Friday, July 18, 2014


To continue the overview…

…this will be long…

By 2012, I had fully committed to self-publish. I had published With Eyes Open… and found the process easy…mostly. So I decided the next project would be a collection of stories, almost all of my remaining completed stories. By this time, I had fourteen completed stories, and had plans for some. (“With Eyes Open…” and “A Voice in the Darkness” were in With Eyes Open…, “Wanderer” is an integral part of a longer work, as is “A God to Dance With” and “The Arc of Heaven”. “Brianna and the Three” is a very special case. While I liked the plot, the story seemed to fall short in execution. So I’m currently working on the third draft of the story.)

That left eight stories, which were combined into the anthology Campfire Stories.

Each of the stories deal with self-discovery, exploration and duty…and the consequences of each. Some of the consequences are rather low-key, some are very dire.

The stories are arranged in the order they occur in my fictional universe, not in the order they were written. My stories all take place in the same universe, with one consistent timeline that runs from 13.8 billion years plus one day in the past through to the year 7869.

The first story, “The End of Seconds” is the furthest into the past I’ve ever ventured. All the way back to before the beginning. I would always describe this story as being about the end of one universe and the start of the next universe. It would also address an annoying question I have never gotten a satisfactory answer to: Where did God come from? (I have no problem accepting an all powerful being that can create all of existence with the snap of his fingers. But all beings, even all powerful ones, had to come from somewhere.)

So I speculated that in the universe prior to this one, a group of researchers had mastered time travel. The system required them to download their consciousness into actual apparatus (the Cube) and travel back through time as energy. As the story starts, they are preparing for the longest trip into the past ever taken, all the way back to the start of their universe. The warnings of the chief scientist and an enigmatic stranger are dutifully ignored.

“Games of Life and Cold” had originally been planned as part of a much larger project that would’ve covered three novels and an untold number of stories. Sadly, I may never get back to the larger project.

The main characters are part of an artificially created race known as T’zentarna (translation: the Sentinels). The look almost human, except for their three fingers and opposable thumb. They were originally created as a science experiment. After their creation, they’re used as advanced scouts, explorers and (in the original project) soldiers. They would be confronted by another race, the Sqediqians, who thinks they’re the supreme beings in the Universe and consider all other beings nothing more than resources to be exploited.

I was trying for more of a horror story in this one, contrasting the peaceful ways of the Sentinels with the more barbaric ways of the Sqediqians.

With “If You Listen Softly…” I was trying to evoke the feel of a Twilight Zone episode. (The fact that I referenced The Twilight Zone in the story had nothing to do with it.) This is also the first story that hinted there are forces of nature watching over the world. Even though I don’t go into too much description of it, the house the story takes place in is pretty much the house I grew up in.

Ever wake up with the feeling something was wrong but you don’t know what? Happens to me all the time. What if the world had changed but you were the only one who didn’t know it? My main character had to deal with this situation; after being alone for years after the death of his wife, a man wakes up to find some new in his life, someone he doesn’t recognize but other people do.

Like “If You Listen Softly…”, “All My Yesterdays, Remembered” is a fantasy piece, even a little bit autobiographic. (The main character’s background is similar to my own, with a few changes here and there.) The story came about after thinking about someone going to their high school reunion, first at ten years, then twenty, and seeing someone who doesn’t seem to be aging. Tweaking the idea a bit led me to tell the story from the point of view of a guy whose childhood friend doesn’t look like she’s aged a day in decades.

“Symmetry” is the last fantasy piece (until the current novel project). It’s also another story that hints at the existence of forces beyond our reckoning. It also hints at resurrection, that souls move from one body to another at the time of death. I had started thinking about someone waking up and not knowing where she was or how she got there. The location became a subway car, the only other passenger being a conductor, who knows more about the main character than he says.

“Signpost” is set in the early twenty-second century, the early days of space exploration. Humanity has started spreading out into the galaxy, contacting one alien race, the Gregorians, and finding evidence of another older race, the Mengharans. The Mengharans left a series of markers behind but no one could figure out why or how it was done. Some questions are answered, new questions are posed.

The interesting thing about “Signpost” is that it was inspired by a Neil Diamond song. On the Beautiful Noise album is a song titled “Signs”, which includes these lyrics:  “Signs like moments hung suspended/Echoes just beneath the heart/Speak in voices half remembered/And half remembered play their part”. That led to a line a Mengharan says, “We speak every thousand years but there is never anyone here to listen to us.”

Evolution can be a bitch if there’s no else around.

“Last Light” is a hostage story, chronologically the first of the stories centered on EarthGov Security. Set in 2189, it’s centered on two of my favorite characters, Special Agents Caralynn (Carly) Adrasteia and Alexandra (Alexa) Sinclair. It’s a hostage story, as Carly and Alexa get drawn into a robbery and its aftermath. Interesting thing about Alexa…when I created her, I had no idea she was a lesbian and had a crush on Carly. (More on that when we get to On A Cold Wind.) “Last Light” was originally part of On A Cold Wind but it had nothing to do with the rest of the novella.

The same thing happened with the last story in Campfire Stories, “The Shape of the Truth”. When I wrote it, I had planned on using it to introduce Dari Loq and Maia, the main characters, their race, the Children of Li’jha, and their shape-shifting abilities. (In their natural form, the Children look like a sphere of Vaseline about a yard across. Their genetic structure is more of a jumble than an organized spiral like human DNA. They developed the ability to reorganize the genetic structure and perfectly mimic other life forms.)

Unfortunately, the novel it was supposed to be part of was put aside. I was making no progress on it, so I was going to let it sit for a little while. Knowing this was a complete story, I pulled it out, pulled out some foreshadowing that had been done and included it in Campfire Stories.

Overall, I’m happy with the stories and how they all turned out. They all do what I wanted them to do, that is to simply entertain.

Campfire Stories is available on Smashwords, Kindle, iTunes and NOOK. Find the links on my website, Wordboy’s Words –!books/cnec

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Wordboy's Words - A PowerPoint Presentatoin on SlideShare

I've put up a PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare. Nothing fancy, just a brief overview of my career as an independent author and the six books. Find it here...

Saturday, July 12, 2014


In my continuing effort to raise awareness of the books, I'm putting together a PowerPoint presentation to upload to It's nothing fancy, just a brief overview of my writing and the six books. It's another media outlet to get the word out.

Also, I've finally broken down and ordered business cards. I went to VistaPrint for the cards because you can get 250 cards for free, only having to pay shipping and handling. (The most economical method of shipping costs only $4.99.) The cards are one sided, featuring the website's address and my alternate email. If these prove effective, I'll order more elaborate cards.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Things To Come

I was going to write one long piece that talked about my writing philosophy, what I write, why I write, and a look at my characters. After some thought, and multiple false starts, I decided to break it up into a series of shorter pieces.  First up will be a look at my characters.

An Excerpt From WITH EYES OPEN...

And now, an excerpt from "A Voice in the Darkness", Part Two of With Eyes Open...

“It was something I eventually became accustomed to,” Mira said as we filed into a lift. “I used to like spending time alone, just me and my thoughts. Since I was joined to the Adityas in 2005, I’ve never been alone. They’re always with me.”

Matt tapped instructions into the car’s control panel. “Why did they choose you,” he asked as the car started upward.

Mira leaned against the back wall and held out a hand. It looked like she was petting one of the Adityas, even though the twelve of them had gone invisible again.

“I was an empath back in the day. I couldn’t read people’s minds but I could sense their emotions. I worked as a counselor, helping people get their lives on track. That same empathy made it easy for them to forge the link between us.”

I watched her continue to pet the air. “Even though Matt and I can’t see or touch them, you still can?”

Mira didn’t answer. She just stared into space. “Mira?”

She blinked and turned to me. “Yes, Ms. Jones?”

“You’re petting the air. You can still see them and touch them even though Matt and I can’t.”

She closed her hand into a fist and nodded. “Yes. I can always see them, touch them, hear them. It’s strange; after one hundred years, I wanted nothing to do with them. Now, nearly two hundred years after joining, I can’t think of ever living without them.”

Matt crossed his arms. “It sounds like you’re more of a den mother to them.”

Mira considered then nodded. “That would be a good analogy, Doctor.”

“So who decided to sabotage my shield?”

“That was not a decision I was privy to,” Mira said after a moment.

“The Adityas found out about your project and decided on a course of action.”

“How did they find out about the shield?”
One corner of Mira’s mouth twisted into a smile and she turned to one side. “Yes, you’re right, Surya. I’m sorry, Ms. Jones, but I cannot divulge that information. The Adityas are already upset over you and Doctor Carter knowing about their existence. They’re not going to let me reveal anything else.”

I bit my lower lip to keep myself from commenting further. Mira was keeping a lot from us. Hopefully none of her secrets would come back to haunt us…

…even though one of them already had.

“Another question for you. What happened when I was going through my landing cycle? How did I end up in the flyer’s engine compartment?”

Mira’s eyes lowered. “It was an interaction between the shield and your flyer’s drive field. Organic matter can’t pass through the shield. If the Adityas hadn’t stepped in, you would’ve been dragged from the ship and died in the vacuum.”

“They landed the flyer?”

“No, I did.”

“When did you learn to fly?”

“I gleaned the information from your mind. You were waking up so they left you in the nearest open space, which was the engine compartment.”

“So I owe them my life.”

“Just don’t mention it to anyone.”

I stared at her then shook my head. “Okay. Fine. When this is over, we’re going to sit down and you’re going to tell me everything. I don’t care if your critters like it or not.”
Mira’s eyes darted to one side. “I’ll have to discuss that with them, Ms. Jones.”

“Discuss all you want but I’m going to get some answers.”

The smile on Mira’s face became more enigmatic. “As you will, Ms. Jones.” She closed her eyes and leaned against the car’s back wall.

Matt stared at her, leaned close to me and whispered, “What’s wrong with you, Manda? I’m sure you didn’t want to be the one to be sent in but…”

I massaged my eyes and shook my head. “Something about her is rubbing me the wrong way.”

“You mean, something besides her being allied with an unknown race? A race that seems to be the cause of our problems?”

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye and ground my teeth. I didn’t need sarcasm right now.

“Yes, aside from that. I can’t put my fingers on what’s bothering me but I am sure she knows more than she’s telling.”

“That much is obvious.”

“And I don’t like people keeping secrets from me.”

“I remember you didn’t like the degree of secrecy inherent to MilSci. It would seem that hasn’t changed. Which makes me wonder why you’re going for a job with EarthGov Security.”

I stared. I hadn’t spoken to Matt in two years and I only told my mother about my interview with EGS. “How do you know that? Keeping tabs on me?”
Matt leaned against the wall. “I have been, I’ll admit it. I wanted to make sure you were okay. Our marriage may not have worked out but at least we didn’t end up screaming and yelling like some divorced couples.”

I crossed my arms and stared at my feet. Matt was right. As divorces go, ours was rather sedate. We mutually decided that after four years of marriage, we weren’t meant to be together. We were better friends than we were spouses.

“Maybe we could do a better job staying in touch,” I said after a minute. “No reason we should avoid each other.”

One corner of Matt’s mouth twitched. “You could always come back.”

I shook my head. “Is this a new directive from the hierarchy? Recruit or reenlist anyone you can? The suit that got me suggested I come back.”

He shrugged. “Always looking for good help.”

“Keep looking. As I said to the suit, when this is over, I’m going to Division Five of EarthGov Security.”

Matt frowned and shook his head. “Never pictured you as a government spook, Manda. Just make sure this is what you want to do.”

Mira blinked, yawned and stretched. She smiled at me and Matt then glanced at the car’s control panel. “Almost there,” she asked.

“Almost,” Matt said. “Power nap?”

She nodded. “That’s all the sleep I usually get. Maybe I can grab an hour here or there. It’s been almost a hundred years since I had a full eight hours of sleep.”

“Because of the Adityas?”
Mira shrugged. “I don’t know if it’s something intrinsic to being joined to the Adityas or an unmentioned side affect. I didn’t have a chance to discuss it with my predecessor. She died while I was being joined to them. I can still remember the peaceful look on her face.”

It struck me then that whatever happened to Mira two centuries ago, it was definitely against her will. “You weren’t a willing participant, were you.”

Mira shook her head and for a minute, she looked her age. “No, I wasn’t, Ms. Jones. The Adityas found me; they chose me; they joined with me. I had no say in it at all.”

I took a deep breath and felt a bit of sadness touch the back of my mind. I was beginning to think I shouldn’t be too hard on her. Mira’s life had been hijacked by the Adityas. Despite some of the things she said back in Matt’s office, maybe she’s not the agent provocateur she appeared to be.

Time to ease up, Mandalay. Time to stop acting like a drill sergeant.

“Okay, Mira,” I said. “I’m sorry if I’m pushing you. Even though I’ve been out of MilSci for two years, and despite the change of career I’m about to make, I’m still a researcher at heart. I don’t like not having answers.”

Her mouth twitched into a weak smile. ‘I understand, Ms. Jones. It’s actually somewhat refreshing. The two of you are the first to know about the Adityas. It was good to talk to someone about them.”

“And we’ll talk some more. I do still want to learn about them.”

“I’ll have to see what they’ll let me talk about. We’ll see how it goes.”

Matt looked from me to Mira. “Are we all right?”

I smiled. “We’re fine, Matt. I think we’ve reached a kumbaya moment. Mira, when we get to the lab, you’d better call me Mandalay instead of Ms. Jones. If we’re going to tell people you came in with me, we should be a bit less formal.”

That seemed to make Mira happy. Her eyes brightened and she smiled. “Of course, Manda.”

“No, not Manda. Mandalay. Only Matt calls me Manda, and I don’t like it when he does it.”

Matt frowned. “You don’t? Since when?”

“I’ve never liked being called Manda.”

“Really? I wish you’d told me sooner.”

“I told you after our first date.”

“You did? Okay. I’ll keep that in mind.”

The car slowed to a stop. As the doors parted, Matt said, “The lab’s just around the corner. Let’s go end this, Mira…Manda…”

I stared at Matt’s back and shook my head. I was mumbling something obscene as Mira stepped up next to me. She watched me for a moment and smiled.

“Why did you marry him,” she asked.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

With Eyes Open..., along with the other books, available through my website, Wordboy's Words...!books/cnec

Friday, July 4, 2014

My Cluttered Mind: Getting Back Into It/Overview WITH EYES OPEN...

My Cluttered Mind: Getting Back Into It/Overview WITH EYES OPEN...: I’ve been thinking about how I've ignored this blog for a while. So after much contemplation, I think I’ll start an overview of eac...

Getting Back Into It/Overview WITH EYES OPEN...

I’ve been thinking about how I've ignored this blog for a while. So after much contemplation, I think I’ll start an overview of each book.

So let’s start at the top…

With Eyes Open…, the first epublished book, is comprised of two stories, “With Eyes Open…” and its unintended sequel, “A Voice in the Darkness”.

“With Eyes Open…” has the honor of being the first story every published back in 2005, in a now defunct ezine named Deep Magic. It all started as a writing exercise.

I had read somewhere that if you’re stuck, turn on the television, go to any channel, write down the first thing you hear and build a story from that. I did this, writing down the sentence, “Isn’t there anything you want to tell me about your marriage?”  (Don’t ask me the program. I’ve forgotten it.) So I started writing about a break up. Problem was, I was still having trouble. So I stopped for a little while.

Then something else happened.

Answer me this:  Have you ever been alone in a room yet see movement out of the corner of your eye?  You know it’s just your mind playing tricks on you, or maybe (as is my case), it’s your cat. But I started thinking…what if there was a race of beings here on Earth with us, completely unnoticed, completely intangible and invisible. In order to remain here, they need a single human to anchor them. I called them the Adityas, named by the ancient Hindu they were first anchored to two thousand years ago.

Could I turn the aborted break-up story into something about these creatures?

Of course I could, and it’s one of my favorite stories.

So the story that began as Mira Frayne breaking up with a man led to Mira making a discovery about the world and being tied to these creatures.
I was trying for a Twilight Zone feel to the story, something that started out one way and led you down an entirely different path. It’s something I aim for with every story, ordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations. When I finished the story, I knew I would be visiting Mira again though I didn’t know when.

Sometimes sequels are planned, sometimes they happen accidentally. That was the case with “A Voice in the Darkness.”

“A Voice in the Darkness” had a strange path to completion. As I said, it didn’t start out as a sequel to “With Eyes Open…”  But that’s how it goes with my writing. A story will start out heading one way then take a hard right turn into weirdness. Sometimes without my even knowing it.

By the late twenty-second, early twenty-third century, there are a whole series of permanent space stations orbiting Earth. There are four major stations, Topside, Overhead, Scoperta (Italian for Discovery) and Mir (named after the Russian space station). There are also a number of smaller facilities, some serving as habitats, some as dry docks for vehicle assembly, some as research facilities.

I had the thought that something had gone wrong on one of the smaller stations, a research project gone bad. I didn’t know exactly what but I knew it had something to do with a government organization known as MilSci, short for Military Science. (MilSci, as the name implies, is responsible for development of starships, weaponry and defense systems, working with civilian contractors throughout the system. They’re also responsible for conducting contact and evaluation missions with non-terrestrial races, as a prelude to the signing of treaties.) I knew my main character used to work for them but left a few years earlier, after divorcing her husband, who was a researcher with MilSci. Of course, her ex-husband had to be involved.

 I started writing the story without a thought of “With Eyes Open…”  I had my main character, Mandalay Jones, dragged out of bed by her former MilSci employers, stuck on a small shuttle and sent off to Bowen Station, a small satellite facility of Topside Station.  No hint that Mira and the Adityas were involved. Then they showed up. I knew the Adityas were behind what had happened but still didn’t know why or how. So I put it aside to try and figure out what happened.

Cue the passage of at least a few years.

In early 2012, I started making a push to complete the numerous unfinished stories that had accumulated over the years. I decided to start with “A Voice in the Darkness”. I reread what I had written, figured out the rest of the story and finished it within a few months. (Nothing strange about this. With me, it happens quite frequently. Just wait until we get to The Fault Lies Not… and Rae.)

And by the way…the story of Mira Frayne, the Adityas and Mandalay Jones are not finished…

With Eyes Open… is currently available on Smashwords, Kindle, iTunes and NOOK. Find the links on my website, Wordboy’s Words –!books/cnec