Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Pius Press Release

Yup. This is my new press release. How do you all like it?

DATE: 26 July 2013

Contact: Declan Finn. #***-***-****

A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller – History, Theology, and Bullets.

Giovanni Figlia's job is straightforward: protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day. His latest project: make "Hitler's Pope,” Pius XII, a saint. But when people who have gone into the Vatican archives start dying, a whole new world of problems emerge. And each time someone dies, a priest has been in the background; a priest close to the Pope. It's a mystery with too many suspects: the American mercenary working for the Vatican? The Egyptian cop coordinating for the Pope's trip to Cairo? Or the priest who's mysteriously well trained in combat? Also, since one of the dead researchers was an Al Qaeda asset, Mossad and German intelligence arrive in Rome. Soon, they must all join forces to unravel the mystery around the Vatican, as even the man Giovanni is supposed to protect looks like a suspect. To get out of this alive, they must discover the mystery of Hitler's Pope to find out whether or not he was a Nazi collaborator, or a pious Man.

In the past twenty years, there have been numerous thrillers and books about the Catholic Church. The Church has been portrayed as right wing sociopaths, malevolent Nazis, and fanatically anti-technology. For each of these accusations, there have been a dozen historical books released to counter them, but no novels.

A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller is Declan Finn's way to change that. A Pius Man answers most popular cliches about the church, both in fiction and in popular "history": the image of Jesuits and the Opus Dei as the vile henchmen of a backwards church is almost parodied. The view of a technophobic church is contrasted with one that utilizes the latest in nonlethal weapons (NLW); that the church that persecuted Galileo actually prosecuted him for teaching a theory as fact without sufficient evidence, and the Church itself has it's own observatory. There are also one or two offhand comments poking fun at Templar conspiracy theories along the way.

Every historical reference can be footnoted (literally, the first draft had footnotes in it). Almost every reference is either directly related to the plot, or related to a vital element. Every time history is brought up, it is kept as concise as possible, without a trace of being pedantic or lecturing to the audience. Instead, it's treated as other tales told within the context of the novel—as much as any character's back story would be.

At the end of the day, despite the history-heavy elements of the story, A Pius Man reads like the usual political techno-thriller, with history slipped in between gunfire.

A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller
ISBN 1482553899

For review copies, appearances or interviews with the author, contact ***-***-****, or DeclanFinnInc@aol.com.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Interviews and author showcases.

So, item one: my coauthor on Codename: Winterborn, Allan Yoskowitz, was interviewed over at Dirk and Kam's.

I was as well, but aren't you all tired of hearing from me by now?

Oh, and if you folks would like a free reading of the other book, Codename: Winterborn, Kam and Dirk had a sample posting.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

Jack Bauer, Harry Potter, and the Cassandra effect.

So, what do Jack Bauer and Harry Potter have in common?

No, this is not a joke.

Jack Bauer, the hero of 24, is the key agent on the Counter Terrorism Unit.  He will torture (mostly just interrogation with yelling and threats), kill, fight his superiors, and lop off heads in order to save the day. He developed a drug addiction to go undercover with a cartel, stopped LA from being nuked about three times, saved the President of the United States at least a dozen times, and will occasionally go on revenge-fueld rampages. He is also the winner of going-the-longest-without-sleep-while-still-kicking-ass award.  He's mostly a lone wolf, because everyone who helps him eventually dies.

Harry Potter is essentially experiencing the worst high school experience since Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Instead of being born with martial arts skills and preternatural strength, all he has are the wits of a ten-year-old (to start with) and inborn magical ability that he's still learning to control.  His biggest assets are his friends-- one of whom is smarter than he is. And he's got a death sentence on him since he was born, all because of some Saruman wannabe who has his own Manson family.

So, what do the two of them have in common?

The Cassandra effect.

No, really.

Going through both series, you'll notice that no one actually listens to either Jack Bauer or Harry Potter.  If people listened to Jack Bauer in several seasons, the show would be called 12, not 24.  Every time Harry Potter falls head first into a plot, like some sort of magical Jessica Fletcher, no one over the age of 18 listens to him.  They are both Cassandra, knowing something will happen for certain, only no one will listen to them, especially when they're right. Leaving it up to our heroes to act on their own to save the day, despite the stupidity of others.

Now, granted, it's a plot device specifically designed so it can end with the hero standing alone against all odds, with maybe some cavalry coming over the hill at the last minute. One might say it's a very American concept -- rugged individualism, cowboy duels in the street, the Lone Ranger, every superhero, every Clint Eastwood western-- except that there is still the basic mythology of Odysseus, or Bellerophon, and other folks of yore who have special powers and abilities that make them the only ones to face demons and monsters.  It's the same concept, only we need different reasons for the lone hero to be lone anything.

In the case of comic books, that's easy-- most superheroes have superpowers that enable them to go toe-to-toe with the bad guy and walk away. Even Batman and Iron Man have special toys, special training, and a wealth of experience on their side.

But what happens outside of that? When everyone has the same training? The same knowledge base?

Enter the Cassandra effect.  In both cases, it stems from Finn's Law of Committees: to get the IQ of a committee, you take the total IQ of the individual committee members, and then divide it by TWICE the number of members on said committee.  Why? Because people are dumber in groups.

In either case, this holds.  In the Hogwarts School model, the faculty obviously know more than this pissant little child, so how could he possibly have the answer to anything in particular?  In the case of Jack Bauer, the CTU bureaucracy looks something like the bureaucracy of the damned, filled with political operatives who know nothing about kicking ass and taking names, and everything about kissing ass and shuffling papers.  And, in both cases, our heroes can only appeal to an individual --Harry Potter's Dumbledore, or Bauer's President Palmer -- and that person can cut through the red tape that has made everything so very, very screwed up.

If you don't have that, you don't have a plot in either case.

"Oh, Harry? People are going to try and steal this valuable stone we have in the forbidden wing? We'll triple the guard on it. Thank you."


"Jack, you've got information that says that there were other people behind the terrorist threat? Sure, we'll have an air strike on them in the next five minutes."

Sounds boring, doesn't it?

At the end of the day, individuals who will fight the good fight are always more appealing to us than a massive, faceless bureaucracy. We trust individuals to get things done, but not the byzantine structure of bureaucracies, who will seemingly let anyone in. It doesn't matter if it's the IRS, the State Department, the NSA, CTU, or Hogwarts.  But good fiction uses this plot device well, exaggerating the natural ineptitude of bureaucracies into a plot point -- and sometimes, you don't need that much exaggeration.

Even when you have something like the Magnificent Seven, or the Avengers, it's very much the same concept. It's the individuals coming together to take on a threat that none of them could deal with alone.

Now, one could counter with military fiction... except in that case, fiction makes certain to focus on the officers and high-ranking foot soldiers -- people who have already been promoted because they have special abilities and knowledge that put them at the head of the back. Just look at 300-- we focus on, possibly, six of three hundred Spartans. It's hard to make us emotionally invested in 300 individual soldiers in the time and space allotted, but making us invested in a select few allows us to be invested in all of them.

At the end of the day, we the audience become invested in individuals.  The Cassandra effect -- or the committee effect -- gives writers the excuse to focus on a select few in a modern age where great big monolithic installations are supposed to take care of everything.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

#NoJustice? Trayvon Martin and G. Zimmerman. A case of stupid.

Everyone else wants to practice armchair law with this case.

My turn.

This was stupid from minute one.

Before I begin, I should note that my family has a saying. "Never attribute to malice what can be equally attributed to stupidity." And I think that was a case of stupid from the word go. Not from the filing of the prosecution. Not from the police investigation. But from the minute Mr. Zimmerman (GZ) closed with Martin. From there, it was a boatload of stupid.

1. Listening to the (unedited) 911 call, GZ at least gave a description of an unknown (to him) person in a gated community that has been the victim of break ins. When asked about race, he answered black. Okay, fine. His description of Trayvon was pretty standard and generic, an overall profile. He wasn't sure what ethnicity Trayvon was in the actual transcripts.

 2. Trayvon Martin (TM) is approached by someone he considered a "crazy white cracker." He was confronted, and GZ apparently started to walk away.

3. We know that there was a fight. Witnesses and forensic evidence proves that TM was on top (GZ's back was wet, and TM's knees were, so GZ was flat on his back on the ground, with TM straddling him, bouncing his skull off of said ground).

3a. Who started the fight? Well, if GZ did, TM would have been dead without a fight. Gunshot to the head. Done. We know that the gun never came out during the initial confrontation. If TM did, as GZ said, attacked him from behind on the way back to the car. So that has a ring of truth. However, if that's the truth, then TM would have had to have been stupid to attack someone who he believed was crazy. However, I can actually believe that. Why? He's a teenage male, so I assume that aggressive and stupid is automatic. He was also on weed at the time, so who knows what was going through his brain. Trayvon was also a wannabe MMA fighter, with a history of violent outbursts.  Bad things happen with that combination.

4. I'm going to exempt the police from blame here because they seemed to be rather thorough, and even sent the case to the DA's office to see whether or not they should prosecute.

5. The case was shaky from A-Z. Who prepped these witnesses? TM"s father was unemotional and unsure about who was screaming for help on the 911 call. The girlfriend had apparently signed a hand written affidavit that she couldn't read. The ME's office was contradictory and unclear about what results he drew. The ME’s office was never at the scene of the crime. The EMT’s, who WERE there, thought GZ should go to the hospital

5a. When the FBI investigation originally couldn't put together a case for civil rights violation against GZ (which is usually an easy thing to do. It is the DOJ; if you've ever made a racial joke ever, they will find out and use it against you). They couldn’t make the case.

So, while I think that GZ is an idiot, that is, sadly, not a crime. He didn’t know what he was getting into, and then he approached who he thought was a suspect, in the dead of night, and then turned his back on him. If TM had been armed, and the criminal GZ initially suspected, GZ would have been dead. Period. If disobeying a 911 officer’s suggestion was a crime, he should be in jail. It's not, so he's not. He had a damn gun (a long distance weapon), and he was told to not approach-- so why was GZ even within ROCK-THROWING distance of Martin? Why confront him at all? Why not just stay at a reasonable distance until the cops approached? If he were going to walk up to TM and kill him immediately, it would make sense to close, but he didn’t.

Like I said, stupid.

The prosecution didn't have a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Simple as that. No prosecution brings a case without having it rock solid, with nothing is uncertain. In this case, the evidence was inconclusive, at best, which is why it was initially rejected for prosecution. There is no sign that GZ is a racist, considering his friends, his volunteer time in community centers, and the fact that he is part Hispanic, Caucasian as well as black. Throw in political pressure, and you have what amounts to a show trial that was a crapshoot to start with.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cover designs: A Pius Legacy

Yes, we're already at that stage.


Yes, a sequel.  You thought that I was going to be done with A Pius Man, didn't you?  You thought that I was going to take a year even if I did want to do a sequel, didn't you?


No, seriously, book two, A Pius Legacy, takes off right after A Pius Man is finished.  And it is finished...

Okay, not really.

It's written. I finished writing it. And I'm having people read it over right now, as we speak.

What? I've been writing this thing for nearly a decade. Did you think I wouldn't have sequels ready to follow hot upon its heels?

Now, on cover design....

If you remember the last time this happened, I went ... well, insane is a nice way of saying it. Someone was going to die, and it was probably going to be me.

At the end of the day, instead of trying to build my own cover design from the fairly tacky options I had been given, I'm going to also consider my other options. This time out, I've got a concept for my cover, and a concept for a premade cover.

Item the first: a createspace cover.

This is an image I've always liked when thinking about the Pius trilogy. Crosshairs on the Vatican, or on someone who is clearly a pope.  It's an iconic institution, and the image leaves no doubt about what the book is about.  You know that Bad Things will happen to the Vatican, or the people in it.  And once the fecal matter impacts the air impeller, the Church itself will be in the middle.

I don't know. I like it.  But it could just be me.

Now for something completely different.

The other option is a premade cover from Sarah-Jane Lehoux.  You know her because one of her covers was what I used for A Pius Man.

This was first suggested to me by my father, who liked the thought of having a war declared on the Catholic church represented by a Satanic image.

Obviously, like all trilogies, A Pius Legacy will have the bad guys starting with the upper hand.  And, perhaps, ending with the upper hand, depending on how you look at it.

Yes, it should have a very Empire Strikes Back vibe to the whole thing, and I think this image also works nicely.

Now, either way, we're going to have some fun around here. There will be blood. There will be violence.

And it's going to be fun.

Leave a comment below, tell me what you think about either image.

Be well.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Prominent Catholic Writers to Speak at CWG’s Catholic Writers Conference in New Jersey

I may be here. Maybe.

Several prominent Catholic writers will speak at the fifth annual Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE taking place August 7-9, 2013, at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, NJ. Sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN), and held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show, the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic writers with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe. The theme of this year's conference is “The Year of Faith.”

Speakers at this year’s conference include authors Patti Armstrong (STORIES FOR THE HOMESCHOOL HEART), Teresa Tomeo (Ave Maria Radio, WRAPPED UP, EXTREME MAKEOVER), Michelle Buckman (RACHEL’S CONTRITION, MY BEAUTIFUL DISASTER), Randy Hain (THE INTEGRATED CATHOLIC LIFE), Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle (EWTN, CATHOLIC PRAYER BOOK FOR MOTHERS), Ellen Gable Hrkach (STEALING JENNY), Regina Doman (RAPUNZEL LET DOWN), author, blogger and podcaster Pat Gohn (BLESSED, BEAUTIFUL, AND BODACIOUS) and many others.

The conference will give authors an opportunity to meet personally with publishing professionals and pitch their writing projects. Some participating publishers are Ignatius Press, Full Quiver Publishing, Ave Maria Press, Christus Publishing, Tuscany Press and Servant Books. In addition, attendees have the opportunity to sign up for critique workshop with award-wining short fiction writer Arthur Powers, and attend a writing workshop with award-winning novelist Michelle Buckman. Information for these events can be found on the conference web site.

Maurice Prater of Missionaries of the Holy Family attended in 2012, and he says he did not know what to expect at first. “But, what I gained from attending the Catholic Writers Conference, in terms of personal contacts and what I learned, has proven to be one of the best decisions I have ever made." Author Ann Frailey, concurs. “I met writers, publishers, artists and a whole host of other people whose mission it is to transmit the message of truth and hope to the world in a living, vibrant manner. It was an exciting adventure!”

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization affiliated with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, sponsors this conference in August, an online conference in March, and a writers' retreat in October to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. "With members all over North America, these events bring our diverse membership together for fellowship and networking to promote our mission of creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters," says CWG President and award-winning novelist Ellen Gable Hrkach.

Registration costs $80 for CWG members, $85 for non-members and $45 for students. There's also a discounted combined membership. To register or for more information, go to http://www.catholicwritersconference.com.

Updates: Reviews and interviews

Good news: I'm up with yet another interview.  Granted, they spelled Declan with two Ns, but I'll take it.
In other news, with the other book, Codename: Winterborn, it has a new review up. And it looks good.  Mauahahahahaha. 


Book Spotlight: “Naughty Delights”

We're doing something a little different today. A spotlight for a novel.  Roll with it, please.

Yes, it's a romance. I"m a romantic sap -- as I've said multiple times. I even have a love story save the world in A Pius Man (if you wonder how I do that... buy the book, blast it).

Anyway, and away we go.


This is it, Elizabeth thought as she pushed through the door to deliver a large batch of chocolate and vanilla sugar cookies to the display case. It was grand opening day for Guilty Pleasures, and she couldn’t be more excited or more nervous. Years of scrimping and saving had accumulated to this day. In a matter of minutes the bakery would be open for business, and their city would officially have their first taboo sweet shop.
Elizabeth took one final look around, making sure everything was perfect, when Felicia, her business partner and friend, appeared next to her, chomping on a fornication cookie.
Out of all the sugary creations crafted for the shop, Elizabeth and Felicia would agree these were the most fun to develop. They spent many wine-filled nights brainstorming and researching ideas for the inserts.
What’s it say, babe?” Elizabeth asked, nodding toward the paper in Felicia’s hand.
Felicia laughed and read the naughty message, "Two heads are better than one, but three, now that’s what I call a party!" As she tucked the paper into her back pocket, she asked, “I forget. Was this yours or mine?”
I actually think your man deserves credit for this one.” Grinning, Elizabeth grabbed the sampler plate off the counter and walked toward the front door, turning to take one final look around before the place filled up. She couldn't be any prouder of the decor in her little slice of heaven. She glanced to her left and smiled proudly as she admired the photos on the wall.
The food photographer they had hired did a fantastic job capturing the beauty and sexiness of several corset cakes available for purchase. But the icing on the cake, so to speak, was the mural to the right of the entrance. A local artist painted "What Are Your Guilty Pleasures" but the letters were actually naked people in compromising naughty positions.
Felicia giggled. “Oh yeah, it’s all coming back to me now. We definitely drank way too much that night.”
Nodding in agreement, Elizabeth turned on the neon sign and opened the doors for business.
Already, a few eager customers were waiting by the window. They actually applauded when Elizabeth stepped out of the shop door. She greeted them with a smile and offered them their choice of iced cocks or boobs. She wasn’t surprised the guests blushed when they made their selection and bit into the cookie. She expected to witness many rosy cheeks in the hours ahead of them—giggles too.
As the streets began to fill up with people going to work, Elizabeth tried to coax even more passersby into the shop with her funny shout-outs such as: “I bet our peckers taste as good as your man’s. No wait, even better!” And, “Our breasts are fantastic and all natural.” All the while she held up a naughty treat.
After the bell dinged behind her a couple dozen times, she realized the humorous approach to draw in customers was working like a charm. Now with them inside, she had no doubt every person who’d entered the shop erected from her dreams would be a repeat customer. And with this thought, she knew the many dinners of Ramen noodles were well worth the discomfort it cost her over the years.

Purchase link: http://amzn.com/B00DELSA9K
Goodreads link for the story: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18073879-naughty-delights

Contact info:
Blog: http://www.dirkandkam.com
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DirkandKam
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