Junior Inquisitor

Junior Inquisitor

Friday, February 27, 2015

No post for today

Sorry everyone, but there will not be one of my regular, irregular posts, as I am getting ready for my book launch, and I have my Reserve Battle Assembly this weekend. It was going to be earlier in the month, but thank to all of the snow it was changed. I blame Al Gore.
Further, I had to do some writing, getting some training classes together for my team. So I've been busy doing write ups on IS, researching Hezbollah, and the likelihood of urban combat (Fallujaha anyone) and what that means for guys and gals like me.
So, no real post just this half-hearted excuse.
Sorry, I'll be better next week.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Violence in writing

I was asked by someone about the level of violence in my writing, as apparently I'm an atavistic throwback to a darker, bloodier time that really shouldn't exist in these enlightened times. “Why can't their differences be solved through dialog or compromise?” After blinking several times at the sheer naivete of the question, I asked the person, When was the last time true unadulterated evil was defeated by non-violent means?”At that point the discussion broke down and I was called a lot of names.

At the most basic level, I write about the fight between good and evil. I've seen evil, both people and their actions. I imagine most every adult has seen something evil at one time or another, but there is a hesitation in declaring an absolute. Once someone is labeled “evil” then what? Are we not then required to act, to eradicate the source of evil? Most people will shrink away from such duty. That is not to say we are all turn-the-other-cheek angels, ask any cop and they will tell you that most people, when driven to it, or under the influence of alcohol and/or recreational pharmaceuticals, are quite capable of violence and murder, but only a few people will actually, in cold-blood, with premeditation, kill another person. Rather than label someone with the absolute of “evil” people prevaricate. We ask, “Is there no chance at rehabilitation?” hoping for an out, a reason to not have to act. There is also the presence of a strong state, with police and a justice system that works, for the most part, to remove the burden of judgment and sentencing from our shoulders. So evil is dealt with, just not by us.

We may live in a morally ambiguous time, and perhaps all of human history there has been plenty of gray rather than simple black and white. However, even if we swim in a sea of gray there is still some white and some black. There is good and evil.

There are plenty of books out there that tell the story of situational ethics, of a man or woman with a checkered past fighting to avenge a personal wrong or to survive a cataclysmic situation. Those are good stories, well told, and I saw no need to tread on such well worn ground.

I came up with my series by asking a simple question, “what would happen if people could do magic?” Thinking it through, I reasoned that just like winning the lottery, people would go a bit crazy with their new power. We also tend to be rather brutally violent. I do not have to list the instances of people killing each other over food, resources, or a lack of respect to make my point. I will even concede that there are a few people who have turned away from power, but the reason we know about them is because they are the exception.
My series is an answer to my question, “what would happen if people could do magic?” Other people have asked close variations of my question and come up with different answers. My stories are my answer to that question, and that answer is violence.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Keeping it real in my fantasy world

I was having a twitter discussion with Fiona Quinn, who spends a lot of time researching the things that sometimes trip up authors like police procedures, how gunfights actually work, the effects of drugs on people and so on; you can find her excellent blog here http://thrillwriting.blogspot.com/, about why my characters have to avoid the police.

For me it seems simple, Inquisitors are fighting a hidden guerrilla war against witches and the forces of darkness. Modern man does not believe in witchcraft or magic or monsters. Trying to explain to a cop you were killing a werewolf will likely end up with you in a psyche ward at best. More likely you'd be charged with everything from disturbing the peace, to unlawful discharge of a firearm, to premeditated murder. Modern law also really hates vigilantes, and will go after them with everything they can.

Works in comic books not so much in real life

Some enlightened places will arrest you for possession of a firearm, even a flintlock pistol.


Police usually show up when reports of gunfire are called in pretty quickly. Toss in explosions and monsters and you can bet that more than one squad car will be investigating.

You maybe able to avoid one, but all of them?

Even if all that is there when they arrive are scorch marks and bullet holes, the crime techs will be called out to help figure out what happened. Evidence will be collected and entered into databases which are shared nationwide. Shoot a witch in Seattle and then another in Kansas City and if the spent bullets that are recovered match, both police forces will know as will Federal law enforcement like the FBI and ATF, who have even better resources in tracking people and their movements.

That means the Inquisitors have to move fast and leave very little trace behind when they are done.

Imagine big gun fight erupts in a city. The police arrive and see a bunch of heavily armed people. Do you think the police will be calm? Would you be calm, or would you be calling for back up and ready to fire at a moment notice?

Lets say my group of monks gets caught, do they throw down on the cops, or surrender? Inquisitors are charged with protecting the innocent, not laying waste to the local constabulary. Even if the cops don't know, even if they are wrong, and inadvertently endangering the innocent, can you see any realistic situation where a gun fight with the police ends well for my heroes?

In the end it made sense for me to have my Inquisitors to avoid the police.

The same is true for witches, but for different reasons. In my world witches are the apex predators, but they hide out not because they fear cops, but they fear other more powerful witches who will enslave them, sacrifice them or just kill them out of hand. Use magic recklessly and others will notice like sharks notice blood in the water. Witches hide, while plotting to gather more power, more minions, more magic, so that they are “safe,” and will flee sacrificing their minions and followers if another more powerful witch comes calling or Inquisitors arrive.

In some ways I may have made things more difficult for me, by keeping law enforcement as it is in the real world, but I think the realism makes for a better story.

I hope you agree.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Mistakes people make on Twitter

I was over at Robert Bevin's blog scrolling along when I came to a very interesting post.

Now Robert makes some valid points, but we disagree on what exactly is a mistake. Twitter, like all social media is a vehicle to distribute content. I think Robert could have whittled down his list to just three items –

1 Your content is boring

The first point is probably the most important – it doesn't matter if you are trying to tell your friends about the great concert next week, or send funny LOL cats memes. If what you send doesn't grab people, if it doesn't make them stop for a second and really read instead of skim along, then you have failed. For better or worse all tweets are advertising, and anyone in advertising will tell you that content that does not attract attention will be ignored. Even if all you are doing is telling everyone about what happened last night you are advertising, asking people to stop and read your content, taking up some of their time.

Now this is important for anyone who hopes to succeed,

if no one knows what you are doing you are invisible.

Success yesterday, is not a promise of success tomorrow, and if you are expecting people to actively seek out your content, you will find you have very few fans in a very short time. There is a reason, despite all the millions of books he has sold, Stephen King has a fairly active twitter account. As does James Patterson, as does Taylor Swift, as does Guy Fieri, all of these folks are trying to sell you something and want to keep you interested in what they are offering.

2 You waste time

Thanking people is polite. However, it also takes time, and can hide your content. If someone re-tweets you, reciprocate. It's faster than trying to round up the names of everyone who did you a solid that day. Same with socializing. If you are mixing business and pleasure, you will end up do neither very well. Imagine this, you and I are at a huge party, lots of interesting people all around. Except, I am hanging with a small group of my friends telling inside jokes and stories that you do not understand. How long will it be before you walk away to talk with some who pays attention to you and includes you in their group? Same thing on Twitter, inside jokes and stories will drive people away because they will feel left out. Be inclusive.

If you have an auto service because you are busy writing, or cooking, or plotting your hostile takeover of Hostess, that's great. However, you have to feed the auto service new stuff or people will go elsewhere. Unless you are going full ninja, you have to provide content to keep people interested, and aware of what great things are coming down the pike for them.

Old content is stale content. If I sent out a tweet advertising Sylvester Stallone's Judge Dread movie, would you care? Of course not! The movie was released years again it's not news; it's history. If I sent out a tweet saying “Top ten time you can see boobs in Judge Dread,” and linking to a web site, you might be interested, because that's something that might be new and interesting. And there are boobs involved.

An auto service may do auto re-tweets for you, but it does not provide content. If you use one that should be used to free you up to make more interesting content, not ignore your followers.

Re-tweeting others is not producing content. It's nice, you should do it, but it is not an act of creation.

You will not get people interested in you by talking about others.

If you are a content creator you have to be able to talk about what it is you are doing and why people should care. You must interest people, hold that interest and then deliver. If you can not do that, you will become invisible, a whisper in a room of shouting people.

3 You are not prepared to let me pass along your content

As I see it, with Twitter, you want a large fan base and for people to re-tweet your comments. You have to create content, that is interesting, eye-catching, and easily accessed. If your followers can't find new content in a few seconds, most will quickly give up and move on. Your pinned tweet should be refreshed at least daily. Once some one re-tweets your tweet they can't do it a second time, so have fresh content. Don't fight human nature, expecting people to spend a lot of their time trying to hunt for content on your site, make it as easy as you can. This also means you have to do more than just thank people or re-tweet everyone in your group. Your site needs a lot of your content.

You can use Twitter like Robert and I and a whole bunch of others do, by creating new, interesting content, or you can fight human nature. I wish luck if you decide too “not sell out to the man,” but I think you will diminish your chances of success.

Junior Inquisitor comes out 1 March, but why wait?

Pre-order now!

Amazon - http://goo.gl/D6KrbX

Smashwords - http://goo.gl/XsGgAC

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What is "right" versus what is "legal," and how that should apply to your stories

I was reading earlier this morning about a widow that was depositing money into her account in small increments in a way that appeared to be avoiding IRS notifications and possible tax implications. The money was seized and there was a great hue and cry over this poor widow being impoverished.

Never mind that just because your old doesn't mean that you are somehow innocent, hell we've had senior citizen serial killers


What caught my interest was the difference between what was right and what was legal, and how that applies to world building.

Anyone who has watched the news, or read a paper, or surfed the net in the last few years has come across some story of where what was legal and what was just were at odds with each other. That's real life unfortunately. Perfectibility is something humans have mostly failed at since recorded history. Religion, and entire schools of philosophers have offered various bits of advice, yet we still fail. Logically, it would follow, that if humans are incapable of perfection, then man-made institutions would also be imperfect.

However, imperfect does not mean worthless. Would you cry over a test that was 95% correct? If your sports team were successful 80% of the time, would you abandon them? Of course not! We understand that while perfection is a goal, it is not always attainable, and we will have another chance to excel tomorrow.

In the real world, if we abandon the legal code, as flawed as it is, to ensure subjective “justice,” a likely result will be a descent into anarchy. Interesting story, not so fun to live through. In the end we have a flawed system, but it beats the crap out of none, where might makes right. We also know that lots of people and groups are trying to improve our legal system. This is also true of most human endeavors, from construction to science to rules of governance, there is a recognition that there is a current trade-off, but the desire to keep improving is always there as a penultimate goal. One day we may finally get there.

Another important factor, laws only work if the government has the ability to enforce them. If I clone and raise a pet T-Rex as my mode of transportation, a cop could try and pull me over as “Bessie,” stomped down the highway. However, my nine tons of dino versus his two tons of car, could make for a very short interaction. Same if I had the Batmobile, or a tank. Now think of the cascade of what would happen off scene, if I ignored the cop, or had Bessie stomp on his cruiser, or worse, turned our poor cop into a dino snack. In real life there will be consequences, and reactions from others, for any of the above, and in your stories there should be as well.

You have a character in your world who is rushing to the scene of a crime, or to stop an atrocity, or stop the love of his life from getting on that plane, or to pay his bill before cable is cut off, the reason is not as important as the impediments. Whether a cop, or a secretary protecting her boss from maniacs, or some pencil-necked bureaucrat who lives to make sure forms are filled out properly, all of these types of people exist in the real world, and should in yours as well.

We exist in a world where our time and money are constantly demanded by others. Junk mail, advertising, sales pitches, legal and semi-legal extortion, generic time wasting morons, and representatives of government, all make demands on us, for our time and money. Some of these walking headaches should bleed over into your stories. Then there are the frustrations of dealing with life, like paying for things we need, like food, and want, like television and cable, and how we find a way to pay for those things. Utopia, where everyone is nice, there are no bills or demands on our time, is not only unrealistic but boring. If everything is perfect, everything functions as it should, where is the conflict, the chance to rise above, the challenge to do the “right,” if not the “legal” thing? Where is the drama?

There should be the small petty frustrations, the doubts that plague everyone, as well as the interpersonal conflict, and the struggle to achieve the main goal, just as there is in real life, in any story wishes to be vivid, rather than flat.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Contest - fame glory and loot await you!

Anybody want a free book?



Of course you do, and I'm here to help.

                                                                   Author Copies

However, you'll have to do a little work to earn it.

Here's what you have to do. Take a picture of yourself or someone else holding a sign that legibly says “I want to read Junior Inquisitor,” and then send it to as many people as you can on Twitter. Don't forget to include me (@lincolnfarish) in the tweet so I can keep track of how many people were tweeted.

Not everyone has the same number of followers, but if you have 500 followers and send out your picture twice, that's the same, in my mind, as having 1000 followers and sending it out once. Or if you take two different pictures and send each one out once to your 500 followers that's still as many as the person with 1000 followers.

Now, if Stephen King sends out a tweet holding up a sign that says, “I want to read Junior Inquisitor,” to his 635K followers, you'll have a lot work to match his numbers, but it is doable, even if you have just a couple hundred followers.

The winner will receive a hard copy of my book. Free. I'll mail it to you no matter where you live, pay the postage and everything. I'll even sign it if you so wish, inscribing it with almost anything you want, and toss in a nice, handwritten note thanking you.

Contest starts today and end at Midnight Eastern Standard Time on the 26th of February 2015. I'll post periodic updates on how many tweets the leaders have completed to date.

I'll announce the winner on the 27th and ship them their book as soon as I have an address and inscription details.

Here's your chance to win something free for minimal work, have massive bragging rights online, and tangible results for your efforts, my book, which you will be able to read at your leisure. Fame, glory, and loot await you all you have to do is be brave enough to claim victory!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Who's the Boss?

I read a rather well written, in depth article today about the origins of the Harlem Shake craze which happened a few years ago.

Essentially people would video themselves at first standing still, except one person who would, in the background, dance, and then at the proper time in the song, the scene would shift and everyone who were now in bizarre costumes also danced.

Sounds like harmless fun right? Well it was, initially. What happened was a marketing firm saw the original video and did a better, more polished version. Other corporate interests got involved, helped to spread the word, and very quickly people were doing their own version of the Harlem Shuffle and uploading it online, as well as watching the initial versions for inspiration.

The marketing firm made money, the record company made money, the song’s author made money, and of course every site that featured Harlem Shake videos made money, through ad revenue. However, the initial creators, and many of the later imitators did not. They were just having fun. The companies were trying to make a buck.

The article ends poorly, I think, with, “The technology may have changed, but the money still flows the same way: to creators of contracts not creators of content.”

That last line is a bunch of sour grapes bullshit.

If you make something, if you entertain people, you have the option of trying to monetize your creation. If you choose not to, say you give away your book, or spend your time to fix a Wikipedia article on the Oxford comma, grumbling about lost money is just hindsight whining.

Example - let’s say I write a book and Acme Publishers offers to buy it and help me sell it. The usual industry standard is 40% net sales minus expenses IIRC. Acme will, as a company, make 60% of profits and I make 40%, but here’s the kicker. No one person will make more on my book than I will. That 60% is split multiple ways; it goes to the editors, and the cover illustrator, and the marketing team, the printers, and all the other expenses to include the CEO of the company, all working for me, to get people to buy my book. I have hired them, to do things that I either do not have the expertise to do or am unwilling to do, because I have more important things to occupy my time, like write another book.

The big take away is that I, as the content creator, as the entertainer, am in charge. Acme works for me, if they do a crappy job I do not have to offer them my next book. I can create as much or as little as I wish, and Acme will not make a dime off of my efforts unless I allow them to do so. Unless I hire them to assist me.

So I’m the boss, and what is the first rule of being a boss? Get paid. However, it is up to me to make sure this happens. If I fail to get paid, it is my fault. I’m the boss, not an employee.

If I give away my content, if I entertain for free, that is my decision, but it’s not really reasonable to complain if others take what is given to them and find a way to make a buck off of it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Manly Chili

Real Man Chili -

what Arnie's version of Conan would make


4 pounds lean ground beef

6 sausages

2 lbs of other pork product Bacon, loin whatever

1 white onion

2 Beers (minimum)

2 (40 ounce) cans kidney beans

2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste

1 red onion

4 large cloves garlic

2-3/4 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons chili powder

1-3/4 teaspoons ground black pepper

6 habanero/ jalapeno peppers (fire is to taste)

2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 tablespoon and 2-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

One big pot 2 gallon size

So this is what you should have in the beginning. It is missing the Cayenne pepper, the red onion and Tomato Sauce because someone was lollygagging.

Notice I've got some Tabasco sauce and onion powder, you might need it, but probably not. I also had a can of Hormel chili which I threw in so it could see what real chili was like.

What to do now everything's assembled

Open cans, drain off excess liquid toss contents in big pot. Peel and chop veggies. Do the garlic first as it is a pain, but still worth it. Open first beer, that's for you, the second is for the chili. Guard your beer, or it will be swiped as someone wants “just a sip,” then finishes it off, and leaves before getting you a replacement.

Chop up the onion and then the peppers. Keep you fingers out of your eyes and face while chopping peppers, or you'll spend a good half hour cussing. Once you have peeled chopped and prepped the veggies toss them in the pot. Wash your hands thoroughly to avoid pepper burns. Then break out the measuring spoons and toss in the spices.

Cook and cube, or cube and cook all of the non-ground meat, in a pan. As it is done toss that in the pot. Brown the ground meat as well. The meat is the most important part, so make sure you have enough room in your pot to fit it all, it's okay to go to the rim, but do you really want to have to stir two pots?

Once everything is in but the chili beer, pour that in. Beer is to taste obviously. If you want to use Pabst Blue Ribbon or Schaefer Light, do so. As my family is from Scotland, I use Irish beers for my cooking. You can even use wine if you are a chili snob. I'd avoid hard alcohol, eight ounces of Jack and your house is going to smell like a distillery. Your neighbors will rat you out, and ATF agents will eat all of your chili after they kick in your door.

Turn on the heat and commence to stirring, think of it like exercise, which is why you can finish that beer guilt free. Or have another, it's up to you and your liver. It'll be about an hour give or take, keep the heat in the medium to low range you want a boil but a very mild one. To much heat and/or not enough stirring, and you'll have burnt chili. If that happens order takeout.

Now once everything is cooking this is how thick it should be

If a wooden spoon can stand on it's own, congrats you've got man chili. Remember dogs and onions are a bad mix. No matter how much Fido gives you the “Woe-is-me” look or even the hairy eyeball of death, if you give some of your chili to him you will at a minimum have a tough time breathing the fumes. More likely you'll be picking up partly digested messes that came from both ends, and at worst be responsible for sending Rover to doggie heaven.

Once the hour is up and your arms feel like you have hung from The Tree of Woe for a few days, spoon out your chili out and enjoy. With another beer.