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Monday, December 31, 2018

The Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey New Year's Day Thoughts.

And no, I'm not talking about the Doctor Who's New Year's Day special. Which to me just seems to avoid dealing with Christmas. At any rate, that's not what this blog post is about. More about the strange time warp I've experienced this past year, wondering how long it will last.

Yes, my last "productive" year was in 2013, five years ago. And most of that was editing a couple of books and publishing them, that I'd had in the works for some time. I did write some short stories, which can be found in book two of my Ethereal Worlds anthology in 2013, but not much else, that I recall, at least. It was the last year I did NaNo before 2018, but like this past November, I didn't finish then either. The last year I finished NaNo was 2010.

But, despite all that, 2018 has been a more productive year than any since 2010. That was back when I was writing all the time, up until 4 am, going to a full time job, then coming home and working on writing until early every morning. That all ended in May 11 of 2011. That's when I discovered my wife had been having an affair. That's when my fantasy and sci-fi writing came to a full stop until almost two years later, for varied reasons. But by the time I started to get back into it in 2013 is when my Parkinson's symptoms first appeared and it tended to zap all motivation to write, not to mention the physical difficulties in doing so. That was the main reason for my big break in getting much writing done, if any, for the last five years.

Until now. 2018 will go down as a much more productive year, primarily because of the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery I had back in September and October of 2017. It not only has made me physically able to type up a storm again, but also has brought back the motivation to do so. So much so that I've finished two novels during 2018--the final book four of The Virtual Chronicles series and a stand-alone novel I've titled Rebellion--pulled together and did some edits on a couple of non-fiction books I've had in the works--one of them I'd been planning on pulling together since 2003 or 2004--started another couple of novels, as well as writing a few short stories here and there, one of which I'm thinking would make a good first chapter for an episodic style novel. I've published two novels this year, the previous book four of The Virtual Chronicles: Reality Game, and another novel I've been editing for some time now, first written back in 2008: The Magic Within, I recently went full bore on editing that one here in the last days of December. Though it will have a publishing date of Jan 2019, I did all the work publishing it in 2018, obviously.

So to say I've been productive is a bit of an understatement, at least if your the kind that believes that getting out one novel a year to be productive. I know others who regularly put out three to four books a year will find it productive, but not overly so. Still, for me, it was very productive, thanks to DBS. That's the wibbly wobbly, timey, wimey aspect of this past year, in that I feel sort of like I did back in 2011 right before the affair happened.

So, what are my plans for 2019? Yep, I'm calling them plans instead of resolutions. That's because they are plans that can change, not outside demands that I must fulfill if I want to be true to my word.

As far as publishing, I have so many books in the works which could potentially be published this year, I could have as many as four or five books published this year. On the novel front, I have at least two that I'm planning on publishing this year: Rebellion and The Dragon Within (a sequel to The Magic Within I just published). Once those novels have been published, it will put my total novel count at nine novels published (not including my three anthologies)! That's novels, not total books, which at that point would be more like around sixteen books. If I publish three novels this year, the extra would likely be Deep Brain Invasion. All depends on how quickly I can finish writing and editing it as to whether I can get it in before 2019 ends.

Then the other two books I plan on publishing in 2019 is couple of non-fiction books: Healing Infidelity Through Faith, and Looking into the Orthodox Church. Both of those I wrote, complied earlier writings on corresponding blogs, and am currently in the editing stages. So I expect they will be ready to be published this coming year under different pen names: Rick Copple (my given name, if you can call that a pen name) and Timothy Copple respectively.

Aside from my publishing plans, I'm planning on finishing writing Deep Brain Invasion, and working on writing and editing book three of The Legend of the Dragons' Dying Field (book two, The Dragon Within is finished writing, save for a tie up chapter or two, and currently being edited), which I've titled The Dragon Without. I have a few chapters on that one, so a long ways to go. If I get writing on that one soon, I could publish it sometime in 2020. Also, my recent Christmas story about Joel, the mysterious Guardian Angel of Reality Chronicles fame, I'm hoping I'll get started writing more episodes of that one, enough stories to make it into a full novel.

That brings me back to the title of this post, because yes, I do feel Joel is quirky enough to be sort of like the Doctor, at least personality wise (sort of a combination of David Tennet and Matt Smith) with Holly as his "companion." Given the problems with Doctor Who this past season, it may be the only Doctor Who-like stories coming out anytime soon. The main difference is angels don't regenerate. Nor will he have a TARDIS. My big decision is what time period to place these stories in? Mainly in relation to the events that happen in The Reality Chronicles and The Legend of the Dragons' Dying Field. Because Joel's an angel, he could be in any time period. I could place if before any of that happened, or during those stories, or after?

I would think it couldn't be before, very easily, because for around 100 years before the story in Reality's Dawn took place, he was entrapped by his bell. During might be tricky only because I haven't finished writing the stories in The Legend of the Dragons' Dying Field where Joel occasionally pops in for appearances, without Holly tagging along. No telling at this point whether Joel will play a more major roll in any of those unwritten books, assuming I make it that far. So I'm leaning toward those stories happening at some point after those in TLDDF. How long after that is another question I'll have to answer.

Those are my thoughts currently on 2018 and the up and coming 2019 as I sit on a snowy, Colorado New Year's Eve day. I pray your new year will be a good one. No telling what all will happen in 2019! Let's go explore it!

Friday, December 28, 2018

First Book of New Series is Available

Start off the new year with a new book, a new series, and a new hero! That's right, on the heels of finishing one series, I'm off to start a new one, that is planned (though that could change at any time) to be a five-book series.

The series is called The Legend of the Dragons' Dying Field. This first book, as you can see, is named, "The Magic Within."

This series is set in Sisko's world from The Reality Chronicles, and as the name implies, does indeed involve dragons. From Sisko's world you'll encounter Kaylee, Josh, and Joel. But the main character is Cole, the baby born to a "dead" Gabrielle at the end of "Reality's Fire," which is recapped in the prologue of this book and can be read in the sample provided on my site. Now 18, he is ready to go find his place in this world as he searches for what to do with the magical ability he was born with. What he and George, his unique friend, discover is a new world rich in traditions, where people work to hide the dragons from society at large.

The book is currently able to be pre-ordered, available to your ebook on January 1, 2019. So order as soon as you can to get it at the start of the new year. Here is a link directly to the Amazon page. Thank you for your support. Following is the book's blurb.

---------

Reality transforms into myth. Myth becomes legend. For most, dragons and their Dying Field are the stuff of legend. Merely bedtime stories told to children. But how much truth is there in the old legends? What secrets do the Dragons’ Dying Field hold? Cole and his friend George seek to discover the truth, to help George avoid an early death as well as to help Cole avoid his mentor’s death.

Within Cole resides a deep magic from above. Inherited from his father, it enables him to do magic beyond mere spells by thinking them into being. But what happens when he encounters a race of people who are immune to his magic? Who have a deeper magic?

Follow Cole’s journey to not only help his friend, George, deal with his “sped-up” life, but also to discover the true magic within, and his own place in The Legend of the Dragons’ Dying Field.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

They Walk Among Us

I started working on this story yesterday when I received news of my brother Rob's impending loss to cancer. He died earlier today. This Christmas Story, which revisits Sikso's world, is in honor of him. May he rest in God's arms and mercy.

-------------

A heaviness settled over Holly’s heart. It was Christmas morning. Why should she feel sadness at such a time?  She shuffled her feet through the leaves scattering the forest floor. She took her sword out and hacked at a couple of branches.  Even that didn’t seem to help. Gloom hovered around her and she had no idea why.

It must be the curse of the steam house. Yes, she had been cursed by the place. All of Reol’s children go in at age thirteen. Sisko went in and received a miracle ring. She went in and other’s feelings affected her own. That meant someone close by must feel sad. But why? Christmas was such a happy time.

Holly huffed. The only way to get rid of this sadness was to find who was sad and make them happy. Interestingly enough, she wasn’t affected by everyone’s feelings. Just certain people. She had no idea how it worked. It just did.

An old man came toward her, a cowl covering his face. As he passed, he stopped and asked, “Do you make tea?”

Holly stopped and stared at the man. His eyes appeared to glow from within the cowl. She wondered at the question. “Well, yes. I could make tea.”

“Do you make great tea?”

She shrugged. “That depends on what your used to.”

The “old man” brushed his cowl back to reveal a young man’s face. His blonde, shoulder-length hair swayed with the wind. “Good answer. But it has been a while since I’ve had a cup of great tea. If you could make me some, I would greatly appreciate it.”

Hospitality demanded she make him some, though she didn’t quite feel like doing it. Then again, maybe it would take her mind off of this sadness she felt. “Sure, follow me.” She turned around to head back to town. “One thing I should tell you, I live alone. If you don’t mind being seen in my house, it’s okay with me.”

He smiled. “Why should that concern me?”

Holly smiled back. “Because, you’re a monk or something. In case you didn’t think it would look proper.”

He held out a hand. “Where’s my manners. I’m Joel.”

Holly accepted his handshake. “My name is Holly.”

“Holly, if you don’t mind me asking, why do you live alone?”

She gazed at his eyes, trying to determine why he asked such a personal question. “Isn’t it obvious? No one will have me.”

“But why? You’re good looking enough, if you don’t mind me saying. You appear to have a pleasant personality.”

“You’ve only known me for about, say around five minutes. How do you know what kind of personality I have?”

He shrugged. “Anyone who can make great tea can’t be all bad.”

“You’ve yet to taste my tea, sir.”

“So true. We shall see.”

They finished the walk to her house in the town of Reol. She made tea as they continued to chat. After a while, she poured him his tea and he sipped it.

Joel sat the tea down. “Not bad, not bad. Not as good as I’m used to. But then, not much else is. However, I can tell by the taste of it that something is off.”

Holly nodded. “Now you know I don’t have the greatest of personalities, right?”

“There is a hint of sadness in this tea.”

“Sadness?” How could he know? Did the sadness come from him?

Joel took another sip. “Yes, that’s what I’m tasting. Sadness.”

“How can you taste that from the tea I’ve made? Is it because you are sad?”

“Me? Sad?” He laughed as if that were the craziest thing he’d ever heard. “No, I’m here to help you!”

“Me? Me? You came specifically to help me?”

He nodded as he took another sip.

She pointed a finger at him, “If this is some strange way to pick up ladies, I’ll have you know I’m fairly handy with a sword.” She reached for hers, propped up against the table.

He waived a hand. “That won’t be necessary. I’m not here to pick you up. What would be the point of that?”

She gritted her teeth. “You don’t have to be insulting.”

“What? It isn’t that you’re too heavy. Just no point in it. Don’t see what is so insulting about that. Taken in the right way, that should be a compliment.”

Holly stared at Joel for a moment. Was this guy a bit crazy or just acting the part?

Joel pointed at her. “If I didn’t know better, and I happen to do know better, I’d think you were a bit schizophrenic.”

She laughed. “It isn’t that, though it could appear that way.”

He stroked his chin. “Let me guess. You feel what others feel.”

Her jaw dropped. “How did you know?”

“Oh, I have my sources.” He grabbed something out of his bag. “I have the solution to your sadness. It is the right tea leaves. It’s not so much how you make it, but what you put into it.”

He rose and grabbed the teapot before Holly could say anything. She watched as he filled a pot with water and placed it over the fire in the hearth. As soon as the pot was boiling, he took it off and let it rest a bit before pouring it over the tea leaves. Soon, he was pouring fresh, heavenly smelling tea into her cup.

Holly took a sip. Then another. Before she realized it, she had drank the whole cup. She’d never done that before. She only sipped tea. “Boy, you are right. This is good.” Then it dawned on her. “That’s funny. I don’t feel so sad anymore. As a matter of fact, I feel happy.”

Joel smiled knowingly.

“What did you put in here?”

“Nothing. Just some tea leaves. The real difference is you.”

Holly shook her head. “No, I mean, what’s blocking me from feeling the sadness of someone else? I don’t lose those feelings until they are fixed within the person.”

Joel nodded knowingly.

“No, I mean, really. People’s emotions that I pick up on don’t pass away that quickly.”

Joel continued to nod and smile. “You’ll get it eventually.”

Get what? Oh! “Are you suggesting that I’m the one who was sad? That I was picking up on my own sadness?”

“Not picking up on it. It is simply that you are sad.”

“Sad over what?”

“That you are alone on Christmas? Or will be?”

The sadness settled in over her again. “Maybe you’re right. I had never thought of it before.”

“More like you've always pointed to an external reason why you felt sad. But it was really you all along.”

She poured more tea into her cup and drank again. “So, how do I fix it?”

“Why, by not being alone. Of course.”

She thought a moment. “But who wants to spend much time with a moody person like me? I can be happy one moment and angry the next. That’s why I tend to be so alone.”

“You could come with me.” He smiled. “Not that I’m suggesting to pick you up, but you are welcome to come with me.”

“That’s a fine offer. But first, where are you going?”

He shrugged. “Could be most anywhere, or at any time.”

“Any time? Don’t tell me you’re a time traveler.”

He held up his nose. “A time traveler? Really?”

She huffed. “What else do you call it?”

He sighed. “Well, if you’re going to come with me, I suppose I’ll break our rule and reveal to you who I really am. Only, you cannot speak a single word of this to no one else.” Joel moved closer. “And I mean, absolutely no one else. For me to tell you this means you are going to go. Either that, or I’ll have to erase this time from your mind.”

She laughed. “As if you could do that!” When he didn’t laugh, she said, “Can you?”

“I’m an angel.”

She simply stared at him. “Seriously?”

“Yep. A real live, from heaven, speaker to the big Boss upstairs, angel.”

She continued to stare at him. “Prove it?”

“How?”

“I know. Aren’t you guys supposed to have flaming swords?”

“Got one right here.” He stood and pulled a sword out from under his cloak. It burst into flames and his whole countenance grew brilliant. The area lit up like a star coming out of hiding.

Holly held her hands over her eyes. “Okay, okay. I believe you!”

He sheathed his sword and the room regained it’s normal lighting. “So are you ready to come with me?”

Holly though a second. “I’ll need time to get my stuff together. I’ll need clothes and such. Do you have an idea where you are going, though? When will we return? What will be our goal?”

Joel threw up his hands. “I haven’t the foggiest. It all depends on where I’m needed and what the problem is?”

She smiled as she rose. “Okay then. Looks like an adventure is in order.”

Holly dashed to her room and quickly threw together some clothes and other items she figured she would need. What did she feel now? A touch of excitement with a sense of dread.  The question was, how much of it was her and how much Joel? Did he dread this? He wouldn’t have asked if he dreaded it. Unless, of course, the “Big Boss” was forcing him to do this. She paused. “Nah. Couldn’t be. It would be natural that I would dread what might happen if I go with some ‘angel’ I’d just met.” She grabbed her bag and slung it over her shoulders. “But exciting too. Who knows what wonders I’ll see with an angel.”

Then she realized where the dread came from. She entered the room where Joel had grabbed his bag and was waiting. She asked him, “Joel, does this mean I’m dead?”

Joel shook his head. “My my, no way. You’ll always be alive.”

“I know we’re made to live eternally, what I mean is whether I’m now going to be dead to this world?”

“Nope. Not going to happen. At least, not yet.”

The dread disappeared. Yep, it was her dread. “I’m ready.”

He reached out his hand. “Hold my hand.”

She stare at his hand for a second. She knew everything would be different from here on out. No more wondering what she would do, because she didn't know what would happen, but God did. She reached out and grabbed his hand.

In a flash of bright light, the pair disappeared from the house, leaving nothing stirring but dust.

--<O>--

The brightness receded to reveal the outskirts of a city. Holly still felt Joel’s hand in hers. She asked, “Where are we?”

“Not sure, but the information I have says it is Belenor. Sikso’s old second home.”

Holly frowned. “I thought you said you had no idea where we were going?”

Joel turned to her. “I didn’t. God tells me when we arrive at a location.”

“I didn’t hear anything?”

He laughed. “Of course not. It is an internal sense that He gives me. A sixth sense, so to speak.”

“Do all angels have that sense?”

He paused. “Yes, as well as some humans.”

A wave of anger overcame Holly. “Why don’t I have that sense then. Am I not good enough!”

Joel didn’t seem to notice the rise in her voice. “Not at this time, apparently.”

“You’re all powerful. You give it to me. NOW!”

Joel’s lips turned downward. “I’m not all powerful, nor can I give it to you, as much as I might desire to.”

Holly stomped her foot on the ground. “Why not? It is Christmas, after all. I deserve a good gift for once in my life. Not this curse I’ve been . . .” Holly froze and then said, “I’m sorry. I feel anger from someone here. We should go find them and fix it before I say or do something I’ll regret. However, why couldn’t you give it to me.”

He smiled. “Because, my dear Holly, you have to have faith before you can get that sense.”

She thought for a moment. “Faith? Faith? What is faith, you, you . . . I’m doing it again. I mean, I know what faith is.”

“Do you?” Joel’s self-assured smile mocked her.

“Of course I do! You crazed an—”

Joel flung a hand toward her and a gag went over her mouth. “I said, you can never speak what I am. Ever.”

Her red face nodded abruptly.

Joel waved his hand and the gag disappeared. “Come. Let’s find this angry person before it eats you up.”

“I can fully agree with that. Damn this curse.”

“Now, now. Let’s not play God.” Joel began walking quickly toward the town gate.

“I’d like to see you deal with something like this. Ha!”

Joel swung around and stared deep into her eyes. “I have dealt with something like this before. For well over 200 years. You don’t know what I’ve been through.”

Holly grinned with her eyes tight as she continued. “I’m sure that is minimal time for an ang—”

Joel held his hand into the air.

"I mean, powerful being as yourself. How long have you been alive?”

“Not important.”

“I’ll bet it is. How long? 1000 years? 2000, 3000? Come on, how many?”

Joel turned around and went into a jog. “We need to find this person. Now!”

Holly dashed after him. “Ah ha! Running from a young woman’s questions, are you? I’ll not stop until you’ve answered me!”

--<O>--

Joel entered the local tavern. He stopped a man heading out. “Hey, do you know anyone who is angry a lot around here?”

The man let out a belly laugh. “Sir, that would be at least half the town.”

“On Christmas?”

“Especially on Christmas. One half is angry about the other half’s happiness.” He stepped out of the tavern.

Holly’s voice echoed from outside. “Hey, watch where you’re going, buster!”

Holly entered the tavern. She said, “Can you believe that guy? Ran right into me without so much as an apology.”

Joel rolled his eyes. “I can see why you live alone, now.”

“Don’t you roll your eyes at me!”

“Calm down, will you? Everyone in the tavern can hear you.”

Holly scanned the room. Almost every eye centered on her. She smiled sheepishly. “Sorry  folks. You can resume your meal.” Then she turned back to Joel and said sternly but quietly, “Don’t think for one minute that I’m letting you off the hook.”

Joel grabbed her by both shoulders. “Focus, Holly. Focus. How in the past have you found the person who has the emotions you’re experiencing?”

Holly thought for a moment. “I’m not sure, exactly. As a matter of fact, I believe they find me.”

Joel looked up to the ceiling. “Funny, that’s what Sisko said. As a matter of fact, that’s what I’ve experienced as well.”

“Well, I don’t find this funny at all!”

“Nor do I, young lady,” a gruff voice sounded from behind her.

She spun around to see a big, muscular, lumberjack-type fellow glaring down at her. She said, “What of it, big stuff.”

“I don’t make a habit of slapping ladies, but in your case, I just might make an exception.”

“I’d like to see you try!”

Joel quickly stood in front of Holly. “Ignore her, sir. She’s not herself today.”

The man looked him over.

“It is Christmas, after all.” Joel gave him his best smile.

The man waved his hand at them and went on to order from the bar. “Just keep her quiet.”

Joel turned back to a gagged Holly. He waved his hand and the gag disappeared. She opened her mouth to speak. Joel put a finger to his lips.

Holly said quieter, “Will you stop doing that?”

“As soon as you control yourself.”

She shook her head. “I can’t seem to control the emotions. They are really strong. Like the person is in this room.”

Joel turned to look at the lumberjack at the bar. He was arguing with the barkeep over the price of his ale. “Could be him. How do you fix it?”

“I don’t know how to fix anger. Usually it passes after a time. It is sort of hard to develop any empathy with someone who is angry too.”

“Why not?”

Holly’s eyes grew wide. “Did you not see how I and he responded to each other?”

Joel nodded. “Yes. I’m surprised your still alive before I came along.”

“It has never been this bad before. Most people are angry for very brief periods of time and over certain petty things. So it usually passes fast. And to be honest, I think this curse has protected me from feeling the worst of it. That is, until today.”

Joel placed his hands down on the table. “Hear me out before you say anything.” He paused until she nodded. “Okay. First, I wish you’d stop calling what the steam house did a curse.” Holly started to say something; Joel held up a hand to stop her. “I know it has been difficult for you.”

“You can say that again.” Holly held her hand over her own mouth.

Joel grinned. “But the steam house only gave you that ability because it saw in you that it would bring about a change for the good. It is like any desire. It pains you until you satisfy it.”

She wrinkled her forehead. “So you’re saying I need to satisfy it somehow? Like what? I don’t understand.”

“By helping that guy over there overcome his anger.”

She sat back in her seat. “That’s an awful tall order you’re asking me to do.”

Joel grinned. “Faith is always a tall order. But with God’s help, doable.”

She stared at the man at the bar, grumbling about something new. She pitied the man to have to  live with this anger day in and day out. She’d only experienced it for an hour or so, and she felt like a mess. She hated living it. She hated him for giving it to her. For the steam house giving it to her, for Joel bringing her here. She hated, hating.”

She rose from her seat and walked toward the man. She tentatively tapped him on the shoulders. He swung around and growled, “What do you want!”

She struggled within herself, but she was determined not to let his anger get the best of her. “I wanted to ask, for, for . . .”

“Get it out lady or get out of here.”

She swallowed the words that wanted to come out. “For your forgiveness.”

He stared blankly at her for a moment. “My forgiveness? I don’t think anyone has ever asked me for that before. Well, except when I was about to beat them to a pulp.”

Holly’s anger began to melt away; it must be working. “And, I wanted to let you know that I forgive you as well. Do you mind if I pray for you?”

“Ha, if you think it will do any good, go ahead.”

She nodded. “Father, forgive us of our anger and heal us of our afflictions that have caused it. Amen.”

The man had wet eyes. He blinked back his tears. “Thank you. You have no idea what I’ve been through. But thank you for that.” He stood and walked out of the tavern.

Holly’s own anger had vanished. She stepped back to where Joel sat. She wore a big smile.

“Looks like you did good.” Joel crossed his arms.

“What? Are you going to say ‘I told you so?’”

“Wasn’t planning on it, though I did.” Joel uncrossed his arms and leaned over toward her. “Where did the faith come from? What is the faith in you?”

Holly ran her fingers through her brown hair. “I’m not sure if I have the terminology right or not, but I believe my faith is trust in God’s ability to use me for His purposes. So I believed, and I went up to the man. The rest happened.”

Joel nodded. “You’ve about got it. But it came when you started looking at what the steam house gave you as not a curse, but a ministry. You can empathize with others like no one else can. You can heal the inner spirit, not merely the outward body.”

“You mean, like Sisko did?”

“Sikso had faith, a great faith. Still, he only scratched the surface of what it meant to heal someone, to really save them. And his faith needed the ring to operate.”

“Okay, my mind is completely blown. You’re telling me that I can heal like Sisko could, without a ring?”

“Yes.” He held his right fingers together into a point and said, “It is a gift. A Christmas gift to you. From God. And I have one too.”

“Really? A gift for me?”

Joel nodded and touched her head. He mumbled some words, then said, “That’s it. I’ve given you the ability to turn on and off your gift of feeling other’s emotions.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Just say, ‘Emotions off,’ and ‘Emotions on,’ to turn them off or on.”

“Why didn’t you give this to me before? It would have made things so much simpler.”

“Because until you’d learned what you needed to learn from that ‘curse,’ as you put it, you wouldn’t have had the faith necessary to use it properly.” Joel stood and stepped out of the tavern. “Ready to go home?”

“Sure, but can I do one thing first?”

“What?”

“Can I give you a kiss on the cheek?”

“I suppose that would be permitted.”

Holly reached up and gave him a kiss. Then she said, “Thank you, Joel. For the best Christmas ever.”

“You’re welcome.” Joel smiled.

Holly jumped up and down. “I’m ready to help the next person God sends me.”

“Cool.”

They clasped hands. As they faded into a bright light, Holly said, “I’m still curious. How long have you lived?”

The light dimmed until nothing but the dirt on the road stirred.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

New Novel Out: Reality Game!

Yes, after publishing the third book in this series back in 2013 (has it really been that long? I'm afraid so,) I've finally finished the series with book four: Reality Game. For the handful of people who have been waiting all this time to find out what happens to our heroes--Jeremy, Mickey, Bridget, and Natalie--your wait is over!

This series started with an idea I had back in 2006: what if one could have virtual reality and reality interact? Sort of like Star Trek's holodeck in reverse. So I came up with the planet Zori, where blobs of sentient goo lay around on the planet, were made movable through the virtual technology of an alien race. They could construct virtual bodies and houses and such. Then, another more military race, came to their planet and took over the virtual technology to construct a world taken from Earth's movies and TV shows, then he created a virtual "game" which was to virtually transport players from Earth to Zori to fight his war with another planet's inhabitants.

At the end of that book, Mind Game, they obtain superhero masks that allow them to be any number of virtual superheroes, allowing them to help the citizen's of Earth. But then the planet of the more military people who invaded and took over Zori, now attempt to take over Earth using a virtual army. That's the story's premise in the second book, Hero Game.

The third and fourth books, Virtual Game and Reality Game respectively, constitutes a whole story about the rise of the a para-military organization: Earth Security Enhancement League, to power by commandeering the Virtual Reality machine to initially combat another alien invasion, but later, to take over Earth to establish a one-world government.

So while you could read this last book and pick up on what has happened before enough to make sense out of what is going on, it will help to read the other three books before this one. At least, I would highly recommend reading Virtual Game as it is part one of the same story that this book is part two, to. LOL.

You can go to Amazon to get this book and also the others as well. Thank you for your support! And I would greatly appreciate as many as can, to read it and put a review on Amazon. As that will affect sales greatly.

I'm excited to make this final volume available. What else am I working on? About three or four other projects, one a new more adult book called Rebellion that is in the editing stages, which should be out sometime next year if all goes according to plan. I'm in the middle of writing Deep Brian Invasion, my NaNo novel that I obviously didn't finish writing in November. Also I have a couple of other non-fiction projects in the editing stages I'm working toward getting ready. So plenty in the hopper, not to mention all the ideas I have partially worked on over the years with the full intention of getting back to them at some point. Like a whole 5 book fantasy series that I have 2.25 books written up at this point.

So while I could resurrect this series in the future if I have the desire to, I don't foresee that happening at this point as I figure all that I plan on writing someday will take me beyond the point I'll be able to write. So I'll have plenty of other stories to write into old age. And if I should by chance finish all that I have planned, I'm sure I'll be able to come up with new ones at that point. All that to say that I expect this to be the final novel. I could write some more short stories in this world, perhaps. But full novels? I think this is it.

So I'll leave you with the blurb for this book that is also on Amazon's page. I'm excited to offer to you, Reality Game!

Note; The paperback of the book is now out as well as the ebook I've linked to several times. Just in time for Christmas!

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The final conclusion to the exciting story of two teens who found themselves using virtual reality in reality, and using that virtual reality to defend Earth from aliens, and now, from a force within Earth itself.

The story picks up shortly after events in the last book, Virtual Game, where our heroes, Jeremy, Mickey, Bridget, and Natalie, are fighting the Earth Security Enhancement League (ESEL), a world-wide military organization put in place to defend the planet from alien invasions. But who will defend the planet from the head of this league: Commander Fisher, who plans to secretly install a one-world government using the virtual machine? Our heroes using their virtual powers, that’s who!

Though one can read this book and get enough context to enjoy the story, it is best to read the first three books preceding this one: Mind Game, Hero Game, and Virtual Game.

Get all four and enjoy the Virtual Chronicles story in full, today!


Thursday, November 1, 2018

NaNoWriMo - Day 0.5

On this beginning of Nov. 1st, I decided I would give a half-day progress report.

So, I attended the Denver NaNo kickoff party. I went in hopes of getting to know some people. As it turns out, it wasn't as organized as Austin's kickoff party used to be. I arrived at the designated coffee shop, walked in, looked around to see if anyone was in charge. No one approached me. The first person to actually talk to me was handing out "grab bags". She told me "welcome". Aside from some brief interaction of a practical nature with two other people, that was it as far as "getting to know" anyone. Rather, I noticed I was the only older guy there. Most of the people came into the shop, sat with friends, and talked for two hours until midnight. Aside from a brief announcement by whoever was in charge and the countdown to midnight, I could have been alone at home doing the same thing.

I'm not knocking the group. I'm sure it tends to be more of a college thing, and so has gravitated to what it currently is. I'm an intruder to that group. I had expectations, I suppose, that it would be like Austin where I knew different folks and all and there were a lot of college age folks, but there were also a lot of older people like me. So, chalk up one to knowing better next time.

On a positive note, however, I got around 1200 words written in 1.5 hours. Not great, but not bad for a PD patient on DBS. I can type faster but still not quite as fast as I did before PD. At least I can make a good run at getting 50K in a month now. Before it would have been very difficult to pull off.

So I wrote until around 1:20 am, then packed it up and went home. Today's schedule is to go do a Zumba class, then I'll return home, probably take a nap, then see how much I can get written before the day ends. I'll report tomorrow on how well I did today. Until then, see you later!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

It Is Finally NaNo Time Again!

After a four year break in any attempts at doing National Novel Writing Month, I'm now taking another stab at it.

For those who don't know, National Novel Writing Month, otherwise shortened to NaNoWriMo, or its even shorter version, NaNo, is when writers from all over the world get together online to encourage each other to write a novel in a month of at least 50K words.

"Nay, nay," I can hear someone saying. "You can't write a novel in a  month! At least not a publishable novel."

"Nay, nay," I say, most of my published novels were originally written during NaNo. The only exceptions to that is Reality's Dawn, and two that are recently done but not published yet, Reality Game and Rebellion. And all of those the bulk of them were written in around a month or less. Professional writers write even faster than that.

What takes me so long is editing!

Anyway, I'm going to write my third novel this year, come November. Except, this one will be special. It is my Parkinson's novel. I plan upon publishing it, to have most, if not all, of the proceeds go to Parkinson's research. I'll probably donate it to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

It is called "Deep Brain Invasion," and obvious spin on Deep Brain Stimulation, otherwise known as DBS. DBS is a procedure I went through last September where two leads are planted into one's brain, where electrical impulses from a battery pack, also implanted, block the erroneous signals from the brain that cause the tremors and problems with other muscle movements. It isn't a cure, but does help people like me live a "normal" life for a while longer. Hopefully, for years. Prior to this, around every four hours I would take a dose of my medication that would result in about an hour of feeling "normal." The other three hours, using my left hand wasn't easy.

Anyway, due to that, I not only can type more freely, I also have a story for my Parkinson's novel. I came up with the idea shortly after the surgery, and wrote out a short story that will end up being my first chapter. I've written one other chapter. Now I simply need to write another 50k words this coming month to hopefully finish it out.

So this is special for several reasons. The last time I finished a novel for NaNo was in 2012, Virtual Game which is currently out for sale. That was the 4th year I had ever won NaNo. It was to be my last . . . until now, that is. I fully expect to finish this year, and hopefully for years to come.

Anyway, I wanted to let my readers know that I'll be posting my progress and other related things, hopefully each day of November. If you want to follow my progress, subscribe. If you don't want to be bombarded with daily or near daily posts of my progress during November, then unsubscribe, at least for November.

You have been warned!

But seriously, I hope you'll stick around and cheer me on to the finish line.

Friday, October 19, 2018

7 Suggestions to Writing Action Scenes

Here in Colorado, I missed a chance to attend the local writer group this past Sunday. Basically, I'm not used to going to anything on Sunday afternoon. So I missed even the reminder I had set to go off to, you know, to remind me of the upcoming event. I regretted missing it, because an author was going to discuss writing action scenes. Since I do write such scenes, I was interested in what he would have to add to my knowledge base.

So, since I missed that, I thought I would share what I do know about writing action scenes. Then I'll go next month to the next meeting. If I remember, that is. To look at my phone, that is.

So, what do I know about writing action scenes? I know I don't know it all, but what I do know, I'll share.

Definition of an action scene.


First, we need to define exactly what we are talking about when we refer to "action" scenes. We are talking about whenever any action that moves the plot forward needs to take place. It could be running from something or someone, or a fight, or a car chase, or even a board game. Any action which involves increasing tension until it resolves to some degree.

A lot of authors say they don't like writing action scenes. If so, they are probably doing it wrong, and it comes through in whatever action scenes they do write. What they generally mean is they don't like writing fight scenes. But an action scene is much more than fighting, as I've described above. Most every book will have some action scenes in it, even romance. Thus the need for us to examine how to write them in a manner that not only becomes enjoyable, but realistic.

Now, here are seven suggestions I have for writing action scenes.

1. Keep in mind the purpose of an action scene


Why have an action scene? What do they accomplish?  Two words: tension and resolution. That's why so many climaxes use them so often. But the goal, whether one is talking about action scenes in movies or in a book are to create tension about what will happen to the character, to put him or her in jeopardy that you are not sure they will escape. If you are having an action scene purely for its own sake, you're missing the whole point of having one in there. Instead of it being an important plot-moving element, it becomes mere plot decoration. Sort of like having a token action scene because it is expected.

Basic rule of thumb, if it does nothing for the tension of the story and the character(s), it is best to cut it or just say it happened without describing it.

2. Action scenes have a narrow focus.


By that, I mean that when a character goes into a battle or such, he or she focuses on the battle rather than a lot of other stuff going on around them. They won't notice the color of a drapery unless it falls on them or their opponent. So sensory data gets narrowed to whatever is going on in the battle or action. Think of all the adrenaline going through their veins. They will tend to only focus on the task at hand, or if well trained, only relevant data like noticing a fist coming at them from the side.

So your writing will need to reflect that narrow focus. Don't take time to describe any scenery except for that which directly is relevant to the action, to make sense of it. For instance, you could say something like, "A blue Dodge van careened toward them." But you wouldn't want to say, "We ran past a blue Dodge van as I plunged my fist toward his face."

To be realistic, you only should notice what your character would in that situation.

3. Action scenes happen fast.


This is good news for people who write an action scene: you don't need to spend pages writing out blow by blow accounts of everything. What does this mean for writing them?

It means action scenes should only be as long as required to describe the action adequately enough that the reader doesn't get lost. Probably one of the harder action scenes I've written was in my book, Mind Game, where I describe a space battle between three ships. It was a challenge to give enough detail that people could follow or get a picture in their minds as to what was happening in this three-dimensional-movement environment, but not so much that I made it appear longer than it would in real life.

Let's focus on sword fighting, for instance. Most sword fights happen in two or three moves. You rarely see the types of sword fights you see in movies where they battle it out for several minutes. It usually takes 2 to 5 seconds. Therefore, your writing should reflect that. If you have them swinging at each other more than three times, it starts to work its way toward non-realism.

That also means you'll want to use brief, short, sentences to describe action scenes. Conjunctions are not your friend if they are tying two long and complete sentences together. Break them up. The only thoughts of the character need to be focused on the battle or action at hand. This is not, generally, the time for long monologues or thoughtlogs as the case may be.

4. Focus more on the experience of the pov character than on the action itself.


That could be counter to what I just said above, but a balance needs to be maintained. Describe the action as necessary, but what the reader is really interested in is the character's experience. This is where showing can be very handy. Take these two examples:

Example 1: I hit him in the mouth and he slammed his fist into my gut.

Example 2: I swung my fist. It rammed into his jaw with a loud crack. My lungs expelled their air as a force slammed into my gut. I collapsed. The steely taste of blood rose into my mouth.

See how the second example raises the tension more than the first? The first just conveys what is happening. The second conveys what is happening to the character, what he or she is experiencing.

5. Don't have your characters talk a lot in an action scene.


What they do say should be short, to the point, and matching the drama of the moment. You might get "Look out!" or "Duck!" What you shouldn't get, unless your writing a literary piece, is long thoughts and discussions that put all the action on pause.

Just think, if you are in an action scene, like I was one time after my car spun out on the side of the road. The car's wheel stub was on fire, I didn't talk much. I ran as fast as I could to a nearby gas station to tell them to call the fire dept.

You wouldn't expect (though you often get) long discussions between characters. Or friendly banter like Spiderman or Deadpool. Those two are character traits. You don't often see much dialog (there are always exceptions) for instance, in Captain America's fights. There always tends to be pauses in the action to discuss something, but other than for characterization, you don't want most of your characters to say a lot during action scenes. Whatever they do say, should be to move the action forward or to build further tension.

6. Don't attempt to mimic the movies.


Movies use a lot of action scenes. Camera work is designed for it. You can see what is happening, and just seeing the main character dangling over that pool of acid is enough to keep you glued to the screen to see whether and how he escapes, or not, as the case my be.

However, as in point 4 above, just describing what happened from a camera pov is boring in writing. I've had people tell me they tend to skim and/or skip action scenes in most novels. The reason is they don't increase the tension in a novel as they do on the silver screen.

That's why point 4 is so important to include in any action scene. The tension will come more from what will happen to the character. So whether we are talking being hit or being dealt a bad hand in a poker game, we had better know what it means to the character's pov or you haven't conveyed good tension.

7. Your point of view will be an important factor how and what is described.


The above assumes you are writing in first or third limited person. If you are using an omniscient pov, however, your tactics can change. Keeping in mind the building of tension, you will have more freedom to get by with abbreviated action scenes. You can pull back for a broad view of a fight, as J. R. Tolkien does in Lord of the Rings, or you have the freedom to go into a specific head for a more personal view.

In either case, you do what will build tension most. For instance, I recall the scene in the movie, Lord of the Rings, where you have an extended fight scene with orcs and Legolas at Helms Deep. However, in the book, Tolkien only describes it in a sentence or two, referring to the sun glinting off Legolas' blade as he swung his sword over and over. In that pov, he could get away with that brief description. But to have focused on what happened, blow by blow, as he killed orc after orc, would have been tedious and wouldn't have built the tension as it did in the movie. Some complain that the movie's fight scenes were too long as well.

In first or limited third person pov, you would have to use a telling transition to skip over all that, something like, "My muscles grew weak as I hacked away at orc after orc. After several minutes of killing, I saw a bright light coming over the hill." But the omniscient pov has the value of being more descriptive in this instance.

Summary


So keep tension in your action scenes. They should build tension through them until it resolves, or partially resolves. All the above points focus on that aspect and making them as realistic as possible. If you can accomplish that while breaking any of the above suggestions, more power to you. But keeping the above points in mind will help to keep your action scenes pulling the reader into them, instead of something to skip over.