Friday, April 26, 2013

Author Affirmation and Sword of the Gods

The following wonderful email arrived today about someone who read my Sword of the Gods books:

"Hello, I just finished reading Sword of the Gods and Spinner of Lies. I usually read reference material, but I have an unexplored passion for the realm of fantasy, so, I decided to read Sword of the Gods; it was the first fiction book I've willingly read. I found myself completely absorbed by the world and the characters. I was so emotionally involved with the characters, Demascus, Chant, Riltana... I Just had to have more when I finished, so I immediately searched for the sequel and gobbled up that book. Now I'm so sad the journey is over!! Are you going to write a third book? I really hope so. I want to thank you for writing the story and letting me take that journey and for unlocking my desire to read fiction!!"

Wow. I am so pleased to hear about this kind of experience with my books! I also had a great time writing them. I think this is what George Costanaza meant by leaving the room on a high note :-).

But to answer the question of the reader, I don't really want to leave the room. I'd consider writing more Sword of the Gods books, but step one is up to the publisher. For the publisher to decide it wants more, I need to keep getting the word out about Sword of the Gods. Certainly this sort of thing helps.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

L-Carnitine And Atherosclerosis

The metabolic pathway for atherosclerosis has been discovered. Sorry, regular meat eaters. (And energy drink guzzlers!) 

The old school thinking of "if a little is good for you, then a lot must be better" has been proved wrong by Stanley Hazen, whose research last year established a link between bacteria in your gut, l-carnitine, and heart risk.

Yes, it's well understood that l-carnitine is crucial. It helps produce all your body's energy by transporting fatty acids to your mitochondria. However, humans produce all the l-carnitine they need. Supplementing with it (and eating a diet rich in red meat) does no good, and in fact, does harm.

Your gut bacteria can be "trained" to digest l-carnitine by eating a lot of it. The more you ingest, the more your gut fauna evolves to digest it. A byproduct of this digestion is a substance that promotes plaque build-up in your veins. 

Instead of accelerated energy, you end up with accelerated Atherosclerosis!

Want to hear it straight from the horse's mouth? Then give this a listen!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

And The Winners Are . . .

A few weeks ago I announced a contest to give away one of my novels performed by John Pruden available on (three Abolethic books, and two Sword of Gods books). 

Well, that contest has run its course, and the three winners have been selected! The winners are as follows:

Ken Hart (@KenofGhastria on Twitter) gets an audio copy of Plague of Spells!

Doug Hopkins (@combatadvantage on Twitter) gets an audio copy of Sword of the Gods (Book 1)!

Randall Newnham (@coffeeswiller on Twitter) gets an audio copy of Plague of Spells!

I'd like to thank everyone who entered for your interest in these books. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Last Thoughts About JD

JD Sparks, my friend of 30 years, passed away a few weeks ago. Last weekend was his memorial. Everyone got a chance to share some stories. I was especially grateful to meet many of JD's family and other friends, and hear what they had to say.

Here are a few stories about my friend.

I met JD in 9th grade, in a shop class of all places. Back then, he went by Jay. He, Monte (the other kid I met in shop class who liked D&D) and I spent a lot of time in class not paying attention. Instead, we goofed off and played games, like one called Global Thermonuclear Destruction on a map JD had drawn on graph paper. We used the 6 sides of No. 2 Lead Pencils for our dice, possibly also JD’s invention. A much better way to pass the hour than listening to our teacher explain how to sand wood and rivet leather.

The three of us soon moved on to the good stuff--Dungeons & Dragons! In one of our first games (played in my parent’s basement of course), JD’s character gained a –1 penalty to his attacks. He decided that meant that he should act unpredictably. At a bridge over an endless abyss, his character pushed mine over the edge, exclaiming, "I'm cursed!" Though JD went on to become one of the strongest gamemasters I’ve ever had the pleasure to play with, the “I’m cursed!” story remains one of my favorites.

Our group of goof-off D&D players soon grew to include myself, JD, Monte Cook, Richard Bue, Bob Baxter, and Bret Holien. We called ourselves the Hong Kong Cavaliers (and still do). Back in high school when we weren’t playing D&D or some other RPG, spending quarters at the arcade, or reading comic books, we were doing a school-sponsored forensic activity. That meant debate, and for JD and myself, Oratory.

Oratory required that you write an 8 minute speech each year, memorize it, then practice it so well that you could give it like a pro. By our senior year, JD and I traded top places across South Dakota and western Minnesota each weekend. JD could recite from memory the beginning few paragraphs of all our strongest competitors’ orations. And he could still do so TO THIS DAY.

(Bob Baxter and I were debate partners, and we ended up winning the SD state debate tournament our senior year, but that's another story.)

We Hong Kong Cavaliers remained friends all this time, and in the 30 years since I became friends with JD, I’ve gotten to hang out with him several times even though we've never lived in the same state since High School. Last year I organized a semi-regular D&D game with JD and the rest of the Hong Kong Cavaliers thanks to the magic of Google Hangouts. We all got to laugh as, once more, as JD “put up his defenses!” This time around, though, I was the gamemaster, so JD didn’t get a chance to push my character off any high ledges.

Even more often than we played D&D, JD, Torah Cottrill, and I played online video games over the last several years, especially City of Heroes and Guild Wars 2. JD loved those games, and sometimes we ended up in one of those imaginary lands two or even three times a week. If you had a question about how to craft a sword, where to find the best quests, or where the toughest levels were, JD knew it. And he also was such a gracious friend that he got joy out of stocking the guild vault with goodies that the rest of us could use.

JD was a giving, loving, and talented man. I haven’t even touched on his amazing artistic talent, though Torah and I have several of his pieces framed in our home. Whenever I see them, I think of him. He made the world a better place for the 45 years he was part of it. He touched all of us with his art, his humor and wit, and the way he managed to keep a positive attitude when all the world sometimes seemed against him.

He will be missed more than I can say.