“World of the Damned”, is Live on Amazon!

World of the Damned

My newest book is now available to download on Amazon. The paperback is still scheduled to come out the first week of October. Check out the description for World of the Damned:

Thomas Briggs is an average person, unaccustomed to violence and deadly misfortune. That all changes when he embarks on a quest to find his parents in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Follow Thomas and his sister, Mindy, as they travel from Seattle to Albuquerque in search of their parents! Thomas is forced to change his ways if they have any hope of staying alive, no matter how much his sister disapproves. How far would you go to survive?

This is the first book in my new series, The Chronicles of Thomas Briggs. Sound cool? Check out the eBook on Amazon! Here’s the link: D.K. Neville’s “World of the Damned”

Be an Inspiration

Live to Inspi

We often think about the things that inspire us. Whether we’re working to accomplish a goal or simply trying to get through life, the people, things, and ideas that inspire us are usually foremost in our thoughts. But what about the inspiration that we invoke in others? It seems that we rarely think about that, or we have already concluded that we aren’t an inspiration for others. Don’t let the latter be true.

It doesn’t take great feats to be an inspiration, so what does it take? Well, let’s take a closer look at the things that inspire us. For me, my inspiration is derived from two things: people and ideas. My grandfather is constantly a great inspiration, and he wasn’t some famous author or philosopher. He was just a man–a very important man, to me–who had conviction and determination. My grandfather was also simple. He didn’t complicate things, and he didn’t partake in dozens of different activities. He was raised on a farm at the tail-end of the Great Depression. He served in the Army during WWII, and was part of the Occupation of Japan. He managed a quarry for many years. Those are the things he did in life. However, he had a great many qualities that I revere. I won’t get into that, but I want to make my point clear: My grandfather was no one famous, yet he is nonetheless a great source of inspiration for me, even in death. Would he have ever thought that he might be someone else’s inspiration? No, probably not. That wasn’t his way.

Other individuals who inspire me are indeed famous: Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, Stephen King, Thomas Jefferson, Plato, Epicurus… the list is a lengthy one, and I turn to each of these individuals for inspiration depending on the circumstances. Ideas–or subjects–that inspire me are many, as well, but these are probably the most frequent ones: philosophy, cosmology, history, and physics.

For me, my main purpose is to inspire others. I write because I enjoy the thought of inspiring someone else, whether my work inspires an idea, or a pursuit, or even one positive action. Obviously, not everyone’s primary goal is to inspire those around them, and that’s okay. Just remember, however, that you will always have an impact on the world around you. Bearing that in mind, it is my wish that every individual does what he or she can to be a positive inspiration for others. The butterfly effect is subtle, yet extremely powerful and complex. We stumble through life affecting outcomes that we will never truly realize. That being said, I want you to try something that might be a little different from how you generally perceive your day: Allow the general idea of inspiration to be more present in your mind. Let it come forward in your thoughts, and try to envision how your actions affect the world around you. Think about how much good you can do, simply by demonstrating qualities that others might look up to. What sort of creation might you affect? A beautiful painting, perhaps? A wonderful piece of literature? Even if you indirectly affect just a part of someone’s creation, I think that is cause to be proud. And although we may never know exactly what or whom we inspired, we can at least take comfort in the idea that we are doing all we can to be that inspiration, to light that flame of creativity or well-being.

“I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled [poets] to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.”  –Socrates

The Release of, “World of the Damned”

World of the Damned

My newest book, World of the Damned, will be available for download from Amazon on Friday, Sept. 26th. This is an exciting time for me, because I have been really anticipating this book’s release. I’ve gotten a lot of really positive feedback about it, and I can’t wait to see what my readers think of it. The paperback is still slotted to come out the first week of October. Until then, let me give another brief “behind the scenes” look at World of the Damned.

It was difficult for me to finish writing this book, for a couple of reasons. One of them was that I didn’t want to stop writing about Thomas Briggs’ adventure, even though I knew full well that I would have to cut it short in order to create a good series. Another reason is that I invested an incredible amount of time and energy in this book, more so than anything else I have ever written. It’s my longest book to date, and it contains a larger number of important characters. There is one reason, however, that made it slightly easier to finish writing: I couldn’t wait to start on the second book. As I said before in my article, Inside, “The Chronicles of Thomas Briggs”World of the Damned is merely a stepping stone to an even greater and more elaborate storyline. It is an explanation for Thomas’s transformation from a benevolent man to a more ruthless individual, and I don’t think that should be taken lightly. It’s entirely necessary to fully explore Thomas’s psychology, and although the transition certainly isn’t complete by the end of World of the Damned, I think it gives the reader a sufficient understanding of what Thomas is heading toward. The deeper plot is revealed in the next book of the series, Shadow Walker, which I have already started writing.

Hopefully my readers will relate to Thomas Briggs. Furthermore, I hope that they sympathize with him. Thomas isn’t intended to be an obvious hero who unequivocally does no wrong… He is intended to be a realistic representation of what any normal person might be, given the same circumstances. As always, thanks for taking the time to read my article, and I sincerely hope you check out World of the Damned!

A Brief Look at Humanity

Man in Space

Humanity has done marvelous, awe-inspiring things. Things that, when you think about it, will bring tears to your eyes. Super glue was invented in 1951. In 1956, the video cassette recorder was invented. In 1961, the Lava Lamp came out. The Lava Lamp isn’t all the rage anymore, super glue is taken for granted, and nobody (practically) uses cassettes anymore. We’ve all moved on to bigger and better things. In 1903, the Wright Brothers flew the first manned, powered flight for just 12 seconds. Only 66 years later–generally far less than a lifetime–the United States launched a rocket into space carrying three astronauts, and Mankind touched down on the Moon. For the first time in the history of Earth, one of its living, breathing organisms looked back at it from its Moon. How amazing it is, to be human.

We seem to take for granted our natural ingenuity and intelligence. Almost 500 years ago, Copernicus was publishing his theory that the world was not the center of the Universe (only to be shot down time and time again by the Catholic Church). Toilets that you could flush were being invented in the 16th century as well. The pocket watch was also invented by Peter Henlein around that time. 500 years before that, the world’s first paper money was made in China. The concept of true north was discovered, also by the Chinese. The horizontal loom began being used. So, here we are…2014. We have the Internet to connect every single person in the world who has access to a computer. We can drive 50 miles to work every morning in the comfort of a climate-controlled, luxury vehicle, and complain the whole way about traffic and how long it takes to get to work. This journey would have taken a man in the 1800s about a day to complete, with multiple horses. 82 years ago, the atom was split for the first time. Since then we have nearly mastered nuclear fission, created laser cutting tools, discovered hundreds of billions of stars and tens of thousands of galaxies, proven evolution (except to those creationist types), discovered the fused chromosome (Chromosome 2) that separates us from the other Great Apes, sent around 500 people into space, discovered successful vaccines for measles, hepatitis A, chickenpox, mumps…the list of human progression goes on and on. Every step of the way, we seem to be advancing faster and faster. The growth of technology has never been slow, by any means, but it seems that today we are taking off at a dead sprint. It is believed that fire began being used in a controlled fashion around 400,000 years ago, but experts believe it wasn’t widely used until around 50 to 100 thousand years ago. While I doubt that early man truly saw the benefits of technological progression, I must say that their (probably) accidental discovery of controlled fire has led us to where we are today. We, as modern humans, have only been around about 200,000 years. That’s fairly short in the evolutionary timeline. Not a whole lot about the world around us has significantly changed in that period of time. Yet, we have progressed further than organisms that have been around for millions of years. There is some level of pride that must be felt with that. We were a genetic accident…nothing more than a random genetic mutation that turned out to be beneficial rather than harmful (harmful is more common). Yet here we are, so-called masters of our world. We have mastered flight. We have traveled all the way around the world without stopping. We have dived into the deepest reaches of our oceans (although only around 6% has been explored). We have sent people to the Moon. We have sent our devices into space, past our own solar system. We have thousands of satellites orbiting our planet (although only a few hundred are operational). Soon, we will send Mankind past the moon, to planets beyond.

How truly awe-inspiring it is, to be fortunate enough to be a part of Mankind.

However, let us not forget all of the horrible atrocities that Mankind is responsible for. With these great things have also came great horrors. We have waged war like this planet has never seen, repeatedly killing each other in a vain attempt to establish dominance. We have killed millions because of their race or creed. We have polluted our oceans and air, which will take hundreds if not thousands of years to fix itself after we’re gone. We have destroyed entire ecosystems, pushing thousands of species to extinction. We have discriminated against members of our own species, simply because they look different. We have bred ignorance among our masses, shoving useless things down their throats instead of educating them. As wonderful as we are, we are also self-destructive. How very sad it is, to be a part of such an amazing species, yet we do such primitive and useless things.

We must encourage ourselves and others to become educated. While we will undoubtedly continue to advance further than we could ever currently comprehend, we must also realize that the possibility of social devolution is very strong. If we continue to encourage ignorance, and continue to encourage the pursuit of counterproductive activities, we could very well push ourselves backwards.

Let us not forget how wonderful it is to be Human, and let us not take that for granted.

I Think, Therefore I Am

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We all agree that we exist, right? I think it’s important to occasionally touch upon this subject, because our perception of reality is obviously very crucial to our well-being. My aim here is not to make you paranoid, or fill you with anxiety. My aim is to make you think about who and what you are.

What do we truly know about ourselves and the world around us? How many things can we say that we are absolutely 100% certain of? Sure, we like to think that we have a lot of concepts figured out, but really we don’t know much at all. Before you thumb your nose at this article, please take a minute to read it entirely.

There is only one thing that we truly know for certain, and that is, “I think, therefore I am.” This is not a new concept, by any means. Descartes pondered this notion long before I was around to write novels. However, 350 years later, it still inspires just as much thought. So what does it mean, and why is it important?

The concept is not a simple one, no matter how uncomplicated it sounds. Let’s see it in Descartes’ on words:

“But I have convinced myself that there is absolutely nothing in the world, no sky, no earth, no minds, no bodies. Does it now follow that I, too, do not exist? No. If I convinced myself of something [or thought anything at all], then I certainly existed. But there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who deliberately and constantly deceives me. In that case, I, too, undoubtedly exist, if he deceives me; and let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never bring it about that I am nothing, so long as I think that I am something. So, after considering everything very thoroughly, I must finally conclude that the proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind.”

Descartes points out that we can never be sure of anything around us, other than the fact of our own existence in some fashion. Sure, we could be floating in a tank somewhere, having all of our “experiences” simulated for us (see Brain in a vat), but then we would still exist in some way. For the purpose of this article, however, we’re going to remain on the surface of philosophy. Keeping Descartes’ thoughts in mind, take a moment to think about the things you experience in life. Would another person perceive them the same way? Are your opinions about them the “correct” ones? I think we could all benefit from practicing a little humility, and that’s really what this article is about. Instead of immediately defaulting to a preconceived notion, take at least a brief moment to consider the contrary. After all, doing so is what makes a progressive society.

Remember, all we really know is that we exist. Everything else is open to interpretation. For the purposes of psychological growth, try to keep this in mind. Perception is everything. Time and size are relative. The way my mind processes a certain experience is not necessarily going to be the same way that yours does. In the end, we are all lost together.

Inside, “The Chronicles of Thomas Briggs”

 

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Since there has been so much excitement over my new book, World of the Damned, I decided to write an article about The Chronicles of Thomas Briggs series as a whole. I think my readers will gain valuable insight from it, and hopefully it will serve to get their gears of imagination turning.

Admittedly, zombies are not my favorite thing in the world. Sure, I really like the zombie apocalypse genre, but I am extremely selective about what zombie media I read and watch. Mostly, I think, because I am almost always left wanting. Not wanting for more story, or even entertainment, but wanting for more depth. So many zombie books and movies are just about hacking apart the undead, going from one fortified position to another. They seem to lack the most fundamental element of the whole thing: the human mind. This is probably why I like The Walking Dead TV series so much, because they do a wonderful job of looking into the human condition and the drama that would exist in such a survival scenario. It’s about more than killing zombies, which is so one-dimensional to me. I wanted to do the same, but with a different spin on it. I knew I could never make a better story…just a different one. I wanted to explore the human mind just a little bit deeper. I wanted to start with a character who had no relationship with violent behavior, someone whose life before the apocalypse represented something closer to most of our own lives. Thus, Thomas Briggs was born. A 32-year-old architect living in Seattle, with a completely uneventful past. He had never killed anyone, never had a life of crime, never even been in a real fight. Thomas ended up being the perfect candidate for my fictional experiment. I think it goes without saying that anyone who is tossed into an undead apocalypse will eventually resort to more brutal behavior (especially someone who is forced to assume a leadership role). I believe that is true regardless of the tendencies of the person in question. This is what I wanted to explore, and it ended up opening a door to an even grander adventure.

Following Thomas’s journey throughout World of the Damned was eye-opening for me. I found myself thinking about what I would do in a certain situation, then being forced to assume a completely different personality in order to portray Thomas accurately. After all, I am a former soldier and deputy sheriff. Violence and unfortunate experiences are, admittedly, not unfamiliar to me. As a result, I quickly realized that I would need to “get into character” a little more than normal. This was a completely different experience for me, considering the type of character that James Vance was in my previous book, The Fall. For those of you who have read The Fall, you understand exactly what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t, let me put it like this: Vance was cold and calculating. He was a former special forces operator, a solitary individual, a killing machine. Thomas, on the other hand, is not. At least, he isn’t throughout the beginning of World of the Damned. And that, specifically, is what the book is about. The transformation from benevolent architect to ruthless leader is a dramatic one, and I wanted to portray it in a realistic way. The reader will not always agree with his decisions, or continue thinking he’s “the good guy”. There might be some points where the reader is left asking, “What the hell, Thomas?”

I wanted Thomas Briggs to be more than just a character in a book. I wanted him to represent the majority of my readers. He needed to be a character that people could easily identify with. Most of all, he needed to be a character that forced readers to ask themselves, “Would I do something that brutal?” Given the right circumstances, we are all capable of violence, of sheer ruthlessness. I didn’t want Thomas to be predictable, because I don’t think any of us would be if we were thrown into a similar situation. We would be lost and confused. Thomas Briggs doesn’t want to be a leader. He wants to get himself and his sister Mindy to New Mexico, so they can hopefully find their parents. However, just like our own lives, unexpected events will occur. Some avoidable, some not. Those events help shape Thomas into his new skin. They force him to assume the role of both leader and protector, neither of which he has any experience with. And when that happens–when we are forced into positions we are not ready for–we make mistakes. We go too far, or not far enough, and things get broken in the process. Alternatively, we have Thomas’s sister, Mindy. She is the other half of the coin. Mindy is a nurse, and as such is very caring and compassionate. While both siblings are peaceful by nature, Mindy remains that way. Her brother takes on the role of protector, and assumes most of the decision making. Mindy’s views on everything that’s happening around them vary from Thomas’s, and she is not nearly as ready to resort to brutal means. Thomas must respond to her disapproval carefully, not wanting to lose the support of the only blood relative who he knows for certain is still alive. Mindy represents the stabilizer, a symbol of everything that the world should be.

Hopefully this will encourage you to read World of the Damned when it comes out in the next few weeks. I am eager to see what my readers think about it, and also how much of themselves they see in Thomas Briggs. It’s going to be an exciting series, and World of the Damned is really just a stepping stone to the main story. Be sure to stick around for the coming books in The Chronicles of Thomas Briggs series, and thanks for reading. As always, be inspired!

 

–D.K. Neville

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Why I Write

First off, I would like to thank you for taking the time to check out my website and read this post. Life is crazy and full of important things to do, so kudos to you for finding the time. Please note that this website is still under construction. I plan to write posts on a regular basis, so please check back for new content.

 

Why do we read? We never ask ourselves that question, yet many of us seem to have a very healthy obsession with literature. Even as a writer, it took a long time for me to stumble upon this seemingly odd inquiry. Why do we enjoy cracking open a book and reading its contents? Why do we take so much pleasure in reading about the misfortune (or good fortune) of a particular character? Whether your genre of choice is fantasy, or science fiction, or horror, or any other, there is a single fact that applies to all of them: You desire more. So again, the question is: Why? The answer to that question might be different for us all, and perhaps for some of us there is no single answer. For me, however, there is. While it is true that I have always been a writer, I still had not published (or even attempted to publish) a book until recently. I dabbled in a lot of things, trying to find my niche like every other human being on the planet. I’ve had many hobbies that I have tried out, some of which I still have. But regardless of whatever it was that I was doing for enjoyment, one simple fact always remained: I wanted to inspire.

When we are very young, we are mostly self-serving. We don’t think about anyone else’s needs, and this is completely natural; our minds have not yet developed enough to fully comprehend the desires of others. As we grow, however, that (hopefully) changes. We begin to see that the other people around us are just like ourselves, constantly seeking to please their wants and wishes. There is a fundamental difference that might exist, though, between certain types of people. Most people want nothing more than to succeed–to provide a better life for themselves and their families–and there are a couple of ways one can do that. A person can work hard, do great things, and perhaps even change the world in the process. Then there are those like me, who want only to inspire those people. It is my hope–nay, my dream–to inspire those who read my work, and encourage them to do great things of their own. Sure, I have goals and wishes, and it is my full intention to pursue those things and succeed. But my main focus is to light the spark of inspiration inside of another. That is why I write, that is why I read. I read to gain knowledge, to be entertained, to become inspired myself. And by doing so, I sincerely hope that I can inspire another in turn.

Whether you are young or old, reader or author, never forget to follow the yearning inside you. The yearning that impels you to be a physicist, or architect, or chemist, or car mechanic. Perhaps that yearning drives you to be the next great inspiration for another. All pursuits are good and noble, and all are needed.

 

–D.K. Neville