All posts by M.J.

#366: The Song “Sometimes”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #366, on the subject of The Song “Sometimes”.

This is the nineteenth song on the list; I honestly do not remember when or where I wrote it, other than that it was done on a piano and was an effort to write a descending baseline song that was not the standard VI-V-IV-V of VI but didn’t sound like the classic Chicago song.  I wrote it in Bb minor, but when we did it with Collision I transposed it down half a step because it was much easier to play on a guitar in A minor and not more difficult for the piano part.  This recording is from the album Collision Of Worlds (as pictured, Jonathon Maness on keys, Kyle Baxter guitar, Nick Rhodes on drums, and me covering bass and vocals).  I’ve always been disappointed with the dynamics on the recording, but it’s the best recording I can offer.  (I think there is a good live version when Jonathan Maness and I played together at a retreat Mike Brantley asked us to do a week after Jonathan had left the band, but I was wading through all the concert and rehearsal tapes last year and got derailed at some point, so I don’t know where it is.)

I listed this as my number two song for music and lyrics, and I’m not sure it isn’t becoming number one; it was pulled down by the fact that I was so disappointed with the recording that I placed it at number 31 for performance and recording (although in retrospect it’s really pretty good, and my disappointment might be a bit of an overreaction), and Tristan didn’t include it on his list.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

Sometimes.

So here are the words:

Sometimes only you and I alone can see
I am not the things that I know that I should be.
Sometimes people ’round about me cannot tell
In myself I’m only fit to be damned to hell.
No, I hide behind this smile upon my face,
Me of all most mis’rable, saving for your grace,
Me of all most mis’rable, saving for your grace.

Given time I’d only waste it all away;
I do not deserve to live even one more day.
Given talent, I would spend it on my pride–
I am such a sinful wretch, yet I choose to hide.
Given power I would work my selfish will.
How can God give life to one only fit to kill?
How can God give life to one only fit to kill?

He calls me by my name;
He tells me, “Child, arise!”
I’ll never be the same:
I have looked into His eyes.

Now I see the one who died upon the cross;
All that I had counted gain there was counted loss.
Now I have no reason, nothing left to hide:
I’m the one deserving death; I’m the one who died.
Now my eyes are clearing–now I start to see,
Ev’rything that Jesus was God is making me,
Ev’rything that Jesus was God is making 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:  My Life to You

#365: Characters Travel

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #365, on the subject of Characters Travel.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the seventh mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 37 through 42.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.
  3. #357:  Characters Connect, for chapters 13 through 18.
  4. #359:  Characters Engage, for chapters 19 through 24.
  5. #361:  Characters Explore, for chapters 25 through 30.
  6. #364:  Characters Learn, for chapters 31 through 36.

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 37, Hastings 198

This part of the story was going more slowly than I had expected.  I wasn’t complaining because I hadn’t yet thought of the next problem, but I had expected this chapter to cover much that got bumped to the next chapter.  The problem was really that at some point I had to have Tiras tell everyone the basic plan so they could think about options.  I didn’t do it at the end of the previous Hastings chapter because it felt like I needed the story to break while Tiras and the others did their exploration.  I kept thinking I would gloss over it quickly, but that also felt wrong, that a passage saying what Tiras had told them when he returned last night was cutting out important story action.  That meant I had to start this chapter with that address, and the action that would follow in the morning would have to be bumped to the next chapter.

Part of the problem with Lauren considering what to do is really that I don’t want her to be the solution to all their problems.  Yet I have to find reasons for her not to solve everything.  One of the worst things you can do to a game is bring in a powerful non-player character who can always solve any problem the player characters have, and there is a sense in which Lauren is that character from the perspective of Tiras and his companions.  Of course, Lauren is my player character, and from that perspective Tiras and his companions are dependent non-player characters, and their problems are for her to solve.


Chapter 38, Takano 25

John really is an excellent drummer, or was when he played with us (and has been taking lessons from professionals since).  He was playing Multiverser for a while, and when I asked which characters should be in this book he suggested that he would like to be.  I’m using him to get Tommy oriented to the verse.  Of course, when they’re close enough she gets that scriff sense feeling that points to other versers, but she doesn’t yet know what it is, only that it feels like she’s supposed to meet someone over there.


Chapter 39, Beam 68

I debated whether I could include giant rats in this scenario without impacting the setting.  It isn’t supposed to be like Gamma World or Metamorphosis Alpha with mutant creatures all over, but the post-apocalyptic without an apocalypse, a move underground because overpopulation was cutting into food production.  I researched rodents and ultimately decided that I could put a group of large rodents in the tunnels without deciding what they were, and so I did it.

The details unfolded as I wrote.  The bit with the darkness had occurred to me when I was thinking about what was going to happen.  The light spell turning on the lights in the hall is connected to the world’s backstory, in which it is ruled by a god of technology and so it is often the case that when someone uses magic the answer takes advantage of the world’s technology, in this case the light spell turning on the lights.

I had originally expected that the entire encounter would take one chapter, but as I managed to keep the story interesting (I hope) for two pages I decided to do a cliffhanger here and put the fight at the beginning of Beam’s next chapter.

In the first draft I had written that he didn’t wear glasses, but then when I was setting pages in HTML I vaguely remembered in his first chapter he was feeling for his glasses, or so I thought, so I wrote that he didn’t usually wear them.


Chapter 40, Hastings 199

I wanted to avoid having Lauren be the answer to their significant problems, but when it came to it the only other option I had was that they would lower everything and everyone unable to climb walls by ropes, and leave the mules behind to be dragon fodder.  Thus I figured they would go with Lauren’s skills for this, but that they would still use some of their other abilities.


Chapter 41, Takano 26

I had been anticipating this chapter almost since I started writing Tommy’s story, but had not really had it coalesce in my mind, so I was piecing it together as I wrote, trying to figure out how to work in each little piece I’d thought of including.  I was not sure I was happy with it when I finished, but I was tired and had an early alarm ahead, so I stopped where I was.


Chapter 42, Beam 69

I hadn’t really thought about more than the brief opening combat scene, but had concluded that the rats would flee when the bullets flew.  I had also known that they were eating the body of a human, and that meant there would be a brain for Turbirb’durpa.

Originally I thought Dawn would be firing pistols, but then it came back to me that she had that rifle and would probably prefer it, particularly as the easiest way to transport it is in her hands.

The pockets were a late thought, and they were going to be empty, but then it struck me that even a primitive who discovered that his clothes had pockets would figure out a use for them, and it would probably involve carrying food.


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

#364: Characters Learn

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #364, on the subject of Characters Learn.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the sixth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 31 through 36.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.
  3. #357:  Characters Connect, for chapters 13 through 18.
  4. #359:  Characters Engage, for chapters 19 through 24.
  5. #361:  Characters Explore, for chapters 25 through 30.

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 31, Hastings 196

I had spent quite a long time looking for a solution to this dilemma, and remembered that Tiras had more than once talked to potential opponents and won safe passage by his words.  When I had the orcs send Tiras down that corridor I knew only that there was something down there they weren’t telling him.  Then I decided it was a dragon, and then that they were going to follow in anticipation of killing any of his party who fled.  Then having put Tiras in this box I thought long about how he would escape it, and realized that the orcs undoubtedly expected him to fight the dragon (kensai, samurai, and anti-paladins in that world do not have fear and so do not flee).  If he killed the dragon he would be weakened and they could more easily kill him; if he was killed by the dragon it would be weakened and they could kill it.  Either way, they would be able to take the dragon treasure, a horde far greater than anything orcs usually have.  That meant that the solution for Tiras was to explain to the dragon the dilemma this created for it, and so obtain safe passage for himself and leave the orcs behind to deal with the dragon.

The line about Tiras killing any party member who attempted to steal from the dragon was added after I had written the chapter but before I started the next.  It kept nagging at me that there were thieves in the group and one of them might attempt to enrich himself at the expense of the dragon, and Tiras would want to assure the dragon that they would not do that.  I was going to have him tell this to the dragon, but decided instead that he would tell it to the group knowing the dragon could hear him.


Chapter 32, Takano 23

This was mostly color.  I had to look up what movies were out in the summer of 1959, and I never determined whether Darby O’Gill, which was released that year, was out in time for summer, but as I did with the eclipse I decided that it was close enough.

The actor who never sang in another movie (as far as I know) who had a career playing a superspy and action hero is of course Sean Connery.  It was a sad coincidence that Connery died a few days before this chapter was published.


Chapter 33, Beam 66

I started writing about the sporting goods store because I’d introduced retail outlets and wanted a place where Beam could get gear that would be useful in the future.  As I was writing about the camping equipment it occurred to me that I had no idea what people in this world would do with such stuff, but I was well into it and thinking that it was important that he be able to get some of this for the future.  I think in fact he never returned here, but he did order some gear through the computer.


Chapter 34, Hastings 197

I pondered for quite a while how to keep a dungeon crawl interesting–a problem I had recognized all the way back at the beginning when writing Bob Slade’s djinni quest story.  It was not until after I had written Beam’s chapter that I came up with the idea, which I realized would give me at least two or maybe three chapters, and some interest if not tension.

I had expected the chapter to be longer and cover more material, but when I got to that end point it occurred to me that it felt like a break point, that there ought to be a pause before Tiras returned and gave instructions for the next step.


Chapter 35, Takano 24

When I was doing the survey to determine which characters would be in this book, one of my short-term online forum players who was an old friend from decades before suggested I include him.  I wasn’t looking for another viewpoint character, and I wasn’t looking to use real player characters in the role, but I had been trying to figure out who was going to explain to Tommy what was happening to her, and the idea of having John, who is reportedly an even better drummer now than he was decades ago when he played in my band The Last Psalm, playing with a local band at a club and meeting her there immediately appealed to me.  It may have been one of the selling points that had me include Tommy in this book.  John really is the things I expect to include.

John had discussed with me what we would call his character, but I had forgotten.  I hit the point where the girls are about to give the name of the drummer and stopped cold and messaged him.  It was a few hours later that he got back to me, and he suggested a name that actually was a singer in a rock-and-roll band back then whom I did not recognize, but I did a quick search and told him I couldn’t use the name of a real person.  Johnny Angel was apparently a nickname that one of his fellow police officers gave him, and I thought it was perfect.

I had been toying with where to place this for some time.  I kind of wanted it to be in northern New Jersey, but I didn’t want the club to be in New York, and was not at all sure about cities up there in 1959.  Thus once again I’m in the southern part of the state, probably Camden or Burlington County, and working with Philadelphia.  I had first thought that they would park at the Speedline and take it across the bridge, but a check told me it didn’t exist then.  I remembered as a boy taking the ferry into New York, but Philadelphia didn’t have a ferry until the 1990s.  I didn’t want them to park in the city, but there were rail lines on the bridges so I decided on a commuter train from Camden to Philadelphia.

After the book was finished, I floated an idea to bring Johnny Angel back in a future book with Derek picking up the trumpet (it is mentioned in the second book that he played a little) and getting in the same band with him.


Chapter 36, Beam 67

The thoughts on the archery range and other combat sports facilities had been simmering since I had mentioned the sporting goods store.  I needed an excuse for why Beam was seeking these but not using the computer to find them, and his paranoia was very helpful in that regard.

I wanted Beam to figure out at least part of the address system so that the reader would also get some of it.  I couldn’t have him work it all out because it wasn’t that obvious.  Using DP for Distribution Points saved me from having Retail Units, and was in keeping with the fact that no money was involved.

I decided to accelerate the mapping, and in so doing it struck me that they would find other places to eat.  I was trying to think of what kinds of places they would find, and when I thought of pizza I remembered that they ordered pizza delivery and received deli sandwiches from the welcome wagon, so I included those two outlets in the collection.


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

#363: The 2020 Election in New Jersey

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #363, on the subject of The 2020 Election in New Jersey.

I was waiting for the vote count to be complete so I could pass the information to you, and it seems that there were a couple of congressional seats that were close enough that the counting continued into sometime Saturday.  The last to be resolved happened to be my own district, District 2, which was also perhaps the most interesting district election in the state, but we’ll get to that.

Perhaps not surprisingly, all three ballot questions passed.  I say not surprisingly because in as long as I’ve been covering New Jersey political news (which is not really so long as all that, but it’s been a few years now) I have never seen a ballot question fail.  I am reliably informed that sometimes they do, but not this time.

So what do they mean?  We discussed them last week in web log post #360:  Voting in 2020 in New Jersey, but here’s a quick review and summary.

Question #1, on the Legalization of Marijuana, has been widely misunderstood by people eager to get their hands on the stuff.  It does not mean that you can now legally grow your own marijuana.  It means that you can legally buy it from state-sponsored distribution outlets, of which I understand there are eight set up to provide cannabis for medicinal use which will now also handle recreational supplies.  The legislature is expected to create some laws next year that will regulate other aspects of its legal use, but don’t rush out and set up your own business just yet.  Expect to pay the state price plus the state sales tax, plus potentially up to a 2% local municipal sales tax which the municipalities are authorized to add.

Question #2 provides Tax Relief for Veterans, extending a property tax break previously given to veterans who served in time of war to all veterans.

Question #3 updates Redistricting Rules in anticipation of the possibility that the census data might be delayed, to give the state sufficient time to create new districts in that case.

All incumbents up for re-election, which means all federal offices on which we voted, kept their seats.  That means Senator Cory Booker plus twelve members of the House of Representatives, by district:

  1. Democrat Donald Norcross;
  2. Republican Jeff Van Drew;
  3. Democrat Andrew Kim;
  4. Republican Chris Smith;
  5. Democrat Jeff Gottheimer;
  6. Democrat Frank Pallone;
  7. Democrat Tom Malinowski;
  8. Democrat Albio Sires;
  9. Democrat Bill Pascrell;
  10. Democrat Donald Payne, Jr.;
  11. Democrat Mikie Sherrill;
  12. Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman.

As mentioned, the interesting race–and the one that was decided last–was district 2.  In New Jersey, some say that what gets you elected is name recognition, others say it is party affiliation.  Van Drew has held the District 2 Congressional seat since 2012.  He might not be a household name, but his name is not unfamiliar.  On the other hand, when he was elected he was a Democrat, and during this most recent term, influenced by President Trump, he became a Republican.  So the question was, would name recognition return him to his seat, or would party affiliation get him bumped?  It was apparently close, but he remains the Congressman from District 2, giving the state two Republicans in the House against its ten Democrats.

Again not surprisingly Democrat Joe Biden carried the Presidential race in the state, and as of this writing most media outlets have declared him the winner nationally.  There are a number of legal actions nationwide, but none of them look promising enough to overturn that.  The Senate is currently 48 Democrats to 47 Republicans with five races still undetermined.  The House still has forty-two undecided races, with Democrats ahead 201 to 192; thus far Republicans have gained six seats (winning eight previously held by Democrats but losing two to the Democrats).  There is a good chance Democrats will hold majorities in both houses, but it is not certain.  Since Georgia is going to have at least one and possibly two run-off elections, it might be months before the dust settles completely.

#362: The Song “My Life to You”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #362, on the subject of The Song “My Life to You”.

This is the eighteenth song on the list, written during the 1977-78 school year in the study of our Landmark Lane apartment in Rockport, Massachusetts.  It is one of my youngest son’s favorites (I think he likes songs with angst in them), but he didn’t respond when I invited him to contribute to the selection process.  I listed it twenty-second for the quality of the song itself, eighteenth on the quality of the midi-instrument recording and performance; Tristan had it on his list, tied for ninth, which pulled it up.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

By the time I wrote this I was making a point of trying to make my songs different from each other.  I thus started this on a Bb major seventh chord, making for a rather difficult song to play on an acoustic guitar.  (Guitars and most stringed instruments prefer sharp keys; flat keys are packed with hard-on-the-fingers bar chords and difficult notes on violins and violas as open strings are eliminated.)  I also went for a mellow jazz flavor.  I intentionally jumped the octave and inserted a transitional chord at the end of the second verse into the first bridge, and then specifically did not do so when the third verse goes into the second bridge, both times to create surprise.  I admit that I stumbled into the extra couplet and the diminished seventh chord on the last verse, pushing the end of the verse up an octave and increasing the build–but this isn’t supposed to be a songwriting instructional, just memories about the song.

As to that, I don’t have many.  We never included it in the repertoire of any band, and because of the bar chords I don’t often do it in solo appearances.  I remember struggling with the lyrics in the second bridge–I wanted it to say that if I asked Him to change my days to bring joy He would change my ways, but I couldn’t get that and had to say the reverse.

This midi-instrument recording is the one on which I based my decisions.  When I was trying to find a copy to upload I stumbled on this live recording from a late December 2014 Sunday morning appearance at the Silverlake Community Church using a borrowed acoustic guitar, complete with introductory comments.

My Life to You.

So here are the words:

When I was young I went to Sunday School,
And there I learned about the Golden Rule:
Do what you want men to do to you;
But I found that too hard to do,
So I thought I would write my own:
Now I do what I don’t condone.
It seems that I am rotten through and through.
Someday I’ve got to give my life to You.

Now I’ve grown, and I am wise indeed:
I know love is what we really need.
Love will bring us to a peaceful state,
But my own life is full of hate.
I am striving to work my will.
Love means serving, I know, but still
I keep on doing what I want to do.
Someday I’ve got to give my life to You.

I just can’t seem to see, or understand,
No matter how hard I try,
If I make You my king, you’ve wonders planned.
That’s why You came to die.

Then when finally I saw my sin,
I tried to change me from the outside in.
I tried to go ways I couldn’t go;
I tried to show love I didn’t know.
Now I’m learning beyond a doubt:
Man must change from the inside out,
And that’s what You say You want to do.
Someday I’ve got to give my life to you.

If I would say to You, rearrange my ways,
And make You my sovereign king,
Then this is what You’d do, You would change my days,
And oh, what joy you’d bring.

Will I say with my dying breath,
“Give me freedom, or give me death”?
Will I keep on ignoring you,
Doing just what I want to do?
Will I keep going my own way?
When I’m dying, what will I say?
I’ve been dying for many years;
I’ve been crying, You’ve seen my tears.
Jesus, You make all things new;
Someday I’ve got to give my life to you.

Someday I’ve got to give my life to you.

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”

Next song: #366:  The Song “Sometimes”

#361: Characters Explore

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #361, on the subject of Characters Explore.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the fifth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 25 through 30.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.
  3. #357:  Characters Connect, for chapters 13 through 18.
  4. #359:  Characters Engage, for chapters 19 through 24.

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 25, Hastings 194

There was a disabled army vet who joined the game shortly before I was forced to leave it.  It took me a while to remember that his name was Bob Slimmer; getting his wheelchair in and out of the house was a task relegated to the high school boys who were playing at that time.  I had completely forgotten who his character was, but Jim Denaxas provided the name Apatukwe, and the details that he was a Ranger, human, of Native American ancestry, which Jim thought a particularly clever character background idea but which would only work in Ed’s game, in which there were some humans who had been magically gated from the real world.

I knew what was ahead on the path, and what the orcs expected, and so yes, they were being followed by those orcs who had sent them this direction.  What I didn’t know yet was how to resolve it, but having a ranger as rear guard meant to me that there was a good chance they would detect their pursuit and respond to it.  Still, the character Tiras expresses is the problem, the limitation on his actions:  he won’t attack creatures just because they are said to be evil or dangerous; they have to be known to be guilty or aggressive.


Chapter 26, Takano 21

I was still trying to decide on the title for the book at this point, and I was thinking Reversal, and alternately Inverse Proportion.  Then I started playing with Reversal and came up with Re Verse All, which I kind of liked, but I floated it to a few top supporters and got a few other suggestions.  Eric Ashley recommended Chapter and Verse, Bell, Verse, and Candle, and To Verse is a Verb.  Kyler Young put forward one that I had not considered at all, Conversation.  John Walker suggested that the eighth book could be Joe Verses Slade; I think that’s recalling a Tom Hanks movie, Joe Versus the Volcano, and I like that but feel like there must be something better than “Slade” to make that work (maybe Tornado).  These are now all being considered for future books.

I looked up the most popular girl baby names from the 1930s, and Dorothy was fifth on the list.  Mary was first, but then, Mary is almost always first.  I thought number six Patricia too common and number four Shirley not common enough, and thought that having the name of the character from The Wizard of Oz might have plot value (of course it’s a dream).

Billboard had a useful listing of all the top ten summer hits since 1958, https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/513524/summer-songs-1985-present-top-10-tunes-each-summer-listen from which I gleaned the names of a few artists I barely remembered, and some whose songs I knew but whose names I didn’t.  The site was very unstable, and kept kicking me to other articles I wished didn’t exist.


Chapter 27, Beam 64

I knew that Beam was nervous about what they might encounter, largely because of his recognition that the complex was built for a lot of people and he didn’t know where they were.  My original musings had put Sophia’s nagging about going out to eat into a side note, but I realized it would read much better if I made it into a spat, so that happened.  It still set up what mattered, focusing on Beam’s concerns.  It also gave me time to realize that he did these things all the time in games, but that even with apparent immortality doing it for real was different.


Chapter 28, Hastings 195

I was involved in something else and thought of what I decided was the perfect name for the female drow elf who was not the princess, and it occurred to me that I should write it down–but I didn’t.  Serona is not that name, I think, but it’s similar and will suffice.

I definitely set a problem for myself with this.  Tiras knows he is walking into some kind of danger, but does not know what.  He also knows that he is being followed by the orcs.  It is a reasonable guess that the orcs intend to attack after the party has encountered whatever lies ahead, but it is only a guess, and Tiras won’t start a fight without provocation.  I’m not certain how to resolve it without creating a two-front battle.


Chapter 29, Takano 22

I sat on this chapter for a few days.  I knew where it was set, and that it would spring from a conversation between Tommy and Dorothy, but that it had to flow naturally and introduce Tommy to the group.  I decided I had to start it and give it its head, but even then I wandered into the discussion of electronics as Tommy tried to sound like she knew something from her stay in Japan, and I wound up interrupting to try to figure out how it would go from there.  I thought I should bring in Dorothy’s boyfriend, but that would make Tommy a third wheel.  I thought I should introduce her to some of the other girls, and maybe their boyfriends, but I was courting the danger of overloading the story with more characters than I could juggle.

I left off in the middle of the paragraph about popular music, not sure what to say next, but then crashed into Christmas and didn’t have time to think about writing for several days.  Christmas brought a refurbished computer to replace my badly outdated one, but it took a couple weeks to move files and organize enough to be able to work with the new one.  Meanwhile, I was still struggling with how to continue Tommy’s story, and indeed how to continue Lauren’s.  I came up with a solution to Tiras’ problem for Lauren’s story but was still stymied by Tommy’s.

It occurs to me that Tommy’s father is an electrical or electronics engineer, which is what my father was at that time (he moved into computer hardware by the early 70s).  It gives me a bit of a handle on working with her family.

I made a mistake in the first draft.  Tommy got paid Friday night and went to dinner with the family, so she was shopping on Saturday.  She was then invited to go out with Peggy and Dorothy on Saturday, and in the original invitation it said next week.  Then as Tommy got talking about how she had spent all her money, it turned into tomorrow, and I had to find a way to fix it so that it would be the following weekend.


Chapter 30, Beam 65

I wanted Beam to map more, and I wanted to give some sense of the shape of the place to the reader, but I didn’t want to belabor everything.  The spat with Sophia came organically, as I knew he would want to map nearby areas he had not seen and she would want to go directly to the restaurant, but it was an argument he would win.

I debated opening apartment doors, but recognized that I would be spending considerably more time writing and he mapping if I did that.


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

#360: Voting in 2020 in New Jersey

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #360, on the subject of Voting in 2020 in New Jersey.

I was watching for my annual sample ballot, and realized that what I received instead was a mail-in ballot, and that due to its not entirely unjustified COVID paranoia the state wants all of us to mail in our votes.  They are not opening as many polling places this year, and would rather no one come to them.  (Given the public fights that have occurred over the current Presidental race, one might think that the disease issue is an excuse, but we’ll take their word for it that that’s the reason.)  In the past such mass mail-in voting systems have been fraught with fraud, and already there are reports of fraud in the present election, but the penalties are fairly severe including loss of the right to vote, so the best advice is don’t tamper with any ballot that is not your own.

My initial reaction was to write this article on how to vote.  Then I saw that both Google and Facebook were promoting pages on how to vote, and thought I would be redundant.  Then I rummaged through the pack of papers which came in the envelope and decided that it was a bit confusing, and perhaps I should tackle it.

It is important to understand that your packet contains two envelopes, and you might need them both.  Mine also contained two ballots, one for the general election and a second for the school election, so be aware of that as well.

You will need a pen with black or blue ink.  Ballot readers cannot process red ink or most other colors, and pencil is considered subject to tampering.

The school ballot, assuming you receive one, is specific to your district, and probably is just candidates for the local school board.  It should be marked and placed with the other ballot in the envelopes, as discussed below.

The general election ballot is two sided, at least in my district, with candidates for office and three somewhat extensive and controversial public questions on the other.  Avoid making any marks outside those indicating your selections.  The ballot this year includes:

  • President Trump and his Vice President Pence, with those running against them;
  • Senator Booker, with those running against him;
  • one seat in the United States House of Representatives, specific to your congressional district
  • Some number of county/local offices.

Each candidate name is in its own box, rows across identifying the office, columns down generally the political party.

In the upper right corner of each candidate’s box is a small hard-to-see red circle.  fill in the circle completely of each candidate for whom you are voting.  You are not obligated to vote for anyone simply to have voted for someone for that office, that is, you can decide to leave a row blank.  There is a write-in space to the far right end.

In most districts, you will have to flip the ballot over to get to the ballot questions, and these are somewhat important this year.  The questions are, of course, yes/no votes, with the little red circles at the bottom of the page below the Spanish text.

Question #1:  Legalization of Marijuana.

The state wants to amend the (state) constitution to allow regulated sales of something called cannabis to those at least 21 years old.  There is already a Cannabis Regulatory Commission in the state to control our medical marijuana supply, and they would oversee this.  The bill includes a clause permitting local governments to tax retail sales.

It should be observed that the restriction to those at least 21 years old is likely to be about as effective as the similar restriction on alcohol use.  On the other hand, a lot of our court and jail system is clogged with marijuana user cases.  Yet again, whatever the state decides, marijuana use will still be a federal crime, and it will still be legal for employers to terminate an employee who fails a reasonably required drug test.

This would be a constitutional amendment, so if the change is made, it is permanent.

I have previously suggested issuing drinking licenses which I indicated could be used if the state decided to legalize other drugs.

Question #2:  Tax Relief for Veterans

When you enlist in the military, it’s something of a crap shoot:  even if you know we are at war when you enlist, you don’t know whether you will wind up fighting.  Still, there is a benefits distinction between those who served during times of war and those who served, ready to fight if necessary, during times of peace.  One of those distinctions is that those who were enlisted during times of war get property tax deductions, and those who are disabled get better ones.  Question #2 would extend those benefits to veterans who served in peacetime, including those who are disabled.

Veterans get a lot of benefits; on the other hand, we should not begrudge them these.  There might be a difference between those who fought and those who didn’t, but that’s not the distinction the law makes–it rather distinguishes those who served during a war even if they were behind a desk in Washington from those who served during peacetime even if they were part of military aid to other war-torn countries.  There are good reasons to remove the distinction, and I’m not persuaded that the reduction in property tax income is a sufficient counter argument.

Question #3:  Redistricting Rules

The United States Constitution requires a census every decade.  The states are then required by their own constitutions to use that information to create new voting districts that more fairly represent their populations.  This year the fear is that due to COVID-19 the census data is going to be delayed and will not be delivered to the state in time to create the new districts for the fall 2021 election cycle.

To address this, the legislature has proposed an amendment that states that if census data is not delivered to the governor by a specific date in the year ending 01, previous districts will be used for those elections and the redistricting commission will have an extra year to get the issue addressed.

It sounds simple and logical, but there are those opposing it as potentially racist and benefiting politicians, not people.  On the other hand, it solves a potential problem before it becomes serious.  It would apply to any future situations in which a similar information problem occurred, and while this has never happened before and might not happen even now, contingencies are worth having.

Submitting the Ballot

One of the two envelopes has some bright red and yellow coloring on it plus your name and registered address and a bar code.  Once the ballots are completed, they go into this envelope.  I will call this the ballot envelope.

It is necessary that the information on the flap of the ballot envelope be completed.  This includes your printed name and address at the top and your signature, the same signature that is on the voter registration rolls.

Once you have completed this, you have three options, one of which creates more complications in filling out the envelopes.

One is to use the other envelope to deliver the ballot by United States Mail.  This envelope has the postage pre-paid business reply certification, addressed to your County Board of Elections.  I will call this the mailing envelope.  If you do this, it must be postmarked not later than 8:00 PM Eastern Time on Election Day (November 3 this year) and must be received within a period of days specified by law.  After having sealed the ballot envelope, place it in the mailing envelope such that your name and address on the ballot envelope appears in the clear window on the back of the mailing envelope, and seal that as well.  Your name and address should be written to the top left on the front.  It can then be mailed by any normal means.

The second is that there are reportedly ballot drop boxes, generally at polling locations, and you can insert the ballot envelope in the ballot box (without the outer mailing envelope) to deliver it directly to the board of elections.  This too must be done by or before 8:00 PM Eastern Time on Election Day.

The third is that you can use either of these methods but have someone else deliver your ballot either to the ballot box or the mailbox on your behalf.  No one is permitted to deliver more than three ballots, including his own, in an election, and no one who is a candidate can deliver a ballot that is not his own.  A person who handles your ballot must put his name, address, and signature on the ballot envelope and, if mailed, on the mailing envelope.

So that’s the whole ball of wax, as they say.  Remember, you should vote if you have reason to do so, but you should not feel obligated to vote for any office or any issue about which you are uninformed.

#359: Characters Engage

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #359, on the subject of Characters Engage.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the fourth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 19 through 24.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.
  3. #357:  Characters Connect, for chapters 13 through 18.

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 19, Hastings 192

I needed something to happen, and this was the story in which things could happen.  I knew that a fight with the orcs would be a short and dull bit of combat, but that I could use them to set up something more interesting.


Chapter 20, Takano 19

Eating out was an abrupt inspiration, and an awkward one because I was moving toward having Beam take his crew to a restaurant as well, but it seemed the best step for the story so I did it.

I had had the overpayment in mind for a while, thinking that Mr. Billings would give Tommy fifty dollars specifically to see whether she would correct him.  I also thought from the beginning that she would, and that she would not realize it was a test until after she passed it.

I had thought of the fact that cars in the early sixties did not have seat belts, and intended to include it, but then skipped the drive entirely.  I realized it when I returned to finish the chapter and was rereading, jarred by the jump from Tommy in the kitchen thinking about what clothes were going to cost to Tommy abruptly reading the menu in the restaurant.  I decided I should do something to move the scene, and remembered my seat belt concerns.

I remember when there were a lot of diners that had what I guess was then a modern look, as if someone parked an oversized railroad car by the side of the road.  I even ate in one when I was in elementary school which I insisted to my parents we had to visit because it was owned by the father of one of my classmates.  (I think his name was Keith Sweeney, but we’re remembering elementary school in a town I left when I was twelve.)

I always ordered the roast turkey and stuffing when I was young, and my mother always told me it wouldn’t be as good as hers, which it wasn’t, but I loved stuffing and we only ever had it with turkey.  I had considered having Mr. Billings recommend chicken, either fried or roasted, but then that would probably sound like he was recommending something cheap and chicken was probably something Mrs. Billings made considerably more frequently than turkey.  I did not give anyone my love for turkey, but decided that it was a good option for the recommendation, and then the same reasoning Tommy used was what kept me from changing it to chicken:  having asked advice she took it.

Russian dressing back then was pretty much catsup and mayonnaise, sometimes fancied.  Since then that has become Thousand Island, probably with the addition of a bit of pickle relish or something, and a very few companies make a tangier dressing labeled Russian.  I went from Italian, which I never really liked, to Russian, to French, which was my dressing of choice until the new Russian and Honey Mustard appeared.  I suspect Tommy would have preferred Honey Mustard, but it didn’t exist then.

I didn’t name the soups because I was already too deep into food again, and I made a point of avoiding discussing what everyone else ate for that reason.  The same applied to the vegetables.  Modern diners offer a dozen choices on vegetables, aided by modern microwaves and cooking techniques.  In those days, they cooked pots of vegetables on the stove top and served patrons from whatever they made that day.

I swithered on the coffee, but couldn’t think of a better after dinner drink.  A milkshake would have been too filling for someone already full.

Having Tammy mention the eagle seemed a good way to recall that she was there, and of course she liked the eagle.

I was probably less interested in what Mister Billings did than Tommy was.  I had intended to include some suggestion in this chapter that they showed her how to find the stores, but it was getting belabored already so I dropped it perhaps somewhat abruptly.


Chapter 21, Beam 62

I had expected this to go very quickly into a restaurant, and it bothered me because even though I had been thinking of taking Beam’s party to a restaurant for quite a while, I rather unexpectedly put Tommy in one first.  However, I kept thinking about how Beam would find his way anywhere and get back home, even with the scriff sense.  Then I remembered that he had played role playing games, and decided that he would apply what he knew of mapping from the games, plus marching band experience, to create maps.

Once I had decided that, I knew he would need paper and pencils, and as I mused on that I realized that those would not be common items in the world in which he found himself.  Just as there were no books for the shelves, so too there was no paper in the desk.  There would presumably be paper somewhere, but it would not have been sought by anyone in so long that the computer would have trouble finding it in the database, and then locating a place that had it in stock, and then transporting it hundreds of miles from wherever it was to get it to him.  Even so, with the high speed transit system that still functioned and no one used, it would not take more than two days to bring anything from anywhere in the world.

I needed Beam to have compelling reasons to leave the apartment block, particularly as his companions are living a very comfortable life and have nothing to motivate them to do anything.  Worrying about what’s beyond the door and why it is giving them everything they want was a viable starting point.


Chapter 22, Hastings 193

I wanted part of what the orcs said to be included in the text, but for several reasons not all of it.  For one thing, the introductory speeches would be boring; further, I didn’t really want to put what Tiras explained to the orcs into the text at this point.  My solution was to have Lauren think of her clairaudience after the discussion had started, so she would effectively walk in in the middle of the conversation.

Dungeons & Dragons orcs are lawful evil.  That doesn’t mean they won’t lie, but it does mean they follow rules.  I needed them to send the party into trouble without actually lying to them, and thus the path they recommend does lead to the land of the drow, but it’s not a good way to get there.

Late in the editing/publication process I realized, more than once, that in the orc dialogue I had written “long” where the correct word was “along”.  Each time I saw it I considered whether to change it, and decided that since it was an orc speaking I would leave the error as part of its speech pattern.


Chapter 23, Takano 20

The drive-in is a popular trope from the fifties, represented today mostly by the Stewart’s Root Beer restaurants, which are rare enough that it’s easy to suppose Tommy has never seen one (I recently heard most of them are scattered in New Jersey).  The clothing is familiar to me mostly from films and television shows of the period.

I remember strip malls and similar shopping centers from the days before indoor malls were common.  In fact, the Garden State Plaza, one of the earliest and at one time largest malls on the east coast, was originally all open air sidewalks with stores in buildings separated by them; it was later enclosed in a major construction project as enclosed malls became more popular.  I picked three stores that were major retail chains when I was younger which had vanished from the world by the time my kids were born.  A&P was crushed by the unions, founded a wholly-owned non-union subsidiary and closed all its union stores.  I think Lafayette died with the shrinking hobby electronics market, in which Radio Shack was probably the last survivor.  2 Guys was a cheap-end department store competing with K-Mart, the bargain outlet of Kresge, itself a cheap-end department store, and was probably killed by the appearance of chains like Wal-Mart.

I had bounced around several ideas for a cover story all of which began with the idea that she had just moved here from somewhere.  It started with England, but I thought that meant she would have to fake an accent and possibly maintain it if she made friends with anyone in the store.  My mind then went to Australia and New Zealand, on the thought that Americans in 1960 would be completely unfamiliar with those accents, but then the obvious one hit me:  she came from Japan, which she actually had just done, and she was originally from America but claimed she lived in Japan for a few years recently.

It was vital that I find a way to connect Tommy to her ostensible peers in this world, and she wasn’t going to be able to go to school.  (I figured she would say she finished secondary school in Japan.)  My initial thought was that she would become friends with a young girl working in the clothing department of the store.  However, since I needed to give her the opportunity to see what girls her age wore casually, I had set up the teen hangout at the drive-in hamburger stand, and then I was thinking seriously that she could return there with a few dollars and meet several people.  That would accelerate her integration into the peer group, but I was very uncertain about the group dynamic in such a situation.  I took these thoughts, with some of the problems I saw to each side, to Cassandra Starrett, a peer of my sons.  She suggested that the easiest way was for the clerk to be young and for Tommy to talk to her about the popular music playing.  That was good, but that there wouldn’t be popular music playing—it’s been a long time, but I think 2 Guys was silent that far back, and the first music to play in stores was what was called Muzak, a brand name originating in the mid 1950s and spreading slowly, also known generically as elevator music because it played in department store and high rise office elevators.  But I decided that in 1960 a teenaged girl with a job would probably own a transistor radio (I think I owned one before 1965, and I wasn’t a teen for a few more years after that).  I changed “woman” to “girl”, and set up to do that in the next chapter.


Chapter 24, Beam 63

I had worried that this was going to be too much of a parallel to Tommy’s story, and even managed to delay it one chapter cycle to avoid going from one restaurant to another.  I managed, I think, to focus more on the technology and the cultural ramifications, and avoid getting too involved in the food.

That Beam doesn’t eat seafood is based on the player on whom Beam is modeled.  We have taken him to one of the finest seafood restaurants on the New Jersey shore (The Lobster House in Cape May, has its own fleet of fishing vessels, is a wholesaler to other area restaurants, and so always has fresh seafood) and he orders fried chicken.

The recognition that this was an American restaurant menu came through the question in my mind of what Bron would consider ordinary food.  Of course, medieval English peasants ate pies, which were in essence loaves of crusty bread with vegetables and sometimes meat cooked into them, and we only see those at Renaissance Faires and the like.  I’ve never had steak and kidney pie, but online photos suggest it is more like our chicken pot pie and shepherds pie than like the pies of medieval peasants, more like Victorian manor pies with lots of meat and gravy and perhaps vegetables inside a pastry crust.  Besides, I’ve never seen it in an American restaurant.  Thinking about it, I decided that a panini was probably most like that, although I’ve admittedly never had one (probably should, sounds good).  I first thought of a wrap (another thing I’ve never had, but less appealing), and decided that the thin burrito-like bread would not be like what Bron wanted.  I skipped what everyone ordered, largely because it would take me too close to the Takano storyline and I didn’t need it.

The realization that there must be people somewhere is helping build tension and anticipation.

On an early re-read I decided that the restaurant would have other dining rooms, and the only way to get to them was via arches off the main room, which at this point had to be left and right, the front and back having been established as entrance and kitchen.


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

#358: DeGarmo and Key, Not a Country Band

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #358, on the subject of DeGarmo and Key, Not a Country Band.

It was said that when Amy Grant realized she wouldn’t listen to her own records if they weren’t hers, she called Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key to collaborate with them on something with more of a rock sound.

It was probably a good choice.  They were clearly a rock band at the beginning.  Somewhere on their live album No Turning Back–Live one of them says, “We tried doing country music, but nobody could figure out what country it was from so we gave it up.”

The first of their albums I encountered was their third, 1979’s Straight On, and four songs stand out from it.  The opener, Jericho, was definitely rock in the Christian music world.  My favorite was undoubtedly Long Distance Runner, but I also remember the short instrumental Enchiridion which preceded it(although this reminds me of Chris Christian’s challenge, what makes an instrumental Christian?), and I Never Knew You.

Amy got in on the next album, This Ain’t Hollywood, collaborating with them on Nobody Loves Me Like You, the cut that got all the attention, upbeat for Amy but already the band was starting to mellow toward a more commercial sound and look, as demonstrated by Special Kind of Love from 1983’s Mission of Mercy.  You can’t blame bands for trying to sound like whatever sells, but it is disappointing to lose something unique (and unique is never the popular sound).

They continued releasing albums through 1994, with two best-of albums following in 2003 and 2006.  I know nothing about that.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.
  20. #272:  To the Bride Live.
  21. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.
  22. #281:  Keith Green Launching.
  23. #283:  Keith Green Crashing.
  24. #286:  Blind Seer Ken Medema.
  25. #288:  Prophets Daniel Amos.
  26. #290:  James the Other Ward.
  27. #292:  Rising Resurrection Band.
  28. #294:  Servant’s Waters.
  29. #296:  Found Free Lost.
  30. #299:  Praise for Dallas Holm.
  31. #302:  Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.
  32. #304:  Accidental Amy Grant.
  33. #312:  Produced by Christian and Bannister.
  34. #315:  Don Francisco Alive.
  35. #324:  CCM Ladies of the Eighties.
  36. #329:  CCM Guys at the Beginning.
  37. #332:  The Wish of Scott Wesley Brown.
  38. #335:  Bob Bennett’s First Matters.
  39. #342:  Fireworks Times Five.
  40. #345:  Be Ye Glad.

#357: Characters Connect

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #357, on the subject of Characters Connect.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, 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 seventh, Re Verse All,  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.

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.

This is the third mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 13 through 18.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.

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 13, Hastings 190

I had been musing on this meeting for a while, and knew the gist of it but not the detail.  The notion that the leaders had missed dinner discussing her hit me right as I was finishing, so I let her solve that.

Malacon the Shining Legacy was an antipaladin played by Ed Porrini.  Most of the players in Ed’s game, and probably all whose names I remember, first played other characters in my game and were invited join Ed’s.

As noted in connection with chapter 18, Ed Jones asked that I remove all reference to features and persons in his game world.  As a result, Valdaronia became Darvania here.

Long after I wrote that the only hemovores in Lauren’s experience besides vampires were ticks and mosquitoes I thought of leeches.  I swithered for a long time about whether to go back and include them, but ultimately decided against that.


Chapter 14, Takano 17

Creating a realistic babysitting day was perhaps a bit of a challenge, but I had babysat and been babysat, and I had done tea parties with my sister and the girls in the neighborhood (although I thought them boring).  I need Tommy to fit here without her really trying to do so, and this works, I think.

I expected this chapter to go further than it did, but got to a point where I needed to change.

My mother never made peanut butter and honey; I never had it until a friend introduced me to it my junior year of college.  I admit they are very messy sandwiches, but they are tasty, particularly toasted.

Playing in the yard with neighbors was standard for us as kids, but we didn’t have a nearby park and we did have swings, sandbox, and eventually monkey bars in the back yard.  As I wrapped up the chapter I had not decided whether to complicate my life by introducing neighborhood kids, particularly as I was already somewhat using the same template–my own neighborhood–that I used when Lauren was describing her upbringing to the doctor.


Chapter 15, Beam 60

The night I was going to start this chapter I cut a beef roast into thick steaks and broiled them, and then after I had eaten I burst an abscess and went into the hospital.  It was five days before I actually began the chapter, and while hospitalized I kept trying to write the three stories mentally but wasn’t getting farther than a few paragraphs on any of them other than Beam.


Chapter 16, Hastings 191

I debated how to integrate Lauren into the group, and realized repeatedly that her wagon was a complication that meant she was going to have to be in the rear.  It also occurred to me as I was writing this chapter that I don’t remember how the pack animals were managed, but I’m sure there were some.

It was at this point that I recognized I was going to have to construct the party so Lauren could try to learn their names.  I had already remembered some, and gotten some from Jim Denaxas, but I sent a message to Ed Jones, who ran that game, and he promised to think about it and reply, which put me kind of on hold.  He never came back with any recollections.  Eventually I put together quite a bit of the original, created a new name for one of the characters, and built the teams and squads with what I had but without having names for all of them.

A good part of this was plot exposition, through giving the history of the previous venture.

Nightstalker was the name of a character played by Dom Porrini, Ed Porrini’s younger brother, a winged folk whom Jim Denaxas remembered being a magic-user.

My wife played a cleric/magic-user who under Ed’s mystery options rules had completely lost her memory.  Unfortunately I could not remember her character name other than that I thought it began with A and was not a common word or name.  After debating long I decided to use a medicinal word and alter the spelling, making her Annseff.  I do not recall whether she was a human or a half-elf, but I’m hoping it won’t matter.

Ed had named Remoir the Dull Legacy.  We had come to an awkward plot moment where there were two new players but no obvious way to introduce their characters to the party, so Brad Ladlee had his character Lurt go out into the street and pick three people seemingly at random, two of them the new player characters and the third an unknown.  We had been toying with a joke martial arts style called Bo Ring, which I had detailed for use in play, and Ed decided that this character would be an adept of that style.  The style being my creation, I kept the character and changed the name to Rodan the Tedious Endowment.  I picked Rodan because I always suspected that Remoir was a warp of the artist Renoir, so I warped the name of the artist Rodin.

I also always suspected that the title “the dull legacy” was a dig at Ed Porrini’s “shining legacy” title, but have no proof of that.

I changed Ghost Hills to Blood Hills.

I did not like changing the name of Laneth Lelach Theana, largely because it was the model on which I had built Derek’s sprite name, Theian Torenu Morach, and that of other sprites in his sprite world.  However, even though in Ed’s intention it was all one word, it was his invention, and I felt it necessary to alter it.  Since at this point only the first name was mentioned, I changed only that from Laneth to Anneth.

Numerous times while writing this book I remembered recognizing in the early chapters of Verse Three, Chapter One that dungeon crawls weren’t particularly easy to keep interesting.  I had a book in which dungeon crawls of a sort were going to be the primary action (with Tomiko adding some light to the darkness for the first half, but then getting into the dark with the others), and I had to keep looking for ways to keep them interesting.  Two days before I published this chapter I realized that I had made this chapter interesting by character interaction, which I would do many times through the book.


Chapter 17, Takano 18

I needed to settle Tommy somewhere, and while I still had a lot of issues concerning how to integrate her into the world, making her the weekday babysitter for Tammy seemed the right first step.

I didn’t give names to the neighborhood kids even though I did expect to continue in this location partly because Tommy didn’t expect to do so at this point so learning the names would not have been important to her, and partly as I mentioned because I was basing this somewhat on the neighborhood of my childhood, which I used for Lauren’s description of her own childhood neighborhood.  I had not used the names of the real kids, and in fact reversed some of their genders, but I did not want this to be too like that.


Chapter 18, Beam 61

I’ve put myself in an awkward position, since for both Beam and Takano I’m mostly writing about domestic tranquility.  Hence I’ve got Beam cooking and drinking while I try to move him forward.

It was as I was writing this chapter that I received word from Ed Jones that he did not want me using anything in the novel from his game world Valdron or created by him.  There was an initial misunderstanding concerning what I was writing, but I agreed to rebrand anything that was clearly his, including character and place names.

I had left this chapter hanging for a few days, feeling that it was too short but not knowing what else to do with it.  Finally I decided what I was going to do in the next Beam chapter (not a new idea, something I had intended but hadn’t figured out when) and let this one end where it was.


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