In summer 2011 I studied abroad at Brasnose College in Oxford, England with the University of Oklahoma. In my final week I visited the Imperial War Museum in London, and it had a profound impact on me.
The entire museum is brilliant, from the collection of planes and tanks to the incomparable exhibit on General "Monty." I wrote a blog post about it which is well worth checking out.
The visit was a very emotional experience because of the Holocaust and Children of World War II exhibits.
While wandering the Children of World War II exhibit, I saw an elderly lady sitting quietly by herself. I didn't know if she worked there or not. We made eye contact, and she asked me where I was from.
I told her I was from the United States, and we started talking. She was, in a way, part of the exhibit because she was an evacuee from London during the Blitz. She was only a little girl at the time, but she had some memories. She remarked that it was very curious to see German families in the museum. (She had no animosity toward them, but it obviously provoked some complicated emotions.)
When our conversation was almost done, she asked me what I was doing with my life. Implicit in the question, and the tone, was that so much had been spent and suffered during World War II that her generation hoped we were making the most of our freedom.
After stuttering momentarily under the weight of history and the endurance of Western Civilization, I told this kind London Blitz survivor that I was still in college. She asked what I was studying. Writing.
That seemed to satisfy her, and she wished me the best.
The Children of World War II exhibit, and my talk with that wonderful life, had a lasting impact on me which translated directly into my first novel (which I wrote in the fall of 2011).
That novel is The Phoenix Guardian.
I have been editing the book (which was published in 2012) for a second edition, and today I edited a memorable chapter entitled, "A Vacation to the Country." Many readers have regarded it as the best chapter in the book. It might be the single best piece I've written.
You can read The Phoenix Guardian for free on Kindle if you borrow it through Amazon Prime. You can also purchase it for Kindle or on paperback.
The second edition will be out this summer.
Stories cannot undo or heal the hurt from wars, but they can be a warning, a memorial, a lament.
Maybe I've done my small part of remembering something that shouldn't be forgotten. Something that shouldn't be repeated.
On the planet Mithris, humanity is caught in a terrible war . . . and the gods don’t care. Serena is an eighteen year-old girl who doesn’t care about the gods. She just wants to be left alone.
Unfortunately for Serena, a strange girl named Natalie Bliss falls out of the sky with an urgent mission: Serena must help her stop the war and save the world. Natalie claims to have been sent by the Pantheon (the deities who run the universe) to confront the negligent gods of Mithris. The gods need to intervene before mankind destroys itself—and Serena has a vital role in Natalie’s plan.
erena is thrust into a supernatural world that she never believed in, and she demands to know why she was chosen. Natalie won’t tell her—yet.
When the truth is revealed, Serena must choose between walking away . . . or uniting her fate with the survival of mankind.
As the girls get closer to the Tower of the Gods, they face terrifying assassins, raging infernos, and falling bombs. Secrets surround them as Serena tries to discover her true identity—and unravel the mystery of the red-haired girl who carries a magical umbrella. The girls hope that the gods will answer their plea for help, but they may already be too late.
Betrayal stalks among the gods of Mithris, and the traitor has dangerous secrets that could destroy them all.
The clock is ticking for Serena and Natalie—and for the world itself.