The Ukraine Invasion – It’s not about NATO, it’s about the Oil

How about that war? Huh?

Nobody saw that coming. Go figure.

Exactly how or why the war started, and what the motivations are is a bit of a mystery. When you look at it, there doesn’t seem to be a precipitating incident. Relations had not worsened. There was no crisis. Instead, Russia calmly builds up troops along the border for several months, assuring that everything is business as normal, and Whoops! Invasion!

To be fair, Russia has been invading Ukraine since 2014, when they took over Crimea and set up the phony Donbas and Luhansk “People’s Republics.” Since that time, there’s been ongoing low level terrorist attacks and fatalities arising from Donbas and Luhansk. So this seems to be a continuation of Russian aggression starting in 2014.

But why now? The situation’s been reasonably stable for eight years. It’s not like any of the conquered areas were destabilizing or boiling over. It was an unhappy state of affairs for Ukraine, but Russia was still sitting pretty. It’s not like the Crimeans were revolting.

There were some issues in Crimea. The Ukrainians cut off the canal that supplied water, and Crimean farmland was undergoing desertification. But that wasn’t yet a crisis, and the Russians had invested in desalinisation.

On the lefty side, there’s the theory repeated and regurgitated this is all NATO’s fault. Basically, the idea goes, NATO’s relentless expansion as a warmongering alliance relentlessly enlisting new members has pushed Russia into a corner. Expansion has left Russia no ‘comfort’ space, and therefore, it’s defending itself by invading Ukraine.

Okay, got to call bullshit on that one. NATO’s last eastward expansion was 2004 – eighteen years ago. That’s when Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia joined. Call me crazy, but if the expansion was eighteen years ago, I’m not convinced. What? The Russians didn’t notice? Nobody gave them the memo? The mail was really slow? Seriously.

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Frankenstein vs the Ape!

Hey, that’s me at the bottom!

Welcome to Wild Hunt Press’s Duel of the Monsters, Volume 2.  Chris Nigro, the publisher of Wild Hunt invited me to contribute.

The rules were:

  1. They had to be recognized monsters – Frankenstein’s, Vampires, Wendigo, Sea Serpents, Krakens, Sasquatch, Grizzly, Lizard men, known to folklore, movies, television etc.
  2. They had to fight!
  3. There had to be a definite Winner!

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WFC Montreal – Panels and Reading

Howdy Neighbors.

World Fantasy Convention 2021 – is coming up in Montreal, Quebec. And guess what?  I’m part of the programming. This year, I’m doing two panels and a reading at the Convention

Possession is 9/10ths of The Law – Thursday – November 4, 2021

“Ownership is a Storytelling Battle. My story of ownership versus your story of attachment.” (99% podcast) – Can you possess (own, trademark, copyright, etc.) story plots that give you the sole right to a setting, a type of character or even a name? We know the answer is no (or is it?). So how do you stake your claim. What happens when estates get involved, and how do you IP the fantastic? Who does the law side with? Who gets the book? Who gets the Revenue?

Moderator – Mary G. Thompson. Participants – Den Valdron, Leo Vallquette, Louise Herring-Jones, J.R.H. Lawless .

St. Laurent 7-8 Hybrid – in person and online.

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Law in Fantasy and Why it Matters – Friday – November 5, 2021 – 4:00 pm.

Law drives a world as much as economy, religion and magic systems. But how does law affect fantasy worlds, and in what ways do we see that presence in these worlds. Panelists explore how the legal systems in speculative fiction worlds shape everything the characters do and how to make and identify conscious choices in legal system world building.

Moderator – Louise Herring Jones.  Participants – Den Valdron, Louise Herring-Jones, Ian McKinley, Su J Sokol. 

St.Laurent 7-8 Hybrid – in person and online.

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Den Valdron, Reading Live and In person – Saturday, November 6, 2021 –  11:30 am

Yep it’s me! I’ve got half an hour to entertain people with a reading, and I promise you, the fun never stops. Maybe I’ll read a smashing section from my current work – Empress of Asylum, a light hearted romp. Or maybe a bit from The Luck, a fantasy noir about an Orc on a quest. Or a dive into alternate history with Axis of Andes. Could be X-rated or family friendly.  Afterwards, a Q&A.

Outrement Room

 

Carpay again

Well, back on August 20, 2021, I wrote about Alberta lawyer, John Carpay, and the way he wiped his ass with the very concept of integrity.

Basically, he hired a private detective to stalk a Manitoba Judge on a case that he’d brought to Court.

You can go back and look, I wrote about it and it’s well documented, but essentially, a bunch of  churches had decided that trying to fight a worldwide pandemic in Manitoba was interfering with their freedoms, or possibly with their cash flow, so they chugged out some conspiracy theories and recruited a ‘charity’ the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, run by Carpay, known for ‘asshole lawsuits’ on behalf of people wanting questionable license plates like ‘grabher’ or ‘assimil8.’

So the case is over, the good guys won. The Churches lost their lawsuit on behalf of a pandemic. They had their day in Court, they lead their evidence, it was unpersuasive and unconvincing. I suppose there’ll be an appeal, because they have a shitload of money. So it goes.

John Carpay was fired from the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms. Or as it turns out, he was just suspended. Or on a leave of absence.

It turns out he’s been quietly reinstated after seven weeks.  Good for him.

Because apparently dogs like to lick their own vomit.

Jesus H. Christ. An ethical breach the size of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic, and they reinstated him. I have trouble getting my head around that.

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What if Donald Trump had been born middle class?

I mean sure, it’s easy to be a billionaire when you inherit a billion dollar fortune.

But let’s do a little experiment.  Let’s ask ourselves if Donald Trump had not been born into fame and fortune, if he hadn’t been a millionaire by the age of two and a half, if he had been required to make his own way in life, without the gigantic advantages.  Would he have been another Jeff Bezos or William Gates? Or would he have been just a regular guy?

Let’s assume that this alternate Trump, born to the middle class, had the same personality and personal qualities? Donald Trump is barely literate, a poor reader, almost no impulse control, full of manic impulses, lazy, loses interest, perpetually narcissistic and selfish, engaged in self aggrandizement, unwilling or unable to learn from mistakes, This isn’t an attack. It’s not flattering, but these are all traits that he has exhibited, and are the benchmarks of his erratic business career.

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Lorina Stephens and her DREAMS OF THE MOON

I met Lorina Stephens a few years ago, back when she was the driving force behind Five River’s Publishing, one of the most dynamic of the Canadian small presses.  On top of that, she’s a freelance journalist for national and regional print media, been a festival organizer, publicist, lecturer on many historical topics from textiles to domestic technologies, teaches, and and artist. I’ve always been impressed by her razor sharp mind, her sharp wit, keen judgment and the fundamental human decency which has shaped her outlook.  So of course, I was thrilled to discover that she’s a talented and delightful writer of books and stories as well.  Her novels include Shadow Song (2008), From Mountains of Ice (2009), Caliban (2018) and The Rose Guardian (2019). I am honoured and thrilled to be able to have her as a guest on my blog to celebrate her second collection of short stories, Dreams of the Moon.

The last collection of short stories I published was in 2008. It’s an eclectic mix which I entitled And the Angels Sang, named for the lead story. To my delight, it’s met with quite a bit of positive reaction from both readers and reviewers.

In the ensuing years, I’ve crafted a number of other short stories in between operating a publishing house and all the demands of being an administrator in our other business, one which pays the bills. A lot has happened during that time: our son married his life-buddy, three major surgeries, a failed attempt at elder care, renovating this old stone house which was built c1847, and as I write this, into the second year of a global pandemic.

And somewhere in all that still writing, still exploring ideas and what-ifs. I do have to admit a reluctance to writing short fiction. The literary form seems so restrictive to me, perhaps more having to do with the fact I have too much to say and want to make an epic out of everything. But short story writing is good discipline.

Having said that, I’m giving you 10 short works of fiction in this collection, spanning the boundaries of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magic realism and absurd fantastica. Apparently, I don’t much like writing in just one genre, either. Creative fences drive me batshit crazy, although I do very much appreciate fences around this sanctuary we are privileged to call home. But there is a theme to this collection, a common thread I think you will find through all the stories. What it is, I will leave up to you to decipher, and thus we will have a silent communication.

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John Carpay, you’re a disgrace

Mostly this is a writing blog. But occasionally I write about other things.  It seems to me that if I’ve got this plaform and I’m paying for it, I should get to have a few opinions.  Today’s opinion is about John Carpay, a disgrace to the practice of law.

Why do I feel the need to call out a second rate Alberta lawyer who I’ve never met?

Well, I’ll tell you. Every writer needs a day job. I’m a lawyer. And I’m not going to be flippant here.  I believe in it. I believe in something called Justice. In law school, my fellow students laughed at me, but I was a believe. I believed in the social contract, I believed in our innate duty to be decent, to be moral to each other. I believed that the practice of lawyer was to implement and negotiate that social contract, to help people in need, to help build a better world. It mattered to me. When I became a lawyer, I wore the robes, and I signed my name into the rolls. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, I became an officer of the court. And I believed that this was a noble and honourable calling, that carried with it a duty of integrity and ethics. It has been touchstone of my life.

Every now and then, I run across lawyers who basically wipe their ass on the profession, Dangerfield, a prosecutor who abused his power, Shead a commercial lawyer who helped swindle innocent people. These people offend me. They’re not just bad, they’ve sodomized the integrity of a calling, a cause, a profession I’ve given my life to. They’re abominations to me.

So what did John Carpay do?

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When Words Collide: Writing Alternate Histories

Hi, just a quick note, I will be program participant, panelists, something at the Alberta Writers and Readers Festival, When Words Collide.

I’m doing Writing Alternate Histories, with Celeste Peters, R.J.M. Dawson and M.E. Powell, at 3:00 pm, on Friday, August  13, 2021.  This year the Festival is a free online event.

The Festival is huge running from Thursday, August 12 through to Sunday, August 15, 2021.  It’s an annual thing. Usually its held live in person, and it gets pretty booked up.  Having it online and free means it’s open to everyone.

This is amazing. 12 tracks of programming going on each hour. That’s 240 programming events, plus interactive stuff, pitch sessions, blue pencil sessions, workshops, you name it.  And it’s FREE.  So register and join.

WWC 2021 – Events/Festival_Program.php (whenwordscollide.org)

And in the future, if you’re a writer or reader that plans to find themselves in Calgary in August…  make plans to check it out.

And if you’re already attending, check out my panel!  As to Alternate History, I figure I’m qualified, between Axis of Andes, Bear Cavalry, Dawn of Cthulhu, The New Doctor and the Fall of Atlantis.

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New World War

Wow. Been a while since I posted.  Luckily no one is reading, so the heat is off.  It’s been a busy month.

First up – I’ve completed two writing workshops for the Manitoba Writers Guild.  The first one was Writing Compelling Characters in June.  That was a tough one, I’d done a version of this workshop for Keycon but it had gone fairly disastrously. This really did feel like working without a net, but it went really well.  Subsequently, in July, I did a three hour special – Copyright/Publishng Contracts Feedback was extremely positive. I donated my fees for these workshops back to the Manitoba Writers Guild, and the workshops have been recorded for future use.

Currently, I’ve jumped head first into the search for a Literary Agent.  This took a week of preparation, working on query letters, synopsis of different lengths, getting the writing samples together. This weekend, I took the plunge. Let’s see how it works out this time.

The big news is NEW WORLD WAR sequel to AXIS OF ANDES!   Yes, we have the continuation and conclusion of the epic saga of WW2 in South America.  The multi-front war between Ecuador, Chile and Peru, slowly but relentlessly spills over into almost every country in South America.  The jungle war rages and turns into Indian Revolts, Bolivia falls into Civil war. Argentina and Colombia meddle and waiting in the wings a hidden power waits to make itself known

I’m thrilled with the way it’s all turned out and come together…

Onto the next project.  I’ve got a couple of novels to finish writing, a bunch of short stories to write, two more collections of stories to upload, a vampire novel to release, and a third Who-book.  And I’m sure I’m missing a few things…  Oh yeah, seriously update the website.