Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Free story idea – By Petep’s Boulder

I have a lot of ideas for stories.  Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all.  I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them.  I’ll just never get a chance to.  So, I give them to the world.  If you can make something of these, go right ahead.  And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.

This novel is almost written backwards.  By that I mean there’s an archeological excavation on an alien world.  The novel is broken up into ten or so parts, and each part starts with a page or two of the archeologists finding some item.  Then the rest of that part is set in the past showing how that item ended up at that location.  The next part follows another item a few meters lower down, meaning it was left there decades or centuries before the previous item.  Basically, we learn aspects of this world’s history, but we just start at the last chapter and read back to the first one.

So what’s this novel about?  At some place on this alien world, there is a giant sinkhole, like a hundred meters deep.  (You’ll need to do some math to figure out just how big it is because you’ll probably want it to take at least a thousand years for it to be filled with fist-sized rocks.)  Near this sinkhole is a monastery.  The story goes, that one day this monk named Petep was meditating and reach a point where he split himself into his good and evil halves.  The two fought, and the evil half was thrown into the sinkhole and a boulder was rolled down to bury him.  Petep took on some disciples, before going directly to the afterlife.  The disciples built on his teachings and started a religion.  The followers of the religion began writing their sins on some paper, wrapping it around a rock, and throwing it into the sinkhole, thus casting away their “evil halves.” And they believed that once the sinkhole was filled, it would be the end of the world.  Oh, and “By Petep’s Boulder” is a saying that over the centuries has been a battle cry, their version of “Goddamnit!” as well as their version of, “Aw jeez.”

The novel begins with human archeologists starting to excavate the filled in sinkhole.  After removing a layer or two of rocks, they find some of the sin papers are still there.  They find one with some mundane sin, and that becomes the item for the first part.  We see what the person who wrote it was going through.

As the archeologists dig deeper, it will be harder to find distinct items.  I think one item could be a special rock.  Like most of the rocks thrown into the sinkhole comes from a nearby quarry, but maybe they find a chunk of obsidian or something that came from the other side of the planet, so we learn why that person went through the trouble of carrying it all the way there.  Maybe for a time people carved their sins onto sheets of metal.  But that only lasted for a short time, since it was a waste to throw all of that metal away.  And maybe Big Quarry stepped in to stop it.

But there are also darker items.  Like maybe somebody stabbed someone and they throw the knife into the sinkhole.  This casts away their sin, but also conveniently disposes of the murder weapon.  Darker still is when they find a skeleton.  This turns out to be the last Pope-equivalent.  Petep had two main disciples.  At first, they worked together for the religion, but over the decades they started to split over doctrine.  Eventually two branches of the religion developed, we’ll call them A and B.  For the first two or three parts we read, there is no mention of A.  But then maybe the guy with the knife killed someone because he thought they were an A heretic, or whatever.  During the part with the skeleton, we learn that there was a civil war between the two and that B won.  To cast away the sin of A, they take the last A Pope-equivalent, and throw them into the sinkhole.  The two sides had lived mostly in peace for centuries, but they grew more antagonistic towards each other, eventually leading to the war.  And we learn about all of this in reverse.

Eventually, the archeologists get to the bottom of the sinkhole where there is a boulder that had been rolled down from the surface.  What is underneath it will depend on what kind of story you want to write.  There could be nothing under it, and we could find out that Petep just got high one day and had a vision that got blown out of proportion.  To the point that centuries later, when the people had finally filled in the sinkhole, they – on their own – fulfilled the “prophecy” that it would be the end of the world and they destroyed themselves, which is why it is human archeologists doing the excavating. 

Or maybe there is a skeleton under the boulder.  But whose is it?  There are several ways this can be taken.  Maybe Petep wasn’t a monk, he was just the guy that grew the mushrooms the monks used for their visions.  Maybe some of the monks in training befriended him so they could get some of these mushrooms.  And one day they were out by the sinkhole goofing off and one fell in, and they thought it was all a vision or whatever and rolled a boulder in on top of them.  When they sobered up they panicked, and came up with this “Petep split off his evil half story.” But Petep could only stay “good” for so long, and to keep him from blowing his part of the story, his disciples made him disappear, saying he went off to the afterlife.  But years later, one of the disciples wrote out their confession.  Maybe they threw it into the sinkhole, and somehow it survived the centuries, or maybe it was just hidden away in the Vatican-equivalent vault and the aliens only recently discovered it.  After the sinkhole was filled, and the world didn’t end, the religion died off.  So they started studying the history of it more.  The reason they aren’t doing the excavation, is that the site is still sacred, or taboo in some sense, so they hired human archeologists to excavate.  Any interesting items will go to a museum, and all the rocks will just be dumped back into the sinkhole.

Or maybe it’s Petep’s skeleton under the boulder.  Maybe, Petep was a minor monk who often meditated on the rim of the sinkhole.  From there he could see several boulders already on the bottom of it, and one day – after some mushrooms or other items – he had a vision of splitting off his evil half and imprisoning him in the sinkhole.  And for whatever reason, this idea took off.  Petep went from some nobody monk to someone with disciples.  But the power corrupted him.  Maybe he started sleeping with some of his followers, but things went too far and for whatever reason a couple of them killed him.  Maybe it was a spur of the moment thing, so they were limited in how to hide the body.  So they threw him in the sinkhole and rolled a boulder in.  Although, I’m not sure how well you could aim a boulder to cover a body.  Or maybe they planned things out and took the risk of going down into the sinkhole to bury him.  Although, would they have easy access to a hundred meters of rope strong enough to be able to climb down into the sinkhole?

Or maybe the monks were strict on celibacy, but Petep got a woman pregnant who threated to go to the other monks, so Petep threw her in.  Or maybe Petep was gay, and that was illegal at the time, and his lover threated to tell everyone.  Or maybe Petep figured out he could climb down into the sinkhole each night and find everyone’s sins to blackmail them, and one of the disciples killed him.  Or maybe the disciples were doing that, and Petep threaten to stop them so they killed him.  Or maybe Petep was actually a woman, but at the time women weren’t allowed to be intelligent.  So she became monk Petep to speak her mind.  And when the disciples discovered this, they killed her.

Or maybe Petep was like the Intro to Philosophy teacher at the monastery who taught this “split yourself into good and evil” bit as a thought experiment.  But a couple of his students made a cult out of it.  At first Petep was happy that more people were thinking about his ideas, but over time he saw his students were just using it as a way to gain money and power.  When he tried to stop them, they killed him.  But Petep had told his wife everything, and she wrote it all down.  And maybe this account was passed down through their family for a thousand years or more, until the world was ready to know the truth.  Or maybe it was hidden in the monastery.  After the religion died off, it was being torn down and the true history of Petep was found.  Or maybe the monastery was damaged in an earthquake and the documents were found while repairing it.


There are a lot of ways this novel could go.  Any of the ideas I had, some combination of them, or something completely new.  That’s for you to figure out.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Election Day Sale

Several years ago, I started having Election Day sales for my collection of short stories of a political nature, Political Pies.  For the last few sales, I’ve also included a few other of my books.  The main reason I do this is it’s me doing a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny part of hopefully getting people to vote.  The idea being you can download some of my books for free so you have something to read while you stand in line to vote.  It’s not much, but hopefully it does someone, somewhere, some good. 

There are those who think politicians should be the ones who decide who wins elections and not the voters.  The only way to defeat them is for “We the people” to vote in overwhelming numbers and show them that that is not how American democracy is supposed to work.  So if you live someplace where – often because of their interference – there is a long line to vote, grab any of these books that look interesting, and make sure your phone and/or Kindle is fully charged.  Then get in line, stay in line, and make your voice heard.  Democracy depends on it.

#

The following ebooks will be free to download from Friday November 4th, through Election Day on Tuesday November 8th.

Political Pies

Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into my Political Pies anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.

A Man of Few Words


A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? I explore these questions and more using less than 1,000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

The majority of the stories were previously published (most on my website) but all were revised for this collection. In addition, each piece is accompanied by some background information on the origin of the story or a funny tale about the writing of it to give a fuller experience.

The Future isComing


As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them. Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.

Duty


For reasons of safety and avoiding paradoxes, Time Travel Incorporated assigns a Guardian to all its travelers. So when there is an accident during political historian Roj Hasol’s trip back to 1968, it’s his Guardian Susan who sets out on the arduous task of cleaning up the mess.

Seventh Story Stockpile


Over the years, I’ve posted several short stories on websites that later – for one reason or another – died. While the corpses of some of these sites are still around where you can read the stories, many have vanished from the internet. And since there are few sites that will publish such previously published works, the only way you could read them was if I self-published them in a collection.

In addition to such “lost” stories, I’ve included some new stories that – for one reason or another – I felt I’d have a hard time finding someone to publish them. So Seventh Story Stockpile basically contains stories I didn’t know what else to do with.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Free story idea – Body parts

I have a lot of ideas for stories.  Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all.  I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them.  I’ll just never get a chance to.  So, I give them to the world.  If you can make something of these, go right ahead.  And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.

This is just the beginning of an idea I’m not entirely sure what to do with.  I see this as being set somewhere in the American west, maybe Texas.  Someplace that in the late 1800s would be ranches, and then maybe the railroad goes through and a small town grows up, hitting a few thousand people by the 1940s.  But since then the population has fallen to a few hundred and now it’s basically a gas station between two more interesting places.

The first part of the story has a series of time jumps.  It starts in the late 1800s with a father and his young son riding out to check on some cows.  They have a dog running with them that finds something in the brush and starts eating it.  They go over to see what it is, and find a left foot.  They look around but don’t see anything else.  They let the sheriff know, but they figure it was just a trapper or maybe an outlaw that ran afoul a bear or something.

One possibility that would let the story explore some issues, would be if the foot came from a black man.  As a white guy, I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing that story, which is why in my version it was just a very pale, white foot.  There is a reason for it being very pale, but we’ll get to that.

The next jump is set in the early 1900s.  A doctor is in his Model T going out to make a house call when he sees something lying beside the road.  He gets out and finds – in my version – a very pale, white, right arm.  There is the possibility that the doctor is the young boy who found the foot, or maybe the time jump is enough for the doctor to be that boy’s son.  Who knows.  The sheriff is told, and they do a quick search, but don’t find anything else.

Over the years, more and more bits are found in a 100 or so square mile area.  Sometimes they have been partially eaten by animals, sometimes they look burned, and sometimes they seem to appear from nowhere.  Like, maybe a guy from the 1950s is mowing his backyard when his wife calls him in to take a phone call.  He’s on the phone for five minutes, and when he goes back out, there’s a hand laying a couple feet from the mower. 

At some point, there are enough parts that people realize something odd is going on.  Someone suggests maybe someone killed someone and somehow preserved the bits to throw people off, only to be told that in the past eighty years they’ve found nine feet, six of them left ones. 

Perhaps that doctor started recording all these finds, and those files get passed down town doctor to town doctor as some dark town mystery.  Some of the hands are preserved in alcohol, or whatever chemicals are available at the time.  Eventually, when the technology develops, they do blood tests, and it turns out that all the parts they find all have the same blood type.  And then, once genetic testing becomes possible – and cheap enough – tests are done on recent bits as well as some of the better-preserved ones.  And the tests all come back as identical, which is weird because you have two left feet that were found a decade apart as being the same genetically. 

A few heads have been found, but most have been badly mangled or eaten, so it’s hard to tell if there is any resemblance.  When one is found pretty intact, they do take pictures of it, but nobody ever comes forward to identify who they were.

The story eventually gets to the main character in whatever time period the writer wants to set this story.  She might be the first female town doctor, who may be related to that original rancher.  She finds this whole town mystery thing interesting, and aggravating, but is afraid of going too far out on a limb with all these crazy theories: you know, satanic cult, aliens, bigfoot, whatever.  Then one night she’s driving down a road when she finds a naked man lying in the middle of the road.  She jumps out only to find that he is dead.  Maybe his chest is burnt and broke open.  He looks exactly like the pictures of the full head they’ve found and when they run a DNA test, it matches all the parts.  But nobody ever reports him missing.

And this is where things will depend on whatever story you decide to write.  One version is that shortly after this she is driving down the road and sees an identical man – although not pale – rooting around behind the gas station and when she goes after him he runs off.  Or, this not pale man shows up at her door.  It will all depend on what the story is, because he’s a time traveler.  Either he came back to meet her, or he is trying to hide from her.

Now, the reason for the pale body parts.  They’re clones.  Time travel hasn’t been perfected, so this guy isn’t going to go into the machine on the first try.  But if you’re building time machines, you’ve probably also figured out cloning.  So a bunch of clones are made of the guy, and since they grew up for a month or so in a lab and haven’t seen the sun they are rather pale.  And then they’re sent back to fine tune the controls.  There will be parts of these clones showing up for another century or more in this area.

There are a couple of issues with this story since time travel can’t just be simple.  If you were wanting to conduct a scientific test of the time machine, you’d label your test subjects.  If you knew they’d be blown up, you’d probably tattoo the subject number on multiple body parts so when you have all the records in the future, you can see the results of the test.  The original foot might have “011” tattooed on it, which might match an arm found in 1926 and a head found in 1942.  The full, naked man the doctor finds – from a near perfect test – might have “057” tattooed all over him.  But this would give the story away to any savvy reader.

Well, maybe instead of tattoos there are some micro, high tech trackers.  But do the people in the future have to dig up all these random graves to get the trackers, or do they transmit the data back to the future?  And if they already have these records of all these body parts, do they have to send the clones just to close the loop?  Or were there no records until they started sending the clones because that altered the past?  Or, was there some catastrophe that destroyed the records from this small town so that the people in the future never knew their clones were exploding over Texas?  Whoever writes this story will have to figure all of that out.

Another time travel question will be why is the guy coming back anyway?  Could it be that he eventually gets together with the doctor and they have a child.  And five or six generations later, is that the time traveler?  Or less icky, is the great-great-great-grandchild the one who figures out how to build the time machine and the traveler is just an adventurer?

If you start a story with exploded clone parts raining down over a small town for over a century, that needs to build up to something big.  What that could be, I don’t know.  That’s why I’m giving this idea away.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Writing Newsletter Third Quarter 2022

 

In the last three months I haven’t published any new stories or reposted any old ones. 

I haven’t been doing much writing these last few months, mostly because it seems like every time I think I’ll spend Tuesday writing, I wake up Tuesday remembering that I need to pick beans, or corn, or dig potatoes, or clean out the chicken coop.  Things I can’t really put off for later, and when I do sit down to write, I’m tired and end up rewatching some movie or TV show.  But I have slowly been grinding away at my project of The Uncapped Pen, but I won’t finish it until sometime next year.  We’ll have to see how the rest of the year goes.

***

Image from Pixabay.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Free story idea – A new mythology

I have a lot of ideas for stories.  Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all.  I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them.  I’ll just never get a chance to.  So, I give them to the world.  If you can make something of these, go right ahead.  And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.

This is an idea for an online collaborative project that would span years.  It’s possible something similar has already been tried, but I have no knowledge of that. 

It was probably at least ten years ago, I was flipping through the channels late one night when I came across a movie that was set in a time of Greek myths.  There was a period where several of these movies had come out, but I hadn’t seen any of them.  So I watched this one, and while checking the schedule during the commercials saw that one of these other movies was on the next afternoon on another channel.  I watched that one too, and they were both terrible.  I understand that each generation retells stories, dropping things that are no longer relevant or acceptable and adding new experiences.  But for these movies it seemed like they just took the Greek myths and put them through a shredder, then tapped together whatever random bits they needed.  And I thought, Why even bother?  Is the name recognition of Zeus so great you couldn’t just write an original story?

So at first I had the idea of writing out an entirely new mythology.  I started thinking about it, and I quickly saw how enormous the project would be.  I mean, it would basically be as large – or larger – than all the Greek myths we know.  It wouldn’t be just putting a new skin over Hercules and calling it a day, this would be entirely original gods, and heroes, and adventures.  One hope was to eventually build up to an Iliad size of story.

For some time it was just this great idea I’d never have time to do, but then I had the idea of just starting it and letting others fill it out.  What I came up with was to have a website with a map, and some basic world origin canon.  This world began when The Nameless Goddess grew lonely, so she created the world with her torso.  Her flesh became the land, her blood the seas.  Her left eye became the sun, her right the moon.  And her skull became the heavens.  But so this world wouldn’t be without gods, her left leg became god of the land, her right the goddess of the sea.  Her left arm became the goddess of life, and her right the god of death.  These gods appear as humans, and can have kids with humans, but their true form is a limb.  But they learned from The Nameless Goddess and some have made minor gods from toes and fingers.  All but death, who hasn’t diminished any of his power and remains the strongest.  I’m not sure what happened to The Nameless Goddess.  Possibly her essence builds a bridge to the afterlife, but who knows.

So that’s how the website would start.  What would then happen, is the site would be open for people to write historical stories based in this world.  Maybe someone writes a story about how a poor fisherman accidently caught one of the minor sea goddesses, but set her free.  In reward, she granted him treasure and knowledge to set up a kingdom of his own.  Members of the site could read this story, and if they liked it, they could give it canon points.  If it got enough, it would be reviewed to make sure it fit in with everything that already happened, and it would become canon as a historical fact in this universe.  After that, other stories could make reference to the characters and locations.  The hope is that you’d end up with dozens of little kingdoms that trade, and fight, and make alliances with each other.  And along the way there would be stories of heroes and monsters.

To keep things from getting out of hand, there would be a Year 0, set maybe a thousand or so years after the formation of the world.  No stories could be set before Year 0, but there could be myths, which I’ll discuss later.  When the site first goes live would be Year 20, and then each month twenty years would be added to the calendar.  And you’d only be able to write stories set up to whatever the current year was.  So in the third month, you could write stories set anywhere from Year 0 to Year 60.  If you had two stories about a war between two kingdoms, but with different outcomes, whichever story got the most canon points would be the true history of the world, while the other would be relocated to an alternate history section.

But stories on the site don’t all need to be about historical fact.  There would also be a section on the site for in-universe fiction.  Maybe that fisherman story happened in Year 10, so when Year 110 comes around and everyone in that kingdom is celebrating, a playwright from a rival kingdom could write a play that gives a twist on the events.  Instead of canon points, these fictional stories would get popularity points.  The more popular stories – ones that most people in-universe would know – could be mentioned in the historical stories.  But just like in real life, maybe a story isn’t that popular and few people know about it, until someone else comes along and gives it a shiny new coat of paint, and maybe that becomes a popular story. 

Other stories that would get popularity points would be myths.  These would be any story set before Year 0, and they may or may not be accurate portrayals of historical events.  Popular myth stories would likely be referenced in historical or fictional stories. 

So that’s the idea, but you can probably see the enormous headache it would be.  If there aren’t enough members on the site, then the world might grow too slowly and people would stop checking it out.  If there are too many members, then you could get ten stories about how these two kingdoms fought – or didn’t fight – a war, and maybe one gets declared canon before you can read all of them.  There could also be factions that just up-vote their own stories which doesn’t sound like fun.  And then the legal issues of who owns the stories and can they be taken down.  If you want to deal with all those headaches, more power to you.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

2,000 Days of Writing!

Just after midnight, I opened one of my many writing projects and typed a few words adding to a sentence.  While not much, it means – if my counting has been correct over the past few years – that I’ve written something for 2,000 days in a row.  That’s over five-and-a-half years of writing.  Which isn’t bad.

Of course, few of those days were ones where I wrote a thousand words.  The vast majority of them were days where I just wrote a sentence or two.  And yes, there are untold numbers of wannabe writers who don’t even do that much, but at the rate I’m going it will take 2,000 years to finish some of my projects.  Which, if that was an option, I’d be all for. 

Maybe in the next 2,000 days I can pick up the pace a bit.  We’ll just have to see.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Moon landing sale!

I am a big supporter of returning to the moon; I think it’s our best way of becoming a spacefaring civilization.  As such, I will often spend an hour or so going over the list of future moon missions on Wikipedia.  As I write this, CAPSTONE is on its way, but there could be a dozen more missions within the next year.  I wish them all success. 

But the reason for this sale is to mark the Apollo 11 landing.  Even though it happened before I was born, I do see it as an important day.  So to mark this year’s anniversary, I’m having a sale on three of my ebooks.  Just so you don’t think I’m just having a sale to have a sale, two of them deal with the moon, and the third deals with the future. 

You’ll be able to grab the following three ebooks for free between Monday July 18th and Friday July 22nd.

 


The Moon Before Mars

Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.

The Future is Coming

As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them. Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.

A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories


Hopefully, in the not too distant future humans will return to the moon. We will build bases and colonies, make farms and factories, and live, love and learn. A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories contains five short stories that are all set upon the moon. They give the tiniest glimpse of the possibilities awaiting us there.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Writing Newsletter Second Quarter 2022

 


In the last three months, I’ve published three short stories: “Forced Conversation,” “Sadly True,” and “Not All News is Terrible.”  I also reposted the story “Change for the Better?

I’ve been bogged down with a lot of garden work these last few months, so I haven’t had the time – or energy – to do much writing.  And for numerous other reasons, my enthusiasm for writing has also been low.  But, the day before this is posted, I got a rejection for one of my stories from one of the big magazines.  Normally, that would just suck, but the editor did add in the rejection email that they liked my style and hoped I’d submit again.  It’s too early to tell, but my enthusiasm may be higher over the next few months.  We’ll just have to see.

***

Image from Pixabay.

Fourth of July Sale!

I think for every Fourth of July since I published Political Pies – my collection of short stories of a political nature – I’ve had a free sale for it.  On one hand, it’s hard to make money if you give your books away for free, but on the other hand the point of Political Pies was to get people to start thinking about politics in the hope we could start working on some of the problems we face to make a better world.  I’ll sacrifice a few sales for that.  At first, I only offered Political Pies by itself, but in the last few years I’ve started having bigger sales with four or five of my books for free.  This year, I think I’m having my biggest Fourth of July Sale with eight of my Kindle books available for free.  That’s 188 short stories all for the price of eight clicks. 

But before you go and snag some free books to read, I have a favor to ask.  If you are an American citizen who will be over eighteen by Election Day, November 8th of this year, all I ask is that in the next few days you either double check your voter registration or register to vote, your state’s website should have all the necessary details.  Democracy only works if the people participate and the first step of participation is to be registered to vote.  So if you do that, I’m happy to let you have several of my books for free.  And if you aren’t an American citizen, then I’ll ask you to get involved in your nation’s politics in whatever way you can.

The following ebooks will be free to download on Kindle between Friday July 1st, and Tuesday July 5th.

 


Relics

This work contains some profanity and sexual situations. It is intended for mature audiences only.

A plague that kills men has devastated the world’s population. Only a few thousand boys and men were able to be quarantined. But Mike Shay is the only man known to have a natural immunity to the plague. Therefore, he is practically the only man in a world of women. He spends his days reading, playing video games, and making the occasional sperm donation. Then Dr. Veronica Barrett shows up, disrupting what passes for his life. She says she’s there to investigate his “mental wellbeing,” but is there more to her visit?

Instead of the normal, adolescent, heterosexual male fantasy of being the only guy on a planet of women, “Relics” tries to give a more realistic view of Mike’s life.

Duty

For reasons of safety and avoiding paradoxes, Time Travel Incorporated assigns a Guardian to all its travelers. So when there is an accident during political historian Roj Hasol’s trip back to 1968, it’s his Guardian Susan who sets out on the arduous task of cleaning up the mess.

Political Pies

Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into my Political Pies anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.

A Man of Few Words

A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? I explore these questions and more using less than 1,000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

The majority of the stories were previously published (most on my website) but all were revised for this collection. In addition, each piece is accompanied by some background information on the origin of the story or a funny tale about the writing of it to give a fuller experience.

Useless Cogs

Useless Cogs is a collection of forty, of my science fiction stories. They range from only a few dozen words to a few thousand and are filled with time travelers, AIs, clones, aliens, even sexbots, although not often as you would imagine. As example, there’s a time traveler that’s always a step behind, an AI that’s late on rent, and a sexbot with bad software. Some of the stories are humorous, some horrifying, and some … depend on your point of view.

The Only Certainty

On The Day, for reasons unknown, people began changing. They went to sleep as their old selves and woke in their beds in different bodies: bodies that had belonged to other people. And each time they fall asleep, they wake in a new body. Set months later, “The Only Certainty” follows Derrick Gorton on an average day in this new world as he deals with food shortages, the semi-collapse of society, and how to finish his latest novel.

Seventh Story Stockpile

Over the years, I’ve posted several short stories on websites that later – for one reason or another – died. While the corpses of some of these sites are still around where you can read the stories, many have vanished from the internet. And since there are few sites that will publish such previously published works, the only way you could read them was if I self-published them in a collection.

In addition to such “lost” stories, I’ve included some new stories that – for one reason or another – I felt I’d have a hard time finding someone to publish them. So Seventh Story Stockpile basically contains stories I didn’t know what else to do with.

The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

The All-You-Can-Read Buffet is a collection of forty stories covering various genres and themes ranging from six to over 4,200 words in length. Some of these stories I wrote a decade ago, while others were written especially for this collection. All together, they are a buffet of my writing. As such, I encourage you to read as much as you want. Go back for seconds, thirds, fourths even. I won’t even mind if you skip over the stuff you don’t like, but, to quote your mother, “How do you know you don’t like it? Have you tried it?”

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Free story idea – “Evil” gem

I have a lot of ideas for stories.  Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all.  I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them.  I’ll just never get a chance to.  So, I give them to the world.  If you can make something of these, go right ahead.  And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.

This is a pretty unique Free story idea.  From the time I got this idea until the publication of this blog was … four days.  The reason this happened was because the free idea I was working on – A new mythology – was taking longer than I expected, and I was seriously thinking of delaying it but then I had this idea and figured I could put out this quick, short one and have more time to finish the mythology one. 

This idea began as a dream.  In this dream, some guy in a lab coat went into this radar station on the edge of an airport.  He went into a secret hallway where a guard watched as he unlocked a box to get a key to open a door.  In this room there was this glowing gem.  The guy went around and turned on all these monitors, and then a blindfolded subject was brought in in a wheelchair.  The subject – even though they were blindfolded – were to describe what they saw when they watched a movie.  Because of the gem, the ending of the movie would be changed to an “evil” ending.  Like, you put in the DVD of Toy Story and now it ends in a blood bath as the toys kill all the humans.  That’s when I, more or less, woke up.  This is a more coherent version of the dream since the actual dream was more … dreamy-weamy.  I liked the idea, and over the next twenty or so minutes as I fully woke up, I worked with the idea and came up with the following.

I think this idea would work best as a short, computer animated movie.  It starts with the super clean, futuristic city.  Everyone is happy and healthy, but everything does seem a tad … sterile.  The main character goes into a lab where the gem is.  In my dream, it was just your standard glowing, bright blue, but I figure why not make it where there are dozens of colors all swirling around and brightening and dimming in a random manner.  Something to really show off the visual effects.  What the gem is, is somehow they managed to collect all the hatred, greed, and all the “negative” emotions from all over the planet and crystallize it in this gem.  But now they can’t get rid of it.  They wanted to put it in a rocket and send it out into deep space, but the gem won’t move.  If they built a rocket under it and launched it, the rocket would be destroyed as it rammed into this unmovable object. 

Subjects brought close to the gem will have some reaction, which the main character is studying.  I guess the point of the story would be them wondering if they should destroy the gem.  Yes, locking all the “negative” emotions up sounds like a good idea, but surely there would be some unforeseen consequences that they need to work through.  What those are I leave to whoever writes the script.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Don’t take it personally

Years ago, I dated a woman who was a painter, but she wanted to try her hand at writing.  I tried to help her out, even pointing out a small magazine that had published a couple of my stories which I thought would be a good place for her to submit her first story.  I can’t remember what this magazine paid, maybe $5, and they published six issues a year, and before she even submitted something she was budgeting in $30 a year from them.  I tried to caution her that her stories would need to be accepted first, but I think her response was along the lines of “Why wouldn’t they accept this?  This is the best story I ever wrote.”

On one hand, I hoped her story would be accepted because it would have been good for her.  On the other hand, I think if a writer’s first submission gets accepted that could lead to unrealistic expectations.  Her story wasn’t accepted, and while I tried to explain that that was normal and lots of my stories had been rejected, she took it personally.  She ranted and raved and was offended that her story wasn’t accepted.  She was probably even angry at me because my stories had been accepted there.

At the time, there was a writing group I went to that had monthly speakers on writing, either authors or editors or whatever.  A day or two after she got her rejection, I took her to one of these meetings where an author talked about their experiences.  Things were going fine, until they opened up for questions, and my girlfriend got up.  I believe the gist of her question was what to do when a magazine is wrong for rejecting your story.  I don’t know if the author managed to calm things down, or my girlfriend was just tired, but she eventually sat down.  I don’t remember what all was said, because I was too busy worrying I’d have to throw myself on a grenade. 


Some people just write for fun, and that’s all they do with it.  But others want to make some money out of it.  And what too few people – like my ex – realize, is that nothing is guaranteed in business.  History is full of stories and novels that were rejected dozens of times before finally being published and making millions and winning awards.  All because those authors didn’t take those rejections personally and kept on doing the business of submitting stories.  My girlfriend and I broke up a few months after all of this, and I haven’t talked to her in years, but I’d be surprised if she ever submitted another story anywhere else.  And that’s kind of sad.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Random Writing Tips – Mystery for mystery sake

 

There was a show I watched where I was debating giving up on it, but then it was cancelled, so problem solved.  It did end on a bit of a cliff hanger, so on one hand that sucked, but on the other hand the show wasn’t that great.  My main issue with the show was it was poorly written.  Probably the biggest issue I had was how they had several opportunities to explain things, but instead would give out little dribs and drabs.

Basically, the main character gets dropped into this weird mystery.  They dig around, and they eventually figure out about 10% of the mystery.  And then they meet someone who, doesn’t know the whole story, but does know about 70% of the mystery.  For some time there is the question on if the main character can trust this new person, but eventually they do.  Now, in the real world, the main character would then take an afternoon to sit down with this person and have them fill them in on everything.  But that wasn’t what the show did.

Instead of the main character learning more than they wanted to know, coming to grips with it, and then going on to solve the rest of the mystery, the new person gave them some crumbs which lead to a shocking reveal.  And then the following week they’d give out another crumb which lead to another shocking reveal.  The next week, another crumb and another shocking reveal.  And all the while there was a super basic question the main character never asked; for a real person in this situation it would probably have been their first question.  I don’t know if the scene was cut for time, or what, but its lack left me somewhat dumbfounded. 

Now, there are a few ways this could have been done better.  Maybe the new person only knew 30% so most of the mystery is still unknown, maybe they only have ten minutes and can’t tell the full story, or maybe they could have written more interesting characters so “How will X react to this shocking reveal?” doesn’t need to be used every week to get people to come back.

If you hold too much information back, you audience may get bored because nothing seems to be happening.  But if you flood them with information right at the start, they can get overwhelmed and give up.  So you need to find a compromise.  This, usually, is just giving as much information as is needed right now.  How else do you do you multiple seasons of a show?  But, if there isn’t some in-universe reason for the dribs and drabs of information, your audience may notice the manipulation and not be surprised, or care, if your show is cancelled.

***

Image from Pixabay.


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The never ending To Do list

I’m a bit of a procrastinator, especially when it comes to writing.  Like, I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for a couple weeks, at least.  It’s gotten kind of bad over the last few years, so I’ve been trying to get around it.  One thing I’ve tried is a To Do list, which has and hasn’t worked.

The Version I To Do list is something I’ve done for years, which is where I basically make a list of all the things I need to do, usually broken up between writing stuff and everything else.  The problem with this is that you end up with a sheet with like fifty items on it which becomes extremely disheartening because you feel like you have to do it all by tomorrow.  And when I don’t get it all done, it feels like it’s just hanging there above my desk mocking me.

For the Version II list, I tried to solve the problem of too much stuff by scheduling only a few things each day.  I have a part time job where I, usually, only work Saturdays and Sundays.  So I started making a list of things to do on each of my five days off.  Mondays I’m a little tired from work, so I usually only had simple things like water the houseplants, make sure all my bills are paid, stuff like that.  And then for Tuesday I’d schedule myself to finish some blogs and work on a story, and so on.  But what seemed to happen a lot is that I’d spend Mondays doing the simple stuff and then relaxing by binge watching some show on Netflix.  I’d go to bed planning to spend all of Tuesday writing, only to wake up with a toothache which made me not feel like doing anything but binge watching Netflix.  And then I’d spend Wednesday trying to catch up only to throw off the whole thing and wonder why even bother.

In theory, Version III of my To Do list fixes the problems of the earlier versions.  I basically now have three lists: long term, shorter term, and this week.  Long term is for projects I really should do, but there isn’t much pressure to do them soon.  This ranges from novels I want to write to garden plans I thought of in the middle of winter.  Shorter term is for things that have more of a deadline, like blog posts or getting my taxes done.  These are usually written on little legal pads, while the “this week” list is on scrap paper.  It’s for the simple tasks like watering the houseplants, as well as the shorter term items I want to get done.  I still have fifty some items on my To Do list, but I only really see the ten or so items I can, or need, to get done this week. 

It is not a perfect system, but it does feel like I’m slowly getting more stuff done.  Most weeks.  There are times where I’ll put “The Week Of X” at the top of the list, but by the end of the week I’ve only crossed a few things off, so I’ll just change the date instead of rewriting the same list. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Ebook sale!

 With everything going on in the world, I figured I should try to make things a little brighter.  But I couldn’t really think of anything, so instead I’ll just have a sale for some of my ebooks.  The following three ebooks will be free from Monday May 2nd, through Friday May 6th, so get them while you can.

The Future is Coming

As a science fiction writer, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how technology will change the way we live. I’ve come up with these ten short essays about science fictional elements that will – almost certainly – one day become science fact as a way for people to start coming to terms with them. Because I’ve spent time thinking about clones and AIs, I feel I’ll be okay when they do finally show up whereas most people will probably freak out. I hope these essays will get people to start thinking about the future because, no matter what we do, the future is coming.

The Moon Before Mars

Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as “inspirational” as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.

An Ounce of Prevention


Like most people, Jason Fisher wanted to make the world a better place, but he doubted he would ever have the chance to make much of a mark. Then a “woman” came to him, asking his help to save humanity by threatening it.