Some great news, and some not as great news.

Okay, well, I’m not going to be writing all that much today, but I do want to make an important announcement, one to which I’ve been building up for some time:  “The Chasm and the Collision” is out!  Here are the two versions, paperback and Kindle, from which you can choose (or if you can’t decide, you can feel free to buy one of each.  Or more than one of each.  Why not?  ^_^  ).  Just click on the image and you’ll be brought to the Amazon page where the book is listed:

CatC cover paperback

Paperback

 

CatC cover kindle

Kindle

Unfortunately, on the very day it was released (two days ago, now), my mother’s health took a downward turn.  She was already in the hospital after having felt a bit weak and having some other, more specific troubles, and her situation had become more complicated than it was expected to become.  Certainly, it was more complicated than I had expected it to become.  Anyway, now I’m writing this while sitting in the Greyhound station in Knoxville while they clean the bus, having left from Fort Lauderdale (on a different bus) yesterday morning.  I have not spoken with my mother’s doctors directly, but my sister has, and my mother is apparently not expected to recover.  She is certainly very weak.

This makes the whole situation quite bittersweet.  My mother was very much looking forward to this book—at least she said so, and I believe her—so it’s unpleasantly ironic for it to have come out the very day her health took a downturn that may prevent her from reading it.

Incidentally, I apologize that the cover differs somewhat from paperback to Kindle.  For some reason, I was unable to reproduce the paperback’s cover for the Kindle version, so I had to do something else.  (Something Other, you might say.)  Looking back, I actually kind of like the forced, ad-hoc Kindle cover.  Maybe I’ll release a second edition of the paperback that has the same cover as the Kindle one.

Ugh, I feel like my writing is terrible right now.  Of course, that doesn’t stop it from coming out.  One thing I can say for me, I don’t have trouble just getting some words out onto paper (or computer, as the case may be).  But my brain is quite foggy.  Even though I’ve spent most of my time sleeping since leaving the south Florida area, no one could ever claim that sleeping on a bus is actually restful.  Well…I guess they could claim it, but they would be lying, and what on Earth could lead them to such a deception?

Perhaps they are on the payroll of the Greyhound company…

Okay, well, that’s really all I have to say, more or less.  I was hoping to be as excited as Hell (and those who know Hell know just how excitable it is) when I announced the release of CatC.  And I am excited, of course.  But it’s an excitement tempered by grim anticipation and worry.  Hopefully you readers can be excited on my behalf.  I would be deeply grateful.

Also, please call your mothers, if you still have that option.

TTFN

Sort of about my children, the figurative and the literal ones

For the past several weeks I’ve written about philosophy, politics, language, and general esoterica.  In other words, I’ve written posts intended to be thought-provoking, or at least to convey my thoughts on pet peeves of mine.  Now, I’m going to write something a little more personal.

I want to let all interested readers know that I’m close to being ready to publish “The Chasm and the Collision.”  In fact, I plan to release it in August.  The editing process is proceeding well, and it should be done before the end of this month.  I read somewhere that, unless you have begun to hate your book a little by the time you’re finished, then you haven’t edited enough.  I don’t know how much empirical data there is behind that pronouncement, but if it’s true, then I have come close to editing my book enough.  Not that I truly have begun to hate it; all my books are labors of love, my figurative children.  But it is a fact that rereading, rewriting, and editing become tedious after a while.

This is probably a good thing.  It’s difficult to look at one’s own work objectively, which can impair one’s ability to edit as ruthlessly as one ought.  So, it’s useful if rewriting and editing lead the author to become detached and harsher toward his or her work.

I’m also a fan of the advice Stephen King apparently received in response to one of his earliest submissions as a young writer:  your final draft should be your first draft minus 10%.  This can be a difficult goal to achieve, but trimming the fat is good, especially if you tend to write very quickly, as I do, and are verbose, as I am.  I don’t always achieve the target percentage, but it’s good to set the bar high.  If you aim for a lofty goal, then even if you don’t quite reach it, you’ll at least achieve something worthy of note, if not of song.

“The Chasm and the Collision,” (to which I often refer as “CatC”) is a particularly special book for me.  I started writing it in jail and finished writing it in prison (I’ll say it clearly:  I was bullied into a plea bargain, but I do not admit to being guilty of criminal activity, though I was certainly naïve).  It was dedicated from the start to my children, and was written with them in mind.  When I came up with it, my son had begun middle school, and my daughter was going to start it shortly.  Also, they—like their mother and me—were fans of the Harry Potter stories and similar fantastic adventures.  So, I wanted to write a fantasy adventure with middle-school students as the heroes.  I thought of the idea in Gun Club, only finally finishing it at FSP West, in Raiford, where I would awaken at lights-on (about 3:30 am), and write 3 to 4 pages every day.  It was on this schedule that I wrote “Mark Red,” “Paradox City,” “The Chasm and the Collision,” and started “Son of Man.”

Of course, those were all hand-written, and my handwriting is horrible.  It’s taken a long time to get everything together, to re-write, and to edit all these books and stories.  I wanted to get practice in on the others before turning to CatC.  On the advice of my father, I decided not to put so much as a single curse word in this book.  Those of you who have read my other works may realize how atypical this is.  I write my dialogue in as close to natural form as I can achieve, and novels rarely involve people in pleasant, sedate circumstances; they tend to involve massive stress.  People under stress—even young people—often use profanity.  Or maybe I’ve just always hung around the wrong crowd.

Anyway, CatC is reader friendly to all ages, in the sense of not having bad language.  It is dark at times, of course—that’s the nature of fantasy adventure.  But it’s optimistic nevertheless.  I like my characters, and I hope the readers do as well.  Above all, I hope my children will read the book and enjoy it.  I haven’t seen either of them since before I went to prison, and while I have spoken with and exchanged emails with my daughter, my son has been unwilling to communicate with me at all.  With any luck, this book—and my others—might make them one day feel proud of me again, maybe even more than they would have if I were still practicing medicine.  Who knows, they might even someday be willing to admit to others that they’re related to me.

Nothing else is very important.  I miss my children terribly; I have missed so much of their growing up, and though I’ve obeyed their own requests and not tried to disrupt their lives by forcing my way back into them using the legal system that I despise, my heart breaks daily.  I love writing, and I continue to work hard at it (even while still working full-time at my “day job”), and I want to make and do things that bring joy to others and help me feel good about myself.  But without my children, nothing in the universe is of any deep importance to me.

Without them, to be honest, I could readily and without regret say goodbye to it all.

TTFN

A Voice from the Chasm

Hello, everyone—or at least everyone who’s reading this.  I hope you’re all doing well and having a wonderful Spring.  It’s been hot and muggy here lately, even for south Florida, but then again, warm weather is the reason I moved here.  I have no right, nor deep desire, to complain.

All right, enough pointless chit-chat.

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted anything in a while.  I’ve been very busy working on the rewriting and editing of “The Chasm and the Collision,” and that’s quite a task; it’s a long book.  Prior to editing, it weighed in at a quarter of a million words, so the tweaking process is a laborious one, albeit a labor of love.  I’m very excited about the novel, of course.  I think it’s a good story, full of mystery, friendship, adventure, discovery, wonder, and—most especially—danger.

I also, of course, have not yet been able to quit my proverbial day job, so I do a great deal of my writing and editing on the train during my commute, and sometimes at lunch time and at lag times at the office.  This places some inevitable limits on my output.

But I don’t like going for so long without having written on my blog.  For one thing, on a purely mercenary and commercial level, to keep people interested in what one has to say, one has to keep saying things.  That in itself is not an adequate reason to write, however.  A vastly more important consideration is the fact that I do, in fact, have a great deal to say.  My cell phone’s memo app contains a list of a few dozen article ideas that rage to be released, and one cannot forever keep an untamed idea in captivity, lest one kill its spirit.

So, I’ve decided to designate Thursdays as my day for writing non-fiction.  There are many topics—political philosophy, science, creativity, art, popular culture, and even spirituality, to name a few—on which I have thoughts that I’d like to explore.  Therefore, henceforth, on those days on which we all pay our respects to the god of thunder, I will take a break from writing fiction and devote myself to producing blog articles such as this one.

This doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to release these articles on Thursdays specifically, or every Thursday.  Though I tend to write quickly, I don’t know that I can do justice to all the topics I have in mind, and to whatever others continue to pop up, in one day of a week.  Nevertheless, I will do my best to keep my output asymptotically close to that idealized mean.  I suppose it’s just possible that, if the fit strikes me and I simply cannot control an article that forces itself to be written, I may even come out with more than one in the occasional seven-day period.

Those of you who anticipate my next book with bated breath need not fear, however!  The rest of my week will continue to be devoted to my first and greatest love:  writing fiction.  In fiction, we are given the chance to experience the world through the lives and minds of others, albeit imaginary others.  This is not only one of the most wonderful sources of joy humans have ever created, it also allows us to practice seeing the world from others’ points of view.  This skill, or habit, or whatever one might call it, is crucial for helping us get along with our fellow humans, with some of which we will inevitably have differences.  Especially in the fractured political climate of present day America, this seems to me to be an ability we could all stand to enhance, myself included.

Einstein is quoted as saying that imagination is more important than knowledge.  Despite the apparent implicit assumption behind many Facebook memes, just because some famous person—even some famously very smart person—said something doesn’t make it correct, or even sensible.  In this case, however, I think the words are true (though knowledge is certainly crucial as well).  The human imagination is not only our first and greatest virtual reality device; it is also a remarkable virtual laboratory, in which we can experiment with actions, as well as with ideas and points of view, some of them different from whatever might have occurred to us previously.  To read what another person has written is to have them thinking inside our heads.  It’s truly remarkable if you stop and ponder it, and something most of us take for granted, yet it’s something that, as far as we know, only humans can do.  It is a tremendous, perhaps the primary, source of our power…and it is also, I think, one of the most important tools to keep us from abusing that power.  And fiction is perhaps the most potent rough-hewer of that tool.

Perhaps more crucially, though, it is simply a wonderful and mostly harmless joy.  And a life without joy is, I think, worse than no life at all.

I look forward to writing more and to receiving any feedback you might wish to give me.  I’m on Facebook and on Twitter (the former more than the latter), but I would especially love to read your responses in the comment section below, after any article that strikes you as interesting, provokes thought (or outrage), or in which you disagree with me and want to point out why.

In the meantime, and as almost always, I wish you all well.

TTFN

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