Friday, May 30, 2008

new story out and going to book fair

My flash fiction story, "Innocents," tied for first place in the Muse Marquee Flash Fiction Contest and will appear in their May issue. You can check it out at the Muse Marquee.

I'm pretty stoked, because I usually don't enjoy or write flash (stories under 500 words), but the opening line for the contest inspired me. My thanks to Lea Schizas for pointing the contest out to me and the Catholic Writers' Guild who critiqued it before I sent it out.

I'm off to the Chicago Printers Row Book Fair. If you're around, check out the LGG/CWO booth and say hi!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Speech by Rob Fabian

Today, Rob and I spent Memorial Day with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Drake, ND. Rob was invited to give a speech, and we went to the cemetery for the gun salute and laying of the wreath. then we had an enjoyable lunch talking with the vets--comparing notes and swapping stories.

Here's Rob's speech honoring the troops.

Memorial Day Ceremony – Drake ND
Lt Col Robert A. Fabian
DATE: Monday, 25 May 2008, 1000 hrs
EVENT: Memorial Day Ceremony
LOCATION: City Hall, Drake ND
THEME: “Recognizing Those Who Gave Their Lives”

Good morning. I’m honored that you asked me to come back to speak to you again
• And to share this particular day with you all
• Because today is truly a special day across our great Nation
As our President said in his Memorial Day proclamation this year
• Today is the day “we honor the heroes who have laid down their lives in the cause of freedom,
• We “resolve that they will forever be remembered by a grateful nation,”
• And we “pray that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they have made.”
And, at times, the sacrifices have been great indeed …
For more than 230 years, the men and women of our Nation have stood proud and manned the ramparts from which America has guarded its freedom, ideals and values
When it has mattered most, patriots from every corner of our great Nation have taken up the fight
• From Valley Forge to San Juan Hill, and Iwo Jima to Tora Bora
• Men and women in uniform have answered the call to duty with courage and conviction
• And more than 650,000 have paid the eternal price
Every one of those has been a cause for grief
• Every death has devastated families and friends;
• Every death has been mourned by fellow comrades-in-arms on the front lines and at rear bases
• And every death has saddened the American public
While our actions today can never do justice to the sacrifices they have made in our name
• We must honor those who gave their lives that we might live free
• For as Abraham Lincoln once said: “Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”
Here in Drake, we join the entire nation and pause with solemn gratitude, deep respect, and unwavering dedication.
• To remember the heroes through the centuries who stood forth for us all
• While the front lines may be different and the equipment may have changed, the fight is still the same: upholding freedom against tyranny
Today, we gratefully remember the guardians who have died defending our freedoms and the American way of life
And that was just their final sacrifice... the greatest among many
• These guardians loved America so much, they spent months and years in foreign lands far away from home and loved ones
• They revered freedom so much, they sacrificed their own in support of a noble cause
• They cherished peace so much, they chose to live as warriors
• And they valued life so much, they were willing to lay theirs down in service to our country
We, as a Nation, honor them, one and all
• And must stand together, to ensure their sacrifices were not in vain
• That the nation that they loved more than life itself remains vibrant and strong
• The land of the free… because of the brave
As President Bush noted in his Memorial Day Proclamation last year: “Our Nation mourns them, and their example of strength and perseverance gives us resolve.”
Today, we are faced with the grim reality of a Global War on Terror
• A war that has claimed more than 4,500 active-duty, Reserve and Guard warriors
• A war that continues to take its toll
A price paid across our nation
• From the cities of the east coast
• To the beaches of the west
• And to every state in between
On this special day of remembrance, we think of Army Major Alan Johnson
• Who was killed by a roadside bomb in January 2007
• Born in Jamestown and raised in Montpelier, he answered his nations call to arms
• At the his memorial service, Major General David Sprynczynatyk (“sprin-suh-NAT-ick”), the North Dakota Adjutant General, said Major Johnson “lived and breathed his service to God, his family and his country”
We remember Army Staff Sergeant David Kuehl (“keel”) of Wahpeton ND,
• Who was killed by a roadside bomb in May 2007 during his second tour of duty in Iraq

And we think of Army Sergeant Travis Van Zoest (“zoost”),
• Who was killed in June 2006 while on a reconnaissance mission in Afghanistan
• His name will be added to the All Veteran’s Memorial in Bismarck later this year
However, while Memorial Day is a time of remembrance, it is not just about grief – not just about our Nation’s loss
• It is also a time for us to remind ourselves that in every generation, brave men and women willingly stand up and take the oath to serve in all branches of the military
Even more significantly, this special day serves to remind us that that price is not yet paid in full
• Liberty to always unfinished business
• And, as Thomas Jefferson wrote over two centuries ago
o The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots
It’s a high price – but our ideals and values – our freedoms – are a treasure beyond all cost

As we honor our fallen comrades this morning, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines stand watch around the world on freedom’s front
• Continuing the tradition of noble and faithful service to our country
As an Airman, I’m proud of what we do on a daily basis
• We fly over 300 sorties a day supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
o And have flown more than a million combat and combat support sorties since September 11th
• Here at home, over 125 Airmen from Minot Air Force Base are currently deployed to the front lines, and hundreds more are preparing to deploy in the months ahead
• As we gather here today, Airmen stand alert buried deep under the North Dakota plains
o Ready to act on a moments notice and unleash nuclear fire in defense of our nation
o Deterring the unthinkable – just as they have for over 40 years

And while we stand ready to rain destruction on our enemies, we also stand ready to offer a hand to those in need – American values in action
• In just the past month, America’s Airmen have delivered 200,000 pounds of relief supplies to China in wake of their recent catastrophic earthquake
• And brought 400,000 tons of relief supplies to Burma
o Easing the incredible suffering arising in the wake of their recent devastating typhoon
Together, the men and women of our Armed Forces follow in a proud tradition -- one handed down by those that served before
On this Memorial Day, we gratefully recognize those who gave their lives to ensure our country remains free
• May we never forget those who have died for love of our great country;
• Never fail to live up to their standard of courage and conviction;
• And never falter in our resolve that the “cause for which they died shall live eternally.”
Thank you!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bill Gates and the Cylon Conspiracy

Received this from an anonymous reader.

I applaud your bravery in revealing the identity of the Final One. Many of us have suspected for some time now, but have been afraid to reveal it--except the Linux users, but who would believe them?

How it came to pass that a cylon could be here on Earth is not important at the moment; but you all need to be warned! The process of incorporating him into our society has left the last of the Bills with no conscious memory of his true heritage (much like the Final Four in the colonial fleet). However, it did instill in him a longing for his kind, a longing he's spent his life trying to fulfill. Fortunately for us Terrans, 21st century programming is not up to the challenge.

We have found a dangerous sign. Already, Microsoft is working with automobile manufactureres to install windows in automobile computing systems. We must make the Public aware!

Just a lot of paranoid hokey? Please consider: The Hybrid:

Hybrid ships speak nonsense only they understand. Windows ™ speaks nonsense only it understands. Windows ™ is being installed in transportation vehicles. Hybrids run transportation vehicles.

Do We See the Pattern, People?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Writing Chores and a Battlestar Galactica Epiphany

I've been hard at work writing saint stories for teens for a school planner I'm writing. It's actually been a challenge because each story must:
--be 200 words
--cover that month's virtue (determined by the publisher)
--be a saint whose feast day is in that month
--be "diverse" (i.e., not too many men, too many Europeans, etc.)

Research has been the hardest part. I kept finding saints with really cool stories but not for the virtue of that month. Or I'd have to reject them because I had enough men or already had someone from Spain, or... I found eleven that fit the bill nicely, I think. Now, I'm having some teens read them to tell me if I'm "lame."

Then I spent the weekend checking Magic, Mensa and Mayhem for passive voice. Wow, does Vern use "was" a lot! Three days I spent re-writing sentences. Now I'll read it once more and send it off.

My only breaks have been watching Full Metal Alchemist, Dr. Who and Battlestar Galactica.

The Colonials and the Cylons certainly share one common trait: complete lack of foresight. ("Hey, we need to talk to the hybrid. Let's plug her in." Did anyone think to disconnect her from any vital systems like, I don't know, the JUMP drive? They probably clean their guns loaded, too. Except Athena. She just empties it into somebody first.)

Anyway, this morning, it occurred to me how the show ends. The last unknown cylon isn't in the fleet--he's already on Earth!

(Bill Gates)

It all makes sense now....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Cats and Lolcatz

(Busy day--I'll tell you more about the conference Monday.)

I have a wonderful cat, Elbereth, patron saint of harried cats and Queen of the Fabian Household (All Hail!)

She schmoozed her way into our home 11 years ago by climbing up on Rob's chest and giving him the "happy claws" massage while purring and butting her head under his chin. Rob does not like cats. She changed his mind fast. "It's the cat that thinks its a dog! Honey, let's keep her."

I love cats. Didn't have to ask me twice.

Now, of course, she's shown her full cat side, from taking over the office chairs to peeing on the laundry when her catbox does not meet her standards. Of course, Rob's now assimilated into the mysteries of Cat. She also likes to pose next to my keyboard when I type, or if she believes she's due some homage, get between me and the keyboard.

So it's probably no surprise that we fully identify with Lolcatz.

Lolcats are so popular, people are even translating the Bible into Lolcat. (Can you say, "too much free time?"

Today, a friend and I were talking about casting out demons and text messaging. (Yep one of those kinds of conversations) and I came up with Lolcat Exorcist

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Catholic Writers' Conference Online a Hit!

Sorry this is late; I was cleaning up the chats from the Catholic Writers' Conference Online for the e-book. BTW-the e-book is for sale to anyone, so if you missed it, feel free to contact me to order a copy ($5 for PDF, $10 for CD).

What a terrific conference! Well beyond my expectations. First, we had 300 people register--half again the goal we'd set. We had two dozen presenters with about 40 workshops or chats in all covering everything from plotting out your story to working with your editor to marketing your book. Here were a few of my favorites:

Mark Shea kicked things off with a wonderful discussion on How Faith Connects Everything. I moderated this one, and it got a little out of hand from the moderating POV because opinions and ideas just flew. However, Mark summed it up this way: "It is our right and proper mission, not to spend all our time fussing about the arrangements of the sanctuary, but bringing Christ into the world. The last words of the Mass, properly translated, are "Go! You are sent" That's how I see my work as a writer."
Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff's chats on plot and showing characterization had excellent advice and practical examples. The day after the conference, I whipped out a short story and the entire time, I kept "hearing" her remind me about what we'd learned.

"Writing with Faith and Without Bias" was another fun and practical chat. Woodeene Koenig-Bricker has a nice direct style and a fun way of putting things. "(When interviewing someone whose religious beliefs are radically different from mine) At times I've approached it as I would feeding time for the reptiles at the zoo. 'My my, that snake just ate a live rat. Well, isn't that interesting?' Not, "Oh gag, I could never eat a rat.'"

I could rave about all the chats, but let's move on to forums.

Forums didn't work as well as chats this time. I think we didn't give a good enough focus on how they could best be used, so some folks didn't know how to handle them. However, a few were excellent with a lot of participation and attendees getting some one-on-one coaching from a person experienced in the field.

I think Branding and Marketing was a big hit, especially considering that Audrey Shaffer slid into the schedule at the last minute. (Thanks, Audrey!) The Daily Devotional workshop with Patricia Punt was also very well-received. (I'm betting the DD magazines are going to love some of the submissions they receive in the coming months.)

I personally got a lot out of Michelle Buckman's The Right Details and Sylvia Dorham's Character and Dialog. I love forum workshops with writing exercises. It gives my brain a chance to twist them into my genre. (Sylvia asked us to do dialog between two characters we'd made--with them seeing a tornado. My characters were a computer hacker and his confessor for a cyberpunk story I want to write. Cyberpunk with a Tornado!" OO! And I just came up with the next scene! See why these workshops are so great?)

Then of course, there were the pitch sessions. You know how some writers conferences arrange for folks to spend 10 minutes with an editor to pitch their work? We re-created it in cyberspace! Terry Burns, agent, graciously critiqued query letters in his forum workshop and asked to see proposals on some.

Pauline Press's pitch session relied on us having two chat rooms--one where Sr. Maria Grace Dateno, Sr. Christina Wegendt and Diane Lynch would chat privately with the pitcher and one where folks hung out until it was their turn. So doesn't it figure that that was the ONE TIME the website went down, trapping us in the single chat room? While Ann made a desperate call to the host provider to get it straightened out, I opened up the chat room on the website and directed people there. People were already nervous, then to have to deal with tech errors and website hopping--plus a few had problems with the copy and paste function! One pitcher joked about resisting the urge to throw up on her keyboard. But for all that, it went amazing well, with most of the pitchers invited to send on the manuscript or proposal. Those that didn't get invited simply had books that didn't fit Pauline Books and Media's needs.

I think about 75 percent of the attendees were not used to the chat room/forum environment, and the website had such a problem with cookies that we had to wonder if it was on a diet. However, overall, the conference was a huge success and we're looking forward to doing it next year.

Thanks again to Ann Lewis for getting the website together and to Heidi Hess Saxton for recruiting such great presenters. The conference was co-sponsored by the Catholic Writers Guild and Canticle Magazine.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

When Your Child Has Been Abused by Heidi Hess Saxton

Today's blog is a guest post by my friend, Heidi Hess Saxton. You might not expect to see the topic of child abuse in my blog--I usually try to be light and fun--but as a parent, this is one of my nightmares--one we've avoided, thank you, God, but one some of our friends have had to deal with. I hope this might help some of you or someone you know.

Dear Friends: This article is a topic that adoptive and foster parents need to be aware of. Because of the importance of the material, I had it reviewed by two Catholic counselors before sending it on to you. May God grant that this material help at least one struggling family, and save many lives.

When Your Child Has Been Abused
by Heidi Hess Saxton

John Paul the Great’s letter on the vocation and dignity of Catholic women, Mulieris Dignitatem, particularly for those who embrace the call to authentic femininity, is a powerful source of encouragement. It gives us a glimpse of the true splendor and beauty of each woman’s call to holy advocacy and service. In the words of the Second Vatican Council documents, “Women impregnated with the Spirit of the Gospel can do much to aid humanity in not falling.”

This popular quote has often been on my mind lately, as I have listened to the stories of adoptive mothers who are struggling to reconcile our calling to “aid … in not falling” with the task at hand: to participate in the redemption of young souls who have already been caused to fall.

Innocence Lost

Parents have a solemn responsibility to teach their children about God and His Church, and ensure that they receive at an early age all the graces available to them so that they might continue to grow up strong and mature in the faith. This challenge is hard enough for parents raising children entrusted to them from the womb. For adoptive parents, the task can be overwhelming. Genetic predispositions, pre-placement environmental influences, and emotional barriers stemming from loss and grief may not surface until years after the adoption is finalized.

Tragically, some barriers can be even more menacing and potentially destructive. In the past week I’ve encountered two different families – one black, one white – in which the children’s history of sexual abuse came up months or even years after placement in ways that nearly destroyed the entire family. In one case, an adoptive father committed suicide because he did not know how to defend himself from the baseless accusations of the three girls he and his wife had adopted. (Only later was it revealed that the children had been abused by their family of origin.)

While children don’t generally make up stories of abuse out of thin air, it is not unprecedented for a previously abused child to “turn” on a safe person out of displaced anger or spite. (This is especially common with older foster children, who use such accusations to manipulate and control the foster parents and/or social workers.) In these cases, careful documentation and close contact with a social worker or therapist is critical to safeguarding the safety of all concerned.

In the second instance I encountered, a single mother who had fostered eight children, while in the process of adopting two of them, discovered that her babysitter had violated the boys. They began acting out on other children, and ultimately were taken from the foster mother’s care. Years later, she still finds it difficult to forgive herself for not seeing it, not doing more to help them. All she could do was focus on the little children in her care that she could help.

Spotting the Abuse

Sadly, children who have been abused when they are young have scars that make them vulnerable to subsequent abuse. So sorting out the real threats from the fears is very important, and often requires the help of a trained professional. However, it is usually the parent (adoptive or foster parents included) who first see the signs that the child has unresolved trauma. Signs include:

• Child acts out in ways that are sexually suggestive or physically aggressive,
• Child has persistent nightmares or bedwetting (age 5+),
• Child touches self or others inappropriately and/or compulsively,
• Child is suddenly fearful or overly compliant around another adult (80 percent of molested children know their abusers – family friends, teachers, extended family members, etc.)
• Child is suddenly fearful of changing clothes or venturing outside home (to school or babysitter’s)
• Child draws disturbing images (or reenacts these stories with dolls),
• (In teenagers), child suddenly loses interest in her appearance, and/or alienates him or herself from friends and family.
• Additional information may be found here:

As adoptive parents – particularly parents of older adoptees with a vague history of neglect and/or abuse – we must steel ourselves for the possibility that the time may come when we are asked to participate in the painful process of redemption for our children. We may find ourselves having to re-direct our children again and again, and get for them (and ourselves) the help needed to resolve and receive healing for the violations they received before they came to us (or even, God forbid, at the hands of a third party while under our care). These wounds go deep, and leave a scar that may make them unwitting targets for subsequent abuse.

What should you do if you suspect your child has been abused?

First, pray and seek counsel so you can think clearly and react calmly. It is crucial that you can be spiritually strong for the child. You are being called to model authentic love for a child who has suffered at the hands of the counterfeit. While you are getting help for your child, go to daily Mass if you can; pray the Rosary and have others do the same on your behalf (though be careful to protect the child’s privacy as much as possible when you make your request known).

Assure your child that you love him or her, and that you are going to help him or her. Nothing he tells you will make you angry with him, or make you love her less. Be careful not to react with anger or disgust if you witness an “acting out” episode – see it for the cry of help that it is. For your own safety and that of your child, carefully document in writing how, when, and where you encounter signs of abuse.

Second, consider the safety of the other children in the family. Children who have experienced sexual abuse frequently abuse younger children. You may need to install door alarms or other safety devices, and take other safety precautions (such as not bathing the children together or allowing them to be left alone in a room together). Children can and do heal from all kinds of abuse … However, such healing does not occur overnight. It may be necessary to have the child placed temporarily or even permanently in a home where no other children are present, for his own good and for the safety of the other children in the home.

Third, get professional help for the child. As a parent, you must find the truth and get your child the help he or she needs – the sooner the better. Catholic therapists who specialize in sexual abuse may be found at If no qualified Catholic counselors are in your area, Pastoral Solutions ( offers telecounseling.

Fourth, protect the child’s privacy as much as possible without endangering others. If you have a social worker, consult with him or her about what you have observed and get his or her recommendations for next steps. Again, be sure to make careful records of when, where, and what you have observed. This information is too crucial to entrust to memory.

If your child has been “acting out” with other children in the home, make an appointment with the school counselor and/or teacher to discuss the importance of supervising children closely, especially in the bathroom and on the playground. By acknowledging that you are aware that your child has a history of abuse, you safeguard your own child’s well-being as well as that of other children.

If you suspect your child is being abused by a third party, it is absolutely critical that you trust your gut and do whatever is necessary to keep your child safe. If another child is the source of the problem, alert that child’s parents; if the children must continue to have contact with each other (such as siblings), they must be monitored continuously and closely. If you suspect your child is being abused outside the home, changing babysitters or even schools is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Once the child is safe, you may then need to file a formal report with Child Protective Services (CPS), for the sake of other children.

Suzanne Baars adds: “Eighteen states require by law that one must report suspected child abuse. Once a child is in counseling and this information is shared with the counselor, either the counselor or the parent will be required to report the matter to Child Protective Services.” Adult perpetrators will be required to leave the home – or the children will be placed in protective custody. When the perpetrator is a child, that child may need to be placed temporarily or even permanently in a home where there are no other children present.

Fifth, do not waste time in self-blame or self-doubt. You love your children, and want them to grow up to be strong, healthy Christians. You may have ambivalent feelings about what has happened – questioning whether you could have said or done anything to prevent the abuse. You may be angry with yourself for having unwittingly endangered your child, for having put him in this school or her in that daycare situation. You may be harboring hateful or even murderous thoughts about the individuals who did these things to your children, wanting more than anything for them to experience the full consequences of their actions. This is normal … but it is also harmful to hold on to these feelings.

Talk with your priest in the sacrament of reconciliation; seek out a professional counselor who can help you work through these issues so that you might be able to forgive yourself and (ultimately) the perpetrator. It is important to release yourself of that burden, so you can be free to help your children. God has entrusted a special cross to you; He is asking you to help your child find healing, and to model forgiveness. Not for the sake of the abuser, but so that those who are touched by the abuse might find peace. God bless you!

Heidi would like to acknowledge the valuable assistance of Suzanne Baars and Dr. Gregory Popcak, who both reviewed this article prior to publication. Suzanne was especially helpful in describing the legal responsibilities of one who suspects abuse has occurred. You may contact Suzanne through “In His Image Christian Counseling Services” (

Copyright 2008 Heidi Hess Saxton. Used with permission. For permission to reprint, contact the author through her website:

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Conferences, Politics and Firefly

Sorry I'm late--the conference was busy and a blast yesterday. Today, I'm running the Catholic Writers Conference Online website solo because my best friend, co-coordinator and webmistress extraordinairre, Ann Lewis, is manning the polls in her area. (help me....)

So, I thought it was only appropriate to tell you today about my favorite Non-Candidate, Gray Rinehart:

Meet the anti-candidate: we're not on the ballot for President, Senator, Governor, Representative, County Council, City Council, School Board, or any elected office (so far as we know). You won't see our name on those irritating little signs in your neighborhood. You won't see any obnoxious "I approved this message" ads on television. In fact, if you're committed to one party or one issue and you find a candidate who will represent you adequately, we encourage you to vote for that person.

Then again, if you find you're not satisfied with the candidates already on the ballot -- and you can't pick one to vote against, as Robert A. Heinlein suggested -- just vote against all the candidates and write in "Gray Rinehart." It doesn't matter what office: put us down for any or all of them. (Be sure to spell the name right; we wouldn't want the election officials to get confused.) On the off chance that we win, we probably won't show up anyway, since we agree with Thomas Jefferson: "That government governs best which governs least."

Read More.

On his forum, he also has a thread for discussion of his political views. Some serious, some fun, but he forgot one:
he vital issue of Science Fiction.

Let's take just one point: the return of Firefly. I can understand McCain not addressing this--though he'd love the guns and horses, his staff would have to work him into the idea of science fiction as a whole.

But Obama? He's a democrat--how can he not be aware of a television show? Oh, that's right. It was on Fox.

Hilary, I think hinted at it with her campaign ad: It's 3 AM and the terrorists strike. Who do you want in the White House? The answer is obvious:

Malcolm Reynolds.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Review of My Own Kind of Freedom: a Firefly Novel by Steven Brust

I adore the FOX SF series Firefly. I found it refreshing and unique in its approach and voice. Where Gene Roddenberry tried to make "wagon train in space," and came up with something special but different, Joss Wheadon truly hit the mark with "the Wild West in space" with all its raw energy, unsanitized morality and excellent combination of genres. It quickly gained critical acclaim and an incredibly faithful fan base.

Sadly, FOX didn't see things the way reviewers and fans did, and they canceled the series after 13 short episodes. Of course, as with any good show, you can't totally kill it, and Firefly lives on in fanfict.

Thus comes Steven Brust's novel, My Own Kind of Freedom. Even the title is distinctively Firefly--and he lives up to the expectations it sets.
The crew of Serenity actually has a legal mission for once--delivering a load of lumber to a rich landowner on Hera names Sakaya. The planet, home of Serenity Ridge, where Mal and Zoe fought the fateful battle where the Browncoats at last lost the war, brings back unwelcome memories, but all they have to do is unload, get paid, buy a grav boot and go. Of course, nothing is easy for this crew.

Jayne gets caught stealing from one of their contacts and leaves the crew in a huff after refusing to return the merchandise. Naturally, his next step is to contact the Alliance and arrange to sell out River and Simon Tam. However, doing so interrupts a major sting operation the Alliance had planned on Sakaya, as the agent has to drop his work to meet Jayne. This suspicious behavior tips off Sakaya, who sends out hit men. Mal and Zoe immediately catch on to the hit men's intentions and step in. Too bad they didn't know the intended victim was an Alliance agent before they thwarted their plan. But when Kaylee sees the terrible condition of the people under Sakaya's thumb and Jayne gets arrested for drunk and disorderly and instead of bail gets indentured servitude as punishment, Mal and the crew find themselves helping the Alliance to bring Sakaya down. And if that weren't enough trouble, it turns out Sakaya is actually the Colonel who mentored Mal in his military career, pitting Mal's old loyalties against his own kind of morality.

All the fun you loved in Firefly, you'll find in My Own Kind of Freedom. The ironic humor, the general banter, the crazy antics, even the mix of Chinese and English--it's all there.

Steven has the characterization and dialog dead-to-rights. My favorites were Walsh and River. Not only did he get River's disjointed but perfectly sensical monologs correct, but he came up with very believable thought-processes to go with it. When you're dealing with a psychic driven insane by brain manipulation as well as the horrible secrets in her beyond-brilliant mind, that's an accomplishment. Walsh has his own unique brilliance and way of communicating, and Steven caught this too: an entire page of Walsh's thoughts as he flew Serenity into the planet's atmosphere, about the difficulty, the challenge, the glory, the complete lack of appreciation by the rest of the crew. Yet when Mal asks how entry went? "It's an entry. They're all the same."

Steven fills it with the same great action and humorous situations fans loved with Firefly--from Jayne's jail cell fiasco to Zoe breaking orders to follow Mal back planetside while everyone else on Serenity breaks orders to follow her to River learning to fly the shuttle after reading the manual for 45 minutes. (It took that long because there were mistakes.) In addition, he had great touches with memories of the Mal's relationship with Sakaya (Then Colonel Bursa), Jayne's clueless inner dialogue, even the chapter titles: My Own Kind of Past, My Own Kind of Clever. Yes, Steven's certain applied his own kind of clever to my favorite show.

Hope he has more missions in mind for the crew of Serenity.

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