Sunday, August 14, 2016

Perspectives: The Genetically Modified Humans Debate

Picture taken from google images, I've no rights to it.


I recently read an article put out by Christian Media Communique on 8/12/16 which declared—and decried—the US government’s announcement to remove restrictions on the development of hybridized life forms. On the other hand, I also saw a pretty cool YouTube video about how CRISPR will allow genetic engineering to change the future.

As a YA science fiction writer and a high school chemistry teacher with a background in biology, it’s no surprise I find genetics fascinating. It was always my absolute favorite topic in biology. Both the email article and the YouTube video mention the ethical debates and concerns surrounding the topic of genetic engineering.

2 main reactions to the phrase “genetic engineering”

1 – Fear

2 – Fascination

There’s typically little middle ground. The word “genetics” has people digging back in their minds to 10th or 11th grade biology class. It bounces off most people. But add the word “engineering” and the internal fires are lit.

Picture taken from google images, I've no rights to it.

Goals of genetic engineering:

In its most basic forms, genetic engineering seeks to create organisms with desired traits. Science fiction and our collective fear as a society immediately has us jumping to visions of a future like GATACCA (excellent movie) and Splice (never seen it). But reality tends to be far more mundane. Food crops are modified to resist disease and have a longer shelf life. Zebrafish are made to glow in the dark because let’s face it, glow-in-the-dark fish are awesome. The most basic application for genetically modifying humans would be to cure or avoid diseases.

Genetic selection already happens, as the video points out. There are screening tests for many basic genetic defects like trisomy 21 (Down syndrome). Whether it’s ethical to terminate a pregnancy based upon such results is another debate, but you should know screening tests have their purposes.

The Devya’s Children Connection:

Devya’s Children and its prequel, The Dark Side of Science (free ebook), delves into some of the moral questions and concerns raised by the topic. It features a family of genetically modified children with special Gifts, such as telepathy, healing, changing emotions, and dream shaping. While the Gifts still fit in the realm of science fiction, the questions are very real. How far is too far? What rights do the subjects have upon creation? Part of the excitement and danger inherent in the series comes from the natural disposition of mankind to control and fear that which they do not understand. It’s also about the fact that everybody has gifts. They may not be “Gifts” like Jillian’s ability to shape dreams, but they’re important and should be nurtured accordingly.

Personal reaction and comments:

I’m inclined to be more excited than fearful of what the future holds. Every powerful tool has the potential for abuse. Responsible application should definitely be a concern to keep in mind, but the future has always been shaped by tinkering with what’s possible.

The email I read blamed much of the first fall upon genetic manipulation because of the hybrids formed when the fallen angels had children with the daughters of men (See Genesis 6 for the original text; Another article by RC Sproul on this topic). Incidentally, Sproul doesn’t believe the “sons of God” refers to angels at all but the line of Seth, Adam’s third son. Even if the hybrid children were of two “races,” (angels and man) this is hardly genetic engineering of the sort that’s being discussed today.


Do not fear genetic engineering. If you’re truly concerned about the direction it takes, get involved. Be part of the change to ensure it moves in a direction both ethical and responsible. The turmoil caused by abuse of power in this regards makes for great fiction stories, but reality’s much sadder. Don’t let it go there. Keep the focus on the good such research could accomplish. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells, but it also does a heck of a lot of other tissue damage along the way. If future cells could be modified to target the cancer cells themselves, it would no longer claim lives. That’s only one possibility.

Comments and questions are welcomed below.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Second Huntsman Movie Better than the First (Despite Critic Hate)

Rating: 3.5/5 stars, maybe even 4 if I’m feeling generous and not currently letting negative bias affect my judgment. (I’m going with amazon like ratings because that’s what I’m used to.)

Summary: It’s all about expectations. Given the absolutely horrific ratings Rotten Tomato gave Huntsman: Winter’s War, I didn’t expect it to be a masterpiece.

Random Comments:

- For an all-star cast, the acting’s just all right. Then again, consider that the roles don’t exactly demand an Oscar worthy performance.

- Story (4/5) – This was one complaint I read from critics I don’t agree with. It’s a fairy tale, it’s not meant to make a whole heap of sense. There’s a general plot with simplistic devices. The “twists and turns” can be seen from 9-miles out, but they’re still satisfying, that’s what counts.

- Character Development – Classic case of too much power corrupting. People have done worse things in the name of power in the real world, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the look at the good guys and bad guys isn’t always crystal clear.

- Humor – Some timely things and a few decent lines, but the whole he-dwarf, she-dwarf thing fell on its face.

- Plot (3/5) – Several key pieces of the plot are rather convenient (timely rescues, falling into traps that end up adding to the party, etc) that make one think more of a video game than a movie. It might be slightly lazy writing-wise, but it’s functional.

- Casting (4/5 stars) – Charilze Theron and Emily Blunt both do crazy queen pretty well. Jessica Chastain does the action scenes very well. She pulls off the medieval look well. Chris Hemsworth is, of course, the reason half the people are seeing the movie anyway. On the plus side, not much but brief references to Snow White.

- Key question: Was I entertained? Yes. Would I buy the bluray to play on loop or see in the theaters 14 times? No. But I was still entertained for the 2 hrs I paid $6.00 for a movie ticket. Good enough.

Conclusion: I can see why 51% of the audience liked it and 49% didn’t. Keep your expectations realistic and you’ll probably find yourself entertained.

Interview with Olivia Wildenstein

1) If your book was a movie, who would play your characters?

You mean when my book is a movie. ;)

Of course.

Aster & Ivy would be played by beautiful Chaley Rose from Nashville. Brook would be played by the hottie in Chasing Life, Richard Brancatisino. Chase would be played by the Vampire Diaries’ Malachai Parker and Josh by Zach Roerig from the same show. Dominic would be George Clooney (duh!) and I had Cate Blanchett in mind for Josephine.

I’ve thought this through just a tiny bit. 

Of course. Have you heard of ? You should try it. I think you'd enjoy it.

2) If your book was a song, which one would it be?

I love this question as I always write to music. I build a new playlist for each one of my books on Spotify. Right now, as I write the sequel to the Masterpiecers, I’ve started a playlist called MASTERFUL.

But back to The Masterpiecers. If I were to choose just one song to epitomize my story, it would be We Remain from Christina Aguilera.

3) Places that inspired you?

The museums I was dragged to as a kid—and which I’m now dragging my own kids too—and my home. I grew up in the art world, surrounded by breathtaking masterpieces. So I just had to write about art.

4) Who’s your favorite character in the book?

Hands down, Aster. She means so well and is so selfless.

5) Literary boyfriend? (perhaps a character from the book ?)

I create a new one for myself each time I write a book. Thus, I write many books. Kidding aside, the character who’s made my heart beat the most—but not in a romantic way—is Duke from my first novel, Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti.

6) Teaser for book 2?

The second and final episode in the Masterful series is coming this fall. It will be titled The Masterminds. Instead of Aster & Ivy narrating the story, there will be two spanking new narrators…drumroll…Brook & Josh. You’ll get to see their sides of the same story, like in the TV show The Affair; you’ll get that stop-your- breath plot twist you were waiting for in book 1; and last but not least, you’ll get your no-more- loose-ends ending!

Now, I must go back to writing it…

Enjoy The Masterpiecers, and tell me, either in an email or in a review, what you thought about my novel. I read all my reviews. Excellent or terrible, they are indispensable nuggets of truths that make me a better author.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.


Nineteen-year- old Ivy Redd’s talent with a needle and thread has earned her a spot on a coveted reality TV art competition set in New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The prize: a significant amount of money and instant acceptance into the Masterpiecers, the school that ensures new artists fame and fortune. Her talent has also thrust her and her twin sister, Aster, into the spotlight.

Not that Aster needed help with becoming a media favorite. She managed that on her own by running over a wanted Mafioso. She told the police it was self-defense, because she couldn’t tell them the truth—the truth would make her sister look bad. Locked in an Indiana jail to await her trial, Aster watches Ivy on the small TV hanging in the dayroom. It’s the highlight of her day, until she finds out what her sister truly thinks of her. Then, observing her sister becomes a punishment far crueler than imprisonment.


Olivia Wildenstein grew up in New York City, the daughter of a French father with a great sense of humor, and a Swedish mother whom she speaks to at least three times a day. She chose Brown University to complete her undergraduate studies and earned a bachelor’s in comparative literature. After designing jewelry for a few years, Wildenstein traded in her tools for a laptop computer and a very comfortable chair. This line of work made more sense, considering her college degree.

When she’s not writing, she’s psychoanalyzing everyone she meets (Yes. Everyone), eavesdropping on conversations to gather material for her next book, baking up a storm (that she actually eats), going to the gym (because she eats), and attempting not to be late at her children’s school (like she is 4 out of 5 mornings, on good weeks). Wildenstein lives with her husband and three children in Geneva, Switzerland, where she’s an active member of the writing community.

Book links

Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti

The Masterpiecers

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Meet Fantasy Author Chris Morgan - Interview

Meet a Fantasy author from Australia ;-)

Hi, Chris, please take a moment to introduce yourself. What kind of things do you write?

Hi. I’m Chris, the author of the Portallas Fantasy/Adventure series of YA books. I’m from the UK originally, but have lived in various countries and have most recently made a home for myself here in Melbourne, Australia. The first book in the Portallas series is Forestium: The mirror never lies, and it’s my first foray into the world of serious fiction writing. I’ve written things like travel journals previously but have never tried on a full-blown work of fiction until now. So far, I’ve really enjoyed it and am well into book 2 in the Portallas series.

Congrats on the series.

What's the most exciting thing that's happened to you in the writing world? How about the real world?

In the writing world, the most exciting thing for me has been to see my first book published. In the real world, it’s a bit harder to answer, since I’ve led a fairly interesting life full of exciting things. I’ve traveled extensively and lived in multiple countries. During my travels, I’ve had several near death experiences, for example. I’ve experienced some of the most wonderful things the world has to offer, ranging from the Great Pyramids of Egypt to Fish River Canyon in Namibia, from the glaciers of New Zealand to the splendid isolation of Easter Island, from the castles and ruins of Western Europe to the majesty of Uluru in the middle of Australia.

What got you into writing?

Despite not enjoying writing at school, I’ve developed a love for the written word over the years. Whilst backpacking around the world with my wife, I would spent an hour or two every night writing up a travel journal of the days events. I found that I had developed quite a following of people that were really enjoying the writing. It was until quite recently, some 10 years after our travels had finished, that I thought I’d turn my hand to writing a piece of fiction.

Ha. I didn't like school writing either. I think part of my fiction writing sprang from a rebellion against the idea of dissecting every little bit of a story.

Do you believe in writer's block? What do you do if you encounter it?

Yes. In fact, I’ve had it several times already and I’m in the middle of another one at the moment. I find that inspiration will hit me very suddenly and I’ll just grab the laptop and start writing again.

Better keep the laptop handy then.

What's your current favorite book?

I don’t really have a current favourite. I’ve spent so much time in recent weeks and months publishing and promoting Forestium: The mirror never lies, that I’ve not really had much opportunity to sit and read something just for fun.

Sad but true. I've done little pleasure reading of late either, so I can relate to that.

Do the movies you watch go along with the things you read or are they completely different?

Actually, I don’t think they do. The movies I tend to watch are either comedy or block-buster action flicks. For books, I enjoy a good fantasy.

Do you have any links you'd like to share with us in case we'd like to get to know you better?

Series website:


Chris's blog:

Goodreads author pg:

Goodreads series pg:

Thanks for sharing a little about yourself, Chris.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Cover Reveal - The Solid Rock

Today, I'm excited to announce that Faith Blum's release day, but also a cover for her newest novel, The Solid Rock, but you can't see the cover for the novel until you've gathered all 15 clues. There's also an exciting giveaway of 10 books. Have fun searching for the clues. Instructions on how to see the cover are under the "Clues" section of the blog post.

To celebrate the cover reveal, Faith also has the third book in her series on sale! It will be $0.99 through 11am tomorrow and then will go up to $1.99 until Monday evening when it will be back at full price. Here's a short description of Amazing Grace: A doubting man agrees to wed a widowed mail-order bride, but he struggles with whether or not he can be a father to the woman's daughter who desperately wants a father's love. You can purchase this book here:

TSR Reveal Banner

About the Book

QuotableJoshua woke with a quiet groan. As his senses woke up one at a time, he cracked his eyelids open. Sure enough, there was a silhouetted form standing at the foot of the bed. From the smell, the person was either from the brothel down the street or had recently left one. He forced himself to breathe evenly and reached for the knife in his thigh holster. With as tough and evil a voice as he could imitate, he spoke, “State your intentions.” Pinkerton detective, Joshua Brookings, is sent on a job that seems simple on the surface. His fellow detective has been kidnapped and his boss, William Pinkerton senses foul play. Joshua is sent to investigate Edward's case in hopes of finding the kidnapped detective and helping solve the case that has taken over ten years to investigate. Arriving in Cheyenne, Joshua finds much more than a simple kidnapping. Yet again, he must go undercover, something he made his boss promise never to make him do again. The only Christian in the outlaw group, Joshua falters and almost loses faith in God’s providence. Will he stand on the solid Rock or drown in the sinking sand?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Coming Soon (March 13, 2016) Clean Romace New Release

Get your romance fix!

Do you love that "ahhhh" feeling you get when you read a sweet romance? Especially when you get to that inevitable happy ending? Tamie Dearen's romantic comedy series, The Best Girls, can satisfy that craving. And the first book of the series, Her Best Match, is currently free. But beware.... it's addicting! The limited-time price-reduction for Her Best Match is already in effect, in preparation for March 13, the day of the big sale and the release of A Rose in Bloom, a serial romantic comedy. Unlike anything you've ever read before, A Rose in Bloom was written and published in small parts, week-by- week, on Tamie Dearen's blog, to the simultaneous delight and frustration of her devoted readers. Now, for the first time, the complete serial romance will be available to read as a novella. her-best-match-02


Feisty, stubborn, and bored with life in Texas, Anne Best is about to get more than she bargained for. The lovely widow heads off to the Big Apple for a job interview, expecting no more than a few days adventure in New York City, only to find herself with a new job working for the most infuriating man she's ever met.   Billionaire Steven Gherring is one of New York's Most Eligible Bachelors, and he has every intention of staying that way. But Gram has other ideas. She's on a not-so- secret campaign to find a wife for her grandson.   As fearless as she is clumsy, Anne tackles every challenge (including her new boss) enthusiastically, with two lone exceptions... public speaking and recognizing her own feelings. Passions rise along with hemlines as Gram joins forces with Anne, a veteran matchmaker, to find the perfect match for Steven. Get Her Best Match free on Amazon, Nook, iTunes, and Kobo! Best Girls Banner 2014-08-17 at 2.58.51 PM

Own the entire Best Girls Series for $9!

[caption id="attachment_666" align="aligncenter" width="252"]cropped-a-rose-in-bloom3.jpg New Release--Preorder Now![/caption]


Elyssa Rose has delicate flowers in her hands and a muscular guy on her mind.
The talented owner of A Rose in Bloom is determined to make a success of her floral business. And she doesn't want or need a man's help or interference! But trouble shows up in the form of her handsome, but antagonistic, neighbor, Jaxon McCall, a gym owner whose sole purpose is to buy her building from her.
Jaxon McCall once had his eye on Elyssa's building, but now he can't take his eyes off her.
Magnetic attraction draws them together, even as their stubborn personalities drive them apart. A Rose in Bloom is now available for pre-order on Amazon, with a March 13 release date! Author Square


Tamie Dearen lives with her very romantic husband of thirty-three years. She has two beautiful daughters, two amazing son-in-laws, and one awesome grandson. She plays piano, flute, harmonica, keyboards, and guitar, and loves composing and art. And she hates housework. She has been a dentist in private practice for thirty years. She stays busy playing on her church's praise team and leading a weekly Bible study. In her spare time, she writes books.   Tamie specializes in writing “clean’ books without excessive violence, offensive language, or explicit sex. She has published a Romantic Comedy series called The Best Girls, which includes a free novella and four full-length novels, and recently published her first Christian Romance, Noelle’s Golden Christmas. She has also published the two books in a Young Adult Fantasy series, Alora: The Wander-Jewel, and Alora: The Portal. To combine her love of music with her writing, Tamie composed the background music for the Alora Series video trailer and a Christmas song, which is linked in the back of Noelle’s Golden Christmas. Her latest book, A Rose in Bloom, a romantic comedy serial story, is available for pre-order and will be released March 13.
Tamie met her husband as a freshman in college when she acted out of character on a whim. One night in the library lobby, she spied a cute guy with his first name written on the back of his shirt. She called out his name. When he approached to talk to her, she pretended that she'd met him before, asking about his classes and how he liked college. To her surprise and delight, he also pretended that he knew her, but of course he didn't know her name. They continued this false relationship for two months. Each time they saw each other, an event that occurred three times per week at the cafeteria, he would pretend he knew her. Meanwhile, all of Tamie's friends were careful not to reveal her name to him. When he finally admitted his ignorance of her name, he was astonished to learn the truth. And the rest is history.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Under the Nazi Heel - NEW Release

New Historical Fiction from Scott Bury

Under the Nazi Heel

Excerpt 8: Night Raid

The first wagon was beside the door, its horse moving nervously, trying to push its way back. The young boy driving it no longer held the bridle, but stood still, eyes wide. “Quiet that horse,” Maurice ordered. “Load as many bags and barrels as you can. Hurry.”

Kuchnir and Marchuk pulled Hammer’s body into the back of the wagon. Maurice and Spike loaded sacks of flour beside him. “Go on, get that out of here and make room for the next wagon.”

The boy led the horse around the barn, back to the opening in the fence as the other teenager led the next wagon over. Everyone pitched in, loading barrels and sacks. Minutes felt like hours, like days as Maurice kept looking toward the garrison.

Sweat stung his eyes and made his shirt cling to his skin.

With the second wagon full, Maurice slapped the horse’s rump, sending it around the barn like the first. Yulia led the third wagon, and the men had only loaded one sack onto the back when they heard the tailor’s voice. “Get out! Fritz is coming.” Maurice looked up as the tailor melted into the shadows. He heard pounding footsteps and saw shadowy figures running from the garrison, a hundred meters away.

From his left, he heard the tailor’s shotgun fire, and one of the shadowy figures fell. The gun roared again, and Maurice could see a German soldier get down on one knee to aim at the tailor.

Kuchnir fired at the guard, and Maurice fired his own pistol. Two more Germans fell, but in the dark no one could see how many were left. They could hear more running footsteps from the garrison, and shouts in German.

Maurice threw the gate open. “Go! Get out of here!” Yulia climbed into the seat behind the horse. Maurice heard the reins slapping the horse’s back at the same moment he heard another rifle shot. Yulia’s head jerked back and she fell into the bed of the wagon. “Shit!” Maurice swore and jumped into the wagon, firing his Luger at the Germans he could not quite see.

The tailor’s shotgun spoke one last time, and then the horse neighed and charged through the gate, nearly tipping the wagon over. Maurice pulled it to the right as Kuchnir and Marchuk jumped on. Marchuk had a huge revolver and fired again and again. Kuchnir tried to aim his rifle but fell into the back. A bullet smacked into the side of the wagon and the horse ran even faster. They rattled over the railroad tracks. Marchuk, sitting beside Maurice, had to hold his fire for fear of hitting Kuchnir, who managed to crouch down in the wagon bed with his rifle barrel resting on the side, and fired toward the German guards behind them. Maurice pulled hard on the reins, turning the horse toward the forest and escape. The horse jumped over the railway track and the wagon followed, tipping to the right. Maurice slammed into Marchuk, who dropped his revolver but managed to grab onto the wagon and stay aboard.

Then they were under the trees, in the protecting shadows of the forest. Maurice gave up trying to steer, trusting the horse to follow a path, any path away from the Germans. He bit his tongue as the wagon shook over ruts and bumps.

“Maurice,” Kuchnir called. “She’s not dead. She’s wounded in the head, but she’s still breathing.” Maurice looked down, but he could barely see the outline of the girl’s body, sprawled on top of bags of flour.


Under the Nazi Heel

Walking Out of War, Book 2

For Ukrainians in 1942, the occupying Germans were not the only enemy.

Maurice Bury was drafted into the Red Army just in time to be thrown against the invading Germans in 1941. Captured and starved in a POW camp, he escaped and made his way home to western Ukraine, where the Nazi occupiers pursued a policy of starving the locals to make more “living space” for Germans.

To protect his family, Maurice joins the secret resistance. He soon finds the Germans are not the only enemy. Maurice and his men are up against Soviet spies, the Polish Home Army and enemies even closer to home.

Experience this seldom seen phase of World War 2 through the eyes of a man who fought and survived Under the Nazi Heel.

Find it on Amazon.

About the author

Scott Bury just cannot stay in one genre.

After a three-decade career in journalism, his first published fiction was a children’s story, followed by an occult spy thriller. The Bones of the Earth, his first novel, crossed the boundaries between historical fiction and magic realism. He has also published spy thrillers and two police procedurals set in Hawaii.

Under the Nazi Heel is the sequel to Army of Worn Soles. They describe the real life experiences of Maurice Bury, a Canadian living in Ukraine during World War 2.

You can find all of Scott’s books and other writings at his website, The Written Word.

Read his blog, Written Words

Find him on Facebook at Scott Bury Author

Visit his Amazon Author page

Or follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

Also, check out book 1: Army of Worn Shoes