Act 1 – Train

The train clicked along the rails. Each vibration permeated the carriage floor, traveling up Fenix’s tailbone until it reached his aching skull. If his numb posterior from sitting on the cold steel floor for hours didn’t keep him awake, the constant vibrations exacerbated by his hangover would.

If only the agent he had waited for at the bar had arrived with the goods earlier. Had that been the case, he wouldn’t have drunk so much, he wouldn’t have slept in, he wouldn’t have been late for the train, and he wouldn’t have been forced to break into the one place accessible after leaping onto it: the rear storage carriage.

The hatch to the carriage suddenly screeched open, letting in the moonlight and the crisp night air. A young man staggered in and Fenix gestured for him to close the hatch so they wouldn’t have to yell at each other over the howling wind. He struggled to close it again, breathing heavily as he turned to face him.

“So, Ryan, did you find a way to get into the passenger compartments?” Fenix asked.

Ryan wiped the sweat and dark, windswept hair from his forehead. “There’s a door at the back that I tried knocking on, but the whole carriage was empty.”

“Locked?”

He inclined his head. “Well, it was. I shot off the deadbolt and managed to get it open.”

“Seriously?” Fenix rose to his feet, stomping his heels to rid them of pins and needles. “What are we waiting for then? Let’s go.”

He passed Ryan and opened the hatch again. It was freezing outside and the wind whipped at him. After Ryan heaved the storage carriage closed, Fenix wasted no time climbing the railing toward the gangway of the passenger compartments. Climbing down the ladder to the metal bridge, he looked through the window and pulled back when seeing figures moving inside.

Ryan followed after him, landing loudly. Fenix pulled him back against the outer carriage wall and peered through the window again.

“What?” Ryan groaned.

“You said it was empty before, right?” Fenix hissed.

Ryan nodded.

“Well, it’s not now.”

“What are—”

“Diran operatives,” Fenix growled. “They must have gotten in after you broke open the door.”

Ryan scoffed. “Do you really reckon they could have crept in the time it took me to get back?”

“You said it yourself, there’s no other way you could have gotten in if you hadn’t broken the lock, right?”

Ryan shook his head. “Trying to find out who’s at fault can wait for later. What are we going to do?”

“Well, you let them in there so you get them out again.”

“Wha… but there’s at least six of them!”

Fenix’s expression didn’t change. Ryan eventually surrendered to his impenetrable glare. He was his commanding officer, after all.

“Fine. But you know this is suicide.”

“You’re a better shot than me, Ryan. Get in, shoot, and get out. I’ll be your backup.”

Ryan nodded, pulled the pistol from its holster and heaved the sliding door open. Fenix sighed, hearing two shots followed by a grunt of pain. He peered around the door to see Ryan on his knees with his hands behind his head. Also on the floor was a man holding a shoulder wound.

“Son of a bitch!” the man cried.

There were no more gunshots, only muffled words. It appeared they preferred to take hostages than kill any enemy on board, particularly considering that only they knew where the goods on the train were kept.

“There’s another one out on the gangway!” one of them called and Fenix stiffened. “Come out with your hands up.”

Fenix moved into the passenger compartment but did not raise his hands. The wind that whipped at his dark hair and coat was suddenly blocked by the walls of the carriage. He appeared around the black-clad operatives. All wore black, carried military assault rifles, their faces covered, and they surrounded Ryan with their weapons pointed at him.

“Are you deaf?” the same operative shouted and walked around Ryan to get closer. “I said… hands… up!”

He pulled back his rifle to club him with the butt. Before it could connect, Fenix tilted. A pulse of wind from outside rushed into to the compartment and hit the man square in the face. Fenix ducked, pulled out his own gun and shot him in the thigh. The man wailed in pain and dropped to one knee. Fenix kicked him in the face and watched as the other operatives pointed their rifles at him.

“What are you…?”

Fenix grinned. “That wasn’t luck!”

“Shoot him!”

He ducked just before they fired, and completely against the natural movement of the air around the train, another powerful gust of wind blew in through the open back door. The air pressure in the room shifted with the sound of each gunshot, stopping and diverging the bullets. Crouching low, Fenix waited for the pressure to shift once more and then discharged his own gun. Like the first operative, each of his bullets hit them in the thigh.

“Ryan, disarm them!” Fenix shouted as he rushed in, grabbing gun arms and kicking their wounds.

Breaking from his sudden trance as they dropped around him, Ryan went about slamming faces into the compartment floor, ridding them of their weapons while Fenix kept watch. Only one of them put up a fight, trying to aim his rifle in one hand while clutching his bloody leg with the other. Fenix put a bullet in his other thigh for good measure.

“Let that be a lesson. You were planning on keeping us prisoners, right?” Fenix stood and holstered his weapon and Ryan disarmed the last one. “It’s only fitting, seeming as we won, that we do the same to you.”

They stripped them and bound them, taking them into the same storage carriage they had been in. However, before leaving, Fenix made sure to grab the large-handled tubular suitcase in the corner of the room where he had been sitting. Even he didn’t know what was inside it, but it was his mission to take it from Tangier to the island of Linth without having it damaged. It was only the first day of their mission and they had already been attacked. It was going to be no easy task.

“Alright, just how the hell did you do that?” Ryan asked as Fenix moved into the passenger compartment with the case.

Fenix grinned. “What are you talking about?”

“Don’t you…” Ryan growled. “We were in an impossible situation back there. You know that as well as I do!”

“And?”

“The odds that the wind would blow into to the train like that, despite the way the way the train is heading, and somehow blow in the exact direction you needed in order to survive the fight… that was crazy!”

Fenix sighed, walked down the aisle, and picked one of the cushioned seats to sit down on. They were comfortable and he thought he might be able to get some shut-eye now.

“So?” Ryan cried, sounding desperate.

“Calm down,” Fenix intoned. “You sound like you believe I can control the wind or something.”

Ryan moved to his side, eyes wide. “Can you?”

“Don’t be ridiculous… if I could do that I would be like a god or something.” He yawned and turned to face the window. “It just helps me out sometimes when I’m in a sticky situation is all. I have no idea how it works.”

Still looking stunned, Ryan leaned against the arm of the opposite chair. “You’re kidding… Why?”

Fenix didn’t respond. In fact, he could already feel himself drifting off to sleep.

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An Example of a 5 Act Structure

Act 1
Forest Journey: Fenix and Ryan are on a mission to transport a secret device through a wartorn country to the island it originally came from by train.

Chapter 1 – Train/Group: Getting the device in a suitcase, they make the train and seated in an empty carriage. The train is invaded, Ryan is taken hostage but Fenix uses an uncontrolled power to defeat and capture them.

Chapter 2 – Pitstop/Rest 1: The train does a stopover outside a small village where they drop off the captured invaders in the forest, but before leaving, they pick up the suspicion of an elite assassin.

Chapter 3 – Woman/One-on-One: After checking the place where they’d had the invaders captive, Fenix notices a tracking device. He discovers an assassin stowaway and they fight before the assassin derails the train.

Chapter 4 – Forest/Rest 2: Fenix is contacted and told to leave the train and make their way through the forest toward the port but they are captured when they are come across by soldiers and locked up in a facility.

Chapter 5 – Melkai/Monster: They are put up as food for a monster experiment and Fenix uses his power to defeat it and escape. Before they leave the facility, he manages to recover the suitcase with the device.
_

Act 2
Island Massacre: Fenix and Ryan stay on the island and Fenix discovers what his powers are and, in a disaster, learns how to control them.

Chapter 6 – Port/Rest 3: They make it to the port and Fenix and Ryan take a boat to the island where they find out that the device they were transporting is somehow related to Fenix’s mysterious power.

Chapter 7 – Island/Group: Fenix and Ryan guard the device before the scientists return to the island and Fenix becomes a hero in the town for beating up some violent foreigners before going to his next shift.

Chapter 8 – Device/Rest 4: Fenix ends up connecting with the device in a magical way. The scientists arrive and one tried to use him in experiments while the other tries to explain to him his magic.

Chapter 9 – Dancing/One-on-One: Fenix takes home a girl that turned out to be an assassin who tries to kill him until he realizes that he had met her in his past and she warns him of the massacre that he goes outside to see.

Chapter 10 – Massacre/One-on-One: Fenix witnesses Ryan get murdered by a commander who has a similar power to his own. Fenix ends up controlling his power and uses it to kills the commander. He gets a warning about Daemon.
_

Act 3
Desert War: Fenix joins the others of his group and uses his newly controlled power to decimates the enemy force, defeating monsters and assassins.

Chapter 11 – Grieving/Rest 5: Fenix grieves Ryan’s death and resolves to master the powers he can control to stop the war. He gets a call from his team telling him about their missions in the desert country.

Chapter 12 – Warzone/Group: Fenix uses his newly mastered power to go to the frontline to easily take out entire armies and meet up with the other elite commandos in his group. They all meet up at a barracks.

Chapter 13 – Foreshadow/Rest 6: They mark a trajectory for the enemy headquarters and are warned about assassins that have similar to powers to that and the commander Fenix killed. Fenix remembers the commander’s warning.

Chapter 14 – Trapped Underground/Monster: The headquarters is exploded when they are inside and they are trapped underground where a monster attacks them but Fenix uses his powers to kill it.

Chapter 15 – Discovery/Rest 7: On the way out of the tunnels, Fenix discovers one of the gods related to what the scientist was telling him about and warns him about his adversary and his assassins that are going to be after them now.
_

Act 4
Highway/Urban Battles: Fenix and his crew fight the assassins and Fenix ends up fighting the first assassin girl who gets kidnapped by Daemon.

Chapter 16 – Plan/Rest 8: Fenix and his crew make a plan to divide and conquer the assassins knowing they couldn’t take them out together. Each of them has the technology to fight them.

Chapter 17 – Collision/Group-on-Group: On their way out of the desert city they get attacked by the assassins and are forced to split up and fight them individually. He heads toward a neighboring city where he was given a message to meet one.

Chapter 18 – Assassin/One-on-One: Fenix meets the assassin girl in a ballroom and they fight and confront their path, showing their feelings for one another before Daemon himself shows up.

Chapter 19 – First Fight/One-on-One: Fenix and Daemon fight with their powers and Daemon wins. Before he can kill him, assassin girl is wounded trying to protect him. Fenix harnesses more strength and Daemon kidnaps the girl.

Chapter 20 – Resolve/Rest 9: Not wanting to lose someone else, Fenix resolves to save her but once again is uncertain about his power. He goes to the god who says that if he loses it could mean the end of the world.
_

Act 5
Fenix goes to the tower, fights the betrayer and Daemon, dies, is resurrected and finally defeat him.

Chapter 21 – Invasion/Group: Fenix goes to the tower to rescue the assassin girl. He fights his way through the military security and finds that one of his crew betrayed him for power and is one of the assassin lefts alive.

Chapter 22 – Betrayer/One-on-One: Fenix and the betrayer, who also has been given power from the Daemon, fight and after explaining about the girl by his sister, Fenix defeats him and continues up the tower.

Chapter 23 – Defeat/One-on-one: Fenix comes to the top of the tower and fights Daemon. Despite evenly matched, Daemon tricks and defeats him and take his power to start the end of the world.

Chapter 24 – End of the World/Rest 10: Daemon causes the end of the world but it turns out Terra and Fenix did not die because they have the blood of gods and because of that the Fenix gets the gods powers.

Chapter 25 – Final Fight/One-on-One: Fenix gains the god’s power and fights Daemon and ends up sacrificing his power to defeat him.

Chapter 26 – Conclusion/Rest: Fenix reverses the end of the world and returns safely with assassin girl, where he laments those who were lost.

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I love this comedy music video

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My First Negative Review was Bad

When I received zero bad reviews for Gods of the Mountain in the first 5 months of its release, I decided I needed to go to someone notorious for giving negative reviews so that others wouldn’t accuse me of paying for them. I was also looking for feedback before the audiobook went into recording, so on the Bookstooge’s review policy page, I commented:

“I need a bad review, my book has only been getting 4 and 5 stars (mostly 5) and it’s beginning to look like I’ve been paying for them.”

I’d made such blogger requests before to varying responses but he found my comment humorous enough to agree and we traded emails where I made my intentions clear. Eventually, he did write a review, but before I poison the well with my opinion of it, feel free to read it yourself here along with the comments section which I’ll be referencing.

Adding and subtracting points from his rating for reasons like my emails to him showed that the review was meant to be a little tongue in cheek. These points, as well as the book having “Sandersonitis” was accurate. I did resend the book while editing it for the audiobook version and it was partially inspired by Brandon Sanderson. If he thought it was funny to subtract points for that, I had no problem with it. Everything accurate in this review, I found funny.

It was when he started lying that I got a bit antsy, and his denial and threats in response to my requests for clarification or correction revealed how petty and dishonest this reviewer really is.

Those of you who read my blog will know that I take pride in not being an indie author. Being only selected by traditional publishers, I haven’t paid a cent to get my writing published and I doubtfully ever will. So when I made a comment correcting a claim on his review that I was an indie author, which I thought was unnecessary considering the publisher is mentioned on the VERY FIRST PAGE, he didn’t feel the need to correct this or add a note or reply at all. Being an optimist, I regretfully gave him the benefit of the doubt and took it as an honest mistake.

Before assuming that he was willing to throw his integrity as a reviewer out the window to discredit me, I decided to address another point in his review I was unclear on.

His first remarks on my writing linked to another post in which he took a quote out of the context of its sentence to convince his readers of its “ambiguity”. I think we can agree that out of context “being turned on” could mean arouse, but in the sentence he removed it from, the character mentioned “even the youngest of them could harness the power of the symbols” which were already revealed to be deadly when used… yet he was blaming the book for an assumption he made that it was sexual in nature despite this context.

He went so far in the comments section of this “quote post” to imply I didn’t use an editor despite, once again, the editors being referenced in the book. In the review, he also claimed that this was one of a handful of instances that the grammar was “awkward”. He later clarified in an email that there were 5 of these instances, but upon requesting other examples so I might improve the book by removing them, he suddenly became defensive and, sounding like a drunk, said:

“I’ve let a lot of your “give me answers and detailed justification” comments alone. Don’t comment again. This is your only and final warning.”

You can read the comments for yourself, it’s all there. I didn’t ask for answers or detailed justification, in fact, I was being damn right jovial and accepting. All I asked for was another example, and I figured with him mentioning a specific number of them, that he might be able to point them out and help improve the book before the audiobook began recording. Yet as many religious men do when asked for evidence to hold up a lie, I can only assume he felt backed into a corner and that threatening to censor my next comment was the only way to get out of it.

He mentioned “this is why I’m always hesitant to review upon request.” to which I assume he’s done this to someone else before and think no wonder they had problems with you. He also mentioned “I’d try him again in 5-10 years” but I’d prefer that he didn’t read anything of mine in the future just in case he tried to peddle even more BS to his meager following.

Review Rating:
Consider this bridge burned, dishonest manchild.

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Ready Player One

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Key: The tape they throw out of the window is the original book.

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The Social Justice Translator

So, I’m new to the world of social justice and am still learning all the lingo, but after asking someone who considers themselves an authority on the matter, I managed to get some explanations that I’ve attempted to translate for the “non-woke” individuals out there. If anyone else can think of any other funny translations for terms like this, please PLEASE add them in the comments because they make me giggle.

  • Patriarchy = 90% of civilizations throughout time.
  • Mexicans/Muslims = A “race” of people with high melanin levels.
  • Islamaphobic = Racist (following from the definition above).
  • Racist = Caucasian.
  • Trans people = Anyone who says they’re trans or dresses like the opposite sex.
  • Transphobic = Anyone who asks questions/reacts negatively to a trans person.
  • Diversity/affirmative action hiring/quotas = Handicaps for the races or sexes they feel cannot get jobs on their own merits, or actual racism/sexism.
  • Liberal = Progressive.
  • Nazi = Conservative/Republican/anyone right wing/anyone who disagrees with them.
  • Listen and believe = Guilty until proven innocent.
  • Unconscious bias = Thoughtcrime.
  • Mansplaining = A person’s sex invalidating their facts and opinion.
  • Manspreading = A man who is trying not crush his genitals while sitting.
  • Genderfluid = A mental disconnect between gender and biological sex.
  • Cisnormative = The gender identity of the majority of the world.
  • Heteronormative = The sexual preference of the majority of the world.
  • It’s never okay to hit a woman = It’s okay to hit people just so long as they’re men.
  • Victim blaming = Any accountability.
  • Problematic = Wrong think.
  • Privileged = A white male.
  • Oppressed = Not a white male.
  • Marginalized = Victims of oppression.
  • Free speech = Hate speech.
  • Equality = Equity.
  • Ableist = Meritocrat.
  • Feminism = Equality for women, but only in certain cultures, and only in professions that don’t involve dealing with dangerous or gross situations.
  • Feminist = Ideological cherry picker.
  • Whitewashing = Actors pretending to be people they are not (A.K.A. acting).
  • Sexual harassment = Flirting that goes wrong or by someone who they find unattractive.
  • Sexual assault = Sexual harassment.
  • Rape = Sexual assault.
  • Rape culture = Any society that allows jokes about rape.
  • Misogynist = A male who disagrees with a female.
  • Empowered = A female who disagrees with a male.
  • Sexism = Double standards.
  • Toxic masculinity = sexism.
  • Offensive = Anything that doesn’t match their confirmation bias.
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Does “Free Will” Exist?

This is an argument that I’m still working on so please tell me if or where you think I’m wrong here.

1 – Anything that is restricted, limited, regulated, or is contained in any way cannot be fully free.

2 – In order to have “will” there needs to be a being, be it biological or A.I. system, that has, creates, or acts upon it.

3 – These beings, either biological or A.I. systems, are either restricted, limited, regulated, or contained in some way.

4 – Although these beings can have more or less of these restrictions, limitation, regulations or be more or less contained in given circumstances or contexts, some form of these things will still be a part of these systems.

Therefore, “Free” will, defined here as being fully free, does or cannot exist.

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