Why Man in High Castle worked, until it didn’t

I am a big lover of alternate history. I also have this weird fascination with stories about WWII. So it’s no surprise that I enjoyed Man in the High Castle. It seemed almost custom made for me. What would have happened if America had lost WWII?

This isn’t the first story to explore that theory. Hell, I don’t think it was the twenty-fifth to do it. But despite going over material most of us have already read before, the creators of this show managed to do it in a new and fresh way. A way that grabbed my attention and the attention of millions of others.

MHC JuliannaUntil that is, they lost it.

But we’re not to that point in the story yet. Let’s talk first about what the show did that worked.

Let’s start with the Smiths, who could be considered the first family of the Reich in America. The parents are John and Helen Smith. They are the picture of American 1950’s perfection. Except, of course, for the fact that they are all nazis.

This is part of how the story crept under my skin. John’s everything a good American man should be. Good at his job, a loving father. But there he is with a swastika on his arm. Oh, and the little matter of killing people who oppose him. There’s Helen, the picture of a 50’s housewife, but she has nazi buttons on her collar. It’s a reminder of how close we all are to that sort of life.

Life is good for the Smiths. Until it isn’t. Until their son is diagnosed with an illness that MHC John use this onemarks him for death. This brings to light a very simple and horrific truth that this show brings to light quite well. This sort of life works very well for people who fit in. For people with the right skills, right skin color, right body. For those who don’t fit into a very specific mold, this sort of world is heartless and unbearable. The part of the show that worked best for me, the part that I cared about the most, was watching the Smith family break until they didn’t fit anymore.

The other sides of the show were just as deep. Julianna, an American living in the Japanese controlled West Coast, dives deep into the world of the man in the high castle. She finds out that she and a few others can switch between different alternate universes, bringing back home videos to inspire hope. 

All of this blended in a science fiction alternate history story that was riveting.

Until the last season, when the creators came to a confusing conclusion.

They decided to take everything good about the story and throw it out the window. Or, taking it to such an extreme as to be no longer enjoyable.

They also made the baffling decision to murder several beloved characters. 

The story focused more and more on Juliana, which I wasn’t thrilled with. She’s always been the most unlikable character. They also separated the characters, going so far as to trap one character into an alternate universe. There, she finds characters that we know in a specific way acting the lives they might have had if America had won WWII. You know, our time. While that was a fetching concept for an episode or two, it didn’t hold up. 

All in all, I didn’t even finish the last season. For a show that had me sobbing over the death of a Nazi youth, it worked hard to just make me not give a damn anymore.

Falling From Grace eBookFalling From Grace is available now! Get it on Amazon.

If your heart isn’t breaking right now, I don’t know why

Cover image by Free-Photos

This might be a little raw, a little less polished than my normal posting. I just can’t bring myself to go though the normal edites and time I put into a post.

I’m angry. Hell, I’m furious. And I’m also so, so tired of this.

Two videos are making the rounds online. Everyone’s seen them. Everyone’s talking about them. I’m sure I’m another voice in the crowd.

But damn it, I’ll make that crowd just a little louder if I can.

The first one was of a woman named Amy Cooper in Central Park, calling the police on a man named Christian Cooper asking her to put her dog on a leash.

I’m not going to go into detail about this. You’ve heard about it. If you haven’t, I’m surprised.

It’s sick, it’s disgusting. This woman has since been fired and had her dog taken away. I’m glad. I’d like to see charges brought against her for a false police charge.

If you think I’m overreacting, let me point something out to you. She called the police and lied to them about the situation. She did so knowing full well that she was endangering this man’s life.

And if you think that’s also an overreaction, you must not have heard about the death of George Floyd.

Just in case you missed this story, police officers knelt on the neck of this man until he was dead. They killed him. And they were fired. That is it. No charges brought, no real consiquences.

If you have heard of this story, understand that there are more stories you haven’t heard of.

The police get away with this because it’s acceptable. We recieve what we accept. Stop accepting this. Stop allowing American citizens to be murdered by police. When you see it, point it out. Shame it. The police officers who murdered George Floyd should be arrested. Amy Cooper should be charged. Stop allowing people to get away with these racist behaviors.


It’s Falling From Grace Launch Day!

Here we are again, with a new book launch. Falling From Grace is available now on Amazon. It’s easily my favorite book to date, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Hit me up on social media today, I’ll be answering any questions. And don’t forget, the first three Woven novels are all on sale this week.

Click here to get Falling From Grace

Click here to get Broken Patterns for free

Click here to get Starting Chains

Click here to get Missing Stitches

Falling From Grace, Chapter Two

Grace leaned against the door frame between the bedroom and main room, watching Victor pack clothes into a bag. “Calvin thinks we will not be gone longer than a week, but I do not know,” he said, adding a leather pouch of dried meat to his bag. “I hate to give you a time because I do not want you to worry if we are later than that. Did you make that flat bread I asked for?”
“It is on the ledge above the fireplace,” Grace said, not bothering to stir herself to fetch it for him.

“Thank you,” he said, striding across the room to get it. “I got that new bar put on the door, but it is not going to do you any good if you do not use it. I cannot imagine anyone would fuss with you, but you never know.”

“I will be in the square with the other women most of the time, anyway,” Grace replied.

“But you will come back here at night,” Victor said.

“Do not go,” Grace replied.

She didn’t know what she expected him to do with this, but laughter wasn’t really a surprise. “Do not go? Calvin and I finally get Timur to give us some real work, and you are telling me not to go. Woman, have you lost your mind entirely?”

“This is death, what he is sending you to do. Marching into the Septan palace, dressed like a Calistar soldier? You will not survive, not a man going with you will.”

“That is foolishness,” Victor said. He stood, and clenched his fist. A blue shield of light manifested. They’d yet to find anything that could penetrate it. “I will come home, and so will Calvin. So will all of us going.”

“And what if you do not? What are the girls and Morgan and I going to do then, eh?” Grace whispered.
Victor was across the room in two strides. He swept her up into his arms, and his mouth found hers. “Darling, I have to do this. I did not become a Brother to raid food storage barns, and I will not do it anymore. Timur has given me a chance here to prove-.”
“Timur has given you nothing,” Grace hissed. “He has given himself a way to be free of you, Calvin, and every other young man who would defy him. He does not expect you to come back.”
“Perhaps not,” Victor said. “But I will.”
“Vicky, are you not ready yet?” Calvin called from outside.
“I am coming, hold on!” Victor replied. He released Grace reluctantly and grabbed his bag from the table. Grace followed him outside.
Calvin had already hitched his wagon. “Are you done crying over your woman yet?” he asked.
“Do not be jealous, just because I have one,” Victor laughed, tossing his bag into the wagon. “Where is Boris?”
“Saying goodbye to Nikita, still. We will pick him up on the way out of town,” Calvin said.
Grace decided to try Calvin next. She stood beside his seat on the wagon. “Calvin, think about this. What is the point of starting a war between Septa and Calistar? The aristocrats will just send poor sons to go fight for them.”
“But that is part of the plan,” Calvin laughed. “Do not worry your head, Grace. Look after the girls and Morgan, and we will be back soon.”
But Grace grabbed hold of the horse’s reigns. “What if none of you come home? What about Boris, leaving Nikita here with his babe?”
“Boris will come home,” Calvin said. “And so will I, and so will Victor. Do not be afraid, Sister. And let go of my horse, please.”

Grace released the reigns but didn’t move away. She felt shaken to her core, as Victor grabbed her up into a hug. “Stop fussing, woman,” he laughed, swinging her around. “This is a great mission.”
“And nothing is going to stand before this,” Calvin said. He clenched his hand, and a ball of light appeared. Unlike Victor’s, his light was no shield. It was a ball of energy that nothing could stand against.
“But what if Timur is sending you into a trap?” Grace cried.
At this, Calvin leaned down from the wagon seat to whisper in her ear. “That is the thing, though. He is, and we know it. When we return victorious, we will have a very, very different conversation with him about where our country is headed. And I do not think he will enjoy it.”
May, June, and Morgan crowded around the wagon, and Calvin sat up straight in his seat. June, the middle of Calvin’s children, had an ever messy braid down her back. Her brown dress was stained at the bottom with mud and at the knees with soot.
“Take care of each other, and stay out of trouble. We will be back in a week,” Calvin said.
“Do not tell them that,” Victor said, swinging into the seat next to Calvin.
“One week!” Calvin bellowed and clicked at the horse to send him on his way.
“Goodbye Da, be careful!” June called, waving at him. Grace joined the others in their farewells, feeling brittle. She watched as they rode to the other end of the village, stopping along the way to pick up Boris and a number of other men.
“Come on,” Grace said. “We might as well head to the square.”
June and May nodded, but Morgan said, “I am going to go hunting. The sun is barely up, I should be able to get some good meat for supper.”

“Oh really?” May snorted. “You are going to go hunting? And why would you waste the whole day like that, eh?”
“You ought to stay and help us weed the garden,” June said.
Morgan scoffed. “What do you need four people to weed the garden for? I will go and get us some meat. Grace, will you make a pie if I bring you a bird? Your crust is better than theirs.”
“I would need the goat milked,” Grace replied dully. “And I might need to churn butter, as well. Go and get your game if you can. Be careful.”
Morgan was gone in a moment to collect his traps and head into the woods.
“Might as well get the goat milked, then,” Grace said.
“You are not going to be the one this time, are you?” June asked.
“The one what?” Grace asked.
June sighed. “The one woman who cannot help but mope until the men get back. They always ruin the whole experience for the rest of us.”
Grace shook her head. She grabbed her bucket and went into the small enclosure next to the house where her goat resided. She was napping in the sun, but came fast enough when she heard Grace come in. Normally she would have been milked earlier, but Victor hadn’t had the time before he left.
“Are you going to stand there and complain at me the whole time I do this?” Grace asked, settling into her stool to milk the creature.
“Maybe. Why are you so upset, anyway? You have never been this way before.” June grabbed some hay from the pile next to the enclosure and started making a pile of it.

“You all seem to think that these men are invincible just because of a little magic,” Grace muttered.

A single scream rang out just as she was finishing with the goat. Grace only just managed to not spill any of the milk before running from the paddock. June was just a moment behind her.
“That is Yulia’s house,” June cried. The front door was wide open, and they could hear Yeva shouting for help inside.
Grace stopped on the threshold. Yeva was kneeling next to her grandmother’s chair. A cup of tea had fallen and shattered on the floor. Yulia was slumped in her chair, not breathing.

“I, I do not know what happened,” Yeva sobbed. “I just came in to check on her, and she was like this.”
“Was there something off in her tea?” June asked.
“I do not know. She might have stirred something in by mistake, look at her damned work table!” Yeva cried. She gestured to a table near the window, laden with herb bouquets and bowls. Always a thin wisp of a girl, Yeva seemed even smaller now in her fright.
“What am I to do, I am all alone now,” Yeva sobbed.
Grace considered the girl. She couldn’t remember saying more than a handful of words to her since she’d been born. She’d said enough to Yulia, screaming for her book back, for help, for anything the old woman might have been able to do for her.
“I was alone younger than you,” Grace said. “You will be fine.”
Yeva turned a tear stained face towards her, her eyes wide. “How?” she asked.
“That is not my concern. When Morgan gets back we will help bury your grandma. That is more than she bothered to do for me.”
Grace went back to her chores, leaving the girl no room to say anything more.

Want to keep reading? Falling From Grace will be released tomorrow. Here’s a link to order it now.

Falling From Grace, chapter one

The women of the village had a tradition when the men were off on a raid. They would collect together, anyone whose man was involved, and spend almost all day at the center square. The village had no inn, for who would want to stay there? They had no tavern, because no one had the extra coin to get drinks. There was a meeting hall for the Brotherhood, but the women weren’t allowed in there. So they collected in what they called the square, but was really just a clearing in front of the meeting hall. They set up tables, and brought out chairs. They’d do their washing communally, and share what little supper they could as well. Those with children would bring them, and the women would lend a hand in caring for them.

They collected together because it was easier to work with so many other hands. They collected together also because it was loud. And it was good that it was loud. Grace had never spoken to the other women about the matter, but she was sure they all would agree. When they were surrounded by other women and children, making noise, it was easier to forget that sometimes men didn’t come back from missions.

While that wasn’t likely this time, it was always possible. It was a simple enough raiding mission, taking food collected for the greedy aristocrats to redistribute to those who had actually worked for it. But one could never depend on even a simple mission going to plan.

Grace, now a woman grown, sat in a circle of chairs with a basket of sewing. Her thick, light hair was pulled into a tight knot to keep it from her face. May, now also a woman grown, sat next to her with a larger pile of simple dresses, tunics and breeches, muttering. She had her da’s ice blue eyes, and his height.

“Can you speak up?” Grace asked. “I do not know how you expect anyone to hear you.”

“What is the point if anyone does hear me?” May replied. “June certainly does not care that she has left me with all of the mending. She is off pretending that she will catch some fresh meat for supper. As though she could.”

“Do not fuss at her,” said Nikita, sitting on Grace’s other side. Her belly was swelled with her first child, and she was crocheting a blanket. “At least she took all the bigger boys out to the woods. They might not bring anything back, but at least it got them out of here for a while.” “Sure. It got them running in the woods, shouting and scaring away all the game for the next moon, so the men will not be able to get fresh meat when they return,” May replied.

“Speaking of,” Grace said, as a sound caught her attention. She stood, still holding a shirt in her hand. The other women began to hear it as well. The grind of wheels on the road, the sound of horses. The men had returned.

Women and children stopped what they were doing, eager to greet them. Timur, the leader of the Brotherhood, came from inside the meeting hall. He was an old man with gray hair, but he still walked steadily enough.

“Ah,” he said, seeing the men. “My brothers, you have returned.”

Timur’s sons led the way, driving a wagon full of barrels and sacks. They were calling out to the women and their da, and couldn’t have been in higher spirits. Many of the men were the same, hurrying to set down their burdens and grab up their women and little ones.

Grace watched for Victor, Morgan and Calvin. She knew she shouldn’t have worried. They were three of only a handful of mages in the village, and their magic was powerful. But that didn’t mean something couldn’t happen.

But they were there, walking at the back of the crowd. Victor and Calvin were easy enough to see. Victor’s reddish blond hair was in a tangle around his face. His broad shoulders were slumped. Calvin, taller and broader than his brother, was looking at the ground rather than at the crowd. His son Morgan was thin, and appeared thinner still when compared to the other two. His fine blond hair was pulled back neatly, as it ever was. They came to May and Grace, but there was a dullness in their greetings.

“Gracey,” Victor sighed, and grabbed her up into his arms. He hugged her tight, and she returned the embrace. “I have missed you, my girl.”

“Victor, what is it?” she asked, pulling away. Calvin released May, letting Morgan hug his big sister. He gave Grace a dark look. “Where are Yulia and Yeva?” Grace tensed. “They are likely in this crowd somewhere.” As though she would know where that thieving old woman and her granddaughter were.

“Now is not the time for old angers. We lost Vlas,” Calvin said.

“Oh, oh no,” May gasped. Vlas, Yulia’s son and Yeva’s da, had been a good friend of Calvin’s.

“A guard for the aristocrats took him out as we were leaving the stock house. We must tell them,” Victor said.

May looked quickly at Calvin. “Da, do not say anything stupid to Timur.”

“Do not be telling your Da what to do, girl,” Calvin said, but it was muted. “The fool sent us on this raid knowing damn well the guards would be thick. He should hear this.”

“Yes, but maybe not with screaming in front of the whole village,” Victor said.

Calvin sighed. “I suppose there is some sense in that. Where is June?”

“Out hunting with the bigger boys,” Grace said. “Foolish girl should be here, not distracting the boys in their hunt,” Calvin muttered. “Alright, Vicky, let us go and find Yulia and Yeva.”

Grace let May trail after them. She would have no comfort for Yulia. No sense being there when she found out she’d lost her son.

Timer was with his sons in front of the meeting hall. He cast his hand over the wagon, full of foodstuffs and goods. “Look at all you have brought us!” he called, striding into the middle of the crowd. “These goods will go to villages in need, instead of the bloated coffers of the aristocrats. And that is something well worth celebrating, do you not all think?”

The village cheered, at least most of them did. Yulia and Yeva were listening to Victor and Calvin. Grace saw Yulia stagger, and lean heavily on her granddaughter. Yeva, all of fifteen years old, didn’t look as though she could bear the weight. May helped the older woman to a seat, where she broke down into sobs.

Timur didn’t seem to notice. “I want to thank each and every man who brought this bounty back to us. Together, we brothers will do what the aristocrats will not. We will feed our people. We will clothe them. We will bring our country back from the brink of darkness. And someday, no more children will starve.”

“I wish he would shut up,” Morgan said, eyeing his da. Grace had to agree. Calvin was still standing over the sobbing Yulia, but his eyes were on Timur. His raging eyes. His hands were starting to glow blue, he was losing control of his magic.

“Brothers, we have fought a long and hard battle against the aristocrats. We have been ground down. Look at this, look at what they had kept in their store houses, stolen right out of the hands of the people. They leave us to starve, but we say no more! We will defeat them!”

Calvin turned, as though he would march up to Timur and tell him just what he thought. But May put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him.

She didn’t think to stop Victor, though. “When?” Victor called. The crowd hushed, and turned to see who had spoken. Timur, still all grins, said, “What was that, Brother Victor?” “I asked you when would we stop the aristocrats. Because these little raids are not doing anything.”

“I would not call this mountain of goods a little raid,” Timur said.

“I sure as hell would,” Victor replied. “Especially when you consider what we lost to get it. Or did you not even notice that we came back here a man short?”

Grace darted through the crowds to get to Victor, to shut him up. But it was far too late for that.

“Stand back, young wolf,” Timur said. “Your passion is admirable, but you are aiming it at the wrong man.”

“You think so?” Calvin called. Apparently May wasn’t able to keep him silent any longer. “All we do, all we have ever done is raid! We are the Brotherhood of the Broken Chain, and we act like a pack of thieves! Why are we not attacking the aristocrats? King Kurtis is old and mad, surely he could not stand against us.”

“I will not send men to die attacking the capital, Calvin,” Timur said. “Not even your magic light balls are going to take that castle down.”

“Maybe they would, if you were not too much of a coward to let me go find out,” Calvin snapped.

The entire village froze. They looked from Timur to Calvin, with Victor standing at his back. They waited.

“What did you just say to me?” Timur asked. “We all know you heard me,” Calvin snapped. “So how long will you treat us like a thieving crew, eh?” Timur’s eyes narrowed. He looked like he was trying to work out a puzzle. Grace waited. She felt like a deer who knows a hunter has her in his sights. “You, you young men might have a point,” Timur said. He nodded, looking them over. “Yes, I think you just might. I am older, of course. I have spent my life making sure our people were fed and safe. But maybe that is not enough anymore.”

Timur walked calmly up to Calvin, and put a hand on his shoulder. “You have such fire, such promise, young wolf. How about we see how far you can take that?”

Click here to preorder Falling From Grace.

Falling From Grace Prologue

And now, a special sneak peak at Falling From Grace

In a sparkling city of canals and magic, there is a prince named Victor. He is married to a strong headed princess, and they have two daughters who are the center of their world. Together they have fought monsters and men, and changed the course of their country, Septa, forever. 

But before Victor was a prince, he was a common man. And he loved another, a girl named Grace. This is her story. 


Thirteen years ago 

The night was black, the wind slicing cold. At a little house near the woods where creatures crept, scratched and howled, a girl sat in front of the door. She was barefoot, wrapped in a quilt, shivering. But she had to get out of the house for as long as she could stand the cold. The darkness and smell inside were too much for her.

Ma was coughing again, and sobbing. The sobs were so loud that Grace could hear them over the wind. A moment later they were stifled, and Grace could hear Yulia, the village’s other healer, talking. The wind was too harsh for her to hear her words.

Until she called for Grace. Grace swirled around and pulled the door open. The wind caught it and tried to drag it out of her hands. She had to use all of her strength to close it.

“Come and help me,” Yulia cried. Grace’s ma was jerking in the bed, her body twisting and convulsing. Her Da, lying next to her was still during this fit, ghastly still.

“Come here!” Yulia called again. Grace ran to the bed. The two of them turned Ma to the side, as flecks of spittle flew from the woman’s mouth.

Finally, she was still. Her chest rose and fell, and her breath was labored. But at least the terrible seizing was finished. “Good, good girl,” Yulia said. “Do not be running outside again. Get yourself to bed.”

“But, but Da,” Grace whispered. “There is no helping him now. I will move him out of your ma’s bed, but you are not strong enough to help with that. Now off to bed with you.”

Grace retreated to her bed, and fell on it. Her da was dead. What would she and her ma do without him? She settled into her blankets, and tried to do as she’d been told. But she just couldn’t close her eyes.

Eventually she dozed, as Yulia stoked the fire. Grace was never sure how long she slept, when she was woken someone walking past the foot of her bed.

She sat up, startled. It was Yulia, but she had her cloak on. And she was holding Grace’s ma’s book. The book of medicines and herb lore that had been her own ma’s legacy. It was black and leather bound. When it was closed, her ma tied it with a red ribbon. This now was missing. “What are you doing, Mistress Yulia?” Grace asked. “Rochelle next door is having her baby. I must go attend to her,” Yulia said, and turned to go with the book.

“Wait, but what about Ma?” she asked, struggling to get out of bed. “Yulia, what about my ma?” But Yulia was gone already. And a single glance towards the big bed showed Grace that there was nothing more she could have done for her ma anyway. Both of her parents lay still, their chests not rising.

And just like that, Grace was all alone. She thought at first that surely Yulia would return to help her, to tell her what to do. But she didn’t.

The fire was low, its warmth and light fading fast. Grace hurried to the wood pile next to the fireplace, and began feeding it logs. There weren’t many, and Grace prayed the few remaining would last her until dawn. With her parents now only husks that had been people, the thought of darkness was too much. She tried to think of good memories of her parents. There were many to choose from. But right then, she could only be aware of the ghastly lumps tucked into their bed. Grace huddled close to the fire and waited for Yulia to come back with her ma’s book.

She was still there, alone, when the sun came up.

The next day men came to take away her parents. One of them was Calvin, Rochelle’s man. He was also the da of May, June and Morgan, three little ones that Rochelle had occasionally asked Grace to help with in exchange for a few eggs or vegetables from her garden. He looked haggard, but was the only man to spare her any attention. “Little girl, are you hungry?” he asked.

“I, I do not know,” she whispered. He gave her a gentle smile. “Maybe you can come and help with the children while Rochelle heals? We do not have much to spare, but I will see that you have something for your help.”

“Thank you,” Grace said softly. “Did she have her baby?” Calvin’s face darkened. “I am afraid it was still born. The Sky did not smile on this village last night.”

A boy came in to the house a few moments later, Calvin’s little brother Victor. He was only a year older than Grace. “Calvin, Rochelle is missing. I cannot find her. Morgan is crying for her, I do not know where she could have gone.”

“Ah, damnation,” Calvin muttered. “Victor, do you know Grace? Maybe she can help you look after the little ones while I go and find that fool woman.”

Victor looked over Grace, her hair a mess and her dress stained. “Please, if you do not mind,” he said. “I do not know what to do with babies.”

“I can help, yes,” Grace said. “I will be happy to help you, Victor.”

Click here to preorder Falling From Grace.

A WordPress.com Website.

Up ↑