My soul’s imaginary sight presents thy shadow to my sightless blog, which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night, makes black night beauteous

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another Thursday and to another edition of my weekly blog post.  Welcome also to a new month (October, obviously), the first day of what has always been—for various reasons—my favorite month.  A major contributor to that favoritism is that, at the end of October comes Halloween, which is my favorite holiday.  It’s also the beginning—in northern parts of the northern hemisphere, anyway—of the real onset of Autumn, with leaves changing colors and becoming heart-rendingly beautiful as they prepare to drop off the trees before Winter sets in.  Such magical Autumn visions have come to feel almost like the memories of fever dreams for me as I spend an ever-growing fraction of my life in southern Florida, the state referred to by Homer Simpson as America’s dong*.  There is no real Autumn here, though at least the weather becomes slightly less hot and humid as the year wanes.  Autumn and Spring—and even Winter, frankly—are the best times to be in Florida.  How ironic that the season when most people come to visit is during the months of “summer vacation”, when heat, humidity, and near-daily thunderstorms are the norm.

Speaking of Autumn—because it, like my most recently published work, takes place in Autumn—things are moving along nicely in The Vagabond.  I’ve nearly finished my first read-through/edit of the book, making many minor modifications as I go along, and I’m approaching the final confrontation of the story.  It’s quite a lot quicker to read than Unanimity, being only about a third as long.  That’s not an insult to Unanimity or a special compliment to The Vagabond, by the way.  Each book is as long as it must be.  The Vagabond is a simpler, more straightforward story, though its events happen on something of a larger scale than those of Unanimity and have even more dire potential consequences if things end up badly.

A somewhat humorous event took place earlier this week.   A coworker saw a hard copy of Unanimity Book 2, and she said her son loves to read, so she wanted to get a copy for him.  I asked her how old her son was, and she replied that he was eleven.  Now, I enthusiastically encourage kids of all ages to read, and the earlier they start, the better, but…well, apart from the fact that it would be bewildering to start reading Unanimity Book 2 before reading Unanimity Book 1, I had to tell her very clearly (and repeatedly, since she didn’t seem quite to believe me) that this really isn’t a book for eleven-year-olds.  Very bad things happen in it—it’s a horror story, after all—and as I’ve said in other circumstances, the type of horror in it is a very human type.  It’s nothing easily dismissible, like monsters under beds, ghosts, zombies, vampires, and the like.  I told her I would get a copy of Book 1 for her to read, and that she should read it, thoroughly, before deciding if her son was ready for it, which I doubt he is.

Then, quite happily, and without reservation, I recommended (and ordered for her) The Chasm and the Collision, a book specifically for and about people of her son’s age or only slightly older**.  She also noticed the cover of Mark Red on the screen while I was ordering CatC, and said her son likes stories about vampires and the like.  I wasn’t sure about this one.  If he’s a truly precocious eleven-year-old, such as I was, he might indeed enjoy it without any trouble, but it has its moments of deeper darkness, and some “mature themes”.  When she asked the leading question, “There’s no swearing in it, is there?”  I had to answer that, yes, there was, though I don’t think it’s excessive.  Of all my stories, I think the only one without any profanity at all—I could be wrong about this***—is The Chasm and the Collision, which I specifically kept free from expletives, following the wise advice of my father.

Anyway, with some hesitation, I ordered her a copy of Mark Red also, worrying because, well, the story opens with an attempted mugging/rape.  It’s a crime that goes very badly for the mugger/rapist—after going very badly for Mark Reed when he tries to intercede, thus leading to the story—because the would-be victim happens to be a vampire, Morgan****, who deliberately lures in such assaults to take their perpetrators as her prey.  After that plunge in at the deep end, things become a little less unwholesome, but it’s quite a start for a story.

Maybe I should just attach a blanket “trigger warning” of some kind that applies to everything I write.  This is my mind.  It’s not a safe space.  Not even for me.  Enter at your own risk.

On that cheery note, I think I’ll call it quits here for the week.  I’m continuing to work toward reinvigorating Iterations of Zero, so hopefully I’ll have something to share there, soon.  No matter what, though, I hope you all enjoy this most wonderful time of the year that we are entering, despite all that’s happening in the world.  Do your best to stay safe and healthy, and remember, human events are transitory, ephemeral, evanescent, short-lived, and redundant.  Don’t take them too seriously.

TTFN

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[This is an old, and not very good, concept drawing I did of the above-mentioned opening of Mark Red]

*If you’ll pardon the observation, taking that metaphor in hand—so to speak—it doesn’t have the look of a perky, young body part, but rather of a fairly limp, aged, and dispirited one, shrinking over time as sea-levels slowly rise.  This certainly fits with the human aspect of the state, though its natural beauty is beyond question.  I think “The Governor”, aka Skink, of Carl Hiaasen’s books, would agree with me.

**My sister concurs that this is a good recommendation, and she thinks the boy will enjoy it greatly.  It’s her favorite of my books, and its primary protagonist, Alex, is her favorite of my characters.  It’s hard for me to choose, but he’s certainly in the upper echelons of my preferences as well, and of course I am proud of the book.

***It occurs to me that I for one welcome our new computer overlords might not include any cursing.  That doesn’t make it a young kid’s story, of course, but it is rather pleasing for me to realize.  It’s simply a fact, after all, that I tend to write dark stories, and in dark situations, people often curse.  It’s no mere coincidence that Halloween is my favorite holiday.

****Morgan is probably my favorite character that I’ve written.  I just think she’s really cool.  I was absurdly delighted when Tony and Pepper named their daughter Morgan in Avengers: Endgame.  I even fantasized that they named her after my character.

Author’s note for “Mark Red”

Mark Red Cover

What follows is my first “author’s note” about one of my works, and I’ve decided to begin with “Mark Red,” because it’s my first published book, and the first book I wrote as an adult since medical school.

Ideas for the stories I write tend to arrive in one of two ways.  Often, of course, I simply think of the idea of a story, develop it, often start or even complete writing it, and come up with the title later.  This was certainly the case with “The Chasm and the Collision” and “Son of Man,” as well as with the short stories “If the Spirit Moves You,” “Prometheus and Chiron,” “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,”* and “Hole for a Heart.”  However, at times I come up with a title first, or a particular phrase seems like it might make a good title, and I develop a story to go with the title.  Such is the case with “Paradox City” and “The Death Sentence,” and it is true in spades of “Mark Red.” Continue reading

Mark Red

Mark Red Cover

Click here to see on Amazon

Demi-Vampire:

Mark Reed is an ordinary teenage boy. When he sees a woman being attacked, he rushes to help her, only to be stabbed by her assailant. But the woman he sought to aid was a vampire, and as he lies, bleeding to death in an alley, he sees her deal easily with her attacker. Then, unwilling to let him die because of the heroism of his actions, she saves his life…the only way she can.

The next day, Mark awakens to find that he has been changed in ways he could not have believed, potentially forever. Now he must hide his new nature from his family and friends, learning about his powers and the dangers they entail, and looking for a cure for his new condition. All the while he must guard against his nearly irresistible blood-lust, for if he should kill a human by draining their blood, he will become a full vampire.

And a full vampire can never be cured, even by death.

All My Published Books Are Now In Paperback

Okay, well, at long last I am pleased to announce that all three of my published books are now available in paperback on Amazon.

You can find Son of Man here:

Son of man icon

you can find Welcome to Paradox City here:

Welcome to Paradox City Icon

and You can find Mark Red here:

Mark Red Cover

They’re also of course is still available for Kindle.  I’m a big fan of Kindle, but I have to admit that there’s something rather special about having my books out in paperback now.  As always half of my royalties will be given to literacy charities such as RIF, but don’t let that influence your decision to purchase them.

(Wink, wink.)

I am now proceeding full steam with the rewriting and subsequent editing of The Chasm and the Collision, and hopefully within the next few months or so it will be available for purchase as well. It’s a rather long book, so formatting it is going to be interesting.  It’s probably going to be in a bigger volume format, like Mark Red.  It also has not a single instance of profanity it the entire book, which is rather unusual for my work. So it’s kid friendly and family approved

This is literally true; it was my father who suggested to make sure to leave profanity out of this one.

I’ll give you further bulletins as the writing and the editing continues on The Chasm and the Collision, and of course I’ll be posting other random thoughts as they occur to me, so keep your eyes open.

TTFN!

“Mark Red” is now in paperback!

Well, I’m as happy as a pig in…well, in a loving and caring home, I guess, to be able to inform you all that “Mark Red” is now available in paperback as well as in the Kindle edition!  You can buy it from Amazon here:

Mark Red Cover

(Please note, if you use this link, a percentage of the sale will go to RIF, Reading is Fundamental.  This is in addition to my ongoing commitment to donate half my royalties to that or similar literacy charities.)

Now that “Mark Red” is out there in paperback, we are in the process of re-formatting “Welcome to Paradox City” as well, and it should be the next title available in physical print form, followed shortly thereafter by “Son of Man.”  After that, all attention will be given to the completion of the rewriting and editing of “The Chasm and the Collision,” followed by its publication both in Kindle and Paperback editions.

This is obviously a great milestone for me simply on a personal level, but I’m also happy to be able to provide good stories for people to read.  (Of course, I would think they’re good…I wrote them after all.)

Continuing that trend of blatant egotism – and no one has ever accused me of having a diminutive ego – I wanted to let you know that anyone who has purchased any of my paperbacks, and who is going to be in South Florida, should feel free to seek me out, and I would be delighted to autograph your copy.  Who knows, it might be worth a lot of money, someday.

Even though this is all quite invigorating – and it is – I must say that it will be wonderful when I can finally get fully back to work on “Unanimity,” which is my newest work.  Watch for its coming, and be warned; it’s a very dark story.  I like dark stories.

I shall be posting further updates as events warrant, and I’ll also try to throw in the occasional posting of my thoughts on various political, social, and scientific matters as well, just to keep things from being dull.  Do be on the lookout.  In the meantime, as Stephen Fry might say, be wonderful to one another.

And leave the lights on.

TTFN!

Some (Minor) Publication Updates

Hello all!

This is just a little FYI posting.  First of all, the formatting of “Mark Red” continues, and once that’s done, it will be available in paperback.  After that will follow “Son of Man” and “Welcome to Paradox City.”

In the meantime, the rewrite of “The Chasm and the Collision” can now continue…and so it will.  With that in mind, I will shortly un-publish the serialized early chapters of that book, so if you want to get those, now is the time.  If you want to wait for the full novel, though, I don’t blame you, and I give you my personal promise that you won’t be disappointed.  Seriously.  I’m very excited, it’s one of my favorite stories ever (and there’s not a single instance of profanity in the whole thing, so it’s safe for the whole family).

I’ll let you all know as everything becomes available.

TTFN!

“Mark Red” is now available on Kindle!

Okay, everyone, good news!  At long last, “Mark Red” – the complete novel – is available for purchase through Amazon Kindle, here.

In addition, we are currently formatting “Mark Red” for the paperback edition, which will soon be available as well.  It will probably be somewhat more expensive in paperback, but you will also have the option of buying both formats together for a discount, so keep you eyes open.  (You’ll also, in principle, be able to get it autographed by the author, so that’s something to keep in mind!)

In addition, we will soon be formatting both “Son of Man” and “Welcome to Paradox City” for paperback as well, and these too will be available for purchase, with the same deal as listed above.

Keep your eyes open.  If you like modern vampire stories, check out “Mark Red.”  And remember, 50% of royalties go to literacy charities!

TTFN

“Mark Red” is Complete

Okay, just a brief announcement:  I have, at long last, finished the editing of “Mark Red.”  Now, I think it’s a true statement that no work of fiction – be it film, script, novel, short story, poem, or song – is ever completed and perfect.  Its creator simply reaches the point where he or she is satisfied with releasing it to the public, warts and all.  Many cringes undoubtedly follow for nearly every creator…or perhaps I’m just projecting.

Anyway, since “Mark Red” was written more or less entirely while I was an invited guest of the Florida State DOC, and the first novel I’d written in a very long time – and was, of necessity, handwritten – there was a great deal of work to be done to get it ready.  This is part of the reason why “Son of Man” and “Welcome to Paradox City,” as well as my two short stories on this blog, though written after, were released before “Mark Red.”  I’m sure it’s still far from perfect, but I do like it a lot…and I especially love the character Morgan.  I’m very proud of her!

If you want to find out who Morgan is, and who Mark is, and who all the rest of the characters are…well, the book will be available shortly.  I hope to take advantage of Kindle’s new “paperback” option and make it available in hard copy for people who prefer that format, but it will almost certainly be more expensive that way.  On the other hand, if you were so inclined, you could get a paperback autographed by the author (me).  Some day that might even be worth something.

In any case, I’ll let you know when the book is available.  Even if none of you are excited about it, I am, and that’s good enough for the moment.

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Mark Red

TTFN!

This Blog Entry Has No Title

I meant to write this blog entry last week, but I got distracted and then got a bit ill, so I put it off like a pansy (or some other kind of flower…flowers in general are notorious procrastinators).  So now I’m writing it, a bit on the late side, to the massive relief of those who have been anxiously anticipating it (no one).

I wanted to make a few announcements and give a few updates.  So I will.

First, there is a collection of blog entries that I had unpublished here, with the idea of starting a separate blog for my political reflections.  This blog was then to be kept more or less entirely for my author-related productions.  But then I thought, “The name of this blog is robertelessar.com, after all.  Not robertelessarauthor.com or robertelessarbutnothingpolitical.com.  Why should I try to segregate one part of my being from another?  Why should I behave as if, when acting as a writer of fiction, I have no strong political views or axes to grind?  Am I to attempt to live a lie?  Am I to put forward a façade, to fracture my identity in pieces in order to maintain some ironic pretense at unity?  Is it wrong for a writer of fiction also to put forward his views on political matters, even those that have had a profound and sometimes devastating impact upon his own life?  NO!!  I shall not succumb to that cowardly pressure!  I shall present my whole self, in all its parts, to the world, let the chips fall where they may, and other clichés.  As Whitman wrote, ‘I am large, I contain multitudes.’  Let the multitudes have their say, messy though it may be.”

Also, it’s a pain in the ass to try to maintain two separate blogs.

So, with all that in mind, I am going to be re-publishing my old, politically-oriented blogs, including some that are several years old (there is a long hiatus in my blog entries between, say 2013 and 2015, during which time I was a guest of the Florida Department of Corrections).  I may re-release them all at once, or I may get them out in dribs and drabs.  There will be little rhyme or reason to my decision in this matter; I’m going to do it as the mood strikes me.  I do hope you enjoy them, or at least find them thought-provoking.  I encourage comment and discussion on all of my blog posts.  I often don’t GET it, but I do encourage it.

Now, on to other matters.

The editing of Mark Red is proceeding apace, but it is laborious and often frustrating.  I can certainly tell that I was writing it under far-from-ideal circumstances to which, especially at the beginning, I had not yet adapted.  I suppose I should congratulate myself for having done it at all, given that through which I was going (Well done, me, well done), but Oy!  In any case, it’s probably going to be a few months, at least, before it’s in any shape to release.

I’m also, as I carry on the above herculean task, writing a new short story.  I had to do some new fiction writing, because going so long without producing anything new was making me depressed.  It’s a bit of an unusual story, I think, but I like it so far, which is a nice.  It’s usually a bad thing if an author doesn’t like his or her story even as he or she is writing it.  In any case, I think what I’m going to do once the story is done, and edited, and whatnot (you can’t skip the whatnot) is simply to publish it here, on my blog.  I released the fragment of short story “In the Shade,” so why not a whole story?

Regarding the short story fragments:  I have some other old bits of uncompleted short fiction lying around, including my beginnings of a Harry Potter fanfic (it’s quite dark…Harry Potter lends itself nicely to dark fanfics in my opinion).  I may post some of them here, just for fun.  We’ll see.

I also have some old, lost short stories that I think I am going to attempt to rewrite.  One of them won an award many years ago, when I was in high school (the NCTE award…only two were given in each state!  Well done, me, well done).  The other is a very dark short story I wrote during the summer in college one night while keeping my then-girlfriend company as she crammed to complete an assignment for her summer job.  It was a pretty good story, though very depressing, and I’ve always regretted that I didn’t do anything with it, and of course that I have lost it along with all my other worldly possessions.

However, I have forgotten almost nothing about those two stories, and recreating them should be more or less simply a matter of scratching and scribbling, scribbling and scratching, so to speak.  I shall probably release them, as well, on this page.

Of course, I shall (after finishing the rewrite and release of Mark Red) complete my rewrite and release The Chasm and the Collision.  And then I shall return to the very dark sci-fi/fantasy/horror novel, Unanimity, which I forced myself to interrupt in order to complete all of my hitherto uncompleted work.

Well, that’s the update, hope you’ve liked it.  Further bulletins will be forthcoming as events warrant.

TTFN!

Paradox City cover design preview. The story itself will be published soon

Paradox City Cover2

Okay, as I promised a while back, here is a preview of the cover design for Paradox City, my story that is a little too long to be a “short” story but just below the traditional borderline of “novella” (it’s about 29,000 words long).  It has been completely rewritten, and is now in the editing process, so it will soon be available for purchase.  As always, when it is up for sale, half the royalties will go to literacy charities.

I actually plan to give you all a little teaser from the story, either right before it comes out, or when it comes out.  Oh, and just so we’re clear:  While Mark Red is oriented toward the young adult market, and The Chasm and the Collision is appropriate for anyone from pre-teens to the elderly, Paradox City is definitely not for very young readers.  Bad things do happen in this story…you know, profanity, adult situations, violence, nudity, references to Elvis singing Guns ‘n’ Roses songs…things not for the faint of heart.  One of the joys (for me) of the short story is that situations don’t always have to turn out for the best, or even for the better.  Bad things can happen to good (or at least benign) people without anyone receiving his or her comeuppance, or any deep philosophical treatment or explanation of what’s been happening.  While novels, by and large, have more good endings than your average strip-mall massage parlor, it’s perfectly okay for a short story to end in an ambiguous fashion.  Actually, that’s one of the most satisfying aspects to short stories:  They can leave you guessing, which leaves you thinking and imagining.

I love ’em.

Just in case anyone wants any recommendations on the matter, my personal favorite short story authors include Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Edgar Allen Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Robert E. Howard…just to name a few.  It’s fair to say that I’m much more excited when Stephen King is coming out with a new collection of short stories (as he is now) than I am about his novels*.

I suppose you can guess what my genre tendency of preference is in the short story world, based on that list of authors.

On a different subject, here’s advance warning:  Mark Red:  Chapter 13 is going to be out just in time for Halloween–partly by coincidence, and partly by design, like so much of the world.  In it, Mark’s nature as a newly-made demi-vampire is going to collide with some aspects of adolescence that would have made him very happy, if only…well, you’ll have to read it to see.

And on a different different subject, I am still taking feedback on the issue of “Son of Man:  Serial or novel?”  The final decision has not yet been made, and the rewrite is still very much in progress, so there’s plenty of time to put in your two cents.

Finally, I’m soon going to be posting another entry on the criminal justice system, informed by my own unpleasant and too-prolonged experience with it.  These articles take a little longer than regular blog posts, because I want to make sure they are products of serious thought as well as real research, when appropriate, not just my own personal experiences.  This is not a simple subject, and it deserves great care.

Thank you all for reading.  If you like what you’ve read, please feel free to “Like”, to “Comment”, and to “Share”, as well as to repost.  (If you make any money from doing so, just throw me a cut, okay?)  Oh, and by all means, follow me on FacebookTwitter, and so on.

TTFN!


*Which is not to disparage his novels.  While I don’t love them universally, many are among my favorite modern works of fiction.