Don’t give me an honest book review

May 28, 2017

The problem with honesty

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

As some of you know, I urgently seek book reviews on Amazon.com for my debut book, Francesco Augustine Bernadone as I compete for a finalist position for Amazon’s 2017 Storyteller contest. Over the years, I have given and received reviews on products, services and other things. This blog post serves for reflection on what makes a review, relevant, meaningful and useful.

Please don’t give me an honest book review. Be truthful, start a new conversation with me, and be an encouragement that I will take to my heart. Don’t be the problem. There’s too much misunderstanding, discouragement, indifference, envy, contempt, violence, pain and hate in the world. Let us endeavor not to add to it.

Lest we destroy the world, each other and our selves.

What is truth?

Truth is not just your or my view of the facts. It’s not just being honest and saying whatever flips off the tongue, pen or keyboard. Today, honesty suggests expressivity but speech itself is not the arbiter of what is right or wrong, beautiful or evil…

In fact, careless, quick and self-serving speech causes a lot of pain in this world.

We all know too well that kind of honesty that destroys marriages, friendships, families, teams, communities, nations…

Unlike a mere exercise of expression, Truth is inseparable from beauty, goodness, love, patience, kindness…

Truth is a two-way blessing, liberator and boon. Write that kind of review. Be that kind of reviewer.

All of the time it will take to write a truthful review (and truthful reviews take time to write with head and heart) is an investment that will receive a return on investment by ten times or more.

Truth is profitable but honesty will put you into debt and in the way of destruction.

Stan Faryna
28 May 2017

Fairfax, Virginia

___________________________________________________________________________

amazon five stars
Francesco Augustine Bernadone
by Stan Faryna
Zombies stalk the streets, greedy tour guides prey on noobs and old men are filled with long-odds hope in this disturbingly brilliant short story by first-time author Stan Faryna.

Publisher’s Daily Review

FAB ebook cover 200


Sample Chapter from my debut, new, Indie Science Fiction-LitRPG book: F.A.B

May 24, 2017

Sample Chapter from my new Science Fiction-LitRPG book: Francesco Augustine Bernadone: A Brief History Of Our Tomorrows

You can get my little book here:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071S75DWB

FAB ebook cover 200

 

Chapter Two

 

14 days ago
Rome, Italy

 

Francesco knelt in a stall as he rigorously cleaned the toilet bowl with a brush. Standing behind him, a short, fidgety man in a black suit held a box in his arms.

“I regret to inform you that we can’t keep you, Mr. Bernadone. We have half the student registrations this year than previous year registrations. The budget is a mess. I am relieving you of your janitorial duties immediately.”

Francesco stood up in his gray overalls and the short administrator quickly stepped back.
“Awesome,” replied Francesco in a sad whisper.

The little man handed him the box and Francesco looked in it to see that his personal things had been collected from the school’s basement: a framed picture of his wife and son, a bible, a pill organizer and a crumpled lottery ticket.

 

There would be no pleasantries – not even a farewell hand shake after ten years of exceptional performance.

Mi Dispiace…” The administrator shrugged.

Francesco acknowledged the insincere apology with courtesy.

“Before you go, would you fix a faucet in the faculty restrooms?” asked the small man.

 

Si.” Francesco handed the toilet brush to the administrator. The short man received it with a sour face.

This was the third of Francesco’s three part time jobs that he had been fired from in the same week. Times were hard and employment of the elderly was increasingly discouraged. Just last week, the Italian Prime Minister had called upon the nation to employ its youth.

Francesco carried the box under his arm as he walked out of the college’s front door. He wore a gray suit. It was very important to Clare that he dress respectably – regardless of his station. After all, Francesco Bernadone was an educated and cultured gentleman. This – none could take from him.

A male college student ran up to Francesco and thanked him for fixing his bicycle the other day. As the young man patted Francesco, he stuck a placard on Francesco’s back:
Attenzione: The Walking Dead

Down the street, a group of teenage Sudanese immigrants laughed at Francesco and imitated staggering zombies as they followed him to the bus stop.

“They’re going to eat us alive,” said an elderly Jewish man with a modest black kippah. He had caught up with Francesco, removed the placard from his back and handed it to him. “Because they are, in fact, the zombies – not us. They consume everything in their path. Like locusts!”

Francesco took the placard, read it and smiled. He held out his hand in friendship.

Grazie.

The man shook Francesco’s hand and turned to go in another direction. Some steps away, the Jewish man turned his head to Francesco and spoke out.

“We got to stick together. Otherwise, they’ll put us in furnaces – the elderly, the sick and the disabled. It’s been done. It will be done again…”

 

On the bus, Francesco listened to a twenty-something Asian man in jeans, navy blue sport jacket, and white tee shirt. The young man carried a metallic-canvas back pack and wore matching combat boots. He was speaking about the challenges of molecular computing with a middle-aged Caucasian man in a white, three-piece suit. The topic was interesting to Francesco – even more interesting than the fact that the man in the white suit had no shoes.

“I really do think self-assembling, silver composite nanotubes are the answer to multi-threading the organic transistor,” said the young Asian man.

“And if you’re wrong, Thomas…” The barefooted man drew an invisible cut across his own throat. “That’s 10 billion UNITs down the drain – an unacceptable loss for TENsky. I’d have to take a pound of flesh out of you…”

Francesco got off at his bus stop, walked a few blocks, waved and smiled to various adults and children, entered his apartment building, and went up the abused stairwell to the sixth floor. Above the door to his apartment was a wrought iron sign holder minus the sign. At the foot of the door lay a newspaper. He unlocked the door, picked up the newspaper and went into the quiet darkness.

A small, mechanical white cat waved to him from atop a curio cabinet. He didn’t turn on the lights as his neighborhood was load-sharing – the electric supply was suspended for three hours as the utility juggled the electrical needs of the neighborhoods of Rome.

In the kitchen, he turned on a solar-charged radio, opened a can, and put food in two cat dishes. A female radio announcer spoke about the top news of the day.

 

Today, 72 civilian ships were scuttled while docked at the Port of Algiers. It is well documented that the boats were all used in illegal immigration operations in the last month. The Algerian government blames these acts of terrorism on joint special ops teams operating under the command of the European Military Protectorate and NATO. No one was injured in the incidents. One Netherlands national was captured by Algerian authorities and is being held in custody as a suspect.


In other news, Wikileaks released a dozen, separate incriminating videos of Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of The World Bank Lady Grey engaging in heinous sexual acts with male and female children under the age of 11…

 

The news faded as Francesco surveyed 12 small picture frames hung on one wall – different scenes of Clare, Cristiano and him. He missed his wife and son.

What am I going to do?

His mobile phone beeped and whirred with an R2D2 ringtone.

Pronto!

“Francesco! Bring avocados, bananas and raw milk when you visit Clare tomorrow morning,” explained a woman. “I’m thinking a smoothie for her and mom might be a cooling, anti-inflammatory pick-me up for their afternoon refreshment.”

“I’ll do it,” replied Francesco.
“Another thing,” the woman added with sadness. “Clare isn’t doing so well. I’m sorry, Francesco. On a level of 1-10, her pain is 13, constantly. I suspect the cancer has spread to several organs.”

Francesco closed his iPhone and tried to put it back in his front pants pocket, but failed and it hit the floor. The screen cracked. He took a deep breath.

 

Then he opened the folded newspaper to the front page and read the headlines:

You Won’t Believe The Money Making In That Zombie Apocalypse Game

Pope Authorizes Trained Laity To Use Formal Rites of Exorcism

Experimental Cancer Treatment Boasts 5% Success For Terminal Patients

66% Unemployment: Time For A Hail Mary As The Americans Used to Say

6x PVP Champion John Dionysius Ranks Up to No. 1 in Jacob’s Trouble

Grand Solar Minimums, Coronal Holes, and Earthquake Correlations

Are UNITs A Better Currency? Remembering The Dollar And The Euro


New LitRPG Short by Stan Faryna

May 22, 2017

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna
…[youtube

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Book Announcement
___________________________________________________________________________________________

FAB ebook cover 200

In 2026, hundreds of millions of gamers hustle in an epic, virtual reality to win real cash prizes. Zombies, ruthless players, scarce resources and menacing artificial intelligence are just a few of the challenges in ‘Jacob’s Trouble’, where less than one in a thousand manage to level up, grind for gear and avoid permadeath in order to loot hidden treasures and find life-changing wealth.

Recently unemployed, Francesco sells his father’s legacy, a Rolex watch, for guidance in the game. Caught up in the naive hope he’ll win the prize money for an experimental, nanobotic cancer treatment for his wife, the ex-janitor begins an adventure that offers all the promise of redemption, but far greater challenges than he ever realized.

Can Francesco, an eighty-year-old non-gamer, find windfall and fortune in this dark and dystopic virtual reality game? Zombies, guns, machetes and death in a game might seem inconsequential, but the cost of failure is a reality this elderly man can not bear.

Get Francesco Augustine Bernadone at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Francesco-Augustine-Bernadone-Tomorrows-Bucharest-ebook/dp/B071S75DWB/

Stan Faryna
19 May 2017
Fairfax, Virginia

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Recommended reading for trips to the beach or park, coffee shop stalking, lunch hours, lazy afternoons, white nights, and public transit such as planes, trains, buses and ferry. It also makes an excellent gift for those who do those things.

This story may be most appreciated by those who enjoy works by the following authors: Ernest Cline, John Wesley Rawles, Paulo Coehlo, Gabriel García Márquez, Frank Herbert, Le Guin, P.K. Dick, Derek Prince, G.K. Chesterton, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Gabriel Honoré Marcel, Robert Hugh Benson, Kierkegaard, Steinbeck, Solovyov, Zora Neale Hurston, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dante, Aquinas, Augustine, and Homer.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Categories: Science Fiction, LitRPG, Post-apocalyptic, Futurism, Babyboomer Lit, Young Adult, Adventure, Horror, Spirituality, Romance, Speculative Future History, TV Movie Game Adaptation, Supernatural, Men’s Studies, Inspirational, Dark Fantasy, Climate Change, Economics

Topics: Video Games, Zombies, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Dystopian Future, Futuristic Predictions, World Currency, Bitcoin, Human Dignity, Disability, Ad Tech, Internet Culture, Digital Divide, Climate Change, Manliness, Technology, MMOs


Female leads, Aye and Amen

September 20, 2016

Female leads, Aye and Amen

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

Below are my expanded comments to a Geeks Under Grace essay about female leads here:

http://www.geeksundergrace.com/christian-living/divisive-problem-female-leads/

 

Wonderfully Made

As the author suggests, manipulative and insincere marketing strategies are hardly an answer to the very real disparities and problematics which consume gender politics. In fact, they tend to be offensive and degrading as she illustrates in her ponderance of Final Fantasy X2. It’s not helpful to us in understanding a holy vision of the profound human context in which we participate. God blesses us, male and female, and God calls us, male and female, to be wonderful, powerful and holy.

In Genesis 1, it is written…

27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 

Righteousness

Aside, I find the pejorative term, Social Justice Warrior, to be problematic. As if there was something wrong with “social justice” per se. Social Justice has long and rightly been a concern of the Christian church and the individual Christian.

Of course, the ungodly vision of social justice is problematic – wrongs are advanced as rights and confusions are settled with a count of the feels as opposed to the judgment of reason. But, surely, the righteousness which causes God joy includes a social justice in which we care for one another – especially those in most need. The example of the Good Samaritan was not spoken as a bed time story. It was not spoke for our entertainment.

In the Bible, the care of orphans and widows is a critical component of true religion and accounted as righteousness. In James 1:27, it is written:

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

In Proverbs 31, an excellent woman is also described (in part) as a social justice warrior.

20 She extends her hand to the poor,
     And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

Job was among the few men in the Bible who were described as righteous in the eyes of the Lord (Job 1.1). Job was a social justice warrior. We read his own account of his righteousness in Job 29:11-17:

11 “For when the ear heard, it called me blessed,
      And when the eye saw, it gave witness of me,

12 Because I delivered the poor who cried for help,
     And the orphan who had no helper.

13 “The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me,
      And I made the widow’s heart sing for joy.

14 “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
      My justice was like a robe and a turban.

15 “I was eyes to the blind
      And feet to the lame.

16 “I was a father to the needy,
      And I investigated the case which I did not know.

17 “I broke the jaws of the wicked
      And snatched the prey from his teeth.

Woman

Perhaps, we need to ponder, reflect and dream of what might be a true, encouraging uplifting vision of a dignified, excellent and holy woman – a vision which illuminates what empowerment, inclusivity and celebration of woman should look like.

For the Christian, Mary, mother of Jesus, is the crowning glory of woman. And man. The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) is a confession and example of human faith that illuminates the life of the Christian to the Christian, him- or herself.

46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
     For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
     and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
     from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
     he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
     and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
     and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
     in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
     to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Among the most profound questions the Christian must ask his- or herself:

Does your soul magnify the Lord and rejoice in God the Savior?

Also worthy of our good study of woman is the description of the excellent wife in Proverbs 31:10-31. She is not foolish, clumsy, useless, careless, weak, incompetent, stupid, capricious, violent, etc. She is valuable, powerful and wonderful.

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
     For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
     And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
     All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
     And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
     She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
     And gives food to her household
     And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
     From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds [l]herself with strength
     And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
     Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
     And her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
     And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
     For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
     Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
     When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
     And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
     And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
     And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
     And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
     Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
     But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
     But a woman who [s]fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the [t]product of her hands,
     And let her works praise her in the gates.

 

And then there is Mother Theresa – her memory and service is honored by many peoples and peoples of many faiths. But even Mother Theresa is not the last word on the wonder that is woman. Check out Nisha Varghese who says to women and girls: “you are more than the sum of your body parts.”

The historical and modern example of excellent and talented women, in fact, is in no short supply as I have written elsewhere: The Wonder That Is Woman. But, sadly, our attention to them is deficient. Let us, each of us, repent of our negligence. And let this be my repentance for my own negligence.

 

Stan Faryna
20 September 2016
Fairfax, Virginia

ReElise: A retro, Hip Hop, Christian RPG

August 31, 2016

ReElise: A retro, Hip Hop, Christian RPG Game

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

12 hours and counting.

The clock is ticking for Justin Fox’s Kickstarter campaign. The backing is no where near the funding goal for this game. For more than a week, Yomar Lopez has been working hard to rustle up some love across the internets for Justin’s campaign. But Yomar’s not getting the feels – especially from the Christian crowd. Yomar asks with not a little frustration and confusion: “What’s up with that?!!”

Justin’s Kickstarter campaign is more than a dream. It’s a prophetic vision. He even quit his day job – not to mention he’s been working on ReElise for more than a few years. The hand-illustration work has been (and is) challenging to say the least. With 12 hours left on the Kickstarter campaign and many tens of thousands of dollars short of the goal, however, Justin is not discouraged.

ReElise is a game that will be made. One way or another. Period.

The game is about Elise, a young African-American woman who has escaped the hell of human trafficking. The game begins in a dark place. It begins at the heart of a painful human drama. It’s a shocking and emotional ride. It’s a game experience that would not easily be forgotten. It could even become a cult classic.

Blood and violence? It is in there. There’s fights. Elise – she reminds me of Michonne from The Walking Dead. Unstoppable! And, maybe, there’s redemption too.

How is that Christian?!

Ask Justin. He’ll tell you with his own words. Maybe, he’ll speak in tongues with you.

And, yeah, you could be on the right side of history – if you stand with Justin. Share this blog post or a link to Justin’s Kickstarter campaign. Or back it. I’m a backer. I’m in for $100. You?

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/reelise/reelise-the-hip-hop-2d-christ-based-rpg-for-gamers

Stan Faryna
13 August 2016
Fairfax, Virginia

I’m like a bird

October 22, 2015

I’m like a bird

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna

 

I hated the song. Nelly Furtado’s song, I’m Like a Bird. I especially hated the chorus. And it played everywhere. They played it in the night clubs, the taxis, MTV and, yeah, everywhere. It was inescapable for a time in the wild west of Bucharest.

 

I’m like a bird
I’ll only fly away
I don’t know where my soul is (soul is)
I don’t know where my home is
And baby all I need for you to know is
I’m like a bird
I’ll only fly away (I don’t know)

 

I hated the chorus because it meant nothing was forever. Because there was no commitment. Because there was no forever and always. And I was fighting for these things.

I was fighting for the world and the people written upon my heart. I was surrounded by enemies on all sides like Odysseus at the Trojan beach. I was cut and pierced by swords, losing blood, and my legs were so tired they burned. I was like a bear fighting for higher ground – fighting a sea of snarling and barking dogs.

The burns on the kitchen floor of the apartment in the Sturdza palace looked like the stripes on a tiger – lit cigarettes rolled out of my hands as I slept and woke in five minute cycles through the night as I tried to figure out how to rule the world.

Some years later, Nelly Furtado’s song, Say It Right, would prepare me for divorce. The song was also inescapable.

 

Oh you don’t mean nothing at all to me
No you don’t mean nothing at all to me
But you got what it takes to set me free
Oh you could mean everything to me

 

I was crawling on raw hands and knees, blind and broken. I could not carry the burden and the shame of her further.

I have to say I’m not a fan of Nelly Furtado. The lyrics aren’t brilliant. Nor the music. That’s my opinion and opinions, even mine, don’t really amount to much.

I happened to hear Nelly’s song again this morning, I’m like a Bird.

And I find myself a little more like that bird that I hated. Because I fly. Away. And yet I find this liberating as both apology and as an affirmation of my spirit.

Unlike Nelly, I know where my soul is. I know where my home is. But it is not a where. It is a Who.

Holy, Holy, Holy are you, God.

 

22 October 2015
Fairfax, Virginia

Why you failed as a blogger #stopthefail 200 Words or Less

April 18, 2015

Why you fail as a blogger and a human being

by Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna
Dear me, you or, in fact, both of us:
You fail because you lie to me. You fail because you want to ascend the clouds, alone. With great strides. Without me. You fail because you seek to ascend to high places by means of intimidation, manipulation and deception.
You fail because you don’t know more than shit and shit isn’t helpful, useful, encouraging, healing or building up anything. You fail because you never put in the sweat, tears and trembling to become a you that truly cares about me. Or a you I can admire without much reasonable doubt. You only know your own vanity.

Who speaks when the words come out of your mouth? Who speaks when you type the words that you type? Is it you?

Are you the liar, slanderer and that monster? Or is it another which you have mistaken for yourself? Or, perhaps, they are many which you believe to be you. They are not you.

I never once believed you were a monster.

Only a truth of the patient, good and encouraging kind will set us free.

With much love and truth, and anxious concern,
Hope
Stan Faryna
18 April 2015
Fairfax, Virginia