All posts by M.J.

#443: Versers Acclimate

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #443, on the subject of Versers Acclimate.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,

  1. Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel,
  2. Old Verses New,
  3. For Better or Verse,
  4. Spy Verses,
  5. Garden of Versers,
  6. Versers Versus Versers, and
  7. Re Verse All,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways.  Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts.  Previous posts for this novel include:

  1. #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering chapters 1 through 21;
  2. #437:  Characters Relate, chapters 22 through 42;
  3. #440:  Changing Worlds, chapters 43 through 63.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 64, Brown 216

I had thought about Vashti having moved the bicycle, but decided that it wasn’t really anything worth including.

I was hung up on this chapter for maybe a couple weeks, during which time I wrote several Faith in Play articles and formatted a few of the old resurrected Game Ideas Unlimited articles to recycle as RPG-ology, and did a couple of web log posts on different subjects.  My problem was that I knew broadly what I wanted to do, having Derek reconfigure the robot to prepare food for them, but didn’t know whether that meant taking it back to their rooms to work on the computer there or taking it directly to the kitchen to set it up there.  I also knew that my secondary purpose, translating, was not going to be something for which a routine existed, because the indigs all spoke one language.

I used a base ten to base eight converter online at http://www.unitconversion.org/numbers/base-10-to-base-8-conversion.html to get the right digits for the robot identification number.


Chapter 65, Slade 189

I anticipated this, although not when I had the first fight.  Probably when I finished writing that first fight I knew I would have to have a second, and would have to find a way to make the second opponent just as good but in a different way, and when Slade had defeated both of them individually I knew that I could use a comment from him to set up a fight against both together, and that that would lead to the birds asking to be trained.  I could think of no reason why Slade would not agree to that, so it became the plan.


Chapter 66, Kondor 194

I kept writing myself into tough spots.  This was another.  I was not at all certain how to go forward with the Kondor story here.

I cut this short so I could return to some kind of discussion of Leah’s visit to the wise men, even though I wasn’t sure how that would go, either.


Chapter 67, Slade 190

I was actually not quite certain how to move forward with Derek in a way that would be interesting, and as I glanced at Slade’s previous chapter I was immediately having ideas, so I changed the sequence.


Chapter 68, Brown 217

This was mundane, but I wanted the robot to be seen to work but not wonderfully so.  I kind of stumbled into the time problem, because it struck me that Derek should order breakfast for when they awoke, but it would be difficult to say when that would be, and even more so given that it was a day on which he did not have to be at work, so he could sleep in and time would not matter.

I was still feeling my way through what kinds of things Derek could order that would translate to something in the ship’s language.


Chapter 69, Kondor 195

I pondered for a couple days, while working on the other chapters, how this would play.  My original thought was that it would be a conversation between the couple, and then I wondered whether one or more of the wise men would come to engage him in dialogue.  I still had not decided as I put the chapter heading in place.

Ultimately I decided that Leah would continue to hold her beliefs and Kondor would be unaffected.

When I got them back to the room after dinner I genuinely did not know what to do with them, but I remembered that she had asked to continue learning combat technique and that Lauren had taught fighting in a room somewhere in the palace, so I went with that with some ideas about what was going to happen next.


Chapter 70, Slade 191

I threw this together quickly, but had a sudden inspiration for the rubber ball thing, which I figured I could reveal in the next chapter.


Chapter 71, Brown 218

I had been thinking for a day or two about what Derek was going to get from his breakfast order, and the idea of baked eggs kept coming back to me.  Looking them up, I determined that in our world that usually refers to what is also called shirred eggs, like fried eggs but cooked in a shallow pan in an oven, sometimes with toppings.  I still liked the image of a couple of whole eggs in the shell sitting on the plate.  The rest was sort of cobbled together as I went, trying to fit the order literally while making something a bit alien.

I don’t like the fact that Derek and Kondor are both headed for combat practice at the same time, but I’m expecting Kondor’s to be a bit different, so I’m not too worried about it.


Chapter 72, Kondor 196

I anticipated this combat practice going in a honeymoon direction, much as their bath had done, as their brief rift is mended.  But figuring out how they were going to spar together took me longer than I expected, so I delayed the fight itself to the next chapter–which was perhaps good, because I needed to write Kondor chapters, and his story was going to have to stretch the time they were together up to the time I was going to begin the trouble that versed them out.


Chapter 73, Slade 192

At first I was going to begin with the professor, and delay the class testing, but I decided that the testing was not likely to be very interesting so I put it first.  Then I was going to do the fight, but I decided that it was a good cliffhanger to put the fight in the next chapter.  Besides, I’ve had a few swordfights already, and I’ve got several fights coming up all at once, so I’m going to have to give a lot of thought to keeping it interesting.


Chapter 74, Brown 219

Before I got to this chapter I had my second dose Moderna COVID vaccine, and I lost the weekend to the adverse reaction (mostly fevers and exhaustion).  I’d had COVID last year, and it was not nearly as intense as the vaccine reaction, although it’s been suggested that the reaction was bad because I’d had the disease.  It was thus several days before I started it, and a couple more before I finished.

I had three hold-ups.  One was where to put the room.  I knew, and I checked, that I had put the galley two decks below the officers’ quarters; I did not remember if I had a reason for that at the time.  That left me with the question of what I had intended for the deck between, and whether that was a good place for officers’ recreation facilities.  It occurred to me that I could put the gym on the same level as either the living quarters or the galley, but I didn’t want that area to feel like it was sprawling.  I ultimately decided on the deck between, mostly because nothing else really made sense there.  I had considered deck crew quarters, but there was little sense in the enlisteds being between the officers and their galley, and I would have to put the enlisted galley somewhere.

The second hold-up was specifically what to do about combat practice for Derek and Vashti.  They had done this together before, but always with the other princesses, sometimes also with Lauren.  I’d never had them one-on-one, and wasn’t sure how to handle that.  Still, with only rather nebulous ideas and a check of their character sheets for weaponless combat abilities, I decided to tackle it.

The third was trying to get a sense of the gym itself.  There was this imbalance between trying to keep it alien while making it useful for humanoids.  Obviously everything would be smaller–but the ceiling would still be high, because even if their games were different they would have similarities, throwing objects and such.


Chapter 75, Kondor 197

I realized well before I got here that I was going to have three practice combat sessions in a row.  However, I knew this one was going to be different, so I wasn’t too worried about it.


Chapter 76, Slade 193

In the extended time I had since setting up this match, I had given consideration to how to make it more interesting, and in what way the professor would be more talented than the students without being a genuine threat to Slade.  My first thought was what I had heard called Florentine, the use of a cape in the off hand.  (Florentine covers much more than that, but that was sufficient for Slade’s level of understanding.)  I realized when the thought first struck that he could not be proficient in double-blade fighting because then the students wouldn’t be seeking that training from Slade.  I gave some thought to having him use a flex weapon such as a chain in the off hand, noting that Slade had practiced against Lauren, but decided that someone who could use a sword and a chain could certainly use a sword and a dagger.  So I went with my first instinct.


Chapter 77, Brown 220

I was starting to flounder again with Derek.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t doing important and interesting stuff; it was that there wasn’t much way to make it interesting in the story.


Chapter 78, Kondor 198

This was composed of fragments that had come to mind–the idea that they actually were teenagers and newlyweds, the thought that her brother Mohammed would have to return home but Kondor could do as he chose, and the realization that Mohammed was not yet married and I was gradually whittling down my pool of princesses.  My choice of Ketty was based largely on really internalized impressions of the girls and a very few notes–I decided that Sarai had the pretty face because Derek had called her Lashes, and something about Ketty and the scarf made me think she was a bit bubbly and personable.

I have decided that they will be going to Leah’s family home with Mohammed; I think, too, that Zeke will go with them, mostly so he can see where it is and what it looks like for psionic and magical purposes.


Chapter 79, Slade 194

I started this chapter the same day I wrote the previous Kondor chapter, but was wearing out so I left it as I was beginning the third paragraph.

I decided I had been away from the engineering and construction threads long enough that I could return and view the progress.  I also decided to bring up the notion that there was probably going to be a war, because as was observed previously, if Slade arrives, trouble follows.


Chapter 80, Kondor 199

I had marked this chapter for Derek, as a kind of automatic selection, but the next day came back and decided that I could move forward with Joe and let Derek sit a bit.  That would hopefully give the impression of time passing on the spaceship while he worked on the various projects that would not be so interesting in the telling as they are in his experience.

I was, however, faced with the question, that Joe and Leah were going to discuss their plans, and probably include Zeke in the discussion, but should that be in the text or merely mentioned as backstory?  If it were just Joe and Leah I would almost certainly make it something referenced, that this was what they decided, but the fact that their decision impacts Zeke changes that.

The reasons Zeke gives are in fact the reasons I had him go with them.


Chapter 81, Slade 195

I had less idea what to do with Slade at this point, but not as little as I had for Derek, and mostly I needed a chapter to delay Kondor’s trip.  I decided that the development of the telephone was a good next step for the team that had created the telegraph, although I felt very much as if I was probably boring my readers with the technical explanation.  Well, maybe.


Chapter 82, Kondor 200

I had to ask my fans for help coming up with the word “palanquin” when I realized that Leah would travel in one.  Thanks to Bryan Ray for providing the answer.  Also thanks to Chor Kun Chin, who gave me “litter” and “sedan”.

I wanted to capture some of the details of the trip, but this is mostly color.


Chapter 83, Brown 221

Again the impetus for putting this chapter here was mostly to break up the Kondor story and keep it moving.  However, there was much for Derek to do, and learning to fly the smaller ships was one of the essentials.


Chapter 84, Kondor 201

I didn’t expect the journey to last three chapters, but it was giving me some story and some character interaction.


This has been the fourth behind-the-writings look at In Verse Proportion.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts for it and another novel.

#442: The Song “Call to Worship”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #442, on the subject of The Song “Call to Worship”.

It’s easy to explain why this song was not on the original “short list” for the Extreme Tour demo:  it’s short.

I hesitate to say that I wrote it in high school.  I think that BLT Down, the band that was precursor to The Last Psalm, used it on one occasion in 1972 to open a church service; I know that The Last Psalm sometimes used it as a concert opener.

I made this vocals-over-midi-instruments recording as part of the nostalgic collection of recordings of Last Psalm songs for Jes Oldham.  It has never been one of my favorites, but it is more a function song, a bit of modern liturgy.

I’ve had an odd relationship with liturgy over the decades.  Growing up in Baptist and Presbyterian churches, there was very little of it, and it was constantly in flux.  I remember creating worship services at summer camp, and specifically attempting to use the bits of liturgy as teaching tools.  The more liturgical churches generally had the same words repeated week after week, and this seemed to me to be vain repetition.  It wasn’t until I was in college that I read C. S. Lewis’ piece on updating the Anglican liturgy (in God in the Dock) that anyone explained to me the value of saying the same words week after week, which, according to him, meant you didn’t have to think about the words but could focus on the Person to Whom they were addressed.

I still don’t do well with liturgy, but I get it.  It’s like singing familiar worship songs, or praying in tongues, the worshipper freed from thinking about what he is saying so he can focus on God.  Liturgy just doesn’t work that way for me.

Because this song predates my reading of that essay, it has an aspect of trying to teach something to the congregation.  I know now that that’s not really what liturgy is for in liturgical churches, even if Baptists and Presbyterians use it that way.

Call to Worship.

So here are the lyrics.

God is our Father, this church is His home.
Let us now praise Him with our thoughts and our song.
Come into His presence and sing to His name,
Let Him run your life–you won’t be the same.

God is our Father, He’ll live in your heart.
Once He’s inside you, He never will part.
So when you leave here, wherever you go,
Take Jesus with you, let His glory show.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” |

Next Song:  How Many Times

#441: The Song “Fork in the Road”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #441, on the subject of The Song “Fork in the Road”.

John David Mastick, drummer from long ago in The Last Psalm (and, incidentally, Jacob’s Well), has been nagging me for this song since he first became aware that I was posting songs.  I hope he’s not too disappointed in this version of it.

The song goes back to my high school days, and is rather blatantly inspired by the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken; I occasionally recited the poem in introducing the song, but honestly even I can see that the words to the poem are better.  It was an effort to create a Christian rock song in a time when these were few and far between.  It always had vocals except on those rare occasions when I sang it solo, in which case the bottom voice part is the melody.

It was first performed by The Last Psalm, probably as early as early 1973.  The first four verses, presented below as one block, were sung, followed by a lead guitar solo, and then the vocals returned with the second half.  It’s difficult to recall the details of back then, but I think after the last line we shifted into a simple riff with an E9 sliding in from a half step below a half beat before the downbeat and another guitar solo, very much a fast jazz sound.  We would eventually do a live fade, and come back with the original progression into a thrasher ending.  Then that fall John joined the band, and we expanded the arrangement by inserting a drum solo after the first guitar solo.  It was very much the typical late 60s-early 70s drum solo, in which the band moved to the wings and the drummer played as long as he wished; I don’t recall exactly how I would know it was coming to the end, but my return to the stage signaled the others to do the same, and John would give us a pickup back into the second half.

This song landed last on the list of thirty-four songs I put forward for consideration, and I ranked it thirty-fourth for the quality of the song; I had come to think the words very derivative and the music very simple.  I ranked the midi and vocals recording found here thirty-third, and with Tristan not listing it that put it at the bottom.  Yet for some reason in 1975 when The Last Psalm broke up, I felt like this was a song I had to keep for my anticipated looming solo career, and I needed some way to fill that instrumental space.  It had, after all, been the band’s real crowd-pleaser.  I got together with Dave Oldham, who had been the band’s sound engineer that last year (and would later play bass guitar in TerraNova), and wrote an accoustic guitar instrumental section.  It was at the time one of the trickiest and most impressive bits of acoustic guitar work I had done, and I very much liked it.  Thus I included it as the instrumental break here.  We also wrote a shorter multi-chord ending, also used here.

When I put it on the repertoire for Collision, I wanted to restore the extended rock-style instrumental work, but not lose the well-constructed guitar instrumental, so I reconfigured the latter to be played by the band (much as in this recording, but with bass and keyboards playing some of the riffs), then went into a more structured improvisational solo section:  the drums played eight measures of solo, maintaining beat and tempo, then the band returned with an eight-measure lead guitar solo, a keyboard solo of the same length, and then a bass solo of the same length, and then returning to repeat with another drum solo, guitar, keys, bass, and do it again, and finish with another drum solo, playing the harmonics bit again twice, and going back to the second half of the song.  We kept the multi-chord ending.  We had only two vocals, so omitted the top voice.

So it has been through a lot of versions, and this recording is neither the first nor the last, nor the best nor the worst, but gives the sense of the song and most of what I perceived as the good parts other than that I would not presume to create a drum solo given the excellent drummers who have done so before me.

Fork in the Road.

So here are the lyrics.

I came to a fork in the road of life,
And I wondered which road to take.
I knew what one way would try to build,
The other one would try to break.
The one on the left ran fifty feet,
And disappeared around a bend,
While the right one seemed to go quite straight,
But was too long to see the end.
Looking down the left hand road
I wondered what’s around the turn.
It’s true that I might be set free,
But it’s also true that I might burn.
Then I saw the right road was one
Anyone could take in stride.
‘Though it didn’t look like much fun,
Others would walk by my side.

I stood there for a longer time
Than I’ve ever stood anywhere before.
Add all the choices I had made,
And this one meant a thousand times more.
I walked to the turn in the left-hand road,
Knowing I could turn around.
You ought to know another bend
Was all that I had found.
Went back to the fork, and I started out
Along the other road.
In no time I could see the end,
And all it’s glory showed.
I stand at the fork in the road of life,
And I tell people ev’ry day:
Ask Lord Jesus in your life–
The right road is the better way.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.  From this point forward, songs posted will be those that did not, for various reasons, make the original shortlist, in no meaningful sequence.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You”

Next song:  Call to Worship

#440: Changing Worlds

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #440, on the subject of Changing Worlds.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,

  1. Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel,
  2. Old Verses New,
  3. For Better or Verse,
  4. Spy Verses,
  5. Garden of Versers,
  6. Versers Versus Versers, and
  7. Re Verse All,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion, I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways.  Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts.  This is the third mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 43 through 63.  The first was web log post #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering chapters 1 through 21, and the second was #437:  Characters Relate, chapters 22 through 42.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 43, Slade 182

I had managed to steal some time to write the Brown and Kondor chapters back to back, and knew roughly what happened next for both of them, but ran headlong into another Slade chapter.  He’s got the engineers finishing up the telegraph and starting on water heaters and hot water heat, and I really have no idea what he does next–that is, there are other things he can invent, but he can’t invent everything at once.

As usual, I had my character think about things.  This time, though, by the time I was writing what he could create I’d already settled on the phonograph.  It was different enough from the telegraph and the hot water systems that it would involve an entirely different group of engineering students, I expected.


Chapter 44, Brown 209

I had concerns about whether I would be able to make this chapter long enough.  I knew that Derek was going to be darted by an animal husbandry robot, who would recognize that Derek was not one of the indigs and therefore, by its programming, an animal.  It would therefore effect the capture of the stray animal and attempt to determine where it ought to be to return it.  Derek of course was darted by the porcuperson dart, and he carries darts of that sort with him, so he knows the feeling.

The tension was between having Derek actually spend time looking for the devices and moving the story forward.  The linguistic conversations with Vashti were partly to pad the story, but they brought some interest at least to me.


Chapter 45, Kondor 187

Again I was afraid this was going to be a very short chapter.  The significant moment in my mind was that Kondor was going to carry Leah across the threshold into the bedroom, but I knew the scene had to end before there was anything, well, X-rated (or is that A-19 now?).  There wasn’t really enough time between crossing the threshold and being in bed to make a chapter.  Ultimately I decided I had to cover the trip from the dining room to the bedroom–which wasn’t easy, because my floorplan was rather sketchy.

Leah had expressed the intention to drink enough to relax herself, deal with her nerves.  Of course, she’s drinking wine–distilled beverages have not yet been invented here.  You have to drink quite a bit of wine to get very drunk, and while she might have done so I decided I didn’t want her three sheets to the wind, only mildly intoxicated.  That gave me something to talk about.

I knew that Kondor would close the door for privacy.  It struck me that this was a good way to tell the reader they were not invited to see what happens next.


Chapter 46, Slade 183

This was an awkward start because what I knew was that Slade wasn’t going to go to engineering, and the engineering professor was going to catch up with him at lunch.  But then, I knew that Shella slept in, and in my mind Slade has been more of an early riser, at least as compared with her, so I figured out how to burn the morning and headed for lunch.

On the between meals cafeteria, I was sort of remembering college–but the snack table (which I was originally thinking of as donuts and coffee, but realized I couldn’t make it that human) was added to provide something to do.  The image of students filtering in in anticipation of food was from my memories.

I reached the point at which I ultimately ended this chapter, thinking that I should have the engineering professor arrive and begin the conversation I’d planned for that, but then three things dissuaded me.  First, as the Slades got their food it was a good point to fast forward to the end of the meal.  Second, I’d written enough text for a moderate chapter.  Third, I wasn’t sure what would happen after that conversation, and at least if I stopped here I would know what I was writing the next time Slade came to the top of the pile.


Chapter 47, Brown 210

Going into this chapter, I knew that Derek awoke in a cage of some sort.  I figured a few things.  One was that the locks would be connected to the central computer, so he could override them, but he still would have to escape the robot.  Concerning the robot, it has decided that Derek is an animal, and that means it’s trying to classify him and figure out where in the artificial ecosystems of the ship he belongs.  It also means that because of its programming, it doesn’t “expect” intelligent speech from him and will automatically ignore any sound he makes as being that of an animal.  Birds might mimic human speech, but we don’t really believe they know what they are saying and so only take what they say seriously in the sense that they must be repeating something they heard.  Complicating it, I want Derek to come out of this adventure with a robot, and it makes sense for that to be this robot.  He’s either going to have to reprogram it or get it to access the computer to be reprogrammed.  That actually might not be so difficult–the robot will have no data on Derek, and the computer data will identify “it” as the ship’s first officer.  So maybe that will work.

One thing I haven’t decided is whether the robot will strip him of his equipment, and to what degree.  On the one hand, not knowing what he is supposed to look like it might not recognize, say, a backpack as not part of the body.  On the other hand, it would certainly think that an animal shouldn’t have a laser rifle.

And where did I leave that bicycle?  O.K., at this point I went back and reread several of the Derek Brown chapters in Versers Versus Versers, and determined that he had picked up the bicycle with his equipment when he arrived, and had brought it with him to the bridge.  I went back and added mention of the device in Brown 196, 199, and 217.

I must credit James Ward’s Metamorphosis Alpha for the idea that robots would not feed sounds made by intelligent animals through their language processing programs, because whatever the noise sounded like the first point was that animals don’t talk.  That world changed such that they do talk, or some of them, but the robots weren’t reprogrammed to recognize this.

I mentally played with how this was going to work, going through a lot of options, but realized that Derek had spoken to the computer before, and that would save me a chapter, probably.  But I didn’t want escape to be too easy, so I set up the next chapter.


Chapter 48, Kondor 188

Maintaining the PG adult fantasy fiction feeling, I jumped to morning.  I had to give some coverage to their wedding night, and I was recalling my own experience decades ago to some degree.


Chapter 49, Slade 184

I had originally intended for this to happen in the previous chapter, but as I noted I hit a good spot for a pause and I needed to keep Slade’s story from snowballing.  Most of this I had already covered, but it works as something for Slade to discuss with the head of engineering.


Chapter 50, Brown 211

I was getting Derek to suggest a plan for me.

The idea that robots have a cutoff comes from Star Frontiers, where our characters faced combat robots and had to remove a cover panel and hit a shutoff switch on the front of the robot.  It was an easily exploited vulnerability.  The idea that the switch was in the rear comes from Commander Data of Star Trek:  The Next Generation, who once revealed this to Commander Riker, only to have Riker in turn reveal it when Data was on trial to determine whether he had his own right of free will.


Chapter 51, Kondor 189

Brainstorming to fellow writer E. B. Slayer, it struck me that I would need to slow down Slade a bit, but that Kondor was also headed into a slow time.  I decided that after I finished this Kondor chapter I would go back to Derek and then Slade, reversing those two in the sequence.

I honestly didn’t expect this chapter.  It formed itself in my mind in fragments, although all the fragments had been placed in sequence before I started typing.


Chapter 52, Brown 212

I brought this forward because Derek’s story was pressing for a resolution and Slade’s just wasn’t.

I had pieced this together several ways in my mind, but the idea that Vashti would arrive and distract the robot was best.  I had considered having her be drugged while Derek was shutting down the system, but decided that I needed her to converse with Derek and bring out his thoughts.


Chapter 53, Slade 185

I was here faced with the problem of what to do with Slade when he wasn’t doing anything, and still have something worth reading.

The fountain was color.  The street wasn’t really new, but I wanted to recall the imagery and talk about the commercial aspect.

I had the birds notice Slade practicing in part because it occurred to me that I could get him involved in training indigs in fighting technique.  He had been here in the past practicing with his sword; they would undoubtedly have developed weapons like it.


Chapter 54, Kondor 190

Pretty much all I had going into this chapter was that Zeke would tease Joe, and a vague question about whether the couple would get any kind of special treatment.  But I had teased the idea of Zeke marrying one of the other princesses before this, and decided to put the idea in the text, whether or not anything might come of it.


Chapter 55, Brown 213

I had left reprogramming the robot to this chapter, so I had to do something with it.
In the gap, it occurred to me that Derek would not know in what sense he had shut off the robot, and it made a difference.


Chapter 56, Slade 186

As I mentioned, I had the idea of having parakeet swordsmen engage Slade in practice.  That always presents me with the challenge of how to make the combat interesting.  That is particularly so this time because I expect to make this a regular feature of his day, and while I won’t describe it in detail every time, I’m going to have to describe a few of them.


Chapter 57, Kondor 191

I will need a way to remove Kondor from this world eventually, and I have been thinking that another war should do the trick.  I’m prefiguring that now, making the reader aware of the potential enemies.  My geography follows the real world only very roughly, but adequately that I can use the real world countries for a sketch.

This is, of course, the same balcony on which Derek and Vashti and the others watched (or didn’t watch) the sunset in the earlier book.


Chapter 58, Brown 214

I debated what the possibilities were, and let Derek do the same thing.  I decided that it would be a good cliffhanger to have Vashti activate the robot and put off what happens to the next chapter.


Chapter 59, Slade 187

I was doing these sparring combats mostly because I needed to keep Slade’s story interesting.  The comment about combining the two fighters into one was intentionally setting up the next fight.


Chapter 60, Kondor 192

I saw this coming.  I didn’t really like it, but it gives me a chance to explain how Kondor, who has actually seen an elemental spirit of fire, can disbelieve in elemental spirits.


Chapter 61, Brown 215

I had to make several snap decisions for this chapter, the first being what the robot would do.  I discussed it briefly with Kyler, who thought that it having been shut down unexpectedly, it would believe it had malfunctioned and would head for maintenance.  I decided against this, because for whatever I was going to do with it, I needed Derek to acquire it.  Thus I went with a reboot-and-upgrade option.

My next complication was whether this was constructed as a zoological bot or as a general service bot with zoological attachments.  The former would be of much less use to me, so I went with the latter.

The unit number was just random digits; I saw that the last number was going to be 9, and remembered that this world used base 8, so there would be a conversion and the 9 would tell us that this was base 10.  I realized after I wrote it that the center two digits were consecutive; one of my sons has a penchant for four-digit numbers (PINs, phone numbers) in which the center two digits are consecutive and the first and fourth are also consecutive, and I almost changed the 9 to an 8 to achieve that while retaining my base 10 conversion, but I wasn’t sure even he would get it (or indeed ever read it or notice it if he did).


Chapter 62, Slade 188

I needed to combine the fighting styles of the two best birds without making it seem either too much like they knew how to fight together or that they were not smart enough to figure out any of that.  I also didn’t want Slade to be untouched entirely, but he should still win, and the touch should be something the reader would believe.


Chapter 63, Kondor 193

I’m sort of being dragged into this.  Kondor told Leah that there was no Mithra, and now she’s challenging his assumptions, trying to figure out if he might be wrong.


This has been the third behind-the-writings look at In Verse Proportion.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts for it and another novel.

#439: Corpoises: Toward a Story

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #439, on the subject of Corpoises:  Toward a Story.

It was partly a joke, partly serious, in the way that some Dungeons & Dragons monsters are real monsters in the game world but in some way a joke.  I posted it on my Facebook page, and got a couple of likes:

Corpises [COR’-piss-ez] (n, pl):

Undead marine mammals.

However, in addition to a couple likes, I got a request from a publisher that I “Please write this novel,” so I decided to explore the possibilities.

I think the first point to address is a critical aspect of the setting.  If we have undead dolphins and such, to whom or what are they a threat?  Most humans have very little contact with marine mammals, and although we could have them close the beaches, I think people in Nebraska aren’t in any danger, and seriously, telling people they can’t swim in the ocean because there are monsters that might kill them will sufficiently deter enough people that there wouldn’t be a story.  So if it’s people, it has to be something like primitive fishermen, people who live in island villages and rely on small boat fishing for survival.  That definitely limits other aspects of the story.  Of course, the corpoises could be one of many undead creatures, but that reduces their significance, and I feel like this is supposed to be about them.

On the other hand, it’s already fantasy if it includes anything undead, so perhaps I should explore the development of a nation of merpeople, human-like creatures living under the ocean on the continental shelves.  That’s a lot of work in itself, but if we’re talking about writing a novel, that’s not more work than we should expect; it’s only a question of creating something interesting.

We could split the difference and create human undersea colonies that raise some kind of food on the sea floor, which means people would have to go outside the protective domes to do the farming.  That’s another kind of setting to develop, although it would involve fewer unique aspects, being very much a science fiction habitat like others I have done.

Perhaps finally, the porpoise community itself could be the intelligent race threatened by the undead.  It’s worth considering, but then, it might be too alien, Walt Disney meets Stephen King.

My second issue is what kind of undead are we considering, and that’s closely tied to whether there is a theme here.  Traditionally undead creatures are the magical results of necromancy, or sometimes, as with the Revenant, of gross injustice demanding correction.  In modern stories the undead aren’t actually dead but are somehow biologically altered, and that gives a couple options–toxic chemical spills giving us an environmental backdrop, radioactive waste giving us an anti-nuclear substory, or some kind of genetic accident warning against the dangers of genetic engineering.  Currently I’m working on a story for James Beam in which the undead are infected with a brain parasite, and I have not yet decided whether the organism evolved or was created by human action, and might not have to do so, but that’s an option here.  There are other ways to create undead creatures, but they’re generally more intentional, that someone is doing it with a purpose and has some control over the monsters.

My next concern is whether this is horror.  I mean, you would think that if it involves zombies or undead of some sort, it must be horror–but I don’t always feel comfortable with horror.  Oh, I’ve written it.  I frequently mention the beginning of the Derek Brown stories in Old Verses New, in which he visits several horror worlds, but it occurs to me that before that I had written a story based on The Quest for the Vorgo, for Joe Kondor in Verse Three, Chapter One, and I’ve written at least a couple horror scenarios for Multiverser game play apart from those.  Also, my thoughts on the genre in web log post #132:  Writing Horror were apparently valuable enough that they got translated for the Places to Go, People to Be French edition, Maîtriser l’Horreur, so I apparently do know something about it.  On the other hand, as I recently shared in web log post #426:  A Christian View of Horror, genuine horror is at best difficult for a Christian, because in horror hope fails in despair, and for believers hope wins.  That doesn’t mean I can’t write the story; it means I have to give serious thought to what it’s about.

And that is the next question:  what is it about?  Great horror stories are usually about something important.  Frankenstein is about man overreaching to try to create life.  Jurassic Park has a similar theme.  I’ve already mentioned themes about environmental issues and genetic engineering–but do I care enough about these to create a good story from them?  I can see a concept of undead arising from a rejection of God, but seriously, among porpoises?  This is a very difficult aspect of the concept.

Most of that is, of course, setting material.  The last part gives some shape to the plot, but there is no story there.  For that, I’m going to have to create some characters who fit the setting, create some relationships, perhaps a romance, perhaps a family.  I might have to think about who is going to die, and when and how that happens.  I don’t really have a book here at this point.

But I might.  I just have to start finding answers to those questions.

Any reader who has thoughts about such a book is encouraged to respond, in the comments below or on one of my social media pages.

#438: The Song “Even You”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #438, on the subject of The Song “Even You”.

It is difficult to know what to write about this song, because I wrote about it before.  Back when it was written, I posted web log post #181:  Anatomy of a Songwriting Collaboration, in which I described how beginning with the memory of something Jack Haberer posted in our high school yearbook I engaged my youngest son Adam in constructing this song.  Here I offer this recording, done in my living room with an acoustic guitar in competition with an air cleaner, not long after a hospitalization so I would have a recorded copy.  There is an earlier recording on another web site somewhere, linked from the previous article, in which Adam is playing the piano.

Tristan did not mention the song on his list; I suspect he had never heard it, as it was fairly new and he was not at our house much.  I placed the song itself at twenty-ninth, and the recording, flawed as it is, at thirty-second, which tied it with the previous song, Trust Him Again, at thirty-second overall.  The progressions were mostly somewhat common, and although I liked the lyrics I admit that there are spots where I’m not at all sure what Adam meant.  But it is a good song, and I’ve performed it at least once or twice live despite the fact that I rarely get to perform live anymore.

Even You.

So here are the lyrics.

If deep in your heart you remember when,
Did you want to be born again again?
The good news is the news is true:
Jesus comes to make all things new,
Even you, even you, even you, even you.

There in your mind when you feel abused,
Don’t you get tired of being used and used?
Darkness falls, then the light breaks through.
Jesus comes to make all things new,
Even you, even you, even you, even you.

You want what you want.
You get the joy, he took the pain.
You get what you get:
Redemption sustains, sin is a stain.

Ask yourself why you want to sin,
Why you lose; you were made to win.  To win
Victory, and to make it through.
Jesus comes to make all things new,
Even you, even you, even you, even you.

Thank God for what He’s done
To set us free.
He gave His only Son
For you and me.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again”

Next song:  Fork in the Road

#437: Characters Relate

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #437, on the subject of Characters Relate.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,

  1. Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel,
  2. Old Verses New,
  3. For Better or Verse,
  4. Spy Verses,
  5. Garden of Versers,
  6. Versers Versus Versers, and
  7. Re Verse All,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways.  Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts.  This is the second mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 22 through 42.  The first was web log post #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering chapters 1 through 21.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 22, Slade 175

This sat for over a week with the label “Brown” on it, and I was struggling with how to fast forward Derek’s story without making it feel like I just jumped over stuff.  Ultimately I made a sort of decision about that aspect, but also decided it would feel more like time had passed if I skipped Derek again and came back to Slade.

I have the solution to Slade’s problem, but they don’t have it yet, so it’s going to be delayed.


Chapter 23, Brown 202

My solution to the problem in the Brown story included setting up the feeling of weeks by talking about the calendar, and creating the Bridge Simulation Room to make it seem as if his training had advanced beyond book learning.

When I created the 8-day week I spent a lot of time thinking about it–I figured one day for each finger, but then I couldn’t decide whether it would be a five-day week in which no fingers was the day off, or a four-day week.  Since I’d made their math system base eight and tied it to their fingers (obviously for them the base eight was built on the number of fingers they had, although for me the number of fingers was decided so that I could give them base eight), I decided to tie their calendar to it.  I puzzled over why we have seven-day weeks, and thought it might be an argument for an original divine revelation of a seven-day creation, but ultimately recognized that seven is as close as you can get to a quarter of a lunar month, so there is some logic to it.  Since I know nothing about their planet of origin, I don’t need to figure out how their original calendar fit their astronomical conditions.  So ultimately I decided on an eight-day week with two days off, which originally would have been a standard weekend but that this would not apply to crewmen on the ship, who would have to work shifts to keep stations manned.


Chapter 24, Kondor 180

This was more a matter of necessary preliminaries to the chapter in which the dinner is actually held, but it also gave me an opportunity to play with cultural marriage expectations.


Chapter 25, Slade 176

I had worked out the solution to the legal problems and knew that they would be building a house for the Slades on the university property, and having the university hold the patents in trust for Bob.  The press problem, though, was something that struck me just as I opened the document to begin writing the chapter.  I’m not entirely sure how it will ultimately be handled, but we’ll get there eventually.


Chapter 26, Brown 203

This was actually the last of the pre-written chapters, that is, parts of the story that I wrote before I started the book, and indeed before I started Re Verse All, but that I also had some pre-written chapters for that while I was deciding which characters would feature in which book.  I honestly don’t know where this thread is going to go, or how it can get there, but it seemed an obvious concern for Derek.


Chapter 27, Kondor 181

I had been anticipating this chapter, and had several times mentally composed the opening section before I had a chance to type it.  Still, I had no idea where it was going, and indeed as I finished it I still did not know whether Leah was going to become Joe’s wife, or even if she might become Zeke’s wife.  Still, when Leah explained why she chose Joe, it struck me as exactly the sort of rational reason that would appeal to him.


Chapter 28, Slade 177

I had been thinking about this chapter for several days, even before I wrote the previous one.  I kept trying to figure out how I would present Slade explaining how to build a diaphragm microphone and a simple speaker, which are essentially the same thing with the use reversed, but I didn’t know exactly what would be used to insulate the wire back then, and I wasn’t sure how he would explain wrapping it in a coil, although I decided that they had electrical generators and motors, so they could do coils somehow.  Then I was just settling into the opening, “What we are inventing is kind of the next step up from the telegraph,” and I suddenly thought, wait, do they have a telegraph?  And if they did, what would they use for a code system?  And that then became the place to start.


Chapter 29, Brown 204

I was pondering how Derek could teach the indigs, and recognized several problems and no really good solutions, but I decided to get started on that and go from there.


Chapter 30, Kondor 182

I had been discussing what was going to happen with Joe and Leah with a couple people, one friend by e-mail, and in that the Fiddler on the Roof story had arisen.  As I was finally writing the chapter I bumped into a place where it was just what was needed, so I included it.  I still don’t know whether Joe and Leah will marry, and I’d better figure it out fast, because three chapters from now they’re going to make that decision.


Chapter 31, Slade 178

I wanted to delay the completion of the telegraph, and the idea that the bird language was something like singing very short songs had occurred to me, and I thought I should bring that into the story.  That would have been a very short chapter, but I had realized that there should be gas lighting already, but that I hadn’t done anything with gas inventions, so I could introduce those thoughts at this point.


Chapter 32, Brown 205

Derek and I are kind of stumbling through how to do this.  Maybe he should fail this time; I’m really not sure how to have him succeed without taking a lot longer than I can.  However, for the moment we’re going to try.

I expected this chapter to be pretty much Derek gets on the computer and finds the units in storage and has them delivered, but I realized that would be too short, and anyway Vashti has to be fed.  Thus I changed gears and wound up stretching enough that I never got to actually finding the things.


Chapter 33, Kondor 183

Obviously I had been thinking about this for a long time, and discussed it with several people.  There was a lot of potential in bringing Leah into Kondor’s life, and it really did make sense, so it happened here.

I also thought it really might offend the Caliph not to be invited to host the wedding.  It would make more sense for others to come to him than for him to travel to others, and he certainly should be invited.  At the same time, I needed to stretch the story without Leah aging too much, so wedding preparations had at least some potential here.


Chapter 34, Slade 179

I was thinking about what to write, but was thinking about Derek’s story, having forgotten that Slade was next.  Thus I came to this chapter with a very sketchy notion of how it should go.

I got as far as Slade asking the question of whether there was anyone at the university who studied language, and realized I did not know the answer but had to give one in order to continue.  So I took a break.  I knocked this question around for a couple weeks, I think, asking a few people their thoughts on it, and ultimately got a couple ideas of how to handle it.


Chapter 35, Brown 206

This chapter had been delayed because I was stuck in the middle of the previous Slade chapter, but in the process I was faced with the issue that the direction I was headed would either work too smoothly or be too complicated.  Then as I considered how to resolve that, I came up with the direction I decided to take.


Chapter 36, Kondor 184

This was the third wedding I was creating for my characters–fourth, if you count Sophia and James Beam–and I wasn’t sure how to keep it interesting, but I was going to push forward with it.  On the other hand, I did not want it to progress too swiftly, because I needed interesting story for Kondor while Slade and Derek moved forward in their worlds.

The Great Wedding Machine was something that my wife and at least one of her girlfriends talked about when they were planning our wedding.  I was hundreds of miles away at college in Massachusetts, so my involvement was pretty much limited to getting fitted for the tux and selecting the best man and ushers, although I worked with my fiancé to write the ceremony.


Chapter 37, Slade 180

Life was in the way of writing, and I was pondering this intermittently over several days.  I realized that Slade now had several irons in the fire, and I should shift to the house.

I had long had it in mind that Slade was going to create hot water on tap plus hot water heat and a gas stove and oven, but the house was going to have to be built with this in view.

It was also important that the house be large, and part of that was that I was expecting the eventual arrival of other versers, for whom Slade was going to have to have space at least initially.


Chapter 38, Brown 207

This had become a significant obstacle.  The problem was how Derek was going to get the handheld computers.  I didn’t want it to be so simple as he told the computer he wanted them and a robot delivered them, as that would be too much like The Industrial Complex that dominated so much of the previous novel.  On the other hand, were I to start him on a trek to go get them I would be caught between a simple uneventful boring trip that didn’t really show the dangers of this world versus a time consuming adventure that would make it difficult to get him accomplishing anything significant in this world before I needed to move him to join Kondor and Slade.  So I was kind of stuck trying to make sense of it.

After probably a week of no progress, I typed the first three paragraphs, in which he announced that he found them (I did not decide how or where) but didn’t know how to get them.  That seemed to be the next step, but didn’t give me where to go from there.

Then I quite abruptly hit a solution, and finished the chapter setting the next steps ahead.  It would be a trek, but limited.


Chapter 39, Kondor 185

I didn’t want this to be too like what I did for Slade and Shella, so I asked for some ideas.  My daughter-in-law Katelyn looked up Persian weddings, and picked up the imagery of an overwhelming decoration of brightly colored fabrics.  A writer I know online looked up Zoroastrian weddings, and came up with the bleached white dress, a candle flame which inspired the thing where they light the central candle together (I’m not sure whether I saw this at a wedding once), and the tying, which I remembered they do in Eastern Orthodox weddings (my artist Jim Denaxas got married in an Eastern Orthodox church).  The rest I invented on the fly.

In my first draft Kondor’s robe was described as “a chocolate color, which nearly matched his skin,” and so on with the embroidery.  One of my wedding advisors said that a brown robe was fine, but that chocolate colored was too cliché, particularly by white writers, so I should find a different word.  I expressed the difficulty that it had to be something Kondor could name–I could say it was burnt sienna, but that’s not a color he would know by that name–and it had to look good on him.  The advice was that he would look good in fire engine red, so I made it red and figured he wasn’t worried about the specific red so it wouldn’t be mentioned.

I considered the vows for several minutes.  I wanted them to be distinct both from those normally used in Christian services and from those I used for Slade and Shella, but to be similar in intent.  For these reasons I avoided “until death do you part” and “as long as you both shall live”, but that gave me “for the rest of your life”–and of course the commitment is not for as long as Kondor lives, but for as long as they both live.  That made it “lives”, and gave me the opportunity to comment on that.

I also hesitated on exactly what would be promised.  In my own wedding the vows were matched, that we promised each other the same things, and although I changed exactly what that was I reflected that in the Slades’ wedding.  Here I thought the disparity of gender would be a factor, and so I made his “love and protect” and hers “love and serve”.  I also replaced “I do” with “I promise”, again so it would be distinct from our weddings.

I decided to include wedding rings, but to do so in a way that suggested they were not part of the traditions in the Caliphate but were added by Kondor.  I also assumed he would have had them made from his own stock of treasure, which means one of his gold diktar and some gems, particularly the emeralds with which he is so well stocked, but some rubies to offset that.


Chapter 40, Slade 181

Having had Slade tell the architect he was going to include hot water and hot water heat in his new home, I figured that he was going to have to get the engineering department working on inventing these things.  Since he had already described part of it to the architect, I could gloss that part and just put in the additional information needed for them.

I hadn’t really planned it, but it struck me that building the house would enable me to keep the story moving without overburdening the invention process or pushing the inventions out too fast.  It gives me something else to cover.


Chapter 41, Brown 208

My writing efforts hit several real world delays, complicated by my uncertainty of exactly how to proceed, but in that time my thoughts on Derek shifted.  My concept of the trek had included that they were going to find a robot that could be programmed to act as translator and/or find the hand-helds for him, and that they would encounter a carnivore, either a lone hunter or a pack, possibly mutant.  I was undecided about the specific function of the robot; I did know that it would have to be reprogrammed to recognize Derek and Vashti as officers.  It then occurred to me that my encounter could be with the robot, or with a robot, which was a husbandry module and which identified them as not a “person” by its standards and therefore an animal, and proceeded to capture them.

The precaution of leaving something near the elevator was a thought I’d had at that instant, and decided to treat it that way for Derek as well.  I also thought he would think that Vashti should also leave something, even though she doesn’t have much, because she can’t sense his belongings if they get separated.


Chapter 42, Kondor 186

I thought this was going to move quickly to Joe carrying Leah over the threshold into their bedroom, but I didn’t want to rush things so I wound up working my way through the reception.


This has been the second behind-the-writings look at In Verse Proportion.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts for it and another novel.

#436: The Song “Trust Him Again”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #436, on the subject of The Song “Trust Him Again”.

I am not entirely certain when I wrote this.  I am inclined to think that it was during or just after my time at WNNN, which makes it mid to late 80s.  I do know that the only time it was performed the way I had envisioned, with four vocals taking turns on the verses and singing in harmony on the choruses, was at Scott and Sue Kirkegard’s house near Freehold, New Jersey, before they moved to upstate New York.  I don’t know the dates for that, but again I think that puts it in the mid 80s.  This recording was me, live in I think my kitchen this time; it’s a WMA file, so it might take a bit of download time.

The song came from an idea, the notion that we trust God now because we see that He has been trustworthy in the past.  We see it in the life of Abraham, very specifically and clearly.  I didn’t want to make it too personal, though, so I wondered what I could cite that would demonstrate that God is trustworthy, and for some reason I struck upon creation.  The seven days of creation would give me too many verses, unless I covered two days in each chorus; that gave me an extra half a chorus, and when I got there I decided that I should cover the new creation with that last couplet. From there I built the verses as something more personal, individual, so that the song would say that I trusted Jesus with this part of my life, and I’m going to trust Him again because of all He has done beyond that.

Tristan did not include this song on his list.  I listed it twenty-seventh for the quality of the music and lyrics, and thirty-fourth for the quality of the recording and performance.  This landed it at number 32 on the list.

What held the song back as a song is primarily its length. I often considered whether there was a way to cut the second verse, but once I was committed to the creation structure I couldn’t cut the second chorus.  Also, I am often uncomfortable with songs or parts of songs that talk about how much faith I have, because I don’t always have quite as much faith as the words suggest.  But it’s a good song, and it was put on the repertoire list for 7dB (Tyler liked the way it stopped and started), although we never actually got to the point of learning it.

As to the performance, it really is extremely difficult to do as a solo piece, and it loses so much without the other voices.  You can hear me trying to get enough breath for it before the first chord, and trying to catch my breath after the last one.  The song is relentlessly demanding when you can’t split the verses between four singers, not to mention that the lyrics are not entirely easy to keep straight.  All I can say of this performance is I managed to get through it.

Trust Him Again.

So here are the lyrics.

I trusted Jesus as the savior of my soul.
I trusted Him to make me pure and make me whole.
I know that Jesus said He’d take away my sin,
And so I trusted Jesus to begin.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the day and the night.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who died that may be made right.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
He will free us from sin
If we just let Him in.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the sky and the rain.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who for us endured so much pain,
So I’ll trust Him again.

I trusted Jesus when He said He’d make me well.
I trusted Him, for I was sure He could dispel
The sickness and the symptoms, and my health renew,
And so I trusted Him to see me through.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the sea and the land.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who frees us by His mighty hand.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
And the Bible decrees
He will take our disease.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the moon and the sun.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who died and the victory won.
So I’ll trust that it’s done.

I trusted Jesus when He said He’d be my guide.
I trusted Jesus to remain beside, beside my side.
He knows the way to keep me safe, if I’ll obey,
And so I trusted Him to lead the way.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the fish and the bird.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who authored the wonders we’ve heard.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
Since He knows what will be
He prepares you and me.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the beasts of the earth.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Lord Who gives life and Who gives us new birth.
Give the trust that He’s worth.

I trusted Jesus when He said He’d take my place.
I trusted Him to live within me by His grace.
I know that sinless is what He will always be,
And so I trusted Him to live through me.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the Sabbath of rest.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Lord who has given us His very best.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
He’s as close as a prayer
And has power to spare.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who died and Who rose up again.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who lives to give freedom to men,
So I’ll trust Him again;
I will trust Him again.

Again, again, again, again, again.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job”

Next Song:  Even You

#435: Hindsight is 2021

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #435, on the subject of Hindsight is 2021.

Once again, as we did last year in web log post #371:  The Twenty-Twenty Twenty/Twenty and in previous years linked successively back from there, we are recapping everything published in the past year–sort of.

I say “sort of” because once again some material is being omitted.  There have been a few hundred posts to the Christian Gamers Guild Bible Study which can be accessed there but aren’t really fully indexed anywhere.  Meanwhile, the dozen articles in the Faith in Play series and the similar dozen in the RPG-ology series were just indexed yesterday on the Christian Gamers Guild site, along with everything else published there this year, in 2021 At the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, and won’t be repeated here.  The RPG-ology series began recovering articles from Game Ideas Unlimited, the lost four-year weekly series at Gaming Outpost, so I republished its debut article as web log post #384:  Game Ideas Unlimited Introduction, for the sake of completeness. 

I also posted several days a week on my Patreon web log, which announces almost everything I publish elsewhere on the same day it’s published, but again omitting the Bible study posts.

Similarly, we finished posting the novel Re Verse All, featuring Lauren Hastings, Tomiko Takano, and James Beam, from chapter 58 to the end (chapter 156), which are indexed there along with the several behind-the-writings posts on it:

  1. #373:  Nervous Characters covering chapters 55 through 60;
  2. #376:  Characters Arrive covering chapters 61 through 66;
  3. #379:  Character Conundrums covering chapters 67 through 72;
  4. #381:  World Complications covering chapters 73 through 78;
  5. #383:  Character Departures covering chapters 79 through 84;
  6. #385:  Characters Ascend covering chapters 85 through 90;
  7. #388:  Versers Climb covering chapters 91 through 96;
  8. #390:  World Facilities covering chapters 97 through 102;
  9. #392:  Characters Resting covering chapters 103 through 108;
  10. #395:  Character Obstacles covering chapters 109 through 114;
  11. #397:  Verser Challenges covering chapters 115 through 120;
  12. #401:  Characters Hiking covering chapters 121 through 126;
  13. #403:  Versers Innovating covering chapters 127 through 132;
  14. #405:  Versers Converge covering chapters 133 through 138;
  15. #407:  Versers Integrate covering chapters 139 through 144;
  16. #409:  Characters Cooperate covering chapters 145 through 150;
  17. #411:  Quest Concludes covering chapters 151 through 156.

Then there were several related character papers in the Multiverser Novel Support Site, and we then began posting In Verse Proportion, bringing back Joseph Kondor in fantasy Arabia, Bob Slade in industrial age bird world, and Derek Brown on a lost colony spaceship, at this point having reached chapter 39.  It included one behind-the-writings web log post, #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering the first twenty-one chapters.

Yet there was quite a bit more.

Forgive me for burying the lead, as it were, but just as Why I Believe came out late last year, it was followed this year by the release of The Essential Guide to Time Travel:  Temporal Anomalies & Replacement Theory, the long-awaited book on the subject, at the end of June.  This summarizing of much of the information on the Temporal Anomalies web site includes updated analyses of four films and a comprehensive presentation of time travel theory.  Dimensionfold Publishing interviewed me about it by e-mail, which they published here.

Related to that, a reader sent a letter with comments on Why I Believe, which I edited a bit (removing personal references) and posted as web log post #386:  An Unsolicited Private Review.

Now, getting back to other publications, there were another dozen songs published this year:

  1. Web log post #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom”, inspired by the verse about cutting off your hand;
  2. Web log post #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy”, a frenetic bit of musical excitement;
  3. Web log post #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice”, a bit of serious eschatological humor;
  4. Web log post #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good”, with political overtones;
  5. Web log post #393:  The Song “Why”, one of my rare worship songs;
  6. Web log post #399:  The Song “Look Around You”, an old evangelistic song;
  7. Web log post #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command, one of the generally early ones;
  8. Web log post #408:  The Song “Given You My Name”, written for my wife;
  9. Web log post #412:  The Song “When I Think”, which I hope will play at my funeral;
  10. Web log post #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me”, the title self-explanatory;
  11. Web log post #428:  The Song “To the Victor”, another rare worship song;
  12. Web log post #433:  The Song “From Job”, calling believers to repentance.

And there will be another song published today, but since that’s 2022, we’ll not say more about it yet.

I touched on Christian music otherwise in web log post #374:  Christian Instrumental Music, where I raise the question of how to recognize it.  My series on contemporary and rock Christian music in the 80s also continued briefly with web log posts #389:  Brother John Michael Talbot and #391:  Pat Terry.  A question asked on a Christian musicians group on Facebook prompted the writing of web log post #396:  Why Music Matters.

It was a not insignificant election year in New Jersey, but my first political post, #375:  Fixing the Focus, took a more general view, suggesting that Christians need to get our eyes off politics and on faith.  Closely following that, #377:  A New Tragedy of the Common looked at how online shopping was impacting brick & mortar retail.  Another political post with religious connections was #394:  Unplanned, about pregnancies.  With rules related to COVID in flux, in the late spring I posted web log post #398:  New 2021 Face Mask Rules in New Jersey to help a few of my readers.  The really political stuff began with #400:  New Jersey 2021 Primary and #402:  New Jersey 2021 Primary Results, but before the election an issue across the pond in England called for a response in #406:  Internet Racism, asking whether online social media criticism of black athletes should be criminal.

Then as the election loomed I offered #427:  The New Jersey 2021 Ballot, including a quick look at the public questions, followed a few days later by #430:  New Jersey 2021 Tentative Election Results.

I was given a book for Christmas, which I read and reviewed at Goodreads, God Is Disappointed In You, by comic book creator Mark Russell.

Then early in May someone (and I don’t remember who, how, or why) persuaded me to register as a Goodreads author; or maybe I did that earlier, but it was in May that I was persuaded by Goodreads to launch yet another web log, this one entitled The Ides of Mark because it appropriately posted at the middle and end of each month, updating readers on what I had published during that period.  In that sense, it is somewhat redundant, as the aforementioned Patreon web log covers that as it happens, and this annual review recaps it all eventually.  However, Ides also covers postings in the Bible Study and omits a lot of the personal detail about what I’m doing besides writing which the Patreon blog includes, and gives less information about what I am writing that has not yet been published.  This year’s entries have included:

  1. #1:  New Beginnings, May first through fifteenth, launching and explaining the series;
  2. #2:  Establishing Patterns, May sixteenth through thirty-first, featuring several web log posts;
  3. #3:  The Charm, June first through fifteenth, around the primary election;
  4. #4:  About Time, June sixteenth through thirtieth, announcing the publication of the aforementioned time travel book;
  5. #5:  Going Somewhen, July first through fifteenth, citing an Amazon review;
  6. #6:  The First Quarter, July sixteenth through thirty-first, with a scattered batch of articles;
  7. #7:  Getting Noticed, August first through fifteenth, citing evidence that the blog was being read by someone;
  8. #8:  Ends and Starts, August sixteenth through thirty-first, with the end of Re Verse All;
  9. #9:  Quiet on the Surface, September first through fifteenth, including character sheet posts;
  10. #10:  Before the Storm, September sixteenth through thirtieth, with the remaining character sheets;
  11. #11:  Looking Busy, October first through fifteenth, with the launch of In Verse Proportion and the beginning of the series on Exodus, listed below;
  12. #12:  A Frightening Output, October sixteenth through thirty-first, finishing the Exodus series;
  13. #13:  Slowing Down, November first through fifteenth, including the index of the articles in French translation mentioned below;
  14. #14:  Holiday Season, November sixteenth through thirtieth, as activity winds down;
  15. #15:  Not Much Said, December first through fifteenth, continuing the quiet;
  16. #16:  Years Go By, December sixteenth through thirty-first, with my post-Christmas post.

Not all of that is repeated here, but the bulk of it is.  I also answered ten questions there, which you can find here.

Half a decade ago I wrote about those musicians who influenced me; this year it occurred to me to do the same of writers, and so posted #380:  Authorial Influences exploring that.

Quite a few Bible questions came up and were answered, beginning with web log post #410:  When to Pray, followed by a somewhat technical question about a passage in Matthew, #413:  The Abomination of Desolation.  Then another reader asked me to address a long and complicated collection of issues in an article that claimed the Exodus, as reported in the book of that name, never happened, and I produced an eleven-part miniseries of web log posts in response:

  1. The introductory article was #415:  Can the Exodus Story Be True?
  2. It was followed by an answer to the first objection, #416:  Does Archaeological Silence Disprove the Exodus?
  3. Turning to the second objection about whether such a departure could be organized, we offered #417:  Is the Beginning of the Exodus Account Implausible?
  4. The third objection was that given the number of escaping Israelites the line this would have created would have been too long to outrun Pharaoh’s chariots, to which we offered #418:  Are There Too Many People Escaping in Exodus?
  5. The fourth objection was summarized and answered in #419:  When Escaping in Exodus, Did the Israelites Have Too Much Luggage?
  6. In response to the fifth objection we wrote #420: Were the Hygiene Requirements in Exodus Impossible to Observe?
  7. The sixth objection asked and answered #421: Did Moses Write the Torah?
  8. For the seventh objection, we addressed the issue of anachronisms, and particularly those related to place names, in #422:  Are There Anachronisms in the Torah that Invalidate It?
  9. The absurdity of the eighth objection is displayed in #423:  What Kind of Infrastructure Did the Wandering Israelites Need?
  10. We looked at the penultimate objection in #424:  Did the Earth Really Stop Turning?
  11. Finally, the point was raised that there were similarities between the life of Moses and earlier accounts of Sargon, which led to the conclusion Do Similarities Between the Accounts of Moses Birth and Certain Myths Make Him a Fictional Character?, which also addresses a few final points.

After that, a Patreon patron asked about horror, so I produced #426:  A Christian View of Horror.  Comments on a Facebook group page related to one of my colleges concerning the fact that the campus is almost completely obliterated led to the writing of #429:  Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts, about the legacy such a place has without any memorial markers for the site.  I also finished the year last week with a post-Christmas post, #434:  Foolish Wisemen, something of a pre-epiphany epiphany.

Finally, I’ve had a long-standing relationship with the people at the French edition of Places to Go, People to Be, under which they have translated and republished quite a few of my articles.  I finally took the time to organize these into an index in English, at least for my own reference, which I made available as web log post #431:  Mark Joseph Young En Français, with links to such English versions as are available.

The writing of course continues, with more articles already in the queue, more work being done on the next novel, and more posted every week.  Thank you for reading, and particularly to those of you who have encouraged me through posts and reposts and likes, and who have supported me through Patreon or PayPal.me and the purchase of my books.

#434: Foolish Wisemen

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #434, on the subject of Foolish Wisemen.

For most Americans, Christmas is over.  Many took down the decorations on Boxing Day, and few will leave them up past New Year.  Yet this isn’t really about Christmas.  After all, we know that the wise men did not actually find Jesus in a manger in a stable; we are told they found him in a house.  Had they arrived and given gifts of significant value, Joseph and Mary would have had to offer a lamb with their two birds as an offering for her cleansing, but we are told that the couple delivered the poor man’s pair of birds.  Unless we think that the gifts were paltry tokens, they had not yet been delivered in that first week, and not before the couple made a trip to the temple.  Some of us celebrate Epiphany, which is a somewhat random number of days after a somewhat randomly assigned date of birth, but makes the point that the wise men didn’t get there that first night.  But that’s not what this is about, either.

Rather, I am recalling Balaam, who in Numbers 24:17 prophesied in the famous words “There shall a star from Jacob come forth”.  The Israelites preserved those words, and recognized within them a messianic prediction.  However, Balaam was not an Israelite; he was from Mesopotamia, the land whose people became the Medes and Persians, east of Israel.

It seems that they, too, preserved those words.  Matthew makes the connection for us, that wise men, scholars who studied the books and the stars, came from the east, which would probably mean Persian astrologers, because of a star–probably the star predicted by their ancestor Balaam.  It didn’t need to be a big, bright, obvious star; it needed to be a configuration of celestial objects that they understood to mean the birth of the ruler predicted by their own ancestor.  Seeing the star, they came to bring gifts to the baby, and to honor him.

Then they left, and we read nothing more about them.

Of course, it would be three decades before Jesus worked the miracle of redemption, and another several years before the faith was pushed out of Jerusalem into the rest of the world.  Whether those scholars still lived we don’t know.  But there is this question:  did these scholars who were aware of the arrival of the Anointed at His birth, who made a great effort to find Him and gave Him valuable gifts, ever do anything else, learn anything more, actually come to faith in Him?

And that question then transfers to the people of our time.  How many celebrated the birth of Christ, one way or another, recently, spending significant amounts of money and time and effort on the holiday, who never returned to see what more He had done?  The deliverer came, and those needing deliverance honored that arrival; but then they left, never to be delivered.

That’s sad.