All posts by M.J.

#382: The Song “Not Going to Notice”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #382, on the subject of The Song “Not Going to Notice”.

I am guessing that I wrote this sometime in the late ’70s, although it might have been as late as the early ’80s.  It’s a country song, and I have never taken country music terribly seriously.  Perhaps that influenced my rating on it, putting it number thirty-one for quality of the song, number 17 for quality of the recording and performance.  Tristan, though, ranked it tied for fifth, pulling it up to number twenty-two, tied with another to be published next month.

I am persuaded that country songs need to be funny.  My favorite country song is still Put Another Log On the Fire.  This one is light-hearted, with several parts of it very tongue-in-cheek, and I hope it brings a smile to the faces of at least a few listeners.  I connect it in my mind to my Sandy Becker Theory of Eschatology which I was starting to develop around the same time.  Both say that there’s no point to our arguments about the second coming or the end of the world or what heaven is like.  We can’t really know anyway, until it is ultimately revealed.

The recording, three vocals over midi instruments, is here.  If I could do it again it would be a tad faster, but it’s decent as is.

Not Going to Notice.

So here are the words:

You know that Jesus said He’d come again,
And raise us all from death, immortal men,
And then He’ll take us home
With a body like His own,
And we will be in heaven with Him then.

But I’m not going to notice, no siree!
‘Cuz when I finally reach eternity
Through the laughter and the tears,
For at least a million years
My precious Savior Jesus is all I’ll see.

You know the dead will rise out of their graves.
Well, that’s the kind of news that should make waves,
And then we’re going to fly
Just to meet Him in the sky,
And all the world will know that Jesus saves.

But I’m not going to notice, no siree!
‘Cuz when I finally reach eternity
Through the laughter and the tears,
For at least a million years
My precious Savior Jesus is all I’ll see.

They say that I can walk through any wall,
Or step off of high buildings and not fall,
And I’ll mount with eagle’s wings,
And do a million crazy things
That now I just can’t understand at all.

But I’m not going to notice, no siree!
‘Cuz when I finally reach eternity
Through the laughter and the tears,
For at least a million years
My precious Savior Jesus is all I’ll see.

Maybe I’ll meet Moses or have a chat with Paul;
Andrew, Peter, James, and John, I’m sure to meet them all!
I’ll have a chance to get to know each famous chosen man:
Eat breakfast with Isaiah and lunch with Abraham.

Many of my friends will meet me there;
We’ll have a great reunion in the air.
Won’t you come now?  Don’t be late!
Turn to Jesus, then go straight.
It’s a party to which nothing can compare.

But I’m not going to notice, no siree!
‘Cuz when I finally reach eternity
Through the laughter and the tears,
For at least a million years
My precious Savior Jesus is all I’ll see.

No, I’m not going to notice, no, not me,
‘Cuz when I finally reach eternity
Through the laughter and the tears,
For at least a million years
My precious Savior Jesus is all I’ll see.

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 | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy”

#381: World Complications

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #381, on the subject of World Complications.

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 thirteenth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 73 through 78.  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.
  7. #365:  Characters Travel, for chapters 37 through 42.
  8. #367:  Versers Encounter, for chapters 43 through 48.
  9. #370:  Characters Confront, for chapters 49 through 54.
  10. #373:  Nervous Characters, for chapters 55 through 60.
  11. #376:  Characters Arrive, for chapters 61 through 66.
  12. #379:  Character Conundrums, for chapters 67 through 72.

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 73, Hastings 210

I was beginning to get boxed in with Lauren.  I had promised that she would not get back to the city alive, but at this point she could easily jump over all the dangers ahead.  I had, as it were, too many commitments, and too few options.


Chapter 74, Takano 37

I was getting worried about Tommy’s story, because there wasn’t much else to do with it.  I kept prefiguring a fatal car accident, but it was too soon to put her in her final world.  The answer that struck me was that I needed another world, perhaps a stall world, perhaps something more serious, and then when everything else was ready I would bring her into the final setting.


Chapter 75, Beam 80

This was all routine stuff, and I was trying to get through it quickly without making it more boring than it might be.  There was more boring stuff ahead.

I didn’t name the third leader, partly because I was tired of naming people, partly because doing so would push toward more detail I didn’t want.  That became a bit of a problem when I started writing the next book, and Lauren had to meet the group leaders, because he needed a name then and I had to be certain I hadn’t incidentally given him one somewhere along the way.


Chapter 76, Hastings 211

The darkness occurred to me belatedly.  I had even considered having the light spell be still effected, but that would create a problem for me that the party would have managed to get past all the dangers, and I would be stuck trying to find a way to verse out Lauren before they reached the surface.  However, I had already decided that there was some small amount of light near the entrance to the drow kingdom, because despite their superior dark vision there were some things that not even a drow could see without light.  That gave me a target point and space for more story.

I had discussed the situation with Kyler, who felt that if the actual assassins had fled the scene the nobles would not have been too particular about whom they executed, and there was no climate for negotiation at this time.  Further, he felt that Gojo and Sheegoka would quickly recognize this and agree to depart.


Chapter 77, Takano 38

I really had no idea what to do with this world, other than to have Tommy struggle to survive it.  That, though, was as good a place as any to start.

When I was setting this behind-the-writings section for HTML publication it occurred to me that this snow-filled forest is very like a stall world that has been used in play, originally by Richard Lutz and once by me.  It has happened to Michael di Vars (a.k.a. Roland of the Sar) that he has versed in at the top of a snow-capped mountain more than once, and died trying to get to the bottom.  I used that once in a demo game, including having di Vars there to explain things to a new verser (player character) before they both fell to their deaths.  I was getting tired of the Tropical Island scenario.  This lacks the mountain and the consequent climbing hazard, but it is a survival against the cold scenario.


Chapter 78, Beam 81

Honestly I was caught between trying to move this story forward and recognizing the complexities of what Beam was doing.  I needed the people to learn how to use the technology, but it had to be obvious that this wasn’t happening quickly.  I didn’t really like it much at all.


This has been the thirteenth 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.

#380: Authorial Influences

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #380, on the subject of Authorial Influences.

About half a decade ago I wrote web log post #75:  Musical Influences, attempting to identify those who impacted my musical composing style.  Then the other day I heard an ad for a documentary which included the comment that the speaker could not imagine any author not having been influenced by Ernest Hemmingway.

I cannot imagine that I have been influenced at all by “Papa” Hemmingway, at least, not directly.  I cannot recall having read anything he wrote, although I must have done probably in high school or possibly in college, and simply don’t remember it.  I can’t say he has had no influence–as with music, so many are influenced by others influenced by others that there must be some trickle.  I’ll just say that I don’t think Hemmingway has influenced me more than Hawthorne, or Melville, or London, or Fitzgerald (each of whom I can remember having read at least one work and recall something about it).  At least with Fitzgerald I can name one detail I learned, albeit from a teacher commenting on the book.  Same with Poe, that I can name lessons I learned from him, but wouldn’t say that he had significant influence on my writing.  That, though, got me wondering who has.

C. S. Lewis

I must mention the Gordon College professor who taught Creative Writing:  Fiction.  Embarrassingly, I cannot remember her name, despite the many things I remember about her.  I learned much in that class, and benefited greatly from it in preparation for the career I did not then imagine having.  Yet she is not an author, or if she is I was not aware of anything she wrote apart from the course syllabus.

The obvious person to mention is C. S. Lewis.  He is both the author I have most read and re-read, and the one who has most impacted my own writing, in both style and substance.  I expect that’s obvious.  Like Lewis, I do write Christian books, but I also write what he called “books by Christians”, books that are not specifically Christian but having been written by a Christian author in some ways reflect Christian thought.

Although I could wish I wrote epic adventures like J. R. R. Tolkien or modern supernatural novels like Charles Williams, I’m afraid all I can say of them is that I’ve read several books from each and enjoyed them thoroughly.  I did learn from Tolkien the value of multiple staging, which I also saw in the work of Frank Herbert.  (Multiple staging is the technique of having several main characters in different places and moving from one to another so that the reader always wants to know what happened to the other characters even while learning what happened to one.)  Herbert also taught me the importance of maintaining perspective, but only because he rather jarringly did not do so in one place in his narrative.

The author who has probably placed second in sheer volume of material I’ve read is my wife’s favorite fiction author, Agatha Christie, but although I learned quite a bit thinking about how her mysteries were constructed (and seen the lessons in the work of others, such as J. K. Rowling), my mysteries are not on nearly the same level as hers.

It occurs to me that I have also read many books by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, both when I and when my sons were young, but somehow no matter how many of his books you’ve read it never seems to be a lot.  On the other hand, the poetic structure tends to get into your speech patterns.  I once heard some comedian say that Dr. Seuss was the original and best rapper, and he performed a bit of Green Eggs and Ham to prove it.

On the subject of poets, Ogden Nash is probably my favorite.  I’ve read two of his anthologies and memorized many of his shorts.  I don’t know how much impact that has had on my writing style, though.  I’ve also memorized several Robert Frost poems and a wealth of shorts by other poets, mostly humorous, but including a few long ones such as The Owl and the Pussycat and A Visit from Saint Nicholas, and Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.  For some of these it has helped that I was in choirs and choruses for many years, and have sung settings of quite a few; for others, it was significant that I had children.

I am fond of the writings of Lewis Carroll, but don’t know how much impact he has had on me.  I read a lot of Ray Bradbury in my youth, and smatterings of other science fiction and fantasy writers such as Asimov and Wells, Chricton and Niven, Timothy Zahn and Madeline l’Engle.  The fiction that I write is something of a science fiction/fantasy blend, so I must have been impacted by some of these, but I really can’t point to anyone in particular.  Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson deserve mention, as the invention of Dungeons & Dragons and some of the subsequent role playing games gave me many insights into story construction.  Ed Jones gave me the framework for Multiverser which figures in a central way in most of my fiction.

I started this article with a view to identifying those authors whose work most impacted my own, and I find that I don’t really know the answer to that.  It may be that my eclectic styles are impacted by my eclectic interests, and my exposure to more than just literature, with modern media contributing to aspects of my writing.  It may be that recognizing influences in authorship is something that can be done by the reader better than by the writer.  I could “punt” and say that my writing flows from who I am, but then, who I am is strongly impacted by my reading, so I am back where I began.

#379: Character Conundrums

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #379, on the subject of Character Conundrums.

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 twelfth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 67 through 72.  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.
  7. #365:  Characters Travel, for chapters 37 through 42.
  8. #367:  Versers Encounter, for chapters 43 through 48.
  9. #370:  Characters Confront, for chapters 49 through 54.
  10. #373:  Nervous Characters, for chapters 55 through 60.
  11. #376:  Characters Arrive, for chapters 61 through 66.

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 67, Hastings 208

I recognized the problem that Lauren describes, and knew there had to be a logical way out of it.  There were a lot of problems, particularly as it meant Lauren was going to attempt to kill a person and take sides in a civil war about which she knew very little, but the fact that the targeted person was going to kill her and the entire group with her tipped the balance on that.


Chapter 68, Takano 35

I was stumped for several days.  Part of it was that I was fighting the corona virus, COVID-19, and was constantly tired.  Part of it was that my brain was trying to piece together where we were going to go for the end of the book.  In the end, I wrote considerably less than I had intended.


Chapter 69, Beam 78

This was mostly busy work, trying to move forward into an organized tribe.


Chapter 70, Hastings 209

I was not entirely well at this time, but I had managed to think through the fight a couple times before writing it.  It was important to me that Lauren not be the one who dealt the fatal blow, and since Lurt was a thief he was perfect for a backstab attack.

In Tiras’ backstory he had done aerial acrobatics as the equivalent of a teenager.  He had lost a partner in an accident, and so retired and took up martial arts training.  Many of Derek’s aerialist tricks were originally created for Tiras and transferred to the sprite world.

I knew it likely that the princess would be unable to protect her escort even as queen, and now was the moment to make Tiras aware of that.


Chapter 71, Takano 36

I had been playing with the identification problem for a while, and I had been delayed by illness, but finally realized that it wasn’t going to go very far.

I was also thinking that Tommy was going to die in an automobile accident, and that I was running out of reasons to keep her in this world, but I didn’t want to put her in the next one yet unless I came up with something interesting to happen next.


Chapter 72, Beam 79

I knew that getting everyone into apartments was going to be a major undertaking, but I didn’t want it to be too irksome, particularly as I was going to have to do something about all the other living arrangements.

I kind of liked the girl I had created, and considered making her single and a problem for Sophia, but then decided that widowed with children was probably better long-term.  I don’t know where that part of the story might be going, but Beam is going to have enough trouble with women in the future and this would not be an effective addition to the pains.  I did decide rather early that she would be the assistant in charge of the main unit.


This has been the twelfth 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.

#378: The Song “A Song of Joy”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #378, on the subject of The Song “A Song of Joy”.

This song is also tied for nineteenth on the list; I ranked it sixteenth for the overall quality of the song and twenty-seventh for the quality of the recording, but Tristan had it on his list, tied at number nine.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)  The recording is another done with midi instruments, and in this case a second vocal part which was out of my range is covered by a midi trumpet in places.  It lacks the punch of a live recording, but captures the essence otherwise.  I think, too, that it should have been just a touch faster.

This is probably the third song in which I shifted between a 4/4 (or in this case a 2/4) and a 3/4, and put the the accent on the upbeat of the second beat of the three–quite prominently in this case.  It may have been, like Free, inspired by the work of Conrad Gempf; in any case, it was written around that time, in my first year at Gordon College.

That also means that The Last Psalm had broken up, and as I came out of the first bridge I thought it needed a lively instrumental, but as I would be doing it solo I wasn’t going to have a lead guitarist to play such a thing.  Thus I wrote a vocal cadenza for the space.  I connected with my then-fiance (and now wife for decades) at the wedding of a cousin, and she said that I should write a second vocal for it (not that I could perform it with two voices, but that she wanted to sing along), so I did.

We were working on it with Collision, and I feel a bit stupid about it because the problem was that Jonathan could not master the very difficult second vocal on the cadenza (singing it an octave lower), and it never occurred to me to have him play it on the keys.  Because of this failure on my part, it was cut from an originally planned place on the Collision: Of Worlds EP.  Some notes on it as part of the Collision repertoire are on the web here.  It was previously performed by both TerraNova and Cardiac Output.

I expect the lyrics arose from the music on the verses, being written together with the melody.  It was just such an upbeat sound that it had to be about something like joy.  I do not at all remember how I managed to include the major shift into the feel of the bridge.

I liked the gentle suspended ending featured in this recording and followed by Collision.  In TerraNova, Jerry Cregger thought that too many of my songs ended with what he generalized as “fade out” endings, which in his assessment included this one (along with Walkin’ In the Woods, Voices, and Time Bomb, but I don’t really agree about the first of those), and so an additional short vocal tag was added to give it a more powerful end.

The recording is here.

A Song of Joy.

So here are the words:

I’m singin’ to the Lord a song of joy.
He always gives me ev’ry thing I need.
He gives me life and breath and life again,
And now I want to say He’s Lord indeed.

He gives me life initially,
Increasingly,
Abundantly,
Assuredly,
Eternally.

I’m singin’ to the Lord a song of joy.
He’s always been a great and wondrous King.
He leads me in the way that I should go,
And now I want to give Him ev’rything.

He gives me joy initially,
Increasingly,
Abundantly,
Assuredly,
Eternally.

I don’t know what Satan really has to offer,
But I know he’s only trying to destroy,
And I’ve met the only one who’s from the Father–
If you turn to Him, He’ll fill you with His joy.

I’m singin’ to the Lord a song of joy.
He’s given me a brand new life to live,
And now I am convinced beyond a doubt
He gives me ev’rything there is to give.

I don’t know what Satan really has to offer,
But I know he’s only trying to destroy,
And I’ve met the only one who’s from the Father–
If you turn to Him, He’ll fill you with His joy.

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 | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom”

Next Song:  #382:  Not Going to Notice

#377: A New Tragedy of the Common

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #377, on the subject of A New Tragedy of the Common.

In the early nineteenth century an economic principle was recognized which would later become known as The Tragedy of the Common.  It has many applications, particularly in relation to modern environmental concerns, but I’d like to call attention to a new one emerging.

The concept is really rather simple.  In medieval and post-medieval villages there was an area of grassland that was available for general public use, the common or commons.  People would graze their sheep on it, as most did not have enough private land to support sheep raising.  What was noticed is that the number of sheep being grazed on such shared land was usually more than the land could adequately support, and so the sheep fared poorly.  The complication, though, was that although for the benefit of the community as a whole the total number of sheep should be reduced to a level sustainable by the land, for any one farmer the way to maximize his own return was to increase the size of his own flock.  Although this reduced his return per sheep, it increased his total return–unless the system collapsed and the sheep died.

We can see this in application in many situations–the overfishing of our fisheries, poor forestry practices, the destruction of our jungles, the pollution of our rivers.  Each individual benefits by destroying a bit more of the shared world.  I, however, want to address a much more recent economic phenomenon.

It was joked not too many years ago that a particular retail distributor had become the internet’s electronics showroom:  people interested in high-end electronics such as televisions and home entertainment systems and computers would visit their stores, examine the available products, then return home and order what they wanted more cheaply over the internet.  The concept has spread far beyond electronics:  reportedly many local game stores have been closing because customers browse in the store and then purchase what they want online.  The pandemic of the past year has intensified this problem, because people were either prevented from or afraid of visiting retail stores, and so a great deal of purchasing shifted to online sources.  Retailers of all stripes are struggling; customers are dwindling.  Those of us who were driving during the pre-Christmas weeks noticed how sparse the traffic was compared to previous years, and not all of that was due to reduced disposable income.  The number of the new Amazon delivery trucks on the road is stunning.

It struck me, first, that the issue really is whether we generally, individually, are willing to pay a little more for the things we want and need in order to keep the convenience of having local retail stores.  After all, if the stores make no sales they cease to exist, and they will struggle even if they make a few sales.  The disappearance of retailers will be a major shift in our economies, as many people are dependent on jobs in those industries.  Additionally, even if you can get next day delivery on products from some online retailers, that’s not always fast enough, and having a local brick-and-mortar store that carries what we need means we can get it today, possibly even tonight if it’s open twenty-four hours.  Although it is a disadvantage to us to have to pay a bit more, the advantages of having retail stores might be worth it.

But then I saw the tragedy.  It is perhaps an inverse of the example, but in this case it is to every individual’s advantage to buy more cheaply online, but a disadvantage to the community to lose retail outlets.  Further, because of this it is likely that individuals will in greater numbers move their purchases online until support for local retailers is inadequate and they are forced to close their doors.  It thus becomes disadvantageous for anyone to support local retailers, as these are probably doomed by the force of the economic situation, and once they close those who tried to patronize them to support them will have spent that money with no way to recover it and no benefit to show for it, while those who abandoned the local shops sooner will have saved money in the process.

Is there a viable solution to this?  Probably not–but it is part of a larger problem, that automation is reducing our need for a work force.  There will continue to be fewer jobs for people, and particularly for unskilled workers, who will become an increasing burden on the welfare systems, unless we can devise a different economic system for the future.

I don’t see it, yet.

#376: Characters Arrive

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #376, on the subject of Characters Arrive.

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 eleventh mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 61 through 66.  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.
  7. #365:  Characters Travel, for chapters 37 through 42.
  8. #367:  Versers Encounter, for chapters 43 through 48.
  9. #370:  Characters Confront, for chapters 49 through 54.
  10. #373:  Nervous Characters, for chapters 55 through 60.

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 61, Hastings 206

I perceived that the driders would upset the mules, so I needed people to calm them.  This would not be Lauren, as it was already established that the spiders made her nervous, but Malacon himself is a magically calming influence and he has members of his squad, such as Apatukwe, who would be good at calming animals.

I wanted to say “male and female drow”, but Lauren wouldn’t talk or think like that so I let her use the more awkward “men and women drow”.

I wanted to give the impression of size in the entry hall without saying it was big, and it struck me that the easy way to do it was to say that the other end was “distant”.

The light level in the room was problematic.  Drow see better in total darkness than in daylight, but I needed the non-drow party members to be able to see something so there had to be some light.  Technically this makes it more difficult for the drow to see, but then there are some creatures that cannot be seen in darkness (the drow vision sees infrared and ultraviolet light, so cold blooded creatures blend into the background) so some light is justified.  I mentioned the marble mostly because I wanted to explain why Lauren wasn’t using it.

I needed names.  I had thought of a good name for the queen while I was writing, but forgot it before I reached the point where it would be used so had to think of another.  I cobbled together Taranelle from Coronelle.  I had thought of a name for the younger sister but failed to record it anywhere, so I had to invent another, and again worked from Coronelle to get Corina.  After I had written it, I thought of using Sabina, the name of the dog of a friend of mine decades back, but decided it was too like Sabrina, a popular television character.  The town came to me as Tarantola; after I had typed it, it struck me that “Tarant” was closely connected to tarantula, which I was pretty sure was a Spanish name for a deadly spider and connected to a Spanish dance.  I thought of changing it to Taranton or Taranburgh, but told myself that it should be a Spanish suffix for town, and I didn’t know one.  It happened that I was writing rather early in the morning, and when I went into the other room to look for my son who has some significant background in Spanish, no one was awake, so I just used Tarantola.

I had known since shortly after the dragon encounter that Coronelle’s younger sister had arranged her disappearance and killed the queen so as to take the throne, and that this confrontation would happen.  I did not know in any detail what would happen, and was creating it as I wrote it.


Chapter 62, Takano 33

I mostly needed to move time forward, but also wanted to continue painting some of the world of the time.


Chapter 63, Beam 76

I knew he wouldn’t want them, but I needed Beam to have a following of indigs for the story ahead, so I had to crowbar them into his life at this point.  The terms dictated by both sides were a bit tricky to produce, but then it was enough to recognize that neither side had imagined this meeting so both were winging it.


Chapter 64, Hastings 207

Again trying to make combat interesting, and particularly in this situation in which I can’t have it resolve too quickly but I can’t let the presumably weaker side lose.


Chapter 65, Takano 34

I had finished the camp supplies, and I kept thinking I wanted to build the relationship between Tommy and Johnny Angel.  Meanwhile, I also had to figure out how she could do something dangerous enough to get versed out.  Traveling to the city probably wasn’t going to do it unless there was a car accident, but it at least put me moving in the right direction.


Chapter 66, Beam 77

At the end of the previous Beam chapter I had to have Beam walk off stage, and the only thing that remotely made sense was for him and Sophia to head for the bedroom.  Now I had to figure out what he was going to do there.

As usual, having my characters talk about their problems helped me figure out how to resolve them.


This has been the eleventh 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.

#375: Fixing the Focus

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #375, on the subject of Fixing the Focus.

I have previously written decrying polarization, and have touched on it enough times since that it is a key word in this web log.  It concerns me that things are not improving.

Being a moderate, I have discussions with people on both sides of the divide.  In the wake of the past few months, some–Christians–have been actively attempting to prove that the Presidency has been stolen by voter fraud on a massive scale, while others–also Christians–have been thanking God that the madman has been removed from the White House.  Both reactions seem extremist to me, and somewhat foolish, but I understand them.

Obviously the attack on the Capitol building in Washington was unreasonable.  The degree to which President Trump was responsible for this is something that will probably be discussed for a long time, even if it is decided by Congress.

As to that, I think that the impeachment action is a vindictive and undemocratic display of fear.  There are only two reasons to impeach a departing President.  One is to make it possible for him to face criminal charges for actions taken while in office, which means that the evidence will have to be taken to the courts if the impeachment motion carries.  The other is to prevent the man from running for office again–and that’s the undemocratic part of it.  It suggests that the party in control of Congress believes it is possible that the outgoing President could be re-elected in a future run, and they want to prevent his millions of supporters from being able to put him back in office–clearly an attack against their rights.

As my friend John Walker recently posted on Facebook,

When either side of a political structure tries to convince you that the the opposite view is the enemy, it’s time to stop believing in sides.

Yet both sides have been espousing this for most of this new century, and our political landscape is riddled with people who believe it.

It has been so for long enough that I am fairly certain nothing I can say will have a significant impact on this.

Yet I will not say nothing.

I will, rather, cite a preacher I heard on my local Christian radio station this week.  He very wisely said that Christians are called to bring about spiritual change, not political change.  Political and economic and social change might come from spiritual change–it has happened in the past–but our calling is to focus on the spiritual, to point people to Christ.  Christians fighting political battles are probably missing what is truly important.

‘Nuf said.

#374: Christian Instrumental Music

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #374, on the subject of Christian Instrumental Music.

Quite a few years back my wife and I picked up a pair of soprano recorders, and within a few days were playing a duet of the hymn Glorious Things to Thee Are Spoken.  One night a gamer friend, Bob Schretzman, visited, and we played it for him.  He thanked us for playing one of his favorite songs, Deutschland Uber Alles, the German national anthem.

That came back to me this morning as the local Christian radio station played an instrumental version of a spiritual song, and it being familiar to me I had the words to the first verse running through my head–but I only remembered the first verse, so when the music repeated, so did those words.  That got me wondering.

I’ve previously noted that Christian record producer and recording artist Chris Christian (who discovered Amy Grant) disdained Christian instrumental music, challenging that what makes music Christian is the words.  He would sit on stage and play Alley Cat, and at the end of each line speak a word related to Christianity, and suggest that made it a Christian song.  I have a hard time disagreeing with that.  I know that when I hear instrumental versions of What Child Is This, particularly around Christmas, those words are in my head–but I won’t swear that at other times of the year I don’t hear the words to Greensleeves, and I’m sure there are many out there for whom those are the first lyrics that come to mind for that melody.  The Reformers often put Christian words to bawdy bar songs, because their converts knew the music; at what point did those become Christian melodies?  It certainly seems that what makes music Christian is the words.

On the other hand, Johann Sebastian Bach expressed the view that all of his music was written to glorify God.  We can certainly see that in the hundreds of chorales, the B Minor Mass, and other choral works–but how many of us are moved to worship by the Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor or the wealth of other fugues he wrote for organ or orchestra or chamber ensembles?  Does the fact that he says it is Christian music make it so?  Someone has written words celebrating Christmas to fit Pachelbel’s Canon; does that make the original song Christian?  What of Christian bands that do what would be called parodies of secular hits, replacing the original lyrics with Christian words?  In my 1970s band The Last Psalm our soprano sang the words to Amazing Grace to the music of The House of the Rising Sun (although I heard someone else do that first, and stole the idea from them); does that sanctify the music such that a folk song about life in a brothel becomes suitable as a Christian instrumental?

Perhaps we would like to claim that all music is ultimately Christian, and we might do that by asserting that all creative efforts are imitations of the image of God and so glorify Him to the degree that they in their greatness reflect His.  If music is a medium of communication, perhaps it can communicate something about God without being bound to words.  Yet Tubal-cain, father of all who played the pipe, was a descendant of Cain, not Seth, and so we might argue that all music is inherently secular unless it is somehow redeemed.

I lack the answer to this question.  I know musicians who perform instrumental music they assert is Christian, and it is usually arrangements of familiar hymns or other songs of faith.  I even have a collection of midi instrumental recordings of nine Christmas songs I arranged that I often play around the holidays.  Yet it still seems to me that for music to be Christian it must inspire thoughts of faith, and that seems to require words.

But then I come back to Bach, and wonder whether there is Christian instrumental music which inspires us to faith without using words.

#373: Nervous Characters

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #373, on the subject of Nervous Characters.

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 tenth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 55 through 60.  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.
  7. #365:  Characters Travel, for chapters 37 through 42.
  8. #367:  Versers Encounter, for chapters 43 through 48.
  9. #370:  Characters Confront, for chapters 49 through 54.

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 55, Hastings 204

I knew this was going to be a sort of non-encounter situation, but still thought I could bring out some tension through Lauren’s reaction to spiders.  I think this is unlike me, but I’m not entirely comfortable with the larger members of the genus, and would have trouble with giant ones.  I’m not sure whether knowing they were intelligent would make me more comfortable or less.

The hood was a last minute realization, and specifically that it was known that they had one but there was no indication they had more than one.  I thought the mules might have trouble getting through, so I decided that the most skittish of them would have to be gentled.


Chapter 56, Takano 31

My knowledge of camping gear goes back to the mid-to-late sixties, but I remember that some things were thought new by scouts, who weren’t much older than I, so I attempted to extrapolate what would be available at a good camping store.

I actually paused to debate what to call Tommy’s equipment, with “equipment” and “gear” going through my head as words that Clark might use, but settling on “stuff” as much more like Tommy.

It’s been decades since I was camping, and I was trying to remember a lot of stuff from those times.  I hope I managed.  It occurs to me that I might have included water purification tablets, but I never carried them myself and don’t know whether iodine or chlorine was preferred back then.


Chapter 57, Beam 74

I almost removed the attack up the ramp, which had been part of my original notion before I included the grenade, but I wanted more action in this and wanted Bron to be useful.


Chapter 58, Hastings 205

I decided that it was time to end the quest and reach the drow lands; I had begun working on what would happen when they got there.  I also decided that Lauren’s fear of spiders would be useful in a confrontation with the traditional AD&D drow guards, the driders.


Chapter 59, Takano 32

I realized I had set up the beginning of school and couldn’t put it off much longer.  I checked Labor Day on a 1959 calendar to make sure my recollections of the holiday back then were correct, and modelled a lot of the commute on aspects of my own childhood elementary school experience, but extended the escorting several days because this was a girl and I was a boy, and I have the impression that parents were more protective of girls then (unless it was only that I had three younger siblings so my mother thought it safer to let me walk alone than to leave them alone at the house).

I wanted to create stuff for Tommy to do that would justify her being paid to care for Tammy beyond merely that someone had to be there.

The elementary school is very much designed like my own.  We had two or maybe three kindergarten classes in different partitioned sections of a “gymnatorium” with a cafeteria kitchen at the opposite end from the stage.  The band practiced on the stage during the period that the kindergarten was changing from morning to afternoon session, but I made that the school lunch period as I didn’t have to worry about the band.  My own walk to school left the road to follow a wide paved path down a long probably two-block hill to a bridge over a brook, up three steps, and onto the paved playground at the rear of the school, but there was a path to the side which was as described in the story which I only took a few times when I was going to my cousins’ house after school.

The bus thing was how it was when my kids were in school, but I’m not sure how much of that was because the school system had reorganized so that each school building held all the classes for two consecutive years and the busses all did a circuit of picking up all the students in an area then delivering them to each of the schools.


Chapter 60, Beam 75

I spent some time thinking about this chapter, and then when I wrote it I omitted a number of details–mostly where the other members of the group were standing during the talks.  I decided not to bother with them, as they wouldn’t really add anything.

I wanted Beam to feed the entire tribe, separately from the delegation, and I thought a bit about how much he had to order for roughly a hundred people.  It’s not a lot, but it’s enough for everyone to have some.

I ended the chapter mostly because I wasn’t sure how it turned next.  I had spent twelve days in the hospital and in that time had thought only a little about where the story was going, but coming out I wrote the previous Takano chapter and then this one, and I had a fairly solid idea about the next Hastings chapter but opted to go to bed and sleep on it overnight.


This has been the tenth 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.