Though there’s only one lunar day per month, this is the weekly day of the moon

Okay, it’s Monday morning, and I’m writing this on my smartphone, so I’m not going to try anything too ambitious.  I didn’t bring my laptop back with me to the house because, again, I brought home some music (sheets and a book) under the absurd notion that I might play some guitar or possibly “piano” this weekend.  I don’t know if that was me being in an optimistic frame of mind or me deceiving myself‒or if, indeed, there is any difference at all between the two things.

In any case, as is presumably obvious, I did not play or even listen to any music this weekend.  I barely did anything at all.  I mean, on Sunday I did my laundry, getting terribly stressed before starting it that I would find the machine in use already, even early on Sunday morning, but thankfully that didn’t happen.

I suppose I got a lot of rest, which I needed, because I was still pretty wiped out from the virus or whatever that I’ve been fighting.  I watched some YouTube videos of mainly British comedy panel shows, most of which I’ve seen numerous times already, and on Sunday I watched The Accountant again; that’s becoming one of my favorite movies.  And I watched the Gallifrey Gals’ latest reaction video to Doctor Who.  And I took a few moderate walks, during one of which I spoke to my sister on the phone, which is always nice.  That was pretty much all the socializing I did…for the week, really, not counting interactions at work.

I didn’t read at all this weekend‒not a single page of a book.  Nothing gripped me enough to make me even open the Kindle app on my phone, let alone to grab one of the books I have in my room.  Last week, as you may recall, I reread The Chasm and the Collision.  I also reread one of the stories from Welcome to Paradox City, and I reread “I for one welcome our new computer overlords” in the version that’s in Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  They weren’t as fun as CatC, but they were decent stories and I still like them.  But I didn’t feel the urge to read even any of my own stuff this weekend.

I’m on the train on my way to the office now, and wondering what I’m going to do in general.  I keep intending to get back into some kind of better shape, so I don’t die a corpulent grimace of a blob of some kind.  I’m working on it.  I am walking some, trying to work my way up, and I do upper body training to at least some degree every day (except when sick…and after even a few days, it’s remarkable how much more difficult it becomes).  I’m trying to adjust my diet, but that seems to be my most difficult hurdle; eating is one of those rare self-soothing behaviors that’s biologically reliable, and from which it’s difficult to quit cold turkey as it were*.  Still, there are further interventions on which to work.

I’m not giving up on it.  I have something I want to try to do sometime in the relatively near future, and I would need to lose weight before doing it.  I’ve also toyed with the notion, in the past, of perhaps running a marathon some day.  I’ve had difficulties with jogging because of my back, which has at times been sensitive to me running, and some chronic ankle and knee weakness, but since I’ve been walking my two plus miles a day just from and to the train station, I think those areas are getting stronger, and sleeping on the futon on the floor is probably also helping.  Maybe I can gradually work my way up.  I’m not as young as I was in college when I first got into serious running condition, but if anything I am more stubborn.

I need to have something to do with my time, and I certainly don’t “have a life” as the expression goes.  I’ll try to get back to my medical postings soon, anyway, and I apologize for frequently putting them off.  There’s the follow-up to the neurology based post and the discussion of sugar I first sort of introduced last Thursday.

I don’t know what else I might end up doing.  I’m really rather rudderless now, and feel like I’m becoming more so as time goes on.  I have no real sense of a future, just the endless trudge that is the directionless present.  At least the weather is a little cooler down here for walking.  That’s a slight boon.  So much of the year it’s way too hot and humid.

Anyway, that’s it for today.  I hope you all have a good start to your week.


*Ha ha

You are not I, but I have a URI

In case anyone was worried, I apologize for not writing my blog post yesterday.  I was “home” sick with an upper respiratory infection, and had neither the energy nor the inclination to try to write a post.  I’m obviously not completely recovered today, but I am going in to the office—it’s payroll day, after all—and I feel a bit better than I did on Monday afternoon and yesterday, at least physically.  My mind feels quite foggy, but that’s not that unusual.

Of course, I’m not going to write either my follow-up neurology post nor the post about sugar and its discontents (so to speak) yet.  My mental acuity is not up to those at the moment, nor am I completely prepared for the former article, so I won’t be getting to them quite yet.  For those who might be waiting, again, I apologize.

There’s not much happening that’s particularly interesting.  I have been rereading the latter part of The Chasm and the Collision over the past few days, and I’m pleased to note that I still enjoy the story.  Parts of it even bring me near tears, which is a curious experience for the author, but then again, I guess it is more personal to me than it might be to others.  I’ve found a few typos—less than a handful, I would say—that were missed before, and if this were a world in which I had time and will and executive function (as they call it), I’d fix them and try to go and adjust the text for future purchasers, but I’m not up to that.

Anyway, it’s nice to know that at least I like the book, still, but I think there would be a lot of people out there who would like it, if it could be brought to their attention.  Unfortunately, I’m not good at self-promotion in any serious way.  This blog is as close to promotion as I get, and you all see how upbeat and enthusiastic I am with it.

Speaking of typos—I was, you can check for yourself—I’ve been making an awful lot of them while typing this.  I guess it’s part of being sick, or sicker than usual, or sick in more ways than usual.  I also, after waking up many times through the night, actually didn’t hear my alarm clock until the second repeat, ten minutes after it first goes off, because apparently I was sleeping on my left side, and I’m very hard of hearing in my right ear.  Probably at least a bit of it is also because I’m sick.  I wish I could say I felt more rested, but who feels better rested when sick?  Maybe afterwards, but not while it’s going on.

I’m wearing a mask on the train today, since I am sick, whereas lately I’ve been occasionally going without it, since often I’d literally be the only masked person in sight.  Perhaps going without a mask is why I’ve gotten sick.  It would make a certain amount of sense.

I think I may try to reread some of my other stories.  Somebody ought to read them, since they’re out there, and it’s not their fault their author isn’t good at promotion.  There are whole communities of people on Twitter and the like who promote independent writers and publishers, and I’ve tried to be an active member of such things in the past, but I’m afraid I have a hard time not getting stressed out by the whole process.  I guess this is why authors get agents and work through publishing houses, but frankly, the notion of dealing even with those situations—getting an agency or a publisher or any of that—is too daunting.  I barely have the will to get up and out of “bed”, frankly, but staying there would be more unpleasant than getting up, so…

Anyway, all that isn’t very interesting.  I guess the only other moderately interesting thing I have to note is that, Monday evening, as I was on my way back to the house, and already feeling the effects of this URI, I was “inspired” to write lyrics to the chorus and after that the first verse, and then a slightly altered second chorus, to a new song.  I even had a little melody in my head to go with it at the time, though I don’t recall that now.  I recorded the initial chorus, sort of, on my voice recorder, though I’m not sure I really caught the tune I had in my head for it, and then I wrote that chorus and the rest in the note-taking app.  I suppose I should email them to myself, lest my phone die and they be lost (though that wouldn’t exactly be a tragedy).  It was a slightly upbeat sounding melody, which was mildly ironic given that the words were rather negative—a cautionary note against complacency and overconfidence.

Is it any surprise that new song lyrics I would write would be so?

Anyway, that’s all that’s going on right now.  For me, I mean.  I don’t know if I’ll go any further with the song idea, but one thing I will do is try to avoid getting too wordy with it, since I tend to do that and end up making songs that are quite long.  I’ll add at most one or two other verses* and maybe a vocal bridge section if the mood for that strikes me.  We’ll see.  Odds are nothing is ever going to come of it, which is fine, because it’s not as though anyone makes a habit of listening to my music, anyway.

Okay, that’s enough of that nonsense.  I hope you all had a decent Tuesday, and have a good last day of November today.  Tomorrow begins what by name should be the tenth month, but which is actually the twelfth month—December, in case you didn’t know.  Yippee.


*To be clear, the verses and chorus such as I have are remarkably unwordy for me, so two to three verses, a chorus (with minor changes in its second repeat) and maybe a little bridge would not be too much.

The time is out of joint : O cursed spite, that ever I was blogg’d to set it right!

Hello and good morning, everyone reading this.  It’s Thursday again, and time for my more traditional, weekly blog post, that I’ve maintained for some years, unlike the daily one I’ve been doing in recent months.  I’m not sure how long I’ve been doing the daily one, now, to be honest.  It feels both like a short time—in that I can sort of remember the sense of when I started doing it and stopped writing fiction and stopped playing guitar—but also a long time in the sense that it’s difficult to feel the memory of it ever having been otherwise than it is right now.

All things can feel eternal sometimes.

Speaking of writing fiction, last Saturday I wrote a post in which I reminded people of the YouTube “videos” of me reading the first nine chapters of The Chasm and the Collision, as well as three, I think, of my short stories.  I don’t know if anyone has listened at all, but if you have, I would greatly appreciate any feedback you might have to offer, and if you’re interested in having me read any more.

Anyway, because I posted about it, I decided to reread that book, and I’m not quite halfway through the reread—I’ve been interspersing it with reading the latest Richard Dawkins book, Flights of Fancy, and then I’m reading Emmy Noether’s Wonderful Theorem, which I got after mentioning her earlier this week.  I think CatC has stood the test of time, at least for me.  I don’t feel too uncomfortable recommending it as a family-friendly book, a “fantasy” adventure for the young and the not-so-young alike.  I don’t know if it’s my favorite of my books or not, but I like it.

I like most of my stories, really, which is good, because it’s hard to tell if many other people even read them.  If anyone has read any of my books, having bought them from Amazon, I’d really appreciate if you’d rate them.  I’m not asking you to write a review—I know that can be a pain—but you can give it a star rating with only the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger.

I try to remember at least to rate every book that I read, but only once I’ve finished them.  That probably biases my ratings toward the higher end of the scale, since if I dislike a book enough, I’m not going to finish it.  But, really, I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that I’d give one star, not even Swan Song, which I did not finish.  Somebody worked for a long time writing each and every one of those books, and the mental effort is not small.

Also, if there was a book so bad (to me) that it would be likely to give it one star, I think I’d recognize ahead of time that it wasn’t something I was going to like, and just wouldn’t buy it.  But, if you have read any of my books and think they only are worth one star, then by crikey, rate them one star.

I kind of wish I felt like writing, because both Outlaw’s Mind and The Dark Fairy and the Desperado are well begun, and I like both stories.  I’m a bit more attached to the former, partly because I’ve been working on it longer (though DFandD as a story idea is quite a bit older).  If anyone would be interested, I could post at least the beginning bits of the latter story here, like I did with Outlaw’s Mind, so you can see how it is, but I haven’t edited it at all (except the quick reread of the previous day’s work before writing on any given day), so it may be quite raw.

Seriously, though, I doubt there’s anyone interested in any of it.  I don’t know why I’m wasting my time.

Not that there’s anything else to do with my time but waste it.  I certainly have nothing useful to do.  Every day I feel like I want to slice my own skin off, or beat myself around all my major joints with a hammer, or maybe just break and burn everything I own.  Yesterday, at a frustrating moment, I honestly came perilously close to smashing the guitar I have at work, but instead I was able to take some of my stress out by just snapping a pen in my hands.  It was a good snap; it broke into four apparent pieces, one of which I haven’t found.  I guess it went flying.

Sometimes several times a day, on web searches and on my phone browser and in my contacts, I keep looking at the site and the numbers of the suicide prevention hotline.  But I can’t bring myself to use it, not after what happened to me last time I did.  I really don’t want to be handcuffed or locked up again, not ever.  I tried very hard all my life to do and be good and to do “right”, or at least not to do “wrong”, to live a life where I wouldn’t have such things happen to me, and yet they did anyway, and I lost everything I had that I hadn’t already lost.  I don’t want a repeat of that.  It’s not fun.

Also, honestly, I feel like I don’t have any right to ask for anyone’s help or to use any public resources (or private resources) to help me, though I need it desperately.  I don’t have anything to offer in return.  I don’t really think I’m worth saving, and I don’t think anyone else really thinks I am either.  It’s certainly unlikely that anyone will pine for me when I’m gone.

Well, that’s enough of that.  At least, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s going to go on for much longer.  I’m barely getting through each day, frankly.  But the days do seem to last for such a long time.  That’s that subjectively confusing sense of duration I mentioned earlier.

I do hope that all of you are doing okay, and that you’re in the company of friends and loved ones, and that you enjoy doing things with them, even boring, everyday things.  Hold onto that shit.  Seriously.  Nothing else is as important.  Probably.  Though, what would I know?

TTFN

[Apologies, but there is no picture today.]

A brief reminder of my “audio stories”

Well, I’m working today—as I will also be doing Monday—so, obviously, I’m writing a blog post.  Aren’t you excited?

When I arrived at the train station this morning, I thought the whole system was shut down somehow, because the “garage-door” style barriers were closed, blocking the stairs, the elevators, and the payment machines, like they do when there’s a hurricane coming (there isn’t…I check frequently).  However, it turns out that the guy who opens them just hadn’t arrived yet.  He only arrived after I had gone all the way down to the end of the station to the road to cross the tracks and had come all the way back up on the side on which I need to be.

Ah, well, it’s a little bit of extra exercise, and that can’t be too bad, can it?

I planned yesterday to mention the subject of some of my reading-aloud “videos” of my fiction, but the post got to be too long, and it would have been a very abrupt change of topic, considering I was writing about my difficulties seeking and finding and begging for help when one is circling the drain, as I am.  I haven’t gotten any useful answers, other than a commiserating one to the effect, “Whataya gonna do?  You just gotta keep on moving.”  I can respect that attitude.  It’s far better than someone pretending to have answers when they don’t.  But it doesn’t help me figure out why one should bother to keep moving.  I can’t see any reason, honestly, and the effort has long outweighed the reward for me.  I’m frankly skeptical that there is any reward at all, or that there has been one for some time.

Anyway.

Quite a while ago, I did some recordings of me reading some of my stories, and I turned them into videos, though the “video” portion is nothing but the cover of the story in question.  I think they came out reasonably well; I’ve always been decent at reading stories out loud.  But they didn’t and don’t get much play, even though they are a free way to listen to my (already cheap) short stories, which is why I stopped doing them.

I also recorded and uploaded onto YouTube the first nine chapters of my book The Chasm and the Collision.  This is my most family friendly story, since I wrote it with my kids—who were in fifth and fourth grades when I started it, I think—in mind.  It a story about three middle-school students who become caught up in a trans-universal “fantasy”* adventure.

Thanks to the very wise advice of my father, there’s not even a single curse word in the whole book, though there are scary bits, since there is real danger in the story.  Real danger to the characters, I mean.  I don’t mean to say that reading the story is dangerous.  It’s not.  My sister has read the book several times, now, and she says it’s her favorite of my stories.  As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with the fact that she fell and hit her head earlier this week.

I recorded the first nine chapters, but I finally stopped doing it, because, as I said, no one seemed to be listening.  I thought it was a shame, but it was a lot of work to do the reading and then the editing of the audio (though it helped me learn Audacity, which was definitely worthwhile).  Since then, at various times, I’ve thought that maybe I would like to pick up on reading the chapters and uploading them, and then maybe even start to record and upload my other books, a bit at a time**.  I’ve also got a few more short stories and novellas that I haven’t recorded and uploaded, and they could be stand-alone “videos”.  But, again, it’s a lot of work, and it would be doubly frustrating if no one ever listens.

I’m embedding here, below, the YouTube video of the first chapter of The Chasm and the Collision, so that people can get a sample of it.  I’m also going to see if it’s possible to embed the YouTube playlist that is all the “videos” that I’ve done so far from that book, and maybe even the playlist that has the “short” stories that I’ve read aloud and posted.  Again, it’s a good way for people to get exposed to the stories*** for free.

If you listen and like them, I obviously would be delighted if you’d decide to buy them.  All my stories are available for Kindle, and my novels and collections are available in paperback as well.  My last collection, Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities is even available in hardback.  Here’s a link to my Amazon author’s page, so you can peruse them:  The Link.

If there’s more than one person out there who would be interested in hearing more of me reading my stories, please let me know in the comments below.  You can also leave story-related comments on YouTube.

Nowadays one can self-publish for Audible, which is kind of neat, but I think I’m going to stick with the YouTube format, because it’s more informal, and it’s free for listeners so they can introduce themselves to the stories, as read by the author.  I’m very self-hating in general, and that hasn’t changed, but I think my stories are pretty good, and I’m especially proud of The Chasm and the Collision, because I wrote it with my kids in mind—though I don’t think either of them has ever read it, and they probably never will.

That’s about all I have for today.  Nothing has really changed since yesterday, so there’s no other real news to give.  Have a good holiday weekend, for those of you in the United States.  And everyone else, I hope you just have a good weekend.

Here’s the embedding of those videos and playlists, if I can successfully do the latter:


*I put that in “scare quotes” because if you pay attention when you read it, you’ll notice it’s actually a science fiction story.  But the character of the tale is definitely more like fantasy than sci-fi.

**Boy howdy, wouldn’t Unanimity end up taking up a looooooong time?

***That makes them sound radioactive, somehow.  As far as I know, they are not.

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.

My conscience hath a thousand several blogs, and every blog brings in a several tale

Hello, good morning, and welcome to another of my weekly blog posts.  It is not Thursday morning as I write this, but it will be Thursday (or later) when you read it.  I’m writing it a day early, to be published on the usual day, since this Thursday is a major holiday where I live.

Given that, I would like to wish Happy Thanksgiving to all those in the US who are reading this, and to everyone else, a happy day in general.  It can feel as though there’s much not to be thankful for right now, but I’m sure that, in the modern world, we still have many reasons to feel fortunate—certainly those of us with the luxury of reading and writing blogs.

Positivity isn’t my strong point, as my regular readers may know, but it is worth remembering that we take for granted a tremendous number of incredible advances that our forebears even a generation past could not have imagined.  If you go back a century, to the time of the 1918-ish flu pandemic, it’s sobering to realize that they didn’t have antibiotics to treat the numerous bacterial infections that often complicate influenza, let alone ventilators, oxygen monitors, corticosteroids, or molecular biology to be able to discern the nature of the disease-causing agent.  Indeed, DNA itself was decades away from being described, so the tools for understanding and treating a highly contagious and dangerous viral illness were far weaker than they are today.  Vaccinations had been invented, but they were in crude form, and the science of understanding, let alone designing them, was in its infancy.

And the internet, of course, or anything like it, was not even a dream of science fiction yet.

So, if we work at it—and I say again, it’s not my strong point—we can find things about which to feel truly thankful.

On to other, lighter matters.  I did a rather unusual experiment recently, one about which I have mixed feelings.  I’d be thankful (!) for any feedback you might think appropriate.  As those of use who use Amazon know, when you’ve purchased something, Amazon often sends an email asking if you’d be willing to rate and review what you bought.  I think this is a useful service, but it can become onerous at times, so I don’t review nearly everything I purchase, even books that I read and enjoy.

I received a request to rate a jacket I’d just purchased.  It was the same brand I’d bought a few years ago, and my old one was getting a bit raggedy with use, so I ordered a new one (in a different color—black, of course).  I decided that I really should give a review, since I’d used the product and liked it enough to buy it again.

Well, as you may also know, once you’ve reviewed one item, the Amazon page asks you if you want to rate and review other items you’ve purchased—you know, while you’re in the mood and all.  And at the top of the list was my own creation, Unanimity Book 1, for which I’d already received more than one request for reviews.  I bought copies of the book for the people at my office I thought might enjoy it, and then another one for someone who asked me later for a copy, so the review requests were recurrent, as tends to happen with all of my books.

I’ve occasionally been tempted to write a comical, self-serving review that makes it obvious that I’m the author to anyone reading, but I’ve never done it before.  It was my understanding that Amazon doesn’t allow people who have a fiduciary interest in a product to provide reviews for it.  I respect that policy, as I understood it.  But they kept asking, and asking, and asking…and I’m not made of stone (except perhaps for my heart).  Finally, on a whim, I wrote a brief review, starting off by revealing that I am the author of the book, and I rated it five stars.  This is not, of course, an unbiased rating, but it is at least an honest one, in that I really do think it’s worthy of that rank to me, not least because of the effort involved in writing it and the characters, whom I like very much.  I wasn’t really expecting the review to go up.  I figured Amazon’s automatic checkers or whatever they might be would block it and send me a kind but firm email stating that they can’t publish reviews from people involved financially in a product.  Well, only Amazon itself is more financially involved in my books than I am.  But at least so far, the review is there, which is amusing to me, at least, but I do feel the need to repeat my disclaimers about it and the rating.

To be honest, if I’d thought it was really going to work, the book I’d feel least conflicted about reviewing would be The Chasm and the Collision, which is certainly my most wholesome, family-friendly story, written specifically with my children in mind at the time*.  I’m quite proud of the world-building I did in it, which includes telepathic plants, mole-weasel creatures called orcterlolets who can directly manipulate the local shape of space itself, flying manta-ray like monstrosities called gowstrin, a bit of bastardized M-theory describing universes floating next to each other in “the bulk” and in danger of colliding, and three middle-schoolers who inadvertently get caught up in the emergency attempt to prevent that collision, which would destroy everything in our universe as well as the one of Osmeer.  And, of course, as I say in the jacket blurb, our heroes must try to help prevent this cosmic catastrophe while not getting in trouble for being late for school.

Yeah, I don’t feel any qualms about recommending that book to pretty much anyone.  My sister has read it more than once, and the last time she did, she actually thanked me for writing it.  That was pretty huge.

The Vagabond, of course, being a horror story, is far from as family-friendly as CatC, but it is coming along nicely, and it is fast-paced, and a far more in-your-face horror story than, say, Unanimity.  The horror in the latter is complicated, partly psychological, partly existential, involving the threat of the complete loss of free will, autonomy, self-awareness, etc., without anyone even knowing of the threat, let alone being able to do anything about it.  At least with a traditional, moustache-twirling, evil incarnate type villain, you know what you’re up against and can make a stand.  When the villain is one of the people you love most in the world, who doesn’t even think that he’s doing anything bad, and about the threat from whom you know only because he told happily you, things are a little dicier**.  At least, I think so.

But The Vagabond will probably be more straightforward fun for most people, and it is certainly shorter.  Still, if you read only one of my books, I would recommend The Chasm and the Collision, without knowing more about your preferences and tastes and whatnots.

With that, I think I’ll draw this prematurely written blog post to a close.  I do, honestly, hope that all of you who are in the US have as good a Thanksgiving as possible, while doing everything you can to keep yourselves and those you love safe and healthy.  Hopefully, you can console yourself by imagining the November blow-out that will come once we have this latest virus*** under better control.  “So tighten your belts, and think with hope of the tables of Elrond’s house!”

TTFN

Thanksgiving (2)


*I don’t think either of them has read it, or any of my other books, though each book is dedicated to them.  They don’t want to have much to do with me since the time I was invited to be a guest of the State of Florida for three years…in fact, my son won’t interact with me at all, though my daughter does stay in contact, and shares news of her various adventures.

**I think that’s a neologism.  Certainly, MSWord doesn’t recognize it.

***And our various politicians and the political processes itself.

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

I blog of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy

Good morning and hello everyone.  I hope you’re all doing well.  It’s Thursday, as you know, and so it’s time for another weekly edition of my blog.  This being the second Thursday of the month, it would have been an edition of “My Heroes Have Always Been Villains,” had I been able to keep that feature going*.

Work has continued on The Vagabond quite nicely; I finished the first run-through early this week, which served to familiarize me once again with my book that I wrote so long ago.  It sometimes feels like a very long time ago, and I guess it was…between twenty and thirty years, or more than half my life.  Weirdly, though—since it has been quite a while, and in some ways, it seems like ages—when reading it, I have to admit that it also seems quite fresh and recent.  I feel very much just the same person as I was when I wrote the novel, which is almost ridiculous considering how many things have happened to me since then**.  I suppose this is just one of the peculiarities of human consciousness…or at least of my own consciousness, which may or may not be considered human, depending upon whom you ask.

I think I wrote last time about how a woman in my office asked about my books for her son.  Well, as promised, I got the boy a copy of The Chasm and the Collision, and I got a copy of Unanimity Book 1 for her (definitely not for him).  She told me a few days ago that her son had been reading CatC and enjoying it and had reached chapter 4 already.  Because of that, I decided I’d read that chapter myself again, just to know exactly where he was.  It’s okay for me to skip ahead; I already know what happened.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed it, and on and off I’ve been reading further***.  As I’ve said before, it’s my most family-friendly book, having been written about three middle-school students, and being therefore written for middle school students, as well as for “children of all ages” as they say.  That’s not to say it’s a childish or light-hearted book; there are some rather scary and dark portions, and it’s not short, except when compared to Unanimity.  It’s nominally a fantasy adventure, and without dark and dangerous forces, such stories don’t work at all.  My sister, who is older than I am and reads even more, says it’s her favorite of my books, and that the main character, Alex, is her favorite of my characters.  I might have mentioned that last week.  Apologies for redundancy.

I say it’s “nominally” a fantasy adventure because it could be more literally described as a science fiction story.  There’s nothing “magical” in it, and even the “travel to other worlds” aspect uses concepts that I cobbled from M Theory, as I understand it from my layperson’s perspective, drawn from the popular works of Brian Greene, Lisa Randall, Stephen Hawking, and the like.  Don’t worry, I don’t get much into that—I don’t know enough of it to do so even if I wanted to—but it does give me an arguably plausible way to bring in other universes and the spaces between them, and the possibility that the Big Bang was caused by two “branes” colliding with each other…and that such a collision might happen again.  (The word “brane” never appears in the story, however.)

Anyway, don’t worry about all that.  It’s a highly speculative science fiction story that really has the character of a youth fantasy adventure.  It even contains some environmentalist ideas, though they are by no means in your face.  I know, right?  A book by me, displaying any kind of conscience?  What’s the world coming to?  But again, you don’t have to worry about all that.  It’s a fantasy adventure about three middle-school students who get caught up in an inter-universal crisis and must do their best to help avert cosmic catastrophe while not getting in trouble for missing school.  I’m proud of it, and I can pretty much recommend it to anyone without reservation.  It doesn’t contain even a single instance of profanity!  I do encourage you to read it if you like that sort of thing.

Speaking of that, I would like humbly to request that, for those of you who have read my stories and books, could you perhaps take a moment to go to Amazon and rate and/or review them?  I considered doing it myself, as a kind of joke—making it clear that I was the author writing the review—but that seemed just too cheesy, and I don’t think Amazon lets authors do that, anyway.  I’m fairly sure they block reviews from people who have a financial interest in a book, which seems impressively and surprisingly ethical of them.  I can’t help but approve.

Finally, I’m thinking about releasing another of my songs as an official “single” to be put up on Spotify, YouTube Music, iTunes, Pandora, etc., like Like and Share, Schrödinger’s Head, and Catechism, but I only have two more original songs so far that could be so released:  Breaking Me Down and Come Back Again.  I’ve linked to their “videos”, so if any of you want to have a listen and give me your recommendations—even if that includes a recommendation never to allow human ears to hear the songs again for the sake of all that’s good and pure—I’ll gladly take your input.  I won’t necessarily follow it, but I would love to have it.

With that, I’ll leave you again for this week.  I’ve still not been able to kick-start myself into doing more with Iterations of Zero, though I have drafts of a few things.  Keep your eyes open, if you’re interested.  And, honestly, do consider reading The Chasm and the Collision.  Heck, if you can figure out how to work it out, I’ll gladly autograph a copy for you, for what that’s worth.  Most importantly, continue to take good care of yourselves and your family, friends, and neighbors, and stay safe and healthy.

TTFN

CatC cover paperback


*No, I haven’t gotten over it yet.  Maybe I’ll try to do one of them a year or something, perhaps around Halloween.

**Including, but not limited to, medical school, residency, moving to Florida, having kids, acquiring a severe back injury and chronic nerve pain, getting divorced, spending time as an involuntary guest of the Florida DOC and as a consequence being unable to practice medicine or vote among them…all sorts of interesting things that make for a most stormy life so far.

***Interspersed with reading Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, PhD.  This is a very good and, I think, very important book.  I encourage you to read it.

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

full-14

[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.

The Chasm and the Collision, Chapter 9: “The Tree by the Lake” – the audio

Here it is, right on schedule:  the audio for Chapter 9 of The Chasm and the Collision, read, as always, by me.

 

As always:  You may feel free to listen, to download, and to share as often as you wish, by whatever means you wish, but you are not authorized to make any money by doing so.

If you’d like to listen to any other audio that I’ve done, you can just go to the categories list and select “audio.”  Alternatively, you can go to my YouTube station, here.

Enjoy!