O God, your only blog-maker. What should a man do but be merry?

Okay, well…hello and good morning and welcome to another Thursday edition of my weekly blog post.  I don’t have anything quite as momentous as last week to talk about today, but I’m making progress on good things, nevertheless.

For instance, I’m almost done editing my short story House Guest, which is even older than The Vagabond…I wrote it when I was in high school; I think I was sixteen at the time.  Editing this story is a much faster process than editing The Vagabond was, and it’s about eighty times faster than editing Unanimity was.  House Guest is a true short story, only about six thousand words long; even going through it repeatedly doesn’t take much time.  I haven’t needed to change much, except to update some of the medical trivia based on my far more advanced present knowledge.  There’s only a little bit of it; it’s not crucial to the story, but it does enhance it a bit.

It’s nice to be able to go back and see that I didn’t write much worse then than I do now.  I might have written better occasionally.  Certainly, I didn’t tend to write as long a story.  Or, well, maybe that might not actually be true, now that I think about it.  House Guest is just a short story, after all, and is simply no longer than it needs to be.  My hand-written Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel Ends of the Maelstrom from around the same time was well over five hundred hand-written, single-spaced pages long, on very narrow-ruled paper*, and was almost certainly longer than The VagabondMaybe I worry about story length too much.

Oh, by the way, happy April Fool’s Day!  I only realized the auspicious date—if that’s really the best term—when I saved this file just now.  Despite the usual form of celebration—again, if that’s the right term—associated with this day, I’m pulling no pranks and telling no lies in the writing of this post, unless my forced cheerfulness counts as a lie.  But if that’s a lie, it’s one that I, and I think most other people, tell frequently, probably many times a day.

I don’t think I’m alone in this.  I encounter a lot of upbeat, “power of positive thinking” type statements and quotes and tweets and posts and whatnot all around cyberspace, but they often give me the sense conveyed by Queen Gertrude when she says, “The lady doth protest too much methinks.”  It’s a rather desperate, almost panicky, quasi-hysterical positivity and cheerfulness…because, after all, no one will like you if you’re not cheerful, right?

And if you do admit to feeling poorly, especially emotionally, then you’ll often get responses full of platitudes and homilies and you-think-you’ve-got-it-bads, sometimes verging toward the tone of a slap in the face from Cher and a shout of, “Snap out of it!”

Of course, to be fair, you also tend to find sincere sympathy and concern.  Even the other stuff often plainly comes from a well-meaning place, so to speak.  I don’t want to impugn the motivations of those responding to things for which our culture gives us very few tools.  I think almost all such people really do mean well.

But our society is drenched in the myths of the rugged individualist and The Secret, and the power of positive thinking and “Think and Grow Rich”, and “quantum healing” nonsense.  If you find yourself tempted by the sugary, empty-calorie bait in those intellectual traps, remember, you only ever hear about the good outcomes, the lucky ones…the failures don’t publish their tales, and the marketing people certainly don’t promote them.  If ever there was an inbuilt and all-but-inescapable confirmation bias, it’s in attitudes about the power of positive thinking.

Not that being reasonably, cautiously optimistic and positive is a bad thing—it’s not, if you can do it, and if you are so constituted that it doesn’t require you to browbeat yourself when you feel down, as you will sometimes, no matter who you are.  Even the Donald gets down in the doldrums de vez en cuando, I’d stake my left kidney on it.  But there’s no evidence whatsoever that the state of the present or future universe is affected by human thoughts and attitudes other than by dint of prosaic methods:  hard work, discipline, planning, thought, careful evaluation and analysis, proverbial blood, sweat, and tears, and—almost always—many failures along the way.

I wish some people would positively think themselves able to defy gravity by the power of their minds and would hurl themselves from the nearest equivalent of the observation deck of the Empire State Building to prove it.  That would be putting their money where they mouths are.  When Deepak Chopra talks about the power of the mind to heal and to resist aging (and the like) through some kind of pseudo-quantum nonsense, make sure to compare photos of him now with photos taken twenty or thirty years ago (they are, unfortunately, readily available).  He’s aged conspicuously.  Also, remember that people like Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Dirac, Feynman, Bohr, Einstein, Wheeler, and the like—all of whom understood quantum mechanics far better than your favorite local or international or celebrity purveyor of quantum woo, to say the least—are currently and conspicuously dead.  At least in this branch of the Everettian** multiverse.

Wow.  That was a hell of a tangent, wasn’t it?  No April Fools, though.  I was speaking from the heart—which is to say, conveying my honest thoughts and feelings by means of a computer keyboard.  Nevertheless, the good things I shared at the beginning of this post are true and unsullied, and The Vagabond is out there to be read by any who enjoy horror novels.  I’m getting good feedback on it, as well as on Son of Man, which a coworker of mine recently finished.  She said she loved the twists and surprises, and really enjoyed the book, which can’t help but make even a curmudgeon like me feel happy.  Also, I recently reread The Chasm and the Collision, and the ending of my own book brought minor tears of joy to my eyes.  That’s pretty cheesy, I guess, but I’ll take my little bits of satisfaction where I can get them, and I’ll try not to be too embarrassed.

And though you might not think it, I would take great and honest satisfaction in knowing that all of those who read this, and their loved ones—and everyone else for that matter—were healthy, and comfortable, and as safe as they can be, and as happy as often and for as long as they can be without using inappropriate and/or detrimental substances***.  So, if you could do me a favor, please see if you can achieve those results.

TTFN

Some people even go


*I haven’t been able to find such narrow-ruled paper again since that time, though I’ve often looked for it.  Apparently, that super-tight ruling of notebook paper has fallen out of fashion.  It’s too bad, really, because I loved the convenience of having to use fewer pages, though it made editing a bit of a mess.  There were added sentences running into the tattered margins on almost every page, and even I had trouble reading what I had written.  Maybe there’s a good reason that paper fell out of fashion…but it did look beautiful when blank.  So many lines available to fill!

**Hugh Everett is also, lamentably, dead.  He died at age fifty-one, my current age, after having left physics at least partly because of the animosity he experienced against his “many-worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics, which may nevertheless be correct.

***I might think otherwise if such substances were reliable, or if they didn’t tend to end up causing a subsequent rapid, severe, and painfully ironic downturn in the happiness curve of life, but that’s just not the way things are.

Travellers ne’er did lie, though blogs at home condemn ’em.

Hello and good morning!  It’s Thursday again—just another Thursday, there’s nothing particular about this one for me to mention, except of course for the fact that it is merely a common, ordinary Thursday such as Dentarthurdent never could get the hang of—and so it’s time for me to write my weekly blog post.

I intend to make this relatively brief today, because I’m working on a project that I want to put some time into before work.  I’m also riding the train this morning—for several reasons, not least of which is to try to force myself to get at least a bit more exercise by walking from the station to the office (and back) which is slightly less than a mile each way.  It’s good to be able to write and ride at the same time, but it is irritating when the train runs behind schedule and there’s not even any announcement about it at the station or on the website (this happened today, in case you couldn’t guess).

I haven’t gotten as much done on The Vagabond this week as I did last week, because I got sidetracked by the project I mentioned above, namely:  I’m doing another of my “bad covers”.  This time I’m doing one of one of my favorite (possibly my very favorite) Beatles songs.  I doubt you could guess what it is—it’s certainly not one of the first ones to come to most people’s minds when they think of the Beatles—but I’ve always loved it.  Even I don’t know quite why it stands out for me, but it does.

Anyway, I already had the score (I have all the Beatles scores, in a lovely, hardcover book full of them), and I’ve been practicing and learning the guitar and bass parts for the song for quite a while.  There’s some piano in it as well, but that’s easier; I’ve been playing piano since I was nine.  Not that I play it that well, mind you, but it’s not particularly challenging to learn short accompaniment piano parts for songs in which piano isn’t the main instrument.  There are mostly lots of chords, etc., though there’s a really rocking left hand part that I really love that doubles a slightly simpler bass part in the second section of the song.  I’ve only really been playing guitar for about two or three years, if that, learning by doing as it were, and these “bad covers” are one of the ways I do that.  So, that’s been taking a bit of my time this week.

Don’t worry, though.  The Vagabond is coming, I’ve just slowed down a bit this week due to distraction.  Have no fear.  Or, well, don’t have that kind of fear.  You really should fear the Vagabond; he’s not a nice guy.  He’s cruel, but at least he’s unfair.

In other news, I finished rereading The Chasm and the Collision yesterday morning, after re-starting it because my coworker’s son is reading it.  I bounced back and forth between it and a nonfiction book I’m currently enjoying.

It’s a little sappy, and it may be a little pathetic, but I was actually fighting tears when I got to the end of The Chasm and the Collision.  They were happy tears, however; it doesn’t have a sad ending (though there are some losses and tragedies along the way).  I enjoyed it quite a bit, even if I do say so myself.  Of course, you can’t judge by me.  I wrote it, after all.  But I can at least recommend it without reservation and without feeling disingenuously self-interested.  I really think it’s a good book.

I enjoyed CatC so much that I decided I’d reread another one of my “earlier” books, and I started rereading Son of Man yesterday.  This isn’t a book for young kids—it does have a few curse words in it and so on, and the ideas get a little high-falutin’—but it’s certainly not an “adult” novel either.  There’s nothing I’d feel embarrassed for my kids to read, or for my grandmothers to read (if either of my grandmothers were alive), even in my presence.  It’s a science fiction story, and as the title suggests, it plays around a little with some religious ideas.  Don’t worry, it’s nothing literal; there’s no mysticism, and certainly no spirituality in it (God forbid!).  I just enjoyed making a “real” story with parallels of religious notions, using (fictional) science instead of the supernatural.  I know, that’s vague and unclear.  I apologize.  But you can read the book if you’d like to know more.  I have no reservations about suggesting that.  It’s even on “Kindle Unlimited”, so if you’re a member, you can read it for free.  Enjoy!

And with that, my short-ish and fairly disjointed blog post is about finished for this week.  I hope you’re all doing as well as you can possibly be doing, and indeed, that you’re doing better than any mere mortals could deserve.  I still haven’t posted anything new on Iterations of Zero, but you can join me here each week for this, at least.  It’s better than being on Gilligan’s Island.

TTFN

Son of man icon

Author’s note for “Son of Man”

Son of man icon

[Spoiler Alert:  Parts of the discussion below reveal aspects of the book that the first-time reader may not want to know…which, I suppose, is the basic definition of “Spoiler Alert”.]

Son of Man is the oldest of my published works—oldest in the sense that it’s the oldest of my story ideas that has been fully written and published.  It is also oldest in the sense that it is the published book I started writing longest ago.  I began it in the nineties, while I was in med school and was living in White Plains, New York.  I don’t recall the exact amount that I wrote at the time; it may have been only the first five or six pages.  But the book as it now exists begins with a scene almost identical to what I wrote then, reconstructed from memory, including the names of the first three characters introduced.  The character Michael was also present in the original idea.  I might have gotten as far as his introduction into the story at the time; certainly, his entrance, and even his initial words, have been fully present in my head for the last two decades. Continue reading

Son of Man

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Click here to see on Amazon

For paperback edition, click here.

“On a bright, clear, early autumn day…the world changed suddenly for David McCarthy.”

While on his way to the library to study, college student David abruptly finds himself in a featureless, cylindrical room. There he meets two men named Anderson and Greer who tell him that he is now more than two hundred years in the future.

Anderson and Greer reveal that they have brought David to their present for a reason: The world they live in is controlled by a powerful entity known to all as the Father…and they want David to help set them free from his reign.

As for why they have chosen David for this purpose…that is the most unbelievable, and the most terrible, revelation of all.

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!

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!

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.