“I For One Welcome Our New Computer Overlords”

Well, here it is, in all its glory, for your reading enjoyment:  My latest “short” story.  If you have time between shopping and eating this Thanksgiving, please give it a read.  I welcome your feedback in the comments section below, both positive and critical, though I do ask that you be polite.  “Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me.”

In any case, without further ado, here it is:

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The Chasm and the Collision: Chapter 7 is now available


My apologies to those who were expecting CatC chapter 7 to be available in the middle of the month.  That was the plan, of course, but I have been in transition back to Florida, into a new dwelling (that sounds more impressive than “little house”, doesn’t it?), and restarting my “day job,” after a bit of a hiatus, so things have been a bit erratic.  It is, in any case, available here, now.  The schedule should self-correct now, and I plan to release Mark Red:  Chapter 14 at the end of November as planned…which will only be a few days from now.

I think this chapter of CatC is a particularly good one.  Our heroes are caught up in what seems to be a peaceful discussion with the people who abducted them from near their school, and they learn about a monstrous danger that threatens…well, everything.  They also learn that something they have done, quite unwittingly, seems to have made that danger far greater.

Then, of course, they are faced with an immediate and surprising threat to their own lives, and that’s rarely a good thing.  To survive, Alex is forced to do something truly horrible that he doesn’t understand.

If you want to find out more…well, you know what to do.

On an unrelated note, I’ve decided to expand the publication of Paradox City, and instead of one novella, it’s going to contain three stories of mine.  The title of the compilation will now be “Welcome to Paradox City,” unless some clearly better title comes along, and the cover will be suitably adjusted.  It should come out sometime in the next month or so, I suspect.

In the meantime, Son of Man is in the process of being edited, which of course will take some time, given the fact that it is a full-length novel.  We’re also not ready with a cover yet, but there’s still time for that, so don’t panic…

I’m also going to be making an announcement soon about a change in the process of my non-publishing/writing-related content in the future, so keep your ears pricked and your eyes open (but please, don’t keep your eyes pricked…that can lead to expensive visits to the ophthalmologist).

Lest anyone worry about what’s happened to my writing during my transition, I can at least reassure you:  I have continued to write at least 5 to 6 days a week, never less than 1400 words a day, and usually more.  So, much that is new will continue to be forthcoming.

Well, that’s everything for the moment.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a reasonably sane Black Friday.


The Chasm and the Collision: Chapter 6 is now available!


Okay, everyone, just a quick little blurb here to let you know that chapter six of The Chasm and the Collision (aka CatC to me), is now available on Amazon Kindle.  Just click here, or on the picture above to take a look.

The picture, by the way, is a new cover I’ve decided to use, which is actually the resurrection of a design I had originally intended to use from the start for all the chapters.  This was before I had to go “away”, if you will, and so wasn’t able to have my original intent carried out.  Not to worry, though, things are now finally coming around.

This release is ever-so-slightly behind schedule, because I’ve been distracted by having finished Son of Man so recently, and by all the work I’m doing to get all the handwritten portions thereof finally rewritten.  I’m also plowing ahead on the next chapter of Mark Red, which has a bit of fun in it, and doing the rewriting of my not-so-short story Paradox City, which is going to be available soon.  I’ve actually got a cover pretty much ready for that story.  I’ll be posting it within the next several days to get your feedback, if you would like to give some.

Speaking of feedback, I would still love to hear from you about whether you think Son of Man should be published serially, as I’m doing with Mark Red and CatC, or if I should just publish it all in one shot–the full novel, no waiting (see my last post).  I’m leaning toward the latter choice, but I would love to hear from you about your preferences.  Also, if you have anything else you’d like to say–about my fiction, or about my blog writing, or about anything else at all in the world–please feel free to leave a comment below, or to stop by my Facebook, Twitter, G+, or even LinkedIn page.  I’m not shy…I’m just an introvert.

I look forward to hearing from you.  Remember, when you buy anything of mine that’s published on Amazon (or anywhere else, for that matter), I will give half of the royalties to reading/literacy charities such as RIF.  That way you can read a good story (in my opinion at least, biased though that opinion is), and at the same time help spread the gift of reading to others.

All the best.  TTFN!

P.S.  By the way, tomorrow IS my birthday, and if you want to do something nice for me (some people do, believe it or not), then please give me your feedback on the serialization issue with respect to Son of Man.  Alternatively, if you have read any of my writing on Kindle, please leave a review!

Also, of course, if you haven’t read any of my work…well, please give some a read.  Each chapter is basically only a buck, and you help promote literacy while you enjoy reading, yourself.

TTFNA…ta-ta for now, again!

An excerpt from “The Chasm and the Collision” to start you dreaming.


Hello, everyone!

Since I gave you all a brief taste of Mark Red a few days ago, I decided to give you a little tidbit from The Chasm and the Collision:  Chapter 2, for you peruse.  To give you a little background, in the first chapter, Alex Hinton and his friend Simon Belmont, two middle school students, are coming home from school, and Alex thinks he sees something moving in his house, even though no-one should be home.  Simon, who is a bit of an anxious young man, thinks they should call for adult help before going inside, but Alex is a bit more reckless, and much to his friend’s consternation, he goes inside and runs through his house, inviting any prowlers to show themselves.  Of course, he encounters no-one, but he smells a wonderful smell in the dining room.  There, in a fruit bowl on the table, he and Simon find some unusual-but-delicious fruit, apparently put there by Alex’s mother.  They share it with their mutual friend Meghan Tewes (on whom Alex has a crush) and end up eating it all (Alex eating far more than the others do).

The rest of the afternoon passes more or less without incident, and then, that night, Alex begins to have a rather unusual dream.  And thus begins the except:

Soon Alex found himself drifting in a slowly-developing but vivid dream.  In it, he found himself rising from the ground and floating into a clear, twilit sky.  He experienced a very pleasant warmth spreading from his center out to his limbs and up to his head.  As the sensation reached his eyes, the scene beneath and around him began to change.  The blue-gray sky gradually shifted in color, taking on a reddish-orange hue, almost like that of a very vivid sunset, but the light spread more broadly and diffusely than seemed normal.  For one thing, the redness of the sky was not localized toward one horizon, but was spread across the entire sky.  There were many wisps of cloud, all with a reddish-purple hue that was rather similar to the color of the berries Alex had eaten earlier.

In his dream, Alex blinked as he realized that he was seeing more than one image at the same time.  He could see the normal twilight with which the dream began, gradually darkening into a starry night…but he found that he could, at the same time, still see the sunset-colored sky, superimposed on the normal one.  What’s more, he found that he could focus on one or the other as he chose.  It was rather like looking at one of those flat “Necker cube” images, or one of the optical illusion drawings that sometimes looked like a young woman and sometimes looked like an old woman depending on how one looked at it.

Alex turned his gaze downward, and beneath him he saw another overlapping set of images.  One part was his house, yard and the surrounding neighborhood, stretching out as expected to the rest of the city.  It was nighttime, so the scene was only by street lamps, but it was clearly visible, more so than Alex would have thought usual at night.  However, behind or beneath that tableau was a much less regular landscape, some of which was colored with a blue-green vegetation, other regions consisting of rocky, craggy ground, only a bit browner and darker than the color of the other sky.

Looking off now into the distance, Alex saw that the landscape—the unfamiliar one—suddenly came to an end, dropping off into the unseen at a precipitous edge, like the rim of a mind-bogglingly gigantic canyon.  He could discern no far side to the chasm, and even at a distance he could make out no hint of a bottom to it either.  There was only more sky, going down as far as the eye could see, but with a somewhat brighter light farther down.

Alex realized that he was moving, and soon found himself floating toward—and then along—the edge of the immense cliff.  Even from along the edge there was no sign of a bottom, only the red-orange color going on to infinity, as if this cliff were somehow a place where the edge of the world had broken off, leaving nothing beyond but sky.  Ahead, in the distance, far along the drop-off, he began to make out what at first looked like a bizarre outcropping of rock.  As he moved along, however, getting slowly but steadily closer, Alex realized that he must have been a very long way away from the shape indeed…and as it grew in his sight, he understood that it was not merely an outcropping or a projection from the cliff, but was in fact a gigantic—titanic—fortress, somehow carved from rock that matched the color of the ground.  Alex was further , astounded to see that the shape appeared to be connected to the main cliff face only by a single, narrow strip of rock, like a bridge, and was otherwise hanging in the air above the precipice, to which there was still no discernible bottom.

As Alex continued to approach the edifice, he realized that it must be bigger than any normal building he had ever seen.  In fact, it was bigger than a city block…no, it was bigger than most cities of which he knew.  It had spires and turrets and more bizarrely shaped projections and protrusions, as well as numerous scattered portals and windows.  Below, extending from the bottom of the gigantic structure, was what appeared to be a very large inverted tower.  At the lowest end of that was attached a cylindrical structure, more than twice as wide as the building to which it was attached.  This appeared to be the lowest point of the entire gigantic shape.  It was, however, soon lost from Alex’s sight, for as he floated forward he began to rise above the megalith and could only see it from the top.

It was irregular and multi-layered, like a city built on and around a high mountain-top, with spikes and towers that looked more like natural rock formations than works of craft.  Roughly in the middle of the whole expanse was a sharp, tall tower with a balcony and courtyard protruding from its edge near the top.

The balcony at first appeared small, but suddenly Alex began to swoop down toward it at what he could tell was tremendous speed…faster than any normal falling velocity…and the balcony only slowly grew larger.  As it did, Alex realized that the seemingly small projection must have been larger than the entire grounds of his middle school.

Alex plummeted ever faster toward the balcony.  He saw that in its center was a circular cultivated area, a garden of sorts, with many bushes and trees and flowers arranged throughout it.  In the center there was a raised pedestal from which grew a large bush, or small tree.  It was toward this pedestal and the plant growing on it that Alex accelerated.  As he raced downward, he got close enough to the tower and the balcony for perspective and sound to make him truly feel the effects of his descent, and he finally began to experience a surge of fear.  The ground on the balcony below him got closer and closer, rushing toward him more and more quickly.  

He passed the tallest of the nearby spires.

The circle in the center of the garden now filled his vision, and he could all but feel the sensation on the surface of his skin that he was about to rush into it with an impact that would surely shatter every bone in his body.

The tree was only a few feet away.  There was no avoiding it…

…and suddenly, Alex woke up.

Despite the cliché, Alex didn’t actually sit bolt upright in bed.  Instead his eyes popped open wide and he stared around himself in the dark of his own bedroom.  It seemed perhaps a little brighter than usual, as though it were nearly dawn, but when he looked over at his clock Alex saw that the time was only about 2:30 in the morning.

“Whoa,” Alex muttered to himself, “that was a strange dream…”

Before he could begin to clear his head and try to go back to sleep, Alex’s puzzled thoughts were interrupted by a very strange sound coming from outside.  It was something between a croak and a shriek…hoarse, and lower than any bird sound or other local animal that Alex could recall hearing, and it seemed to be quite some distance away.  It lasted for several seconds, and then it stopped.  Then, another few seconds later it started again, and this time it seemed louder than before, and the volume increased as the sound persisted.  Whatever was making the noise was quickly coming closer.

Now Alex did sit up in bed, wondering what in the world the sound was, and what was making it.  He didn’t know why he thought this, but he felt that the sound carried a strange undertone of pain…and, he also thought, of hunger.  It was very unnerving to have such thoughts about such a strange noise…and more than a bit frightening.

Rising from bed, Alex headed to his window.  He almost always left the drapes open, and tonight was no exception.  After walking the few steps to the portal, Alex looked outside, though he was far from sure that he really wanted to see that the cause of the noise was.  Still, he was unable to resist looking.

The ground below was brightly lit, though the moon was only about a quarter full.  In his own yard, Alex could make out only the usual well-tended grass and the few flowers in his mother’s small garden by the garage.

The noise started again, and seemed significantly closer, again lasting several seconds and then stopping.  More disquieting than that fact, however, was Alex’s realization that it was coming not from anywhere on the ground below Alex’s second-story room level, but from above…like something flying.

Alex’s mind flashed back to his recent dream experience, and with the combination of the memory and the sound, he almost felt like he was still moving through the air himself.

Turning his gaze upward, Alex was at least relieved to see only the normal sky, bluish-black and sprinkled with stars, the small moon lowering toward the tree line and a few minor wisps of cloud.  Alex scanned all that he could see above, but could make out nothing unusual.  What could be making that noise?

As if in response to Alex’s wondering, the sound came again abruptly, much louder than before…and this time it seemed to be coming from almost directly above him.  Alex actually flinched and ducked when he heard the noise drop in pitch as it passed overhead.  Then, looking out his window again, he saw something that made him reel back from the window.

A huge shadow, bigger than any bird Alex had ever heard of, had just passed over his house.  It was shaped almost like a manta ray—he had seen pictures of the gigantic ocean creatures, and those were what immediately sprang to his mind.  But this shape was in the sky.  

It had wings that spread from its entire length, but they were somewhat squared off at the ends, not triangular like a ray’s would have been, and it had a long tail that tapered out behind it as it flew directly over Alex and out away from his house.  It couldn’t have been more than a hundred feet in the air, and though Alex wasn’t sure exactly how big it was, it was certainly very large.

Was this still a dream?  Alex looked quickly but intently at his surroundings.  Though fear seemed to make everything sharper and clearer than usual, everything looked normal.  The only alien presence was the monstrous thing in the sky.

Watching the trailing form, Alex was astonished and horrified to see that, before it went very far, it began to turn.  He couldn’t make out any real features, but Alex thought that he saw a claw of some kind stretching out to the side underneath it as it banked.  Alex somehow knew, from the way it was arcing and the sharpness of its curve, that the creature was about to head back in the direction from which it had come…directly toward Alex’s house.  He wasn’t sure if it was just a coincidence, but some part of Alex felt as if the thing was looking for him…hunting for him.  Of course, he was also quite certain that he did NOT want the thing to find him.

Alex rushed to pull his curtains closed before the thing in the sky could complete its turnaround.  He barely made it in time, and half imagined he could see a horrifying face coming into view on the front of the creature before it was cut off from his sight by the thin cloth.  Once the drapes were closed, Alex actually ducked down onto the floor below the window level, not quite trusting the fragile curtains to hide him.

The sound ripped forth again, higher in pitch now and louder, headed back toward the house.  Alex clamped his eyes shut as though warding off a nightmare, half-expecting the sky-borne creature to come crashing through both window and wall, straight into his bedroom.

It did not do so, however, but instead the noise went passing overhead again.  Alex was only too happy to hear its sound drop in pitch again as it receded, then paused and repeated, shrinking and finally fading completely from his hearing.

Well, what in the world was that?  If you want to find out, you’ll have to read the book (of course)!  Please check it out.  You can get Chapter 1 here, and of course I recently published Chapter 5 as well.  All the chapters in between are also available, each for only 99 cents, with new chapters to be published more-or-less monthly.

Remember, 50% of all royalties go to literacy charities such as RIF, so you’ll not only be able to enjoy a modern, serialized, fantasy adventure, you’ll also be helping to share the joy of reading with people who might not otherwise be able to experience it.

As always, I would welcome your feedback, so leave a comment below, or a tweet, or a Facebook post, or a G+ comment.  Obviously I prefer something positive or at least constructive–who doesn’t?–but I can take whatever you can dish out, believe me.  And if my writing sucks, it’s clearly something I ought to be told, isn’t it?

And if you enjoy the excerpt, or this blog, or my writing, I’d be grateful if you’d share a link on your accounts as well, if you’re so inclined.

Thank you for reading!

The Chasm and the Collision: Chapter 5 is Available Now on Amazon!


Konnichiwa, friends and neighbors!  As the headline above states, and as I am pleased to announce, The Chasm and the Collision:  Chapter 5 is now available on Amazon for Kindle and other readers (just click on the chapter for the link).

In this chapter, Alex has a discussion with the intruder in his house (whose name is Peetry) on the other side of the dining room wall, and learns a bit more about what’s happening to him and to his friends.  He also becomes aware once again of a danger he’s encountered before.  More questions are surely raised for him than are answered, but at least he’s making headway.

For those of you following the story, I hope you’re enjoying it.  I apologize that there has been such a long hiatus in the publication of the chapters of Mark Red and The Chasm and the Collision.  While I was away, I sent the handwritten works to my sister, and she published the chapters serially for me as she completed the truly heroic work of typing them into the computer.  It often took her a great deal of time to do this.  To try to give you an idea of why it took a great deal of time, I’ll say this:  Many brave and intelligent individuals prefer to decipher ancient Mayan and Aztec writings, without a primer on the languages, rather than attempt to read my handwriting.

Actually, most would people prefer to be hit on the head with a ball-peen hammer rather than be forced to read my handwriting.

I don’t even really enjoy doing it myself, if it comes down to it, but since I am the one who wrote the books (almost 600 pages of Mark Red and almost 700 pages of The Chasm and the Collision) I have no one else to blame.  At least I can always read my own writing, which is more than can be said for anyone else.

That actually raises an important point:  If anyone notices anything peculiar–perhaps an odd choice of words or something along those lines–in the first 11 chapters of Mark Red or the first 4 chapters of The Chasm and the Collision, there’s one of two explanations:  Either I simply wrote it badly (in the penmanship sense) and my poor sister had to guess at what I was trying to say, or I simply wrote it badly (in the authorial sense) and she was stuck reproducing bad writing.  In any case, all thanks belong to her for bringing you those chapters, and all errors and confusion have their origins in me.

Now that I’m back from being away, I’m going to try to publish these Chapters at least once a month for each book, in order to keep the rhythm going, and (hopefully) to keep everyone interested.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ll give you a very brief rundown of the plots of the two novels (both of which are complete, at least in draft, just so you know).

Mark Red:  The protagonist, Mark Reed, is a teenager who works in an ice cream parlor three evenings a week to earn a bit of extra money for himself and his family.  He’s an earnest and well-meaning young man, and one evening, as he leaves work, he sees a woman who appears to be in the process of being attacked by a large man in a dark alley.  He rushes to her aid, but is no match for her attacker, and he’s stabbed by the man from whom he was trying to defend her.  As he falls to the ground, bleeding and about to die, it becomes clear that the woman he meant to protect was not human.  She makes short work of her attacker, and then saves Mark in the only way she can.  This process fundamentally changes Mark’s life, and brings him and the object of his intended good deed together in a strange relationship.  She desperately wants to find out how to cure Mark from what she has done to him.  At the same time, she also dedicates herself to protecting Mark from the consequences of her actions…and to protecting everyone else from Mark.

The Chasm and the Collision:  This story centers around three pre-teens, Alex Hinton, Simon Belmont, and Meghan Tewes.  One day, coming home from school with Simon, Alex thinks he sees movement in his house before they go in.  However, he finds no one home, and though Simon is nervous (which is his nature), the two nevertheless enter the dwelling.  The only atypia they find inside is a triple-branch of berries in the fruit bowl in Alex’s dining room.  The berries smell wonderful and taste even better.  Alex and Simon eat this fruit, sharing it with Meghan, on whom Alex has a crush, and whom he sees walking by as he and Simon are about to indulge themselves.  The rest of that day passes uneventfully, but that night, the three begin to have strange dreams–as well as other frightening experiences that seem to be all too real–and gradually they become aware that the fruit was only the beginning of their involvement in events that are uncanny, wondrous, and dangerous on a scale they could not have imagined.

Well, that’s the quick run-down on those two books.  I hope you’ll read and enjoy them.

FYI:  I’m almost done now with my third book, Son of Man, which is more purely science fiction than either of the previous two.  It’s an idea I’ve been sitting on for almost twenty years; hopefully it’s matured in that time, rather than decayed.  I can’t tell.  It’s all wonderful and enjoyable to me, but I’m the author.  You can’t take my word for it.  In any case, I’m not going to start publishing chapters of Son of Man until I’m at least most of the way done publishing Mark Red and/or CatC.

I also intend, somewhen along the line here, to publish a “short” story that I wrote while away.  I’m using scare quotes because it’s about 76 pages long (handwritten) and something along the lines of 25,000 words.  So it’s not a very short story, but it’s too short to be a novella.  Anyway, it’s called Paradox City, and it’s about a man who enters the titular nightclub to find some rather peculiar happenings.  At first they’re just puzzling, and then they’re quite pleasant…but things take a more troubling turn eventually.  (Bwa ha haaa!)

So, that’s a quick rundown of my writing that’s available, as well as that which is still in progress.  I’d love to receive any feedback you might wish to give.  You can write in the comments below, or contact me through my Facebook page, or my Twitter account (@RobElessar).  I’m also on G+ and LinkedIn.

You can’t get away from me.  Don’t even bother trying.

As if I hadn’t just given you links enough (a phrase which sounds like it really ought to be a Victorian exclamation of frustration), here are links to each of the hitherto published chapters of Mark Red and The Chasm and the Collision.  Please enjoy.

Mark Red: Chapter 1

Mark Red: Chapter 2

Mark Red: Chapter 3

Mark Red: Chapter 4

Mark Red: Chapter 5

Mark Red: Chapter 6

Mark Red: Chapter 7

Mark Red: Chapter 8

Mark Red: Chapter 9

Mark Red: Chapter 10

Mark Red: Chapter 11

The Chasm and the Collision:  Chapter 1

The Chasm and the Collision:  Chapter 2

The Chasm and the Collision:  Chapter 3

The Chasm and the Collision:  Chapter 4

The Chasm and the Collision:  Chapter 5

I do hope you’ll read them, and if you like them, tell your friends.  Also, remember, 50% of the royalties from all of my writing goes to literacy charities such as RIF, so we can all help share the joy of reading with those who have not yet been able to experience it.

Oh, by the way:  Today is my daughter’s 14th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Kyra!!  It’s no mere coincidence that I’ve timed my first new publication since my return to occur on your birthday weekend.  ^_^