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Monday, August 7, 2017

Reworked a Science Fiction Novel I Wrote about Thirty-Five Years Ago, The Sands of Andros

As a youngster, teen, and young adult I devoured science fiction. It seemed natural that I try to write the stuff. I actually finished The Sands of Yama, a classic approach to the genre that was rather short in length at 40,000 words. Too short to submit to any agent when the minimum for a novel as 60,000 words. And I was very unsure about it. I put it down to a learning experience. Has a plot, pretty good characters, not bad dialogue, good action scenes and ends up being a first contact story. It was also an exercise in world creation, or in the case galaxy creation. Galacton is a federation of planets. When a planet is discovered by one of the companies in the federation that company lays claim to the planet. It can be exploited or sold to any group that would like to colonize it. A lot of radical groups do just that so a group of Muslims or Christians or any group that wants its own planet with its own rules can have a planet and do what they want there. Galacton has a strict hands off approach. The groups are free to discover their own destinies.

The company Krackcom has discovered the planet Rhome and its one island continent, which I named Yama. The island is loaded with goodies. There is electrogold, there are caterlund furs, a special honey is both an hallucinogen and an aphrodisiac. There are the mysterious compucells that are found the the appendix to the brain of the huge mammothet. There is a clam whose meat expands the human lifespan by 100 years. These materials are so rare that Galacton realizes they must not be exploited to the point of extinction and so they control the collection of the materials by a simple process. They can only be collected or hunted by hand. No mechanical devices.

And there are plenty of dangerous creatures on Yama that provide natural protection for these resources. So Krackcom is allowed to offer a gamble to those who choose to play. Collect 50 pounds of electrogold and take it to Rest and Reward Station One and you will be rewarded with enough Galacton credits to live freely for five fun-filled years. The rewards for reaching the other stations with the required amount of collected material grows exponentially

The reward for entering the last R&R station is known--one-eighth ownership and board membership of Krackcom itself--but it is not known what must be collected.

That's the set up. Our main character, Thaddeus Bean III will enter the contest. Those entrants are known as gramblers. Only one grambler in the 268-year history of this game has made it to the last R&R Station: Thaddeus Bean I.

So I was sort of between book projects and always examine the old slush pile and I came across the manuscript, typed on a manual typewriter (imagine that!) I started reading and thought. Hey, this isn't too bad. So I started re-keyboarding it. Making alterations. Read ahead in the whole things and saw how actually it hung together quite well. And now it's done and soon I'll submit it or publish it myself. Those old word counts have gone the way of the manual typewriter.

I had used the structure of Galacton to create another science fiction work, a novella called "A Match Made in Heaven," in which the Mormons have left earth to populate the planet they call Moroni and discover their destiny in the stars. Those two works are the only products of a scheme I had to write a series of books based the concept of planets under complete control of the worlds they inhabit, with Galacton forces stepping in only when any other those planets became warlike with designs on other planets.

I decided Yama didn't work as a name for the island and so I changed it to Andros. Now The Sands of Andros is ready for the general public. Do need a book cover, though, if any reader of this blog is interested in contacting me.

And maybe I just might explore writing about other worlds in the Galacton federation.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

This is Really What It's All About!

I don't make much money from my fiction, but sometimes indications come along that Karma points are being amassed. A while back, I announced an upcoming book signing via Facebook. This REMARKABLE post resulted.

"My mother is (name deleted). She is an avid reader of your books. In fact, she had surgery to remove two tumors in her brain and her request before surgery was to have Rabbletown for when she woke up. Sure enough, she started reading as soon as she could. The reason I'm messaging is because my mom would love to meet you, to have the books she owns signed. We're unable to make it to your set up in Brookside today. Do you have any future plans for meet and greets or book signings?"

I hope she's doing well.


Friday, June 30, 2017

"Dark Side of the Museum" Found an Ending

I think Dark Side of the Museum is finished. I need to have the patience now to let it sit and then reread it. I started this novel over a year ago, although the idea had been percolating longer than that. I don't know how to categorize it other than a good read (I hope). It has a pinch of paranormal and a dash of time travel. The result seems to me deliciously outrageous. The set up is pretty simple and engaging. Engaging, well that's for you to judge. Here's the first chapter. I'm looking for beta readers if anyone is interested.

CHAPTER ONE
Edgar Makes a Discovery and Gets Fired.

I was on my way to report the extraordinary X-ray finding to the chief conservator when I encountered her in the hallway waddling like a penguin toward me in her daily dress of black pants, white blouse, black vest. Stella said, "Ah, Edgar, we need to talk."

I could have told her about the discovery as we walked back to the windowless bowels of the art museum where 93 percent of the collection was stored, a vast majority of which would never been seen by any visitor. I wondered what we NEEDED to talk about. I haven't done anything wrong. I'm polite to the curators. I get on well with them, even Beatrice. Just saying her name is like pulling a pin from a grenade and looking at the thing in your hand. And I get along well with my fellow conservators, except for Nina, that little bitch in the painting department. I glanced sideways at my boss, but her face showed only the slight smile she always wore that kept you guessing. Is she pleased or deeply upset? Her hair, probably dyed black, hung straight to the top of her shoulders and always looked as if grease needed to be shampooed vigorously from its sticky strands.

I kept quiet, sitting in front of her desk as she settled into her own chair adjusting the multiple knobs it offered to ergonomically match her short, dough-girl frame.

"We're going to have to let you go," Stella said, the slight smile showing no uneasiness with having to impart this piece of news. "The cutbacks, you know. Layoffs affecting all departments even, I hear, one of the curators. Full month's notice. Irma in HR will give you the details on your severance package, how to file for unemployment, COBRA insurance and all that. With your credentials, I'm sure you'll find something else soon. You're young. How's the Gould coming along?"

"Fine, fine. X-rays almost all done. Well, thanks."

And I left asking myself: Why me? I'm the only furniture conservator they have. And having just turned thirty-five I didn't feel young. Dejection started to slump my shoulders, but remembering what waited for me back in the lab made my step more brisk. I retrieved the one X-ray that had so excited me, putting it in my briefcase before anyone else could see it.

At 5 o'clock I walked to security where I opened the briefcase for the guard to peer inside. The X-ray elicited no interest. Work being taken home. At my apartment in the old brownstone near the museum, I stuck the film under the light table to examine the anomaly again.

A year ago, the Museum had acquired a Nathaniel Gould chest-on-chest. The massive, though elegant, wooden thing now sat in the lab for examination, cleaning, and, if needed, restoration. The 91-inch tall piece—when the top part was put on the bottom part—now sat in its two separate sections. I had started my work by X-raying the piece so I might see any hidden cracks, inspect joints, and espy the presence of nails.

Its top featured three finials—knob-like extension spires that began as rectangles of wood sitting on which was a round piece that became a kind of upside down toy top. The X-ray of the right finial seemed to show a box-like object within its rectangular base. Some kind of metal was blocking the view so I had headed to tell the news to Stella.

Now, I'll find out for myself—and alone—what's inside that cube of wood.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My Love/Hate Affair with Ernest Hemingway.

Well, hate is a bit strong. More like disappointment. I first read Hemingway as many young folks do in college. Not for assignment. And here was prose that was direct, fresh, sincere, and connected with me. So you want to write you start to imitate. Not a bad thing to do. You learn how sentence rhythms can be created. The Southern writer Reynolds Price (A Long and Happy Life; The Names and Faces of Heroes) was a visiting lecturer and as part of being in the creative writing course we were given a one-on-one with him. I didn't have much to show, just some prose poems, which he pronounced were "lovely."

One began: "The snows came in March and it was unfair because that same morning there had been the smell of spring in the air." Yep, that's pretty Hemingwayesque. But it's not a bad way to begin to find one's own writing voice. I digress.

Hemingway became a caricature of himself. And then his later prose became a caricature of his early prose. His late work Across the River and Into the Trees, deserved the ridicule it received through E.B. White's satire "Across the Street and Into the Grill" in The New Yorker.

You read Across the River today and groan: "I could learn it really well, he thought, and then I'd have that." Oh, Lord, please. And "Keep it clean, he said to himself. And love your girl." Jezz, really?

And yet. And yet. On one of the most emotional evenings of my life I turned to that book for a kind of solace. I had learned my father had died of a heart attack and the next day I would drive to Hutchinson. I reread Across the River and underlined passages. Today, almost 50 years later, I still have that book in my library.

Until the other day, the last Hemingway novel I had read was Islands in the Stream, published posthumously. I thought it pretty awful. Didn't connect at all. So when I read about another novel to be published posthumously I didn't bother, which was quite some time ago: 1986.

Wandering through an estate sale I came across The Garden of Eden, by Ernest Hemingway and it caught my eye because I was unfamiliar with that title. Looking through it, I realized it was the posthumous publication, so I bought it.


I'm just one chapter into it, but it was like meeting up again with an old friend. Here was early Hemingway prose: fresh, sincere, and it connected with me. I don't know how the rest of the book will go, but it's been a great joy so far to reconnect with my younger self and Ernest Hemingway in this odd way.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hope These Insightful Companion Reviews Will Entice You to Read These Two Philip McQuire Suspense/Thrillers/Mystery Novels

Tortured Truths by Randy Attwood is a suspense thriller starring Phillip McGuire, a journalist who has recently escaped the claws of his middle eastern torturers. In bad shape both physically and mentally as he pursues a simpler life and leaves his journalism background behind, although not completely. He returns to his hometown in an effort to heal and live a simpler life, getting back in touch with old friends, and opening a bar. He soon finds a mystery that needs resolving as people begin turning up dead.

The plot thickens and excitement ascends to a shrieking climax with every word in this thriller. Gruesome and colorful text flows into a string of scenes that coalesce inside the reader's mind with each turn of the page. Characters are vividly displayed through dialogue and narrative giving the reader a sense of being in the thick of the action.

A well written and most definitely stinging suspense thriller that is a must read!


Heart Chants by Randy Attwood is an enticing novel rich in Native American lore and steeped in mystery. Packed with intrigue from the start Phil McGuire is back, and with cracked ribs as he threw himself into the hands of three Chinese men to save a beautiful Chinese damsel in distress, Hsu Chi. As he lays recovering in bed two Native American girls go missing and as a favor to a friend and assistance with his recovery another Native American girl Zonnie comes to stay with him. Hsu Chi finds him as well and a love affair sparks between them. While Phil is recovering with the aid of two beautiful women a young half-white half-Navajo man, self proclaimed Ko-yo-teh, is following the vision of his grandfather to rid the land of the white people. Increasing suspense builds as the reader is plunged into Ko-yo-teh’s world and Phil assists in solving the mystery of the missing girls. The elements within the novel merge together as the developing plot becomes progressively more compelling for a riveting, unforgettable, and unsuspected ending.

The amount of research and knowledge of the Navajo poured into this story is incredible. Randy Attwood lavishly and with great respect brings forth the mystical Navajo legends and thought. There is also an acceptance as in the first segment of the Phil McGuire series of peoples of varying cultures. In this novel Randy Attwood brilliantly entwines mystery and suspense with a twist of Native American history which is truly the humble beginnings of American history unknown to most.

The written words in Heart Chants flow with ease keeping the reader always turning one more page seeking the treasures and secrets each offers.  Randy Attwood has an unflawed ability to create characters that capture the reader’s attention; one may find themselves both loving and hating even the most despicable misguided personalities. From beginning to end Heart Chants is an exciting novel that is in my opinion arguably one of the best releases of the year.

Heart Chants is an impeccably written novel with a truly unique plot that is truly a must read.


Monday, February 6, 2017

My Stories Have Now Been Featured in Eight Anthologies

Recent publication of "A Match Made in Heaven" by small press Curiosity Quills in their anthology "Darkscapes" made me realized I hadn't kept track of stories accepted by anthologies. Turns out the count is seven stories in eight collections. "The Notebook" is featured in three; "Tell Us Everything" in two.

Here they are in order or publication:

Tell Us Everything
Oct. 2011


The Notebook


Tell Us Everything
The Notebook
10/6/13


The Notebook
5/13/14


The Saltness of Time
2/9/15


Innocent Passage
2/13/15


Blue Kansas Sky
3/4/15


A Match Made in Heaven
1/31/17