How to Horribly, Epically Lose a Battle

I happen to really love history, especially military history. When on vacation, I drag my less-than-enthusiastic friends to obscure Civil War battle sites and get WAY too thrilled by accidentally stumbling across a house that was once used as a Civil War hospital.

Recently, I got my hands on a series of lectures about great military disasters. I’m talking about battles that went so horribly wrong that entire armies were wiped out and empires fell because of it. The losing side in some of the battles in the lectures had something like 80-100% casualties.

Interestingly enough, the SAME problems kept popping up in almost every battle that went horribly wrong. And, as a writer, I started paying attention. If I wanted to write a battle scene where the villain lost a battle in a horrific, defining way (or the hero, though this is more rare because battles that are lost this spectacularly are hard to recover from) , history gives LOTS of examples on exactly how that should be done.


Here it goes. A set of instructions on how to Horribly, Epically Lose a Battle.

Military disasters

  1. Be as Overconfident as possible. 

If you want to lose a battle as disastrously as possible, this is the number one thing to keep in mind. Almost every horrible, tragic defeat stems from this.

Overconfidence leads to a host of other errors such as underestimating the enemy’s intelligence and numbers (preferably coupled with a healthy dose of prejudice that the other side can NEVER be as awesome as your own men), ignoring basic military tenants (such as scouting the land and the enemy’s position before engaging in battle), not knowing when to retreat, pouring more resources into an already lost battle and thereby making the loss even worse than it would’ve been, and even ignoring your own orders (such as ignoring your own order to fortify your position when encamped in enemy territory and instead letting your camp sprawl out in all disorganized directions).

This number one error will ultimately cause a compounding of several errors and lead to an epically horrible defeat that will probably end your life or at the very least bring down whatever empire you were hoping to build.

2. Put People in Leadership Positions who Hate Each Other. 

If your commanders, especially your top commanders, cannot work together, you will be well on your way to a massive military disaster, especially if you’ve stuck to advice #1 and cling to overconfidence.

If your commanders hate each other, they won’t communicate on the battlefield, leading to mismanaged charges, missed opportunities, and strife within the ranks. They might even get so caught up in verbally fighting each other that they forget about actually fighting the enemy, or they will actually hinder each others ability to fight the enemy.

Better yet, make sure one or both of these commanders are incompetent as well as argumentative. Epic military disaster will ensue.

3. Make as Many Tactical Errors as Possible

Usually, these tactical errors will automatically arise from overconfidence, and that overconfidence will also prevent you from correcting them when they do occur.

Best blunders to make:

  • Not scouting the land or enemy position. This sets you up for getting your entire army trapped in an ambush and wiped out.
  • Fighting the current war with the tactics of the last war. This always has horrible consequences, especially when advances in technology have occurred. Even if no technological advances have happened, always using the EXACT SAME tactics in every battle usually gives the enemy a chance to figure out a way to counter them.
  • Having advances in technology, but not using it to its best effect.
  • Not sending in enough men to turn the tide of battle at the crucial moment.
  • Not retreating when the battle has already been lost. Even better, keep sending in men into a losing battle. This maximizes casualties and guarantees the worst possible outcome.
  • Sending out unclear orders to your commanders. This will send them into chaos and confusion, especially if they are arguing with each other.
  • Having unclear reasons for even engaging in that battle in the first place so that the cost of the battle, even if you won, would outweigh the benefit (such as using a whole army to capture an outpost that a small group of commandos could capture just as easily).

If you follow these three instructions and compound all of these errors one on top of another, you will lead you, your men, and your empire into a disastrous military defeat that will probably lead to your death.


 

All joking aside, while this list seems like a rather hyperbolic list, in the lectures I listened to on military disasters, this is exactly what happened through 23 major military disasters across thousands of years of history all over the world. Some of the mistakes that were made were so foolish, a writer would hardly dare have a villain make that mistake because they would appear too foolish to live (and that is usually exactly what happened in history). Some of the battles were hard to listen to knowing that much of the bloodshed was unnecessary.

Anything else you would add to this list?

What’s up with the Title of Book 4?

All the previous titles in The Blades of Acktar are four-letter D words. Dare. Deny. Defy. All of them have a punchy, raw feel to them.

And then there’s Book 4. Deliver. It’s a longer word. A little weird and outdated. Why would I pick it for the title of Book 4?

To be honest, when I came up with the titles for the first three, I wasn’t planning a book 4. I only needed titles for three books.

But I chose those titles very carefully. They are all commands. In some way, shape, or form, the characters are commanded to dare, deny, or defy throughout each of those books. They are also the theme of the books, both each individual book and all the books in the series. Finally, all three of those words can have dual meaning. Leith daring to stand up to King Respen is a good thing, but Respen daring to stand against God isn’t. Denying self is good. Denying Christ isn’t. See what I mean?

Trying to find a word that started with D, was a command, captured the theme, was present in the earlier books, and had dual meaning was a bit of a challenge.

Finally, I settled on Deliver.

Criteria #1: Starts with D. Check.

Criteria #2: A command. Check.

Deliver isn’t a word we use often, even though it is used a lot in the Bible (or at least, in the KJV that I use), especially in the Psalms where the writers routinely beg for God’s deliverance from enemies. In this context, it means save.

Even though the word deliver wasn’t used often in the books, it is essentially the prayer Renna prays A LOT. She wants God to save her (read: deliver) her from her enemies. Leith needs deliverance from his sins and his enemies. Pretty much any time the word save is used, you could substitute deliver.

I also noticed that the word deliver was used in a few of the verses from Daniel that I choose to begin the books with. Another tie in.

Criteria #4: Present in all three books. Check.

Remember I mentioned the word deliver is used in the Psalms? Especially in the Psalms written by David. The Bible stories about David continue to play a role in the theme and shaping the characters in book 4.

Criteria #3: Captures the theme. Check.

Now to the tough one. Dual meaning. The cool thing is, the word deliver has the most complicated dual meaning of all of them. Dare, deny, and defy have the same meaning that can be directed in two different ways. Deliver as a word has two different, and in many ways, opposite meanings.

On the one hand, it means to save or to be taken out of. Saved from enemies or sin or bitterness, etc.

On the other hand, it means to surrender or to be handed over. (like delivering a package or delivering oneself to the enemy).

See what I mean by opposite? This one word means both to take away from and also to hand over.

But in a way, these two definitions work together. To be delivered from bitterness, we need to surrender our own pride and hurt. To be delivered from our enemies, we surrender our need to rescue ourselves. Because of God’s deliverance from our sins, we surrender our lives to Him. There’s also the negative. There are those who surrender their lives to their bitterness and hatred. They are delivered into the hands of their enemies.

I’m already having fun using this duality in the book so far, and I’m brainstorming ways it will come out into the ending. The word deliver might not be as noticeably used in the book the way dare, deny, and defy were, but any time you see the words save or surrender, that’s what I’m thinking about when I write it.

What do you think about the title? Love it? Not so sold on it yet?

 

Why Defy isn’t The End

*Warning: This Post Contains MAJOR Spoilers for the end of Defy. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*

DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOUR HAVEN’T READ DEFY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Okay, you’re still here? Either you’ve read Defy or you are ignoring all the warnings.

As many of you have heard already, I’m currently writing The Blades of Acktar book 4. Some of you might be a little confused. After all, the big bad guy got defeated at the end of Defy. What more is there left do to?

Well, here’s my four reasons for why I decided to write a book 4:

  1. Martyn didn’t die. In my original plan for Defy, he was supposed to die in the end battle saving Leith. But when it came time to write that scene, Leith realized what was going to happen and shoved Martyn out of the way. So I now had a live Martyn on my hands that I had to deal with.
    • After thinking about it for a while, I realized my characters were smarter than me. After all, the whole, ex-best friend makes a last minute decision to turn good and saves his friend before dying is a little cliche. (See Harry’s death in Spiderman 3)
    • Besides, an alive ex-best friend is a whole lot more complicated than a dead one. Having Martyn die would’ve been the easy way out. He and Leith wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of their decisions throughout the first three books. Leith could simply move on. But with Martyn alive? Let’s just say the tension between everyone is SO much fun to write!
  2. Leith needs to figure out what happens AFTER. One of the main questions throughout the series has been “Can Leith move on from the Blades? Can he do anything else? What does he do after the war? Where does he fit in a peaceful Acktar?”
    • I could’ve ended it with Defy. You know he’s going to figure something out, but it would leave that question unanswered. I know some readers love unanswered questions like that in an ending. Personally, I’m one of the ones who wants to know the answers to things like that, especially if the author has made a big deal about it.
  3. Leith and Renna’s relationship still has a long way to go. If you add up the time they actually spend together during Dare, Deny, and Defy, you’ll realize that that week in the dungeon counts as their first real, quality time together. Due to the circumstances of thinking one or both of them would die, their relationship progresses quickly in that week. BUT, they are just BEGINNING their relationship. They have pretty much agreed to finally start dating at the end of Defy.
    • Once again, I could’ve left it as is. You know where they are headed. But, they are the main couple of the book. Defy ends with more obstacles in their path than they even realize (she’s still a lady and Leith doesn’t fit with that world. He’s still an ex-Blade. They both have no clue what they are doing when it comes to a relationship). I felt their time building a relationship also needed to be told.
  4. Acktar is a mess. Most of the time, books don’t show what happens after a major war tears the country apart. We don’t see the rebuilding of Hogwarts. We don’t see Panem trying to build a new government. There’s so much hurt and bitterness in Acktar and in its new king. I wanted to explore what it takes for Acktar to either begin healing or tear itself apart, whichever comes first.

Healing and restoration is really the theme of book 4. All of the characters (Martyn, Keevan, Leith, Renna, Brandi) have some healing to do. The whole country needs healing.

Over all, my planned ending for Book 4 will bring the characters and the country to a place where they are truly ready to begin the next chapter, even if the series comes to a close.

What do you think? Are you excited for Book 4? Or do you honestly think Defy should’ve been the end? Don’t worry, I won’t get mad if you do. 😉

Defy Blog Tour – Conclusion

Defy Blog Tour Header

I can’t believe Defy has officially released and all the blog tour and party stuff is all over! As you can probably tell, I’m still playing catch up since the blog tour ended five days ago, and I’m just now getting around to posting a conclusion. *sigh* That’s the way things go. It’s Wednesday, and I’m still trying to finish my to-do list from last Saturday.

So here’s a recap. You’ll want to keep reading to the bottom of the post where I have a bit of an update/news for all of you guys. 😉

All good stuff, though. The launch went amazing! You all were so enthusiastic! A big thank you to everyone who participated! A big thank you also to Jaye L. Knight for being a guest author at the Facebook party!

The live character chat at the Facebook party went really, really well. So well, in fact, that I’m leaving the Facebook accounts I set up for my characters open. A few of you have even had Facebook recommend them as friends, which is cool. You might see them pop onto my Facebook page occasionally, and I might set up a live character chat again down the road.

I’m glad it went well, since it was a total experiment. I half expected to have it fizzle out after the first half hour. Instead, the whole hour and a half flew by. A live chat has a much different dynamic than the blog post character chats I’ve done before. Shorter sentences, more small talk, little conversations going all over the place.

Defy is currently available in both kindle and paperback on Amazon. The paperback is still in the process of being uploaded on Barnes & Noble, but I do have my personal copies in stock in you want to buy a signed copy directly from me.

Here’s a recap of the blog tour:

Reviews

 “I couldn’t stop reading it and basically breathed the book in. (read it in a day people. All 359 pages)” – Soleil from Reviews by Soleil

 “There were some dark moments, but there’s always hope, always the promise that God is in control. It’s a simple message and nicely woven in.”- Claire Banschbach from The Overactive Imagination

 “Plus, our favorite villainous king is plotting something villainous (go figure).” – Hope Brockway from Stitches of Freedom

 “Come on peoples! It’s a book series about assassins, why aren’t you reading this?” – Rachael Steele

 “If you like heartfelt adventure with deep-rooted characters in a meaningful, well written story then this entire series is for you!”- Mandy Fender

 “Finding out who “The Leader” is was just … ahhh!!!! I was so not prepared for that!” – Jesseca Wheaton

 “Leith went through so much, I mean, so much just to protect Renna. It was very torturous to read, but I think it was vital to the story. He is no longer afraid to defy Respen.”- Gabriella Paige from A Heart Redeemed

 “Guys, I’m serious when I say this, I can’t pick a favorite book in this series!” – Alyssa Van Fossen

  “It is one thing to profess faith, it is another to need it.”- Jessica Dowell

 “Renna, a healer, is one of my absolute favorite characters of all time! AHH, I just love her so much!”- Hannah Rodes from My Bookcase and I

 “Lots of twists and turns in the book that I wasn’t expecting—I was glued to the Kindle. It was sogood! Lots of fangirl squealing happened while reading.”- Ivy Rose from Lakeside Publications

 “Tricia clearly knows the way of a good story” – Hannah Williams

 “You know, those all time favorite characters you want to hug and place in bubble wrap and take them away from their author until said author learns to play nice? Leith is one of them. And it’s terribly ironic considering Tricia and I are basically evil author twins.”- Jaye L. Knight

 “Third in the series, peaking with an intense climax, and full of…well, everything, Defy most certainly didn’t disappoint!”- Abby Cashen

 “It was fantastic. It was also daunting and heavy. Made me giggle hysterically. Melted my heart. Strengthened my soul. In short, it’s a thought-provoking novel exploring perilous and even terrifying times; yet there are lovely moments of humor and sweetness – and the characters that experience them have quite captured my heart. I loved this book!”- Shantelle Hannu

 “I. LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. You have to read this series!!!” – Bethany Reinstedt

 “Also more battles = more action = more awesome.” – Jonathan Trout

 Book Spotlights

Gabrielle Nadig

Micailah Cialella

Faith Potts

Mandy Fender

 Oh, you’re still here reading and waiting for your update? Some of you may have seen in the back of your Kindle or paperback copy of Defy that yes, there will be a book 4. I know Defy really seems like the end. It was originally planned to be. But things didn’t turn out that way. I’m about 60,000 words into book 4 and I’m hoping it’ll be published sometime this coming winter.

  Deliver Mock Up Cover
 About the Book (preliminary)
Can something broken ever heal? 
Martyn is broken. After betraying and torturing his best friend, he doesn’t belong anywhere in Acktar. Yet he can’t seem to make himself leave.
Leith is broken. While healing from the torture he received at Nalgar Castle, Leith struggles to find his new role. But can a Blade ever truly move on?
The country is broken. Bitterness divides town against town, neighbor against neighbor. Will they heal or deliver themselves to chaos?