Tag: DC Gilbert

The Dance of Death

I read once that a karate kata could be called a dance of death

Now, I am not talking about some of the highly sensational “stuff” that has come out over the years. There are many books out there by such prolific “martial arts” writers as Ashida Kim talking about Count Dante and others, claiming that The Dance of Death is the most deadly collection of “poison hand” techniques known to man. There are also several “martial arts” genre movies that have been released using versions of the phrase “Dance of Death” in their titles. All I am going to say about that martial arts “pulp fiction” is, buyer beware.

But in general, I think you could consider a kata to be a form of dance. It is a series of movements combining concepts such footwork and stances, proper posture, presence, balance, flow, relaxation, dynamic tension, etc. They have a certain rhythm which can vary as skill grows or even depending on what the practitioner is thinking technique-wise. And, you could easily receive a description such as this from a karate instructor – or a ballroom dance instructor.

Ballroom Dancing and Karate-do

Ballroom dance and karate both require years of practice to achieve real skill. Both require the study of and understanding of body mechanics, timing, breathing, distance, technique, and posture.

Both require a great deal of time spent practicing basic techniques, simple patterns, and advanced choreographed movements, the mastery of which later allows the skilled practitioner to forget the patterns and to allow his own expression of technique or dance to flow.

The similarities do not end there!

For both karate and ballroom dancing, a good instructor can make all the difference in the world. I first started out learning basic steps from instructors that were essentially a few lessons ahead of me. Having studied karate with a few excellent instructors, I soon became bored with this level of teaching. I wanted more.

Then I met Mark and Rhonda Becker at Champion Ballroom in Knoxville. This husband and wife team are both great instructors. They did not teach steps – they taught you the art of ballroom dancing.

That was when the similarities between karate-do and ballroom dancing began to really show.

So, are karate kata really a dance of death?

Well, if you consider that a traditional karate kata has so much in common with a dance, and then take into consideration what a kata contains, I would say the answer is – yes.

What is a kata? It essentially is a collection of effective and proven combat techniques distilled down to their purest form. Like a dance, they require balance, breath control, timing, focus, proper body mechanics, and flow.

They also require understanding. Many of the techniques, while they certainly can be modified, if executed to their fullest potential, have disastrous effects on the human body. Many can, indeed, be fatal.

So, from that perspective, I guess they could be called, “The Dance of Death.” But they are so much more than that.

Preforming kata is a great form of exercise. And depending on how you work them, you can achieve a great variety of results. You can blast through them as a good cardio workout, or you can perform them slowly to work on balance and strength. You can work on timing your breathing to techniques or utilize dynamic tension. Then kata can become moving meditation and help you improve your focus, or relax and reduce stress.

Working on kata will improve your ballroom dancing – and working on ballroom dancing will improve your kata.

It’s almost like a Yin Yang relationship, isn’t it?

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Book Review: “MONTAGNARD: A JD Cordell Action Thriller”

by John Purvis

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author D.C. Gilbert (https://darrencgilbert.com) published the novel “MONTAGNARD: A JD Cordell Action Thriller ” in 2020. This is the second book in The JD Cordell Action Series. This is Mr. Gilbert’s third book. I published an interview with Mr. Gilbert in June of 2018.

I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence and mature language. The story picks up a short time after the first novel “Serpents Underfoot” ends.

The primary character continues to be Former SEAL JD Cordell. After many years of service, Cordell retires taking his K9 Ajax with him. On his last active duty mission, Cordell rescues the very pretty young Doctor Ellen Chang. She was being held by terrorists in Niger. After his retirement, he finds she has come back to the States and has settled hear him. Romance is in full swing between the two.

Shortly after the death of her husband, Mai Cordell makes a trip back to Vietnam. She is trying to find her adopted brother, the Montagnard called Dish. Dish is a rebel wanted by the communist government. When a drug lord hears about her search, he kidnaps her and uses her for bait to draw out Dish.

Cordell heads to Vietnam as soon as he hears about his mother. While the US government can’t take direct action, they do assist Cordell. Two of his former SEAL Team members ‘volunteer’ to go with him. Will he be in time to save his mother and the uncle he has never met?

I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5 hours I spent reading this 309-page thriller. I had enjoyed Mr. Gilbert’s prior novel in the series and this one was just as good! I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

I have read a lot of Mr. Purvis’ reviews and other posts over the last few years, so this review means a lot to me because I know Mr. Purvis does give very fair reviews and calls things as he sees them. Therefore, I would just like to say thank you, John, for this review, and I am so glad you enjoyed the book.

And if you haven’t visited his blog, you should. Mr. Purvis covers a lot of interesting topics.

You can purchase a copy of Montagnard or any of my other books by clicking the button below.

It’s Alive…

Serpents Underfoot is live on Amazon with its new cover.

Serpents Underfoot is out with its awesome new cover! 1106 Design did a great job, and they were a pleasure to work with. If you are ever in the market for a book cover, check them out. They will shortly be redoing the cover for Montagnard as well.

If you haven’t read it, click here to buy it now!

Praise for Serpents Underfoot …

Resonant characters propel this consistently gripping terrorist tale.
All of the characters are well developed, producing genuine shock when certain individuals die.
The author writes in an unadorned prose that keeps the plot moving at a steady beat … the finale is … exhilarating.

Kirkus Reviews

Serpents Underfoot is the first book in the JD Cordell action thriller series! Full of Navy Seal action, the book will enthrall fans of action thrillers … The book has it all—authentic detail, breathless action, vividly drawn settings, and an exhilarating plot.

The Prairies Book Review

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Montagnard: The Philippine Connection

Sometimes the strangest things happen.

I am hard at work on the third installment in the JD Cordell Action series, called Reciprocity, which will take on human trafficking. And in this story, some of the action occurs in the Philippine Islands. While still in the development stages, JD Cordell will travel to the Philippines, where he and a few associates will mete out some well-deserved justice to a gangland cartel trafficking girls between Asia, Mexico, and the US. But enough of that, I don’t want to give too much away.

My new Filipino fan base …

The interesting thing is that I just received a 5-Star review for Montagnard from a writer, blogger, and editor, based, you guessed it … in the Philippines. I think that is pretty cool!

Herzie Santos, a.k.a. SheySaints, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and has worked for Coca Cola Bottlers, Goldprint Publishing House, AXA Financial, and Sutherland Global Services. Her professional experiences in several different work industries have provided her with a great deal of expertise, including professional writing skills. She has written and published poems, short stories, book and movie reviews, essays, and several articles. She’s also a content writer, book reviewer, proofreader, and fiction writer.

Here are a few comments from her review …

I miss stories like this. It gives me this unexplainable nostalgic feeling. I rarely read anything like this anymore and I’m glad I stumbled upon this great book.

It was a well-written action-packed thriller … I highly recommend this book to readers who love heroic military and dog stories.

Herzie Santos

You can read the rest of her review here if you like: https://sheysaints18.wordpress.com/2020/12/01/book-review-montagnard/

It makes me smile! I may not yet be a renowned author, but I am definitely international. Montagnard has been read and/or reviewed in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, and now … the Philippines!

Click the button below to order your copy of this award-wing action-thriller.

Two new reviews for Montagnard

“You feel as if you are one of the action-thriller characters …”

Authors love 5-Star reviews, and I am no exception. Montagnard recently received a very nice 5-star review from a lady named Vicki Goforth. Thank you, Vickie, for taking the time to leave a thoughtful review. I am so glad you enjoyed the book!

Timely Information With Explosive Action

I also received a very thoughtful 4-star review from another author named Schuyler T Wallace. While all reviews matter, getting a 4 or 5-star review from a fellow author means a great deal to me. It is like being accepted or validated by your professional peers.

Here are a few of Schuyler’s comments that stuck out to me.

I really liked this book. D.C. Gilbert is a talented writer with a lot to say, and he says it well.

It’s not a new plot but done in Gilbert’s refreshing manner that’s heavy on local detail, essential to the story.

The author uses appropriate dialogue that is timely and closely mirrors the life and times he is writing about.

Schuyler T Wallace, Author of Tin Lizard Tales

Also from this author …

Check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here, and be sure to check out all my books on my Amazon Author’s Page! They do get great reviews!

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CBD Path

Is it truly another path to wellness

Last night was another Veteran Referring Veterans Happy Hour hosted by Justin, our peerless leader! I really have been getting a lot from these happy hour discussions. But to be honest, last night, I nearly skipped the session because of the topic. The presentation would be from a veteran-owned CBD company, and I simply was not a fan of what I considered the whole CBD fad.

But finally deciding not to skip the happy hour, I grabbed a cold one and joined the Zoom session. And now, I have to man-up and admit I was wrong in my initial judgment. This became a prime example of why “keeping an open mind” can be such a great concept.

About CBD Path

CBD Path is a company founded by Mike and Claudia Donnelly. Mike served his country as a Navy SEAL for nearly a decade. As you can imagine, Mike understands full well what it means to put a lot of extremely rigorous mileage on your body, as well as the benefit of maintaining your health, strength, and wellbeing.

Both Mike and Claudia are amazing people, and I was immediately struck by the sincerity and honesty of their presentation. Mike joked that Claudia was the brains of the outfit, and he was the brawn. Mike had already started several businesses, being a self-described serial entrepreneur. He is also very active, giving back to the veteran community by serving as a board member for the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum and the Trident House. Mike also volunteers throughout the year in fundraising events across the country to raise money for the families of fallen SEALs. When he isn’t working or volunteering, Mike works out, extremely committed to a lifestyle of health, fitness, and training.

Mike and Claudia had seen first-hand the effects of prolonged combat duty on their friends, fellow SEALs, and other veterans. These effects included PTSD, anxiety, depression, amputated limbs, burns, insomnia, among others. Over time they began to also hear about some of their friends and other veterans having some success alleviating their symptoms with CBD products.

Claudia began to do some serious research.

Mike described a fellow SEAL who’d lost limbs and suffered from PTSD and chronic pain, and who experienced real relief from using CBD oil.

Another friend (also a SEAL) has a son who had lost a limb in a bad motorcycle accident, had undergone several surgeries, and suffered a great deal of pain from the damage, and who experienced real relief from CBD.

Friends called in tears, when their son, who hadn’t slept a wink in many weeks, got several hours of real sleep after trying a CBD product.

While CBD is certainly not a miracle drug and is not for everyone and everything, it does have a real history of success if you know where to look.

And even aspirin does not work for everyone.

Here are some things I did not know.

Most of the research available on CBD products and health is found in Israel and Australia. Both of these countries have done a great deal of research on this topic … including using CBD products to treat children with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or PTSD associated with abuse. The US is woefully behind in this area.

CBD was a commonly used treatment for ailments until about 100 years ago, just about the time “big pharma” began to emerge. I guess it could be coincidental, but if you can grow it in your back yard, they can’t control it or make a profit from it.

There are several types of CBD products available.

Full Spectrum vs Isolate

Not all CBD is the same. Mike and Claudia offer both full-spectrum CBD products and CBD isolate products. Full-spectrum CBD is CBD also containing trace amounts of other naturally occurring cannabinoids (CBG, CBC, CBN, THC < 0.3%), terpenes, and flavonoids found in the hemp plant. These individual components are believed to work together in a phenomenon called the entourage effect, potentially boosting CBD’s natural therapeutic effects.

Some people find that full-spectrum works best for them, while others prefer isolate. If one isn’t quite getting the job done, you may have better results with the other.

CBD is referred to as a “promiscuous” molecule because it acts upon several different non-psychoactive pathways in the body: the TRPV channels, GABA receptors, 5HT1A (serotonin) receptors. It is also called “biphasic” because in different dosages it can have different effects.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production, sale, and consumption of hemp and hemp-derived compounds like CBD. In order to be classified as hemp and not as cannabis (they are genetically the same species), a plant has to be tested by a third-party lab and proven to contain les than 0.3% THC content.

So, in other words, CBD is not pot!

More about CBD Path

CBD Path is a company that manufactures and distributes only the best quality CBD (this is not 7-eleven CBD) to its customers. Their products are all produced in certified hemp manufacturing facilities. They offer advice, support, and education. Each product they sell has a QR code on the label you can scan to verify the source of the hemp and the certificates of analysis.

They did not just jump on the bandwagon, they are doing it for the right reason and in the right way.

CBD Path

Visit their great website to learn more and check out all the information available.

After this presentation, I had a very different view of CBD and its uses as a health and wellness supplement. But it is very much a “buyer beware” market with many unscrupulous distributors jumping on the CBD wagon with inferior products. If you find CBD is something you are considering trying, these are definitely the folks you will want to talk to right here!

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JD Cordell is going international!

I have often wondered about the value, for authors, of Kindle Unlimited.

Clearly it is great for readers!

I mean, having access to read almost everything in the Kindle store for one monthly subscription fee, if you are an avid reader, is a great deal.

Does Kindle Unlimited truly benefit authors?

The response from authors I have heard or read is pretty much split down the middle. About half of the writers love it, saying KU is the source for much of their revenue. The other half claims it is too limiting, and they prefer to have access to other eBook distribution channels.

And I still am undecided because it does lock your ebook into Amazon for your 90-day period of KU enrollment, which renews automatically. However, at the end of any 90 days, you can opt-out. I have not opted-out yet because I haven’t really explored other venues to sell the ebook through.

However, I have discovered that Kindle Unlimited (KU) has allowed me to reach readers in countries I never expected. And, that is pretty darn cool!

I was going over my KDP reports, and I noticed the KU readers from the UK, Australia, and India have read Montagnard. The UK, I expected. I have friends there, and after all, we are two countries separated by a common language. Even Australia was not a huge surprise, I mean, they speak English too .. well, sort of! 🙂

I was surprised and delighted to see people in India were reading Montagnard. That really made my day. I certainly hope they enjoyed it, and I appreciate it very much! I haven’t yet gotten any reviews from India that I am aware of, but perhaps that will come over time.

However, I did recently receive a review from a Goodreads reader who had this to say!

Needless to say, this lady’s review made my day!

If you enjoyed this post, I hope you will take a few minutes and check out some of the other posts on my blog by clicking here!

And by all means, if you enjoy a thrilling, fast-paced, award-winning action & adventure thriller, check out my newest novel, Montagnard. As you can see, it is getting rave reviews!

I will never forget …

A day that is forever seared into my memory.

I still remember driving to work at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and hearing Phil Williams, a local radio celebrity talking about a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers. I remember thinking … what a horrible accident … those poor people in the plane.

I was thinking a small private plane had accidentally hit one of the towers …

But Phil kept talking, and I could not believe what I was hearing. Then I remember thinking, it must be some kind of a practical joke! But it would have been a horrible joke. I just could not fathom what was happening.

Then, when I got to work and entered the Student Center, I saw that crowds were gathered, staring at the many TV monitors located throughout the lobby area. I saw the second jet hit a tower. It was a day that changed my life forever. It was an attack on Freedom … and the American way of life.

Americans are certainly not perfect, but the ideals America was founded on are …

America is not just a country. It is an idea, and it is an idea that is worth fighting for … the Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. These are more than just cool-sounding words from the Declaration of Independence. These are the core values that are then enshrined and protected by the U.S. Constitution.

It saddens me how many Americans today have no understanding of, or appreciation for, the gift our Founding Father left to us. Far too many spend their time caught up in perceived petty grievances and playing the victim card and miss out on the fantastic opportunities that only this country provides.

September 11, 2001

That day created a patriotic fervor that was shared by many across this great country. In me, it has not lessened since. It reminded me, like nothing else ever had, of the oath I took on July 17, 1979.

I, Darren C Gilbert, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

I just went back and rechecked … that oath has no expiration date.

The United States of America has been a force for good for most of its 244 years. While mistakes have been made, no other county sacrificed so much for the betterment of mankind around the globe. Any errors that have been made are due to the imperfect nature of Americans being human, and that is something we should all be able to forgive.

I will end my post with two of my favorite quotes by William Wallace from the movie Braveheart.

Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!

We all end up dead, it’s just a question of how and why.

William Wallace, Braveheart

God Bless The USA!

I hope you will take a few minutes and check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here!

And, if you like reading an award-winning action & adventure thriller, check out my newest novel, Montagnard. It also got a great review from Kirkus Reviews!

Just Stories, Part 3

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

Edmund Burke

That is the short version attributed to Edmund Burke. It is actually derived from a longer work titled Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770).

Defining Good and Evil …

As old fashioned as it might seem, I do believe in good and evil. And I strongly agree with Edmund Burke that for evil to triumph, all that is needed is for good men to sit by and do nothing.

And I certainly understand that the world we live in is not always so black and white. No, I am not racist; I am merely using an analogy that far predates the politically charged various versions of racism we must try to sort through today.

There is a great deal of gray in the world. However, social order and civilization are dependent on defining what lawful and unlawful behavior is. And, some actions are almost unanimously deemed as reprehensible (or evil). These, even in today’s upside-down world, would typically include stealing, murder, rape, slavery, human trafficking, genocide, etc.

Complete pacifism only leads to one of two possible places …

What are those two places? Simply stated, they are slavery or extinction.

You might argue that it is a bit extreme. I argue it is not. History is chock-full of examples supporting this concept, going back thousands of years. And, those who fail to study history are far too often doomed to repeat it.

I have thirty-five plus years of martial arts training. I served in the U.S. military and graduated from the best private bodyguard training school in the United States. I understand what really evil people can do, and refusing to stand up to them typically does not stop them.

I am reminded of a dinner party I was at many years ago. One of the guests was a local radio station disc jockey, and I soon discovered, an avowed pacifist. He asked me how I could justify owning guns and also teaching people how to beat up other people. I simply answered that I do not teach people how to hurt other people. I teach people how to stop people from hurting them or people they care about.

He scoffed at that. So I gave him a scenario (we had just recently had our first home invasion in Anderson County in the news, where an elderly couple was tied to chairs, brutally beaten, and robbed). I asked him if he were home at night with his wife and three young children, and violent people invaded his home with the intent to harm his family, would he just step out of the way because he “did not believe in violence,” or would he try to protect his family?

He thought about that for a minute, then answered that he would have to try to protect them. I then told him that the only real difference between him and me was that I would have much a better chance of succeeding. His final comment was something like, “Wow, you’ve cut me to the quick on that. I have to think about that.”

Sometimes, good people must do bad things to stop evil people!

Strictly speaking, there are no such things as good and bad impulses. Think…of a piano. It has not got two kinds of notes on it, the ‘right’ notes and the ‘wrong’ ones. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law is not any one instinct or set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

It is in this quote that we can see the defense for my comment above. The difference for me is in the character of the person and the reason for the act. Yes, good people can sometimes be called on to do bad things to protect those they care about. But they do it out of necessity, not for fun, personal gain, or on a whim. And therefore, they are willing to stand before God and be judged for their deeds.

This is the reference JD makes near the end of Montagnard.  It is also how, in real life, a Navy SEAL like Chris Kyle or Rob O’Neil, or any soldier, sailor, airmen, or marine, would be able to justify to themselves what they do and sleep at night.

Poster for the movie Act of Valor.

Evil does exist in this world. Often, it cannot be reasoned with, appeased, or avoided. Sometimes, it must be faced down. There have been a few instances in my life where I made the choice to stand against evil. I do not regret those decisions and I do not believe God will hold them against me when my time comes. 

My stories, at their core, are about facing down that evil.

The third installment in the JD Cordell Action Series I am calling Reciprocity, will delve into the dark world of human trafficking, which I think any sound-minded individual would consider an evil blight on humanity.

If you enjoyed this little philosophical meandering, please take a few minutes and check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here!

And, if you like reading an award-winning action & adventure thriller, check out my award-winning novel, Montagnard.

Just Stories, Part 2

A word about characters … and character.

Characters …

Many readers who have reviewed Montagnard have made comments about the story’s characters. Here are a few examples.

The action is incredible, the characters are amazing, the storyline is astonishing. It all feels so real, the men, the action, the times, the war.

DD Gott

The story has believable characters (including strong women and a dog that I loved). It draws the reader into the story, a story that covers five decades. The Bangkok bar, Obsession, is a hoot.

Lee Boyland, Award Winning Author

My husband , who is not really a reader finished this book in three days. That being said decided I needed to see why he thought this was such a good read. After I started this book I understood. Characters are so real you become concerned about them. Loved this book.

Kathleen Palazzolo

Gilbert’s enjoyable sequel offers some rousing subplots … But this novel concentrates on fewer characters, such as the returning players Curtis, Mai, and Ajax.

Kirkus Reviews

… a thrilling novel … elevated by intriguing characters … an exotic location … danger around any corner.

Literary Titan

My editor, Beth, commented on the story’s characters several times.

“Great characters.”

“Really laughed a few times … when Pallie ‘is trying to wrap his head around the current situation’ in the club. Humor is authentic and genuine, not trying or forced. Truly funny. These are guys you want to hang out with.”

“Genuine movie potential. Love the secondary characters. Mai, Ellerson, the driver Hung, Hana, Hoa, Jum Y, Poh … like and care about each one of them. Peripheral layers to cast and story. Very well done.”

One of my beta readers also commented early in the editing process that my writing style is very “character-driven.”

So, what is the point of all this?

I lurk in several writers groups. I say “lurk” because I tend to listen-in more than I post. You can learn a great deal as a writer listening to comments and questions of other writers. One surprisingly common thread is, how to create better characters.

Here is my big character “secret!”

Are you ready?

You, as the author, have to love your characters … that’s it.

If your characters are simply “names” filling a spot in the story, you are not doing your characters justice. You have to actually see your characters as real people with real feelings, interests, faults, personalities, etc. I love each and every one of my characters (yes, even the evil bad guys. I love them because they are so easy to hate).

I have seen people posting that this is somehow hard for them to do. I have to admit that I really don’t get that. These are characters in a story you are writing. If you don’t love your characters, why are you even writing the story?

Here is what I do …

Sometimes I base a character on a person I know. I may even ask that person if he or she wants to be a character in my book and get their input on how they see themselves in that character’s role.

Pallie is one example of that. Pallie is based on a good friend, Joe, who worked as a bus driver in New York City until he suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Since he could no longer drive the living, he took a job chauffeuring the dead … a hearse. He said, “the dead really didn’t mind.”

Now, that’s Pallie to a T!

Joe is a boisterous, friendly, Sicilian man who is a great friend and would be at your side if needed, just like Pallie. When writing Pallie’s part in Montagnard, all I ever had to do is say, “What would Joe do here? Or, what would Joe say here?” How could you, as an author, not love that character.

One more example is Mai. Mai is a composite of several strong women that have left an indelible impression in my life. She personifies what I respected most in each of those women. How could I, as a writer, not love her character.

This same idea can be found in every character in my stories, even with the secondary characters, although perhaps to a slightly lesser degree.

And what about the Main Character?

JD Cordell is also a composite character. He is the result of combining the character traits I respect most in several men I have come to admire in my life, with some of the qualities I am proud are a part of my character. I guess I could also say that JD Cordell is my alter-ego … if I were Bruce Wayne, JD would be by Batman.

Now, a word about character …

To me, my stories are about character.

First, I guess I need to explain my understanding of character. To me, our character is what defines us at our core. To put it plainly, it is who we are when the “shit hits the fan,” and when no one is looking.

I also believe that too many people mistake learned behavioral tools as character traits. These tools are things like politeness, rapport, charm, or dressing nicely. To me, these are not character traits at all. They are simply tools people can turn on and off as needed.

Even Jeffery Dahmer could dress nicely, be charming, smile, and act politely when it suited his purpose. But I doubt too many of us would argue Dahmer was a man of good character.

Character traits are who we are at our core. They cannot be turned on or off at will. It would take a genuinely traumatic or life-altering event to change a character trait after we are set in our ways (about age 8).

Why does this matter?

It matters because, when you are developing your characters, they need to have consistency. Character does matter. And, sometimes people with good character are forced to do bad things for the right reason, to protect those they love or care about.

JD makes a reference to this near the end of Montagnard, when he says, “I am not a Bible thumper, but I know what I believe. I’m a sailor, and I’ve done a lot of things for which many people would be quick to condemn me. The things I’ve done … well, let’s say I am willing to stand before God and account for them.”

Here is one more example. Many readers have questioned why I did not have Mai kill the villain in the story. After all, I did kind of set it up to look like she might do just that. However, Mai killing the villain in the act of vengeance or retribution would be out of character. While Mai is undoubtedly capable of defending herself or her family (see Serpents Underfoot), she would not hunt someone down to exact vengeance. She would stand for justice and the rule of law.

This has become quite a long post, so I will stop here. I will just sum it up by saying that creating characters that people can identify with, respect, loath, or “hang out with” is a crucial aspect of writing a good story.

My next “Just Stories” post will tackle my thoughts on the theme of “Good vs. Evil,” which is also clearly a big part of both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard.

If you would like to read Montagnard, now is the time to buy. For a limited time only, the Kindle version is only .99 on Amazon.com.