one spot. He’s taken the spot and held on despite a small number of votes and how close things are.

Most Voted on so far: Trial of Chains is getting a lot of votes, which is why he’s in the lead. He currently has 98 votes.

Least Voted for:  Painkiller  by Aery Leigh. This cover has 13 votes. I think Leigh’s book deserves more credit.

Sohan has a solid lead in the first round and the Sweet 16, but the Elite Eight is a challenge for him. He has a five-vote lead on A Black Fox Running by Brain Carter. A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybour is only 11 votes away in the Finals.


The trick here is there isn’t a lot of separation overall. At this point, any book cover that gets 14 people to vote it all the way through to the finals, and that might do the trick.

61LZkCgwUrLA quick reminder of how the tournament works. The easiest way to win is to have the most people vote for you in every round. The trick is you have to have the most people vote you through in each round, all the way to the final.  As an example, 100 people could vote someone through to the finals, but that doesn’t do a cover any good if he doesn’t win the first round. It’s not total votes. It’s not simple championship votes. The winning cover has to have the most votes in each round of the competition.

This will be the only update for this type of bracket. It’s been slow so far, so I hope readers start lining up to support their authors by voting, liking, and sharing the bracket with as many people as possible.  You can vote at this address!

I’ll announce the winner is just seven days!

Thanks for reading,